Dresses.....

.....greetings, gentle creatures, I hope that you are all well and getting exactly what you deserve.... as for me, I've been busy today scanning antique photos onto the hard drive for backup purposes......

.... here's a hand-painted snapshot of my Sainted Mother circa 1949.... evidently it was Quite The Thing back in the day to take a black & white portrait and then have someone increase the visual appeal by giving it a little dash of color..... hey, who knew?..... a poorman's portrait, I guess..... and besides, portrait painters don't exactly grow on trees..... and I can imagine that they were a bit thin on the ground in Madisionville, Tennessee on the eve of 1950.....

.... still though, she is pretty cute...... although I am a bit worried about her hemline...... it seems that I came by my kilt-flashing proclivity honestly, at least..... ahhh, see?.... there's some of my mamma in me after all!.....

Mother_painted_small.jpg

..... we actually took this to a digital artist and had them clean it up, frame it, and it was part of her Christmas giftage....

..... I was definitely not that cute as a baby.....

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Pre-Disco....

.... when I was a little boy, there was a family that lived nearby..... a Mother, Father, two daughters, and two sons.......

... the Mother was a psychotic, manipulative lunatic....... the Father was a worker on a construction crew who drank a little bit too much... in retrospect, probably because he had to live with a woman like that.....

..... their children suffered, though.... half of them born with their Mother's head-troubles - and the other half born with their Father's insane ability to gravitate TOWARDS someone like their Mother..... hell, those kids were probably doomed from before they were even conceived......

..... the Mother left home when the youngest was about 4, and then proceeded to marry as many men as would be foolish enough say, "I do."..... and she went through more than I can even remember..... I think I heard someone say 14 a few years ago, but I can't really vouch for that....... but I wouldn't discount the number - having known her........

... it's funny...... I can't imagine that 14 able bodied Human Males would be capable of all wanting to marry her over the past 20 years or so.....

.... the Father ended up raising all of those kids by himself while the Mother whored across three states.......

.... that man taught me to play guitar when I was 14 years old...... I'd get dropped off at his house three times a week after school, and he'd strum his guitar and sing....... my Mom bought his guitar for me, and he'd lovingly stroke it each time I arrived with it each week...... I don't really think that he truly wanted to part with it, but he needed the money....... I imagine that raising four children on a joiner's salary would be tough work, so he sold it to make ends meet......

.... it was a Yamaha FG-340..... 1974 model, if my dust-covered memory serves.... and he could make it sound beautiful.....

... he taught me the basic chords, and a little bit of lead that he knew........ I can still play the intro lead to "Lyin' Eyes" by the Eagles...... he taught me the chords to "Hotel California" - which I later taught myself to fingerpick rather badly.......

..... he'd come home from the job site and find me sitting on his front porch with the rest of his kids - just waiting to be let inside - and he'd laugh and say, "you are back again!??.... are your fingers sore, boy?!"...... I'd grin and make my way to the couch while one of his kids fetched a beer for him from the kitchen...... he'd take the guitar from me, and he'd start to play....... he'd always play ten minutes before he asked me to show him what I had practiced.........

... his name was Mark, and his last name was Scottish...... as a matter of fact, when the kilts were picked out for my Scottish wedding, we had three to pick...... and since none of my family names were Scots, the choices were made by our love of friends and family..... I wore the Hollyrood tartan (that of the Princes of Scotland)... my Best Man wore ancient Macdonald of Sleat, my cousin wore Mackenzie, and my brother wore Stewart (in tribute to my uncle by marriage that we all love).....

... you know, I never told Mark that I ever honored him at my own wedding like that.... I think it would have made him happy..... looking back now, I understand why I never told him..... but really, that was a mistake on my part....

.... anyway, I am losing the point of this post, so I must adjust........ after all, this post is about guitars, playing, and music........

.... Mark was about 5'10" & stocky..... huge shoulders, ham-hands, and a face that had been weathered from working outdoors his whole life... he had a shock of wiry red hair & a full beard that was just as red..... he was gruff..... he was the kind of guy that you'd want to have your back in any bar fight from Englewood, TN to Singapore........ and do you know what he would sing first every time I handed him the guitar?.......

