Flying......

.... happy New Year, folks.... personally, I think that this year has been fairly stable with a fair share of the ups and downs......... more ups than downs, sure, but still, there is always Townes........

.... and in this case, Steve Earle's version of one of Townes' songs.......

...... if you have read my blog for more than four of the past six years that it has been alive, then this will mean something to you all..........

..... sweet dreams, and a very happy New Year to you all......

Read the Bullshit »

Elvis....

.... I've always thought of my Dad as a quiet, confident, gentle man..... capable of just about any feat, strong, fit, and smiling...... his presence is definitely missed when the family gathers for their annual holidays.... even now - nearly ten years on - the old men of the family still grouse at the lack of freshly brewed coffee at my Mother's house after the meals..... "no coffee?," they grunt, "if Marion were here we'd have fresh COFFEE after dinner!"..... and thus it goes as they sip their sweet tea and fumble with their toothpicks........

.... I think that after he died my Mother stowed away his old coffee maker..... and now her house is as barren of coffee as the Mongolian steppes are of Tennesseans......

.... in any case, over this past Christmas the family gathered at my Mother's house for dinner, and I was given two grainy photographs of my Dad from back in the day......

.... good god, folks..... one of the photos is from just before he left to join the Marine Corps around 1965.... and the other is from theatre near Phu Loc with 1st Shore Party Battalion circa 1966-67......

...... you know, sometimes I think my Father thought he was Elvis....... I mean, just check these out....

dad_elvis_small.jpg

dad_elvis_small1.jpg"

.... give them a click if you wish to have a closer look........

.... my goodness, it seems so strange to think that I am cut from that same bolt flamboyant cloth......

Read the Bullshit »

Mountains.....

.... good god, folks, it was on again tonight........... where's my pack?....... I need a camping trip.....

.... and this guy's voice is just great... and the recording is pristine....... enjoy...

Read the Bullshit »

Basil.....

..... well, I've spent the better part of the evening being schooled on the nuances of Basil Rathbone's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes courtesy of TCM..... and I swear, Conan Doyle must have been the greatest bore to have gone to dinner with......I mean, can you imagine?.....

.... "I see that you ordered the broiled scrod this evening, Mr. SWG"...

... "why, yes, I've always found it quite tasty!"....

.... "Watson, THIS is our man... alert Scotland Yard immediately...... he obviously walks with a heavy limp after 10pm most evenings, and his short, manicured red hair indicates a heavy diet of coppery root vegetables, AND his lack of melanin means that he definitely comes from a suspect gene pool from which most arch criminals have sprung.. and besides, freckles are always insidious by nature..."

.... " bugger me, I just wanted some fish for dinner...."....

..."Ah Ha!.... a cunning plan, I am sure, but your shifty dining habits have undone you, sir!"..

.... "ummm, Watson, what was I supposed to have done?"....

...."the stealing of the Crown Jewels, of course!"

... "no, I mean, what was I supposed to have ordered?"....

.... "try the veal once you get out of jail, sir...... bad guys NEVER eat veal..."......

...... "thanks, Watson...... I'll try to remember that the next time I am wrongfully accused by some egomaniac who can solve a crime while I'm still in the process of ordering dinner at Chez Hole-in-the-Wall..."....

..... sure, they really WERE entertaining flicks....... but after 12 in a row, you began to stow freshly sharpened pencils in nooks and crannies around the house for self-defense just in case an impromptu knock at the door found you face to face with Mr. Rathbone in his Sherlock deerstalker......

.... then again, maybe I'm just getting a little paranoid these days........ which, actually, wouldn't surprise me all that much...

Read the Bullshit »

Oversight.....

.... just home from a lovely three-generational family dinner hosted by my Sainted Mother...... Aunt Frances started cooking a 20lb ham at 6am this morning and by the time we began eating, it was falling apart, salty, and absolutely out of this world..... deviled eggs, creamed corn, cole slaw, broccoli casserole, baked beans, sausage balls, creamed cheese & ham ball, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, fudge, Martha Washington candy, oat meal cookies, and a huge coconut cake...... today's meal made Thanksgiving look like an afternoon snack......

