Aaahh – They Got Me!

versatile-blogger2They almost missed me.  Here it is, awards season again, and once again I’ve been unfairly passed over.  Not a word from my adoring public.  I didn’t get one of those strange, un-named statues (?) that look like an op-art angel made of gold ribbon, at the amalgamated Canadian Screen Awards show, watched by all 12 people who give a damn.  Surely I’ve had a better story arc than that hit Canadian show….tee-hee-hee  Hold on a sec – I’ve gotta Wiki to find out what Canada considers a hit.

Nothing at the AMA show, even though I can sing better than that Carly Rae Jepsen kid, when the drugs and her ego wear off.  I’m gorgeous!  You deserve me!  Call me, maybe, if you get off on that child pornography charge.

I didn’t get a Golden Globe, although I saw a bunch of golden globes as I surfed by, on my way to a TV program that required both of my brain cells to be awake and functioning.  My buddy Seth MacFarlane woke the crowd at the Oscars up by singing about them.  We Saw Your Boobs!

I thought that the judges at the Oscars were a little nit-picky.  Apparently you actually have to be filmed doing something to get a statue.  My portrayal of a curmudgeonly old fart was much better than Clint Eastwood’s in Gran Torino, and I wander around talking to empty furniture all the time.

When I published my 100th post, four of them had been for various well-deserved blogging awards.  Soon to reach the 200 mark, I hadn’t been inflicted with another award.  I feared that perhaps I’d lost my mind touch, but then realized that, as awesome as you guys are, you were just too busy to render proper obeisance.

Edward Hotspur was out, spreading Technicolor Unicorn piss, Fairy dust and attitude.  Some of it settled as far as www.benzeknees.wordpress.com up in the Great White North.  Benze was using it to melt the ice, and get some traction, in her driveway, when a bit of it blew my way.  That’s why I’m now the proud owner of a gently used Versatile Blogger Award.

As usual, there’s a bunch of rules, and, as usual, because I’m lazy, and much like Mary, Mary – quite contrary – I’ll follow them, or not, as I see fit.  First, I’ve linked above.  Click to visit a nice lady with some interesting things to say.  Second, I want to thank Benze for having the good taste to honor me as I deserve.  Third, I’ve picked up a copy of the Award and displayed it at the top of this post.  If the wife and I can figure out how to do the insert-widget thing, I’m going to dress the place up a bit, by displaying some of these on the sideboard.

Next, I’m supposed to pass this award on to 15(!!??) other worthy bloggers, and comment on their site to let them know that they also can have a big bowl of this worship, with ice cream on it.  Ain’t gonna happen!!  Somebody convinced the dinosaurs to do that, and see what happened to them, extinct.  I should know.  I watched it happen.

If you’re on my blog-roll, and you want a copy of this pretty little picture and an excuse for a post, feel free to grab one.  I’ll testify in court for you.  If you’re not on my blog-roll, but still feel that you are deserving….I saw Nothinggg!  NNothingg!

Now I’m supposed to reveal seven facts about myself.  They’re supposed to be interesting; but I didn’t read anything that said they have to be true, so here goes.

I can still tie my own shoelaces, but I wear boots most of the time, so that I don’t have to bother.

My GPS co-ordinates put me as near as Damn It, to halfway from the equator to the North Pole.

Why is a mouse when it spins?  The answer, of course is, the higher, the fewer.

I would hate to be blind.  The eyesight is normal for my age, and requires glasses for close work.  I love reading and word puzzles and watch a fair amount of TV, much of it non-series.  However, I have always loved the dark, played in places as a kid where I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.  I’ve been down in two Virginia caves, in one of which, the guide turned off the lights, and I experienced total darkness.  Aside from the waste of electricity, and the money to pay for it, my house always looks dark.  I put little 7-watt nightlights in each room, which cast just enough light to get safely from place to place, and only turn on lights where and when they’re needed.  I drive past houses at night which look like the Vegas strip, lights on outside, and in every room.  Are they insecure?

I walked to Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West when I was there, and observed/studied it.  I didn’t go in.  I’m not sure tourists are permitted to go in, or if there’s a fee.  I did see several of his famous six-toed cats, and even managed to stoke one for a second or two.  They’re not feral, but they roam free, and are somewhat leery of strangers.

