Beautiful.....

..... I witnessed true beauty in so many different ways today..... I swear, I would tell you, but you just wouldn't believe me..... but you know, sometimes you just have to see something to truly appreciate it...... and so, I leave you with a tiny, tiny hunk of today's gorgeousness.......

..... sorry for the lack of content lately, I've been a bit busy........ and hey, I've just had better things to do........ but I still miss y'all...... you know that, right?......

..... so go forth and seek out butterflies while I am away..... trust me, you will enjoy it..... I certainly did.... art is art.... no matter what form you find it in.....

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Ants....

.... I wonder if Amdro has a use-by date..... I rained bloody murder down upon two fire ant mounds last week and I just strolled out there and poked one with a stick (you know, as you do), and forty-seven billion fire ants blew out the top of the mound like mighty Vesuvius..... I do believe that I'm in with some faulty bug-killer...... heh...... whatever I was raining the other day, it most certainly wasn't 'bloody murder'....

... good god, never mind.... I guess that another trip to the local hardware store is in order..... man, what a shock it was to see that nest erupt..... I could have sworn that they'd all be dead inside there...... dammit, when I kill something, I expect it to STAY dead!...... that is just one of the many reasons that I hate damnable Zombies so much......

..... anyhoo, speaking of ants, as I watched those little brown bastards boil out of their hole-in-the-ground, I was suddenly reminded of one of Robert Service's lesser-known poems..... I originally posted back in October of 2003, but hey, I'm all about recycling......

.... and remember, check and make sure that no one is nearby and then read it out loud.... trust me, Service was meant to be read out loud...... enjoy....

The Ant Hill by Robert W. Service

Black ants have made a musty mound
My purple pine tree under,
And I am often to be found,
Regarding it with wonder.
Yet as I watch, somehow it's odd,
Above their busy striving
I feel like an ironic god
Surveying human striving.
Then one day came my serving maid,
And just in time I caught her,
For on each lusty arm she weighed
A pail of boiling water.
She said with glee: "When this I spill,
Of life they'll soon be lacking."
Said I: "If even one you kill,
You bitch! I'll send you packing."

Just think - ten thousand eager lives
In that toil-worn upcasting,
Their homes, their babies and their wives
Destroyed in one fell blasting!
Imagine that swift-scalding hell! . . .
And though, mayhap, it seems a
Fantastic, far-fetched parallel -
Remember . . . Hiroshima.

..... unlike Mr. Service though, I plan to lay waste to their home, their babies, AND their wives..... just as soon as humanly possible.......

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Holmes.....

... you know, I just can't quite put my finger on it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you guys are blissfully happy & completely overjoyed at the fact that you're all living, breathing, smiling creatures happily bouncing around this beautiful planet of ours during a beautiful summer day.....

.... and since we can't be having all that lest the Earth cease her rotation out of pure aggravation, I feel that it is somehow my responsibility to do my best to ruin y'all's afternoon.... and honestly?..... I can think of nothing more heart-tearing than the story of the fate of ole Sullivan Ballou...... so, here you go...

..... I trust that you guys are now suitably depressed & all is right in your worlds..... there, wasn't that nice?.... another world-saving hark back to equilibrium and normalcy...... as for me, I'm off to sit on the patio amongst the dappled shade of the dogwoods and read up on my Sherlock Holmes while the stuffed bell peppers finish baking.....

.... did you guys know that Christopher Lee played Sir Henry in the 1959 version of 'The Hound of The Baskervilles'?..... well, he did...... and what's more, I was absolutely shocked to see Holmes (played by Peter Cushing) keep whipping out a revolver every time a loud noise rang out!..... I'd never imagined that Sherlock packed heat before, but ole Peter's version sure was trigger-happy.....

.... thus, of course, the need to return to The Historical Documents to ensure that Hollywood wasn't taking liberties with Sir Conan's creations..... after all, if I don't do it, who will??......

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traffic.....

.... y'all just have no idea....... you think your traffic is bad?..... back up, folks...... I will be here again in 18 or 24 months.......

..... at least I know to bring my own rickshaw and traffic cones nowadays..... and a shotgun......

.... definitely a shotgun.....

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Success.....

..... as I tended to my flowerbeds and preened the garden path to the patio today, I did so with a heavy and aching heart..... I tugged at weeds with a furrowed brow.... I daubed the sweat on my freckled forehead with the crushed heart of a wake attendee.....

.... why so glum when surrounded by the Wonder of Nature and bathed in the sweet, sticky fragrance of the climbing honeysuckle?...

.... well, I read of Winston's shattered dreams this morning before venturing out with my pesticides and weed killers......

.... so go now, gentle rubberneckers.... go now and offer your cheery thoughts to that brave, talented man... I too once aspired to goat counting as a profession...... so I know that his pain is real...... and it is at times like these, that we must all demonstrate to Our Fellow Man that we have hearts filled with sympathy.....

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Memorial....

..... once upon a time way, way back when our Nation was being fledged, a brave man once wrote this:

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value.

Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

.... that man was Thomas Paine.... and the 'crisis' that he was speaking about was the humiliating retreat of Washington's army across the Delaware in late 1776..... and a year later these words would be read aloud to Washington's army as they shuddered in the frozen snow of Valley Forge.....

..... sitting here now, I can not even imagine what it must have been like to have wintered at Valley Forge.... starving, despaired, freezing, whipped, diseased, and tattered...... how hopeless those men must have felt...... and yet they stayed the course.....

... on days like today, I am completely awed by the history of my country..... and by the sacrifices and dedication of the men and women who have protected it from its birth until now..... honestly, I just don't have the words to do them justice......

..... so enjoy your Memorial Day, guys & gals..... and if your evening meal is even HALF as good as mine, y'all will be living The High Life..... and that is just as it should be....

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Town.....

..... Sinatra was a one of a kind..... everyone knows that..... and I am not about to disparage his beloved memory.... but I swear, right now the sounds of "On The Town" are beaming in here from the living room and he is 'singing' with that whacked out taxi/bus driver chick...... good god..... it is horrendous....

.... I swear, were she to sing to a block of well-aged Italian parmesan, it would leap into the air, spin a few times, discard its rind, and miraculously self-grate itself into a useful pile of parmesan dust fit for anyone's spaghetti sprinklin'.....

.... Ethel Merman on her very WORST day would sound like English church bells when compared to that screechy, scrawny, hat-wearing bellower...... and really, Frankie was nearly as out of tune during that song as she was..... so no, I'm not talking glass houses here.......

.... and before you start thinking that I am some Neanderthal who is anti-musical, back up..... I can enjoy a good musical as well as ANY straight guy...... but in "On The Town", many of the songs are just plain dire..... hair-pulling, eye-gouging, ear-mufflingly bad........."we could be swabbing the deeeeck!"..... good grief....... "My Fair Lady" pushes my buttons too, but that is another matter all together.....

.... Audrey is a doll, sure.... but hearing her eek out "just you wait, 'enry 'iggins! Just you WAIT!" is enough to completely crush any man's horndoggedness......

... but I digress, as usual.......

.... today was truly a stellar day here on the compound..... The Missus was up bright and early and we drove down to Cleveland for a wee bout of shopping and lunch....... I bought some fresh jeans, she purchased a fairly large stack of fiction, and then we leisurely enjoyed a meal at Outback... and afterwards, a slide back home with the top down on Sylvia.......

...so, bitching about having to listen to "On The Town" playing in the background while I try to compose this cheesy post really isn't that big of a complaint......

... in the great scheme of things, I reckon today was a pretty damn good day..... even if the evening IS dotted here and there with freaky Sinatra tunes.......

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Melons.....

.... dinner tonight shall consist of beef bourguignon, garlic & cheese biscuits, Caesar salad, and peach pie...... it should be quite nibbleable, if I do say so myself.....

... in other news, I would like to express my eternal gratitude to everyone's favorite Redneck for un-trainwrecking my blog earlier today and putting it back on the proverbial tracks..... Redneck, you are The Man..... and hey, big guy, no one can wear a wifebeater quite like you......

.... anyhoo, I managed to take an unusual photograph of Fred snoozing on the deck today as I pan-seared the beef for the bourguignon...... I am absolutely sure that both of you readers are going to LOVE it...... I'm not going to post it, of course..... hey, I'm still in vacation mode!..... I have to have something to post about tomorrow, right?.....

... pickins is slim, folks..... yesterday I even took a photograph of my combat boots......

.... oh, and before I forget, I am currently enjoying a television program about "The History of The Joke"..... it is awesome so far.... but I can tell you this, that Gallagher guy who made a fortune smashing watermelons in front of coked-out Wall Streeters back in the 80s is certifiably insane..... I just saw him on TV..... and yep, he's still smashing stuff with that big wooden mallet of his......

... America, good god..... what a country....

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Tunes!....

.... as strange as it may sound, I have often heard people say that there always exists - somewhere - the perfect soundtrack to everyone's lives......

.... funny, I never put much thought into the idea before, but after today, I have begun to imagine that they might just be right...... and what's more, I had mine pegged completely wrong...... all this time I had imagined my theme tune being something like this......

..... then again, I often imagined that it was this.....

.... at other times, well, it was 'Thrasher'...... the only Young song that I can actually play on guitar.......

...... little did I know that my tune had been written long ago - just undiscovered by me until now!..... check this out!... Etowah, indeed!.... now all I need to do is learn to 'shuffle'!...

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Canals.....

.... I arose fairly early this morning, washed, shaved, dressed, and just as I was completing my ritualistic ablutions, I discovered that I had some sort of tiny pimple inside the ear canal on the left side of my head.....

..... I religiously Q-Tip the bejesus out of each ear after every morning shower, but this morning the usual swish'n'toss was interrupted by a sharp, deep pain..... at first I was quite perplexed, but upon inserting an exploratory finger I quickly found a raised spot which was sore to the touch..... as you do, of course, I immediately woke The Missus to have her inspect my ear canal for foreign objects....

