Farewell, Old Friend


My closest bookstore has gone out of business.

This makes me sad.

And the sad part is, it makes me sad not because the impact on me will be that great, but because of how my brain works.  I’m less sad about what it means for the future than what it means for the past.

I am, for those that don’t know this about me, an overwhelmingly nostalgic person.

I didn’t even go to that Books-A-Million that much anymore. Heck, I probably went more frequently to the Barnes & Noble I had to pass it to get to, simply because I had more reasons to go to that shopping center.

And there’s another Books-A-Million still open in town, so if I have Books-A-Million-specific needs, I can still go there.

Truth be told, and this is probably why the Books-A-Million is closing, I do the bulk of my book-buying online these days.

So the real net impact on me is pretty minimal. There are plenty of other options.

But none of those other options have the same memories.

I went to the store a week ago today, the day before it closed. I went mainly to see if there were any bargains to be had, but, being me, couldn’t help to be haunted by memories on practically every aisle. Many of happier times, a few not so much. Those aisles were touchstones of those memories, and it makes me sad that I’ll not be able to revisit them again, never be able to stand where I stood when … Never be able to look again where I saw …

And that’s silly, and I know it. But it’s who I am. And who I am will miss my Books-A-Million. I ended up leaving before the sense of loss swallowed me whole. The sense of loss over a bookstore I didn’t even go to that much anymore.

Silly.


I will add this, however — in the last three years, every book chain in Huntsville has had stores close except for Barnes & Noble.

Guess which is the only book chain in Huntsville to carry Homesteading Space.

Re-Pressed Memories


OK, this is another one of those posts that my sporadic blogging has caused me to be posting way too late, but I didn’t want to not.

Earlier this summer, I got to do a bit of time-traveling.

You see, this year, Ole Miss’ student newspaper, The Daily Mississippian, turned 100, and a grand reunion was held at the university’s journalism school building.

Six years ago, we’d had a mini-reunion of several of the people I worked with, a sort of surprise birthday party I threw myself when I turned 30 (I knew it was my birthday party, most of the rest of the group didn’t). We’ve talked ever since about how we should do it again, and this time possibly plan far enough ahead to involve some of the more far-flung staff members who weren’t able to make it that time. When we found out about the 100th anniversary event, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

And, really, it was.

I saw friends that I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and, even with those I see more often, it was really great seeing everybody together.

The DM staff my first two years there was a very close-knit group, and I think we all imagined we would be friends forever. Over the years, we’ve drifted apart some from time to time, but it’s very neat seeing how, almost two decades later, we always tend to drift back together. And, as I’ve alluded to here, it’s been a rough summer for me, and it meant a huge deal for me to be surrounded by old friends who still love me. During my time at Ole Miss, far more than my dorm room, the journalism building, and the friends I shared it with, were home, and it was nice getting to be home that way again for a couple of days this summer.

Nik Dirga, who, being in New Zealand, wasn’t able to make the reunion, wrote a cool piece about the anniversary anyway, and I have to brag that The DM was named the 14th best student newspaper in the nation recently.

View My Worst-Ever Haircut and Mull It


From a Plinky prompt: Show a picture of your worst-ever haircut.

david hitt high school photo mullet

My high school senior yearbook portrait

It wasn’t intentional, I promise.

To be sure, I went through a series of bad hair styles in late high school and through college, and, to a lesser extent, thereafter. Somewhere, there are probably worse pictures of the style in this picture, but it was the worst one I had handy.

In my defense, for what little defense it provides, I didn’t realize I was rocking a mullet.

I blame Jeremy Wells. Jeremy, you see, was my high school newspaper editor my sophomore year, and he was, to my young mind, awesome. He excelled at everything I wanted to excel at and more. And while he was a good writer, his main strength as editor was his design and graphics ability, proving that you could become a school newspaper editor on the skills I had instead of the skills I didn’t.

I wanted to be Jeremy Wells.

