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Jim Ashley / Blog

Writer's Block

I knew it as soon as I woke up this morning. The room was dark but there was a faint glow from the morning sun peeking through a tiny gap in the curtains, but I knew. I pulled back the covers and swung my legs around and gently reached down for the floor; first just with my toes, but gradually one whole foot was on the floor and then the other followed. I could smell the coffee, which meant I had remembered to set the coffee maker last night. Good. If you would have snapped my picture every step I took between the bed and the bedroom door, it would have looked like one of those charts of human evolution. By the time I reached the kitchen I was walking almost upright. Still, I knew. I tried to deny it. I tried to tell myself I might be wrong. I got a cup from the cabinet and poured the coffee. Black. I always take it black on mornings like this one. And, yes, there have been many mornings like this. Even though I knew, still I had to try. I went into my office, as I call it. It is really just a small bedroom that contains only a wooden ladder-back chair and a desk with a typewriter on it. I pulled back the chair. It made the scratching sound it always makes when I drag the wooden legs across the hard-wood floors. The sound that I am sure first gave someone the idea to try scratching a chalkboard with their fingernails. I sat down and pulled the chair up close to the desk. I picked up a blank piece of paper and place it in top of the typewriter with my left hand and began to roll it in with my right hand. With the paper perfectly in place, I gently touched my fingers to the keys and waited. Nothing happened. I knew it. I knew it as soon as I woke up this morning, and I was right – I have writer’s block!

I Am Southern

I am Southern. I am as Southern as can be. I am as Southern as the day is long. I am as Southern as the scent of magnolia blossoms or honeysuckles. I am as Southern as the cypress knees down in the swamp, and the Spanish moss hanging from old live oaks. I’m as Southern as a glass of sweet ice tea. I’m as Southern as watching the lightning bugs in the woods at dusk. I am Southern. And I don’t need a Rebel Flag, or any other racist symbols to remind me that I am Southern, or to proclaim it to the world. There is so much that is good about the South. It is a shame that so many of us choose to make the steadfast and belligerent clinging to racist symbols the defining characteristic of what it means to be Southern. It doesn’t have to be. You can take down that flag and still be Southern. I am Southern.

Arctic Lizards

Arctic Lizards

The nay-sayers are always going on and on about the negative aspects of global warming, about how it is melting the polar ice-caps or whatever and destroying the natural habitat of penguins or polar bears or something like that. What they never seem to take into account is how global warming may be creating habitats for other animals. For instance, these people who are always whining about global warming never talk about how few reptiles there are currently living in the arctic - like it’s not even a problem. That should be a red-flag! It shows how little they really care about creating a balanced eco-system. Reptiles are a very important part of Earth’s delicately balanced eco-system. A more diverse Arctic may actually be a good thing! Maintaining the current rate of carbon emissions (or even increasing them) will help lead the way to a more diverse and more balanced Arctic! I'll go ahead and say it: Those people who want to reverse global warming by reducing greenhouse emissions are really just preventing the Arctic Lizards! As if maybe Arctic Lizards aren't as important as some of the other species they are always in a huff about when they a losing their natural habitats! Where are the animal rights people now? Where is PETA!? Where is Greenpeace? They don’t seem to care at all about Arctic Lizards! I guess it's just not cool or trendy to protect Arctic Lizards! So, who’s gonna care about the Arctic Lizards? I guess it’s up to you and me. Think about that next time some so-called environmentalist tries to get you to reduce your carbon footprint! Go ahead and ask them right to their face, “What about the Arctic Lizards?” see what they have to say about that! As for me, I’m going to do my part, for the love of our planet, for bio-diversity, for a more balanced eco-system, I going to put a BIG carbon foot down for the Arctic Lizards!

Is the Universe Expanding?

Is the Universe Expanding? I have heard it said (by some of these uppity science types) that the universe is expanding. To this I say, “Is that even possible? Where would it go? Is there room outside of the universe for this to happen?” Never mind the political questions brought up by this cosmic forced annexation. And never mind the aforementioned implausibility of such an occurrence. This is a scientific question, and therefore we must rely on scientific evidence. Back in Mr. Bradley’s science class, the guys I sat with in science lab and I used to conduct highly scientific experiments to test our scientific theories. Most of these theories were about whether or not some substance or another would catch on fire if it came into close contact with a Bunsen burner. The answer, as far as I can remember was “yes” with every substance we ever conducted this experiment on. To be fair, some of the other students in the class actually did the experiments they were assigned to do, and while they generally got better grades, I don’t think any of them enjoyed science class as much as we did. But, back to the universe; I have seen no, let me repeat NO evidence that the universe is expanding! Sometimes I can’t help wondering what these science types are smoking (Not that any of the scientific theories we tested in Mr. Bradley’s science class were ever inspired by smoking anything), but you wonder sometimes about these science types and some of the theories come up with! It’s crazy! I would discuss some of them in detail here, except that I can’t really think of any of them at this particular time. But, expanding universe? Well, I guess it’s possible, but I’m going to need to do some testing. I’m going to need to set up some experiments in a highly controlled scientific setting. Anybody got a Bunsen burner?

