Sunday, November 15, 2015

King of the Wild Frontier Airlines

If you've read any of the many film reviews our friend Hank Parmer has written for World O' Crap, you know he has a delightfully jaundiced eye for bad movies. But he also has a rather painterly eye for scenery, and during a recently holiday to the Smokies he snapped some breathtaking photographs. (Click to embiggen.)

Cherohala Skyway - Brushy Ridge Overlook

I'm a city boy by nature, and when I vacation I stick to the Non-Smokies Section, but I do enjoy the russet hues of autumn, enough so that I used to make regular pilgrimages from Avenue C to Central Park just to gawk at them.  Unfortunately, the pygmy dates and Mexican fan palms that line Hollywood Boulevard are persistently duo-chromatic, so Hank's pictures are as close as I can get nowadays.

Cherohala Skyway - East of Brushy Ridge

Citico Creek

The word "Citico" is presumably of Native American origin, but after years of crassly titled stadia, I leaped to the conclusion that some oil company had bought the naming rights to this creek.

Like Davey Crockett, Hank is also from the greenest state in the land of the free, also knows every tree, and also saw a b'ar on this trip. But he didn't kilt a b'ar, because he isn't three, and that's the sort of thing that only a toddler with poor impulse control would do. Also, Hank's theme song is considerably less racist.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


By Keith

Poor Dr. Carson. He's written an autobiography that doesn't pass the muster of fact-checking from the bean-counters in corporate media.

I, Keith, haven't written an autobiography, partly because Mary advised Scott not to ghostwrite at the rate that I offered to pay. But there are many instances in my history on the planet where I have demonstrated outrageous or courageous behavior. And no one believes me either. Let's enumerate the good times.

Keith Originated The “War on Christmas”

The “War” began Dec. 2, 2006, at a Barnes & Noble near you. I'm not sure why but most likely James Taylor's shitty “holiday-themed” CD being in constant rotation throughout the store was the trigger event.

After listening to the awful cover of Baby, It's Cold Outside for 40 or so times I snapped. I took the CD out of the machine, wrote “Death to Baby Jesus” on the play side with a sharpie then threw it into the return bin on top of John Legend.

A pregnant silence descended over the store to be followed by cheers of relief and gratitude from shoppers on all floors. It really happened, honest. I got a quarter raise as a result.

Keith Destroyed Chris Rock's Crummy Career

Yes, it's true. I never liked that A-Hole. This occurred at the same Barnes & Noble store near you. He came in late one night and tried to be funny. You know, “funny.” I said “Hey, bro, aren't you my man Chappelle?” End of story.

Keith Killed Pier Paolo Pasolini

This one is very hard to live up to. I was looking forward to Salo: 120 Days of Sodom but after viewing thought it was his worst film ever. It wasn't up to the artistic or even the technical standards he showed us in Teorema or Mama Rosa. After we had sex on the beach, I ran over him with the Fiat he had rented. There was some damage to the car and some sand between the seats, so I had to pay extra on return but it was worth it, I'll tell you. Don't believe it? I kept his American Express card as a trophy!

Keith Owns Gram Parson's Remains

Don't believe the hype about the cremation in the desert. He's in my basement freezer. He looks great after wiping off the frost accumulation. I check him out about twice a year.

You see, even ordinary folk like myself are capable of doing things that leave one open to scrutiny in later life. And here's a presidential candidate trying to convey some sense of himself and yet is treated to obvious disdain and ridicule. I'm stopping here because no one will believe I murdered Laura Palmer. It was so long ago …

Friday, November 6, 2015

Speed Birthdating!

Crap, I better post something before this blog turns into Brigadoon.

First, a seriously belated thanks to Sheri for the lovely birthday post, with its glimpse into the dark mind of Jimmy and his psycho-sexual fixation on MOR, the meat so thrifty it won't even spring for an "E". I'd never heard of this poor man's SPAM and certainly can't vouch for its flavor, but based on the image in the post below, it's apparently an effective prophylaxis against puppy love.

And thanks for the many kind and thoughtful birthday wishes in the comments, especially because I've been so criminally dilatory this month about celebrating everyone else's birthday. My only excuse is that I'm in a lot of pain, and while that's nothing new, my reaction to it is.

In the past, I've been able to slog through most of these episodes with a sparing use of painkillers, a liberal application of corticosteroids, and a daily refrain of "This too shall pass." But this time -- maybe because I'm getting older and my bony infrastructure isn't bouncing back as fast as it once did -- the bum disc was accompanied by depression, exhaustion, and a pervading sense of What's The Point?  I probably should have fessed up about this earlier, rather than just leaving the blog out to rust in the yard, but I know so many people, many from the Wo'C community, who are dealing with so much worse -- chronic fatigue, constant pain, even homelessness -- that I felt like an insufferable wuss for whining about this in public (rather than in private, to Mary, who probably, now that I think of it, would have appreciated you guys taking her shift for once).

