Monday, December 11, 2017

FAR TOO EASILY PLEASED

"If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
- C. S. Lewis

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Mercury in Retrograde.

Last week I turned the TV on and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was on. The old claymation one with Burl Ives. It was the part where Rudolph meets the adorable pretty-eyed doe with the little red polka dot bow, who flutters her huge eyelashes and tells Rudolph she thinks he's cute, and I cried and cried. It was just so sweet, and even funny looking bashful reindeer like Rudolph deserve to have someone that thinks they are cute to flirt and prance around with them. Then Rudolph tries to join in the reindeer games, and his fake nose falls off, exposing the big red one, and all the other little boy reindeer started to tease him about his nose, and I cried some more, Then the coach of the reindeer’s, in a very Trump-like fashion, starts to bully Rudolph too, and declares Rudolph unfit to play in the reindeer games, and I cried and cried and cried. I was a sopping wet mess. So I figured what the hell, we may as well get this over with and put on "Its A Wonderful Life" and cried pretty much from start to finish. Because Hey, its Gosh Darn Christmas. Mercury in Retrograde. Let it bleed.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

TRICKLE DOWN?

“The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellows hands.”
Will Rogers
Thanks to Joe Boyd for such a great quote.

Back in March a friend of mine had paid a guy to remodel their rent house. They paid them up front, and were surprised to find a certain disinterest by the contractor to finish the project.
In short, he screwed her.
So I stepped in and did some tilework, and a few other things that I am not qualified to do, and we got the remodel completed.
Never ever pay the contractor before he does the job.

Here at Renfro’s FB page, we have been up all night working on our tax plan. We have decided to allow the tax cuts to corporations on two conditions:
First, the Tax cuts don’t kick in until AFTER a corporation has brought jobs back to American soil. Not before.
Second, AFTER the workers have been given an increase in wages, which is what the tax cuts were for, the corporation can get another tax cut, the size of which is commensurate with the size of the workers increase. Not before, no sir.

That pic up at the top? If you shake it really really hard no money will fall out of those guys pockets.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH



In the sexually repressed era of 1960-1966, with Rob and Laura Petrie safely sleeping in separate beds, I was quite aware of Marilyn Monroe. I was quite aware of Ginger, a castaway on the desert island. I was quite aware of Stella Stevens in The nutty Professor, and hoped someday to have a love potion that would turn me into a chick magnet, just like Jerry Lewis was transformed into Buddy Love. I didn't really know why, but the power of suggestion was pretty strong, and one did not need to know anything about the mechanics of sex to feel its undercurrent.
In the first grade, I didn’t know what sex was, but I knew there was something there that I was SUPPOSED to like. It went on between men and women, and I was supposed to like it a lot. By the age of eight I had some awareness of what "The Seven Year Itch" was about. There were several movie titles that set my imagination running wild. I remember "Mans Favorite Sport" being one, and I knew it was probably not a movie about fishing.

All you really had to do to know everything you needed to know was watch one Elvis movie.

Like these famous guys getting caught these days, there are probably a few girls, even dating back to about the fifth grade, that would tell you stories about me that I would find embarrassing. 
What stories? Well, lets see.

In the fifth grade there was  playground game we played for a day or two.  A bunch of us guys chased a couple of the girls and eventually cornered two by the fence. Everyone was pawing at them. Somehow I managed to get my hand up a skirt, if only briefly. After recess, I was invited to the principals office and quizzed about this episode. Like President Trump I denied any wrong doing and it was my word against hers. maybe all the guys got invited, I don't quite remember. It seemed like harmless fun back then. 
How terrifying this must have been for those girls.

I was 23 and had just broke up with a girl I went with for two years.
One summer night I was standing in my driveway, smoking a cigarette, forlorn over my lost love. Two young girls wearing skinny little halters, and them cut off britches came walking by the house. They stopped and talked a bit.
The next night they came by again. 
About the third for fourth night (like clockwork I was hanging out hoping they would) just one came by. Next thing I knew we were in my bed and I was just about to stick her. Another half inch would have been past the point of no return. I stopped. Got her dressed and out of there. I quit hanging out in the driveway after dark for a good while. You don’t have to be a predator to get your ass in a sling. 
I pretty well have that episode blocked from my memory mostly. Fact is I very nearly fucked a 16 year old when I was 23.  
It takes a lot to shake it loose.
Judge Roy Moore, he shakes it loose.
His accuser says he had her down to bra and panties. I believe her. Its not that hard to do. And just like me, I bet he got to just about there and thought "What the fuck are you doing, Steve" and let her pass. Someone has to be the adult, right?

I guess if I was running for senator, I'd have a hard time admitting to it if this young lady were to suddenly surface.
Shit, would I even consider putting this on Facebook?
I think probably not.
Not at this time.


Growing up in 1964 I didn’t know much about the mechanics of sex, but I knew this movie probably wasn’t about fishing.


Friday, November 17, 2017

THE FITBIT



My doctor threatened me last month with some kind of diet.
All I really heard was “Protein Bars”.
I said “Give me a month Doc, I’ll lose some weight. I’ll get the amount of my diabetes medicine I take down some”.
I bought $100 pair of shoes. I was invested.
But I hate walking.
After a month I’d lost two pounds. That’s not much on a 280 pound guy.

“How’d you do?” he asked.
“Two pounds Doc, but I reduced my medicine by 15%”
He laughed.
“You need to get a Fitbit”
“Will that help?”
“Yes, 10,000 steps a day” he says.

What we are doing is avoiding the elephant in the room. The protein bars, the diet.

I break the ice.
“What about that diet thing with the candy bars?” I say.
“Protein bars.” He laughs and looks at me. “If you aren’t into it, it won’t work”
I say “Doc, I like good food. I cook a lot and eat real well. No junk food, REAL food and lots of it”
He says “If you like to cook, this diets for you. Its real food, with the protein bars supplement. No junk food”
I think about it a minute.
“I just have one question Doc. Will I be able to still have my pancakes with real maple syrup on Saturday and Sunday? Its kind of a tradition.”
You should have seen his face.
“Steve, I want you to go get a Fit bit and start waking 10,000 steps a day”



Next time I go in I'll have to tell him about "The Bulletholes Ten". Its a ten minute loop around my apartment. If I'm feeling frisky, I'll do two laps.
I always think about my nephew Dave, and what it takes to do one of these ultras he runs. An Ultra is an 80 mile jog over mountains and rivers and stuff, and you have like 24 hours to do it. I wonder how long it will take me to achieve the mindset of the ultra runner.
I had told Dave about "The Bulletholes Ten" last month. I said "The great thing about "The Ten" is that if I decide I need to bail, I'm never more than 10 minutes from home".
Dave looked at me, pitifully.
"You mean five. You are never more than five minutes from home" he said.
I paused a moment, quickly reviewed my calculations, rocked back on my heels a bit and grinned.
"Right, Dave my boy! Only five minutes from home!"
Dave is not just a great Ultra runner. He's a damn fine mathematician as well.

