Wednesday, September 30, 2009
When I hear about another sale, especially for big numbers, there's a little piece of me inside that just wants to whine like a child who didn't get a piece of the pie. And I'm sure I'm not the only one to have such feelings, but we work hard to keep those childish impulses at bay and even sincerely help someone celebrate good news, whether it be a big sale or winning a prestigious prize or maybe even getting a movie deal.
However, I refuse to celebrate the huge sales and movie deal that Tucker Max received for I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, which has been on the New York Times best seller list for over 100 weeks.
If you are like me, you may never have heard of Tucker Max. He is a young man who started writing a blog that centered around bodily functions, drinking, and womanizing and it quickly had a large following. That led to his book and now a movie.
I hadn't heard of him until I read a recent column in the Dallas Morning News by Jaclyn Friedman, a writer and activist. She took him to task for promoting a sexual philosophy where women are "insulted, tricked, coerced, traded, and then discarded."
What Jaclyn found even more alarming and disgusting was the fact that as Max tours the country visiting colleges and other venues, over half of the people who show up to hear him speak are women. And these women apparently adore him. They will also do some of the most disgusting things to gain his attention, and many of them are apparently willing to sleep with him. One woman did, and then "tattooed an explicit sentence commemorating the event just below her hip bone, thus earning the Holy Grail of any Maxite; an original Tucker Max blog entry featuring her."
I'm sorry Max. While I can wipe off the green and celebrate the success of the Harry Potter series, and even give James Patterson his due, I refuse to support your success. I'm not sure I even want to call you a fellow writer.
Monday, September 28, 2009
The word got around, as it does in these small communities of ours. It was to be Tuesday. Tuesday evening. He said he’d pick her up at seven.
Those of us closely following the Randy Jones/Katie Burchell celebration of life and love were excited about this. The holding hands and walking around town in a state of bliss and benediction had escalated. Somehow or other, Randy had asked Katie on a real date.
And she’d told her mother and her mother told Mrs. Greer, and Mrs. Greer lived next door to Olivia, who cooks at the Mule Barn, and Olivia told Loretta the waitress, and by that time, it might as well have been on the Channel Four news.
Randy and Katie were coming to the Mule Barn for dinner on Tuesday. Shortly after seven. It would take them a few minutes to walk over there, hand-in-hand, and then?
Well, that’s what the topic of discussion was Tuesday morning among the members of the world dilemma think tank. They all agreed it was time to take their wives out for dinner, maybe at the Mule Barn? Sevenish?
So in came the two shy teenage love birds at 7:10 p.m., and there sat the Supreme Court of Everything That Goes On In Our Valley, sitting there with their wives, and everyone was smiling. The kids looked self conscious for a minute, but then Katie found them a booth and they both sat on the same side so they could hold hands.
Then here came Loretta, with a checkered tablecloth she’d brought from home. And Olivia came out of the kitchen with a candle in an empty wine bottle. Doc got up and found some Johnny Mathis snuggle music on the juke box, and Dud unscrewed two light bulbs in their portion of the dining room. For atmosphere. It was romantic enough to hug a cactus. A night to remember.
Oh … and Randy and Katie enjoyed it, too.
Brought to you by "Ol' Slim's View From the Porch" published by the University of New Mexico Press and available at Slim Randles Web site
Friday, September 25, 2009
This particular piece was inspired by a neighbor who was known to do some pretty amusing things and was always willing to let me write about them. I was saddened to hear recently that he passed away and it was ironically about the time I was working on this chapter.
I hope you are making them laugh up in heaven, Dick....
In all honesty, most of us will have to admit to being overcome with childish fits of temper at one time or another in our lives. Whether that happens frequently, occasionally or twice a day, we all have given in to the urge to throw something across the room and watch it smash into a million pieces. (We mothers have to be most careful when the impulse is to throw one of our kids).
Although we all fall prey to this type of behavior, it really takes a big person to admit it, and that being the case, I'm going to tell you what this friend of ours once did. This friend, who shall remain nameless, got mad at his telephone one day. He was so mad that just slamming the receiver back in place was not enough to satisfy him, so he ripped it off the wall.