... and the ham, good god..... why anyone would choose turkey over a slow-cooked country ham is beyond me.... they must be insane.......

... Christmas was enjoyed by all.... gifts were exchanged and the elders bandied jokes.... and at the end of the evening a little cousin was strolling around giving everyone goodbye hugs...... when he got to me, the four-year old gazed up and shook his head.....

... "no hug for me then?"....

"nope", he shrugged....

..... "am I too scary looking for a hug?"....

"no, just weird looking."

..... so there you have it, rubberneckers....... no Christmas hugs for me, I guess....... I'm evidently much too "weird looking"......

.... cheeky little varmint..... I'm writing a letter to Santa Claus next year, and you can bet on that.....

..... oh, and speaking of letters, one of the gifts that I purchased for The Missus this year was "1,000 Movies You Must See Before You Die"...... she's a bit of a movie fan, and she loved the book..... HOWEVER, "Jeremiah Johnson" came on the other day, and she happily grabbed up her book to see what the author had to say about Sydney Pollack's classic only to find that "Jeremiah Johnson" did NOT MAKE THE CUT.....

.... she was horrified.... and I was incredulous!..... no "Jeremiah Johnson"??..... good god, the book obviously isn't worth the paper that it is printed on!..... hell, I have a framed, original 1972 movie poster of the film hanging proudly in my own damned living room!...

..... after I've digested all of this ham, I'm definitely writing a letter to the "author" of that book to tell him what a huge oversight he is guilty of.........

Read the Bullshit »

Merry..

... Merry Christmas everyone..... may you each be given a gift that you truly deserve by someone that you dearly love.........

... more in the morning...... tip a glass of egg nog for me!......

Read the Bullshit »

Shuffle....

.... today has been a day of ups and downs....... but it has still been a good day, and I am thankful........

... anyway, I will leave you with a short clip of a Youtuber called "Fretkiller" playing a little ditty regarding my tiny hometown........ it is called "The Etowah Shuffle"...... check it out....

.... embedding is disabled, so you'll have to click here instead.....

...... and with that, children, I'm off to bed......... tomorrow is going to be one helluva day....... two dozen deviled eggs await creation for Friday's dinner......

.... anyone know any secret ingredients I might add to cause un-Santa like effects to my relatives after they've eaten one or two handfuls of deviled eggs?.......

.... not that I actually would, mind you, but I'm just asking for future reference.....

Read the Bullshit »

Eliza....

.... this evening The Missus cackled with glee when she - whilst flicking through the television channels as I whipped up a batch of tacos - found that "My Fair Lady" was coming on in half an hour...... and as I sit here now, Mr. Doolittle has just ended his meeting with The Professor and Ms. Doolittle is ripping heartily into "Just You Wait, 'Enry 'Iggins" while wildly out of tune.....

... .good god, what is it that women see in that storyline?...... a poor flowergirl with a dreadful Cockney accent being sold off by her own Father, mistreated & demeaned by a stuck-up snob who is waaaay too old for her, and then she falls in love with the guy??...... Jesus Christ...... I just don't get it.......

.... the only redeeming tidbit in the whole damned film is watching Audrey suffer through attempting to talk while trying not to swallow a mouthful of marbles....and hell, THAT is only funny for the most base and sadistic of reasons.....

... as I live and breathe, I will never understand the appeal of that movie..... to me, it'd make a lot more sense if Eliza had reached her humiliation breaking point and smashed Henry Higgins' knees with his chamber pot while he slept.... and then forced him to eat that whole jar of marbles while reciting Poe's "The Raven" in the thickest Cockney he could muster......

... this, sadly, is probably why I haven't written a Broadway play yet....... but wow, I just don't get it.......

Read the Bullshit »

Afterwards.....

