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Swimming the Echo by Brian L. Tucker

Swimming the Echo

by Brian L. Tucker

Giveaway ends September 20, 2017.

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31st of August

The Changing Face of Monticello, KY


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Knowing there’s positive development in my hometown is a wonderful realization. It’s like Christmas but shared collectively rather than the recent American way (self-indulgent, greedy, Black Fridayed).

I found out the fine community of Wayne County is undergoing changes for a new public library!

I love knowing this is happening.

Books. Readers. Future pupils and stories to share amongst family members.

It gladdens a person’s spirits in September, especially when the school year is underway, and it’s easy to forget about anything but the task at-hand. But, this is future planning…and for good reasons!

Imagine: the next generation discovering their favorite authors on the Hwy 90 bypass in Monticello, KY. A middle school kid flipping through a copy of a YA novel (let’s say, The Hunger Games) and saying to themselves, “Hey, I can do this!” and by this they mean, writing a series of prose and sharing it with their family members.

What a cool NEW feature of town!

I’m glad to know this is coming (along with countless other avenues of business being added to town, plus, Lake Cumberland being voted 4th best spot to vacation in the U.S. this year). It takes time, but effort is always the first step.

With this new library going in, it’ll mean:

  • programming via Wayne Co. schools
  • access to titles (popular and obscure)
  • story time for children, theatrical performances (possibly)

 

The Wayne County Outlook has the story here. Click. Read. Share.

Thanks!

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Categories:  brianltucker thankfulness
26th of August

Proud of Chattanooga


Evening shot of the Walnut Street Bridge & Southern Bell River Boat on the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga.

Just weeks after Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on a recruiting center–and then, a U.S. Navy Reserve center–in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the town rallied around those families hurting in the aftermath.

On Saturday, August 15th, over 150 Departments of the Navy, plus Chattanooga city officials (& members) came together to host an event for thousands inside UTC’s McKenzie Arena.

Vice President Joe Biden, in attendance, said, “The day will come when this memory brings a smile to your lips, before it brings a tear to your eye,” to families of the fallen.

Lieutenant Commander Timothy White, who witnessed the tragic shootings, added, “They were warriors. They would want us to do our duty with more tenacity and undaunted courage.”

And, U.S. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus encouraged, “Ordinary people, facing extraordinary circumstances. An ordinary Thursday became a day of extraordinary horror, but also extraordinary heroism.”

Chattanooga rallied. The prayers were heard, and hearts were uplifted. The tragedy still looms, as I see the memorial items along Amnicola Highway driving to work each day. But, the reminder of unity is here as well.

Even in tragedy, God moves.

Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez opened fire at a Naval reserve station in Chattanooga, Tennessee on Thursday, July 16, killing 4 Marines and one sailor, injuring two others.

Chattanooga, often proclaimed as the center of the “Bible belt,” has reacted properly–with love rather than hate. Sure, it alarmed many that Muhammad would resort to violence, because they only saw the good in him previously, as a Chattanoogan.

And the forgiveness is refreshing, because often our first reaction is to crucify.

Others I’ve met (outside of Chattanooga) have reacted as well to this city’s response. One gentleman asked me, “How’s Chattanooga doing since the shooting? I’ve been watching the news, and it seems like such a strong town. My prayers are with you.”

He saw the efforts of city officials and pastors on the news. The town didn’t riot. It regrouped. Prayed for its fallen. Even for the family of the shooter.

The five people who lost their lives on July 16, 2015 have left a model to follow for sure.

chattanooga-shooting-victims

Just like James 2:20 cautions, their lives embodied the importance of faith with deeds.

Living it 24/7 ( and not fearing the unknown) is so so powerful a message.

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26th of August

Wednesday Update: Forthcoming from 4ink7 Journal


Keep-Calm-Its-Already-Wednesday

It’s Wednesday!

The turn. The hump. The glimpse of dawn inside each work week.

I wanted to share that 4ink7 Journal has been kind enough to select a story of mine, Climbing Above Ground, for its print (and ebook) release this Fall.

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I’ll try to keep you posted on a definite release date. As of right now, it looks to be moving through the final editing stage. More information to come. As always, “Thank you” for reading these crazy thoughts. Enjoy your Wednesday.

May the light shine brightly ahead for you. 

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24th of August

Monticello, KY: Sinkholes and Higher Ground.


