Monday, April 30, 2007

In memorium.

One Day Blog Silence

Click on this to learn more.

We're havin' a silent day in the bloggosphere, to remember the victims at Virginia Tech.

Remember them, and see to it that you are prepared, because all the silence and good will in the world won't stop a nut from doing what nuts do, and won't stop a gun hating government or administrator from doing what they do. Be prepared. Don't leave your gun in your car. Remember the 32, and refuse to be a victim.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The boys from Top Gear, experiencing some of the local flavor, or trying to get themselves killed in Alabama.

I think the objective here must have been to see how many stupid stereotypes they could validate.



Next, perhaps, they'll be driving old cars through Manchester with signs provoking the local soccer hooligans? Naaa, pointing out our faults will always win more ratings in the UK. I love em, but damn! I mean, it's one thing for Yankees to come down and act like this, but complete strangers? Rude, crude, and unattractive, as my daddy used to say.

Friday, April 27, 2007

One of the perks of being a service brat was getting to live in some cool places, and visit some other cool places from time to time.

My family was stationed in England in the summer of 1967, and lived there till the late summer of 1970. It was a return trip for everyone in the family but me. My folks had been stationed there in the early 1950s, and my older sister had been born there in '54. Things were pretty good for Americans in Europe back in those days if you were living on the economy. The exchange rate was VERY favorable (opposite of what it is now), so we could afford to go on trips every summer to the continent and see the sights. Pretty amazing situation for a sharecroppers kid and his family from Bell county Texas to find themselves in. Tall cotton.

Our first vacation, summer of '68, was about a week spent driving around Spain in a tour bus. The second, the summer of '69, was a trip to Germany and Austria. The last one, in the summer of 70, just before we packed up and headed back to the states, was a long, 10 day bus trip that took us from Munich, down through Austria to Naples, and then back up through Switzerland to Germany again. That one was a doozie, and I was lovin' it.

As a kid (ages 6 to 9 through those years), I soaked up all the history and culture of Europe, and it was easy to do. living in England would have been enough. Christ, the place oozed history. But it just got ratcheted up when we went to the continent. Hell, it seemed that everywhere we stopped in Spain there were castles and armor and big racks of swords to tempt my adolescent imagination. I used to run up to those racks and fondle the swords, thinking they were all real, imagining all the carnage they'd been involved in. it was bliss. I used to drive my folks CRAZY wanting one. I ended up with two new ones, crossed with a wooden plack. Basic tourist setup. Loved the hell out of it, and hung it over my bed for years. It's probably in my parents attic now.

The trip to Spain was the first major exposure I had to a different people and a different culture. I don't even think of the British as being different, even though they really are. Living there for three years made them folks, and I still feel a huge kinship with them. But the Spanish were different, speaking a different language and having a much more pronounced public religious life. We saw castles and ruins and LOTs of institutions of the Catholic church there, all dripping with history and drama. I remember seeing paintings by El Greco and Ribera, including this picture, which we saw at a museum in Toledo.



It's called The Bearded Woman, and purports to show a bearded woman breast-feeding a baby. I remember looking up at the full length painting, a lot larger than I was at the age of 6, with the tour guide grinning at me, and thinking "Eeew, that's not a woman. That's a old man with tits!" You know that had to fuck up the mind of an impressionable child. Probably screwed me up for life (nice rack, by the way).

Between this and all the other religious images, with the fully painted statues of Jesus bleeding on the cross, and crumpled down and bleeding from wounds off the cross, with blood dripping from his eyes and mouth and everywhere else, I stayed pretty freaked out much of the time we were there. I remember, both in Germany and Spain, being puzzled by the constant representations of Christ on the cross that we saw everywhere we went. Those blood soaked statues scared the hell out of me, effecting me the same way as a scary statue of Dracula in the wax museum in London. It occurred to me later that they were probably intended to do just that - literally scare the HELL out of the viewer. Provide important lessons and messages to a largely illiterate public (back in the old days).

The coolest thing I remember about Spain was the city of Segovia, with the Alcazar castle, the Romanesque cathedrals, and the huge Roman aqueduct.



I'll never forget our tour bus driving under the arches of that aqueduct, and parking outside a cafe where we ate lunch. The pictures we took turned out to be the classic tourist shot, repeated in most of the postcards from the time. The Romans fascinated me then, as now, so anything that was associated with them got my attention in a big way.

Spain was an allied country at that time, and a NATO ally of the United States, but Generalissimo Franco was still alive then, and there was a lot of violent crap going on in the world. I remember seeing the Spanish cops with the interesting, old fashioned hats, and I think I knew that something was up with them, but I was too young to pay close attention to any of that. I was too young, and too wrapped up in ancient violence to pay close attention to what was going on in my own time.