While I’ve been harassed a number of times in my life by police officers with nothing better to do than flex their legal muscles, I’ve never been arrested or charged with anything.  Some of my readers may find that interesting.  I did have an RCMP officer fingerprint me when I applied for a Security Guard licence.

If you’ve been counting my facts, because you know you can’t count on me, you know that this is the seventh.  I’ve run out of time and space, and want to thank you all very much for coming to this awards show.  Next time, try to dress a little better.

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Book Review – #1

I don’t know if my lazy, forgetful ass will get around to doing the occasional book review, but if it does, I’ve started off correctly numbered.  Actually, this blogging thing is cutting into my reading time.  Here it is, the first week of March, and I’ve only read ten books so far this year.  Sparklebumps did a post about some of the books she read last year.  I didn’t keep a list, but I’ve started one for this year.  If the blog and I are still around after New Years, I’ll give you a glimpse of the drivel I read.

With the release of a Jack Reacher movie, I became aware of the series of books.  I decided that I’d like to start with book number one, and work my way up through the character development.  The good Scottish lad could buy one at a bookstore – or just check to see what’s free at the library.  There are several copies available, including a large-print version at the nearest branch.  I put in a reservation for it.  The large print is easier for the old eyes, and there are only 5 people ahead of me in line, instead of 27 for the paperback version.

After a bit over a month, I got notified that I could pick it up.  I waited a day, till I finished a book the son took out, in a different series.  I got the Reacher novel home and flipped to the end.  This thing is a tome, 700 pages!  Then I flipped to the front.  Oh yeah, LARGE PRINT.  Forgot that.  There’s about four words to the page, no wonder I knocked off 165 pages the first evening.  After two days of reading, it occurred to me that I should be thinking about reserving the next in the series.  Another large-print version, but this one has 8 people waiting.  I have a shelf of other books to keep me busy till it shows up.

The Author – Lee Child

The Book – Killing Floor

The Review

This is Child’s first book.  I anticipate the quality will improve as the series develops.  It’s an action/adventure story, mostly for men, quite similar to a couple of other series I’m reading.

The protagonist, Jack Reacher, is the accepted type of anti-hero currently popular.  He’s been in the American Army for 13 years and lists almost that many base postings around the world.  Perhaps he hasn’t fit in.  He has received extra training, and been assigned as Army Policeman, bringing in the drunks and AWOLs and other bad guys.

Financial cuts have redundancy-ed him out of the Army with a severance package large enough to wander the U.S. for six months, seeing the sights and wondering what to do with the rest of his life.

The number of Maguffin coincidences Child uses to get him to the start of the story is considerable.  He travelled down the Midwest, from Chicago to New Orleans.  On a whim he decided to explore some of Florida.  On another whim, he decided to visit Atlanta.  A last-second, spur-of-the-moment decision had him persuade an Express-bus driver to let him out at an interstate exchange, so that he can research some Negro jazz-man, 60 years dead.  He walked 14 miles to the small town, passing within 50 feet of two dead bodies, one of which he is immediately accused of killing, because he’s the stranger in town.

The Deus Ex Machina arrives a little early, when he finds that the stiff is his only brother, who he hasn’t seen or talked to in 7 years.

There’s an immediate love-interest, or is it just sex-interest?  He won’t be staying.  He’s in town two days, and already sleeping with the only female police officer, who gets him an illegal gun and access to restricted files.

Child describes the psychology of violence well, hit early, hit hard, live to hit another day.  The fights are well presented, both physically, and within the social structure inside a prison.

While now emigrated, and safely ensconced in New York City, the author was born and raised in England, a country not known for its experience with, or exposure to firearms.  He sadly fails the gun-nuts among his readers, by having a victim killed by being shot twice in the head by a .22 caliber handgun.  He describes the slugs penetrating the skull, something these underpowered little shells often fail to do, and then graphically but incorrectly describes them “bursting from the other side, in an eruption of bone and brain.”  I wait to see how much he learns about guns in future books.

While no Sherlock Holmes, Jack Reacher is shown to have the deductive ability be able to think through the alternatives, sometimes a little after the fact, but able to regain the initiative.

This is not War And Peace, or A Tale Of Two Cities, but it is a good solid story, capable of holding your interest.  The plot is predictable, but with enough little quirks to lead you forward.  The characters are well described, with their strengths and foibles. Suspension of disbelief is not difficult.  Word usage is good, with very little vernacular.  A few eight-dollar words are thrown in, but easily deciphered from context.