Monday, November 13, 2017

I MIGHT NOT SAY NO



I’ve had girls make unwanted sexual advances to me. Some fairly flagrant, even after being told no. Like maybe I’ll change my mind. I’ve used the same tactic. Its very uncomfortable, especially when they look like Harvey Weinstein.
Why can’t it ever be Scarlett Johansson?

Monday, November 06, 2017

"I promised the good Lord not to dig no coal" Blind Willie McTell


WAYNESBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - When Mike Sylvester entered a career training center earlier this year in southwestern Pennsylvania, he found more than one hundred federally funded courses covering everything from computer programming to nursing.
He settled instead on something familiar: a coal mining course.
”I think there is a coal comeback,” said the 33-year-old son of a miner."



“The Stone Age didn’t end from a lack of stone. And the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.”
Some kid on a skateboard at the Mall

Sunday, November 05, 2017

FATE



"Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?"

~from New And Selected Poems
by Mary Oliver

Statue~ "Fate", by Hugo Lederer
Ohlmsdorf Cemetary, Hamburg Germany

Friday, November 03, 2017

A WITCH HUNT


1. George P. is a 29 year old man who joins the Trump campaign as a foreign policy advisor, cultivates Russian contacts in order to get dirt on Hillary Clinton and to secure a meeting between Putin and Trump, then lies to the FBI saying he did all this before joining the Trump Campaign. When charged, George pleads guilty. Is this:
A. A witch hunt
B. A fair accusation.

2. In the year 1693 in Salem Village, Sarah Good is a woman living in poverty and disliked by the townspeople. A jury of men decide that she was a witch after forcing her to confess that she signed her name in the “Devil’s book,” a thing that does not exist. She is hanged several days after giving birth to a daughter. Is this:
A. A witch hunt
B. A fair accusation

3. Paul M. is Donald Trumps Campaign Manager. Paul holds fake passports and accounts, funnels money from shady Russians with ties to Putin and has it laundered offshore. Paul uses his hidden overseas wealth to buy property and avoid taxes, then secures loans on fraudulent loan applications and uses the money for purposes other than stated on the applications. While investigating these transgressions it was found that Paul knowingly and willfully made false and misleading statements regarding his work for the Ukrainians.
A. A witch hunt
B. A fair accusation

4. Sarah Osborne doesn’t go to church like the townspeople of Salem expect her to. Because of this, a group of men decide she is a witch and is accused of using dark magic to pinch several young girls in town with invisible knitting needles. They arrest her, put her in prison, where she dies. Is this:
A. A witch hunt
B. A fair accusation

5. Under the direction of Vladmir Putin, Russia creates 200,000 Facebook and Twitter accounts and floats a campaign of disinformation and fake news designed to manipulate the 2016 Election. These posts, ranging from reports of Hillary’s declining health to the idea she had given up Top Secret Nuclear Launch preparedness times, spread like wildfire on the pages of the more easily duped participants on Social Media. Easily debunked, yet picked up by Right Wing news organizations, hundreds of Russian sponsored fake news stories were then used by Donald Trump in speech after speech. Its hard to tell if he is plain stupid, a savvy ruthless unscrupulous opportunistic blowhard, or in bed with Putin. This is:
A. A witch hunt
B. A fair accusation

6. Tituba is a woman from Barbados, but is now enslaved by white people in the town of Salem. She continues to practice her religion, which the people of Salem don’t understand. They assume it means she is a witch and beat her until she confesses and rambles about black dogs and riding on sticks, then imprison her, despite no evidence that witches actually exist. Is this:
A. A witch hunt
B. A fair accusation

Inspired by and partly stolen from McSweeny’s.

And much thanks to Arthur Miller

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

OLD FLAME

A restaurant I used to work at 40 years ago had a reunion. It got me to reminiscing about my old girlfriend Kristi. I hadn’t talked to her since 1982 or so. We went together for about a year and a half.
So I thought I’d look her up, see where she is. I found a likely candidate, way out in Santa Monica. That’s where she was from originally. And it seems she is a Doctor of Psychology, which also made sense.
Kristi had wanted to be a Doctor.

Her Website had a message center, where you could set up an appointment by message, and a phone number, and also a picture of Dr. Kristi, which was a dead ringer for her in my opinion.

It took a few hours to screw up my courage and send her a message. I cant recall exactly what I wrote. And the pity is --what tortures me is—that after sending the message you have no copy of whatever idiot thing you might have written!
Agghhh! What have I done?

A day went by. No return message. Did I give her my correct email? A week went by. How dumb was that message I sent. Then two weeks gone; she must hate my guts, even after all these years. But on the sliding scale of breakups it wasn’t nasty, it wasn’t dramatic, it probably fell somewhere between the thrill is gone and disappointment.

So I wondered should I inflict myself on her further by calling? Perhaps when I sent the message, I messed up on my return  email address.
And then the dreams started…

I was sitting at a bus station, phone in hand. I called and left a message. A few minutes later a woman is walking by me. Its Kristi! Wearing the cranberry floweredy knee length skirt she used to wear
I said “Kristi” and she turned and looked, but didn’t notice me and turned away.
"Kristi!" again, and she turns, and turns away again.
So I said “Kristi! “ a third time, and she turned and this time she saw me.
She came over where I was and started explaining that she didn’t want me to try to contact her any more.
“Hi Steve! I got your message at the office. And I saw you called a while ago” she said and smiled “but you shouldn’t call again”


She wasn’t rude, she wasn’t mad, she was just…Kristi.
Her voice was perfect, her mannerism’s, just like Kristi.
Kristi was really cool, California cool and laid back. I never saw her mad, but she was excitable in a happy kind of way, and really really mature for her age. Somehow after all these years I still remember her birthday as being March 16, 1961.

You would think a dream like that would prevent you from calling, right? Not me baby. In for a dime, in for a dollar. I came this far so what the hell…
It went to a recorder. “Dr. Kristi cannot take your call right now but if you leave your name a number we’ll be glad to get right back with you….BEEP” and so I left my message.
Unlike my written message (from what I recall) I kept it shorter and sweeter. A keyboard is a dangerous thing in my hands. God only knows how creative I got. How charmingly idiotic I might have tried to be.

Its been a month or so. I guess that would be the end of it. Of all my girlfriends in the past, there is only her and one other that is not still a friend that I see and talk with from time to time.
~But I did have one more dream.

I was cooking for Kristi. A pasta dish, glasses of wine poured, flowers on the counter, silverware and china on the table. She was Kristi from 1981, 20 years old. I was Steve of present day, 60 years old. But she didn’t seem to notice. As we were talking I wanted to reveal to her that I wasn’t present day Steve, that I had come from a dream, I had come from a future, and started to speak.
“You are going to have a great life. You’ll meet lots of men. You’ll stop playing with frogs, except in school. You’ll give up golf, and tour the Alps. You’ll trade fishing from my piece of shit boat for scuba tanks and Cozumel. You’ll go to France. You’ll study hard. You’ll be a doctor.”
“How do you know all this?” she asked.
And I knew better. I knew I’d gone as far as you can go in a dream. I knew I wasn’t supposed to say, not in a dream, but I couldn’t help it. I looked deep, deep into her eyes, then down at the ground.
“Because I’m not really here, Kristi. I’m just visiting in a dream” and I looked back up to her…
And she was gone.
Just me, the steam from the pasta, and the Cabernet.

