Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Fifth Week of the Month

Often times, when we publish a fifth issue of the month, I use the occasion to publish random thoughts, isolated ideas, and tidbits on various topics. (We publish this newspaper on Thursdays, you may know, which approximately four times a year causes us to have a month with five issues. It’s a great opportunity to do a little clean up.) This is one of those times.

Earlier this month, I offered my idea of changing the name of the month of “August” to “Elvis”. I think it’s catching on… I’ve heard chatter. Watch for congressional action any day now… or, at least, a petition-drive from “the people”. (I’m a little surprised the drive hasn’t already started spontaneously across the land. It’s just such a good idea.)

If we’re going to rename a month, someone suggested, shouldn’t we also update the names of the days of the week? I think that’s another fine and useful idea: We should rename some of the days of the week, especially those that begin with the same first letter.

“Tuesday” and “Thursday” both begin with letter “T”. How confusing is that? Couldn’t we just give one of them a different name, maybe something that starts with a “V” or a “J” (both very fine letters, but vastly under-used).

“Saturday” and “Sunday” also both start with the same letter, but since it’s the weekend, they could probably stay the same, because the weekend is really like one long day anyway.

If anybody wants to undertake the mission of renaming the days of the week, here are a couple of other suggestions:

1. Why not start completely over, and arrange the names alphabetically, which would help when computer programs are trying to sort by day of the week.

2. Why not sell names, like sponsorships of sporting events. Corporate America would pay BIG BUCKS to have a day of the week named for them: Billions. Can you even imagine how much The Donald would pay to have “Friday” renamed “Trumpday”? It could lower the national tax rate.

Those are my suggestions, but someone else will have to take up the mantle on this campaign, because I’m devoting my efforts to the month of “Elvis”

Now on to the weather… Has it been hot enough for you?

Our recent string of 100+ degree days has left a lot of people scratching their heads, wondering if it’s the effect of global warming. Here’s the answer: Yeah, the globe is warming. However, I still seriously doubt that we humans have made much of a dent on Mother Nature. (Truth is, in the big picture, we aren’t that big of a deal... we humans.) It was probably going to warm up regardless, kinda like the Ice Age managed to come and go without us.

Still, I do think from time to time about The Rainbow from Noah’s Ark. After the Lord washed most of humankind away to start over, he promised “never again”… but he was referring specifically to a flood. Overheating us out of existence is still permissible, because of that loophole. And if the Lord took a look around these days and decided he wanted to wipe out the human race, who could blame him?

I suggest we each say a little prayer that this is not what’s going on here with this heat wave.

But it has been HOT! Too hot to do anything. I’m thinking that’s why nobody has started knocking on doors with the “August to Elvis” petitions yet.

Random Topic Number Three: My weight loss competition.

I’m proud to report that I dropped eight pounds in the first week or so. I know this because my pal Jim Miles dropped in last week, and we held a mini-weigh-in. He was down seven, I was down eight, based on the Ronco Scale-a-Matic that we were using.

The contest is, of course, a three-month weight-loss competition between 17 local hefties, each of whom put $100 in the pot, with the winner(s) taking it all. We are now beginning week three of the marathon.

Last week, I announced an award for whomever guessed closest to the total combined weight of the 17 contestants in the weight loss competition. I’ll announce that winner next week.

But I also want to give you another chance to win a $25 Gift Certificate with another contest. I want to see who can come the closest to matching up the 17 contestants with their 17 beginning weights.

Following are the 17 weights, in descending order, followed by the names of the 17 contestants, in semi-alphabetical order (dyslexic version). How many can you correctly match up?

The beginning weights:

Four of ‘em topped 300 pounds: 331 lbs., 316 lbs., 312 lbs., and 302 lbs.;
Six were in the upper 200’s: 292 lbs., 285 lbs., 279 lbs., 273 lbs., 264 lbs. and 263 lbs.;

And the remaining contestants weighed in between 200-250: 245 lbs.; 237 lbs., 235 lbs., 234 lbs., two at 225 lbs., and 210 lbs.