Then he threw it down on the floor and jumped on it once or twice.
That still didn't ease his frustration, so he kicked it around the floor a bit, kind of stirring up all the little pieces.
Then he picked up all those little pieces, put them in a brown paper bag, and went to the nearest payphone to call the phone company. (Keep in mind this was before anyone had even thought of a cell phone.)
He told the girl in the service department that there was something wrong with his phone, and she said she would have someone check the lines and they would get back to him.
"'You don't understand," my friend said. "There's no trouble on the lines. My telephone is broken."
"Sir, do you mean the instrument itself is broken?"
"Yes, Ma’am, that's exactly what I mean."
"What is it that's broken on your telephone?"
"Well, you could say the whole thing is broken. In fact, you might want to send out a whole new unit."
“Oh, okay. I’ll have a technician come to your home.”
At that point, I would have skipped town and let someone else greet the repairman, but this friend is given to great shows of bravery as well as terrific temper tantrums. He acted as if it were nothing out of the ordinary to hand a telephone repairman a bag of junk that used to be a telephone and tell him that a Mack truck ran over it.
If I had been the repairman, I might not have been able to resist asking how the wall fared.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Took some shots of the sunrise one day this week. Thought it was interesting that the pictures were all taken about the same time, yet the colors vary significantly.
I didn't change the settings on my camera, so I don't know why the variance happened. But I thought the pictures were pretty.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I remember when I used to do PR work and would go out on a photo shoot with a photographer to get pictures for a brochure or annual report, and I was always amazed at how many shots he would take. I was used to the way most of us take family pictures -- one shot each.
The photographer I worked with was very talented, and very patient. I was always mindful of the clock ticking and the fees, and he patiently explained that there is a difference between taking a picture and taking a photograph. If you want a good photograph you can't rush the process and you may shoot a whole roll of film before you get that one great shot.
I was reminded of that the other morning when I discovered some beautiful butterflies having breakfast from the flowers in my old plow. I must have taken 20 shots, before I got this pretty yellow swallowtail.
I won't post all the pictures, but I'll post a few to show the progression from beginning to end.
Monday, September 21, 2009
If we could talk to the animals, I’d run!
While a lot of very intelligent people are weighing in on health care, socialized medicine and obscenely high insurance rates, cows don’t give it a second thought. In fact, I’m sure if you were to even mention those things to a cow, it would look you straight in the eye and say, “Moo,” and really mean it.
Cows chew their cud, swat at flies, and never once worry about the things we worry about – which makes them pretty smart in my opinion. Sure, they eventually end up tasting mighty delicious on a plate with a bit of A1 Sauce, but up until that very moment, they don’t have a care in the world.
Scientists are now discovering that a lot of animals, just like cows, are more intelligent than we originally thought. No, they’re not smart enough to get your kid an A in calculus, but neither am I, which doesn’t prove a thing, so let’s continue with some absolutely true stories about smart animals.
Did you hear the one about the bird and the worm? The worm was floating in a glass of water, but because the water level was too low, the bird couldn’t reach it. Scientists gave the bird some stones, and before you could say, “nevermore,” the bird dropped the stones in the water, raising the water level and bringing the worm within easy reach.
If scientists were to put me in a room with a pile of rocks and a vat of water, and floating on the water was a cheeseburger – medium well but slightly out of my reach – I doubt very seriously I’d think of using the rocks to raise the water level. I might jump in, especially if it was an Angus Burger, but using rocks is for the birds.
So, how did this bird get so smart? Is it possible a new species of thinking, reasoning creatures that are able to use new math are gathering just under our noses? And if they are, why can’t we smell them? Don’t ask me – go ask your mother.
And then there’s the story about the chimps that can make and use tools (I usually buy and lose mine). They make spears out of tree limbs, jab them into other creatures and then eat them – which makes me have “Planet of the Apes” nightmares because it sounds less like they’re making tools, and more like they’re making weapons.
