Tradition....

….. as today is Hogmanay, I have stuck with family tradition and used the majority of today to clean weapons… a strange tradition?.... nay, gentle reader, ‘tis perfectly normal….. see, once upon a time, January 1st was a day spent hunting various forest critters…. bunnies, squirrels, and whitetail were the usual victims…. But while my killer instinct may have rusted over the years, my cache of weapons has not….

…. Hell, I’ve grown so timid during the past five years that I hardly hunt at all… and as Sandy pointed out yesterday, I probably have the best fed possums in the whole of the tri-state area….

… all that being said, the males in my family would gather together on New Year’s Eve to make sure that their hunting equipment was serviceable… and since most of the firearms had been stored away since the previous winter, this meant that they needed a nice, long, slow, loving cleaning administered.…

…. today’s festivities have been embellished by me enjoying the honor of cleaning Jebus’ stash of firearms as well…. these are the lovely ladies who were slicked with gun oil today and gently fondled…. His three are on the left…. My three gentle darlings are on the right…. behold….

jebus_guns_small.jpg

…. I snapped this photo earlier today while I was getting ready to disassemble them for their lovin’….

pretty, ain’t they?....

.... indeed, they are..... his three are now unloaded and securely resting in the gunsafe…. Mine are now loaded with Hyrda-Shoks and scattered strategically throughout the house…..

... so Happy New Year, y'all..... be safe tonight.... and may the coming year be the best one you've had so far.....

... I'm off to watch BBC America now... they are running a "Absolutely Fabulous" marathon, and I've just got to see it.... Saffron, people.... she was hella cute back in the day.....

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Socks...

…. tonight has been fraught with horrors…… and it hasn’t really been all that pretty…..

.. see, it all began when The Missus unlatched the front hatch and sniffed the air, exclaiming “WOO HOO, Spaghetti!!!”….. only to be told that her olfactory senses were fubar’d… and that we were having CHICKEN KORMA for dinner….. which is considerably different in both smell and taste from spaghetti…..

.. amazing, no?.... that a healthy, civilized woman could mistake korma (made with the finest coconut oil, coconut flesh, and spiced curry humanly imaginable) for my spaghetti? (which is heavily impregnated with four Italian cheeses, bay leaf, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, vanilla extract, and ground cloves?)….

… anyway, that is not the real kicker for tonight…. see, a short time later, a possum found its way to the kitchen door and busied itself with eating the last of my chicken korma from Fred’s plate (Fred (the cat) who was no where to be seen while the vile possum was eating his dinner, the pussy) ….. so I did what any man would do….. I yelled to The Missus to keep her trap shut and ran for my hogleg…..

… all went well for a few moments, and then, well, all fell apart quite quickly…. the possum, in its defense, was just doing his thing…. but he happened to look up from the plate with a mournful, soulful look and gave The Missus a fright…. and she screamed bloody murder………

…. So, just as I arrived at the kitchen door with my pistole, the varmint bolted clumsily towards the nearest exit…..

…. the problem was, I suppose, that I shirked the idea of shooting a .45 ACP hole in my new ChoiceDek deck….. (and that is purely a failing on my part, gentle reader…. I should have blasted him at every prospect)...

….. but it also, of course, allowed the opossum an opportunity to flee across the deckboards with a mouthful of chicken korma, twist through the gate, and then pivot, duck, and scamper down underneath the decking where my sock-clad feel were not allowed to pursue go…..

… the result?.... I am here typing this nonsense out into the blogosphere while a fat, nasty possum is digesting my Indian leftovers below my back porch….. AND I just had to wash my hands in the guest bathroom because they might have random bits of “possum slobber” on them from picking up the little bastard’s dinner plate…..

… and no, I did not make up the term, “possum slobber”…. my Scottish Wife just said those VERY words to me when she asked me to wash my hands…..

… heh…. “possum slobber”….. there are Jacobite graves vibrating all over Scotland tonight, people, trust me.….. and I feel quite plussed, friends….. the assimilation has finally begun in earnest….

… and we all know the Great Importance of Being Earnest…… right?....

... mercy... I just never suspected that it would all start with possum slobber....

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2lbs....

…. yesterday, just before noon, I fried up a pound of Wampler’s Farm Sausage… mild, of course, and laid it aside on a stack of ultra-mega-maxi-multi-absorbent kitchen towels…… I then took one of those enormous bricks of Velveeta and sliced the entire glob into twenty or thirty fairly large hunks…. this was then microwaved in short, controlled bursts until the Velveeta was suitably melted…

…. I then began a fifteen minute culinary voyage of alternately stirring in spoonfuls of cooked, freshly-drained sausage and nuking and re-nuking….

… once all of the sausage had successfully been assimilated by the melted cheese, I added half a jar of some cheap salsa that I had laying around…..

…. Boys and girls, that was my lunch…. and it was heavenly.....

… I gorged myself on that golden, gooey mixture until the beast within me was satiated…. and then I settled back to watch an evening full of College football……

… by the time that the Gamecock’s whipped Houston, I was beginning to feel the approach of Mr. Hungry again….

….. well, just take a wild guess at what I had for dinner, rubberneckers…. any guesses?.... that’s right, hammerheads, leftover Velveeta-stuff!!!....

… so yesterday?... I drank three pots of coffee…. and I ate 1lb of sausage and 1lb of Velveeta…. and 2 cups of salsa…. and forty or fifty tortilla chips…..

… I cleansed my palate after lunch with a Coca-cola over ice… and again in the evening with a gin and tonic…..

…. I think I should probably start taking some sort of vitamin or supplement.... lest I develop scurvy or rickets or something……

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Art...

…. you know, the longer I continue to blog, the greater my love for the blogosphere becomes…. no kidding

….. I mean, I read posts like this one right here, and I just sit and smile at the absolute wonderfulness of the goodies on my blogroll….

… and, hey… Michelangelo might have had a brain the size of Wyoming, but from the looks of some of his sculptures, I’ll bet he was found lacking during a nice bit of Renaissance rack-time…..

…. and I don’t know about you guys, but from my point of view, it certainly throws new light on just exactly what ole Mona Lisa was grinning about…..

… David may have slew Goliath, but Rocco Siffredi he most certainly wasn't.…

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Trains....

… I sit here this morning listening to the 8:50 CSX train moan as it crosses the Mt. Zion crossing just outside Englewood…..

…. my goodness, what a sound…..

…. hey, once upon a time, it was the Louisville & Nashville…. and then it was just the ‘L&N’… and now?... the corporate entity known as CSX….. but it is still just a train to me… a huge, noisy, dusty behemoth that is forever in motion…..

….. lonely, I suppose, the sound of a passing train…. regardless of what name the company has spray painted on the sides of the engines…… or maybe, solitary?…. just solitary and not lonely at all?… I don’t know, but either way, it is one of the most evocative sounds that rumbles through the house daily…..

