Sunday December 31, 2006




I had another very rough night last night. I decided I had to go back to the doctor. I waited and waited through the night in an attempt to let Amanda get some rest. After getting some breakfast and medication in me and seeing no relief, Amanda decided to take me to the urgent care facility near where she works. By the time I got there, I was about to fall over again. This time it was only weakness but it was profound.

I saw Dr. Hartness and I'm thankful that I did. He apparently has tinnitus and immediately saw the links with vertigo. He wanted to know if I've traveled by plane lately. "Why yes, I traveled 6,000 miles in the last couple of weeks". He immediately was sure that this whole thing was because of an ear infection made worse because of my tinnitus. He gave me a slew of antibiotics (3 a day for 10 days) and sent me on my way. I believe that both doctors are right. I believe they both got half of the picture. I'm glad I saw both. Now maybe I can slowly get back to a stable Earth.

He also mentioned the stress I've been under (from my Grandmother's situation) as being a possible contributor. I wish I could disagree. In fact, I talked to her this evening and she was in a terrible mood. I know she's upset being where she is and she has a right to be upset but today, we're both sick. We wound up in a bit of a shouting match. She seems to think that I'm enjoying having all of this extra responsibility and that I'm receiving some satisfaction in doing things for her and "telling her what to do". That's not what I'm doing and I don't feel that way. In fact, I can't stand that I'm the only person who cares enough to try and do it right. The only satisfaction that I feel from it is in doing everything that I can do to look out for someone who always did the same for me. I'm doing all I can. I can't do any more than I am...especially not now. I'm seeing to it that she's taken care of but I can't work miracles. All that conversation did was stress me out more.

This is not the kind of New Year's Eve I had hoped to have. I somehow managed to stay awake. I laid on my right side on the couch watching Dick Clark count in (with some difficulty) the year 2007. I'm glad to still be around. I'm glad for everyone else that still is. I'm glad for all I have. Believe me, despite all of this, I'm well aware of how good I have it.

Still, right now I simply want 2007 to be about living life and being able to do the things that are important to me. I have a limited amount of time on this planet and I'd like to spend it in a way that makes me proud, makes me happy or both!

Besides, I've had enough dying for awhile.

Happy new year!




Saturday December 30, 2006

Yep. There just wasn't any way I could work today. So I laid on the couch with Saturday morning TV. All of the Saved By The Bell type knock offs are a big improvement over the week day talk shows but what happened to all of the cartoons?

I couldn't believe that I didn't make it to my job covering the James Brown service. Well, maybe I'll make it to his next funeral as he seems to be having so many (and in different outfits no less).

I was able to go online briefly. When I did I saw that Saddam Hussein had been executed overnight. So there's your #3 if you believe in that kind of thing.

I really don't think it was in anyone's best interest to make a martyr out of him but if you believe in the death penalty (which I'm not sure that I do), then it must apply to someone like him, right? I just don't know.

Death seems to be everywhere today. And with me and my current health, it seems even more overwhelming.

I'm not really any better. In some ways, I'm worse. I'm thankful that the spinning is over but I'm kind of out of it. I was so weak that I couldn't even sit up. Amanda had to put a straw into my mouth to drink and she even had to feed me at one point. She did get my strength back up some. This dehydration is crazy considering how much fluid I'm putting in. Is it the flu? Ear infection? As I said, I've deduced that some of the pain (head, muscles) is from me decking myself headfirst into the wall on the way down the stairs. I can't believe it's hurting this much WHILE TAKING migraine medications.

At the worst point, I felt like I needed to be in the hospital. I rode it out, though.

In the evening, I got another call from Tom O' Gorman in Dubai. I didn't bother him with the details of what was going on with me. Again - it was so good to hear his voice. We didn't get to talk long but he told me he was sending me some new material to finish. He also said he had done some work on one of my songs. I can't tell you how excited that made me despite the way I felt. I would so love to write another whole record with him. As it is, it looks like our next record is going to have 3 songs that he co-wrote. Our last album had 3, too.

After we got disconnected, I turned on the news.

The top story: James Brown's funeral.

The quote that caught my ear was "Everyone was caught by surprise when Michael Jackson appeared in the room." Yep. It happened and I wouldn't have been surprised. I was invited to cover Michael Jackson's first public appearance since becoming an ex-patriot. I, instead, was on my back on a couch. Potentially I could have made more money yesterday than I made in all of last year with those images. At least that's what my fevered brain says.