... do you people have any idea how difficult it is to convince someone to get out of bed at 9:30am on their day off to shine a flashlight into your ear?.... well, just trust me, it is damn near impossible..... but eventually my meek bleating about 'ear tumors' eventually won out and she rose to inspect.....

.... oh, and another word of advice?.... no matter how much the temptation may grate on you, never, never, ever lay your head down on the bathroom counter and hand someone who you have just pissed off royally a pair of tweezers and ask them to pull something from your ear canal.... just trust me on that one, folks....

.... as best as I can tell (after a day of interesting sensations), a ear canal pimple is just about the absolute worst place on the entirety of the human body to have a pimple.... I mean, just think about it for a moment..... have you ever tried to squeeze the insides of your ear canal?..... well, I have.... and it simply cannot be done...... the other really bad thing about having a pimple chilling with your ear drum?.... you cannot SEE the bastard..... all you can do is continually jam a pinky-finger in there to prod it every so often....

.... anyway, I still don't know what Mr. Pimple looks like, but I do know this much... that sumbitch is a Blonde..... how do I know this?.... well, over the course of the past 8 hours my left ear has ingested at LEAST two cups of hydrogen peroxide..... my head is currently emitting seashore type sounds as waves of peroxide break against the distant shoreline of my cochlea.....

.... I tell you, folks, it sure is hard to have fun in a place like this, but I do give it my best shot..... I'm off to weed the flower bed and then sit on the patio and watch my peaches grow..........

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Idols.....

..... while vacationing, I stumbled upon a collection of small votive statues depicting ancient Egyptian deities... and since I seldom ever pass up a depiction of a god or goddess - when they're offered at the right price - I snapped them up.... they are sitting here beside my monitor on the desk as I type this.....

.... it is a good thing to have the eyes of worshipful beings casually gazing upon you while you type, isn't it?.... I think that it is..... I mean, c'mon, it certainly isn't going to hurt anything, right?..... besides, I simply adore the idea of having a pint-sized god within arm's reach.... after all, you never know when you'll need to pop a goddess in your pocket for that wee bit of extra protection when you set off for a trip to the grocer, a night out on the town, or a late-night 'coon hunting foray.....

.... there's even a little brass depiction of Ganesh hiding around here somewhere that I picked up in Dhaka...... he's not too much for just sliding into pockets though - his spear, tusks, & axe make for uncomfortable toting.....

... but Sekhmet on the other hand, she's an easy pocket-slipper if I ever saw one... tall, lithe, and buxom...... Horus is a bit too pokey as well for comfortable accompanying..... and the scarab, well, I just don't fancy walking around with a hieroglyph-encrusted dung beetle bulging in my front pocket......

.... anyway, I write this merely to share with you all the knowledge that I am sitting here being stared at by two beautiful deitific representations and a highly stylized scarab beetle......

.... I think that I should probably ensconce them on the bookshelf next to all those rosaries that the homeless shelter in Chattanooga keeps sending me..... or maybe next to those feathered 'dream catchers' that Dakotan Lakota keep FexEx'ing.... then again, perhaps I should just keep them right where they are.... standing stoically next to my plastic Gila monster......

... damnation, I am torn...... I absolutely hate not knowing what to do with my gods and goddesses..... they sure are pretty though.....

.... I'm off to mash some potatoes and bake a ham....... and conjure up the God of Sour Cream to work his magic.....

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Tomintoul.....

..... I was up early this morning and managed to catch the daybreak as it burned away a fine mist of fog from the neighborhood..... my goodness, what a difference a month makes..... it's strikes me as so odd sometimes how the forest that surrounds my house can go from bare limbs to blooms, to fully-grown leaves in such a short time.... Spring has definitely sprung.... and the first warm, damp mornings of Summer are already trying to peek through..... soon we'll all be bitching about the burdensome heat of mid-summer and praying for the Relief of Autumn....

... time flies fast enough, I suppose.... and it'd behoove us to not wish it away any quicker than it cares to arrive on its own..... but hey, it is in our very nature to watch, wish, enjoy, and plan ahead..... I'm just sayin', that's all....

.... anyhoo, whilst cleaning out the suitcase this morning, I happened upon an interesting receipt laying amongst the crumpled clothing and bags of souvenirs.... we'd field-tripped northeastwards from our chalet in search of the infamous "Whisky Castle" in the village of Tomintoul, and after purchasing a few bottles of the amber nectar we found ourselves in need of a luncheon..... we chose the first place that we came to - The Clockhouse - and placed our orders..... at the time, well, we were all just hungry and didn't really pay much attention to the menu..... but after having just found the receipt, I suppose that I should share...

receipt_small.jpg

.... for the record, I did not dine upon haggis.... I did sample a few bites and found it very tasty, but no, I ordered the 'drunken fungus' instead...... what might a tasty haggis look like in its native environment?..... behold..... this here is a genuine highland haggis accompanied by the traditional side dishes.... bashed tatties and chappit neeps..... (mashed potatoes and turnips)....

haggis_small.jpg

..... and what might a 'drunken fungus' look like?..... ask and ye shall receive...... sauteed mushrooms in a whisky, cream, and cheese sauce with a side order of garlic bread.... you know, for dippin'......

fungus_small.jpg

...... all of this was enjoyed just across the street from The Whisky Castle.... a shop that stocks itself with over 500 single malts...... yes, I said 500...... if you're ever near Tomintoul, I highly suggest you pay it a visit......

wcastle_big.jpg

.... you will not regret it.... trust me....

