Stung By A Beaver
13Mar/141

Lemonade Moonshine

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

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I grew up in small-town America, towns where long lines of traffic piled up behind tractors occupying single-lane roadways. Towns where everybody went to the local high school football game on Friday night just because it was Texas State Law. Towns where the local donut shop was filled with old men on Saturday mornings griping about politicians and reminiscing about the Vietnam War. On that same Saturday morning kids would flock into Milt's Mini Mart—with pockets full of quarters—to spend them all in the only Pac Man Arcade Machine for miles. Towns where occasionally a bale of hay would fall off the back of a beat up old pickup truck traveling on a dirt road. They were winding, dusty roads beneath giant pecan trees, lined with barbed wire fences on either side and grazing cattle in the distant fields. I rode my bicycle down many of those roads pretending I was Bo Duke in the General Lee, being chased by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in hot pursuit.

It was the early 1980s and I was obsessed with the Good Ol' Boys… The Dukes! As far as I was concerned our county was Hazzard County, I had a distant make-believe relative named Uncle Jesse, and a smokin' hot cousin named Daisy, who I could not marry some day because it would make things complicated. This was an upsetting situation I tried working out in my 5th grade mind on many occasions because, although I was from the South, I did not go to the family reunion to look for women.

God bless CBS for airing The Dukes of Hazzard, one of the greatest action-packed shows in television history! Not only was it one of my most favorite TV shows for its unpredictable adventures, but it had one of the coolest cars in it since Adam West and Burt Ward's jet-black Batmobile! Bo and Luke Duke blazed around Hazzard County in a 1969 Dodge Charger. I can still see the flashing light of the television screen as that Hemi Orange muscle car—with the colorful flag on top and number "01" on the doors—slid around dangerous curves and jumped high in the air over rocky riverbeds. It belting out its signature horn which played the melodic sounds of "Dixie". I could never convince my father to install one of those horns on the handlebars of my bike.

Those high-speed stunts and chases were spectacular, but why would a couple of good ol' boys be running from the law? Well, the Duke brothers had a past history of running illegal moonshine, and their hillbilly Uncle Jesse a habit of brewing it. This put the Dukes on the bad side of the devious and scheming, cigar-totin', Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg, Hazzard County's corrupt commissioner. Boss Hogg loved to eat raw liver. I had to look away from the TV set every time he did it!

I remember going to visit my grandparents in the hill country and playing The Dukes of Hazzard with my friend Johnny, who lived down the road. I was Bo Duke, he was Luke Duke, and my Granny would make us a tall pitcher of cold lemonade to use as our moonshine. We would run around her yard, sweating in the summer heat, and sipping on plastic cups of our refreshing "lemonade moonshine". We kept a sharp eye out for Boss Hogg and Rosco P. Coltrane. I would drive the General Lee while Johnny would shoot his bow and dynamite-laced arrows at barns and empty cop cars. Every once in while we'd find some random kids to play Rosco, Deputy Enos, or Cooter the mechanic. Nobody ever wanted to be Boss Hogg… "Get them Duke Boys!" Our attractive cousin Daisy Duke accompanied us only in our imaginations, because we didn't want a real-life stinky girl ruining the part. Sometimes my Pa Pa's shed out back doubled as the Boar's Nest, a local restaurant and bar where Daisy worked.

Don't ask me how a Southern Baptist preacher's kid got away with drinking "moonshine", getting in trouble with the law, and fantasizing about a scantily dressed brunette in her signature high-cut Daisy Duke short shorts! Ah, but those were the good ol' days pretending to be the good ol' boys, and I can still sing every word to the theme song sung by country singer Waylon Jennings (sing along below). I wonder if I ever asked Santa Claus for a banjo for Christmas?

Just'a good ol' boysMy Dukes of Hazzard Tshirt
Never meanin' no harm.
Beats all you never saw
Been in trouble with the law
Since the day they was born

Straightnin' the curves
Flatnin' the hills
Someday the mountain might get 'em
But the law never will

Makin' their way
The only way they know how
That's just a little bit more
Than the law will allow.

Just'a good ole boys,
Wouldn't change if they could.
Fightin' the system like two modern day Robin Hoods. [Yee-haw]¹

¹"Theme from 'The Dukes of Hazzard' (Good Ol' Boys)", Waylon Jennings, Music Man, Copyright ©1980 RCA Victor

* This story is taken from the Memoirs of a Red-Headed Preacher’s Kid writings. Read more:

All I Want for Christmas is an Atari!
Beetle Mischief
That Coveted Navy Blue Corduroy Jacket
The Science Class Debate
Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose!
Playground Superheroes!
The Scrawny Little Leaguer
The Chicken Pox Christmas
Hurricane Ghost Story
The After School Fight
Tale of the Snipe Hunters
The Half Court Basketball Shot
Pledge of Allegiance Dare Master

More great writings at: www.jimedhardaway.com

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27Feb/140

Remembering Slain Action Figure Guy Number Two

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

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What could be worse than lying in the street unconscious, bent, cold, and face down in the snow? Try the aforementioned plus: embarrassingly exposed with only your cobalt blue underwear on! Another Slain Action Figure Guy found carelessly discarded on a busy street.

