My wife and I have never been interested in braving the crazy masses to Christmas shop on Black Friday, and we’re even less inclined to join the insanity now that “Black Friday” actually begins a day early, on Thanksgiving Day. We’d rather enjoy the evening with family than waste it on conspicuous consumption for a holiday that has become far too commercialized.
But this year a confluence of events convinced my wife to go shopping on Thanksgiving night: 1) Our son really wanted Beats headphones; 2) God blessed our new communications business with a surplus of work and income, so we could afford to splurge on the children; and 3) Walmart had a great deal on headphones for anyone who shopped that night.
Many people who shop on the wildest day of the year can’t get the gifts they want because they fly off the shelves. Walmart didn’t have any Beats headphones by the time she trekked to the Walmart nearest to my parents’ house in West Virginia.
But as promised because she shopped during the allotted time, Walmart gave her a rain check and promised to deliver the headphones to our local store in the Washington, D.C., area between Dec. 14 and Dec. 22. One big item off the shopping list early, right?
Wrong. We started getting antsy about Walmart’s ability to deliver on time midway between the two promised dates. Then on Dec. 21 we received this email: “Your Walmart.com order is almost ready for pickup. … You’ll receive a separate email when your item is ready for pickup. We will also be emailing you a $10 eGift Card for any inconvenience that may occur if your item does not arrive” on time.
Less than 24 hours later we learned that “almost ready” in Wally World doesn’t mean “sometime in the next three days before you have to wrap the gift and leave town for Christmas.” We received that $20 gift card but not the gift that our son wanted most this year. Thanks for nothing, Walmart!
Thankfully this Christmas story has a happy ending. We’re regular customers of Best Buy, and they sent an email the morning of Dec. 22 advertising a one-day special on select Beats headphones. Even better, they cost $15 less than what we paid for a rain check that Walmart couldn’t manage to fill in three weeks’ time.
Our son got his headphones; we got a gift certificate that we’ll use at Walmart the day we go to get a refund on the headphones that were never delivered; and we learned never to shop at Walmart on Black Friday. There are better ways to fill the emptiness underneath our Christmas tree.
Filed under: Business and Family and Holidays and Music and West Virginia
I remember well the rush of adrenaline that coursed through me as I watched a seven-point buck (eight points if you counted the nub of another tine) turned the corner of the hillside and came into view on my grandfather’s farm. His antlers were thick and stood high above his ears. I could see them easily even though he was about 60 yards away in thick woods and brush.
The buck had no clue I was there and didn’t seem to care about anything around him. I soon realized why. I took a shot at the buck with my .32-caliber lever action, and a deer I hadn’t seen leaped from her bed. He was walking intently, with his nose to the ground, because he was on the trail of a doe in heat. I doubt he even heard the sound of the rifle discharging.
I took three more shots into the brush, and that buck never broke his stride. But after I fired my fifth round, he jumped up and to the right. He quickly disappeared up the hill, so although I was sure I had hit him, I also suspected I had missed the kill zone.
I waited a few minutes before heading up the hill to look for a blood trail. I lost hope after a half-hour and headed back to my stand to wait for my fellow hunters who were driving the woods toward me opposite from the direction the buck had been traveling.
A short while later, my uncle came around the hill. We then headed uphill to reconnect with another hunter who had been standing point at the top of the hill. He had fired a few shots not long after me, and when we met him, he blurted out, “Whoever shot five times hit a monster buck!”
It turns out that I had gut shot the buck, and he didn’t start bleeding until well after my last shot. My fellow hunter saw him crossing the right-of-way at the top of the hill and took a few shots. He later found the blood trail and followed it briefly before heading back for help.
For the next hour or more, my uncle, the other hunter and I trailed that blood trail for two miles. It was almost dark before we finally stumbled upon the buck. He staggered to his feet but didn’t get far before my uncle, who was at the front of our tracking group, finished the kill with his .348-caliber lever action.
I’m looking at the antlers of that deer on the wall of our living room as I write this. That hunt was 30 years ago, but I remember it like yesterday. I’m reliving the details now because I just read the story of Makayla Hay, a 15-year-old girl who downed a true monster of a buck in Texas this fall. My trophy pales in comparison to the one she claimed.
Filed under: Family and Hunting & Guns and Rednecks and West Virginia and Wildlife
As a boy who spent many a summer day in the country, I dreaded one thing while walking the woods and wading the creeks — stumbling upon a wild-eyed, blind snake during the dog days of August. I always heard that poisonous snakes, specifically copperheads and rattlesnakes in West Virginia, were more likely to strike targets that got too close that time of year because they couldn’t see.
