satire

The Politics of Dating

In Broascaating, you collect a lot of unemployment and you end up out of desperation doing odd jobs for very odd people who really, really liked you on the air.   They almost only ever agreed to an interview just to see if one  looked  as hot as one sounded.     I made it through a couple of interviews….I guess that was because I was actually worthy of being the subject of  their fantasy; Laurinella, Queen of SultryVox, Land of CarboHydratia.    Eeewwwww.   I can remember having some of the creepiest temporary bosses.

Anyway, I was thinking back on my long  career and one particular  period of unemployment appeared front and center on ye olde memory banks or in my mammary banks according to some of my creepier bosses.

I’d been doing a little freelance work for a Houston magazine (heavy on the “free”, by the way).   Days earlier, my editor asked me what I wanted to do next in terms of a subject.

I told her that I really didn’t care–anything would be fine–I wasn’t picky. Whatever. I suggested  she throw out a couple of potential topics.

Right off the bat, she suggested I do an in-depth piece on the Interior Department’s finalized proposal to open 48 jillion  acres of previously off-limits land for oil exploration and drilling.

“Nah, that’s a little heavy. Too many facts and numbers”, I said. “But anything else would be fine. Really. I’m amenable to anything,  seriously.  Just name it.  What other topics do you have in mind?”

She then suggested that I write an article on Venezuelan despot, Hugo Chavez (he was still and alive and killing back then) and his ardent criticism of neo-liberal globalization.

I shook my head and told her no; too many abstract political principles. Nor was I in the mood to do a lot of boring research. Plus my head started to spin. I told her I’d do anything , ANYTHING but that.

She then suggested an overview of Nancy Pelosi’s first two years as Speaker of the House.

I vomited a little in my mouth, then suggested an overview of anything else.

She then told me of her idea for a story about the dating world for older Houstonians. (And by older, I mean age 40 and up)

I thought about it for a second: it had possibilities; some creative potential. There would be no mention of Hugo Chavez or Nancy P.  that I could think of and besides, I was a Houstonian over 40.

I told her I’d do it.

But I quickly learned that I wouldn’t be talking to older Houstonians trying to date. I’d have to become one of the older Houstonians trying to date.

The story, as it was conveyed to me, would be far more interesting if I participated in it. First person perspective.

As in, I should actually go out on a date.

Yeah, uh-huh.

A date.

I’m not even sure what constitutes a date in 2017 much less in what it was in 2008 when I was given this assignment,   Certainly not for a woman whose birth  predates Eisenhower’s incessant rants about then military- industrial complex.   

See, at the time, I hasn’t had a real by God date per se since December 2004.    I was Tin Man rusty and way off my game, but a few years earliermImhad some success at what I called “guerrilla dating”. I attacked it with Gunga Din-like precision; I had the enthusiasm of a Sandinista with new boots during the rainy season.

This was my M.O.—I’d get all tarted up and go to the nearest Barnes and Noble Bookstore (ALWAYS date a literate man and do brick and mortar book stores still esxist?).   I’d find a pretentious stack of books to stand near. If I saw a nice looking man, I’d grab a book and open it. Remember, the book really doesn’t matter, but the title and cover made all the difference .  Just make sure whatever you grab as a prop, makes you look intellectual and even a bit mysterious.

I remember on one occasion, I actually trained my eyes to go Marty Feldman. Seriously! One eye scanned the room looking for a mark, while the other focused on the book allowing me to feign interest in the Runic alphabet. I didn’t get that many dates, but I learned that Runic/Futhark is Runic for “how’s it hanging”.

That should come in handy if I’m ever going out with a holdover who’s lineage is that of the ancient Goths.

Still, I remember being nervous about all of it.  The dynamics of dating had changed since I last went out one a date four years prior.  Should I be worried I hasnt changed enough to accommodate all the social changes? But surely, some of the basics were still in existence, right?

All the latest books and authors insisted that men and women have innate “hard wiring” that time can’t change.    The wrote that it all goes back to that feral thing; when we lived in caves, communicated through grunts and screeches and were the mono-browed forebearers to that clever caveman Geico ad campaign eight years ago.

We all saw the movie, “Quest for Fire”, right?    We learned from that flick that prehistoric men looked at women and sized them up as breeding stock. They’d ask themselves, “Is she physically able to bare my progeny and propagate my DNA for generations to come?….Ugh!” If so, he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her into the cave where he would proceed make a big carnal Mesozoic smack dab all over her Jurassic.

So, what’s changed?  Women still do as they did way back then; we look at every man and subconsciously wonder if “he’s the one?”  . We can’t help it. We want to know if these brave, hunter/gatherers can provide for our families.   And by that I don’t  mean bringing home a brontosaurus or fire, for that matter.

But we’re older now, so more than likely, we’ll still size each other up, but for entirely different reasons.

Older men look at older women and hope that we can prepare a meal that’s either low or no sodium and we women will be hoping that men will still be able to—–my God! Is that a crease in his pants or is that his prostate???

Oh yes, things have changed.

And what if sex enters the picture??? There are so many factors now in place that weren’t there years ago. I was 49 then…..(Jeez, really?????) and at the time inconvenienced with “free range” periods–they came and went as they pleased and usually at the worst times!    I had to deal with that, plus, there was the awkward issue of Cialis and Viagra; performance anxiety and feminine…. whatever.

