Sunday, September 28, 2008


Saturday, September 27, 2008


It's like the cat's an S&M freak.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another Friday, and another busy, fun weekend ahead.

It's Friday again, so you all know where we'll be. It's Mom's turn to pick the restaurant and she's chosen to go back to BJ's. Good thing too. We haven't been back there in a while. After that we'll probably head back to that cool Irish pub we discovered a few weeks ago. O'Briens, in downtown Temple. Just check out this list of draft beers. That's more choices than you can find anywhere else in the area, so far as I know. I wish to God the place was in Killeen, but it just may be a good thing that it isn't.

I found their web site while workin' on this post and clicked on the "events" link. We saw when we were there the last time that they have a nice little stage set up on the first floor, and the place looks like it'd be PERFECT for seeing to a great band close up. Looking at the schedule I see that Chris Lopez is gonna be playing there at 10PM on October 3rd... next Friday!

He's a San Antonio based guitar player, heading up a great little power trio. Click on that MySpace link above, scroll down a bit and and click on "Somewhere Beyond Forever". Crank that sucker! You'll see what I mean.

We saw him close up at a blues festival we accidentally bumped into in Marble Falls some time back. He was playin' Stevie Ray Vaughn covers in a little house that'd been turned into a bar. I was mesmerized by his talent. You judge for yourself...

Denise and I were both enjoyin' his music that night, but we couldn't stay and listen. It'd been a long day. This time we'll be there for the long haul.

The big event this weekend, as I've told you already, is the ACL Festival in Austin. Denise and I will be out there in that crowd (these shots are from the 2007 event... Yep, stealin' again), jammin' the tunes and tryin' to pack as many cool bands into our Saturday and Sunday as we can.

I'm stoked as hell! The last time I went to one of these gigs was the last Lollapalooza festival I attended, up near Dallas in 1996. It was the year that Metallica headlined. I took my cousin, who was about 15 or so then. Blew his friggin' mind. Denise has never been to one of these things, but I know she'll eat it up. She's game as hell when it comes to loud music and good fun.

We've got a reservation for Saturday night at a hotel near Highland mall, just off I-35, so we won't have to drive back and forth from Killeen each day. It's still gonna be a zoo though, gettin' in and out of the park, but it'll be well worth it.

Of course, the festival actually started today (it's a three day thing), but there weren't enough bands on today's schedule to get me to want to plunk down the funds to attend. I'd like to see Jacob Dylan and David Byrne (both in tonight's lineup), but Saturday and Sundays bands will be more than enough to keep me happy.

Saturday will start with a trip to Pappasito's. That's right dammit, were gonna pork up at the good Tex-Mex feed before going to the festival so we don't get tempted to spend ridiculous sums of money for food at the park. It'll suck enough to have to spend something like eight to ten bucks for an adult beverage. Fuck that noise! I'll make sure I drink at least two beers, and Denise at least as many strawberry margaritas, before we leave the restaurant. We'll both be full as a tick and balanced delicately on the brink of inebriation by the time we get to the friggin' festival. Everything else will just get better from there.

The first act we plan to catch is this guy...

Robert Earl Keen. He takes the stage at 4:30 pm, so we won't have to bust our asses getting down there early in the day. I figure we'll get to Pappasito's by noon and then try to get into the park by 3:30. We can wander around once we get in there, checkin' out the scene.

The next act on the schedule is John Fogarty. Denise is a huge fan of CCR, and I kinda like the stuff too, so it should be fun. After that we'll have to relocate to another venue in the park to see these dudes...

The Black Keys. Ol' Mushy turned me on to these dudes a while back. As you can see, they have an amazing, raw, bluesy sound. I'm excited to get the chance to check them out live.

The headline act Saturday night is gonna be Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. You may remember that Denise and I saw them in concert up near Dallas a few months ago. They put on a hell of a show, so we're both lookin' forward to seein' them again.

Thing is, as is inevitable in one of these festivals, there's another band playin' at another venue the same time Plant and Krauss take the stage. I'm gonna be torn. I'd love to check this dude out.

While Krauss and Plant spin their wonderful tales at the AMD venue, Beck is gonna be playin' at the AT&T venue in another part of the park. I've never seen him, and would love to. We'll see what happens.

Sundays festivities will begin at 4PM, and again, I'll be torn. This one is a HUGE bummer. My choice is between this guy...