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Busy....

..... nothing tonight, children...... been doing laundry, snacking heavily, writing, and daydreaming.......

.... but feel free to chew on this one for a while in lieu of other content....... I'll be back tomorrow with photos, videos, and tall, tall tales from the latest Scotland trip.....

..... vintage, folks..... vintage.....

... more tomorrow!... the stroganoff is almost done!....

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Back....

.... well, gentle rubberneckers, I is home safe and sound..... bagless, of course, but home nonetheless.... a bit tired, sure, but that is merely a side effect of all the glorious chow, wonderful booze, and raucous, wild nights of adventure that I've enjoyed.....

.... oh, did I mention 'bagless'?..... well, indeed.... it seems that booking transcontinental flights with British Midlands (and internal flights with United) is a guaranteed way for your luggage to take a wee siesta and lounge about unattended in the guts of O'Hare or Manchester for 24-48 hours..... the flight over ended with me hanging at the Hilton smelling pretty funky for the first day and a half (well, funkier than usual)..... the flight back?.... well, not only was MY bag lost, but the Missus' too..... luckily we were home and had duplicates of all the sundry bathroom stuffs, so not much was effected by our bags being delayed....

.... actually, that's only 99% true.... I did not have a spare razor for this morning's ablutions..... but other than that, we're cruisin'...... I will say this though - merely as a point of reference for any of you guys out there who find yourselves alone in a shower with a woman's 'Venus' razor - never borrow a razor to shave your face that has spent the last few months plowing across some woman's thighs.... y'all will just have to trust me on that one.....

.... sure, you might be tempted to just cast caution to the wind and dive right in with a "hey, a razor is a razor!.... what could possibly go wrong?".... but woe betide the whiskered man who does not heed my warning, folks......

.... anyhoo, speaking of cutting throats and bleeding out, the trans-Atlantic flight happened to be showing "Sweeny Todd" during the journey..... and as gory, bloody, and cringe-worthy as it was, I have to say that I enjoyed it very much..... I mean, it's not every day that you get to watch a musical about a serial killer and cannibals.... it's funny, really.... not being a huge fan of Johnny Depp, serial killers, cannibals, OR musicals, I still became immersed enough in the storyline for two or three hours of the monotonous journey to slip by.... and hey, when you have a 8 hour flight, life is all about The Distraction.....

.... so, yes.... I'm back safe and sound.... and I'd like to thank Elisson, Shadowscope, Winston, and Jimbo for keeping this place ticking over while I was away.... you guys are great..... and I very much appreciate what y'all did.....

.... hot damn!.... a gray headed gentleman just dropped off my luggage!..... time for laundry and a cocktail...... although perhaps not in that order.....

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Big Night...

On my own site, Ive written about the Marietta Diner before. Its the occasional Going-Out-to-Dinner Choice of our Thursday evening Minyan gang.

The Marietta Diner was recently featured on the Food Network, on Guy Fieris Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show. Fieri did a pretty good job of showcasing the Diners broad range of dishes, especially the ones derived from the owners Greek heritage. (Arent pretty much all diners owned by Greeks anymore?) He also managed to convey something of the sheer enormousness of the platters served there, despite his omission of the mandatory Display o Huge Cakes. The paella, for example, is big enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Good Gawd, thassa lotta food.

The clientele is pretty large, too. And by this I dont mean that there are a lot of em (there are) - I mean that some of em are pretty fucking big.

It can be scary, sometimes, having dinner at the Diner. You keep wondering whether some of the patrons are going to start chowing down on some of the other patrons.

Last night, I noticed one table with three Large Folks sitting at it. Mama mustve clocked in at about 450. Daddy was relatively svelte - upper 200s, at least. He snarfed down an order of paella. I was impressed.

But there was one family that really got my attention. It wasnt the fact that they were all humongous. That happens all the time at the Diner: chubby Mom, Dad, Auntie, Kid Sister, and Baby, all at one table. Supported by a thick concrete pad, one hopes.

[The five-month-old baby was cute as the dickens, weighing 20 pounds, with chubbly-wubbly little pulkies. All the women at our table wanted to squeeze her...perhaps to extract the Baby Oil.]

What got my attention was the one rail-thin dude amidst all these Big Folk. I mean, heres a guy living a dangerous life! Subject to being inadvertently crushed in the midst of a hot lovemaking session...or accidentally jammed up an ass-crack and given up for lost...the mind boggles.