Now, here are the contestants, in no particular order:
Former GOP Executive Director Scott Malyerck; Insurance Magnate Terry Campbell; State Senator Jake Knotts; Stan "The Man" Bowen; Ricky “Rubi” Wingard of Econo-Bug and LHS Roundball fame; R.J. Shealy (that’s Junior); former Secretary of State Jim Miles; Leesville Transport Professional Gerald Head; Irmo Town Councilman Barry "Fatback" Walker; ETV’s Andy Gobeil; Judge Brian Jeffcoat; Douglas Adam; A. L. Wingard; Kirk Luther, my business-partner; Lexington Town Councilman Danny Frazier; copywriter supreme Tim Kelly; and Yours Truly, your publisher: Rod-Boy.

Simply send me an email guessing which weight matches up with which of these
Colossal Contestants. Send it to RodShealy@aol.com. Whoever gets the most correct wins the prize!!!

Incidentally, since we’ve now published each of the seventeen individual weights, it’s too late to enter your guess in the “Guess the Combined Weight” contest – except for Clemson fans. (Y’all can still keep trying to guess.)

Hey! It’s football season. Go Cocks!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Candy from a Baby

Regular readers of this column will recall that I recently put out an open invitation for a few stout-hearted friends to join me in my next weight-loss competition. (Okay, not necessarily stout-hearted… just stout!)

You may remember that I had come to the realization during my recent class reunion – at which several of my classmates observed me on the dance floor and later asked me how I did “that jiggle move” –that I’ve let my stylish-figure slip a little, resulting in a body-fat-ratio that medical doctors refer to as being a “hippo-pig-whale”.

So the call went out for a competition. Eating a proper diet is not my strong suit – I like taters, and lots of ‘em, the greasier the better -- and the thought of exercise is so objectionable to me that I can’t even watch it on those early morning cable TV infomercials. But competition… that’s another story.

As a full-fledged red-blooded American, I thrive on competition. It’s what we do in the USA. You know, like when our hockey team beat the Ruskies in the Olympics a decade or two ago. Or NASCAR, when Little-E is battling the Evil Jeff Gordon. Or the WWF when… well, not so much the WWF, I guess.

As for me, competition is in my blood. In grammar school, when the other kids were dreading a pop quiz, I saw it as a challenge: a competition with the teacher. Granted, the teacher usually won, but it was good sport, nonetheless. (And don’t even get me started if there was a spelling bee.)

I have learned over the years that the ONLY way I can lose weight is to make a competition out of it. For me, that’s all it takes. If I can find just a few people to give me a challenge, I’m golden.

So the challenge went out a few weeks ago, and sixteen very na├»ve, even gullible, amateur contestants from round the Midlands answered my call. Very foolishly, I might add. As if there is even the slightest possibility that any of them – other than Yours Truly – might have a chance.

The whole gang met last Tuesday at the Sunset Restaurant in West Columbia for our last meal before heading down the street to C.C. Vaughn Scales for the official beginning weigh-in. (You can actually see video of that now famous Buffet of the Big Bellies on the Internet by checking out YouTube, or visiting my blog at: www.doingthefirst.blogspot.com )

Each of the Super-Sized Seventeen put $100 into a pot, which will be split by the two winners, to be determined by the “Most Pounds Lost” and the “Largest Percentage of Weight Lost” during the three month (13 week) contest period. In reality, of course, there will only be one winner – Yours Truly – who will prevail in BOTH categories, and walk away with ALL the loot. (And when I say “walk away”, I really mean “half-trot/half-jog”, which is what people do when they lose as much weight as I’m going to lose.)

Now, I know there are those who say all my bluster is merely false bravado: an effort to psyche out the other competitors. But I ask you, would I do that? Would I? (In my years of competition, I have developed a motto: “If I can’t win fair and square, I don’t want to win fair and square.”)

Not that it matters, but there are sixteen other people in the competition with me, who, for the sake of clarity, we shall refer to as “Runner-ups”. They are: Senator Jake Knotts, Stan "The Man" Bowen, Ricky Wingard, R.J. Shealy (that’s Junior), former Secretary of State Jim Miles, Gerald Head, Irmo Town Councilman Barry "Fatback" Walker, ETV’s Andy Gobeil, Scott Malyerck, Terry Campbell, Brian Jeffcoat, Douglas Adam, A. L. Wingard, Kirk Luther, Lexington Town Councilman Danny Frazier, and Tim Kelly… along with Yours Truly, your publisher.

We’ll talk more about this interesting collection of Out-of-Shape Individuals, and keep you posted with the progress of our little competition (or lack thereof), during the weeks and months ahead.

