The juggernaut was-and still is, according to a quick internet search, an enormous, towering wagon, with the image of a locally-worshipped Indian deity enthroned at the very peak of it, under a vast canopy, which is taken out for a grand procession once yearly, pulled by devotees through the streets of the city. This is no quick spin around the block and back again, for this wagon is enormous, clumsy, and heavy. Picture Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, arriving to meet Mark Anthony, or the Persian emperor Darius grand entrance in 300; it’s an arresting image, which must be why it was used to indicate a certain sort of power and will.

And it also comes to my mind, increasingly often, this election season. Rather than picturing our very dear mainstream press creatures as deep-sea divers so far into the tank for Obama that they must have a couple of handlers and a pump feeding oxygen down to them, now I visualize the Obama campaign vehicle as a garganutuan, creaking juggernaut, pulled along by the masses of our media, along with lashings of the more loudmouthed and stupider popular entertainers. I visualize them straining at the chains, the ropes that bind them to the axles of this impossibly heavy vehicle as they tug it painfully onward, as they push at the back of it. They lean their shoulders to the wheels, willing the tottering structure ever onward towards the finishing line. They will accomplish this, of course – it is in the power of their will to move the One to glorious victory, and never mind those concepts – or those among them who fall under the wheels or are crushed against the side of a stone building as the juggernaut lurches briefly out of control.

I have honest to god never seen it as bad as this, as blatant – and I was paying attention during the last election. As hard as they could, the mainstream media couldn’t make the sow’s ear that was John Kerry into a presidential silk purse. It wasn’t for lack of trying, though – and they weren’t helped that he appeared to have all the actual, personal charm and charisma of Frank Burns and Eddie Haskell put together.

This time, they appear to have thrown any pretense at impartiality under the wheels. What can you think after seeing the storm of vicious editorials and outright fantasies about Governor Palin that somehow appeared out of the clear blue, upon being named to the VP seat? How can anyone not compare and contrast the energetic digging into her past, personal life and professional career in the last few weeks, with the elaborate disinterest in Senator Obama’s over the last 18 month and not begin to wonder if there is something just a little unbalanced about this sense of focus.

It’s not been unknown for members of the working press to have sentimental favorites – look, they about got down and drooled over John. F. Kennedy, and the deity knoweth some of the old press guys and gals still view him through a hagiographic haze. Similarly, Lyndon Johnson was so universally despised by the press and the intelligentsia that I (as a middle school kid just getting interested in that kind of stuff) rather felt sorry for him. Nixon was loathed, and Gerald Ford lampooned as a clumsy oaf – but in between all that, the serious media still were capable of some kind of detachment. Well, mostly – and mostly those in the middle of the road, not veering off onto the lunatic fringe. Which sense of impartiality still lingered long among us- but it just seems now the lunatic fringe is driving the whole thing. And that sense of even-handed detachment is what the media is losing, or has already lost this season. It’s gone; no one who has been paying attention the last couple of weeks, months, years – no one believes that mainstream media is neutral and independent any more. They are become the organ of state, or the state that they hope will be, once they drag the juggernaut over the finish line.

It’s as if NPR and the New York Times were about to morph into Pravda, or the state media in one of those third-world nations where el Presidente’s cousin is the head of the national press council – and no one dare print or broadcast a critical word about either of them. What a pity – for a lot of the last century, being a journalist in the mainstream American media was a respected profession . . . and now they are reduced to shoveling out propaganda and dragging the juggernaut along.

22. September 2008 · Comments Off on Oh, and For September 22d · Categories: General Nonsense

Happy Birthday Bilbo, where-ever you are.

19. September 2008 · Comments Off on Avast Me Hearties! · Categories: General Nonsense

…and stuff like that.

‘Tis International Talk Like a Pirate Day.


15. September 2008 · Comments Off on Maybe it’s not the camera… · Categories: General, General Nonsense

My mom spent my entire lifetime taking family pictures. And we have photo album after photo album filled with pictures of people missing either their heads or their feet.

Finally, in the early 90s, my mom invested a couple hundred dollars in a 35mm point & shoot camera (most money she ever spent on a camera). Oddly enough, the new, fancy camera still cut off people’s heads or feet in the pictures she took. Mom blamed the camera.

We laugh, of course, because it was obviously Mom who was cutting off the heads or feet of the folks in the picture, not the camera. It was all in how she framed her shots.

Reader’s Digest had a story once, in one of their humor sections… a famous photographer had some folks over for a slide-show presentation of his trip to somewhere exotic (Alaska, Antarctica, wherever). As the guests were leaving, someone’s wife said to him – “Those are wonderful photographs. You must have a very expensive camera.” He smiled and thanked her. A while later, he was invited to a dinner party at that family’s house. He attended, and enjoyed a delicious meal. As he was leaving, he said to the hostess: “That was a delicious dinner. You must have very expensive cookware.”

It’s absurd to think that fancy cookware is all that’s needed to make an excellent dinner. Why then, do folks think a fancy camera is all that’s needed for good photos? It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer. A skilled photographer can take excellent photos with a crappy camera. Granted, good photos are easier with a good camera, but it’s ultimately the skill of the photographer that counts.

Case in point… for years, I had a 2.1mp digital camera. Folks would talk about how important it was to have higher megapixels, and faster shutter speeds, less lag between the time you click the shutter button and when the picture is actually taken. People would talk about how they missed shots because their camera wasn’t fast enough. And they needed more megapixels so they could print bigger pictures, because a 2.1mp camera just can’t give you a good 8×10 picture.

Now, I’m not against better cameras, don’t get me wrong. But I printed many good quality 8×10 photos from my 2.1mp camera. And I got many good action shots (in bright light) from my impossibly slow camera.

