Basilisk....

... I am beginning to sense a bit of a pattern lately, and it has me a bit concerned.....

... as a wee lad, I was fascinated by the ancient mythology of the Greeks and Romans.... I'd spend hour upon hour quietly tucked into some dusty old book soaking up every weird and wonderful tale.... the golden fleece, the Caledonian wild boar, Odysseus, Medusa.... Helen of Troy, Achilles, Hercules - I just couldn't get enough.... hell, even now I am often found wasting hours digging through a gigantic reference book of "legends & myths"....

.... and while the information is mildly interesting, it doesn't really have much of a useful value.... sure, I have drawn upon tales from time to time for a cryptic post or two, but other than that?.... knowing who ole Zeus made whoopee with to create the various godly-characters isn't exactly something you need to know to get by in this world....

.... a few days ago my little brother came to visit after having just watched "Troy".... he was amazed by the whole story of Helen, Paris, Hector, Achilles, and all of the other various gods and heroes....... so, as you do, I was happily prattling on about various Trojans, Spartans, Thespians, blah, blah, blah..... when I suddenly caught sight of the glazed-look that my little brother was giving me..... I suspect that "yeah, Brad Pitt was a badass" would have more than sufficed.....

.... fast forward to last night.... the Missus and I are busily shouting answers at the "Cash Cab" guy on television when he asked something like "what mythical lizard is said to be able to kill a man with merely a gaze?".... the Missus screams, "A gorgon!"..... to which I reply, "nope..... the gorgons weren't lizards, sheesh..... he's talking about a basilisk...".... there was a stunned silence for a few minutes, and then the following conversation occurred to the best of my knowledge.....

Her: "A what?"
Me: .... "a basilisk."...
Her: "What the hell is a basilisk?"
Me: ... "it's a mythical lizard that is said to be able to kill a man with merely a gaze."....
Her: "How did you know that?"
Me: .... "no idea, really.... I just did.." ...
Her: "You know, it's just not right that you knew that. I mean, c'mon. A basilisk?"
Me: .... "I think that I read about it in a copy of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Bestiary" one summer when I was ten or twelve...or maybe in one of those books on mythical monsters or something" ....
Her: "Ten or twelve? Good god. Leonardo's "Bestiary"?
Me: .... "yeah, that is probably where I read about it.... I don't know, really, I can't remember... "....
Her: "You know, you really are quite weird."

.... so there you have it, folks.... reading reference books for no apparent reason evidently makes you weird.... y'all have been warned......

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Angels.....

.... tonight, my mood music has led me down a particularly British path and I have stopped on a famous Robbie Williams tune......

... you just gotta love the crowd participation......... I mean, c'mon.....

... go ahead, folks..... sing along..... you know that you want to....

I sit and wait
Does an angel contemplate my fate
And do they know
The places where we go
When we're grey and old
'cos I have been told
That salvation lets their wings unfold
So when I'm lying in my bed
Thoughts running through my head
And I feel the love is dead
I'm loving angels instead

And through it all she offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
Whether I'm right or wrong
And down the waterfall
Wherever it may take me
I know that life won't break me
When I come to call she won't forsake me
I'm loving angels instead

When I'm feeling weak
And my pain walks down a one way street
I look above
And I know I'll always be blessed with love
And as the feeling grows
She breathes flesh to my bones
And when love is dead
I'm loving angels instead

And through it all she offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
Whether I'm right or wrong
And down the waterfall
Wherever it may take me
I know that life won't break me
When I come to call she won't forsake me
I'm loving angels instead

And through it all she offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
Whether I'm right or wrong
And down the waterfall
Wherever it may take me
I know that life won't break me
When I come to call she won't forsake me
I'm loving angels instead

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Avalance Avalanche....

..... I just finished taking down the hammock in the back yard.... and she is now safely stowed away in the garage - tucked nearly beside the gunsafe - dreaming dreams of springtime.....

... a pot roast is simmering away in the kitchen... and the smell of wine, onions, and carrots has permeated through the entire house... soon, buttered cornbread will add itself to the aromatic mix and then all will be ready.....

.... the only downer for the day is the steady, rythmic dripping of my nose and the tight, dull thud that is heartbeating away on my forehead..... in all honestly, I dont really make a very good sick person.... I have a tiny nose that chaps after the second sneeze... hell, it's a good thing that I dont get sick very often.... especially since my skin is genetically predisposed to handle colds in the least efficient way possible....... hacking up a lung?... no problem.... flesh wound?.... easy-peasy..... wiping my damnable nose?.... complete breakdown of human fortitude after the third wipe.....

... I think I need some sort of hyper-absorbent bib.... then I could just sit back and let it flow as it sees fit..... sure, it would look disgusting, but hey, who is going to see?....

.... anyhoo, I am going to have to take some drugs to dry this shit up before attempting any pot roast nibbling tonight, that's for sure..... I suspect that the steaming, tender flesh - and the accompanying hot liquid - will induce an avalance avalanche of bodily fluids once I start spooning it towards my face...... charming picture, eh?....

... truthfully, though, something must be afoot in the wind these days..... I mean, El Capitan is booger-blogging too.....

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Gin...

... for Sam, since he hasnt posted in a while.... (well, nothing of substance, that is..) and I suspect that he could use a bit of a pick-me-up.....