I resisted the temptation to ask him...just how much did he enjoy Living Large?

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Eric's Excellent Adventure...

Eric and Fiona are indeed paying homage to her homeland, Scotland, and doing a bit of tippling with her relatives. And they are, in his master's own words, all snug and cozy in a chalet at Craigendarroch. What is not generally known is that Eric is also using this trip as a springboard to several meetings with high ranking government officials and captains of industry throughout the Euro states. His mission is simple: generate interest among that august group for major investment in our new joint venture. Yep, Eric and Winston are on our way to multi-billionaire status, all thanks to a recent blog of Eric's and the comment I left on said blog.

I recently discovered that there is a small but growing market for earwax. The current market price is over $200/kilo and rising. A new startup company is building a processing plant over in Arkansas using the latest technology. This will be the first plant of its kind in the US, and the largest outside of Korea, where the original refining process was developed. The speculative market has raw earwax pegged at over $400/kilo by Fall, 2008, when the Arkansas plant will reach full production capacity.

What does all that have to do with Eric matching shots of schnapps with a bunch of Euro-heads, you ask? Well, his story of sound deadening earplugs of the military/industrial variety got me thinking. And working. And thinking. And trying. And back to the drawing board, until voila, I had a working design. You see, the only thing that has held the earwax market to such a low profile is the lack of an efficient and effective harvesting mechanism. Using Eric's description, and having a pair myself, I have devised a new tool (patent pending) that will become as ubiquitous as hair combs and tooth brushes in bathrooms around the globe. The harvesting kits will be sold worldwide in stores and on the internet. A kit will include a collection container which is pre-addressed and postage paid, bringing millions of tons of earwax into our collection centers strategically located around the globe.

The marketing plan and financial projections I presented to Eric were strong enough that he has abandoned his lifelong dream of opening a chain of SWG Tanning Salon and Small Animal Crematorium locations. He fully expects to return from his European vacation with signed contracts in hand and vouchers for the funds deposited for us in Swiss Bank accounts by our new European partners. And why am I telling you all this?

Glad you asked, friends and rubber-neckers... Eric and I feel very strongly about all of you, our blog friends. Neither of us live on the greedy side of the street and we would like to share the wealth. And believe me, there will be enough to go around for all of us. So if you would like to get in on our private offering before we go public and an IPO is approved by the SEC, just send a cashier's check for $1,000 made payable to Eric & Winston International Earwax Consortium. You will receive a stock certificate for 100 shares. Sorry, until we get through this initial private offering, we are unable to accept your order for multiple blocks, but if you are interested in more, just drop us a note and we'll see what we can do.

Eric and Fiona will return in a few days. Let's welcome them home with a big pile of those $1,000 checks...

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Buffet...

I related a story over at my place this afternoon, one that cried out for the SWG treatment...

...we were buying a few odds and ends up at Harry's, the local high-end farmers' market, when the Mistress of Sarcasm called my attention to a woman who was in the midst of committing an Antisocial Act...

...she had seen many a springtime come and go, this woman...well past her prime, you could say...stringy grey hair framing a face with a wan, yogurt-like complexion...an off-kilter look in the eyes, which were shielded by a pair of oversize welder's glasses...at first glance you would think "hmmm...something doesn't quite add up...a few olives short of a martini, this one..."

...the Antisocial Act to which I refer was no less than a gross violation of the Social Compact, rubberneckers...

...at the various and sundry prepared food stations scattered throughout the store, she would take a spoonful by way of camouflage...then she'd dive in to the trough with her fingers, grabbing the morsels and pressing them unto her cracked and stained lips...a quick lick of the fingers, then back for more...it was a revolting spectacle...

...I began to wonder. Was this a routine activity? A lifestyle choice? Was the woman hungry and penniless?

No matter. Dipping into the Public Food Trough with one's fingers is not merely nekulturny, it is downright unsanitary....and this woman looked like she and Personal Hygiene were not exactly on a nodding acquaintance...

...I called bullshit on her, rubberneckers, like a good citizen...by rights, I should have had her hauled off to the pokey as a public health hazard, but I am sometimes too kind-hearted for my own good...

...had I been the SWG hizzownself, I would have been tempted to show her my Cold Steel...lucky for her, he is still away, enjoying the mellow whisky and unctuous smoked salmon of the Highlands...and luckier for her, she was not dipping into the Indian Buffet...

...woe be unto her that fucks with Erics chicken korma...he'd take his weapon and deforma...

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"Straight White Guy"

Yo, Jimbo how the hell did you ever run into this guy?

No doubt, it was the name of the blog that caught my attention. Peeps name their blogs for all sorts of reasons, mostly shitty, and often for reasons known only to the blogger. Point is, the titles of blogs (e.g. my own) dont tell you much about the owner of the blog. But, Straight White Guy speaks volumes ya got race, sex and sexual preference all in one, neat, three-word package.