Dolphins, on the other hand, are too sneaky to need tools.
A dolphin was trained to bring up trash from his tank. Whenever he brought up trash, he was fed a “treat.”. One day, when the tank looked clean, the dolphin appeared with trash in his mouth, got his treat, but raised the suspicion of his trainer. The trainer discovered that the dolphin had made a cache of trash. Not only that, but instead of bringing up whole pieces, he was tearing off just bits of the trash, thus making his cache a long-lasting stash of trash. And what did this prove? That dolphins are sneaky – didn’t I already say that?
Finally, there’s a cat in my house and goats in my yard that are living proof that animals are smarter than we give them credit for. The cat meows at the door and I get up to let her out. I don’t want to. I fight against it. But the cat has trained me so well that I just give in and do what I’m told. Life is so much easier (and there’s less cat poop on the carpet) when you do what you’re told.
As for the goats: When the goats get out of their pen, I rattle a bucket of feed at them, they start following me, and I feed them when they get back into their pen. But the last time they escaped, I only had cat food. When I rattled the cat food at them, they followed, but refused to eat it. Minutes later, the goats were out again, but when I rattled the cat food, they just stared at me as if they were saying, “Listen my fine fellow, your entrées are very upsetting to our stomachs and we prefer to dine instead on these succulent weeds and grasses. So be a good fellow, run along and make sure our Cadillac is ready when we are.”
It sounded a whole lot like, “Baaaaaah” to my ears – but what do I know? I’m not as smart as a goat!
Tracy Farr is a musician and humorist, and in his spare time he drives a school bus. You can find more fun stuff at Stinky Creek , Texas
Friday, September 18, 2009
Apparently the Civil Liberties Union brought court action based on the belief that students have a right to be free from administrators who foist their personal religious beliefs on them. And on that fact they are correct, nobody should have personal religious beliefs imposed on them.
However, merely saying a prayer is not imposing beliefs. It is not the same as evangelizing or mandating that the students change their beliefs. It's a simple prayer. And if a student's personal belief system does not incorporate a god or prayer, then he or she is free to ignore the prayer.
Certainly students who can ignore a teacher's academic lecture can ignore a prayer that may last a matter of a few seconds.
In this whole debate over the separation of church and state, I agree that the state should not meddle in telling people what to believe or what not to believe when it comes to religion. And I also think it should not be telling people when and how they can pray. I respect an agnostic's or atheist's right to not believe, but I also ask that they respect other people's right to believe.
Standing in a respectful silence during a prayer, whether it be in a family, school, or civic setting is a perfectly good choice for a non-believer.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I just read on CNN news that one of my all-time favorite singers has died. Mary Travers, of the famed Peter, Paul, and Mary trio died from side effects of treatment from a bone-marrow transplant after battling leukemia.
The songs of Peter, Paul and Mary were as influential on the 60s and 70s as those of Pete Seeger, and called people to action as the civil rights and anti-war movements moved into full swing. In 1963, the trio performed its hit song "If I Had a Hammer" at the Washington march where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famed "I Have a Dream Speech."
That was a profound moment for me, and the idealist in me believed that if people only paid attention to what the songs were saying, we could end all the evils in society.
That was especially true of "Blowing in the Wind." How could a person listen to those lyrics and not want to change their ways? That song spoke to my soul in ways few other songs do, and I still count it as one of my favorites.
It was also one of the first songs I learned to play on guitar, and when I sing it now it still stirs my soul.
Recently I was listening to a CD of Peter, Paul, and Mary all-time hits, and I realized I know every song on the CD. I learned them all when we used to do Hootenannies at church.
For those young folks who read this a hootenanny is an informal performance by folk singers, typically with participation by the audience. )
Recently, I've idly thought about getting a hootenanny going at a venue here in my little corner of East Texas, and maybe this is the impetus to make it happen.
Rest in peace, dear Mary, your music will live on.
The singer was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in November 1936 and grew up in New York's Greenwich Village. As a teenager, she performed in a Broadway review, but stepped on to the folk music scene in the 1950s. She emerged as an iconic folk singer while performing with Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey.