Because I knew how to take pictures. I had learned over the years, by practice and by reading everything I could get my hands on about the art of picture-making.

If you want an action shot, you don’t wait until the last minute to try and get it. You anticipate it. If your camera is slow, then not only do you anticipate where the action will be, you half-press the shutter button to set the focus, and keep it there until the action happens.

For instance, each of these photos was taken with my very old, very slow, 2.1mp camera, using the method I just mentioned:

Every time I’m on a message board and I see someone post “Wow, great pictures! What kind of camera do you have?” I cringe, because asking that question implies that the CAMERA is the reason the photos are so good, not the photographer. If they’re asking me, I smile politely and answer the question. Maybe they’re in the market for a new camera, after all.

But I know for a fact that there are people in this world who think that if they can only buy the correct camera, all their picture taking problems will be solved. And it’s NOT true. A camera is only a tool, not a miracle-machine. It’s up to the person using the tool to create the good picture.

UPDATE: The camera I used for the above pics, as well as my current camera both have a “fully manual” mode. My original digicam was an Olympus C2100-UZ (ultra zoom). Lens by Canon, 10x Optical zoom, 2.1mp. And yet I printed some very nice 8×10 pics (and 11×17, as well) with it. A lot of the print quality rests in the processing of the photo before sending it off to print, in my opinion.

My current is a Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ20. Leica lens, 5mp, 10x optical zoom (maybe 12x? Don’t remember off-hand). It supports additional lenses/filters, has a hot-shoe for external flash, costs 1/2 to 1/3 what a dSLR would have cost me at the time, and I don’t have to lug around a bunch of lenses. My back loves it. Yeah, I’d love to have the newer FZ-whatever, with slightly shorter lag-times, and more ISO equivalencies (mine sucks at low-light shooting), but this one is good enough for now.

I have another Panasonic that I take on business trips – it fits in my backpack or my pocket, and does what I need. It’s their Lumix TZ-1. Lens by Leica, 10x optical zoom, 5mp.

I won’t invest in a dSLR until I’m ready to go back to the world of manual shooting, and I’ve really enjoyed using the auto feature and letting my camera do the thinking for me. But my FZ20 supports fully manual mode, so as long as it’s doing what I need, why change it?

23. July 2008 · Comments Off on Well, here’s a first (and a lesson learned) · Categories: Domestic, Fun and Games, General, General Nonsense, Home Front, sarcasm

So I get an email from a former classmate today. That, in itself, is not unusual. This classmate periodically forwards emails to me, thinking that I agree with political viewpoint and will enjoy them. She’s usually fairly correct in that assumption. Unfortunately, she also seems to be one of those people who automatically assume that anything she reads on the internet or that gets forwarded to her from a friend is incontrovertibly true.

On that, we disagree. I’m a big fan of, and a firm believer in checking the flotsam and jetsam of my inbox before sending it on to others. And it irritates me that others don’t do the same.

Usually, I can simply ignore the bazillion forwarded items, but sometimes I just get an itch to do a public service and let folks know that no matter how much they want it to be true, Barack Obama is not the child of the anti-christ (or the devil himself), and the little boy in the UK is not still on his deathbed and trying to set a guinness world record for number of greeting cards received (if, indeed, he ever was). When this itch strikes, it’s usually not enough for me to simply reply to the individual who forwarded the email to me and her 5000 closest friends.

Not this time. Maybe it’s because I had a bad day at work today, or maybe it’s exhaustion, or the summer heat/humidity affecting my brain, but this time, I chose to “reply all” and let the entire recipient list of that email know that snopes calls it false.

Oh, maybe I should describe today’s email in more detail? Sure. More »

18. June 2008 · Comments Off on Summer in Texas has arrived!! · Categories: Domestic, General Nonsense, Local, The Funny

I got this HILARIOUS e-mail from a friend, it was too good and too funny to pass up putting it here:

Dear Diary:
June 10th:
Just moved to Texas ! Now this is a state that knows how to live!! Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings. What a place! It is beautiful. I’ve finally found my home. I love it here.

June 14th:
Really heating up. Got to 100 today. Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this. I’m turning into a sun worshipper.

June 30th:
Had the backyard landscaped with western plants today. Lots of cactus and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing the lawn for me. Another scorcher today, but I love it here.

July 10th:
The temperature hasn’t been below 100 all week. How do people get used to this kind of heat? At least, it’s kind of windy though. But getting used to the heat is taking longer than I expected.

July 15th:
Fell asleep by the community pool. (Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body). Missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though. Got to respect the ol’ sun in a climate like this.

July 20th:
I missed Lomita (my cat) sneaking into the car when I left this morning. By the time I got to the hot car at noon, Lomita had died and swollen up to the size of a shopping bag, then popped like a water balloon. The car now smells like Kibbles and $hits. I learned my lesson though. No more pets in this heat. Good ol’ Mr. Sun strikes again.

July 25th:
The wind sucks. It feels like a giant freaking blow dryer!! And it’s hot as hell. The home air-conditioner is on the fritz and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he needed to order parts.

July 30th:
Been sleeping outside on the patio for 3 nights now. $225,000 house and I can’t even go inside. Lomita is the lucky one. Why did I ever come here?

Aug. 4th:
It’s 115 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today. It cost $500 and gets the temperature down to 85. I hate this stupid state.

Aug. 8th:
If another wise a$$ cracks, ‘Hot enough for you today?’ I’m going to strangle him… D@mn heat. By the time I get to work, the radiator is boiling over, my clothes are soaking wet, and I smell like baked cat!!

Aug. 9th:
Tried to run some errands after work. Wore shorts, and when I sat on the seats in the car, I thought my a$$ was on fire. My skin melted to the seat. I lost 2 layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and a$$ . . . Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried a$$, and baked cat.

