Tennessee Soybean Festival ’08

3 09 2008

I went back to work full-time yesterday still coming off the ‘roids which gave me a killer headache. I’m not a headache person so I felt like my eyes were falling out, but it was fine.

In Hoots, we are holding the 15th Annual Tennessee Soybean Festival. (Incidentally, Laura Carson, who I pointed out on Sunday, didn’t win the Aimee Mann contest but did win the Best Overall Preliminaries at The Bean’s Talent Show and will be competing in the Mid South Fair in Memphis.She’s also going to see her idol tonight in Nashville. So here’s a shout out for her.)

My cunning plan yesterday was to go and hang out with the carnies who were setting up. I am enamored with carnies every since I saw Robbie Robertson be one in the movie “Carny” but I didn’t see anyone who looked anything like him.

Man, they were a surly bunch.

My aim was to talk to someone who might be from New Orleans as the name of the carnival outfit was Crescent City Amusements. In a moment of trying to dig up a story, I thought someone here would have some insight on Hurricane Gustav. They are from New Orleans but none of the actual carnies are. No dice and they pretty much told me to scram. One female carny told me to basically get lost. So I went and got Badger Beth and returned. Not that Badger could do anything, I just wanted a witness to the snide glory of it all.

Well, they told me three times, so I kept going back. The carnies were not fond of me, so harassing them seemed like a good idea as I apparently needed their approval and adoration. Random Question: Every year they put up a “Help Wanted” sign.

The Sign From Last Year

The Sign From Last Year

Should I apply?

Anyway, in my steroidy head, I decided to go up on top of a building where I could take a picture. However, there was no building to be found and I looked for a couple of hours. (Problem is that many of the building are boarded up.) I’m going to haunt the roof of the local library today. It’s my last best shot.

So, we are honoring the glories of the Soybean. It’s pretty much a fun event.

One thing I think the organizers of this event got right was that there are three nights of entertainment in a stage built smack downtown. Thursday night, Corey Smith is performing (which I hear the college students are stoked about although I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with him.) Friday night, Marshall Tucker and Saturday is Lonestar. So I guess there is something for everyone.

I roamed around as the stage was being built, eyed the carnies who wanted no part of me (WHY DON’T THEY LOVE ME?) as, of course, I’m smitten with them and took some more random shots around town. I checked in at Cadillacs, where some of you know, to see if my zombie-inspired darts had come in yet (They haven’t) and was going to head back to my beloved carnies but Squirrel Queen put a stop to it.

She is more reasonable than I am.

So, I’m guessing this is a Hooterville Exclusive.

Martin Plant To Close

12 08 2008

We got the call from an upset employee who said that she was losing her job. A plant that has been around for most of my life is closing. My grandmother worked there for awhile when I was a child.

Another call came in. My cell phone started ringing off the hook. The employees at what is called Martin Manufacturing but really goes by the name Fecheimer, thought they were going to be negotiating some issues in their contract.

Instead, it was more of “we are closing in 60 days.”

Another 150 jobs lost in an area that has already lost several plants. The factory makes uniforms and is what we call a “needle and thread” plant.

It was the last of them here. We are supposed to get the “official” word today but the employees told us yesterday afternoon. There were tears and fear of what will happen next. Somebody may be able to pull something out of their hat here but I’m not optimistic.

The company is owned by Berkshire Hathaway whose CEO is Warren Buffett. Fecheimer was founded in 1842.

This is just another huge loss for this community.

Pike Fights

18 04 2008

No, you probably don’t know what this is, or maybe you do. But I have been watching Frat boys beat the hell out of each other in boxing matches for charity tonight.

I would love to tell you about the brutality of it all, but I must say it was quite impressive. And, yeah, they raised a lot of money. It wasn’t really boxing really but … hell, I don’t know what it was but for eight bouts, I watched some boxing, some smacking and one guy get addled. Poor kid got walloped.

I even hooted a few times. Here’s some video from last year I found online. It makes me laugh because it’s exactly what I saw tonight

I must admit I’ve never been to a Pike Fight, but when I got there with a gaggle of my friends, I found myself fascinated. I used to love boxing in the days of the Wide World of Sports when Ali and Ken Norton used to box. I don’t know why I dug it, but it was fun.

Why was I fascinated this evening? I have no idea.