Two Thngs
Never revael that its a dream to some one you are dreaming of, and not all who are lost want to be found.



I never realized how much Kristi looked like Catherine Deneuve until I found this picture of Deneuve.
And here is Kristi with me as scarecrow, Halloween, 1981

Monday, October 23, 2017

THE PLEDGE DRIVE

Every year I’ll be watching something on PBS and it will hit me. I’ll make the call. Time to support Public Television. Its not out of a sense of duty. Its always because I’m moved by what I am watching. And every year when I make the call I always end up with a lump in my throat. Two years ago the gift was Louis Gates “Many Rivers to Cross” the story of black history in America. It was an 80 dollar donation. With a cracking voice I asked the lady if we could just go ahead and make it an even $120. “Are you OK?” she asked. “Yeah, I’m fine “ I said, but I had tears streaming down my face. Last year the offer was Ken Burns “Baseball” “Jazz” and “The Civil War” for a $240 donation. It was during a commemoration piece on the 25th Anniversary of Burns heroic Civil War series. I pick up the phone. They answer. What is wrong with me? I can barely say it, I’m so choked up with emotion. “I-I-I’d like t-t-to pled-pledge t-t-wohunderedandf-f-forty…..dollars, for the K-K-Ken Burns package” Whew, I managed to get through that. ‘Thank you Mr. Renfro, that’s wonderful” And that’s all it took. The floodgates opened. Now I’m bawling, and tell the lady: ‘It j-j-just means s-s-s-o m-m-m-uch to me” I can barely get it out. ‘That’s OK” she says. “Does this ever happen to anyone else calling in? Where they end up crying on the phone?” “No Mr. Renfro, I don’t think so. But I’ve only been doing this a week” “Well that makes me feel better” There must be something wrong with me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE U.N.

"Right now we're living in what Carl Sagan correctly termed a demon-haunted world. We have created a Star Wars civilization but we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology. That's dangerous."
- E. O. Wilson


Image~President Donald Trump mocks and threatens North Korea during speech at UN General Assembly while Secretary of State listens intently.

Friday, October 13, 2017

FOUR ARRESTED IN EMPATHY TENT RUCKUS


“If you look at them, it’s ridiculous,” Sgt. Marquis told the Los Angeles Times. “You’ve got a guy with purple hair with a fucking lightsaber talking about Hitler to a guy dressed in a banana suit. Then someone takes a knee, allegedly just to tie their shoe and all hell breaks loose. It’s hard for me to take any of this seriously but I'm sworn to protect the peace and dignity of the community.”
Good luck, Sgt. Marquis

Thursday, October 12, 2017

JERRY TAKES A KNEE WITH ONE THING ON HIS MIND...MONEY



"Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it really isn’t about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing."
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaids Tale

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A LIST OF FAILS



I look back on my life and see failure after failure.
When I was three I failed at eating Brussels sprouts. When I was four I failed my ballet and tap dancing lessons. At the age of five I showed a lack of talent at not setting things on fire. Then came First Grade and things got real. Of the many things that I failed at my first two years of school, perhaps standing quietly in line and keeping my hands to myself was the most challenging. Its been a life long problem. In the third grade I single handedly turned the class mural into a vulgar piece of graffiti.
A year later I hit the wall at memorizing poetry.
When we moved back to Texas my baseball dreams died when I could not hit a 40 MPH David Hutts screwball. My football career ended on a high note when I finally made a tackle on my very last play and the coach asked me “Where the hell have you been all year, Renfro?”

In the ninth grade it was Algebra fail.
In the tenth grade it was Geometry fail.
In the eleventh grade I blew Chemistry, Typing, General Business, and History. But for Dan Washmon spotting me a point in Journalism I might never have graduated.
So I decided I would be a chef, and I failed at that too.

I sat there at the State Fair yesterday and watched a woman demonstrate how to make Gumbo. She talked about roux, and explained how long it took to make it. She had a long list of ingredients, about half of which I would not have thought to put in there. She had a little nylon bag full of spices she threw in, probably made by Zatarains, and cautioned against leaving in too long because it would eventually burst and there would be bits of sassafras bark, peppercorns, bay leaves and God know what else floating in the Gumbo, and it would take hours to pick it all out. Somehow I knew this is what would happen to me if I used one of those bags.

I wanted to stand up and display my years of knowledge by asking her if she had ever heard of using cheesecloth to make a bouquet garni (which classically is what her little store bought bag is called), but hey, she’s the one still in the business, doing the glamorous work of demonstrating proper culinary technique, explaining we get the word “Gumbo” from the Bantu word for “Okra” in front of hundreds of fascinated State Fair attendees. Would I earn any points to point out that a nice roux can be made in minutes? No, I would just end up looking like a washed up, bitter old chef that thinks he used to be hell on wheels.

The fact is I’m just a lowly shipping clerk in my twilight years. I remember little about Teapot Dome and the Dawes Act. I couldn’t math my way out of a wet paper bag. In ballet, my allegro is mostly adagio, I tend to confuse avant with arriere, and that’s just the “A’s”. I also discovered my jete’ grande’ ain’t as grand as I imagined. and not because someone had tied my chausson de danse together.
But at least I no longer wake up smelling like shrimp and onions.

Friday, October 06, 2017

TAKING A KNEE IN PROTEST



The best explanation I can think of to your question is that sports bring out the best that one can hope to aspire to. The amount of dedication and desire it takes to excel and win can hardly be measured. it requires a high level of personal competence and accountability. For the student fans in the stands, its a metaphor for what they should try to acheive in the classroom. I never went to college, but I would imagine after the game over the weekend, whether won or lost, inspiration is drawn from that and applied to their studies. Same with everyday folk. I went to a Rangers game a few weeks ago. I watched Gomez, on his first at bat as a Ranger, hit a 3 run homer. It made me proud to go to work the next day,a nd proud to live in a country that lends itself to such principles and aspirations.
So we say the pledge, and listen to the National Anthem at sporting events to remind ourselves that the principles of fair play of the event we are about to see also reflect what should be the principles of the country we live in.
In reality this is not always the case, and the history of sports reflects that as well, as in the cases of Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Mohammed Ali, and countless others. For that reason, I don't see taking a knee during the pledge as being traitorous; I think it is patriotic. Its very brave to go against the social norms, and lend your voice, and your ass, to a group of people that wants to be heard.
Thats the best explanation I have for you.





I think it has a place. Sports bring out the best that one can hope to aspire to. The amount of dedication and desire it takes to excel and win can hardly be measured. it requires a high level of personal competence and accountability. For the student fans in the stands, its a metaphor for what they should try to acheive in the classroom. I never went to college, but I would imagine after the game over the weekend, whether won or lost, inspiration is drawn from that and applied to their studies. Same with everyday folk. I went to a Rangers game a few weeks ago. I watched Gomez, on his first at bat as a Ranger, hit a 3 run homer. It made me proud to go to work the next day,and proud to live in a country that lends itself to such principles and aspirations.


