P.S….

OK, just one more intermission, and then back to The Book. BTW, The Book is still open to collaboration, if anyone chooses. As long as your addition seems to advance the storyline downfield, and doesn’t just go sideways. No extraneous guitar solos, if you will.

Anyway. I am out of work these last two days, having recently had big burly men hold me down and extract an old wisdom tooth. And, I asked for it, and paid for it to boot. This proves that for as dumb as I was pre- extraction, I am now dumber still. And, I now have a total aversion to tools of all sorts. Especially vice grips.

So. Have been noodling all day, while the 24/7 Perpetual Television plays in the background. The View has been on, and I have just observed…that a scott is a scott is a scott. And that is a joy to behold.

I speak of Denis Leary. He’s out promoting something, and is doing all the talk shows. He is a scott of the first order.

And in stark comparison to the edgy, dangerous vibe you generally get from younger scotts, Denis is older, much more in control, relaxed, and an absolute master of All Things Scott.

All the tools are still there, and being used so skillfully that you anticipate his arrival, thoroughly enjoy his effortless dominance of the environment, hope that you might be the object of his skillful deployment of such, and find yourself wanting his visit to last even longer. He told a great story about meeting President Obama, and managed to sit beside Barbara Walters with his hand on her knee.

Flawless. Owned it completely, and gracefully relinquished control back to the View girls as he left.
Late last night, I watched him do the same on the Seth Meyers show. Seth is a roger of the first order, and had the good sense to play the support role, ceding the workspace to the clearly more experienced professional. Fabulous.

A good scott is a beautiful thing.

A Brief Intermission…

Just a short break from the steadily increasing ( Ha! )suspense of my first ( Ha!!! ) detective novel…
While I figure out what to do next…

Anyway.

In the real world, in my real job…I work for a giant multi- national corporate security firm. And one of my evolved functions at my particular job site over time has become…being the world’s oldest, crankiest, and ugliest front-desk receptionist. Certainly not the perky twenty- something attractive model-in-waiting that job applicants are always hoping for. No. Much closer to Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa, although admittedly a bit better organized.

So, the point being that I ‘ve seen job applicants of every shape and size make every conceivable mistake when arriving for their interview. Most people actually don’t make these errors, but you always remember the bad ones. So, I’ve compiled a Top- Five Mother- of- God You Can’t Be Serious List
for your perusal and entertainment. This is a direct result of having seen the absolute worst ever, just this past Monday.

5) Do not be late; and then park in a clearly marked fire lane, because that is apparently what fire lanes are there for…and supplement this with a ” whatever, I’m here now ” attitude. Bad Santa has the number of a local towing service, and after respectfully asking you to move your vehicle, will pull that trigger. And he remembers one particular applicant who replied with ” Why, what are you gonna do, tow my car?”

4) Ditto, for handicapped parking. Because Bad Santa is in position to have to watch people who truly need those spaces struggling to get to the building entrance because of you.

These above two have nothing to do with your actual appointment, and yet speak volumes about your chances. These are often the very people who have surprisingly short interviews…

Bad Santa recalls six people once interviewing for a very high- level Metlife position. All six perfectly qualified, and yet Bad Santa knew ” the guy” even as he arrived to sign in and be received. A magical quality, whatever that is…and somehow indescribable. The ” guy” was actually a mid- thirties woman from Bridgewater, New Jersey who is now a vice president, and has a nicely situated corner office. Flies home on the weekends.

3) Arrive at the correct address, with the correct contact information. Hard to believe, but yes. Many will arrive with no information at all, and have to wait while Bad Santa uses his considerable psychic powers to determine where they should actually be.

2) Do not arrive too early. Rather than make a positive first impression, this actually puts pressure on the interviewer to hurry through their schedule. Always seems to result in a short interview.

And the very best for last…yes, this actually happened. Bad Santa swears to it.

1) Do Not Bring Your Dog To Your Job Interview. Even if he is small enough to ride in your handbag. Even if you have a long and deeply self- involved story as to why you had to bring him with you. He is not a seeing- eye dog. And do not become argumentative when your respective employer insists on his leaving the premises. You have already destroyed your job prospects in the immediate sense, and will probably never understand why you have likely never been gainfully employed. But Fluffy sure is a cute little guy, isn’t he?

Well, there it is. Bad Santa thanks you for your indulgence. And now back to the surreal prospect of me being a private detective.

Chapter 7…

” And how’s Aunt Mary doing these days?” I felt a little apprehensive about the possible answers.

” She’s doing OK. Good and bad days, but not complaining too much.”

” That , I think, is a victory unto itself. Please give her my regards, although I didn’t ever actually meet her.”

“I will, but she might not have ever realized where the pants came from. Sorry, but it wasn’t that important who got them. As long as someone did her bidding.”

“Well, glad to have helped, anyway. But now, can you tell me what’s been going on? And in return, I’ll tell you very honestly if there’s any way I can help you. “

” Yes, I need to tell someone this. No one knows I’m here…I just found the card in Jenn’s purse… and that’s the first thing. Where would she have gone without her purse? Or her phone, either.”

“Yes. I recall that…she used to walk in to work in the morning with a Bluetooth on. I hate those things. But Jenn without a phone…impossible. Where did you find them?”

” In her car, in the driveway. The doors weren’t locked.”

” Car keys?”

” In the ignition. And the house was locked.”

” Do you know if Kendra was home? She might have heard something.”

” No, it was last Tuesday, she was staying at her dad’s.” I remembered that…divorced parents alternating nights of custody. The main reason that Jenn used to go out so much. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.

” And has this been reported yet?”

“No…but her friend the detective knows. He said he wanted a day or so to check a few things first.”

So Jenn had been missing for three days, and the only person supposedly doing anything about it was a police detective who was probably an on again/ off again love interest.

And… he’s also the one guy who would know how critical the first 24 hours are in abduction cases. And he wants to wait a few days…no red flags there…

” Janice…I can try a few things of my own here, but I’ll need just a few hours. And then I think you should report this right away. Can you spare enough time to give me a quick tour of North Smithfield?”

” Yes, I can do that. I’m parked over by PPAC.”

” Better if I drive. No one knows me or my car out in the country. That’s two zip codes from here, may as well be on the moon.”

So now there were two guys looking for Jenn…a real detective, albeit one with a boatload of motive…

And me. Amateur part-time sleuth.

Chapter 6….

There were essentially two ways to confirm this girl’s identity; I could take the direct approach, and ask for two forms of ID. Some people found that to be somewhat insulting, and it was generally not a good idea to imply a lack of trust so early on. So I opted to diffract the request by approaching it from another direction. I decided it would be a safe bet that I knew more about this girl’s family than she would have thought.

“Do Jenn and Kendra still live at Aunt Mary’s house?” I asked as I got up to open some 9-Lives for Roland. I could tell that he was impatient to have a quick bite and get right back to cat heaven. I sometimes thought that food and cat heaven were all he really cared about. Actually, I knew that was all he really cared about.

Jenn and Kendra had moved into Aunt Mary’s just after Jenn had started managing security at Metlife. Aunt Mary was in her eighties, and the family had found a reliable assisted -living facility for her to move into. But Jenn had to promise Aunt Mary that she would stay in the house until she got back from her adventure. Of course, no one else really expected her to return; that, and the pants.

” How do you know about Aunt Mary?” I had definitively seized her attention. Take that, Roland.
” I’m the guy who found the pants.”
” That was you??” You could see the dots connecting in her eyes.” You were quite the hero. Jenn told us all about it, and Aunt Mary never would have budged without the damned pants. That was really funny. “

And there it was.This was definitely Jenn’s sister. She couldn’t possibly have responded to that otherwise.

Aunt Mary had refused to go without new pants. And there was only one kind she ever wore; elastic-waisted uniform pants like you would have in a marching band. God only knows why. And they had to have the piping down the sides.
Jenn had skipped out of work early on several occasions and scoured the planet looking for them to no avail. No one could find them. She finally gave up altogether, and said that Aunt Mary would be dragged off to her new home the next morning, pants or not. She couldn’t afford any more time to look.

I found the pants online at work with a few Google searches. Sometimes you just have to know what to ask for.

Aunt Mary wore her new pants proudly into her new apartment, Jenn moved in, and we joked about that for some time afterwards. And they were right; it was really funny.

So this was Jenn’s sister. Now to find out what exactly had been going on.

Published in: on March 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 5….

“We didn’t even know that you were a private detective. I found your name on the back of one of Jenn’s old Allied business cards that she gave to me a few years ago, when she was seeing a guy by the name of Richard Vinhatiero.”

My internal anxiety meter shot right into the red zone. I really hated when that happened. Never a good omen.

I had another of Jenn’s cards in my wallet to this day…and it had the very same name written on the back.

I had asked her at the time to write down the name of the guy who had frightened her so badly. I had promised her that I was not prying into her business, but that someone should know in case anything ever happened. That was such an unusual request to make of Jenn, who was typically supremely confident of herself. And that is precisely why I asked her. I was quite suprised when she readily complied.

For those few days, she had driven into work in a different car, parked in a different spot, wouldn’t take outside calls, and wouldn’t take her usual afternoon walk around the grounds.
She forwarded all her office calls out to me, and I was ordered not to even indicate on the phone that she was in the building. And, I used security cameras to track her back out to her car when she left.

To make matters a little extra sticky, she actually had another friend staying with her at her house for protection…the other Richard…the North Smithfield detective.

Of course, I couldn’t let on about any of that right now. I could scare her sister to death.

Anyway, I had no way to be sure if any of that would be pertinent. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t yet even presume that the person sitting with my cat on her lap was Jenn’s sister at all. I had some discrete fact- checking to do.

First rule of semi- professional detection; presume nothing, check everything.

With that said, Roland jumped down and went to check his dish again. You never know, someone may have crept in while he was in cat heaven with designs on increasing his cholesterol level.

Chapter 4…

” You’re Jenn’s sister? I haven’t seen her in…three years, almost. How is she?”
” She hasn’t been home for three days now. We are very worried.”
Sudden anxiety confirmed.
” Has anyone heard from her?” I knew that Jenn would never go more than a few hours without checking in with her daughter Kendra. ” Is everyone else OK?”
” Yes, everyone’s fine. Kendra, her daughter, is very upset, and it’s become difficult to comfort her. We are taking turns staying with her now.”
” Local police informed?” That would be North Smithfield. Jenn”s whole family were lifers there. As a matter of fact, the last time I had seen Jenn, she was dating a North Smithfield detective. ” Is she still seeing…Richard, was it?”
” Yes, and no… not seeing Richard much lately. She has continued to meet guys that she finds on the internet. Richard wasn’t real comfortable with that.”

It had been years since I had worked for Jenn with Allied Barton security, and I could clearly remember being worried about the internet dating thing myself. Jenn would not only meet two or three new guys a week, she sometimes met two a day. I remembered being genuinely perplexed at that… how she could continue to go through that uncomfortable process so often. Such a bother. But she liked it. She almost always found much fault with her suitors, often informing them quickly of their failings as prospective dates.
I felt sure she must have made a few enemies along the way, especially if this had been constant this whole time. As a matter of fact, I knew of one particular guy from back then that actually frightened her very badly, and scaring Jenn was not a very easy thing to do. But that was years ago.

Still, I felt as if I had a very good starting point, were I to be involved in this.

” I’m truly sorry to hear of this. How can I help?”

Published in: on March 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chapter 3…

Noting the growing volume coming out of the only other occupied space on my floor, I got up and closed the outer office door, “..whaddya mean? this is a genuine 58 Les Paul!!!” this last screeched at a pitch that made volume seem unnecessary, issuing from Sil’s Loan and Pawn shop just across the hall.

” So with whom does my shameless cat have the pleasure of extricating completely undeserved attention from? Being an advocate of full and total disclosure, I feel compelled to inform that given the absence of classic beauty to prey on, Gil the janitor has often served in your stead. Would you like a cruller and some coffee?
Honeydew, not Dunkin, and handground Colombian, not…Dunkin…so much weaker now than they were at one time, don’t you think? Two espresso shots just to get back to where they used to be. And don’t even mention Starbucks…I hate those guys…most days, anyway…oh, sorry. I’ll stop talking now. Always a bit nervous in the presence of unsuspecting royalty. At least I can remember my name right now, which is more than I can say for Roland, I can assure you.”