There’s nothing scarier than a “first anything”. Especially a first date. You’ve got a 50-50 chance you won’t like each other physically and if that attraction isn’t there, you know it right off the bat. That’s not to say that perceived looks won’t change as you get to know each other, but rarely will a couple on their first date, ever feel that need and desire at the same time.

The truth is we’re older. Much older.

In fact, too damn old to be dating in the first place.   Writing about it would be fiction.    I’d be Steven Glass  Glass with a better rack.

This whole damn idea is nuts.  Completely insane.   I remember sweating, feeling nauseous and burping up something akin to sulfur.   I called my editor in a complete panic.

So, long story short,  my piece on Hugo Chavez’s disdain of neo-liberal globalization affected his dating rituals  was on her desk and ready to go to print.

Jeez……The things  we do for a paycheck.

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Charitable Donations & Understanding English

I think giving is essential.   Charity sees only the need to give; never the cause. 

And giving in its name really is part of the human condition.  By that I mean it’s par for the course that is life to need it from time to time and of course we should always feel compelled to give to these organizations.   Some might think that this constant can be detrimental; that by charity’s very nature, it has the ability to degrade those who receive it and harden those who dispense it.  

That is, I suppose, completely plausible.  I’m sure pride prevents many from asking for it and I’m sure there are those who probably get very tired of being asked to give and give and give.   And I would think that there are tiems when the act of giving in and of itself becomes less rewarding with each check written.   There has to be a certain monotony in being asked to give repeatedly; good intentions be damned

And let’s face it; it’s easy to feel as though you can constantly throw money at different charities and still feel as if you aren’t giving enough.  Money is what makes any charity’s world go round, but it’s not the end all.  If you’re able, give your time.  Practical help, especially if it is voluntary, is priceless.  

In addition to services, you can also donate goods.  Furniture, blood, food, spinal fluid, school supplies; toys at Christmas;  lumber, dinners for two and spa days for silent auctions–the list of things that are needed and the things you can donate can read like a mile long scroll.  

Some people are big givers; some aren’t.  I can remember shopping for groceries after first moving to Houston  20 years ago and walking by a special donation bin set up for patrons to drop off canned goods for a holiday food drive.   The situation in terms of giving was as it had been in San Antonio and even during my college days in Austin.  Invariably, there were always several cans of pumpkin pie filling in the growing tin mountain.   I guess this is because we always buy an extra can of the stuff during the holidays and it sits on our pantry shelf for months and when the clarion calls us to dig deep–be it in our wallets or cupboards–we use it as an excuse to clean house. 

I’ve often wondered what the poor, but enterprising housewife with seven hungry kids to feed, might be able to do from a culinary standpoint with two cans of pumpkin pie filling, a container of generic chicken broth and one dented can of pickled beets.    

I’m thinking Borscht de Citrouille.     ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,                         

And then I’m thinking nausea.

Anyway, it’s important to give what you can when you can, but please….PLEASE be a bit more discrimminating.  Say you want to give some of your old clothes….a T-shirts, for example; the ones you’ve grown out of physically and emotionally, really should be relegated to the “Trash” or  “Make Into Rags” pile and not the one tagged “Church  Clothing Drive”.

Why?  Well propriety, Sweety.   See, there are times when these clothes go to areas that need them most–war torn regions, areas ravaged by earthquake, flood or tsunamis.  Or to countries that are impoverished and according to the United Nations, “developing”….but into what?

And there are people in the world who don’t speak English or its vernacular.   They don’t have a clue.   And if that happens and if there’s a donated shirt that well, includes a sordid phrase printed across the front and it finds its way deep into the primitive Congo, you can bet your bottom dollar that a nearby National Geographic photographer will catch wind of this and rest assured, he’ll be there in a heartbeat to snap a pic of that fashion/philanthropic faux paux.    

And of course,  he’s also there to get that NatGeo edition’s by God money shot—a pair of naked, native boobs.  

A world of 11 year old boys are counting on him.

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The Greasy, Oily Gulf

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On April 20, 2010, a semi-submersible exploratory offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded after a blowout and sank two days later, killing eleven people and causing a massive oil spill threatening the entire Gulf coast from South Texas to southwest Florida.  The rig is owned and operated by Transocean Ltd. on behalf of BP, which is the majority owner of the oil field.

The company originally estimated the size of the leak at about a thousand barrels a day but later accepted government estimates of a leak of at least five-thousand barrels per day.  On April 30, BP stated that it would harness all of its resources to battle the oil spill, spending $7 million a day with its partners to try to contain the disaster.

But that hasn’t happened.

What is happening in the Gulf is an absolute mess, in more ways than one.   It’s effect is tentacled and wreaking havoc with every crab trapper, shrimper, oyster shucker, fisherman, fisherwoman, gumbo cook, surfer, restaurant owner, shell enthusiast, pelican and some guy who’s now only ‘temporarily’ calling 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home for the next year and a half.  In fact, many have said Obama’s response to the oil spill, or the lack thereof, will end up being his Katrina.   