But it was fun.

I can’t help it but it was glorious. It wasn’t a Preds game, but damn if I didn’t yell and laugh.

When you live in Hoots, you do what you have to and sometimes it’s a blast.

In Where There Is Some Remorse About Snow

7 03 2008

The snow is freaking Scout out. Not because she doesn’t love the snow, but because she is going to interview someone she admires and she doesn’t want the snow to thwart it.

Me, I’m digging the snow. I so hope I can sit in the sun room and watch it fall down all weekend.

I also realize we get an inch and the grocery stores go crazy like Girls Gone Wild. My buddies in Montreal are howling at us.

Oh, and here is a picture of Salar de Uyun on a story I did for Popular Fidelity for absolutely no reason at all.


Cancer Isn’t Cheap

14 01 2008

On a lot of levels, I’m telling you.

I’ve been writing here for the last three weeks about the benefit for my friend, Stew Byars. I want to talk a little about him this morning because we are having a fundraiser tonight in Martin. I’ve gotten a lot of emails about him and I thought I’d just take a few minutes to chat about him. It’s one thing to tell you about this great guy that we love in northwest Tennessee who has cancer, but then it’s completely another for me to tell you why we love him.

You see, lots of folks get sick. Lots of folks get cancer. And those of us who love them don’t know what to do. So I’m going to tell you about why we are doing this. I can’t share some of the other people’s stories. I can only share mine.

When my mother became sick in 1996, she was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized into her brain. I knew she was sick before she ever went to the doctor. She had trouble walking, she complained about seeing spots and her energy level was nil. Finally, we got her to the doctor and he said she had a severe sinus infection. One week later, after she went on a roller coaster into feeling 1000 times worse, she went back to the doctor and they ran an MRI. It was one week before Christmas and the doctor met me outside the hospital room. My father had gone to take care of some business and I had the grown up lesson that we get when life throws you a curveball. He told me she had a mass in her lung and it had spread to three different parts of her brain. I remember being very calm during all of this and feeling absolutely nothing. I asked how bad and he said it was.

There was nothing left to say at that point. I remember asking about options and he said we could “try”. I then asked him if it was terminal and he just nodded.

Homer and I called Big Daddy and told him the news which has to be the worst night of my entire life on my 42 years on this planet. So, for the next 14 months, she endured horrible chemo, radiation to her head and a remission that lasted about a month.

And we just loved her because it’s all we had.

My mother died in February of 1998 after a hard-fought battle. Homer, Big Daddy and I are approaching the ten year anniversary of her death.

Not a single day goes by that I don’t miss her.

With that said, the powerlessness was amazing. If any of you have ever lost a parent to cancer or any other life-threatening disease and watched them fade away, you know what I’m talking about.

You might say that this benefit for the Stewman is cathartic for me, and you would be right. I saw him on Friday and the chemo, although it is making him sick, has helped. He lifted his left arm in front of Squirrel Queen and I on Friday. I was so proud for him and the smile on his face was infectious. You couldn’t help but just laugh because he has only been able to crawl it up his body to use it since last September.

Do we feel powerless about the cancer that our friend is fighting?


Are we trying to do what we CAN to help him, things that we have a bit of control over. That’s also a yes.

We can’t make the cancer go away, but we can help him. Cancer treatment is not cheap. He is not working now because every moment is spent getting better. The cancer, my friends, is that bad.

So we are doing what the chairman of our little committee said quite eloquently last month that we “have” to do because it all we can do. And because he would do it for us.

Throughout the day, we will be putting updates about the benefit here. We want to help just a little. Are we fighting our own demons? Probably.

Are we trying to raise a bit of money for a person who has been our mentor, our friend and has lifted us when we could not do the heavy lifting for ourselves?


BadBadIvy has committed to buy a T-shirt. If anyone in the Nashville blogosphere is interested in buying a T-shirt designed by Squirrel Queen, I will bring it to you personally within the next couple of weeks to The Sportsman’s Grill in Nashville. They are $20 a piece and they are pretty groovy. (A picture of Mabel and a Newscoma emblem is on the back of them as a sponsor.)


Information about the day’s events will be posted at the official Friends of the Stewman blog. I’ll keep you updated all day about how things are going, and if Holly and Scout are interested, will get them to live blog some of the event over there as well this evening at the FofS blog.