It was the peak of the war years, but I had no real clue that Vietnam was happening, although I knew something was up. I think my uncle Bob was there at the time (Colonel in the Army, Military Police), but my dads job in communications and his work with SAC largely shielded him from threat of being sent there. I found out much later that there had been a chance he could have been sent there when we moved back to the States in '70. He told me later that he'd had the choice of going to Hawaii or Missouri. I said "Hawaii? What the hell were you thinking?" He said that Hawaii was WAY too close to the war, and that it was not uncommon for men to be sent to 'Nam when their families were sent back to the states. I guess he was a bit concerned about it, understandably.

Most the stuff that was going on in my own world had to do with the IRA, blowing up pubs and fighting the British for control of Northern Ireland. I absorbed a lot of that stuff from the British media, and developed some pretty funny attitudes towards the Irish. I could tell you who the prime minister was, and who Bernadette Devlin was, and Ian Paisley, but the stuff in my own country was a mystery. I think maybe I had a vague awareness that a recent President had been from Texas, and that I was from Texas, but I didn't know what the hell that was. Not a clue. Too much movin' around, I guess.

The trip to Germany and Austria in '69 was also full of old castles and opulent palaces. We went to the Linderhof palace, where "Mad" King Ludwig of Bavaria had his famous Grotto, with the swan boat. Now THAT place was cool! We went to Ludwigs Neuschwanstein Castle, that Walt Disney had copied for Disneyland.



The visit to the castle was not without recrimination. There was a winding road going up to the castle from the town (you can kind of see the end of it here), and people were renting carriages and riding up, getting the full tourist experience. Dad would have none of it, so my mom, sister and I were forced to hoof it. God, did we bitch, particularly after every carriage passed us and we got to see people enjoying themselves in comfort. Our family vacations are famous for those sorts of moments. Cheap bastard. Spend a shit load of money on something in one moment and then pinch pennies in another.

Later on in the tour we went up to the peak of Zugspitze in the Bavarian alps (this time by cable car). It's the tallest Mountain in the Bavarian alps, with a beautiful big cross on the top. I was starting to get used to those crosses. Later I went swimming in the lake at the base of the mountain. Snow and sunny swimming on the same day? Good times. Germany was fun, but the best vacation was the last one.

Just before we left for home, mom, sis and I went on a 10 day bus tour from Munich to Naples and back. Dad had to work so it was just the three of us. Summer of 1970, and sis was about 15 then, and old enough to want to be involved in all the adult activities. One night in Germany, at the very start of the tour, some of the adults took the teenagers to a beer hall and got them all loaded. Mom and I stayed at the hotel that night, and I still remember when sis came back sick as a dog. Spent the rest of the night worshiping the porcelain alter. Mom was pissed, but not as much at sis as at the adults who let her daughter get loaded. Needless to say the bus was quiet the next day. The trip through the Alps was amazing. I'd never seen mountains like that before, and they really blew me away. The trip really took off for me though when we got down to Italy.

For about a week, for lunch and dinner every day, I had a huge plate of spaghetti. This was my favorite meal at the time. The standard thing is (to this day) that the meals on the tours offer you ether pasta or Veal for lunch or dinner. I ALWAYS chose pasta. The most beautiful places we saw were Florence, Pisa, and Venice. I'll never forget going to the Piazza della Signiora for the first time. I was reading lots of classic comics back then, and ironically was reading one during the tour about the Italian sculptor Cellini. The comic ended with his creation of the famous statue of Perseus with the head of Medusa. Next thing you know I'm standing in front of the real thing, thinking it's about the coolest thing I'd ever seen in my life.

I remember going to Venice, before the place was flooding, and seeing the gondolas. Beautiful. My favorite thing there was going and watching the glass blowing. Cool as hell. mom loaded up on LOTS of stuff there. That good exchange rate came in REALLY handy. When we got down to Rome, and I got to walk around the Forum, and the Colosseum, and the Catacombs, and the Vatican, and the Sistine Chapel, my socks were officially knocked off. The absolute coolest place though was Naples.

The bay of Naples was a choice vacation stop 2000 years ago, and it's still wonderful. What made it cool for me was a visit to Pompeii, a Roman city that had been buried by ash from a volcano in 79AD. The idea of walking the streets of a real Roman city, and looking at the remains of actual victims of the disaster, floored me. I was amazed by the Colosseum there, and imagined gladiatorial games going on as I stood there watching. A decade or so later, I learned that about a year after I'd been standing on that very spot, the band Pink Floyd had performed a concert there for a British TV special there. The recording of that concert was a hotly desired bootleg for years, and then in the late 1990s the band actually released an audio recording as a bonus to a re release of the album Ummagumma. Years later I found they'd released the DVD! More bliss, I wanna tell ya.

One of the best tunes from that live show was a version of the tune Echoes, from the album Meddle. Here's a video of that performance, in two parts (YouTube doesn't have a good version in one sitting, so you'll need to click on the second video as the first one ends), with a slow intro showing the Colosseum I'm talking about. It's worth a listen.