… when my Father was away working, and I was just a child, the shrill of the train tweaking its steam whistle often tucked me into bed at night…… the tracks lay about a mile southwest of where I grew up….. and now, those same tracks sit just two miles northeast from where I live… sitting and listening to the passing engines…..

… trains have been storied about in my family for generations…. my Grandfather Hull once told me a sweeping, great, epic tale of East Tennessee during the depression years…. when he, as the youngest in the family, broke out for the mountains during the Summer to hunt, fish, and camp the months away…. free and easy and running rampant… and, of course, helping to assuage the burden from his Mother’s table…..

… he was 10, probably, and roaming the hillsides with his two elder brothers….. that just amazes me…..

…. and later, once he was 18, he hopped a freight train that was headed for Virginia…. rode it to north – through the tunnels at Jellico – and straight into Richmond…. and then to Washington, DC…… from DC, he went north to New York City…. and then to Boston….. westwards to Java, NY… and then to Chicago…… and before he knew it, Detroit was in the headlight of his magical train….. next was Omaha… which, hey, must have been quite a haul….. and then to Seattle……

… next was Los Angeles… and then Las Vegas……

.. after that?.... well, there was Tucson, Vicksburg, Meridian, and Atlanta……. and finally back to Chattanooga….

.. from the way that he told it, once he hit Chattanooga, he started walking…. the trip had taken him almost a year to make…. and he walked the 60 miles from Chattanooga to Madisonville.....

…. sometimes I think back on that story and I’m blown away….. I sit in awe of the sheer, absolute bravery…. the amazing ‘Spirit of Adventure’ of it all….

… and there are other times when I think of his story in a completely different light… I mean, how hopeless would you have to be to desert everything you knew, hop a train, and roam for a year?.... how horrible must your circumstance have been that you would risk the unknowns of sleeping in a boxcar with strangers all across the nation rather than staying put and starving to death?......

…I don’t know which view is best to hold….. perhaps a combination of them both, I guess….. for nothing in life is ideal….

…. Trains…. my goodness…. I do so love hearing that whistle in the morning……..

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Lazy....

…. I have not had a haircut in almost two months and I am slowly being driven insane by the incessant ear-tickling that my silvering sideburns have been performing on the starboard side of my noggin…. fortunately, though, the sideburns on the left side of my big, round head are growing out at a perfectly perpendicular angle, creating a sort of hairy-shield mesh in front of my ear-hole….

… indeed, on breezy days, the whistling of the wind as it passes the hirsute barrier is quite melodic and musical…. I mean, sure, it isn’t exactly up to wind chime quality, but it is a tolerable tune…

.. the lack of being sheared for the past weeks is also allowing me a glimpse into the varying shades that my mangy pelt has been morphing into as I age…. reds, coppers, silvers, and whites all melding together to create a vaguely blondish hue… were I a horse, I suspect that auctioneers would bill me as a ‘strawberry roan’

… anyway, I am in dire need of a haircut…. this stuff is getting out of hand….

… the good news, though, is that I have been asked to man the grill tonight and sear two fresh beef filets into submission…. and nothing few things make me happier than grilling steaks…

… and as a bonus, it is quite windy today….. so if I turn my head at the right angle while I’m grilling, I should be able to be entertained by a nice, soft whistling sound which will accompany the sizzling of the steaks….

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Frosty....

…. I was up early and watched the day begin…. and now a frosty lawn and a blue sky has been unwrapped by the dawn…. and the coffee is good….

…. soon I will be off to my Mother’s house to deliver her new computer to her… and then it’ll be back here for homemade macaroni & cheese and peanut butter cookies…. a strange mix, sure, but it is just right….. trust me….

.. my Mother spent the night here on Christmas Eve and we opened our presents after dinner instead of Christmas morning….

… you know, the frost this morning surprised me… the weather has been so mild lately, I didn’t expect such a wintry scene, but yet, here it is….. and the blue jays outside seem to have been caught off-guard as well…. as I write this, they’re in the process of mobbing a squirrel’s nest in the back yard… nature’s version of a home-invasion/murder/mugging…. charming, no?... hey, the Natural World ain’t for sissies…… a few chilled mornings and both the menu AND the food chain start to get a bit jumbled…. at least in my little corner of the Savage Garden….

…. I let the Missus open her “big” gift on Christmas Eve and she loved it…. a simple “box” chain in sterling silver ala David Yurman… it was what she asked for…. Me?.... I was given a brown leather bomber jacket from L.L. Bean….. a replacement, of sorts, from my little Brother… a debt paid, I suppose… he having been the guilty party who lost my leather jacket at school years and years ago…. still, though, it was a thoughtful gift… and I’ll wear it with pride….

… incidentally, I noticed that the jacket was made from goatskin…. so now I have one pigskin jacket and one goatskin jacket…. what’s up with that?... what ever happened to good, old-fashioned moo-cow leather?....

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Tonic....

… you know what I really, really need right now?... a 6-foot USB extension cable…. I’m tired of my new webcam only being able to barely see around my monitor with my new desk/chair/workstation set-up…..

… so help out a Fellow Traveler, friends….. hey, I’d do it for y’all, you just know I would….

…. actually, I started a new diet a few days ago by following an old recipe that I had attached to my refrigerator with a Knoxville Zoo magnet years and years ago….. here, check it out….

tonic.jpg


… pretty much sums up where I’ve been lately, rubberneckers…… Peace on Earth, indeed…..

…. anyway, I leave you gentle people with a few select lines from the very end of Chapter 17 of Douglas Adams’ masterpiece - “Life, The Universe And Everything”…

“….None of these facts, however strange or inexplicable, is as strange or inexplicable as the rules of the game of Brockian Ultra Cricket, as played in the higher dimensions. A full set of rules is so massively complicated that the only time they were all bound together in a single volume they underwent gravitational collapse and became a Black Hole….”

… indeed…. Indeed… y’all think about that for a while and get back to me….

... and by the way, I hope that each and every one of you enjoyed a merry Christmas.... however big or small your collection of friends and family....

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Playin'....

…. Goodness gracious, people…. I have just been hit by the Internet’s equivalent of a gang-tackle…. tagged?... how about held down and beaten into submission?!?... sheesh, where’s y’all’s Christmas Cheer?....

…. ahhh, it’s all cool… and props to the three lovely ladies who asked me to participate in this infamous Christmas Meme….. I’ll get you guys for this…. I promise….

…. Anyway, here goes…..

1.Wrapping paper or gift bags? …. Well, it really depends on what the gift is shaped like…. I mean, if it is in a box?... I’ll wrap it up nicely…. but if the gift is shaped all funky, then I’ll just chuck it in a bag and be done with it…. I’m a patient man, but sometimes I just take the easy road…..