She responded with a smile that fairly illuminated the far corners of my humble workspace, dark and dreary.” But then Roland doesn’t have his name on the desk blotter, does he?”
” Damn it all. Caught. Bagged. Found out…”
” Jenn once said that you were good with a story. I’m her sister, Janice… DiFranco.”
A fragment of a shadow crossed her countenance as she spoke…
and I suddenly suspected just what this was going to be about.
She reached across the corner of the desk without disturbing Roland.
“Napkin?”

Deftly humbled, and not even 9 am yet…
I knew I should have gotten the plain crullers.

Roland sighed contentedly.

Chapter 2…

” I’m sorry. I was looking for a detective agency. My mistake. I must have misread the directory in the lobby.”
” No, no. You’re in the right place. I’m just having a little joke. Please, sit down. I’m Roger Coyne.”

There were two chairs in front of my desk. One held my coat and a briefcase, and the other held Roland the Watchcat, sprawled out in his atypical nap pose. The girl stepped into the room, and I reached over to nudge Roland from his favorite spot.

As few people are aware, cats actually have very expressive countenances. The look of utter disdain and disrespect for me in those venerable feline eyes was unmistakable, and yet she took no notice. Maybe I could shoo him from the chair, or maybe I could lose a hand. It was a choice I considered several times a day. I usually let him keep the chair.

As the girl stepped closer, Roland rolled over on his back and stretched out to full length. Another half- inch and he would have slid off the chair altogether.

His cheap ploy for attention worked. She leaned in and rubbed his stomach with a perfectly proportioned porcelain hand, and then gently nudged him to the floor. He responded by rubbing against her leg as she sat down, and then with a smugly satisfied sidelong glance, sauntered off towards his other favorite place, his food dish. There may have been a few molecules of 9-Lives yet clinging to its surface. Always worth checking.

And then, as I knew he would, he doubled back and jumped up into the girl’s lap. He quickly settled in, while she rubbed his neck and ears.

I knew this had little to do with advancing my failing detective agency’s agenda. He had established a pecking order. I would work for the girl, and the girl would work for him.

And now that things were decided from the feline perspective, I thought I might determine why this magnificent creature had appeared in our doorway.

It was, after all, my name on the sign in the lobby.

Published in: on March 10, 2014 at 7:13 pm  Comments (2)  

A Precarious Perch…

Of all the grimy, gritty third-floor corner offices in this urban wonderland, she had to walk into mine.

She stood in the doorway, waiting for me to notice her. With a figure that added an extra proton to every atom within a 50-yard radius, that didn’t take long. I pride myself on my professionally- honed powers of observation.

She was wearing a white pleated skirt, black sheer nylons with that seam in the back, red spiked heels that matched her lipstick, and a cashmere sweater that may have been used in place of a skin graft. And she was holding a small patent- leather pocketbook, where she likely kept her white gloves. I presumed that the black veiled hat was still in the car. She would want to be careful not to overdo the effect.

I discretely looked down to scan my name from the desk blotter, put my coffee mug down, and tried to swallow the sizable chunk of powdered cruller that had lodged itself just behind my sinus cavity. Hoping to summon a voice that was roughly an octave deeper than the one I was born with, I risked speaking.

” Hello. Welcome to the Law Offices of Spade, Spenser, and Coyne. Please come in.”

As soon as I opened my mouth, I immediately knew two things; crullers taste much better with that extra proton added in, and it is almost impossible to be wry and devilishly charming with powdered sugar all over your face.

Almost.

(Snappy Title Here…)

So.. it seems that we may approach the grand experiment once again.

This one looks like it will begin as a Denise/Clark/ Roger collaboration. I like the idea because my creativity has certainly been on the wane, and it would be good to have something new to focus on.

As before, I’ll extend an invitation to anyone who would like to give it a shot. It can be a difficult thing, this colab business. You have to try to develop a work completely without prejudice; to maintain the theme that has presented itself without inserting any personal agenda that would force it off course.

And, the point…you learn an awful lot about yourself as you go. And we may end up with a decent story at the end.

But initially, we need a good idea.  So, for the time being, I ‘ll just stick ideas up here should they occur to me, and will suggest that others do so also. Consensus will decide from amongst them.

And here’s my first idea; to write, not a particular idea given by a particular person…but to write in the style of.  Like a cover band doing its best Zeppelin-esque rendition of Communication Breakdown.

Here’s my initial offering; either a detective novel or a murder mystery, done in the style of Robert Parker. This would involve an extremely well- defined central character, very short dialogue- driven chapters, and a very fast pace.

Other writers have already published very successful Spenser and Jesse Stone novels ,  because the world simply must have Parker novels, even if he’s no longer with us. And… they’re really good.

Very, very ambitious. Couldn’t ever work…a Parker-style novel by several writers at once. Who does that?

But then again… walk down any street in the US on a summer night, and count how many garage bands are trying to pound out Communication Breakdown. ( OK, that analogy works fine only if you’re three hundred years old… how about Kanye West trying to find a new Iphone app that will let him rip off a sample of Communication Breakdown and thereby hopefully align himself with people who actually took the time to learn an instrument…

Now where did I leave that other gauntlet…damned things are like socks in the dryer.

Maybe I’ll just throw mismatched socks down instead. I’ve got plenty of those.

I’ll take the questions.

Well… An unexpected honor from the Clark over at the Doctrine. Either that, or he’s running out of bloggers to pass awards to.  That’s ok; I know even fewer bloggers than he does, and I like the questions posed, so I’ll give it a go.

1) How did I feel in the middle of writing my first post?

Initially, I began by writing whole posts in the comments to the Doctrine because I saw them as being related to the subject at hand. I didn’t notice how odd that was.  I soon began ‘The Secessionist Rag” as a way of seceding from the Doctrine and going my own way.  It began as a writing experiment that included participation of the Doctrine denizens of that time. I still like that story.

Shortly after that, I found myself writing a post about… raking leaves.  It was my first complete departure into writing purely on my own. I still remember the exhiliaration of not knowing where the thing was going to go from sentence to sentence, and thoroughly enjoying the ride. I soon became completely addicted to that sensation, and now don’t write that much because it’s become all the more difficult to obtain. I’m an addict.

2) First girlfriend…

This would be Janice Kinder, in the third grade. She was English and Protestant, to my Irish and Catholic. We agreed that it was doomed, but of course had no idea why. We were in the third grade.

My first real girlfriend was Diane Fitzgerald in high school; a very badly twisted and damaged roger. Extremely volatile personality, easily mistaken for a scott. Even Scott knew to keep his distance. Last I heard, she was serving as pastor in a Congregational church outside of London, having apparently decided to invade Britain.

3) Gilligan…

a) Why presume that they’re cannibals?

b) Are they angry men with spears? Or maybe they’re beautiful scantily-clad Eurasian girls in grass skirts…even if they were cannibals…not the worst thing…

Anyway. If they’re angry men, I’ll go with a scott for the military value. Awfully good in a scrap. If they’re girls…I’d rather a clark there instead. A clark will have trouble relating, and won’t make eye contact. That’ll give me more time to ingratiate myself by putting together a quick but zesty barbecue sauce, or maybe trading my life for my secret dry rub recipe. Then I can become the personal chef to the Cannibal Queen.

4) Swapping…

Very difficult choice. The hardest would be scotts, because it would be so exhausting to maintain the necessary output of energy over a long period of time. Not to even mention the barking.

If I knew seven bloggers to pass this to, I would.  But, alas…

Winery Dogs

Being an old, moldy and fungus- encrusted dinosaur guitar player, I don’t get out much anymore. Hardy ever, really. But If I ever do hear of anything that seems to warrant attention, I like to pass it along and spread the word.

I heard of the Winery Dogs a few weeks ago from someone who works in the same building as I do, and used to follow an old band of mine. I finally got around to looking them up, and lo and behold.

Geez. Very refreshing to see someone using a Telecaster in such an unexpected way. A heavily modified Tele, but still.

Great rythym section. Good songwriting, great vocals; Richie Kotzen has a nice Paul Rodgers kind of voice combined with a modernized Michael Schenker sort of guitar playing.

Terrific stuff all around.

Thought I’d pass the word along.

Some Disassembly Required…

So… Christmas Eve 2013. I’m at work; the building I work security in is emptying out slowly. My boss has taken her perogative, and I’ve been the stand-in manager all week; eerily familiar…

Schedules are written for the next two weeks out, payroll has been submitted… other than a broken car window and two people stuck in an elevator, nothing to investigate. No last- minute call-outs… yet… ( I was abducted by aliens, and they left me on I-80 in Nebraska, so I ‘ll never make it back in time...) and this one, which I  was actually expected to believe once ( my uncle fell off his motorcycle, and I have to take him to the emergency room ) or this one, my personal favorite ( my cousin is dying in Virginia, I have to get there before it’s too late) That one came complete with an obit notice from the Providence Journal. Very convincing, except for her bragging on Facebook that she wouldn’t miss the big party that weekend.

Well, it’s quiet so far. If I get out at 3 pm as scheduled, I have the huge Italian Christmas Eve Fish Thing to go to. It’s at my house this time, as it almost always is. Sandra has prepped for this for two weeks,  single-handedly committing to cook all the shrimp that came into the port of Galilee on 12/22/ 2013.

 Should I end up doing a double shift due to that pesky uncle again, and not be available to assist, then I might as well move to Nebraska my own self. Maybe the aliens will help me with that. I would rather that than face the Fury of an Italian Christmas Eve Fish Thing Chef Scorned. It is extraordinary, the things you can do with a wooden spoon.

Which all leads me to… the shrimp soup. It’s actually quite good, but a description of it usually frightens people badly. A long tradition of Sandra’s family, but no one quite seems to know where it ever came from.

Imagine a thin tomato broth, with celery, garlic ( of course )…with whole prunes floating in it ( think of them as giant raisins…) And tons of medium shrimp.

But the shrimp are tossed in whole, with shells and feet attached. ( Yes, I think feet is the correct word…)

So you really can’t eat it with a spoon. You ultimately have to reach in, pull the shrimp out, and disassemble them.

It becomes very messy. It should be served with individual tarpaulins with eye holes cut into them.

People either love it, or won’t go into the room when it’s being served.

Beyond the soup, there will be tons of baked stuffed, lobster mac and cheese, crab risotto, and many other water-borne creatures  represented that I am somewhat uncomfortable being in the presence of, living or dead.

Luckily, I am considered exempt from those, being an Irish in- law.

Well… it’s coming up on 12:00 noon, and no call-outs. Almost there…

I might just make it out of here on time. I have to get home and hose off my tarpaulin, it’s still a bit sticky from last year. And discretely remove all the wooden spoons.

And here’s wishing a memorable and merry Christmas to everyone and anyone who holds this holiday in high regard. It really is the best time of the year. And especially for all those in special need.

And isn’t that practically all of us?

Published in: on December 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm  Comments (1)  

Gasp!!

Lately, my 0515 alarm clock has been going off to Lite 105, a local station that  starts playing Christmas music in early November (it’s the only station that my alarm clock will pull in anymore) This is just wrong, and should be stopped by Congressional decree.

Of course, that would be way too controversial for those guys. They would have to summon the courage to commit to a cause, and by blatantly siding with the Christmas people, may disenfranchise the Hindus, Muslims, Satanists, Wiccans, and Kardashians who may opt to vote them out of office in the next election cycle. And there you have it… American politics in a nutshell.

Any way… I awoke this morning to ” Sleigh Bells ” .  To jar your memory…” Come on, it’s lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you…” Yes, that one.

And as is my habit, I lie there procrastinating as long as humanly possible, trying to avoid the distasteful reality of real life…. then dash up and try to make it to work on time. This, BTW, is precisely why so many coffee cups have gone flying off the roof of my car over the decades.

But this morning I had occasion to actually listen to ” Sleigh Bells” in some detail; and realized that the composer must have been a truly cruel and unusual person. Because ” Sleigh Bells” is really a viciously difficult piece of music to execute. It would be hard to carry that melody through on an instrument, never mind singing it.

Composed in  July 1948 by Leroy Anderson in Woodbury, Connecticut during a heat wave, it is far and away the most-performed/recorded/covered Christmas song of all time.

Leroy said that it didn’t start out as a Christmas song at all. It was just really, really hot that day. Pure escapism on his part. He’s not quite sure how the Christmas connection was made, but he certainly capitalised on it. Along with everyone else in the music business.

This contradicts my theory that all Christmas music came from one of two places; either from Protestant hymnals, or very talented Jewish guys from New York.

