Monday, January 31, 2005

Partial Review of "Wild America"

Cattle Egrets Invade America, Circa 1952

As some of you know who ever look at my sidebar, I am currently taking forever to finish reading a book called "Wild America". This is a 1955 book about the U.S. travels of two naturalists, Roger Tory Peterson, American, and James Fisher, British, both of them professional writers. The American is the author of some of the most popular field bird guides in America over the past few decades.

I was surprised to find them carrying on with great glee about the cattle egrets they and others began to spot around America in the early fifties. Sightings occurred in Massachusetts, Florida, and even one in Chicago. The men were practically jumping up and down about sightings of one, two, or three of these birds, finally becoming Glorious with a report from Texas of twenty of the egrets sighted at once!

It seemed surprising to me because cattle egrets have been as common as dirt—more aptly, as common as cattle—my entire life here in Texas, and are not a rare bird in other states. The cattle egrets stay close under the feet of the cows, eating the grasshoppers and so forth stirred up by the large animals. Yum.

So, what I learned was that cattle egrets were totally new to America back when I was about four years old. Peterson had made a special trip from London to Spain only a few years before in order to see these birds! Now the birds had traveled a thousand miles across the Atlantic Ocean to him, though no one knew quite how.

I've read before how some European birds have ended up on the America continent while others have not, or how migration patterns of birds will shift over time until they are no longer seen in their old haunts and they begin to thrive in new locations. Still, I've never been as impressed by such descriptions, it's never seemed as real, as in the case of the 20" high cattle egret, that is so familiar and common in my own neighborhood and time, having been so rare and unexpected in 1952.


Bet we could get some boogers out of there!
"Pick your nose, buddy?"

For other cattle egret photos, see this page.
Allright, I admit my "reviews" are somewhat iffy. They're perfectly true and as accurate as I can make them, they're just not quite reviews! I am not going to back away from them just because sometimes they're screwy—I like it that way.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Bring In The Give Me The Booger Blogger

Ah! The adolescent in me still loves to say that word! Booger! Be that as it may, I just love all these great and energetic women writers I've found lately, and here's another one.

Introducing today (or was it yesterday?) a link to the very entertaining blog, "Give Me The Booger". Naturally, it's being added to the "Intelligent Blogs" list in my busy-colored sidebar. It's the only list I have.

As you might surmise, she has children. SJ is a very funny and opinionated woman. You can read one of her early posts, Mass production of boogers, for a short hint at where her blog title originated.

Who's An Old Cowhand? Not Me, Doofus!

I was just feeling this way and hearing the tune in my head, so I looked it up for you. You're welcome. I'm a city boy, but obviously so was the guy who wrote the song, so I'm allowed. I gave writing credit below the song title, but I was puzzled about how many of the Internet sites did not give credit at all. Many, if not most, seemed to give credit to whichever of the many singers of the tune had been their favorite. Maybe that's not how they meant it and they thought you and I would intuitively JUST KNOW it. But if I just knew who the author was, I'd also just know which singer the sitemaster was imagining in his head! If I spent much time Just Knowing stuff, I would've just known these lyrics and would not have been looking them up! Let's face it, bloggers; whatever our shortcomings and whatever we're looking for in cyberspace, we can always find somebody else on the Internet who's a bigger doofus than we are!

"I'm An Old Cowhand"
by Johnny Mercer

I'm an old cowhand from the Rio Grande
And my legs ain't bowed, my cheeks ain't tanned
I'm a cowboy who never saw a cow
Never roped a steer 'cause I don't know how
And I sure ain't fixin' to start in now
Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay, Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay

I'm an old cowhand from the Rio Grande
And I learned to ride 'fore I learned to stand
I'm a riding fool who is up to date
I know every trail in the Lone Star state
'cause I ride the range in a Ford V-8
Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay

And I come to town just to hear the band
I know all the songs that the cowboys know
'bout the big corral where the dogies go
'cause I learned them all on the radio
Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay
Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay
Yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay


Friday, January 28, 2005

How Evelyn Lived With Germ Warfare

From A Dream

Evelyn jerked awake and leaped out of bed, ready to continue running. Before she realized where she was, she'd stumbled and nearly tripped over the chair close beside the bed. What a horrible dream she'd had about that cemetery!

She sat on the edge of the bed, breathing hard, groping on the night stand for her water glass, thinking about taking a Tylenol, afraid to go back to sleep. Ever since she was a little girl, she'd been able to run like a deer and had always been proud of it, but these dreams of shame in which she was too fat instead of too thin just kept coming now. She remembered what the boys in junior high and high school used to say about her, almost to her face.

"Look at that, she's built like a boy," they'd tell each other as she passed by, making sure that she could hear them.

Most often, everyone laughed, sometimes including other girls, until Evelyn's face burned. She'd always pretended not to hear, of course. It seemed as if she was the last girl in her school to develop breasts. In school, of course, she didn't yet know that she never would develop enough curves to suit the boys.

But things didn't stop at that. Sometimes a boy would touch her lightly in the hall and for a moment she'd enjoy the touch, thinking he was getting her attention to tell her something, something she might want to hear. But then he'd groan and wipe his hand on someone and scream, "You've got Evelyn on you!"

While Evelyn blushed and tried to shrug it all off, pretend it hadn't happened, the next boy had passed it on.

"Hey! You've got Evelyn Flat-chest on you!"

On and on it went, to the next, and the next, each one repeating the same hurtful, hateful haunting words, with everyone in the hallway laughing hysterically, until the terrible, ugly message had traveled so far down the hall that her humiliation traveled before her, far out of her actual hearing. As if the touch were spreading a disease through a colony, and she was only the original carrier. The message stopped, she presumed, when bells rang and the halls cleared.

She remembered another girl in the school that they subjected to this pass-the-germ game, Evelyn suddenly remembered. Her name was Sarah Jane something-or-other, and she too had been really plain and skinny. Evelyn had been present in the hallway once when a boy she knew wiped Sarah Jane's "germ" on a new boy in school and the new boy had just pushed him away and laughed.

"What the hell do I care, stupid?" the new boy said calmly. "You just wiped more of your damn homo germs on me than hers. At least, she's a girl, not a little fag!"