2.Real tree or artificial? …. artificial….. I remember going out one winter with my Father and picking out a nice cedar, chopping it down, and then dragging it back to the house….. and that one year – long ago - taught me a life-lesson…. no more real trees…. the tree that is up in the living room right now is actually a 3-foot tall white artificial tree…. I should probably post a picture….

3.When do you put up the tree? …. If it were up to me, I’d put that little baby up the day after Thanksgiving…. or just leave it up all year round and randomly place presents under it all year long as they are bought…. but hey, I get vetoed a lot… so the tree normally goes up during the first or second week in December…..

4.When do you take the tree down? ….. usually a few days after New Year…….

5.Do you like eggnog? …. I do so love me some eggnog….. creamy, spicy, and deeply chilled…. Oh yeah….. eggnog and pumpkin pies just scream ‘holiday’ for me…..

6.Favorite gift you received as a child? ….. probably that little axe that I blogged about right here…. I still have it, actually……

7.Do you have a nativity scene? …. Nope…. But I do have a penguin on a stick out by the front steps with “Merry Christmas” written on its chest….. and I also have two pink plastic flamingoes out in the back yard…. but they’re not really Christmassy…. and they stay up all year long……


8.Hardest person to buy for? ….. my Mother…. most definitely…. It’s strange, really…. We’re a pretty pragmatic bunch…. And we buy the things that we need all year long…. So at Christmas, we either buy each other gifts that are totally ridiculous or we buy big-ticket type items….. for instance, this year I bought her a dishwasher…..

9.Easiest person to buy for? … the Missus…. anything with a black & white flightless bird emblazoned on it will be warmly received…..

10.Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail …. wait… e-mail Christmas cards?.... that’s just whacked…. I didn’t even know that you could do that!.... not that I would do it, of course, but wow…..


11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? ….. there is no such thing as a “bad” present…. However, I do have some highly questionable silk shirts that my Father-in-Law bought for me at Aarong’s in Dhaka….

12.Favorite Christmas movie? … it’s a toss-up, really…… I absolutely love “Scrooged”…. Every time Bill Murray gets whacked with that toaster, I nearly soil myself from laughter….. plus, it has the Solid Gold Dancers…… but really?.... it’s hard to choose between “Scrooged” and “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”….. I love that little green guy….. as a matter of fact, I blogged about him abusing his beagle last year here…..


13.When do you start shopping? …. I shop all year long and hide the gifts as they arrive…. It’s part of the Christmas tradition, I suppose, running around the house all through December trying to remember where I hid stuff back in March……

14.Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? ……. Nope…. Every hideously ugly sweater that I have ever been gifted remains hanging proudly in my closet……

15.Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? …. Uncle Jim’s baked beans……. They are like no others on the planet……


16.Clear lights or colored on the tree? ….. multi-colored…..


17.Favorite Christmas song? …… “The First Noel” just does it for me….


18.Travel at Christmas or stay home? ….. stay at home…… as a matter of fact, the last few family Christmases have been celebrated in my home rather than at my Mother’s place….. strange, but that is how it has worked out…..

19.Can you name all of Santa’s Reindeers? …. Oh yeah….. I have a knack for remembering lyrics…… Santa’s Reindeer?.... no problem… hell, you guys should hear me tear into Tom Waits’ “Step Right Up”…..

20.Angel on the tree top or a star? …. A star…. A small wooden star that is painted a light shade of purple…. Hey, don’t ask me, people…. I just report the facts….. it’s not up to me to figure out the machinations of the Christmas Mind around here…..

21.Open the presents on Christmas Eve or morning? …. Ahhhh… this is one tradition on which the family is torn….. we’ve actually done both on occasion…. Which one we choose is directly proportional to 1.) How much wine we consumed on Christmas Eve, 2.) How greatly we are anticipating sleeping late on Christmas Morning, and 3.) How excited we are about watching each other open the gifts we’ve bought for them…..


22.Most annoying thing about this time of year? …. I really don’t find Christmas (and all the assorted hubbub that surrounds it) all that annoying…. I’m more of a peace on earth – goodwill kinda guy…. But I suppose that if I did have to choose something, it would be the actual getting together of the entire family…. Is it annoying?... no, it is wonderful…. But it is odd as well as my Father isn’t there…. I think that still is in the back of everyone’s mind when we all get together as an extended family…..

23.Do you have Jebus in your heart this Christmas? …. Jebus is a good pal of mine… and I’ve got his guns in my safe!.... now THAT is a friend…. So is Jebus in my heart?... yes, but in a purely platonic way…. but Jebus’ firearms?.... I got’em…. So I suspect that means that ‘I” am in Jebus’ heart….

24.What would you like for Christmas? …. Well, the only thing that I asked for was for the Missus to cook her homemade lasagna on Christmas Eve….. and the probability of getting what I asked for is currently hovering around 100%.... so, all is goodness…..

…. whew, what a meme..…

…..Merry Christmas, people…. now get offline and love the ones you’re with…..

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Pants...

…. believe it or not, once upon a time, well, I did a lot of hiking…. all of it was cold-weather stuff… springs and autumns mostly – in Scotland…..

… today I unpacked my trusty Lowe Alpine Quicksilver (which has been in the closet for going on four years now, completely undisturbed..) …. I was curious to see what it contained…. My mind being faulty on occasions, I had forgotten just exactly what was in it…. well, here you go….

pack_small.jpg

1 Gore-Tex bivvy bag for sliding a sleeping bag into when things get really rough (this is actually the only thing that I have ever stolen in my entire life…. And it comes to me courtesy of the quartermasters of 45 Commando – Royal Marines..)…. and yes, I am ashamed…. well, no, not really….
3 plastic spoons
1 blue plastic cup
1 sierra cup
3 butane/propane canisters for my stove
1 green sock - military issue... (for storing the gas canisters in)
2 balaclavas (one fleece and one polypropylene)
1 pair of silk socks
1 pair of nylon socks
2 pair of woolen socks
1 Gerber MK-II fighting knife
1 compass
1 whistle
1 sealable plastic jar of instant coffee
4 chem-lights
1 fire starting kit
1 butane lighter
1 Petzl head-lamp with spare battery
4 handkerchiefs
1 Sweetwater purifying pump
1 pair of Gore-Tex trousers, camouflaged
3 candles
1 package of bug repellant
1 nylon mesh anti-mosquito head bag
1 kick-ass SAR first aid kit
1 unopened can of Copenhagen snuff
2 bungee cords
… and a bunch more stuff…..

… and tucked into one of the pockets?.... a packet of photographs from my last hiking trip….