I pulled up in my car behind a long line of traffic to pick my son up from school. As he approached the car to get in he smiled and pointed towards the road. When he opened the door I saw Slain Action Figure Guy lying there by the street curb. I shivered just looking at him, his frozen plastic body stuck to the dirty ice.

Slain Action Figure Guy's jet-black hair was wavy and molded into perfection, but it would do him no good. His left arm was bent backwards and up into the air, and his right arm outstretched as if reaching desperately for help. There was a folded piece of paper by his hand that appeared to be some sort of ransom note.

I thought momentarily of the child who was without their toy, or the Barbie who had been tragically separated from her Ken. My son would have no part in my silly sympathizing. This was one of the funniest things he'd ever seen, and his thoughts raced towards the massive amounts of "likes" he would get after posting a picture of Slain Action Figure Guy on Instagram! So we both snapped some shots, for different reasons, then slowly drove away.

As my son giggled and posted I recalled the first Slain Action Figure Guy I saw a few years ago, the one with the tiny muscular body, bearded face, and revealing red Speedo with matching sweatbands and boot. This was the sequel! What is our world coming to?! Broken, exposed, and humiliated action figures littering our streets without cause! So, here’s to you Slain Action Figure Guy Number Two. May this blog post serve in your honor in the hopes that Barbie coincidently drove by in her groovy, pink Corvette to your rescue.

*This piece is dedicated to my contagiously happy son Carson.

If you enjoyed this post you'll like: Remembering Slain Action Figure Guy

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8Jan/140

January 8, 1971

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

January 8

I am a big believer in birthdays. It's the one day of the year that you own, and it's completely your day. Sure, there are a plethora of others that have your same birthdate around the planet, but who cares? Chances are good that they are not sharing the same party room with you at the local pizza joint, so you'll never even know. My birthday is January 8, 1971. There are some other significant people in my world that share January 8th as their birthday: Elvis Presley and my Aunt Rose. Elvis, for obvious reasons, is not around to celebrate his birthday anymore. Unless you believe he's still alive and working as a senior citizen greeter at a small Walmart somewhere in South Carolina. However, a gazillion dedicated Elvis fans will descend upon Memphis and shower Graceland with artifilcal roses and cheap candles from the dollar store. Shake a hip for the King of Rock 'n Roll! My Aunt Rose is probably at a Dairy Queen somewhere in Texas enjoying some yummy Tex Mex tacos.

The year 1971 has an important place in American history: Cigarette ads were banned from television in January and the Golden Gate Bridge's lights went out an entire night from a power failure in December. More importantly—considering I am the biggest Dallas Cowboys fan of all time—America's Team defeated the stinky Patriots, 44-21, in the grand opening of Texas Stadium in October. The year 1971 also gave us Walt Disney World in Orlando, Starbucks, Dirty Harry, the first pocket calculator from Texas Instruments, Sean Austin, who starred in The Goonies, one of the best movies ever, and The Willy Wonka Candy Company. Who doesn't love Fun Dip, Nerds, and Bottle Caps?!My 5th Birthday

My wonderful parents always made sure I had the best birthday parties growing up. On my very first birthday I had a ginormous, colorful carnival carousel right on top of the cake. It was mesmerizing! For my tenth birthday I had a Snoopy cake and party, my favorite cartoon character. I still have my Snoopy lunchbox from the first grade. And for my thirteenth birthday I had a Texas Longhorns and Dallas Cowboys cake and party, my favorite sports teams.

I was born in Dallas, Texas on a Friday which happens to be my favorite city, state, and day of the week. January is my favorite month of the year because it begins with the letter "J" like my name. I realize you could say the same about June and July, but they don't hold the spot on the calendar as first month of the year. Oh yea, and red velvet is my favorite cake. Did you know that my birthday, Jan 8, is always on the same day of the week as Christmas, Dec 25, and New Year's Day, Jan 1, and they are each just one week apart? As they say, you learn something new every day. Happy Birthday to me!

More great writings at: www.jimedhardaway.com

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26Dec/130

All I Want for Christmas is an Atari!

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

All I Want For Christmas is An Atari

Christmas morning is a kid's most favorite morning of all mornings in the entire year. The sun is still sneaking over from China, the roosters are still snug in their coops, and parents, for some odd reason, are still fast asleep. Until I became aware of the whole Santa Conspiracy, I had no idea why parents insisted on sleeping in. The magic moment when a kid can get up on Christmas morning lies shrewdly and covertly between five-thirty and six o'clock in the morning. Deciding the precise minute it's safe to wake up the parents is completely at your own risk. I failed miserably more times than I had fingers, toes, and freckles to count. The anticipation for Christmas morning began with the traditional writing of your wish list to jolly 'ol St. Nick.

There have been some extraordinary items on my Christmas lists over the years. My imagination peaked to pinnacle heights of momentous grander when it came to making a list of highly coveted toys, trinkets, and games to get from Santa Claus. I remember the Chicken Pox Christmas when I got that glorious Batman Big Wheel. I wore the tread off those plastic wheels before Saint Patty's Day. Also under our brilliantly colorful Christmas tree that year were the Dynamic Duo - Batman and Robin action figures! There was also a Joker action figure too, because no crime fighting would be complete without an evil villain to conquer. That Christmas goes down in history as one of the most epic of all time.