That fear shaped my view of snakes to this day, a view perfectly captured in the words of a boyhood hunting and fishing companion: “The only good snake is a dead snake.”
The thing is, a dead snake isn’t necessarily a dead snake. And a copperhead minus its head is still a threat — even to its own writhing, headless corpse. Watch and learn:
The video sparked enough curiosity at National Geographic that a reporter asked a snake expert to explain what happened in the video. “Snakes have the capability of causing biting and injecting venom even after the head has been severed, even though it is dead,” he said. And why bite itself? “That’s what is available; that’s what is next to him.”
I learned something else while researching this post. Apparently “the dog days of August” are a bit of a myth. Snakes do have milky eyes and impaired vision when they shed skin to grow — I saw the milky eyes on a copperhead my uncle shot one summer — but that doesn’t necessarily happen during August or only one time a year.
But that insight doesn’t change my view of snakes. In fact, now that I know a dead viper is potentially as deadly as a live one, and a touch psycho to boot, I’ll be all the more determined to kill ‘em where they slither — and then head the other way.
I’m definitely more like Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame than I am his brother Jase:
Filed under: Human Interest and Rednecks and Video and West Virginia and Wildlife
These words of documentary filmmaker Elaine McMillion, a native of McDowell County, W.Va., ring true for me and so many Mountain State expatriates: “Today, I feel a sense of guilt that I left my home state behind to chase my dreams. I am part of the problem — the face of youth exodus — and I would like to find solutions that could help us return.”
Sadly, these words of a McDowell County resident who appears in “West Virginia, Still Home,” a video McMillion produced for The New York Times, are equally true: “I don’t believe that it will ever be like it was when I was a kid. … or in my lifetime anyway.” I wish our children could experience the West Virginia I knew, but those days are gone.
Here’s hoping their generation, if not our children themselves, can make West Virginia thrive again so more people can learn to love her as I do.
Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Family and History and Rednecks and Video and West Virginia
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I was born and raised in West Virginia, and I love my heritage. I’m not much of a talker, but if you get me talkin’ about the Mountain State — its culture, its people, its politics, its scenic beauty — you’ll be listening for quite a while.
West Virginia is without a doubt the greatest state in the union.
Nine years ago while serving as the associate editor of the now-defunct online magazine IntellectualCapital.com, I penned an essay that retold the fascinating, and technically illegal, story of how the state came to be. Today, on West Virginia’s 146th birthday, as I sit before my father’s computer in my hometown, I tell that story again, as reprinted from the June 22, 2000, issue of IC.
Happy Birthday, West Virginia!
Every month when I pen this historical essay looking at “Congress Back Then” for IC, I have one goal in mind: Cast the congressional news of today in the context of the past to show readers the “big picture” of American policy and politics. In the spirit of George Santayana’s familiar warning about history, I aim to remind us of the mistakes of our forebears to keep us from repeating them.
This month, in writing about the creation of my home state of West Virginia, I have no such higher purpose. I am simply availing myself of the columnist’s prerogative to write about whatever he chooses. Oh, I do have a news peg: West Virginia celebrated its 137th birthday on Tuesday. But that is really just an excuse to write about a topic dear to my heart.
Fortunately for IC readers, the story of West Virginia’s birth, coming as it did in the heart of the Civil War and under constitutionally questionable circumstances, is an engaging one, as Granville Davisson Hall made quite clear in his 1901 book The Rending of Virginia: A History. “To carve a new state out of an old one … in the midst of a civil war threatening the existence of the Union itself,” Hall wrote, “was a task as serious as any people ever had to confront.”
Filed under: Government and History and West Virginia
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It took Ph.D. John Gray 268 pages to explain the differences between the sexes in his 1992 best seller “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” It only took 87 seconds for Jason Headley, who happens to be from my hometown, to make the same point in this hilariously brilliant video:
Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Just For Laughs and People and Video and West Virginia
We don’t want our children subjected to the disciplinary whims of school officials who lack common sense and ignore their own policies about what qualifies as acceptable behavior, speech or dress.
The latest case of bureaucratic overreach occurred at Logan Middle School in my home state of West Virginia, where an anti-gun zealot who also happens to be a teacher picked a fight with a student over his pro-Second Amendment t-shirt. This particular student, eighth-grader Jared Marcum, was old enough to protest — and did.