… check this out…. this is my buddy James (on the left) and I just before we set off for a three day camping trip at the foot of Mt. Keen…. Notice his choice of trousers…. good God, is it any wonder that I preferred hiking on my own?....

me_and_james_small.jpg

… and here we have me by myself, again, taken about five years ago…… notice the snowline up behind me…. that is where I camped at the end of that day…. Glen Esk…. Absolutely beautiful…. well, it was once the sleet stopped falling……

glen_esk_small.jpg

… anyway, I’m off to finish cleaning the blogroom…. I hope you guys are doing well……

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Despair...

…. good morning, rubberneckers…. today’s frosty dawn finds me at a complete and total loss for words….

… as many of you know, my humble home was less than 15 miles away from the horrific epicenter of the Great East Tennessee Earthquake that struck viciously a few days ago….

… a few of my friends have reported in with harrowing tales of destruction…. Here, here, and here….

…. I know that Christmas is the ‘giving’ time of year…. And I sincerely hope that each and every one of you will reach out to your fellow man this year….

… if anyone would like to send a care/rescue package to aid us in this time of despair, may I humbly suggest Scotch as a gift idea…. It is natures true medicine, gentle people…. and it is the gift that keeps on giving…..

.. thank you….

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Sausages....

…. last night I sliced up a turkey smoked sausage nice and thin…. and then fried it hard with some chopped garlic and olive oil…. and a fine, fine finger food it is, people…. trust me, it works absolute wonders on a cracker with a thin slice of aged English cheddar……

… and as I was enjoying 12 or 14 of said crackers for lunch this afternoon, I couldn’t quit thinking about the poor turkey….

… as much as I love sausages of any ilk, I cant help but view them with a slightly saddened eye… and trust me, I am one of sausage’s biggest fans, but there is just something inherently wrong with grinding up a beast so that you can not even tell what species it was….

… in short?.... sausage, while yummy, is a completely soulless product…..

… I mean, a hunk of flesh should look like a hunk of flesh, right?.... when I think ‘meat’, I think steak or bacon… a chicken breast or a fish filet….. but with sausage?.... well, you have reduced a once-proud animal into teensy little globs of itself, added some sage and a few scrapings of pork fat, stuffed the mixture into a yard or so of cleaned intestine, fried it up, and chewed on it gingerly with a nice bottle of beer….. it was food, sure… but was it meat?.... well, yes… technically….. and what about that poor turkey?.... a proud and colorful bird with a huge, meaty chest…. thunderous drum sticks…. and those wonderfully plump cuts get smashed and smeared into a turkey sausage??....

… that is just so wrong on so many levels….. and I really do feel sorry for those turkeys who get transmogrified from bouncing bird o’the field to cool, greasy, limp smoked sausages……

…. but hey, right or wrong, the fact does remain….. my turkey sausage, cheese, and crackers absolutely rock….

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Festive....

... you know, there is festive.... and then there is festive.....

... THIS is festive.... go over and sing along.... trust me... do it for the children.....

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Barking....

… it is dark here now and a dog is barking off in the distance…. a neighbor that lives about a thousand meters away has it staked to the ground in their back lawn….. I spied upon it earlier this afternoon with my binoculars while it was being fed a monstrous bowl of dog food….

… I wish it would shut the hell up…..

… I hates me a barking dog… especially at night….

…. Were I an eviler man than I am, I would plot and execute his assassination forthwith….. but alas, I suppose that my old heart grows soft these days…. and besides, I’m too damnable lazy to put forth much more effort than squeezing a trigger…. Arthritis, you know…. and a monumentally overdeveloped blasé…

… hey, wow…. just as I was typing that last sentence, the damn dog shut up…..and the insane bastard has been hard at it for over two hours now… thank heavens for small wonders….. why, here I was getting my knickers all in a twist and imagining murderous rampa.….. damnation!.... a train just whistled at the county road crossing and the dog is back at it…..

… that dog needs to get countrified… and countrified quick….. obviously his owners have impeccable taste in canine-flesh…. dumb enough to bark wildly in the night at the passing of a train?.... oh yeah, that dog is obviously a pure breed….. any garden-variety mutt has enough sense to lay down and go to sleep at night and not get anxious over a stinking train-whistle….

… anyone know of a good one-liner about barking dogs?.... I’ve heard “let sleeping dogs lie” a million times and never really caught the gist of it…. I mean, does it imply that dogs are more trouble when they are awake?... that doggies who are awake are more likely to bite, bark, or want to play?.. is it a warning that dogs are dangerous?.... I just don’t get it…. but anyway, I would love to have a good zinger about barking dogs to cram into my neighbor’s mailbox in the morning….. I mean, a pet which is a nuisance to everyone within earsho……

ahhh… it’s stopped again….

.... I'm not pressing my luck.... y'all have a goodnight.....

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Vacation....

…. some guys have all the luck….. as for me?.... I wish I were here…..

…. walls adorned with trophies and chilled G&T’s, people….

…. “the other half”, indeed….. I want a hunting safari for Christmas, dammit...

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Spinning....

….. for those of you who were interested in my garage but were afraid to ask, look no further…… hey, I aim to please, I do….

… anyway, whilst purging a bunch of old photos today, I found a charming clip of me spinning around in my garage this summer while grilling some ribs…. you know, as you do… spin, that is…. so without further ado, here you go….. enjoy….

…. a spinning virtual tour of my garage on a midsummer’s day with mood music on the CD player

… oh, and any guesses on the singer of the tune in the background?.....

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Entertainment....

…. you know, the lion’s share of the fun that I glean from this blog comes directly from you…. The Reader…. and as such, I want to thank each and every one of your noble little heads for continuing to visit and comment as frequently and as entertainingly as you do….. seriously, you guys and gals are an inspiration…. take this little ditty that I found in my comments recently… ‘twas penned by the immortal Elisson in response to my 12-year old attempts to morph my little Hillbilly body into Rembrandt…. check it out…

Renaissance Man
Renaissance Man
Paintin' them pitchers the best he can
Adds an ellipsis so de paragraph scan
Renaissance Man

Nothin' this Renaissance Man cain't do
He can grill a pork chop or spit-shine a shoe
Disassemble a gun - and just for fun
Take Sylvia out for a moonlight run
Renaissance Man
Renaissance Man
Whitest white boy around - don't got no tan
Can wield a shovel - or a frying pan
Renaissance Man

…. you now what?.... Y’all absolutely rock… no, seriously….. and always remember, gentle reader… I’m not here to entertain YOU…. y’all are here to entertain ME…. never forget that, rubberneckers..... it is very, very important.....

… now, with that out of the way, I’m off to stand in the garage, grill hamburgers, and drink a gin and tonic….

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Liquid....

…. last evening I was afforded a chance to see what many, many people have been screaming from rooftops for ages – that we really ARE a civilization circling the bowl…. I know, I know…. harsh words?... sure… but 100% justified, children….

… and just what shining beacon clued me in on the aforementioned ‘circling’?.... what glorious epiphany clarion’d through my noggin late last night as proof-positive of our upcoming demise?....