Then there was the Pigskin Christmas. My most favorite football team was the Dallas Cowboys, so Santa made sure that every square inch of my scrawny, pale body was covered in navy blue, silver, and white. I got Cowboys jackets, T-shirts, hats, and socks; even a training camp shirt with the number thirty-three from my favorite football player Tony Dorsett! There was no question that I had become the greatest fan the storied franchise had ever seen. But that wasn't all, I also got an Atomic Arcade Pinball machine and a handheld Entex LED Space Invader Arcade Game. Holy electronics Batman! I think my parents must have bought a gazillion double-A batteries that year.Image 12-25-13 at 4.59 PM

Those were some memorable holidays from my childhood, when forgetting to look both ways when you crossed the street was as common as forgetting to brush your teeth. Then I become a teenager and my Christmas lists progressed like my personal hygiene habits. I made sure to cake on thick layers of deodorant and I drank Scope mouth wash like it was a soda. There were bigger things to dream about than 64-count boxes of crayons with the built-in sharpener on the box… Things like BMX bikes, boogie boards, VHS movies of my favorite 80s movies, and enticing colognes. Thanks to Atari, Inc., video computer systems were on most Christmas lists, and holding the number one spot at the top of my list in the early Eighties was their prized Atari 2600 Video Game Console.

The morning light broke through my bedroom window that Christmas morning, as I stretched and yawned and crawled out of bed. When you became a teenager you were still excited about Christmas mornings, but you managed a single ounce of self-control to stay in bed a tad longer. Puberty did strange things and you didn't want to overshadow your obvious signs of maturity, like peach fuzz on your upper lip, by appearing too anxious. I shuffled my stinky bare feet down the hallway weaving my way passed the kitchen, zig-zagging through the dining area, and finally into our living room. There it sat beneath the Christmas tree, in its magnificent dazzling-colored box. An electronic ring of light glowed around it in a sunset tint of amber, and the melodic piano sounds of the Vince Guaraldi Trio played in the cosmos.

My parents quietly appeared in the background which signaled it was now legal to tear open my gifts. The red and green bows on each present stared at me as if begging to be opened first, but they would all have to wait. I gently took that Atari 2600 box in my hands and pulled open one side. I slid out the styrofoam protected contents to reveal the stunning game console with its elegant wood veneer, space age silver control switches, and four black and orange joystick and paddle controllers. Also included were the game cartridges Pong and Combat, and I soon opened another present containing the popular Pac-Man. I adored that round, yellow, chomping character and his gobbling ghosts like I adored that most rad Christmas.

During the following months my parents could find me stuck at the Atari Video Game display in JC Penney's while shopping at the mall. I stood there for hours staring—with my head titled in wonderment—at the rows and rows of colorful game cartridges for the Atari 2600. My collection of games eventually grew to include: Vanguard, Space Invaders, Astroids, Centipede, Defender, Missile Command, Pitfall, and the mysterious Yars' Revenge.

* This story is taken from the Memoirs of a Red-Headed Preacher’s Kid writings. Read more:

Lemonade Moonshine
Beetle Mischief
That Coveted Navy Blue Corduroy Jacket
The Science Class Debate
Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose!
Playground Superheroes!
The Scrawny Little Leaguer
The Chicken Pox Christmas
Hurricane Ghost Story
The After School Fight
Tale of the Snipe Hunters
The Half Court Basketball Shot
Pledge of Allegiance Dare Master

More great writings at: www.jimedhardaway.com

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28Oct/130

Say “When” For Crying Out Loud!

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

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Is it just me or is it awkwardly embarrassing when you let the waitress stand there for five minutes, grinding layer upon layer of freshly ground pepper on your dinner salad? You know what I'm talking about... You sit down for a meal at a nice restaurant and order a fresh garden salad to kick off your highly anticipated night of gluttony. Getting a side salad is for one of two reasons: A) it's only a buck ninety-nine or, 2) you feel guilty that everything else you ordered is fried and fattening, and the salad makes you feel better about yourself. Regardless, a nice pepper-crested salad will help tide you over until that entrée arrives.

So, the moment comes when the waitress delivers your salad to the table and ask if you'd like some freshly ground pepper. With an affirming "yes" and a casual nod from you she begins twisting on the oversized wooden pepper mill. Those pepper mills are so big they could double as a pirate's peg leg! It's like a weapon! Anyway, she begins twisting on the mill sending showers of black pepper raining down on your salad, and then kindly says: "Say 'when'".

I can't help it, I like a LOT of pepper on my salad. Around the three-minute-mark the waitress usually glances at you and flashes that artificial smile as if to beg: "Say, 'when' for crying out loud!" That is the moment I usually oblige, releasing her from the twisting and grinding of that pepper mill. I always stop way short of the amount of pepper I really want, just because I feel sorry for her endless grinding. The moment she walks away I reach for the pepper shaker on the table and shake off a few more rounds.

