I have to confess to feeling a positively unholy degree of amusement, watching the Establishment Mainstream Media publicly coming to grips with Joe Biden’s senility … this after pretty much papering over his decaying mental condition over the past three years. That President Biden’s remaining brain cells have been melting into a slightly greenish and glowing puddle of goo has been screamingly obvious to everyone on the center-to-right quadrant of the blogosphere with any sense and worldly knowledge since his installation in the Oval Office. That the major national media minions are now having to wrap their tiny minds around that realization, and not just acknowledge but explain how it is now urgent that he be replaced on the Dem party ticket this year, as well as how they managed to escape noticing the freaking obvious for the past two or three years … well, all sorts of fun for those of us with a freakish sense of humor. It’s like watching a hapless stage magician try and gingerly handle a turd by the clean end.

The National Establishment Media – the public affairs branch of the Democrat Party – just spent the last three years trying to cover up his mental incapacity, not to mention his corruption, mendacity, and nasty tendency to perve on any attractive female of any age within reach, even on public occasions. The jig is up. The party’s over. Credibility is shot … not just shot but bleeding messily out in the center of the dusty street, while the large crowd of onlookers who perhaps held Tea Party sympathies, willingly served in our nations’ armed forces in the past, believed that our votes – and our protests counted for something – point and jeer. Yes, indeed – learn to code. Or wait tables, dig ditches, sling packages at Amazon or drive for Uber. If it’s good enough for former millworkers, coal heavers and truck drivers in the industrial heartland … it’s good enough for those who have called themselves news reporters for years, people who have lied to us by commission and omission. There are too many Taylor Lorenzes, and not enough Salena Zitos, it seems to be all too important for the top-ranked national news outlets to have a seat in the farcical White House press conference room, and thus, the national news industry is a fading one. It’s fading for a number of reasons, but one of the major ones is that a large proportion of consumers of news are tired of the lies and are fleeing to other sources than the mainstream purveyors of the government party line.

As an aside, there once were two daily newspapers in my home town of San Antonio – the Express News and the San Antonio Light. The Light was bought out years ago by their rival, but the Express News has shrunk from a once-substantial newspaper which everyone read, to something the size of a small tabloid and mostly running content gleaned from AP, UPI and other syndicated materiel. The editorial columns were usually by nationally syndicated personalities – and why bother? Eventually I dropped subscribing, and evidently, so did most everyone else. I used to see the paper in the driveway of practically every home in the neighborhood in the early mornings when I used to run before dawn. Now, I don’t think it’s delivered to more than a handful of houses.
Comment as you wish.

10. July 2023 · Comments Off on Hollowed Out · Categories: Ain't That America?, Local, Military, My Head Hurts, Veteran's Affairs

My daughter and I took Wee Jamie, the Wonder Grandson, and our next-door neighbor up to Canyon Lake to spend the day of the 4th of July at the military recreation site there; there are pavilions there above small sandy beaches, for the use of active military and retirees to picnic in, restrooms and shower complexes (in need of serious renovation, or at least a sand-blasting and a clean-out of crud and insect life), an RV park, some boat ramps, and a scattering of cabins for rental. The day was overcast until late in the afternoon, and it has been very, very hot and rainless for the last two or three weeks, so the water level was quite low. Both the boat ramps on the Air Force side were well out of the water, and there was quite a lot of exposed beach, much more than last 4th, when we also spent the day there.
But there was a good crowd at the beach, mostly families with children, venturing into the rather silty water, with innertubes and floaties and small life vests for the smallest children, in the intervals between the adults barbequing and drinking. It all seemed utterly normal, and yet hollow, as if we were only going through the motions out of habit more than anything else.

Well, it was a pleasant day, so perhaps it wasn’t as hollow as all that. There were American flags, banners and red-white-and-blue garden ornaments displayed all though my neighborhood, perhaps more than there were in previous years, so perhaps it was in a kind of defiance, an insistence that yes, Things Are Absolutely Normal, DAMMIT!

Because things generally are not Absolutely Normal, as we have come to accept over the last half-century or so. Our republic and many of the institutions we had previously had reason to trust, or at least, considerable credible with a sprinkling of salt … have been hollowed out. They still look OK, whole, sound and trustworthy from the outside, observe the same customs and rituals as they always have done … but they are hollowed out.

Nothing remains of them but the outward shell, the semblance of what they once were supposed to be. Organizations like the FBI, and institutions like the national press, public school systems in the larger urban areas, or our large-scale movie and TV media go through the motions; making a show of investigating certain crimes, covering events presumed to be noteworthy, teaching schoolchildren the three ‘R’s making movies and TV shows for the amusement of the public. Too many of our established church organizations are whoring after strange new gods, against the stern scriptural commands, impelling breaks among congregations and diocese between the trendy apostates and those who take their religious beliefs to hear. Even our professional military organs appear to have gone through the same depressing process, appearing to be more dedicated to catering to the trans and other minorities rather than fielding the best at killing our enemies and breaking their stuff. (Recruiting and retention is tanking, especially among those who formerly provided the largest portion of recruits, and who can blame them, when being white, southern, male, and traditionally religious is being painted as the Worst Human Beings Evah! by the military higher echelons.) I suppose there are still dedicated teachers in public school systems who are still teaching kids to be literate, numerate, and patriotic, and not grooming the kids for sexual exploitation immediately or down the line. There are probably real working reporters out there for national outlets (Salena Zito comes to mind) and some working military officers and NCOs who are still considering the defense of the nation against foreign enemies their primary goal, instead of pandering to every woke cause around.
Discuss as you will, and while we still can. Any evidence/examples of institutions and individuals still holding out against the hollowing-out of our institutions and culture will be fallen upon with happy gratitude.

05. June 2023 · Comments Off on A Visit To Fort Sam · Categories: AARRRMY TRAINING SIR!!!, History, Local

I had reason to visit Fort Sam Houston last Friday – to pick up a set of prescriptions, at the new and vastly expanded BX mall, going through that one back gate where Harry Wurzbach dead-ends, after wandering past the military cemetery, the golf course and the Towers at Park Lane. It’s been a familiar haunt to me for years, even if I was never assigned there, or had reason to go to any offices when I was active duty. It was an open post back then – so wide-open that it was only embarrassment that kept the Fort Sam EM/NCO club from being listed as off-limits to Air Force personnel. (There was, according to scuttlebutt, a dissolute and faintly dangerous element which used to hang out at that club.) I used to take a short-cut through the post on North New Braunfels to circumvent traffic jams on the Pan-Am Highway, when I had to drive through to Lackland AFB from where I lived on the north-east side of town. I was basically familiar with the older part; the stately red-brick Victorian senior officer-housing mansions along the northern and western side of the monumental, L-shaped parade ground, and the series of enormous three-story neo-Spanish Colonial style tile-roofed administration buildings and barracks which lined the opposite side. The mansions along “colonel’s row” always looked well kept, but in the few years after I retired, some of the older buildings began looking pretty ragged, decrepit even. I sometimes wondered if the Army had given up on painting them altogether, trimming shrubbery and pulling up weeds in the lawns around. Part of the peace dividend, I guessed.

 

Fort Sam Houston – familiarly known as “Fort Sam” is itself a pretty historic place – nearly as historic as the Presidio of the Alamo, the military post that it replaced, late in the 1870s. The Alamo, first established as the Spanish military HQ in Texas, went right on being used as a military post, through possession by Mexican soldiers, Texian volunteers, the US Army, and the Confederate States Army. The US Army took possession again, following the Civil War, when it was headquarters and logistical supply base for the US Army in the trans-Mississippi West, in the days of the Indian wars. But by the mid-1870s, the Army had outgrown the crumbling adobe and stone structures around Alamo Plaza. The city had also spread far enough to surround the old Presidio and considerably cramp military operations. The Army suggested closing the post to save money. The city fathers, probably horrified at the thought of losing the custom of the Army post, as well as the presence of a relatively free-spending garrison, immediately donated 92 acres of land on the low hills north of town and well outside the-then city limits.

 

For the Army it was a chance to start afresh, building exactly what they needed; generous warehouse space to store Army supplies brought up from Galveston and other coastal ports, offices for the supply sergeants and officers to work in, facilities to care for the horses, and the soldiers, and their families. A birds-eye map of San Antonio done in the 1880s clearly shows the original Fort Sam establishment; a single structure called the Quadrangle, a range of two-story buildings around an open courtyard adorned at one end with an ornate clock tower. The Quadrangle also served as an open-air prison in 1886. Geronimo, the last of the fighting Apache chiefs and some of his warrior band were held in the quadrangle for 40 days, while the federal government decided what to do with him. It’s only a legend that the small herd of tame deer currently living in the Quadrangle are those descended from a herd provided to Geronimo’s band as part of their ration issue.

By the turn of the last century, Fort Sam was the second largest military post in the United States. Practically every Army officer serving between the 1880s through World War II passed through Fort Sam at one time or another. Teddy Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders” rendezvoused and trained there before shipping to Cuba to charge up San Juan Hill. Whenever I pass by the open stretch of the parade ground, I am reminded that it was on that patch of level, open ground that then-Lieutenant Benjamin Foulois of the Signal Corps took off in a 1909 Wright Flyer, dubbed “Army Airplane #1” for a series of demonstration flights in 1910 – four takeoffs, three successful landings, the series concluded with a crash. Lt. Foulois was, for an interesting early period in military aviation, the entire Air Corps/Air Force. Fort Sam also supplied the men and material for General John “Black Jack” Pershing’s expedition into Mexico, chasing after Pancho Villa in 1916. At the very far end of the parade ground is the old Brooke Army Medical Center (built in 1936), formerly the Station Hospital, replaced in the 1990s with an even larger and more splendid complex to the east of Fort Sam. Dwight Eisenhower met and married his wife, Mamie Dowd, while stationed at Fort Sam as a young lieutenant. General Billy Mitchell was assigned to Fort Sam after being court-martialed and demoted. At the end of WWII training of Army medical personnel was consolidated there, and military medical training for all the other armed services was moved to Fort Sam more than a decade ago. This makes it a very busy training facility; it is a showplace for military medicine, which is the reason that I go there for regular visits like today.