Should you take the time to listen closely, you might notice the very fast -paced melody, with much movement in it. Very sleigh-ride sort of thing, I would imagine.

There are some very difficult passages. There is a certain part that often gets changed by the parties attempting it, and in the most -heard most- popular version by Johny Mathis , it is omitted altogether.

None theless, it’s been covered a million times.

I can just imagine a large choir doing this piece, with the occasional white robe disappearing off the riser due to lack of oxygen, and being unceremoniously dragged off to the side, where EMTs are kept on standby.

I have to think that Leroy certainly was aware of the beast he was planning to release on Christmas revelers the world over. Christmas carolers passing out, and spilling scalding hot chocolate on their fellows.

And yet it sounds so light and airy to the casual listener. It’s supposed to sound that way.

Especially when it gets to that frightening passage in the bridge that singers are terrified of- and then it modulates up a half-step. That’s when the whole back row of the choir goes careening off the riser.

Merry Christmas!… from your friend Leroy.

Maybe I should buy a new clock radio…

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Scary Music…

Well, hi there.

I’ve been away for quite some time, and I’ve certainly missed this place. Had to go off and be a grownup for an extended period, but now there should be a little more time to relax and release that breath that I’d been holding in for a year or so.

Thank you for stopping by.

I have just finished perusing a  blogpost written by Considerer, in which she ponders the notion of Scary Music.  With several responses from readers, they discuss the notion of a world devoid of music altogether; truly the worst scenario imaginable. I liked that approach to the subject very much.

But it also reminded me of this.

When I was much younger,  there was a particular album released in 1970 that actually set the stage for all the dark, Gothic metal to follow;  Black Sabbath.61CM5D7qviL__SL110_

It was truly the first of its kind, and contrasted dramatically with everything else that was current or popular at the time. It was not pop or top-40 oriented, or blues-based, psychedelic, or rock-and-roll-ish. It was a brand new thing, and not particularly well received at the time.

I’ve never been  all that much of a Sabbath fan as time has gone by, but in looking back, I have to say that this was one huge milestone of an album. I’ve also never thought that Ozzy was a particularly talented vocalist; but much more importantly, he has a very distinctive voice. As all widely known singers must. If Bob Dylan worked as a telemarketer, you’d still know it was Bob Dylan. You might not buy the product because who can understand Bob at all these days, but you know it’s either a time-share in Nicaragua or a John Deere riding mower. Just keep making the payments and enjoying telling the story.

Ozzy sounds on this album as if he were genuinely terrified to be singing those songs. The band sounds very edgy and nervous, as if they wanted to just finish it and get the hell out of the studio. But regardless of circumstance, they managed to forge a completely new thing under the sun. A massive accomplishment.

I remember having borrowed this record  from someone or other, and listening to it in my bedroom. Completely unprepared, I was so affected at the time that not only did I not want to hear it again, I didn’t even want to go back into the room that it had ever played in. I had to go downstairs and hang out with my parents, who had no idea that the gates of Hell had just recently opened up at the top of the stairs.  And where in the  world was I to sleep, now that my bedroom had suddenly become a portal into Dante’s Inferno? And could the denizens of the Seventh Ring hear ” Mary Tyler Moore” playing on TV in the living room?

Of course, like all males of my generation, I would have bravely sacrificed myself to protect Mary from Hell’s minions…actually, the minions would have run right  smack into my mother, so that would not have been an issue. God help the minion who managed to tick Mom off. They likely would have quickly reconsidered, grabbed the Sabbath album, and slammed the portal door shut behind them.

Well…for my sake, I somehow managed to find a way to co-exist with the forces of darkness. ( Haven’t you just heard that before??)

And several years later, I started working in different bands with Don and Ed, the now legendary rythym section. And at a rehearsal one night, we all  sheepishly recounted how scared we all were of the first Sabbath album. That was quite a revelation, relieving much pent-up guilt and embarassment ( Ok …fine…just embarassment… ) And that we were still scared…just a little.

And, now, years after that…still scared. But just a little.

Published in: on October 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

I am… Number Six…

Well, that’s a nice surprise. Thanks for the invite. Not entirely sure of how all this works, but…having slowly morphed into a horrifically boring 2-dimensional creature, it might be difficult to find five of …anything.

Five Passions-

- Trying to do whatever I’m doing or involved in to my best capacity…so I guess that means being passionate about being passionate. These would include music, history, gardening ( after a fashion ), reading/ writing/ trying to write (after a fashion) spiritual awareness ( after yet another fashion )

Before I die-

-Just once…to be able to get through Isaac Albinez’ Leyenda without dropping the ball. I’ve been trying for 33 years, and it ‘s just not going well. It has never gone well. But ever the optimist…

- Must have; a long conversation with my niece Olivia. I will simply refuse to depart this plane of existence without assurance of her safety and security.

- To somehow find a way to forgive Olivia’s mother her shortcomings. This would involve being a much more advanced spiritual entity. Very difficult.

- That’s all I’ve got right now. But not bad for a 2D guy.

Five sayings-

-#%@ *!# !

- Where are my glasses?

- Do you like scallions?

- Not in this lifetime

- No, really…Bach and Julie Andrews!

Five books- ( most recent)

- Fort Pillow ( Harry Turtledove )

- The Surgeon’s Mate ( Patrick O’Brian )

- Portrait of a Killer ( Patricia Cornwall )

- Sixkill ( Robert Parker )

- Talk to the Hand ( Lynn Truss )

Five Movies-

I list these according to how often I’ve re-seen them;

Glory- probably over a hundred or so, since 1989. Denzel, Matthew, Morgan, and Cary in their early days.

Gettysburg- when the mood requires. Jeff Daniels as Col. Chamberlain. Well done.

Dances with Wolves. I’ll usually stop to watch a bit of this.

Russel Crowe, generally.

Daniel Day Lewis, generally.

Johny Depp, generally.

Monk ( does tv stuff count? )

Five travel spots;

- Ireland ( Partry, Co. Mayo-where we came from- they have two pubs and a gas station! )

- Spain ( the Segovia tour )

- New Mexico/ Colorado; would love to check in with Boulder and Albuquerque again ( and Leadville, too )

- New Orleans ( food and music )

- London ( The Tower, and all the cheesy tourist stuff )

Well, there it is. That turned out to be more fun than I thought. Thanks again!

Published in: on July 28, 2013 at 12:18 pm  Comments (5)  

A Good Preacher…

spreads the word.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MA0m1K2jW4

A Firebird player, great rthythm section, strong clear vocals…

It’s a great sign that this music totally regenerates and re-invents itself again every now and then. After all the God-awful junk that the ‘ music industry’  pushes down the chute… Uncles Plante, Jones and Page are most pleased.

Me, too.

Published in: on July 16, 2013 at 7:41 pm  Comments (2)  
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Aw, Snap…

I really wanted to be able to write that it had never happened before. That it was a brand new thing under the sun. That would have been just neat to be able to do.

But the damned internet strikes again. I had to go and ask the question.

And consequently found that the thing is not new, and that the central focus of my post had actually done it himself, may have very well been the first to do it.

Eric Van Lustbader has done it, keeping Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne character alive.

Max Allan Collins, too, with Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.

I speak of Robert B. Parker. His venerable Spenser has been carried forward by Ace Atkins.

And Michael Brandman has continued on with Jesse Stone.

And I am very pleased to report that they’re thankfully good at it.

I recall the uncomfortable and dreadful feeling of finally reading the very last few pages of Sixkill, the last novel written and published by Parker himself. It was like drinking the last few drops of fresh water on a deserted island, and knowing that you’re really truly and forever finished. Done. 

But in some few cases, the work is so strong that it simply cannot perish. Hawk, Spenser, Susan Silverman and Chief Stone are still with us, carried forward like fallen battle flags. The writing style has been meticulously studied and recreated, and serves tremendous honor to the originals. It’s quite like listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn play ‘ Voodoo Chile”. You know it’s different, but the veneration for the style transcends all.

Spenser is still in his Boston…now if only we could get Doc Rivers, Pierce, and Garnett back…

 

 

Published in: on July 9, 2013 at 9:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

All Hail…

firebirdThe Gibson Firebird…

A very iconic 60′s Gibson model, originally meant to give battle to the Stratocaster with either Gibson’s P-90 single-coil pickups or the Epiphone- designed mini-humbuckers.

I was watching That Metal Show this morning, and mention was made of a band called Rival Sons. I cued up a video, and lo and behold….

A gorgeous blue Firebird VII. An excellent band, very old-school Zeppelin-esque.

Very refreshing stuff, highly recommended.

As a clueless youth, I had two Firebirds; both were traded off for something else at the time. The reasons are no longer recalled, doesn’t matter anyway…idiocy. If only there was a functioning adult to intervene…ah, well.

These have a wonderful voice of their own, somewhere in between the sharp brightness of typical Fender and the warm depth of  typical Gibson.

The most well-known Firebird player is Johnny Winter. But there have been many…Sonny Landreth, Keith Richards, Brian Jones…the Black Crowes …lots.

Somewhat ungainly to actually play…not particularly well- balanced. This is likely why they’re not seen more often.

So? Get a locking strap, shut the !#@$ up and play.

Firebird people are a unique bunch. Go find some Firebird music and see what I mean.

And start it off with the Rival Sons…

Hey! Don’t Forget The Really Old Guys…

And the Award for First Use of An Electrified Guitar In Public goes to;

 

-Gage Brewer; Wichita, Kansas, 1932 ( with some help from George Beauchamp and Adolf Rickenbacker )

-Charlie Christian; with the Benny Goodman band, early 1930′s

-Chet Atkins claimed to have been using an electrified guitar on ” the kerosene circuit ” in the 1930′s

Who can say for sure? But before there were Les Pauls, Telecasters, Strats, and all the rest…there were full hollow-body guitars with contact sensors of various kinds being attached to them.

Gibson always had an edge where these were concerned, having so much experience with acoustic instruments. And now, we have several big names ( Gibson, Gretsch, Ibanez ) and a great many smaller shops and luthiers dedicated to this genre.

I have a very inexpensive Korean- made Douglas hollowbody that I play almost exclusively these days. I plan to replace the pickups that aren’t very good, but the body itself is quite good.

These guitars have a very sweet and responsive tone of their own, and I play it without an amp most of the time.

So is it electric, or not?

I have to go find that chicken….

 

Published in: on June 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hey! Don’t Forget The Log!…

Now that’s really cryptic…

In continuing our theme;

Who actually invented the Electric Guitar?

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After all that carrying on about Stratocasters…you just might presume that Leo Fender started it all. A great many people would support that claim.

At the time, what Fender did that was so extraordinary was to employ the principles of mass production to making guitars. All the new Fender models played well, were wildly colorful, were quite affordable, and most of all…were identical. People were being slowly weaned away from the tried-and-true Gibson formula of fine craftsmanship by European elves.

And to add insult to injury, Fender also released the first electric bass.

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But…an equal number hold that the Gibson company started the whole thing. Their claim is based on The Log, Les Paul’s original design of a small,02-07_full

solid piece of wood with pickups, strings and a neck. It had no resonating chamber at all, and worked perfectly well when connected to an amplifier (another category that was in its infancy in the 1940′s. )

Depending exactly on how you would define electric guitar, you get some intriguing responses to all this.

Les Paul’s Log was never meant for general use; Gibson simply used it as the heart of several different body styles ( Les Paul, SG, 335, Firebird, Flying V, Explorer ) The Log worked, but needed to have a relatively conventional body shape attached to it to make it palatable to the public.

Les Paul  then went on to develop his own complementary design of a solid-body instrument with Gibson’s sponsorship; the Les Paul.

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This is also considered by many to be the most- used, most- heard electric guitar on the planet.

Depends on who you ask…

But then…there’s Adolf Rickenbacker. In 1937, he put a product on the market that he called the Frying Pan. It was not exactly a conventional guitar, but a lap steel. But, it was electric, and was sold with a cool little amplifier…

So…you tell me…who came first?

The chicken, or the egg…or the other chicken…

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Ode to the Single Coil…

Now that’s cryptic.

And just to clean up the last post;

Jimmy Page. He’s the only one from that list that has never used the venerable Fender Stratocaster, at least not in public.

The Stratocaster is likely the most often-used and consequently the most-often heard electric guitar on the planet. It has a very particular tonality, one which lends itself to a great many musical styles. I have often said that if I had to live and die with just one guitar, it would be a Strat.