.... a Bee Gee's tune from before I was born...... check it out..... watching a man like HIM play and sing a song in such a falsetto is something that I will never forget.......

...... how can you mend a broken heart?........... fuck me........ at the time, all I could think was, "wow!... look at the way he is singing and playing at the same time!"..... but now?........

.... he still loved that woman who had shat all over him..... she was on his mind every second of every day.......

..... I can see it now - as an adult - but I still cannot understand it......... there he was laboring, toiling, failing, and all he could think of when I handed him that guitar was the woman that he still loved unconditionally.........

....... odd that he has been on my mind lately, I guess........ I heard that he had a stroke last year and lost the ability to play guitar....... he died last month of another stroke at the age of 64........ I suspect that the Bee Gee's never had a better pre-Disco fan than Mark......

.... I should have told him about the kilts.....

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January.....

.... tonight is Rabbie Burns' birthday..... and for those of you who don't know who he is, here is a sample of one of his finest.......... I wrote once of my first Burns Night at The Montrose Burns Club's annual gathering........ and to this day, that night still stands as one of my most memorable nights spent abroad..........

.... still, here you go....... The Bard Lives...... at least tonight.....

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Music....

..... I swear...... I could listen to this guy all day long....

........ it soothes the soul....

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Winning......

... good evening, rubberneckers, I trust that you are all well....... as for me, I'm just dandy-o..... as Dell Gue once famously put it, "Sure, sure, I got a fine horse UNDER me!"....

... anyhoo, I was catching up on some of my reading today and found a true gem....... it's from the American Zen poet Lucien Stryk..... and, like me, I will wager that not many of you knew that he had served in the Pacific during WWII.... hey, it certainly was a surprise to me when I discovered that he had....... and since AMC is running Conan the Barbarian at three hour intervals tonight, I'll simply leave you with the poem and toddle off for some dramatic renewal of purpose....

.... I hope that you enjoy.... I found it incredibly moving....



The Pit, by Lucien Stryk

Twenty years. I still remember
The sun-blown stench, and the pit
At least two hundred yards from
The cove we'd anchored guns in.
The were blasting at the mountains,
The beach was nearly ours.

The smell kept leaking back.
I thought of garbage cans
Behind chopsuey restaurants
Of home, strangely appealing on
A summer's night, meaning another
Kind of Life. Which made the difference.

When the three of us, youngest in
The crew, were handed poles and told
To get the deadmen underground
Or join them, we saw it a sullen
Sort of lark. And lashed to the trees,
The snipers had us dancing.

Ducks for those vultures in the boughs,
Poles poking through the powder-
Bitten grass, we zigzagged
Toward the pit as into
The arse of death, the wittiest
Of us said but did not laugh.

At last we reached it, half full
Of sand and crawling. We clamped
Nose, mouth, wrenched netted helmets
To the chin, yet poles probed forward
Surgically, touching for spots
The maggots had no jelled.

Somehow we got the deadmen under,
Along with empty lobster tins,
Bottles, gear and ammo. Somehow
We plugged the pit and slipped back
To the guns. Then for days
We had to helmet bathe downwind.

I stuck my pole, clean end high,
Behind the foxhole, a kind of
Towelpeg and a something more.
I'd stare it out through jungle haze,
And wonder. Ask anyone who
Saw it: nobody won that war.

.... and with that, I am off....

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Poems....

... the snow that has visited us for the past week is dying... slowly, steadily, it is ebbing slightly with each passing day....

... in the North, this would be no bid deal at all - but down HERE, 8 inches of snow and a week of sub-freezing weather has given me an opportunity that I haven had in decades - to watch Time......

... The snow first fell eight days ago - two Sundays ago.... crisp and clean, it greeted me Monday morning with an electric shine that made the dawn seem to glow as The Sun crept out..... it was perfect.... the drifts that lay against trees and bushes softened the hard lines of humanity... manmade structures were covered in a blanket that wiped away all influence...... driveways were erased.... careful borders were consumed.... roadways were humbled...... God had visited in the night, and Monday was clean, fresh, and unmovable.....

.... I made snowcream...... but the disturbance I created in the snow as I scooped it off the deck bothered me...... every time I passed the glass door that led to the deck I would see it - and it was wrong on a level that cracked my heart..... each trip to the kitchen screamed to me, "I was there. I changed that. What was once perfection is now destroyed." ...... my hands had blemished The World.....

