2016

“Fast Eddie” Overhultz: An Appreciation

I was not able to pay my final respects to Eddie Overhultz, who died on Christmas Eve at 71. Holiday plans had already been made, and his passing caught me by surprise. We had largely lost touch since I moved to Longview nine years ago. That is my fault. We talked by phone a few years ago, and I kept promising to come visit him in Nacogdoches, but that did not come to pass. So I thought I would present this modest appreciation of a man who was a close friend for about 15 years and tell a few stories I hope will make those who knew Eddie — and those who didn’t — smile. Eddie came to Nacogdoches...

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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

And suddenly it is Christmas, another year nearly in the books. They come around quickly now that I have reached a certain age. Dec. 25 will cap a Yule season that — in the retail world — began in mid-October. It seems as if every store I entered had Christmas decorations up next to the jack o’ lanterns. I hate to be grinchy, but could we at least hold off on Christmas until after the kids are finished trick or treating? While I am being curmudgeonly, I am strongly opposed to retail stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, a trend that expanded this year to include most Big Box stores....

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It Indeed Has Been A Bad Year For Rock and Roll

“It’s been a bad year for rock and roll.” — Chuck Prophet Singer-songwriter Chuck Prophet, a regular on my Spotify playlist was bemoaning the deaths of David Bowie and Prince, among many others, when he released that song earlier this year. He is right. Bowie died of cancer two months after releasing “Black Star” in January. Check out the video of “Lazarus” on YouTube. It is the haunting work of a brilliant artist who knows he will die soon. Prince, one of the finest guitar players on the planet, died far too young of an opioid overdose at 57. One of his greatest performances...

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Learning To Love One’s Enemies

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. — Isaiah 11:6 Our dog Sam is not exactly wolf material, though he certainly has a hunter’s instinct. On several occasions he has gotten loose and taken off after cats, squirrels and other critters. He never catches anything, but this poodle/cocker spaniel mutt cannot be deterred when on the chase. The other night, during a driving rainstorm, Sam slipped out the back door as my Beautiful Mystery Companion...

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Working Up A Sweat With Christmas Lights

As is East Texas tradition, I worked up a sweat hanging Christmas lights and swatting away mosquitoes on Thanksgiving morning. I don’t think I have ever hung lights when it was cold, even when I have put off the task until mid-December. Invariably, a warm front will sweep in from the Gulf Coast on the appointed day, putting a damper on the Yule spirit. It is likely my Yankee upbringing, but there is something askew about hanging Christmas lights while wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Maybe in Florida or Southern California, but the rest of the nation deserves Christmas-like weather this time of year....

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Visiting Fellow Ink-Stained Colleagues

I spend a lot of time talking to newspaper people, which I relish. It is impossible to get ink out of my blood after more than 40 years in the business. While it is doubtful I will ever work at a paper again, I have enjoyed spending the past year working to put together deals to buy or sell newspapers. In addition, in the course of researching a biography I am writing about a fascinating newspaperman and columnist, I have talked to members of his family who were also in the business. That is how I ended up in the charming town of Smithville a few days ago, talking to a retired lawyer who literally...

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So, You Want to be a Writer? Then Write!

I spoke the other day to a group of high school students about writing. The students were polite, and several asked great questions. I enjoyed my 20 minutes with them, a number of whom I knew since daughter Abbie graduated last May from this small private school. To kick things off after briefly outlining my checkered career, I asked this: “What is the one essential thing one must do to be a writer?” There were several interesting answers. Learn how to spell. Use complete sentences. (Notice I’m not doing that. It’s a rule I like to break on occasion.) Have lots of pencils. (Pencils?...

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Honoring Those Who Paid Ultimate Sacrifice

I met Cody Norris a few times at holiday gatherings of my wife’s extended family, most of who live in Northeast Texas. He was tall and thin, clearly in shape. Cody was my sister-in-law’s nephew. He grew up in the Houston area. He clearly loved the chance to spend time in the country. We considered him one of the cousins, though that is not technically accurate. Cody usually showed up with his dad at the East Texas farm that served as the outside gathering spot when the weather is tolerable. These throw-downs invariably involved a fish fry, a bonfire if there was even a hint of chill in the air....

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Seven Wonderful Nights of Baseball

We voted early this election, as we nearly always do. There were two differences this time around, and I am not talking about the candidates — nor do I intend to. There are subjects best not brought up in polite company. First difference is that daughter Abbie, who turned 19 on the day we voted, cast her first ballot — or, in the case of the Gregg County machine, dialed her choices on an electronic screen — in a general election for president. Like most teenagers, Abbie is ultra high-tech savvy. When she heads away to college (she attends locally this year), my Beautiful Mystery Companion...

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I Will Go To Stockholm For Bob

News item: A member of the Swedish Academy called Bob Dylan “impolite and arrogant” for thus far ignoring winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. Repeated phone calls have gone unanswered. Dylan does not acknowledge winning the award while performing in concert — he appeared in Shreveport earlier this week — and a mention on his website has been removed. First, let’s note I’m pleased Dylan received the Nobel, the first American to receive it for literature since Tony Morrison received the award in 1993. In 50 years or so, he has written more than 450 songs, many of which are firmly...

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