Thursday, February 26, 2009

Shootin' at Dave's, again.

Went up to Gatesville last President's Day to shoot with a few good friends. It was our friendly way to celebrate the day.

Dave's dog Red doesn't like loud noises, so she kept her distance when she saw the guns being stacked on the back of Dave's flat bed truck. You can see her head sticking out of the tall grass there in this shot.

But she's got good reason not to like the sight or sound. When Dave's family found her she had a scar, like a grazing shot down her side. Someone had taken a shot at her. She's a survivor, fer sure.

Dave and I work for the guy on the right there. Jim Nixon is a great guy, an old hand with a six gun, and a decent boss to work for. He was an award winning pistol shooter in his day, almost an Olympian, and he's still not half bad. I've got a huge amount of respect for him, and I'm not saying that because he might see this post. I'd want to hang with him even if he hadn't been my boss since I started working of the college on the base in 1995.

He's been hearing about our shooting events and wanting to come up and shoot with us at Dave's for a long time, and it finally came to pass.

He's a huge fan of old guns, and even new guns with a classic old design. He's a pistol guy. It's funny how that goes. Dave's thing is Civil Car muskets and rifles. My thing is the Kalashnikov, and other military rifles. The Dean there mostly goes for pistols, and really likes older, western movie type stuff. But he's got a HUGE collection of lots of stuff. It's big. Mythic.

There's a joke that goes around the campus on base. The guys say that if the shit really goes down, they're all gonna come to my house. I've got enough stuff to fit out a squad or so. Then, were all gonna go to the Deans place. That'll be the stronghold.

Of course, very few of us expect the shit to go down any time soon, but bein' ready is fun enough. He's always giving me shit about the stuff I like. He thinks AKs are crap. Well, on a certain level, they are. But you like what you like.

Kalashnikovs worked their way into my consciousness early, lookin' at pictures of folks in Asia, Africa and the Middle East carryin' the things around. I've been hooked ever since then.

So it was particularly fun to get him to shoot one of my Kalashnikovs. Turns out, even after two tours in Vietnam, he'd never shot one.

He's always giving me shit about them, wondering why I don't want to get "a real gun"... like a Colt six gun or a Winchester '74. Hey, to each his own. If I have the time, and it all doesn't become illegal soon, I'll end up with all that stuff too.

Here's a shot of some of the gear I brought for the days fun. That's my Hungarian side folder, a Russian bayonet and Bakelite clip. That short clip is a ten rounder for shooting blanks. The blanks were to test the home made rifle grenade you see there on the top right. You see it's in two pieces. A work in progress.

This is a shot of our buddy Joe's stash. That's a Yugo folder on the left. I worked on it for him a while back, putting that new top cover and scope rail on it for him. The cover didn't fit when he took it out of the box. He asked me about a good gunsmith. I told him "Hell, just bring it to the house." So he left it with me one Saturday and I did my magic. It was fun. He added the scope and now he's poppin' head shots on the targets like a pro. Good times!

That "Pistol" you see there sitting on the case there in the center is a Kel Tec PLR-16. It's a pistol that shoots .223 from M-16 clips. It's one of the loudest friggin' guns I've ever seen. He's got a collimator sight on the top of it, and a flashlight (Laser pointer?) there under the nose. Mmmm, home defense! Ya gotta love it.

These are brother Dave's two new Winchester Garands. Ever since he and I were hired to be full-time Profs, he's gone nuts, buyin' stuff from the CMP. He's got about four M-1s now, produced by various folks. He ordered me my Garand last year, and still slobbers on himself when I take it out and let him shoot it.

Of course, he's a good shooter. I'm tryin' to pick up a few things from him when I go up there to shoot, but he's been doin' it seriously for about as long as I've been alive. So I've got some serious catchin' up to do.

We all took turns shooting from his handy, home made bench rest, set up at the 50 yard mark.

This is Joe, gettin' ready to shoot his "pistol". I was eggin' him on, dyin' to let the Dean see this little toy in action. Of course, I had a plan of my own.

Joe stepped up and started blastin' away, one shot at a time (the PLR is semi-auto), tryin' to hit the targets from our position at 50 yards.

As he did, I took up my Kalashnikov and folded back the stock. I focused on the pile of rocks that had been bulldozed up at the edge of the field when the power company came through and cleared the land next to Dave's burm and sank poles for new power lines. You can't see them here. They're far to the right of these targets.

I said somethin' like "Naaa, this is how you do it," and started blastin' away, holding the rifle at my hip and pullin' the trigger again and again, as fast as I could. Pieces of bolder went everywhere, and there were heads shakin' and smiles all around.

A little while later, Dave and the Dean were carefully shootin' one of Dave's new Garands, sighting it in when we heard a shout from the road. Apparently someone had been driving along the road that runs near Dave's shooting range when I was killin' those rocks. They called the Sherri's department. Next thing you know, we're standing there and hear "Sheriff's Department! Can you come to the fence?"