Joe Bonamassa, and this guy...

Xavier Rudd. I'm really torn. I guess you can't have everything you want in this world. I'll have to decide when we get there, but my heart is gonna be beatin' for that guitar.

Shooter Jennings will be going on stage at the WaMu venue at 5:30, and then the shit's gonna get really good. The next band on the schedule is one of the ones that I'm REALLY wanting to see. This is another group that Mushy turned me on to.

He emailed me one night... One of those nights when we used to email one another back and forth, like we were instant messaging. He told me to go to specific music site and watch a streaming live concert given to celebrate the latest CD release by The White Stripes. I have to say that I thought their sound was a bit too "garage" for me then (Mushy LOVES that shit), but the last tune they did totally blew my mind. Check it out...

The leader of that two piece band, Jack White, also plays with another band called The Raconteurs. They take the stage in Austin at 6:30, at the AMD venue. Here's a taste.

After that experience, I'm gonna be wrecked! But the concert goes on. The big headliners Sunday night will be The Foo Fighters.

I've been a HUGE fan of theirs ever since Kurt Cobain blew himself out of the picture and his band Nirvana (another band I loved) bit the dust. I've often thought that maybe it was some sort of kismet... Cobain putting himself out of whatever misery he was experiencing so that we could all grow to recognize Dave Grohl's true genius. Who knows. Anyway, I can't WAIT to see and hear their show. They take the stage at 8:30.

After that it'll be a tired worn out drive, about an hour, back home to Killeen. A good shower and the sack. The alarm will be goin' off at 6:30 AM sharp Monday mornin'! I know, it's a bummer, but it's WELL worth it. Life is to be lived, by God!

Anyway, I figure I'll have about 600 pictures in the camera by the time we get home Sunday night, so you know what I'll be doing all week long. Hopefully some of them will turn out good.

You guys try to have a good time too, and we'll reconnect after all the fun. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happiness is...

A brand new job and a considerable raise in pay. Whoopee! I got the word Monday afternoon. The Human Resources lady from the main campus called me while I was in one of my evening classes. They're hirin' me to be a full-time prof at this prison unit in San Saba, but I'll still be workin' in Florence at the high school and teachin' a few classes on Base in the evening.

I tell ya, it feels good, after toilin' away as a part-time adjunct flunky for 18 years, to finally have a regular salary and a little respectability. It's gonna feel really good. I just wish my dad had lived long enough to see it happen.

So, while I'm in this happy mood, before something comes along to fuck it up, here's a celebratory musical interlude. Enjoy!

Mmmmmmm, and here's a classic. I saw these chicks in concert in about '95. Delicious. Enjoy.

I tell ya, I love the hell out of that. Y'all have a good week and we'll talk again on Friday. Cheers!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The weekend.

First off, check this out. Cool eh? Wonder what else is buried out there?

Now, here comes the traditional weekend wrap-up. It was busy. It all started Friday, when Denise and I took mom out to eat at Dynasty. We don't go there so often any more. Dad always wanted to go there and eat the same thing, week after week. Mom and Denise want to change things up each Friday, so that's what we do.

It was my turn to chose the restaurant this time, so everyone knew where we'd be goin'.

You've seen this before. Same stuff, different day. Same fat, juicy shrimp, fried rice, egg rolls and the generals chicken. Mmmm, good!

Mom has a good time when we take her out like this. It's great to see her get dolled up and go out. We used to take dad out on Friday, leaving mom home to have peace and quiet. Now that dad is gone, she has all the peace and quiet she can stand, so I think she really likes goin' out with us.

I was fascinated this last Friday with the "bling" she had on display. She's always had great taste in jewelery. I asked her where this stuff came from and she told me that the bracelet with the black stones dates from just after she and dad married. She got it on their honeymoon. She laughed as she told me a story about my dad's older brother, Sam, telling everyone how many shoe boxes she came home with. She took pride in telling me that she'd payed for every one of them herself (she had a job as an accountant for a business in Temple when she and dad married).

After dinner we went to her house for a tipple. She busted out the Tia Maria, which is some damn good shit, I wanna tell ya!

We sat around, watching the cats prance around, sipping the good stuff, but then we said our goodbyes and headed down I-35 to Florence.

It was their Homecoming game, and many of my students were up for "King" and "Queen". Those two girls there are both Seniors in my Government class. The lucky Homecoming King ended up with two Queens. You should have seen the look on his face. It was hilarious.