…. I watched a fully-grown, healthy man heft an elephant turd high over his head, squeeze it hard over his open mouth, and drink the juice that dribbled out…. on national television….

… and then he scared the vultures off of a zebra carcass and ate a few hunks of flesh himself….

I kid you not, rubberneckers…. I saw it with my own two little peepers… and trust me, I was shocked….

…. And what amazed me most was how he chugged the turd juice with hardly any effort and nearly puked after each bite of rancid zebra…. I mean, I’m no survival expert, but I would have imagined that the dung-liquid would have been harder on the palate than room-temperature raw zebra….

… but anyway, yeah…. I figure that we’re pretty much done as a civilization now… I blame Peewee Herman…

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Singing....

.... happy Friday, rubberneckers.... today will be spent practicing a new Christmas carol.... behold..... a duet to be performed with my Cousin Tiffany.... my goodness....

I really can't stay
… Baby, it's cold out side…
I've got to go away
… I said it’s cold out side….
This evening has been
… mmm… tickled to death that you dropped in…..
Soooooo very nice
… I'll hold your hands, they're like ice…

My mother will start to worry
…Darlin’, what's your hurry?....
Daddy will be pacing the floor
….just listen to that fireplace roar…
So really, I'd better scurry
… mmm, what’s your hurry?....
Well maybe just a half-a-drink more
…. put some music on...while I pour….

The neighbors might think
…. Baby, it's bad out there….
Say, what's in this drink?
… No cabs to be hailed out there, you know?.......
I wish I knew how
… Your eyes are like starlight now…
To break this spell
…. I'll take your hat, you look swell…
I ought to say no, no, no, sir
… Mind if I move in closer?....
At least I'm gonna say that I tried
… what's the sense of hurtin' my pride?....
I really can't stay
… mmmm, Baby don't hold out….

Oh but it's cold out side

I simply must go
…. Baby, it's cold outside….
The answer is no
…. I say it's cold out there, you know?....
Your welcome has been
… How lucky for me that you dropped in……
Soooooo nice and warm
… just look through the window at that storm!.....

My sister will be suspicious
…. your lips look delicious…..
My brother will be there at the door
… like waves upon a tropical shore….
My maiden aunt's mind is vicious
… Gosh your lips ARE delicious…..
Well maybe just a cigarette more
…. I’ve never seen such a blizzard before!....

I have to get home
…. Baby, you'll freeze out there….
Say, can I use your phone?
… mmm… It's up to your knees out there, you know?....
You've really been grand
…. I thrill when you touch my hand….
But don't you see
… How can you do these things to me?....

There's bound to be talk tomorrow
.. just think of my lifelong sorrow….
At least there will be plenty implied
… mmmmm, you tellin’ me…. If you caught pneumonia and died…..
I really can't stay
… get over that hold out…..

Ah but it's cold out side

Baby it's coooooold ooooooutsiiiiiiiide

... goodness.... can you guess which lines are mine?.....

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Art....

… back when I was just a wee nipper, I fancied myself as quite an artist…. I doodled continuously on just about any flat surface much to the consternation of my dear Momma…. as her first child though, she spared the rod for the most part… and I was actually encouraged to draw more, albeit on more suitable surfaces… notepads, mostly….

… the whole ‘artistic exploration’ finally culminated in me spending four hot Augusts in Mrs. Ealy’s Summer Art Class… buried away in the bowels of the Englewood Elementary School…

… the reasons for wishing to spend the August afternoons in town were two-fold… first, I could arrange to hook up with my buddy Travis for migratory bird-blasting after class (Mourning Doves, yummy)…. And secondly, I got to spend an enjoyable few hours three times a week ogling Camille – the raven-tress’ed beauty who sat kitty-corner to my easel…

… I specialized in faces…. but I didn’t exactly hit the proverbial ground running… it was a gradual thing for me… I began with pencil, progressed to ink, evolved towards pastels, drifted towards acrylic, and finally – in the fourth year – I graduated to oils….

… I bring this up only in passing, of course, as I have not painted in many moons…. but my Sainted Mother called me yesterday to let me know where she was that evening…. happily ensconced in a local arts class where she was larkedly painting a moonlit acrylic landscape….

…. mercy, you could have knocked me over with a feather…. She? at an easel?... in a million years of Sundays, I would never have guessed it…. but hey, I was overjoyed as well… since being widowed in 2001, she has went many new directions that have not panned out…. but the beam in her voice yesterday was contagious…. and it brought back the memory of what it was like to sit in front of a blank canvas… that distinct thrill of preparing to create something from nothing….

…. I called her again this morning to ask her how she was enjoying the class, and she did not let up…. She’s having a blast…. Hell, she went so far as to say that it is almost as much fun as her dancing classes that she’s been taking… and THAT is saying something….

… I told her that she should finish a few of the old canvases that I have laying around here once she gets up to speed…. I mean, it would be good to have them finished and out of my way… and it would be pretty cool to have done a portrait “together”….

…. the last painting I tried still sits here in the blogroom unfinished…. I think that I stopped working on it during the winter before I left for Parris Island…. a copy of Thomas Sully’s wonderful oil “Torn Hat”….

… if I can find my half-assed, half-finished canvas, I’ll let y’all see it…..

Update:... I found it.... I think I was about 13... anyway, here is "Torn Hat" two days into the process...

torn_hat_small.jpg

... and while we're at it, here is a pencil sketch of Vivian Leigh as "Anna Karenina"... done when I was 16.... damnation, she was one hot brunette.....

vivian_small.jpg

.... and I havent picked up a pencil or brush since.... so it is pretty damn cool that my Mother is giving it a shot now....

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Wednesday...

…. well, according to the little digital read-out on Sylvia’s dash, today is the day for her first physical….. 5,000 miles…. Wow… the children grow up so quickly these days…. Where has the time gone?....

.. and so, I am destined to entrust wee Sylvia to the tender hands of the lovable technicians of Harper’s in Knoxville today… indeed, I was told via phonecon on Monday (when I set up the appointment) that she is in for quite a treat… cleaning, polishing, tire rotation, vacuuming, oil change… even a luxuriant shampooing of her delicate ragtop….

… I will, of course, use the time spent apart from her to finalize the Christmas shopping…. and I know of a shop in East Town Mall that whips up Godiva milkshakes that God himself orders on occasion when he’s feeling naughty….. so hey, I might just treat myself this afternoon…

… as for the rest of you rubberneckers?... I wish you all Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men… there is a special little corner of my hardened heart which holds you all dear today…. I mean that completely…..

…. so enjoy it while you can, people…. I suspect I’ll be cranky again tomorrow….

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Roasted...