We all laughed our asses off as Dave sheepishly walked over behind the cypress scrub by the fence and talked to the authorities. I was hopin' they'd walk on up to where we were shooting. It would have been fun to see the look on their face when they saw my AK, or Joe's PLR-16. Those pictures would be great.

In the end, we went on to shoot pistols, in this case it;s the dean shooting an old 1911. He was plinkin' the target at 50 yards. Damn good shootin'.

In the end, it was a fun day. The Dean said somethin; about how we should do it all again, and maybe build a fire and grill some steaks. Sounds like a wonderful time.

I got a call from Dave a while back. There's a Gun Show in Belton this weekend. We made basic plans to meet there at about noon on Saturday and check it out. Should be a good time.

Anyway, you guys have a good time this weekend. Denise and I are going to Austin tonight to see Johnny Lang at the Paramount. The plan is to hit Pappasito's first and have some more of that good Mexican food you saw in the last post. I've got someone covering my classes in Florence Friday morning, so my weekend's already begun.

So, we'll talk again next week. Cheers!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Valentines weekend.

The little woman and I slept in last Saturday and then surprised one another with gifts. I had to dive for the floor at one point as I snuck into the bedroom with flowers and a big balloon. It looked like she was rollin' over and wakin' up. It was funny as hell. Made for a fun morning.

After that we drove down to Austin and had dinner at Pappasito's. It's a place we love, and consider a special treat. It was already crowded with valentines day revelers when we got there, so we had to sit outside under the space heaters for 45 minutes or so before we got a table.

When a table out there opened up we snagged it, and got started with the first rounds of drinks and chips-n-salsa. That's a Shiner Bock for me on the left and a Strawberry margarita on the right for Denise. She swears by their margaritas. Loves 'em.

When we got inside it was time for round two of everything, with the added pleasure of a bowl of their queso dip with the spicy ground beef added.

We both ordered enchiladas, and I got a side order of four Brochette Shrimp.

Denise ordered two chicken Enchiladas and I got the combination; one chicken and one beef.

Don't get me wrong. The enchiladas are wonderful, but it's always the shrimp I look forward to. They're split, stuffed with a wedge of bell pepper and cheese, wrapped in bacon and grilled. They pour this wonderful butter, garlic and white wine sauce over it when they grill it, and then give you more of the stuff to dip the shrimp in before you put it in your mouth. Mmmmmmm.

I know. I should just stop. Well hell, get down there and get yourself some!

OK, that was Saturday. After we left Pappasito's we went to Macy's for a bit, and then drove on to Fredericksburg. We had a reservation for Saturday night at the Sunday Inn, just up from the main strip there on the east side of town.

It turned out to be a bit old, but very comfortable and reasonably priced. And you can't beat the location for the price. You can easily walk to the Nimitz Museum and the rest of the strip from there.

The VERY first stop Sunday, after rollin' out of the hotel at noon, was the Auslander. Why, you may ask? Check out the beer selection there above. The lighting in these shots is a bit weird, the sun showing through the slats in the lattice over our heads. We were sitting out in the beergarten section.

Furthermore, check out the 34 oz. Paulaner Hefe Weizen I had for brunch! That's Denise's "Shandy" (Shiner Bock amixed with 7-Up) there on the left.

We kicked brunch off with and order of beer battered, deep fried 'shrooms. Denise loves the ranch dip but I prefer the honey mustard. I've found few things in my life so far that aren't improved with a dollop of the stuff. Few things!

There were a few younger couples sitting in the table next to us, so when my beer arrived it set off a little comotion. One of the guys said "Oh man, that's cheatin'," as if I'd gotten an unfair advantage on the days drinking.

In the end he ordered himself one, peer pressure being a beotch, and then had it half finished by the time I downed mine and we got up to go. His buddy looked up at me and said "Well he can walk!" I said something about how I loved to corrupt people, and we all laughed and parted company.

When the main feed began, Denise went for the Jaegerschnitzel burger. It's like chicken fried steak, if you've never gone there. Denise lived in Germany for many years and learned to love the stuff there.

I went for the Bacon Cheeseburger with all the works. It's so friggin' huge they have to bring it to you like this. You have to gently hoist the one half up and place it on the other, and then I cut the thing in half so it's a bit more manageable.

It's just delish!

After all that we walked up and down the strip, visiting stores and buying some of the local wine. I'd sit outside, smokin' a cigar while Denise went in to check out the stores. Usually she'd come back talkin' about how nice the stuff was, but how silly the prices were. She's a pretty sensible gal, that little lady of mine.

In an hour or so I was ready for dessert. We stopped at one of the local places there on the strip and I got one scoop of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

Denise went for the Butter Pecan. Mmmmmmm, good stuff.