On top of that, I missed my chance to pay my respects to a legend.

Oh well....

In the evening, I turned on the TV. Every major station was carrying Gerald Ford's first funeral.

Yep, more death...



Friday December 29, 2006



Amanda offered to stay home from work today. I told her to go on in. What's the point? I couldn't really do anything. I wasn't even able to check email. I curled up on the couch with a remote control, Gatorade and the phone by my side. I was still extremely weak. By now, I did have a full-fledged migraine. I took the medicine and it successfully contracted my blood vessels. In fact, there was a throbbing in the back of my head that made me feel like my brain stem was being milked. It HURT!

Amanda did bring me some lunch. That helped a bit.

I went ahead and called my Grandmother and Mom to let them know what was going on. My Mom offered to come up and look after me (she's a nurse). I know she's busy so I told her to wait a few days and see.

Needless to say, the whole James Brown ceremony thing isn't looking too promising to me right now. It was especially hard when his publicist personally called to make sure I knew I was on the list and to tell me of some changes. We both speculated as to whether Michael Jackson would show up. We had our doubts. I hated having to tell her that I was sick and just might not be able to make it.

By now I had a fever. I had intense pain in my head and profound weakness. I really believe there's more to this than migraine equivalent.

At some point today, my left temple started hurting really badly. It was then that I remembered slamming headfirst into the wall. So yeah - I don't think this headache is a migraine. I believe it's from slamming it into a wall. My head's hurting where it hit and in my neck where the impact on my body would've been.

This sucks.

On top of that, we only have basic cable now. Do we really need to see 3 and 4 hours of talk shows where people are trying to learn the paternity of their children? (I'm asking you, Maury Povich!). You know, when seeing people make idiots of themselves on Jerry Springer is the best thing on TV that the world is in trouble.

"I just want my Jerry beads."

Me, too, little lady. Me too.



Thursday December 28, 2006






What can I say? What am I willing to say here? Not much. Thank you for everything and nothing. It's who we are and who we'll be. I'm thankful that you're here when I go to sleep and when I wake up. I don't know how you put up with me but I hope you can continue to do it!

"God only knows what I'd be without you..."

I spent the day today getting things done. It was nice. I felt some accomplishment. I also got good news in that one of my Panic! At The Disco shots was named as one of the "photos of the year" at WireImage! Of all of the hundreds of thousands of shots submitted, they chose 80 total to represent 2006 and one of 'em was mine (and it's not even a special one in my opinion!). I'm flattered.

I was also flattered that James Brown's publicist emailed me to let me know that I'd be on the list for the funeral this Saturday in Augusta. I was already thinking about going. It's so close and I feel like I should pay my respects. If I can work it, that kind of closes the deal. And while I'd be there out of respect for Mr. Brown, I also heard (on good authority) that either Michael Jackson and / or Prince were going to show up. For the record, I doubt this seriously. If Michael Jackson were to show up, I imagine he'd be served with papers from so many different directions that he wouldn't know what to do. There's a reason he's been out of the country for the last 2 years. Still - if he and I are both there and I were to get some shots, that could pay off nicely AND I'd sort of get a few more minutes of the James Brown atmosphere.

We'll see...

I spent a chunk of today contacting the band. I spoke to them all for the first time in a while. Joe apparently didn't know I had gone out west. I talked to Frank and Mike too. Everything was going fine and getting back on track.

Then I decided to jump in the shower at about 5 pm so I'd be ready to take Amanda out to celebrate dinner at about 5:30.

So there I was washing my hair. I closed my eyes and leaned over to scrub my hair a bit.

Then it happened like a bullet in the back of my head.

I felt like the whole planet had been knocked out of orbit. I thought to myself, "Calm down, Chris. When you open your eyes, everything will be fine". I couldn't have been more wrong.

When I opened my eyes, I was in a barrel roll in a crashing space ship. It was terrifying. It was like I'd suddenly gained a sense of how fast the earth is actually hurtling through space. I didn't have time to think as I then felt like I was physically being shoved to the left.

It's a minor miracle that I didn't rip down the shower curtain as I fell over. I tried to turn off the water. I couldn't. I couldn't catch the dials as they sped by. I tried to walk out of the door. I couldn't. I wound up on my knees being shoved over and over again to the left. I thought I was having a stroke.

