Thursday, December 31, 2015

FULLY CLOTHED WOMEN, A RETROSPECTIVE

We didnt expect to his 100 posts for the year, but it looks like we made it to that pretty easily. A good percentage of the posts were original, and some of them were really pretty good. We werent sure how to close out the year. We noticed we had not done a "Fully Clothed Women" in a long time, and have a lot of material from our FB album of that name. It has been a few years since FB took any of my pics down, so we must be keeping it clean enough for community standards

So here are a few from the last year and a half or so.




Body Language. Lots of Body language.

Just look at all the Body language.





"The color is gone

everything is Autumns end,
washed too many times
And then I see something red
a firebush still in leaf
and it takes me like you take  me:

tightening my heart, 

flooding me with blood… 

as if late Autumn red 

walked naked from her bath, 
came wet to my bed 
and said, “I’ve been a bad girl."



"Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?"
Danielle LaPorte 



"...a girl worth kissing, is not easily kissed..." 




I guess I went on a Raymond Chandler kick. What a wonderfully expressive wrter. I should actually read one of his books this year. Here are two of about eight I did.

“She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theatre curtain. I was to get to know that trick. That was supposed to make me roll over on my back with all four paws in the air.”
Raymond Chandler


 “There are blonde and blondes and it is almost a joke word nowadays. All blondes have their points...
There is the small cute blonde who cheeps and twitters, and the big statuesque blonde who straight-arms you with an ice-blue glare. There is the blonde who gives you the up-from-under look and smells lovely and shimmers and hangs on your arm and is always very, very tired when you take her home. She makes that helpless gesture and has that goddamned headache and you would like to slug her except that you found about the headache before you invested too much time and money and hope in her. Because the headache will always be there, a weapon that never wears out and is as deadly as the bravo’s rapier or Lucrezia’s poison vial. 
There is the soft and willing alcoholic blonde who doesn’t care what she wears as long as it is mink or where she goes as long as it is the Starlight Roof and there is plenty of dry champagne. There is the small perky blonde who is a little pale and wants to pay her own way and is full of sunshine and common sense and knows judo from the ground up and can toss a truck driver over her shoulder without missing more than one sentence out of the editorial in the Saturday Review. There is the pale, pale blonde with anemia of some non-fatal but incurable type. She very languid and very shadowy and she speaks softly out of nowhere and you can’t lay a finger on her because in the first place you don’t want to and in the second place she is reading the Wasteland or Dante in the original, or Kafka or Kierkegaard or studying Provencal. She adores music and when the New York Philharmonic is playing Hindesmith she can tell you which one of the six bass viols came in a quarter of a beat too late. I hear Toscanini can also.
That makes two of them."
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye



"Its not far down to paradise..."




"Sex is something I really don't understand too hot. You never know where the hell you are. I keep making up these sex rules for myself, and then I break them right away. Last year I made a rule that I was going to quit horsing around with girls that, deep down, gave me a pain in the ass. I broke it, though, the same week I made it - the same night, as a matter of fact."
Holden Caufield from "Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger



.

“In Michaela's favourite restaurant, I lift my glass and cutlery spills onto the expensive tiled floor. The sound crashes high as the skylight. Looking at me, Michaela pushes her own silverware over the edge. I fell in love amid the clattering of spoons....”

~ Anne Michaels, from Fugitive Pieces

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM BULLETHOLES

Oh, OK, one more. We weigh heavily what gets into Fully Clothed Women, and why its gets there.
Sometimes we commemorate a great event, or a birth, or even a death as we did earlier this year with Maureen O'Hara. Something about this image, and the story, just tears me up. Maybe its because we are all so damaged and that sadly, a little bit of Kindness goes a long long ways.
Or maybe its because, happily, a little bit of Kindness goes such a long long ways.


                "SHE GAVE HIM WATER"

Saturday, December 26, 2015

THE ROOTS OF HARMONY

In the NA literature it talks about Self-Centeredness being the root of our disease.
At first I didn't understand what that was about. Over time though, I started to look at it a little differently. I had to ask myself "Ok, so what is the root of my Self-Centeredness?"

Haha! That was easy! The root of my Self-Centeredness is that I like to be right.
I love to be right. I'll do anything to be right. I will (and have) stayed up all night researching something I know nothing about just to make sure I'm right. And the end result? I'm right about a lot of shit. I'm a know it all. I'm an asshole.

Also in the literature is this. That we should focus more on understanding than being understood.
I like that. Maybe that's what keeps me from being a bigger asshole than I already am.
Its interesting to watch the country these days. It seems to me the country is trying to figure this out as well.
How to balance Religious Freedom with individual rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
How to balance Freedom of Speech with whether its OK to sing racist songs on the back of a bus, or in the schoolroom cafeteria.
Whether a Jewish baker is required to bake a cake for Hitlers Birthday, and what the "Right to Refuse Service "is about.