Anyway, thats probably what caught my attention. I dont recall, but I figure I must have seen the name on someone elses blogroll.

So, I clicked.

Immediately I could see that he was is a Marine (Once a Marine and all that), which resonated well with me. I read on and soon saw the trademark ellipses between sentences.

Yo, Jimbo, where have you seen that before?

I knew exactly where I saw that before, and so I decided to send the author an e-mail. It said:

...and mate, were you a commo guy?KK

Among my many Army duties, I sometimes had to communicate real time (now we would say online) with other military units on a Teletype machine, and I figured the ellipses, the and mate and KK (indicating you were done transmitting and it was the other guys turn) might catch his eye.

Well, it sure as shit did. Within a few seconds, I got an e-mail back from Eric confirming that he, indeed, had been a commo guy, which led to several e-mail exchanges. That, in turn, led to some phone calls and a promise to meet in Helen, Georgia in 2004.

Meet we did, and we have met at something like five blogmeets since, and that doesnt count the time when Eric and Mrs. SWG came to New Jersey and sat around the dining room table in the House by the Parkway.

I could go on about how wonderfully strange the Blogosphere is, in that it could make a Jersey guy who is closer in age to Erics father and Eric, a Tennessee native, genuine friends, but I wont. Suffice it to say that obviously, I like the guy. A lot. He is my friend.

With that, I thought I would leave you with ten things I have learned or know now, or appreciate now, which I would not have known or appreciated but for knowing Eric, the Straight White Guy:

1. One should actually pay attention to Tom Waits songs, even though he sounds like hes puking instead of singing.

2. My pool game now is not what it was when I was a sophomore in high school.

3. In Tennessee, the correct pronunciation of Tennessee is TIN-a-see.

4. The soul of a warrior and a poet can co-exist in the same place.

5. Its worth taking the time to pay attention, pay attention really close attention to the little things that surround us each day. I still cannot look at a tree or an insect crawling up a screen like Eric can, but Im getting better at seeing the beauty of it, because of Eric.

6. In Tennessee, the word ribs has two syllables REE-yubs.

7. There was an armed revolt in Athens, Tennessee in 1946 over voting rights. This historic tidbit didnt make it into the history books used in Jersey schools.

8. Different single malt scotches taste and look different from one another, depending on where in Scotland they are distilled. (Being a hopeless boozehound, I have some serious respect for anyone who can teach me anything about liquor.)

9. Its really great to live in a state where the presumption is that you can own as many guns as you want and even carry a gun, unless the state demonstrates why you shouldnt do either. In Jersey, its the other way around, which means only the criminals have lots of guns.

10. Oh, and in case you wondered, he really is a straight (Mrs. SWG is a gem), white (very white, with freckles yet) and a guy (He pees standing up I know; its a guy thing).

I hope the good brother and his bride are having a blast in Scotland.

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Bark Like a Chicken

So I was bored and getting ready for bed when I posted the rant below at my site. Then it hit me. "Eric's out of town and I haven't posted any manboobs pictures in quite some time!"

Rather than damage any further his degraded image I decided to just cross-post the following from Shadowscope...

So I check and whaddayaknow, my keys still work! Even more amazing than that is the fact that I still had my password saved since I damn sure can't remember it. I know I am an uninvited guest this time but I never let that stop the party crashing.

Having my blood drawn seems to have turned into a full-blown goatfuck ordeal over the last few years.

The last few times I have gone they have had to stick me several times and after four or five times digging around in my arm with a needle they take it out of my hand. Shit, they can stick one right in a vein and no blood comes out.

Guess I am actually dead and just don't know it...

Anyway, I made sure to drink a big glass of water prior to going to bed last night and then drank two or three more when I got up this morning so that I wouldn't be dehydrated when they went to poke me.

Fuck all, it still took three times. Here's this woman digging around my fucking arm with a big old needle saying "tell me if it hurts". Shit, unless you rip something loose I'm not saying a damn thing, just get the blood.

She finally stuck one in the top of my hand and it came right out.

Either I need to go in and just slash away with my pocket knife to help them out or start drinking water like a week before hand. My arm is still sore where she jammed the gottdamned needle into my arm.

All to get my cholesterol checked so my Doc can renew my prescription next month. What a damned dog and pony show.

....

So I am still fighting the smoking. I cut down to almost nothing and finally quit for a couple of weeks and then started having one or two here and there. I have had a pretty hard month at work. Not an excuse but I guess working 17 days straight kicked my ass because I have purchased cigarettes twice.

Haven't had one in two days now and it sucks quitting again because I am going through the same damned withdrawals I went through last month. Doh!

I am starting to seriously consider getting hypnotized but I am afraid that I will come out of there barking like a chicken or whatnot...

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Taste of Tennessee...

Eric, being a Man of the World, is off enjoying the pleasures of Scotland with the beauteous Fiona, who is no doubt adding to her Extensive Penguin Collection...