In the meantime, I thought I’d generate a bit of competition among our readers to get in the spirit. I’ve listed the 17 contestants above, and we’ll publish our individual beginning weights in a few weeks. But first, I want to see who can come the closest to correctly guessing our total beginning weight. (The closest guess will receive a $25 gift certificate.) Send your best guess to me by email, at RodShealy@aol.com, along with any disparaging remarks you wish to make about the group as a whole.

In the meantime, if you run into any of the other contestants (runners-up), tell them Rod said “thanks” for the swell money they’re going to give him.

Like taking candy from a baby.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Weight Lost Contest August 07

Seventeen contestants gathered at the Sunset Restaurant in West Columbia for their last meal before embarking on a three-month-long weight loss competition. Pictured are Jake Knotts, Stan "The Man" Bowen, Ricky Wingard, R.J. Shealy, Jim Miles, Gerald Head, Barry "Fatback" Walker, Andy Gobeil, Scott Malyerck, Terry Campbell, Brian Jeffcoat, Douglas Adam, A. L. Wingard, and Kirk Luther. Not pictured are Danny Frazier, Tim Kelly, and Yours Truly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's Elvis, the 21st

There must be something wrong with me as a columnist. During the nearly 20 years I have been pecking out these semi-regular, quasi-literary gems, I don't recall EVER having written about ELVIS.

How can anyone write newspaper columns for all those years and never mention The King? Especially if you write during the month of August!

August, you know, is right in the middle of what used to be referred to as Dog Days... those hot, listless days in the late summer when nothing much seems to happen. For reporters, Dog Days often meant going on some sort of witch hunt to find something to write about, because nothing newsworthy was ever happening.

But not any more. In the 30 years since the departure from this world of The King of Rock and Roll (or did he?), August has become Elvis is Dead Anniversary Month, and the media have had plenty to write about and broadcast. The media saturation has been perhaps a little heavier than usual this year, since this is the Thirtieth Anniversary (that's pearls if you're buying gifts) of the Unsolved Elvis Mystery.

It has occurred to me that this is not going to stop. It seems to me that Elvis-mania is only getting stronger each August, to the point that it now seems to dominate the airwaves.

Which is why I am offering this very bold proposal, that I believe will have great support throughout America: Let's just change the name of the month from "August" to "Elvis".

August, after all, was named after Augustus Caesar, who lived about 2,000 years ago. Like Elvis, he too was a king, or emperor, or whatever they had in Rome. (I don't know because, in the ninth grade, I chose to take Intro to Typing instead of Western Civilization.)

I imagine Augustus Caesar was very big in his day. They probably painted Velvet Augustus's, and I'm sure over-weight, middle-aged women with big hair and tears streaming through their caked-on, multi-colored makeup visited Cease-land every year after he was gone.

But, that, as they say, is "ancient history". He's like nowheresville today. He's had his millennium... actually two of 'em.

Now we're in a new millennium, and who says we can't do a little touch-up work to the calendar.

I'll bet if we put it on the next Election Day Ballot -- Elvis Presley versus Augustus Caesar, Elvis would win overwhelmingly in every state (with the possible exception of Massachusetts.)

Actually, it's pretty easy to get used to it. Repeat after me: "January, February, March, April, May, June, July, Elvis, September, October..." It sounded natural, didn't it?

Now, let's try a few practical application tests. Try to say a few dates: "Elvis, the tenth... Wednesday, Elvis the eleventh... Today is Elvis twenty-first... Elvis thirtieth, two-thousand seven..." See, it flows pretty well.

Of course, it will take an act of Congress, or perhaps the individual acts of 50 state legislatures, to actually change the name of the month. But that shouldn't present too much of an obstacle. If Elvis fans throughout the land decide they want to change the name of the month, no Congressman in America would be safe from the public pressure.

So there you have it: My bold proposal for 2007.

King, wherever you are, I'm sorry I have neglected to ever write about you before. I hope this makes up for it.

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Note from the publisher: Actually, I DID write about Elvis once before… This same column, in fact… ten years ago!!! But, since my “ Elvis” name-change idea didn’t catch on, I thought I’d give it another try. So I just dusted off the old column, updated it a bit and – PRESTO – our first summer re-run!!!! And, this time, it’ll be on the Internet! Maybe now it will catch on!!!!

Another note from the publisher: Happy Birthday, Mom! (Did you think I could write about Elvis and completely forget your birthday? Again?!!!)


