Nelson...

... damnation, people.... here I sit sipping Scotch and enjoying a wonderful evening of blissfully not-posting, and I find myself mocked!... and not just mocked in the usual sense, oh no... instead I am somehow jumbled in with a story of little Jewish boys feeding perfectly good country-food to their religious elders in lieu of chickpeas..... I ask you, what is this world coming to?...

.... goodness, it is so heartbreaking sometimes... I mean, you wake up every day, and it's just breathe, breathe, breathe, write, breathe..... I am a man, dammit.. not a machine!....

... by the way, did you guys know that when Admiral Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, his body was shipped back to England in a cask of brandy?... how cool is that!?...

... no, it's true.. it is... you can trust Uncle Eric...

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Ideas...

.. out of gas once again, people.... out of gas....

... so, I guess I'll share a little of my thought process.... See, at various times I open up the trusty ole email and add to a message called "blog ideas"... it's filled with those random bits of craziness that hit me and make me say excitedly, "wow! It would be really cool to write a post about THAT!"....

... yeah, well... my inner dialogue says "wow" a lot... anyway, here is a small sampling of some of the things on the list....

Stuff to Blog About

.... Napoleon and Josephine... (and that whole un-washed thing)
... Bette Davis in 'Jezebel'...
..... the Biblical Jezebel... (with the whole dogs in the street' deal)
... Percy Shelley's 'Ozymandias' (again)...
... Liz Taylor at seventeen...
.... good God, Liz Taylor at seventeen...
... taping Judy Garland's breasts during 'The Wizard of Oz'...
... Japanese Beetles... (again)
... Islay malts vs. Highland malts
... forgiveness....
... why acorns and sweet gums piss me off....
... how the movies 'Zulu' and 'Jeremiah Johnson' changed my life...
.... a comparison and contrast between blogging and the invention of the double-sided scotch tape....
... 'Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell'...
... 'My Fair Lady' and just how monumentally fucked up it is...
... assassinations - who is on my list (and why) ...

... and about a million other things...

... but right now, nothing is coming to mind....

... I'm off to town to buy some nachos... it is lunchtime and I'm hungry...

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Remember....

.... what a small, small World we live in... where parallels meet...... it is amazing... and today - it is sad....

.... I have been reading this evening the tale of Captain Nolan of the 11th Hussars.... and his subsequent demise during the Crimean War..... the movie came on first - the version from 1968 - and it piqued my interest.... So I began researching...

... good God... being an amateur student of history, it was a shocker..... a rude awakening yet again, like revisiting Chickamauga....

... the scene is so famous and yet so incredibly horrible... immortalized by Tennyson AND Kipling... but with two totally different slants....

... blame... fame... death... immortality.... futility... glory.... art... poetry... and in the end, beggars.... starving beggars..

... The Charge of The Light Brigade.... The Charge of The Heavy Brigade... and the almost-mythic stand of The Thin Red Line at Balaclava....

... all within the space of 24 hours of battle... all in the blinking of one man's eyes... or a hundred men's heartbeats....

.... Sevastopol... yes, Sevastopol was the key to the battle, as always.... at least that is what the history books tell us... but damnation, people.... what a price to pay to not even take the city.... What a loss of life.... And what a terribly sick ending for the veterans - according to Rudyard.....

... case in point, and pay attention.... I was on the phone with Elisson earlier today and we were talking about Tennyson's classic poem of the battle... (which I just re-read it in its entirety, I might add).... and afterwards I kept following link upon link regarding the clash... and therein was my downfall..... for after a while, well, I re-discovered my Kipling.....

... sure, sure.... We all remember the "cannons to right of them, cannons to left of them, cannons to front of them.... Volley'd and thunder'd.... "... but what a fucking crock.....what bravery, courage, sacrifice, loss, and complete and utter bullshit....

.. Tennyson's lines are carved onto our psyche... and they will be forever recited and memorized as odes to the stiffness of men... Duty, Honor, and the Original Tale of Valor.... The consummate tale of fuck you, my enemy, here I come.'.... and the words will continue to ring with the Truth of Ages..... but we should not forget our Kipling, dear reader.... Not ever.... Not ever, ever, ever...... because the men who fight our battles and bleed on foreign fields come home.... and even though the poems stop being written, the soldiers live on....

... behold....

The Last of the Light Brigade, by Rudyard Kipling

There were thirty million English who talked of England's might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, "Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites."

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant's order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

They strove to stand to attention, to straighen the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and "Beggin' your pardon," he said,
"You wrote o' the Light Brigade, sir. Here's all that isn't dead.
An' it's all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin' the mouth of hell;
For we're all of us nigh to the workhouse, an' we thought we'd call an' tell.

"No, thank you, we don't want food, sir; but couldn't you take an' write
A sort of 'to be continued' and 'see next page' o' the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an' couldn't you tell 'em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now."

The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with "the scorn of scorn."
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

O thirty million English that babble of England's might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children's children are lisping to "honour the charge they made - "
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

... we are in a War now.... and I swear that I will do everything in my power to support the troops... especially when they return home.....

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Cream....

.... I am a simple guy just like most... basic and plain... and as such, I am pretty low-maintenance... I bathe once or twice a day... I shave every morning.... brush my fangs a few times a day... I even keep my hair cut short so that I never need to even own a comb... no dramas.... easy-peasy....

.. even my wardrobe is drab... and with the exception of my kickass shoes, there is nothing of any great note about the clothes I wear every day... jeans and a white tee-shirt ala The Fonz - sans leather jacket - is my usual... and I always wear a belt... you can blame The Corps for that...

... that said, The Wife and my Sainted Mother continually try to add a few bits and pieces to spruce up my boring appearance... and for the most part they endeavor in vain...

... Phase 1 began a while back when a cologne was chosen for me.. personally, well, I could care less... just as long as I don't smell of day-old sweat, I'd be perfectly content to just smell of soap... but regardless, I was asked to wear this stuff... l'eau d'Issey Bleue.... crazy stuff... and I suppose it smells alright...