The new boy pushed the other boy down repeatedly, then kicked him until the boy finally managed to scramble to his feet and run away. Evelyn had been so thrilled with the mean boy's unexpected humiliation that she forgot to even look and see how Sarah Jane had taken it. She became infatuated with the ferocious new boy then and there, feeling that she'd found someone with some kind of sense of decency. She'd hoped that some day she might even have some excuse to talk to him, but a few weeks later, she heard that the boy was expelled for fighting. She presumed he was transferred to another school; anyway, Evelyn never saw him again. Germ Warfare continued at her school, in her own and every other case. So much for adult supervision.

Joys Of Youth

When young, Evelyn wasn't allowed to be a little girl at all; instead, she was some sort of defamatory idea, some wild, unwholesome reproof to her whole society. It communicated a terrible, unbearable, irrefutable knowledge to her—a taste of that bitter tree of knowledge, the tree of good and evil. It was her first big bite, and she choked on it horribly. She'd discovered what nobody wants to know, that people are evil—children, not less so, but more so, than the adults. Like Satan, they have not yet learned forbearance or shame.

"Why do adults grow up and forget all this?" she wondered. Was it because most adults were still as amoral as they'd been when they themselves had tortured the Uglies as children? Probably so, she concluded.

"They didn't care then, they don't care now," she thought.

Perhaps because she now had children, she hated to consider that cloud of inviolate pride and unqualified love that descends on parents and blinds them to their progeny. The cloud that makes them incapable of believing what they used to know, that children—probably even their own—can be more wicked than any adult.

Out Of The Hospital

But Evelyn knew, and she always had known. She didn't look good and she hadn't felt very good, either, not since she'd stopped being just a thin sweet child and become a skinny monster, someone incessantly tortured in public. The whole world had been spoiled for her before she was thirteen. She was 34 now, and only a month out of the hospital this time. Even if she some day got "normal" again, she'd never get her sense of security back. She knew that she'd never belong to any community without being at its mercy. Her life was ruined in a fashion, regardless of any improvements that might be made. That's what she felt and therefore it was true.

In short, she was in a complete downward spiral. That's what she'd been told at the hospital, even when she was doing well. The doctor who'd told her that had been dismissed the next week, and rumor had spread that it was because he'd been too brutal with his patients. When she heard about that, though, it made her believe what he'd said even more.

"For once, someone just told the truth," she figured.


Technorati? Isn't That Someplace In Oklahoma?

Is anyone familiar with using Technorati? I'm a non-paying user and I just use it to run the Links list. I keep wondering why some sites that link to me do so in multiples (according to Technorati!)and if there's a way to delete the extra ones? It always looks like I'm trying to puff up my numbers, though it may be that nobody but me ever sees the list. I've asked Technorati, but they answer with an auto-reply that says they'll answer you some day. Maybe they will, but not so far.


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Blogs, The "New Thing"

Another Case Of Blog Talk About Blogs!

When I hear people on TV talk about blogs as the New Thing, they all mean Political Blogs. People on TV live in TV-land and don't seem to know much else. I wouldn't want to forbid people one way or the other, but it's not my impression that political blogs are the most numerous, exciting, or popular aspect of blogs among the public. It's just what the boneheads on TV happen to notice. For my part, I hope the millions of very individual blogs about "nothing in particular" or about "my life as I know it" or about "where I poop and you don't" manage to survive and prosper. I guess it's good to be a deadly serious politico, on a blog or elsewhere, but it isn't new.

What's new about blogs is that, other than graffiti, there's never been this kind of opportunity for just anybody to display his views. It's even a little more respectable than graffiti! Well, I'm not, but some are. Most of us are doing it for free, but it's also a way of being or feeling free, and that ain't bad payment for freedom. If any of you are noticeably more ambitious than I am, that's okay—good for you! Go on, blog your way onto TV news shows, and take the money and run.

Sorry if this is insulting to any of you political bloggers—I wish you a world of good luck—it's just that you're not what's most new and important about blogging. Revolutionaries have done political "blogging" since the invention of moveable type. He who cannot afford a newspaper hands out leaflets! But personal blogging, done for the fun of it and that's available at low cost or no cost to the average person and can be made available around the planet is new. Books have been written about Everyman before now, but now Everyman and Everywoman are writing the books! It isn't all Great Literature, but neither are most of the things you read and hear. What it is, is Good Fun, and some of it's clever, too. So, listen, all you self-important talking heads on the news shows who always think you know what's important in the world can stuff it! You only half-get it about blogs and I'm tired of hearing it.
Special thanks to my energetic and talkative friend Cricket. I stole this topic from her. I don't know where she stole it. That's not true. Click on her link below to see. May she churp, churp forever! [Also, click on Comments for this post and read Cricket's own additional remarks.]

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fired For Blogging

I keep encountering references lately to bloggers being fired for blogging. First to come to my attention was dooce, fired in 2002. Then I heard of a few others. Still in the news, I think, is a guy at Microsoft who got the axe over posting a photo of a loading dock. Some of these folks are proud of what they did and some of them have offered to take it all back and have been repulsed by the companies that fired them. There’s been some talk of suing, but such suits have not yet occurred, I don’t think.

I do have one friend who "troubled the system" at work with her blogging and they troubled her back, but she hasn’t been fired. She has been cautioned enough not to write any more in her blog whatsoever, though, at least not so far, and that troubles me. Still, we all know how little trouble it is to make a new blog and call it "Dixie Crabgrass" by Skinny Elbert.

I’m no expert in the matter and am merely a little interested. I don’t blog at work, so what do I care? Nonetheless, it’s struck me that there are some of you that I know who should give it some consideration unless you’re wishing that you could get fired. If you Google the phrase fired for blogging there are many useful info sites cited about the topic.

One you might want to glance at is this simple one, Blogger Help : How Not to Get Fired Because of Your Blog.

Much of the advice seems just dull common sense to me, but since so much of it has been avoided by bloggers I know, I have to conclude that, like teenage drivers and drinkers, my blogger friends think they’re “bulletproof” and that surely no one in the modern world is that big a stuffed shirt. I don’t know why they think that, though; I certainly meet about the same percentage of AIC (Assholes In Charge) as I ever did—no one’s changed!