Anyway, I had an epiphany on my birthday, realizing that such an occasion, especially at my age, should be a time for reflection, frank self-assessment, and a renewal of purpose. And if I am as honest with myself as I strive -- however imperfectly -- to be, I must further acknowledge that I'm not likely to enjoy the results of any of that, so I should just gorge myself on Zebra Cakes and Meister BraĆ¼ instead.

Unfortunately, the Dollar Tree was out of both, so I've no option but to make up for lost time with a mass birthday bacchanalia, retroactively recognizing all the unremarked natal days in reverse order, starting with...

November 5: Li'l Innocent!  Graceful wordsmith.  Gifted illustrator. Two discrete skills that don't often go together. But while Li'l may have perfected this unlikely union, she didn't invent it, because Chef Boy-ar-dee® beat her to it:

You can make German Pizza by adding sliced knockwurst and sauerkraut (rinsed and drained). Then sprinkle generously with caraway seeds.
That's the key, people. Everyone knows about the rinsed and dried sauerkraut (I like to blow dry mine, then tease it with a rattail comb to give my German Pizzas more loft and bounce), but don't be stingy with the caraway seeds!

November 1: Chris Vosburg!

"Engineer" Vosburg, as he's known around these parts, is a longtime member of the commentariat and an occasional field reporter for Wo'C.  He's a font of Hollywood trivia -- both the locus and the metonym -- and a rich source of fiber and anecdotes about Catalina Island, baseball, Dutch rock bands, print-making, and many other fields of dark and mysterious magic.  He also knows his Star Trek (which I know because he was kind enough to listen to the Star Trek podcast I was on, and live-blog it in the comments), so I think this would be an appropriate entree for his personal feast day:

You will be charmed with these dainty little puddings--
I imagine Russell Crowe as Maximus in Gladiator holding up a fistful of glistening suet to the crowd in the Coliseum and bellowing, "Are you not charmed?"

But frankly, the Atora looks less like a pudding to me, and more like the Horta from the TOS episode Devil in the Dark.

I realize it's a nerdy comparison to draw, but Chris will get it.

October 18: KWillow!  Not only is K a delightfully smart and snarky commenter, she's also one of the nicest people I've ever had the privilege to know, kind to cats and people, and an all around good soul.  I almost feel bad, knowing what's coming out of the kitchen for her...

There's a famous soul food joint in Hollywood called Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles, which I'm ashamed to say I've never gone to, because whenever I've walked by there's always a huge line (also why I've never had a frankfurter from local institution Pink's Hot Dogs) and because Chicken and Waffles has never struck me as a particularly harmonious pairing. But Waffles and Mushroom Soup?  That's a classic. Waffles and Pimento-stuffed Olives? Who didn't grow up gorging on that every Sunday morning after church? Add drained, flaked tuna, and you've got a dish that'll throw a birthday party on your tongue. Or, if not, at least the cat will eat it.

October 11: Anntichrist S. Coulter!

What can we say about Annti that hasn't been said over the past 13 years? In fact, I believe it was she who inspired the whole birthday party tradition at Wo'C (certainly it was her nic that "inspired" [if that's the word I want and I'm pretty sure it's not] Sheri to celebrate each natal anniversary with an increasingly scary photo of Ann Coulter; probably because Annti's birthdate is hard by Halloween).

Annti is a rara avis, unfailingly empathetic and generous on the one hand, fluent in fifty different dialects of paint-stripping profanity on the other.  The kind of person you only meet once in a lifetime, if that, and one who deserves a tasty and decadent treat in honor of this, the anniversary of the day when she slid through the proscenium arch that is the cervix and began to strut and fret her hour upon the stage.  But since she's going through some particularly hard times at the moment, I think I'll spare her the gorge-hoisting fare and just make do with a Florida Green Anole, because we've gotta have at least one...
Sexy Birthday Lizard!

And, oh, what the heck, let's toss in some Charlize Theron while we're at it...

And finally, we come to the last but not least of the missed birthdays, not least because I missed it first:

October 4: Dr. BDH!

In addition to cracking wise in the comments, Dr. BDH is Wo'C Chief Medical Officer, and as such keeps things bustling at the House of Pain.  So who, I ask you, would be better equipped to whip up an antidote to this:

A Thaw and Serve Salad! And since Doc no doubt spent many a nerve-wracking hour in medical school removing wrenched ankles from bulb-nosed cadavers, I'm sure he can extract this handy fruit salad tray without touching the sides and making that horrible buzzing sound.