Aug 10th:
The weather report might as well be a d@mn recording. Hot and sunny…Hot and sunny…Hot and sunny…It’s been too hot to do $hit for 2 d@mn months and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week. Doesn’t it ever rain in this d@mn state? Water rationing will be next, so my $1700 worth of cactus will just dry up and blow over. Even the cactus can’t live in this d@mn heat.

Welcome to HELL! Temperature got to 115 today. Cactus are dead. Forgot to crack the window and blew the d@mn windshield out of the car. The installer came to fix it and guess what he asked me??? ‘Hot enough for you today?’ My sister had to spend $1,500 to bail me out of jail. Freaking Texas ..What kind of a sick demented idiot would want to live here?? Will write later to let you know how the trial goes…

07. June 2008 · Comments Off on Late To Her Own Funeral · Categories: General Nonsense, Politics

It’s 12:40 Eastern Time. We’ve had the TV on news for the past 45 minutes or so…waiting for Hillary’s concession speech…which was scheduled for 12:00 Eastern. Ya know, if it wasn’t so typical, I might be insulted. If I was one of her supporters, I would be insulted. Pardon the title, but it’s true. I think this may be the end of the Clinton’s.

12:44…her name is announced.

12:45, she takes the podium.

12:46 she finally starts talking.

She’s grateful…yadda yadda yadda. Young people…big young cheer. Old people…cough, wheeze, get off my lawn.

18 Million…big cheer.

Endorsing Barak…smaller cheer, lots of boooooos.

Socialist agenda…lots of cheers.

Bill…lots of cheers.

We need a Democrat…lots of cheers.

YES WE CAN!!! Some cheers, less booooos.

Talking points as to why we need to help Barak Obama get elected President. Some of her supporters are definitely not buying it.

All in all one of the best speeches I’ve heard her give, and remember, I’m not a fan. I’m with the analysts though, I don’t think she’s convinced all of her supporters. I give her props for not mentioning the Vice Presidency and for laying out that the dems need to unify if they’re going to win.

03. June 2008 · Comments Off on Can’t…Stop…Laughing · Categories: General Nonsense

I spent a bit of time today visiting some old blogs that I stopped reading in the last year. Just seeing if there was anything funny or new around.  Umm…not much.

But this pic over at KisP has me OMFG ROFLMAO.  I’ll have to pass this on to Kate.

31. May 2008 · Comments Off on Steal the Symbol · Categories: General Nonsense, Rant

When is a scarf not a scarf? Apparently when it’s a keffiyeh. I know, I know, I said I was done reading Michelle Malkin over a year ago and seriously? I haven’t. But I do read Venomous Kate regularly and her post led me to MM’s. Apparently Charles Johnson of LGF was the first to “report” on this serious breech of national security, but I only read him when I’m bored and I’m looking for someone or something to be pissed off about. Frankly with my blood pressure, reading him would violate my Doctor’s and Beautiful Wife’s orders.

When I first heard about this on the news all I could think was, “Rachel Ray? A Terrorist Sympathizer? Give me a freakin’ break!” She needs to be arrested for being overly perky, but I’m fairly certain that she didn’t wake up that day thinking, “I’m going to send a message of support to our Palestinian brothers and sisters while I try to help Duncan Donuts sell some coffee, maybe I’ll get the Arafat secret recipe for falafel.” It wasn’t until I read Kate’s post that I discovered it was Johnson and Malkin who “got the word out.”

Malkin and Johnson’s point seems to be that if Ray and Dunkin Donuts had no idea about the political overtones of wearing a keffiyeh, they darn well should have and being “clueless” about the symbolism was just as bad. At least that’s what I got out of it.

Sigh. Excuse me while I go pound my head on a wall for about 15 minutes.


What’s my point? Well, you all know that I’m not a fan of radical islam. It’s what I consider a “Bad Thing.” But I think we have enough real things to be worried about without having to look at every piece of minutiae that might be part of a terrorist plot. Instead of “exposing” what for some is just a fashion accessory as the insidious symbol of Palestinian terrorism it REALLY is, steal the symbol.

Ya see, in my mind, if folks who aren’t terrorist sympathizers choose to wear a keffiyeh because, oh, I don’t know, they think it’s a cool scarf that goes well with their outfit, then it stops meaning what the terrorists and Gladys Kravitz’s of the world want it to mean. It takes the power out of it.

Think about it. If designers started making kaffiyehs with little stars of David? Maybe with American Flags? Make them in red, white and blue? Car companies could put their logos on them. Cafe Press could sell them with Little Green Footballs all over them, or maybe tiny pictures of Ronald Reagan. Or even…I don’t know…have a cooking celebrity with no ties to any terrorist organization wear one when she’s selling coffee for Dunkin Donuts. Liberals would start hating them it because now it’s a symbol of U.S. capitalism instead of Palestinian unity. Conservatives could start wearing them with pride. I’d like to get one with the Starbucks Mermaid all over it because it would offend people that don’t know a mermaid when they see one.

30. May 2008 · Comments Off on SNIRK! · Categories: Fun With Islam, General Nonsense, Iran, Politics

Robert Ferrigno on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  Usually I hope that Robert is just kidding.  In this case, I hope he’s not.

30. May 2008 · Comments Off on Why I’m Not In Advertising (080530) · Categories: General Nonsense

Sung to the tune of R.E.M.’s “The One”

This one goes out to the one I love

This one goes out to the one I left behind

A simple prop, to occupy my time

This one goes out to the one I love

Viaaaaaaagraaaaaaa, viaaaaaagraaaaaa.

