Saturday, June 30, 2007


Your Penis Name Is...


Friday, June 29, 2007

I wonder if this mother fucker cares how many lives he's ruining to pay his bills?

On that cheery note, I'm headin' over to get dad and pig out on Chinese food. Enjoy your weekend.

Q&A time, and another Friday trip to Dynasty.

Recently went over to the Shrinkwrapped Scream, and read a post she wrote answering questions put to her by another blogger. Kind of a meme, but different. Her answers were great. She said if anyone was game, to speak up and send her a comment. I did, and she emailed me these questions.

My job now is to answer her questions and then pass this thing on to anyone who desires to be grilled. So, here we go. My answers are in blue. Her first question:

1) Let's begin with a little background. I know you grew up as a military brat. Did that mean your father was often absent? If so, what impact, if any, did it have upon family dynamics? Were you closer to anyone in particular there? On average, what was the longest time you stayed in one house? Did you ever get boarded? If so, did you enjoy that experience?

Holy shit! Is that all one fuckin' friggin' question? Ok, first of all, my dad was in the Air Force, so we went where he went. If he'd been in the Navy or Merchant Marine, or if he'd gone to Vietnam, we would have had long periods without him, but the way things were, he basically had a 9 to 5 job. He drove to the base in the morning and then home for dinner in the evening. We just lived in a foreign country while some of this was going on. Mom ran the house and took care of us, and dad was the bread winner. They saw it as a partnership, and it mostly worked out well.

We lived in England from 67 to 70, but the rest was in the US, in places like Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas. I was born in Bermuda, at the Kinley Air Force Base hospital, in 1960. My sister was born in England, during my families first tour there in the early '50s.

Longest time we were anywhere during dads career was maybe 3 years. Then, after he retired, we spent 18 years in Ft. Worth, living on the southwest side of town.

I guess I was closer to mom as a kid, but really, I don't remember being too close to any of them. I was a loner, in my room most of the time, in my own world. We were (my sis and I) just beginning to get the hang of living there, making friends, when we were picked up and moved to Missouri. Starting over was rough, but that was our life.

Some people deal with that by learning to be more gregarious and outwardly fun loving (sis) and some by shutting into themselves (me).
Got used to living that way, and I'm only now trying to learn how to work my way out of it. No boarding schools for me, but it might have been a good thing.

2) An extension of no.1 really. What is your adult relationship like with your family? Do you all live near to each other? How did you choose to settle where you did? Are you settled, or can you see yourself living elsewhere at some point?

We've been through a lot together, the Wilson clan, and we're still a tight little unit. Sis jokes about how no one else is allowed in, trying to explain why nether of us have been able to have much of a successful social life. She left home at 19, getting away from the folks in a rage over stuff that seems stupid now, but I got along with the folks pretty well.

I was in school or working most of the time, and did my own cooking and cleaning, laundry included, but I stayed at home till I was about 30. I lived at home through college and grad school, and then got the job in March of '90, living and working on Navy ships that were deployed around the world, but all my stuff was still with Mom and Dad.

I loved the hell out of that job. Sailed or flew around the world several times, seeing a war and a lot of other eye opening things. I grew up a hell of a lot in the process. When my folks decided in the summer of '93 to move from Ft. Worth to Temple, to be close to my ailing maternal Grandmother, they moved all my stuff there too. I looked into teaching on the base here while I was between cruises, went out on one more ship, and then started teaching on Ft. Hood part time in January of '94.

Lived with the folks while I made car payments on the new Jeep (was makin' about 16 or 18 grand a year then), payin' it off as quick as I could, and then moved out in the summer of '97 to go back to school in San Marcos, to get qualified to teach more classes. Been out of their house since then, but still see them all the time. Take Dad to eat Chinese food every Friday night, and see Mom on Fridays and usually on the weekend.

After staying away for a long time, Sis has moved closer to be near the folks as they get older, and she and I are still single. I'll be here, teachin' on Ft. Hood, as long as they are alive. When they both go, It'll be a wrenching experience, breaking a connection that is basic to my existence, but I've grown pretty strong since I flew off to Naples on that first teaching job, and I know I'll make it through, with the help of good friends. Then, who knows? Think some times about selling everything and going out on the ships again. Seeing the world again. Who knows?

3) What was your first paid job? What did you see yourself doing when you first left school? What are you doing now, and what would be your dream job? Oh, one more (I can fit as many sub-questions as I like in here, we're playing by my rules now, my friend) did you ever follow in your fathers footsteps and join the military, and if not, why not?

My first paying Job? I had a job at a local Revco drug store in high school, and then one at the Seminary South Cinema in Ft. Worth. Nether lasted too long. I was a scared little puppy, and didn't deal well with crowds or anything else back then. I made some money for a while mowing lawns, and then I started getting VA money in college, from Dad's retirement pension, and that allowed me to avoid the inevitoble for a while.

Then I found out about a tour to the Soviet Union, run out of the Russian language department at UTA (I took Russian in school). My folks told me if I wanted to go, I'd have to get a job and raise the $2000 myself. I found a great job through a buddy as a security guard at an oil company named Gearhart Industries, off I-35 on the south side of Ft. Worth. Put the VA money in the bank along with most of the money that Gearhart payed me. I kept that job for years. They basically payed me to sit and study, and drive a cool old LTD around the place and jam.

Loved the midnight shift that first year. Cool nighttime temps in the Texas summers, and very few people to mess with ya. Eventually I went on that tour, and spent 5 weeks in Europe, including 2 1/2 weeks in the Soviet Union (summer of '83). When I got back, I moved to the 4-12 shift. I learned a lot about other people, and myself, in those years. Had that job till the place went under during the oil glut of the mid '80s. Still see the place every time I drive up I-35 to Ft. Worth to see friends. Lots of good memories there.

A little while later, while I was in grad school, I got a job as a night shift security guard at the Colonial Country Club. That place was a trip, I wanna tell ya. Rich people are crazy, and a huge pain in the ass. Had the keys to all the walk-ins and was there all night, mostly by myself. Perfect job for a fat hairy shut-in. I started working out at a gym while I worked there, and while I finished grad school. I lost a lot of weight and got stronger, and felt a bit better about myself, actually had a girlfriend for a while, but nothing came of it. I still mostly stayed to myself, and didn't let her get close. I missed out on a lot of fun in my 20s and 30s, because I was so painfully shy. Wish I knew the hell why, but there's no going back and fixing it.

When I got my Masters in History, I put out a lot of resumes, trying to get a job teaching History at a community college. After about a year, the folks at Central Texas College called, wanting me to fly off to Naples, Italy and get on a destroyer, the USS Thorn. Scared the piss out of me, but I did it anyway. I almost turned around and flew home half way through the trip over, but made myself do it, and ended up having a great time. I loved the hell out of that job. It changed my life. I felt real confidence for the first time. Felt like a grown-up for the first time. Think I got real respect from my father for the first time.

Today I teach History and Government for Central Texas College and Tarleton State University. I'm still officially part-time, but get all the benefits of a full time teacher, and make as much money, or more, than a full time professor. Just have to teach more classes to do it. As far as my dream job, It'd probably be the one I have now, only makin' a LOT more money and workin' a lot less. Well, ether that or playin' slide guitar in a blues band, or piano in a cat house.

