Rocky Top Ramblings – 12/02/2017


Breaking News from sources close to the University of Tennessee. The Vols have finally landed their dream coach as Philip Fulmer has convinced Jon Gruden to leave the broadcast booth and take over the helm of one of the most storied programs in college football history.

“This is a great moment for the city, the university, and the state,” a source close to university officials stated earlier this evening. “Coach Gruden is the only man who can return this football team to its rightful place in the Citrus Bowl.”

Details of the deal are still unavailable, but insiders avow that Gruden will be the highest paid coach well into the next millennium.

However, even with this historic signing, controversy has erupted around campus as students, parents, and faculty are mobilizing to block the hiring of the lovable icon known as Chuckie for his unusual resemblance to the movie character.

“According to official documents, we have learned that Jon Gruden once shared a commercial flight with a man who is close friends with Matt Lauer’s neighbor,” claims Professor of Psychology Dr. Jen Touchyfeely. “Clearly, we cannot condone the university hiring somebody so closely linked to someone fired for being accused of inappropriate behavior.”

Not only that, a spokesperson for the university’s chapter of Young Feminists on Campus claims to have solid proof of rumors that Gruden occasionally watched Charlie Rose on PBS and once laughed at a joke by Louis C.K.

“Look, we are in the midst of a serious witch-hunt here,” interjects local talk radio personality Ima Deballer. “We are fueled by emotional knee-jerk reactions and mass hysteria over accusations against powerful men. There is no room for rational discourse or physical evidence. Anyone who questions these allegations clearly supports rape culture.”

However, some students are not convinced.

“Look, we have a tradition to uphold at this university,” states Slosh D. Frat III. “We have to loathe our coaches as scapegoats for the inadequacies of literacy rates and median household incomes in this state. We haven’t had a football coach to lambaste on talk radio for nearly a month. This [expletive deleted] university needs to hire a [expletive deleted] football coach to return meaning to my brief periods of sobriety or I’m transferring to a school with a real coaching carousel.”

Due to the turmoil surrounding the university and the national wave of copycat behavior by executives in response to allegations of improper behavior, the University of Tennessee has rescinded its offer to Jon Gruden and is contemplating hiring the first female football coach in NCAA FBS history.

Cover Reveal Ramblings – 10/21/2017

As promised, here is the new cover for book five. The art was done by Marc Guerrero, who is a rock star and a pleasure to work with. I’ll reveal the title sometime next week. Please, leave a comment and let me know what you think.


Saturday Night Ramblings – 10/14/2017

For most of this week, a nasty viral infection knocked me out of commission. The lymph node on the right side of my jaw swelled up to about the size of a golf ball, and the pain from that was pretty severe. I’m on the mend,​ thankfully, and was able to get back to work today, but the illness put me pretty far behind where I want to be on clearing the new section of vineyard.

I’ve gotten back the first set of edits from my editor, so the book is that much closer to coming to life. Also, he is pleased with the quality of this book. Now that I’m getting over the infection, I will get on my part of the polishing. Sometime this coming week, I will reveal the cover, which is absolutely gorgeous and exactly what I want for the final installment of this series.

Finally, today my beloved Memphis Tigers knocked off the #25 Naval Academy. For the first time in team history, the Tigers have defeated two ranked opponents in the same season and have now beaten three consecutive ranked foes. When I was a student there, we were pretty much a basketball school, and I never dreamed I would see the day that we would legitimately be the best college football program in the state of Tennessee. Go Tigers go!

That’s all for now.

Friday Evening Ramblings – 9/29/17


Something happened last weekend that I feel like I need to share. For those of you who don’t know what I’ve dealt with for the last couple of years, please click here. For those of you who already know, my heart is broken right now, and I’m extremely hurt that someone I cared about would jump to a worst case conclusion without even talking to me.

The person is a former teaching colleague, a lady I adored and believed to be a true friend. Last Sunday, she posted something about having a pinched nerve in her neck and asked for home remedies. I’ve got a little experience with neck issues, so I commented asking if she had tried heat. After my comment, someone else told her to alternate heat and ice. In my experience, ice makes my neck feel worse, but I wasn’t in the mood for an internet argument, so I sent her a PM saying as much.