And I don’t own one presently. I haven’t yet been threatened with deportation to a small deserted island, so haven’t had to choose yet. There’s still time…

Fender guitars generally use a type of pickup called a single-coil. ( A pickup is essentially a magnet with a row of small microphones on it, wrapped with thin copper wire.)

They have a very bright and responsive tone, as opposed to the ( Gibson) humbucking  pickup. Humbuckers have a much more subdued, mid-range tone to them, and were originally designed to  make much less noise than single-coils. They consist of two sets of coils; their close proximity to one another cancels much of the noise that the small microphones generate, hence the term ” humbucking.”

Once you learn to recognize the Strat’s body shape and three-single-coil configuration, you’ll realize that they are everywhere. You’ve been listening to them all your life, and now you know what they look like.

There is a very, very long list of dedicated Strat players in the world, and you probably have a favorite or two among them without even knowing it.

Do you think you could choose a best- ever Strat player? Most people would probably choose Jimi Hendrix, but there are very many to consider…Eons ago, Jimi plugged a Strat into 3 100-watt Marshall amps, and started making just a little less noise than a thermonuclear device. Kind of like the soundtrack to sticking your finger in a light socket.

But the era of psychedelia was born. Jimi had created a new genre just by being able to control the beast.

I’m always most impressed with what David Gilmour has done with the tonality of a Strat…but then, there’s Jeff Beck…

Any opinions out there?

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You Must Remember This?…

In the mood to throw a music post up here, just because I’ve been listening to stuff lately.

This happens simply because the weather is warm,  and I’m out digging in my garden. I always bring stuff to listen to so I don’t notice how tedious the work is.

Here is what I listened to all day;

Stage Fright ( The Band )

Cahoots ( The Band )

Led Zeppelin ( 1st album )

The Inner Mounting Flame ( Mahavishnu Orchestra )

Two movie soundtracks; Glory and Cold Mountain

Joshua Judges Ruth ( Lyle Lovett )

Glad Rag Doll ( Diana Krall )

Aja ( Steely Dan )

Obviously, I have musical tastes similar to those of a crew member from an 18th-century whaling ship. And after perusing the I- Phone playlist of a young friend from work… I am so very glad of it. It’s a lonely little planet that I inhabit, but I quite prefer it.

Today I happened to hear an old Pink Floyd track on the radio; ” Learning to Fly“. This came out in 1987.

I was working in the audio dept. of a Lechmere store at that time, and had just finished setting up a new display; a set of Acoustic Research TSW9 speakers, driven by a Carver C-1 preamp and 1.0 power amp.  It was recommended by the Carver rep to use the newly released ” A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” as a demo.

There is a stunningly effective subterrannian bass line in ” Learning to Fly ” that no one ever hears because most equipment that people listen to music with can’t handle it. ( No. The tiny little bud-style earphones that are widely used today will not do it. ) But it has always been there…waiting.

And with some decent stuff…Carver…AR…Marantz…etc…between the bass line moving the earth underneath you, and the angel choir background vocals overhead, it is breathtaking…. freaking awesome. Huge fun. And not necessarily loud; it was always much more about clean. As in ” no distortion.”

I really miss that in today’s world…but we recall the days of Audio fondly on my little planet.

Today’s Audio Trivia Question (s);

Here is a list of guitar players; one of them does not fit with the others. Who, and Why? ( clue; watch the videos )

- David Gilmour

- Hendrix

- Bonnie Raitt

-Jimmy Page

- Stevie Ray Vaughn

- Eric Clapton

- Ritchie Blackmore

- John Mayer

- Buddy Guy

- Jeff Beck

( one more clue; if you know half the people on this list, you probably passed away five years ago, and no one has told you yet..)

Well, I’ll be outside digging in the dirt…later.

Vertigo…

Last night, I happened to be driving home from teaching my Wednesday night guitar class. The school that hosts the class is located on the East Side of Providence, Rhode Island.

The East Side is a venerable old neighborhood that’s roots go all the way back to the time of founder Roger Williams, circa late 1600′s.

I grew up in a working-class neighborhood not more than a mile from the East Side, but have lived in a different city for some time now. Until recently, it had been many years since I have had occasion to travel these streets. I have found myself rather enjoying it.

The East Side has changed dramatically over time, but still somehow magically retains its old-worldness. And I have surprised myself with how utterly familiar everything still is; the roots run very, very deep.

In 1952, my expectant mother, who had grown quite tired of trying to choose a name for me, finally decided to name me after the very next street-sign she drove past (a hopeless romantic, my mom ).  It so happened to be the one we lived on, Roger Williams Ave; thus making me into a namesake of sorts, even if in a somewhat second-hand  fashion. Better a tarnished pedigree than none at all; I accept it now in the spirit that it was offered. Street-sign royalty.

And if one drives down Roger Williams Ave to Massasoit Ave, and takes the bridge over the Seekonk River, one finds oneself on Angell St.; which will traverse the East Side until one finds oneself in view of the spire of the First Baptist Church. ( the actual very first Baptist church anywhere, hence the name; because Roger Williams was the very first Baptist- religious freedom, and all that…an extraordinarily dangerous idea in the 1600′s. And, he included the local natives under that umbrella, too- an absolutely alien idea at the time. )

In the 1600′s, Angell St. would have just been a woodland path connecting the original settlement at Providence with East Providence; Mr. Williams had recently moved to a choice spot  just across the river that he acquired from his friend Massasoit of the Wampanoags ( Half-acre plot w/ spectacular water view and fresh-water creek! Price just reduced! Financing available.)

This would have taken place well before King Philip’s War broke out, at which time a trip down that woodland path would have been precarious at best.

And last night…I found myself at the intersection of Hope and Angell, waiting for the light to change; when I was suddenly struck with the reality of how many  thousands of times I have done this same simple mundane task before, and how nothing had really changed over the likely twenty-five years since I had done this last; and how utterly comforting that was, like a favorite old flannel shirt on a cold winter day.

It just felt like home.

And as I sat there, a very sharp, vividly clear subterrannian memory suddenly snapped into focus…something I had not thought of since the day it happened, I imagine, like finding a cable channel you didn’t even know you had…

I remembered sitting at this very same light, on a bright summer morning. My father was driving his blue 1960 Chevy station wagon, the only non-Ford vehicle he ever owned. I was in the passenger’s seat.

I was about 16 at the time, and had been conscripted to spend the summer housepainting with my dad. We were on the way to work.

I was beyond miserable.

And my dad was telling me a story while waiting for the light to change. I clearly recall being thoroughly disrespectful and horribly rude… but he told me the story anyway.

When he was very young, around 8 or 9 years old ( circa 1923-24 ) he and his friends would ride their bikes over the bridge and up Angell St. to this very same traffic light…to watch the light change. They would sit for hours, and watch the light change. They couldn’t figure out how it knew when to change colors.

It was the first electric traffic signal ever used in the state of Rhode Island.

To Irish immigrant kids in the 1920′s, it was magic.

To the horrible teenager in 1968, it was an unwanted, unsolicited, extremely annoying anecdote.

To the  guitar teacher in 2013, it was a surprisingly potent and poignant uncovered memory.

Thanks for the visit, Dad…it’s good to be reminded of how things can, and should, change. Woodland paths, traffic lights…and especially the people who use them.

Sorry that it’s taken me forty years to connect those dots. And thank you for not leaving me on the side of the road that day, as I so truly deserved.

But I was, after all, named after a street sign…

Makes me wonder if Roger Williams ever had awful kids, and if he ever contemplated leaving them somewhere along the path leading to the old North Main St. settlement…

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Bird’s Eye…

Loitering? Is that what they’re doing?

Another Sunday at work, and I am spending the morning watching local wildlife on security cameras. When people aren’t around, there is usually a remarkable variety to be able to observe.

Today, it’s turkeys. About 40 of them.

I think it must be mating season. The males are all circling and parading around in full plumage, very concerned as to who is standing where, and what the girls are doing.

The girls apparently couldn’t care less. They will allow themselves to be herded together, or gathered, or whatever this is. But as soon as the males circle out just a bit too far, they will either wander off, or will go and join another pre-herded group. The males are seemingly very territorial, and keep some sort of pre-measured distance from one another.

Which indicates… that the girls are doing it on purpose. This, I think, is the turkey equivalent of human girls in night clubs going to the bathroom together; it’s just meant to re-arrange the arrangements that the males think have already been made.

And even though the males are quite wary of one another, they are very suddenly now doing something that reminds me of a Civil-War era infantry line; an albino turkey has just arrived, and is literally being driven away from the group by four males who have formed a perfectly straight shoulder-to shoulder wall, and have forced the albino far off to one side.

This is extremely politically incorrect. There is apparently no level of equality among turkeys at all. I wonder what they are finding so objectionable.

Now they have returned to their original positions; the albino circles around for a flank approach; the girls have taken advantage of the interruption to disband completely, and it looks like the entire process begins anew.

That may have been the albino’s plan all along.

I wonder how long this elaborate process takes to complete; hours…days…weeks?

I also hope that what I’m observing is actually a formal process of some kind. It would be very weird to consider that they’re just hanging out on a Sunday, and this is what turkeys get up to when no one is around.

Well, they’re moving off into the woodline now. Maybe they just come out in the open for the sake of the dance, and then take the rest of the day off.

To do what, exactly?

Published in: on May 12, 2013 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  

A Day Late…

Better than never, I suppose.

Saturday morning at work, and I have the legacy of being able to run a laptop and do some stuff.

I just checked a few blog links, saw the ” Finish the Sentence ” I thought I was cool when” thing, and this immediately came to mind.

 

The year 2000; a bright sunny summer day. I am in the backyard with my 2-yr. old niece Olivia. She is in her bathing suit, and happily splashing away in her little round wading pool. There are pool toys everywhere, enough that they couldn’t all fit in there with her.

She had developed some sort of hierarchy to sort this out; only the special ones were allowed in the pool with her, and I never quite understood how certain ones made the cut. Should you try to put one of the bad ones in, she would immediately throw it as far away from the pool as she could. That’s not to say that you could put them away completely; they had their place in the outer perimeter, and that’s where they were supposed to be. Fair enough; the world order of a 2-year old is a very exacting place.

And because she would be in and out of the pool approximately 9000 times a day, we had gotten her a pair of  little red rubber-soled shoes to protect her while she was going back and forth. She liked them a lot, and wore them constantly.

I was always nearby, poking around in my garden, ever vigilant. My main function was to change the pool water out when too much grass got in there.

And because I was in and out of the garden about 9000 times a day, I had gotten myself a very inexpensive pair of rubber-soled shoes to keep from stepping on rocks and the occasional bit of glass. Other than being a different color, they were the same shoes that Olivia had.

And at one point, I was standing just outside the garden, and Olivia was standing just outside of her pool. She noticed my shoes.

She looked down at hers…then at mine…and again. And looking up, in a very matter-of -fact voice, said ” Nice shoes, Rog…” And then back into the pool.

Total acceptance and equality from a 2- year old.

Very cool.

What??….

I don’t even have a file for stuff like this.

Best I could do would be  a ” That is such a goddamned shame” file.

Or, the ” Are you %$#@#$%^ serious” file.

I have friend from where I work; I’ll call her Gina. I’ve known her there for over ten years.

Gina has a second job at a boutique jewelry shop called Alex and Ani. They specialize in eco-friendly, green, spirit-infused? jewelry.” Positive energy” in all their stuff. I’m not sure how that works at all.

A few nights ago, they were having a wine-and-cheese night for customers. It’s all pretty high-end stuff, so it’s in keeping with their approach.

Gina is 32, and is the oldest employee there. Mostly 20-somethings.

It was very busy; and among the customers were two women, aged about 50-ish and 70-ish.

Very suddenly, the older woman collapsed to the floor.

The younger woman went to her knees beside her, screaming “Mom! Mom!”

People stood around nervously; the 20-somethings giggled a lot.

After a minute or so, Gina called 911. Ten minutes later, EMTs arrived, and Gina went outside to hurry them inside; then kept other customers from entering while they worked. One actually became incensed at the inconvenience.

Ten minutes after that, their attempts in vain, they took the woman out; clearly expired.

In relating this to me the next morning, we talked about the horrific lack of involvement and lack of empathy of the bystanders, and especially  among the employees. No one knew what to do, and no one felt compelled to act at all.

Gina says that they all went back to the wine and cheese within a few minutes.

I asked if Alex and Ani, as a company, has any sort of emergency training available for employees. Gina said she would find out.