I would recommend this book for anyone with the time and interest in this genre.  I hope that the second, and subsequent books, tighten up and flesh out a bit.  This one is good entertainment without requiring too much deep thinking.  If you put a bit in, and get a little extra out, it’s a bonus.

 

 

Purple Jesus

I wonder already, how many of you know what I’m talking about, and how many are just shaking your heads, confused and wondering.  Did you ever go to college or university?  Did you ever get really wasted on booze?  Did these two things happen more or less in conjunction?  Chances are, you know about Purple Jesus.

Purple Jesus is the drink of choice for those who want to be a little more upscale than those who merely swill beer.  It’s the all-you-can-drink buffet served by folks who want to throw a party you won’t remember.  There’s supposed to be a recipe for it.  One bottle of Rye, one bottle of rum, one bottle of gin, and one bottle of pure, unflavored alcohol.  All “bottles” are 26ers in Canada, and fifths in the USA.  For each bottle added to the communal pot, a 48 ounce can of Welch’s Grape Juice is stirred in.

In practice, it includes whatever the BYOB guests bring.  It all gets covered by the taste of the grape juice anyway.  At the party I attended, the mixing was done in a huge canning kettle.  With two universities and a large Community College in town, there are tales of bathtubs in the students dorms, stained permanently purple.  Scrub and rinse the tub, put in a new stopper, and you’re ready to party.

The little bash I attended was supposed to be a lease-breaking party.  Two friends had signed a year’s lease, but wanted to move to a handier location after eight months.  The landlord wouldn’t let them sub-let, and didn’t want to be bothered screening a new tenant, hence, The Party.

Newly married, the wife and I arrived on-time, to find the shindig already under way.  All chairs and sofas were full, so we wound up sitting on a couple of cushions on the floor.  A short while later, we were joined by a hippie couple and their male, deodorized, pet skunk.  Cute little fellow, (the skunk) friendlier than any cat.

All of us sucked back the PJ, except the hippies; they toked up and added a contact high to the room.  They lived on the seventh floor of another apartment building, and the next day, the skunk committed suicide by walking off the balcony, or so they claimed.  Poor thing, probably thought it could fly.

Our hostess served each of us a twelve-ounce glass of this witch’s-brew, as we sat on the cushions.  The stuff goes down like Kool-Aid.  Twenty minutes later, my glass was empty.  I went to stand up to get a refill, but the hostess told me to sit, and got it for me.  Twenty minutes later, my glass was empty, again!  With no hostess in sight, I lithely arose….and apparently an earthquake tipped the building.  Holy S**t, I think I’ll just collapse sit here and coast for a while.

The party was in the middle of February, but with that many people, the doors to the snow-covered balcony were left open.  The first glass you get with the ladle.  Perhaps the second glass you get, you use the ladle.  By the third glass….ah, t’hell widdit, just dip the glass into the pot, and get grape-coated fingers.

One of the partiers did this, and then stepped out for some fresh air.  Seeing the humor potential only a drunkaholic would, he grabbed a small handful of snow, and tossed it at one of his friends.  At least it struck the wall in the same room.  The person splattered by the ricochet got up, went to the kitchen, dipped out another glassful of the magical elixir by hand, grabbed some snow, and tried to return the favor.  Soon, it looked like a pie-fight in one of the Three Stooges movies.

When the gaiety subsided because everyone was out of breath, the walls were decorated with dozens of little purple exclamation points.  The grape-encrusted snow had hit the walls, melted and run down, leaving purple tracks.  Maybe my ears were anesthetized, I didn’t think the noise level got too high.  The next day, the landlord came up to complain, and saw all the marks on the wall.  It cost them the price of repainting the room, but they got their wish.  They were out by the end of the month.

Ah, the good old days, when we were invulnerable.  Now, if I have a second small glass of Pepsi, I pay for it the next day.  Never *regular* partiers, both the wife and I cut back when we got married.  Did any of you party hardy when you were young and foolish?  Are you foolish enough to think you still can?  KayJai and her booze-cruise buddies need not respond to this poll.  They are exempt from self-incrimination.

More Ice And Snow

I published this post by error the other night.  I immediately removed it and posted the correct one.  The next morning, I found that it was not deleted from those of you who get my posts by email.  If you’ve already read this one, I apologise.