But I am always finding at least some bloggers to be a little careless. Even those who use pseudonyms and try to avoid revealing where they live sometimes spill the beans to a friend of a friend and suddenly everyone you know Knows. Your coworkers know. Your bosses know. If the greatest harm that comes to you is that you have to give up your blog or start a new one and keep it bowdlerized, that’ll be better than being fired, I guess. But whose fault will all that be—the big cruel world’s or your own for being so na├»ve?

Oh, by the way—I like to think I’m a liberal and still a bit of a libertine, but I’d probably consider firing you if you were working for me and blogging on my time. So why shouldn’t that cutthroat AIC you work for want to dump you for it? He never even liked you like I do! Well, maybe, but like me he might fire you anyway, his heart filled with chagrin.
Addendum: Bizgirl Hangs Herself With Her Own Rope

Some months ago I was reading Bizgirl for a short while, but couldn't decide why she kept provoking her employer even after they hinted repeatedly that she was screwing up about her blog. I finally got to where she seemed so weird about it (as reported by herself in "quoted" conversations with her bosses that I concluded I didn't know if she was having Them on or having me on. In short, she seemed very nice, but I eventually no longer gave a fuck if she lost her job or not, especially since it all began to seem like fiction. Maybe I'm too old and don't know what's cool any more. That's probably it. Anyway, you can read about it in some of her own words at the link above to her "You're fired" scenario.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

He Couldn't Fathom

Overheard at Hardee's

Johnathan saw Carole again at Hardee's and stuck his tongue out at her from across the room as he entered. She answered back, first with her tongue, then a comment. He cupped his hand behind his ear, seeming not to have heard what she'd said.

"No, thanks," she repeated with a smirk as she got closer, "I usually just use toilet paper."

"I do, too," he nodded, "but sometimes I like to use—"

"Don't go there!" she cautioned him, one finger held up stiffly in the air as a warning.

"A woman."

"That's right, get on my good side," she shook her head, grinning widely.

Why she thought it was funny, he couldn't fathom, nor why he thought it was funny, either. Though he would have preferred otherwise, he was grinning like an idiot. He wondered what it'd be like to get one hand or both under her skirt and blouse.


Monday, January 24, 2005

Review of Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women"

Stupidity Is Painful

I finally finished reading "Little Women" a few days ago and I enjoyed it. I always liked all three of the movie versions that I've seen. They aren't exactly "Raiders Of The Lost Ark", but I've always loved each version of this sentimental old story. I used to watch them and for the longest while never wondered if there was a book that the original story came from—sometimes I'm just perfectly dense, considering that I am a Book Person!

So, here it comes round that I've finally read the book and then I realize I've only read half the goddamn book! Or one of the two books—it seems that there is a "part two" of "Little Women"—a sequel that apparently never had a title of its own. In fact, the version from my library that I just read is the version as it was first published and the story line ends much earlier than it does in the movies. That's because the movies combined parts one and two, but I never knew it because I never even knew about there being ONE book! So how would I know that there were TWO books? Shit! Stupidity is painful, once you know you've got it.

What Parts Are What?

Now that I know about this, it's not clear yet what to do. My library doesn't have the part two. I don't want to buy the unread book—half a book?—but if I were to buy one, would I get part one or part two or parts one and two? It strikes me that the movie industry has ended up treating this classic book with more respect than the book industry has, and that's something that doesn't happen often. I found all the chapters of "part two" on the Internet and I could read it there chapter by slow chapter if I was so inclined. Maybe I will, but I still wonder how things got so screwed up concerning this classic story.

"Literature be damned, go see the movie!" someone must have cried a long time ago. And that's how it went, and it hasn't changed much yet, at least with this particular book.

I'll try to copy and read those chapters from the Internet site, but, you know, if I can't carry a book with me to bed, to the bathroom, to doctors' waiting rooms, to the park, and numerous other locations, I'm not sure that's a book that will get read this year!


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Defective Email Address

Okay, let's use this Sunday for something. A blanket apology. I don't think this relates to very many people, but it turns out that I've had my evil EV1 email address listed wrongly in the template code as a dot-com instead of a dot-net. It used to be right, I'd swear to it! I'd blame it on getting high if I could, but I don't get high anymore! But that's not the point. If you ever clicked it and it didn't do right, this explains it. You weren't being blocked, banned, or laser-beamed. You weren't being singled out. You were the victim of the non-discriminatory and egalitarian Internet; it was screwing everybody. The good thing about the Internet is the bad thing about the Internet—there are too many features, too much stuff to adjust! And there's too many things that seem to just adjust themselves! I've made yet another adjustment now and added a second address as well, though that just means that two of them could malfunction at once. God, I just HATE admitting to these stupid things I do! I don't know what happened and NEVER WILL know what happened!


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Giving Myself A Haircut

Without A Barber

I gave myself a haircut the other day. Giving myself a haircut is nothing new, but it never becomes very easy for me. I've never had any instruction, nor did I ever pay any especial attention when I was getting my hair cut by barbers or stylists. I suppose I could find a book or Internet site and learn something, but I haven't done it yet. I just start cutting and hacking. I am always expecting to totally screw it up, but that never happens. I don't claim that it looks that good every time, but nobody remarks about it, so I assume that it's passable. Or ignorable, at least! Some people may think that I have a bad barber, but they don't even say that. I think it's mainly that people don't pay that much attention to one another. Strangers don't look at you very carefully if they're not falling in love with you and certainly your familiars pay almost no attention at all to details. Your details are all too familiar to them. Maybe someone is always telling you how good or bad you look, but I guess I have it tuned out if anyone's been saying it to me.

Casual And Sloppy

Because of this casual, if not sloppy, attitude of mine, it takes quite some time for me to build up the nerve to get started on the shearing every single time. I don't cut my hair until it needs it very badly. When I begin to look like an impoverished spent-all-the-money-on-beer college student, that's when I finally get around to it. Though I used to like nothing better than to grow my hair long, these days it's just too much trouble and effort to live with long hair. Long hair needs a lot of care and feeding. So I am now reversed from how I used to be and I feel great when I finally overcome my laziness and cut my hair.