It came to me while driving on the way home from work.

02. May 2008 · Comments Off on Seriously? · Categories: General Nonsense

AcipHex? Beautiful Wife and I both just looked at one another and she said, “Did that commercial just say ass-effects?”

I wonder if that’s a side effect?

14. April 2008 · Comments Off on Thoughts for Today · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, General, General Nonsense

(From an email posted to the Old FEN’ers Website – yeah, I’m just warped enough to find them amusing!)

Birds of a feather flock together and crap on your car.

When I’m feeling down, I like to whistle. It makes the neighbor’s dog run to the end of his chain and gag himself.

A penny saved is a government oversight.

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then your body and your fat have gotten to be really good friends.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

He who hesitates is probably right.

Did you ever notice: The Roman Numerals for forty (40) are ‘ XL.’

If you think there is good in everybody, you haven’t met everybody.

If you can smile when things go wrong , you have someone in mind to blame.

The sole purpose of a child’s middle name is so he can tell when he’s really in trouble.

There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.

Did you ever notice: When you put the 2 words ‘The’ and ‘IRS’ together it spells ‘Theirs.’

Aging: Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.

You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.

Ah, being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.

First you forget names, then you forget faces. Then you forget to pull up your zipper.
It’s worse when you forget to pull it down.

Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft.
Today, it’s called golf.

14. April 2008 · Comments Off on You Gotta Want It · Categories: General Nonsense

This post over at Wizbang by Jay Tee (one of the only bloggers I still read regularly) received this response from me:

I joined the AF in ’84 and retired just last year. My entire time was spent with people who wanted and deserved to be in the military.

The reason we’re the best is that we have people who want to be the best.

I stopped in at the Marine Recruiting office in ’84 and the recruiter looked up from his paperwork.

Marine: You want to be a Marine?
Timmer: I’m not sure, I thought we could talk about it.
Marine looking back at his paperwork: Come back when you’re sure, you gotta want it.

It’s THAT attitude that makes our fighting force the best in the world.

But it’s not 1984. Back then, the Marines and the Army had lower academic requirements and the Air Force and the Navy had lower physical requirements.

All the branches in this decade require a higher level of brain power than ever before simply because of the technology involved with fighting. All of the branches in this decade require a higher level of physical ability because of the deployment requirements and the fact that each and every member of the armed forces could be a combatant.

One thing that still holds true, is you HAVE to want to live that life. You HAVE to want to be the best to make it.

One of the reasons I retired was that I recognized the simple reality that I was getting older and that I was at the point where I was going to get in the way instead of leading the way. The draft would simply ensure that you have people who don’t want to lead, don’t want to follow, but would simply be in the way. It’s a recipe for failure.

11. March 2008 · Comments Off on Spring Daze · Categories: Critters, Domestic, General, General Nonsense

There’s one terribly inconvenient and sort of disgusting thing about daylight savings time… well, aside from the bit about setting the clocks ahead one hour. The additional daylight in the evening is nice, very nice. Nicer when I was working until 5 at various corporate hellholes, and usually arrived home after dark throughout the winter months; very pleasant, all the way around to arrive home with an hour or two of daylight remaining, and sit out on the back porch and go through the mail, while the birds squabbled around the feeder. But it puts the dark at the other end of the day now, and when I set out at sevenish for Spike and the Lesser Weevil to drag me around several blocks at the end of their leashes, it is still quite defiantly dark. Dark when we head out the door, dark when we jog up the street, with the Weevil leaping and pirouetting like gazelle on amphetamines. And dark when we get to the corner and run along Creekway street… where, with luck one or both of them will want to poop.

Good god, do you know how hard it is to see dog poop in the dark, let alone be sure of getting all of it into the plastic bag? Even with a flashlight, it’s no picnic. A couple of lines of dog poop blending in with un-raked leaves and uncut grass, especially when everything is wet… definately no picnic, I assure you. There are means of training dogs to use a king-sized litter-box or pan of something or other, so I have been told. By summer, I might very well consider that.

Lesser Weevil’s socialization continues apace. She will sit and hold her bearing, when commanded in a sufficiently masterful voice, while other dogs trot by… all but the bad-tempered little black and white rat-terrier from up the street. His name is Peanut, since he is hardly larger than one. He barks to beat the band, whenever he sees us. Spike goes into hysterics of barking – noisy but relatively harmless. Lesser Weevil seriously wants a piece out of Peanut, and stalks onward, turning her head towards Peanut and growling in a fairly menacing way. One of these days, she seems to be saying. One of these days, you piebald little rat.

On the other hand, Weevil is perfectly amiable to the pretty young Weimaraner female, who lives along one of the side streets and comes to the iron gate to be courteous, whenever we pass. She got out one Sunday and followed after us, which is how we came to know her. The family who owned her had just moved in, and discovered only too late that she could squeeze through a gap in the iron fence. They tell us that they had another dog, an older one who died about eight months ago, and that she misses the company. So, when we walk together, Blondie takes Weevil up to their gate so they can pass a few minutes together; rather odd because Weimaraners are supposed to be rather standoffish about dogs they haven’t been carefully socialized with

Then there is Horatio, the cat who is more dog than he is cat. Horatio is black and looks rather like my own Morgy and Little Arthur, is extremely sociable and doesn’t seem to mind dogs. He lives mostly in the garage of a house up the road, where the garage door is very considerately left six inches open to facilitate Horatio’s social life. When we pass by the house, we usually stop and call him, and he trots out to say hello. Blondie likes him very much, saying that he is such a cool cat and she doesn’t think his people appreciate him nearly as much as they ought. If she didn’t already have two cats of her own, she would have taken him home already.

