ERROL CASTENS: Bumper stickers, stuck songs, songbird of the night

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

God didn’t intend for any of his children to be so narrowly focused as to summarize our philosophy of life on a single license plate. That’s why he gave us bumper stickers.
– On a related topic, someday a careless driver is going to add insult to injury by plastering a pedestrian with a Prius bearing an “I Brake for Animals” bumper sticker.
– It’s wrong to wish my life away, but every year on this date I can hardly wait for sleep to finish the day, just so Chickasaw County native Bobbie Gentry will quit traumatizing my brain with her 1967 hit, “Ode to Billie Joe.” You remember it – it’s the song that starts, “It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty, Delta dayayayay… .” Nothing against either the singer or the story-telling song; it’s just that June 3rd triggers an every-waking-moment repetition. The only way I can defeat it is to sing The Lettermen’s “Goin’ Out of My Head” back to Miss Gentry. Of course, on Monday all us baby boomers can get stuck on C.W. McCall’s “Convoy,” from 1975, which asserts, “Was the dark of the moon, on the sixth of June, in a Kenworth pulling logs … .”
– The old folks used to say a hard-working man would never hear the whippoorwill but once a year. Given that the loud bird was believed to signal that the last frost was gone, that hard-working man was supposed to be too busy planting cotton to hear its call a second time. Glad I’m lazy: Unlike Hank Willams, I love hearing the whippoorwill, except when he/she gets too close.
– Gardeners get really ambitious in spring, but few people want to plant more after the weather turns hot, which means most summer vegetable plants are about to disappear from the store shelves. With our long growing seasons, it’s still a good time to plant tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, herbs and other hot-weather crops typically grown from seedlings, along with almost any beans, field peas, okra and other direct-seeded vegetables.
– If you grow tomatoes, please grow sweet basil. Whether it’s in salad, a sandwich or soup, basil is tomato’s best friend. All it really asks for is a little halfway decent soil, a lot of sunshine and frequent waterings.
– Oxford’s starting the free Movies in the Park summer series tonight at Avent Park with “Apollo 13.” Other films are “Monsters vs. Aliens” on June 17, “Smokey and the Bandit” on July 15 and “Despicable Me” on July 29. Each time, live music begins around 7 or 7:15 p.m., with the movie screening at dark. Good fun on the cheap!

Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or

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