So we say the pledge in classrooms, and listen to the National Anthem at sporting events to remind ourselves that the principles of hard work and fair play of the event we are about to see also reflect what should be the principles of the country we live in.





In reality this is not always the case, and the history of sports reflects that as well, as in the cases of Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Mohammed Ali, and countless others. For that reason, I don't see taking a knee during the Anthem as being traitorous; I think it is patriotic. Its very brave to go against the social norms, and lend your voice, and your ass, to a group of people that wants to be heard.

OCTOBER



October smells like smoke to me
Smells like dogs and leaves and bare trees
It looks like rain in blurry beads
on windows
Like slippery streets, corn in rows,
Tight woolen sweaters on busty girls
I can almost taste it
Blue cotton candy at the fair,
Wet fall kisses and juicy over ripened pears.

bulletholes 10/2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

WHO WON THE VIETNAM WAR?


"In 1967 at the Pentagon they had a big mainframe computer in the basement. It was the size of a football field. They fed in all sorts of numbers; number of men, guns, tanks, planes, helicopters; ammunition stores, rations, portable bridges, APV’s; everything an army needs to wage a war. They let it run all weekend and came in Monday morning to see who the computer said would win the war.
They pulled the card out of the hopper. It said:
“You won in 1965”
~from Part 5 of the Ken Burns series "Vietnam"

Monday, September 18, 2017

ANOTHER FACET OF VIETNAM....HEROIN AND ADDICTION



When I was a kid, from the age of 7-18 there was always the background noise of Vietnam. Sometimes it just about drowned everything else out. The 52,000 Americans dead, images of SE Asian jungles, the protests going on in the streets of America.
A standing President that didnt want the job anymore, and said so on nationwide TV.
Four dead in Ohio.
Pictured above~ Frank Plada,16, shirtless and flipping the bird, protesting Police Brutalty in Chicago, Frank joined the army and returned from Vietnam with a heoin habit.
Tune in tonight for Ken Burns new 10 part documentary The Vietnam War on PBS.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

WHY DO YOU THINK THEY CALL IT DOPE?

Once upon a time I played the role of Office Manager at restaurant.
Left to make the deposit one day and decided to stop by my house and get my pot.

While there I twisted one up. Took a few hits. Why not?
Stuck the pot in the deposit bag, went out to my car and headed for the bank.
Got to the bank, handed the teller the bag, started studying the texture of the marble countertop.
How marvelous!
I was mesmerized by seashells, bubbles and Angels on horseback, all in the marble!
Then the teller brings me back to reality.
“Um, sir” he says “did you want to deposit this?” and he’s holding up the baggie of pot.
Aw man.
“No, please don’t “ I said, and he smiles and slides it across the marble top.
Lesson learned… always go straight to the bank when you are going to make a deposit. Don't stop anywhere.

This is a really nice looking piece of marble, especially when you are stoned.

Monday, September 11, 2017

THE RIB

I woke up last night. My sweetie was laying there crying. 

“Whats wrong?” I asked. 
“I think I broke a rib” 
“How did you do that?” I asked.
I expected her to say "on the way to the bathroom", or "I fell out of bed". 
But no. 
“While we were making love” she said. 
I laughed. I couldnt help it.
I didnt know whether to say I’m sorry, or you're welcome.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

BUGGER ME

A few nights ago part of my anti-virus clean up program wasn’t working right. I pay 50 bucks a year for this program. So I called the company, told them the problem. They verified my account and wanted to LAN in to my computer. I let them. The dude obviously knew what he was doing. Scrolled thru file after file. Asked a few questions like “Do you do banking on the computer? Do you make online purchases?” Well, yes and yes.

So then he downloaded a malware detection program. It says I have 93 potential threats on my computer! 93! He tells me I have BIG problems, but he can fix them. I asked him why my clean up program I paid 50 dollars for wasn’t working, which is why I called in the first place. “They are updating that program this week” he says. "That’s why its not working. But you have other problems and your computer is at risk"

Then he brings up the screen that shows me what he can do to make my computer safe again. One is $100. That fixes me. One is 150. That fixes me and gets me another service call if I need one. Then the $200 package. Its has all the bells and whistles. He again explains to me how at risk I am. So I say “let me think about it and I’ll get back to you”. He puts me on hold. Now on the line comes a fast talking supervisor. She puts on the hard sell. I cant get a word in edgewise until I finally say :


“WHOA WHOA WHOA let me slow you down. I’ve had this computer for five years. Used your basic service, which has been outstanding. Now you tell me I am at severe risk all of a sudden. I’ve had no one hack my bank, no one has charged a thin dime to a credit card, there have been no strange unauthorized purchases at all, not one. And suddenly I need this?”

‘You are at risk Mr Renfro”

“We are all at risk baby. But lets go back to the beginning. I called to ask why your program I paid 50 bucks for isn’t working. You tell me its being updated and will start working again in 3 days. But that suddenly I’m in imminent danger unless I shell out another hundred bucks. If I hadn’t called you about your program we would'nt even be having this conversation.”
And you know what she did? She HUNG UP on me! The dude was still LAN’d in and everything! 

So, I shut it down , rebooted, downloaded the same malware they did, ran a check, determined none of the 93 “Threats” were malicious, cleaned the quarantine and rebooted again.
My question is….who am I most at risk from at this point….some outside hacker or the fucking dude at AVAST that LAN’d in two nights ago?
I’m thinking I should remove anything they have on my machine and find a new provider.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

NEW MAINTENANCE REQUEST

On 8/21 maintenance responded to my complaint of ants in the kitchen presumably by leaving a little white box for me to fold up and place on the floor that would get rid of the ants. I dont know if they also sprayed or not. All I got was the box.
A week later I hadn't seen any ants, but there weren't any in the box either.
Then last night I left a few fried pies from Turner Falls on the counter and had a million ants swarm out! I took the box and put it up there with the ants and they crawled all over the box, but none ever went in it. Not a one. So I squished as many as I could.
I hope you will send someone over to do something more than leave an ant motel on the counter for me to install, and they will let me know what they did. I’m really missin’ those fried pies.
I made my kids watch this old movie about the giant ants. When the ants came out they groaned and said “Aw Daddy,its so FAKE!”



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CANNOT HIDE

Freeways rerouted so both sides could exit Houston during Rita, 2005. 12 hours =20 miles.
Every time I go to Houston, somewhere on 45 the traffic is stopped. Sometimes for a car on the side of the road or a bus on fire, sometimes for a naked guy with a machete on the freeway, sometimes for no visible reason whatsoever. Its just stopped.
I can't imagine 6 million people trying to leave that city.
What could possibly go wrong?