I find all this fascinating. And it seems to me the courts are doing a pretty good job of coming to good understandings of all this.

For me, what the program has taught me, and what I do really well when I practice it, is to say the following four things. They keep me in Harmony with the rest of the world, more or less:

1) "OK." For a guy that will argue with a wall, its really great to start my day off by saying these two words. The world responds to "OK".
"Steve, will you take this ten dollars I am giving you, light it on fire and put the ashes in the trashcan?"
OK Boss"
I dont really need to know why all the time. Just do it. I can find something else to argue about later.

2) "I'm sorry". This is a really good one. Know when to apologize, and apologize with no caveats, no ifs and's or buts. It has a cousin too.
Thank You.
"Thank You" and "I'm Sorry" are good family to be in.

3) "You're right" You know that moment in a conversation when you realize the other person is right, and you wonder what to say? Just say "You know what? You're right! And I'm really sorry for having wasted your time with my foolish arguments." In an odd sort of way, this makes you the winner.
Maybe another way of saying it is that you cannot lead until you learn to follow.
You cannot lead until you learn to follow.

4) "So what?" There is a lot of stuff that just doesn't matter, isnt there? So what? Sometimes this works best when you dont say it out loud. Just say it to yourself. Goes well with "Not My Brocolli .

ITS BEEN A GOOD COUPLE YEARS, DESPITE MY DESIRE TO ALWAYS BE RIGHT.






Thursday, December 24, 2015

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST

A Christmas thought I have from time to time.
It was Christmas of 1995 I think. I had been out Christmas shopping and ran into an old friend. We stood outside of Macy's and talked, and he fired up a joint. I took a couple hits. I really wasn’t into pot, but it was Christmas right?
So I get home and start playing with my daughter. I’m down on the floor on my back, and I’m bench pressing her up and down, and she is laughing like all get out.
She says “Daddy, do you know what I like about you?”
“No, what?”
“You are always so playful!”
And I bench press her, bouncing, up and down some more.
On one of the down strokes, she’s looking in my eyes and she says:
“Daddy, why do you look so sad?”
I wasn’t sad, I was stoned. It made me look sad. But I couldn’t very well tell her that, could I?

And I never smoked pot again.
But do not be mistaken, I am no hero. 
There are much worse things than smoking pot.
I haven't said it here in a  while, but thank God for NA.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

NO MORE XMAS WITH THE X



The Ex Mrs Bulletholes called me last month and said:
“Jim bought me a ring”
This will be her third marriage. Her second was to a friend of mine.
I said “That’s SWEET! So you are engaged?”
“Yeah, I guess”
“What do you mean “I Guess?”.  You better make up your mind!”
She laughed and said “Well, it just feels funny saying I’m engaged when I’m 54 years old”
I said “Well, this is #3. You must be the marrying kind.”
She said “I guess I am”

I resisted the urge to say “If I had known you were the marrying kind I never would have married you”.

Close one. That would have hurt her feelings.

Someone asked me what I was doing Christmas this year.
"Oh, I don't know. My ex wife got remarried again, and the kids are all grown with one out of town. My sister died earlier this year, so the X won't feel compelled to include us for my sisters sake. To top it all off,  she says her new husband is a little squirrelly about me, so I probably won’t be doing the usual Xmas with the X."
And that’s OK with me. Every time I meet some girl, eventually the topic of the X will come up, and they start getting all squirrely too.

Maybe after the kids are grown, it’s a good time to start being enemies with the X?

And start being a Crocodile Man!


HE RIDES THE DRIFTS LIKE AN ESCAPED SKI





“What is a saint? A saint is someone who has achieved a remote human possibility. It is impossible to say what that possibility is. I think it has something to do with the energy of love. Contact with this energy results in the exercise of a kind of balance in the chaos of existence. A saint does not dissolve the chaos; if he did the world would have changed long ago. I do not think that a saint dissolves the chaos even for himself, for there is something arrogant and warlike in the notion of a man setting the universe in order. It is a kind of balance that is his glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is the caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock. Something in him so loves the world that he gives himself to the laws of gravity and chance. Far from flying with the angels, he traces with the fidelity of a seismograph needle the state of the solid bloody landscape. His house is dangerous and finite, but he is at home in the world. He can love the shape of human beings, the fine and twisted shapes of the heart. It is good to have among us such men, such balancing monsters of love,”


– Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers.