Oops, Slip, Snip, Slash!

In a week or so, however, I'll have grown used to the new length (shorth?) of my hair and I won't even notice it. I won't think much about it until it's "too damn long" again, which may be as long as two months from now. Even after all these years (close to ten), I have little sense of being adroit or practiced about the procedure and I continue to be amazed that I haven't cut an ear off or at least nicked one. It must be blind luck, for I foolishly often attempt these haircuts when I'm in a bad damn mood and/or in a hurry. I don't actually do it in a hurry—I still try to take my time, but it's a struggle. If you ever hear of a bloody mishap down here, please believe that I wasn't pulling a Vincent van Gogh—it was just my usual butterfingers and impatience.

Friday, January 21, 2005

America When I Was Growing Up

Late Fifties / Early Sixties

We grew up in America, drinking Coca-Cola, eating Hershey Bars, feeling our oats, hiding Playboy magazine, confident of success. Everything was Baseball and Mom's chocolate pie and "Wow, we got a new black and white TV yesterday!"

When I was a kid, we didn't worry endlessly about cancer or more than casually about calories. Street crime, corporate crime, and terrorists were unknown or Foreign. I had a great oversized rusty tricycle (I was a big kid) and later a great bicycle that lasted a long time. Things weren't shoddy, though Japan still was. People smoked, people ate, people drank, and we didn't get neurotic about it. There were the Commies, of course, but everything about that was going to work out—our President had big muscles where it counted, we could always nuke 'em if we had to! Poof, they wouldn't know what him 'em! If we ourselves weren't going to grow up to be President, we at least felt certain we wouldn't grow up to live in cardboard boxes or in our Chevy station wagons under the overpasses. We were on the road to ourselves, we felt, and that would make everything all right. We'd squash commies with every step we took, like they were damned cockroaches caught in the glare of the kitchen light, too stupid sometimes to even run the right way.

Yeah, we were burning up the road, and mighty proud of it. Unsafe cars? There was no such thing! There was fast and slow, there was "square" and stylish, that's all. In fine, we were gorgeously innocent and ignorant. We were having fun and expecting to have even more. Gasoline was cheap, and would forever remain so. We could go where we wanted to go in cars going faster than they ought to go. There were no seat belts.

We were naive, and it was very pleasant to be so. But then we began to hear terrible things about "truth in government". There wasn't any. One might as well have expected a commercial for laundry soap to be truthful. And suddenly we had to mourn the tragedy of the "death of God", and to despise the murders of helpless black children in the south. Eventually Viet Nam and Watergate would jump in our faces and vomit.

For most of us, the mask definitely came off with the assassination of President Kennedy. We watched Kennedy get the back of his head blown off, but pretended for an amazingly long while that it was just a nice neat bloodless little hole. There were assassinations of other irreplaceable American heroes (black and white) by implacable idiots who just wanted to have a single evil act of theirs celebrated before they died—all of this was shoved down our throats and it was hard to swallow. Later we wouldn't be able to decide if all these murderers were among America's worst foes or among America's worst victims, but it didn't really matter—the heroes were just as dead, shot down in front of us.

From all such grief we learned the emerging new view of America and of ourselves... The banner was bloody and vulgar... We were changing from a country of God fearing white people (black and brown people didn't exist) to a country full of trigger-happy geeks carrying guns they just bought 15 minutes ago, and it was no longer so pleasant to live here. Now one is always nervous, always on the lookout for someone about to flip out.

Racism will eventually get you in the guts, whether it's your own racism or that of the other guy. But it's not just racism; it's every extremism and schism. And it's every form of theft and larceny and cheating. The people who brought down Enron may have been artists about the legal obfuscations of it, but they were just common purse-snatchers nonetheless. It's every form of harm now. If you're feeling irritable, plow your car through a crowd of pedestrians at a weekend flea market. Nowadays you can't buy a Coke, a Tylenol, or a jar of Gerber baby food and feel very confident about it not being poisoned. Even if you're not one of the victims, it's like going through life with gnats and mosquitoes always buzzing in your face!

And don't we all secretly wish that there was just one person who was to blame for it all and he was right here in front of us—who among us would hesitate to murder that SOB with any weapon close at hand?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Nodding Off And Falling Asleep

Can’t Stay Awake

I can’t stay awake in the afternoons and early evenings lately. But neither can I sleep sitting in chairs. I have almost never taken naps. If I could remember the last daytime nap I took, it was probably because I was ill or doped up by some short-term prescription medication. I was hiding from a toothache, upset stomach, something. That was then. Now I start to nod off while I’m on the Internet or reading a book or watching TV. The nodding, however, is momentary or a few seconds at best. It reminds me of high school teachers or of pest control lecturers at seminars I used to attend, the hypnotic tone of the speaker lulling one into a trannnce... Oop!!!

Once I jerk awake, it starts all over. Sometimes I shake my head dramatically and repeatedly, like some overacting TV or movie character trying to refresh himself, but the only thing that refreshes is to get up and go somewhere else, do something else. Is the sedentary part of my life coming to an end or about to take over entirely? I can’t type at the computer from a standing position—maybe you can, but I can’t—but I guess I could watch TV while standing. Like Mr. Ed, the spoiled talking horse.

This isn’t new. I have not yet begun to actually tip on over and fall to the floor, though. I’m seldom sitting in the kind of chair with arms or that otherwise “catches” you if you slump into sleep, so I’m not kidding about that. Soon I may have to go ahead, lie down in bed, and take those naps. But I’m convinced it would be bad for me and I would then not be able to sleep during the night.

Can’t Fall Asleep

I already have aches and pains that keep me awake at night if I’m not careful. I need sleep to come quickly, deeply, and completely. I avoid turning over as much as possible so that the exertion does not wake me up too much. It’s not as if I’m going to be able to sleep more than about six hours, anyway—I don’t need any more complications!