And no, I never joined the military, though I did do two years in ROTC in college. If I had it to do over again, 18 again, being the man I am now, I think I'd enjoy the hell out of it. The kid I was back then though, they'd a eaten me alive. I'm a very different person now.

4) Who was your first love, how old were you, how did you meet, are you still together, and if not, why? When was the last time you saw her?

Back in England, just before we were sent home to the states, I began to come out of my shell a bit. Had a few friends, and some of them were horny as hell. I was in a strip club for a while; little kids (8 or 9 years old), goin' out in the woods and showing the others what we had. Show and tell. One girl, don't remember her name, showed us everything, and we hit it off. We crawled into a bush once or twice and rubbed asses, not knowin' what the hell we were doin'. I think If we'd stayed in England for another few years, I might have lost it in about the 5th or 6th grade. Those girls were crazy. Her mom found out about it all and I never saw her again.

Anyway, a while later, just before we left town, my heart was broken by the little girl next door. Her name was Marsha.
I hung out with her for a long time and we did everything together, till one day I saw her with another girl, sitting on the grass, watching the other kids play ball. I walked up to her and tried to talk to her, but she just flat out told me that she wasn't going to play with me any more. I was stunned. I went back the house, climbed to the top of the wooden fence that separated our yards, and I cried my eyes out.

Her dad came out and asked me what was wrong, and I told him "Marsha doesn't love me any more." I was fucking destroyed. He didn't say much. Turned around and walked back in the house. My mom told me later that she suspected that her folks had told her to stop playing with me. Didn't want their little Catholic daughter getting to close to the Protestant kid next door. Shit, I didn't know one from the other, but I think I learned to stay to myself from then on. Being out there was too painful.

Believe it or not, that was it for romance. We moved to Missouri, and I went back in my shell. We moved a few more times, and I think I missed out on whatever stage of socialization that teaches you how to relate to others and be a normal human being. In stead I learned how to fake it, and got pretty good at it. Still tryin' to work my way out of all that crap today, with the help of some friends. It's the one thing I still have left to learn about being a fully human being.

Met someone recently; British, ex service wife, administrator at the college. She's a bit older, but still very well preserved. Sweet as hell, and smart. Found out tonight we have the same birthday! What the hell are the odds of that? We'll see what happens.

5) Money is no object, you have given to the charities and causes you support, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?

If I didn't have to work, and could do anything? Dude, the fish would all be in sooooo much trouble. I'd do nothing but travel the world, fishing and canoing, and seeing friends.

I'd rent one of those huge yachts and pay for all my blogger buds to sail to Alaska, or Fiji, or wherever.

I'd buy about 500 acres on the edge of a national park in northeast New Mexico and live like a king. Live simple, self-sustaining, off the grid, but very well. I'd have a place in the Hill Country of Texas too, and Alaska. Damn, I can spend imaginary money like a fool.

Seriously, I'd probably get a PhD in History just for the hell of it, and then spend the rest of my life taking care of my friends. We'd do all the stuff we ever dreamed of doing, and I'd pay the bills. What the hell else is money for?

Well, that's more crap about me than anyone ever needed to know. Question is, do YOU want to be interviewed?

Interview rules:

1. Leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Ok folks, who's on first?

Well, It's Friday, so you know what I'll be doing tonight. I'll take dad out to eat Chinese, visit with mom for a while, and then probably look up that new friend. New wrinkle on the old routine. It'll take some getting used to, but I think I can handle it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Wouldn't live there if you paid me, but wouldn't mind visiting.

You Belong in Brooklyn

Down to earth and hard working, you're a true New Yorker. NOT!

And although you may be turning into a yuppie, you never forget your roots. Yuppie? Eat my fuckin' ass, yankee. Never leavin' Texas again. TEXAS FOREVER!

Aw go on, click on it. It's harmless.

And here's a little somethin' for a sick buddy. Enjoy man.

And why not, here's another.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Went to Dallas over the weekend and had a great time.

I told you guys Friday that I'd been invited to go up to Big "D" with some friends to see a food show at the Convention Center (Thought it was gonna be at Market Hall - Not!). We had a great time, even thought a few of the folks turned out to be dullards (love 'em anyway). The others are still up there, staying till Tuesday. I had to teach classes Monday, so I couldn't stay that long.

We left the main campus (central meeting spot) at about 8:15am. I drove my own car, wanting to be able to jet if the scene turned out to be lame. Another guest (not a cook, but a friend like me) rode with me so she'd have a way to get back. We stopped in West for a breakfast of Czech bakery fare, and made it to Dallas by 11:00. We unloaded everyone's crap, parked the cars at a lot down the way, and checked into the Hyatt.

These folks were on an official visit for the school, so their rooms and entry fees to the show were paid for by the college. The room I got bit my ass for $160 for one night, but what the hell? It was worth it to enjoy the weekend. It's only money. I can make more. The room was very comfortable and nice, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Here's what my view looked like out the window,

looking at the train station (white bldg. in foreground) and the downtown area beyond.

And the view down left, towards Dealey Plaza, and the old Texas School Book Depository, now the Sixth Floor Museum. I'd been there a few times, but others in the group hadn't, so when we were thinking about things to do this first day, I said that we should walk over there.

It's a very moving place. The emotion wells up as you think about what happened there, and what might have been. It's a shrine to JFK and the official memory of the Camelot era, which can be a bit nauseating if you know some of the details of the history, but you can't help but be moved in that place. I have persistent fantasies, standing next to the 6th floor window and looking down at the mark on the street where it all happened, wishing I could be magically transported back, beat that syphilitic mother fucker to death with his own rifle and throw his ass out the window. Anyway, If you ever get to Dallas, you should check it out.

We walked back to the hotel after, and I tried to go swimming in the piddly-assed little pool on the 3rd floor roof. That lasted about 15 minutes. Then we got together and talked about going somewhere and getting some food; just a snack before dinner. We didn't want to get a full meal. A few in the group were taking naps, and we had plans to go out on the town and get a big dinner eventually. I told them we could walk back over just beyond the JFK museum and check out the restaurants in the West End. Lots of cool spots over there. So that's what we did.

We ended up going into a place called Gator's, and ordering the Garbage Nachos and chips 'n queso. The nachos were covered in sour cream, guacamole, Cheese, pico de gallo and salsa, all piled onto a plate of chips. That stuff was great, and filling, and I stayed full the rest of the day. We noted that the place had a piano, and a roof area that some people were heading up to, but the sun was out and we weren't interested in goin' up there and bakin'. After eating we strolled back, checking out the menus and prices at all the steak places along the way. Goin' out with these cooks is a trip, I wanna tell ya. Not only do they know how to cook, but they know what sounds like a good deal from the cut of meat and how it's prepared. It's like eating with pros. Well, it's like them going to the Sixth Floor with me, frankly, and then asking me a lot of questions. We complement each other very nicely. Good friends.