.... in other news, I am currently being assaulted by a sneakily-disguised variant form of the immortal Creeping Crud...... and as a result I am sneezing blood and wishing that I were either dead or had some gin and juice near at hand.....

...still, though, a good song..... no?...... that fat guy with the banjo pretending that it was a mandolin is a riot.....

... try to forget about the Osama/George Bush thing, though..... that was just wrong....

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Styles.....

The old man opened the screen door and wiped his damp shoes on the mat. The smell of bacon and fresh biscuits and the warmth of the oven made a stark contrast to the early autumn morning outside. Eva was standing at the sink and smiled at him as he walked towards her. Leaning in, he gently kissed her on the cheek as his hands rustled though his pockets. Apples. He stepped away and began fishing them out of the frayed denim jacket one at a time. Eight apples, bright and red, that he had picked that morning were laid on the edge of the sink. Eva looked at the apples and smiled again to herself.

"Your breakfast is ready, are you hungry?" she said.

The worn wooden table was set out orderly. Last year's preserves, apple butter, and the everyday knickknacks that made up their morning were all around. Peaceful and always the same, he thought to himself.

"I am that", he said, and took his place at the head of the table.

Jackson finished his breakfast quietly as his wife of 50 years finished washing the pots and pans that she'd used to fry up the meal. After years of cooking for a family, she found being alone with her husband a much easier chore. Eva had eaten her meal earlier while her husband had been picking apples from the orchard. Jackson often did that when he couldn't sleep. Rising early, he would wander out through the dew and gather freshly fallen apples. Arriving back at the house, he knew what to expect. Inside, his Wife would be scrubbing dishes, and his breakfast would be on the table.

Eva was a good woman, and her life with Jackson had been filled with many happy times. But she knew also of darker days that she had not been part of. She had seen those days when her husband would go through an entire day without speaking. She would leave him alone at those times. That is what he wanted. He would speak when directly engaged, of course, but only just. Once or maybe twice a year, he would slip inside himself for an hour, a day, or maybe two. It was as if he sought some sort of shelter that could only be created by quiet. He had been like that since she'd met him. Joyous and outgoing in a normal day, but deeply shy at times. Eva knew that something had happened in those long ago days that had forever changed him. And like the accidental touch of a word on a mental scar, the memories of those times would freshen in his mind. When those times came, she did not pry.

"Dear," Eva said without turning around. "I see you brought me some fine apples here. I expect you'll be wanting a pie tonight?"

Jackson was still chewing on the last piece of bacon as he rose and handed the empty plate to his Wife. Walking over to the tattered screen door, he put his calloused hands deep into the empty pockets of his overalls.

"That'd be fine, Mother. Just fine," he said.

Eva's smile came up, and her eyes sparkled slightly as she slid the dish under the soapy water.

"So, old man, what's your plan for the day? You going to head down to the church and watch them put on the new roof? All the old men are going to be there."

"No, I reckon not. I don't feel much like listening to them folks talk that roof up. That's all they do anyway, talk. They'll get along just fine without me."

Eva's smile slid away, and she glanced at her husband. He stood at the screen looking out towards the orchard. His hands moved gracefully to roll a cigarette without the aid of looking down.

"Yeah," he began, "those men will get along fine without me. Besides, I've got to write to Sarah's boy today. It was good to get that letter from him on Friday, and I need to write back. After all, it's been so long since we've seen him."

Jackson opened the door, stepped out onto the porch, and lit the cigarette. "I'll be back later, Mother," he called back. "And don't worry about that pie unless you just want to. I don't know why I picked up those apples just now."


******************************************

He walked steadily down the path towards the orchard. The wetness of the morning air clung to the rye grass and fell to the ground when brushed by his boots. Soon it would be time to mow the hay and store it for another year. He stopped for a moment and looked back towards the house. He wished that he could speak with his wife like he wanted to. She was his love and his strength, but he knew the words wouldn't come when he called for them. Such it is with love, he thought, more is often spoken in the quiet than we know. He turned and continued his walk. In no time, the orchard was passed, and he found himself at the creek that snaked beyond.

The fishing shack by the stream was his destination. Built long ago when his boys were young, Father and Sons had spent many Summer days resting there. When the fishing rods needed mending or lunchtime had arrived, the small shed provided shade and a cool place to sit and eat. And so today, he wrote.


*****************************************

September 17th, 1902
Sweetwater, Tennessee

Dearest Grandson,

Your dear Mother writes to me with great news of your studies in school It is indeed a blessing to hear that you are doing so well. She also tells me that you have been asking in regards to the War, and what I might recall of it. It troubles me slightly to recall back to those days, but I feel that I should tell you, however painful, what I remember. I do this not so much for myself as I do for you.

I really can't explain it to you, boy. Some things are without parallel in these mortal lives of ours. Your mother says that she thinks you need something, but I am afraid that the something you are a'needing ain't in my story. You ask me what I did in this past war, and I don't know where to start. I really don't. However, I can tell you this - and you can take it in any way you see fit. I only fired my musket twicet. Both times happened on the same day. For that matter, they both were fired off within less than a minute, and I never fired my musket again. Not during the whole rest of the war. There, what do you think of that? Not exactly what you expected, eh son?