... anyway, the reason that I am writing this now is because Phase 2 kicked in yesterday... and this morning I realized that I am absolutely loving it...

... I jumped into the shower and began my morning scrub... things flowed smoothly, and before I knew it, the time for shaving was upon me... but something was wrong... the usual shaving foam was nowhere to be found... nor was the tube of gel that she sometimes buys... and in their usual location instead, was a green tube of stuff that looked like it would hold toothpaste...

.... people, it was a tube of "C.O. Bigelow's Shaving Cream"... and, wow.... I love it...

.. I have to admit that I was pretty damn skeptical as I globbed that stuff onto my palm while the steamy water scalded my back.... but once I began massaging that smooth, cooling, lightly-scented cream onto my peachfuzz stubble, I was impressed...

... the faint scent was both medicinal and soapy... and the feel was soft and silky.... and it sure beats the hell out of any other shaving product I have ever used...

.... so it is with great pleasure that I highly recommend C.O. Bigelow's Proraso Shaving Cream to you shaving-types out there... trust me.. the stuff rocks... do yourself a favor and head on over to your local Bath and Body Works... she tells me that is where she bought it....

... trust me, boys and girls... life is all about the little things....

... now, where did I put that bowl of pot pourri...

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Payback....

... after a delicious and light lunch, I took a wee constitutional stroll around the grounds of the compound with coffee in hand.... a casual inspection of sorts... and it appears that the gentleman who mowed my lawn yesterday did a bang-up job...

... a few of the plants which survived the long, hot Summer are now blooming energetically... and they add a nice touch of color to shady spots out front....

... the weather here is fine today... mid 70s with a bright sky... I remarked about the pleasantness of it all to The Missus as I passed her draped in her hammock... she agreed heartily... and then immediately suggested that I Amdro the bejesus out of the six hills of fire ants that she had mapped out yesterday afternoon...

... of course, I dutifully did as I was asked...

... but that's just the thing, though... we're all about The Duality lately...

... I mean, there she was laying in the hammock with her "Eyes of Buddha" tee-shirt on - completely at peace with the world and soaking up the autumnal awe of Nature's Masterpiece - and she wanted me to rain down murderous death down upon the ant colonies.... a vengeful hippie, if you will humor the idea... a born-again student of "Live and Let Live - MOST of the Time"....

..... wow... never underestimate the power of a few good stings or bites, I guess.... Wrath has a way of curing some people's propensity to chew granola bars and rescue trapped flies from spider's webs...

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Done...

... from the cushiony seat of my blogroom chair, the frightening world of squirrel-mating is once again laid before me.... and it isn't pretty, folks....

... two years ago I wrote about it..... and last year, too.... but not this year, gentle readers.... This year the frantic pelvic pounding of the treerats will go undocumented...

... it is played, this vein... and where once I looked on with horror, shock, and a strange sense of amusement, now I simply stare out the window towards the dogwoods and the humping varmints... completely apathetic... I no longer secretly feel the pain of the female squirrel as she is leapt upon and violently buggered... and I can no longer halfway identify with the male's incredibly primal urge to passionately pummel each female that he can corner....

... I have achieved the thousand yard stare' ... numbed as I am now to the yearly sexual antics performed not twenty feet from my keyboard.... a mind can only take so much rapine mayhem, people...

... and I am done... finished...

... I shall write no more of squirrel sex forever... as a matter of fact, I do believe that a cull is in order.. soon....

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Music...

... a while back, two fine bloggers requested my participation in a musical meme... Jimbo and Rave.... And since my little noggin is perfectly devoid of subject matter, I suppose it is time to step up to the proverbial plate.....

... be warned, however... my taste in music is varied, eclectic, and highly questionable... so some of the songs might be offensive to underage ears... so just take that as a "not safe for work" warning, children.....

.... here goes...

Four songs that you could listen to over and over:
... actually, I tend to put a song on repeat when I sit down to blog and/or surf... after eight or nine plays, I will sometimes switch songs... but on a few occasions, I have literally kept the same song on repeat for the entire day...

... there are quite a few that I keep on repeat... but here are the most recent four...

Mexican Home - John Prine
Carmelita - Warren Zevon
I Can't Wait To Get Off Work (And See My Baby On Montgomery Avenue) - Tom Waits
One For The Road - Robbie Williams

Four songs that drive you up the friggin' wall:
... now this is an interesting question... mainly because, well, it is nearly impossible to drive me up a wall... I am the consummate laid back hedonist.... That said, however, I suppose I should choose something...

any rap song except for The Gourd's version of Gin & Juice
any ABBA song
Sweet Dreams Are Made of These - The Eurythmics
any music where the singer mumbles and I can't hear the lyrics

Four songs that you're embarrassed (or should be) to admit you like:
Three Point One Four - The Bloodhound Gang
The Lapdance Is So Much Better When The Stripper Is Crying - The Bloodhound Gang
The CB Song - The Legendary Shack Shakers
The Bad Touch - The Bloodhound Gang


Four best driving songs:
... well, this produces a conundrum... sometimes I drive fast... and sometimes I drive slow.... And I use different types of music for each mood.... so, ok... the first two songs are for quick-pedalling.... and the last two are for more gentle cornering.....

Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams
Funky Monks - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Mexican Blackbird - ZZ Top
... and in certain moods, Lenny by SRV


Four songs that make you cry:
... wow... the easiest question yet....
Fields of Gold - Eva Cassidy .... If you haven't heard her version, you are missing out.... she died young from cancer.. but goodness, her voice is haunting...
The University of Georgia Fight Song
The University of Florida Fight Song
The University of Alabama Fight Song

Four best risqué songs:
Lady of the Afternoon - Ed Haynes
Pasties & a G-String - Tom Waits
Fuck You Like An Animal - Nine Inch Nails
Let's Misbehave - Cole Porter ... heh... check this out....