One of the places we stopped was this little shop. "Bath Junkie" sells all sorts of bath items. Lotions and soaps and the like. I immediately fell for the little rubber duckie in the window.

I had to have the James Brown in the red jump suit! can you make him out there? Sixth from the left, front row. Denise thought I was nuts, but I begged like a fool and she went in and got it for me. She's SUCH a sweetie!

Now, the hardest workin' rubber duckie in show business has a place of honor on my desk at home. I couldn't be happier.

On the drive back north we headed by Enchanted Rock, and stopped at one ranch to look at the elk. We've been by there before and seen them, but this time a few of them had come right up to the fence. So we joined the crowd and stopped to take pictures. Ain't he majestic?

They had other exotic critters there too. Any ideas what this one is. It's about the size of a White Tail.

The elk were amazing to watch, almost really hamming it up for the camera.

One of these days I'd love to have one of those heads over my fireplace, and the hide on my couch. Mmmmm, and them's good eatin' too.

Finally, on the drive East on 29 from Llano to Burnet, we stopped along the road to see some Eagles in a nest along the Llano river. They were far enough away that I could barely make them out with my little camera, but you can clearly see the white head there. Maybe momma is feedin' the kiddies.

Anyway, we got home by about 5PM on Sunday, and then it was the couch for Denise and the computer for me, trying to get as many of these shots done as I could. If you want, you can go to my FlickR site and see more of them. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gov't Mule and the Disco Biscuts, at the House of Blues in Dallas.

oSo, my girlfriend and I met a few very close friends in Dallas a week or so ago and spent the night enjoying some great food and music.

There was some drama attached to the evening. There was a HUGE cluster fuck with the balcony seats I bought. I won't harsh your mellow with those details though. Suffice to say, we all had a great time consuming great food at the Hoffbrau in the West End, and then listening to excellent music at the House of Blues; Gov't Mule and the Disco Biscuits.

First, the great food. The Hoffbrau makes a killer Teriyaki steak. Wonderful stuff. Denise ordered this one, and a baked spud. Next time I may have to get this myself.

I went for the bacon cheeseburger and the wedge fries. It's fillin', I wanna tell ya. Wonderful!

Both Jim and I went with the tall Shiner Bock off the tap. Denise had a shandy, and I think Terry had water. She's not much of a drinker.

Of course, when we got to the gig, the drinking continued. I think Jim got the first few rounds and then I took over. Those are 7&7s for Denise and Jim, and a Rum & Coke for me. I think we must have gone through about four rounds.

The Disco Biscuits came out at about 8:30PM and played for about an hour. I'd checked them out on Youtube and wasn't expecting much, but they grew on me. By the end of their set I was really enjoying them. They do a long instrumental thing that reminded me of some of the stuff I used to love from bands like Yes, But mostly they did a lot of hippie noodling, like The Dead or Phish. The guitar player, Jon Gutwillig, can play his ass off. He really jams!

After about 20 or 30 minutes to switch out the gear, the main attraction hit the stage. Warren Haynes and Gov't Mule played a set of their own music for about two hours. While the others sat back and kept their seats at the table we found near the bar, I elbowed my way to the front of the crowd. The music was bliss, and the vibe was all friendly.

If you've never seen these guys, you need to work them into your schedule. Warren is one of the best Blues/Rock guitar players that's ever lived. Hands down, he's one of the best alive today. He took a position with the Allman Brothers about twenty years ago. Hitting it off with his band mates, they formed formed a side group, affectionately called "The Mule", in about 1995 with Allen Woody and Mat Abts, all of whom had been added to the Allman Brothers line up in about 1989.

Allen Woody passed away in 2000, and since then the band has gone through some other personnel changes. The current line up includes Haynes on Guitar, Abts on drums, Danny Louis on keyboards, and Jorgen Carlsson on Bass.

They took a break for a while after playin' for about two hours, leavin' Abts on stage to bang away on his drums. Abts did an amazing drum solo, switching from sticks to hands at one point. Then Carlsson came out, stood in a spotlight and began a steady bass beat. In the end, the Mule played for three hours, from about 10PM to 1AM. It was wonderful.

In the end that beat turned into the Pink Floyd tune "Pigs On The Wing". They did a few Floyd tunes, and then "When The Levee Breaks". After that the guys from Disco Biscuits came out and they played Nirvana's "In Bloom". After that the show ended, and we spilled out into the street, blissfully happy to have sat through the four and a half hour experience. You can check the pictures here at my FlickR page.

And after the ticket drama I just went though with this concert, it feels good to have the next set of tickets in hand. Denise and I are set to see Johnny Lang in a week or so in Austin, at the Paramount theater. It should be good. I'll have the camera, so You'll see what I see. Cheers!