I had been picked up in Virginia shortly after my 16th birthday by a wily Captain from Mr. Longstreet's Corps. His name was Coltrane. I had been fishing by a small creek when two fellows grabbed me and drug me off to join the Army. Mr. Coltrane and Mr. Fitch. They taught me to drill while on the march, and they gave me a gun. A fine, shiny gun. They taught me how to clean it, load it, and fire it. I did as I was told. As soon as I could, I wrote to Momma and told her I had joined the Army.

But I know you are not interested in that. You want to know what happened on that famous day, and I really can't blame you. I'll bet your history books are just filled to the brim with tales of those three days. History books always are. Still, I probably have a different story than what you have read.

I first remember a very handsome fellow yelling for us to keep in line. Stay in step. We marched out into an open field and Federal cannons began firing at us. It didn't matter, though. All of our eyes and ears were focused on our Officer. The whole time those shells were falling, we just kept listening to what he was saying. Form Left. Align Right. Stay Abreast. Left Oblique. And so on, and so on. We were so engrossed with trying to stay in line that we didn't have time to be afraid. Besides, we knew that the bullet had not yet been cast that could cut us down. With that, we kept on marchin right up the middle of that field.

After a good while, we got to a small wooden fence. This was bad news to us all, and at first we tried to tear down the railings. We did this until our Officer yelled for us to just climb it. This was the first time that some of us realized that we were not as bulletproof as we had originally imagined. About half of our Company made it across that little, rickety fence alive. Some of us began to get very scared, and we all noticed that the cannons had stopped shooting. This too, was bad news since it meant we were now within shot of the Yankee rifles.

We formed our ranks as they shot at us, and our Officer - Lt. Higgins from Alabama - gave us the order to fire a volley and reload. Some of the boys were not scared and were fighting mad instead. They hollered like wild men when Mr. Higgins gave the order to fire. After that, we advanced about 15 more feet, and were told to fire again. I did so with much trepidation as many of my friends had either been killed or shot clean through. But Lt. Higgins was in charge and we all trusted him and felt that he would not let anything bad happen to us.

I had just finished reloading when the order to fix bayonets was given. We fixed them while marching, and were told to charge as soon as the last man had fitted his to his rifle. All this time, son, we were less than 50 yards from the Yankees and being shot at the whole time.

Most of us were out of breath from pure excitement and fear by the time we tangled with them Yankees at the stone wall. I was scared to death, and knew that I was fighting for my life right then and there. Lt. Higgins was waving his sword over his head and yelling one minute, and was shot through the neck the next. I reached up to grab him as he fell, but he pushed me to the ground and I hit my head on the wall. When I woke up, the noise of a single human being could not be heard. Instead, the cannons had begun to fire again. I didn't know what to do, so I just lay there in that pile of my dead friends. I think I cried, but I really can't remember. I remember the taste of Lt. Higgins's blood that had ran down into the corner of my mouth. It was a metallic taste.

Every time one of those cannons roared, the ground would shake and rattle. My head felt like it would explode as each concussion re-arranged the piled corpses at the base of the wall. I wish I had been able to burrow straight down to China to get away from those blasts, but I couldn't. I just lay there not knowing what to do. And then I heard the cannons stop. I thought that God had heard my wishes, but the very next second, I heard the click clack sound of men running with muskets. I knew what was about to happen, and I was powerless. I was frozen in fear.

Off in the distance, I could hear the yelps and cheers of my fellow Countrymen. This meant that they must be nearing the rail fence I have mentioned to you earlier. This was just as bad of a mess for them as it had been for us.

I could go on, my dear Grandson, but I think you understand me. I stayed by that wall covered in by my friends until darkness fell. The Yankees had sent word that we could pick up our dead and wounded, and I was found by a fellow from Texas. Yes, that is right. I was found without a wound on me at the foot of the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge.

No one ever called me a coward. I did not run from the fight. It just seems that once I woke up, I was too scared to figure out what to do. Later that night, Mr. Pickett heard of my situation, and called me to his tent. I explained to him how I had come to join the Army, and how I had come to be alive at the top of The Ridge, and he cried. I think he had been crying already that day, but I do not know for sure.

The next day, I was led to the rear of the Army lines, and told to go home. I was given a piece of paper that was signed by Mr. Longstreet that said I should be given free and safe passage back to Hickman, Virginia. Two weeks later, I was home in the field with Momma again. After the war, we moved down here to Tennessee and continued our farming. I met your Grandmother, and we'll be here for the rest of our lives.

I am not sure if this story is what you wanted to hear. And I really do not know what you are reading in your books. In the end, you asked my story, and I have told it. I hope this helps you in some small way.

Keep up the good work in your studies, and write to me often.

Your loving Grandfather,

Jackson Petty


**************************************************


... the ground seemed to buckle with each shot of the cannonade... the wall was close at hand as the large, heavy projectiles whizzed out of the smooth barrels... in an instant, they were overhead.. so close that the wind of their passing combined with the thunderclap and became one... noise and concussion merged... the sandy soil vibrated as if it were alive... particles morphed, and became a thick molasses which tried to swallow the trooper... lying on sore stomachs and broken limbs, it was as if the Earth herself was trying to sink him into the protection of a grave... the sulfur smoke sickened him, but he dare not cough.. he hugged the dirt against the stone wall as the cannons fired quickly... speaking an efficiency borne of years spent in battle...

