guess it's better to use non-flammable things around the smoker...and to keep it upright. i figure my meat thermometer was hitting an air pocket. when i sat it back up, i checked for that and i saw it. accidentally melted the bottom of one thermometer so now i'm down to one again lol. the thermometer finally settled down after i got it in better, and it said 155 or so. so i thought one more hour would do it, and i checked it before the hour, and it was 185 then. so slightly overcooked, a little dry under the edge of the breast pieces i think. i accidentally tore spots taking it off the grill. but the least of the day's problems. i tore off the wings and legs and that meat was juicy. so i think after i cut the whole thing tomorrow night it will be ok. pretty good for a first big bird especially considering i didn't set a major fire.
the chimney starter did not light with just the paper under it. had to shoot fluid. but i do think it helped to have lit coals on top of unlit ones. i had also shot some fluid on them since i knew i was having to use the fluid.