Let's Misbehave, by Cole Porter...

We're all alone; no chaperone can get our number...
The world's in slumber; let's misbehave.

There's something wild about you, child, that's so contangious...
Let's be outrageous; let's misbehave.

When Adam won Eve's hand, he wouldn't stand for teasin'...
He didn't care about those apples out of season.

They say the spring means just one thing to little love birds.
We're not above birds; let's misbehave.

(Chorus)

If you'd be just so sweet and only meet your fate, dear,
It would be the great event of nineteen twenty-eight, dear.

(Chorus)

Let's Misbehave!

... ladies and gentlemen, that simply rocks..... those crazy kids back in 1928 must have gone WILD...

Four best kid songs:
... hmmm... having no babies of my own, I'm having to stretch a bit for this one... but here goes..

Mary Had a Little Lamb - Stevie Ray Vaughan
The Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Picket
One-eyed, One-horned, Flying, Purple People-eater - Sheb Wooley
Pasties & a G-String - Tom Waits

... oh, yeah... I simply cannot WAIT to teach Pasties & a G-String to my nephews....

Four songs (hell, pick your own category and fill it in):... ok... four songs from my hard drive chosen at random...
Kiss - Prince
Plastic Jesus - Paul Newman (vocals AND banjo)
Wolf Creek Pass - C.W. McCall
My First Affair - Frank Sinatra

... there you go, friends and neighbors.... those links should keep you busy for a few minutes.... I'm off to pour a Scotch and sit under the dogwoods.....

... peace, out...

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Snooker...

... sometimes the world is just absolutely chocked full of jaw-dropping wonder... take this quote for instance...

Playing snooker gives you firm hands and helps to build up character. It is the ideal recreation for dedicated nuns.

Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, Apostolic Nuncio Emeritus, 1989

... this, of course, was found in my Guide to Loafing.... but wow.. just wow... two sentences and he set the hook with the last word...

... I just love that...

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Ghosts...

... a long while back I was asked to write about my experience with ghosts... I've been vastly idle in tackling the job and feel quite down about the whole thing... hey, it is a poor host who denies the wishes of his guests... and my tardiness is inexcusable....

... so with that out of the way, here is my tale...

... once upon a time... in a land far, far away... The Wife and I rented a small cottage on a hillside overlooking a tidal basin... the small house was known as the "gardener's cottage" and it had been the residence of the groundskeeper and his family in days past... a stone lintel that spanned the top of the front entrance read 1790', but no doubt there had been a home there for hundreds of years before...

... the front lawn was bordered by a stone wall about twenty feet high... this wall continued for hundreds of yards and formed a large rectangle that held within it The Castle... the castle was higher up the hillside - near the crest - and offered a commanding view of the North Sea, the Basin, and the town that lay below...

... originally built in the 1100s to keep the marauding Vikings at bay, it was reported to have been sacked and burnt by Edward I when he was hammering the Scots in the early 1300s... but the original Keep endured the battles... and it became the centerpiece of the Ancient Pile.. additional rooms were added on continuously during the following centuries, of course... and the entire structure ambled and twisted ad hoc across nearly two acres...

... and so.. the scene is set...

... my ghost story involves three separate incidents... the first one took place on the grounds of the castle in broad daylight... the second and third happened in the cottage late at night....

... The Wife has many stories of The Cottage herself that involve ghosts... but during the two instances I will speak of, she was present with me both times and can corroborate my testimony.... as for her other hauntings, I was either asleep or away at work and can't vouch for them...

... to be continued....

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Wind...

.... The most amazing thunderstorm rolled in this evening and it shattered my stillness.... primal and powerful.... it was completely overwhelming... I have never seen anything like it before or since....

... limbs were torn from trees in my lawn... and my neighbors' lawn... and the gutters overflowed with rain... but that is the usual with a strong storm.... this one, somehow, just seemed different...

.. I stood out on the deck for a while and watched the lightning..... lightning that I had never seen so active before.... continuous.... and perfectly illuminating the night with every strike.... making the entire neighborhood seem like it was bathed in daylight for a split-second... one strike every three to five seconds... the whole scene lasting for more than two hours.... I was dizzy by the end of it....

... even now, I can hear it off in the distance, a rolling booming.... but the rain, the rain is still here.... here with me while the rest of the storm has passed on.... it is beating on my roof with a staccato that is almost intoxicating....

... never in my life have I been witness to a storm such as this..... so violent and obviously destructive... and yet so calming..... so cleansing....

... it is as if the World is using wind and rain to scrub herself... and the lightning - the razor - is snipping off the errant limbs and the wayward trees.... making the body more perfect.... slicing with purpose.....

... wind, water, force, and power....

... I suppose that I should have been afraid, but I was not.... I welcomed it....

... in all my years of living in The South, I have never seen a storm like this before....

.... today was my Father's birthday.....

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Talking...

.... it never fails.... just when you begin to crush your opponents like beetles under a boot heel, someone breaks out a camera... and then, in the order of the cosmos, you miss....

miss.jpg

... word...

.... and it is my experience that the speed at which the camera is whipped out is directly proportional to the amount of smack that is being talked....

... thus, once your crow is at it's loudest and your jibes are zinging hard and fast, it is then that the camera appears and changes your luck...

... and I offer the shot above is proof... proof that sometimes I should just keep my mouth shut and win quietly....

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Tasmania...

... yesterday as I saintedly attended my grill, I heard a loud, prolonged yelp' echo from the patio area of Hell's Half-acre... a patio that I knew was placidly comforting The Missus - ensconced with reading book and glass of wine...

... and being the dutiful Man of The House and Protector of All Things that I am, I responded by immediately arriving on the scene ready to do battle with whatever beast/bug/varmint/assailant that had accosted The Missus... yea, verily.. backyard shrieks always illicit an armed response in the evenings.. just in case...

