Saturday, August 29, 2009

Winners and Losers

And the winners are ...

For accuracy -- milbernfamily

And for entertainment value -- Clare2E

Thanks to everyone who played along.

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Let's talk about misnomers. There are a lot of misleading names out there.

Bed Bath and Beyond.

Do they sell beds?

No.

Baths?

No.

Beyonds?

What the hell is a beyond?

I poised these very same questions to my wife and she said the title is because they sell bed STUFF, bath STUFF, and Stuff for beyond the Bedroom and bathroom. So I ask, Why not call the joint Bed Stuff, Bath Stuff, and The Stuff Beyond.

Jennifer merely rolled her eyes as usual and replied with, because their was already a place called, Linen's and Things.

Since the beyond portion seems to be mostly kitchen stuff I think I will from this day on call the place ... Sleep Crap and Eat.

Let's move on. Fantasy Football. I like Fantasy Football. I've played in the same league for nearly two decades and the endeavor combines three of my favorite pastimes. Gambling, Football, and the thrill of competition. But Fantasy Football is the wrong term.

Oh I got fantasies but none of them involve sitting around a room with a bunch of other men discussing who the Oakland Raiders plan to start at wide receiver this year, or the impact of Brettt Favre's re-re- retirement. Matter of fact the only way any of my fantasies and football could ever blend together is if Gwen Stefanie assumes the center position and I get to play quarterback. Trust me in that scenario there would be no snaps from the shotgun position. No siree every play would originate with my hand up under the center. And if fantasy and football really went together then tight end would be every one's favorite position.

From this day forward I will only refer to the competition previously known as fantasy football as D.A.F.T - Dudes Analyzing Football Teams.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Amarillo -- My Town Monday

I've missed the camaraderie of My Town Mondays and I have a few others in mind that I'll try to find time to write up in the next couple of months or so, but for this post, my first My Town Monday since calling it quits I want to tell all of you about a just released book from a friend of mine. Before I tell you about the book let me tell you about Ron.


Ron Smith is a friend of mine. A former coworker who just recently retired from the Postal Service to pursue the good life. Ron is long time supporter of my own writing endeavors. Ron isn't a writer in the traditional sense that he creates characters and stories. Ron is a collector, an antique addict and an all around great guy. For better than 20 years he has collected postcards about Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle and in that time he has amassed a huge collection of visual history on the area. it is that collection that gave birth to his book aptly titled, Amarillo.


Amarillo is available from the Arcadia Publishing website as well as area bookstores, independent retailers, and on-line retailers, such as Amazon. The book showcases over 200 postcards from Ron's nostalgic collection. Arcadia Publishing is the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States.

Highlights of the book include :

* Never before seen vintage postcards from the author's collection
* Includes images of historic buildings, many of which are long gone
* Explains how Amarillo went on to become one of the world's busiest cattle shipping points in the late 1890s
* Shows Amarillo in the making through postcards

Here are a few more images Arcadia marketing team sent for me to share with y'all.


The above shot is a 1910 photo of the long gone Hotel Amarillo which was located at 3rd and Polk.

And below is another 1910 shot of the Opera House which sat at 7th and Polk. A Thanksgiving Day fire destroyed the building in 1919.


Man Do I wish I could get a good steak for seventy-five cents today. And how about a motel room for two-fifty. And fireproof to boot. Trust me, I know the value of fireproof. The Capitol hotel was demolished in 1977.

And check out this next card. Cable cars right here in Amarillo. Who'd of thunk it? Of course back in 1914 when that shot was snapped, Polk Street was still dirt.


The book is chocked full of great pictures and the captions provide some great history. I've already learned lots of cool things about the city, and thanks to the generosity folks at Arcadia two of you can have the same privilege without spending a dime. That's right, the publisher is providing two free copies to the readers of my blog. It's up to my discretion how to award these so, I'm going to have a little contest.

Between now and Friday answer these five questions for your shot at a copy. I'll award one copy to the most accurate, and one to the commenter that entertains me the most with their answers. By the way every answer has appeared in one of my previous My Town Monday posts.

1) The city of Amarillo, was originally called _________?
2) Amarillo was once known as The ________ Capital of the World.
3) Amarillo has four public high schools. I'll give you name of each and you provide rest nickname.

Amarillo High _______
Caprock _________
Palo Duro _________
Tascosa __________

4) If I tell you to meet me at The Golden Light chances are we are going to ___________.