Friday, August 25, 2017

NO WONDER THEY TURNED ME DOWN

ADMISSIONS ESSAY FOR ONLINE COLLEGE COURSES SUMITTED A FEW YEARS AGO

The greatest piece of technology affecting our lives today is without a doubt, the computer.  Forty-Five years ago when I was busy flunking High School mathematics class, the teacher brought in a huge machine he called a computer. It was not anything like what we have these days. It looked like something out of a B-Grade Science Fiction movie, dials and windows and buttons all over.  My buddy Scott leaned over to me and said “I’m going to make a million dollars off these computers”.
I just laughed, but Scott is a millionaire now.
Computers touch on just about every facet of our lives every day. Almost everyone has a cell phone, and cell phones are no longer just telephones; they are computers. Cash registers are hardly meant to hold cash anymore. They total the bill using electronics and microchips, and the payment is made by cards that provide electronic  access directly to a person’s account, and funds are transferred, all through the computer and the internet. I haven’t paid a bill with a check in many years. It’s all done online, through computers.

Even now as I type up this essay,  I can recall my typing class in High School. We had a machine back then, very modern, called a typewriter. You struck the keys, much like I am doing now, and a little silver ball with all the letters of the alphabet spun and flew around stamping ink on a piece of paper you inserted into the machine. If you struck the keys correctly you could remove the paper with your 800 word essay, put it in an envelope, lick a stamp and address it to Western Governors University to be graded for your possible admission there.  With the excellent work of the Postal service, it should be there by the end of the week.
Instead, here I sit typing away at a keypad connected to a machine that bears little resemblance to a typewriter, other than the letters being in the same place. When I finish writing, a few clicks, and  within seconds it will have been received by Western Governors University for their perusal. That is truly amazing.

This technology is used for much more significant endeavors; everything from space flight to smart cars, global positioning to law enforcement. Even the company I work for that provides communications for the airline industry relies almost completely on computers. I did not know when I started ten years ago, but most of the communication between a plane and the ground does not occur by voice between the pilot and the control tower. It occurs in the form of data, transmitted by computer, received by computer, and recorded by computer.


The mathematicians from the 19th century saw it coming, the great science fiction writers saw it coming, and they even say certain Aborigine tribes saw it coming. Certainly, my friend Scott saw it coming. 
I never did. Too busy flunking math.

Monday, August 07, 2017

MAKE MINE SUNNY SIDE UP

"The mind wants to live forever, or to learn a very good reason why not. The mind wants the world to return its love, or its awareness; the mind wants to know all the world, and all eternity, even God. The mind's sidekick, however, will settle for two eggs over easy. The dear, stupid body is as easily satisfied as a spaniel. And, incredibly, the simple spaniel can lure the brawling mind to its dish. It is everlastingly funny that the proud, metaphysically ambitious, clamoring mind will hush if you give it an egg."
Annie Dillard, writing about an Eclipse

Watercolor by Joseph Zbukvic

Friday, August 04, 2017

A SAD LITTLE LIZARD TOLD ME ON HIS MOTHERS SIDE HE WAS A BRONTOSAURIS


Something has been digging little dime sized holes in my garden. They don’t go straight down. They go kinda sideways. Like a little thumb sized armadillos. They leave a little pile of dirt that is dug out, and this little dime sized hole. I thought “What could it be?”
Then Friday I came home from work. I was startled by an animal making a sudden get-a-way in my garden. A Lizard!
A BIG lizard!
He must have been a foot long and he had been digging. There was a hole about the size of a silver dollar and a huge pile of dirt there. So that’s what it is. Its these little lizards I been seeing, and the great-granddaddy. But why? Why are they digging these holes? For food? For shelter? Hmmm….

So I went inside and got ready for Susan to come over so we could go out to eat. An hour and a half later there’s a knock at the door. Susan!
I open the door, and there is Susan at the other end of the porch. She is freaking out.
“MY GOD STEVE THERE IS SOMETHING ON YOUR PORCH! ITS HUGE AND BROWNANDGREYANDGREEN WITH BIGTEETHANDGILLS WITH A LONGTAIL AND CLAWS”

She’s wild eyed, Susan is, so I smiled and said ‘I know! It’s a lizard! He and a bunch of others live in my garden. Come see!” So Susan eases over real cautious like and I show here the little holes, and then the big one. “I think there are five or six big ones living down there. It goes down about 5 feet into a huge anteroom” I tell her. She’s calmed down a little now, and bends over a little to look down the hole.
That’s when I yelled “AGGGHHHH!” and pinched her on her leg, and she jumped about 15 feet into the air and screamed “AGGGHHHH” and now we are both looking at each other wild eyed and screaming AGGGGHHH and that’s when she clobbered me. “Its not funny” Susan said and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

So we went inside, talked a bit, and decided on Mexican Inn. Its right across the freeway. When we stepped outside I looked again at the big hole. But the big hole was gone! It was all covered up! Why would that lizard dig a hole and cover it up? About then Susan said “Look! There he is!” and I looked down and this great-granddaddy of a lizard was looking up at me, just calm as could be, from right there at my feet.
“Hello Mr. Lizard “ I said.
He bobbed his head as if to say hello.
So I knelt down real slow like, and I swear that lizard was looking at me like a big ol’ Cocker Spaniel, and he swished his tail.
“Do you know how to shake, boy?” I said, and stuck my finger his direction. He cocked his head the other direction lifted a little lizard foot and shook my finger. “Pleased to make your acquaintance”
‘Susan said “Oh my God Steve, you just shook hands with that lizard.”
I said “You know, it aint natural for a lizard to do that. He must be like Mr. Jingles, the circus mouse from ‘The Green Mile’ ”.
But then the neighbor’s cat jumped down from the balcony and POOF, Mr. Lizard scurried away.
So I looked it up today, what Mr. Lizard was doing in my garden with all the holes.
 He’s laying eggs!
You know what that means?
That great granddaddy of a lizard is a girl!
From now on its Ms. Lizard!

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

ANOTHER SEMESTER OF THIS SHIT

Somehow I wound up in an Honors algebra class in the 9th grade. I wasn’t smoking pot for another year, but I discovered Rhonda, and how much fun getting my hands in her pockets was, and I also discovered that I was brilliant enough to pass Algebra without doing any homework. This set the tone for the rest of my academic career with the discovery that a class could be passed without actually, you know, knowing the material. I may have PASSED Algebra, but by no stretch of the imagination could I actually DO Algebra.

The chickens came home to roost the next year in Geometry, where I was surprised to find that knowing some Algebra would have been good. That’s how I flunked my first class ever. Oh, the pot probably didn’t help.

The next year I was in Chemistry, and without any Algebra or Geometry skills, I was toast there too, and ended up in a remedial math class as a Senior, because the State required its students to have passed at least one HS math class.

It was Speech Class and the Debate Club that saved my HS experience. Watergate had been going on, and Nixon resigned at the start of my senior year, and I was into it enough to think I might want to be a lawyer. I thought I did until about April, when I was called to the Deans office because I hadnt attended any classes except for Speech and Government in months. I had to sit outside his office and wait while he got ready to bust my balls, and it was while I sat staring at pictures of past Principals lined up on the wall that I had an epiphany.
I was a horrible student.
I didn’t want to be a lawyer, if being a lawyer meant another 8 years of school. I didnt want to be a lawyer if it meant even one more semester of this shit. So I decided then and there to be a chef. Because, well I like to eat.
The last day of school when you clean out your locker and turn in your books? I had to go to the office and find out my locker number and the combination.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

TRADITIONS

My mother asked me if I remembered
The time we got drunk and cheered for the Cowboys.