Not long after that, when I checked my notifications, I had a new friend suggestion for someone who had my former colleague as a mutual friend. I’m sure most of you have experienced similar on Facebook after interacting with someone. Because of my circumstances, I have been pretty judicious about adding new people, but lately I’ve been trying to open back up a bit more. I clicked on the profile, which had very little information, and virtually all of the profile pics were memes and positive affirmations. About all I gleaned from the profile was that she was a female in Johnson City, probably a college student, who liked to read. Because she was friends with my former colleague, I figured it was safe to add her.

A few minutes later, she accepted the friend request. I messaged her to say hello and try to find out a little more about who she was. We chatted for maybe 5-10 minutes, and at one point, I asked if she was a student at ETSU. She responded that no, she was still in high school. At that point, I stopped messaging her, and she never messaged me again either.

In my mind, I had done the right thing. I had extricated myself from the situation and had not allowed anything improper to occur. As far as I was concerned, the situation was over. However, the next morning, I got a PM from my former colleague blasting me for approaching her 16 year old niece online. She threatened to call the cops on me, deleted me as a friend, and blocked me.

When I woke up, I sent her a brief email explaining that I didn’t know the girl was 16 and had thought she was a college student. My former colleague responded that I had betrayed her trust by trolling her friends list for a young girl to contact. I can’t really describe how deeply that hurts.

I’m honestly crushed by her response and the allegation. Ever since my release, I have lived the most wholesome and honest life I can possibly lead. I don’t drink or take drugs, don’t lie to people, don’t use anyone, don’t bother anyone, don’t chase women, don’t go to bars, and don’t do anything that could be misconstrued as inappropriate. I live 100% in compliance with everything expected of me. I work 6-7 days a week and only want to get back on my feet, have time with my kids again, and redeem myself from this bullshit stain on my reputation.

It hurts to think that someone I cared so much about would think so little about me as to immediately leap to that conclusion. Not only that I had intentionally “trolled” her friends list for a young girl, but also the implication that the only possible reason I would ever befriend a woman is for sex. Most of my closest friends are women, and our relationships are  purely platonic.

It also hurts that my friend didn’t come to me one on one and have a conversation about what happened. She simply had a knee-jerk, emotional response and has probably been telling people what a horrible human being I am. I get that superficially it looks bad, but the reality is that I did not purposefully approach a teenage girl and removed myself from the situation immediately. If she had taken any time to discuss it with me and think it through rationally, we might still be friends.

I will share screenshots of the entire conversation below. I did not flirt, did not say anything inappropriate, and did not say anything that could even slightly be misconstrued as sexual. As soon as I found out she was in high school, the conversation ended. I truly do not know what else I could do other than remaining in an insular bubble for the rest of my life.

Anyone over the age of 40 who is single can attest to how hard it is to meet people. I don’t even mean people to date. Just people to interact with and have meaningful conversations with. For the last year and two months, I’ve not really attempted to meet anyone new. When I first got out of jail, my life was a shambles and really had no room for new people. Slowly, I have begun to build some semblance of normalcy for myself, and now I do want to start living fully again.

I know that there are people out there who will always think the worst about me. I can’t do anything about that. All I can control is how I conduct myself on a daily basis. The people in my inner circle, most of whom are women by the way, know the real me and see the kind of life I lead. All I can do is continue to work hard and live a decent, honest life. For the people in my life who truly matter, that is enough.

First message

Second message

Next to last message

Last message

Sams message

Sunday Afternoon Ramblings – 9/24/17


I’m reaching out to my friends on both ends of the political spectrum. We live in contentious, divisive times, and many days it feels as if our country is about to split apart into a fragmented mess. I’ve written many posts on this blog about how we need to find common ground and attempt to heal, or we are going to spiral into something violent and bloody.

Well, here is yet another opportunity for us to come together, if we have the courage and fortitude to show unity.