Excessive amounts of pepper is usually not a problem unless you're having dinner with friends and carrying on a conversation. Those grains of pepper seem to find themselves in every nook and cranny of your mouth, on top of teeth, between teeth, and that one grain stuck right in the middle of your bottom lip. And they're not coming out. Those pepper grains can defend themselves from even the most daring and aggressive toothpick on the planet. They will battle toothpicks, endless tongue swipes, and countless napkin rubs all night. I've carried on full-length conversations with teeth that had more pepper in them than the shaker on the table.

More great writings at: www.jimedhardaway.com

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18Oct/131

Beetle Mischief

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

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It was 1980-something and we had one thing on our minds: high-speed trashcan tipping! That's when we'd drive by trashcans at high rates of speed, knocking down as many as we could all over town. The garbage trucks had them emptied by breakfast, and we'd have them tipped over by lunch. This time we had our sights set on the large plastic trashcan sitting by the street curb in front of our school principle's house. My friend Jamie gripped the steering wheel and revved the engine of his 1972 Volkswagen Beetle, pumping the gas pedal with his foot as he flashed a mischievous grin my way in the passenger seat. He was the driver that meant I was the tipper. I stretched my arm out the window like the wing on a DC-10; ready to smash the trashcan over when we drove by. Jamie floored it and the rear tires of his Baby Blue Bug spun into action, spitting gravel and dust high into the air behind us. I leaned further out the window and my mullet waved in the wind like the mudflap on an 18-wheeler. In the nano second my fist hit the trashcan I realized it wasn't empty but completely full, which meant it didn't budge. Principal Greer must have filled that thing with ready mix concrete or something! My arm flew backwards from the impact, slamming it hard into the metal window frame and sending shockwaves of pain down my spine! I winced in agony, rubbing the back of my arm and my throbbing triceps. Jamie couldn't stop laughing as he zoomed away.

I know what you're thinking, that we were mischievous and asking for trouble. And you'd be correct about the mischief, but trouble we wanted no part of. Something peculiar happens in a teenage boy's brain that no scientist, or doctor, or father has ever been able to successfully diagnose. The doctor might say the medulla oblongata is still developing. The parent might say it's a form of brain damage. Mothers tend to blame it on puberty while fathers label it as idiotic, moronic, or just plain stupid. I can't deny that all of this may be true, but the fathers probably hit the proverbial nail on the head.

We executed the common pranks with precision and triumph... Things like tipping trashcans, wrapping houses with toilet paper, and backing through drive-through windows to order fast food. But these things got boring, so we moved into the adolescent phase of inventing our own pranks. Jamie had the '72 Beetle, while I had an old Honda Prelude. That thing had more rust than Van Halen had hit songs, but it did have a super cool trunk hatch release just below the driver's seat. So, we rigged a handle on the trunk lid where it could be closed from the inside and put Jamie in there. We'd drive through town—on main streets and in parking lots—popping the truck at ideal spots like stop lights or crowded shopping areas. I'd pull the lever and Jamie would pop up, scream or bark at innocent pedestrians, and then slam the truck lid back down as I sped away. We laughed so hard at people's reactions! It would either scare them half-to-death, or leave them smiling and shaking their heads at our ridiculous behavior. I would like to say that our pranks ended there, but it got worse.

When you finish reading this you'll be asking yourself why I would ever confess such vile acts of foolishness, especially now that my brain has fully developed and I have brain damaged teenage boys of my own. Well, I would say that confession is good for the soul and I can't imagine my parents being able to ground me almost twenty-some-odd-years later. Seriously, can they do that? Now my God-fearing parents have never heard this story until this day, and I fully expect my mother to call me and excuse it away as some rare case of extended puberty even though I can grow a full beard. Besides, what we did is not near as bad as the time some of my friends threw a ginormous water balloon and hit an off-duty police officer.

Adult grocery store clerks were trained to give teenage boys the evil eye when they arrived at the checkout stand carrying several dozen cartons of eggs, knowing full well they were not planning six months in advance for the community Easter egg hunt. They were going egging! And I am ashamed to tell you we weren't, in fact, doing our civic duty to donate eggs for the community Easter Egg hunt when it was still November. You've already read between the lines. It was getting dark when Jamie sped down side streets as I hurled eggs at mailboxes and other nameless targets. Tires squealed and laugher filled the car. It was all fun and games until we kicked it up a notch and decided to egg the row of parked cars near the center of town. Heaven help us, we had just egged the fine patrons of the First Presbyterian Church!

What I won't tell you is that we ended up being chased by an angry egg-covered victim through the narrow streets of our small town, finally losing them in the billowing smoke of a mosquito spraying truck with our hearts pounding for fear of our lives! And I won't tell you that we ended up at our school basketball practice that evening where my uncle, who was an assistant coach, was also a sheriff! And I won't tell you that our prank days were finally over from fear that we might not make it into Heaven. I'll leave all that to your vivid imagination and just say that I like my eggs scrambled instead of splattered.

* This story is taken from the Memoirs of a Red-Headed Preacher’s Kid writings. Read more:

Lemonade Moonshine
All I Want for Christmas is an Atari!
That Coveted Navy Blue Corduroy Jacket
The Science Class Debate
Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose!
Playground Superheroes!
The Scrawny Little Leaguer
The Chicken Pox Christmas
Hurricane Ghost Story
The After School Fight
Tale of the Snipe Hunters
The Half Court Basketball Shot
Pledge of Allegiance Dare Master

More great writings at: www.jimedhardaway.com

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22Aug/132

I Went to The Goonies House!