5) "The Tactless Texan" is better known as ____________.

Ron will soon be signing copies of his book at both the local Barnes and Noble as well has Hastings
And at the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon at 11:30 AM on October 10th.



For more My Town Monday posts from bloggers the world over check out The Official My Town Monday site.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Those Meddlin' Rednecks

Pop culture in nothing more than flotsam and jetsam, floating in and out on the tide of public opinion. Tickle Me Elmo dolls, parachute pants, Spuds MacKenzie, and a whole slew of other fads have rode the waves of popularity only to eventually sink to the murky depths of nostalgia.

I have surfed along with the masses a few times in my life, but for the most part I'm a contranarian and shun the so-called in-thing. On occasion, some idiotic things catches on that grates on my very last nerve. So much so that every time I see it I can't help but question the intelligence of those who choose to float in that boat. And one such trend is the pissing Calvin.



I'm talking about this guy in case you are blind and have misses the plethora of stickers bearing the likeness of the urinating comic character. The victim of Calvin's stream varies and can be anything from a sports team, brand of automobile, Government Agency, or political party. Yesterday I spotted one of the decals on the back of a pickup. There was the peeing C-man tinkling away on the name Osama Bin Laden.

One word came to my mind. Asinine.

What's the point? To let your fellow drivers know you don't like the terrorist? call me stupid, but I thought that was pretty much a given among all Americans. Maybe Pickup Paul was hoping to raise Osama's ire and draw him out of hiding? Maybe Pickup Paul knows what the G-Men do not. All this time the leader of the Taliban has been hiding here in Amarillo, Texas biding his time. Why i bet he's making a living as the front man in ZZ Top impersonation band.

All these years, Osama has been right here in Texas, hiding under Ol' W's nose, playing guitar licks in local bars and hatching his next murderous scheme. I can see it now.

Osama is on his way to Boot Scootin' Boogie's to play a set when he idles up to a red light and there is Pickup Paul. The very sight of Calvin pissing on his name finally causes Osma to snap and fore go years of patiently hiding. Jamming his Hyundai in park (you didn't expect Osama to drive an American car did you?) Bin Laden yanks Pickup Paul out of his truck and commences to thrash him, but other motorists intervene to help and when they cops arrive they find a turban and aerial photos of Pantex inside the glove box of his Hyundai. (Pantex is Amarillo's local nuclear disarmament plant)

As they handcuff Osama and haul him away, he'll mutter in true Scooby-Do style, "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for that meddling redneck."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back To School Randomness

Forget what the calendar says -- summer is over. At least it is for me and my family.

Just a few minutes ago my boys trotted off, not-so-happily, for their first day of first and third grade. My wife teaches at the same Catholic school they attend so that means for the first time in nearly three months I am alone on my days off from work.

At the risk of sounding selfish and uncaring, let me say ... "Boy am I glad."

Don't get me wrong I love my family and the time we get to send each summer, but by mid August I'm itching to get my Thursdays and Fridays back. Jennifer supports my writing and never complains when I spend time writing, but one hour alone in an otherwise empty house beats five or six hours with SpongeBob in the background and the slamming of doors and what not.

Right now the only sound in the place is the clicking of my keyboard and the droning buzz of a gimoungous fly. Soon as i finish this post me and the fly will do battle. Though I should probably keep him around sine I plan to work on my Feedstore Chronicle Memoir. Flies were pretty standard there so who knows maybe that fly is my muse. Of course flies are attracted to manure so if it really is my muse 'tis no wonder all my recent writing has stunk.

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My last post was about my messages on twitter and I received several questions about one tweet in particular. This one ... I don't even know what TAT is, but given the goods it's normally traded for, it's some mighty valuable stuff.

For those enquiring minds the tat I was referring comes from the saying ... Tit for tat.


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One more nuggett on the back to school front. Last week I stopped in Barnes and Noble to pick up Richard Russo's latest, That Old Cape Magic and while in the store i stopped to peruse the various school's required reading table.

Many of the old standards were once again being assigned, To Kill A Mockingbird, 1984, Of Mice and Men, and the like. there were a few title I'd never heard of so I picked them up and read a few pages to see what they were about. But then I spotted one in particular that bothered me.

Right there on the table and list for the Amarillo Independent School District was none other than the tale of the glittering Vampires, Twilight.