...I'd like to thank Elisson and his lovely bride for inviting us down this past weekend... folks, the man and his friends know how to cook, drink, entertain, and make a Tennessean feel welcome.... goose, roasted beef, beautiful desserts, fattened duck liver, barrels of wine..... good grief..... and stories, and laughter to boot..... Captain Aubrey would have been most proud.... hell, we even had a few broken glasses to add to the effect!.... it was also wonderful to see Denny the GOC again as well....... man, those fellows certainly know their wines......

.... it was a wonderful and welcome weekend of good company and festive excess..... which, I do believe, was exactly what they were aiming for...... Elisson, sir, you hit another home run......

.... in other news, I was just channe lsurfing looking for one of those creepy ghost shows that seem to be on everywhere these days and I ran across 24 midgets strapped to a DC-10 trying to out-pull an Indian elephant that was strapped to its own DC-10 airplane.... I was shocked, appalled, and weirdly fascinated by the whole scene, so I just had to watch it...... and yes, the elephant won....... but NOT before the well-coifed announcer screamed, "WOW!!!... just watch those LITTLE PEOPLE PULL!!"...... I nearly snorted a mouthful of tea out my nose.....

.... so yeah, anyway.... that "Man Vs Beast" show is just wrong...... I wonder where they found so many midgets who were that excited about pulling a 203,000lb airplane...... nevermind..... if you know the answer, don't tell me.... I just don't want to know....

Read the Bullshit »

Off.....

... well, boys & girls..... we're off to spend the weekend in Atlanta and enjoy some time with Mr. Elisson & Company...... y'all have a great weekend!.....

Read the Bullshit »

Weather....

..... whipped up a marvelous steak pie for dinner this evening... thick, salty, garlicy gravy, and meat so tender that it burst into terrified strands at the mere mention of a fork.... (I suppose that's what cooking steak tips for five hours will get you, eh?).....

..... all in all, a quiet night though...... the tree and decorations go up tomorrow..... 3/4 of the Christmas cards have been mailed...... and today was so warm that I retrieved the bin from the mailbox in just my short-sleeves and wasn't the slightest bit cold......

.... 68 degrees on December the 16th, 2009..... 68 degrees?...... we're supposed to be sitting around singing "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas", no?.... and bundling ourselves up head to foot and wandering off before daybreak in search of tasty forest bucks to blast with our frosted-over rifles?.....

.... good god, I swear......... and I bet February is going to be one bitch of a month weather-wise..... that seems to be the norm around here anyway..... October is frigid, November is wet, December is 1/2 cold, and 1/2 mild...... and February freezes our asses off........

... but hey, this morning was amazing........ let us hope that tomorrow will be just as grand.....

Read the Bullshit »

Music.....

... I sorely hate to post tonight - especially since I am still majorly digging on that Haydn concerto that I posted a few days ago - but hey....... perhaps it is time for the musical pendulum to swing a different way......

.... behold, gentle rubberneckers, and sit listen in awe.....

.... "Time", folks....... much like Haydn's notes, I am still trying to untangle Waits' lyrics....... but that is the way that it goes with poets....... what it means to them, and what it means to us, well, they are most likely two completely different things......

... still, though...... I do love both songs........ even though I don't really understand either one of them........ but they are still beautiful........

Read the Bullshit »

Cellos....

.... when I die, I want someone to pull some strings and arrange for this to be played at my wake before all the Christians, Bloggers, and Relatives take over the ceremony and end up playing something by Lynyrd Skynyrd or Grandma Carter instead, ok?..... promise me?......

... besides, if God ever played an instrument, it would have been a cello........ or a kazoo, maybe....... I suspect that God may play a kazoo when he is by himself and not attending to our mortal needs........

....... anyhoo, I hope you enjoy the song!...... it is my absolute favorite.........

Read the Bullshit »

Blankets....

.... off to Knoxville for some Christmas shopping and a "Broadway" show this evening.... the Tennessee Theatre is hosting "The Wizard of Oz" tonight at 8pm, and we've acquired balcony tickets..... it should be quite interesting.....