For whatever reason, there were lots of strained muscles on the field Friday night. They were all drinkin' Gatorade, but they had someone fall out with cramps about every other play.

It was a close one. Florence flubbed their first extra point kick, and missed their attempt at two points after their second touchdown. The result, Rosebud-Lott beat them by one point, 13 to 12.

We went down to Austin Saturday to check out a gun show. They have one down there every third weekend of the month. It's not much of a gun show, but what the hell. I can think of a lot of worse things to do passing the time on a Saturday.

There was a show in Dallas last Saturday too, and I knew that some of the cooler vendors would chose to be there and not in Austin, but again, it was fun to walk around the show anyway. Denise ended up finding a cool Christmas present for her old mother in law, and I got a few bags of good hot peppered jerky. One pound bags for $20 each. Reinhold and Timco brand. Hickory smoked, hot and spicy flavor. The stuff tastes really good. Should last me a while.

After that we drove down Barton Springs Road and tried to fins a hotel we could stay at this weekend. We have tickets to a concert this weekend. Turns out we probably waited too long to try to get a room. There doesn't seem to be any rooms anywhere, unless you want to pay $250 to $350 for one night.

Anyway, as we drove North on Congress Avenue we got a great look at the state capitol. Denise asked if it was open and I said "Yes, so long as the legislature isn't in cession." The next cession doesn't start till January, so we decided to check the place out.

Go here and check out the pictures I took in the capitol building. It was a moving experience for an old Texan like me. I've been teachin' about this place for years, but hadn't seen the building from the inside since the late 1970s. It was fun to take Denise around and tell her all about it.

After that we drove back up to Killeen and got tickets to see "Righteous Kill" at the new multiplex theater in Harker Hights. After that we had dinner at the new Chedder's they've just opened. The film turned out to be a disappointment, but the food at Chedder's was great. We didn't get home till about 11:30. It was a long, busy day, but fun. Sunday was just a day to relax.

Anyway, I gotta go teach class. You guys have a great week and we'll chat later. Cheers!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Breakfast of champions...

First off, I posted this thing this morning at 11:30, but then realized all my edits and half the post had disappeared. Friggin' blogger didn't register my edits. Here's hopin' this version stays up for a while. Friggin' Blogger! Now, here's the post...

Not too suggestive I hope. Yea, that's to Corn dogs and a DIET Mountain Dew. Deep fried wonderfulness! Why diet Dew? Type Two my brutha. Full blown soda makes my blood sugar peak. Cut it off cold a few years ago when I found out my sugar was at about 540.

I stop off at a local "stop-n-rob" each mornin' to pick up my goodies. I went without all summer long, no problem, but started goin' back and gettin' this stuff for breakfast again each mornin' when I started teachin' down to Florence again a month or so ago. I'm hooked. Full blown junkie.

I've gained about five pounds since the semester started, pushin' myself back up to about 300 Lbs. Meanwhile, Denise is taking exercise classes out at the main campus. She's goin' to a aerobics class on Monday s and Wednesday and ridin' a stationary bike for an hour in another class on Fridays. She was sore as hell the first week, but she's gotten into it since then and everything is cool.

Meanwhile, I'm porkin' up and startin' to look more like this dude. Oops, sorry ma'am. Guess it was the mustache. Wait, now here's one for the ladies? Mmmm, some decent booze and somethin' to play with later. How freakin' considerate of them!

I usually finish it off the morning meal, ether on the way down or usually on the way up, with a nice stogy...

Like this one. Nice and smooth, and just big enough to last me till I get back up to the base. I've gotten to where I like to buy them in these sorts of lengths, 5 to 5 1/2 inches, so they last about twenty minutes. Usually gets me where I want to go without leavin' much of a nub in the ashtray.

I sat through a job interview this afternoon, for that San Saba job. If I get it I'll be drivin' down to Florence in the mornin', teachin' a few classes down there (M - F). Then I'll be drivin' a little over and hour to San Saba to teach a few classes there (M-Th). Then I'll be drivin' back to Ft Hood to teach a few evening classes. All in all, the driving will be a hastle, but there's money for mileage in the deal and an extra ten grand a year if everything works out the way it should. Maybe after I get my bills payed off I'll drop the Florence classes or the evening classes. Take it easy. Who knows.

