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Two years ago, I helped my mother with invitations and other aspects of preparing for her 50th high school class reunion. Part of that included developing art and layout.

The reason I mention that now is this placard recently spotted in the local public library:

I note that my class is not listed

That's my design at the top of that flyer, presumably taken from the reunion website.

It's kind of cool to see something that I had a hand in placed in a cultural archive. I'm immortal!

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Mom got a deal on some Day of the Dead hand towels at TJ Maxx, so she decided we'd be decorating in that style for Halloween this year.

This is the door hanger I made for her.

Knock, knock. You're dead.

Cultural appropriation at its finest!

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The forecast was 57° and rain. I asked Mom, and she declined to attend. I asked seven more people, and they all had better things to do. I went alone. I should have listened to what they were trying to tell me.

As forecast, the game was very cold, and very wet. So wet, in fact, that the Athletic Department decided not to allow any bands on the field, which made for a very unusual pre-game with no band welcoming the players onto the field and an equally odd Homecoming halftime, where the homecoming court was seen only on the video board in still photographs (taken on a sunnier day).

Kentucky 0, UGA 21

The football was as bad as the weather. There were 10 punts in the first half alone. (Six of those drives were 3-and-outs.) Georgia's strategy appeared to be "wait until Kentucky makes a mistake." It did work eventually when Kentucky badly shanked a punt and allowed Georgia to score on the following play. Congratulations, Georgia, but don't expect that plan to work in two weeks against Florida.

I was not prepared for the amount of rain. I lasted only slightly longer than Kentucky did. I left in the fourth quarter after Georgia finally shut the door, making a goal line stand to break Kentucky's spirit. I paused on my way back to the car to take one last look back just as Georgia scored their third touchdown. Final score: Kentucky 0, UGA 21.

It. Never. Stopped. Raining.

Like I said, cold and wet.

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The first evidence I saw that things were going to go poorly was at the start of the game when the three guys sitting behind me correctly predicted Georgia's playcalling on the first three downs. And they didn't just call runs and passes. They accurately predicted blocking assignments and routes. If the guys in the stands can do it, it should come as no surprise that the opposing coaches can do it, too. And they did. (Although, how hard is it to predict "run up the middle, run up the middle, pass to the outside" when it is repeated for 4 quarters and two overtimes of play?)

South Carolina 20, UGA 17

The picture above is of the South Carolina players celebrating at midfield and tearing branches off the famed hedges after their win. Some Georgia fans were up and arms about this, but that's what underdog visiting teams do when they beat #3 ranked Georgia. Or, as in this case, #3 ranked Georgia beat itself.

There was a lot of blame to go around in this 20-17 loss in double overtime, but quarterback Jake Fromm does deserve special mention in no small part because he's typically been so good. He played so badly today — missing open receivers, throwing three interceptions, and fumbling once — I have to wonder what recently went wrong in his life. Dumped by his girlfriend? Dead dog? Payoff? Did no one tell Jake the cautionary tale of Quincy Carter? Bad games against South Carolina can ruin promising careers, Jake.

Oh well. Better luck next week, Dawgs.

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Nothing was usual when Notre Dame came to Athens.

Notre Dame 17, UGA 23

What you see above is the new LED lighting installed in Sanford Stadium earlier this year. Those of you who see a lot of live sports may be familiar with the old metal halide lights that warm up slowly. These are not those. Quick on and color changing, the new lights made for some very impressive stadium effects during the big game, including the red out at the start of the fourth quarter. Nice addition, Georgia.

It didn't take red lights to notice the difference between Notre Dame and a "regular" game. Despite adding extra seats to the stadium for this meeting of top ten teams, Athens was still expecting 50,000 people without tickets, and they arrived early and took all the parking places. We had a flyover of F15s and about two dozen returning Dawg football stars on the sideline (including David Pollack, Champ & Boss Bailey, and Knowshon Moreno, just to name a few). When kickoff finally arrived, the atmosphere was truly electric.