Obama’s response to the situation in the Gulf reminds me in many ways of Jimmy Carter and the extremely ineffective political lassitude he demonstrated during the Iranian hostage crisis in ’79.   That didn’t end well for Carter and I think the spill, plus a few other misfires and miscues will guarantee Obama’s one term presidency, as well.   I would probably feel this way even if I were a Democrat, which I’m not.   The reality is this spill and attempts at containment are not being handled well.   That’s my opinion and it is one that in this case, isn’t negotiable.

And to those who say cut Obama some slack;  he’s doing it all away from the glare and behind the scenes—okay, let’s pretend for one minute that this is absolutely a true statement.   Governmentally speaking, many things are done without a network camera crew, but where was that argument when the Right tried to convince the Left of the same thing post Katrina?  Post 9/11?  In the fact that this country hasn’t seen another terror attack since that fateful September morning?   Funny how we can’t possibly be fair or balanced or willing to budge an inch when our side isn’t manipulating the puppet.   By the same token, as long as our guy is slacking off, it’s OK.  We’ll defend his nonchalance vehemently.   

Sadly, this is true of both parties. 

But politics aside, the environmental disaster of the BP spill  will affect far more than Katrina…and for far longer.   True, thousands of people didn’t die as they did in the 2005 storm, but hundreds of thousands livelihoods will be egregiously affected.   We’re talking five states being directly impacted and the 45 other seafood lovin’, oil burnin’ states suffering peripherally.  You can say pish posh, I’m a thousand miles away from the spill; what do I care?  Well, griddle cakes, you should care.  See, it doesn’t matter if you live in Spokane, as long as you drive, wear rubber sole shoes, use Vaseline, stuff trash bags with your refuse or store your leftovers in Tupperware, this spill will affect you.  You’re going to feel the affects and they will be far reaching.

And as for BP?   The worst job in the world has got to be Director of Corporate PR for that energy giant.   Man, I think BP should just hang a “Closed” shingle on the front door and deal with all the billions of dollar worth of laws suits and ecological remediation cases it will be facing quietly and at some place far, far away from the glare of so much global animus.

And then BP isn’t exactly helping itself.   There are horrendous things that BP’s loose cannon/CEO, Tony Hayward has been saying.  Among them:   the calamity of the spill in the Gulf has been oh so exacting and suppressive for him and that he’d really like his life back.  But after a few days, this walking nightmare apologized for the statement, saying  that he was “appalled” to read his own words and singled out the families of the 11 rig workers who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

I made a hurtful and thoughtless comment on Sunday when I said that “I wanted my life back.” When I read that recently, I was appalled. I apologize, especially to the families of the 11 men who lost their lives in this tragic accident. Those words don’t represent how I feel about this tragedy, and certainly don’t represent the hearts of the people of BP — many of whom live and work in the Gulf — who are doing everything they can to make things right. My first priority is doing all we can to restore the lives of the people of the Gulf region and their families — to restore their lives, not mine.

The apple, they say, never falls far from the tree.  Well, then the old adage must be true in this case because everything I’ve ever heard come out of this man’s mouth in the past three months indicates he’s just as spoiled, petulant and arrogantly bloated as the company he oversees.  

I don’t know why he’s so smug.  He represents a corporation that has a reprehensible past.  If it were a country, the United Nations would’ve condemned it for a multitude of civil rights violations.   BP has been found guilty of numerous infractions that have literally cost life and limb and a whole assload of money.  

Look at their rap sheet:

1993–1995: Hazardous substance dumping

In September 1999, one of BP’s US subsidiaries, BP Exploration Alaska agreed to resolve charges related to the illegal dumping of hazardous wastes on the Alaskan North Slope, for $22 million. The settlement included the maximum $500,000 criminal fine, $6.5 million in civil penalties, and BP’s establishment of a $15 million environmental management system at all of BP facilities in the US and Gulf of Mexico that are engaged in oil exploration, drilling or production.  The firm illegally discharged waste oil, paint thinner and other toxic and hazardous substances by injecting them down the outer rim, or annuli, of the oil wells.

2005: Texas City Refinery explosion

In March 2005, BP’s Texas City refinery, one of its largest refineries, exploded causing 15 deaths, injuring 180 people and forcing thousands of nearby residents to remain sheltered in their homes. A large column filled with hydrocarbon overflowed to form a vapour cloud, which ignited.  The explosion caused all the casualties and substantial damage to the rest of the plant. The incident came as the culmination of a series of less serious accidents at the refinery, and the engineering problems were not addressed by the management. Maintenance and safety at the plant had been cut as a cost-saving measure, the responsibility ultimately resting with executives in London

The fall-out from the accident continues to cloud BP’s corporate image because of the mismanagement at the plant.  The company pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act was fined $50 million, and sentenced to three years probation. 

2006–2007: Prudhoe Bay

In August 2006, BP shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, due to corrosion in pipelines leading up to the Alaska Pipeline. The wells were leaking insulating agent called Arctic pack, consisting of crude oil and diesel fuel between the wells and ice. BP spilled over one million litres of oil in Alaska’s North Slope.  

2006-2008: Texas City refinery fatalities

From January 2006 to January 2008, three workers were killed at the company’s Texas City refinery in three separate accidents. In July 2006 a worker was crushed between a pipe stack and mechanical lift, in June 2007, a worker was electrocuted, and in January 2008, a worker was killed by a 500-pound piece of metal that came loose under high pressure and hit him.