The interview went well. Everyone out there knows me, so I should have it sown up unless some other dude shows up with better qualifications. Between you and me though, there ain't anyone around here with better qualifications, so I'll probably get the job.

We're lookin' at another fun weekend. Denise and I will take mom out to eat Chinese food later today. It's my turn to pick the restaurant tonight, so you know where were goin'. Mmmmm! After dinner we'll take mom home and then headin' ether to Academy or Florence to watch a football game.

The kids in Florence are having their Homecoming game tonight, and the kids were decked out in Mums like you wouldn't believe. One big football player showed up in my third period class with Mum on each arm. He was makin' a racket, walkin' up to me and out the door. I told him "You know, that doesn't look gay at all!", and the class erupted in laughter. I couldn't keep a strait face ether. They better win tonight. I'll give 'em hell Monday if they don't.

There's a gun show in Austin this weekend, so we'll probably be headin' down there to check it out. We need to go down there anyway to do a reconnaissance for the concert next weekend. Denise and I have tickets to the ACL festival on Saturday and Sunday. We want to get a hotel room near Zilker Park so we can walk to the gig. It should be fun.

We've also got plans to see a movie and check out a new Cheddar's that's just opened up nearby. We'll see how everything goes.

Anyway, you guys try to have a great weekend and we'll talk again later. Cheers!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sunday dinner with mom.

Mom told us Friday night when we took her out to dinner that she had a roast thawing and was plannin' to put together a feed over the weekend. It turned out she got busy Saturday and never got around to it. That was OK though. We were kinda busy with stuff Saturday too.

We were mostly busy sleepin' in, layin' around and bein' lazy. We were expectin' to wake up to the nasty weather that IKE was supposed to give us. We figured we'd spend the weekend layin' around listenin' to the rain pitter patter on the roof, or somethin' like that, but we didn't get it. We got up late and turned on the TV and watched the news, thanking providence that the high winds decided to blow off to our east and north and passed us by.

Mom called at some point to tell us that the roast was in the oven and everything would be ready by 6PM.

When we arrived, Häagen-Dazs and daiquiri fixin's in hand (we know what she likes), the smells were wafting through the house and the garlic bread was about to be put in the oven to heat.

Denise went right into the task at hand. She's always in charge of the mixed slushy drinks. Mom's got a great blender, and Denise loves to play with it.

Mom always fixes a salad on these occasions. She wants me to eat something green now and then. She loves to whip them up herself, tossin' together her own dressing. It's made with diet mayonnaise, celery seeds, sugar and salad vinegar. All those flavors mix together beautifully.

This is just the beginning. A nice light salad with some of that home made dressing spread over it, and a little tipple, some frozen wonderfulness, to help it all go down smoothly.

By the time I finished the salad and killed off the first round of Daiquiris mom had given us the signal that dinner was served. Of course it's self-serve here, and the cook gets the first go.

Here's the main event. I love those taters and that bread, and I always put some BBQ sauce on the beef, to spice it up a bit. I've been doin' that for as long as anyone can remember. Mom's used to it, so she doesn't get insulted. Good stuff!

And this is the damage. After the main meal there's the frozen lemon meringue pie. Then there's the couch. The slouch on the couch, The TV remote, and the tradition of pulling back the t-shirt to expose said "damage".

What? You HAVE read the blog title, right? Don't you wanna touch it? Aw come on. It's nice 'n cooshy. Go on...

Say hello to... THE BELLY! Be afraid. Be very afraid!

Yep, always gets the desired effect. "Jeffrey Laverne Wilson...!" You know you're in trouble when she busts out with all three names. Been sendin' a chill through me for decades now.

Denise is easily embarrassed, but if she hangs with me long enough she'll eventually get used to it. "COVER UP THAT DAMN THING, YOU CHEEKY SOD!"

Yep, it was another fun family evening, and there's another comin' up. More about that tomorrow. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Been there, done that.

I was whipping' up some brochette shrimp for a pot luck once... Bacon wrapped with as slice of pepper and cheese stuffed in the shrimp. Were' talkin' Tiger Prawns folks. I don't scrimp when it comes to food. I mean, look at me! Anyway, I'd decided to use habaneros. Never tried 'em before but knew they were stout.

While I was getting the production line set up, peelin' the shrimp, cuttin' the little wedges of Monterrey Jack, settin' the bacon aside and choppin' the peppers, I made the mistake of wiping a little persparation from my eyelid. BOY, was that a boo boo!