Speaking of the crowd, although ticket costs had bloated from their $75 cover price to a rumored $600 and up on the secondary market, it didn't keep the drunks out. Nor did it keep them in their seats. For reasons that remain unclear to me — credit my naturally welcoming personality, perhaps — Mom and I had plenty of elbow room in an otherwise packed stadium when the couples to our left and right simply disappeared at halftime. That gave us plenty of space to bite our nails when Notre Dame made their late comeback attempt.

Final score: #7 Notre Dame 17, #3 UGA 23. Great football game. It just might have been worth $600.

Footnote: During the pregame, all ten Ugas were showcased on the big board. However, instead of being presented chronologically, they were ordered alphabetically by Roman numeral: I, II, III, IV, IX, V, VI, VII, VIII, X. That probably says terrible things about a Georgia education, but at least the football team is good.

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The draw for the opening home game of the 2019 Georgia season wasn't the opponent, Murray State, but the dedication of "Dooley Field at Sanford Stadium."

Murray State 17, UGA 63

The dedication was held about 15 minutes before kickoff to a partially-filled stadium. Vince deserved a better crowd, but that's what happens when you schedule something for pregame against a sub-par opponent in 95° heat, the same temp that drove Mom and me from the stadium before halftime on opening day last year. Even football legends are subject to the weather.

As for the game itself, friend Randy — who replaced Mom at the last minute when she said one 95° opening day was enough for her — and I spent most of our time drinking bottles of water and trying to guess whether Georgia, who managed only a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter, could manage to pull out a win against the 49-point spread. They didn't, but only barely. Final score was Murray State 17, UGA 63 (a 46-point differential). And yes, we watched all the way until the last second had run off the clock, a decision I'm sure my poor crispy skin will be paying for tomorrow.

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Mom and I continue watching Hallmark mystery movies. We've discovered that they're a uneven bunch, often relying on formula to overcome a lack of characterization and charisma. As an actor, it must be a good paycheck if you can get it.

We were big fans of the "Murder She Baked" series. Mom had read the books, and the actors had a rapport better than most of the comparables. Sadly, that series was canceled, and much of the cast moved on to other things. Specifically, these things.

89. (1528.) The Chronicle Mysteries: Recovered (2019)
Alison Sweeney, formerly Hannah the baker, here plays podcaster Alex who investigates an unsolved missing persons case. (Sound familiar? I have to wonder if the "Serial" podcast is getting a cut.) The missing person is played by the actress who played Hannah's sister, and Alex is romantically linked to the actor who played Hannah's sister's husband. It's really a head trip, which is good because the mystery is not. The ending is astonishingly bad.

93. (1532.) The Chronicle Mysteries: The Wrong Man (2019)
The Chronicle cast is back, this time with two mysteries. Alex is now editor of a newspaper and sets out to solve a crime involving dead lawyers and mobsters. Speaking of lawyers, Hannah the baker's mother's lawyer is now a farmer-turned-engineer. The resolution hinges on the improbably timely arrival of a piece of evidence and an unusually talkative stevedore. But if you can swallow the ending to the first one....

106. (1545.) The Chronicle Mysteries: Vines That Bind (2019)
There's a third one! As a favor to the newspaper gossip columnist, Hannah Alex travels to another state to solve a double murder in a vineyard that may have been committed by the daughter of the victim. Or his wife. His daughter! His wife! The guilty party is telegraphed far too early, so it felt like we spent most of the second half looking for red herrings. Bah.

Obviously, these are not the best that Hallmark has to offer. (Personally, I still like Darrow & Darrow.)

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♫ "Movies. We get movies. We get sacks and sacks of movies!" ♫

77. (1516.) The Reluctant Debutante (1958)
It's always a little weird watching a movie that is clearly a strict adaptation of a stage play. They almost always make me wish I was seeing the show live. While the film is cute enough, I imagine live actors playing it out in real time would have given it the goosing it needed to really come alive.

78. (1517.) The Good Dinosaur (2015)
Every once in a while, Pixar releases a film whose mere existence appears to be a demonstration of some advance in their technical expertise. In Nemo it was "look what we can do with water!" In Brave it was "look what we can do with hair!" Here, it's "look what we can do with scenery!" It's the environmental scenery that steals every scene and is, frankly, the only real reason to watch this coming-of-age adventure story.