Peter, Paul and Mary came together while singing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in Stookey's New York City apartment. They went on to play gigs at coffee houses and later on the radio.
"As a performer, her charisma was a barely contained nervous energy -- occasionally (and then only privately) revealed as stage fright," Stookey said.
Their music reflected the 1960s and the 1970s, a time of turmoil as the civil rights and anti-war movements moved into full swing.
Travers applied her recognition to rally behind those progressive movements. In 1963, the trio performed its hit song "If I Had a Hammer" at the Washington march where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famed "I Have a Dream Speech," her publicist said.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Some writers work to the sweet sound of their favorite music. I get to work to the sweet sound of my dogs bathing. They come into my office and decide it is time to take care of those personal hygiene needs, and the constant slurping can drive me nuts. Not to mention the fact that Poppy has to "talk" to her fleas while she is biting them.
I don't know what it is about my office that attracts all the animals, but they all love it. The cats are especially annoying when they decide they MUST be right in front of my computer, with paws and tails draped over the keyboard. I'm a terrible typist without that kind of interference, so working around furry appendages is really a challenge.
John, will usually just sleep when he gets to the favorite spot in front of my computer and keeps his feet to himself, but recently Orca has started claiming that spot. Not only does he nap here, he also bathes, which means he is moving around in front of the monitor. But that is not even the worst part.
After he has slept for a while, he decides he has to air out the family jewels, of which he has none, but he doesn't seem to realize that.
So I look down to type something and, well, there he is.
Monday, September 14, 2009
The pert-near truth about daughters
I have a daughter. Chances are, you have a daughter, too. There’s a special room in heaven just waiting for us. It has a sign on the door that reads: “Shell Shock Recovery Room. No Sudden Loud Noises!”
I’m not an authority on daughters. I only have the one whereas you may have a whole herd of them. But I’m starting to understand some things that I’d like to pass on to those of you who have no daughters, but who really want a few because you’ve heard they’re always polite and never belch at the table (which is a total lie).
So, here’s what I’ve learned so far. It’s not much, but it’s all I’ve got:
1. All little girls want horses. They will not be denied. Sure, you could use the logical arguments of high cost, not having enough back yard to keep one, a horse’s pooper-scooper being called a shovel – but when it comes to horses, little girls don’t think logically. It’s best to buy them a subscription to a horse magazine and put off buying a real horse until they’re married and their husband can afford it.
If the subscription doesn’t work, maybe a stuffed animal or poster will do. If not, don’t blame me.
2. A daughter is born with a telephone attached to her left ear. You probably missed it on the day of her birth. Don’t feel bad, most parents do. But now that you see it, I would suggest subscribing to the “You’ve Got A Daughter” cell phone plan. Unlimited minutes, unlimited texting, no roaming charges, national and international coverage, nights & weekends, rollover minutes, and friendly customer service guaranteed for the life of your daughter. It will cost you $1.5 gazillion a year, but that’s a whole lot cheaper than if she “borrowed” your phone and sent her 30 best friends 1,000 text messages a day.
I guess you could get her a phone “only to be used in emergencies,” but a daughter’s definition of “emergency” is: “I haven’t talked to my BFFs for nearly 17 minutes. I must talk to them NOW or the world will come to an end.”
3. When your baby girl starts talking about needing to shave parts of her body, that’s when you need to start looking for a boat. It would be easier if you already had one, but sometimes it’s impossible to see the future through your daughter’s bright, girlish smiles and hugs that seem to say, “Daddy, I love you.”
WARNING: When your daughter gives you those bright, girlish smiles and hugs that seem to say, “Daddy, I love you,” she’s really setting you up for a trap. It’s just a ploy to get either a horse or to borrow one of your razors. Don’t fall for it. Be a man and buy the biggest boat you can afford. You’re going to be using it a lot, so you might as well be comfortable.