Intelligent Life on Other Planets

Intelligent Life on Other Planets Lately I’ve been watching the first couple of seasons of the X-Files on Netflix. It makes you think. I have also been watching a lot of documentaries about UFO’s and people who think there is a huge government conspiracy to cover up the facts. I don’t know. I’m probably wrong. I’m usually wrong about stuff like this, but I think it is probably more likely that there is an even bigger government conspiracy to make us think there is a huge government conspiracy to cover up the whole UFO thing. I think there probably IS intelligent life out there, but if it is all that intelligent it probably stayed out there! Sometimes I wonder if there is intelligent life on Earth. Like, for instance, recently I had a head cold or allergies or something and I had a lot of nasal congestion. Yuck, right? So I wanted to get some saline nasal spray. I went to Wal-Mart (I know) and was standing on saline nasal spray aisle staring blankly at the myriad different brands of saline nasal spray, trying to decide whose marketing I should fall prey to, when this lady wanders up beside me also staring into the sea of saline nasal spray brands (many of them containing the word “sea”), and she starts asking me which one I recommend. I guess something about my blank staring made me appear some kind of an expert. She seemed to be mid-fifties. She had bleached blonde hair with dark roots and a Kid Rock T-shirt with cut-off sleeves that exposed a tattoo that said something about the second amendment. She starts telling me that she wants to make sure she gets the right one this time because she has to change buses at least twice just to get to Wal-Mart. She also wants to make sure she doesn’t get anything that is addictive, because there is a history of substance abuse in her family. I’m sure there was even more, but I can’t remember it and it suddenly occurs to me that this doesn’t really prove anything either way about whether there is intelligent life on Earth! Let alone other planets! I think I’ll go watch a UFO documentary on Netflix, or maybe an episode of the X-Files. The truth is out there.

The Winner's Circle

I was playing lead guitar in a country/southern rock/classic rock band called “Confederate Highway” in the South Carolina Lowcountry. We booked a gig at a bar we had never played at, in Orangeburg SC, a town about 50 miles away. The bar was called “The Winner’s Circle” and had kind of a Nascar theme. They had a black & white checkerboard floor and posters of Dale Earnhart & Jeff Gordon on the walls. It was a redneck bar. It was perfect for the kind of music we were playing. We played Friday and Saturday nights, and had a very small turnout both nights. They assured us that the small crowds were due to a festival that was occurring nearby and that we would do much better next time! So, we booked another weekend two or three months later. A few days before the gig, our drummer called to confirm that we were still playing that weekend (that they had not double-booked or anything). A new manager, guy named Ramon answered the phone and informed him that the club was no longer called “The Winner’s Circle” – It was now called “Club Tropicana”. We never checked it out ourselves, but the picture this conjured up was a place with fake palm trees, and drinks with umbrellas in them. Needless to say, we were not booked to play that weekend. And the moral is: always call to confirm out-of-town gigs before making the drive. On second thought, it would probably have been a better story if we had gone. Well, you live and learn.


Way back when I was just a teenager, I used to listen to albums all the time. Not CD’s, not MP3’s or anything, just albums. We called ‘em albums – now they call ‘em “vinyl records”, but we just called ‘em albums. Mostly rock music. We called it “rock”, now they call it “classic rock”. I did not listen to ‘em just because it was cool, although it was. At the time, I had a sincere and profound belief that these rockstars were some kind of mystical oracles who knew the secrets of life, and that the answers to the mysteries of the universe were held within the lyrics of their songs. With the benefit of hindsight, this seems pretty ridiculous; especially after having seen Steven Tyler on the panel of American Idol. But at the time, it seemed to make perfect sense. The lyrics were almost always printed in the liner notes, so you could follow along as you listened, so that none of the profundity was obscured by loud guitar riffs, or pounding drums. Now, of course, as a mature adult, I realize that there was little or no insight at all in these compositions. These guys were not prophets at all. They just made this stuff up to get girls. Back then, girls were impressed by stuff that sounded deep. I don’t know what they’re impressed with now, but I’m pretty sure it’s totally different stuff. That’s why today’s rock stars never try to sound intelligent. Nowadays, if people are looking for the secrets of life, or the answers to the mysteries of the universe, they look to totally different sources; such as, the internet, or maybe the Dicovery Channel. I don’t think there is any danger of anyone mistaking me for prophet, or thinking there is anything to be gained by close scrutiny of my lyrics, but I’m not taking any chances! And so, I feel compelled to offer up this disclaimer: The composer and/or singer of these songs accepts no responsibility for personal injury; or damage to, or loss of property that may or may not occur as a result of believing said songs. These songs are for entertainment purposes only. Listener discretion is advised. So There!

When Is Obama Going To Pick Up My Gun?

When Is Obama Going To Pick Up My Gun? The day Barak Obama was elected President of The United States, I secured my handgun in a lockbox and placed it near the front door. I did this so that I could peacefully hand it over when Mr. Obama (or one of his agents) came to my house to take possession of the firearm. I remember hearing over and over during the 2008 Presidential Campaign that, if Obama were elected, this would occur almost immediately. Oh, he never said it himself. He only spoke of things like “Hope” and “Change”, but conservative talk-show hosts explained that this was only “code” for what his “real” agenda was. His real agenda (as best I can remember, I’m doing this without notes) went something like this: • Abolish Democracy and turn America into an Islamo-Fascist Socialist State • Continue not having a birth certificate • Take all of your hard-earned money and give it to free-loaders • Destroy the sanctity of marriage by allowing openly gay people serving in the armed forces to have federally-funded abortions • Surrender the War on Terror and allow the Evil-doers to take over the world • Something about Healthcare (but I don’t remember what) But the main thing I remember was the gun thing. Now, three years later, while most of these agenda items have been accomplished, I am still waiting for President Obama (or someone) to come by and pick up this handgun. Did I miss the memo? Was I supposed to take it somewhere and turn it in myself? Maybe they started on the west coast and they haven’t gotten to North Carolina yet. Can anybody confirm this? They say that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns…well I have no desire to be an outlaw. So, Mr. President, if it’s not too much trouble, please come get this thing.