2007: Propane price manipulation

Four BP energy traders in here in Houston were charged with manipulating prices of propane in October 2007. As part of the settlement of the case, BP paid the US government a $303 million fine, the largest commodity market settlement ever in the US.   

2009: North Sea helicopter accident

On April 1 2009, a helicopter ferrying workers from BP’s platform in the Miller Oil Field in the North Sea off Scotland crashed in good weather killing all 16 on board.
 

Big company equals big problems, right?   I get that, but come on!   And as for this latest calamity?  The legit question here is “What’s being done?”  Lots of things or so it would appear, but nothing is working and oil continues to hemorrhage from the earth.   People from all over have sent in ideas for ways of either stopping the deepwater gusher or at least cleaning up the oil.  Emotionless actor,  Kevin Costner proposed some new take on a centrifuge vacuum device to separate the oil from the sea water. 

BP said thanks, but stick to movie acting.

Oscar wining director and serial narcissist, James Cameron offered BP and the feds his expertise in monitoring the situation close up and personally.   Cameron is considered something of a master when it comes to underwater filming and in the use of remote vehicle technologies.  He even claims to have designed pressure-resistant camera housings, lighting towers that could be dropped to the seafloor two miles down and other high-end deep-sea gear themselves.  

BP told him thanks, but stick to movie making.

He then promptly called everyone at BP “morons”.

Other suggestions have included oil-eating bacteria, bombs of various kinds and a device that resembles a giant shower curtain.  These are just a few of the 10-thousand fixes people have proposed to counter the growing environmental threat. BP is taking a closer look at roughly 700 of them, but the oil giant has yet to use any of them in any real sense in the nearly three months after the deadly explosion that caused the leak.

Well, you know me.  I have no background in oil spill containment or reclamation of an area engulfed by a spill, especially one this massive or politically hot buttoned, but I like being part of the ‘in crowd’, so I’ve also given the BP situation a great deal of thought.  I’ve come up with what I think is a superb way to plug the massive undersea gusher, but I’m afraid my idea will go unnoticed and unappreciated and like Kevin and his Costner, will ultimately be deemed inapplicable, as well. 

Here ’tis:

It’s a pity too because I do believe my solution would solve two problems in one..

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“It IS A Wonderful Life, Right?” Version 2010

“I owe everything to Laurie Kendrick. Please be with her, Dear Lord.”

“Laurie is a nice gal, God. Give her a break.”

“Please take care of my friend, LK. She never thinks of herself and that’s why she’s in trouble now.”


God: Hello Joseph. Trouble?

Joseph: Yes. Looks like we’ll have to send someone down. A lot of people are asking for help for Laurie Kendrick.

God: Ah yes, it’s her crucial time. We’ll need to send someone down immediately. Who’s turn is it?

Joseph: That’s why I came to see you, Sir. It’s that little angel. The nasty, vulgar one named Clarence–that clockmaker.  He refuses to wear clothes and has that incessant rectal itch.   We make him sit on his halo so none of us will get that funk.

Clarence (arrives on screen  looking like a nebulous white tumor or bloodclot to the lullaby, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”) : You sent for me, sir?

Joseph: Hello Clarence. I know you’ve been waiting a while to get your real wings.

Clarence: Yes, people are talking. These cotton pieces of shit are fine for half-ass angels in training, but I want the real things. You know, them gossamer sumbitches and I have been waiting almost 300 years.  What the fuck is that all about, huh?

Joseph: Perhaps then Clarence, you can help this Earth woman.  She’s about to commit the biggest sin of all.

Clarence: You mean she’s going to take her own life?

Joseph: No, worse. She’s going to try to cook Christmas Eve dinner for her incredibly dysfunctional family at precisely 7:45 tonight Earth time.

Clarence: Then I better hurry. Can I assume then Joseph, that if I can assist this crazy ass bitch in successfully cooking Christmas Eve dinner for the ingrates that comprise her family, I’ll finally get my wings?

Joseph: Yes, you foul mouthed little troll…..yes, you will.

5:30 pm CHRISTMAS EVE:

Laurie is out of work and has been since Halloween of 2008.  She never married; she’s a homely spinster who looks like Donna Reed in a George Bailey fantasy of what life would’ve been like had he never been born.

The resemblance to the actress once known as Donna Stone, wife of a doctor and mom to Jeff and Mary, who would one day record “Johnny Angel” and be married parenthetically to coach, Craig T. Nelson,  is uncanny.   In fact,  she could also use a decent lip wax not unlike Mary all homely’d out as the dowdy, spinster Pottersville Librarian.

donna-reed

And because she’s been unemployed for so long, Laurie can’t afford to buy the items needed to prepare the Kendrick family Christmas Eve dinner.  Even if she could, her culinary talents are so lacking.

If circumstances weren’t bad enough, her kitchen is filthy.   Stalks of corn and unidentifiable flora grow in the dirty corners of the floor.  And if that wasn’t bad enough,  Laurie’s baby sister, LuLu desperately wants  Santa Claus  to bring her a bicycle for Christmas.   But this year, she’d have to be told once again, that Santa couldn’t find “Loserville” on his sleigh’s GPS.   Sadly, there wasn’t enough money or time to buy one for this sweet but very ill and crippled little girl, who because of severe Penis Envy issues, everyone calls “Tiny Tim”.

