Thursday, February 28, 2008

Burgeouning Signs Of Encroaching Insanity

The sandwich is the same, turkey, ham, Genoa salami, bacon, with the slight variation of white American cheese-- not cheeze, the fake stuff, but cheese, the real stuff. The beer is Red Hook ESB, of which I am a converted devotee. (The movie, which you can't make out as much as I would have hoped, is Star Trek: Insurrection. If you thought that was the sign of insanity, read on.)
The chips, as they were last time, are Utz's "The Crab Chip," which is not, in fact, flavored with or like crab. The flavoring is, basically, Old Bay crab seasoning. (They can't call it that, because, I suspect, that actual name is owned by the bastards at McCormick & Company, those pureveyors of played-out flavor dust at five dollars a glass bottle, the bastards.) Let me begin by saying: I do know better.
A corrolary to the UST (Unified Sandwich Theory), under the subheading of the Condiment Rule (No Condiment Shall Be Present In Such Quanity As To Overpower Any Other Element (Except Mustard)) is the Side Dish Treatis. This states that side dishes should be chosen to compliment the sandwich (as an entity), both in essence and portion. In this case, it is not the portion, but the essence part of the treatise I am violating.
For while "The Crab Chip" is not, in fact, drowning out the sandwich as an entity, nor unduely emphasizing or drowning out any of the component parts, it's a very strongly flavored chip. It's just wrong.
In my heart, I know it's wrong.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February Wordsmith's


Our gestures don’t amount to much. A smile here, a nod there. The smile is but the slightest upturn of the lips, or really just a tightening of the facial muscles around the jaws. The nods are the barest of nods except when the nod turns into the resigned head-bow, the chin nearly resting on the top of the sternum.

My grandmother is the one burning appliances. Her smiles are the meagerest, her nods the slightest, but with every slight movement, I can see the light dimming just a bit. It’s a frightening thing.

Burning appliances. It’s a phrase dating back to the early days of NASA. It was used during the development of fighter-bombers, where the trade-off between payload weight and fuel use was the paramount concern. Turn off a few more switches, and save a little more fuel for flight. Burn fewer appliances, and stay aloft long enough to reach the target.

I find myself wishing fewer of us had come. Every grandchild, all the cousins, my three uncles, Mom, Dad, they all came to see. The word went ‘round: come see her. Might be the last time. Everyone said it but me. I wasn’t going to come see her for The Last Time. I’m not willing to concede the game just yet. As far as I am concerned, the ball is still in play.

She was a painter. It is fair to say “was.” She hasn’t lifted a brush in almost thirty years. I loved her paintings, the water-colors and the oils especially, sketches of Georgia swamps and Florida beaches, places she loved. She quit after Grandad described a woodcut of a heron perched on a cypress knee as looking like a child’s drawing of a Christmas gnome. She wasn’t insulted. She just figured she had done enough. Lord knows, she left plenty behind her.

Lord knows.

Her hair is soft and silver; she gave up hairdressing years ago. She never fooled herself or anyone else by trying to go back to her original carrot-orange hue, but instead dyed her hair a dignified white. Now it’s silver-white, the color of the ingot each of the grandkids got for their eighth birthday. Why eighth? I never got around to asking.

As the last of the grandkids filter out, I lean down over the bed again. She smiles at me, and says “They’re wondering who’s going to get the beach house.” I smile and shake my head. “Don’t think I’m not.” The tiny joke resonates the tiniest laugh through her body, a dangerous ripple of current across her frail frame.

A changing of the guard finds me fled to the chapel. Not that I am a praying man; I just had to get away. But as long as I’m here, I pray a pilot’s prayer for her, not conceding it will be the last, not denying it might be.

Come on, Old Man. Switch off some appliances. She’s got a few more miles left in her.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


So last weekend, we broke down and bought a 42 inch flat screen TV. (I mainly like this picture because the TV is about the same proportions as our framed print of Hiroshige's "The Seasons" hanging above it.)

Then, in the mail, I got a copy of Cornel Wilde's The Naked Prey on DVD.

Fortuitous. Serendipitous. Fabulous.

I believe I'll have a beer.

UPDATE: Perfect.

So I took about ten minutes out to make the sandwich. Turkey, Genoa salami, ham, bacon, & provalone cheese on a toasted Kaiser roll with mayo & dijon mustard. The beer you see in the foreground is the second one. The first was a Beck's. NON BEER DRINKERS, AVERT THINE EYES. Or, well, to paraphrase Gary Larson, whose works have been so terribly efficacious, you're about to read alot of Blah Blah Blah Blah, Ginger.