Nodding off during the daytime isn’t helping anything. I just hate it. Maybe the first time I slump on down and hit the floor, some inspired solution will occur to me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Saturday Nights at Castle Creek

1970’s Austin Nightclub

One Saturday night at Castle Creek, one might hear Tracy Nelson sing like a mellifluous Negro-souled chubby white goddess (I don’t care if she was a little homely, I could swoon about it still!). The next weekend we saw Willie Nelson and my date Linda paid me back when she fell in love with that homely entertainer. Another Saturday night, one might watch a ragged and thoroughly un-cherubic Jerry Jeff Walker get so drunk he looked like he was about to throw up on the customers, but he kept on singing. It was rumored that Walker had barfed on some patrons, but I had no proof of it. It might have just been one of those apocryphal stories that people thought ought to be true of such a rough-looking fellow.) At any rate, there was always both straight and strange musical fare to be had in Austin—from jug-band bite-your-dog music to got-my-ass-kicked-in-the-ladies’-room acid rock—and some of all of it was good.

Strange fare, strange brew, see what’s inside of you… You know, I don't even know if that joint is still there.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Joe Paltrow And The Sports Heroes

A Weird Rumination

I must be one of those commie bastards you used to hear about. Nothing could be more damn repellent to me than hearing about boxers, baseball and basketball players, or any other successful, wealthy "retired" athletes who are always considering coming out of retirement for one more go at the game. The crazy sons of bitches. Why don't these athletic fat cats just laze around and be happy like they're supposed to do? Or find some new profession or interest? Do they really only know how to do that one thing in life? Why don't they take up painting, chess, detective books, fishing, gardening, or birdwatching!

I think about poor old Joe Paltrow, who died last week in Corpus Christi. He worked on various paint crews all his life and finally, because he was so crippled up, in the paint shop at the University where I used to work. He lived a lot longer than I expected. By the time I met him, he was already worn out by work and life and drink, uptight and nearly crazy with vitriolic hatred of nearly everyone, and certainly not very damn rich. He still had to work. He ached all over, all the time, but had to get up and work every day that it was possible. I heard that he had a daughter who lived next door, but he hated her and she hated him. Hard to say who started it, you know how families are. Joe's son never came around, though he lived somewhere in the state. I wonder if he went to the old man's funeral? Joe didn't have much value in the world, as far as I could tell when I knew him, nor did he value anything much, either, except possibly another night of heavy drinking when he could get it.

I don't know what you could say that Joe ever did to deserve a free ride of any kind, but what did the athletes ever do (except play a child's game with alacrity) to deserve the abundance and security that they often don't value? Such athletes appear to have what everybody wants, and now that they're past their prime they have not much more grace about it than Joe had about himself. They still just want some more of exactly the same old thing. Joe Paltrow was such a loser, I'd say that he nearly had an excuse for being so cranky and crazy; work and life and drink and failure had kicked the crap out of him; dying in that rest home can't have improved anything, assuming he hadn't become a vegetable. Anyway, what's the excuse for all these famous winners being so uncomfortable and dissatisfied, I wonder?

Yeah, I believe I am one of those commie bastards you used to hear about. Send me a pinko postcard that says, "Hey, your side lost, dummy."

But what kind of winners won, that's what I'd like to know?


MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY

I knew about MLK yesterday, so I guess it goes to show what a lily-livered white person I am that it didn't dawn on me to blog the subject or the man. The day is 17 hours gone now and my efforts to blog it now seem desperate. I refer you then to today's post (also late) from Larry Jones at revision99. Read it and pretend you heard me say, "What he said!"

My apologies, Reverend King, both for myself and that we are no better than we are.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Another Off-Duty Sunday

Here's another slow-boat Sunday. I'm going to take the day off because I now see that the rest of you are religious and I might offend you if I just went ahead and blogged. Would Jesus have blogged? I think not! In short, I'll take advantage of anybody's anything. What else you got?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

I'll Be Seeing You (An Old Song)


Written in 1938, popular through the World War II years. This old romance song is popular with many people to this day. I like it, too. Many versions of the song leave out the first stanza, but I left it in. Some sites I checked seemed to believe it was the final stanza, but they're idiots. If I thought that, I'd leave it out, too! You don't set the stage at the end! I could not find a site with a good audio of it, so I just forgot about that. Too bad.

I'll Be Seeing You
by Sammy Fain / Irving Kahal

Cathedral bells were tolling
As our love sang on.
Was it the spell of Paris,
or just the April dawn?
Who knows if we will meet again,
But when the morning chimes ring sweet again…

I'll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day through

In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children’s carrousel
The chestnut trees
The wishing well

I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way

I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you

I'll be seeing you
In every lovely summer's day
In everything that's light and gay
I'll always think of you that way

I'll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I'll be looking at the moon
But I'll be seeing you.


Friday, January 14, 2005

Welcome, Larry Jones

Writer of Filthy Blog

Welcome, Larry Jones, you lying sack of shit! First you told us that was your name, then you insisted it wasn't. You say we'll never find you, so don't bother to Google you! Ha! I won't, don't worry—what would I do with you if I did? Just stay out there in the open, at a nice safe distance, wrapped up in your cocoon of anonymity and curmudgeonry.

I'm going to put your damn revision99 site in my "Intelligent Blogs" list—but only because that's the only blogroll I've got—where I can keep an eye on you at all times. Sneaky people have to be watched, you know. So do people who make me laugh and snicker and snort and suck half a glass of water up my nose in a nanosecond!

So don't be a wise guy, keep your hands and feet in plain sight! Okay, I admit it, I don't care if you're moral or oral or polite or dicey or nicey, just so long as you can stir up a little dust and make me smirk. You sure are an old guy, though. (Old as me.) Why couldn't you have been thirty, female, really smart, blonde, with great big—uh, Sialia sialis blue eyes?
[Those readers who don't understand the above remarks will just have to read his filthy blog.]
Guess I'm going to get a few comments saying, "Remind me to never ask to get on your damn blogroll, I don't want to get crucified!" And I'll say, "Here's a dime, go buy a better sense of humor!" And then they'll love me like they used to. Uh, won't they?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Everyone’s Religion

Overheard from two guys walking past a church on Tuesday

All That

“Everyone’s religion began as noble myth, beautiful poetry, and communal cooperation and kindness. But it ends up as drudgery and petty argumentation among the moral gnomes and other small-thinking people of the planet who are buried in idealized lies and boredom. Nothing left but spitefulness and authoritative ego trips administered by the most witless, unimaginative, bureaucratic, and mundane members of each clan. When they’re not fighting each other, they’re fighting their own sects.”