I have read that if the post is ever closed, and all facilities revert to the city of San Antonio (like the Presidio in San Francisco) that the stock of historic buildings in the city inventory would double right then and there. Most of those buildings are still in use, though – at present, only the Quadrangle is open to the general public. But there are two museums, also open to the public, that between them give a very good idea of the scope of Fort Sam’s history and present missions: The Fort Sam Houston Museum, and the US Army Medical Department Museum.

It’s an acronym; what it means is “Deny-Accuse-Reverse-Victim-Offender” – and describes a common response of the accused party to charges of domestic abuse, along the lines of “I never laid a hand on her/him-But she/he is crazy/violent! – It’s her/his fault for making me so darned angry – I’m the innocent person here!”
This is indeed what we are seeing now with regard to the Nashville Covenant school murders, murders committed by a deranged and angry transgender, although one might be forgiven for thinking ‘deranged’ and ‘transgender’ to be a duplication of terms. Alas, that was just the worst of recent violent or near-violent incidents involving transgenders and transgender activists, who seem to be exploring new horizons in a quest to be the most deranged, unreasonable, demanding and generally bat-crap crazy in what might seem to be a contest among activists lately. (Is there a substantial cash prize on offer, for whoever can generate the most outrageous headlines? Inquiring minds really want to know.) Shrieking at and terrorizing collegiate swimmer Riley Gaines for objecting to biological males competing against females in athletic contests, threatening a school in Colorado with the same treatment as the Covenant School – fortunately, that threat was neutralized, at least with that school and that potential mass-murderer.

The white hot-fury of transgender anger on display of late is extremely disconcerting. I will concede that there were and are transgender citizens who went into the process after careful consideration, appeared to live or have lived relatively contented lives, who wanted nothing more than to vanish into an ordinary existence, and to have called no great attention to themselves since transitioning. But they were always a minute number, and up until the last couple of years, seemed to relish the obscurity that their new physical form brought them. They didn’t call attention to it, howling like banshees every couple of hours and over every conceivable issue. Or invading a state legislature, with bullhorns and shouted threats. Or ganging up either physically or online on everyone perceived as breathing mild dissentions or criticism of the whole Tranzi crusade.

The curious thing is once one is alerted to the DARVO concept, one begins seeing it everywhere in the headlines of late; in the matter of crime committed by urban youths of color, everything from attacks on passing strangers, gang shootouts with a certain careless attitude regarding the fate of innocent bystanders, and mass lootings of commercial enterprises. No, no – the fault is that of that amorphous concept; structural racism, institutional whiteness or whatever they want to call it in the public release to the press, after the blood has finished soaking into the ground. We didn’t do anything but respond to the viciousness of white/MAGA/conservative/Red State animus – it’s their fault for pushing us, we’re the innocent victims here!

Comment as you wish. And add further examples of DARVO in action, especially in the establishment news media.

I will note for the record that I spent all of last weekend participating in a <a href=”http://”>local folk-life celebration in a medium-sized city in Hill Country Texas – an event blissfully free of anything resembling contemporary wokeism. Small children, tame animals both farm-domestic and pet, patriotic flags, ethnic German folkways, and country music, a lot of demonstrations of ancient black-powder weaponry, and complete law-abidingness among the participants and guests. It was all so very reassuringly normal. Life goes on in the Shire, as it always has done, day to day.

19. February 2023 · Comments Off on Boerne – The Last Laugh of the Independents · Categories: Ain't That America?, Local, Texas, That's Entertainment!, Working In A Salt Mine...

The name of the town, incidentally, is pronounced “Bernie” – it’s one of the small Hill Country towns first established by the German settlers enthusiastically crowding into to Texas by the Adelsverein, and then by the failure of the various 1848 revolutionary movements. It’s rather more wealthy than most such, to judge from the number of very nose-bleedingly-high-end retailers lining Main Street. We hadn’t been up to the town in more than a year, when we visited just before Christmas to have a picture taken of Wee Jamie, the Wonder Grandson sitting with Santa, and in that time some things have changed – the gas station/meat market/BBQ place on the corner of Main and River Road closed, and the building demolished. It’s now an empty lot. The beautiful Victorian house on Pecan Street which my daughter loved with the intensity of a stalker has changed hands. The new owners apparently cleared away most of the garden and trees, and put up a fence around the yard. A good friend of ours used to manage the Squirrel’s Nest thrift shop, in an old building on Main which benefited a local animal charity, but the shop had to relocate to a less-well-trafficked location because the owner of the property wanted to expand the restaurant next door into that space. The Bear Moon Café seems to have closed their dining room inside their premises. All cause for sadness on our part.

But there were some positive developments, and one of them was discovering a new independent bookstore, at the back of a newish building on Main – a relatively tiny but comfortable place, of two rooms filled with an appealing and well-curated selection of books. The very best part is that they are ready, willing, and eager to stage author events – and so, when I had dropped off my card with the staff, when we discovered the Boerne Bookshop, I heard from them almost at once. We set a date for a Saturday in February – which was yesterday – and it all went very well. Very well, indeed – the Bookshop was frequented by lots of walk-in traffic over the two hours. Not a bit like the last time I did an author signing – sitting at a table in an almost-deserted bookstore, watching people try not to catch your eye. Perhaps I have gotten better at this kind of thing, or the elaborate Edwardian costume with hat and all makes a good ice-breaker for starting conversations. That, and in a small place like the Bookshop it might be considered rude to ignore someone sitting there, with a stack of books at hand. Anyway, enough copies of My Dear Cousin and Adelsverein; The Gathering sold, and I handed out enough of my business cards and flyers about my historical series to have made it worthwhile. I’ll definitely go there to launch the next installment of the historical series – That Fateful Lightning – when I buckle down and get it finished. My daughter noted that the cashier was ringing up sales on a regular basis – including her’s – as she had found four books that she simply had to have, unlike the last two or three times she wandered through a Barnes & Noble outlet; which now seem to be novelty stores, selling toys, magazines and stationary … oh, and a few shelves of books in the back.

It’s a mixed bag for indy authors, dealing with bookstores, large and small, independent bookstore and chains alike. We often lamented this, in the various indy author groups that I have been a part of, over the years. Barnes & Noble were generally hostile, with a few individual exceptions, if they had a manager or an event coordinator who could think outside the box. The local Borders outlets were magnificent to local indy authors; one location here in San Antonio even held a mass indy-author event at Christmas; alas, they went under. Hastings outlets were also nice about hosting author signings, although their focus wasn’t really books, but media generally. It was just very pleasant to have an event at a welcoming store, where there were enough interested people among customers and staff, and I didn’t feel that I had wasted my time for two hours. It’s often said among other indy authors that writing the book itself is just half the job – and the other half is marketing it. It’s also been said often enough that the national chains of big box bookstores like Barnes & Noble drive the small independent bookstores out of business entirely – but looking at independents like the Boerne Bookstore and others like them, who are holding on by getting and staying involved with local readers and writers – the independent little book stores may have the last laugh after all.

As my daughter has taken up a new career (one which she is thoroughly enjoying, now that she has a successful sale under her belt and another three or four potentially serious and committed buyers on the horizon in the coming new year) I have had, perforce, to take an interest in the market for houses, in this, a moderately prosperous Texas city. Well, moderately prosperous, in spite of all the (explicative deleted) that the current economy and the Biden administration can throw at us. By all evidence that my daughter has noted locally, (mostly in price reductions for a number of listings) the property bubble has well and truly burst, or is now in a mode of slow deflation. Conventional wisdom among realtors who have been in it for years, is that prices for houses are on a seven-year-long boom and bust cycle. We’re about to head into the ‘bust’ downslope. Anyone who does have the wherewithal – the bulging pocketbook to buy outright or a high-enough credit rating qualifying for a loan at favorable rates to buy a house in the next couple of years will have their pick of properties, at least in this part of Texas.

I have noted over more than two decades of living in it, is that my own neighborhood is quietly prosperous; a high percentage of homeowners and few rental properties. This is a good thing, most definitely not a class or racial issue. It should be obvious to all now that owners of a house, even if only a small one, will tend to take better care of the roof, walls, windows and HVAC system that they have invested in. I would guess that my neighborhood very closely reflects the national racial makeup; racially mixed in conformance with the overall national stats. (Not culturally mixed, though. Just about all my neighbors are house-proud, responsible and community minded.) My neighborhood is not one of the notoriously wealthiest neighborhoods in San Antonio; the houses are relatively small, in the 1,000-1.500 square foot range on small lots, not more than a 10th of an acre. Some of the larger houses in the older part are on lots a bit larger than that, but all in all, the subdivision is a comfortable fit for people with working-class jobs, convenient to the various military bases, shopping centers, highway access. These small, comfortable houses and manageable gardens are owned by a cross-section of retired military, ordinary retirees, new families, small families, single working women, and small business owners. Working bourgeoise; the kind that the New Woke World Order wants to squeeze out of existence, for our stubborn insistence on managing our own lives and economics without any interference from the new self-elected and lustful-for-power Ruling Class.

As an aside, I don’t think that will happen – all of us stubborn working bourgeoise reduced to rental serfdom, subject to the illogical whims of some ivory-tower and unaccountable bureaucracy. There are, as yet, too many ways for ordinary citizens to slip away from the grasping fingers of control.

An element that my daughter has noticed is that the smaller houses in solid neighborhoods like ours go like hotcakes. The 1,000-1,3000 sf home, two bed, one bath, or bath and a half – such small starter or retirement homes at a reasonable valuation are in great demand, demonstrated by how blazingly-fast they sell, once they are listed. Not all that surprising, actually, as that is the size that I could readily afford, house hunting at the end of my inglorious military career. Also about the size of what my own parents could afford and which we all lived in as a family of six: two or three bedrooms and a single bath for us all. But such smaller homes coming on the market are few and far between and looking at the new developments spring up around the parts of San Antonio that I frequent, the new builds seem to be at the upper end of that range or larger, even way, way much larger. What about the prospect of smaller homes, homes even under 1,000 square feet, tinier lots?