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

I Went to the Goonies House

I carry a lot of great memories with me from my teenage years in the Eighties... Can't help it, I'm just a nostalgic kind of guy! Let me paint a better picture for you of the impact this still has on my life: I recently bought a Sony Walkman on eBay, I have a large collection of cassette tapes, there's an Indiana Jones shrine in my office, I still wear checkered Vans, I would rather have a Swatch Watch than a Rolex, and I daydream at least once-a-week of owning a real DeLorean. And if it actually had a Flux Capacitor I wouldn't know what to do with myself! Speaking of time machines, I was a major Michael J. Fox fan in the mid-Eighties. I tried hard to enjoy drinking Pepsi Free like Marty McFly did in the movie Back to the Future, and I begged my mother to buy me sport coats with elbow patches like Alex Keaton wore in the television show Family Ties. So, it is no coincidence that some of my greatest memories are from 1985.

Welcome To Astoria PostcardSomething magical happened that year that captured our generation's attention, from the "Goon Docks" neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon to be exact. On June 7, 1985 pop culture was gloriously invaded by four spirited friends on the big screen, hanging out for one final weekend before their homes were torn down. "What is this? A nuclear Saturday or something? Come on, guys. This is our last weekend together. Our last Goony weekend. We gotta be going out in style," encourages Mouth. With that, the Goonies: Mikey, Chunk, Data, and Mouth rummaged through the attic and discover an old, tattered map leading to "One-Eyed" Willie's pirate ship and hoards of hidden treasure. With the help of a Spanish Doubloon, the Goonies find themselves in a swashbuckling adventure - running from villainous criminals, dodging booby traps, confronting skeletons, and befriending a deformed monster named Sloth. The Goonies take viewers on a roller-coaster ride through underground tunnels and down rapid water slides, and I felt like I was a part of it all right into the lagoon cavern where they discover Willie's derelict ship and pirate gold!

County Jail PostcardVisiting the quaint fishing town of Astoria—to see The Goonies film locations—was high on my bucket list. Over twenty-eight years after the release of the movie I got that opportunity. Honestly, I was pretty giddy as I rolled passed the green "Welcome to Astoria" sign and the mingled smells of the ocean filled my car. I felt like a kid again. Over the next two days I visited more than a dozen film locations, even driving some of the chase route when the Fratelli's are running from the cops in the opening scenes of the movie. "Listen, okay? You guys'll never believe me. There was two cop cars, okay? And they were chasing this four-wheel deal, this real neat ORV, and there were bullets flying all over the place. It was the most amazing thing I ever saw!" says Chunk. Needless to say, I didn't find One-Eyed Willie's pirate ship, but I did see Mikey and Brand's house, Clatsop County Jail, Data's house, the Fratelli's Jeep, the Lighthouse Hideout site, Mouth's house, Haystack Rock, and more!

Haystack Rock PostcardMy imagination tends to runs wild and things like time machine travel, bullwhip swinging archeologist, and hunting pirate treasure only fuel the adventure junky in me. Would it surprise you if I told you I have The Goonies soundtrack playing in the background as I write these words? The truth is, I'm a big kid... And it's something I fully embrace and not ashamed of. I wrote these words several years ago and I am still passionate about them today: ...Something happens to our pretending. As the days turn into years, and the birthdays come and go, the joy that once was driven by imagination becomes enslaved to obligations. What’s labeled as "maturing" is really a masquerade, as we put on shows to prove and impress those around us. Our true selves are hidden behind masks of unfulfilled dreams and discontent. We become unsatisfied and our disappointments lead to compromise. Now our pretending is no longer about our childhood imaginings, but a rigorous climb to social status.¹ That's not the life for me and I hope the same for my three Goonies, my kids... May we always be whimsical.

Ecola State Park PostcardThe Goonies taught us more than the Truffle Shuffle, they showed us what true friendship is all about. They taught us to take risks for passionate causes, and to live like there's no tomorrow because Goonies never say die! The Goony Oath: "I will never betray my Goon Dock friends / We will stick together until the whole world ends / Through heaven and hell, and nuclear war / Good pals like us, will stick like tar / In the city, or the country, or the forest, or the boonies / I am proudly declared a fellow Goony." And speaking of the Truffle Shuffle, do you think I worked up the nerve to do it at the Goonies House? Guess you'll have to watch the video and see. Trust me, I'm a Goony.

Watch the swashbuckling video of my Astoria trip on YouTube: My Goonies Adventure!

Planning a visit to Astoria? Purchase your Goonies Film Locations Map here (much like the one used in my video)!