...meanwhile, it struck me that my Straight White Friend is not only a Man of the World, but a Son of the Soil, a man whose tastes (refined though they may be in some areas) are, at their Fundamental Core of Cores, deeply rooted in the earth of Tennessee, the land of his birth...

...it's not easy reconciling the Raw with the Refined, rubberneckers, but Eric seems to do it...he has an amazing facility to elevate the mundane, converting the minutiae of daily life - a simple haircut, grilling a rack of ribs, watching his beloved Tree-Rats - into bejewelled vignettes, Bloggy Nuggets o' Goodness...

...and it occurred to me that Eric might well be the one to approach the humble, everyday fare of the Tennessean with the artistic culinary sensibility of the Japanese...the people for whom eating is not merely an act of absorbing sustenance, but a veritable cultural experience...a thing of extraordinary beauty...

...and so I present to you, gentle rubberneckers, my vision...Eric's take on Asian-American Fusion Cuisine, if you will...melding the Japanese appreciation of the exquisite with the culinary traditions of McMinn County, in a manner unique to the Southern-Fried Samurai...behold the Country Kaiseki, a fourteen-course Alimentary Extravaganza:

Aperitif (Aisu-korudu-biiru)
Budweiser

First appetizer (Chippizuke)
Fritos, Potato chips, Funyuns with Lipton's Onion Dip

Second appetizer (O-daborusu)
Meatballs in Heinz Chili Sauce-Welchs Grape Jelly gravy
Chile con queso (Velveeta, Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles) with Doritos
Vienna sausage with toothpick
Deviled egg

Biscuit Dishes (Bisuketto-mono)
Biscuits with cream gravy
Country ham biscuit
Biscuit with honey and sweet cream butter

Side Dishes (Saido-jishu-mono)
Beanie-Weenies, creamed corn, canned peas

Grilled Dishes (Yaki-niku)
Armour hot dogs
Cheeseburgers
Country-style pork ribs

Steamed Dishes (Mushi-mono)
Sweet corn on cob
Butter, salt, pepper

Gelatin Salads (Jiero-mono)
Lime Jell-O salad with pineapple chunks and mini-marshmallows
Ambrosia

Deep-fried Dishes (Age-mono)
Southern-fried chicken
Onion rings
French fries, ketchup

Vinegared Dishes (Binagaa-mono)
Sweet gherkins
Cole slaw
Potato salad

Soup (Kamberu-mono)
Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup

Cornbread (O-konobureddo)
Skillet corn bread

Pickles (Hainzu-mono)
Bread-and-butter pickle slices
Dill spears

Dessert (Mizu-mono)
Apple pie
'Nanner Puddin' (with traditional Nilla Wafer garnish)
Watermelon

All these miniature Works of Art would be washed down with liberal doses of cold Budweiser and Coca Cola Classic. Don't forget the Gas-X and charcoal tablets for afters.

Why go to Japan and pay outrageous prices for traditional kaiseki-ryori when Eric could fix you up right here? I ask you.

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Hmmmm...

...hmmm... there doesn't seem to be anybody home... nothing on but a couple of nite-lights... nobody been 'round here for at least a couple of days... guess that 'splains the bird poop all over the chairs on the back deck... wonder if this key from under the doormat... yeah, i'm in...

...hmmm... doesn't look like they left in a hurry so it must have been a planned thing... that or the missus is a cleanup freak... the type that feels compelled to clean house before the house keeper arrives... she impressed me as neat and clean, but not to that extreme... oh, well... oh, several bottles sitting out on the kitchen table... and a few used glasses... [sniff sniff]... hmmm... scotch, maybe a single malt...

...uh oh... somebody in the next room... [hiding behind the fridge] [peeking out] ... damn, there's a weird guy with a ... wtf? ... a colander on his head... and he's talking to somebody on his cell phone... sombody named betterman? no, bitterman... yelling at him now something about No, I ain't your damn pal so quit saying that...

...he hung up now and is heading off to another room, so i best be outta here while i can get out the back and sneak off into the woods... but i've seen enough here that interests me... be back when the coast is clear...

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Gone!.....

.... well, boys and girls, the time has come..... tomorrow will be spent packing, re-packing, searching, rummaging, doing a bit of laundry, and then packing a little bit more...... and we'll eventually jet off towards The Land of Auld Lang Syne sometime in the afternoon once the bags have finally reached a satisfactory heaviness....

..... and with any luck, we'll be safely tucked away and graciously surrounded by familial charm, goblets groaning with room-temperature Caol Isla, and lots and lots of stories of adventurous relatives...... indeed, we'll be all snug and cozy in a chalet at Craigendarroch by 9AM Eastern Standard Time......

... so with that, gentle rubberneckers, I am off....... and I leave you in the tender hands of the generous gentlemen who agreed to keep my seat warm until I get back.....

.... I hope that you all fare well...... I'll be back around midnight on the 17th......

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Nuts....

..... I harbor a very well-developed dislike for squirrels..... this is no secret, of course, since I have voiced my hatred here on many occasions...... I'm a pretty good watcher of ole Mother Nature, and I have a keen ability to find the beauty in just about any creature.... so you guys are just going to have to trust me when I tell you that squirrels have absolutely zero redeeming qualities...