OK, I dare ya not to laugh. I dare ya.

This is the funniest thing I've seen in a while.

Or maybe this. I dunno.

Yea, that's funny.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yea, I'd do this.

OK, I wouldn't START with this jump. I'd work my way up to it. But still, very cool.

Don't it make ya wanna piss yourself, that very first shot when he's looking down from the edge. Yep, soilin' your armor.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Getting home.

We woke up early at the super cheapo hotel off I-30 and set off on our last day of driving. Getting out of the room and packing the car I noticed this monstrosity parked across the way. Had to show it to ya.

She (?) may be a "Diva", but she's got shitty taste in car detailing. Lord above!

We stopped to eat at Brown's Country Store, which used to be a big attraction on the return trips from canoeing the Buffalo National River, back in the 1980s and early '90s. But it's just not as fun when you're not showing up with 15 or 20 other grungy canoers, hittin' the place on a Sunday afternoon and walkin' through the buffet with folks that are all decked out in their church clothes. We were almost alone there, getting there just after it opened for lunch (they don't do breakfast) so we just ate our fill and moved on out. The next time we stopped was in northeast Texas, when we chose to stop and examine a little outlet mall in Mount Pleasant.

It's basically an old mall from the '60s or 70's, with the stores taken over by retail outlets. Not much there, but bargains if you look hard enough. I ended up pickin' up a new pair of really nice cargo shorts for like $5! Can't beat that. Well, you can, but I'm probably not gonna have access any time soon (like I did when I was "boating" with the Navy) to those markets in Thailand where all the knock off shorts are sold for a buck or two, so $5 will do.

Denise took over the drivin' after we left the outlet store. Pretty soon she started to get hungry for a snack (I can ALWAYS eat) and before I knew it she'd slid up to the drive-through window at a Dairy Queen, somewhere like Sulphur Springs, and we were orderin' a couple of medium sized Blizzards to hold us till we got home.

I was a pooped padna, by then, ready to get home.

That Blizzard changed my mood! Must'a been the chocolate, or the toffee bits from the Heath bars they crushed up in there. Mmmmm, to die for!

Some time after that I called mom to tell her we were back in Texas and to give her an accurate ETA. We'd told her earlier that we'd probably stop by her place on the way home. Of course, the ulterior motive there was the chance that she might whip somethin' up to feed us. She surprised me by tellin' me that she had the makin's for Chicken Enchiladas, and that she'd have them put together and in the oven by the time we got there!

This is one of her best dishes, and a favorite of anyone who's ever been privileged to get to experience a sit down dinner at her house. Best restaurant in Temple... Ask anyone. Ask my cousin Bob. Every time she fixes this dish I call him to tease him about it. He responds with stuff like "Ooooh, you mother fucker!", and other such profanity that such times would call for.

She got away from fixin' this dish while my father was alive, having to fix simple things for him that he'd eat, that wouldn't upset his diet. Now that he's passed she's gotten back into the kitchen and has started to think like the old master chef she used to be. It's one of the things that I love to see her doing now, showing us that she's moving on after dad's passing and thinking of her own pleasure.

She sits around the house and it hits her that she hasn't made something like this in a while. She gets herself hungry for it and the next thing you know we're gettin' the call to come over and share a treat. Of course, the food's damn good, so I can't say I'm NOT just happy to see her in the kitchen for the sake of her own well being. I'm lovin' every minute of it. Who looses?

After the dinner she whipped a store-bought blueberry pie and ice cream out of the fridge. At her age the store-bought brands are MUCH more fun to serve. I can understand that, but I do miss the old lemon marange pies and chocolate cakes she used to make me for my birthday. Yea, how the hell do you think I got this way? What? Yea, I know. Type Two. Never mind. One of these days she'll be planted next to dad and I'll go on a diet. Until then, fuck it!

So how was the food, and the after dinner tipple? One word... BLISS!

After dinner with Mom, with the spoils of war nestled securely at my feet, Denise drove us home to my place in Killeen, and the trip was finally over.

4163 miles, driven through at least a dozen states, with about 600 or 700 pictures to cull and photoshop, and with the wonderful memories of many old friends visited and new friends met. Both of us said, after getting home, that if we could pack the car again and get another two weeks off we'd do it all again in a heart beat! As it is, we have to wait a year, but the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. Before we all know it we'll be on the road again and you'll have more of this shit to read about.