... the screams and cadence of friends could be heard distantly muffled... they were approaching full of anger and ruin... they must have reached the rail fence by now, or he would not have been able to hear their voices.. he knew they would be here in three minutes at double-time..

... the click clack of men running with muskets drowned out the yells of his comrades for a moment... he knew what was coming, and he wished he could burrow into the dirt... dead or alive, just to be away from this... but with a yell of "Fredericksburg!", his eye caught sight of a thousand barrels being slid across the top of the low wall above him... he noticed that the cannon fire had ceased... this meant only one thing... infantry in an open field... and opposing infantry behind a stone wall..

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Hunters....

... another overcast, grey, frosty morning here in southeastern Tennessee.... no wind, and the leaves that remain unfallen seem faded and subdued somehow.... not as vibrant as they were just a week ago..... perhaps the same frost that has caused their fallen brothers to lay stiff and crunchy on the damp earth has painted them with a faint tint of bleach as well.....

.... everything is still and quiet.....

... the train whistle carries off in the distance from time to time.... and the sound of small arms fire breaks the calm occasionally.... locals bagging deer in the woods behind my house.... the 1000 or so acres of hardwoods bordering my back yard becomes quite the combat zone each November and December....

.... on one level it certainly freaks my European Missus out, but hey, welcome to Tennessee.... a few years ago I'd have been out there with them, but not now.... it seems that my other hobbies have encroached on my sitting-in-a-tree-chilled-to-the-bone time.... and that's cool..... besides, I've blasted enough wild critters in my time, I guess I'll give them a break... and honestly?.... hell, I'd rather hunt coyotes than deer.... and THEY can be hunted year round (like in the Summer... when it is WARM..) ....

.... heh.... another shot just rung out..... I tell you, it does make me laugh just a little to know that I am sitting here sipping coffee and typing away while armed men are lobbing rounds down range at some meek forest-creature just a few hundred yards away.... were I not barefoot and too lazy to search for my slippers, I'd grab a gun and shoot a few times off the deck to make the hunters think that their deer were elsewhere.... but as I said, it's cold and I don't have my shoes on.....

..... besides, I just got a call from my little Brother requesting that I don my magic apron and conjure up a vat of homemade chili for our evening meal.....and really, who could say no to such a noble and heartfelt request?.... not I, fellow travelers..... I shall step up to the proverbial plate.....

.... so I shall leave the hunter's little brainpan's un-messed with and retire to the kitchen instead.....

.... and incidentally, I do believe that a hot bowl of my steaming chili and a large muffin of my buttermilk cornbread chased down with a icy Newcastle Brown would have saved this poor lady from abdominal surgery.... I'm just sayin'.....

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Power.....

..... this rocks, folks.... just trust me...

.... I am off until morning... .good god, what an evening of football......

... Pride and Joy, indeed......

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Missing....

well, gentle rubberneckers, I have just returned from the annual familial Thanksgiving feast out in western Monroe County. I would say Madisonville, of course, but their spread isnt really in town. so that would be a bit of disinformation and hey, we all know that this blog is all about The Truth

we ate, sipped iced tea, and chatted about a million and one things. from hunting whitetails to automotive & computer repair.. my goodness, four generations gathering together under the same roof.. its certainly an odd feeling. We seem to have arrived at a point where we only really get together about three times a year. Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I wonder why that is?..... and if I can do something to change it..

.. my Great Aunt Sue bragged on my deviled eggs and said that she remembered from two years ago when everyone made fun of me making them. (I used Miracle Whip instead of REAL mayonnaise.) . Hey, who knew that I was among culinary purists??........ I certainly didnt

it is funny, I guess. There are ancient customs when it comes to mass-dining with extended relatives.. things that just always have been since before I can remember.. Uncle Jim always brings his Roadkill Baked Beans, Aunt Kathy does the Turkey, and Aunt Frances always brings the sweet tea. I guess that I am now the Deviled Egg Nephew.. as strange as it sounds, I am completely cool with that.

lives evolve and expand to fill every void. We are together, but we still are distant. There are smiles and laughter, sure, but there is something missing from our festivities..

. And I do believe that it has to do with younger ones dying before their time I honestly do. Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, or Thanksgiving has not been the same since my Dad died. my Uncles seem to look at me differently when we all get together I know that they feel his loss and his absence when we all get together and then they see me, my Brother, or my Mother, and it as if they realize once again that their friend is gone that their friend is dead. That their peer died way too early.. and so we drink coffee and make conversation before the meal and then eat and watch the younger ones as they play. more acutely aware of our own human frailty.

. I wonder sometimes if it is just the natural progression of things. generations coming together to enjoy each others company. from 2-year olds to the ones who are pushing 85, and all having a wonderful time. but then one year, an individual is taken out of the middle bracket too early.. and everyone deals with a loss like that in a deeper way than they would have had he been an ancient patriarch who had just passed on at the ripe age of 102.. I mean, 50% of the people there tonight were roughly his age that has to be on their minds when they see me, Joshua, and my Mother.. it certainly is on mine

. But perhaps that is just it. maybe I am projecting my own insecurities onto them maybe it is me who feels his loss more acutely when all of the Aunts and Uncles get together to feast. I dont know. but I do know that it was a true pleasure to see everyone enjoying themselves, laughing, eating, and just being around one anotherand for that, I truly give thanks..

. I am thankful for so much in this life that it would be impossible to write a post here that would encompass it all.