Marcum should have respected authority enough to change shirts and let his father argue the point, but he’s just a kid. When that didn’t happen, the adults in the room should have acted like it. Instead, the school not only suspended Marcum but also had him arrested, a decision that forced Marcum’s father to leave work and just inflamed the situation further.
Unfortunately, Marcum’s case is not unique, and the other students punished by public schools for simulating guns or carrying toy guns have been far younger. Here’s a list of the incidents, which likely will continue to grow as the hysteria over guns does:
These anti-gun witch hunts of children (and their parents) have become so ridiculous since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting last December that one Maryland lawmaker has proposed legislation to crack down on the schools, not the students.
By teaching our children at home, we don’t subject them or ourselves to such nonsense.
(Read previous “Why We Home-School” lessons.)
Filed under: Business and Education and Government and Human Interest and Hunting & Guns and People and Rednecks and West Virginia and Why We Home-School
Joe Manchin’s attempt to seduce colleagues with booze and the trappings of power on his yacht the Black Tie failed miserably this week when the Senate defeated the West Virginia Democrat’s bid for new gun restrictions. And now the senator once known for his “A” rating with the National Rifle Association is on the outs with the Second Amendment group.
During Senate floor debate, Manchin scolded the NRA for conducting a campaign of “misinformation” about his proposal. But a tidbit in today’s Washington Examiner makes it clear that the relationship soured before then.
NRA President David Keene was so irked by Manchin that he hung up on the senator when Manchin called to pester Keene during a trout-fishing trip to Montana last week.
“Unfortunately, I took my cell phone with me and my cell phone rings in the midst of my float and it’s Joe Manchin, who’s talking about how reasonable his idea is,” Keene told the Examiner. “And finally I said, ‘Look, I’m in the middle of the Missouri River, I’ve got a trout on the line. I don’t agree; you will have to make your own decisions.’ And I hung up.”
Filed under: Government and Hunting & Guns and News & Politics and People and West Virginia
If you go to West Virginia University and make Glamour magazine’s top 10 college women for an innovation you created before college, you’re definitely an enlightened redneck.
Katherine Bomkamp is that woman. She invented a prosthetic device to eliminate “phantom pain” in amputees for a 10th-grade science project and has been winning accolades ever since, including during her three years at WVU.
Filed under: Business and Education and People and Rednecks and West Virginia
Washington changes politicians. No matter how much they may want to stay true to their roots, they start thinking like the people they spend most of their time with inside the Beltway instead of those they represent back home.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., illustrates this unfortunate phenomenon perfectly. The redneck who did this in his first Senate campaign …
… is now guilty of this very Washingtonian attempt at message control:
Manchin’s regression toward “typical Washington politician” has been gradual. He first started going weak in the knees about gun control after then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in 2011. Manchin voiced second thoughts about the “Dead Aim” campaign ad he had run a few months earlier.
Filed under: Hunting & Guns and Media and News & Politics and Video and West Virginia
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And he had a spectacular football career for the West Virginia University Mountaineers.
Here are two videos that capture the essence of Tavon’s senior year in 2012 — the first being the biggest game of his career and one of the best individual performances in college football history, and the second being a recap of great clips from the whole season:
We Mountaineers salute you, Tavon! Thanks for the memories.
Filed under: Sports and Video and West Virginia
Every diehard West Virginia University fan was excited about our debut season in the Big 12 four months ago, and the Mountaineers justified our enthusiasm early in the season with five straight wins, including back-to-back, high-scoring, come-from-behind thrillers against Baylor at home and Texas in Austin.
But the season fell apart after those first two Big 12 games. The Mountaineers, plagued by a horrendous defense (one of the worst in the nation) and an offense that couldn’t make big plays at key moments, lost five straight Big 12 games. WVU closed the season with two wins over the bottom dwellers of the Big 12, Iowa State and Kansas, lifting the spirits of us fans.
Then came yesterday’s Pinstripe Bowl, where the Mountaineers decided to embarrass themselves one last time against former Big East rival Syracuse. This Yahoo Sports analysis sums up the pitiful performance nicely, albeit painfully:
Adding insult to injury, the newspaper in Weirton, W.Va., published an embarrassing typo that put the bowl loss in comedic perspective: “WVU loses bowel.” We Mountaineers fans, who endured ridicule even after a record-setting Orange Bowl victory one year ago, had to laugh to keep from crying.