You might think that the current fashion for “tiny homes” should be appealing to developers, just as a matter of marketing, and the lower costs to build and thereafter maintain … but for some reason, it doesn’t. Builders go on merrily constructing bigger and bigger houses.  (Usually on smaller and smaller lots…) I have always wondered why. The usual explanation is that municipalities naturally want to collect the very most in property taxes – the larger and more lavishly-adorned the property the greater the tax assessed, and the existing homeowners in the area being considered invariably hear “Small affordable houses!” and begin screaming to their local political office-holder, “OMG-Poor people! It’s affordable housing for poor people! OMG! Keep away, keep them far, far away!” Still, one would think that smaller, more compact houses would make so much good sense to developers and builders. Maybe it is.

Along the outer ring highway in San Antonio, a large apartment complex has been going in for months – but at the back of the complex, bounded by a small back road which we routinely use as a short-cut, there is a range of smaller units going in. At first, when they began pouring the slabs for them, we wondered if they were to be garages – but no; from the layout, no way to get a vehicle safely in or out, When the walls began going up, we could see that – no, the back half of the complex will be small cottages, and small duplexes. Interesting. Well, not everyone likes to live in a third-floor walkup, hauling groceries up two flights of stairs, with the noise from neighbors through thin walls at all hours … better a small, self-contained little house, with a decent separation from the neighboring unit, or only the other half of the tiny duplex. We wonder if this is a harbinger of things to come; of builders seeing that there may be money to be made in catering to the ‘smaller house’ impulse. Where will the market let us all, in these trying times?

What say you? Discuss as you like.

19. June 2022 · Comments Off on Cozy Little Home · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, General, Local

This must be my month for noticing cozy and modest little homes appearing in media – last week it was a quaint little cabin in the mountains redone by Melissa Gilbert and her husband as their personal refuge. This week it is a shed on a small ranch property near Fayetteville. The owners inherited the property from grandparents. While sensibly saving up what they need to reno the main house, they spend a year and a mere $16,000 on fitting out a shed as a tiny temporary home for themselves and two young daughters. The shed itself dated from the 1980s and appeared structurally sound – it had even been insulated, but lacked plumbing and electricity, and was just a single room inside, approximately 280 square feet. So they set to work, doing the labor themselves; partitioning off the space inside to one living room and kitchen, with a bathroom and bedroom at the back. They built on a generous porch which added about a third more living space, replaced the windows, put in an air conditioning system – and have been living in it happily for more than a year.

I’d guess that most of that $16,000 went for the plumbing, electric and HVAC, the new vinyl windows, and the kitchen cabinets. Most of the other construction materials were sourced from the ranch itself, gained from tearing down an even more decrepit old barn and reusing the wood beams, planks, and the front door, which hardly needed any more work than replacing the glass panel in it. It was a lovely demonstration of what one can do on a small project, with the help of friends, and making use of what materials come to hand. I do hope that they will also document progress on renovating the main house; at any rate, when that second and larger reno job is done, the family will have a lovely little guest house.

I honestly wish that more builders were interested in building developments of small – say 800 square foot or less houses, of the two bedrooms, one bath sort. Those small starter houses might sell for a much more reasonable, affordable price. But there are all sorts of economic and political pressures not to do so, mostly associated with economic costs and civic authorities not wanting to allow any development which might soon descend to slumhood, never mind that home owners tend to be rather more careful of their property than renters.

12. June 2022 · Comments Off on A Weekend Marketplace · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Local, Texas, Veteran's Affairs, Working In A Salt Mine...

So, my daughter was roped into representing the brokerage she is with, for a day-long outdoor market event earlier this month. I will not say anything more specific about the event, the location of it, or the purpose of the event itself, save that it was absolutely the most horrifically mismanaged and disastrous event which she has ever been a part of, and oh, gosh, have we done a lot of them. Not as many as professional vendors following the weekend markets will attest, but yes, we’ve participated in enough of them to be able to distinguish a well-organized and well-run event from a dumpster-fire, floating down a flooded riverbed.

Yes, efficiently well-run community or event market has certain commonalties, upon which vendors and exhibitors have come to depend. Like, the event organizer will let us know exactly what we need to bring, or if such items will be supplied (usually as part of the required table fee.) The organizer will also let us know through providing a map, exactly where to set up our pitch, what time to set up and break down, where we can park, and are available by phone call, email or just by simple physical presence, when it comes to dealing with problems which naturally arise. Trash cans, portapotties/bathrooms also abound, in readily locatable areas. The very best markets which we have participated in also featured representatives from the managing organization or committee who also took a tender care of the vendors – circulating among the vender booths, ensuring that we had water, lunch, someone to spell us if we were alone and needed a bathroom break. Oh, and … sufficient publicity for the event itself which drew enough participants and generated enough in sales to be totally worth participating? Oh, yeah. All this, and some of the very best even included a free lunch for vendors, and raffle tickets … but never mind.

The event earlier this month incorporated practically nothing of the above. The organizer was not much in evidence for much of the day and couldn’t be raised by cellphone or message to deal with those problems which arose. This persistent unavailability gave rise to much annoyance. The place, so says my daughter, looked half-derelict and deserted, the landscaping neglected, and mildly litter strewn. Not an inviting prospect on the whole, although if kept maintained, the grounds and building could have been amazing.

A food truck depending upon electricity from the venue had no luck at all, and had to send at the last minute for a gas generator, as the feeble trickle of electric power proved insufficient for their needs in providing for customers … customers who didn’t show up anyway. My daughter did report that she and the other vendors could make use of the bathrooms within the permanent venue building, but that the plumbing of the place didn’t allow for TP to be flushed down the toilets. An archaic thing that I haven’t seen since we were living in rental property in Spain, where the plumbing system proved to be unable to digest toilet paper. We got used to this, of course – but it seems a strange quirk of a system in an American venue in this present day, no matter how old the house. Finally, by late afternoon, my poor daughter and her co-agent were basically sitting in a place without shade – which would have been endurable if there had been any kind of crowd at all for the venue event.

Which there wasn’t. And that was the final insult – hardly any crowd at all, as publicity for the event seemed to have been minimal.

Finally late in the afternoon, after suffering from a mild case of sunburn, my daughter and her co-worker decided to pack up and leave an hour before closing time. One of the other vendors had also left before that time. They brought around their cars from where the vendors had been told to park, rolled carefully across the venue grounds, packed up and were about to leave when the venue organizer finally showed up, and cussed them out a blue streak for carelessly driving through the grounds, and leaving early. (Copious amounts of alcohol may have been involved on the organizer’s part, as this person seemed to be oblivious to the lack of crowd, or coherent and completely sober.)

My daughter looked at the all-but-deserted venue, shook her head and left, while the event organizer fulminated. Perhaps as was fortunate, the organizer didn’t know their names, and may indeed have forgotten the name of the brokerage itself. Participation in that goat-rope was on the part of someone else at the brokerage who wanted to get more exposure. We’ve passed on the contact details of organizers of regular markets who are more on the ball, organization-wise.

27. May 2022 · Comments Off on A Farrago of Fail · Categories: Domestic, Good God, Local

It was hard enough to wrap the mind around the shortage of infant formula, and how a recall and recall-caused shortage which began months ago, only blew up in our National Establishment Media, and by extension, the current administration in the last week or so. I suppose that if you aren’t living in a household with a baby present, it was easy enough to miss out on the whole tense business of – will there be formula on the shelves – how many cans can we get – and what on earth do we do if we run out? It didn’t help that sanctimonious cows like Bette Midler and divers others began smugly suggesting that mothers breast-feed, once the matter bubbled to the surface of the national conscience. Why thank you for that heaping helping of the screamingly obvious – it had somehow managed to escape our notice. Now that the National Establishment Media is belatedly interested in the matter, we discover that the contamination in question which kicked off closure of the manufacturing location likely originated elsewhere than the factory. We also discover that the FDA dragged their feet on approval to re-open. Huh. Imagine that. A low priority for the inspectors, or a deliberate attempt to add just that much more of a ration of misery to our lives, now that gas is over $4 a gallon in Texas where it comes straight from the cow, and higher yet in other less fortunate localities.

A friend of Sarah Hoyt’s was of the opinion that things like the formula shortage and the high gas prices (which down the road will affect the costs of everything that has to be transported) were deliberately generated to just nudge the public a little, make us uncomfortable and agreeable to whatever those administrative geniuses had planned – you know, smaller houses, electric vehicles, not owning anything and existing as happy little serf-proles obedient to our betters. But the administrative geniuses mis-calculated. They are just coming to the horrified realization that all their planned little nudges are spinning wildly out of control. They can’t even begin to figure out how to reel it all back in, or how we will react to the catastrophe they have generated. Where will this all be by next year, when we have burned through last years’ harvest and gas is $10 a gallon or more? They don’t know, and likely that scares them out of their minds.

Speaking of a farrago of fail, the Uvalde school shooting … I can’t quite decide what is more awful; the posturing over the bodies of dead fourth-grade kids by vile opportunists like Beto O’Rourke (better known now as Beta O’Dorke) or the carelessness on the part of civil and ISD authorities which let it all happen in the first place. With the caveat that Uvalde is not a town which I know as well as Fredericksburg, Goliad, Gonzalez, Giddings or New Braunfels – I know for darned certain that after other school shootings, and the bloody massacre at the church in Sutherland Springs several years ago – there was absolutely no basis for believing that a school shooting couldn’t possibly happen in a small town, like Uvalde. We’ve done school events in Giddings several times; and yes, we had to sign in with picture ID, shown to school administrators sitting behind a Plexiglas panel, and escorted through a secure door into the corridor leading to the classroom where we were to do a talk about creative writing. That a teenage nut-case with serious anger issues and excessively expensive weaponry could waltz into an elementary school through an unlocked back door, and then do his worst while the local PD sat around outside … At the very least, the Uvalde PD officers are not going to be very popular with their neighbors for the foreseeable future.
Also – I believe that it will come out that the Uvalde killer was a well-known problem child, and that he likely had an extensive juvenile record as a hell-raiser. So, when are we going to do something about common-sense nut-case control? Or here’s a thought … since the death toll of innocents in Uvalde was on par with a normal AKA violent weekend in a place like Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit or Baltimore … let’s talk about confiscating the weaponry from the inner-city gang-bang element. Or is that just politically unspeakable?
Discuss as you wish.