4. The menstrual cycle is a perfect excuse to go fishing on that brand new boat. If you have more than one “little girl” in the house, you get to fish twice as much. If you’re a man who has a hard time talking about “that time of the month,” join the rest of us out on the lake. We’ll be waiting for you by the dam.
5. One day your little girl is wearing pigtails, the next day she has boobs. Boobs attract boys; their brains short-circuit when confronted with cleavage; but boys understand shotguns and the damage they can inflict if they don’t steer clear of your little girl’s “blessings.” A daddy has to do what a daddy has to do – whether it be with .12 gauge or .24. And if the shotgun doesn’t do the trick, try the chainsaw.
6. Don't be sad when the day comes that you must “give your daughter away.” Just be thankful you don't have to pay someone to take her. Although, there are times when I think the dowry system of marriage should be revised. (Those times correspond to whenever the goats are out of their pen.)
Hear Ye! Hear Ye! all future suitable suitors for my daughter’s hand in matrimony. You are hereby informed that on the happy day of your union, not only will you receive my daughter and all the bills she’s run up over the years, but you’ll also receive three pygmy goats and their offspring, along with enough fencing material to keep them on your property and not on mine. I’ll even help load your truck at no extra charge.
Tracy Farr is a musician and humorist, and in his spare time he drives a school bus. You can find more fun stuff at Stinky Creek , Texas
Friday, September 11, 2009
Sometimes as we are distanced from tragedy the memories dim somewhat. That's a normal human reaction, a way of dealing with pain and grief.
Now, nine years after that horrible day in September when we saw planes crash into buildings and thousands of people die, the images are not as crisp in my mind as they were a year or two years ago.
On one hand that is a good thing, as that deep ache I used to feel is not as heavy as it once was. But on the other hand, I want to cling to the feelings of intense patriotism that tragedy instilled in me and people all across the country. We were united in our anguish and our purpose.
And that is what I wish we all could focus on in these troubled economic and political times. United we can do great things. Divided we will fail. And we do not honor the memory of the dead by failing.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
It's an indisputable fact that as parents our intelligence ratio is in direct proportion to the ages of our children. The younger they are, the smarter we are.
I came to this profound realization the day my oldest daughter turned 16 and half my gray matter disintegrated. I could hardly believe that she was the same daughter who used to consider me the final authority on everything from why God made bugs to how the moon got up in the sky.
How fondly I remembered those good old days when she was four and I was smart.
She stood in awe of me because I could answer all her questions, not to mention that I could actually grow a plant from her watermelon seed.
Then she grew up and it reached a point where I would have given almost anything for just one brief glimmer of that old wide-eyed wonder. In fact, I would have given anything for a simple nodding acknowledgment that I might know something besides my name, address, and phone number.
It was a terrible shock to realize this was happening to me. I had years of education behind me. Not to mention all the accumulated wisdom from the intervening years, and I was reduced to pre-kindergarten status by one disdainful glance.
I, who used to be the most respected beauty consultant outside of Glamour magazine, suddenly knew nothing about hair care or make up.
I, who used to rival Chef Tell and the Galloping Gourmet in the kitchen, was now hard pressed to turn out a decent carrot stick.
I, who at one point could have started my own designer label with all the cute little dresses I created, had about as much taste as Miss Piggy.
Mind you, this was the same daughter who used to wear those dresses and tell everyone that her mommy made them for her. Now she wanted all the old photographs destroyed so nobody would ever see that she once wore a dress made out of pillow ticking.
It was a cute dress. Honest. With little yellow daisies on it that I hand appliqued. But did that matter? No. All she worried about was the fashion police and the fact that someone might decide she looked like a pillow.
This disdain for my mental acuity reached a point that I started wishing we could go back in time so I could bask in her adoration once again.
But then I had a second thought on the subject.
If we went back in time, this day of reckoning would still be lurking in my future, and I'd eventually have to face into it. Since I was already there, I might as well tough it out while I still had a small shred of intelligence left.
And, there were four other kids waiting in line.
