Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Okay, you got me. I don't think bucolicism is actually a word endorsed by Websters Dictionary. But stay with me and grant me a little literary license. Afterall, if a person who is an alcoholic suffers from alcoholism, it stands to reason (at least to me) that folks who are bucolic suffer from bucolicism.

Years have past since the former executive of Nabisco and RJ Reynolds, Ross Johnson, offended the people of Winston-Salem by suggesting they were bucolic. Johnson felt our city was not up to the sophistication needed to play host to their corporate headquarters. In truth, he probably offended a small percentage. The others didn't have a clue they had been insulted until they were told. Bucolic is akin to calling us country folk, a little slow, hicks, rednecks... you get the idea.

I joined many others in voicing my objection to Johnson's statement. I thought then, as I do now, that our city boasts some of the brightest minds you'll find anywhere. Every now and then however... well actually more often than not... I am reminded why we get labeled like we do.

Just in the past few weeks the Gulf Coast has endured hurricane Katrina, perhaps the most devastating and costly hurricane in our country's history. The loss of life coupled with massive destruction has been heart wrenching. Not since 9/11 have my wife and I been so captivated by an event and so powerless to help. We could only watch, shed tears for the victims, mourn for the dead, and contribute what we could to the recovery.

I do realize I live in the Bible Belt, though I still haven't come to terms with it. A recent contributor to the editiorial of our local paper suggested that God brought hurricane Katrina to New Orleans to take vengeance upon what they described as a city of sin. A modern day Sodom & Gomorrah event. Worse, there are those who support the writer.

The mere suggestion just kills me. To think that as far as we've come as a society there are people who can remain blatantly ignorant. I am reminded of similar narrow minded thinking when another local writer years ago concluded that AIDS was God's wrath upon homosexuals. My first question to these astute authors is how do they explain all the victims of Katrina and AIDS who were neither sinful or gay? Were they simply collateral damage? Surely God is more accurate dropping bombs, whatever form they may take, upon his targets than we are.

And that ladies and gentlemen is how I decided it was simply a case of bucolicism. I can't find a better explanation. To suggest this recent catastrophe was the work of God to smite "bad people" is not only obscene, it's just damn stupid.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Farewell Old Friend

I sold my motorcycle yesterday. To say I had anything less than mixed emotions as I watched it being rode away, knowing it would never return, is an understatement. The timing was right with gas prices being what they are and the demand for the smaller 883 Harleys not being the best. Yep, the timing was right and I knew it.

I started riding bikes when I was just a boy but got away from them in my early adulthood. Something about needing to stay alive to help raise the kids I think was my wife's reasoning. Actually she may have just said no, and left it at that. My current wife doesn't mind me riding but the kids are grown and I have more insurance.

I didn't buy my first Harley Davidson until my late thirties. I had owned Honda's, Yamaha's & Suzuki's and been pleased with them all. It was midlife crisis time however and I wanted a Harley. I've owned two, both Sportsters, both black, and both wonderful bikes. Hmm, what will I own next time?

To someone who has never ridden it's difficult to explain the feeling of freedom that the gods extend to you on a bike. In my truck with the air on and the radio turned up I'm usually oblivious to the world around me. It passes by with not much more than a glance from me. The bike riding experience is far different. Instead of ignoring the environment you become one with it. Your senses becoming alive with everything around you. Smells such as fresh cut grass, neighborhood barbecues, saltwater from the ocean, fill your senses. You can't help but take notice.

So farewell old friend. Thank you for the many rides we shared. Thank you for slowing me down and giving me time to think about life instead of just ignoring it. In spite of a world where less and less respect is given to bike riders we were able to keep each other safe and I am grateful for that. I wish many safe rides for you and your new owner.

It was a great ride.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Whodunnit? The plot thickens

At first glance you may have thought I was venturing off on the trail of a murder mystery given my title. Nah, nothing like that. I attended a workshop last night of our local writer's group, the Winston-Salem Writers. The workshop was presented by Peggy Rhodes, a teacher, journalist, & novelist.

Peggy talked about plot being a sequence of events or actions and involving one or more types of conflicts. She stressed how important it was to know where you're going and know what you're doing.

We learned there are basically five types of conflicts:
  • man against himself
  • man against man
  • man against society
  • man against fate
  • man against nature

After some lecture we completed an writing exercise developing a plot. The idea is to develop the plot quickly to capture the attention of the reader intriguing them to continue reading. The exercise was loads of fun and several participants shared what they had written with everyone.

Peggy concluded by talking about different novels and the author's approach to plot. Her favorite novel is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, a book she has read four times and plans to read again.

A good time was had by all. If you live in the Winston-Salem area and are interested in the craft of writing... you should check us out.