And it continues here, with an awesome base line.



Love the mix of everything here; the guitar screaming, the base hitting you, the keyboards in the background, and the drums, all combining for an amazing musical experience.

About a week after we got home from that last tour, delivery trucks arrived. Crates of goodies were disgorged onto the floor, and we got to relive the trip all over again. For years after that I'd tell people that I'd been to Rome, and the Idea didn't even seem to ring true in my own head. We moved from England to Missouri a while after the tour, and life moved on. I lived with the relics of these tours decorating my various rooms (in various places) for many years after. The green mountaineering hat from Germany with the pins, the banners, and the postcards tacked to the wall, and the full color tour books on my shelf, all leafed through and well worn. All that stuff is still around here somewhere, but it's mostly been replaced with more recent relics. Funny how the objects of youth fade in importance as time goes by, and yet stay in your heart.

I managed to get back to Pompeii as an adult, when I went out on my first teaching trip with the Navy in 1990. I'd just about given up on having a teaching career, and then I got a call from the folks here at Central Texas College. I took a job teaching History and Government on deployed Navy ships, and the college flew me to Naples, where the USS Thorn was at anchor. I taught a semester in four-and-a-half weeks, having class 6 days a week, and on Sunday I took my two roommates on a tour.

We walked the ruins of the city, and I looked specifically for one statue that I remembered vividly from the earlier trip. Finding it, reconnecting with that earlier time, and that little kid that I'd been all those years ago, proved to be an emotional experience. A lot of feelings washed over me, and I kept thinking back to the trip in 1970, and my folks, my sister, and what my life had been like back then. I'd grown up a lot in the intervening years, and I think standing there again symbolized that fact to me. I'd begun a new journey, towards a fun career, and a full life.

This time I was callin' the shots, and I also looked up another Roman city, Herculaneum. Herculaneum is a much smaller ruin, due to the fact that it's situated under the present city of Herculano. Thing is, the area that has been revealed is very plush, and while Pompeii is huge and hard to really see in one trip, Herculaneum is easy to see in one afternoon. I was a tour guidin' mutha that day. When we got back to the ship and I laid out in my rack, I couldn't help but think back to 1970 again. What a cool life I was having. I'd been able to travel all over Europe and America as a kid, and now the college was paying me to travel all over the world, doing a job that I loved.

We're all a lot older now, but those memories are still there. Dad is still a pain in the ass, but I've learned to get along with him, and we enjoy one another. We'll be hitting the Chinese food place again today, and probably hitting golf balls after. Mom's doing fine, and their house is still decorated with all the nick knacks she picked up along the journey. We all still have lots of crap that we've accumulated over the years. Sis still has issues, but she's working on them. Our life on the road turned us into a tight little unit, and we've found that we don't really like to stay anywhere too long. We all start getting nervous after about three years, thinking it's time to go.

Anyway, it's early, and I've got to go, so take care of yourself this weekend and I'll see ya on the other side. FHB.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ok, here's a geeks wet dream it there ever was one.

Like me, you may need to get plastic sheeting and cover the keyboard, just in case. Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Amazing.

Just saw this in the headlines. I thought everyone knew what Mexico did with it's poor. They encourage them to become Americans, don't they?

And here's some philosophy, to think about.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Driving to work this morning and heard a new one.

Cheryl Crow, a huge acolyte for the Bhagwan Gore Rashneesh's Global Warming scare offensive, is telling us all that we should limit our toilet paper use to one square at a time. Maybe two or three if it's an emergency. She wants to save trees. Sport a skid mark for the rain forest, is her impassioned plea. It occurs to me that these folks who've drunk the cool-aid (in the popular analogy), have a lot in common with an earlier group of believers.

Back in the 1830s and 40s, there was a new religious fervor spreading in America. In the textbooks we call it the Second Great Awakening. They'd printed the new testament in English in the 1600s, and German and everything else. When it was made available to the public, and when they were given enough time to read it and parse out the sexy bits (all the fire and brimstone), the great unwashed out there (and a lot of well meaning people) decided that the end of the world was nigh. Lots of folks came up with their own way of preparing for the end. Some sat in quiet contemplation, while others danced with snakes.

One guy, a farmer from New York state named William Miller, looked at his Bible very carefully. He read the ages of the various figures and came up with a date on which he claimed the second coming of Christ would occur. He publicized his date, and followers began to prepare for the end. They sold all their possessions, gathered in open places and waited for the rapture.

Of course, nothing happened. Miller went back to his Bible and announced to the nervous followers that he had made an error in his calculations. He set another date, and the followers once again prepared themselves for the second coming. Guess what happened? Nothing. Nichivo. Nada... is what happened. They picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and went about their business, deciding after all that God's will was too mysterious for mere humans to discern. They went on to become famous as flagellants during the great depression of the 1840s (1839 to 43), going from town to town, beating themselves bloody to atone for the sins of the world. They continue to prepare today. Some of the modern day descendants of Millerites are the 7Th Day Adventists.