07. February 2022 · Comments Off on Visions of A Time and Place on the Big and Small Screens · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Local, Media Matters Not

I am tempted to start watching the series 1883 – and likely will, as soon as it appears in one of our regular streaming services, but I am wondering, just reading about it – how far into the episodes I can get before walking away.

I mean, we barely lasted one episode into Texas Rising; a hideous and heartbreaking waste of time and video, being shot mostly in the wild mountains of Durango, Mexico, which bore no resemblance at all to the topography of Texas.* And no, the chapel of the Alamo does not have a crypt. They did get two things right, although the rest of the series was a cringe-fest, according to viewers who had stomachs stronger than mine. Texas did fight a war for independence from the Centralist dictatorship of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, and there was a battle at the Alamo in San Antonio, and another at San Jacinto, barely six months later. Otherwise, Texas Rising was heartbreaking for Texas history fans, because it could have been a totally enthralling account of the war for independence and the fight for independent statehood – elements and incidents which were so dramatic and improbable that hardly anything needed to be made up out of whole cloth.

That series and countless others fell into a common fault of movies and television series when ‘doing’ a Western – that is, a story set on the American frontier in the 19th century – wherever that frontier happened to be in any given decade from the 1820s on to the end of that century. The common failing is to run it all together in one murky blur, as if technologies large and small remained constant, as did fashions, the political and geographical landscape, relations with various Indian tribes. As I wrote in this essay, several years ago, “there were very specific and distinct places, as different as they could be and still be on the same continent. 1880’s Tombstone is as different from Gold Rush-era Sacramento, which is different again from Abilene in the cattle-boom years, nothing like Salt Lake City when the Mormons first settled there – and which is different again from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s small-town De Smet in the Dakota Territory – or any other place that I could name, between the Pacific Ocean and the Mississippi-Missouri.”

Setting the series to start in 1883 is curious enough – it’s just rather late in the history of the frontier to generate a long-trail wagon-train journey, and from Texas to Montana, too. The western market in beef cattle was about to go bust by the middle of that decade, and the northern ranges ravaged by two especially harsh winters in a row. The various Indian wars along the frontier were done and dusted, all but the last uprising of the Lakota Sioux, inspired by the Ghost Dance movement. The transcontinental railroad had been completed long since. By the mid-1880s just about every major city in the United States and Canada was connected by a network of shining steel rails, obliviating the necessity of a long and dangerous journey by wagon-train across all-but-empty lands in most of the trans-Mississippi west. A cast interview that I did read mentioned that the producers and directors were going all out for authenticity. Well, we’ll see, eventually. I recollect reading an article in Smithsonian, of all places – which lauded all the ways in which the producers of The Patriot were going all out in historical fidelity, but once I watched that movie, I realized that the authenticity was all in small details, such as props, costumes and weaponry … just not the whopping big plot elements, personalities and key incidents. I’m afraid that I will find the series 1888 to be another helping of the same old stuff.

*Wierdly enough – the movie The Highwaymen got the topography exactly right. Yes – the wide lonely vistas, the two-lane paved roads with the line of spindly power poles along-side and the bare fields of new corn or cotton, or whatever spreading out on either side, the tiny roadside gas stations … were exactly right. The small towns, and transient camps, the little tourist cabin enclaves … also exactly right, as to time and place. I have pictures of my own, taken on various road trips which can affirm this.  I don’t know how much that the production company for The Highwaymen spent to do location shooting – can’t have been more than Texas Rising – but one big production got it right, and the other fell spectacularly flat when it came to the ‘look’ of places.

15. December 2021 · Comments Off on On the Edge · Categories: Ain't That America?, Domestic, Eat, Drink and be Merry, Home Front, Local

My daughter and I have just finished making the various kinds of fudge that we distribute to neighbors, friends, and various workers and employees of places that we do business with. We hit upon this seasonal gift a good few years ago, after a visit to a very nice shop in Fredericksburg in the Hill Country, which featured infinite varieties of fudge. Those that we tasted were excellent, and my daughter was inspired to replicate the variety. We had previously done cookies and other home-made treats, but when it came around the next year and neighbors began asking us, with wistful hope, “Are you going to make fudge again, this year? We really liked it …” we realized that we were onto a winning strategy for holiday gifting.

The assortment – packaged in little tins from the Dollar Tree

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After our adventures a couple of weeks ago in sorting out the garage deep freezer, my daughter and I decided that we ought to tackle the pantry – which we had done a year or so ago and disposed of most of the badly out-of-date food and condiment items at that time. We did so again today, but fortunately this time the oldest item found was some ranch dressing mix from 2013. The few other items disposed of were of a much more recent vintage. There were two reasons for this project; the first being that we simply had to find the little jar of turkey brine mix that we bought last year after Thanksgiving. We had bought a jar of the same brand after Thanksgiving, 2019, and used it for the turkey breast last year, and it was absolutely splendid! Yes, we shop the marked-down shelves, after the holidays. Got a problem with that? (The way prices are going up on various items, this is something that all of us had better get accustomed to doing.) And, no, I don’t believe the quality degrades after sitting a year – it’s mostly salt, sugar, and an interesting blend of spices and dried fruit.

The other reason was that I had two lots of new air-tight pantry containers – various sizes, all to store the various flours, pastas, rice, grains, and beans in. The pantry was crammed to overflowing, with much of the contents in round glass jars in various sizes, which didn’t make economical use of space, and square containers with the contents marked, which would possibly make better use of the telephone-booth-sized pantry … (‘Mom? What IS this?’ ‘Either bulger wheat or wheat berries…’) (‘Why do we have three different bags or jars of jasmine rice/bean thread noodles/cornmeal?’ ‘Because we couldn’t find them the last time we were looking and just bought more…’) I understand that this happens with ill-organized garages. Can’t find the hammer – go and buy another, which is how people finish up with half a dozen hammers, or adjustable wrenches…

It turns out that we have a ton more of dried and canned beans, canned tomatoes, and various oriental noodle items than we thought we did. Our resolve to carefully store and label the darned things is renewed. And putting all the various dried staples into square containers and labeling them as to the contents turns out to have saved considerable space in the pantry, as well as making certain items much more visible, even if this project took up most of the day. Which should save time in searching for them, the next time we need a can of coconut milk, a bit of tomato paste …

We’re brining a turkey breast we bought some weeks ago, and putting together a nice small family Thanksgiving feast, turkey, mashed potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, wheat bread and sausage stuffing, gravy and the usual pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce – all carefully calculated so that we don’t have too much in the way of leftovers … when I was growing up, we’d be eating turkey leftovers in various guises for most of the three weeks after Thanksgiving … and just when we polished off the last of it … there came the Christmas turkey and another month of leftovers.

For Christmas dinner, we’re planning on doing Boeuf en Croûte. The beef roast is in the freezer – we bought it a few weeks ago. May as well, while we can still afford it …

16. November 2021 · Comments Off on Craft Market Weekend · Categories: Domestic, Home Front, Local, Texas, Working In A Salt Mine...

My daughter and I, accompanied by a selection of stock, Wee Jamie in his stroller, and a full assortment in a cooler bag of our lunches and his bottles on ice, spent all day last Saturday at a craft fair in Beautiful Downtown Bulverde, at the senior center there. Which is disconcertingly under the flight approach of a tiny airfield just down the road; at odd times all day, a small single-engine aircraft road overhead just above tree-top level, the shadow of it skating over the treetops and meadow. My daughter had a selection of her origami earrings, most of it stock created early last year. What with the advent of Wee Jamie, who will be six months old this month, and her interests in developing a career in real-estate, this is a hobby which she will have to set aside for a time. She also had a selection of wood-burned oversized Christmas ornaments, which all went to one purchaser who wanted them for an outdoor Christmas tree display, and a collection of small needle-felted seasonal ornaments which, alas, did not sell. We were kind of discouraged because of this. Maybe next year. We worry about what hell the retail economy will present to us, by next year. We had thought that shoppers at the craft fair would be interested in spending their money with local small crafters, what with all the ships stuck off-shore, loaded with crappy consumer goods from China for the holiday market season. We’ll see what happens with post-market sales – there is always a bump-up after a market event.

I had two bins of American Girl doll-clothes and costumes, which were much admired, but didn’t sell as well as they have in the past. At least I covered my half of the table fee and then a bit, which is always reassuring. Our only event the rest of the year will be for my books, at Miss Ruby’s Author Corral in Goliad, the first Saturday in December. My daughter is looking forward to taking Wee Jamie to see Santa, although posing for a picture in the saddle of a longhorn steer may be a little too much to expect of an infant who will be only seven months old when he has his encounter with the Guy In the Red Suit Who Drives a Team of Reindeer And Delivers Gifts to Good Children on Christmas Eve.

On the other hand, Wee Jamie was both much admired for his baby cuteness, and for his being absolutely good throughout. He napped in the stroller, didn’t fuss, consumed two bottles … and was so exhausted by effort of being cute for the entire day that he slept that night from about six PM until past nine on Sunday morning. Wee Jamie is coming along, in his development. I insist that there is nothing to worry about, in missing some of the development benchmarks or hitting them late, which is the pediatrician’s concern. It is my adamant belief that he is about a month behind the expectations because he is a boy, stubborn and reluctant to develop, and another month because he was delivered three weeks before full term, at barely five pounds and a bit. He smiles for my daughter and I, a smile which is all over his face, he is of late entranced with toys which rattle, make crunchy sounds, and musical notes, he has discovered and been entranced by his fingers and hands, and his reflection in one of the toy units. He rocks back and forth from side to side, when laid on my daughter’s bed. Turning over is nearly within his grasp, we think – and he can almost sit up unaided for almost a minute at a time. He also seems to enjoy watching videos, especially the series Shaun the Sheep. He sleeps mostly through the night, after his 5 PM bath, and the bottle which follows – which is a great relief to both of us.