It rained, rained buckets yesterday, accompanied by amazing quantities of thunder and lightening; no way of knowing if this spring and summer will be as rainy as last year – which was so rainy —

—-how rainy was it???—-

That the spring wildflowers lasted all summer, and some of them were still going strong in the fall. And instead of turning light brown and crispy by mid-summer, fields and brush remained pretty green all year. Kind of nice, seeing Mother Nature do all our lawn-watering for us, but I just don’t think we’re going to be that lucky. Whatever weather we have in Texas… there’s always too damn much of it.

12. February 2008 · Comments Off on A New Canterbury Tale · Categories: European Disunion, Fun With Islam, General, General Nonsense, Good God, sarcasm, World

From Iowahawk, naturally. How can an English major resist a parody entitled:
Heere Bigynneth the Tale of the Asse-Hatte.”

Read, and savor the final punchline. You won’t regret it. Really.

12. February 2008 · Comments Off on A Comparison: North & South · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Fun and Games, General, General Nonsense, The Funny

(Another one of those rather amusing emails, forwarded by a friend)

The North has Bloomingdale’s, the South has Dollar General.

The North has coffee houses, the South has Waffle Houses.

The North has dating services, the South has family reunions.

The North has switchblade knives; the South has Lee Press-on Nails.

The North has double last names; the South has double first names.

The North has Indy car races; The South has stock car races.

North has Cream of Wheat, the South has grits.

The North has green salads, the South has collard greens.

The North has lobsters, the South has crawfish.

The North has the rust belt; the South has the Bible Belt.


In the South: –If you run your car into a ditch, don’t panic. Four men in a four-wheel drive pickup truck with a tow chain will be along shortly. Don’t try to help them, just stay out of their way. This is what they live for.

Don’t be surprised to find movie rentals and bait in the same store…. Do not buy food at this store.

Remember, “Y’all” is singular, “all Y’all” is plural, and “all Y’all’s” is plural possessive
Get used to hearing “You ain’t from round here, are ya?”

Save all manner of bacon grease. You will be instructed later on how to use it.

Don’t be worried at not understanding what people are saying. They can’t understand you either. The first Southern statement to creep into a transplanted Northerner’s vocabulary is the adjective “big’ol,” truck or “big’ol” boy. Most Northerners begin their Southern-influenced dialect this way. All of them are in denial about it.

The proper pronunciation you learned in school is no longer proper.!

Be advised that “He needed killin'” is a valid defense here.

If you hear a Southerner exclaim, “Hey, Y’all watch this,” you should stay out of the way. These are likely to be the last words he’ll ever say.

If there is the prediction of the slightest chance of even the smallest accumulation of snow, your presence is required at the local grocery store. It doesn’t matter whether you need anything or not. You just have to go there.

Do not be surprised to find that 10-year olds own their own shotguns, they are proficient marksmen, and their mammas taught them how to aim.

In the South, we have found that the best way to grow a lush green lawn is to pour gravel on it and call it a driveway.

AND REMEMBER: If you do settle in the South and bear children, don’t think we will accept them as Southerners After all, if the cat had kittens in the oven, we wouldn’t call ’em biscuits.

Oh, so it looks like the ever beloved New York Times has nobly volunteered itself to be the Piniata o’the Month for unleashing yet again – in the words of Maxwell Smart “the old Krazed Killer Veteran Story”. You know, the same old, same old pathetic round of stories that those of us over a certain age saw in the 1970s – and not just in the news but on every damn cop show; the freak who got a taste for killin’ and brought it home with him after the war. Honest to key-rist, NYTimes-people – what is your assignments editor these days smoking these days? I am a little late to joining the predictable pile-on from every quarter, which looks like it includes just about everyone short of the VFW.

At least it’s nice to know legacy media drones can do a google search these days and assemble a laundry list of whatever it was they were looking for in the intertubules. A step up from a couple of years ago, all things considered. But… and that is a big but there, almost as big as a Michael Moore butt…it is just that – a laundry list of incidents where someone who was a military veteran of a tour in Afghanistan or Iraq was subsequently involved in or thought to be involved in a murder. Or manslaughter, or something.

No context, no analysis – just OMFG, the Krazed Killer Veterans are Koming (and it’s all the military’s fault!) Look, NYTimes-people, coincidence is not co-f**king causality. Sometimes, it is just a co-incidence, and laying on a smarmy layer of sympathy and glycerin tears over the poor *sniff* innocent *sniff* widdle misdiagnosed *sob* veterans does not make your s**t-sandwich of a story any more palatable. Not to veterans and their families.

Not only can we remember this kind of story post-Vietnam, but the very senior among us can remember it post-WWII. I am reliably informed that there was even a certain amount of heartburn over an anticipated propensity for free-lance violence on the part of returning veterans from the Civil War – and no, I will be not sidetracked into a discussion of how the still-expanding western frontier managed to provide an outlet for all of those Billy Yanks and Johnny Rebs seeking post-war excitement.

My point would be that when this same-old-same-old went down post-hostilities every other damn time, the experience of military service was a bit more evenly spread among the general male population. The general reader had enough friends and relations in his immediate circle to take the whole Krazed Killer Veterans are Koming narrative with a large handful of salt. They knew enough veterans personally to not take what they read in the papers as necessarily the whole truth, and to put the sensational stories of post-war veteran crime into context. And they could blow them off as just another grab at the headlines.

But service in the military these days draws on a smaller sub-set of the population – and unfortunately that set does not include the media or cultural elite. Tripe like the NYT’s Krazed Killer Veteran – if it is not challenged and countered robustly- will soon solidify into conventional wisdom, just like it did with Vietnam veterans. And that, my little scribbling chickadees at the NY Times – is not going to happen again. Welcome to attitude adjustment, Times-folks. I can promise a real interesting and educational time for you over the next couple of days. Take notes. They will come in handy, especially for the next time you are assigned a story about military veterans.