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Recently, my hometown suffered a total collapse of Main Street and closure of traffic into, and out of, downtown Monticello.


Fact: Wayne County sits atop the list (apart from Warren County, I believe) as being the most cave-heavy counties in all of Kentucky. And Kentucky boasts the largest cave systems in the world. So, I’m no engineer, but it’s safe to say that building above ground can sometimes have repercussions like this one from a few weeks back in my hometown.

The sink hole on Main Street is a nice comparison to seasons of our lives.

There are times when the ground seems firm, non-cavy. Then, there are times when the road literally collapses beneath our feet (or vehicles), and we’re stranded…or, worse still, devoured by earth and caves.

I say all of this to say–I often forget about my place in the world-at-large.

I mean, I know I’m a citizen of the U.S.A. I know God loves me more than I ever deserve. But, I guess, on a more selfish level, I forget where I’m even standing. Really. The ground I’m walking upon. Day-to-day treading.

Whether it’s Monticello, KY or outside the Taj Mahal in India, there are similarities inside each and every person’s day-to-day existence. There are caves beneath us and risks of falling through at any moment. Our footing might feel firm, but the ground can still give way. Much like an earthquake and it’s destructive capabilities in a matter of seconds, the earth can swallow us whole.

Should we live in fear? No, of course not. But, should we remember where we stand? I wholeheartedly believe so.

Each day is a gift. For a million reasons, I should give thanks. And if for no other reason than just this one at the moment, I give thanks for not being swallowed by the ground I walk upon…not yet anyways.


 

(For funny, continual updates on the progress of the Monticello sinkhole, feel free to follow him/her/it on Twitter @Monticellosink1  Apparently, the sinkhole has a lot going on. Enough to warrant Twitter updates.)

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21st of August

The Last Day Is Today!


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Final Day for Grabbing Your FREE Copy of “Baptisms & Dogs: Stories” on Kindle (& other Amazon devices) at:

http://ow.ly/R8QNU

 

Current standing is

 

Let’s see if it can break ‘Top 100’ today!

 

 

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20th of August

Words from a Bull Outside the China Shop


bull(click my picture. I won’t bite.)

Only 2 days left – ‘BAPTISMS & DOGS: Stories’ by B.L. Tucker – on and other digital thingies.

Get it now, at:

 

Description:

Baptisms & Dogs is set in the small town of Seton, Kentucky.

The residents are grumpy, jobs scarce.

In these “slice of life” moments, it’s anything but warm, puppy dog tales. From sunup to sundown, this 581-person town looks over its shoulder, praying for release.

Will it come?

 

 

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18th of August

Worst Movie You’ve Ever Seen On Netflix?


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Worst movie you’ve ever seen on Netflix? …Go!

 

My friends and I use a ‘Bottom 100’ list featured on IMDB (Internet Movie Database).

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It features, you guessed it, the worst-rated 100 movies by viewers in all of cinematography. The list changes, but not as often as you’d expect. (The Bottom 100 are just that bad.) We also use other sites with “Worst of All-Time” lists such as: Rotten Tomatoes (summarized by Wikipedia).

Not bragging, but I can safely say we’ve (collectively speaking here) seen more BAD movies than you could ever fathom watching.

Why would I make this claim?

Because for 2+ years, we’ve made a point to find the worst of the worst in the rankings (0-10 point scale). Anything below a 6.0 is bad for IMDB standards. The ones we look at–rarely top a 4/10. So…as we hover around films in the 1.0-3.9 range, we are seeking out some of the worst.

Why do this to ourselves?

  • Great question.

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For some reason, we are intrigued (like others out there) by BAD movies.

Questions like:

How did this get made? Why would anyone in their right mind direct this? Pay money for this? Sit through 2 hours of this?

We’ve asked the same questions, but all while “in our community” where we feel less bad about ourselves, as we TRY to sit through most of them. There’s a lot to be said for seeing atrocious films with your best friends. (Huggable moment here.) Of the ‘Bottom 100’ we’ve seen approximately half of them.

There have been some real stinkers. And some, we didn’t know if we COULD make it through…to the credits. To date, we’ve only stopped on 1. (I. Don’t. Understand. That. One. At. All.)