As if it wasn’t enough for the joyless, bitter scolds among the wokerati to have an absolute tizzy over the head of Goya Foods being civil and respectful of the office of the President of the US, another provider of excellent and relatively inexpensive foodstuffs is in their cross-hairs. Unlike the president of Goya Foods who basically told them to pound sand – and is now enjoying the economic benefits of having defied the wokerati – the management of Trader Joe’s is beating a sniveling and apologetic retreat, and promising to redo their policy of labeling their various ethnic food items with a suitably ethnic variation on ‘Trader Something-or-Other’. This was a bit of light-hearted bit of humor on their part, playing with naming stereotypes, but good lord, the grim and determined wokerati cannot abide any humor at all and so the whole concept must go. The Daughter Unit tells me, and this link conforms, that the whole thing started as a petition by high school students, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. I suspect the responsible students are the earnest and censorious sorts, desperately trying to out-woke each other.

Frankly, the whole ‘Trader Joe’s’ South Sea Island – Tropical Paradise motif always struck me as a last gasp of the 1950s ‘Tiki Culture’ and about the only one which didn’t involve a bar decorated with fishing nets and dried starfish, and fru-fru drinks with little umbrellas in them. Trader Joe’s various products are high quality, reasonably priced, and the social-consciousness is laid on with a light hand, in pleasant contrast with the mountain of ostentatious correctitude and high prices offered at Whole Foods. There is a reason the latter is derisively known as “Whole Paycheck.” I can only think it’s only a matter of time before the social justice warriors go after Trader Joe’s for that bit of cultural appropriation as well.

At least the providers of groceries are not having as rotten a year due to the Chinese Commie Crud as Hollywood is. Theaters shut down, premieres cancelled, top-flight releases like Greyhound, with Tom Hanks and based on C.S. Foresters’ war novel The Good Shepherd diverted to release on streaming video, the fall-out from “Me Too” and Harvey Weinstein’s wholesale-level practice of the casting couch, the apparent urge among our producers of entertainment to whore after foreign audiences, and now looking to curry favor with the hot new trend of ‘anyone but white heterosexuals in front of the camera and behind it as well as behind it in any capacity’ … well, Establishment Hollywood has earned the foul reputation they richly deserve. Those of us in flyover country are watching old movies on DVD (from our own libraries, let it be known) or on streaming video, watching foreign films or series – practically anything other than grim parables and lectures by the wokerati.

Comment as you wish: what are you going to watch, now? The Daughter Unit and I are watching episodes of Are You Being Served? Which has the side benefit of being gloriously politically incorrect, and not featuring any masks or six-foot apart social distancing. (The Daughter Unit and I temped for a few months at an upscale department store over the holiday season some years ago. We consider ‘Served’ as nearly a documentary on retail sales at a certain level.)

20. December 2019 · Comments Off on For Christmas; A countown of my favorite carols · Categories: Good God, Local

For today – “See amid the winter’s snow!”

30. November 2019 · Comments Off on The Start of Christmas · Categories: Literary Good Stuff, Local, Working In A Salt Mine...

Yes, we’re sort of traditionalist – Christmas doesn’t really start for us until the day after Thanksgiving. And yes, I spent a lot of years overseas where the Christmas presents for the family had to be purchased early, packed and mailed home in early October … yay for prior planning preventing piss poor holiday performance … but otherwise; the decorations and all went up on the day after Turkey Day.

And no, dear ghod, none of that lining up at the doors of some big-box outlet for the chance to engage in some full-body scrum with other shoppers in the wee hours for the opportunity to purchase some marked up to be marked down bit of electronic or toy tat. Just … no. I’ve maintained the habit of picking up items throughout the year, intended as gifts for specific family members. So Black Friday for us – at least the morning thereof – was spent hitting a couple of stores for specific things; some specialty foods at Ikea, Tuesday Morning for a set of flannel sheets for Mom, HEB for assorted groceries and a Collin Street Bakery fruitcake for my brother (who adores their fruitcake) … and the post office for one of their priority boxes to fit all of this and the above in, for posting to the family in California. The Daughter Unit spent some few minutes ordering items from Amazon – and there we are; sorted! Leaving the afternoon free to put up decorations; this program of putting up the seasonal ornaments will continue this weekend.

As for … book and market stuff; Christmas on the Square in Goliad is on for this weekend, and we’ll be in Miss Ruby’s Author Corral on Saturday – this year the corral is again in the courtyard of the Mustang Cantina, just off the Square by the awning over the enormous Bull Durham sign. There’s another couple of markets the weekend and week after that. I hope to be able to roll out the print versions of the Luna City compendium volumes in time for the Third Thursday in Seguin. As for status on the works in progress; I am about halfway through the first draft of my Civil War novel, “That Fateful Lightning” – getting to the point that actually deals with the Civil War and Miss Minnie Vining’s work as a hospital nurse. Also, starting on Luna City #9 – yes, an explanation of what Xavier Gunnison-Penn saw on the town Christmas tree, and what on earth will happen when Clovis Walcott returns from the Dubai job … and comes to the Café for a talk with Luc about what his intentions are with regard to Belle Walcott. Among other interesting developments in Luna City. I could do with some more stories about small-town shenanigans to fill out this volume, so hope that I hear some more in Goliad and at the remaining market events.

And that’s my Thanksgiving weekend plans…

 

The reenacted Civil War, at Liendo Plantation this last weekend. I went with a camera, in search of some good pictures, to use for the current Work in Progress – That Fateful Lightning.

18. September 2019 · Comments Off on Training Wheels · Categories: Geekery, Literary Good Stuff, Local

This last weekend was the start of the fall book market season; I spent three days in Giddings, Texas, as one of the local authors invited to participate in the yearly Word Wrangler Book Festival – which is sponsored by the local library, and supported by practically every civic institution in Giddings, including the local elementary and high schools. Last Thursday, the first day of Word Wrangler, certain of us authors volunteered to go and visit schools for readings, or to just talk about writing. This year, I visited three middle-school classes, to talk to sixth graders about writing, the stories that they liked, and what they could write about. I like doing this with fifth and sixth grade students, by the way – they are old enough to read pretty well, but not so old as to be jaded by the whole ‘visiting writer/storyteller’ thing. The kids were lively and responsive; it helps that they were being taught about plotting, about the narrative voice, and how to create a story. In each class of about twenty or thirty kids, I would guess that two or three are terrifically keen on creative writing, another eight or ten are interested, and the remainder are not completely indifferent. I went around and asked each student what they liked to read the most; adventure stories seemed to be most popular, followed by mysteries. Two boys in separate classes were enthralled by World War II stories. Horror and fantasy seemed to be about equally popular; and there was one girl with quite gruesome taste in exotic forms of murder. Well, it takes all kinds, and I am not her analyst; she’ll most likely grow out of it, once puberty really takes hold …
Then I went around again, asking each one what they would write about; what story would they want to sit down and write. For those who couldn’t think of one, I gave them a character and a situation, and encouraged them to go to town. And one more thing I told them – it is perfectly OK for a writer starting out to venture into scribbling fanfiction. You like a certain movie, book, TV series, videogame, are interested in that world and those characters? Take the characters you really like or identify with and write them a new set of adventures in that fictional world. Saves the time and trouble of building a whole new world from scratch … and isn’t imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Go and do it; practically every writer I know did the same. I certainly did; and the reams of juvenilia is something to eventually be consigned to the shredder by my literary executor. Just be careful when unleashing revised fanfiction into the world – chose the venue carefully and file off all the identifying serial numbers. Otherwise, it’s excellent practice, I told the kids; the literary equivalent of training wheels when learning to ride a bicycle.
I’ve been publishing independently since 2007; the first big wave of independent writers, although there were a small number of specialists in the decades before that. There were always writers publishing their works in a small way, mostly through arranging a print run with a local printer and bookbinder, but that method usually cost more money than was available to those of us in that big wave in the mid ‘Oughts’. The development of publish on demand, the ability of printers to do small print runs at a reasonable cost, the rise of Amazon, the popularity of eReaders, and the disinclination of the establishment publishing houses to continue backing midlist authors while pursuing only huge blockbusters … that all left the field wide open to indy writers like the ones I spent last weekend with. It astounded me all over again how very good, and professional the books at Word Wrangler looked. The covers of most books – and they covered the range of kids’ books through adult fiction; adventure, mystery, western, historical – all looked as good as anything produced by mainstream publishers. There is such a wealth of good reading available, through independent and small publishers, and readers in places like Giddings know it very, very well,

11. May 2019 · Comments Off on A Conversation in the Check-out Line · Categories: Fun and Games, Local, Texas, Working In A Salt Mine...