Later: (Update from Iowahawk, too delicious to leave unlinked. Beware, NYTimes- this one is gonna leave a mark!)

Still later: And so will this blast from Col. Peters. My advice to the NYTimes writers is to load up on Midol, as well as taking notes.

08. January 2008 · Comments Off on On the Lighter Side · Categories: Fun and Games, General, General Nonsense, The Funny

OK, before anyone gets into a pissier mood, herewith an amusing email, courtesy of the FEN Yahoo group:

Subject: Things to avoid for seniors

Many of us ‘Old Folks” (those over 50, WAY over 50, or hovering near 50) are quite confused about how we should present ourselves. We are unsure about the kind of image we are projecting and whether or not we are correct as we try to conform to current fashions. Despite what you may have seen on the streets, the following combinations DO NOT go together and should be avoided:

A nose ring and bifocals

Spiked hair and bald spots

A pierced tongue and dentures

Miniskirts and support hose

Ankle bracelets and corn pads

Speedos and cellulite

A belly button ring and a gall bladder surgery scar

Unbuttoned disco shirt and a heart monitor

Midriff shirts and midriff bulge

Bikinis and liver spots

Short shorts and varicose veins

Inline skates and a walker

And last, but not least… My personal favorite*

Thongs and Depends

OK, everyone in a better mood now? Thank you, I live to serve…

24. December 2007 · Comments Off on Happy Whatever You’re Having! · Categories: General, General Nonsense

From my favorite irreverent Christmas CD, “Codependent Christmas” by The Therapy Sisters.

Happy Whatever You’re Having –
Hope that the season is bright.
We wish that for you all your best dreams come true
if they’re politically correct, and not too far right.

Make healthy choices this season –
don’t be gloomy or depressed.
But if you are, don’t be worried –
it’s just normal, whatever you’re having stress!

Have a multi-cultural, gender-neutral, non-sectarian, unambiguous, ovo-lacto-vegetarian, nature-loving, sweet agrarian, non-polluting, mass-appealing, anti-looting, non-fur-wearing, all-inclusive celebration! (unless of course you don’t want to – this is YOUR holiday)

Happy Whatever you’re having –
wish me happy whatever I’m having, too.
It’s so nicely all inclusive,
and we hope it’s not intrusive
to wish Happy Whatever to you…
(spoken: have whatever you want to have)
Happy Whatever to you…
(spoken: I’ll have what the guy on the floor’s having)
Happy Whatever to YOU!

11. December 2007 · Comments Off on What Mental Disorder do you Have? · Categories: General Nonsense

What mental disorder do you have?

Your Result: ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

You have a very hard time focusing, and you find it difficult to stay on task without your mind wandering. You probably zone in and out of conversations and tend to miss out on directions because you cannot focus

Manic Depressive
GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
What mental disorder do you have?

09. November 2007 · Comments Off on Good Grief, Here We Go Again · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, General, General Nonsense, Military, Rant

According to this story, this lot of blue-nosed busy-bodies is having another go at banning mags like Penthouse and Playboy from being sold in military PXs and bookstores on base. God save us, and as a small “f” feminist and mother I object to acres of objectified flesh on display next to the Air Force Times and “Family Circle” as much as any other woman with taste.

But hey, to each their own. I am fully cognizant of the fact that the military is largely made up of men. Most of them are young men, supposedly straight, and historically with an abiding interest in the female form – either in the flesh or pictorially. This is just one of those facts of life that one has to accept, as tacky as the morally over-fastidious may find it. Like the poor and recipes for tuna-noodle casserole that call for a can of cream of mushroom soup, these things are with us always. I can adjust, although apparently the good Reverend cannot.

Because, you see… the BX/PX Navy Exchange are there to supply the military community with the materiel items they need. Think of it as Wally-World with cammies and jungle boots. Embrace that concept, my dear little well-meaning anti-porn crusaders; the stuff for sale in military exchanges is there because the military members want to buy it – not necessarily because it has been judged good for them, or in good taste. And in overseas military bases, there is often no other alternative than the BX/PX, other than mail order.

Getting on a blue-nosed high-horse about banning certain magazines being for sale in the BX-PX is the start of a slippery slope – which is why I give a damn in the first place. The danger is that if every moral crusader and his brother, or sister can make a show of their virtue by pitching a fit about magazines whose appeal is contingent on displaying acres of siliconized boobies and Brazilian bikini-waxed hoo-hoos… well, what can be next, then? Eco-crusaders banning car magazines? Feminists wanting drive out “Cosmopolitan” or “Martha Stewart Living”?

I can very well recall how “The Last Temptation of Christ” was ostentatiously dropped from the Exchange inventory, never mind that some of us stationed overseas wanted to watch it, even if only to see what the fuss was about. The book and magazine selection used to run the whole political gamut, right to left and every shade and relevancy in between – but allow someone to burnish their image by engaging in a campaign to ban this, that or the other for the ostensible good of all military members… not good. It treats members of the military like children, with the good reverend and his ilk deciding what they think is good for them to have. And it sets a damn bad precedent.

I may not like the skin mags much – but someone obviously buys them, and if the BX/PX is in the business of supplying what military members buy… well, then… there you go. They are the military Walmart, not the YMCA.

Scroll down and take the poll in the middle of the story.

18. September 2007 · Comments Off on Newsflash: The Truth about the Service Academies · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, General Nonsense, Military, sarcasm, World

Apparently, it comes as an earth-shattering surprise to this student writer that the service academies… you know, West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy (and mustn’t forget the Coasties as well) are run by the various military services as a means of producing officers… and that the students of the various academies are, in fact, members of the military.