“All that, huh?” shrugged his friend.

“Yeah, all that,” the first guy grinned.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wandering From Point A To Point B

The Wanderer
A song by Dion

Oh well I'm the type of guy who will never settle down
Where pretty girls are, well, you know that I'm around
I kiss 'em and I love 'em 'cause to me they're all the same
I hug 'em and I squeeze 'em they don't even know my name
They call me the wanderer yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around...

Oh well there's Flo on my left and there's Mary on my right
And Janie is the girl that I'll be with tonight
And when she asks me which one I love the best
I tear open my shirt I got Rosie on my chest
'Cause I'm the wanderer yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around...

Oh well I roam from town to town
I go through life without a care
'Til I'm as happy as a clown
With my two fists of iron and I'm going nowhere

I'm the type of guy that likes to roam around
I'm never in one place I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin' for some girl
I hop right into that car of mine and ride around the world
Yeah I'm the wanderer yeah the wanderer
I roam around around around...

Oh yeah I'm the type of guy that likes to roam around
I'm never in one place I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin' for some girl
I hop right into that car of mine and ride around the world
Yeah 'cause I'm a wanderer yeah a wanderer
I roam around around around...
'Cause I'm a wanderer yeah a wanderer
I roam around around around...


Wandering Away From The Point

Am I imagining things or are the lyrics to this catchy old song somewhat misogynistic? You know, like

I kiss 'em and I love 'em 'cause to me they're all the same
I hug 'em and I squeeze 'em they don't even know my name


I know we all think more crassly in this day and age than we used to, but it sounds to me like Dion thought all women were all the same twats, thoroughly interchangeable, and unworthy of his manly loyalty. In any other fashion, though, women are distinctly different from one another, don't you think? Dion? Dion!

If he'd meant that they were all alike because he loved them all equally, the lyrics actually indicate to me that he does love them equally, but Not Much. He's celebrating HIS sexual being, prowess, and success, not his love of women. If he gets fond of one, he gets out of town in a hurry. Dion had a good fun tune to work with and, the year being 1962, he could not only be rude about women (though not crude), he could get away with it. Since he could, he did.

Yeah, that Dion, he's a real slick dick, isn't he? That must be what we thought at the time. Excuse me for saying so, but I'm just interested in the phenomenon. If he'd said what he meant more plainly (which was something like "find 'em, fuck 'em, and forget 'em"—the puerile fantasy of any teenage boy) in 1962, he'd have never gotten on the radio at all. I understand Dion became a born-again Christian in more recent days. I wonder what he thinks of his lewd young self now? I admit it's sort of funny, but it's also sort of sicko. There's always been things men or boys thought about the opposite sex without thinking they could get away with saying it. This wasn't always a society where when you told women to "Shut up", you could also address them as Ho or Bitch—not without getting a golf club in the groin.

I don't blame Dion too much, for that would require thinking about him longer than the length of this post, and I don't want to. I'm just shocked to realize that it took 40 years for me to run across the lyrics again and wonder why I never took the least exception to them. After all, I used to be a regular bushy-tailed liberal before I became this disappointed and cynical liberal. These days I don't care much if self-serving men and women kill each other with machetes if I don't personally know them and have to clean up afterward. But I used to care.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A Christian Talks About Nudity

Just Like Anybody Else

It’s so delightful to encounter honest Christians who believe that the body isn't beautiful.

“If God had meant for the body to be seen naked like that,” his uncle hollered at him, “he wouldn’t have made so many fat, ugly, knobby-kneed people!”

The older man snatched the magazine away from the boy and smacked him with it, then stormed out of the room.

“You demented old fuck, it wasn't God who made people ugly!” the boy muttered to himself. “You did!”

The teenage boy didn't consider that his uncle was only 35 and hardly qualified as old. It was incomprehensible, though, how he’d ended up with such fucked-up fuddy-duddy views. Was it merely an excess of Christianity? Or were Church of Christ doctrines particularly warping? The man might have his reasons, but he had no excuse for being such an asshole and airhead about mere pictures of naked women. The boy might have understood it better if he'd seen his uncle later that night in bed, reading the confiscated magazine with one hand, just like anybody else.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Demolition Derby And The Nobel Peace Prize

I noticed today one of those in-town highway signs that says 45-65. In Texas, that's telling you don’t go faster than 65 or slower than 45. I’m a person who believes in going the speed limit these days, although it isn't very safe to do. I used to drive different when I was 40, 30, or 20, but now I don’t speed very much. I wouldn’t mind if the freeway speed was 45, 55, 65, or higher, but I can’t see any way that it’s likely to be safe to have cars driving that range of speeds together in one place. Whichever way you express it, I don’t think it safe, goddammit, to have slow cars poking along while fast ones continue to race for Hell. That 20-mph speed difference makes a world of difference. Besides, everybody in Texas (maybe everybody in America) likes to stretch any speed limit they’ve ever heard of at least 10 mph.

I don’t mind driving fast and I don’t mind driving slow, but I wish that highway planners would get it straight that you can’t set the speed limit like that; that's too much choice! You can’t mix people who think that 45mph means 35 is probably okay with people who think if 65 isn't too fast, 75 is probably okay, too. How do they all think they’re okay! People are making it a dangerous world, either trying to drive their cars as slow as Christmas or else straight and fast and smooth right up one another’s posteriors while I shiver in my boots and scrunch my buttocks and dream of shooting the sons of bitches in the face with a handgun! I don’t have a handgun, but that’s probably in the best interest of all concerned. I’d hate to go to jail for killing worthless morons when I should get the Nobel Peace prize for it!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Sunday Holiday

I think I'll take a Sunday holiday from blogging. I haven't run out of material entirely, just material that's been proofread and otherwise shined up for showing. Don't complain or I'll bring back the pest control vignettes!

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Albert And Dottie — Part Two

Love Must Be Magic

"Ponder then the image of a woman in her makeup, the better to put her mark upon someone, to leave a mark of praise or measured stain behind."