And with that, I think we're back on track. So please join me in wishing a very happy (and in most cases, very belated) birthday to Li'l Innocent, Chris V., KWillow, Annti, and Doc.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy Birthday, Scott!

This is a day late (and a dollar short), but I think that Scott will still accept our wishes for his happiness for the upcoming year, and our expressions of pleasure about him being born.  So, let me start by saying that I wish him a great 32nd year on this planet (or whatever year it will actually be), and that I will always be grateful that his parents not only produced him, but also sent him to Earth in a rocket, and that the mild-mannered Clevengers found him and raised him as their own.

Anyway, the formatting is being weird, so let me just invite you to Scott's birthday party, and open up the floor to toasts.  
Scott's fete is being sponsored by Mor, the thrifty meat that causes Jimmy to later get cancer, per WHO.  Or maybe little Mary Jane stabbed him, because she would NOT be ignored.  In any case, party on, Mor!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

State of the Blog

They've been testing the fire alarms all day. There's a speaker in every apartment, and they produce a noise so abusively shrill that it feels like the business end of some sonic weapon designed by the DoD to dislodge Manuel Noriega from the Vatican embassy in Panama, and it's made Moondoggie and me as nervous as cats. This is, of course, a first for him, but a fairly accurate snapshot of my daily demeanor, so I figured I'd just sit here and try to block it out, while I catch everybody up on what's been happening. Or not happening. seems like only part of this post (roughly the first paragraph) is appearing. Oh well...From a storytelling perspective it's always better to show than to tell, so I guess we'll let that be the overture to this symphonic bitchfest: massive computer problems! Pardon me while I see if I can find where the rest of my post went...
Please Stand By...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

2nd Amendment For 2nd Class Citizens!

As a fan of Joel Hodgson from Mystery Science Theater 3000, I obviously have no problems with a sleepy-eyed protagonist, but even I have to wonder if Ben Carson's evident narcolepsy might not disqualify him from the presidency. (Why worry about that "3 AM phone call" if the leader of the Free World is just as likely to be snoozing face-down in his morning bowl of Maypo?)

But then I read about how, as a young resident at Johns Hopkins, he foiled the armed robbery of a Popeyes Chicken franchise, just like Clint Eastwood did in the 1983 Dirty Harry film, Sudden Impact.  The two events are so eerily similar, in fact, that I suspect Carson's heroics may have inspired the scene in the movie, although they obviously spiced it up a bit for the screen (in the picture, Clint blows away most of the criminals, then challenges the last one to, "Go ahead...Make my day," while Carson helpfully pointed out the cashier to the gunman, then breezed out, whistling perhaps, or munching on a biscuit [had to be one or the other, since I know from personal experience that you can't do both simultaneously; especially not at the dinner table when your dad's sitting within back-of-the-head-smacking distance].)

Ben wasn't bragging, by the way; he only pulled out this artifact of badassery to prove he wasn't blaming the victims of the Umpqua shooting when he panned their response by saying, "Not only would I probably not cooperate with [the killer], I would not just stand there and let him shoot me, I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him.'" Then, based on past performance, Ben would gesture at his fellow victims and advise the killer, "Shoot them! THEM!", and then probably go out to Popeyes for a Butterfly Shrimp Tackle Box™ ("8 butterfly shrimp, fries, biscuit & cocktail sauce". Granted, that may seem like a lot for one person, but take it from Ben, cheating Death works up an appetite; plus, as the sole survivor he's now eating for eight.)
Why tackle a gunman when you can Tackle The Shrimp!

Dr. Carson found himself on slightly less firm footing when he suggested that victims of the Holocaust could have nipped that whole thing in the bud by packing heat, but couldn't back it up by recollecting that one time in Baltimore when Nazis tried to ship him off to Treblinka, but he distracted them by pointing out the nearest Jew.

A lot of people suggested that outnumbered amateurs with hunting rifles wouldn't be likely to fare well against stormtroopers (the Nazi kind, not the Star Wars kind, because those guys can't shoot for crap), and since European Jews (and others marked as sub-human by the Third Reich) didn't know they were being removed to death camps (they were being "resettled"), they had little incentive to stage suicidal, Ruby Ridge-style last stands on their doorsteps. And of course, when armed resistance was eventually offered -- in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising -- it was rather quickly put down by an enemy equipped with artillery, mortars, machine guns, and all the other military-grade arms that -- even today -- only a select few of our bat-shittiest sovereign citizens have managed to stockpile.