Now we have to eight months to see if Dana Holgorsen, who has taken WVU football fans on a two-year roller coaster ride using players recruited by his predecessor, Bill Stewart, can coach the Mountaineers out of the Big 12 basement. Considering Holgorsen coached a team with great potential at the beginning of the season to WVU’s our worst record since 2001 (3-8), count me among the skeptics.
Filed under: News & Politics and Sports and West Virginia
December 6, 2012, is a date which will live in infamy in West Virginia history. That is the date, or thereabouts, that WVU imposed gun control on the Mountaineer!
His sin: Mountaineer Jonathan Kimble killed a bear with the university-issued musket, and someone who shot video of it didn’t have the sense to keep the kill off YouTube.
“While Jonathan Kimble’s actions broke no laws or regulations,” spokesman John Bolt told the Charleston Daily Mail, “the university has discussed this with him and he agrees that it would be appropriate to forego using the musket in this way in the future. There are some provisions regarding the gun, but none that prohibit its use outside of the University-sponsored functions or for hunting purposes.”
Way to go, WVU. Bob Costas wins.
Filed under: Hunting & Guns and News & Politics and Video and West Virginia and Wildlife
The juveniles who run MTV have gone “Buckwild,” and the result is a new show that twists reality about life in West Virginia into a 12-part series of sensational stereotypes. It’s just the kind of script you would expect from ignorant Hollywood honchos.
I’m talking about “Buckwild,” the show that will replace “Jersey Shore” on MTV come January. The content in the online trailer is so vulgar and vile that I won’t even embed it in this blog. The full episodes are sure to push the boundaries of decency further still.
I first heard about “Buckwild” earlier this week while watching “The Five” on Fox News. The hosts exposed the MTV show for what it is — bigoted nonsense that reveals nothing about the true nature of people in the Mountain State and everything about the profit-driven motives of entertainment elites. They degrade American culture with shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Buckwild” because recent TV history has proven that phony reality is a reliable get-rich scheme.
They also know that such shows are sure to get people like me riled. Or Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat who today released a letter asking MTV president Stephen Friedman to “put a stop to the travesty called ‘Buckwild’” before it debuts.
“As a U.S. senator,” he wrote, “I am repulsed at this business venture, where some Americans are making money off of the poor decisions of our youth. I cannot imagine that anyone who loves this country would feel proud about profiting off of ‘Buckwild.’
“Instead of showcasing the beauty of our people and our state, you preyed on young people, coaxed them into displaying shameful behavior — and now you are profiting from it. That is just wrong.”
Sen. Manchin and I have personal reasons for condemning “Buckwild.” We love West Virginia and won’t tolerate the haters who prowl our backwoods for every oddball character they can find to perpetuate myths about our beloved state. But “Jersey Shore” is just as bad. And “The Real World.” And “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” They’re all garbage.
The real travesty is that the Stephen Friedmans of the world have their pick of stereotypes to exploit because gullible people don’t mind humiliating themselves for a paycheck — and because today’s TV watchers are more unrefined than any West Virginia hillbilly.
Filed under: Culture and Entertainment and Hatin' On Rednecks and People and Rednecks and West Virginia
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Elitists are so determined to perpetuate their redneck myths that they spread lies on the Internet to deceive gullible people. If you’ve heard the yarn about the illiterate sorority girl from Alabama who believes President Obama was born in Kenya, you’ll know what I mean when you hear the real story.
The girl in the photo is Kim Stafford, and she’s not from Alabama. She grew up in Massachusetts and attends an liberal arts university in the western part of her home state. The school doesn’t even have a Greek system, and she’s a registered Democrat who plans to vote for Obama next week.
But the reason Stafford has become the subject of Internet ridicule is because people who don’t know any actual rednecks are so willing to believe the worst about those rubes from places like Alabama or West Virginia or even Pennsylvania.
I suspect that somewhere along the Internet chain, a liberal with a chip on his shoulder about the tea party movement decided to add fiction to Stafford’s satire. He or she added phony details about the photo to get other redneck haters riled, and voila, an Internet legend was born.
Stafford has tried to rebut the lies on her own blog, one with a vulgar phrase that captures the essence of redneck bigotry, but the Internet meme persists. People will believe what they want to believe about rednecks.
As for me, I’d rather be an enlightened rube than an uniformed dupe who clings to fables.
Filed under: Hatin' On Rednecks and News & Politics and People and Photography and Rednecks and Technology and West Virginia
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