Albert had been instructing Dottie in something-or-other like this for the past half-hour, intoning with a stiff inebriated control of his speech. He seemed to finally be getting to the point. She gave him another whiskey and ice.

"This beauty, drawn with such meticulous care, such an investment of time—it's startling how little inhibition they have about smearing it off roughly on some demented, scruffy, sloppy-looking male who would frighten your grandmother to death if he bumped against her in a crowded bus."

"You know that includes you?" Dottie said, pretending to be annoyed. He ignored her, keeping focused on his speech, that seemed to been rehearsed. He could brook no interference or he'd lose his place!

"Gangsters, preachers, grade-A morons, fools and twits, flat-earth republicans, give-it-away democrats, ugly men, droolers, wankers, and fops—some lovely woman turns each of them into lovers, regardless of what sense it makes to anyone else. Love must be magic—it just couldn't be that egalitarian!"

"It could be!" Dottie giggled.

"Oh, no, that would be too awful!" Albert shuddered.

"Things are pretty awful," she told him.

"Yeah," he said, staring into his glass, "but that's too awful!"


"Nothing is as irritating as the fellow who chats pleasantly while he's overcharging you." — Hubbard, Kin

Dark Beauty

All men strive for beauty through definition
As women strive for definition through their beauty;
In women’s forms and faces
Men see it and applaud it,

How lips that are not quite right
Must be reshaped and eyebrows
Vague or thickly pagan,
Must be smoothed and plucked,
Arrayed another way.

For whom do they perform
This ritual of realization,
Groping through the paint and powder
To recall a dream of youth that's lost?
Who has this turgid power?
And what, what the cost?

Come, my lovely,
And give definition to your grace;
Dispel the years and the toil and tears
And show me some new face.
Darling, dance your heart for me
In elegant curls and lace,
While I am drawn in gloom and storm,
The master of a sterner race.

Come play for me
And make the music sleek;
My tarnished voice must yet
Through mere human methods speak,
But your voice is clear and fair,
Rising to a pitch I cannot dare.

And God your fit and youngish skin!
Alive and soft and curved!
But I must figure the angles,
Plot the sins, find enemies to conquer
Even if among your auburn hairs.

You see, my heart is bare.
Where beauty must be sought so,
Threadbare kings will ever entice some
Naked innocent to dress and paint and preen,
Implore infected girls to mirror
What queens should never deem:

To forge a definition of,
To freeze in time a picture of,
To faint and feint an adoration of
Dear beauty, dire beauty, dark beauty,
For which I strive,
From which I fall.

rcs.

4th draft: 10/22/02
©1984 Ronald C. Southern



Friday, January 07, 2005

ellonwheels tells all

A New Blog On The Block

Ellen Wilson only recently began her blog, ellonwheels tells all and I only happened to stumble across it as she began it. I'm glad I did. I'm tempted to mention first some of her disabilities that she writes about on her blog, but I think it worthwhile to mention quickly her abilities. I had no qualms at all about adding her to my Intelligent Blogs list; she's smart, sensitive, maintains a sense of humor under difficult circumstances. She's not trying to be an entertainer, but she's a good writer and seems to me a talented artist. I'm hoping that later she gives us the option of seeing the photos of her paintings a little larger so that I can enjoy them more.

The serious topics that Ellen writes about and suffers from include Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), wheelchair and disability issues, and Transverse Myelitis. I don't pretend to know all about that or all about her. But I think she's a woman with a lot of spirit and honesty of expression. As a Blogger, I believe she's just starting—at least, just starting this one!— and doing very well. I can well believe she has been a writer elsewhere, but to throw herself out there as a Blogger is a different thing. As a person therefore, she seems to me brave and admirable. If you will take a look at her blog and read a bit, you'll learn a lot more about these things than I can tell and maybe you'll see someone to admire and like there, too. Even Bloggers at a distance can like one another—and you know that can't be bad.

I hope a good number of people do get a chance to read and like Ellen's blog. I think she's a peach. Oh, yeah, that's right—she is in Georgia! Sorry for the corny joke; it just snuck up on me!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Albert and Dottie

Telling Conversations

"You don't write stories, exactly, do you?" Dottie said, setting the manuscript down slowly on the coffee table. It was not really a question.

"No, not exactly," Albert answered.

"You tell conversations, I think, and then follow whatever happens to wherever it goes. You make events up to support the conversation—you don't make conversations to support the story you're telling."

"That may be right," he said.

"Why?" she asked.

"You sure ask a lot of questions," Albert sighed.

"Well, why not?" she smiled. "We've got time tonight," she added, slipping her shoes off beneath the table.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Promise Of The Day

A Little Dry

Considering yesterday, I will apparently write just about any stupid thing to fulfill my promise to myself to write an almost daily post. It was a fun post and did scare up a few extra comments! But I am a little dry just now. Maybe something terrific will occur to me later in the day.

The quote below is a thought that I think frequently applies to bloggers about one another’s writing. We’re just all too polite to say anything. Possibly some of you would like to observe that I should be a little more polite, but you're too polite to say it! Back to the quote, though.
"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." — H.G. Wells

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I Want More!

But Not More Dog-And-Pony Stuff

What I keep hoping for is that I'll get more blog readers, more commenters, more emailers, but it's not what I generally get. I know I have a handful of readers, judging by the Site Meter traffic and the comments. I always wonder, though, if there's another handful of people that I just never hear from because they're shy. What kind of behavior would that be, I ask you?!

I wish sometimes that the best of my readers would inform me when I've written something very Good. I wish too that some of them would write me about it when I've written something that is very Bad. What Glows and what Stinks! But that doesn't happen much. Sometimes blogging is like pissing into the wind—they might put you into the Guinness book of world records, but you still won't be very famous or admired just for pissing. There's not even any dogs that are famous for that!