The Branch Davidians, who held out for so long and then immolated themselves and their babies in the dramatic end of the Waco standoff, were a modern fundamentalist branch of the Adventists. All these different chords rang in my head today when I heard a radio commentator refer to Al Gore as the David Koresh of the environmental movement. It occurs to me that in the movement, whatever movement it is, for people to follow all the way they have to put blinders on, shutting off common sense, and "drink the cool-aid", all the way back.

Maybe we should update the first amendment to add pseudo religions like Global Warming to the list of faiths separated from public policy makers and the government purse by the "high wall of separation"? What do you think?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Here's some real wisdom.

Not contrived. Born of a life fully lived. Like some of the films and books we all grew up loving, written by people who had lived through real shit. Born of experience, from the generation that knew the Depression close up, that fought "The Good War" for freedom and justice, and then lived to see it all pissed away in the name of safety and propriety. Here's Bono reading Charles Bukowski's poem "roll the dice".



I wish I'd known some of these things back when it could have counted for something. "Youth is wasted on the young", some other wise ass said. I wish a lot of things a lot of the time. Dads got a saying about that though... Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which hand fills up first. More old time wisdom. Says it all. I can't stop wishin' though. Too many regrets. Too many dreams about do-overs that I'll never get. I guess, if you ketch on, those thoughts are like lessons learned, so we don't pass things up if they come by again. Then again, sometimes you need a slap to the face to wake you up and get yer attention.

Dad and I had another good outing last Friday night, but ended up not hittin' golf balls after all. He was hungry and didn't want to go before we ate (or maybe he was sore from the last time), and we were both too bloated to do it after we ate, so we blew it off. I was wired and would have enjoyed the catharsis of hitting a bucket. I'd witnessed a bad car accident right in front of me in the minutes before getting to mom and dads place, and I was still pumped from the adrenaline hours later.

I was driving down a four lane, strait thoroughfare, from I-35 to 31st street on the south side of Temple. I'm chuggin' along in traffic, goin' about 50ish (in the flow and not really watchin' the speedometer) when I see an SUV in the oncoming lane hitting the brakes and making a violent lurch to the right, overcompensating to the left, hurling himself into our lane right in front of the SUV that's driving about three car lengths in front of me. Brakes are burnin' all over the place, including mine.

The people in front of me jerked over to the right to try to avoid hitting the car that had now turned back to the right, and was sliding sideways into us, just about to start a roll-over. If the folks in front of me had been a bit quicker they'd have missed the oncoming mess completely and the bastard would have rolled sideways over me, but it wasn't meant to be. They smashed bumpers, with the rear left hand bumper of the one hitting the right front bumper of the folks in front of me. I end up driving through a cloud of tiny plastic shards, like one of those films you see of a WW2 fighter plane flying through the exploding remains of an ammo train or a "Buzz Bomb".

They both limped off away to the left of the road, out of my way, and I slowly rolled by, thinking how lucky I'd been to avoid it all, and not to have been slammed into from behind as we all broke in a panic. Meanwhile, my life is flashing in front of my eyes, which is enough to bore most people to death, and I'm seeing images of this bastard rolling over me and fucking my nice little car all to hell. The one SUV is behind me somewhere, and the folks that had been in front of me are stopped on the other side of the road, their left front smashed and leaking fluids, and smoke filling the cab. I see immediately that they are moving, getting out of the car and that about a half dozen other cars are stopping to give assistance, so I waited a moment, thought about stopping, and then rolled on and counted my blessings. In a minute, as my head was clearing, I thought to call 911 and report it all. I probably should have stopped, but I hate to be in a situation like that when I feel like I'm one of a bunch of people trying to help, and feeling like I'm just in the way.

So, I was pumped with adrenaline there for a while and flinching behind the wheel the rest of the night. Nothing like seeing something like that right in front of you to wake you up and get your attention. After eating and visiting with the folks, I headed home, and as I'm driving west on that same road towards I-35, I note that the sky is darkening as I go. Turns out I'm driving into a friggin' wall cloud with lightning flashing all over. I'm thinkin', "what the hell else is gonna happen to me tonight?" As I head west on 190 I look up at the edge of the cloud and see these tendrils dipping down, and I think to myself "if these things start spinning I'm fucked". Lightning is flashing a few times about a quarter of a mile down the road, and it looks like it's actually hitting the road. Jesus!

I got home ok, and then it rained like crazy, and the folks from here up to Ft. Worth got rain, bad wind and hail, and we got about an inch and a half or rain. We were lucky and missed the bad stuff. I slept in Saturday, and blew the day piddling around the house and napping (NOT pulling weeds). Sunday I headed up to Gatesville and shot guns with a buddy. I tried to sight in that new Romanian .22 rifle. It turned out to be a huge pain in the ass, misfeeding about every other time for a while and not ejecting correctly, and then working fine for a while. Frustrating as hell. My buddy shot his old Russian SKS and an old AR-15 that looks like the rifle the guys in 'Nam used. We had a good time, and then I drove down 36 to eat dinner at mom and dads. Mom made beef stew and cornbread, to die for, and I worked on their garage door, which had been giving them trouble since someone fucked with it the day before. It was off the rail. Quick fix and it was running like new.