…. this morning I stood at the kitchen sink and drank orange juice as the Sun peeked up over the mountains… it was the palest of blue and streaked with yellow and red… the coffee pot gurgled and hissed as if hardly amused by the spectacle…

… I wanted to turn away from the sunrise and talk to the pot… and explain to it that there was no need for such anger… such nasty sounds so early in the morning….. that, instead of brooding and popping, it should joyously greet the New Day….

… but I didn’t… it was not my place.... so I stood silently and let it complain… until its moans and curses gradually faded and it fell silent…. finished....

… and then I drank some coffee….

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Mutual.....

… this past Spring as I was visiting Scotland, my Father-in-Law and I found ourselves embroiled in a deep, philosophical discussion regarding poetry.. he had just bought me a wonderful antique copy of an old Kipling book while we had day-tripped to St. Andrews, and we spent that evening in his conservatory with a sherry-casked Glenmorangie….

…. we passed the book around and took turn reading aloud to each other… he in his age-softened Glasgow accent and me in my jumbled Hillbillyese…. we had a whale of a time… we really did…. it is amazing to me how good company, a nice Scotch, and the ‘turn of phrase’ from a fine mind can help a blustery evening just fly by….

… as we laid the book aside and talked more, he brought up an ancient poem from his childhood… he wasn’t sure of the author, but he did remember the two principle characters… Abdul and Ivan…. and he regaled me with tales of he and his schoolmates bantering the poem back and forth when he was a child… standing and shivering on a freezing Spring day waiting for rugby practice to begin… and the 13 year old hellions of Glasgow High School chanting the whimsical lines of Epic Battle…..

.. the next morning after coffee, I was presented with a printed copy of the poem…. he had downloaded it from the Internet earlier and was genuinely excited that he had found it…. I tell you truly, people… the marvel that is The Internet is one amazing creation….

… anyway, I read the poem with great enthusiasm over a breakfast of smoked cheese and toast… for not only did it have a ‘family history’ of a kind, it also had a moral, color, and a rhythmic progression that I was already addicted to…. after all, once you have read Longfellow, Service, Coleridge, and Tennyson, well, you seriously start to dig some rhymes…. (and yes, I know that by lumping Robert W. Service in with those three I am committing some kind of word-smithing deadly sin, but I don’t really give a flying shit. Service is in and he stays.)

…. so it was with a solemn and great mischievousness that I contacted my dear friend Elisson yesterday…. he is, as we all well know, a fine, fine poet himself… and I just knew that he would get a kick out of the story of Ivan and Abdul…..

… and, boys and girls, he has outdone himself with this recitation…..

… for more information on the poem – written by Percy French – check out the wikipedia entry…. I was pleased to find that he had also written another of my favorites (made famous by Don McLean) “The Mountains of Mourne”…. to the tune of which Elisson performed a blogmeet-satire while I accompanied him on guitar this past October in my living room.. small world, no?.....

… in any case, here is the text of the poem…. use it to follow along as Elisson tells the tale of Abdul and Ivan…..


Abdul Abulbul Amir by William Percy French

The sons of the Prophet are many and bold
and quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the foe from the rear,
Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout
for Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame
in the troops that were led by the Czar,
And the bravest of these was a man by the name
of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun
and donned his most truculent sneer,
Downtown he did go where he tred on the toe
of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

"Young man," quoth Abdul, "has life grown so dull
That you wish to end your career?
Vile infidel know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

So take your last look upon sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar
For by this I imply, you are going to die,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar."

Then this bold Mameluke drew his trusty chibouk,
Singing, "Allah! Il Allah! Al-lah!"
And with murderous intent he ferociously went
for Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed,
Of blood they spilled a great part,
The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,
Say that hash was first made on the spot.

They fought all that night neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar,
And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame,
of Abdul and Ivan Skavar.

As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life,
In fact he was shouting, "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck by that wily Kalmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer,
But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh,
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Czar Petrovich, too, in his spectacles blue
Rode up in his new crested car.
He arrived just in time to exchange a last line
With Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

There's a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls,
And graved there in characters clear,
Is, "Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir."

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night
Caused ripples to spread wide and far,
It was made by a sack fitting close to the back,
of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,
'Neath the light of the cold northern star,
And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps,
is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

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Santa....

…. truthfully, I cannot remember myself ever fully believing in Santa Claus….. sure, there must have been a time back when I was a nipper that I did, but I can not remember it…… I was too cunning to believe in that which I could not see, touch, or ask for predictions on Cubs games……. So I gave up early…..

…..but still, Santa was always a model of decadence to me and my family……. as… (and as we still do it)… I still get presents that are labeled from “Santa” every year…. and they are always the most frivolous of presents…… goodness, pure goodness…. Always

…. since my early inception as a Human Being, my Mom has always bought me socks….. for years, socks….. and my Dad charged my various airline tickets from here or there onto his American Express….. but when it came to the gifts from Santa?.... they were always the most luscious….. always the juiciest…… Santa, well, he always brought me the gifts that my parents would never have had the nerve to gift me…… not socks or tickets…. but puppies, ponies, and air rifles….

… I suspect that my parents used this ruse to allow them an ‘out”…..

… for if the pony bucked me, the puppy bit me, or if I managed to injure myself with the Daisy Red Ryder, well, they had an excuse… it was Santa’s fault… .HE was the bastard who made that pony arrive on my Holiday Doorstep…… and HE was the Evil Adult who put that one-pump projectile launcher in my hot little hands…… in the end, hey, if The Holidays went wrong, my Mom and Dad always had an ‘out’….

…. The real tragedy?.... I believed this shit until I was sixteen…….

. ahhh… it is ok, I guess…. It is only human nature, I suppose…. and I really do see their point for keeping me in the dark for so very long…… and hell, the only reason that I bring this up is that my Mom just recently asked me what I wanted for Christmas…. and when she asked the question, my answer shocked even me…. I simply asked for forgiveness, a hug, and a good ole kiss…..

.. she laughed when she heard it…. and then quickly agreed to my cheap present…..

… no Santa…. no reindeer…… no manipulation….. and no more childhood……

…. what a fucking robbery……. I would rather be back at the time when I was coming home on leave from the Corps…. 22 years old…. almost done with five years of service… .and still finding those wonderful, surprising gifts of fancy under the tree addressed from Santa….

.. yeah…. I got presents from Santa up until I was 22…. Did I know where they came from?.... sure…. But that is not the point…… it wasn’t the point at all….

…. Look, as long as we live, you and I, we will need an excuse to be exorbitant… frivolous…. wild…. careless…. Or caught up in the moment… and Santa gives us that chance……

…. this year, well, everyone in my family gets at least one present from Santa Claus….. even if it makes me go bankrupt……

... the idea of Santa is a mirror to our selves......

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80s....

…. well, the tree is almost up…. I’ve barricaded myself in the blogroom and I’m taking a smoke break…. Bloody Nora, boys and girls….