We unloaded the car and started to do laundry, beginning the detox from the road and the preparations for the next week at work. It was a good thing that we had Sunday to lay around and relax. Otherwise it would have been a harder transition back to the real world.

Pretty soon the cats started to wander into the house and Denise got mobbed. Her they mob... Me they still avoid. They know who's more likely to talk sweet to them and pet them, and who's more likely to try to grab them or throw something at them if they make too damn much noise. Me they know. They've been dodgin' pillows for years!

Aaaaah, did I say something about the spoils of war? Four-and-a-half cases of Yuengling Traditional Lager, piled up in the laundry room, just waitin' to be enjoyed. My stocks are replenished for the year. Mission accomplished!

Well, that's it folks. Come over for a beer if you're ever in the area. I'll treat ya to the good stuff. Cheers!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Slept through Ike.

It turned out the storm passed by us, far enough to our east that all we got out of it was cloudy skies and drizzle. Some cousins of mine who live in Houston rode the storm out in a nice house on the northwest side. They're without power now, and they've lost trees and fences, but everyone is OK. We've told them if they want to they've always got rooms up here. We'll see.

Friday turned out to be better than I thought it would be. My sister called me and told me she'd decided to have only one cat put down. She's gonna change the diabetic cats diet and see if it gets better. I'd like to see her put that one down too, but I can understand the desire to try anything before going there.

She called me while I was in line at the bank, getting the money to pay for everything. So it was a relief to find out that our mom had decided to put up the money. $230 to give one cat the jab, cremate it and provide the box for the ashes. I know. I can hear you thinkin'... .22 double tap and a shallow grave in the back yard... But it's my sisters cat and I couldn't do that. Hell, I couldn't do that to my own babies. Now, if one of you get's to feelin' a little puny, we'll talk.

We ended up goin' over and takin' mom to Green's sausage house in Zabcikville for dinner. They make wonderful burgers and onion rings, and have a few decent brands of beer on tap. It's a little down home type place, so we have to wait a while for service, but we get to experience the local flavor while we do it. Old friends, farmers and such, bumpin' into one another and everyone in the little place gets to hear their conversation. It was a lot of fun. Gives me a little taste of what it's like to live in a place all your life and know everyone. I always thought that would be cool.

On the way out there we drove through downtown Temple. On the way we found a new Irish pub, O'Briens. We stopped there on the way back from Green's and found out that it's a pretty cool place. The bar, with about a dozen brands of good beer on tap (more in bottles) and a stage for live music on the first floor, pool tables on the second, and a still unfinished third floor that will eventually serve food after it's remodeled. I hope the place makes it. It'd be cool to have a place like that to hang out in. In fact, I wish it were in Killeen. Next time we go I'll get pictures.

Like I said, we slept in today, through the storm, and got up in the afternoon to click on the TV and see the damage done to Galveston and Houston. Just as we were telling ourselves how lucky we were to miss it all the power went out. Shit! It flicked on and off a few times and then went out for about an hour. Probably just a transformer blowing. That kind of thing happens with tedious regularity around here.

Anyway, while the power was off we sat around on the couch and I phoned around to see if it was a wide spread thing or if maybe I'd just forgot to pay the light bill. While I was fiddlin' with the phone I realized I still had about a dozen shots stored in there from Graceland. I sent them all to the hard drive and once the power came on again I got them all fixed, to the extent you can with the photo shop. Here's a taste.

The flag that was draped over his coffin, I'm assuming, because of his military service...

The hand ball court, turned into a display of gold records, awards and such...

A shot of the pool, showing you that is was still pissing down rain...

And the lounge just before you went into the hand ball court. The tape said that Elvis spent his last morning here, playing this piano and singin' for friends.

Well, that's enough for now. I'll finish the road trip later. You guys enjoy your Sunday, and lets all say a prayer for the folks that weren't so lucky, down by the coast. Cheers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

OK, this dude's a nut!

French jet, Mirage 2000, Maybe? Reminds me of that pod race scene in one of those Star Wars flicks. Crazy.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Graceland, and other stuff.

Well, today was just gonna be the post about Graceland, but I got a call, actually several, late last night from my sister. She's got two cats that are sick, slowly dying, and she's decided to take them both in today to give them the shot.