So, we walked back to the Hyatt and relaxed for a few hours. I watched TV in my room with the lady that had ridden up in my car. She was feelin' kinda like a fifth wheel. Didn't wear the right shoes, and was working up blisters on one foot. She soaked her feet in my tub and I gave her a foot massage at one point, and then she used my band aids to bolster her hooves for the nights walking (I'd cut my finger a few days earlier, which is why I had the band aids). We were gonna be heading back over to the west end, and I was determined to get these guys to go to Deep Ellum if I could swing it. I wanted to hear a real Blues band, and wasn't gonna be denied.

When the time came, we walked over to the west end and decided to try the Hoffbrau Steak House. There were seven of us in all, so we had to sit and wait for a table that was big enough.

As we sat there, the professionals looked over the menu and we all decided what we were gonna have. I ordered the 16 oz. T-Bone, a side of bacon wrapped shrimp (BBQ this time, and different from the ones I've told you about before - called Sweetwater Shrimp), fried okra, a good salad, and a large, cold draft Coors Light from the tap. The drinks came out quick, and the salad and bread came soon after.

One little loaf for the seven of us, so the professional set out to cut it neatly and we ended up having more than enough. We were all still full from that late lunch anyway, and didn't need the bread.

My first draft didn't last long. Went down so smooth and cold, I killed it way ahead of the others. Just ordering it threw the others into a tizzy. They know I don't usually drink much, so after I ordered it, the lady next to me (cutting the bread earlier) was so frazzled she ended up ordering a root bear float as her beverage (she'd been thinking of having it for desert). We all looked at each other and laughed, but that float was damn good. I was seeing people walking up the street with ice cream cones, so I knew what desert I was gonna be looking for after we left.

The cone was chocolate chip, and it was delish! Two scoops. Head west down the way from Hoffbrau and you can't miss the place, on the left. As we walked out of the restaurant and looked for the ice cream, we heard music coming from across the way. The band was playing on the roof of Gators, and they sounded good, doing a cover of Blue on Black, by Kenny Wayne Sheperd. I'd given up on getting these folks to drive down to Deep Ellum and see some real Blues bands by this time, so I figured this was my only shot left. Most of the group went back to the hotel, but the lady who'd ridden up with me and one of the cooks joined me on the roof. It couldn't have been a better night.

Turns out they have live bands up there most nights, performing from 9pm to 1am. These guys go by the name Elmo Blue, and they rocked our asses off. They played a mixture of contemporary and classic rock/blues covers, from Santana to ZZ top, to SRV, to a rocking rendition of Ticket To Ride that was better than the Beatles version. Plus they played some older blues tunes, some of which I didn't recognise. They took a fifteen minute break at about 1145, and then came back with Red House, and then I'm Tore Down. My buddy and I couldn't believe our luck. He ordered another round of CLs, and the three of us were feeling very happy. May well have effected my picture taking.

This guy is a great buddy of mine. We went to see ZZ-Top a few months back, and had a great time. We love the same music.

I remembered another good buddy about half way through that Hendrix number. Thought about how much he'd be lovin' this whole scene. I thought about it for a while and then remembered that I had his cell number. I opened the phone and gave him a call. I knew it was WAY past his bedtime, and that I'd get his voice mail. I set the phone down to try to let him hear the music for a bit and hoped the message would get through. Life is fucking useless as hell without good friends to enjoy it with, and I've got some great ones, but they're spread out all over. This one lives too fuckin' far away. One of these days buba!

The view from the roof was cool as hell, from the green argon lights of the Bank Of America Building, reflecting on other buildings around it...

To the sight of the amazingly cantilevered ladies that were strolling in and out of the place (Sorry, no pictures). One such product of surgery strolled up on the arm of an old geezer, and my buddy and I just looked at each other and started to laugh. Our female companion laughed as hard as we did, watching us act like fools. The night was good.

After the band shut down, we went downstairs and had a listen to the piano player. He was good too, but I was missing the guitars. Someone yelled out that they wanted to hear Piano Man, and he yelled back "Fuck You!" Hilarious.

We walked back to the Hyatt, and my buddy was bobbing and weaving from the booze.

I took this picture from the walk home, showing the green lights of the Bank of America plaza. reflected in the glass of the hotel.

I told him "Son, you need more meat on those bones, to soak up that alcohol." I was steady as a rock. We got him to his room on the 20th floor, and then I left this nice lady at her room on the 16th, and then headed to mine on the 8th. Showered and collapsed on the queen size. Woke fresh as a daisy at 9ish, thinking "Is that rain?". Turned out to be the trains across the way. I called around and found out the plan was to head over to the food show at about 11. There was a shuttle to the convention Center from the hotel. Easy peasy.

We hit that place like a storm. It was a lot like a gun show; lots of rows to walk up and down and cool shit to look at, and folks tryin' to sell you somethin'. The first three rows were all booze.

All these vendors were trying to sell this stuff to the folks who run restaurants and bars. I was swillin' little cups of this vodka, this other beer, and that smoothie, thinkin' that if this crap keeps up, I was gonna be lit up in no time. Hell, It wasn't even 1130. And the stuff was good too. Free booze and all the crap you can hall away. Pens, Frisbees, you name it. It was like trick-or-treating for adults.

And the place was HUGE! This is isle 3, out of 28. Lots of walking. They had every sort of kitchen implement, freezer, oven, dish washer, even refrigerated trucks, that you could imagine. And the food; there were little finger foods all over. Fried this and that, sea food, dessert pastries, ice cream, and more booze. We just walked around and grazed all day. The Borden folks even had a cow or two.

Some dude was demonstrating food carving.

Purdy eh? There was even a seminar on restaurant security; how to keep from having all the copper ripped out of your AC units, and your kegs stolen. We sat in just to take a load off for a while. One guy talked about putting razor wire around the roof of his walk-ins to stop crooks. I thought, "damn!" I know enough about that business to know that if they're loosing shit out of the walk-ins, it's more likely the employees doin' the stealin'.

My passenger and I cut out at about 4pm, after seeing everthing there was to see. We had to drive home, and I was tired! The drive was OK. Filled up the tank in Waco for $2.72 a gallon. We stopped at a Mexican place in Temple for dinner, her way of paying me back for the ride, and I dropped her off at her place in Killeen. It felt good to be home. Great to have a weekend that tires you so that work seems easier. I'm gonna go back though. Too much fun to be had up there. We're all talking about going tubing in New Braunfels in a few weeks, so the fun will continue.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Another little musical interlude.

Most of the stuff in my CD collection is typical classic Rock/Blues, but I've also loved real classical music most of my life. It comes from the time in the late '60s when I was about 7 or 8 years old, stuck in the house in England during all that friggin' rain, or just avoiding the older kids that were always roaming the base housing we lived in lookin' to kick my ass. I was bigger than they were, but too young to know how to kick their ass back, so they had fun at my expense. I'd like to meet a few of those fuckin' guys today.

Stuck in the room, my folks made sure I had books, and my sister and I had record players and a set of old encyclopedias to kill time with. I used to go to sleep most nights with a half dozen of those volumes on the floor next to my bed, usually open to sections dealing with the Romans, or Dinosaurs, or the like. While my sister amassed a nice collection of pop records, my Mom would buy me records at the BX that told all sorts of cool stories. The Lost World was a favorite, and Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves was another. Some of them actually came with a Classic Comic in the wrapping. Loved the hell out of those comics.