… I made the unlucky mistake of allowing The Missus to open one of her gifts today…. she picked the box that looked like it might contain a 3-pack DVD set…. well, it did contain a 3-pack DVD set…. and I’ve spent the last two hours watching Ah-Ha, Olivia Newton John, and Tears for Fears music videos….

… as I sit here now, ‘Sister Christian’ is screaming from the television set in full, living color….

wait..... Jesus Christ… ‘Mr. Roboto’ just came on……

… why I do this to myself, I will never know…. a self-sacrificing soul, I suspect… that is my downfall….

.... 'Love Is A Battlefield'?.... damn straight.....

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Moonlight....

…. I awoke this morning jittery…. which is completely unlike me…. and as the day is winding on, I find my mind wandering – unable to focus - and grasping at pieces of things…. as if the planet is a jumbled heap, gigantic and messy, and my hands pick up random bits and bobs that make no sense…. random lyrics from a tune, haphazard lines from old movie dialogues….

… one of my recurring dreams (that I had again last night) is of something that I cannot define…. there is nothing in the dream, really… no imagery or color… just complete darkness and an unusual feeling… I’ve tried to describe the feeling before, but it has always been too elusive for me to nail down…

… it is like an explosion….. or perhaps an implosion… like the feeling of being a cue ball at the moment of impact with the racked-set… the wham and the noise… and then movement… chaotic movement… bouncing…. colliding… turning and repeating again…. violent and disorderly… menacing….

… so, as you do, I got up and wandered to the kitchen to fetch a glass of iced water…. stopping along the route to look out the windows…. ensuring the lawn was still Zombie-free and to admire the moonlight’s shadows being cast on the grass….

… frost was everywhere… thick and sparkling in the hazy light….. it was quite a sight....

… anyway, y’all be careful out there, people… I don’t know what’s up, but my Weird Shit-ometer is pegged…..

... I suppose that I should just shut up, put up the Christmas tree, and throw 'Scrooged' in the DVD player.... those Solid Gold Dancers always make me feel festive....

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Wintry....

….. I just finished listening to the weatherwoman says that it’ll be 17 degrees tonight with winds gusting to 20mph by morning….

….. my goodness….

… and what, you might ask, am I doing to combat this unprovoked wintry attack upon my shaky old bones?....

cooking, of course…. a spicy chicken korma with garlic & green chili rice….

…. hey, it may not keep me from freezing to death, but at least one end of me will be warm by morning….

… and at 17 degrees, I’ll take what I can get….

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Winner!...

… kudos, props, congrats, and tiddles go out to Mark of Knockin’ On The Golden Door for guessing the correct song from this post of my playing with Sylvia….

… hey, what can I say?... the man obviously has extremely fine taste in music.. so go over and say howdy….

… thanks for playing, Mark, my man…. Keep on rocking...

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Chow....

... you know, I just realized something.....

Grilled pork chops
Diced garlic
Ground black pepper
Steamed broccoli
Grated cheese
Milled corn meal
Boiled sweet corn
Fried yellow squash
Mashed potatoes
Minced onions
Chopped lettuce
and Sautéed mushrooms

… now I need me something to fricassee….. yes sir, I surely do.....

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Ears....

…. well, boys and girls, I survived a day-trip to Hamilton Place Mall today… tis a glowing complex, really…. Huge and sprawling…. laying just north of Chattanooga off Shallowford Road…. and actually, it wasn’t too bad…. hey, if you are going to go Christmas shopping, doing it just after lunch on a Tuesday is a pretty good idea…. trust me…

…. all was quiet in the mall except for when I visited the pet shop… a wall of glass separated us civilians from the puppies – stacked one or two per cage from floor to ceiling and running most the length of the shop – but the little dogs could see us all as we approached…. and they reacted, too…. the tiny terriers, wiener-dogs, and Chihuahuas all bounced like the floor of their enclosure was being electrically zapped each time someone paid them any interest….

… I stood back and watched the Mommies and Daddies do their thing… tapping the glass and giggling as each puppy performed – wondering how little Billy-Bob would react if he were to find that little ball of joy under the yuletide tree Christmas morning…..

… after each couple would walk away, I would take my turn…. bending slightly at the hips or stepping onto my tip-toes to see the nasty varmints better…. and each time I did so, the pups just looked me in the eye, sat onto their haunches, and lolled their tongues…. I suspect that they could sense that there was no young Billy Bob awaiting their tender licks back at my Compound…..

… so I watched this scene unfold at least ten times…. Mom and Pop tapping on the glass… doggies going completely bananas and peeing from sheer excitement…. and then me poking my face in at them to see their little, wiggly wills crushed by my gaze….

.. but then I arrived at the last cage…. a cage that was inhabited by a blue-eyed fellow who was obviously ˝ Bluetick Hound and ˝ Basset Hound…. The coloring of the UT Vols mascot, Smokey…. but with short legs, huge floppy ears, and droopy, sad, sky-blue eyes….

… I made my way to his cage and bent myself forward…. He sat up from his crouched position, looked me dead in the eyes, placed his two front paws directly onto the glass a few inches from my face, and then, with an incredible gymnastic movement, he flipped himself mid-air and landed squarely on his back in the cage and began furiously chewing his oversized ear…. and he never took his eyes off of me the whole time…..

… so there he lay, ear in mouth, upside down, and those blue eyes locked on mine…. and me laughing hysterically… so much so that the rest of the room’s patrons had become uneasily quiet…. as if they just had to find out if this crazy person giggling into the puppy cage meant them harm or something…. such is the state of America these days, I suppose…. someone finding a trivial thing absolutely hilarious is enough to set most people’s minds to thinking that they are about to be gunned down whilst Christmas shopping by someone going ‘Postal’….

…. but I didn’t care…. I sat there watching that little guy roll around and chew the bejesus out of his ear for the better part of ten minutes….

…. I do think that he is what I want for Christmas, people…. and I think that I have – 110% - found a kindred spirit….. I mean, when all the other pups were prancing, dancing, and acting crazy?.... the little Bluetick/Basset just kicked back and enjoyed the Hell out of himself….

… I am soooooo downtown with that….

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U2.....

…. tonight, I was dragged through to the television room to watch a 2004 recording…. U2 in Milan… Live…. and it meant absolutely nothing to me whatsoever….

… my favorite U2 song is “Van Dieman’s Land”….. and it is the only U2 song that I can actually play on guitar…. and it is quite old now… and it isn’t a Bono vibe at all… ‘The Edge’ wrote it….. but still, my first girlfriend dug U2 and so I bought an album and picked a song….. that IS what you do after all, right?....

…. in any case, tonight I hit a brick wall with The Missus whilst watching the show….. at the final song of the concert, she gasped slightly and then sighed….. and then the baseline started…… and Bono began “With Or Without You”….