I grabbed some clothes lying on the bed. I couldn't get them on. I resisted the temptation to lay still, stumbled almost blindly across the room to the phone and managed to grab it. It was difficult but I was able to call 911. I could hardly speak. I felt so bad, so suddenly. I just kept telling her my address. She hung up. The door was locked downstairs. How could anyone get in? I couldn't believe everything was so out of control even with my eyes closed. I had finally managed to get half dressed. I couldn't get my shirt on. I was freezing. I took my shirt and decided to make a break for downstairs. I had to unlock the door. I clutched the shirt and tried to stand up. Another mistake. I was shoved to the left and crunched the wall with the temple of my head. I crawled to the top of the stairwell and looked down. I didn't know how I could get down there. Eventually, I decided to stay on back and slide down. It was incredibly taxing but I made it to the bottom. The door is right at the bottom of the stairs. I managed to lunge forward, unlock the door and open it part way before I fell to the left on the floor, still clutching my shirt.

By now, the waves of nausea from all of my flipping had started. This had taken quite a few minutes. The ambulance wasn't there. I wondered if I was going to live through it. I decided I had to at least make it through today because I didn't want to ruin Amanda's birthday by dying on it. That may sound crazy but it helped me keep my strength up a little more than I otherwise would've.

I couldn't really move anymore. Not much. I was face down on the floor with a shirt in my hand and the door half opened. A quarter of an hour had now gone by since it started. It seemed like years. We have a very hard address to find and by this point I realized that the ambulance couldn't find me. On top of that, I wasn't able to put the phone back in the receiver when I was done calling so it was still off the hook. I couldn't get back upstairs to hange it up and call them and they couldn't call me back.

All I could do was wait.

At about 5:30, Amanda arrived home from work looking forward to a nice birthday dinner out. When I heard the car stop I felt relief that someone was home and terrible that she was going to come in and find me this way. At least I hadn't dropped dead.

She casually walked in the open door to find me sprawled beside it with no shirt on. It was clear that things were very wrong. All I could say was, "I'm very sorry for doing this today. I'm so sorry" I kept apologizing before I even thought to tell her to hang up the phone upstairs and check in with the ambulance again. When she got upstairs, the bathroom was flooded since I couldn't turn off the water. She hung up and called 911 again. Yep. They couldn't find me.

When she got back downstairs, I truly thought I was in trouble. I felt a cotton-mouth like sensation that I've never felt. I was now beginning to feel like I was going to lose consciousness. Amanda got some Gatorade and I did my best to drink some. I got a little down and just then my own floodgates decided to open up.

For the record, I don't really throw up or anything like that. Well, I didn't. I felt it coming today. Luckily, it waited for Amanda to get home. She grabbed a semi-convenient bucket which I then proceeded to half-fill. Then I keeled back over.

That's when the ambulance finally made it. The 2 EMT's were great. One guy and one girl. They were patient and extremely helpful. After losing what little lunch I had, the room started to slow down its spin. That part became bearable. By now, though, my body had gone crazy. I was in tachycardia and unable to really move or anything. They took my blood pressure and at least it was okay. Then they wanted to take it with me sitting up. As pathetic as it sounds, that was one of the most physically demanding things I've ever done. I wound up leaning against the guy's legs while she took my BP. It was better that way. So those are good things.

They both agreed that I needed to go to the hospital immediately. They even waited while Amanda and I decided whether or not she could drive me or if I had to ride in the more expensive ambulance. I finally decided that I needed to stay flat. I couldn't go in the car. I also insisted on eating some Pop Tarts before leaving. I needed something to get some strength back. They let me and then they loaded me into the ambulance in a stretcher.

I couldn't help but wonder if any of the neighbors saw and what they were thinking. I was embarrassed but I had no other viable option at that point. I was soooo cold. The lady sat in the back with me and blasted the heat while the guy took the steering wheel. Amanda followed in the car. I had an IV hooked up to me. That seemed to help a lot.

I was so thankful to have these 2 particular EMT's. I can't think of a thing that they could've done better. We went to St. Mary's emergency room. This was another reason that I had to go by ambulance. I couldn't have sat in the waiting room. Heck, I couldn't sit! I couldn't have filled out paperwork.