.. but I rounded the corner of the house to a startlingly comical scene... Fred the Cat was halfway up one of the dogwood trees and was gazing downward - perfectly transfixed by the antics of The Wife.... the Wife was standing at the base of the tree looking at the ground... in her left hand, an open book and lit cigarette... in her right, a half-full wine glass.... And she appeared to be running in place...

.. it was amazing... almost like one of those cartoons that you see of the Tasmanian Devil - his legs pumping a million times a minute and his torso absolutely still... and yet there she was... feet alternately rising and stomping with an incredible vigor.... while her book, cigarette, and wine glass maintained their perfect stillness....

... as I approached her wigging-out body at top speed, I quickly saw the problem.... The Wife - after 40 blissfully peaceful years on this spinning planet - had finally been introduced to Mr. Fire Ant... and, Ladies and Gentlemen, she was not amused....

... I took her inside and tended to her stings... and all is well now... as a matter of fact, I just checked out her lower legs and feet a few minutes ago... not a single sign that she was ever attacked could be found.. incredible.... Had that been me, I'd look like a damn smallpox victim by now.... complete with weeping ulcers and puss-filled pustules..

... but regardless, those ants are history.... word up, rubberneckers... it does not behoove anyone or anything to piss off a Scot...

... although I still can't understand how she managed to read, smoke, and get stung all at the same time while never spilling a drop of her wine....

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Burgers...

.... I've been asked to fire up the grill tonight to char some cheeseburgers... and I'm looking forward to it, actually.... it makes a change from the usual ribs and steaks... and with burgers, well, it takes a little more finesse..

... with steaks, you just buy quality meat and toss it on the grill... with ribs, you doctor them good with your sauce... but burgers require more skill... they require more care.... taking standard, lean ground beef... adding your secret ingredients.... patting out the patty so that it is just so... not too thick and not too thin.... Just Right...

... so yeah, that is my task for the evening.... delicately working some magic on a pound and a half of chopped beef while Dire Straits bounces around the garage - the cool wind keeping me company as it laps at the hot grill...

.... I'm off to town now though... business beckons..

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Childhood...

... lately, certain decisions have caused me to drive the same road everyday... a main thoroughfare of sorts, it is straight and businesslike... nondescript... it's like many semi-rural roads around the county... though slightly busier perhaps.. for all intents, it is straight with only a few large, arcing curves that don't quite require braking...

.. it is in the course of being widened as well... progress marching on, etc... but, that said, delays are not common at all...

... it is humbling to see the giant pieces of machinery slowly moving earth and gravel as you zoom past...

.. my old childhood home stands there too... midway between my destination town and the small place where I live now... it seems so odd to pass by it every day during these last two weeks... I still remember the telephone number all these years later... 442-4488....

... my youth - from age 3 to 7 - was spent in that little house by the road... funny... I have a photo of me cradling a winter icicle that my Dad had broken from an eave where it had grown one chilly night.... the thing was nearly as long as I was tall...

... I am off again soon to drive the road today... and each day I take notice of how - yard by yard - the road-wideners get that little bit closer to that old house...

... progress...

... I can't help but wonder if the workmen will eventually find my super-secret stash of 1977 Playboys that I buried in the basement once that place is finally bulldozed...

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Dust...

..... good morning, gentle readers.... I hope you are all well.....

... as for me?... well, if I was any better it would probably be illegal...

.... and on top of everything, as I greeted this fine day with biscuit and coffee on the patio, I was reminded of reason #53 of Why I Love Autumn in The South..

..... mainly, with these wonderful temperatures, one no longer needs to dust the boys with baby powder after the morning shower to keep them from sticking to one's thigh by noon....

... hey, you gotta learn to enjoy the little things, people... it'll make your day so much more bearable....

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Friends...

... it truly is amazing, it really is... the caliber of people that you meet on the internet... indeed, I am continually embraced by a state of monumental disappoint regarding most of you... no, really...

... I mean, I go and pour out my deepest fears to you knuckleheads and what do I get?... support?... comforting words?... a hearty "I got your back when the zombies come, Eric"?... no... none of that... not at all...

... instead, I get The Confabulator telling the zombies where I live... hordes of zombie chipmunks... brokeback zombies... TWICE.... ass raping zombies... a story about how zombies make crank calls during thunderstorms.... Elisson poking more fun at my phobia... even my buddy Shadowscope heebied my jeebie... and then there was this... an anatomically correct zombiegirl doll - behold...

zombiegirl.jpg

... oh, and even corporate zombies... and zombie cats...


... oh, but the list continues... so where else was the love shown?..... well, there was a poem about zombified spiders in my back yard... a mention of cannibalistic hillbillies.... even poor Erica up in Brooklyn felt the effects of the Undead deluge and had her some nightmares... and I even got one of these.... Check it out...

velocizomby.jpg

... and now?... I just checked my mailbox and found this little baby courtesy of my only blogson... see?...

zombiebook.jpg

.. you people should be completely ashamed of yourselves.. picking on a poor, frail, gentle, meek redhead like me....

.... but hey, I know now... and I've learned my lesson... the next time?... I'm telling you guys that I am afraid of scantily clad brunette librarian chicks with horn-rimmed glasses and garter belts....

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Rust...

.... turn it up, boys and girls...

.. everyone should own this album....

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Archives...

... it is a horrible thing to lose one's archives.... backup often, people...

... take this, for instance... I, for one, am happy it was saved...

... believe it or not, there is some good shit out there on the internet...

.. y'all have a good night... I'm off to bed....

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Stains...

... details of my mysterious childhood were inadvertently dropped via phonecon a few days ago... and I'm still attempting to process all of the data...

... as you tend to do on a Saturday, I had innocently picked up the phone for a Momma-Son chat... and I was midway through a rather trivial conversation about my great and abiding love of all things blueberry, when my Sainted Momma let it slip... "Oh, honey, I thought for sure that you would have grown out of that by now!"....