Last weekend, I was at the local HEB … the nice new one on Bulverde Road and 1604, the one newly-built and opened last spring to serve a rapidly expanding population along that crossroads. When I bought the home that I live in now and probably forever, there was nothing much out that way but a gas station and a large plant nursery. Now – all kinds of commercial enterprises. We like that particular HEB, by the way. It’s a longer drive to get to, then the one nearer the neighborhood, which we term “the podunk HEB.” One is better for a slightly more upscale and very much wider collection of groceries and household stuff, the other is more convenient, just around the corner, and where we are more likely to encounter neighbors.
At any rate, I was in the check-out line; an early Sunday afternoon, with all my purchases laid out on the belt, and a very much younger woman with a toddler in the seat of her cart, and a pretty full basket of comestibles in the basket, next in line after me. The toddler; a boy, about a year old, and with a short haircut of his dark hair. She was about mid-twenties and Hispanic, with purple-dyed hair. She reached up to the top row of the rack where impulse purchases are arrayed, books and magazines mostly, in a last attempt to get shoppers to make that one last purchase and picked out a small book. She laid it down on the belt, and said to me,
“I can’t resist books.”
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After reading a couple of favorable reviews of The Highwaymen at blogs that I am usually given to trust, I took a flyer on watching the movie – streaming video, of course, on my home computer. I can count the number of movies that I have made a deliberate effort to see in a theater over the last couple of years on the fingers of one hand and … well, wow. Just wow. Kevin Costner isn’t any Kenneth Branagh, or even a John Wayne – but he can act, especially given an intelligent and nuanced script, spare and understated direction, and production values not dependent on flashy special effects. Woody Harrelson may personally be nuttier than squirrel poop – but he also can act. Like Jimmy Stewart did before them – they are better and more interesting playing older, more grizzled characters then they were as smooth-faced young studs. So – The Highwaymen is a retelling of the hunt for and final ambush of gangsters Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, glamorized beyond practically all recognition in the 1968 movie.

There were a good few roving criminal gangs in the 1920ies and 30ies, enabled by the ubiquity of motor cars, resentments of banks in a time of Depression and hardship, and a national media inclined – as they have been practically forever – to make popular folk heroes out of ordinary criminals. The Highwaymen, instead of glorifying a pair of vicious and possibly psychotic losers (who hardly appear at all, save at a distance), follows the two former Texas Rangers, Frank Hamer and Maney Gault on a long and dusty road trip – down empty country roads, through migrant camps and small towns in the Depression-era middle America: a buddy-cop and road-trip movie. Touchingly, the two of them are not quite sure they are up to it. In real life, Hamer and Gault were in their fifties at the time they were tagged to hunt the Barrow gang, survivors of hard and violent times; the old ‘Wild West’ lingered in Texas well into the 20th century. There is some small humor made from the fact that two-way police radios and phone-tapping were a new concept in law enforcement for a pair of guys who first made their bones in the horseback-and-Winchester-rifle days.

What I appreciated most, though – was how flawlessly the scenery where The Highwaymen was filmed backed up the story – yes, that was genuinely Texas; piney woods and dusty plains, with the sky arching overhead. The lonely little gas stations, the streets of Dallas where the Barrows and the Parkers lived, grimy interiors of roadhouses and coffee shops, the migrant camps and tourist cabins – all perfect, right down to the signage and light fixtures. (This was nothing like that horrible Texas Rising mini-series – filmed entirely in Durango, Mexico, in which the concept of scenic authenticity was flung down and danced upon.) The final ambush of Barrow and Parker was actually filmed at the spot where it happened, which must have creeped out the film crew and actors considerably.

All and all – a good two hours spent with interesting people: Hamer had a long and eventful history in law enforcement, which rightfully should be good for another half a dozen movies. In 1939, for instance, he and 49 other retired Texas Rangers offered their services to King George VI, to protect England against the Nazis. (A local Llano author, Elisabeth G. Wolf worked this into a supernatural alt-history fantasy.) Hamer’s wife, Gladys Johnson Sims (seen briefly in the opening scenes of The Highwaymen) should have her own movie, at that: she was at the center of the last great Texas family feud in which the principals personally took up weapons. This feud was kicked into high gear when she shot her ex-husband as he tried to force the issue of custodial visitation with their young daughters. In the town square of Snyder, Texas. In front of witnesses.

Finally, the high quality of The Highwaymen, in acting and directing talent and production values, is additional proof that cinematic creativity has moved on to new venues. Generators with a ready audience – Amazon, Netflix and the like – are creating original, interesting content. Far more interesting content than what’s nommed for the Academy Awards this year; discuss as you wish.

30. September 2018 · Comments Off on Done With Feminism · Categories: Fun With Islam, Good God, Local, Media Matters Not, Rant

I am done with officially-sanctioned, automatically-expected-full-throated solidarity with other women no matter what the issue or complaint. I am done with the whole reproductive-health-motte-and-bailey-abortion-sacrament. I am more than done with women who think that the crusade for political, legal, and educational equality is merely an excuse to be viciously-manipulative bitches to those men unfortunate enough to be involved with them personally. I am also so done with women who are of an inter-connected social class sufficiently well-to-do to have had damn-near everything handed to them on a silver platter, complaining at an ear-splitting level about being downtrodden and oppressed; this when women in the Middle East must wear burkas out in public, have to be escorted when out in public by a male relative … and oh, yes – sold as sex slaves in Daesh/ISIL markets, or routinely have their clitorises excised. I am also done, by the way, with female protesters done up in cheap red-cloak and white bonnet costumes drawn from a bad dystrophic novel by a Canadian who knows f**k-all about the American Protestant tradition. (I’d respect Margaret Atwood ever so much more if she had done her Handmaids’ Tale schtick in an Islamic setting, but I guess she isn’t all that brave about having a fatwah declared on her. Pity.) I am extra-so-done with Hollywood personalities screaming about the century-old existence of the casting couch, when I am certain that for most of them, the experience thereof was a carefully-considered quid-pro-quo career move – and they had their benefit delivered from the bargain. I am also done with Triggly-puffesque screamers having spectacular conniption fits at any suggestion that men and women have different yet complementary strengths, talents and values. Finally, I am done with certain so-called feminist mean girls of the academic ilk patrolling the thinking of others with all the sadistic enthusiasm of concentration camp guards pouncing on the slightest gesture of defiance from prisoners. Consider this my final kiss-off to current establishment feminism; nice to have known ya and believe me when I say that a female-ruled society would pure bloody hell, if it ever was or would be enabled. It would be somewhat akin to the hell of last week’s hearing for a new Supreme Court nominee – which for me was the very last straw.

I have come to this breaking point after six decades and a little more on this dirtball, urged along by experience and observations made of the world around me, plus a lot of reading of history and other materials. Let there be absolutely no shred of a doubt about this – I like men. Have always liked men; as kin, co-workers, bosses, friends and lovers. Men are strong, considerate, they know how to fix things, many have tool-boxes and all of them have dicks, generally they can wield both with some skill, and they are the other half of the universal sky, the other half of our human race. Admittedly, some of them are a bit crude, a very few are beyond all help. For some, it takes a couple of years past their teenage years to be at their best – but I also know of the male of our species at their best and most noble, and they are glorious to behold. Strong, yet gentle, gallant enough to bring tears to your eyes, courteous, even chivalrous in the old Victorian sense, but still generally accepting and supportive of female input and choices … unless they have been unlucky to victimized by one of those mean-girl drama-queens and in consequence are justifiably bitter. Feminism wasn’t supposed to be all-misandry, all the time. It was supposed to be, I thought – and I was not alone in this – about having a vote, and having the opportunity to make the same choices that men did; to get the same kind of education and have the chance to work at the same jobs, and if you and your significant-other want to split the housework in some non-traditional way, then that was a private matter and none of anyone elses’ business. Not only is the personal not political, it’s mostly a dead bore, even in pretty pictures on Instagram.
As I said before – I like men. I have brothers, friends, have had clients, co-workers, bosses who are men, of whom I think the world, and who honor me in turn with their respect and friendship. That any of them could have been treated as Judge Kavanaugh was over this past week – a full load of calumny, false witness, and pure shrieking harpy vindictiveness – would have sent me into – well, not murderous berserker rage (I don’t do berserker, for one) – but into cold and calculated fury. I’m in the cold and vengeful fury mode anyway, having followed the whole disgusting charade all last week. Here is a perfectly decent man, from all appearances (from my experience a guy who has been a chivalrous and responsible Boy Scout all his adult life, who has treated his female friends, peers, and employees with consideration for decades, and likely all that even as a clumsy teenager) smeared as a rapist in the national news and entertainment media. And even worse, courtesy of USA Today – accused as a potential pedophile, in a perfectly vile editorial which upon mature consideration, the editors walked back … but not until the disgusting accusation had been out there for hours. OK, thanks, USA Today and other mainstream national outlets; your propensity for going all Salem Witch Trials has been noted. Y’all turned so gradually into Der Stürmer that I barely noticed until now.

Strong, independent and able women of the previous century, and the century before that would barely recognize the world which sprouted like ugly weeds in their simple demands for a vote and respectful consideration of their skills and capabilities. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lizzie Johnson Williamson, Madame C.J. Walker, Clara Barton. Nancy Wake, Margaret Bourke White … I can now imagine these able, confident, successful women revolving in their graves like Black & Decker Drills at how the cause of “feminism” has been degraded. They lived their lives, every one of them, as women of talent, ambition, and skill in their chosen professions, and I do not think that the affection and support of men in their lives and careers was in abeyance, for they all did great things, in what is now supposed to have been a man’s world. And they did it without tearing down men or bringing false witness against them.

The indy-author scene is not the only thing which has radically changed over the last decade; just the one that I know the best, though having the great good fortune to start as an indy author just when it was economically and technologically possible. It used to be that there were two means of being a published author. There was the traditional and most-respected way, through submission to a publishing house – which, if you were fortunate enough to catch the eye and favor of an editor, meant a contract and an advance, maybe a spot on the much-vaunted New York Times best-seller list. This was a method which – according to the old-timers – worked fairly well, up until a certain point. Some writers who have been around in the game for a long time say that when publishing houses began viewing books as commodities like cereal brands and ‘pushing’ certain brands with favored places on the aisles and endcaps, and treating authors as interchangeable widgets – that’s when the traditional model began to falter. Other experts say that it began when tax law changed to make it expensive to retain inventory in a warehouse. It was no longer profitable to maintain a goodly stock of mid-list authors with regular, if modest sales. Mainstream publishing shifted to pretty much the mindset of Hollywood movie producers, putting all their bets on a straight diet of blockbusters and nothing but blockbusters.