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You’re always welcome to let me know you agree, disagree, can’t make sense of, or simply don’t care about anything I’ve written here… or about any other topic that happens to be on your mind. You can email me directly at: RodShealy@aol.com.

And, if reading it once just wasn’t enough for you, read it again online – along with previous columns -- at my blog: www.doingthefirst.blogspot.com

Monday, August 6, 2007

I’m a Hippo-Pig-Whale

It was at my recent Lexington High School Class of 1972 Reunion that I came to the stark realization I need to lose a few pounds. (A few, in this case, is 20 or 30… give or take 20 or 30.)

It came to me when I danced a few times during the reunion, and several of my classmates asked me how I did “the jiggle move”.

One thing worse than suffering though the hot, muggy, 100-plus degree days of August in the Heat-Lands of South Carolina is suffering through those same days as a big, fat, giant, hippo-pig-whale… which is precisely what I am currently doing. It’s hot and I’m over-weight. I’m large. I’m a truck. No… a house!

How over-weight am I?

I’m so over-weight, when I was trying to get a tan on the beach last month, a couple of kids tried to drag me back out to sea!

I’ve gotten so big, the Post Office is thinking about giving me my own zip code.

I’m so huge, when I sit around the house, I sit “around the house”. I stepped up on one of those new “talking” scales, and it said: “One at a time, please!” I wore a yellow raincoat, and somebody hollered out “Taxi!”

Here’s the bottom line: I really need to lose some weight.

Losing weight is a simple concept. Everybody knows how. It’s not difficult at all:
Diet and exercise!

Unfortunately, “knowing” and “doing” are two different matters. And frankly, diet and exercise are NOT two of my favorite things.

Strenuous exercise, to me, is walking up and down a flight of stairs every day. On big days, I also walk across the parking lot on the way into a grocery store.

And my diet is even worse. I like meat and taters. Always have, always will. I say a meal without starches is like a bird without feathers. (Ummmmmm… That makes me think of fried chicken! With mashed taters and thick white gravy. Yummy!)

Diet and exercise are not things which come naturally for me, which makes losing weight tough for me.

BUT!!!!! The good-ole All-American Spirit of COMPETITON is something which DOES sort of comes natural for me.

So, whenever I need to lose weight, there’s only one way to have a chance: A contest!

That’s why, last week, I announced that we would organize another weight-loss contest, beginning during August… just like the one we started back in January.

We’re looking for 10 to 20 thick-skinned individuals who don’t mind being subjected to the sort of bare-it-all-to-the-whole-world public humiliation I regularly inflict upon myself in this column. (When I say “thick-skinned”, I’m not merely referring to an extra layer of fat.)

This time, we’re adding a twist: We’re each chipping in $100 -- into the winner-take-all pot -- but half of the winnings will go to a charity designated in advance by each contestant. That way, we each have additional pressure – from our charity group -- to stick with the diet and exercise during the 13 week contest.

Of course, as soon as we kick it off, I’ll be publishing regular updates on our progress, yet another way of putting public pressure on each contestant.

And when it’s all over, I’ll write glowingly about the brilliant tactics, successful strategies, and unrelenting willpower of the eventual winner. (As long as it’s me.)

So far, here are the contestants:

Anchoring the contest along with me will be my business partner Kirk Luther and business associate and eldest offspring, Rod, Jr. Possibly back for return appearances from the January competition – we don’t know for sure, we’ll have to wait and see – are well-known locals like Rob Schoolmeester, Terry Campbell, Norman Agnew, and Bo McDonald.

New contestants who have already signed on to join the fun and misery for health and charity include Irmo Town Councilman and restaurateur Barry “Fatback” Walker; State Senator Jake Knotts, Lexington County Judge Bryan Jeffcoat, former Director of the SC Republican Party Scott Malyerck, and former SC Secretary of State Jim Miles.

Final rules are currently being hammered out by a crack team of legal negotiators, and the official judge for the contest is Lake Murray’s own Dr. Oscar Lovelace, MD, who earned the distinction last week when I ran in to him at a local eatery and he greeted me with a cheery, “Hi, Rod, you really need to lose some weight.”

We’re issuing an open invitation for this weight loss competition. Hopefully, we’ll have 20 or so contestants, meaning the winner and the charity can each walk away with a cool thousand!!!

If you want to join us in this weight loss contest, starting next week, email me at: RodShealy@aol.com.