The next morning, she told me that her manager  had made some calls, and the company responded decisively to the possibility of future emergencies. But she was a little worried, and embarrassed, at what they actually did.

They called their shaman.

That is correct. Shaman.

The same one who had installed all the… crystals… behind the sheet rock… so that the store would be infused with positive energy…

No CPR/AED training, which Homeland Security will provide for free. Nothing like that.

Nope… a shaman. Because you need some big ju-ju to keep old ladies (eeeww) from coming in your store and dying ( triple eeeww). You have to clean out all the negativity and get some green, eco-friendly anti-old lady magic up in there. Plus, it wrecks it for the wine and cheese people, and that’s where your money is.

I suppose it’s me, but dammit…

That is so totally and tragically fucked up.

I don’t have a file for this.

 

 

Published in: on April 15, 2013 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Yet Another Doctrine Post…

” Never mind the maneuvers…just go straight at ‘em”

- Admiral Lord Nelson

This is a followup to my ” Another Doctrine Post ” of a few weeks ago.

In that piece, I advanced the idea that an internet dating site may very well comprise the perfect hunting ground for a typical scott. ( At this point, I must insist that readers refer back to the Wakefield Doctrine for explanations of these and other terms. This will simply make no sense whatever if you don’t.)

I described how my associate ( whom I will refer to as Ms. X ) has happily shredded her way through several relationships, all garnered through the use of internet dating sites.

Ms. X‘s most recent adventure came to my attention simply through our proximity in our shared work environment. I knew, for instance, that Mr. Z was a gourmet chef, the owner of several businesses, has an extensive gun collection, and makes his own ammo?…I half-jokingly put in a request for some Minie balls for an Enfield musket…you never know…can’t hurt to ask…

Their first date consisted of gourmet dinner at his house; followed by gourmet dinner at her house; followed by a day-trip on one of his shrimping boats… I lightly commented to Ms. X that nothing was taking place in a social or public venue, that she should know better than that, that the first rule of the hunt is to isolate the prey as soon as possible, that maybe she should be a little careful…

This would be somewhat like asking Dirty Harry to go out without the .44 Magnum. Not going to happen. Because she thinks that she is Dirty Harry in this, and every other scenario.

But in this, unlike other situations, Ms. X was very, very optimistic. Mr.Z was hitting all the right buttons, lighting up all the lights, playing all the right chords. She didn’t have to correct him on anything at all. Idyllic.

I found myself actually thinking that Ms.X would be all done with the dating sites because it finally worked, just like the E-Harmony guy said it would. Good for her, I thought. She’s had several crosses to bear, and has borne them all heroically. Fair play to the Queen.

That was two weeks ago.

Apparently, scotts can be hunted, too. The only thing a scott has to fear…is a bigger, faster scott.

On Monday, Ms.X came into work…an hour late. Parked in a different lot…in a different car…came in through a back entrance, stole into her office, and called to make sure there wasn’t a black Camaro visible on security cameras. Then came out to show me a photo, with instructions to refuse him admittance; we worked out a radio call in case he got in somehow, and to call 911 if he did. She notified her hometown police, and a few detectives she knows ( she is also a licensed private detective).

It is very disconcerting to observe a confident, card-carrying, fully functional scott who is suddenly genuinely terrified.

At some point, she’ll probably provide me some detail. I would like to have some key information just in case something terrible should happen. If she’s gone missing, then someone at work should be able to direct the authorities and possibly save some critical time.

Seems like every tragic story you hear of starts with ” no one ever thought…”

For now, I’ll just keep watch for black Camaros and gourmet chefs. ( The big white hat should be real easy to spot…)

Scotts hunting scotts…it’s enough to make you glad to be a roger.

Makes you want to get a little closer to the campfire, though, doesn’t it?

Take Five…

Have been sitting here for a while perusing different music videos and whatnot, just re-visiting old favorites ( D. Krall, M.Schenker, LA Guitar Quartet ( just to remind myself that even though I am now officially a Guitar Teacher, I still can’t play a goddamned thing ) Those who can’t do…

And watched an hour’s worth of Andres Segovia teaching a Master Class in 1965; this would have been right about the time that Chet Atkins wanted to attend one, and hang around and be famous and cool and stuff.

Segovia wouldn’t let him in… because ” electric guitar is an abomination.” In a way, he was actually right. There is still nothing to match the level of accomplishment that even a moderately capable classical guitar student must achieve. I think that anyone could actually do it if they set their mind to it, but most people simply cannot imagine the level of dedication necessary, and when they find out…they realize that it would take up the entirety of their lives. Simply, literally, no time for anything else. Ever. That’s probably why Segovia was still having kids when he was over 80; he finally had some time.

I also came across a video of Bobby McFerrin and Esmeralda Spaulding at a Grammy awards thing, doing something far, far more musical than anything that might have actually won an award that night.

And was reminded of another B. McFerrin video, recommended to me by a student when I introduced my class to the pentatonic scale. Just five notes, simpler even than the major scale that we have all known since we were four, courtesy of Richard Rogers and Julie Andrews

Yes, you do. Here, I’ll prove it…

Doe, a deer…

Yeah. That one. That’s a major scale. The song teaches you the major scale, drills it in so effectively that you couldn’t get it out of your head if you wanted to. What a great hook that is.

But it hadn’t occurred to me that people inherently know the pentatonic scale on an even more fundamental level. This video illustrates this in a really neat way.

For good clear examples of pentatonics in use, listen to the blues. B.B King, Clapton, Stevie Ray, Hendrix…it’s a very long list. And they certainly don’t have to be guitar players…how about John Coltrane or Miles Davis? How about Ella Fitzgerald, scat-singing? How about Gregorian chant, the original use of a pentatonic scale?

OK. I’ll shut up now.

Another Doctrine post…

Every now and then, it behooves us to write a little something in regard to the Wakefield Doctrine, that giant conglomerate blog that presides across the virtual pond. The Doctrine is expanding and developing at a truly impressive rate, and is impacting people’s lives in ways that were unimaginable not so very long ago. Light-years away from the EL Freeman parking lot in beautiful downtown Wakefield RI, almost back to the time of the King Philip’s war. ( Philip was a scott, you see, and Roger Williams was a roger…a rose by the very same name… )

We are not at all sure why we have switched to the royal “we” in referring to ourselves. We are apparently feeling slightly detached and aloof. We will play along; we are feeling somewhat whimsical at the moment. We suspect that it may simply have been from using the word ” behooves.”

Well, onto the point. We are sure that we left one lying around here somewhere.

My boss is a scott; an absolutely atypical scott. I have worked for her for over two years now, and am often surprised by how well this has worked out. I only have a few scars to show for it, where many others  have found themselves transformed into interesting balloon-animal shapes. She once used her pure force of will to get someone fired; from another company, not ours. Banned from the kingdom, driven into the wilderness. ( A lot like the Roger Williams analogy, now that we think about it…)

I, the model employee, have become the perfect lieutenant to her napoleonic Grand Design. Of course, I can’t actually know what the Grand Design really is, because she would probably have to kill me. And I am OK with that. I have grown accustomed to my face, thank you. It almost makes the day begin. ( Pray that you are not old enough to get that reference.)

She is in her early forties, divorced, mother to a 15-yr.old girl. And for as long as I have known her, she has been very actively involved in internet dating. She sometimes keeps me in that loop; the stories are often very entertaining, in a kind of Saw VII way. An exhausting business, certainly; constant texting and emailing and scheduling…To me, it seems as if it all creates a culture in which people don’t bother to invest much energy into who’s in front of them, because they know there’s always another dozen or so in the wings. Sad, really.

She has a sort of rating system, and no one has ever lasted for more than two months. Most for considerably less, and when they fail..she tells them exactly what they did wrong. They must understand why they are being dismissed.

And recently, it has occurred to me that internet dating…is the absolutely perfect hunting ground for the active, modern scott.  Forget parties. Forget water coolers. Those are for beginners.

So what do E-Harmony, Plenty of Fish, and Omaha Steaks all have in common?  If you inherently know the answer, you’re a scott; if you don’t, you’re a roger; an innocent, doe-eyed roger.

Think on it. It will come to you.

Think faster.

“Hey…why is my soul mate carrying a bottle of A-1 Sauce?”

Mr. Monk and the Old Man…

I am the Old Man in question ( a reference to the last post ), and Mr. Monk refers to a wonderful TV series that ran from 2002- 2009. There was actually an episode titled ” Mr. Monk and the Old, Old Man”, so there’s a small inside joke there.

My niece Olivia would probably get it. Monk was one of our favorite programs. Even at her age then ( 8-9 ), she understood the humor.

It was premised on the idea of a retired police detective who serves as a consultant to the San Francisco PD;  who also suffers from an extreme case of OCD, along with several severe phobias.

Sure doesn’t sound very appealing; but in addition to being a very well-put-together detective show, Monk had a constant undercurrent of dark humor that was always understated, and never presented at the expense of the main character.

Tony Shaloub portrayed Adrian Monk, and was nominated for eight Emmys. He won three of them. The program received a great many awards.

The last episode still holds the record for viewership of a cable-tv program; 9.4 million.

We stopped watching after the finale, even though it has been in syndication ever since. But recently, we happened to watch a few ( more as a gentle reminder of Olivia, whom we don’t see as a result of estranged relations with her parents ).

I am pleased to report that Monk is always terrific, in a kind of Monty Python or Dress to Kill ( Eddie Izzard ) sort of way. You know it by heart, will recite favorite bits to other fans, and to anyone else who will put up with it.

If you have never indulged, may I heartily recommend it.

It carries a full five-star rating from Olivia.

I’ve Been Told….

Sunday morning, and I find myself surprised to sense my inner Baptist preacher clamoring for a bit of attention. It certainly has been a while….

He would just like to take a moment to remind us all that we are, as children, born into this world in a state of absolute purity and innocence. That seems to be our natural state of being, and that sadly, it generally doesn’t take very long for that inherent state of grace to be worn down and corrupted by something. Parental influence, siblings, XBoxes, the Disney channel ( I really have a thing about the damned Disney channel )…almost anything. And then, as we get older…the things that corrupt us become ever more complex.

It really is a jungle out there.

Some kids have a much better chance ( based on their environment ) of retaining some of that purity as they go along, but they will likely succumb to something, eventually. But with a good base and a  support system, they’ll manage to hold onto a few threads of that purity, and slowly, slowly…begin to work their way back. It may very well take a while, but those few threads are tough as hell, and will never surrender.

With that said, it seems entirely fitting for people of all ages to be walking around being fully aware of that tiny thread of purity in themselves that may have survived the onslaught. That, I believe, is where the heart of a true personality lies. Not in any of the myriad stages of corruption that we have to try to survive, but in the realization that you started out good, were drawn away through no initial fault of your own, and just want to get back on track while you still have time.

And there’s always time.

Ok. He’s done. He needs to do that every now and then. But let me tell you what triggered all that…

Yesterday, I was walking through the produce section of the local market and, as always, smiling to myself ( see ” Peaches” , under Olivia Stories, SecRag II ). I had to make a quick stop in the rest room, which is nearby. Another person entered shortly afterward, with a very small boy in tow; about age four, or so.

As I was stepping towards the sink, I noticed that the boy ( who was waiting impatiently for the parental figure ) was, as  four-year- olds always are, intrigued by everything else in the room. He couldn’t reach the  sink, couldn’t reach the towel dispenser ( which was broken anyway)…wanting to know what Dad was doing…( Dad wasn’t doing a particularly good job of watching him just then…)

I thought I would slow down a bit and be able to keep an eye on him until the parental unit was available.

So, I washed my hands…twice… and noticed the boy. His attention was riveted on me.

I was using the sink, and he couldn’t.

Quite a conundrum. You could actually see the issue playing through his mind. He couldn’t speak to the stranger, but…how did the sink thing work? I gave him a reassuring smile, but he would have none of that.

Thankfully, the parental unit emerged.

I now moved over to the air dryer, and Dad went to the sink. But now, the boy was riveted on me again…apparently, the air dryer was by far more amazing than the sink. How did that work?

I am ever appreciative of displays of childlike innocence…

The boy moved over to stand behind his father’s legs while he washed, and started bombarding him with questions. Dad…where did you go? What are you doing? Dad…what is that man doing?

No response from Dad.

So he pulls hard on Dad’s pants leg, finally gets his attention…points at me…and says…

” Dad! What is that old man doing?”