Monday, December 21, 2015

THERE ARE PEOPLE



"... who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be; that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope, or happy prospect, of the year before, dimmed or passed away; that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes—of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences. There are few men who have lived long enough in the world who cannot call up such thoughts any day of the year. Then do not select the merriest of the three hundred and sixty-five for your doleful recollections, but draw your chair nearer the blazing fire—fill the glass and send round the song—and if your room be smaller than it was a dozen years ago, or if your glass be filled with reeking punch, instead of sparkling wine, put a good face on the matter, and empty it offhand, and fill another, and troll off the old ditty you used to sing, and thank God it’s no worse.”
Charles Dickens

Saturday, December 19, 2015

WE ARE STORIES, STORIES



"If you're reading this, if there's air in your lungs on this November day, then there is still hope for you. Your story is still going. And maybe some things are true for all of us. Perhaps we all relate to pain. Perhaps we all relate to fear and loss and questions. And perhaps we all deserve to be honest, all deserve whatever help we need. Our stories are all so many things: Heavy and light. Beautiful and difficult. Hopeful and uncertain. But our stories are not finished yet. There is still time, for things to heal and change and grow. There is still time to be surprised. We are still going, you and I. We are stories still going."
- Jamie Tworkowski



DARKNESS DARKNESS




Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin

Friday, December 18, 2015

A SHAKESPEARE CHRISTMAS VACATION

I’d like to see it done Shakespearean. Like my favorite scene:




Todd: Hark! Griswold! Where dost thou seek to place a tree so cumbersome?
Griswold: Prostrate thyself, and ye shall see.
Todd: Peace! Ho! Thou hast much effrontery to speak as such to me, Griswold.
Griswold: T’was not for thee, but for thy precious little wife.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

I THOUGHT ABOUT CHRISTMAS

The Rip called me last week from Guitar Center.
"Dad, I tried to get credit but they turned me down.”
“Aw, that’s too bad son. What can I do for you?”
Like I didn’t know. I can feel it coming all the way through the 10,000mgz signal.
“Well, um, do you think you can come up and get a credit card, and I'll pay you back?" he says.
Haha! I just knew it.
I said “Let me think about it a minute...no...I dont think so. How much stuff are you wanting?
Like 1000 dollars he says.
One thousand dollars, just like that.
“Oh man, I wish I could dude, but that’s a lot. I'm getting a hearing aid in January on credit, so I'm going to have to say no.
"OK, Pops, that’s cool I understand.”

And I can tell, he does. He doesn’t ever ask for much.
And we hung up. And I sat there a minute. I thought about all the times I let him down (you know I did), those years I was missing, and I thought about recovery, and how far I had come since getting clean. I thought about my Best Buy Card, and my Kohls Card, and my newly acquired Dillard's card, and how they all had a ZERO balances on them because that’s the way I’ve learned to live. 
And I thought about him too, and how far he has come. How far me and him, we both have come.
I thought about George Bailey, Clark Griswold, and The Grinch.
And I thought about Christmas.

So I called him back up. "You still at Guitar Center?" I asked.
"Yeah"
“You wait right there. I'm coming up. Lets buy some fucking gear, what d'ya say?"
And I found out.
You cant really buy that much gear for $1500.



For a little sample of the Rips original music, click here to check out "100 Days".



Pink Floyd can afford a lot of gear.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

HELL DOESNT COME TO THE GUILTY

"But then Hell doesn't come to the guilty . . . It comes to people who haven't done anything wrong. That's the twist about Hell, the one they don't tell you about in religious studies, the fact that, in Hell, it's not the guilty who suffer, it's the innocent. That's what makes it Hell. Some random principle wanders through the world, choosing people for no good reason and plunging them into Hell. Grief for a child. Horrifying sickness. Noises and faces coming from nowhere, punctuated by terrible moments of lucidity, just long enough to take stock of where you are. And you are in Hell."
 - John Burnside

Monday, December 14, 2015

UNENDURABLE HOPE




The all-night convenience store’s empty
and no one is behind the counter.
You open and shut the glass door a few times
causing a bell to go off,
but no one appears. You only came
to buy a pack of cigarettes, maybe
a copy of yesterday’s newspaper —
finally you take one and leave
thirty-five cents in its place.
It is freezing, but it is a good thing
to step outside again:
you can feel less alone in the night,
with lights on here and there
between the dark buildings and trees.
Your own among them, somewhere.
There must be thousands of people
in this city who are dying
to welcome you into their small bolted rooms,
to sit you down and tell you
what has happened to their lives.
And the night smells like snow.
Walking home for a moment
you almost believe you could start again.
And an intense love rushes to your heart,
and hope. It’s unendurable, unendurable.

—Franz Wright, from God’s Silence: Poems, 2009

Image~Eggleston Photography

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce


“In a short time a group of commissioners arrived to begin organization of a new Indian agency in the valley. One of them mentioned the advantages of schools for Joseph’s people. Joseph replied that the Nez Percés did not want the white man’s schools. “Why do you not want schools?” the commissioner asked. “They will teach us to have churches,” Joseph answered. “Do you not want churches?” “No, we do not want churches.” “Why do you not want churches?” “They will teach us to quarrel about God,” Joseph said. “We do not want to learn that. We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on this earth, but we never quarrel about God. We do not want to learn that.” 