I floated the idea to dad about going to hit golf balls, but he declined again. Don't know what the deal is. He used to always go on and on when I didn't want to do it, but now he's reluctant. Well, he was probably just tired or something, or maybe the one time we did it was so depressing for him that he's changed his mind. So, on the way home I stopped at a driving range off 190 and hit a bucket by myself. I guess I've talked myself into wanting to do it, but now he doesn't. This is our relationship in a microcosm. Frustrating.

So now I'm watching American Choppers and relaxing before the week starts again. I hope all your weekends were a lot less dramatic, and that you all avoided the ridiculous weather, and that you enjoyed old Charlie's poem. Marquisdejolie turned me on to Bukowski in a few of his poetic rants. You should check him out some time. Anyway, I'm outta here. Later.

Friday, April 13, 2007

I think this has something for the whole family.



Ok, It's a friggin' CRIME to wreck an old TA like that. Criminal!

Gonna have dinner with dad again tonight, and now that the snow has melted we've added a new wrinkle to our normal Friday routine. Before we go to the Chinese food place, we go to the local driving range. He watches me as I hit a bucket of balls, and he hits a few and gives me little lessons and hints to help my swing. After that, having worked up and appetite (like that's necessary) we go hit the buffet line.

Dad was a huge golfer when I was growing up and he's wanted to get me to like the game ever since I can remember. He was taught to play in Germany right after WW2. He says this German POW showed him how to hit correctly in a large derelict opera hall. It was a rich mans game back then, and I think my dad, the son of a tenant framer, saw golf, and being an Army officer (eventually in the Air Force) as a path out of his old life. He became a shark on the golf course, and played all the time, as long as I can remember. He made me a cut down driver when I was very little, and still tells me and everyone else that I had a natural swing when I was a kid. I don't know. I never have felt comfortable in that swing. Can't feel it well enough to be able to feel like I know what I'm doing, if you know what I mean.

I was always more into archery as a kid. Used to watch all those old movies about medieval times, and always wanted to be Robin Hood, or the guy shooting arrows out of the arrow loops in the castle, or the guy in the formation at Agincourt, shooting arrows up into the air into the French army formations. When we moved to Missouri in 1970 I found other kids there who loved it too, and we'd shoot arrows into anything. That place was paradisaical. We'd stand at one end of the field that stretched out through and connected averyone's back yard and shoot arrows into the air, just to watch them fly and see how far they'd go. There was an old tree in the woods there that we'd shoot arrows into, rotted and missing half it's bark.

We got a huge amount of enjoyment out of walking down the trail, pretending to be surprised by a bear or something, and then shooting arrows into that old tree. They would always make a cool thud as they hit it. We'd cross over the creek and pull them out, and then go through the ritual again. We called it the elephant tree. I think I'd seen an illustration in National Geographic showing Alexander the Great defeating the Indian Army elephants by filling them with arrows. That Image is still in my head.

Never forget looking at my first issue of Bowhunter magazine, picked up at the local T.G.& Y., and seeing that there was a world out there where adults shot arrows, and it wasn't silly kids stuff, as my folks always seemed to think. We moved away from that house and into base housing before we moved back to Texas, and mom and dad told me that I couldn't have the bows and arrows on the base. It all had to be put away. Seems like they were always tryin' to get me to do that. They didn't value it, and saw it as kids stuff. Wanted me to give it up and grow up and play football or somethin'. I don't think the gear made it into the moving van. It was like closing a book on a huge part of my childhood.

Next time I picked up a bow was about five years later in San Antonio. I tried to shoot someone else's arrow into a neighbors tree only about 10 yards away, a shot that I would have easily been able to make earlier, and I missed it. Shocked the hell out of me. I guess I accepted that it was over then. There weren't any woods to play in there, and I'd lost whatever talent I'd had, but dad was still there wanting me to play golf with him. Maybe refusing was my way of getting back at him, or my way of differentiating myself from him. Same thing went with other sports too. He never could get me interested in anything, and I could never get them to take anything I loved seriously. You'd think I was switched at birth or something.

I finally relented and started playing golf back in the late 1980s while I was in graduate school and worked at the Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth. Most of the other employees played, and they got to play the course once a year. I guess I picked up the interest vicariously, listening to them talk around the club, wanting to be included and play the club myself. Dad was beside himself. He made me a set of clubs and I started practicing and playing. Loved it, but never got too good at it. Then, when I got the job teaching on the ships, and was gone all the time, I never had a chance to practice. When I did play, I was always loosing balls and feeling like an idiot when I hit a lousy shot. Never seemed to take to it the way I did archery as a kid. Never became easy and effortless the way archery had. It sucks too, because it's no longer a rich mans game. Hell, everyone plays golf now.