... on day two, I ventured out into the whiteness for only a bit - relishing the unfamiliar crunch that came from underfoot with each step.... it was a sound that I once knew too well in a different life - and yet here, it was alien...

.... on day three, I built a snowcreature in the front lawn... it was fun, and yet turned out quite hideous... but it was at that point that my view of the snow changed.... as I rolled giant ball of snow across the lawn the Earth was revealed , and it was ugly.... dank brown grass, discarded leaves, random twigs.... the icing, once removed, revealed an unhappy cake of Southern Winter - cold, soggy, and yearning for Spring.....

.... I stopped by Dax's site that day and re-read Robert Frost's poem..... ahhhh, how the metaphors flow sometimes when you read a poem written by someone with a Heart and a Clever Mind.... snow, snow, snow..... how many poems can I think of that include snow?..... fifty, at least..... "ice, white ice, like a winding sheet sheathed each smoke-grimed wall."...... "talk of your cold, through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.".......

.... Robert Service was the king, of course.......

.... on days four, five, and six?..... I shoveled...... and on day seven, The Melt began in earnest........

... as of right now, morning is here and she's cold..... noon will usher in another afternoon of steady melt, and tonight will re-freeze what little snow is left..... gray & brown patches dot the lawn..... the roads are clear..... the driveway remains cluttered here and there with piles of snow and ice from my efforts with the shovel.... but the strangest thing to me is the deeper snow outside my blogroom window....... shaded, it is still deep..... deep, wet, and pock-marked by the clumps of snow that had hung from the tree limbs having fallen.....

.... I can't quit thinking about the disturbed that blanket of fresh, virgin snow on my deck...... it seems that even without my hand, it would have faded all too fast..... that Creation that I felt so guilty for upsetting?.... well, in just a few days, Nature did it herself.....

.... it has been interesting to watch this little storm unfold....

... speaking of metaphors, this poem did seep to the surface as I was manning the shovel - fighting the 8-inch blanket of snow a few days ago....... I hope you enjoy some Nash....

Very Like a Whale, by Ogden Nash

One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by the authors of simile and
metaphor.
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to
go out of their way to say that it is like something else.
What does it mean when we are told
That that Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of
Assyrians.
However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and
thus hinder longevity.
We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were
gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a
wold on the fold?
In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy
there are great many things.
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple
and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was
actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red
mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof Woof?
Frankly I think it is very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say,
at the very most,
Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian
cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.
But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he
had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them,
With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers
to people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot of
wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.
That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets,
from Homer to Tennyson;
They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,
And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket
after a winter storm.
Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of
snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical
blanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm,
And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly
What I mean by too much metaphor and simile

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Shoes....

...... I have a question, folks....... and it is to be directed towards any males who read this......

.... how many pairs of shoes does your average straight white guy own?..... so, anyone reading this who is a male - straight OR gay - how many pairs of shoes do you own?....... I just checked my closet, utility room, and man room, and my total is 11.....

Boots:
1 pair of Justin cowboy boots
1 pair of military issue leather combat boots (warm weather)
1 pair of Danner Ft. Lewis cold weather combat boots
1 pair of Vasque leather ankle-high hiking boots

Dress shoes
1 pair of Florsheim black leather wingtips
1 pair of brown leather H.S. Trask saddle shoes
1 pair of black/gray leather H.S. Trask saddle shoes

Sports
1 pair of New Balance running shoes
1 pair of Izod tennis shoes
1 pair of Adidas driving sneakers

Other
1 pair of slip-on moccasin type things that I only wear when I go out to start the car to allow it to warm up in the wintertime before I've showered.....

.... 11 pair of shoes...... I'm not 100%, but I'm thinking that may be more than most men own...... and hey, I was just curious......

... so, what say you?.....

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Generals.....

..... a quiet evening at home.....