Ali Baba was set to the music of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's ballet Sheherazade. Of course, I had no idea that's what it was at the time, but I listened to that record for years and it must have burned an appreciation for the complex orchestrations of the music into my brain. I still can't deal with watching dudes in tights prance around, but the music is amazing.

When I heard the music by itself for the first time many years later I couldn't believe how familiar it was, and then it hit me. If my mom had sat me down and told me "Sit there and be still and I'm gonna play this music for you, and you're gonna learn to like it, and you're gonna grow up to have an open mind!", I probably would have ignored the whole thing and turned the channel back to the Beatles as soon as I could. Of course, she had no idea ether, but the effect was to widen my horizons.

Of course, I fought it for a long time. Classical music and country music were definitely NOT cool when I was growing up. Back then we used to think that our music was so much more sophisticated and superior, and we laughed at the folks on Hee Haw (dads favorite), Lawrence Welk, and the stuffy looking classical shows on PBS. Hell, now I find that stuff when I'm surfin' the TV and I sit there mesmerized. I guess when I got older, and the smoke from the generational war cleared, I found that I really did like some of that stuff. Kids are so stupid, driven by fashion and peer pressure. What are ya gonna do?

By the time I was in high school I was buying my own records, and cassette tapes, including soundtrack albums from some of my favorite films, like Jaws, Close Encounters, and the Star Wars films, and I learned to appreciate just about anything composed by John Williams. I also loved the soundtrack for Apocalypse Now, with those great Doors tunes set against the whir of the ceiling fan and helicopter blades, and the Wagner blaring out of the gun ships? You can never, ever go wrong with Wagner!

I know, most people can't bring themselves to listen to Classical music. It's too formal, or it's unfamiliar, or they think it's too sterile. People have been socialized to think that it's only for snooty old white folks, and prefer sexier rock and roll, or soul, or blues music. Folks who don't listen to it a lot don't know what they are listening to even when they hear something good, which has GOT to be frustrating as hell. So I thought I'd try to inject some classical energy into the blog. It won't last. I'll be back to Rock 'n Roll soon enough, so indulge me.

First of all, this stuff is NOT for your front parlor and the furniture no one is allowed to sit on. This shit is meant to be played LOUD! It's concert hall music, meant to be played fuckin' loud so that the vibrations from the instruments work their way through your body, burning their way into your brain. It's meant to be played just as loud as those Who, or Jethro Tull, or Led Zeppelin CDs that I love to blare out of the car speakers when I want to get the feel of the guitar and the drums. It's the same emotions, just in a different language, from a different time. Just look at how much these folks get into it.

Anyway, give it a try. It won't last long.

Here's part one of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No 2, played by a guy named Arcadi Volodos and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Chailly, performing at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

I know, you wish it was Cream's Farewell concert in '68, or their reunion in '05. Well THAT's great music too, but try to see if you can put up with this anyway. Get a beer, turn up the speakers, turn down the lights, close your eyes even, and let this stuff soak into your soul.

I wish to god it was all on one video (why the hell do they do that anyway?), because the person that posted these to YouTube didn't set it up so that you hear the parts from beginning to end. Each of the three sets, for instance, doesn't really end till part way into the next video. What the hell? That guy needs a beatin'.

Oh well, here goes nothin'. This first part is maybe the most famous part of this concerto, and the most heavily played on the radio. Hope you enjoy it.

You're like, "They play this on the radio?"

Here's part two. You may recognise some of this from Eric Carmen's hit All By Myself, from back in the '70s. Yep, ol' Eric ripped off Rachmaninoff. So did Frank Sinatra, when he used some of this concerto to produce his tune Full Moon And Empty Arms. I know, I've never heard that one ether.

And here's part three. This gets pretty good air time too. The violin and piano bit here is the part Frank used.

And finally, part four.

Well? Hope you enjoyed it. if I can find some Claude Debussy or Ralph Vaughan Williams on this thing, you may have to one day endure some of their stuff too. Then again, I might just throw some old Buck Owens or Ray Price at you, so pay attention. We'll see how open your minds really are. Later.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Do you already miss the Sopranos? Ooooh!

"Fuck you Santa!" Ooooh! Love the hell outta that one. Never saw a single episode till they recently started showing them on regular TV. Now I'm enjoying it, when I surf by and it's on. Probably end up buyin' the DVDs.

Goin' to Temple to take dad out again on our regular Friday feed. I'll visit with the folks for a while after, and try to tire out their pooch. Then I'll be hooking up with friends back over here for unspecified fun.

When I was putting this post together a few days ago I thought I'd be spending the weekend in the yard again, working on some landscaping and planting things, the weather permitting. But these folks have invited me to go to Dallas Saturday and Sunday, to attend a food show and see what sort of mischief we can get into on the side.

These are the same folks I go to Terlingua and Sweetwater with every year, to the chili cook-offs, and go tubing down in New Braunfels with in the summer. Lookin' to do that in a few weeks. River should be a blast, what with all this rain we've had recently.

As I've told you before, they teach cooking here on the base for CTC, so it'll be a school function... Which means we'll be having a LOT of fun, and they'll be getting ripped and earning per diem at the same time. Ya gotta know how to work it, and they do.

They'll stay up there till Tuesday, but I'll drive back Sunday, probably giving someone a ride home with me. I'll tell ya how it all went down when I get back, whatever I end up doin'. Enjoy your own weekend, whatever you end up doin'. Later.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

" It seems to me that I could live my life, a lot better than I think I am. "

That's what I was thinkin' when I got home from a long day at about 10:30 last night, turned on this thing and saw that one of those ELO vids was messed up. No tellin' how long that thing'd been flashin' "NOPE" at everybody, probably all friggin' day long. Well, maybe these will work better.

I'm still feelin' musical, and I was thinkin' about Bruno's comment about Metal Mondays. Well, I've never been much into thrash, but I LOVE a great power trio, and here's one of the best ever, as you probably well know.

It's amazing to think that after all these years, these three guys; bassist, keyboardist, and singer Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and drummer Neil Peart, are still going strong, and it's still just the three of them. They're still doin' the same thing they did when I grew to love them in the '70s and early '80s, only grown better with age. Love the hell out of that. Hope to do it myself.

Here's one called La Villa Strangiato, from a gig in 1979, when I was a senior in high school. I used to think that these long instrumental things they did were their best music. Sit back and enjoy the Rush.

Here's another instrumental called YYZ, filmed a few years ago in Rio.

And here's their signature bit, Working Man, originally from their debut album in '74, but this time from their 30th anniversary tour in 2004. Not sure what the tumbling driers are supposed to symbolize, but the boys are makin' a glorious noise. Give a listen.

Ok, I've got some great stuff lined up for my next musical post, but you're not gonna believe what it is. Most of you will probably turn your nose up at it and walk away, but there's nothin' I can do about that. I love it to death. We'll have to wait and see. Maybe in a few days, or next week.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

ELO, Part Two - The early rockin' years, on The Midnight Special.

In the mid-70s, ELO was a much more guitar oriented rock band, before they moved over to the softer stuff on great late records like Out Of The Blue. I love that stuff too, but this early stuff has a charm all it's own. They were so multidimensional, with all the different classical instruments, as well as the guitar. Here's one called Do Ya. This was one of the first ones I fell for. The sound on these videos isn't the best, but you get the picture.