By now, the vertigo portion of the trauma had more or less stopped. When the blood work came back, it showed that I now had hypokalemia (extremely low potassium levels). How could that have happened? One nurse suggested that I may have flushed my system with too much water over the last few days as I tried to rehydrate from not enough during my trip home. The doctor suggested that it could've been from emptying my gut into a bucket. Both seemed valid.

I was given a whole bunch of horse pills filled with potassium to take. I couldn't swallow them but I was determined to get better. I took a chance and chewed one with some Sprite and ice. It wasn't too bad...salty. I then took another 5 half of those half-pills.

They decided to run a CT scan on me to see if I had a brain tumor or something. That came back negative.

When the doctor came back in, he came with a verdict of migraine equivalent (basically a migraine without the headache - I didn't know that was possible). A lot of what he said made sense but not all of it. It was pretty clear that some of this was vascular but there must be more to it. I believed it to be a combination of things.

I have tinnitus from all of my years of rock and roll abuse and he ignored that. I couldn't help but think that was a factor.

I trusted him. What else could I do? He gave me a migraine medication, one for nausea and one for the vertigo attack and sent me home. I was wheeled out to the car (still not safe to walk) and then we picked up my medications. I was able to walk into the house just far enough to get back upstairs and to bed.

It was a long, rough night.

Yeah - happy birthday.



Wednesday December 27, 2006




Today, I'm back home and working. It's almost a strange feeling. It was nice to get home and have a few surprise bucks from the R.E.M. office. On top of that, I got their fan club Christmas package despite the fact that I'm not in their fan club. THAT is cool. It's particularly cool this year as the package contained a CD with the 2 songs they performed at the 40 Watt on September 12 as well as a calendar with a picture for each month. Suffice it to say that my images (between the Watt and the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame) represent a full 1/3 of their 2007. 'Tis cool.

I paid some more bills today for Grandma, too. When I talked to her later in the day, she made it abundantly clear that she's ready to go home now. I was trying to get her to hang in there a little longer but I don't think it's going to happen. Her head's finally getting clear without all of that overmedication and she's getting ornery. I don't blame her. I couldn't live in that place she's stuck in right now either. There's some good people up there but it's definitely not the place to be if it's not an absolute necessity.



Tuesday December 26, 2006









That's what the headline read on the front of The State paper today. That's about right. Amanda's mom was impressed with the amount of coverage. When she looked at the size of the pic and header she said, "That kind of coverage is usually reserved for presidents or war breaking out."

Funny she should mention that.

Today, Gerald Ford checked out.

What is it they say about these things coming in 3's? I don't know but these two are major in stature. Mr. Brown has had far more of an effect on me personally but I still feel the effects of losing the oldest living president.

I paid some bills for Grandma in the morning. Amanda's parents have been a massive help, too. They've gone way above and beyond the call of duty with Grandma. I appreciate it and I know she does, too.

Since Amanda's got to go back to work tomorrow, we decided to head on back to Athens today. When passing through Augusta, there was a sign on the side of the road that said simply "R.I.P. James". Hmmmm...they were obviously fans but I could hear James' guttural voice in my head when I saw it. It said, "Huh! That's Mr. Brown!"

So does it seem like the grim reaper is hanging around too close to home these days? Yes? No? Well, maybe this 2006 will help you decide.

(And these were just the ones I knew!)


Lou Rawls, 72. Velvet-voiced singer of such hits as "Love Is a Hurtin' Thing." Jan. 6.

Shelley Winters, 85. The forceful, outspoken star who won two Oscars ("The Diary of Anne Frank".") Jan. 14.

Wilson Pickett, 64. Fiery soul music pioneer ("Mustang Sally.") Jan. 19.

Anthony Franciosa, 77. Hollywood actor ("A Face in the Crowd.") Jan. 19.

Janette Carter, 82. Country performer; last surviving child of the Carter Family. Jan. 22.

Chris Penn, 40. Actor ("Reservoir Dogs"); brother of Sean. Jan. 24. Enlarged heart; multiple medications.

Gene McFadden, 56. R&B singer, songwriter ("Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now.") Jan. 27. Cancer.

Wendy Wasserstein, 55. Playwright who celebrated women's lives ("The Heidi Chronicles.") Jan. 30. Lymphoma.


Al Lewis, 82. Grandpa on "The Munsters." Feb. 3.

Franklin Cover, 77. Actor; played the white neighbor on "The Jeffersons." Feb. 5.