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¹ Excerpt from Pretend by Jim Ed Hardaway, www.epictrek.com, Copyright © 2008, 2013

1Aug/130

That Coveted Navy Blue Corduroy Jacket

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

That Coveted Navy Blue Corduroy Jacket

My arrival on the scene at our small-town public high school campus, for my first day as a freshman, was no different than any other all-American teenager. It was the mid-Eighties, so I am sure there was some form of bright fluorescent colors included in my rad attire, along with my Ocean Pacific T-shirt, black-and-white checkered vans, and stonewashed Levi's 501 button-fly jeans. Sure, I may have looked the part, but I was far from fitting in. I kept one eye out for attractive women and the other for hungry seniors wanting to initiate some helpless "Fish" like me, that's what they called freshmen in the eighties. So, it's no coincidence that Fish traveled in schools, or packs, just like real tuna, mackerel, or cod. There is safety in numbers and shuffling to-and-fro down the crowded hallways in groups was an advantage against lurking predators hiding behind lockers.

The most feared initiation by any Fish was a swirly. That's when a senior holds you upside-down over a toilet, sticks your head in the water, and flushes it. For this reason, I never ever went to the bathroom during school... I would just hold it all day and explode when I got home. Most Fish took the same precautionary measures, but every once-in-a-while somebody would try a gnarly move and stray from the pack to relieve themselves. You could always tell who that was because they would show up in the next class with a wet head, a pale look on their face, and in desperate need of some cologne and a comb. The seniors weren't that patient though. Their preferred method of initiation was dropping a Fish butt-first into a trashcan. This move left the Fish stranded helplessly with their hands and feet sticking out the top of the trashcan into the air, and their butt smushed to the bottom against only God knows what.

I remember my buddy Korey getting trash-canned before science class one day. FFA 1985For some odd reason he decided to flirt with danger and taunt an upperclassmen. We saw the movie Back To The Future that summer, so I'm guessing Korey thought he was Marty McFly and this guy was Biff Tannen. As you would expect, Biff and his gang quickly snagged Marty and hauled him kicking and screaming to the nearest waste receptacle and disposed of him. We all had a great laugh at Korey's expense that day. A plutonium-powered DeLorean time machine was just what he needed to go back in time and erase that humiliating incident.

Our freshman year was a long and painful one. I spent most of it scrambling to finish my Algebra homework on the morning bus ride to school, or hiding in the shadows for fear of my life. This was not very effective when trying to pick up chicks; that had to be put off until my sophomore year. But there was one class that brought us all together. When you stepped across the threshold of our ginormous and beautifully brown agriculture building the chains of disunity seemed to fall off. At that moment, we were not upperclassmen, nerds, jocks, preps, or even Fish, we were all Future Farmers of America!

To be a Future Farmer of America was the totally righteous gig at our high school. We called it "FFA" or "Ag" class. Don't ask me why it was so popular, processing deer meat FFA 1985and identifying breeds of cattle were not high on my list of notable hobbies or skills. I was in to collecting Star Wars action figures and ninja throwing stars, but FFA was my ticket into the "in crowd". That coveted navy blue corduroy jacket, with the huge, glowing, mustard-colored FFA logo on the back, was where it was at! It even had my name embroidered on the front in impressive cursive lettering, which proved to upperclassmen that my name was not "Fish". There were all kinds of things you could be involved with in FFA besides messing with animal guts or changing tractor tires, and I chose to be on the Chapter Conducting Team.

Chapter Conducting is when teams compete against other schools to demonstrate their knowledge in correct parliamentary procedures. At competitions, teams are given scenarios and asked questions about parliamentary law. There were gavels, "ayes" and "nays", amending, voting, and appealing. It was rather cheesy I might add, but our Junior Chapter Conducting Team took third place at the District III competition in 1985, quite an accomplishment for this kid who probably had a Yoda action figure in his pocket for Jedi wisdom.

What I remember most about FFA was the infamous nail box. FFA 1985The nail box was a large wooden box overflowing with every sized nail imaginable: box nails, finish nails, drywall nails, long nails, short nails, rusty nails, and fat and skinny nails. There was at least a gazillion nails in that box! Our Ag teachers Mr. Oncken and Mr. Puska—or "Unkin" and "Pumpkin" as we called them when they weren't listening—created the nail box as a horrible punishment. If you got in trouble for something they would make you kneel in front of it on the hard concrete and fill a coffee can with certain kinds of nails. Process a deer foot through the sausage grinder and you'd get the nail box... Make silly faces while milking a cow and you'd get the nail box. In my case, I was goofing off during Chapter Conducting rehearsal. You guessed it, Mr. Oncken caught me and I was sentenced to the nail box. He told me to dig for eight penny nails until hell froze over! I was a preacher's kid, so I knew I'd be digging through that box for a really long time. That year was my one and only as a Future Farmer of America, but I got to keep the jacket!

* This story is taken from the Memoirs of a Red-Headed Preacher’s Kid writings. Read more:

Lemonade Moonshine
All I Want for Christmas is an Atari!
Beetle Mischief
The Science Class Debate
Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose!
Playground Superheroes!
The Scrawny Little Leaguer
The Chicken Pox Christmas
Hurricane Ghost Story
The After School Fight
Tale of the Snipe Hunters
The Half Court Basketball Shot
Pledge of Allegiance Dare Master

More great writings at: www.jimedhardaway.com

LIKE US on Facebook: StungByABeaver
FOLLOW US on Twitter: @StungByABeaver

27Jun/134

Coffee From a Stranger

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

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If you are reading this blog chances are you either have an insatiable love for coffee, some strange dude handed you a gift card for a cup of coffee, or both. Regardless, you're here and coffee is our agent... Our agent of community. I'll explain that in a moment, but first let's talk about funnel cake fries. Funnel cake fries and baseball.