Here's a great one called Rockaria.

How's about that guitar? Their mix of classical/Rock hybrid really hit me hard back then, setting me up to be blown away by groups like Yes and Pink Floyd. Somethin' about those Brits, and their classical training in school. Was that Mushy hittin' those high notes in that perm? Naaaaaa!

This next one is called Showdown. I love the way Jeff Lynne sings this one, and his lyrics generally. Amazing genius. All of their classic elements are here on display. The guitar part isn't great. Passable, but ya can't have everything.

And finally, about the rockinest tune I think they ever did, and the one that really turned me and most of the planet onto these folks. Covering Chuck Berry is so much a part of Rock and Roll, whole careers have been made from it, but this is special. That dude on the violin is kickin' ass. Loved the shit out of this back then, blarin' out of the Jensen 6x9s in the old Hornet.

Pfew, that was fun. I hope you liked it as much as I did. Later.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I think I make this look good.

Lin over at If The Creek Don't Rise is tryin' to convince me that I'd look good in a kilt. Did a little work on a picture of me to make the point. I think that's even a Wilson tartan. Hmmmm.

OK, I'm not sure about the Ballet slippers (Ghillie Brogues), but the rest does stir something tribal in me. I think with boots and a cool dirk, to stab the guys who try to lift the thing or give me any shit at all, it might just be fun. So, what do you think?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Started raining last night in the middle of the night...

So I was glad I'd done the yard work and gotten it all mostly done. Went out there after getting up at about 10am, and it was a swamp. There'll be no mowing today. Just went out to get a look, and most of the standing water is soaked into the soil, but there's still a few soggy bits.

Now the sun is out and it's muggy as hell out there. I tell ya, after years and years of drought, we need all this rain, but enough is friggin' enough!

Both of our local lakes are way above normal levels, due to this several month long deluge. After being 20 to 25 feet below normal for years, they've filled now to over 25 feet above normal, with only the tops of trees visible where boat ramps used to be.

Glad I got a chance to plant a few things last night before quitting work.

Still have a few things to put in, and plans to buy more, but need to pull a few more weeds in the step garden before I can do that. Elected not to go there last night. Enough was enough.

Well, It's Fathers Day, and dad and the others will be coming over here at about 3:30 so we can hit the Outback. He loves the hell out of their coconut shrimp, and I love the Bloomin' Onion. If you get a chance, and why the hell wouldn't you, ask for the onion with honey mustard sauce to dip it in. It's a hell of a lot better tasting than the mustard they normally give you.

I've been hangin' with this dude since the folks were stationed in Bermuda in 1960, and we're still in business. We've had our ups and downs, as folks will, but we love each other to death, and everything is working out the way it should.

I grew up thinking his choices in life, to leave home and spend 32 years and 9 months in the Air Force, had made my life harder (this is us, just before we left England in about 1970) Who'd a thought this little kid was gonna grow up to be such a Sasquatch?

Sis and I both grew up longing for the stability that we saw in our cousins lives. Their dads never left Bell county, making a life here. Their kids didn't have a lot of the stuff we had, or travel and live in the exotic places we did, but they didn't have to go to a half dozen elementary schools, and two or three high schools, like my sister and I did. She had it worse than me, being older and around when he was lower in rank and moving almost every year. Our cousins lives seemed so much more well adjusted and happy whenever we'd visit.

Well, I moved down here in about 1994, and had a chance to learn a few things about those cousins. Turns out that never leaving central Texas can put a huge set of blinders on your head, and turn you into a ridiculous friggin' redneck. After banging my head up against that set of folks for a few years, trying to build a relationship like the one I had always longed for, I came to the realization that our different lives had made us very different people, and that I liked who I was a lot more than the fools many of them are comfortable being.

I grew up a huge amount from that realization, and it changed the way I saw my life in a big way. In retrospect, I wouldn't change a thing about how I grew up. It made me who I am now, and I like who I am a lot. I just wish I'd somehow had this epiphany 40 years ago. It would have saved me a lot of grief.

I still regret not being born about ten years sooner, so that I could have gotten to know my paternal grandfather, or spend more time with my maternal grandparents when they were younger, but there is nothing to be done about all that, and no good reason to linger on the feelings. Fate is fate, and there is no fixing it. You are dealt a hand in life, and I've waisted a huge amount of my time regretting my cards when I should have been learning how to play them, but that's getting behind me too. Onward and upward from now on, full speed ahead.

Dad and the ladies should be here in a while, so I'd better get busy makin' the place right for inspection. You guys have a great Sunday, and all you dads out there enjoy your day. Take care, cheers.

How I spent my Saturday.

You guys remember hearing about all the weeds in the back yard. I've talked about pulling them for ages, but the weekends were ether rainy (our multi-year drought is apparently over), or sunny, with other much more fun things planned. Lets say I was easily distracted, knowing what was ahead of me.

Well, I finally bit the bullet, and went out there with a mission. First, here are some "before" shots, to give you a little perspective. Here's an old one, from when we had snow back on Easter.

See. Moderately weedy, with a few brush piles from prunin' the stuff up on the steps. Well...

Lets just say, I let things go a bit. What, I'm a busy guy!

And the side of the yard, where I tried to put in a weed barrier and a paving stone patio last year.

Worked like a charm, eh? I tell ya, this shit just materialized. One day they're little things, and yer tellin' yourself that you'll get to it next weekend. Then you walk out there and it's the friggin' Amazon jungle.

You know... Back yard; out of sight, out of mind. Hell the cats live back there, and I usually don't go out there much. They have a door set up in a window sill that they use to come and go at will, so I don't have to keep getting up to let them out and in again, over and over. But when the cats started comin' in with burrs in their hair, and rubbing up against my leg while I sat here at this machine, I knew I had to do somethin'. It rained like crazy Friday, so I knew that most of the little critters would be easy to pull. Once I did that, the rest would be just a process of chopping and trimming the grass.

Well, I spent about 8 hours out there in the muggy heat, swillin' iced green tea or water like a fish, and resting now and then when I started feeling like I was having a heart attack. Now I know why folks back in the day fought so hard to keep all that "free" labour. Sit on a porch in the shade and sip a Mint Julep while 30 or 40 slaves did all the sweating... Not that I'm advocating it! Hard work builds character, or so they say.

This looks like I've got grass growin' out of my ass, but it's just fallin' off the chopper in the back swing. Note the growing pile of debris. I think I strained my right bicep swingin' this thing, but I just kept it up and the pain went away.

The cats hung around and helped me, in their own little way.

This is "W". He lives in the yard in my bush. Well, it made sense at the time.

This is Tiger, checkin' out my dirty wet gloves. Likes the smell of sweaty leather, but who doesn't? They love it when big bro comes out back and hangs with them, but they split as soon as the gas trimmer came out from the garage.