And that imitation extended to hair. I wanted long hair like Jeremy’s. So I decided to start growing it out.

Now, I did not want a mullet. To be honest, at that point, I didn’t even know what a mullet was. In fact, it wasn’t until probably a decade after high school that I really realized that I’d had one.

What did I want? Awesome long hair. Like hippie or rock star hair, but clean cut and respectable. That’s totally better than a mullet. Look, I was in high school, whadda you want? Shut up.

What I got was a mullet. That I kept for way too long.

And the irony was this. I was telling this story to someone recently, how I didn’t know I had a mullet and that’s not what I was aiming for, I just wanted awesome long hair like Jeremy’s. I pulled out the yearbook to show his picture to explain what I’d actually wanted.

And in that picture, looking at it again for the first time in almost 20 years, it turns out Jeremy Wells was totally rocking a mullet.

Sigh.

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Another Sunday — Mountain View I


This entry is part of my series on my on-going “church journey” that I’ll be documenting as it takes place. You can read about other visits with the “journey” tag.

And then there was the week I went all the way back, to the beginning.

I wrote last month about revisiting Southside Baptist Church, where I attended prior to my divorce, and the experience of what it was like to go back to a church I had been a member of but which I’d not been to in years. It was an interesting experience, and made me curious about going even further back.

So I went to Mountain View Baptist Church.

To the best of my knowledge, Mountain View is the first church I ever went to. Pretty much from the time I was born until I was in high school, my family and I attended Mountain View, save for a couple of years we weren’t living in Huntsville. When I was in high school, we moved to Southside because of the larger youth program. I’ve set foot in Mountain View only sporadically since then, but it’s been many years since even the most recent of those visits.

Nonetheless, the first words I heard upon walking in were “Hello, Mr. Hitt.”

I’m impressed anyone recognized me. I’ve changed quite a bit since I last regularly attended Mountain View, but there were still a few familiar faces, more than recognized me without introduction than vice versa, I should add.

These posts about churches that were once home are the hardest in some ways, because it’s easy to take for granted some of the details. What was it like? Well, in a hundred little ways, it was like Mountain View, you know? I could still find the area in the wood paneling at the front that looked to me like Sark from Tron when I was a kid. When I walked through the church, the library still had the collection of Tom Swift books that were old when I read them decades ago, sitting on the same shelves. They were evenstill using the same offering envelopes.

The music was a mix of old and new. It was the first time I’d been in Mountain View and not used a hymnal, and despite the fact that the first song projected on the new screen up front was a praise chorus, we still sang “Just As I Am” as the invitation.

The congregation was also an interesting mix — Mountain View was most likely the most integrated church I’ve ever attended, with several mixed families. I’m curious as to how the Mountain View broke the church race barrier more effectively than, perhaps, anywhere I’ve been before.

And, of course, the other thing that was different was the pastor, as tends to happen. The consensus has been that Mountain View has a tendency to drift more liberal with new pastors, though I think there has been some back and forth rather than a continuous trend. I couldn’t tell about the new pastor. I could tell preached loudly, in sort of an archetypal old-fashioned Southern Baptist manner. It distracted me from the actual content of the message, but was fascinating for a while.

Two people joined the church at the end of the service, and the church body voted then and there on whether to accept them. Also, before dismissing the congregation, the pastor asked whether anyone else had a word they felt called to share, which I thought was pretty cool.

Right now, I feel like I sort of got what I was going to out of visiting Mountain View, but can’t swear that I won’t be going back.

When I Fall


Welcome to autumn!

I wrote a post last year about it being the first day of fall, and wanted to do so again this year.

In fact, I considered just republishing last year’s post, but it just didn’t seem right.

Oh, sure, there’s all that good sciencey stuff explaining about the first day of fall being the autumnal equinox when Earth’s subsolar point crosses the equator. And my basic feelings about fall (which were also the subject of a Reconstruction post earlier this year) as, moreso than spring, a time of fresh starts and new beginnings still apply this year as well.