.. hold the phone... says I, "Huh? Grown outta what?" ...

... "See, when you were a baby, well, you were such a finicky eater... it took us forever to find a baby food that you would eat... and peas, carrots, and other vegetables?... forget about it... (.. evidently she's been watching reruns of the Sopranos ... hey, I'm thankful.. at least she's not into Deadwood..)

... "Yes, ma'am... but what does this have to do blueberries?" ...

... "Well, honey, that's just it... the only thing we found that you would eat was this stuff called Blueberry Buckle'... so we had to disguise all of your other food by pouring Blueberry Buckle all over it.. good God, it did look horrible as you were eating it... and when it came out the other end?.. you crapped blue for months, boy... every single one of your cloth diapers had bright blue skidmarks that we just could NOT scrub out.... but you sure ate up all of your peas and carrots!" ...

... "... ok, Mom... hang on.... let me get this straight... so you mixed everything I ate with blueberries?.. " ...

... "Yep."

..... "... good God... and how long did this go on for, Mom?" ...

.. "Well, pretty much until you were old enough to spank... then we just tanned that hide whenever you didn't want to eat your vegetables... "...

... " ... that's just great, Mom... I went from being fed tasty, delicious blueberries with every meal to getting throttled!! "..

... "Yep."

.... " ... you know, between this little tidbit of information... and the fact that you guys gave me a JJ Walker doll for Christmas when I was three... I think I should probably get counseling or something... "

.... so, yeah.. I still don't really know what to say.... but I do think that my Mother has just nipped my love of blueberries in the bud... I mean, I just can't quit imagining me as a child... running around the K-Mart parking lot with blue streaked diapers at two years of age...

... and don't even get me started on the plush Gonzo I got instead of a teddy bear...

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Cranes...

... fluidity... that's the word... were I to hazard to attempt a one-word definition of my weekend, that would be it... fluidity... constant motion towards the path of least resistance... hey, it works...

... Semper Gumby, people...

... today the Missus has asked to visit the Cherokee Removal Memorial Park in Meigs County... and thereupon photograph the migratory Sandhill Cranes as they frolic in the river cranishly..

... sounds good to me... after all, it's a shining day here... 74 degrees... the gentleman who mows my lawn is busy at his task.... and my stomach is telling me that it is lunchtime...

... I suppose I should be in a funk because my beloved Volunteers fell last night to the despicable Gators... but I'm not... the boys went down swinging and struggling... and 21-20 is a fair result...

.... so with that, I'll leave you rubberneckers to enjoy your Sunday in peace... I'll be back later with photos of waterbirds...

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Coffee...

(hand-blogged onto an actual sheet of paper with an ink pen from my patio due to mu.nu being tits-up)

... this morning as I walked out to the patio with my coffee, a formation of eight Canada geese honked by.... a nice way to start a day, if I do say so myself... and a sure sign that the glory of Autumn is about to arrive..

... rounding the curve in the stone path, I startled something large in the bushes... a deer most likely - although I didn't see it...

... the cat, Fred in this instance, rose from the tree he was hunting under and ambled over for a visit with me.... (I paid him little attention.. and now, as I write this, he is sprawled a few feet away on a small pile of mulch licking his nether regions)

.... Oh, the Absolute Joy of being a Contented Pussy...

... in all actuality, my morning would be quite perfect were it not for the fact that - in the kitchen's darkness earlier - I inadvertently chose this cup to fill with my blessed coffee... and now I have to raise a truly hideous sight up to eye-level every time I want a sip.....

.... Boy howdy, I do so have some wonderful friends....

... UPDATE - at this very moment Fred is now imitating The Sphinx and solemnly taking a crap in the mulch.... damnation, people... this day is heading South real quick.... I'm going back inside..

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Bears....

.... I dropped the top on Sylvia yesterday and chauffeured the Missus up into the National Forest after lunch... the outside temperature when we arrived at Indian Boundary Lake was 68 degrees.. and the cool air - combined with the wind whistling by the convertible top - gave me the chills more than a few times during the drive...

... of course, I had a fleece in the trunk but couldn't be bothered to stop and retrieve it....

... the chill was short-lived, though.... we parked near the public beach and walked easily to the trailhead that winds around the lake... 3 miles of that fine strip where woodland meets marsh... with the finely-graveled, gray trail separating the two worlds.. we took our time and enjoyed the quiet walk.... for a Thursday afternoon in September, the place was practically deserted..

lake_small.jpg

... I did see a few people though... a few fishermen sitting out on a small spit of land that almost formed a mini-bay at the northern end of the lake... but other than that, there was no one there....

.. after the first five hundred yards of trekking, my mind immediately broke the idyllic scene by beginning to imagine us being attacked and devoured by ravenous black bears and then it taking days before our dismembered, chewed, and partially digested remains were ever found.... talk about a buzz-killer... wow...

... but apart from that, it was an incredibly fine day... hey, every day needs a few moments of panic in it, right?... you know, just to keep it interesting?.... but luckily for all concerned, there were no bears and only a few initial moments of panic....

.. I did see a snake though... a little, non-poisonous fellow... and a turtle.. and some frogs, squirrels, fish, and whole swarm of bluish-green dragonflies... but no bears... so life was good....

.. I would like to report though, that I did have a Plan of Action if a hungry bear were to emerge suddenly from the underbrush with lunch on his mind and me and the Missus in his gaze... the plan relied heavily on running quickly into the lake and then swimming away at top speed... and once out in the deep water (provided the bear followed me) I would proceed to stab it about the face with my pocket knife...

.... hey, it might have worked.... then again, it might not have... but I do KNOW (well, I'm pretty sure) that I can swim faster than a bear... so maybe I would have just swam all the way across the lake and jumped in the car and sped down the mountain before the bear could catch me?!... knowing my luck though, I would have probably been eaten by a giant bass as I jigged my way across the surface of the lake like Tarzan in one of those 1940s movies where he looks as if he has a Mercury outboard motor strapped to his ass.....