About midday, I had a freaky thing happen with my right hand. Must have been dehydrated, and using muscles that hadn't had a work out like this in a good while. I was pulling weeds and found that my thumb and index finger were being drawn into my palm, the muscles spasming, and I couldn't extend them easily. I sat down and drank some iced green tea...

and took a hammer as a weight and used it to work out the muscles, raising it and lowering it in my hand as I kept my forearm still against my leg. It worked, and I went back to chopping and puling. No problems after that. That's my favorite mug. I got it at Wet "n Wild, back in the late '80s. I used to get a season pass back then and go there every week to swim for a few hours at a time. I'll post about that some time. It was a lot of fun, and an eye opening time.

Slowly I made progress, and finally, by about 6:30, I began to see "the light at the end of the tunnel". About 8 exhausting hours after it all began...

The place was looking a lot more like it's supposed to.

Note the brush pile. After trying to bag a lot of this stuff at first, and finding that my heavy duty bags were crap, easily ripping, and my trash can was crap, with the handle breaking on me and the wheels coming off, I decided to leave the brush there as a compost pile. I'll put chicken wire around it and set it up for real later. I'm increasingly convinced that there's almost nothing in this country left but cheap flimsy crap from China. What the hell have we done to ourselves?

Once I got it all chopped and pulled down to a reasonable level, I busted out the gas trimmer, which made pretty easy work of the rest. Then it was an hour of raking and finishing touches, and then sweeping and washing off the porch.

Still have a lot to do to fix these paving stones and finish this new patio. I'll have to pull up all the stones and start again. Don't like the way it turned out anyway, but that will be another day.

I wanna tell ya, I was one tired mutha. Dirty and scummy, and covered in burrs. I used a comb to get all the burrs off my arms and legs, and out of my hair. I kicked the wet and dirty shorts in the bin and hit the shower. That hot shower felt almost orgasmic after all this bullshit, and I was thinkin' that I need to set up a hot tub back there one of these days, so I can relax after work and burn all this sort of pain away. I miss the hot tub at the gym I used to work out at a long time ago. I need to start doin' that sort of stuff again so my stamina returns. Who says you have to be old AND feeble?.

Well, that's how I spent my Saturday. Sunday will be comparatively easy; mowing the front yard, planting a few things in the back, and taking the folks and sis out to The Outback for Fathers day dinner. I hope all your weekends were comparatively relaxing, and all you dads out there have a great Fathers day. Cheers.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Plemmy and I were chatting last night...

She'd looked over the last post, the picture of me golfing, and said something like "Mm, nice calves. You'd look good in a kilt." I was like, "Huh? Get real. Where would one go to get a kilt?" She sent me the link, and while surfing through the product shots, I found this guy.

Since I haven't seen this look walkin' around the base, I'm assuming this guy is a contractor. Of course, the Scots fought (and mostly lost) many a battle in things that looked a lot like the skirt my sister wore in Catholic school, but I can't see this happenin' today. You know, combat's got to be tense enough without worryin' about yer dingus swingin' loose in the wind. Takes a special kind of guy to go there. Tell us ladies, is this a hot look? Cheers.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Grading their first exam, watchin' 'em sweat.

God I love this job! My 7:30pm History class had their first exam last night. The new fish are always nervous, and I always have a good time milkin' it.

OK, call me a son of a bitch, but there are very few perks to this gig, and you gotta take what enjoyment you can. I start out by lingering a bit in handing out the test. They are usually bouncing off the walls, trying to compare notes with one another, reviewing, when I walk in. One will be telling the others his or her version of what they think I want them to know, and I give them a look, and say something like "Huh? Who told you that?"

They try to get me to give them answers, or tell them hints. "So, was it the Sugar act or the Tea act?", and I just shrug my shoulders and tell them "Pff, I dunno."

I leave the briefcase on the desk with the exams in it (they won't dare touch it), and I go get myself a soda, which takes a few minutes. I usually see someone in the hall, a colleague or former student, and chat for a sec. We're not supposed to drink in the classrooms, but fuck the rules. I talk for a living, not shuffle papers, so I needs me whistle whetted now and then. Rules are for nervous people. I was given a bit of wisdom a long time ago; it's always easier to apologise than to get permission. Words to live by.

I get back to class and I walk up to the podium and begin to turn on the computer in class, which takes a minute, and pretty soon one or two students are telling me things like "Come on, I'm forgetting stuff. Lets go!" I giggle. I start to hand out the answer sheet, and a few folks always think it's the test and start putting away their notes. I tell them "This is just the answer sheet. You can continue cramming." More giggles from the audience.

Then I start handing out the exam, and as I do, I give them my standard speech. "Read each question VERY carefully (pause for effect), on accounta I'm a tricky bastard!" That gets a few laughs and moans of dread. They always laugh when I cuss in class. Not supposed to, but screw it. We're all adults here. Shit, THEY cuss in class! Soldiers for Christ sakes! The gals cuss like the guys do.

More instructions; "Please don't write on the test. When you're done, bring it up here and I'll grade it (pause for effect) and then I'll shout your grade out to the class." THAT one always gets a good giggle and moan. I had a prof who actually did that. Bastard.

Is this wrong? Am I a bad person?

Well, it's mostly harmless fun. Most of them do well, and the ones that don't, usually do better on the second or third exams. If they bomb them all, well, I'll be teachin' the class again next semester. It keeps me in a job.

On another note, I'm still scanning old pictures now and then, and I've found a few that might amuse you.

How's that form? Jesus, I look like I'm trying to beat the ball into submission, rather than hit it down the fairway. I think this is from one of the last times I played golf with dad, about 10 years ago in Ft. Worth. The golf course is the one he loved at Carswell Air Force Base, now a Reserve Fighter Base/Naval Air Station. This place was practically his second home, from the mid- '70s to the mid-'90s. He played 2 to 3 times a week, in most weathers, and used to beat all his friends, till he got a bit older and began the slide. Beautiful course, now even nicer since the Navy took it over and spent an ass load of money on the place. We've driven by now and then to check it out, when I've taken him up there for one reason or another.

I found a picture of my old '82 Trans AM the other day, in this box of old shots. Ol' Mushy cleaned it up for me a bit, master picture manipulator that he is. That's our first cat, Calico, doing a little stalking. Doesn't mom do a great job with a yard?

My folks got me this car in about '85, for graduating from college. It was about three years old then, but still in new condition. I tried to get dad to think about a Honda CRX. Wanted to be responsible, but he never listened to me. He'd just grin and do what he thought was best. Ignore what I said, buy me the one he liked, and then expect me to be grateful. Hell, it was still better than payin' for it myself, and it was cool as hell, so I didn't complain. My insurance rate went through the roof; from about $250 a year to $1200. He laughed loudly at me about that, and that pissed me off. Thinkin' about that reminded me of something that happened back in about '71 or '72. I think the situations are somewhat similar.

I had outgrown my old bike by then. It was also a red sex machine. Purdy. Bright candy apple red, with a banana seat and sissy bar. The thing then was to copy the look of an outlaw chopper. The coolest ones had the tallest sissy bars, and the longer stretched out handlebars. Some folks even rigged them to have extended front forks. We'd plaster them with these fuzzy stickers out of cereal boxes, or wherever, to personalize them. There was usually a piece of duct tape here or there, and playing cards in the spokes, attached with clothes pins. Those were the days.