But, you’re probably wondering: What in the world is this list? I want to go past the ‘Bottom 100’ and list the ones we’ve sat through. It’ll give a little insight for those curious about self-torture 101. It looks something like this, and I’m sure friends will come to my rescue for the films I’ve neglected:

And yes, Troll 2 (1990) was what started it all.

t2(It’s not connected to Troll 1, and it’s not about Trolls at all.)

 

  1. Final Justice (1985)                                            IMDB rating: 2.0
  2. Son of the Mask (2005)                                     IMDB rating: 2.1
  3. Soultaker (1990)                                                 IMDB rating: 2.2
  4. Alone in the Dark (2005)                                  IMDB rating: 2.3
  5. Gigli (2003)                                                         IMDB rating: 2.3
  6. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)  IMDB rating: 2.5
  7. Tees Maar Khan                                                 IMDB rating: 2.5

(Those outside the IMDB ‘Bottom 100’ worth noting)

  • In the Name of the King  (2007                  IMDB rating: 3.7
  • Prototype X29A (1992)                               IMDB rating: 3.5 (How?)
  • 2-Headed Shark Attack  (2012)                  IMDB rating: 2.5
  • The Stuff (1985)                                             Rare 5.9 rating*
  • Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)                         IMDB rating: 3.4
  • Metal Tornado (2011)                                   IMDB rating: 3.3
  • 500 MPH Storm (2013)                               IMDB rating: 2.2
  • 100 Degrees Below Zero (2013)                 IMDB rating: 2.5
  • Zombeavers (2014)                                       Rare 4.8 rating*
  • Attack of the 50-ft Cheerleader (2012)     Rare 4.5 rating*
  • Gingerdead Man Part 3 (2011)                   IMDB rating: 3.8
  • Batman & Robin (1997)                               Rotten Tomatoes: 3.7
  • Birdemic: Shock & Terror (2007)              Huffington Post: “truly, one of the worst films ever made”
  • Mac & Me (1988)                                          Rotten Tomatoes: 0
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)    No words.
  • DeepStar Six (1989)                                     Rotten Tomatoes: 2.5
  • Tees Maar Khan (2010)                               IMDB rating: 2.5
  • Class of Nuke Em High (1986)                 IMDB rating: 5.6 (How?)

…And the list continues onward (and DOWNWARD), because tons of bad movies are being made–by Director Uwe Boll and others–each and every day.


Not saying it’s for everyone, but watching a bad movie can sometimes be quite the treat. It makes movies like Star Wars even more spectacular, when/if you ever return to good films.


Side note:

It’s great fun seeing what Netflix ‘recommends’ for you after you’ve added movies like Troll 2. This is where a lot of the ‘discoveries’ are made. Then, you call friends up, ‘Let’s watch In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.’ And they’re like, ‘Your place or mine?’

 

 

 

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16th of August

Baptisms & Dogs free on Kindle this week!


Hey readers, BAPTISMS & DOGS – FREE promotion on Kindle (Monday – Friday)!

“Baptisms & Dogs” is set in the small town of Seton, Kentucky. The residents are grumpy, jobs scarce. In these “slice of life” moments, it’s anything but warm, puppy dog tales. From sunup to sundown, this 581-person town looks over its shoulder, praying for release. Will it come? Available on Amazon at:

http://amzn.com/B00LAFKRBQ

If you’ve already read BAPTISMS & DOGS, would you consider helping us spread the word about the free download?

 
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14th of August

Monticello, Small Town, USA


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You might’ve seen this post earlier in the week, by Nick James of RoadSnacks, claiming “These Are The 10 Worst Places To Live In Kentucky.”

Before I dip into this topic too quickly, I do want to point out that RoadSnacks does put this disclaimer below their article’s headline: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out.

So this is me not freaking out. But, the old adage: ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’ never sat well with me. Did it you?

Let me take the topic itself, and more specifically #1 on the list of these Top 10 “worst” cities: Monticello.

Have you been there?

It receives these comments from the RoadSnacks writer:

 

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  • “Population: 6,197
  • When you’re looking at science and data, Monticello is the worst place you can live in Kentucky. Let’s see why.
  • The unemployment rate in Monticello is a sky high 11.4%, which is the 2nd highest in the state. Only folks in Middlesborough, which are unemployed at a 13.1% clip have it worse. Ouch.
  • The average income in Monticello is $20,500. That means 34% of the population is living below the poverty line. Crime isn’t horrible here, but you have a 1 in 40 chance of being the victim of a property crime when you’re within city limits every year.
  • Monticello is located in the southern part of the state, two hours east of Bowling Green. Unless you like to fish, there really isn’t much to do out this way.”