Anyway, Dads old as hell now and can't hit the ball very far anymore. Depresses the hell out of him, but he's always asking me when we're gonna go hit some balls. For a long time I'd think to myself "How many times did you take me to shoot arrows, you old jackass? When did you ever show interest in anything I wanted to do?" But he's old as hell now, and it seems wrong to be petty about it, to hold the crap from the past against him. so I finally decided a few weeks ago to start taking him to the range, incorporating it into our Friday routine. Weather permitting, we'll go out there and I'll let him give me hints. I doubt that I'll learn anything, but he'll enjoy it, and that's what matters now.

I'm also supposed to go shooting (guns) this weekend in Gatesville, so I'll be able to sight in the new .22 rifle and maybe shoot Civil War muskets. I've evolved from arrows to bullets (another thing my dad's not into), but I still have archery in my blood. One of these days I'll post pictures of the sets I've built. It's a fun hobby now and then, when I'm not busy with other things. So, enjoy your Friday and take care of yourselves. Ya know I will.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

For the difinitive word, In my opinion, on the Don Imus, Al Sharpton cat fight/melodrama...

This guy really lays it out. Click here to read his post. Enjoy.

And on a totally different subject, enjoy this milk commercial.



And speaking of T-Rex, THIS is cool as hell.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

One of my cousins, who lives in Houston, went to the Ultimate Fighting Championships there recently, and guess who he ran into?



Son of a bitch! Ok, that's not really my cousin. Apparently when he had his picture taken, the camera operator was a bit nervous and the shot is blurred and a bit washed out with light. You can see it's him, but I figured this shot was better. Gotta love the shit eatin' grin on this guys face, what with his wife standin' right there on the other side of old Jenna. Nice rack on the wife, I must say. These are friends of his. This guys company has a floor suite, so they get access to a VIP area that occasionally has this sort of person flitting through. I remember when this kid was born, and now he's huggin' on a porn star. Love it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ok, here's my cousin, after I worked on the shot a bit. I'm so proud.



I asked him, "She didn't have any trouble swallowin' anything while you were there, or anything?" "Of course not!" Loaded question?

I think the oldest diplomatic notion is "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Lets hope it works.



Lets hope our new pacifist congress gives it a chance to work.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Another little musical interlude.

It's been said that the official end of the 1960s was documented for everyone to see in The Rolling Stones 1970 concert at Altamont Speedway. The tragic decision to hire the Hells Angels as security, and the death of a concert goer caught on film are just two highlights in the fascinating documentary of that concert, dubbed the west coasts Woodstock, "Gimme Shelter". Mick Jagger, never one to shrink from publicity, contracted to have a film made of their 1972 U.S. Tour, coinciding with the release of their album "Exile on Main Street".

Photographer Robert Frank, who'd taken some of the album photos, was chosen as director, and took a much artier approach to filming the Stones on stage and off. However, footage of drug consumption, (staged) orgies and a decidedly non-commercial title prevented "Cocksucker Blues" from getting an official theatrical release. Even so, it's long been widely available on video as a bootleg.

Immediately after a private screening of the film, Jagger is said to have turned to Frank and told him, "It's a fucking good film, Robert, but if it shows in America we'll never be allowed in the country again." Jagger may well have been afraid of the film's lurid and potentially incriminating images - the heroin use, Jagger masturbating, or even the extended sequence of questionably consensual group sex with a reluctant groupie at 30,000 feet (after all, this was rock and roll).

But what Mick may have found most disturbing was the bleak and accurate portrait of the obvious despair and loneliness of life on the road. Frank's obsession with pursuing truth destroyed the illusion of glamour for the world's most famous rock and roll band.The Stones took Frank to court to prevent the film's distribution. It became, legally, a question of who owned the film, the artist who created it or the patron who paid for it. A bizarre deal was struck allowing the film to be screened once a year, but only if the director was present for the screening.

Of course, now the film is available on DVD, and clips are appearing on YouTube and elsewhere. Here's a clip from that 72 tour. I think this may have been their peak, with the slide to geezerdom still way over the horizon. I saw them in Rome at a soccer stadium in the summer of 1990. Got up close, and enjoyed it, but they were only a shadow of the band they'd been in this early time. There's somethin' wrong with these guys still tryin' to shake their money maker at their age. Sordid.

Enjoy this snap shot.






And yea, I'm lookin' for that DVD. I'll tell ya if I find it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

So, has the recent weather caused you to think again?

Here's a British documentary on Global Warming that has some folks all a twitter. Judge for yourself. It lasts about an hour and sixteen minutes, so grab some popcorn, but if you're a sceptic you'll love it, I promise.

Happy Easter everyone.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Ok dammit, It's Easter and it's friggin' snowing in Texas.