. so Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Lives change and family dynamics morph. But really, that is just life. and in the end, I am happy that I have people who love me and allow me to love them back.. even if we only see each other three times a year.

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Cremation....

..... been reading again, folks..... terribly sorry...... Robert Service again..... spent most of the afternoon going through his Red Cross collection from back during WWI.....

... anyhoo, for your viewing pleasure, here is a fine recitation of one of his most famous works....

... I'm off to watch the National Geographic Channel.... I hear they've recently collected DNA samples from Bigfoot up near Vancouver somewhere..... better than blogging, no?.....

.... UPDATE!... this version is ten times better..... they guy REALLY has it going on.... hell, it scared ME!... AND he does a Tennessee accent.... well, his version of a Tennessee accent.....

.... I tell ya, folks.... art is all in the delivery.... and in the interpretation..... a poet writes, sure.... but it is the consumers of his works that truly bring it alive with their own imaginations........

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Light....

. Leafing through The Book of General Ignorance this afternoon, I happened upon this most excellent article check this out.

What speed does light travel at?

That depends.

Its often said that the speed of light is constant, but it isnt. Only in a vacuum does light reach its maximum speed of nearly 300,000 km per second (186,282 miles per second).

In any other medium, the speed of light varies considerably, always being slower than the figure everyone knows. Through diamonds, for example, it goes less than half as fast: about130,000 km per second, or 80,000 miles per second.

Until recently, the slowest recorded speed of lilght (through sodium at -272 degrees celcius) was just over 60 kph (38 mph): slower than a bicycle.

In 2000, the same team (at Harvard University) managed to bring light to a complete standstill by shining it into a bec (Bose-Einstein condensate) of the element rubidium.

Rubidium was discovered by Robert Bunsen (1811-99) who didnt invent the Bunsen burner which is named after him.

Astoundingly, light is invisible.

You cant see the light itself, you can only see what it bumps into. A beam of light in a vacuum, shining at right angles to the observer, cannot be seen.

Although this is very odd, its quite logical. If light itself was visible, it would form a kind of fog between your eyes and everything in front of you.

Darkness is equally strange. Its not there but you cant see through it.

my goodness. reading this whilst watching Meet Joe Black at the same time is making my head hurt. And those Harvard fellows who managed to slow light to a standstill??.... well, frankly, I cant even imagine. but good God, people, I should have went to college.

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Later....

.. good afternoon, rubberneckers. I hope that you are all well. as for me, I am not completely sure.. see, woke up this morning craving a baked sweet potato, a Caesar salad, and a glass of chilled eggnog

. I highly suspect that something is amiss in the ole innards, folks.. especially since that particular selection of taste-extravaganzas would probably throw my aging, temple-like body into a sugar induced coma.

that said, however, I have been informed by The Powers That Be that a visit to the local YMCA is in order this afternoon.. so as the treadmill awaits, I suspect that somewhere in my hedonistic subconscious a rebellious seed of discord is attempting to sprout. thus the sudden craving for a steaming pile of corned beef hash with a side of macaroni and cheese

tis another foreshadowing of that age old truth, I reckon that wonderful Duality of Man that lies sneakily hidden within us all. and who brazenly speaks forth while the health-nuts bounce and glisten with perspiration around you: you and I are different, my friend. I run so that I may eat cheesecake later...

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Thrasher....

.. it is going to be another early night tonight, Im afraid but hey, a roasted duck was enjoyed for dinner. with orange sauce, of course and since my belly is full and the night is young, I am off to pick up my guitar and amuse myself for a while out in the cool air and darkness of the deck.

. One song that I will be playing tonight is an old Neil Young song... actually the only Young song that I can play and sing at the same time.. (or that I have bothered to learn) .. Thrasher heres a version from a gentleman who does it even better than Mr. Young I do lack a harmonica, however.. though I do think that is a very, very good thing.

.... so, enjoy.

goodnight, rubberneckers.. I am off to play to the woods and scare the squirrels.. it seems the perfect way to end an enjoyable Sunday night.

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Sidebar......

... I am the little guy on the sidebar, by the way...... that is my Pa on your right.......

... good god, I will never forgive them for that little white suit with the brown buttons.... no matter how much they begged......

.... fuck, kids these days just have it so easy...... they have no clue....

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Apprized....

. I drove the missus up to Knoxville for a quick lunch at Aubreys yesterday, and then enjoyed a civilized bout of shopping via Kingston Pike and Target the main product of the outing only in passing, of course is that I have gorged myself on lobster salad for most of the entire afternoon today. to say that I am reclining replete would be a wee bit of an understatement hey, Ill take what I can get, folks. The lordly ability to eyeball a swimming lobster, point a fickle finger, and grin devilishly whilst nodding to a suited seafood-attendant and have a fresh lobster salad produced?..... well, youve got to admit that it is good to be The King..

. Which is a very good thing, actually, since Vandy is whooping tail in Knoxville today (..an outcome that, incidentally, I predicted to Redneck just a few days ago. sure, the game isnt over, but I dont have a warm fuzzy right here at halftime) .

see? lobsters and the SEC just seem to go hand in hand.. but well not go there. my Southeastern Conference football/Lobster analogy is wearing a bit thin these days chaffed nerves need to drowned with quality Scotch, not pondered upon on a beautiful autumn Saturday.