What a shocker. As Blondie remarked, in awed disbelief, “Wow… Did she go to college just for the drugs?”

In other late breaking developments, water is revealed to be wet, the Pope is Catholic and bears crap in the woods. And it is nice to know that just about anyone can get into college and write for the student publication, these days.

I can’t wait to see what other startling news is revealed in upcoming segments of this multi-part article.

Later: More acid remarks and comments from Andrea Harris, here

14. September 2007 · Comments Off on Random Rants and All-Purpose Insults · Categories: Domestic, General, General Nonsense, Media Matters Not, Rant, sarcasm, World

From: Sgt. Mom
To: Various
Re: Making an Exhibition of yourself in the News

1 – To Sandy “The Pantsman” Berger, on the occasion of joining Hilary Clinton’s topmost advisory circle: Are those top secret archives in your shorts or are you just happy to see us?

2 – To O.J. Simpson; What, are you jealous of Britney Spears getting all the tabloid attention? Instead of exploring the penal code, sport, why don’t you just prance around on stage in a black sequin two-piece for a while, and see if that works for ya?

3 – To Britney Spears; The trailer park is calling to you girl… you can’t deny it, it is your destiny!

4 – To; Move on. Please. Alpha Centauri would work for me, but Mars would do fine. Say hi to the face of Cydonia while you are there.

5 – Al Gore: please come do a global warming lecture in San Antonio. We need the cooler temperatures now. Some rain would be nice too, but hold the snow.

6 – To Uber-Fundraiser Norman Hsu; The flood of bad puns just keeps on and on and on: Hsunamis, the other Hsu dropping, the boy named Hsu, Hsunanigans. Thanks – it’s a nice change from just slapping “-gate” onto the political scandal du jour.

7 – To Hillary Clinton; About all that baggage? I don’t think divorce is gonna be much help at this point.

8 – To Osama Bin Laden; nice job with the Grecian Formula, dude.


Sgt Mom

26. August 2007 · Comments Off on Deep In the Heart · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, General Nonsense, The Funny, World

There are reasons for not particularly enjoying residency in Texas; beginning with the brutal summer heat, and working down through the serious lack of good mountains, distance from the seacoast, the brutal summer heat, highway interchanges that look like the planners just threw a plate of spaghetti at a wall-map, self-chuck-holing surface roads, the brutal summer heat, a distressing tendency for citizens to drown in urban low-water crossings, a high percentage of drivers of large vehicle who completely spaz out when it rains (as if they had never, ever seen such a thing before!), the brutal summer heat, urban downtown areas (I’m looking at you, Houston!) which look like Calcutta had thrown up on Los Angeles…. And the fact that everything is bigger applies to the insect life as well. You wanna see a garden spider large enough to snag small birds? Check out my back yard… but bring along a baseball bat. And did I mention the brutal summer heat?

Against those considerations, though, there is an even longer list of reasons to relish living in the Lone Star State… look, flyover country is not cultural Siberia. We’ve got the bookstores, the boutique cinemas, the museums and opera companies, and the whiney self-centered artistes to prove it. In no particular order of importance, we also have…

Wildflowers; square miles of wildflowers; For months in spring the highway verges and the empty lots, and the hillsides look like paintings by the better sort of early impressionalist painter.

And given enough rain, the countryside looks really, really quite pretty. Not spectacular, mostly of a gently-rolling variety, cut across with green rivers and creeks. The Hill Country is rather more enthusiastically rolling. West Texas is really, really rolling, but not very green most of the year. More medium crispy, and not to everyones’ taste… but this being Texas – where everything is bigger – there is more than enough of it all to go around.

Fields of grazing cows… very restful to look at, although in some places this program is startlingly varied with flocks of llamas and other exotica.

The HEB grocery chain. Statewide powerhouse, having sent several national chains running for the borders with a matchless combination of quality, excellent service and attention to detail. Quite simply, if it isn’t on the shelf at HEB’s Central Market, you probably don’t need it anyway. There are whole sections devoted to local salsa, hot sauce and BBQ sauce.

Austin local music scene; not that I know much about that first hand, other than seeing “Austin City Limits” on PBS but Cpl. Blondie does, and she made me put that in.

Local history: a rich mine containing many solid gold nuggets. Like Churchill once remarked about the Balkans, Texas produces almost more history than can be consumed locally.

Breakfast tacos; the food of the gods… oh, ye who only know of this marvel through the medium of Taco Bell should hide your faces in shame, and make a pilgrimage to San Antonio on your knees. I solemnly swear that every block on every main avenue has a breakfast-taco place on it somewhere. Many of them also offer drive-through service.

And Texas also has a most exuberant sense of being a distinctive place. Utah is the only other place that has anything like the same strength of identity, of pride in a shared and unique history. I suppose it comes from both states having been politically independent and separate entities during their respective founding decades. Sometimes this sense of identity strikes new visitors as rather overstated, but after a while it’s kind of endearing, and makes other places feel a little bland in comparison.

And finally, this is only a personal and purely anecdotal statement… but I do believe that out of all other bodies of human beings in the world, a substantially higher proportion of Texans will slide out of this existence and into the next, breathless, exhausted and whooping triumphantly, “Day-am! What an incredible ride!”

12. August 2007 · Comments Off on The Literary Game · Categories: General, General Nonsense, Literary Good Stuff, Site News, Working In A Salt Mine..., World

Is that the right word… literary? I’m not at all sure it applies to me, really. I fled academia years ago, whimpering softly to myself. Especially after the one Mod Lit class that I was forced to take… well, not forced, exactly. It just fitted in with my schedule, and I thought maybe I ought to be a little more conversant with the Giants of English Lit who had published something after 1940?