Monday, September 07, 2009
I also received another funny piece from my humorist friend, Tracy Farr, so here is a link to his latest nonsense on WinnsboroToday.com. He has a new take on reality shows.
Last, but not least, my other regular columnist for WinnsboroToday.com, Slim Randles, has some dating tips on his latest offering. Here is a link to his essay.
Hope you enjoy these essays and columns. I am so thankful that these terrific writers share their talent with me and the folks who read WinnsboroToday.com
Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming....
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Yesterday morning I was out early just as the sun was coming up. Needed to feed animals and do some trimming around the yard, but couldn't resist stopping for some pictures first.
I couldn't quite capture the sunrise in all it's glory. It's amazing how quickly a scene will change in the few minute it took me to walk back to the house and get my camera. But I did manage to catch some of the morning fog and a bit of the orange in the sky.
Then I noticed that dew was clinging to the ends of the pine needles. When I saw it, I couldn't help but think of the descriptions I've read in books of early mornings with dew glistening like jewels. Next time I read a description like that, this is the image that will come to mind.
And of course, while I had my camera out, I had to take a picture of some of the animals. Poppy couldn't understand why I had stopped throwing her ball, but was patiently waiting for me to resume her favorite pastime.
Orca was waiting in the grass for the gopher. He had a long wait.
Friday, September 04, 2009
Books are being pushed aside for digital learning centers and gaming areas. "Loud rooms" that promote public discourse and group projects are taking over the bookish quiet. Hipster staffers who blog, chat on Twitter and care little about the Dewey Decimal System are edging out old-school librarians.
I do embrace a lot of the new technology and love the fact that if I am doing a story and need to find a specific detail or check for accuracy, I can switch from Word and go on the Internet to find the detail or verify the fact. There was a time when I had to stop working and go to the library to do that.
On the other hand, I will miss the "old-school" librarians, like the one who presided over the little library of my childhood. She encouraged a young girl to read more than just the horse stories that were my first love, and when I'd exhausted most of the books that were in the children's section, she wrote a note to my mother asking permission to give me "select" adult books to read.
So I got to read Little Women, Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, Of Mice and Men and many other books that both charmed me and broadened my world view.
Will that same type of personal relationship and fostering be possible in this new age? I don't know. That remains to be seen. But I hope this same kind of magic can happen, because a love of reading, no matter how that love is introduced, can take a young person a long way toward success. Not to mention how much fun there is along the journey.
Just think of the books you have read in your lifetime and what they mean to you.
I want to take a moment to thank that lady, along with all the other "old-school" librarians who have touched my life and helped me with research through all the years I have been writing. New technology may dominate the future, but you will never be replaced.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Patricia Stolty honored me with the Kreativ Blogger Award and this came as such a nice surprise. Patricia has a wonderful blog where she talks about writing and things related to Colorado authors.
Thank you so much Patricia for this recognition. Coming from someone with such an awesome blog and blog site, I am humbled.
There are rules associated with this award.
*****Rule for Passing on the Kreativ Blogger Award
It functions as a meme---list 7 of your favorite things, 7 of your favorite activities, 7 things no one knows about you.
Seven of my favorite things: family, chocolate, puzzles, animals, hamburgers, spaghetti, cookies.
Seven of my favorite activities: writing, playing guitar, acting, gardening, riding horses, watching movies, quilting.
Seven things no one knows about me: This is hard since I am pretty much out there with what I think and how I act, but I'll try to come up with something. Hmmmm...... Some people don't know I used to work for a veterinarian. Other people may not know that I am a hospital chaplain.
Gotta give up on thinking of other things. It would be easier if the rule was seven things some people don't know about me, but there isn't much that no one knows.
1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.
For the Kreativ Blog I nominate:
Helen Ginger's Straight From Hel
Beth Groundwater's Blog
Ginger Simpson's Dishin' It Out
Lou Ann Morgan's Reading Frenzy
Terry O'Dell's Terrys Place
The Book Muncher
Marilyn Meridith's Marilyn's Musings
These are all blogs I visit frequently, if not daily, and all have great content and are very well done.