I actually turned, to see who he was referring to.

No one else there…

OMG.

March 09, 2013; 1430 hrs. It is apparently official.

There’s a signpost up ahead… no, actually. I just went by it…it’s in the rear-view now. And somewhere, somehow…

Rod Serling is smiling.

But that’s OK. I still have a few threads that I’ve held onto all these years, and I’m trying to work my way back…to being more like a four-year-old.

 

 

 

Published in: on March 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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C,G,D,A,E…

Here’s something you don’t hear every day…

Jimi Hendrix was one hell of a good…rythym player.

He really was. Where his solo playing was all blues/ pentatonic scale- based (much like everyone else), his chording had a very delicate and decorative flair to it. Lots of Baroque-style trills and flairs added to chord suspensions, and a very melodic sensibility. Very J.S. Bach.

C,G,D,A,E.

This is the final exam for my three Learning Connection guitar students. Kind of advanced for a 101 course, but they surprised me by not exactly being beginners; hence the not-exactly-for-beginners final.

Five major chords, one measure each, keep the rythym smooth and steady. It’s not so much the chords themselves but the changing from one to the next, in proper time, that causes the crying and knashing of teeth.

Those chords also happen to be the changes to Hey Joe, from Jimi’s first album ( Are You Experienced, Reprise Records, 1967 ) The students are aware of that, and that I certainly didn’t expect anyone to cover Jimi’s version; just give me five chords, first position, keep a nice even tempo, …and repeat…

I was pondering whether to make CD copies for them to practice with, and then said…oh hell, they can get that themselves, if they’re interested. I really just meant it to be an exercise, anyway.

The crying and knashing will commence this evening, 6 pm sharp.

But it did serve to get me listening to the old chestnut again, in never-ending appreciation. Jimi was freaking awesome. A little dated, naturally, but the creative spark is just timeless.

It also served to get me to ponder the lyrics to Hey, Joe

Mother of God. It’s a song about a guy who kills his girlfriend and tries to escape to Mexico.

Why was that OK in 1967?… no one said a word about it….nowadays, the guy who wrote that would be on a Homeland Security watchlist. He couldn’t get on a plane. He couldn’t get off a plane. There’d be a mandatory background check, and Dr. Phil would do a two-day taping to examine him.

And what about the first line? ” Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?” In 1967, apparently just a pleasant bit of conversation…today, a Senate sub-committee demanding to know why he didn’t call 911…was it because he knew him? Was it because he was involved? Was he a Democrat? Where is his birth certificate?

But to just listen to the song… the dynamics build very slowly to a wonderful crescendo… gloriously angelic background singing…spirited rythym section…great soloing… hell , by the end of this thing, I’d go shoot her myself if it would help him get across the border any sooner. “ No, you go ahead, Joe, I’ve got this…and here, take my Rosetta Stone Spanish Edition…and shoot the guy, too? Well sure, might as well…seeing as how I’m out already…you take care, now. Buh-by.”

Yep. That Jimi Hendrix sure had a way with a song…

Published in: on February 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

11 Questions?…

Well this sounds like fun. Kind of a chain letter. Sadly, though, the chain breaks with me because I don’t even know 11 other bloggers to send questions to. I will nonetheless answer the 11 and try to think of 11 more.

I suppose I would know 11 others if I were on Facebook, but I am likely the only person on the planet right now who believes that Facebook will be the straw that destroys Western civilization.

I know that sounds kind of right-wing nutjob, and if anything I’m more like a left-wing nutjob, but I aspire to become more of a centrist nutjob.

Still, anyone that I make that statement to always agrees …then goes on Facebook to gossip about the nutjob they just talked to. Then they show you their vacation photos, tell you what they are about to have for lunch, then describe just about where yesterday’s lunch is in their intestinal tract, then it’s a list of pharmaceuticals that Jimmy the paper boy has in stock this week, and then finally who the real father is to the pregnant 15-year old from three doors down.

Now, I don’t know, but I’ve been told…she gets her pharmaceuticals for free. Just sayin.’ Child support, 21st century-style. Caring, responsible parenthood.

I know they’ll be good parents because their parents said so on Facebook. Course, they’re all divorced now…but they met on Facebook, so they’ll always be in touch.

And, I’m getting really tired of people who keep sayin’ ” just sayin.” So I’m not sayin’ anymore.

And… I really do sound like a nutjob. A well-balanced one, though. Centrist.

Anyhow… on to the 11 questions.

1) Rodney Graham. Until the day I caught two consecutive line drives of his playing baseball, and he punched me several times. End of our friendship, and my baseball career.

2) Richard Boyce. Truly the worst bass player who has ever lived, yet he continued on valiantly. An inspirational example of perseverance.

3) After hiring Richard as their new bass player, they disappeared.

4) Zen and the Art of Bass Playing. Seriously. Because it really and truly is all about the journey, not the end result.

5) Yes.

6) Glory ( 1989, Denzel, Matthew, Cary, Morgan)

7) Twilight Zone ( but who gets to be Rod…)

8) None. Hard to believe, but there it is.

9) One…as always…

10) The ones with the bathtubs. I just don’t get the bathtub thing.

11) I’ll take the fifth on that one.

My 11 soon to follow…

 

Published in: on February 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Outpost…

Friday night at 2000 hrs ( 8 pm for civilians), and I’m at work. I’ve been doing Friday 3-11′s lately. One of the few who is maniacally responsible enough to show up for duty with a blizzard en route. There are 5 of us here tonight; 2 security, 2 maintenance, 1 engineer. On my security cameras, I’m watching payloaders, backhoes, and a Bobcat ( I so really want one of those…only$ 36,000) trying to keep the connector roads and parking lots clear. Better to move 6 inches of snow 8 times rather than move 3 feet all at once. Have to feel bad for those guys, though. They’ll be going straight through all day tomorrow, at least. It’s snowing sideways at about 60 mph. The building was just officially closed through Monday morning, and there is a full road ban in place ( arrests, fines, and prison time?!! ) Security’s relief has already called out to report for work ( no surprises there )-which means we will certainly be here until the world re-opens. The power is dipping on and off, but there is a huge backup diesel generator that’s supposed to be able to run for a few days. Otherwise, Metlife would would not only lose fax and phone lines, but there would be a threat to the data center. That would be the downside to having converted the acres of paper files to electronic storage. Snoopy will be really pissed. That damned thing better kick in when it’s supposed to. We’ll find out shortly. A large tree just came down and blocked one of the roads off. One less to plow. On the plus side; us security guys brought enough supplies to live through a nuclear strike, and I also brought a fold-up cot, two woolen blankets and a wheat-hull pillow. So no one has to sleep sitting up in an office chair. ( I am such a mother hen- old re-enactor habits.) And, the Chief Engineer phoned in permission giving us access to the full kitchen. So, I’m thinking… fire up a grill, maybe sirloin steaks with sauteed mushroom and onion in a white garlic sauce. Maybe special details aren’t so bad after all. Always wanted to try cooking on a commercial grill. Grill’s hot. Check with you later.

****

A little ambitious on the sirloin steak idea; but did manage shaved steak with mushroom/onion/hot Italian peppers/ melted provolone on toasted rolls.

Pretty damned good. Breakfast, I believe, will be omelettes with hash browns.

Not the big puffy American- style ones…the thin French ones ala Julia Child. With their choice of fillings, of course. That’s the whole idea. Thank you, Julia…

I’d like to be able to say ” do you want fries with that”, but I’m not sure how to get one of the deep- fryers working. Wouldn’t want to mess up and accidentally summon the fire department on a night like this. Not to mention being summarily dismissed from security.

But then maybe I could work in the kitchen…

Maybe we’ll just go with chips instead. And I’d better get started on a lunch menu…

Coffee Lingo…

I love Starbucks. I hate Starbucks. But I really do love Starbucks. I mostly despise Starbucks.

I am apparently ambivalent in regard to Starbucks.

I like their coffee a lot. It is generally very strong  ( as opposed to the anemic Dunkin Donuts) and would raise the dead, if only the dead could get their hands on some. The retail stores have a wonderful aroma when you go in, and no matter how resolved I am to not succumb, I always do. So after a few pounds of exotic beans, a few cds, and a large dark roast… that comes to 36.50, sir..will that be all for you today?

Good Lord….yes, that will be all for me today. For several days, actually. And I hate you and your snarky attitude, little miss. And your smock. And that you sell coffee mugs for 12.00…and that people apparently buy them.

But not me. I have lost many a good mug off the roof of my car, and if I lost a 12.00 coffee mug, I would be on my hands and knees in the breakdown lane searching for all the pieces. Then to the nearest Target for Super Glue…and later that same day, a trip to the emergency room with acute Super Glue poisoning; or ASGPas the ER nurses like to call it.

So I thought I would just try the drive-up window this morning, skip the aromas and cds and all that…just get the death coffee and go. I usually make my own at home and transport it in a thermos, but alas…a broken carafe emergency puts me once again at the mercy of snarky little Miss Starbucks poster girl 2013.

Now this really ticks me off…

I pull up and order a large dark roast, regular…

And the first thing they do is translate your order into a language that they find acceptable; so that will be a Vente Grande, sir? Will I be leaving room for cream and sugar?

I refuse to answer in their Italo/Hispanic hybrid language…

No…regular… is fine, thanks. ( This is the universal indicator for ” will you please put the damned cream and sugar in”…hence the term…) Why don’t they know that? Why??

So the coffee comes out with about three molecules of cream, and no sugar at all. ( I generally do not use sugar in coffee, but their Vente Sumatran Death blend does require it ) That will be 2.24 sir…will that be all for you today?

So I have to pull around to the front, go in, and fix it myself. Turbinado sugar, of course…( There is a Starbucks in Virginia that once actually removed all the brown sugar packets when they saw me come in again…sadly, I’m not even embarrassed by that…Starbucks owes me, don’t you see?? They owe everyone…yes, I’d like a dark Vente Grande with 76 Turbinado sugars, please…bitch….

And another 6.99 for a closeout Christmas cd of nuns singing in 16th- century French, a must-have for any civilized music collection…with the Boston Camerata doing biblical readings in Middle English- what great natural reverb you get from the pulpit of a cathedral… who could resist?

And one pound of Sumatran Death that was on sale ( only 11.99…and a slice of blueberry crumb cake, dammit…)

That will be 36.50, sir…will that be all for you today?

Why is it always exactly 36.50?

They’re probably just trying to make their money back on all the sugar. Well, two can play at that game. I happen to know exactly how many packets of Turbinado you can get for 36.50. Who’s smirking now, little miss?

And of course I was late for work.

*****

Starbucks Update; Later that same day, and I have just tried  the Jamaica Blue Mountain. I must admit that it is wonderful. Smooth, earthy, complex…  certainly no cream or sugar needed… All is forgiven. I might have to bring back a few ( hundred) packets of Turbinado, as a sign of redemptive good will. That should confuse them.

I love Starbucks again.

 

 

 

Now would you look at that…

I’ve been away for some time now.

But it’s Sunday morning, and I’m at work; covering a call-out shift. And it’s very quiet. I’ve been printing out some materials from both my security companies’ files, and Homeland Security. I expect to get notification tomorrow to do it anyway, so I’ll save myself some time.

And what I’ve been thinking while I go over this stuff myself and set it up for my roster of guards to go over this week…has to do with the Wakefield Doctrine.

So I’m going to write a Doctrine post; but I’ll do it here, because this kind of thing is generally not appreciated on that side of the pond. But nonetheless…a WD post over here? Didn’t see that coming.

The thing about the Doctrine…is that it simply works. If you take every imaginable type of classification or conceivable way to group or categorize humans away…if all you’ve got left is three naked cavemen ( or cave people…sorry ) and a stick, lying on the ground…there it is. The goddamned Doctrine.

Which one interacted with the stick first, and why? And then what?

Three fundamental personality types, and how they interact. That is literally the whole thing. Everything else is adornment.

But, as opposed to the general tone of things over at the Doctrine site, things are not always fun. If the WD is true and real, then it must cover the entire span of human interaction, or admit that it’s flawed somehow.

So…a Doctrine post for your perusal, but of a decidedly different tone.

The horrific shootings in Connecticut leave me with a totally empty void. As opposed to 911, there isn’t even a definable enemy to associate the event to. Just a typical profile of a typical shooter. It just happened, and now it’s over. I, personally, would much prefer to have a definitive enemy; something that your mind can address it’s need to respond to.

But no…just a sadly twisted loner kid, and a mother with guns.