We are doing what we have a bit of control over because we can’t cure the cancer. But we can make it a little more comfortable for him.

So if you can, visit the site, buy a T-shirt, leave a nice sentiment for him as that blog will archive the event.


Where I Say Thank You

7 01 2008

He makes me happy, although we don’t deserve his kind words. He is the one who makes us smile, that makes our days worthwhile.

I hope he knows that.


There is going to be a fundraiser in my honor, Monday January 14th.  This has been in the works for a number of weeks.  It’s an amazing thing to know that people would be willing to do that for me.  In fact, during the process of planning this, I have heard from many people, and I’ve come to realize that even with my cancer, I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet.

I’ve been given an “It’s a Wonderful Life” opportunity.  I have been able to see a glimpse of what my life has meant to others.  Before this, I had no idea.  I’ve always lived my life trying to be kind to others, and do what I could for charity.  But, it’s been the personal things that have touched me. 

To those of you that have done so much for me, I say thank you.  The love you have shown me is more touching to me than I could ever put into words.

Jeez, I don’t know what to say. I stumbled on this today and I haven’t seen him for a few days.

I adore Stew. And sometimes, he makes me weep because he’s such a nice guy and is so wonderful. He is the bomb.

I would like to thank all the people in the blogosphere who have been so kind to give Stew links, comments and who have donated.

Thanks to all of you who have been so kind with you donations and your kind thoughts.

Crap, you are making me cry.

Friends Of The Stewman Benefit Update

7 01 2008

Still taking donations for my buddy’s benefit. We will have T-shirts designed by the fabulous Squirrel Queen available by the end of the week for $20.

We also have DVD’s of his former show, Club Country that was on WLJT, and CDs of a radio show he’s done with Chris Brinkley, who is the voice of the UTM Skyhawks, called Game Show on the Go.Those are $10.


One thing I haven’t told you about Stew is that he won this.
He tied for first place with …

Small Market Promos

WINNER (tie): B.S. Promo – WCMT/WCDZ/Thunderbolt Broadcasting, Martin, Tennessee. Producer – Stewart Byars; Copywriter – Stewart Byars; Voice Talent – Stewart Byars.

WINNER (tie): Out of Ideas – WCMT/WCDZ/Thunderbolt Broadcasting, Martin, Tennessee. Producer – Stewart Byars; Copywriter – Stewart Byars; Voice Talent – Stewart Byars.

He moved to Memphis and worked for Clear Channel for awhile and then decided he wanted to come home with his wife, Sugarface.

Stew also performed stand-up comedy all over the south for a few years before he adopted two wonderful kids.

Cash donations can be sent via paypal to friendsofthestewman at yahoo dot com.

We are also holding an auction the night of the benefit. You can bit on FABULOUS prizes including:

  • A three-night stay in Gatlingburg
  • Signed Ken Burns DVDs (two of ’em) of The War
  • DVDs from the BBC including the original “The Office” “Absolutely Fabulous” and “The Young Ones”
  • Original art from Badger Beth
  • Art and photographs from local artists
  • A bunch of autographed stuff
  • A fantastic copy of “Wrinkles” from the fab Kathy T.
  • Nascar stuff
There is a ton more. Trudy Henderson, who is the goddess from the athletic department at UT Martin, is working on a web cast so Stew (and possible you if you are so inclined) can see it. We are working on it right now as we speak.
This is his long week for chemo (seven hours on the IV drip) so he’s probably going to be worn out.

Friends Of The Stewman Benefit

31 12 2007
Email me at newscoma at gmail dot com if you want the poopsie on the benefit
or go visit
The Stewman and say howdy.
This design will be available on T-shirts for $20 bucks, if you are so inclined, which would be delivered by yours truly if you live in Nashville or Memphis.
(I don’t know about the east side of the state or beyond, but we can ship it to you. Of course, there will be a shipping and handling fee. Sorry.)
Donations can be sent here to Treasurer Katrina Cobb at
friendsofthestewman at yahoo dot com

The Swagger Photo

22 12 2007
The reason why Badger Beth is good is that she got my chin and hair perfectly.