Phil Brown, 89. Luke Skywalker's loving, doomed Uncle Owen in "Star Wars." Feb. 9.

J Dilla, 32. Hip-hop producer for such artists as A Tribe Called Quest. Feb. 10. Complications of lupus.

Peter Benchley, 65. His 1974 novel, "Jaws," made millions think twice about stepping into the water. Feb. 11.

Andreas Katsulas, 59. Character actor; one-armed man in 1993 film "The Fugitive." Feb. 13. Lung cancer.

William Cowsill, 58. Lead singer of The Cowsills family singing group. Feb. 17.

Curt Gowdy, 86. Sportscaster; called 13 World Series, 16 All-Star games, first Super Bowl. Feb. 20.

Bruce Hart, 68. Lyricist ("Sesame Street" theme.) Feb 21.

Dennis Weaver, 81. Chester on "Gunsmoke"; the cop hero in "McCloud." Feb. 24.

Don Knotts, 81. Won five Emmys for "The Andy Griffith Show." Feb. 24.

Darren McGavin, 83. Tough-talking actor; grouchy dad in "A Christmas Story." Feb. 25.


Jack Wild, 53. Oscar-nominated for "Oliver!"; hero of TV series "H.R. Pufnstuf." March 1. Cancer.

Dana Reeve, 44. Actress-singer; devoted herself to husband Christopher Reeve after he was paralyzed. March 6. Lung cancer.

Ali Farka Toure, about 66. Famed African musician; two-time Grammy winner. March 7.

Gordon Parks, 93. Life photographer, then Hollywood's first major black director ("Shaft," "The Learning Tree.") March 7.

Peter Tomarken, 63. Host of 1980s game show "Press Your Luck." March 13.

Maureen Stapleton, 80. Oscar-winning actress who excelled on stage, screen, and television. March 13.

David Blume, 74. Record producer, songwriter ("Turn Down Day.") March 15.

Narvin Kimball, 97. Last founding member of New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band. March 17.

Buck Owens, 76. Flashy rhinestone cowboy who shaped country music with hits like "Act Naturally." March 25.

Nikki Sudden, 49. British musician, a cult favorite. March 26.


Gene Pitney, 66. Singer with a string of hits ("Town Without Pity.") April 5.

June Pointer, 52. Youngest of hitmaking Pointer Sisters ("I'm So Excited.") April 11. Cancer.

Phil Walden, 66. Capricorn Records co-founder; launched careers of Otis Redding, Allman Brothers. April 23.


Johnnie Wilder Jr., 56. Soulful lead singer of R&B band Heatwave ("Always and Forever.") May 13.

Lew Anderson, 84. Gave "Howdy Doody Show" viewers a tearful goodbye as final Clarabell the Clown. May 14.

Freddie Garrity, 69. Lead singer of 1960s British band Freddie and the Dreamers ("I'm Telling You Now.") May 19.

Ian Copeland, 57. Rock entrepreneur who represented The Police, Go-Go's. May 23. Melanoma.

Desmond Dekker, 64. Brought Jamaican ska music to wide audience ("Israelites.") May 25.

Paul Gleason, 67. Actor; the bad guy in "Trading Places." May 27.

Alex Toth, 77. Comic and cartoon artist ("Space Ghost.") May 27.


Vince Welnick, 55. Grateful Dead keyboard player in the 1990s; also with the Tubes ("White Punks on Dope.") June 2. Suicide.

Johnny Grande, 76. An original member of Bill Haley and His Comets ("Rock Around the Clock.") June 3.

Billy Preston, 59. Exuberant keyboardist and singer ("Nothing From Nothing"); played with the Beatles and Rolling Stones. June 6. Heart infection; kidney failure.

Claydes Charles Smith, 57. Lead guitarist for Kool & the Gang ("Joanna," "Celebration.") June 20.

Aaron Spelling, 83. TV impresario whose stylish shows ("Beverly Hills 90210") were wildly popular. June 23.

Arif Mardin, 72. Grammy Award-winning producer; worked with Aretha Franklin. June 25.

Lennie Weinrib, 71. Actor, writer ("H.R. Pufnstuf.") June 28.

George Page, 71. Creator, host of PBS series "Nature." June 28.


Irving Green, 90. Co-founder of Mercury Records; promoted Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington. July 1.