One is about 18 years old and increasingly frail, unable or unwilling to eat. The other is diabetic and has to be given shots every day. Both are way past the time when life had any real value... The point where keeping them alive only serves to save us the pain of their departure. They're my sisters children, having filled a void, replacing a daughter that she lost at birth many years ago. She's not taking it well, as you can imagine, but she's gonna do the right thing.

I told her, consoling her, that this is the last duty we all have as pet owners. It's how we can pay these critters back for all the years of unconditional love they give us. I told her that if we were really "humane' to one another we'd take each other to get the shot when the time came, in stead of trying to extend life to the bitter end while the sick or old lay unconscious in a fetal position in a hospital bed or old folks home and shit in a bag. I sure as hell won't go out that way!

Anyway, I'm gonna go over there after work today and help her take both cats to the vet. I'll probably end up payin' for it too. She may surprise me though and go get it done on her own. We'll see. It's all very sad, but it's what you've gotta do. This means the regular Friday with Mom and Denise may be postponed to another day. We'll see.

It looks like we're gonna be inundated with rain from this hurricane over the weekend. The shit storm is expected to dump down on us at any moment, but just rain. The real wind and crap will be way off to the south. At times like this you realize how truly cool it is that Texas is as big as it is. People are already evacuating from the coast up to this area and the local high schools are canceling games or moving them up to get them played. My kids in Florence played their regular Friday night varsity football game Thursday night in Blanco. They lost. The girls volleyball team won though. They rule!

As far as how I'm doin', things are kinda up in the air around here. I haven't heard anything yet about the new gig in San Saba, and my personal life is stumbling along in a tediously familiar mine field, littered now and then with huge piles of steaming horse shit. I came home happy from playing pool Wednesday night (I won, shockingly, against a much better player) and ended up in a screaming fight. Things may be coming to a head, but I never can tell when it comes to these things. I'm too new at it. All I know is, this familiar refrain is getting really, really old.

As far as how I'm doin', things are kinda up in the air around here. I haven't heard anything yet about the new gig in San Saba, and my personal life is stumbling along in a tediously familiar mine field, littered now and then with huge piles of steaming horse shit. I came home happy from playing pool Wednesday night (I won, shockingly, against a much better player) and ended up in a screaming fight. Things may be coming to a head, but I never can tell when it comes to these things. I'm to new at it. All I know is, this familiar refrain is getting really, really old.

So, having bummed you out, let's talk about this trip through Graceland.

As I told you before, Denise and I payed our $32 each to get the head gear and the guided tour by tape recorder, boarded the bus and began the tour by taking a walk through "the big house".

As you can see from these pictures, the decor in the house is still stuck in the styles of the mid 70s. They don't let you use a flash in the house, or anywhere else, so all of these shots turned out dark. I had to photoshop them to try to lighten them up, and that's taken for-friggin' ever. Some times it worked out and some times it didn't.

It's funny, having grown up in the early 70s, walking through the place and finding yourself thinking stuff like "Oh cool, I love that couch", and then "Oh shit, green shag carpeting and Tiki chairs? Oh no he didn't!"

All in all, I have to say I loved the style of the place. It all looked WAY too familiar, reminding me of the stuff I grew up around back in the day. We all had those houses back then with a formal living room where you weren't allowed to touch anything, and then the comfortable den where you lived. Lots of dark wood paneling and yellow shag carpeting in my past.

I have to say that I've never really been much of an Elvis fan. I grew up with the older, Las Vegas version, and the bad movies. The pop culture folks of my era seemed way cooler to me than that. In retrospect though, I really love the young guy I saw in the pictures here. The guy who went to the army rather than pulling strings to get out of it. The guy who payed off other peoples mortgages and bought them cars (you can see the checks below). Walking through the house, thinking about that guy, morning the death of his mother, thinking about his life as an outsider in school, I really began to feel for him. I even teared up a few times.

Looking at the displays, you get the image of a poor kid, different and brilliant beyond anyones understanding, kind and generous to a fault, who was manipulated, used and coddled by others till he ended up dying way too young. Live fast, die young and leave a bloated, drug addled corpse. Of course, it turns out that many of my other pop culture icons from the 70s didn't end up much better than "The King". I guess none of us really will get out of this alive, as someone said.

The house was cool, and the tour tape you listen to was really well done. The grave site out by the pool was truly moving. I found myself really feeling sympathy for the guy by the time we got there. Sympathy for the kid who flashed onto the world scene and should have had better guidance.