... but like I said, there were no bears.... so everything was cool.. but... you know, there is something exceedingly comforting about having a plan... even if it is a bad plan... and even if you never even get to USE the plan... there is just something about knowing you have a plan....

... having a plan makes you feel secure... but it remains to be seen whether my plan was actually a bad one or not.... although I do have my suspicions... and I'm leaning towards BAD...

.... but then again, trying to bump off a charging bear with my pocket knife on dry land doesn't really sound that much better...

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Roses....

... I noticed a few days ago that the climbing rose has begun to bloom again.... it struck me as quite odd, really... I had imagined that she was finished for the year..... and yet more and more flowers appear each day...

... the blooms are large and soft... silky to the touch... and once fully opened, the slightest wind breaks the petals loose from the bud.... leaving scattered pink ovals to decorate the steps that lead up to the front door....

.... of all the flowers that grow around the house, her blooms are the most tender... the most fragile...

... here is a shot of a blossom she opened yesterday....

rose_small.jpg

... pink and perfect... pink... with just the slightest hint of purple... moist from the morning.... subtle folds curving and disappearing towards her core.... inviting your eyes to look closer.... and your fingers to caress... almost waiting....

... goodness... I need to get out more....

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Talent...

... so you want to catch the highlights of the Yellin' in Helen, eh?... not enough juicy gossip or sordid photographs on the internet for you?... well, look no further than the incredible mind of Elisson...

.. the man is a genius... and so far, well, it is the most factual and complete version of events that I've seen...

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Bye...

.... well, rubberneckers, I just said aloha to T1G this morning and sent him on his way... waving him towards his journey alongside the rising Sun... the dewy grass - still damp from showers during the night - our silent witness...

... he had dropped by the oasis here last night to give his camel a rest as he caravanned South.... and as usual, it was a pleasure...

... I fed him up on some Mexican chow and watered him down with English beer...

... we conversed civilly into the night about the recent assemblage in Helen... I even let him fondle my Zombie for a little while... (thanks, Leslie)...

... and now he is off for Alabama.... ahhhh... good times... now I think I'll take a nap...

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Hackman...

... today will find the Missus and I tooling up to Knoxville for our bi-monthly booze run.... the morning has started slowly and I predict that the rest of the day will follow suit...early Autumn... low 80s...perfect for dropping the top on Sylvia and spending a few hours on the backroads....

... I stopped on Sunday in Ellijay and dropped the top before crossing the mountain... and it was a helluva trip... after enjoying the company of my crazy blogger friends, it was a break from the norm to have the wind in my face and a clear head free from Chatham Artillery Punch and the sound of monkeys in mid-orgasm....

... blogmeets... wow... you really can't make this stuff up....

... anyway... I am off to town in search of lunch... I suspect it will be easily found....

... last night I had my arm twisted just enough to make me sit through another re-viewing of The Birdcage... and I have to say, it is really starting to grow on me... there are a million subtleties that you miss the first time you see it... like when the crying, barefoot, Guatemalan butler desperately tosses the shrimp into the soup kettle as Robin Williams slams a few glugs of Glenlivet... heh, I had missed that the first go-around... and it was pretty funny....

.... But I will say this... I am as big of a fan of Gene Hackman as the next guy... hell, apart from those Superman movies, I have loved everything he was in.... but the fact remains - and it is salient... he sure makes for the ugliest drag queen I have ever seen when he gets lipsticked-up at the end of The Birdcage.... seriously... Gene Hackman in drag is just nightmarish.... and besides, they should have made him a brunette instead of a blonde anyway....

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Poetry...

... El Capitan has outdone himself.... and while his poetic genius is evident, I sure hope that his interpretation of the after-events of me smashing those two evil red spiders last week are off.... way off.... way, way off...

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Calvin...

... I recently saw an online tribute page for the victims of the attack on 9/11.... The goal of the site was to have thousands of bloggers write a tribute to each person who fell victim to terrorism on that day....

... I signed up.... I could not NOT sign up..... it seemed the very least I could do.... sure, care packages to troops in the field is one thing... but taking the time out of our simple lives to recognize a fellow American is something different...

... he wasn't a combatant.... or a serviceman busily doing his duty.... He was just a guy like you or I who was going to work in the morning..... and he was murdered...

... Calvin Dawson was an American... a black man... a Father.... a Husband... and a fervent Jehovah's Witness.... and he was a man whose life was cut short on September 11th, 2001 when the World Trade Center towers accordioned....

.. I never met Calvin... and I have to admit, were I to have him knocking on my door on a Saturday morning or afternoon, I would have turned him away.... religion really isn't my bag.....

.... but as I read his tributes and what his friends, family, and colleagues thought of him, I could not help but be impressed..... it takes a special kind of grit, enthusiasm, and faith to be the man that he was.... continually cheerful and a loving Father and Husband.... and while I do not share his religious beliefs, I do very much hold his convictions high.... Faith is something I admire greatly... but he was taken too early... and his family, friends, and children continue to mourn.....

.... So today I offer my sincere condolences to those that knew Calvin... my deepest sympathy to his family who feel his loss greater than anyone... and my unwavering and eternal anger to the cowardly fiends who took Calvin and so many others away from the loving bosoms of those they cared about...

... you are remembered, Mr. Dawson... I will never forget you...

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Survived...

.... well, it looks like I have survived another throwdown/blogmeet with The Crew by the Chattahoochee.. .... all I have to show for it are various bruises, scrapes, a small puncture wound, and a first degree burn on my right index finger..... and the cops only showed up once the entire time!!...

.... ahhhh, it's all good... but now I need some serious naptime... and some hydrogen peroxide....

... and a Band-Aid...

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Gone....