The materials I’m preparing are emergency instructions; the subject matter in this case is specifically how to respond to an active shooter.

And there are additional materials that address the psychological profiles of active shooters.

And I’m wondering, because it’s hard to read into this clearly. Which WD type would an active shooter most likely stem from? Is it possible for it to vary? And what factors would combine to create such a profile?

At first, I thought that they’re probably scotts; being the type that would most likely see violence or aggression as a viable outlet. But then again…scotts are also most likely to act immediately, and therefore have the highest likelihood of a usable release valve for their perceived resentments.

They just don’t fit the profile.

Clarks? They define themselves as outsiders, are only comfortable, if at all, in the outer perimeters of interactive groups; are certainly capable of holding and fostering deep resentments, not just over months ( as the profile reads) but over decades. They would be extremely capable of assembling a detailed plan to address their perceived resentments. And yet is is still difficult to determine what the final trigger to act would actually be. But overall…much closer to the profile.

But… I think that the closest type would have to be among rogers. I sense that the very prolonged alienation from social groups combined with ultra-personal incidental resentments could create the justification that would be needed. The victims are actually completely random, but are chosen from the social group that must be punished; and always seems to be supplemented with very particular punishment for a few particular individuals.

I therefore say that they’re most likely rogers, probably every time. In the end, I think it’s not about the targets at all. It’s about the importance of healthy socialization at a very young age. Just look what can happen when kids are abandoned at a societies’ outer perimeters for too long.

Should this be read by any interested parties ( especially amongst the Doctrine readership ) I would be most intrigued to receive your comments. For those that are entirely unfamiliar with the idea of the Wakefield Doctrine, please click the link in the right-side margin.

And though this isn’t pleasant subject matter, it’s nice to be back.

New Stuff…

Just a quick note.

Diana Krall just released a new album titled ” Glad Rag Doll.”

It’s based on music from the 1920′s; produced by T-Bone Burnett.

In an interview posted on her website, Diana said that rather than try to re-create the time period, they just went in and worked on the songs as if they’d been written yesterday.

It worked very, very nicely. ( See? I’m retaining composure. I didn’t write ‘ it worked beautifully’)

And as always, I’m trying to learn to control my seething resentment of Elvis Costello.

Maybe that part isn’t going so well.

So You Think You’re a Guitar Player…

( A pleasant exchange about dancing in kitchens and big- band music led to this one; thanks, Girlie! )

My guitar student has been working on several jazz standards for some time now, and making remarkable progress.

Lately, we’ve been working on ” Take the A Train ” by Duke Ellington.  As are the others we’ve tried, it sounds very simple and accessible to listen to, but on closer examination have discovered the hidden complexities.

The ‘A Train‘ is very smooth and easy to listen ( or dance! ) to, and the chord progression seems very easy and playable at a glance; that’s why I chose it.

But then… we found that all these alternate chord voicings were being used, and that they actually frame the melody so well that you have to learn them, or just give up. Not just C, but C6; not just Dm7, but Dm7+9b5. And you have to, or it’s just wrong. And there are usually two different fingerings being used in different places for each of several chords.

You had better not get on the ‘ A Train’ unless you’ve got your tuxedo on, or at least a damned good suit. These guys played for blood.

This is Freddie Green.

He spent most of his life playing in Duke Ellington’s rhythm section.

He was known to play only one single- note solo in his entire life. He was a chord guy. He was the chord guy.

He played full-bodied acoustic guitars  ( Gretsch, Stromberg, Gibson) with heavy-gauge strings, and the bridge raised to about 1 inch high; and played with the instrument almost flat in his lap.

Which means he could leap tall buildings if he wanted to. He would have had the hand strength of any ten normal guitar guys.

The other jazz guitar guys were scared of him. He not only knew a lot more chords than they did, he would do really cool stuff with them, like accent different notes in the chords to get different shadings and tones.

Most typical light-gauge-strings-Les Paul- Strat- have-to-play-loud-or-you-can’t-hear-me guys don’t even know about this stuff. Freddie played an acoustic guitar with no amp, surrounded by horn players.  And cut through just fine, when Ellington wanted him to. Freddie liked to mix in with the bass and drums so smoothly that you couldn’t tell them apart.

So put down ‘Back in Black’, and try on the ‘ A Train’ …

Yeah, I know. You’ve got a lot to learn.

Got to go now…have to move the kitchen table out of the way…

70,000…

A conservative casualty estimate. There were many conflicting versions of events, and the Russians could marginally get away with calling it a victory simply because they stopped Napoleon from advancing any further.

September 7, 1812; the battle of Borodino. This is an event of great national significance for the Russians, akin to Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg for Americans. They can practically see the future of their country escaping drastic change by just a hair’s breadth.

Napoleon, by today’s standards, was a total nutjob. So were the Russians, of course; any day that these guys put troops in the field, they would probably lose 25,000 on an average. But that was OK.  Soldiers were considered the scum of the earth, and were expected to be more than happy to march in formation into a horrific death to please an emperor/ czar/ etc. They were easily replacable.  Many soldiers were conscripts, and they generally would rather serve in the army than rot in prison or be executed.

Napoleon was also considered to be a military genius, and his tactics were the practical standard well into the 1860′s.  He was especially fond of massed infantry attacks in column formations. They could move very quickly across open ground, but only the front rank could fire their weapons.  Artillery would rip huge gouges in the approaching columns, and if they could then be penetrated by cavalry, the formations would fall apart completely; but if they could manage to get across, then they would usually win the battle.

The Russians apparently make a huge deal out of the Borodino anniversaries. They have re-enactors. I am simply amazed at this. I can’t help but wonder who in the Russian economy can manage the disposable income to outfit themselves for this pastime. ( I speak from bitter experience.)  Putin, I suppose, all his staff, friends, family…that must be about a hundred  guys right there. But where do the rest come from?

Hmm…if the kids will work in the gulag for just a few more years, I’ll be able to get that snappy new shako hat I’ve been needing…

Actually, I understand this completely. I’m just glad to see that we’re not the only ones. Even if the kids have to double up in the gulag bunks for body heat…

Just kidding. They don’t have to do that. I’d send them sub-zero sleeping bags from LL Bean.

But then they’d have to work off the price of those too, so maybe another six months?…

Thanks, WordPress!…

I was just re-reading a few of my recent posts, and realizing why it seems so very unlikely that too many readers would ever leave a comment. Comments are appreciated because they help to validate the writer; we have made contact with the aliens, and they are glad to see us. What a relief!

That’s one of my biggest problems right there. I can barely resist the urge to slide in a cryptic reference or two, and very often, a post will take on a life of its own based on that; and gleefully change direction completely. I seldom seem to ever make the point that I originally had in mind.

But it’s an awful lot of fun anyway, at the end of the day, and I would certainly recommend this sort of thing to anyone who’s ever been enticed by the notion of writing. Just throw some stuff at the wall, and see what sticks. It’s a terrific form of therapy. Oh, the places you’ll go…

See? A more seasoned and mature writer would have left that out…there just was no need for that. None whatsoever.

I’ve also taken note recently that the more successful mainstream blogs are very specific in their content. They’re about THE NEWS, or about POETRY, or about POPULAR MUSIC. That only stands to reason, but it seems that if you don’t loudly proclaim yourself as a SERIOUS WRITER somehow, then you haven’t much chance of gaining an audience. ( I have apparently discovered the ‘shift’ key. I will refrain from overuse.)

So the world seems to care not about my two treasured old brown coffee cups, each of which flew off the roof of my car. That post was fun to write; you start off with coffee cups, and end up having a disturbing conversation with St. Peter about your chances of getting into heaven. You can’t make this stuff up.

Actually, you can, and you should. It’s marvelous fun, and we should offer many thanks to WordPress, who literally makes all this happen. Aspiring puddle writers the world over all get a chance to get their feet wet, and some pretty damned good material comes about as a result. One needs to conquer one’s fear of the ‘ publish’ button…

So I’ll keep at it…and many thousands of others will, too. I’ll read yours, and you’ll read mine;  but I’m not sure how we might ever find one another in this gigantic blogoshpere.

But this is for sure…if I read yours, I’m almost certain to leave a comment…

 

 

Published in: on August 27, 2012 at 6:53 pm  Comments (9)  

Not E Major…

For the last few days, I’ve had yet another old Band song running through my head. This one’s titled ” Sleeping “, from the Stage Fright album. It’s quite catchy, and, as I do, I find myself not only enjoying the pleasant companionship but also slowly taking the piece apart as it runs and looking at it from the inside.

” Sleeping” is in 3/4 time; that’s fairly unusual right there. Richard Manuel had such an expressive voice, and the chorus is not only catchy, but actually swings, the way an old big band song would. Very cool.

But what really caught me was not being able to quite determine what key it’s in. I can typically get that pretty easily, just from hearing a few guitar chords in use. This one seemed to have E Major written all over it… a favorite of bluesy/rockabilly/ country guys. It plays very easily on guitar, and Robbie Robertson is a classic Fender Tele/ TwinReverb guy all the way.

But still…not quite. I finally gave up, and looked it up on a few websites.

It’s in F major. Now that’s only one half-step higher, but means that guitar and bass both have to work bit harder, and that’s why E major usually wins out in the end. But it does offer a very different dynamic.

As I poked around a bit more, I noticed that a lot of Band stuff was in F major; curious and interesting.

And, as I was leafing through some old photos, I came across this;

This is the handout from Rick‘s memorial service.

Now that’s even cooler than playing in F, when you might just as easily have chosen E.

I wonder what will start playing next…

Potpourri…

” I’ll take ‘ potpourri’ for a thousand, Alex…”

Answer: Four really good coffee cups, a cherished old gray felt planter’s hat with a bullet hole in it, a Sony Car Discman, a 36. cal. Remington revolver, several umbrellas, a Craftsman ratchet set, a small Hawaiian pizza, a sleeve of CD-Rs, a Teletubbie ( LaLa ), a Toro electric hedge trimmer, and a Blue’s Clue’s pad with erasable magic marker.

Question: Things that have rolled off the top of R.Coyne’s car and ended up in the road?…

It’s tough being me sometimes. On a good day, I’m sharp, precise, well-organized, witty, funny, boyishly charming….on a bad day, I’ll wander from one room to another, only to wonder why I left the room I was just in; and hoping that if I just wait a few seconds, the neurons will finally fire and I’ll know why I’m there.

It seems, however, that I’m waiting longer than ever these days… I’ve even taken to patiently looking around for something else I might attend to in the new location, seeing as how I’ve already gone to the trouble of going there. And there’s always a chance that the new thing actually could be the same as the original thing, whatever the hell that was.

And if I’m at all in a hurry ( always…) I’m liable to leave anything smaller than a pony on the roof of the car as I drive off in my haste. I put the item there while I unlock the car door, very time-efficiently get in, and off I go; only to notice said item flying away from the vehicle in the rear-view a few minutes later. ( Not entirely true; I have actually lost things that are larger than a pony; a 12×12 ft. wall tent, for instance, with ropes, stakes, poles, and all. Forgot to put the damned bungee cords on.)

Most of the items were recovered, some none the worse for it. The revolver was holstered and unloaded, the Discman skipped a lot anyway, about half of the ratchet set… the food items are a complete loss, of course; the five-second rule just doesn’t work in these cases. Alas, pineapple chunks that have flown into the breakdown lane cannot be retrieved. They just don’t make pizza boxes like they used to.

I sadly remember once glancing in the rear view as my then -two-year old niece Olivia was fretting in her carseat; she had only three of her precious Tubbies clutched to her bosom, and at that very moment I watched LaLa fly off the roof and into the grill of a UPS truck behind us. Olivia never knew the truth, and LaLa recovered nicely in the wash; and if I can someday manage to just slide past St. Peter with my part Catholic/ part Baptist E-Z Pass ( available at the DMV! ) then all might yet be forgiven.

” Hey, hold on there…You! Yes you, in the oddly stylish infantry jacket…you’re the guy! The Tubbies guy! Get back here! And stop crying! This is Heaven, for God’s sake! Haven’t you read anything? Where are you from, Rhode Island? …Oh, well that explains it…and BTW, we also saw you pick up the pizza…five seconds, my sainted ass…and not to mention lying… right in the middle of one of your own stupid blog posts. Just step off to the side there and wait for the shuttle bus. We’ll have to open up your case file…yes, your mom and dad are here…no…they’re not picking up right now. They’ve had quite enough of your crap, thank you. A lifetimes’ worth, actually, and enough is enough. We say that a lot up here. You’ll probably be hearing that all day… now stop sniveling and get on the damned bus. Yes…that is why it says ” Damned Bus.” And that is an ex of yours driving it…Wow. Your case file has been partitioned. Son of a bitch…Dude, you are totally …like…screwed. But you didn’t hear that from me…

Did You Freaking See That??