The other means of getting a book out there was what used to be called the “vanity press”, wherein someone with more literary ambition and money than sense and patience paid for a print run of their book, and usually wound up with a garage full of copies. Strictly speaking, this was not such a bad way to get a book in circulation, especially if it was an obscure topic, such as local history or an impatient, new author. Quite a few of the 19th century greats actually kick-started their writing careers by paying for a print run of their own works. My own Tiny Publishing Bidness was launched nearly forty years ago, and some of the local histories which we published, of interest to researchers in the field since they were mostly based on original research go for quite astounding sums on the rare book market.

Three elements have it possible to route around mainstream establishment publishing over the past decade and for independent authors to make a modest living from writing, or at least have a regular income stream. The first was the shift to digital printing from traditional lithographic press; once those big industrial presses begin rolling, there’s a thousand, ten thousand copies of a book printed in a matter of hours, and at a minimal per-item cost, but at a substantial overall expense for whoever was paying for the print run. Digital printing offered an alternative; a slightly higher per-unit cost but producing only as few copies as were required at a time. Almost at once, industrial printers began offering the digital option. New boutique publishers made their services available, for relatively modest sums: format the text to print specs, generate a nice cover, print only as many copies as required, and make the book available to distributors … like Amazon. Amazon’s development of an e-book reader, the Kindle (followed by other reader systems like Barnes & Noble’s Nook) was the third development which upended the traditional publishing industry, eliminating printing, storage and distribution costs in one go. (Although not editing, formatting and marketing expenses.) It doesn’t help that mainstream publishing, or what I’ve been calling “the literary-industrial complex” has been concentrating itself into fewer and larger houses, just about all of them international when they aren’t based in New York and throwing their energies into mass-marketing a diminishing stable of established authors, and through retail channels such as Barnes & Noble.

Curiously, this all has had the effect of leaving the field wide-open for independents like me, to small regional and specialist publishers – like the authors I spend three days with last week at the Word Wrangler Book Festival in Giddings, Texas. The book festival was started thirteen years ago, to benefit the public library in that town. Book submissions are juried by the committee – and the requirement is that the books have a Texas setting or interest. That’s pretty much it – although if they might be of interest to junior readers, that’s a bonus, as the Festival is the focus of school field trips on one of those days. Picture books, self-help, travel, gothic, romance, mystery, thriller, historical fiction – our books ran the whole gamut of interests. Just about every book on display was a quality production, the equal or better of anything produced by the publishing establishment. Indy authors have now been at it long enough to have developed considerable professional skills, either on their own or through networking with freelance talent, and professional organizations like the Texas Association of Authors. This is a paradigm shift that the mainstream publishing establishment wish would go away, if they even admit the existence of it, beyond some snotty remarks about the bad self-published stuff. (Of which there is quite a lot, admittedly. There is also an equal quantity of awful books published through the mainstream, although the copy-editing tends to be a little better.)

The towers of the Literary Industrial Complex are still standing, however cracked the foundations might be. One of the other writers at Word Wrangler has a lovely series of educational picture books. A couple of years ago, she explored the possibilities of the Texas-local HEB grocery chain stocking them, and regretfully decided against it. Accustomed to the good old ways of doing business with established big publishing, retail corporations like HEB have requirements for quantities, returnability, and pricing that simply can’t be met by indy authors and tiny regional publishers. Alan Bourgeois, who founded the Association, has been working with HEB and other companies to adjust their requirements. He has met with some success in this, although a recent meeting with the CEO of Barnes & Noble proved disappointing. The last big box book store chain still standing is still wedded to their old model, of preferring a policy of top-down management, rather than allowing local store managers latitude when it comes to hosting book events with local indy writers and prominently stocking indy-published books. The late lamented Borders and Hastings were much more receptive and responsive, generally. As a footnote and perhaps a harbinger of things to come; a French author, whose latest book was rejected by publishers, apparently because of the subject matter – went to publish it through Amazon … and that book subsequently won a national literary prize. But the French bookstores won’t stock it, because – Amazon has cooties, or something. When establishment publishers and bookstores reject authors whose books are embraced by readers, this does not portend well for doing business in the same old way. In any case, I believe there is not a better time than now for readers and for independent authors.

There was a bit of excitement a couple of weeks ago in the suburb where I have lived since the spring of 1995. I should make it clear that this is a working-class to middle-class suburb on the north-eastern fringe of San Antonio, a city which has pretensions to being Democrat-run and a smidge on the libby-lefty side. After all, this place did spawn Julian Castro, of whom I am convinced there is a picture in that Great Universal Dictionary in the sky next to the definition of that German word which means “a face in need of a good punching”. San Antonio may be well stocked with representatives of the lunatic left, but we are pretty far from being Austin, and the fact that one cannot throw a rock in this place without hitting at least four retired colonels and a dozen retired senior NCOs (Army and Air Force, primarily) – well, that keeps a ration of sanity in play. I’ve only spotted two signs for Beto “Blotto” O’Rourke lately, for whatever that counts for.

The houses in the development tend to be small, and relatively affordable for people with moderately-paid jobs or a retirement income; I’d guess, from observing the various lawn signs over the years, that just about all are lived in by owners. Most of the houses are well-cared cared for; a few have spectacular gardens. The trees planted by the original developers are all well-grown, now. There are only a handful of rentals. The talk among the neighbors is that the neighborhood is desirable, in a quiet, unspectacular way, being close to various bases, good public schools, and shopping centers. I’d guess that the racial makeup of the neighborhood tracks very closely with the national average, with a tilt towards slightly more Hispanics; this is Texas, after all.
We have pretty much the same kind of petty crime that happens everywhere, or so I suspect; teenagers egging cars, theft of packages from mailboxes and doorsteps, drunk driving, and speeding; for a time six or seven years ago there were rumors of a peeping tom. The most spectacular crime was a double murder almost six years ago … and then there was last week’s ruckus. A deeply substance-addled moron took it into his head to work his way along the street (a well-traveled and well-lit street which traverses the subdivision), breaking into cars parked in driveways, looking for items of small value to steal. We suspect one of the rental houses is tenanted by a free-lance entrepreneur dealing in illicit recreational substances. Just about everyone on the street adjacent suspects this as well. No one will be the least surprised when they are busted by the police, except possibly the absentee owner of the house; likely this home-based enterprise was what drew said moron into the neighborhood to start with. Although the guy did think far enough ahead to station is equally substance-addled girlfriend act as lookout, he began this burglarious project at an hour when people were beginning to get up, go through their early morning routine, and depart for work. One of the vehicles broken into was the work truck of a guy who installs cable TV, from which he grabbed a bunch of tools and gear. And then, he went to the front door of the house where the truck was parked – and tried to steal the doorbell camera! Which resulted in a lovely picture of our Suburban Criminal Mastermind, with a stack of stolen items in his other hand. He didn’t get the doorbell camera, BTW, but the picture was posted on the Next Door Neighborhood app almost at once, so most of the neighbors were following this saga with appreciative interest.

The owner of the work truck, and another neighbor whose vehicle had also been broken into, gave chase almost immediately, the aspiring Criminal Mastermind vanished down a side street, outdistancing the pursuers for a time. They eventually found him, passed out on a lawn, hog-tied him with an extension cord, and called the police – who when they arrived were generally appreciative to find their job of apprehending a suspect already accomplished. This interlude was the talk of the neighborhood, naturally; we even had a television news crew visiting again. I’m fairly certain that if word has gotten around, it will be a while before another free-lance, substance-addled moron sees breaking into vehicles as the solution to his cash-flow problem.
And the reason that I am ruminating on this small incident? By coincidence, it was the very week that Victor Davis Hanson wrote,

“I live on a farm beside a rural avenue in central California, the fifth generation to reside in the same house. And after years of thefts, home break-ins, and dangerous encounters, I have concluded that it is no longer safe to live where I was born. I stay for a while longer because I am sixty-five years old and either too old to move or too worried about selling the final family parcel of what was homesteaded in the 1870s.”

The rest of his post outlined some of the awful, unchecked and unpunished criminality over the past twenty years which has led him to that sad conclusion: vandalism, destructive trespass, rampant looting of practically everything not nailed down … everything. And local law enforcement seems unwilling or incapable of remediating the situation. VDH’s community has reverted to a lawless jungle. It is no longer a self-organizing, functional place, where neighbors can look to each other, and to local authorities for defense and redress. When the lawless element can intimidate and overwhelm the law-abiding – indeed, when the authorities appear to take the side of the criminals – the law abiding will leave. With sadness and regret, but they will leave. My community still functions – and for that I am grateful.

San Antonio, the town that I am pleased to say is my place of residence, made the national and international news this week – and not in a good way. My particular quadrant of suburban San Antonio was the scene of the now-notorious MAGA-hat-stealing-and-drink-throwing-incident. (A good selection of the resulting headlines are here )
The Whattaburger outlet where this took place is about two and a half miles from my house, adjacent to a brand-new Walmart, and the bank branch I used to do business with, and around the corner from the bank branch that I now do business with. The arrested-and-released-on-bail Kino Jimenez lives in another outlaying suburb – apparently with his mother. He also seems to have committed a series of prior offenses; not exactly an upright citizen, it appears, and one with extraordinarily poor impulse control. Looking at the video of this incident – and keeping in mind that nothing good happens at 2 AM – I see a rather thuggish Hispanic guy getting his jollies picking on a couple of weedy Anglo teenagers in an all-but-empty-restaurant in the wee hours. I’d venture a guess that if it hadn’t been the MAGA hat, it would likely have been something else. Bullies always find an easy target, and a ready justification for their thuggish impulses.

Ah, the MAGA hat, which apparently serves as a rage-trigger for leftists everywhere. The very curious thing is that I have never seen a person wearing one in real life, real time, in my town. Not around where I live, work, do business. I brought this up with the Daughter Unit – and she couldn’t ever remember seeing any person wearing a MAGA hat either. Not any time in the last two years; The kid with a MAGA hat in the Whattaburger may have been the only person in the neighborhood choosing to wear one – although I very much doubt he was the only Trump fan. In the last two and a half years, we’ve noted pro-Trump bumper stickers on only a handful of cars, too. There were no Trump yard signs in the election run-up, either – and it’s not hard to figure out why. No one really wants to provoke a confrontation with a self-important, loose-cannon loudmouth like Kino Jimenez. No one really wants to have their drink thrown in their face at a restaurant, or make an unscheduled trip to the emergency room, or have their car keyed – or worse. As my daughter says; we’ve been schooled in the fine art of not attracting bad attention to ourselves.