And yes, all of these negatives; these stumbling blocks persist in spite of Angel Second Class Clarence’s help.  He wanted to  intervene by showing her what that night would be like if the Kendrick family had somewhere else to go.  If so, they’d realize that they’d be far more sober and sated in terms of a festive Christmas meal, but Laurie will have none of this.  She’s hell bent on feeding her family, even with no money and with her kitchen in need of a visit by the World Health Organization, the CDC and a priest .

As every second passes,  the Kendrick family gets hungrier and drunker and Clarence sees yet another opportunity to get his wings slip through his fingertips.  He knows that to accomplish dinner, he must supplement Laurie’s income, but how?   He does the only thing he knows to do and that’s contacting Heaven’s gatekeeper and patron of children’s aspirin, St. Joseph, who suggests rolling drunks.    Then suddenly,  a miracle of miracles  occurs.

LK’s friend, taxi cab  driver and Dobie Gillis’  TV father, “Mr. G”,  Ernie arrives with a telegram in hand.  He enthusiastically reads the following to the gathering crowd:

Mr. Gower cabled you need cash– stop.
My office instructed to advance you up to twenty-five thousand dollars– stop.
Hee Haw and Merry Christmas!
Sam Wainwright.

No one has a clue as to who Sam Wainwright is, much less  Mr. Gower, but with the OK to advance LK 25-grand, a glorious Kendrick family Christmas  meal is all but a reality.

So, Clarence gave LK a little hit of some Angel Dust and that, plus the spirit of the season and motivated her to clean her kitchen, do all the shopping, the  cooking,  all in the 34 minutse left before all the stores closed.

And when the flurried, frenzy was over….a sumptuous Kendrick Family Christmas Eve meal!!!

The photo below shows Aunt Sissy Louise  Dawn Anna Roselyn in the flattering vertical striped sweater and her husband, Big Dave is talking to their youngin’, Dale “Skeeter” Earnhart Kendrick.

The family just calls him Joyce.

white-trash-christmas

Nothing says “festive Christmas meal” better than paper plates, cans of beer, Styrofoam cups, turkey pieces seeped in brownish water, hamburger buns with ketchup, a hastily thrown together salad,  something kinda yellowish in color and all mashed up in an amber Pyrex bowl.

After the family feed, everyone gathered round  the tree to sing Christmas carols.   Uncle Bobby excused himself to take his annual post-holiday meal dump while  inappropriate toucher and “jail boid”, Uncle Billy held a very nervous and uncomfortable Little Laurie in his arms.

laurie-holiday

Then, they heard  “a tinkle”.    And no, not Uncle Bob’s post fecal wiz/slash.

This was sound of an ornament on the tree.  That’s when Little Laurie told her way too touchy/feely Uncle Billy that her  teacher taught her class the old world belief that every time Tim Tebow gets his bell rung,  an angel gets his wings.

Just then, the entire family noticed a copy of the script from the epic movie,  “Birth Of A Nation” under the tree.   Megan’s Law uber violater, Uncle Bob picked it up and Little Laurie clumsily opened to the forward written by Norman Mailer.

Beneath that, what did the Family Kendrick spy?

A handwritten note from Clarence announcing he was now flyin’ high.

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“Atta boy, Clarence!”

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clarence1

Just then, Little Laurie felt something protruding from Uncle Billy’s coat.    She started screaming and well, the entire family was alarmed since everyone knew Uncle Billy was such a perv.   So, Nick from Mr. Martini’s bar tackled him and gave him the once over only to discover that nestled in a pocket of his coat, wasn’t anything revoltingly phallic at all…

It was LuLu’s pedals!!

Aw, when no one was looking Uncle Billy copped some of the money sent from Sam Wainwright (whoever that is) and sneaked out to buy LuLu a bike for Christmas.  Santa WOULD find Loserville this year afterall!!!

Apparently, this sweet ol’ pedophile was in the middle of putting  the bike together when the opportunity to hold a small child distracted him from his efforts.

It was indeed a time to celebrate.

The entire Kendrick knew this was a special moment that only rarely comes about.  It was time to  be happy and rejoice.    So, they held hands and smiled.   Then they all  drank some of Mr. Martini’s wine while Little Laurie latched on to one of her favorite  juice boxes.  She loves the flavor that is Red.

That was followed by happy family fellowship and a very rousing  lively rendition of Auld Lang Syn, complete with full orchestra accompaniment and Hollywood backup singers, composed of women, a few baritones and several members of  Castrati,  Local #39571.

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…………………………… ………..  .………………THE END

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R.J. Has Lunch In Mexico

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It was 1958 and at this time of  year the the shadows grew longer all across El Rancho Feliz.   It was fall in South Texas.   The temperatures were by no means cold, but considering the mercury held steady at 106 degrees most of summer, the cooler temperatures offered a most welcomed reprieve. 

Inside the sprawling ranch house, Juana the cook cleared the table.  Hers had been a sumptuous meal; fried chicken, mashed potatoes swimming in a cream gravy.  Fresh green beans with sautéed with onion and pork renderings.   Fresh biscuits and for desert, chocolate cake…just as El Jefe likes.   And tonight “El Jefe was happy. 