79. (1518.) The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)
As I watched this, the one thought that ran through my mind over and over, as if on a skipping record, was "Holy shit, someone thought this was a good enough idea that they paid money to have it made." Would I have thought it was awesome if I had seen it when I was 12? That I can't definitively say no bothers me immensely.

80. (1519.) Mid90s (2018)
Jonah Hill's directorial debut is similar to Ladybird and Eighth Grade in all the right ways. Amazon's A24 studio continues to collect auteurs making coming-of-age movies that feel like genuine biopics. Kudos.

83. (1522.) Tomorrowland (2015)
This movie was panned by critics for pacing issues and heavy-handed hectoring. I can see that. However, it nonetheless combines the best of director Brad Bird's imagination, affinity for retro sci-fi, and optimism. (Besides, I've always had a soft spot for female android tweens.) I found it very enjoyable.

Also: when you teleport, you'll need a Coke.

Drink Coke! (Tomorrowland)

84. (1523.) Book Club (2011)
This was Mom's pick, and I'm happy to report that it was a pleasant surprise. The all-star cast helped a lot, especially Candice Bergen.

More to come.

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Neither Mom nor I watch a lot of serialized television. I prefer stand-alone movies. She prefers going to bed with a mystery novel. We've found an overlapping sweet spot of entertainment that we both enjoy in the Hallmark Mysteries and Movies channel.

Most of the following are what used to be called "made for television movies," if that distinction has any meaning anymore in the modern landscape of streaming media. Most of them are based on series of books.

64. (1503.) Murder, She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery (2015)
We started by watching the misadventures of professional baker and amateur sleuth Hannah (Alison Sweeney). Mom had read and loved the books. The movies are cute, if heavier on the romance than the mysteries. Alas, Sweeney has moved on to other series and will bake no more murders.

65. (1504.) Site Unseen: An Emma Fielding Mystery (2017)
41. (1480.) Past Malice: An Emma Fielding Mystery (2018)
42. (1481.) Emma Fielding: More Bitter Than Death (2019)
Emma Fielding is the Indiana Jane of mystery fiction, an archaeologist who somehow spends more time chasing murderers than relics. On television, she's played by the botoxed face of Courtney Thorne-Smith of Melrose Place fame. I'm okay with these, but it's not my favorite series.

68. (1507.) Morning Show Mystery: Mortal Mishaps (2018)
69. (1508.) Morning Show Mystery: Murder on the Menu (2018)
70. (1509.) Morning Show Mysteries: A Murder in Mind (2019)
81. (1520.) Morning Show Mysteries: Countdown to Murder (2019)
82. (1521.) Morning Show Mysteries: Death by Design (2019)
These are based on books co-written by Al Roker about a morning-show celebrity whose entire social network appears to be filled with murderers. Holly Robinson Peete of 21 Jump Street has the lead opposite Rick Fox, who could probably be replaced by a block of wood without anyone noticing. I enjoy this series, partially because I like a bit of ethnic diversity in the otherwise lily-white Hallmark landscape and partially because I'm always able to solve them before the halfway point. (They make me feel smart, even though by design a toddler could likely put the clues together.)

85. (1524.) Darrow & Darrow (2017)
86. (1525.) Darrow & Darrow 2 (2018)
87. (1526.) Darrow & Darrow: Body of Evidence (2018)
Unquestionably my favorite of the Hallmark mystery bunch. The younger titular Darrow is Kimberly Williams-Paisley, who I had something of a crush on in the mid 90s in her pre-According to Jim appearances in Steve Martin's Father of the Bride remakes and the Relativity television series I watched with my girlfriend at the time. I could still watch her for hours, and I have.

So that's what my Mom and I do together — even when it isn't Mother's Day.

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Mom framed her cover appearance on the AJC and hung it in the kitchen.

She likes the fame. I like the Droste Effect. We're both very satisfied.

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To be continued...

 

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