And he utilized the criteria below to form this hypothesis about Monticello( and 9 other cities) in the state of Kentucky:

How we crunched the numbers

“We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible…

  • Population Density (The lower the worse – meaning there’s less to do for indoor entertainment)
  • Highest Unemployment Rates
  • Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
  • High Housing Vacancy Rate
  • Education (Low expenditures per student and high Student Teacher Ratio)”

 

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Just like the Everlasting Gobstopper machine in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as the machine comes to life and makes that funny noise…Voila! Here is the list they formed at RoadSnacks:

  1. Monticello
  2. Mayfield
  3. Stanton
  4. Flemingsburg
  5. Mount Vernon
  6. Prestonsburg
  7. Campbellsville
  8. Barbourville
  9. Leitchfield
  10. Grayson

 

To put it simply: it hurts. There’s a lot of connection here for me and my hometown region. It’s hard for me to remain objective. I do admit it’s an economy that STRUGGLES and added business and industry would really help those seeking jobs. And like Monticello, I’ve been to every other city on this list, and I’ve seen (and drawn) comparisons for myself.

James tries to cushion his painful report stating:

Now hold on there. Before you get all riled up and say we’re picking on small town America, that’s not the case. We understand there’s a lot of good in every place. However, according to data (which doesn’t measure things like beauty, ‘friendly people’ and number of fried chicken joints), there are far better options in the state for making a place home.

 

And my response is simply: While you can’t measure it–beauty, friendliness, and, well, I guess you can measure fried chicken establishments, it doesn’t mean these components don’t make a place less than say a city offering the Mall of America or 23 different Chuck E. Cheese franchises around town.

A place is just a place without people living…breathing…making memories in it. So, infotainment or not, I must always argue against places solely for their large bits of industry, their attractions, and conveniences. If these stories held weight, people would all congregate in NYC, L.A., and Chicago. Wait…I admit many are already doing this. (NYC has seen record numbers in the past 2-3 years in regards to population booms.) But, I still cling to the phrase: bigger isn’t always better.

 

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Small town life is simple. Relaxing. James mentions fishing as the only opportunity in Monticello. Well, yes. Lake Cumberland is a place to fish. It’s one of the largest man-made lakes in the country! But, there’s more. Often these infotainment bits are written by individuals who’ve never left their industry hubs and traveled to said places.

Where was this story compiled? Durham, NC. Home of the South’s only “pseudo ivy” school. It’s comfy. Convenient. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that many jobs? Yes. But, that doesn’t mean every city should mimic the Big 3.

I currently live in Chattanooga. Yes. The one with the tragic shootings recently. But…it’s still a beautiful town. The people (by and large) are kind, soft-spoken, and these numbers aren’t numeric here either. And, I know it would rank higher than towns like Monticello, because of population density and other factors.

But…should we just move from Eastern Kentucky (and small, poor towns) entirely like this guy suggests?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Maybe it’s too near and dear to my heart. But, I can’t just let infotainment creep up onto my Facebook feed, tell me not-so-subtly that my hometown stinks,…and is the biggest stinker of them all. Can I?

I’ve written before about small independent schools closing, including Monticello Independent a few years ago. And, I’ve tried to stand by my convictions supporting local economies, jobs, industry, in recent years.

Simply put: infotainment tidbits shouldn’t be our only precursor to forming an opinion, making an uneducated guess.

My solution: go visit the Bottom 10. Bring a notepad. Stay for a bit. (If we can remove the big city blinders, or, “rose-colored glasses” in my case, we might find that people are still people no matter what the zip code. No matter what the smartphone plan. No matter the square footage of their home.)

Monticello exists because of you. Because of me. A place with immeasurable, intrinsic warmth. People like Mayor Jeffrey Edwards, the Wayne County EMS, the City Clerk’s Office, City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Police, Fire, and Health Departments all working to make a difference. To make it better collectively.

Mission: God loves. Therefore, we love. No matter where we live.

We say ‘Thanks’ to all those who made these 10 towns what they were when they were first formed. And to those still fighting to make them great today, we say, “Keep fighting.”

 

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12th of August

Writing a Book Is Difficult.


IMG_04801 (Bad smell, bad headache, bad day look)

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