My folks had ordered it when we were still in England, and I loved the hell out of it. Rode it everywhere, on all the trails around our house in Kansas City, Missouri, and even up the steep hills, standing up and pumping the peddles. I loved it and I didn't want to give it up, but dad decided it was time to get an adult size bike for me to ride. I guess I was gettin' big, and was too tall to keep riding the one I had. Wish I knew what happened to that thing. Dad probably sold it. Fuck it. You can't stay a kid forever.

The newest thing around back then were 3 speeds and 10 speeds, particularly with the cool rams horn shaped racing handle bars and no fenders. Some kid in the neighborhood rode up to my friends and I out near the woods with one of those one day, sliding to a stop and spinning out in the mud, and I was stunned at how cool it was, and how fast it was. So when dad and I went to the local T.G.&Y. up the hill one day to get my new bike, I made sure to point out the one that was the perfect choice. It was a 3 speed with no fenders and the cool handlebars. I think it was white, or grey. I can't remember, but I was smitten.

10 speeds always seemed gaudy to me. Too much bullshit. Hell, you never used more than a few of those gears anyway, right? 3 was enough. One for goin' down hill, one for goin' up hill, and one for just peddlein' yer ass off. What the hell else did you need?

While I'm pickin' out the coolest and most practical one, tryin' to get dad's attention, he's pickin' me out the most fancy bike they had. It was a 10, turd brown, with fenders and lots of chrome, and the same conventional handlebars that every other old bike had. It looked like an old woman's bike to me at the time, even though it had the nut cruncher bar of a guys bike (who thought to put that fuckin' thing there anyway?). Hell, it was more expensive than the one I wanted, but he wasn't listening.

I was horrified. How the hell was I gonna look riding that thing? He didn't listen, I can picture this like it was yesterday. I go up to him while he's talkin' to the salesman, pointing back at the one I wanted, and he's acting like I'm annoying him. His mind was made up. I might as well have not even been standing there.

Well, he bought it for me, and I learned to like it, even though it always seemed a bit too much. I rode it hard, and put it through a lot of punishment. Didn't treat it like the high toned thing it was. Finally, one day in Junior high, late to class, I left it unlocked on the bike rack with all the others, and some other kid decided he needed it more than I did. Hope that fucker got hit by a car.

To replace it, dad looked in the paper and found a nice bike up a few streets away, on another block. He paid $50 for a used 10 speed, red this time, with those cool racing handle bars that I'd wanted before. I remember how much it cost because he made me pay him for it. He got me a job mowing lawns in the neighborhood, and when I did a lawn, he got the money. $5 a lawn. Paid for the bike, and his golf balls for a while.

I figured out some time later that my dad probably hadn't had much of a childhood, working hard from a very young age, picking cotton, wearing hand-me-downs, living on another mans land, and he probably had a need to see his kid in the nicest gear. Needed to be seen as a guy who was well off, and whose family was well taken care of. Insecurity... Drives people crazy after a while I think (wink).

I drove that Trans-AM till I started teaching on the ships in 1990, by which time it was faded and worn down. I never took care of it. I was spoiled, sheltered, and had grown up with dad doing everything for me. He always felt like he was being slighted if he didn't get to make all the decisions. I'll never forget how nervous I was just putting gas in the car the first time by myself at a self serve. Jesus! I can't imagine being that young and unprepared for the world, now that I'm the man I am. The innocence and fear of everything didn't stop at gas pumps ether, but that's for another post. Still workin' that crud out, but it's fast getting behind me, with he help of a few good friends (big wink).

When I shipped out the second time to the Mediterranean, and had realized that I was going to be off on the ships most of the time for a good while, I told dad to sell the car. Turned out, his idea of getting one that a dumb kid would wet himself over eventually paid off. He got me $3000 for it. I couldn't believe it. Some man came to the house, looked under it, checked it out, and bought it for his kid. I put the money in the bank, and drove their car between ships till I decided to give up the traveling and began teaching on Ft. Hood in about '94. I needed a car, and had saved up about $5000 for the down payment. Wanted a Jeep so bad I could taste it, but dad gave me a lot of shit about that.

This time though I was determined. I was gonna be makin' the payments, so I was gonna get the car I fuckin' wanted. He tried to change my mind the whole time. I think he was seeing Jeeps as still the old bumpy things from the war that he'd driven back then. I stuck to it. I'd been around the world by myself a few times by then, and seen a few things, and I wasn't that little kid anymore. The Jeep I finally got turned out to be a great car. She was my baby for 12 years.

Had about 32,000 miles on it when I got it, and about 347,000 on it when I traded it in for $500 and a 2003 Toyota Solara, about 6 months ago. Damn, I miss that car still. 1991 Cherokee, 2 door, 5 speed stick. It got about 23 to 25 mpg, and looked cool as hell with those wheels and that red and yellow stripe down the black sides.

Funny thing was, Dad fell in love with it after I brought it home. I think he was proud that I'd made such a good choice. That's my first tent on the left, by the way. Timberline Vista. Had windows on all sides for ventilation. Still around here somewhere, dried out in a bag. Took both cool toys on many a hike, canoe and camping trip back in the '90s. We were a threesome. Now my silver/grey Solara reminds me of the feelings I had driving that red TA, blasting Floyd as loud as I could on the 6x9s, though now the new 6x9s are joined by a few more speakers, and the Floyd is mostly Roger Waters, blaring from the CD changer. It's good to grow up.

Dad loves my Solara too. Always says so when I go to pick him up for our regular Friday feed. He's not the same man that I used to hate, back in the old days. He has to wear diapers now, and he doesn't remember half the things he used to know. Most of the things he talks about now seem more like dreams, half real and half imagined. He's not that pushy, controlling bastard any more. He's a helpless old guy. Sweet, and I love him to death.

Every once and a while, old memories flash by my mind and I get a rush of anger over some stupid thing he did 35 or 40 years ago, or something much more important that he didn't do, but there's a statute of limitations on childhood crap like that. As soon as I drive up today, and I see him come out the door, and he looks at me and grins and says "Howdy padna!", I'll forget all that bullshit and we'll head out to Dynasty, where the waiters know us, and they fetch his plate for him, and treat him like a king.

I probably only have a short time left with him, and when he's gone, I'll have these memories to counterbalance all the others. I'll cry for a very long time, but I'll live on, and I'll take care of mom as she goes through the same process somewhere down the road. This is our fate, my sister and I. It's the same fate shared by so many other baby boomers these days. Our health care system has figured out how to extend life far beyond the joy of living, and our gutless readers won't let us make the decision to end it for ourselves. They are SO much wiser that we are (gag).

We're a unit unto ourselves, the Wilson family. Nobody else is allowed in. We traveled the world together, and put up with one anthers shit for years, and worked out enough of our anger so that we could keep putting up with one another till the bitter end. Now that I'm pulling away, and letting myself out of this cage, taking on my part of the role of the parent and caretaker for my own father, I'm determined to do a better job than he did. he deserves it, and It gives me immense satisfaction.

Well damn, now that I've bummed you out, go out and have a great weekend! I finally figured out how to use the flash on the Razor, but I'd bet you're sick of looking at the Generals "chicken". Take care of yourselves, and listen to your kids, and don't let them grow up to be afraid. Teach them to be brave and self assured. Do it for me. Do it for them, and do it for yourself. I'll see you later.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Once again, my Wednesday trip to the Great Wall Cafe.

