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Joe Hooker

Well, here we are – week 3 of the spring semester. I’m having a hard time fathoming that I have less than 50 days of classes left until my time is done at FBU and in academia in general. Like many other seniors my remaining days are being spent readying my résumé, creating an e-portfolio, finishing up my major course requirements, deleting those incriminating pictures from Facebook, job-hunting, and dreadfully writing that HULK of a senior seminar paper. In my spare time I enjoy taking deep breaths and telling myself “everything will be okay”…May, and warm weather will be here in no time.

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As of late I have been reading The Wettest County in the World, a novel by Matt Bondurant. For anyone who went to the theater to see the movie Lawless with Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf, this book provided the context and most of the substance for the film’s screenplay. If you are a fan of reading about American History or simply enjoyed the film, this book would be a nice addition to your collection.

Bondurant paints an intriguing picture of his grandfather and two great-uncles – Jack, Forrest, and Howard – as they made their living as bootleggers. Set in the foothills of rural Virginia, the Bondurants did what they had to do to provide for themselves during the Great Depression and Prohibition by making and distributing high proof liquor. In a time and place where the law had to play by the moonshiner’s rules, the author takes readers through the transformation from local sheriffs to the integration of top Federal Officers aimed not necessarily at stopping the manufacturing and distribution of whiskey – they just want their cut of the earnings. Thus unfolds “The Great Franklin County Moonshine Conspiracy,” which ultimately lifted the veil of silence surrounding the alcohol saturated activities of Franklin County.

Violence, vigilance, liquor, greed, brotherhood and more are all wrapped up into this moonshiner legacy. The Wettest County in the World will not only take you back to Virginia in the 1920’s and ‘30’s and make you feel the hunger, intoxication and cruelty of that era, the author will impress you with his eloquent prose and vivid interpretation of what his ancestors lived through, making Matt Bondurant an unparalleled storyteller.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, at least one of them – The NFL Football season is back in full swing, the St. Louis Cardinals clinched a playoff spot, and the steamy days of this St. Louis summer are making room for brisk fall weather. If you’re like me the pinnacle of your week begins Sunday at noon – Fantasy Football! Nothing compares to sitting around with your buddies exchanging un-pleasantries about each other’s hand-picked teams, enjoying a smorgasbord of high caloric foods, a cold bottle of fermented fluid in hand – if you are of age – and watching (hopefully) the St. Louis Rams and your fantasy football team bring home a double-u.

This season, like years past, is full of bone-breaking hits, breath-taking tackles, game-changing interceptions, weird broken plays, epic diving catches, and much more. However there are some new trends this season in the NFL. For one, our western Missouri adversaries – the Kansas City Chiefs – are undefeated at 3-0! I can appreciate that yet they have played subpar teams including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles. Unfortunately the dynasty that is the New England Patriots is still wining at a record of 3-0 even though they lost most of their offensive firepower they have squeaked out a couple victories. In addition to the list of undefeated teams, add the Miami Dolphins, who have surprised many so far this year.

On this side of the state the St. Louis Rams are beginning to struggle. Looking promising in their debut against the Arizona Cardinals we saw a pretty solid defense and a poised 4th year quarterback find his stride. Yet when traveling to Atlanta and Dallas, the Rams couldn’t maintain. Falling victim to an inordinate amount of penalties, highly questionable offensive game plans, and gaps in the run and pass defense, the Rams have fallen to 1-2. I’m no NFL offensive guru but I have to pose the question – How many times are Rams going to try and run screens and dump off passes at the line of scrimmage when our strengths are spreading the field and using the run to open the passing game? The rest of the NFL season should prove interesting as no team – except maybe the Denver Broncos – have showcased their elitism.

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