... in other news, I woke up damn near frozen to death this morning.... the central heating was running wide open but the thermometer on the thermostat read 62 degrees!..... Jeebus!... something is definitely amiss, methinks..... if this little cold snap holds up, I'm thinking that some sort of extra blanketage is in order....

.... truth be told, having central heating has fairly well spoiled me.... all those years that I lived in Scotland will be reenacted tonight, I reckon.... overseas my bed was piled high with three or four blankets, and the sheer weight of so much fabric above you would press you down into the mattress..... in Tennessee a sheet and a bed spread normally does the trick all year round.....

.... but you know, I kinda miss waking up and feeling the warm weight of all those blankets... although, I can't say that I miss the shock of moving an inch or so right or left and feeling the icy sheets just outside "the warm spot".....

... so, what do you think?..... should I pile on the blankets tonight?..... or just find myself a central heating repairman?......

Read the Bullshit »

Maryland.....

.... yesterday afternoon before The Missus left for work I must have had a jaunty look about me because when I had the audacity to ask her what she would like prepared for dinner this evening, she coolly replied "Chicken Maryland"... and having never been to Maryland, I was at a bit of a loss.......

.... but as we all know, The Internet Is Your Friend in such matters....... so, since I am about as "wired" as anyone on the planet, all went well tonight..... and I am here to say that my "Chicken Maryland" cherry is now thoroughly busted........

... in retrospect, I have seen that I am more than a little indebted to the butcher that I chose for the purchase of the chicken..... his chicken breasts were sliced so thin that they cooked perfectly....... and had I chosen to buy a full-sized breast from my usual supermarket, the result would not have been nearly as succulent......

.... sure, I suppose that I could have bought a normal chicken breast, beaten it flat, and then cut it into 1/3 sized filets, but hey, who wants to spend all night pounding a hunk of dead chicken?........ not I, fellow campers..... not I....... so, instead I ended up buying a packed breast that had already been sliced into three beautifully proportioned, well, portions........ and it worked out just swimmingly......

... anyway, here's the recipe in case you guys feel like whipping up a Maryland Chicken......

.... I put 2 cups of flour, 1tbsp of ground black pepper, 1/2 tbsp of paprika, 1/2 tbsp of oregano, 1 tbsp of sea salt, and 1/2 tbsp of thyme in a bowl and mixed it all up..... I then began marinating my chicken breasts in a bowl of milk in the fridge for a few hours....... when dinnertime arrived, I heated a frying-skillet (the kind with those groovy little raised bars all across its' base) with two tbsp of unsalted butter and got that sucker up to nuclear meltdown hot........

..... and after dousing each breast in the flour mixture, I tossed them into the frying pan to sear hard on each side until golden brown........ then I downed the heat and covered the frying pan to allow the thinly-sliced breasts to steam themselves until done through and through.......

... meanwhile I had four crushed cloves of garlic, a smatter of butter, and a whole diced onion sweating down in a separate pot....... once the chicken began its' steaming stage, I added a cup of double cream and stirred that stuff until it bubbled into a nice oniony, garlicky white gravy...... this, of course, was spooned gently onto the resting breasts once they were transported to plate for eating........

...... basically?...... "Chicken Maryland" is nothing but a southern fried chicken with white gravy that is pan-fried instead of deep-fried........ and with a slightly lighter gravy.......... all in all, it was very, very good......... but I am not sure if I will make it again...... thyme is an odd tasting thing, isn't it?......

...... the really weird thing is that I had never heard of it until today...... and I had absolutely ZERO idea of what it was going to taste like prior to taking my first bite once it was finished......

....... but cooking should be like most things in life, I guess........ mix, switch, stir, add heat....... think about it for while..... adjust, stir again........ give it a good smell....... coddle it, pet it, watch it....... and then, if you played your cards right?..... enjoy the hell out of eating it.......