…. part of me knew the tune…. but another part could not quite recognize it…. so I sat and listened closely while The Wife tilted her head back and lost herself in the heavy music that streamed from the television….. I watched her for a bit and then spoke…. she tilted her head slightly again, and said “what?”….

… folks, my reply defined me….. I said to her that this was the first song in an hour that I had heard of…. and that even though I knew the song, it still didn’t make any sense to me….. “with or without you”…. it was idiotic….. either that or the poor schmuck was so hopeless that he deserved exactly whatever it was that he finally got….. but in any case, I got The Stare….

.. yes, I got The Stare…. and then I got The Verbal…. “you are not of my generation… you do not understand…U2 is The GREATEST.. “ …..

… and I suppose that she is right…. I don’t….. I didn’t…

…. she is a ’66 model…. and I’m a ’72 model…. My first car?... a ’51 Mercury… and, Hell, she and I got along just fine…. even though she did sport some fairly substantial solid-state technology….. but U2?.... please, give me a break…..

…. as a matter of fact, she just came through and read this post as I was typing it…. and apart from a smack in the back of the head, I got “… hey, I bet you don’t like ‘Simple Minds’ either…… “….. I tell you, boys and girls, times are hard….. and when faced with the “Simple Minds” question, I took it one step further…. “Simple Minds?.... babe, I don’t even like Duran Duran!... why in the Great Living Hell would I care about some has been band from Glasgow?”….

… I thought I was going to be killed….. but luckily she has retired back to the couch and out of projectile range…… hey, I am a fragile being, after all is said and done, and I abhor confrontations where my delicate skin might get damaged……

… but, goodness…. who would have ever thought that a random concert on HBO could be so damned entertaining and insightful?.....

I sure didn’t……

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Lights...

… as I type this – no kidding - my young neighbor-lady across the way is crawling on her hands and knees across her roof with a gigantic, tangled ball of Christmas lights clenched in her teeth…

… originally thinking that she had completely gone off her rocker and was trying to graze on some sort of rare roof-hedge, I grabbed the binoculars and zoomed in…. no hedge, people…. Christmas lights…..

… bah… humbug… I only climb up onto my roof once a year… and that is only to half-heartedly clean the dead leaves from the guttering…. but to brave that pitch in the middle of Winter just to put up fairy lights?.... sheer craziness…..

… it is beginning to look like The Tree is going up the Day Before Christmas again this year……

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Bright....

…. I rose early this morning – about 6am – and happened to catch sight of the Moon setting to the southwest… it was enormous…. bright, glowing orange and hanging just above a stand of trees about 500 yards away…. it was shocking to see it both so large and such a striking color….

…. I wandered through to the kitchen and started a pot of coffee… and by the time I had returned, it had already slid down to the horizon and was blazing through the hardwood trees….

… hard to believe that it moved so fast, really….

… this time of year everything is slowing down… the trees are naked and dormant…. the birds have all flown farther south…. the world is cold and sleeping…. but the Moon seems to spin across the sky at a faster pace than usual…. spending less time alone and bare in the chilly darkness… rushing across the sky to bring Spring along…

…. then again, maybe everything is as it was in the Summer and I only just noticed the Moon’s speed… and it was always that way… and I overlooked it….

… but really?... I don’t know… but I do like to think that it was hurrying…

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Quotes...

…. yesterday’s post quoted the last words of Lawrence Oates – a British explorer who sacrificed himself to the Antarctic winds in a vain attempt at giving his tent-mates a better chance of surviving their return from the South Pole… it didn’t work though…. and his fellow polar explorers died before reaching their supply cache… only a few miles away….

… old Lawrence left his food rations behind and stumbled out into the Antarctic night on his 32nd birthday…. March 17th, 1912…

…. I’ve been thinking about him for the past week or so…. trying to figure out just exactly what made him tick…

… I mean, it is a common theme for soldiers and warriors to freely lay down their lives for one another…. but Scott’s expedition was not really a military one… it was more of an angry amalgamation of a scientific voyage of discovery & egotistical, international publicity stunt…. and there was certainly no love lost between Oates and Scott either….

… so why did he blunder off into the face of certain death?... just so that everyone else would have a better chance of survival?... was he really doing it to help his mates?... or was is simply easier to end the hellish journey by giving up and letting himself be taken by the winds?.... it still puzzles me…. and besides, since his mates were starving to death, if he had REALLY wanted to help them, then he should have just handed them a set of carving knives and then blown is brains out… at least then they’d have had fresh meat…. but I digress…. Oates uttered his last words and went down in history… and the rest of the party died about two weeks (and fifteen miles) later….


… anyway, while that stuff is curious, it is all ancient history…. and what I really wanted to talk about is music…. minors, flats, and 7ths, oh my…..

…. I’ve spent most of the morning trying to learn a song that my cousin requested via email…. evidently she wants us to sing a duet to the family after our Christmas feast this year…

… I have to admit though, her choice of music is inspiring…. the song?... “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”….

…. a nice tune, sure, but is it a Christmas Carol?... heh…. definitely not….

… still though, I do like the idea of having Christmas a wee bit risqué... now if I can just get these chord changes down, we’ll be all set… if we pull it off successfully, I’ll make sure that one of the relatives gets it down on video….

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Winter....

I am just going outside and may be some time.

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Reinvention......

…. I watched the latest James Bond movie tonight and I have two words for each of you…..mainly, well, “holy shit””…

…. I will write more tomorrow about the whole affair, but right now I am without words…. The initial chase scene?.... I have NEVER – in all my born’ed days – seen any man move like that… that black fellow could climb walls, people…… it was incredible….and the gnarly old Bond kept up……

…. mercy…..

…. I will write more on it tomorrow…….

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Mushrooms....

…. last night my often-buried adventurous side reared its head and I threw together a recipe from scratch…. these little forays into culinary mayhem are typically hit or miss though… but I am pleased to say that last night’s finger-food was a resounding success…..

…. here’s what I did….

… I de-stemmed ten large mushrooms, washed them, and painted them lightly with olive oil…. then I took five of the stems and chopped them finely... adding to the chopped stems a tablespoon of chopped garlic, I fried the mixture slowly with more olive oil until the stems were soft and the garlic was translucent….

… I then added that slowly-fried goodness to a cup of cream cheese, two table spoons of bleu cheese, a half-cup of parmesan, a teaspoon of ground black pepper, and mixed it all up nicely…. this delightful goo was then spooned into the upturned mushroom caps and the whole shebang was baked at 375 for twenty minutes….

…. good God, people…

… those puppies got delicately nibbled on all evening while the merlot flowed….

… all in all, not a bad way to watch old reruns of ‘Simon and Simon’….

… today, well, I’m off to have lunch at Aubrey’s in Maryville… y’all have fun….

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