The Beck's made a nice start with the sandwich, bringing out a fair amount of the nuances of the various cold cuts. The Sierra Nevada, being a bit stronger and bolder, made for a nice finish. It brought out the heat of the salami a bit more, maybe a bit of the ham and the bacon, but it also emphasized the smoke of the turkey-- did I neglect to mention? Smoked turkey. Also, it was neat pitting one beer against the other. It was a draw. Both have their strong points, but neither one really has it over the other.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

SoundClick Widgets

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Latest Addition

SO this is Wallace, a cheap-o six-string Johnson I grabbed from a pawn shop a few years back on the grounds that I wanted a guitar to keep at a buddy's place, something to noodle on during the various parties and gatherings he hosts over the course of a year. Yes, it is blue. And if you think I haven't been the first to make a joke about having a blue Johnson, you'd be wrong.

The Wifey suggested, then insisted, I bring it home after it turned out that not only was I not playing it, but my buddy's mom, who is a very strange person indeed, kept hiding it in closets behind clothes on her periodic visits to his house. So I brought it home last weekend, and today I zipped out to a local music store, tuned their Ibanez 12 string, bought a set of D'Addario J-15's, came home, cleaned him up, strung him up, and played a coupla numbers. I like him alot. Sometimes, there's nothing nicer than a nice, cheap-o six-string guitar.

The name Wallace, of course, is after Wallace Stevens, who, after viewing the Picasso work Man With Blue Guitar, wrote "The Man With The Blue Guitar," which starts out thusly:

"The man bent over his guitar
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said 'You have a blue guitar
You do not play things as they are.'"

before getting very, very weird. I do love Stevens. But the man was seriously weird, a stone whacko. I mean wwwhack-OOOOOOOOOOO. I mean, who writes a poem about a painting? In the first place, if the painting's any good, it doesn't need a poem. In the second place . . . Well, I mean, who writes a poem about a painting? Which this isn't, althought I always kind of thought it could have been.


Day winds down and bleeds the land
mounds of earth cling like leeches against the hills
clockhand shadows pointing out
the roll and pitch and yawn
in the brief desert before the trees take hold
and root in the soil like pigs
the sun bleeds gentle blood and geese
singing of Is rah elle mount
a frontal assault against the day's last peace
and turn and sweep and roll beneath
strange folds at the edge of the world
a lady in a riding cloak
battles wind and anachronism uphill
until the end is met

I wrote it in college, about a susnset I was watching while a friend of mine, who did wear a big, black wool riding cloak as outer wear-- she was that kind of college student-- try to walk up hill to where I was standing without the wind using the cloak as a sail and shoving her across the hill and into a pond. On a whim I turned it in to the professor I was taking a poetry writing class under, and his only comment was "I think the riding cloak is a bit anachronistic?" So the line "battles wind uphill" became "battles wind and anachronism uphill." Which doesn't really mean a goddamned thing, but I like it much better.

Earlier I was going to make some kind of a cockameme threat like "I intend to include a poem with every post until I've alienated everyone else in the blogosphere!" But it ain't the case. I am going to keep putting up poems with the blog, but just because I have decided it's fun. For me, not necessarily for you. I don't care what you think. (No, not you. That guy, over there.) (Yeah, he is a creep, isn't he?)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Better Than Nothing

So, as it turns out, the problem was not with Blogger. The problem was with the window size that my computer decided the add-image pop up would be.
The Wifey is the one I have to thank for helping me figure it out. Never undersetimate the supreme value of the sage advice "scroll down."
So now here's the picture I always post when I go back to work for one of those projects which so drain my psychical energy as to make me a virtual cypher in the real world, along with a poem I wrote for my neices and nephews many years ago, to which their universal response has been, and will likely always be, "I don't get it."
Hold: all is not lost
Nor is all found.
Things are not black
As blackest night nor clear as day, and the situation
Is not hopeless, although there is nothing
Anyone can do about it. You are only you, but cannot
Be yourself, and nothing is as bad
Or as good as you've been told. You may as well be
Sailing the Sea of Meringue
With a key lime rudder
Waiting to scuttle onto a crushed graham cracker shore
To climb and plant your flag on Whipped Cream Hill
To claim it for God and country
As understand this mess
You were born into. I tell you this is true:
All is not lost. The center will hold.
Assuming there is a center. Nothing is as bad
Or as good
As you have been told.
This is true.
Except the part about sailing the sea of meringue.
I made that up.