“It was our first playoff without Staubach” said I 
“I cooked a roast, there was beer in the fridge” said she. 
But there hadn’t been enough beer for a game that close. 
I went to the corner store at halftime.


By the time the fourth quarter started we were down 
Fourteen points with two beers each left.
 How could I forget the way that she howled 
The way that I screamed and danced 
When Pearson put us ahead with forty three seconds left?


We didn’t make a tradition of it, 
The way we made a tradition of playing 
“BugBite” when I was a boy 
The way we sat together at church, 
Me holding the hymnal 
While she sang In The Garden 
Saturday night and Chicken Spaghetti 
Roast beef with homemade giant bread 
Shopping for school clothes 
Meeting the new girlfriend 
The way she called me Stephen when I was in trouble- 
“Wait till your father gets home”- 
And Stevie when I was not. 
We didn’t make a tradition of getting drunk,
 Mom and I, 
(I wish that we had) 
And I‘d never heard her howl like that. 
There was no way of knowing 
Mom would die a few years later. 

The summer had been hot, 
Now the January days were crisp and blue, 
We had no way of knowing that Danny White
Would take us to 3 NFC championships in a row 
And lose them all.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

S'POSED TO KNOW BETTER

When I was about 9 years old I would sneak up to dads room. I’d open the top drawer of his bureau, move aside the three stacks of handkerchief's, and pull out his .22 caliber revolver with the 9” barrel. I’d feel the heft of it in my hand, aim it at the window, feel the resistance on the trigger. 

One day while doing all that I accidentally discharged the gun. Right onto the wall behind the bureau. 
WHOOOPS! 
It didn’t leave a real big hole in the wall, less than the size of a dime. It took a week or two for dad to notice it. 
Dad had taught me about guns. It wasn’t the first time I’d fired it. It was the first time I fired it unsupervised though. I knew better than to do what I’d done. But lifes lessons with me are usually hard learned. Dad didn’t whip me. He didn’t even move the gun. But he took the bullets out. From time to time Dad would get a far away look on his face and tell me how sometimes he would wake up in a cold sweat thinking about me and that gun.
I think about that gun every now and then, especially when I’m tempted to do something that I know better than to do. 

It was weird last night. I was shifting from one dream to another. In a moment of lucidity I thought about that gun.
And I did something I’d never done before. 
Quite on purpose, I dreamed of the house in Detroit with the bureau and the gun. I walked up the stairs. There was the weird purple wallpaper. Take a right at the top of the stairs, and into the master bath, with the tile, glass and mirrors. Then into mom and dads room, with the big wall of windows looking into the backyard, and the fireplace at the end of the room. Turn right, and there is the bureau. 
I’m nine years old again, and have to look on tippy-toes into the top drawer. 
I move the handkerchief’s. 
There it is. Dad’s old revolver. 
I pull it out and wonder what would happen if I put it to my head and pull the trigger. 
Its just a dream, right? 
Or would the whole world change- now-then-everything in between- with me not in it? 
I looked at the gun. Felt its heft. Aimed it at the window, felt the resistance on the trigger. 
I put it back in the drawer. 
Better not risk it. 
Better not risk changing the whole world. 
Besides, I’m supposed to know better, even if knowing better hasn’t always stopped me.

Monday, July 24, 2017

WE'RE GOING TO TAKE CARE OF EVERYONE


There was a great golden maned lion that killed an elephant and brought it home for dinner. He dragged it into his den, proudly`.
The wife took one look at it and said “You cant keep that lyin’ there”
And he said “But honey, its not a lion, its an elephant”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND


Years ago a girlfriend and I drove from Niagara Falls to Texas. Driving through Pennsylvania was gorgeous. Living down here in the south, we tend to think of the northeast as just one big city. But its not that way at all, is it? The big city is the exception, even in New York, is it not? Head north from the city, and see the Hudson. Head west and behold, the Finger Lakes!
So yes, driving through Pennsylvania farmlands, over rivers and streams, both large and small, and past vineyards on the eastern slopes of mountainsides that enjoy the morning sun was very nice. So too were the green fields with perfectly placed golden bales of hay, as though arranged by a great painter. But first…
But first we had to get out of Buffalo.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

BLACK SABBATH





I saw a story today that reminded me of the 9th grade, when I discovered Black Sabbath.
I was in my room, listening to Ironman and mom cracked open the door and peeked in.
"What is that you are listening to?" she asked.
"Black Sabbath mom"
She looked concerned, but only said "Oh my".
I said "Some people say they are satanic, but I dont think so. What do you think mom?"
She scrunched up her face. "I think they might be" she said.
"No mom, I mean do you LIKE them?"
"No, not too much Stevie" and she closed the door.


And here is the story, as gathered at Alive On All Channels:

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir
by Sherman Alexie~


“And then after your mom was done singing in the choir,” Pernell said, “I saw your mom rolling in the aisle and speaking in tongues.”
“No way,” I said. “She was probably just speaking Spokane.”
My mother was one of the few tribal members who were still fluent in the old way of speaking Spokane.
“It wasn’t Indian talk,” Pernell said. “It was her Jesus voice.”

There were quite a few Spokane Indians who fell in love with Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. I think it’s rather easy for a universally damaged people like Native Americans to believe wholeheartedly in miracles, in the supernatural. But I’d never thought of my mother as a Spokane who’d go that far.
“I’m not lying,” Pernell said.
“I believe you, Jack,” I said, though I hoped he was mistaken.
When I got home from school, I immediately asked my mother if she’d been speaking in tongues.
“Yes,” she said.
“Weird,” I said, and walked downstairs to my room.

I figured my mother was pretending to speak in tongues. She was just acting, I thought. It’s like a one-woman show, I guessed. My mother had always been so dramatic. And what’s more dramatic than an Indian woman rolling down the aisle of a little reservation church?

I tried to put it out of my mind, to allow my mother to freely practice her religion as much as she allowed me to fully practice my nonreligion. But, a few weeks later, I crawled out of my Sunday-morning slumber and walked the mile to her church.

And there she was, along with the white couple who led the church and a few dozen Spokane Indians, throwing books, magazines, and music albums onto a bonfire.
My mother and her fellow indigenous Charismatics were chanting something about the Devil—about the evil of the secular world—about all the sin-soaked novels and porn magazines and rock music.
I was grossed out.
On opposite sides of the bonfire, my mother and I made eye contact. But I think she was so deeply entranced—so hypnotized and self-hypnotized—that she didn’t recognize me.
I hurried home to make sure my small personal library of books and records was intact and unburned. And, yes, all was safe.