He liked be called “The Boss”.   He liked being shown the respect he felt he earned.  

He finished his supper and walked out to his front porch sit sit for a while.  He did this every evening; it was a ritual.   He needed to sit and commune with his ranch, to remind himself of what it took to amass two thousand head of cattle and the 15-thousand acres on which his herd roamed.    The oil and gas wells that ‘them old boys from Houston brung in’ certainly helped.   Their proceeds helped fed the beast that was his ranch; El Rancho Feliz.   Cattle was king to Raleigh Joe Rassmussen. 

The shrewd cattleman was 69 years old that night.   He fancied himself to be a fair man, but his rivals didn’t think that to be the case.   It was his mindset that nothing can ever be achieveed by playing it safe….or nice.   It was intimidation that acquired El Rancho Feliz as much as actual dollars or financing through the Farm Bureau.    That earned him the title “That son of a bitch Rassmussen!” to his enemies.  

He was ‘sir” to everyone else. 

But to his loving wife, Etta, he was simply,  R.J.and she was the only person who called him that. 

His reputation for being rough and tough was legend in these parts, butMiss Etta could take the sting out of venom.  He loved this woman.  She’d been his wife for 28 years and quietly stood by him through thick and thin.  Her place was to support her husband and to remain silent; in complete submission to her man, though he always seemed to heed her gentle suggestions.  She was his rock in many ways; they’d been through so much together;  emotional feast and economic famine.  She’d also given him four children, though Bud had been killed in combat while fighting in  Korea.  The loss of his only son damned near killed R.J.    He was a proverbial chip off of  R.J.’s  block.  This ranch was destined to be his and out of the four kids, he was only one to really appreciate what it was; what it stood for.   The three girls resented it for keeping them isolated in a place that seemed to move at a difference pace then the rest of the world.  College offered them escape.  It proved to them that there was in fact, outside of the hot, sparse confines of the northern  Sonoran desert.  

“That’s OK.”,   R.J. tried to convince himself time and time again.   “They’ll learn to love this place someday.  Right now, they have no idea how much this ranch is a part of them, but it is.  It’s always fed their souls.   It always will.” 

Etta walked out on the porch with a glass of ice tea in her hand.   She sat down in the rocking chair beside her husband.   It was quiet.  No one was around for miles.   It was easy to become one with the land when that’s all you can see for miles and miles.   There was a light breeze; a slight rustling in the shrubs which lined the porch.  There was peace.  Words were uttered without ever being spoken.   This was a magic time for the Rasmussens; when the past and future converge in the present and a nuclear fusion of color stemming from a western sunset could only punctuate the moment.   

“I have to drive to Monterrey tomorrow”.   

“Why R.J.?” 

“I gotta take care of that land matter with Salinas.   That damned fool don’t seem to know what a property line is and I saw some of his cattle on our land the other day.  Had the double S brand on ’em and everything.   I’m tired of fixin’ fences with him,  both  literally and socially.    I hope we can reach some kinda agreement, but I doubt it.   He don’t know half of what goes on at his place.” 

“Mr. Salinas doesn’t know what’s going on at this own ranch?   How’s that, R.J?”

“Don’t you know, Etta?   I didn’t tell ya?   He’s one of them ‘gentleman ranchers’.  He’s some sort of banker in Monterrey and hardly ever leaves the city.  He don’t care about land.  This just some kind of investment to him.  He’s got hired hands managing it for him and I don’t suspect any of them gotta clue as to how to run a lawnmower, much less a ranch”. 

“Well, alright then.  You be careful and bring me back some of that good Mexican vanilla, OK?” 

“Yes ma’am.  Vanilla it is!” 

“And R.J., please don’t stop at that filthy, little dirt floor hole in the wall outside Monterrey and have those…those…well, you know; those nasty meat things you like some much!” 

“Etta honey, they’s  Mountain Oysters.  You know, bull testicles and I’m sorry but I will most certainly stop by that dirty old wall hole and eat me some of them  thigns.  You know I love ’em and no one else in the world can fry ’em like that cook they got.  Alfonso is his name.  You eat ’em with some onions and chiles wrapped up in one of them soft flour tortillas and bite down and then you…….”

“You hush up now, R.J. Rassmussen or your gonna make me sick at my stomach!” 

He laughed at his wife’s  feigned nausea.    She claimed to hate Mountain Oysters, even though she’d never ever even tried one.    He always suspected this hearty woman from good Texas stock reacted that way just to make her husband smile. 

The next day R. J. got his truck and headed south to Laredo’s International Bridge.  He crossed into Mexico without a hitch and drove down the highway.   The mountains were just ahead.   That meant that little dirty, dusty café that Etta reviled was just around the corner.  He’d been there many times.   This was all familiar territory to him.

There it was: “El Restaurante del Lago”.   There wasn’t much to it.   You couldn’t even call it a building, really. dIt was basically a couple of old softdrink and beer billboards half propped up by post and half leaning against each other.  A crude awning covered a few tables, a dirt floor that was perfect for dancing on Saturday night and in the back, there was a hastily made deep fryer and stove.    The place was wired for electricity, though R.J. could never figure out how they did it.   A jukebox in the corner played some conjunto music.

“Hola, Senor Rassmussen.   Es good you come today!”