... well, well... the time is once again upon us... and the city of Helen, Georgia trembles in fear of The Gathering'... very, very soon, the sleepy north Georgia mountains will ring with annual drunken cackling of the Jawja Bloggers......

... so y'all have a great weekend.... be careful... get your exercise... take your vitamins... etc... I'll be back Sunday night....

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Helpless...

... of the great Lessons in Life, there is none more biting than that of Helplessness... none..... it is the worst....and that, dear reader, is a fact... and it is absolute.... it is the most humbling and heart wrenching seminar you will ever attend in your tiny lifetime - the day that it is taught..... and you will never forget... not ever....

.... to feel Helpless - completely and unfathomably helpless in its fullest sense - well, it is to touch the face of your faith...to reach out for God and find him... or miss him.... or embrace the dark side of godlessness....

.....and as the mind plays tricks, you clamber towards either vantage point with equal, frantic abandon...

... the depending factor, of course, if you are the actual helpless one or if you are the victim of fate to be standing by watching events uncontrollably unfold around you and those you love....

... just trust me..... I speak the truth...

... Michele from Letters of New York has a primer on the subject.....and it rivals any that I have ever read.... It is painful and monumental and true.... the kind of pain that haunts you for a lifetime....

.... me, I've had my own from time to time.... but nothing to the extent of Michele.... painful, yes.... but not deadly.... at least not yet...

... of all the torments of the human brain, absolute helplessness is the most difficult to deal with... you have to surrender a part of yourself to live through the experience... and that part of you which wants to rage, tear against the forces that surround you, wade in like John Wayne, scream, or cry... it isn't surrendered easily.... We are, after all, hard wired to ACT when faced with danger to our loved ones..... but all of that is removed by helplessness....

... sitting quietly is all you can do... watching and listening.... and it is not a good place to ever find yourself in...

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Groaning...

... mainly because I still have nothing to write about, I offer a generous tip of this evening's adult libation towards the western coast of Scotland and Mark of Groanin' Jock....

... he has the once-in-a-lifetime honor of being my 11,000th commenter...

.... so kudos to you, Mark, you hippie... I'll buy you a pint in Oban the next time I'm over...

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Nothing...

.... I am dry... desolate.... crestfallen.... wizened leathery and wide-eyed by the gentle glare of the monitor, my muse is parched... the desert-like glow having baked her senseless... she warbles - feebly - and begs for iced water and fresh garden salad with extra-light ranch dressing... she appears to have been ill-met by a fairly large number of highly sexed-up Bedouins...

... the hum of the whirring power supply fan eeking its way up through the tangle of wires at my feet has shepherded my brain to the edge of Catatonia... Oblivion isn't too inconceivably far ahead, I'll wager

.. in the far away distance, a horn from a lonesome CSX behemoth toots as it nears a junction.... rednecks swilling Milwaukee's Best are doubtless unaware of the SOP the driver is following due to their knack of stirring up Bacchus..... it's all good though... we all stumble blindly from time to time not knowing the unseen hands that protect us...

... but tonight?... tonight my mind is crippled with indecision and paralyzed with the sudden, stunning loss of post-worthy bullshit... part of me screams... part of me weeps.... there was even some hair-pulling earlier on... And part of me simply cannot wait to party down in Helen this weekend with my eloquent, Zombie-loving friends....

... in short, dear, sweet, gentle friends.. I got nothing... my brain is a burning vessel at sea on a stormy night.... and language - my rat - has jumped ship quicker than, well, a really, really quick thing....

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Maxims....

... today I traipse off again to see the doctor..... it is always enjoyable - in a roundabout sort of way... I give her money and she makes me feel better....

... it is as Horace once said, isn't it?.... "enjoy each moment of every day as if tomorrow the Barbarians would be encircling your village and sodomizing your familial pets."....

.... hey, at least there is a Taco Bell within walking distance of the surgery....

.... gifts come in small packages... and it behooves us all to recognize them early.... and often...

... and that reminds me.. I really miss that little Mexican Chihuahua that they used in those advertisements.... I wonder what ever happened to that little guy... if the words of Horace are to be trusted, I suspect it has something to do with Capital One...

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Grillin'....

... tonight's schedule of events contains the following enigmatic key words...

... grill, ribeye, gin, tonic, salad, Caesar, potatoes, eggs, Devil'd....

.... oh yeah.... the Garden Fairies visited this morning... and the smell of sizzling flesh will mingle flawlessly with the dazzling aroma of freshly cut grass....

... I can hardly manage to curb my enthusiasm... Hell, I've got sewing-machine leg just thinking about it....

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Beauty....

... today was marked by strange and wondrous moments... small glimpses of Time that really took me aback... nature can be a cruel teacher at times, I suppose...

... I awoke early and stumbled through to the can... my back was aching and my eyes were still trying to focus as I seated myself... and as the tediousness of the morning ritual took hold, my gaze shifted to the window to my left.....

... all Summer I have watched two house spiders live their lives sandwiched between glass and storm screen... but today they had done something new..... some days they have feasted upon gnats during the night and their webs are cluttered with rice-sized cocoons by morning.. at other times, their webs are empty for days on end... but today I noticed a difference... each spider was completely motionless... and nearby to each was a fully formed egg-sac..

... over the space of one night, their instinct had taken over and pushed them to suddenly prepare for next year's generation...

... I sat there watching them for a good few minutes... they weren't testing the web for bug-catching ability... they were not busy with repairs... they didn't even seem to be bothered about looking for breakfast... they just sat there - very close by to their newly laid eggs - jostling in the breeze....

... I suppose they are done.. finished for the year... their lifelong task is finished, after all... they have ensured the survival of their species.. and I suspect that they will be long dead when their children begin exploring the world between the glass and screen.... Winter will likely finish them and their fleshy bodies... only the little ones protected in the silky case will survive....