Later that night, at the dinner table, I told my mother to leave my stuff alone or I’d burn down her church.
“You’re a sinner,” she said, and pointed her fork at me.
“And so are you,” I said, and pointed my fork right back at her.




Friday, June 16, 2017

A RECOVERING RAGERS CREED



1. I will practice self-restraint as a top priority today.

2. When angry, I will act the opposite of how I feel.

3. If I feel like my anger is about to erupt I will QUIETLY leave the situation.

4. I will find truth in all criticisms directed towards me today, especially from my partner.

5. I will say “You are right” in a sincere meaningful way when criticized.

6. I will give an example of how the person who criticized me is right.

7. I will repeat this to myself “I am better off being wrong, because when I’m right, I’m a real jerk”

8. I will avoid trying to explain myself.

9. I will listen to my partner when they tell me about their day. I’ll make eye contact, and turn off the TV.

10. I will avoid giving unsolicited advice to anyone, especially my partner and children.

11. I will avoid blaming people for things today, especially if it was their fault.

12. I will avoid trying to make people “understand”.

13. I will look for opportunity to praise everyone today, even the cat.

14. I will humbly commit to removing my angry behaviors today as my contribution towards a more peaceful world.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

THE CARDIFF GIANT



Back in 1850, a guy named George Hull had a 10 foot giant carved of gypsum in Iowa, and shipped to his farm in Cardiff New York. He buried the carving in his yard, and a year later hired two well diggers to “discover” the petrified man. He was called “The Cardiff Giant”, and Hull charged 25 cents a person to see the giant under a tent he had erected. He made, in today's money, roughly 400,000 dollars.
PT Barnum came to see the giant and tried to buy it. Hull refused to sell. Barnum had a giant of his own made, declared Hull’s giant “Fake”and advertised his as “The True Cardiff Giant”.
Hull sold his giant to a guy named Hannum. Hannum accused Barnam of having a fake giant, saying “There is a sucker born every minute” (wrongly attributed over time to Barnum himself) and sued Barnum for calling his giant a fake.
A wise  judge asked Hannum to have his giant "swear under oath" he was indeed the real one. Hannum confessed his giant was a fake.
The court ruled both giants were obviously fakes, and that Barnum could not be sued for calling a fake giant a fake.
A big giant fake, just like our president.

Monday, June 12, 2017

DAVE DREAMING

"We are going through a phase where its less if you can have, have, and more if you can have, have quickly"

I don't know if Dave posted this, or if he said it, but last night I dreamed he did.

Friday, June 09, 2017

DEADHEADING

When I flew back from NYC last fall, I sat next to a stewardess that was “Deadheading” back from France. That’s where they fly out to there working, and then fly back as a passenger.  She had headphones on, but I motioned to her to take them off, and I started talking to her.
“I was in NYC when I was a kid 50 years ago. I cant tell how much its changed since then, if it has” I started “I was down on company business, and I wanted to go to see the Tower, but I was in a company truck, and driving down that highway at night, traffic everywhere, and then it hit, that wall of lights that is Manhattan, I could almost hear it buzz and I still hadn’t even crossed over the river, and I got to the Brooklyn bridge, and I chickened out. I didn’t cross over. I was nervous, in that company truck and all that traffic, and not knowing where I was going”
She smiled at me and said “You did the right thing” and started to put her headphones back on.
I was relieved that someone agreed that I paid attention to my gut feeling.
 I said “You know its funny. I’m scared to death of heights. I cant hardly pass over a bridge without freaking out a little. I don’t even like parking in a two story garage. Going into a 100 story building that had windows, I don’t think I could do that without some kind of safety harness on in case something sucked me out the window. But flying in a plane, and looking out the window, it doesn’t bother me at all”
The stewardess lady, she excused herself, and was gone a while, and when she came back she brought me a little blanket, and some headphones of my own, and showed me how to plug them into the TV so I could watch TV!
She was just really nice, wasn’t she?

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

DONALD TRUMP HAS TWO PROBLEMS



                  1) Appearances
                  2) Reality

Friday, June 02, 2017

LANGUAGE RULES

"“Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.”

From a cool article here.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

OUR HIGHLY SKILLED AND INTELLIGENT STAFF ARE EAGERLY WAITING TO SERVE YOU

Once or twice a month when I’m driving my 6 minute commute to work I think about a conversation I had with a superior at HDQ five years ago.
We had a new program, and I was complaining about it.
All these mouse clicks. Box after box of redundant information. More redundant information, more mouse clicks leading to more redundant information, redundant information that also happened to be SUPERFLUOUS in my expert opinion.
My superior listened patiently as a blew off a bunch of steam.
I’m not sure what it takes to light a fire under this guy, but he is always so calm it makes me wonder what they are giving him.
Whatever it is, I don’t want it. I need my mania, my angst. I keeps me sharp. Keeps me on edge.
He said he would take a look at it all. Nothing really came from it. I think they removed one box that I no longer have to check off.

So like I said , I think about that conversation every now and then driving in to work.
And what it really boils down to is just one question:
“Do you want this job or not, Steve?”

Because for half the pay, instead of doing needless mouse clicks, I could be digging a ditch somewhere.

My Dad, far left and the team at Hobbs Trailers Fort Worth Branch, 1963

Thursday, April 20, 2017

TEX COBB

Lubbock Texas boxer Tex Cobb took a horrible beating for 15 rounds against Larry Holmes in 1982. It was one of the most lopsided matches in boxing history.

A reporter asked Tex if he had talked any trash to Holmes during the 15 rounder.
"No, every time I tried, he stuck his left in my mouth"
Another asked how he thought he'd done
"I was wearing him down, if it had gone 20, I could take him"
Another asked about a rematch and Cobb says "I don't think his hands can take that kind of abuse."

The fight was so lopsided, and the beating so brutal that Howard Cosell quit announcing boxing ten days later.
Cobb was typically laconic. "I have done my sport a great service"

Asked if Holmes hit as hard as Shavers, he says "No, Larry don't hit as hard as Ernie Shavers. No-one hits as hard as Shavers. If there was a fighter that hit harder than Shavers, I shoot him!"


Another asked if he would want a rematch...
"Yeah, but this time I want to fight Holmes in a phone booth"

And on a possible bout with Jerry Clooney:
"Sure, I'd love to fight him. But I have my price, twenty-five cents and a loose woman."

Ya gotta love Tex Cobb.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

THAT BASTARD

I only had one teacher ever lay a hand on me. It was Mr Gittins in the 1st grade. I lived in Detroit, it was November and the water in the sandboxes had frozen over. I was out there with my buddies banging my heel into the ice, and the water underneath was splashing all the way up to my knees. It was probably about 32 degrees being November and all, and I was just about sopping wet and having the time of my life when suddenly a hand grabbed me by the nape of my neck and pulled me out.