. But looking to the other side of my afternoon?.... well, experimental cooking is enjoying a rampant run in my kitchen right now in anticipation of The Missus returning home I dont exactly know what to call it (or name it). But it is basically a sort of Italian sausage casserole with enough cheese to choke a horse, garlic, onions, and topped with freshly mashed potatoes.. it may not be good per se, but it will definitely be interesting. and around here, well, we're all about the interesting....

and in the end, if you throw enough cheese at something it is always infinitely edible..

. Ill keep yall apprized.. Im off to watch the slaughter second half..

UPDATE: .... it was a freaking miracle that Vandy missed that field goal.... ... but a win is a win.....

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Winter...

.. Ive been a Cowboy Junkies fan since they recorded "The Trinity Session" back in 1988. that album has the most singularly unique sound it still blows me away.. but I also really like their Black Eyed Man album.. heres the lyrics from one of my favorites from that album.. check this out.... pure poetry....


Winters Song by Michael Timmins

She says, 'it's cold where you brought me'
He says, 'Darling, don't worry
you can stay in my arms
until the springtime comes
We'll let the snow drift around us
and wait for the robin and the crocus
to tell us that our love has again found the sun'

Lone oak stands tall,
bare arms scratch the sky,
dry leaves cracking beneath our feet
Hand in hand we've watched
the autumn fires burn -
Summer's dreams collapsing,
chestnuts in need of gathering,
the whole world lies rotting in the street

Soon we will walk with collars high
like ramparts raised for the siege
We'll bow to her beauty,
cower from her fury
sent as a judgement for a slight
long past forgotten
Winter's love once again unrequited
Winter's love once again unrequited

She says, 'Babe are you sleeping?'
He says, 'No, wide awake and thinking
of a dream I just had about the two of us
He takes his hand to her cheek now,
his lips to her brow,
their whispers pile softly
by the foot of the bed

. Helluva song, truly.. and wow. their whispers pile softly by the foot of the bed.. that is just plain out of this world..

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Plans...

. It is foggy here this morning the cool, wet front that swept in from the southwest yesterday afternoon has now disappeared over the mountains to the east and is gone. the sunlight is breaking through the leaves now, and the sky is clear and blue. What a wonderful gift to the soul freshly brewed coffee is..

lamb has been requested for dinner this evening and I will be off soon to the shops. Our local butcher only keeps lamb in small quantities, but he has assured me that he has some choice cuts.. so this evening - as the sun begins to set - I will stand around my grill while the lamb chops sear and drink in the last few drops of sweater-weather before jacket-weather arrives.

lamb chops sizzling, mint sauce, potatoes roasting with garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and parmesan cheese, the smell of damp leaves, a tumbler of Lagavulin.

. Soon our collars will be turned up against the cold, dry wind that Winter brings, and all of the leaves will have fallen.. leaving the trees to stand naked and stark against the chill awaiting Spring.. and well rush from comfortable home to car, to shop, to home again, trying to keep warm. but not just yet

. the trees are still blazing. and the sky is still blue. and The World may be drowsy, but it isnt asleep quite yet and as for me, I am grilling some chops.

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Tunes....

. tonight I would like to take you down a little trip back to yesteryear..

. First up, a little Robert Cray check this out, folks.. one of the best guitar solos from the 1990s.

. next up, some redneck goodness from my misspent youth behold Mr Dwight Yoakam.. an idol from back when I was twelve and writing off to the Commandant of the Marine Corps asking to enlist after the Beirut bombings.

.

beautiful stuff, folks truly beautiful stuff.

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Different....

. I think I need to wash the windows here in the house next week..

. I spent the morning gently dawdling around the house in my bathrobe and drinking coffee. At every window, Id check the sky and follow a few leaves as they drifted down from the pin oaks & poplars. golden, pink, and faded green, they would fall in small little armadas of five, ten, or twenty at a time.. and while the leaves were colorful, there was just something missing..

. fast forward a few hours, and The Missus and I are rolling into the driveway of my Mothers place. The blush of the leaves on each tree that surrounded her house was stunning rich and vibrant and hanging markedly against the pale blue of the dry, southern sky.

.... The Missus even remarked that she wished that she had the camera in the car as shed like to have taken a photo..

only two miles away from my home (as the crow flies) and it seemed like a completely different world that modest house where I grew up was framed by a forest that absolutely blazed with autumnal shades to say that it was breathtaking would be a gross understatement. And quite frankly, a disservice to the maple trees.

I think I need to wash the windows here.

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Secrets....

to all who have served our Great Nation and worn The Uniform of our services, thank you. enjoy your Veterans Day however you see fit. As for me, my Sainted Mother (who is coming along nicely with her physical therapy, by the way) has offered to whip up a batch of chicken casserole for our lunching pleasure..

and thus, I am off to sup with family this afternoon.. a simple day of simple pleasures is unfolding around me, it seems..

. Oh, and a quick shout-out to the inebriated bloggers who drunkdialed me at 1:25AM from the Las Vegas BlogWorld Expo. Semper Fi, brothers.. I got your back.. and hey, Ive already deleted the voicemail and yalls secrets are safe with me. but still, you guys should be ashamed of yourselves.. I wish I had been there!...

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Give.....