Me: ..... so, do you like your dinner?.....
Her: Yes, actually, it is quite nice. (flicking through the latest issue of Smithsonian magazine while she ate.)
Me ...... so, what are you reading?......
Her: Um, it's autobiographical. General Jeandre.
Me: ..... waiting and waiting...... and finally blurting out, "well?..... WHAT did he do?!"....
Her: Huh? What did WHO Do?
Me: ..... General Jeandre!.... I have never heard of him, what did he do?..... what era was he?....
Her: What the hell are you talking about?..... and WHO is General Jeandre?.....
Me: ..... ok.... wait..... I asked what you were reading, and you said that you were reading an autobiography on General Jeandre...... what have I missed here in this conversation?....
Her: Well, firstly, you need a hearing aid....... and secondly, I didn't say that I was reading the autobiography of General Jeandre..... I said that I was reading an article on autobiographies....... and when you inquired further, I simply said, "the general genre" of autobiographies...... and NOT the autobiography of some General named Jeandre.......
Me: ..... fuck.....
Her: Yeah. It is time that you finally saw a doctor about your hearing. It's pretty bad when the whirr of the ceiling fans is enough to push you over the edge.

..... still, I can't help but laugh..... I was racking my brain from The Revolution, Napoleon, and Stalingrad to try to figure out who General Jeandre was........ perhaps I do need to see a doctor...... after all, my knowledge of history isn't THAT good........

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Dessert.....

.... Mother Nature seems to have deemed me a bit too warm as of late, and as is her want has generously gifted me and my fellow Tennesseans with nearly ten inches of frosty, virginal, gin-chilling snow.... indeed, and I do just happen to have a bottle of Hendricks tucked away in a snowdrift on the far corner of the deck out back..... and the general idea is to have an absolutely frighteningly fresh gin and tonic as The Game airs tonight.....

... in other news, I've just spent the past hour or so shoveling seventeen tons of god-awful snow from the sidewalk so that The Missus shant sully her Vasques after docking the Audi in the dark tonight.......

.... oh, and before I forget (for those of you who happen to be sharing The Bounty of Snow), here you go....

SWG's Old Southern Snow Cream

1 gallon of fresh, clean snow collected off the hood of your car
1 cup of white sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of milk

.... just mix all those ingredients together and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy......

.... just trust me, folks..... just like Grandma used to make... because, well, it is her recipe!....

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Myths......

.... The Missus and I ended up watching the latest version of "Clash of the Titans" today before blogtime arrived....... and I have to say that I felt for ole Perseus today just as much as I did when I saw the earlier version from the 1980s........

...... how on earth were we ever awe'd by claymation action movies to begin with? .... and yet, we were......Ali Baba and Jason are to blame, if you ask me..... but still, they were amazing in their day......

....... anyway, I haven't felt much like writing lately - and this certainly doesn't count - but I just wanted to share a thought that crossed my mind when the movie was rolling.......

..... once ole Hades showed up, I turned to my wife and said, "you know, I have always loved Perseus........ when I was a child, I soaked all of this stuff up.... Roman & Greek mythology........ I absolutely loved it....... Persephone, Pegasus, Andromeda, Meduas, Zeus, Apollo..... even the muses....... and even the lesser stories like Prometheius"........

....they all were windows that I loved looking at life through........

..... "I always thought that Pegasus was supposed to be white.", she said......

..... "black and white are not really that important, my dear.".......

... "yeah, but it was much better to have the white horse in the first film.....who'd not love a flying white horse?..... it's like white hats vs black hats in the cheesy John Wayne westerns!"....

..... "that is true, babe...... very true....... but do you know why it was that I loved Perseus so much?......... well, he was just a man...... a man who wanted to be a man...... but his Father was a God, Zeus....... I remember reading those stories and thinking that my own Father was a God..... and I was just a man."........

..... when I was a child, there was nothing that my Father couldn't have accomplished......... and I miss that very much......... he's dead now, of course..... and I am still here....... and I am still Perseus every single day......

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Shave....

.... obsessing tonight, folks..... off to watch the football game and then fall into bed after a gin and tonic or two...... eh, maybe a scotch as well?........ perhaps......

..... this song has been in my head all day long..... which is funny since I haven't had the CD player on in the car in four months........

.... I guess I just woke up from an early morning dream of "her hair spilled out like root beer and she popped her gum, and arched her back"......

..... poetry, rubberneckers..... it comes in many, many, MANY forms....... and this is one of Waits' best....

..... love, life, loss, and promise....... THAT is life, right?.......

.... I'm off!...

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