Well, it turned out to be a bad move, and I never made that mistake again. If it’s in the approved canon and published after the Depression then it’s probably a tedious and politically correct wank-fest, passing laborious to read, and generally about as much fun as do-it-yourself root canal surgery. Life is just too short, and I am an equal opportunity fugitive anyway. I’ll run just as fast from “The DaVinci Code” as I will from “The Corrections”. Oprah’s Book Club be damned… unless she picks one of my books, in which case I will cheerfully play along. (Scribbling notes to myself… Oprah Book Club… is there someone I have to sleep with, or something? Will they accept decorating advice or home-baked cookies, in lieu?)

Just don’t pop off the name of the literary wonderkind-du-jour in front of me, and expect any response but a blank expression, and the question. “Umm… who is that?” Look, I read all of Raymond Chandler, once. Surely that counts for something.

So… I am not literary. I tell stories. I tell stories about people, and interesting times, with a bit of vivid color and a lot of historical research, and I try to explain about how things were, and how they happened the way they did, and how it all felt to the people who had to cope with the resulting messy situation. If I identify with any literary heroine, I’m afraid it would be Flora Post, who hated team sports and untidiness.

If that works for you, it works for me. Buy a copy of the current book, or go here or here to read about the next book plus three. Give me interesting feedback, interesting factoids… be amused. So far, I need to sell another 1,999,992 copies before I can even think about moving into the castle next door to J.K. Rowlings’. I have mailed out a number of postcards to selected museum book stores, posted some flyers in various places, and scrounged a couple of links here and there. (OK, so I have blog-fans in interesting places, ‘kay?)

I am also waiting for a check from the local magazine that I did a version of this article for, so I can order a humongous quantity of copies for review and to send to people who have ordered copies, or to whom I owe copies. The more I order at one time, the better the price break for me, you see. I expect the damned check this week, having gotten the assignment in March, done the work in April, turned it in by a June deadline, for publication in July. Really, I wish I could stall my creditors at the rate that my creditors stall me.

So, that’s where it stands. Stay tuned… I’m sure it will get more amusing.

08. August 2007 · Comments Off on At Play in the Fields of Book-Marketing · Categories: Domestic, General, General Nonsense, Literary Good Stuff, Rant, Technology, Working In A Salt Mine...

After giving myself a year of trying to get published the old-fashioned way, which involved getting the notice of a literary agent who would be able to attract the notice of a traditional publisher, I finally said “the hell” and took “To Truckee’s Trail” to a POD firm. The truly mind-boggling thing was that everyone who had read the whole thing had two reactions: “Wow!” and “Why hadn’t I ever heard about these people before?” I’ll not delude myself by that into thinking it’s great lit-ra-chure on that account, though. It’s an agreeably well-written story about a minor historical event, and reasonably accurate.

There’s a ton of books like that down at the local Barnes & Noble, along with tons of other books of a suckage so total as to pull in asteroids and small moons. So one may rightfully wonder how on earth the writers of those latter managed to get agents and publishers. The judgment of the literary gatekeepers looks to be pretty iffy, all things considered. By the end of a year I could blow off receiving another rejection letter pretty well… especially those spotty fifth-generation photo-copied ones cut three or four from a sheet of copy paper. (Quelle classy, people. Really.)

After perusing a collection of blook-blogs, including this one, I am wondering if writer-driven publish-on-demand isn’t the wave of the future, or at least a jolly great shake-up to “the way things have always been done”. Sort of like how the news and comment blogs were a shake-up to the news media complex over the past five or six years, which gives cause to wonder if the literary-industrial complex isn’t on the same Titanic-vs-Iceberg track. Writers who have way more experience than I have also been wringing their hands in lamentation at sclerosis of the literary-industrial complex, and venturing all sorts of reasons. Like the torrents of manuscripts flowing upstream towards their traditional spawning grounds, at traditional publishing firms.

Once upon a time, they tell me… there weren’t quite so many people who thought they had a book in them somewhere. Traditional publishers could evaluate and accept submissions in a timely and sympathetic manner. If a manuscript had any sort of merit, it might knock around for a bit… but would eventually find a nice literary niche. Not so now; publishers are drowning in the floods of submissions. I am told that screening them is now farmed out to agents… who have pretty much the same problem. Unless a specific manuscript pushes all the right buttons of that one agent who has to be in just the right sort of mood… frankly, I was starting to think I’d have better luck playing the Texas Lottery. And like any other sane person, an agent would like to have the biggest pay-off for the smallest work possible, so ix-nay on something that doesn’t slot into an easy category, or be likened in one sentence to last week’s big block-buster. Just safe business, after all, but it has the result of narrowing the field and reducing the odds for the next out-of-category big literary wonder. (See above, suckage, and attraction to small celestial bodies.)

Lottery… which reminds me of something else; even getting an agent, and a traditional publishing deal isn’t any guarantee of happily-ever-after. I am told that most traditionally published books don’t make any sort of money. Like Hollywood, the literary-industrial complex really wants blockbusters, and the non-blockbusting writers tend to get treated pretty much like hired-help that can scribble… all the while being reminded that they are lucky to even have agency representation and a book deal to start with. So, a couple of more petty tyrants to appease, and to make the scribbler’s life even more miserable; yes, I think I’ll have another plate of that delicious filboid studge.

Oh, and it seems that the literary-industrial humongous publicity machine only gets into high gear for those few blockbusters anyway; the lesser scribblers have to do their own marketing anyway. May as well do POD, and have complete control, rather than be nibbled to death by the petty minions.

Progress report on “To Truckee’s Trail” to follow.