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

THE ISIS APOCALYPSE








The idea for an Islamic state goes back to 1999. When America went in to Iraq in 2003, it helped lay a path for its realization. When the Shia marginalized the Sunni after the fall of the Hussein regime, recruits were created. They established their state in 2006, and took up residence in the no mans land around the Syrian/Iraqi border, operating within al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. We knew them as the “insurgents”, without understanding the ideology they were working under and towards.  In 2011 when the Syrian rebels began to try to oust Assad, and US armed forces left Iraq, it created even more instability in the region, and ISIS grew exponentially. ISIS routed the Iraqi army, and took US weapons as spoils. When we did not arm anti-Assad rebels, many of them defected to ISIS. Some people think that if we had armed them, they would not have defected. But arms have a way of migrating to the wrong people over there, and people you thought were good today end up bad tomorrow.
Its been that way since 1919 when the Brits had t try to figure out what arms to give them to fight the Turks.
What Lawrence of Arabia said back then holds true today:
“Its better that the Arabs do it poorly than we try to do it for them”


I've seen a few interviews with an expert on the subject, Will McCants.
The man gets to the point quickly, and has a book that came out before the Paris bombings. Regarding the many questions about ISIS he says:

Making sense of it all would require a guide proficient in Islamic theology and history, modern jihadism, clandestine bureaucracies, and Arabic. That’s what I am, and I am going to take you on a tour of the Islamic State.

For a good synopsis of the book, click here.

If you don't have time for a book, but have an hour for a Charlie Rose interview, I suggest this, from November 19, 2015. I cant imagine finding three people who seem to know as much about ISIS as these three.

Monday, December 07, 2015

A NEW METH PIPE

A girl I knew told me one time she had bought a new pipe. It had a little red rose painted on it. When she smoked her stuff, she started feeling bad. So she called the Emergency Room.
“ER, can I help you?”
“Yes, I just bought a new meth pipe, and I think its making me sick”
“You’ve been smoking meth?”
“Yes a little. But the pipe has some paint on it, and I think its making me sick”
“How is it making you sick?”
“I’m feeling confused and restless, a little agitated, dizzy, my pulse rate is way up, I’m seeing spots and moon men creeping down the walls, my stomach is cramping and I threw up, I have a headache, I'm sweating like a mutha, and the top of my head feels like it might explode, there's a funny twitch in my left eye that wont stop, and my tongue feels 6 times too large. There are herds of hundreds of tiny jagged little bugs crawling all over me, up, down, up, down around all over me they wont stop wont stop and my throat feels like something is alive and about to hatch right out of my chest like the monster did to Corporal Riley in Alien ”
“Ma’am, those are all symptoms of a meth overdose”
“I don’t think so. I do a lot of meth and this is different. I didnt even do that much”
“Well, what is it you want us to do for you?”
“I want you to get the FDA to make sure they stop selling the pipes with the little red roses on them”

She told me all this with a straight face.

Friday, December 04, 2015

THE ROCK

I had the hots for this girl. She had a husband AND a boyfriend. She never talked about her boyfriend around me, she tried to act like she didn’t have one. But she talked about her husband ALL THE TIME. They were separated you know.
Finally one day I asked her what her husband looked like.
“He looks just like The Rock” she said.
“Oh, my!” I said.
A few weeks later she was showing me pictures in an album.
“Who is that?” I asked.
“Oh that’s my husband”
He did not look anything like The Rock, but I resisted the urge to tell her so.

A few months later her husband would rob a bank. He would go back to their house, followed by an army of cops, and hide in his attic. They fired tear gas in through the windows. I got to go over a few days later and help clean the place up. Broken glass, broken doors, the place in the ceiling where The Rock had fallen through the sheet rock. The leftover tear gas canisters, and the smell. You could only work in there a few minutes at a time.

I think The Rock got 20 years.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

TRUMP DOES IT SOME MORE

Even the faintest evidence of the truth almost makes me giddy.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

I AM THAT I AM

"When Moses, at the burning bush, says to God, “Who are you?” God says to him three words: “Hayah asher hayah.” And those words are mistranslated in English as “I am that which I am.” But in Hebrew, it means “I will be who or how or where I will be,” meaning, don’t think you can predict me. I am a God who is going to surprise you. And one of the ways God surprises us is by letting a Jew or a Christian discover the trace of God’s presence in a Buddhist monk or a Sikh tradition of hospitality or the graciousness of Hindu life. You know, don’t think we can confine God into our categories. God is bigger than religion."