You can't really tell from these shots, but it's cold as hell here, in the 30s, and snowing. The neighbors told me it was gonna get this cold last night but I didn't believe 'em. Figured they were off their meds or somethin'.



I'm gonna have to refrain from yard work this weekend. An act of God? Could be.



The snow makes the thistles in the back yard almost look festive.



And why not take the opportunity to start a last blaze in the fire place for 2007. Weatherman says it'll be back in the 80s here by Tuesday or Wednesday, so I'll enjoy it while it lasts. Just took some chocolate chip cookies out of the oven. Mom's plannin' chicken and dressing for dinner Sunday. Life is good. Hope you all have a great, cozy Easter weekend.

Aaaaa, cozy in front of the fire, dreaming of springtime.

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Update: It's still snowin', and it's supposed to be in the 50s tomorrow. What the hell?



Just woke up from a nap and looked out and it's still blowin'. It's been YEARS since we've had this sort of snow, and it's FRIGGIN' APRIL! I haven't turned the heater on. Just steadily burnin' wood in the fireplace and enjoyin' all the winter vibes. The farmers have got to be pissed, and all the beautiful bluebonnets that've bloomed are gonna go tits up, but I'm loven' it. Stay warm folks. It'll be over before you know it.

Update to the update: Well, It's Good Friday, but isn't every Friday good?

I never met a bad one. Don't have to go in to school this morning, or Monday morning ether. So much for separation of church and state down at the old high school. They have a few free days they can take off, so they use them to take religious holidays. But then, I can remember back when Spring Break was Easter Break, so it doesn't bother me. Hell, I'll use any excuse to take a day off, or in this case, sleep in and relax. I still have to go in to the base and teach at lunch time, but what can you do?

Between the morning classes, the lunch time classes, the afternoon feed and post-feed naps, and the evening classes (not to mention the two online classes), I've really turned into a lazy lump of weak shit lately. You've probably noticed that, what with all the easy YouTube posts. The house is a mess. I've got clothes and sheets in a pile on the dryer, clean but wadded up. The clean dishes are still in the dish washer, dirty ones in the sink. My fish are swimmin' in their own filth, but then again that's sort of what they always do.

Aside from a few Bluebonnets poppin' up here and there, the yard is a veritable weed farm. Thistles all over the back yard. I swear, I spray poison every year, and the fuckers just come back stronger. The last few weekends were wet as hell, so I could avoid going out there and spending the time crawling around with a screw driver, but it looks like this weekend is gonna be the time. God, I dread the shit out of it. No gun shows this weekend, so I guess I'll get it done.

I had to buy new tires this week, and it's amazing how much better the Solara rides when it's not on bald, mismatched crap. I had to have my home air conditioner serviced today too. I have to do it at about this time every year. As soon as the temps get warmer I start hearing the ice building up and then falling off the unit in the wall. Have a few slow leaks in the coils, but as it is, all I have to do is get the coolant refilled once a year. Hard to justify the expense of getting the whole thing replaced at this point. So, between this and that, I've been hemorrhaging money lately. Funny how it always feels easier and more fun to do that at a gun show.

Still haven't got the scabbard for my neighbors old knife. Ordered it almost 10 days ago and they were supposed to send it express. Emailed 'em yesterday sayin' "What the fuck?" Haven't heard back yet. Had a project of my own over the last week. Picked up a new toy in Ft. Worth last Saturday. Got a WASR-22, a Romanian semi-auto training rifle. It's basically a Romanian version of an East German training rifle. An AKM that shoots .22LR from a 10 rnd clip. It came out of the box lookin' like this...



And after a few days tinkering in the geeeraj...



New AK-74 front sight post and muzzle break (bayonet lugs ground over), new laminated wood and plum colored plastic furniture, and a cool modification on the original Romanian (Romak) butt stock. All replacement parts are US made, so it's kosher. Picked up a box of .22LR at Wally World, so I'll probably take it out to the property this weekend and do some plinkin'. I've read in reports that the action doesn't eject the spent cartridges so reliably, but I'll see about that. Should be a fun toy to tinker with anyway.

Wait a second, wasn't I supposed to pull weeds this weekend? Hahahahahahaha. Fools. There's ALWAYS time for plinkin'. Anyway, Jesus, it's a holiday. I'll be takin' dad to eat Chinese food tonight, and then we'll see what happens. Have a great weekend yerself, and have a great Easter. Should be lots of cool old bible epics on TV to watch, and great food to eat. Lots of layin' around time. DAMN THOSE WEEDS!

And by the way, If you want a good read this weekend, check this out. He says it like it is.
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Update: Well, I took the rifle out to my land south of town after school and shot one clips worth of shells, just to see how the thing works, and it works fine. Only problem I had was one round that bent and got hung up in the action. I took it out, straitened it with my fingers, shoved it forcefully in the action, and it shot and ejected just like the others. I'd heard that the rounds didn't eject all the time, but got caught up in the action, but I didn't experience this. Again, only one clips worth, but it worked fine and I can't wait to take it to a range and sight it in. Love the whip crack sound of those .22LRs.