That said, yeah, this year, I’m just not feeling it yet. And I think a good bit of that is literal. There’s a particular sort of day I associate with the beginning of fall — sun shining, weather cooler, a slight crisp breeze — and so far, we haven’t had a day that just really struck me as being fall.

And that may be the reason that I’m just not in the same place emotionally, either, but I’m not. It’s harder at the moment seeing this as a time when new beginnings are right around the corner. And that’s not a bad thing at all, I’m going into the fall at a place where I’m actually pretty content with the status quo; I don’t feel quite the need for something new that I did the last three or so autumns.

Who knows, the weather may change soon, and I may get that old fall feeling again.

As it is, I’m just looking forward to seeing a little more color.

New Old School


I love when, every few years, they release original-trilogy Star Wars figures in the old vintage packaging style from 30 years ago. It makes me happy.

Releasing prequel-trilogy figures in packaging based on the vintage design? Seeing an 80s-style Revenge of the Sith card? Yeah, that makes me rather happy, too.

Expendable Pilgrim


I was interested in watching both Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and The Expendables.

I had to pick one to watch first, knowing it meant I might not get around to the other. Scott Pilgrim won, which in retrospect was the right choice. But when I watched Scott Pilgrim, I wanted to write about it. And based on what I wanted to say about it, I wanted to watch The Expendables, too, and review them both together.

That was the weekend before last. This past weekend, I watched The Expendables. And I watched Scott Pilgrim again.

I rather liked Scott Pilgrim, in case you didn’t get that.

Scott Pilgrim, you see, was a lot of fun. It had a good story, and that went a long way, but it was made well, in a way that was enjoyably whimsical. It was made in a very particular vernacular, to the point where, if you’re unfamiliar with that vernacular, you might as well be watching a foreign film. But if you are, it provides the comfortable intimacy of a story told by someone who knows you.

And that was why I wanted to go ahead and watch The Expendables, as well. My theory was that it, also, would involve its own vernacular, and might resonate in the same way in its world.

I should note, here, that while both movies are rooted deeply in the culture of the ’80s and ’90s, and while I’m very much a child of the eras they’re rooted in, I myself am much more a part of the Scott Pilgrim culture than The Expendables culture. To be honest, I’ve never even watched a Rambo movie all the way through.

Scott Pilgrim is rooted heavily in pop geek culture of that period — in video games and sitcoms and comic books and indie bands. There’s hardly a frame of the film, to use an archaic colloquialism, that isn’t fan service for citizens of that world. The Expendables is written in exactly the vernacular you would expect of a movie that includes Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Steve Austin. (And doesn’t feature a baby in a key role; that’s an entirely separate genre.)

I would say it’s a credit to The Expendables that it’s not quite as slavishly devoted to its vernacular. The scene with “The Big Three” is handled with just as big a wink as you would expect, but then, later in the film, there’s a point where I thought, “They should totally have had Rocky fight that guy instead.” The problem, however, is that the entire point of The Expendables is that vernacular; it exists pretty much solely as a super-potent distillation of the ’80s over-the-top (no pun intended) action genre. Arguably, it would be hard for the film to have gone too far in that direction, since that’s pretty much its entire raison d’etre. It’s a movie, written in a particular vernacular, about that vernacular. It’s fun and entertaining, but very WYSIWYG.

Scott Pilgrim, on the other hand, uses its vernacular as a medium for telling a larger story. It’s a story about relationships, and uses its very contrived world to tell a very real story. I identified with the movie in two ways — both the ambient references to a culture I was very familiar with, but, even more so, its musings on love and relationships. I lived more than a bit of both the context and the content. It was a film with heart, and not just the little eight-bit ones that show how much life you have left.

The Expendables was a couple of hours of fun viewing, Scott Pilgrim will earn a place on my Blu-Ray shelf.