Syd Barrett, 60. Co-founder of Pink Floyd ("The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.") July 7.

June Allyson, 88. Hollywood movies' "perfect wife." July 8.

Milan B. Williams, 58. One of the original members of the Commodores ("Three Times a Lady.") July 9. Cancer.

Bill Miller, 91. Frank Sinatra's longtime pianist. July 11.

Red Buttons, 87. Actor-comedian; won Oscar with a dramatic turn in "Sayonara." July 13.

Mickey Spillane, 88. Macho mystery writer who wowed millions of readers. July 17.

Jack Warden, 85. Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated actor who played gruff characters. ("Heaven Can Wait.") July 19.


Arthur Lee, 61. Singer, songwriter for the 1960s band Love ("Forever Changes.") Aug. 3. Leukemia.

Mike Douglas, 81. Affable TV talk show host and singer ("The Men in My Little Girl's Life.") Aug. 11.

Bruno Kirby, 57. Character actor ("When Harry Met Sally," "City Slickers.") Aug. 14.

Johnny Duncan, 67. Country singer ("She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed Anytime.") Aug. 14.

Joe Rosenthal, 94. Associated Press photojournalist who took picture of flag-raising on Iwo Jima. Aug. 20.

Bruce Gary, 55. Rock drummer with The Knack ("My Sharona"), session man. Aug. 22. Lymphoma.

Maynard Ferguson, 78. Jazz trumpeter known for his soaring high notes. Aug. 23.

Ed Benedict, 94. Animator who put life into Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear. Aug. 28.

Glenn Ford, 90. Actor who played strong, thoughtful protagonists ("The Blackboard Jungle," "Gilda.") Aug. 30.


Steve Irwin, 44. Television's irrepressible "Crocodile Hunter." Sept 4. Sting ray attack.

Bennie Smith, 72. St. Louis guitarist, played with stars like Chuck Berry. Sept. 10.

Pat Corley, 76. Actor; Phil the barkeep on "Murphy Brown." Sept. 11.

Mickey Hargitay, 80. Actor, bodybuilder; husband of Jayne Mansfield, father of actress Mariska Hargitay. Sept 14.

Patricia Kennedy Lawford, 84. Her marriage to Peter Lawford lent Hollywood glamour to the Kennedy dynasty. Sept. 17.

Danny Flores, 77. Played saxophone and shouted "tequila!" on 1950s hit "Tequila!" Sept. 19.

Joe Glazer, 88. Singer-songwriter who rallied union loyalists ("The Mills Weren't Made of Marble.") Sept. 19.

Edward Albert, 55. Actor ("Butterflies Are Free.") Sept. 22. Lung cancer.

"Uncle Josh" Graves, 79. His bluesy playing adorned hundreds of bluegrass, country records. Sept. 30.

Prentiss Barnes, 81. Singer with the Moonglows ("Ten Commandments of Love.") Sept. 30.


Tamara Dobson, 59. Actress; played Cleopatra Jones in two blaxploitation films. Oct. 2. Multiple sclerosis, pneumonia.

Freddy Fender, 69. Texas' "Bebop Kid"; sang the smash country ballad "Before the Next Teardrop Falls." Oct. 14.

Christopher Glenn, 68. CBS correspondent, announcer; voice of children's program "In the News." Oct. 17.

Phyllis Kirk, 79. Actress who was stalked by Vincent Price in the horror film "House of Wax." Oct. 19.

Jane Wyatt, 96. Actress who for six years on "Father Knows Best" was one of TV's favorite moms. Oct. 20.

Sandy West, 47. Her drumming fueled the influential '70s rock band the Runaways ("Cherry Bomb.") Oct. 21. Lung cancer.

Marijohn Wilkin, 86. Country songwriter ("The Long Black Veil.") Oct. 28.


Ed Bradley, 65. TV journalist who created a powerful body of work on "60 Minutes." Nov. 9.

Jack Palance, 87. Hollywood heavy ("Shane") who turned to comedy, winning Oscar for "City Slickers." Nov. 10.

Gerald Levert, 40. Fiery R&B singer ("Casanova.") Nov. 10.

Robert Altman, 81. Caustic Hollywood director ("Nashville.") Nov. 20.

Anita O'Day, 87. One of most respected 1940s jazz vocalists. Nov. 23.