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in “The Dignity of Difference.” 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I'VE SERVED WORSE SHIT

my second Thanksgiving at Loomies, we had saved bread for a couple weeks to make dressing. Billy Ray, the old black chef, hadn’t exactly taught me to make it, but he used to tell me “You caint cook worth a shit, but you sure can make dressing”.
Anyway, I got my cornbread made, and onion celery and eggs all together and I’m mixing up enough dressing for 300 and I got my hands all in it, and its about ready to go into pans when suddenly I felt something funny in there. Big lump of something. I pulled my hand out, and rinsed it off and lo and behold it was a big ol’ cockleburr!
Whats a cockleburr doing in there?
Well, now I got to check it some more and before long I had pulled out about a dozen cockleburrs.
Well, you know how it is, sometimes you just have to run with it and that’s what I did.
Or like the old chef said:
“I’ve served worse shit”.


"TRY THE DRESSING! ITS FULL OF XANAX"

TEN THOUSAND DREAMS

I had a dream a few nights ago. It must have been about a telescope, but the only thing I could remember was seeing  text, as if on a page in a book which read:
"The old king said: What marvelous kind of glass could this be to build such a machine?"

As dreams go, it wasnt earth shattering, but it woke me up enough to consciously think to myself that its not the glass so much, its just the shape of the glass.  Glass is glass.
But I hoped to remember the dream, and I did. It was the first thing to spring to mind the next morning, and I pondered its meaning all day.
I guess it don't mean nuthin'.

But I'm sitting here this morning, and I suddenly realize I had a REALLY GREAT dream last night. One that jarred me fully awake.
One that tempted me to actually get up and write it down.
It was surely to be one of the more important dreams of my long life, and I was sure because of that I would be able to remember it completely.
But the fact is I cant remember it all all. Not the least little bit.
I can only remember that I had it, and hope that I might someday have it again and be able to recognize it.
Don't you just hate that?

Friday, November 20, 2015

THE STARS WE ARE GIVEN

Woman, seventy, mother of two Grandmother of ten A kind face and no criminal record. Her surviving daughter and her brood Three children, dirty smiling faces They don’t know it but the rest of their life Hinges on the next ten minutes, An innocent answer to a subtle question. Still, they’d rather be playing. “The stars we are given. The constellations we make.” I’ll sign off. Middle aged man, forty five, Leg missing from knee down. Barrel bomb he says, Three years ago tomorrow As I was serving coffee in my café. His eyes, misty, he tells me he lost his daughter that day His wife too, and even though he Has no papers, it all checks out. “The stars we are given. The constellations we make.” I’ll sign off There were two sisters, An uncle, four kids A Grandmother And two sets of neighbors Whose lives were interwoven like The fishing nets you see. I asked the oldest woman how old she was. Fifty Eight she had said. In another room I asked her neighbor How old is the woman next door Sixty Eight she had said So I asked the old woman why she had lied. She always lies about her age The little girl had said. I’ll sign off. “The stars we are given. The constellations we make.”
steve 11/2015

"This is my original, but I should give credit to Rebecca Solnit, 
who provided the recurring lines from the following quote: 
“The stars we are given. The constellations we make. That is 
to say, stars exist in the cosmos, but constellations are the 
imaginary lines we draw between them, the readings we give the 
sky, the stories we tell.”
The inspiration for this came from a post I’ve seen by an immigration lawyer, talking about how hard it is to get into the 

USA through the refugee program. He said that he had a client that
had lied about her age. The poem sprang up in my mind from there.
They say the House has passed a bill that would require the DHS, 

NIS and FBI to "certify" these refugee's as not being ISIS before they
come into the country. I'm all for the new legislation. I hope the 
president doesn’t veto it. Maybe then the FBI director will get off 
his ass, get a team together, and stop whining about how impossible it is. 
Thats what we pay him for 
I saw a picture of a man with a kid on each hip coming ashore in Greece. 
He looked pretty worried, a face full of care, desperate to get his kids 
to safety. I cant guarantee he wasn't ISIS. You want a Guarantee? 
Go to Best Buy. 
But if I was in charge, and someone showed me that picture I'd sign off 
on him. On the spot. 
I guess thats what the poem is about.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A FRAME OF REFERENCE

An excerpt from the best Facebook discussion on Syrian refugee's I saw yesterday:


Tom: {...}As far as Jesus is concerned, this is a pointless question. Christianity pre-dates Islam by 600 years. Jesus has no frame of reference for an entire civilization and religion whose main goal is ideologically committing to exterminating his followers, as well as the nation and religion that served as his influencers. Our government needs to do their job and be prudent in protecting us from potential murder and mayhem.

Janis: Jesus has the only accurate frame of reference if you believe he was and is God. He is not caught off guard by anything. 


Bulletholes: Janis, you just blew my mind.

Tom: What Bulletholes said.

Janis: God is mind blowing. Other. Supernatural. Not like what masquerades as religion.

Bulletholes: So, since Christ, being Christ, knew about the Muslims and could not be caught off guard, did he leave us any specific instructions regarding them?