... around three this afternoon, the Wife and I decided to attempt a game of tennis' on the back deck.... We played for half an hour or so... and when one errant backhand of hers headed towards the banana tree, I drew up short....

... a large, reddish-colored spider had caught a dragonfly and was in mid-munch... its web stretched from the guttering on the back of the house down to the largest of the four leaves on the potted banana tree.... and there, midair, the dragonfly struggled.... being nearly head-high, I was face to face with the scene before I knew it.... life and death at eye-level... I was transfixed by the tiny drama... just a few minutes before, that lovely dragonfly had been chasing the tennis balls as they bounced back and forth between the Wife and I....

... it was an unusual spider... fairly large, but not one that I normally see... and most certainly not one that had taken up residence in the banana tree before... and yet there it was... holding a fully-grown dragonfly with its front legs while the spiderly mandibles worked.... It was horrible...

... three or four times while I was watching, the dragonfly would bat its wings fiercely... shaking the web... but the spider held it fast.... vibrating on the silk strand to the tune of the beating wings - but never letting go....

... and just as the Sun was setting tonight, I was resting on the couch as Serena Williams thumped her opponent at the US Open... and as those professionally-smacked tennis balls yo-yo'd across the television screen, I noticed a large spider spinning a brand new web on the potted rose near the gable at the front of the house... perfectly silhouetted by the setting sun, he was busy at work....

... they say that Autumn is the time of sleep... the time when the Earth tucks itself under the covers and prepares for the long slumber of Winter.... but what of a world where predators appear to ravenously feed from out of nowhere?.... just as the rest of the creepies and crawlies are finishing up their yearly cycle?....

... I don't know... but it seems damned disheartening...

.... and tomorrow I'm going to kill both of those reddish spiders... I'll pinch them both into smithereens with a fine set of gloved-fingers..... the one in the banana tree and the one that is lurking in the rose.... sure, maybe they are just doing what they were designed to do, but tomorrow they die... they die regardless.... they die, regardless... not on my watch, people.... not on my watch...

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Simple...

.... well, well.... it looks like the Volunteers managed an upset last night.... just like they did when they whipped poor LSU last year and then ended up with the shittiest season in years.... I have faith, don't get me wrong... but I also know that UT is pretty good at pulling upsets... and waaay too good at losing games when they are favored to win...

... at least Ainge looked comfortable for a change.... And after last season, it appears that Chavis has been kicking some major tail during the off-season... Tennessee's defense looked damn good....

... anyway, it is a pleasant Sunday here.... I'm off to sit on the patio and read...

... and tonight I will be polishing off the last two fingers of a 18 year old Talisker while I grill some steaks...

... it never pays to plan too far ahead on a Sunday... far, far better if you manage to just keep it simple...

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Books...

... mercy... two of my favorite bloggers have BOTH tagged me with the same meme... probably just another example of the "great minds think alike" chestnut... or maybe it is a conspiracy... either way, since it is a overcast and dreary Saturday here at the compound - and since I was asked so flatteringly - I'll give it a shot....


A book that changed my life:
.... Wow... well, my mother fell victim to a handsome encyclopedia salesman when I was a toddler... the result was that the lowest shelves in the living room were occupied by a complete set of World Book Encyclopedias AND a 1974 vintage set of Childcraft books.. I looked through them again recently and was amazed to see pen and crayon scribbles on many of the pages... when I asked her about the doodles, she laughed and said that when I was crawling, I would open the books and sit for hours looking at the pictures...

... not much has changed, really... I still like books with lots and lots of pictures... mental or otherwise...

A book I've read more than once:
...... I rarely read the same book twice... the way my memory works, I am usually able to remember lines or quotes readily... but poetry or reference books, yes... I enjoy reading them over and over.... most recently, I have been re-reading my Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable...

A book I would take with me if I were stuck on a desert island:
.. while tempted to choose something practical - a survival manual, for instance - I can't help but think on my Collected Works of Robert Service... I would truly be lost without it...

A book that made me laugh:
... anything by P.J. O'Rourke... especially Holidays in Hell.... His description of a Philippine Army officer as "powerful-looking in a short, compressed way, like an attack hamster" still cracks me up just thinking about it....

A book that made me cry:
... Random Acts of Kindness... a collection of true Civil War stories edited by Dave Evans....

A book that I wish had been written:
.. How to Cure Cancer with Breathing Exercises and Scotch Sipping by Irma Livelong

A book I wish had never been written:
... I don't know about this question... I find it hard to say that I wish something had never been written....

I'm currently reading:
... A Month of Sundays by John Updike....

A book I've been meaning to read:
... The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad....

What turned me onto fiction?
... school, I suppose.... my Mother was constantly reading fiction as I grew up.... but I seem to have only partially inherited her addiction... I am much more drawn to history, reference, biography, or memoir... flights of fancy do not appeal to me as much as the real lives of people or trying to understand history....

... whew.... all done... now I'm off to buy some yardbird for tonight's chicken korma.... It should sit perfectly as I recline later to watch the Vols spar with California... football season is finally here... oh yeah.... chicken korma, Newcastle brown ale, and Tennessee football.... it should make for a wonderfully civilized evening....

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Uplifting...

... you know, it's hard to be cheerful in all weathers.... It really is... especially when you are watching the news or reading the paper... the waves of bad news and troubles can wash over you with a heavy weight.... and at times, you feel your gentle soul spiraling down towards doom and gloom... hey, we're all human...

... but then you read heartwarming headlines such as this, and it all seems that wee bit brighter for a while....

The dancers, who were dressed as teachers, schoolgirls and librarians, took off their clothes to raise money for the cash-strapped Clark County School District. Scores Las Vegas raised $2,500 during the event.

... people helping people, children... there is nothing more noble to see.... loving, hard-working ladies doing their bit for the betterment of their community...

... I don't know about you, but this little snippet of news certainly made my morning...

... and now I'm off to Knoxville with a spring in my step....

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