Alexander Litvinenko, 43. Former Russian spy who criticized homeland's government. Nov. 23. Poisoned.


Ronnie Lippin, one of the greatest music publicists of all time (Prince, Brian Wilson, Eric Clapton, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, etc.)

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, 80. U.S. ambassador to United Nations during Reagan administration. Dec. 7.

Georgia Gibbs, 87. Hitmaking 1950s singer ("Kiss of Fire," "Dance With Me, Henry.") Dec. 9.

Gen. Augusto Pinochet, 91. Chilean leader who terrorized opponents; took power in bloody coup. Dec. 10.

Peter Boyle, 71. The curmudgeonly father on "Everybody Loves Raymond." Dec. 12.

Mike Evans, Actor / Writer. Played Lionel on The Jeffersons, wrote for the groundbreaking Good Times.

James Brown, 73. "The Godfather of Soul" R&B legend who called himself "the hardest working man in show business" and gave us some of the most influential music of the 20th century. Dec. 25.

Gerald Ford, 93. The 38th President Of The United States Of America. Dec. 26.

And let's not forget April's Dad.




Monday December 25, 2006





Just like every year I say it and mean it. I hope you had a great day whether or not you celebrate this holiday.

For me, it wasn't quite right from the beginning. It's the first Christmas in my life that I didn't have a holiday celebration over at my Grandmother's house. She wasn't there after all. She was in a hospital across town. I was determined to go to the house anyway. In fact, I went over there at least twice. I wasn't about to have my first Christmas without that ol' house if I didn't have to do it. Plus, someone had to wish that ol' place a merry Christmas.

I spent some time with my Grandmother in the morning. It wasn't exactly the most cheerful way to start Christmas. I hated that she couldn't spend Christmas with all of us but it wasn't to be this year. After the hospital, Amanda and I went over to my sister's place to have a more usual present and food frenzy. The mood over there was even off. Apparently, there are some things going down of which I was suspicious but wasn't sure. Today, it seemed a bit clear. I looked over at my brother and said, "So is this the last Christmas or what?". He kind of smiled and said, "It feels like it, doesn't it." And that's about right. Nothing felt right today. Everything was in place and being done but it just didn't take this time. I know I'm not alone in that feeling.

To add to it, Amanda still can't walk, I wound up with a mini-migraine and then Amanda accidentally got sprayed in the face with mace (not too badly but enough to irritate). Yeah - it was like that.

We left there in time to go back to visit Grandma and take her some more food. Good thing, too. The food that they were serving tonight was...well...the best way to say it is...eeeeewwwww! The nurse bringing it even said that she wouldn't eat it. Thanks to Mom and Missy, Grandma didn't have to tonight.

Benji went to visit with me and Amanda. At one point, he was looking at a calendar of upcoming events for the residents. One of 'em was musical chairs. He couldn't help but laughing. I couldn't either. He laughed and asked, "They can't get up, how do they even play it?" I said, "Well, you see, it's got slightly different rules here. They all sit in their wheelchairs and wait. Except instead of waiting for the music to stop, they wait for one of their hearts to stop and when the one falls out, they all switch."

Yeah, I know it's tasteless but I'm telling you, it's been one of those days. By the way, Grandma was NOT happy with that joke! I had to explain to her that it was not directed at her in any way. She's the spritely young lady of the hall!

When we took off from there and went back to Amanda's parents' place, more bad news awaited. Her sister was now very, very sick. On top of that, a third of the family that we were supposed to meet with was sick. And remember, that family suffered a terrible tragedy within the last month.

What a fun night.

And then I hear this from Amanda's Mom!


Yep, that's just the capper. This sucks. It may not be the worst Christmas ever (but if it's not, I don't know what is) but it's right up there. Despite this, I'm still thankful for everything. It's simply an off-year this time.

Here's a little something I saw online about this.

"Just two months ago, the Augusta-Richmond Civic Center was renamed James Brown Arena. These were his parting words to those gathered at the dedication.

"I hope you live 200 years," Mr. Brown said as he left the stage. "And I'll live 200 years minus one day so I'll never know beautiful people like you passed away."

That says more than I can.

And here's a link to my pictures and review of the only time I ever got to see James Brown. At least I got one chance !

What a day!

Click here for last week with a 3,000 mile trip, transferring a Grandma, reuniting with family and friends and the beginning of our humble little Christmas.