Same food, different day. Maybe better pictures.

Here's the view from my designated table. looks empty, but the soonest I can get there for lunch is about 1:40 PM, after the rush, when the cooks are comin' out of the back and sitting down to eat. I order my usual, which they know by heart, and enjoy the quiet, and the AC, and the soft tones of some unintelligible oriental music.

Actually business is pickin' up. Several folks came in while I was eating and sat down to eat, rather than just get take-out. May be a good sign.

More of the Generals chicken. Well, the generals something or other, but it tastes like chicken.

And the rice. Damn, look at the size of those shrimp! I've got half of it in the fridge, for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Loving the stuff they cook at the Great Wall, but sometimes I think if I don't stop eating like this, they'll be able to see MY ASS from space. Later.

UPDATE: OK here's what the leftovers look like with a real camera.

Note the peppers, the actual color of the "chicken". Question is, will it survive till breakfast? Hm.

This ones a tear jerker.

Goin' throught the box of old pictures, I found some stuff I'd forgotten about.

My mom's family is all spread out in Texas; some here in Bell county, some up in Waco, and a bunch of folks in Houston. Some of them are Hargroves, some are Edds, and some are Zacharys. One of the folks in Waco used to play professional baseball. Anyone remember Pat Zachary? Met him at a reunion a decade or so back. Very easy going and seemed like a cool guy. There's a cousin named Edds on TV in the show CSI. Yep, a distant relative, raised in Belton. Never met him.

Anyway, as I was going through this latest box of pictures, looking for stuff to scan and culling through the shots, I ran across a letter sized yellow envelope. I opened it up and a few newspaper clippings fell out. On further examination, I found a typed essay in it that had been authored by a distant cousin down in Houston. I read it and found it very moving, and I'd bet you folks will to.

Remember when you read this that the kid who wrote it was only 13.

Here it is. I think you'll be as impressed as I was. It's all his work, copied as written.

Paw Paw
By Nicholas Meyer
age 13
Parkview Intermediate
Pasadena, Texas

When I was little and stayed in my grandparents' house, my grandfather and I would ride bikes to the park. He would pick me up and set me on the Merry Go Round. Then he'd push until I could barely hold on and when I was about to fall he'd always be there to ketch me. Now the bikes have been sold and my grandfather can hardly make it from the bed to the living room without my help.

It all started about two years ago. My grandfather had a sudden stroke. My family did not know what to think. Nothing like this had ever happened to anyone I know and I was scared. Ever since i was a little kid my grandfather had been one of my idols. He was the biggest man I had ever seen. He was about six foot, and looked like he had boxes on his shoulders he was so muscular. I was always careful about what I said around him because I never would have wanted to make him mad. I knew my grandfather would never get mad at me, but there was always a "what if?" in the back of my mind. Every time I would see him I would run up and give him a hug. He would always say to me "Hi Buddy". I was always my Pawpaw's buddy. When my brother and I went to my grandparent's house we would always have a party with my Meemaw and Pawpaw. When we went to bed my brother and I would switch off nights sleeping with them both. I remember when I would roll over on my Pawpaw at night and say "I want some bread and butter". He would always hop up and get it for me. I can't remember a time when my Pawpaw was still beside me. He would come in the house covered in grease or mud. There wasn't anything in the world my Pawpaw couldn't fix. he was always fixing something. It was amazing though, Pawpaw would always find a way to be with us. I think he came to almost half my baseball games. I remember when I had a big tournament game far away that he was taking me to. We must have driven for an hour and asked at least ten people directions. We found about three fields but not one was where I was supposed to play. We laughed and joked and were making fun of something that was supposed to be a problem. Well, I showed up in the third inning of the game, but it didn't bother me. That was one of the best experiences I ever had with my Pawpaw. That is why it was so hard to accept the fact that my Pawpaw had a stroke.

My family visited him in the hospital as much as we could. I remember when I would see him I would go up and say "Hi Buddy". He soon got out of the hospital and started recovering. We visited about every two weeks. We thought everything was going to be alright after a few months. The stroke effected movement in his whole right side, but even that was recovering well.

Then it happened again. My
Meemaw and Pawpaw were travelling, I think to San Antonio, and it happened again. My Pawpaw had another stroke and went right back to the hospital. He seemed to get out faster this time but it set him back to the same place he started from with the last stroke. His speech soon began to slur. We thought he wouldn't get any better this time but he proved us wrong. He fought back with all he had and soon got better. Once during his recovery, my family was talking about a race car driver that had just been seriously hurt in a wreck. His trainer said he was the toughest man he had ever seen. My Pawpaw just looked at us and said "He hasn't seen me yet!" My Pawpaw was a fighter and he wasn't about to let this knock him out. We started visiting every week and we all enjoyed it. The highlight of their week was when we would show up. You wouldn't believe how their eyes lit up when they saw us walk through the door. Soon my Pawpaw started having little strokes and they effected him every time. His speech started to slur, he lost weight, he had trouble eating his food, and he couldn't walk well at all. My Meemaw had to start hiring help because she couldn't take care of him all alone. Soon coming to see them wasn't just something we did to be nice. It became a part of our life. Every time we saw him we wondered if it would be the last time.

One evening when I had some friends over, my brother called me into the other room and told me
Pawpaw was in the hospital. It seems as if he had another stroke. In some ways I felt relief. If this was when he would pass away it would put him out of his misery. He lived and I was happy he was going to stay with us longer. Since that time he has been just like a baby. My Meemaw has help almost full time. He can't walk, feed himself and can barely speak. We talked about having to put him in a home but my Meemaw can't do it. Pawpaw is her life and I'm afraid she can't live without him. We've talked about the fact that we don't think he knows we are there but I don't believe it.

Today I went to see my Grandfather. My mom pointed at me and asked if he knew who I was. My
Pawpaw stared at me with his baby blue eyes and couldn't tell me "That's my Buddy."

At the bottom of the essay there is an inscription reading...

Written Circa April, 1992
Published in Young Authors Magazine anthology 18

Center for Creative Therapies,
Theraplan Incorporated

I started to remember a few things as I read this essay, about going down to a funeral in Houston some time in the late 1990s with my Mom and Dad, and about dad getting this envelope in the mail a while later. Reading the newspaper clippings confirmed it. It seems that this boy grew up to be a star athlete. He was a 17 year old senior in High school in 1997, and had received 400 letters of intent from prospective colleges.

About 8:15 pm, the night of January 17th, the boy climbed the stairs at his family home, telling people he was going to take a shower. A few minutes later they heard a loud noise, and going upstairs they found his body bleeding from a massive shotgun wound. He'd been suffering from depression for months, visiting hospitals and doctors but nothing helped.

I seem to remember them saying at the funeral, which was huge, that they thought he'd been depressed over the death of his grandfather, and couldn't get over it. His mother was quoted as saying that he was very good at hiding his depression, that he had finally gotten to the point where he couldn't take it any more, and that he was finally at peace.

Poor kid. What a shame. What a waste. I hope he and Pawpaw are havin' a ball somewhere.