That’s What Friends Are For

14 12 2007

I believe there is a collective bone-rattling sigh going around with everyone. Man, the holidays are tiring. I think my head has frozen into this Mary Sunshine face mask that has become etched into some sort of Nicole Kidman thing. In other words, I’m one scary girl to look at.

Yesterday, some friends and business people in our community decided to throw my friend, who is ill, a benefit to help defray some of his medical costs. I have written about him before. If everything goes OK then we will be holding it on January 14th. Thus far, everything is coming together and I love it when people come together for a cause. We will have some T-shirts for sale pretty soon which are being donated for cost, we are holding an auction and have requests for open donations. All the proceeds of this benefit will go to him and his wife.

If you have anything you would like to donate or if you want to purchase a T-shirt, I’ll have those things up here as soon as it’s all ready, which should be the middle of next week with all the details.

I wrote about my friend here earlier this year. 

I talked to him late yesterday and he’s been taking radiation and chemotherapy, dealing with nauseous moments that he says just blind side him and many times are explosive. He’s also dealing with the emotional ups and downs that walk hand-in-hand with sitting on an IV drip for seven hour sessions and then the abundance of pain medication.

Needless to say, he’s fighting literally for his life. Squirrelly and I are going to see him, most likely, tomorrow.  As he is a wonderful and funny man, I’m going to see if he will let me set him up a blog so we can talk to him. He has one form of cancer in his left hip and shoulder and then he has a tumor near his kidney. He’s having trouble getting around, needless to say, and I thought this might cheer him. He has written ad copy, performed as a very popular stand-up comedian and had his own television show about country music at WLJT  which is our PBS station at UT Martin.

We do benefits occasionally and we are hoping to help him with this one as the costs are just horrific. He has health insurance, but he can’t work now, so the day-to-day stuff is about to get tight.

He’s just wonderful. I think he might like this blogging thing. We will see how he feels, but the interaction might be something he might enjoy.

Ironically, when I was speaking to him, I was reminded of when my mother had cancer. I told him of some things we used to do with her to help out. I told him about them and they were things he hadn’t considered. I thought I might share them with you as well:

1.) If someone you love has lost their appetite due to the chemo, one thing we found with my mother is she could eat ice cream. We would mix Boost, Ensure or sometimes even a Slim Fast in with her milkshakes so she could get the vitamins and nutrients she needed. During her remission, this also helped her put on a bit of weight. During the dark times, it just kept her going. At times, we would get her to drink a couple of them before her chemo or when she just wanted to get out of the house for awhile. It helped.

2.) Occasionally, the pills she had to take would choke her, so we would crush them up (under her watchful eyes) and put them in the milkshake. I don’t know how doctors of oncology feel about this, but it seemed to help.

3.) My mom needed stimulation. Her body was under attack and she didn’t have a lot of energy. We always made sure she had plenty things to watch on television and would rent her horror movies, as she loved them. This seemed to help distract her from thinking about how sick she was, and that was good. There is a level of deep depression that accompanies those who are very ill.  As she was an avid reader, she sometimes didn’t have the strength to hold a book, so this was helpful. This also seemed to assist in lifting her out of dark, frightening moods. When you have cancer, sometimes the thinking will get to you.

4.) We always had her favorite food available. Most of the time, she couldn’t eat it, but when her appetite would surge, at least it was there.

5.) We never shied away from talking about the cancer. If she wanted to talk about it, we did. We let her set the tone for those conversations. She didn’t talk about it a lot, but when she did, she needed someone just to listen. People need to be listened to anyway, and those battling cancer need a safe space to process their fears. 

Everyone deals with caring for sick people differently. These were just a couple of things off the top of my head that I shared with him, and a couple of things I will share with him and his wife this weekend.

We want to help our friend. The financial part is drowning him. Hopefully, we can assist a little.

I’m Smitten With These Kids

30 11 2007

This picture was taken a few weeks ago when I read to some kids at an afterschool program. I forgot that the picture had been taken, quite frankly, but for once I don’t look like Jason Lee in a mugshot from “My Name is Earl.”

These kids are fantastic, and the photographer is amazing. He’s a man named Robert Nunley and he’s going to be setting up a blog about the kids’ lives before the end of the year. Robert’s work is just fantastic.

And I look alright, for once. Robert is a miracle worker, I’m telling you.


Yeah, you didn’t know I was an old lady, didja?