For Gabbard: A Briefcase History of Time

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Anthony Gabbard never won our fantasy football league. Never came close, really, despite often being armed with more picks in the first seven rounds than the rest of us had in the full draft. He would methodically fill slots based on need, meaning he always – ALWAYS – ended up taking a kicker not just too early but entirely too early. Like ridiculously early. Like seventh or eighth round early, having already rounded out a roster and ready to go worry about other things, usually poker.

Unlike others in the league, Gabbard didn’t study charts or meticulously pore over fantasy gurus in the days leading up to the draft. He preferred to print out a couple of sheets, then let the numbers be the guide while the team fell into place.

This is not to say, however, that he didn’t come prepared. Continue reading

This is Important (but I Know You’re Not Listening): 2016 PCHS Commencement Speech

IMG_1627The following is the commencement speech I  gave this afternoon at Powell County High School in my hometown of Stanton, Ky. I was a member of the Class of 1993.

The first words my mother said upon being told I’d been asked to speak today were “Please don’t embarrass me.”

Not “I’m proud” or “good luck” or even “they should’ve asked your sister instead.” Nope. Just “don’t embarrass me.”

So, to honor my mom’s wishes, I’ve made a list of topics to avoid: meth, Donald Trump, asking where the after-parties are, stories about my mom, stories about my dad and more meth.

To the person who invited me here today, I’m afraid you’ve made a huge mistake. To Superintendent Michael Tate and Principal Kendall Kearns it’s an honor to be here, but you should know Martina Skidmore is responsible for what’s to follow. To be fair, she’s been a friend since kindergarten, and I thank her for having faith in me. I hope to make my mother proud. I cannot, however, promise I won’t embarrass her. Continue reading

Nathan, in Summation: A Salute to Another Graduating Nephew

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Nathan Brooks was born to be a middle child.

Even as a baby, he was never The Baby, long before Jon came along and assumed that still-standing title. Almost from the beginning, Nathan has been a peacemaker, a mediator, a negotiator, a giver.

This, incidentally, makes him more of a Brooks than a Hall. Granted, my knowledge of the Brooks family is pretty much limited to Troy, while my Hall history has a whole host from which to choose, but even among that sample, I’m confident in my statement.
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Charles Farmer was a blessing to many

Charles Farmer liked my dad.

Sure, many people (I think) love Doc Hall, but to like him can be something a bit more challenging. He can be any one (or combination) of the following: loud, goofy, obnoxious, stubborn and in unnamed-2.jpgthe interest of any potential inheritance someday I’m going to stop listing them
(although to be fair, I’m really just naming things about myself since the apple and tree find themselves in close geographic proximity). Continue reading

The Weird Little Kid from Bowen Elementary

This scrawny kid seemed to always be reading, and while I have been a reader for as long as I can possibly remember, his nose always seemed to be in stories far outside my usual realm of comfort. In sixth grade, I still found myself on a stea68348_478560403658_1891280_ndy diet of The Three Investigators, but this guy feasted in a different world, one populated by monsters and demons, killers and ghosts.

Oh, sure, I knew about monsters – I was a huge fan of the classic Universal movies like Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon. His tastes, though, ran a bit bloodier.

So when I saw Aaron Saylor flipping through Fangoria, a magazine devoted to the scariest and, well, goriest, movies and entertainment of that era (the mid-1980s), I instantly knew two things: 1) This was one weird little dude; and 2) we needed to be friends.

Almost 30 years later, both are still true.
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Turning 40

We lined up in a yard too hilly for football but just muddy enough for 11-year-old boys. We only had a basic grasp of the rules – football as an organized sport wouldn’t come to Powell County for another two years – but we knew how to throw and run, and while we didn’t know for certain the proper ins and outs of tackling, we still hit each other as young boys do. Which is to say with a reckless abandon that comes without fear of broken limbs and lost teeth.

Battered and muddy (and no doubt exhausted), we marched back to my house for cake and presents. I’m sure Star Wars was dutifully represented in the gifts, probably He-Man, too, but only one gift clearly stands out: the Wheel of Fortune board game, oddly enough. We might have been months away from official football, but Pat Sajak and Vanna White are forever.

It was my greatest birthday.

Until today.
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New program offers help and hope, not just needles

Bobby stood guard while Jared and I buried Boba Fett in a shallow grave.

I rubbed the dirt off on my shorts as the creek, which had slowed to a trickle from the long summer days, washed away most everything else. The plastic figure was soon forgotten, lost among the afternoons sitting on the rocks, a fishing pole in one hand, a fresh-off-the-tree apple in the other. We were kids, our forevers ahead of us.

I don’t know what happened to those days or even to those boys. Life pulls us in many directions, some into pits from which escape seems impossible. I guess sometimes it is. Impossible, I mean. No matter how hard you try.

Those boys, once so much a part of my life, are now living shadows.

They’re not alone.

The battles of addiction are heavy, and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched from it in some way. Maybe it’s a friend, a dad, a mom, a sister, a brother, a co-worker. It doesn’t matter who – it’s out there, it’s someone and it’s someone who is loved.
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