Doggie Habits

As it is, I have the constant guilty sensation that I am consistently mediocre! Not too bad and not too good. Is that a thing to aspire to? Is that a thing to work so hard about? How long can I sustain it? I think a person should just run away when there's this much confusion! Tail between my legs! Arf, arf! I guess I have greater aspiration than inspiration. And not enough patience for anything. Have I mentioned lately that I'm neurotic and manipulative and unappreciative? I sometimes get good emails and comments that I don't sufficiently embrace or praise. I need to curb that hangdog habit. I may have to take myself out in the woods, with or without a pony, and shoot myself in the leg before it's all over. SAY, I could just SAY I did and then don't, couldn't I! Don't mention this to anyone. I may want to use it later. It ought to be good for a little undeserved sympathy, which I will have no qualms about taking.

Monday, January 03, 2005

New Monitor!

I Had A Smaller One, But Now It's So Beeg!

I got a new used 17" monitor from my favorite nephew Gary (uh, my only nephew). He said he'd only recently remembered having it tucked away in his storage room. Hot damn! My 14" one died some weeks ago, and the 13" one I'd acquired to make do with, was really getting hard to make do with! Somewhere in the size change between 13 and 14, conversions and whatever else adjustments you might name ceased to be smooth. In Blogger, Yahoo Email, and most other Internet sites, I had to mouse-skitter my cursor all over, left to right and top to bottom to reach all the necessary buttons. The buttons worked okay, but it took a lot of maneuvering to turn things on and off, to save, to toggle from Edit mode or back into Preview mode. Instead of "Click! ", nearly everything became "Move cursor north-south, move cursor east-west, Click! " Microsoft Word documents also looked screwy on a 13" screen. I was slowly training myself to become familiar with something that was never common and that, like dinosaurs, will probably never be seen again.

In fact, with moving up to a 17" monitor, not just returning to the old 14", I've seen Whole Screens of info or images that I've never seen all at once except at other people's houses or the local library! What luxury! As Diana Canova, who played Corrine Tate in TV's "Soap", once gasped (in a very bad Hollywood movie about making porno movies), "It's so beeg! It's just so beeg!"

[The above scene was so funny that I always felt it was at least a close runner-up to Caddy Shack's "floating Baby Ruth in the swimming pool" scene.]

The screen is so much in my face now that it's like looking King Kong right in the eye. At present, I'm typing with both arms stretched out straight so as be able to sit further back and not feel like I'm counting the gorilla's nose hairs! I'll get used to it, maybe.

Maybe I'll adjust my computer table that was built more than ten years ago when most monitors were apparently not this large. I just have to stop having fun looking at this big gorgeous screen long enough to make some elbow room, make a few carpenter cuts, and slide this taller monitor the rest of the way into the prefabricated space.

I wonder when that will be? Shit, who cares?

If you hear an insanely loud Ye-ha! coming out of Texas, that might be me. If you also hear someone panting, then it's definitely me. These are not things I usually do, but I just replaced the worst monitor I ever had with the best monitor I've ever had! Ye-ha!


Sunday, January 02, 2005

Lipstick

"I remember how occasionally, back in the seventies, when Sarah wore lipstick around me, I was appalled. I didn't like it at all. I wasn't used to seeing her that way, so she looked nearly ugly to me."

"And she?" Bobbie Jean asked.

"She thought I was an ass to say so. She wasn't impressed that I'd be so blunt."

"And now?"

"I'm not impressed with it, either. I'm humiliated by it, thinking back on it. I don't like to think about it. Yet I still do sometimes. Isn't that weird?"

"Not very," Bobbie Jean shook her head. "You're like a dog with a bone, you never turn loose of anything."


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Taking Down The Holiday Decorations

Big Deals

Well, it’s true that I make a big deal out of a lot of small things, usually things that I do very clumsily. That’s partly because I am actually very interestingly incompetent, but also just to have something to blog about. When I’m surfing other blogs that I don’t know, I sometimes run across bloggers who bizarrely make claims that I consider contradictory. They say that they’re often entertaining a dozen or more blog ideas at any given moment and at the same time they’re threatening to quit the enterprise altogether. I think some people just talk to hear their teeth click and their tongues clack. Oops, that sounds familiar, doesn't it? I, however, do run out of ideas at least eight days a week. It's not that the outdoor Christmas decorations are worthy of blogging about today—I’m just that desperate. I didn't put them up until the last minute, 7-10 days before Christmas, so I hope you'll understand my leaving them up until the last possible minute.

I don’t put out many outdoor Christmas ornaments (Santa and Frosty and candy canes and lollipops) and I have only the bare minimum of lights (a couple of wreaths with multi-colored lights and a white-lighted angel). Still it takes a while to take them down, pull them up, twist them loose, unplug them, wrap them in trash bags, and stash them away. Yesterday, the last day of December, I finished all this while my nephew’s seven-month-old son was here for a visit. So then I was having great fun making noises and funny faces with John when I suddenly missed my glasses. I had no idea where I'd left them and began the search. I searched the house. I searched the study out here where this computer is located. I searched the entire yard—both where I’d taken down the decorations and everywhere that I’d walked. I searched it all twice, very slowly, so as not to step on my glasses. There’s so many twigs and leaves on the ground right now, the ground was practically camouflaged. I kept waiting for a certain kind of crunching sound of glass and plastic that never came. Thank you, thank you!

It finally dawned on me that I had not searched the box where the ornaments were now stashed, not even once. Of course, I had been avoiding doing that, because I just didn’t want to have to unpack the box and all that was in it! I didn’t have to do much, though, for I spotted the glasses the instant I opened the cardboard box. Yippee, I’m a damn fool!

What’s Going On, Anyway?

My glasses never used to slip out of my shirt pockets at all, much less this often. I don’t understand what could have changed to that degree. Maybe I could blame it on my pockets being looser, except that I haven’t loss that much weight. Is my posture now that much different? I can deny the weight loss, but not the ageing. Well, whatever it is, every time I bend over these days, my glasses slide out unless I keep my hand on that pocket. Just another utterly senseless aggravation on the highway of life.

Everybody’s babbling about the new year (it’s here, Kablooey, Kablam!), but I am not sanguine about all this. I’m certain that my glasses will slide out again by tomorrow, if not today. Sadly, I have to wonder—will I even notice it when it happens? Am I brain-damaged yet? I think I am. Does it show? Shit, yeah. What’s so different about this New Year, I ask you?