Janis: Yes. Lots. Too many for this setting. All in the Bible


Friday, November 13, 2015

THE U.S. ARMY ISSUE POCKET BIBLE

A SACRED TOKEN




This bible sat in a little porcelain jewelry/trinket holder on moms dresser for years, along with an old brooch and a single cuff link, a few lace coverlets and maybe an assortment of curtain pins.
Stuff like that. 
Or maybe it sat in the top drawer of a dresser at Grandma Renfro’s guestroom, with the same kind of stuff in it, and the smell of cedar.
I don’t quite recall.

When I was a kid I would go open the drawer and look at the stuff, and mom or grandma would tell me how dads army issue pocket bible, with the inscription in the front by President Roosevelt, had been lost when he was in the war, but someone found it in a field in France and sent it to his parents at the address in the book.
I’m assuming that was in November of 1945 when it was found. When they sent it they mightn’t have known if dad was dead or alive. I like that Mr. Bryant, who found dad's bible,  put “Texas” in quotation marks.

I wonder about Mr. Bryant, who was from England, and what he was doing in a field in southern France. I wonder what he looked like, what kind of work he did when he was not in a field in southern France. In my minds eye I see him, as you must be seeing him now, wiping the sweat from his brow after stacking English hay somewhere near Lancashire, or bouncing great-grandchildren on his knee, telling them what he had done, and about the bible he found from "Texas" in the great World War II.

It’s cool to still have this bible of my dads from World War II. I keep in in a drawer with my medicine, and an old Cameo necklace and ear rings dad sent home from Italy; some of dads old cufflinks, moms pearls, and an old bullet that came from somewhere. 
You know, sacred tokens and stuff like that.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Battle Monument at West Point

My brother, Colonel Don Renfro, Class of 1964, in front of the Battle Monument at West Point.




The idea of the Battle Monument at West Point was first conceived in 1863 to honor the fallen soldiers of the Regular Army in the Civil War of the United States of America. Money was raised through contributions from officers, and through $1.00 deductions from regular soldiers pay.
In total, $45,000 was raised and construction was to begin in 1865.


But there came along an altercation between Gen. McClellan, Secretary Stanton & West Point superintendent Col. Bowman. This altercation, the source of which is unknown, created a delay in the project.
Finally, in 1890, construction began.
The shaft is 41 feet in length. Including the lower and upper pedestals, and the statue of the angel “Fame” at the top, the monument rises 75 feet high. The shaft weighs 72 tons.
Surrounding the monument are 16 cannon, and 8 granite plinths. Plinths are the big polished granite balls.


Each of the 16 cannon bears the name of a major Civil War battle



Traditionally, the plebes at West Point made reference to the statue of Fame when giving the following reply to any upperclassman demanding to know "How are they all?" 
"They are all fickle but one, sir." 
"Who is the one?" 
"She who stands atop Battle Monument, for she has been on the same shaft since 1897."



On the plinths, and on tablets at the pedestal are inscribed the names of 188 officers and 2,042 men of the Regular Army who fell in the Civil War.

The names, it might be noted, are all from The Union Army, and nowhere to be found at the Battle Monument is a Confederate Flag. Not a one.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Great Starbucks Outrage of 2015

"The truth is that in a week we won’t recall why we were all wasting time over it...
Outrage Wisely"

The Slate

Friday, November 06, 2015

A SCHOLARSHIP TO WEST POINT

“That position [Lieutenant in the ROTC] allowed me the chance to meet four-star general William Westmoreland...and was offered a full scholarship to West Point.”
From Carson’s book "You Have A Brain" January 2015


"I was offered full scholarship to West Point, got to meet General Westmoreland, go to Congressional Medal dinners, but decided really my pathway would be medicine.”
Dr. Ben Carson to Charlie Rose, October 2015


My brother went to West Point. The first step in the process is to submit an application. If your application is accepted, and you meet certain qualifications, you may proceed to the next step. The second step is to procure a nomination from a senator, congressman, or the Vice President of the USA. Only 2 out of 5 applicants actually procure a nomination.

Step Three begins the testing. In addition to timed ACT and SAT academic testing (which you are urged to take numerous times as your scores will improve) you have to pass physical testing for strength and endurance. It is rigorous, and many do not pass muster. From those who pass these tests, and hold up to boards of review and multiple interviews, the best of the best are selected to become cadets and start a Military career at West Point. There is no scholarship offer. There is no tuition. The government pays in full for room and board and the education and training to become an officer in the United States Army.

I don't know the percentage of applicants that are finally accepted into the Academy. The admissions site does say that of the thousands that apply, only a few are chosen.  So when Dr. Carson says General Westmoreland offered him a full scholarship at the Point, I for one believe him. 
As preposterous as it is for an offer to have been extended before the application process, I do believe him.
When my brother graduated in 1964, Westmoreland was Superintendent of the Academy. I actually met him, and shook his hand. 
I was 7 years old and guess what? 
General Westmoreland said he could get me into West Point too.
Here is my brother during his first year at West Point. He was nominated by Congressman Jim Wright. I’m very proud of my brother. He was a tough act to follow.