Nevertheless, Dr. Carson remains committed to his Second Amendment As a Cure for the Common Shoah theory, and if anything, he seems inclined to double down on it. So rather than arguing with him, I'd just like to ask a follow-up question. Or rather, I'd like some journalist to ask it for me, since I'll never be in the same room with the guy.

1.  Should Japanese-Americans have refused to surrender their guns to U.S. authorities in World War II?  Please note, Dr. Carson, I'm not asking if the government had the right to confiscate their weapons, because as American citizens they were certainly entitled to the same Constitutional protections as their neighbors; my question is, should they have refused to give up their guns?

2.  When the government forced Japanese-Americans to abandon their homes and property, should they have violently resisted relocation, as you say Europeans Jews were morally obliged to do? In other words, would they have been justified in shooting any Sheriff's Deputies or doughboys who showed up at their doors, ready to hustle them into a bus? After all, they knew they were being sent to concentration camps (what we'd call "FEMA Camps" today) so could they, and should they, have stopped this historic injustice by taking up arms and fighting their oppressors, just as you retroactively counseled the Jews to do?

And if not, why not?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Farewell, Smudge

Smudge avec Gargoyle

By Hank Parmer

Smudge, unlike the rest of our feline overlords, wasn't so much a foundling as a visitor who never left: There was a really bad cold snap that winter, fifteen years ago, and the guy who lived in the little house behind us at the time needed to bring his dogs inside. They were large dogs, not used to cats, so he was worried they might kill this kitten which, if I recall correctly, he was (sort of) looking after. He asked us to keep her for a few days, until the dogs could stay outside again.

I think he was probably well aware what he was doing: He knew we already had one cat -- Puck, the Van cat -- and really, as if anyone could have a devastatingly cute, feisty and affectionate two-month-old salt-and-pepper calico kitten with the most amazing green eyes around for a few days and not fall head-over-heels in love with it. He certainly didn't object to our keeping her. Somewhere among all the photos I haven't gotten around to scanning yet there's one of her comfortably perched on my shoulder, while I'm sitting at the computer. (I am fairly broad-shouldered, but this should still give you an idea how tiny a thing she was.)

Puck, who was well into his middle years by then, accepted her immediately. But of course, he was the friendliest, sweetest-natured feline I've ever known, incredibly tolerant of this manic ball of fur who would come streaking out of hiding with such gleeful ferocity she'd bowl him right over. Until he pinned her down with a foreleg and started grooming her, while she wriggled and protested. Yeah, I know: too damn cute for their own good. If I could have caught them on video, it probably would have garnered millions of hits on YouTube by now.

Smudge wasn't a big cat; she never weighed more than 8 or 9 pounds. In contrast to her outgoing kitten personality, as an adult she was occasionally affectionate, but mostly rather aloof and self-contained, with a real knack for finding the most unlikely places to take a nap, often way up on top of something. (Or, if she wasn't in a mood to cooperate, in some inaccessible corner of our cluttered house.) Many's the time I would be in a room, thinking I was alone, and then slowly come to realize I was being scrutinized from some high vantage by a pair of cool green eyes. Every cat knows it's the center of the universe, but I've never met another who exuded so much quiet confidence in the fact. She was the Empress of all she surveyed, far too dignified to wish to amuse her humans with cute cat tricks.

She was also the stubbornest cat of my acquaintance. When Fred, the big Maine Coon, joined our household, once again Puck was happy to have a new friend, and they got along famously. Smudge, however, instantly decided he was the essence of evil. For the rest of her life, she bullied him mercilessly.

If you ever met Fred, you'd know as well as I he could have done nothing to directly provoke this; as far as I could ever determine, she simply resented the fact of his existence. Sometimes she would pause while crossing the room, then with no warning at all dart over to the poor guy where he was curled up deep in slumber, and hiss and smack him on the nose. I guess she felt he deserved a whack, just on general principles. All he'd do is blink at her sleepily, with this "What'd I do?" expression. In fact, never once did I see this low-slung bruiser of a cat -- who weighed nearly twice as much as his tormentor -- retaliate against the little termagant. She had him completely buffaloed, .

And it really was personal; when several years later two more half-grown kittens found a home with us, about a year apart, Smudge just ignored them so long as they didn't pester her. She even allowed them to sleep with her on the waterbed -- if they maintained a respectful distance -- which was something she never permitted Fred.

For a frail, diabetic 15-year-old cat who had to have insulin twice a day -- that is, if she deigned to appear at injection time -- she was in fairly good health up until the last. I won't go into the details of what forced us to have her put to sleep, just that the onset was shockingly sudden, and we were there with her when what had to be done was done.

Like all her clan, she was a unique, often endearing and at times frustrating creature. Things just aren't the same, without this cantankerous gremlin who I suspect was a grande dame in some former life, as well as this one.