But what the hell. He lived a rich, if short life, and his legacy today is not only millions of fans who still celebrate him, displaying a slavish love for him, but the fact that he's still earning money and paying the bills for all the hundreds, if not thousands of people who keep this place going every day.

Bottom line, that kid who burst onto the worlds consciousness in the early 1950s is still the coolest thing there ever was. Can you imagine how cool he'd be if he were still around today? But you can say that about way too many of the pop culture icons of his day. It's very sad, but what can ya do.

By far, the coolest stuff I found was in the private plane museum and car museum. It was hilarious to see the 1970s TVs and stereo equipment all over the place. I though his taste in cars was mostly questionable. The Stutz Blackhawk was about the ugliest thing I've ever seen.

I loved this purple thing though. Any ideas what this is? Come on, Lin or Bruno, spill it. I found The King had much better taste in motorcycles. Those were cool as hell!

This big trike reminded me immediately of the stuff I saw when a friends dad took us to a car show in the early 70s in Missouri.

See what I mean? Very cool!

As we wound around the house, to the hand ball court and almost to the grave out by the pool, I started to have issues with my camera. The batteries were wearing down and I hadn't thought to toss a few extras in my pocket. So I repeatedly turned it off to save power and then turn it on again to take another shot.

I've found in the past that when the thing tells me the batteries are dead I can turn it off, let the charge build up again and get a few extra shots out of it. So I was doing that, over and over, more than ever before, until the camera began to behave in strange ways.

It would go dead on me, but unlike the usual occurrence where the camera shuts down and the lens folds back into the camera body, this time the lens would stay extended. When the camera was turned back on the focus would extend to it's maximum level and then stick there. I had to force the lens back into the body while turning it on and off again.

After the thing died on me I cussed myself for not carrying extra batteries, and then I realized that I could still take pictures with my phone. Shitty pictures, admittedly, but still... After getting through the house and the grave site I walked in the steady drizzle back to the car and got new batteries for the camera. But the friggin' thing still didn't work. No change.I would turn it on and then the lens would extend all the way out and stick there. That's when I was REALLY cussin'. I thought I was truly fucked, having abused this poor little piece of Chinese crap beyond it's capacity.

Then it hit me. I started to console myself, thinking that I'd gotten my moneys worth from this one and now I could go out and get one of the slimmer, more portable (concealable), better cameras I always love to fondle at the store.I forced the lens down one more time, put my camera in my pocket and continued to walk through the private plane museum and the car museum, taking shitty pictures with my phone. By the time we got most of the way through the cars the phone was filling up. SHIT!!!! So I started to send the pictures to my hard drive and erase them, one by one, so I could take more. FUCK!!!!

Out of frustration, hoping for the best, I took my camera back out and tried it again and the friggin' thing worked perfectly! Relief! I walked back to the start of the car museum and ran through it quickly, taking better, but still dark shots of the cool stuff there. The camera still works fine today, so my lust for a smaller, lighter, cooler camera has once again been put on hold.

In the end, after walking past all the t-shirts that i knew I'd never wear and other souvenirs that were up for sale I ended up getting two Elvis CDs, one Blues/Rock and the other Country, and the drink cozy you see above (the head didn't come with it, but it completes the picture, don't you think?). After listening to the country music CD I ended up giving it away. Yuk! But the first half of that Blues/Rock CD is WONDERFUL!

By the time we got through all of that, we'd been walking around this place for about 4 four hours! Pooped, to say the least, and soaking wet. With the rain showing no signs of letting up we decided to blow off walking down Beale street and our plans to eat good BBQ and listen to good music. We can come back next year and do that another night.

Who knew that as we drove on west, into Arkansas, that the countryside would be completely friggin' bereft of other, decent food options. We ended up going without, driving all the way to the outskirts of Little Rock and staying the night in a cheap, unpleasant little hotel right off I-30.

By then Denise and I had gotten on one anthers very last nerve and the vibe was chilly. It didn't get much better until about half way through the next day. More about that later.

Enough is enough for now. I'll put an end to this road trip drama in the next post. It's gone on way to long on this blog and I'm getting sick to death of talking about it. Of course, if I could rewind and do it all over again I'd jump at it. Next year can't get here fast enough. But we'll talk. Cheers.