I won’t say Dr. Carson lied. He just didnt choose his words carefully enough. If you like him, I don’t see any reason this would change your mind about him. I don’t doubt for a minute he was an excellent candidate. 
If you don’t like him, you’ll probably think he lied like Dixie. 
Me? I remember my first job interview. I told them I would like to go to West Point, just like my big brother. 
I was a terrible candidate with no chance whatsoever. If that ever gets out I probably wont get elected president.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

MY LAST ANT FARM

My first ant farm! I sent off for it from the back of a cereal box. I think I had to have 10 box tops.
For most people the ant farm is a great memory.
But it was a major disappointment for me.
The ants didn’t wear bandannas and straw hats, or drive tractors like in the picture. They just dug tunnels down into some dirt that you could see a side view of, like when Kratts brothers spy in on a duck-billed platypus.
But an ant is a long ways from a duck-billed platypus, and after about three weeks the whole thing started to stink and mom made me throw it away.
I guess my first ant farm was my last ant farm.


"ONLY HISTORY WILL SAY"

‎" Barack Obama, the first black president, proved to millions this year that he is either trying his best to lead the nation during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, or he is the modern-day incarnation of Adolph Hitler.... One of the two.
In 2010, Obama made a number of political compromises while still trying to pursue many of the reforms laid out during his 2008 campaign. Also, he was a totalitarian monster comparable to the perpetrator of one of the worst genocides in history.
He is either a president who passed a comprehensive health care measure despite staunch opposition from powerful private interests, or a radical-Islamist sympathizer bent on systematically dismantling American democracy and eradicating all human liberty.
He either lowered taxes for most Americans while failing to communicate that effectively, or he is pure evil. Whichever.

Barack Obama, two of the most important people of 2010: the one who was elected to be president of the United States and execute laws to the best of his ability, and the one who murders senior citizens and hates all white people. Only history will say which he is for sure"

Taken from The Onion

Monday, October 26, 2015

THE GOING STEADY BRACELET, NINTH GRADE

If you look close enough and use your imagination you can see the bracelet on Rhondas left wrist. No, not him. Way in the back back there. With the poodle looking hairdo.




I'll tell you about that bracelet. I went to Gibsons to get it. They had silver and gold. I couldnt decide, but ended up settling on the gold. No one, no one at all had a gold bracelet.
I got it home, and started having buyers remorse.
"Who buys a friggen' gold bracelet?" I thought. "She'll probably break up with me the minute she sees it. I'll be the laughing stock of Bedford Junior High"
So I put it in this wooden box on my dresser that I kept mercury from broken thermometers in, because mercury is cool stuff to play with. Matches are fun to play with too. If you take a big book full of matches, and keep it closed while you light one end, the flames will shoot out both ends when you light it. When you get the thermometer close enough to an open flame, the thermometer will crack in half. If you keep heating the mercury in the bulb, most of it will come out of the broken glass tube and you can collect it.
You just have to be careful, you know, not to cut yourself on the broken glass.

The next morning I opened the box and the gold bracelet wasnt gold anymore. It was just silvery metal, and not even shiny, and looked like it had been around for about 20 girlfriends, the silver plate all wore off.
And that is how I came to learn that mercury will eat gold plate off of jewelry, and Rhonda got a not-gold bracelet.


Friday, October 23, 2015

COMMON CORE


I flunked math classes in 9, 10, and 11 grades. I had to take remedial math in 12th grade.
I thought math was stupid.
Then I got a job as a chef that required me to do numbers in my head. I got pretty good at it too.
And what I learned to do in my head is what common core is trying to teach kids.

I even had a job as a cashier a few years ago.
What I learned to do as a cashier is exactly what common core tries to teach the kids.
I ring up $3.67 and the customer gives me a twenty. Do I subtract 3.67 from tenty to count out the change?
No.
I count up from 3.67.
I give him 3 pennies and say "Three-sixty seven plus three makes 3.70.
I give him a nickel and a quarter and say “Thirty makes 4.00”
I Give him a one "One makes five”
I give a five and a ten, “Five makes ten and ten makes twenty” and spit spot, I just gave him his change, counted up.
That’s common core.
I had customers smile at me and say “I haven’t seen that in years” and they are right. Not because of common core, but because kids have become dependent on calculators. 



Its like 999 plus 722. I don't vision in my head adding 9+2 carrying ones and stuff. 
I very quickly see "1000 plus 721".
What do you see in your head when you do this problem?
That is what they are trying to teach the kids.