.... I even read somewhere that Daddy squirrels will sometimes sneak into the nests when the Momma squirrel isn't around and gnaw off the testicles of baby male squirrels to ensure that they have less competition when mating season arrives.... how sick, twisted, and just plain messed up is that??..... it's one thing to just go ahead and kill the infant males (like lions do sometimes) but castrating them and letting them live?.... I'm sorry, but squirrels are just plain evil.....

.... of course, I bring this all up to inform you that our beautiful world is missing one squirrel this morning..... and I, the Great White Hunter, bagged her.....

.... she'd actually been trying my patience for quite a few days.... but now I can tell you that her peanut stealin', birdfeeder robbin' days are over.....

..... see, I had been flirting with the idea of culling her for quite some time, but I was always stymied.... the shotgun was loaded with buckshot and I was too lazy to switch out the rounds..... my .22 magnum was in the gunsafe and I couldn't be bothered to unlock the safe..... blah, blah, etc, etc.... but then as I watched her somersault gleefully with a heisted hazelnut clamped between her teeth, I remembered a gift that Redneck had given me a few years ago - a most excellent scoped Ruger 10/22...... well, boys and girls, once I loaded up the mag and popped it in, it was all over but the crying....

.... in truth, it was all rather anticlimactic.... I eased out the door, racked a round, aimed, squeezed the trigger, and blammo..... she tensed up and vibrated hard for about five seconds, and then bit the proverbial dust & thonked to the ground beneath the birdfeeder..... I stood there a few seconds and waited.... looked around..... birds still chirping, wind still rustling through the leaves..... it was odd..... I mean, it's not like I expected the air to be filled with sirens, wailing women, or the crackle of some hammerhead returning fire, it was just as if nothing had happened at all......

..... which just goes to prove that Mother Nature does not begrudge a man for sniping a pesky squirrel..... in fact, once the deed was done, I think that the blooms on the iris were just that little bit more colorful.....

.... I only wish that I'd still been on the phone with T1G so he could have applauded my marksmanship...

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Gravy...

..... what a day..... my goodness....... I spent the better half of the day cooking spaghetti sauce trans-continentally with T1G via telephone....... hey, I know that it sounds odd, but it all worked out in the end........ mutual spaghetti goodness was achieved across the miles.......... and while well fed, I am pretty sure that 'Jesus wept'...... or perhaps that was 'Juanita'....... you'll have to ask Joe about that....... I was too focused on the Italian Gravy........

..... other than that, well, I have enjoyed a fairly innocuous day....... it has been equally mild, sunny, windy, cloudy, grey, unremarkable, scary, lucid, ecstatic, unknown, dire, excited, and stark at various points during the course of today...

... typical, really..... yes?......

.... what a wild, wild world we live in!.....

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Fruit.....

..... good afternoon, gentle reader..... I hope that you are well....as for me, well, I'm just peachy...... and hey, that reminds me, I'm actually going to have peaches this year.... I'm stoked.....

... last spring I planted a little peach tree at the edge of the patio between two dogwoods..... the lady in the garden section of Lowes said that it would "look nice" with pretty pink blooms each spring.... and being in a rather delicate frame of mind at the time, I imagined that having a tree blossoming in pink set betwixt a bunch of white dogwoods would be just the springtime ticket.... so, as you do, I bought that baby and planted it the same day.... little did I know that peach trees and dogwoods bloom a month apart... (... I know that now, but hey, it's all good..) .... and what's more, I had NO IDEA that it would produce fruit after just one year!.... hot damn, I am excited... that little trooper is only four feet tall and it already has about twenty five little peaches about the size of acorns dotted all over it.....

.... and the grapevine I planted two years ago?..... oh yeah..... for the past two years it has steadily crawled across the railings of the deck near the steps...... I checked it yesterday and it is dripping with tiny little clusters of soon-to-be-grapes..... so I'm going to have peaches AND grapes this summer.... I can hardly wait....

.... I've always wanted to laze on my deck in the shade, find myself suddenly a bit peckish, and simply lean back, pick something off of a vine/tree/bush and slake my appetite in the most slothful way that I possibly could...... and this year, ladies and gentlemen, that hedonistic wish is just about to come true.....

.... anyhoo, speaking of hedonism, I'm off shortly - as in on Tuesday of next week - for my annual trip to Scotland to visit the in-laws at The World's Smallest Hilton.... as such, I shall be out of pocket until mid-month..... yeah, yeah, yeah.... I know that y'all are going to miss me terribly... but hey, I promise to come back with lots of stories about eating fancy sausages, photographing sheep, and sipping delicious adult beverages in the shadow of The Cairngorms... and probably at least one story about rain, fog, wind, etc.....

.... but yeah, since I will be offline, I hope to blackmail, bribe, coax a few bloggers into dropping by to post once in a while...... hell, I'd certainly hate to have you guys bored......

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