Mt. Gittins carried me like a kitten, legs kicking to the office.
They had my mother bring some dry clothes.
That Bastard.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A BULLETHOLES DREAM

Back in the 50's, when Eisenhauer was president, we were doing a lot of research in the Arctic.
For the first time, an eskimo was going to come to Washington and visit the White House.
So he comes, and sets up an Igloo right there on the White House lawn and that night attends a fancy state dinner with President Eisenhauer.
After dinner, the president walks him back to the igloo On the way they talk about Arctic exploration, Baby Harp seals, the Russians and some of the issues of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.
They make it back to the igloo, there on the White House lawn and the president asks the eskimo
"So whats it like in that Igloo?"
And the eskimo says "Its fucking cold"

In a dream someone told me this joke. I woke up, and shifted dreams. In my new dream I was telling the joke to  to Denny Crane and James Spader. When I got to the punchline I was laughing so hard I couldn't say it. I couldn't get it out.
"And the eskimo says......ahhahahehee... The eskimo says hahahahahehehe...he says its f-f-f-f hahahaha.......says its.....hahaha..... the eskimo says "Its fucking cold".

Crane and Spader just look at me like I'm an idiot, clink their martini glasses together.
Spader says "Well, I'm satisfied" and Crane says "Lock and load"
Then I woke up.
Where did I hear this eskimo joke? Or did I really just dream it?


Friday, April 14, 2017

FOLLOW YOUR DREAM

Sometimes people ask me if I watch any of the Chef shows.
"No, I cant stand them. But I watch Jacques Pepin."
Coming in May, a PBS American Masters on the great chef, and this, from a lovely interview with him.
"If you’ve never cooked and you start learning about it, you start feeling good about yourself. And suddenly cooking is not such an incredible job to do. You say, “Fine, I’ll pick up a couple of things.” I did a short piece for WNET about pears. The idea is that paradox: that when I do a recipe, I have a great freedom. But when I type the recipe and give it to someone, it’s totally strict and organized. It’s exactly the opposite of the freedom I had when I started the recipe.
When people do one of my recipes, you should always follow it exactly the first time you do it, and if it comes out good and you like it, you can do it again. The second time, maybe you take a fast look. The third time you don’t look at it. By the fourth time, you can probably improve the recipe—you think, “I’m going to put more tomato, and less of that.” And a year later, you don’t even know where it comes from—it has become your recipe. You massage it enough so that it fits your sense of aesthetic. If someone does that with my recipe, that is fine. They’ve taken it, they’ve done something. So that’s good."

As he teaches you a recipe, there is often a recurring line as he shows you how to do something, or how much of this or that to throw in the pot, or what a substitute might be.
"You don't have to worry too much" Chef Pepin says.
And in the article he talks about "massaging" a recipe, and making it your own.
Occasionally I'll teach someone a recipe.
I translate this idea of not worrying, and massaging recipes to "Follow Your Dream"
Can we add more garlic, more apples, or leave out the onion?
"Certainement! Just follow your dream!"

Thursday, April 13, 2017

SEARCHIN' FOR MY LOST SHAKER OF SALT

A few years back I was going to the church I grew up in. Like some kind of homecoming., right? There wasn’t anyone left hardly that I knew from when I went there as a boy.
Anyway, I got involved in the Singles group. There were ten women…and me.
They knew I wasn't much of a believer, but were thrilled to have me around. Sometimes I’d stay for the worship service. That delighted them.
Then one day they asked if I wanted to go to Miguelitos after.  I said yes.
I got there before them, and ordered two plates of nachos.
They came in, sat down and started to tell me about the Singles Group at Gateway.
“They are all about renting limos, drinking, and “hooking up”. We are all about the Lord!”

About that time the waiter brought the nachos.
I looked up at him and said “You might want to cancel those pitchers of Margaritas”
I looked out at the table of my new singles class friends. They looked rather dumbfounded. I did my best to keep my poker face. The waiter looked at me confused, and after a long pause he asked:
 “Oh , you wanted pitchers of Margaritas too? Frozen, or on the rocks?”
 I looked at the lady who had just finished telling me about limos, drinks and hooking up. They were all looking at me, but no one was smiling. My face cracked and I bit my lip. 
First one, then all of the ladies from my singles class cracked up.


I tell you what, for a minute there it was touch and go.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

MY GRAND ENTRANCE

I recall a bachelor party I went to in 1982. Actually, it was two bachelor parties.

The first bachelor party was at a strip club. Somehow I ended up with a strippers thong and G-String. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.
The next night, there was another bachelor party, kind of. A guy at work, Jack, was getting married and we went to his house at midnight when we got off work to party. I pulled up in front of Jacks house and remembered I had Crystal’s (the stripper from the night before) thong and G-String. So, I took of all my clothes and put them on, and a catchers mask and mitt I happened to have as well, and went bursting in the front door,  hopped up on to the coffee table singing and dancing to “Dirty White Boy”.
And was horrified to see Jacks three sisters sitting on the couch, in town from Boise.

Monday, April 03, 2017

MY FISH DIED

I'd forgotten about Blue Bayou's immaculate origins. I had bought her for my sisters birthday. Got a little glass bowl, filled it with those pretty glass rocks and some green seaweed, and Blue, a purplish blue and pink fan tailed Boa. I took it up to the rehabilitation hospital where my sister was recovering from a neck surgery.
I entered the room 'Happy Birthday Lisa!" but Lisa had had a bad day. She didnt like it there at all. There was a sign on her door that she was NOT to be disturbed for any reason before 9am, and that day Lisa had trashed her room like a rock star. I don't think she had thrown the TV out the window, but she had given it her best shot. She didn't want any part of me or Blue, and the next day she split from Rehab against medical advice and walked home.
Luckily, it was only about 5 blocks, but I think she would have tried it even if it had been 50 miles.
And that's how I came to have a fish named Blue Bayou.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

BECKETT GOES TO THE GROCERY



I was out of trash bags for a week. Every time I went to the store, I forgot them. Last week at 10 O’clock at night I decided I was tired of the trash that was collecting on my table, on the counter, in a nice neat pile there by the front door, so I went to the grocery.

All the way to the back of the store I go. Past the dish soap, the spray starch, greeting cards, light bulbs, charcoal and paper plates Here at last, the garbage bags!



Why would they put a pallet of chocolate chip cookies there by the trash bags? Cookies are supposed to be at the other end of the store. And its not just chocolate chips, but the ones with M&M’s, brightly colored, and pecan sandies, and even those chocolate dipped marshmallow rosettes on the cookie crust.
I hadn’t bought cookies in a year.

I looked. I resisted. I looked and started to step away, Stopped. Started. Why would they do this. Brightly colored M&M’s. They call. The pastel tans of the sandies. Beckoning, like a white whale. Huge chunks of chocolate.
Away! Away! Get thee away!
Two steps and back.
Four steps and back.
Yet again.
I staggered ten steps to aisle 9 and started to take a left.
Stopped. Started. Away!
I can’t. I must.
I go on. Halfway down the aisle now. I can’t go on.
I’m hooked. I knew from the minute I saw them.
In a half trance I turn and moonwalk back to the brightly colored reds, blues, yellows.
All the little elves, dancing gaily from the hollow tree.
They want to go home with me. I want to take them there.
I limit myself to one package. Only one stop more now.
A half gallon of milk.
And home.