Anyway, I’m still no math whiz. But I understand what they are doing.
My nephew Dave has a great explanation on this, but I can't remember what he said.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

SHRIMP CREOLE

I’d been working Luminaria's double shifts for like five days.
8:00 am to 10:00 pm, no break.
On day six, my buddy that delivered laundry gave me a couple pills. Lets see, what were the names of those pills? Cant remember, just that they were 100mg something, and time release, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
I took one and man, it really kicked. I was everywhere, chopping onions, making stock, pot,pot,pan,pan, cook,cook, and yapping to the waitresses about 90 miles an hour.
I started cutting meat; Filets, cut cut, New Yorks, cut cut, Top Sirloins slice cut. Wrap it stack it tag it and into the cooler and now its time go go go fry some chips.
It got to be about lunchtime. I really wasn’t hungry, but figured I better get me something to eat.
Bear with me here.

I went and got a big ol’ plate of Shrimp Creole and rice, and chomped down on it. I ate it fast—there was no time to eat—and just before I took the last bite I saw the big bus tub of fat from the meat I’d been cutting and decided it needed to go out to the fat barrel RIGHT NOW.
Because I was really zooming, ya know?
So out to the back dock I go to the fat/grease barrel and I flipped the lid off and looked inside and the smell hit me and the sight of about 10 million maggots all crawling in the grease and fat and I blew all that Shrimp Creole out into the barrel, projectile vomit right through the nose, and stood there and shook shook shook for about 3 minutes.
I shook, and repeated over and over "Goddamn, Goddamn, Goddamn" while the rice fell out of my nose.
Then, back to work.
To this day I cant eat Shrimp Creole no more.
And it was quite a while before I ever took any speed again.



Tuesday, October 20, 2015

THE KINGDOM OF JONES

Oh, these darn Confederate flags.
People like to try to say these flags are innocuous, and are just there to celebrate history, and commemorate the south’s brave and valiant effort to assert states rights.
They will try to tell you that the flag does not represent slavery, and that not all of those who fought for the south were fighting for slavery.
But slavery is and was the central issue of that war. Not everybody in the South fought for the South. Many had better sense than to throw themselves into an unjust and immoral cause.

Take the Kingdom of Jones. Jones County, in the heart of Mississippi was an anti-secession stronghold. They drew up their own Constitution and formed a militia and managed to keep an entire county free-- the "Free and Sovereign State of Jones"—for the duration of the war in the heart of the confederacy. The American Flag flew over the courthouse. The local paper, The Natchez Courier, reported that Jones County had seceded from the Confederacy.

I’ve posted before about my allegiance to ol’ Dixie. I fully understand southern pride. Living in Detroit in 1968 I claimed to be a George Wallace fan. I didn’t fully understand what he stood for, but he seemed to stand for the south, and that was good enough for me.

I tell my friends when I was a boy and the family went to Six Flags, I always wanted a Confederate flag. You could buy them there in the 1960’s. They were such handsome flags.
But was always afraid to ask mom and dad to buy me one.
“Why were you afraid” my friends ask.
“I was afraid because I always sensed that even though it was a good looking flag, there was something wrong with wanting one”
Some of my friends will say “Pshhaw, there is nothing wrong with wanting a Confederate Flag!”
They may be right, but I don’t think so.
The fact is, after about 1971, you couldn’t BUY a Confederate Flag at Six Flags.
Why not?
I guess because at Six Flags someone figured out there was something wrong with selling them.
Even NASCAR, a typically redneck institution if there ever was one, banned Ol’ Dixie from being sold at its events, and has recently asked its attendees not to fly it no more at all. Haha! That went over like a lead balloon.

When I was 4 years old I could see across a field a new High School being built. It was a school I would have attended if we had not moved to Detroit when I was 5.
That school opened in 1962, in the middle of the Civil Rights movement in this country. It would be an all white school for many years, and the mascot they adopted was the “Rebel”, and the symbol, a Confederate flag.
Do you think this is just a coincidence? Do you think it was just southern pride? Or could it have been a thumb in the eye to the Civil Rights movement? A statement issued by an all-white community?
I’ve been wondering just how many schools named themselves “Rebels” and chose the Confederate Flag as its symbol during those turbulent times in our country. I cant find that kind of data anywhere. I can tell you there was another school in the same county that chose the same name and symbol in 1965. I don’t believe there have been any since. I'm sure there haven't been. probably not since about 1966 has a community had the audacity to be so obnoxious.
In the 1980’s both of those schools decided to do away with Old Dixie. It was the students that voted on it. So there is hope for the country.

Last night in Tennessee, the city council voted 19-1 to not fly the Confederate Flag at the courthouse.
Oh thank God.


In related news my FB feed has been jammed with memes indicating outrage that the NAACP wants to blow up Stone Mountain in Georgia.

Meanwhile, the Stone Mountain Association wants to put a Memorial to Martin Luther King right on top of Stone Mountain. It will be a replica of the Liberty Bell, and commemorate King’s “I Have A Dream “ speech, where he says " Let Freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia.”
I think that’s better than blowing it up, but its funny…
The NAACP don’t like it. They just want to blow it up and get it over with.