I’m a bit long in the tooth for this, but…

I think I have some brand- new heroes.

Nope. Not guitar players. Nobody musical.

Admittedly nothing to match the scale set by Generals T. Jackson or P. Cleburne.

Not Bird/ McHale/ Parrish/ Ainge/ Johnson, either.  They seem a bit pedestrian in comparison. Nope…

It’s girls.

Young girls.

Young girls playing soccer.

In the Olympics.

Just watched the US and Canada in the semi- final match; the winner plays Japan.

I don’t quite understand this game. In American football, at least there are shoulder pads, and rules that offer some level of protection. These people don’t need no stinking protection.

I’ve honestly never seen anything like that.

And I’ve been here for quite a while now.

I’d recommend watching a replay of that game, even if ( like me ) you don’t know much about it.

And the final is on Thursday.

It should be just a little less dramatic than Okinawa.

 

One More…

Here’s another interesting bit about making use of resources.

One Sunday morning at some long-distant re-enactment, the BadGuy camp ( the Confederates ) decided to all pitch in on a communal breakfast because everyone seemed to be running low on stuff, but we could put up a pretty good table if everyone contributed; so ten separate campfires all kicked in together.

All I had to offer was a pound of bacon and four large sweet potatoes. I had used up all my other stuff in making a what-should-have-been a terrific chicken stew the night before in my three-legged pot ( one day old ). But I had thrown in a few cayenne peppers from the garden, and it was so hot that it had to be declared inedible. I tried diluting the broth, but then had to wait hours for it all to reheat. In the meantime, the pale and wan faces of all the battalion’s privates had taken on a truly pathetic countenance. ( Many people will show up for two or three nights of camping with a canteen of tap water and a box of Cheez-its. ) We had one young man whose tent would be littered with Killian’s bottles, pepperoni, and Twinkies wrappers by Sunday; he was often visited by the local wildlife ( the bear, raccoon, and we-hope- that -was- not-what-we-thought-it-was whisperer.

I  cooked the bacon, of course; and then tried frying thickly sliced sweet potatoes in the renderings. This turned out wonderfully, but had heart attack written all over it.

But the discovery ended up being very well-received, and was therefore usually repeated on consequent Sunday mornings. I would typically make something for the camp on Sundays anyway, being a bit of a mother hen; after all, I would likely be leading them once again to their deaths later in the day.

A Yankee contingency even began to make unusual regular Sunday visits; I suspected that the now re-knowned sweet potatoes might have been at the root of this. We would have cups of black camp coffee, bacon, eggs, biscuits, and fried sweet potatoes with the godless Yankees, who once even brought strawberry short-cake; apparently, even a black Yankee soul might yet be redeemed through the whipping of fresh cream for the strawberries.

And then it was off to an open-air church service to see if one’s last functioning artery might still be spared.

On yet another side note, I recall my first Sunday service; the regular pastor was not in attendance, and the senior captain had been called on to conduct the service. After some truly terrible singing, it turned into an impromptu AA meeting.

The best of times.

Update ( Leadville )…

The other day, I happened to see a movie.

It sported the usual array of primary and secondary characters and a somewhat fantastical main plot.

The thing that caught my attention about this one in particular; its uncanny resemblance to our old Leadville novel, in one regard.

It was set against the same outline and framework; what happens to normal people in a small-town setting when extraordinary things begin to happen all around them. Of course it all works out nicely in the end, as they do.

It’s called Super 8.

Published in: on July 25, 2012 at 11:20 am  Leave a Comment  

More Soup…

It all started with the French Onion soup.

I was enjoying this perennial favorite one day, and was pondering why it is always recommended that the bread used should be a day old. ” Why not use fresh bread? ” I thought. ” What’s the difference, it’s going to be in the broth, under the cheese anyway…”

So I ate and thought. I’m much better at one than at the other, so understandably this could take a while. And there may be an awful lot of soup involved.

There was an awful lot of soup involved. All kinds of soup…months of diligent research…and finally, as I was enjoying yet another wonderful French Onion…

There was a Soup Revelation. The fuzzy cloud that my brain spends most of its time suspended in parted, and the Truth About Soup came shining through.

Starkly, shockingly simple. I dropped my spoon and gaped into the bowl; beyond the melted cheese, through the bread, and straight into the onion broth.

It’s not about a classic refined French recipe. There was never a damned recipe.

You used lots of onions because you had lots of onions; you used old bread while it was still barely usable. And you scraped the mold from old cheese and melted the usable part over the top… or maybe just used it all. A little mold never killed anyone…or has it?  There was only one way to find out.

It’s about not wasting resources.

The further back you go in history, the more important that edict becomes; people had to work harder and harder to acquire their food items. And frontiersmen and farmers were still only a few steps removed from the immediate risks that the early hunters had to take.

Food was  not just vital, but eminently sacred; a failed hunt or crop meant that people died. And saying grace over food was a heartfelt thanks, because they had risked everything to get it. To waste it would be…dare we use such an arcane word in the 21st century…a sin.

Soup goes back in history about 6000 years; as soon as clay pots became usable over fire. There was just one recipe; anything in danger of going to waste that would fit in the pot went into the pot. Actual recipes probably took centuries to become what they are today.

And why is soup always the first course served? Because you always used the leftovers first; less chance of waste. Nothing very refined about it. Don’t waste food.

I have tested my Ancient Soup Theory. I have a three- legged black wrought iron cooking pot that goes to re-enactments with me. I have successfully made French Onion soup over an open fire, using old onions, old cheese, old bread. It came out beautifully.

I absorbed all this from a bowl of soup ( my little French Onion joke) and might I suggest that you also try staring deeply and intently at your next meal. There’s a lot going on there. Your lunch may be trying to tell you something. Even if it’s from a drive-up window. Just make sure to take it out of the bag first, because staring at a bag is just weird.

And don’t even mention pizza…pizza just won’t shut up.

 

Pease Porridge hot, Pease Porridge cold…Pease Porridge in the pot, Nine Days Old…”

Soup in the Wild…

Oddly, many of my most vivid recollections and memories are anchored to food.

Should I happen across an ice cream sandwich, parslied potatoes, chocolate cake with white icing, pizza strips…I am reminded instantly of steel cafeteria trays, small glass bottles of milk that cost 4 cents each…and of course, the angst that goes along with being 12 years old in junior high school. Girls, who previously seemed OK with my existence, had apparently had a meeting…

 I have been known to make a chocolate sheet cake with white icing, cut it into proper squares, and serve them on waxed paper, but only in September; one wants also to recollect the additional angst of the summer being over, and returning to school. The Full Angst Effect.

And here is a similar story from adulthood; this one is angst-free.

I’ve spent several years in the oddly satisfying hobby of civil war re-enacting. I’m sort of retired now, but I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the outdoors. It is especially good for families with kids; it provides a perfect environment for them to spend whole days running and playing in complete freedom, with someone nearby at all times.

On one October weekend years ago, I was attending an event in Uxbridge, Mass. The weather was spectacular; clear blue sky, brilliant maple leaves everywhere; the air was perfectly warm and perfectly cool at the same time. Food prepared over an open fire, and fine comfortable conditions for sleeping in camp.

Saturday nights were the very best. A  roaring fire, encircled by good friends, all with beverage of choice in hand; tucked into your woolen greatcoat against the chill. Music, sudden bursts of standup comedy, good stories…

But this particular Saturday had brought sudden rain, which quickly turned to a full gale. All the campfires were drowned out, tents were pulled up by the wind, and many chose the better part of valor and packed it in. In my company, the 21st Mississippi, we decided that we’d be just as drowned in breaking camp, so opted to hold on. Tent floors were all washed through, and for those who slept on the ground it would be a truly miserable night. I was an officer, and could get away with a folding cot; I would be fine as long as the tent held on.

By late afternoon, we were huddled miserably under our tent fly. There was no hope of supper; we were reduced to crackers and cold coffee ( with a bit of Jameson’s, strictly for emergency use only…)

And then, in the distance… a lone SUV was seen climbing the long road up to our camp. All who were going were long gone, so we wondered who might be unhinged enough to be driving towards this mess of their own free will.

It was Paulette, Gary‘s wife. Gary was one of our privates ( and a VP of Putnam Investments in the real world ) Paulette usually attended events, but never stayed in camp; day-trip only. Gary slept in two woolen blankets on the ground, and that was a bit too far for her.

She backed her SUV into camp, opened the hatch…and started unloading dutch ovens. Five altogether; piping hot, they traveled on cooling racks and didn’t lose a drop in transport.

I’m sure that the Berlin Airlift never received a warmer welcome.

She had made us supper, all from scratch; knew that we would not have gone home, and drove it all out to us.

She also had a fever of 104 the whole time.

One oven had apple cobbler; another two with corn bread made with corn cut right off the cob, and jalapenos; one with biscuits, and one with the main course; a chunky butternut squash soup, with butter beans and ham; and a half-gallon of hot mulled cider.

We were all saved; we devoured that meal with Pentecostal abandon. We praised Paulette to the very skies. We even shared some with a few Yankee friends who wondered what all the ruckus was about; they, in turn, worshipped at Paulette’s fevered feet.

It was really, really good.

And when it was all gone, Pvt. Gary drove her 20 miles home, saw her safely to bed; then drove 20 miles back…and slept in two wet woolen blankets in the mud.

Some people…always seem to rise above circumstance.

I have actually dreamt about that soup. That soup has been fondly recalled over many campfires since, and people still speak of the cornbread in hushed tones. Paulette launched herself into culinary history that day, and when asked for the recipes…she doesn’t exactly recall. She was winging it.

That actually makes it even better.

 

Published in: on July 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In The Beginning…( Posts About Food )

 English: Hostess Twinkies. Yellow snack cake w...

…there was really only one all-purpose recipe. It served everyone equally well.

- Chase it, catch it, kill it, eat it. And since they didn’t have index cards yet, I’m sure that there was a lot of memorization going on; with the occasional pop quiz. ( Dammit, what was number three again? )

Or, the equally viable alternative;

- It chases you, it catches you, it kills you, it eats you.

Most days, it could go either way.

Early dining may not have been terribly sophisticated, but it was certainly dramatic enough. On a good day, you were only one step removed from your food source; on a bad day, there were no steps at all, because you were the food source.

And then there was fire ( along with National Grid to regulate it, I suppose )… and life got much better.

Because now… there was roasting. Food tasted better, was much safer, and would keep longer. Survival rates went way up. National Grid instituted their first rate increase…

But now, early people were two steps removed from their food source;  procurement, and preparation.

So rudimentary society began to form around campfires, and soon after, recipes were being exchanged. Tribes were formed based on one’s preference for barbecue sauce or a dry rub. Early cave drawings in the south of France included a Samsung 24-c.u. side-by-side with water and ice on the door, packaged with a Jenn-Air cooktop ( free delivery w/ rebate, once the wheel is invented; special order only, once Sears is invented)  Bobby Flay’s ancestors began a rough draft of the first grilling cookbook ( The Joy of Killing ) and the first Food Network series went into pre- production ( Iron Chef  Caught Your Dog…Sorry! ) Admittedly, plating was going to be an issue.

And nowadays, there are so many steps separating modern man from his food sources that we no longer even care that there are steps involved at all. It’s traumatic enough just having to keep track of all the new kinds of Oreos. ( Gluten-free lo-carb whole wheat double-stuffed with flaxseed and zesty guacamole filling…)

Personally, I don’t want to live in a world where Oreos are good for you. Oreos may be the last dignified form of suicide that we have left.  And, I’ll have whole milk with ‘em, too.  I just don’t care anymore…

English: Double Stuf Oreos, by Nabisco.

Rumor has it that Jack Kevorkian owned stock in Hostess Twinkies…just an urban legend, I suppose. But they found six cases in the trunk of his car…

Recipe tip: 4 oreos= 1 twinkie.

In Texas, you can get deep- fried twinkies at the state fair. Mother of God, you would have had better odds of survival if you were defending the Alamo…

*****

And on our next food-oriented post…Paulette, the Soup Angel.

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