“How you doing Manuel.  Good to see you, too.   Is Alfonso cookin’ up them specialties of the house today?  I sure can smell somethin’ good.”

“Today we have the food you like.   You want a tequila and you wait?”

R.J. nodded and noticed a few oldtimers sitting in the corner.  They were dark skinned and looked tired and worn down.  Hard work in the hot north Mexican sun had aged them beyond their years.    They said nothing and with the exception of a periodic sip of their beer,  they were motionless.

R.J. could smell Alfonso demonstrating his craft at the deep fryer.  His taste buds were prepped and ready to savor this treat.  Manual brought him a jigger of tequila and a few limes and J.R. sat there, sipping it slowly in anticipation of his meal.

The waiter brough him a plate and R.J. looked down to see two very large lightly fried mountain oysters with  a some onions, jalapenos and a few tortillas on the side.

Manuel barely had time to deliver a plate to the old men drinking beer in the corner when J.R. have eaten everything on his plate, and motioned to him again, asking for another plate.

“Si, Señor Rassmussen!”

He finished his plate and noticed that the two other diners were also enjoying particularly large, rotund Mountain Oysters.    He sipped the rest of his tequila.  It tasted good.  Life was good.

Just then, Manuel brough him another plate.

“Fresh from the bull fight in Secorro across the calle, Señor Rassmussen.  Perfecto, no?”

R.J. looked at the plate.   This time the portions were considerably smaller.

“You say these is fresh bull balls from over to the bullfightin’ ring across the way?”

“Si, the battle just happen now.  These are very fresh!”

“But they’s so small lookin’ Manuel.  The other ones was so much bigger.  Why is that?  What the hell happened?”

Manual grabbed the dirty white dish towel that was flung over his shoulder and started swatting at flies.    

“Well, Señor Rassmussen, sometimes de bull wins!”

R. J.  started laughing and picked up a flour taco full of the specialty of the house and looked at it.

“Well olé  then, goddammit!”

The Strange. The Sorta Odd. The Kinda Creepy

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Is it just me or is there anyone else out there who like me,Julia Roberts thinks Julia  Roberts is an OK actress, but hardly a Hollywood goddess?  

She just isn’t pretty in my opinion.   Her head is  huge, her mouth goes ear to ear.   I’m sure she’s a nice person and a perhaps even quite talented with a script in hand, but physical beauty?  Only if you’re really into Pez dispensers.

Otherwise, I’m just not seein’ it.

I was skimming through the satellite  this weekend and stopped on the Disney Channel.  Hannah Montana was on.  I watched it for a while, embarassed by the horrible writing and even worse acting.  That’s when I decided to regard series lead actress, Miley Cyrus as strange.    For starters, she’s been 16 for the past four years and her voice has a creepy timbre to it.   I had a deep voice as a child and young woman, but she’s vying to be the next raspy talking Brenda Vacarro, Suzanne Pleshette and Rose Marie  in terms of vocal stylings. 

She’s a woman child in the strictest sense.

Did I mention that I find her completely annoying, too?

So, I was watching something on some channel Sunday afternoon and up flashed Barbara Walters on the screen.    I was startled at what I saw.   

You see, when an esteemed actors or newsperson (especially for those with  XX chromosomes seething throughtout her DNA’s doube helix) starts to  age physically, the Director of Photography will often try to help out the magicians in make-up by filming the woman through a soft filter or gel screen which attempts to soften the  facial lines and wrinkles.   You can tell if a lens of this nature is being used in the shot.   It has an almost ephemeral quality to it.

In Babs’ case, I could barely discern it was a human being, much less her specifically.   I found the whole attempt to make this octogenarian appear young and vivacious quite funny.    ectoplasm

She just looked out of focus.

Well obviously, this is a case of ‘Vanity, thy name is Barbara’ and I would suspect the image of  her on our TV screens will only get worse in the future.  I imagine that by spring of 2011, she’ll simply come across on camera as ectoplasm. 

So come on, Barbara—suck it up like fellow journalist,  Helen Thomas.  Helen don’t care about her looks no more.  She don’t go for no Vaseline schmeared on the lens.   Helen is open and honest about her  hideousness.   Gravity and age (and apparently political heat from Obama love) are combining to contort her face into sort of odd Picasso-esque face melt.

Case in point:

This is a photo of Helen from 2000.

HelenThomas

We can see evidence of face melting back then; some nine years ago.

Here’s Helen in present day, photographed not long after she  attended a White House Press briefing:

melting face2 

I like your moxie, Helen though I suggest you do something about that eye popping thing that’s happening.  I’d suggest having your physician check your thyroid.

Dakota Fanning is also kind of creepy.   I don’t think she has ever been a child.  She had such an adult-like countenance about her.   I doubt if she ever played; pretended to run a store, a hotel or a brothen as we did when we were kids.   I’ll bet her memories of childhood consists of nothing but sound stages and craft services.   

Samichael_jackson2dly, that could contribute to some  fairly  strange  behavior as an adult.  Oh, you know…Michael Jacksony stuff.  Perhaps she’ll some day collect llamas, sleep with  Eric Stolz’  facially mishapen mask used in the movie of the same name; buy Allen Funt’s bones (anyone??)  and pal around with a  large Rhesus monkey named Soapy Orbs.  