Yesterday, our president called certain American citizens “sons of bitches” for protesting during the national anthem before football games. Regardless of whether or not you agree with their form of protest, which is both peaceful and civil, and whether or not you believe in their message, which is a plea for improved social justice for African-Americans, you should be horrified by the president’s remarks.

We are Americans. We live under the rule of law established by our Constitution, and one of our most fundamental rights is the right to express our beliefs, especially beliefs which run contrary to government policies. This right is imperative for a free society. If we do not have the right to speak our minds, to criticize our leaders for their failures, and to question injustices, we are no longer free people.

Regardless of whether or not you voted for Donald Trump, you need to recognize that his remarks are a form of authoritarian fascism, which discourages citizens from standing up for their rights and encourages employers to punish employees for questioning authority.

In a free society, it is simply unacceptable for the president to use the office as a means for squelching public discourse. His words were deplorable, and his message, though cloaked in pseudo-patriotism, is as un-American and unconstitutional as anything I’ve heard in my life.

Now is the opportunity for us to come together as free citizens and tell the fascists and bigots who feel empowered by their leader in the White House, that we will not allow hate to divide us, and we will not allow fear or threats to take away our rights to express our beliefs in peaceful and civil manners. We are Americans, whether we are black or white or brown, whether we are liberal, conservative, or moderate. We are the shining beacon of liberty. We are the greatest country on earth, not because we are perfect, but because we have the freedoms and the rights to stand up for our beliefs and express our views without fear. Now is the time for unity.

Thursday Morning Ramblings – 8/17/17

I have friends from every end of the political spectrum. Within my circle, there are gay liberals, a gay conservative, transgender individuals, a handful of homophobes, educators, financial advisors, ministers, truck drivers, mechanics, artists, musicians, moderate conservatives, proud Trump supporters, and even a couple of Baltimore Ravens fans. These people are my friends because each and every one of them treats me with love and respect, and while we may sometimes bicker over politics or policies, at the end of the day, I know my friends have good hearts. Liberal or conservative or moderate, the vast majority of people just want to live in peace, work at a job they enjoy, and make certain that their children are safe and happy. That’s the real American Dream.

However, I will say this as succinctly and clearly as I can. If you believe that other people are not worthy of the same rights as you because of the tint of their skin or their gender or their sexual preference or the god they choose to worship, you are an asshole.

In our country, you have the freedom to be an asshole. You can believe whatever outdated, backwards, inbred horseshit you want to believe, but you are not free from the consequences of your ignorance. You do not have the right to harm others just because they don’t fit into your pigeonhole of what’s wholesome. You do not have the right to deny American citizens their inherent human rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution, no matter how many racist clowns you might get elected as president.

We as human beings are capable of terrible atrocities. At our worst we are petty, vicious, insecure people who rush to judgment. In those times, we are worse than animals. But that is not all we are. We are also capable of kindness, charity, cooperation, love, and mercy. In those moments, we are divine.

At this point in history, I hope that the good and decent people of this great country will stand together, regardless of political views or superficial differences, and tell the hatemongers that they do not have the final say. I hope the best of us will rise up, stand together, and demonstrate that evil will not conquer good and hate will not supplant love. We must set our insignificant differences aside and unite against the bullies and tyrants who thrive on hate. The time is now.

Friday Morning Rambling – 7/14/2017

In the last year, I’ve completed manuscripts for two different books (both to be released soon), launched a vineyard, and begun the process of clearing more of the property to make it usable. I’ve taken advantage of my improved health and embraced the time allotted to me each day. I’ve marched forward to the best of my ability, and while I’m still a long way from where I want to be, I’ve lifted myself up from the rock bottom.

My apologies to those who wished ill upon me or believed the worst about me or turned your backs on me. I’m sorry but I won’t remain in the past and won’t allow anyone or anything to define me wrongly. I will always strive to live a positive and optimistic life. I will always choose love over hate. My apologies that I won’t wallow in the mire.

To those who have believed in me and supported me and encouraged me over the last year, thank you from the bottom of my soul. You are the ones who matter to me and the ones I consider family. Here’s to the next year of achieving goals and writing books and building something special to pass down to my kids.

Life is beautiful.

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