....... Chicken Maryland, folks...... it just goes to prove that you should never be afraid of something until you have spent all day preparing it to be eaten........

Read the Bullshit »

kisses......

.... The Missus and I drove into town for lunch & a bit of shopping today.....the roads to town were clear of the snow that had arrived yesterday, and only a few slowly dwindling snowmen were all that was left of yesterday's 2-inch morning deluge...... snowmen last the longest, of course...... the high today was 37, but that was hardly enough to melt the wadded, strapping snowmen out of existence...... besides, since we get snow so seldom around here, it's always nice to see The Snow hang around as long as possible....... even in the form of a crumbling, lopsided snowman......

.... anyway, during the drowsy drive home alone the back roads near the McMinn County airport there was silence in the car...... the radio was off, and there was nothing but the whirring of the tires on the dampened road....

.... I pointed over to a stand of trees to the left of the road and said, "see that up there?...... that's mistletoe!..... you can only see it once all of the leaves have fallen.."

"is the mistletoe in Tennessee the same as the mistletoe in Europe?"

.... "..... I guess so..... but hell, I'm not sure...... here it is the first week in December, and all the leaves are down....... "

"yeah.... and the snow only lasted less than a day!"

.... "you know, I remember back when I was little..... it always seemed to snow on the weekends and we NEVER got a snow day from school........ but every time that it snowed on the weekends, that meant that my Dad was home to enjoy it with us boys....... we'd wake up on a Saturday with snow on the ground and he'd be itching to get us out of bed, bundled up, armed, and out into the woods....... he never was much of a hunter, but he loved being in the woods once it had snowed...... and you know, he'd pretend that he was the Great White Hunter, even if he wasn't........ I can remember us creeping through the woods towards the railroad track - him pointing out 'rabbit tracks' the entire way - and telling us that if we were patient and quiet, we'd catch a rabbit 'sitting'...... good lord, he was so like a child sometimes when it snowed....... we'd end up following 'rabbit tracks' (which were probably marks made by snow falling off of tree limbs) for hours....... and then, wet, cold, and with soggy socks he'd finally clear a spot and build a fire under some cedar tree...... I cannot begin to tell you how many times I sat on a log in my bare feet roasting my wet socks over a crackling fire while he talked to my brother and I in hushed tones about the rabbit that we were miraculously going to find on the trek back home........ but still, I loved going "rabbit hunting" when the snow fell on a weekend......

"did you ever get a rabbit?"....

..... "every so often, yes....... but it was always more luck than skill, I assure you...... oh, and the OTHER winter ritual?....... he's come home one Friday night in mid-December and say that we needed to go hunting mistletoe..... he'd be downright adamant about it, too....... and so we'd wander off one Sunday morning with a .22 rifle looking for mistletoe....... sometimes we'd hit the woods behind the house, and other times we'd drive out to the farmland where he was raised...... we'd park and walk for hours....... then he'd point to an ancient oak and proclaim that 'this is it!'....... and he'd shoot a poor clump of innocent mistletoe out of the top of a tree...."...

"what was the big deal with the mistletoe?.... I thought that was mostly a European tradition?"

..... "you know, that is a very good question....... I don't know what the deal was, really...... but once we arrived back home, he'd have that little green thing thumbtacked to the doorjamb between the living room and kitchen before anyone knew what was happening....... Mom would literally hear the door latch open, start walking up the hallway, and get kissed under the mistletoe before she made it to the front door...... I suspect that he hung the mistletoe just so that he could have an extra excuse to snog my Mom every time she went from the kitchen to the living room and back...."....

"baby, they had a swimming pool in the back yard and a BELL in the front with a SIGN that told visitors to ring the bell before they wandered into the back yard looking for them..... I don't think your Dad needed any mistletoe.."

.... ".... well, that's true...... you're right...... maybe he just wanted to make sure that his stolen kisses were "legal" at Christmastime?....... and a little clump of mistletoe gave him the 'out'?..... who knows... but either way, he made us go hunting for mistletoe every December....... I look back on it now and it makes me want to go rabbit hunting....hey, Christmas is going to be at Mom's this year..... you think I should go shoot down some mistletoe?"......