This is quite possible since Dakota’s father’s full name is actuallyJoseph Jackson Fanning.

I am no longer a fan of Brad Pitt.  I thought he was the cutest thing next to squeezing my ass into size 6 jeans when I first saw him in Thelma and Louise back in the early 90’s.    I thought he was a decent actor, too but then I saw him in the movie,  Mr. and Mrs. Smith.   You know that scene in which he comes back to the hotel room with breakfast after he and Anjelina’s character spend a night of debauchery together?     She’s just woke up and still in bed, a flower in her hair and he’s standing by the window looking at her.  As he does,  his nostrils flaring like some scent horny simian preparing to pounce on a nest of tasty, tasty termites.

Haven’t been able to look at him since.

Finally, I can’t get into the show, Desperate Housewives.     I can’t trust a situation (real or from Tinsel Town)  in which the females characters are all thin, decent looking, perfectly coiffed, expertly made-up  and wearing amazing clothes that don’t possess ANY elastic around any waistband at any time.

Ah yes…to someday be able to walk through a door at the same time my stomach does.

Oh, the pain.  Oh the pain!!   Dr. Smith11

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Ask & Ye Shall Receive

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I would like to believe that people come to my blog for a myriad of reasons.   I hope their primary reason would be because they want to laugh, to emote.  But lately, there are those who have come here to call me a political idiot, completely unfunny, a “Dennis Miller Wannabe”.   They question my IQ, my genetic coding, call me a hack and so forth.   

It is for this reason, that I often peruse the search engine terms on the administrative portion of my blog, just to see how visitors arrive in order to read my vainglorious, but yawn inducing fest of  prolix.   

Dennis Millerish?   Hardly.  He’s been writing like me for years!

Despite that fact, I get the strangest search terms tha tbring people to my blog:

  • A lesbian reach around (???)
  • exposed frozen cat nipples
  • lewd behavior/HS principal
  • crotch conquest
  • corn and your rectum  

That’s just to name a few. 

I also get plenty of emails from people curious about a lot of things.  Why they ask me, I’ve yet to determine.  I’m just an unemployed journalist who blithers almost daily on a blog.  Nevertheless,  I get asked about writing, quantum physics, astronomy, entomology, psychotropic drugs, emotional pathologies, child rearing, stained glass making, crocheting, nuclear fusion and of course, the inner workings of the excretory systems of mammals, reptiles, rodents and someone’s 84 year-old  Uncle Sherman.   The questions literally run the gamut.

In fact, a  Mr. Richard Feder from Ft. Lee, New Jersey recently wrote in and asked,

“Dear Laurie,

Why is bird doo doo white?

Signed,

A Mr. Richard Feder

Ft. Lee, New Jersey”

Well Richard, thank you for your query.  Let me preface this response with the following: I am not, nor have I ever been  a veterinarian, nor  am I an ornithologist….hell, I don’t even like raisins,  but I will try to answer your question to the best of my limited ability.

Bird caca is chalky-white because it consists of this chalky-white paste which the White Coats call urate.  Urate is made of uric-acid crystals which are a by-product of bird kidneys. What you actually see is the color of the whitish crystals.  Now, within the urate is a chunk of stool–doo doo, caca, poo-poo, Number 2, fudge, a pinched nasty. a chocolate Linsday Lohan.   This piece is usually hard and tube looking, and gets its color from the bird’s diet. 

Bird feces is also  an good indicator of the bird’s health. That’s one of the first things veterinarians look for.  You see, checking doodie is their duty. Fecal hues range from greenish for birds who eat plant seeds and green vegetables,  brownish for brown birdseed, and even a reddish color for those birds who eat strawberries.

For shrimp-eating seabirds, it’s pink!  

Tippi Hendron in "The Birds" as interpreted by Barbie, performed at London's Royal Albert Collins Hall,  Circa 1967

Tippi Hendron in "The Birds" as interpreted by Barbie, performed at London's Royal Albert Collins Hall, Circa 1967

Then, that can ONLY meen that the poop of the birds that feasted on Tippi Heddrin’s hair in “The Birds”,  must be the color of Miss Clairol Morning Mist Blond Shade #4A???

To top it all off, bird poop contains a tiny sprinkle of urine. Why only a sprinkle, you ask? “Aside from the ostrich, birds don’t have bladders and can’t carry a lot of water around. They’d be too heavy to fly

and that’s why  ostriches can’t fly”, explains one bird brain at small college in Florida.

As mentioned above, caca color can indicate a myriad of things, including poor health.  Abnormal colors like red urine and urate may be signs of internal bleeding (other than a diet of red berries).  Brown tinged urate may also signal lead poisoning, and green or yellow skittlesurate may mean liver disease.

This colorful spectrum could also be an indicator of poor health in humans.  

So, the next time you “shit a rainbow”, I suggest you seek  medical attention immediately.

Well, there you have it.   I guess this could be the first in a series of posts I’ll call “Ask Laurie”.  Therefore, if you have a question that you’re just too damn lazy to Google or inquire at Ask.com yourself, send it to me via  e-mail and I’ll make every effort to copy and paste the answer from somewhere and then make a joke out of it.  Be my first victim(s), won’t you?

I can be reached at laurie industries at gmail dot com.

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