Out there in your world, are there many people that you have observed, wearing MAGA hats and clothing, to anything other than a political rally? Is a lot of Trump support still flying under the radar – not attracting hostile attention in public? Discuss.

17. January 2018 · Comments Off on Flyoverphobia · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Local, Politics

So, there has always been a tension existing between city folks and country folks; the tale of the city mouse and the country mouse being an example. Then there are all those jokes about the city slicker and the country bumpkin, the effete city dweller and the down-to-earth country folk, the books, movies and television series painting the city as a glamorous yet spiritually and physically unhealthy place, the country being dull, desperately boring, backwards, even a bit dangerous … all in the spirit of good fun, mostly. But now we have a new and malignant version, and there is nothing at all fun about it. Here we have the bicoastal enclaves, all drawn as the glamorous and fabulously wealthy, sensitive and with-it woke folks … and then you have the flyover country in between, filled with – as the bicoastal see it – with those hateful, stupid looser deplorables, clinging to their guns, and religion, and hating on all those with darker skins.

The example linked early this week by everyone from Rantburg to Instapundit is perhaps sadly illustrative, even though it does date from a year ago: Tech Founder: Middle America Is Too ‘Violent, Stupid And Racist’ For New Jobs. (As it turns out, the referenced tech founder is one Melinda Byerley, whose company seems to consist of a rather pleasant-looking yet cookie-cutter website, and her business may be just one of those one- or -two person consulting agencies.) Still, the hatred is rather jolting, especially when combined with the sheer bigoted ignorance on previous display. It looks like her original post has been memory-holed, which belatedly says something for Ms Byerley’s business sense, or at least her awareness that there have been a lot of enterprises and individuals who have, in fact, legged it from the cultured, cosmopolitan and tolerant bicoastal regions for the supposedly violent, ill-educated and bigoted hinterlands.

This is not a good development, this mutual loathing – and it has just gotten worse over the last year. It’s not in the spirit of the city cousin and the country cousin having a friendly joshing of each other; it’s outright hatred and condescension from the bicoastal, from their higher perches in management, government, the media and the educational edifices – sentiments heartily returned by the residents of Flyoverlandia. The despising by Flyoverlandites was not heard quite as strongly, perhaps because those sentiments were – with a single exception – broadcast at somewhat lower decibels; on blogs, and in comment sections, and reported only by those media experts sympathetic to their woes and grievances. The exception of course, was the unseen groundswell popularity of Donald Trump in the last presidential campaign, and his election to the highest office in the land – to the absolute horror of people like Ms Byerley and other bicoastal elites. In addition to being hated for all our other shortcomings, we are despised for having elected him – and for that, we likely will never be forgiven.
Just for fun – a pair of graphics – Trumpland and the Clinton Archipelago. Whither Trumpland, and the Clinton Archipelago, now? Discuss.

Well, this has been a festival of tantrums, has it not? What with ISIS/ISIL/Whatever is now huffing and puffing, threatening to blow our Christmas cottage down, and to execute President Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu. Might have some luck with some sub-normally-intelligent specimen of Muslim humanity with delusions of adequacy walking into a public place with a badly-constructed pipe-bomb, but looking on the most recent fearless lone-wolf jihadi warrior, who only managed to semi-eviscerate himself in trying to blow up … which reminds me, have the usual suspects begun winging on about the anti-Muslim backlash which, miraculously, never seems to descend? I’ve been sick as a dog all week with a seasonal cold, so it might have actually happened, and I never noticed. Meanwhile, the Palestinians and their fellow-traveler-symps in the Western world have declared another day of rage with regard to President Trump following through on the ever-so-tentative concept agreed upon by how many previous administrations – that the US embassy in Israel should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Cue the day of pique, anger, rage, frenzy, furor, indignation, and bluster … any day which ends in ‘y’ will suit for the pathetic Palestinians, exploited by other Arab nations for seventy years. Look, Pallies, this is what happens when you and your badly-chosen Arab allies loose wars repeatedly, persistently and without fail pick the wrong side in a conflict, choose thuggish leaders who take the sweet, sweet internationally-donated lolly and stash it in a Swiss bank account… and then turn around and blame your self-inflicted woes on the nearest handy target. Nope, sorry – the well of sympathy in me towards the Poor Prosecuted Palestinians went dry sometime around 9/11, or possibly when in the depths of one or another of the intifadas – committing, enabling, excusing all sorts of terrorist atrocities – their spokes-feeb took a breath and whined that everyone in the West regarded the Pallies as terrorists. There is that concept concerning cause and effect, ya know. Gaza could have been a garden and beach-leisure spot, cheerfully raking in Israeli tourist dollars over the last seventy years, but no … better to marinate in poisonous resentment. Again – this is what happens when you a) pick bad allies, b) lose wars, and c) blame everyone else but yourselves.

Meanwhile, the Pervnado churns on and on and on, with the latest accused MCP being Russell Simmons. Has any powerful male figure in the national news media, music, the movies, or any other establishment not been a complete pig when it comes to conduct, professional or otherwise with women; women he worked with, interviewed, or who had careers which they hoped he would enable through being nice to him, or at least not slapping him into the next county for demanding sexual services? Boundaries, ladies and gentlemen – are nice things to have, loudly to publicize and faithfully to observe. Note that no one has been snickering at VP Mike Pence lately, for being a woman-hating prude, in never yet being alone with a woman not his wife.

And finally, kudos to Sarah Huckabee Saunders, she of the thankless job of daily wrangling the White House press corps – a body which for the most part increasingly resembles a class of bitchy middle-school mean girls, with her as their homeroom teacher. Looks like a darned nice pecan pie too. A note to April Ryan, and Rosie O’Donnell, too – a pecan pie is not that hard to make, even if you make the crust from scratch.

(Note: A Fifth of Luna City is now up in both paperback and Kindle ebook. Lone Star Glory is, as of yet, only available in Kindle – the paperback version won’t be up until around the end of the year.)

26. January 2017 · Comments Off on Now That We Have a New Administration… · Categories: AARRRMY TRAINING SIR!!!, Domestic, History, Local, Military, Texas, Veteran's Affairs

I had an appointment with my primary care health provider at the dot of 9 AM Wednesday morning, down at the primary care clinic at Fort Sam Houston. Some years and months ago, they moved that function from the mountainous brick pile that is the Brooke Army Medical Center, into a free-standing clinic facility on Fort Sam Houston itself. I would guess, in the manner of things, that this clinic facility will undergo some kind of mitosis in about ten years, and split into another several facilities … but in the meantime, this is where I get seen for my routine medical issues … mainly high blood pressure. So; minor, mostly – immediately after retiring, I went for years without ever laying eyes on my so-called primary care provider. A good few of them came and went without ever laying eyes or a stethoscope on me, as well. But this last-but-one moved on, just at the point where he and I recognized each other by sight and remembered each other from one yearly appointment to the next. But once yearly, I must go in and see my care provider, and get the prescriptions renewed, and Wednesday was the day …

Fort Sam Houston – what to say about that place? Historically, it was the new and shiny and built-to-purpose military establishment after the presidio of the Alamo became too cramped, run-down and overwhelmed by the urban sprawl of San Antonio in the late 1870s. I have read in several places, that if the place is ever de-accessioned and turned back to civil authority as the Presidio in San Francisco was, that the inventory of city-owned historic buildings in San Antonio would instantly double. Yes – San Antonio is and was that important. It was the US Army HQ for the Southwest from the time that Texas became a state, the main supply hub for all those forts scattered across New Mexico Territory (which was most of the Southwest, after the war with Mexico), the home of the commander and admin staff for that administrative area. Every notable Army officer from both world wars put in serious time at Fort Sam during their formative military years, and the very first aircraft bought by the Army Signal Corps did demo flights from the parade ground. (I put a description of this in the final chapter of The Quivera Trail.)

But Wednesday morning, I was interested to know if the clinic administration had changed out the pictures of the personnel in the chain of command yet. (Military custom – someplace in the foyer of many units are a set of pictures; President, SecDef, and so on, down to the unit commander and the First Shirt. Part of the materiel which has to be learned in basic training are the names of the various authorities on it. The pictures are for the edification of those of lowly rank who often go for years without ever seeing the higher-ups of their chain of command in person. I went for a year once, without ever seeing my squadron commander, although I think I might have spoken to him on the phone once.) Anyhow, there was a link going around among some of the mil- and veteran blogs to the effect that a number of units had not yet received their official photographs of President Trump and General Mattis – and had filled in with print-outs of some of the more viral meme-portraits of them: President Trump standing on a tank, rolling through a battlefield, and Saint Mattis of Quantico, patron saint of Chaos with the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch in one hand. I was looking forward in any case to seeing the new pictures, and yes, they did have the new one of President Trump on the wall, but only a sign with the name on it where General Mattis’ picture should be. Ah well – the Army is notoriously humorless and Fort Sam/BAMC is the showplace of Army medicine, but as I walked past the display, I started thinking about how bizarre it all was. I think I first read about Donald Trump in the Village Voice, in the mid-1980s, or perhaps in some other publications in the late 1980s when he and Marla Maples were huuuge tabloid and gossip-column fodder: an almost richer-than-god and bigger than-life real estate developer, flamboyant, combative, crude, even – a hound for publicity even more than for pussy.

And now he is the commander in chief. It’s been like seeing Paris Hilton, or (god save us) one of the Kardashians with a heretofore unheard of skill set, suddenly developing political ambitions, going for it … and getting there. Who on earth would have foreseen that, twenty-five years ago? It’s weirder than anything made up by an author of political novels.
Discuss.