FUNNEL CAKE FRIES AND BASEBALL

A few days ago my family and I sat in the stands, under cloudy skies, at the local stadium of our minor league baseball team. We enjoyed an evening of home runs, double plays, the smell of ballpark hot dogs, and the spastic mascot entertaining fans with lame comedy and impressive backflips. About the fifth inning, my wife and son had a craving for some greasy, fried, powdered sugar-covered, funnel cake fries. I stood up to go to the concession stand when the woman behind me overheard us and told me she would take an order of funnel cake fries too. She was a complete stranger, along with the man sitting next to her. They smiled and I smiled back. Minutes later I returned with several orders of fries, one each for my wife and son and an extra order for the strangers behind us. The woman didn't know what to say, but the surprised look on her face said it all. Her kind thank you was enough. The measly five bucks extra I spent reminded us all that there is still kindness in the world.

On a Saturday, a few months ago, I stood behind a young man and his son at the donut shop. We each held our box of hot, fresh donuts as we moved towards the cashier. The man reached into his pocket to retrieve his wallet, then realized he had left it in the car. He kindly let me go before him while he and his son went outside to get it. Without hesitation, I paid for his order and asked the girl behind the counter to let him know it was taken care of. I left before they returned. My hope is that he used the opportunity to teach his little boy about paying it forward. In his book Love Does, author Bob Goff says, "Be secretly incredible... Secretly incredible people just do things."

CAUGHT IN A HECTIC MAZE

Have we grown complacent? When did our lives become ordinary? It feels like our world is a mess. Mass shootings, acts of terror, corrupt politics, and economic woes have become the norm for daily headline news. It's not our senator's responsibility alone to bring change... Not the mayor's, not the teacher's, not the pastor's. It's yours and mine. Change begins when we love our neighbors. Change begins when we give without expecting something in return. Change begins when we go out of our way to influence our world and make a difference. It starts with the little things. I decided to start giving away gift cards to people, at random, for a free cup of coffee. Be creative with your ideas, but keep it doable. It may be as simple as washing your neighbor's car. Winston Churchill said, "You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give."

Our world is chaotic, but intentional love can break the monotony. Why do we settle for an ordinary life? "We get caught in a hectic maze. Rising when the clock determines. Battered by news headlines that seem remote and beyond our reach. Jangled by all the mechanical operations that launch us into activity and productivity. Tested by traffic, forced to calculate time and distance to the second. Elevators and phones and gadgets guide us through necessary interactions and keep human interactions superficial and at a minimum. Our concentration is interspersed by meetings and small crises. At the end of the day we rewind ourselves: traffic, automation, headlines, until we set that alarm clock to dictate tomorrow's awakening. Routines of ticking and timing. Little room for responding humanly and humanely to the day's events; little time to enter into the wisdom and freshness and the promise of its opportunities. We feel our lives closing in, confining, and conforming us"¹. Refuse to be normal!

A CHECK FOR A LOT OF MONEY

Several years ago my wife and I had some friends invite us over to their home for dinner. We laughed, ate way too much food, and chit-chatted about everything from football to dream vacations. Then our friends changed the conversation, telling us they had something they wanted to talk about. My wife and I exchanged curious glances and gave them our undivided attention. In short, they told us they wanted to pay off our debt and asked us how much we owed. After I picked my lower jaw up off the floor I told them I didn't know; I would have to add it up. So, they tossed a calculator across the table and waited. For the next twenty-sum-odd-awkward-minutes I thought through every credit card balance and random loan. We were renting a house at the time, so there was no mortgage involved. Finally, we totaled everything up and discovered we were several thousand dollars in debt. They smiled and informed us they felt it would be that much, so they opened up their checkbook and wrote us a really big check for a lot of money! They handed it to us with no strings attached. How do you respond to that? You respond with a determination to be a giver yourself.

Ask yourself this question: Are the proudest moments of my life what I did for myself, or what I did for others? Our entitlement mentality is making us more self-centered. Brennan Manning, author and ragamuffin, profoundly said: "How I treat a brother or sister from day-to-day, how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street, how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike, how I deal with normal people in their normal confusion on a normal day may be a better indication of my reverence for life than the antiabortion sticker on the bumper of my car."

BE EXTRAORDINARY IN A CHAOTIC WORLD

These ideas are not something new, and I am not the first person to blaze this trail. An author has written well when they have left out just enough words to let the reader's imagination run wild. Hopefully, I have been vague enough with these examples that the innovator within you soars with creative ideas on giving to others. I may not be at a place to write somebody a check for several thousand dollars, yet, but I can pass out gift cards for a cup of coffee to someone who could use a smile, or has had a bad day, or for simply no good reason at all. What can you do today to make a difference? Not tomorrow... Right now.

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¹ Manning, B. (1990). The ragamuffin gospel. (p. 186). Colorado Springs: Multnomah Publishers.

