Time for all to choose dignity over party loyalty

Perhaps you have noticed how popular the “what about” argument has become these days? You know it works: you make a claim. I can’t really debate it, so I change the subject and pretend that whatever I say is a reasonable argument, even though it has nothing to do with the point you are making.

Band culture is a thing, a good thing

When our daughter told us a little over four years ago that she was interested in trying out for the color guard for the Tuscola High School marching band, I thought it had to be part of some elaborate prank. She had never been much of a “joiner,” and had never expressed even a whiff of interest in extracurricular activities in elementary or middle school.

Check mate, and I’m off to Ingles

My wife and I do not play chess. A few years ago at a company Christmas party, we were participants in a game of Dirty Santa and came away with a chess set featuring oversized chess pieces that glowed in the dark. I had originally opened a gift I actually wanted — a big coffee mug with a nice bag of gourmet whole bean coffee — but some guy in a hideous Christmas sweater swiped it from me because he drew a better number and preferred my coffee bonanza to the chess set that he opened.

Is this the demeanor of a Supreme Court justice?

I did not go to college with Brett Kavanaugh, but I went to college at about the same time he did, and the portrait that has emerged of him over the past couple of weeks is one that I remember pretty clearly. There were plenty of beer-loving, weightlifting, cocky, entitled, belligerent frat boys on lots of college campuses in the early 1980s. 

You would find them preening at the local bars, singing too loudly, invading others’ space, splashing beer on people, daring anyone to complain about it. My friends and I, most of whom were also beer-loving and some of whom could be pretty obnoxious themselves if under the influence of 10 or 12 glasses of Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull, we really, really, REALLY hated those guys. You see, these guys were already all of those things before consuming their first beer. They just used beer like kerosene to inflame these qualities. 

Acknowledging differences and embracing brotherhood

For many years, I thought of myself as one of Flannery O’Connor’s “Christ-haunted” characters, living my life in a kind of perpetual spiritual limbo, unable to turn my back on religion altogether, equally unable to fully embrace it. I sometimes felt that Christ was chasing me back to church, and Christians were chasing me right back out of it.

A good story is food for the soul

I’ve always been fascinated by storytellers and the stories they tell. As a small child, I loved hearing my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or any other willing grown-up tell stories of their childhoods, the experiences they had, the people they knew, and the people they once were. I could listen to these stories for hours, as long as they were willing to tell them.

The casting call is under way at the Cox home

Here’s something I never thought I would say: I’m looking for a cat. Not just any cat, but a particular kind of cat, a cat with a particular set of skills. I need the Liam Neeson of cats. An assassin cat. A turbo mouser. A bloodthirsty, feral killer. A razor-thin barn cat that grew up hardscrabble, forced to fight a dozen siblings for a scrap of fish guts — or starve. 

No hazy nostalgia with my first car

Some people’s memories of their first car are glazed with sugar, like candy apples at the county fair. It is just one species of nostalgia, I guess. A few of my classmates actually did drive cool cars, including some twins who shared a black Trans Am that was the envy of every teenage boy who had seen Burt Reynolds driving one in “Smoky and the Bandit,” which played for about 80 consecutive weekends at the Twin Oaks drive-in theater.

There’s magic in these evening Edisto walks

EDISTO ISLAND, SC – For us, the magic of Steamboat Landing Road begins where the pavement ends, where the asphalt turns to dirt. From there, it is less than a mile to the landing, but at dusk it seems longer than that when we are on one of our nightly walks, watching the crabs crisscross in front of us as we search for frogs no bigger around than a penny. After it rains, as it often does on sweltering Edisto afternoons, the frogs are plentiful.

Even though our children are teenagers now, they still delight in capturing these frogs — just for a few minutes, anyways, giving them cute little names like Eddie or Gloria and rubbing their tiny pale bellies. Their legs, suspended in the air, are not much bigger than eyelashes.

It’s a broken record, that’s for sure

Quite a few people have contacted me this week seeking an English translation of President Donald Trump’s recent reflections on Elton John, breaking records, hockey, which people need space and which ones do not, whether the brain is or is not attached to the mouth, and the correct order of importance of different body parts.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.