.. today is the blessed day where we celebrate the 232nd birthday of my beloved Corps last year I said this......

and I am deeply touched this afternoon. especially today and this has caught me off-guard, really I have spent most of the day watching football instead of praying for my brothers and sisters who are in harms way tonight.. and for that, I am truly sorry. Holly Aho emailed me last week about Valour It and Soldiers angels.. and I am sorry to say that I did not participate in the campaign fund-raiser. And hey, that is purely my own fault.. the cause is good, of course but I just didnt have it in me to write about such a sensitive subject..

. I support them (and all of you have chosen sides, of course), but it overwhelmed me to write for such a noble cause at that time.. I just wasnt ready. The whole thing just rocked my world.. and that is MY failing and not that of my brothers. so, behold

. Happy birthday, friends, brothers, and warriors you guys and gals make me so proud.. and on some level, I wish I could help you more. Perhaps not by Soldiers Angels but maybe due to some other medium

I think of that every single day.. and I am sorry.....

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Ostriches....

. I just love history.

and if yall havent seen all four seasons of Blackadder, well, I highly recommend them for their educational value.

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Moon....

. The tuxedo didnt work, folks, but I hadnt had my hopes pinned too high. It hasnt really worked for me for the past two years but it was still worth a shot ole Daniel Craig changed the whole vibe of James Bond, I reckon (.. some say for the good and others say for the bad..) . But regardless, he changed it. and hey, these days I dont really like to get my shirts bloodied. thus the failure in channeling a correct Mr. Bond, I am sure.

hell, I even donned the cream silk Punjabi for a few hours complete with the hand carved balsa wood buttons, but all to no avail.. and folks yall will just have to trust me on this I seriously dig me some silk clothing.. absolutely nothing on this great, green Earth screams feel good like wrapping your body in silk from head to toe.

so today I drove to the mall, knocked back a few pints of Newcastle brown ale at The Fox & Hound in Chattanooga and then bought myself a nice, retro pair of Adidas sneakers at the mall across the street.. hey, who knew?.... they seem to have worked wonders

actually, that isnt completely true.. the Adidas started the proverbial ball rolling. But it was a song that cinched the knot, folks.. at least momentarily.. so, let me share what is my personal favorite of all the great and wonderful Sinatra songs.. behold. (and sing along if you wish. I certainly didand hey, the lyrics are right there.... and this song was MEANT to be sung by gentle people who dont have the ability of Mr. Sinatra, folks. )

just trust me on that.

and while I have no actual desire to fly to the moon at this very moment, I adore the sentiment behind his crooning away with such vigor and poise. And I love the lyrics as well. hell, I just love everything about it.....

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Parallel.....

. zero creativity, folks... I be as dry as one of Ezekiel's biblical bones....

.... and you know something?..... the correlations between this clip from 1965 and my blog (..and 99% of its posts) are too many to completely fathom.. and possibly too frightening to even contemplate.. not that yall dont already know that, of course.

but still, you know?.... what the hell?..... I reckon I just need to dig the old tux out of the closet, dust if off, and recharge my mojo with a martini and an old James Bond flick.. then again, perhaps that old caveman movie where Raquel Welch wears that fur bikini and runs around throwing rocks at dinosaurs.

... I think either option would work pretty well..... not that Im into fur bikinis or anything, I just like watching movies about badly-designed fake dinosaurs chasing proto-hippies..

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Stories....

. Good evening, rubberneckers. I trust that you are each well, happy, and getting exactly what you deserve as for me, well, all is quiet here around The Compound and a cauldron of my homemade chili is bubbling away on the range.. the local news is predicting a freezing-snap to arrive tomorrow thus the chili and all I need now is a big skillet of my Sainted Mothers cornbread and Ill be prepared for the arrival of the frosty morning

. I write this only in passing, though, since I have absolutely zilcho to contribute to the blogosphere this evening all pigs fed, watered, and ready to fly as usual.. and there is a bottle of Caol Ila seductively cooing to me from the kitchen saying very, very naughty things in Gaelic.. so I must go and do my duty..

but before I go, I would like to direct your attention to fellow East-Tennessee blogger Rosies website in particular, her four-part tale entitled The Dark Hole.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
And Part 4

go forth and enjoy, yall. I certainly did..

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Elephants.....

.. wow.. check this out.

.... drunk elephants......

... I'm having a pretty tough time trying to figure out which is funnier. The fact that wild elephants routinely break into villages, get all liquored up from drinking all of the village's rice wine, and then attack electric poles for fun.. or the fact that there is a village in India called Shillong

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Distracted....

.. today was one of those unusual days that I sometimes have where I started something in the morning and then ended up looking at my watch to find that 8 hours had passed and it was time to cook supper..

it all began with skipping breakfast and downing two pots of coffee instead.

.... around noon, I had a big bout of strenuous physical activity that resulted in me hitting rock bottom by 1pm. I felt sick and ate a packet of peanut butter & crackers that I chased down with a glass of orange juice it helped a bit but not much and I felt slightly queasy for most of the early afternoon.. I ended up eating my lunch feeling as if I were going to vomit after every bite..

so The Missus took pity on me and scoured the medicine cabinet for something to make my tummy feel better.. what she ended up finding was a tiny pill-bottle labeled Bismuth. from which I took two small, reddish tablets.

having taken the tablets, my mind began to wander and I found myself curious about the medicinal properties of bismuth. I queried The Missus on these, of course, and she replied that it was the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol..bismuth subsalicylate, to be exact thus the bismol at the end of the product name bismuth, folks it does a body good..