Even for those of you who live where ice and snow are a normal winter occurrence, I have a few more observations, suggestions and idiosyncrasies.

I wrote of cleaning off windshields, side and back windows, and mentioned about being able to see where you’re going.  Cleaning off your entire vehicle is also important because it make you visible to other drivers.  If someone wishes to pull out, and looks up the street and sees nothing but white, they assume you’re an unmoving snow bank, and pull out. You may have the legal right-of-way, but you’re still the cause of an accident.

When you clear your car, clean off the headlights and tail-lights so that others notice you.  Clean off the grille so that the engine breathes better.  With today’s computer-controlled cars, yours will still start and run, but will use less fuel, produce less air pollution, and warm up faster (and so will you) if it inhales better.

Clean out the recessed wiper trough, or air-intake vent near the windshield.  If you don’t do this, the snow will melt as the engine warms, get sucked into the cabin, and re-deposit as frost on the inside of the glass.  You’ll either spend extra time scraping it off the inside, or extra time in hospital when you don’t see the truck.

How to shovel snow: Be rich enough to pay someone else to do it for you.  Failing that, when you begin shovelling snow early in the winter, throw it as far back as you can.  More snow will accrue, and if the first lot is piled at the edge of your lawn or driveway, not only will you have to throw subsequent lots back, you’ll have to do it over the piles at the edge, making it that much harder.

As I was digging out after our most recent storm, I watched the teen-age boy across the street.  He dumped his first shovelfuls only as far as he had to.  By the time he was finishing the job, he was carrying them over and struggling to toss them over a pile as tall as he was.

We don’t use salt to melt ice on sidewalks or driveways.  It kills grass, and flowers in the wife’s gardens, and doesn’t do cars, clothing or footwear any good.  We use crystal urea.  It melts like salt, but is itself a fertiliser.  It means I have to mow or weed more often, but that’s a lot easier and warmer than shovelling snow or chopping ice.  We buy it in fifty-pound bags at an agricultural-supply store near the farmers’ market.  Because it’s a fertiliser, they sell it during the summer.  We forgot to get a bag last summer, and I’ve barely got enough to get through the winter.

With a dog in the house, I have to shovel not only out the front, but out the back too.  We own the left side of a semi-detached house.  The builder didn’t bother to purchase left-hand French doors for deck access.  When we moved in, the sliding portion did so on the outside.  If we had a heavy snow or ice storm, the door was almost impossible to move.  Our four cats have learned to use two kitty-litter boxes, but the dog insists on going outside.

I have to shovel a couple of paths across the deck, and an 18 inch tall dog has trouble with two-foot piles of snow in the back yard.  A couple of times each winter, I have to shovel/tramp down, a big looping path through the back yard, and a landing area, so that he has someplace to leave his buried treasure. It keeps the odor away from the house, till I can get out and scoop it up in the spring.

Several years ago, we went from cable TV to satellite.  Fortunately, the dish is only mounted on my front porch roof.  Last night I had to take a broom, to the end of which another broom-handle is taped, wade across my hip-deep front yard, and reach up to clean off ¾ of an inch of wet, clingy snow.

When there’s no snow, the daughter can at least make short runs in her power wheelchair.  When winter closes in and sidewalks are not shoveled, it can range from difficult to impossible to get certain places.  She lives in one of two wheelchair accessible units in a housing complex right off a community trail.  The sidewalk plows the city uses sometimes have the trail clear before the street in front of the complex is done.  The biggest barricade is often the sidewalk from her unit to the trail.  The neighbor shovels as far as his van, in front of the units, for his wife’s wheelchair, but it’s about another two-hundred feet to the trail, and heavily used by many of the school-children and non-car-owning low-income residents.  It gets packed down quickly and thickly after a storm.

The grandson is now 20, and a great help, but it’s not unusual, a couple of times a winter, for me to stop in and use her shovel, and a chopper or scraper to clear back enough of a track that she can roll out to the nearest supermarket or the postal outlet when she needs to, to prevent cabin fever.

Not much humor or trivia in today’s post, just the rants and rambles I promised you above.  The only thing you may have learned is to sit a little farther from the computer screen when the curmudgeon is on a tear.  I’m having a wonderful winter.  How has yours been?