"I think that would be a wonderful idea."

..... so, I guess I'm heading out to the woods on Christmas Eve with my .22 magnum......... good god, at least I have a scope.......

Read the Bullshit »

Llamas.....

...... I visited a bookshop today during the course of my ramblings around Chattanooga...... I was searching for Christmas presents to send overseas, and I ended up quite successful in the end......

..... however, upon reaching the checkout counter I was greeted by a tiny children's book perched there for "charity" purchase....... the title of the book was "Is Your Mama a Llama?"

...... I handed my three purchases to the bespectacled 17 year old brunette behind the counter and said audibly, "huh?".....

..... she scanned my copy of "1001 Movies To See Before You Die", popped her bubblegum, and glanced at me..... "huh?", she replied.....

...... I pointed at the book and said, "Is Your Mama a Llama?".....

..... "Oh! Yes!", she chirped..... "it's a book we're selling for charity!".......

..... she adjusted her glasses and scanned my copy of "The Collectible Depression-Era Glass Pocket Guide"

.... "What an unusual title for a book", I said.......

.... she smiled broadly and said, "ooooh, yeah"........

..... her machine beeped again as she scanned my copy of "The Onion's World Atlas".....

...... "Do you know the llama poem by Ogden Nash?".....

.... "ummm, no, I don't..... who is Ogden Nash?"......

.... "oh, a poet, I guess.... that book title just reminded me of one of his poems..... it goes like this.." .... and so, I began.....

The one-l lama,
He's a priest;
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama

.... and then added, "of course, he later recounts the lack of a three-l lllama when his wife asks him about a 'three alarm fire' and calls it a 'three alamah'".......

*crickets chirping*

....... people, you have never seen a more slack-jawed Chattanoogan in your lives...... hell, when I finished talking, signed my receipt, and headed for the door, I felt a wave of embarrassment wash over me from head to foot.........

...... who knew that a knowledge of Nash could cause such awkwardness?........... perhaps I should have kept my poetry to myself and just forked over the cash for the children's book......

..... then again, you'd think that someone who works in a BOOK STORE would have read a few, right?.......

Read the Bullshit »

Blankets.....

..... today was an interesting day.... it dawned cold and windy with a hint of rain, and tailed off more gently until around dusk..... at dusk we were hit with a huge dose of wind and driving rain that knocked limbs off of many of the trees and showered them all around in broken, soggy chunks.....

... I had errands to run in town, but the drive wasn't so bad......... as I said, it was one of those strange days where the cloud cover held itself at 2000 feet or so, and the mountains spewed their steam up from their slopes..... creating a weird sort of envelopment, I guess....... the low clouds boxed everything in from above..... and with the steam rising up?..... you were left with a sandwiched scene of cloud, mountain top, and misty valley everywhere you looked........ in between rainstorms, it was truly striking to watch it all unfold.... and to enjoy the feeling that the whole scene evoked...........

..... claustrophobic for some, I am sure..... but for others - like me - ensconced in their warm cars and viewing it from afar, it wasn't scary at all..... it was more evocative of being "held" by the earth instead..... embraced, perhaps......... like being pressed into a box of comfort....... great, bulbous, fluffy clouds above were your blanket..... and the fine smokiness rising up was your soft, flannel sheet......

...... but knowing that the sky was above you - and close - and that the ground below you was there as well?........ as if The World were closing in on you and it was a Good Thing...... good to be held in the arms of your world..... comforted between the valley and the mountains.......

....... but that was only the time between the rains....... for once the rain began to fall again, everything became muddled and mixed....... the sky and mist mingled....... and then, of course, it was all gone........ there was no more box...... no more holding...... no more closeness...... no more comfort..... it was all gone.......

...... rain blended the top AND bottom to create only grey.......

.... good god, I want my blanket back.........

Read the Bullshit »