. Anywhoo, as I tend to do these days, I immediately went to the bookshelf and retrieved my trusty Oxford Dictionary and looked up bismuth just to find out more about what I had so recently gulped down while nauseously not paying attention. so I read and read all about the wonder that is bismuth. Atomic number 83.. and once I was quite content with the belief that she hadnt just poisoned me, I let my eyes gently scan the pages of the dictionary for further information-goodies. Bishkek (the capital of Kyrgyzstan). Bismarck Sea. bistoury bitchery.. bittersweet.. blabbermouth.. hey, it was quite entertaining. and then I flipped forward a few pages.. canzone.. capacitance.. caps and bells.. Cape of Good Hope. I froze.

twas the Cape of Good Hope that caught my eye and I just had to read the description. here it is, in case any of you rubberneckers are remotely interested.

Cape of Good Hope a mountainous promontory south of Cape Town, South Africa, near the southern extremity of Africa. Sighted toward the end of the 15th century by Bartolomeu Dias, it was sailed around for the first time by Vasco de Gama in 1497.

. I sat there looking at the name, Bartolomeu Dias, and found myself wanting to know more about who he was. and why hed been the first European to see The Cape of Good Hope. And what it must have been like to accomplish something so monumental.. so I laid the dictionary aside and headed for the trusty computer.. and for the past five hours I have read non-stop about the history of the spice trade, the various explorers who boldly headed off into the Great Unknown, why exactly Europeans wanted a water-route to India and Asia ( which was because of money, mostly. And to keep from being strong-armed by the Arabic/Persian/Mughal peoples whose land that most of the land route traveled through.)

Vasco de Gama, Magellan, Dias, Cabral, Henry the Navigator, Balboa, Columbus, and Elcano.. the first major expeditions of exploration..

ole Elcano finished Magellans circumnavigation of the globe, by the way since Magellan got whacked by natives in the Philippines, it was Elcano and NOT Magellan who actually completed the circumnavigation.. Elcano captained the rest of the survivors from the Philippine Islands to Lisbon all in all, that crew logged 43,400 miles. All for pepper, cloves, and little bit of cinnamon. And to get by being taxed by the Spice Road folks..

my goodness. I sit here now and it is dark outside. And I wonder where my day went..

. OCD has a fun side, rubberneckers. You just have to roll with it to truly enjoy it.

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Puddling....

.. when the chips are down and everything goes sideways, I am actually a fairly brave fellow indeed, I have been part in quite a few touchy moments from European bar fights to the occasionally homicidal rickshaw driver deep in the Indian sub-continent, I have held my own and given as good as I got.

but put me in a damnable dentists office with a filling, crown, etc. on the schedule, and I turn into 198lbs of pure USDA Choice Crybaby.. Grade A.

it is completely embarrassing, it truly is. every muscle in my body tenses as I close my eyes and focus, focus, focus on keeping my jaws spread as widely as possible and when he nods down at me and says, alright, Eric rest for just a moment. . I swear that I go from imitating a surfboard to actually puddling into the conforms of the dental chair.. by the time the procedures are over I feel like Ive been a losing participant in a marathon..

the real kicker is that my dentist is an absolute saint of a man. been my tooth-doc since my first tooth sprouted from my gums. and known me for over 30 years so I KNOW that he isnt going to hurt me.and yet I am filled with panic every single time it is 100% irrational and I know it. but I just cant help myself..

. And the assistant treats me with such kid-gloves. she starts with the numbing swabs and puts on the laughing gas. then more gas and more. and then the injections once the swabs have been removed. And then more gas as he does his work.. and I feel no pain whatsoever. but even under the influence of the gas, I am still a fucking basketcase. good God, it is embarrassing. After the first set of injections (which I hardly felt), I actually showed her the palms of my hands. they were drenched from the nervous anticipation..

here is a snippet of the conversation I had with Dr & assistant prior to reclining back for them to begin..

Doc: Hey!... Good to see you!.... You are looking well!
Me: . thanks.. I have to tell you though, this room is my least favorite place in the universe
Doc: Ahh, well, well take good care of you. youve got nothing to worry about.
Me: . oh, I know and trust me, it isnt you guys.. it is just one of those things..
Doc: ( preparing his gigantic thingy of Novocain and humming slightly to himself)
Doc: Yeah, I know what you mean. I suppose that youd rather be out hunting or fishing or golfing.
Me: . Sir, I would rather be surrounded by Zombies and armed only with a cricket bat than be sitting here just at this very moment..
Doc:
Assistant: Well, Halloween is over, Eric. No more Zombies until next October!
Doc: Alrighty, were all set. Lay on back here, Eric. I will be finished with you in NO time!

. Having not read my blog before, the reference to being surrounded by Zombies was completely lost on them. especially in regards to the sheer, shitting-ones-pants, frightening-ness of being in such a situation when one is burdened with my accursed phobias..

so happy November 1st, folks. See?.... didnt I tell you guys just YESTERDAY that November was going to suck?.....

and while I am thinking of it, why isnt puddling a word.. it certainly should be. But spellcheck keeps freaking out over it like it is one of those little white cards with the date of your next dental appointment printed on it.

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