17Jun/130

The Science Class Debate

Posted by Jim Ed Hardaway

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What's not to like about science class? The thought of dissecting slimy frogs and ginormous grasshoppers, or torching up a flaming-hot Bunsen burner is enough to excite any middle school boy. I couldn't wait to get into high school science class. Miss Henderson, the teacher, was hot and single, and the crush of every boy navigating the volatile waters of puberty. I would imagine her winking at me during roll call as I responded with an impressive "here" in my newly acquired gravely voice. But that exhilarating thought would have to remain a part of my day dreams, because I was still in seventh grade and had to tolerate the daily lectures of Mrs. Keenon in Physical Science class. The year was 1984.

Mrs. Keenon had a mound of fluffy, gray hair rising high into the atmosphere, and thick dark-rimmed glasses that perched on the end of her pointy nose. Her eyes were strangely fierce when she stared at you over the top of those glasses. I remember one day in her class when I got that stare. The bell rang as we scurried to our desk and hurriedly rummaged through our backpacks to pull out our textbooks and Trapper Keeper notebooks. Trapper Keeper's made any note taking exciting with their rad themed covers, Velcro closure flaps, sliding plastic binding rings, and assorted pockets for unfinished homework. Unfinished homework was about to become the least of my worries.

The sunlight beamed boldly through the dingy metal blinds, casting thin shadows across the classroom like the lines on notebook paper. A myriad of dust particles swirled in the sunbeams like the solar system, set in orbit by the wind current from the noisy, rumbling air conditioner. It was quite an ironic setting considering Mrs. Keenon's lecture was on the subject of light and darkness.

I knew a lot about light and darkness from my father's sermons on Sundays at our small Baptist church. There are only a few things Baptists love more than glorious light, and that is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and potluck socials in the fellowship hall. It was no secret that light was the more popular choice. Choosing light meant a bounty of blessings and the biggest mansion in heaven than you could possibly imagine. I think it's safe to say I was raised with an attitude against all things darkness, and Mrs. Keenon had her work cut out for her if she was going to suggest I embrace it. It turns out that she had other things to say about darkness that piqued my curiosity.

My 7th Grade Science Report Card 1983-84Mrs. Keenon was deadly with a piece of chalk in her hand. Clouds of chalk dust filled the air as she slashed and dashed formulas, theories, and scientific equations across the long, black chalkboard behind her desk. She barked on the effects of light, the speed of light, spectrums, light sources, optics, the visible and invisible, and then, without even stopping to breath: total darkness. Now she had our undivided attention. Lots of cool things happen in darkness like snipe hunting and Sasquatch sightings. But Mrs. Keenon was more focused on what cannot be seen in darkness, like color. She had the audacity to say that nothing has color in total darkness. Uh oh!

Nothing has color in total darkness? Her comment came as quite a shock to my buddy Bill and I. We could argue the paint off the walls. We were like the dynamic duo of sarcasm, the kings of debating, or as my mother called us: smart alecks! Bill spoke up first. He tugged on the front of his bright colored shirt and defiantly replied, "You mean to tell me that this green shirt is not green in the dark?"

Mrs. Keenon's wiry eyebrows titled in like a dragon as she replied, "Nope, it has no color in the dark." Her hands went immediately to her hips anticipating Bill's reaction.

Oh, this was unbelievable! It's a green shirt... How could it not be green even in darkness? I quickly followed up by grabbing my blue Trapper Keeper notebook. I lifted it in the air and asked, "Is this notebook blue in the dark?"

I still swear, to this day, on my grandfather's hearing aids that tiny puffs of smoke came forth from Mrs. Keenon's nostrils as she answered, "I SAID it has no color in the DARK!"

The rest of the class seemed to know what was about to happen, as they sat motionless in their seats. The air was tense and the debate was on. Bill and I took turns pointing at the most colorful things in the room and quizzing Mrs. Keenon on their appearance in total darkness. Spit was flying! We covered every hue and shade in the color wheel: the primary colors, the secondary colors, and even the complimentary colors! Her response was the same with every one: No! No! No!

I don't recall if it was Bill or I that uttered the fatal words, but somewhere between electric magenta and hot pink it just slipped off our tongue: "That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard!" You could hear a pin drop until the piece of chalk snapped in two in the clutches of Mrs. Keenon's hand. She was angrier than my mother the time Mom was cooking sauerkraut and I called it "sour crap". With fire spewing from her eye sockets she pointed at the door and ordered Bill and I to the principal's office. I think Mr. Webster even used a photo of Mrs. Keenon beside the word "conniption" in his dictionary for a few years. We drug our feet down the long hallway that day, pondering our doom. "Why?" you might ask. Mrs. Keenon's husband was the principal!

* This story is taken from the Memoirs of a Red-Headed Preacher’s Kid writings. Read more:

Lemonade Moonshine
All I Want for Christmas is an Atari!
Beetle Mischief
Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose!
Playground Superheroes!
The Scrawny Little Leaguer
The Chicken Pox Christmas
Hurricane Ghost Story
The After School Fight
Tale of the Snipe Hunters
The Half Court Basketball Shot
Pledge of Allegiance Dare Master

More great writings at: www.jimedhardaway.com

LIKE US on Facebook: StungByABeaver
FOLLOW US on Twitter: @StungByABeaver