I took dad to the driving range, and then we did the usual Friday night feed. When I got home, I looked in the mail box and there was a package. Mission accomplished! (look here for details on the mission).



The sheath finally arrived. I checked it out, put the knife in it's new home, and took it over to my neighbor. He was pleased. We talked about hanging it on his wall next to his medals, and his wife said that was a good idea. She said something about having a shiv on the wall, but we both outvoted her, I think. We'll see what happens. I wouldn't take any money from them. Told them it was my pleasure. I got a huge kick out of having it and learning about it. Now I'm gonna see about getting myself one. Saw one in Ft. Worth last weekend, but the dude wanted $250 for it. Not worth that much to me. Think I can make a much better deal elsewhere.

Anyway, the weather has turned cold and windy, and there's talk of colder temps and snow in Oklahoma tonight, so we may in fact be experiencing Global Warming after all. Sheeeeeitttt!
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Oh, and here's what the new baby looks like with the East German scope attached. Yep, it's got a scope rail on the left side, like all the other Romanian AKs on the market.



Notice I changed out the wooden foregrip with plum plastic, to match the undergrip. Love it!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

So this is why they called themselves The Kinks.

I love the hell outa this tune. Never forget hearing it for the first few times, as a sprouting, eager young lad, totally turned on by the idea of a clueless guy being taken on by an older woman. Half listening to the words, diggin' the music till the line, "I bet I'm a man and so is Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola." Whoa, what the hell did he say? So totally kinky and hilarious, and a rock classic for the ages.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Another little musical interlude.

This guy is always interesting if not profound. His peak was back in the early to mid 1970s, when he came up with this tune, and many like it. He put out a double album at one point called Decade, laying out his best stuff from the several bands he had been affiliated with. It's a great one it you're interested. This is a little shot from a TV show. Must be the BBC or Canadian TV, or maybe Dick Cavett. Enjoy.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Another little musical interlude.

These guys are the '60s to me, along with the Beatles and the Doors. You hear some music and, like a smell, it takes you right back to a time and place. My family was living in England in the late 60s; my dad absorbed in his Air Force career, my mom homesick and usually not much good to me, my older sister having a great time (the best time of her life, she says), and me in my room, listening to the record player, daydreaming and reading the encyclopedia or classic comics instead of doing school work. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Oh, FUCK! Not another one of these. Wonderful;)

Ok, I've been tagged. This hasn't happened to me in a while, so I'm a bit rusty, and frankly amazed and flattered. Something called the Thinking Blogger Award is going around, originating here.

I got tagged as a thinking blogger, which seems somehow VERY wrong. I'm always feeling how lame my posts are compared to a lot of other folks out there. I think I should take more time and spill my guts more and let you slip around on them, but others do that so well, and YouTube is just chock full of interesting shit I can lean on. I should call this thing Fat Lazy Bastard, but hey, how many fuckin' classes do you people have to teach every day? Anyway, my longest and most passionate stuff always seems to end up in someone else's comments page. But who am I to argue with this dude?



Mushy here is the guy that tagged me with the award, which sucks, because in pickin' my five, he'd be the easiest choice out there. He always makes me think, not so much about world events or politics, but about life itself. His posts are often snap shots from his own past, and like all good writers, when he's burnin' on all cylinders, he illuminates something basic about the human condition. He gets you to think about yourself and your own life by telling you stories about growing up in, among other places, a trailer park in East Tennessee. Read a few posts about that place and you'll swear that you were there, and that you must have accessed the place by stepping through the back of an old wardrobe. Well worth a visit if you haven't already.

As I understand it, I'm supposed to tag five bloggers that I think are thoughtful, and/or introspective, and/or interesting to read. Means I've got to pick five other folks without pissing off everyone else that I didn't pick? Nice! Who to pick? Well, there's lots of folks out there that I love to read, and I've linked to them on my own blog, and I comment over at their places now and then. I love 'em to death (you know who you are), but I can only pick five? Sheeeeit!

Ok, so, the way I look at it, the best writers can get you thinking by getting you to giggle first. Kind of a Mark Twain, P.J. O'Rourke, Hunter Thompson, sort of thing. Other folks just hit you with the realness, strait out, no pissing about. To each his own, but they get me thinkin'. So, here's my short list;

1. Marquisdejolie On Video.
2. Lightning Bug's Butt.
3. American Citizen Soldier.
4. The Hammer.
5. Pat Dollard.

Of course, there's fuckin' rules involved in this (I LOVE rules). They go somethin' like this. If you got tagged and want to play along, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of this drama. An optional but useful detail; display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ in a link to the post that you wrote.

So, I hope you click on these folks and enjoy them as much as I do.