Don't get me wrong. I am not one of those twilight bashers. I have not read but a few pages of any of the series. My wife loved them and with her I watched the movie. I tip my hat to Stephanie Meyer for delivering a winner to her intended audience and for creating a buzz that encouraged millions of people to actually sit down and read.

Here's my issue. I feel it is the responsibility of schools and teachers to choose books that one, make some sort of social commentary, or two showcase the very best writing techniques and skills. Pardon me for saying so I do not believe Twilight falls in either category.

To my way of thinking Twilight is the equivalent of surrender. It is pandering to the very kids the teachers are supposed to educate and reveal new things to. Lots of the kids have already read the book, the ones that haven't probably aren't going to or they already would have done so. They'll rent to movie and write their paper on that so why pick such a popular contemporary book?

To me it smacks of laziness. I imagine some teacher or group of teachers needing one more book for the curriculum and instead of seeking one out saying with a dismissive wave of their hand, "Oh we'll read Twilight for the last one. The kids won't complain about that one."

Pandering I say, but I'm open to dissenting opinions so let me have them.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'm A Twit

I planned on returning to the My Town Monday group today, but things didn't work out right for em to do so. I wanted to announce the publication of a friend of mine's book, but in order to do the post justice I will have to postpone it for a week.

In the meantime and with regards to the fact I'm hard at work on my latest book length project I'm simply going to cut and paste in a few of my most recent twitter messages. Yes, I'm aware that I am slightly off center but I thought y'all might be amused by my 140 character or less observations of my world.

Should you feel so inclined you can follow me on twitter via this link.


I don't even know what TAT is, but given the goods it's normally traded for, it's some mighty valuable stuff.

1 more set of days off before my kids head back to school. I've missed my Thursday and Friday morning writing time.

Against my wishes I'm at the feed trough of humanity. Better known as Furr's Cafeteria.


Rum, hard metal horseshoes, and a very dark backyard do not add up to good things.

My 8yo son just informed me his lifelong dream is to own an electric banjo.

Judging by the content of the blog post I am currently writing, it is clear I am losing my mind.

The plural for doofus? Is it doofuses, or Doofi?

I refuse to follow any man not wearing a shirt in his profile pic. So you 're proud of your six pack. Guess what? I got the whole damn keg.

Would you be inclined to sample a delicacy called ├ęcorce de porc if you knew nothing but the name?

Why is it one day you can feel like a pretty good writer and the very next day feel like an untalented hack?

I like the fact pirates is a trending topic right now, but the fact it ranks lower than Chuck Norris pisses me off.

Papa Hemingway a KGB spy? New book claims so. http://bit.ly/3IHBbv

Is it possible to wake DOWN? Wake SIDEWAYS? Or must we perpetually wake UP?

My friend Alex Keto recently traveled to Kenya. Read his powerful description here. www.alexketo.com

Tweet question @writer dad asked, Can anyone think of anything that still just costs a penny? My answer ... A wish in a fountain.

Came into work only to learn one of my coworkers, a friend, died yesterday. Shitty way to begin the day.

So, I come back to work this morning, JULY 5th. And what's my first task? Read a safety sheet on ... JULY 4th hazards. #gov't timeliness

Slept out on the trampoline with my boys last night. Been 20 years since I slept on 1. Will be twice as long before I do it again.

Twit spam is bad enough. Must they call me names? Got this 1 today. "Hey boys! dont know what it is but dorky guys turn me on BIG TIME."

By the way, if you are a writer and do not read GalleyCat everyday. You should be. http://www.mediabistro.com

Had a freaky dream last night where I was reading my own obit. Least it described me as a successful novelist. And I was old in the pic.

When closing time comes at Home Depot they turn the lights out, whereas at closing time at the bar, they turn them on. #recentobservation

My latest short story is up at Beat To A Pulp. Read it here -- http://bit.ly/FrOzR

Need more propane for my grill. Where's Hank Hill when you need him?

I was chosen as 1 of the best dad bloggers by Betty Confidential. Check out the article here http://tinyurl.com/lnxh2b

Tweeting straight from the dentist's chair as I await deadening shot to take. Wanna swap places?

My tongue now feels like a bloated sponge. I shall name it Bob. #dentalfun


Not counting replies and ReTweets that is the bulk of my tweet messages for the last two months. See what fun you are missing by not partaking in the charms of Twitter. Okay maybe not.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bridie & Finn Forgotten Boook Friday

It's been a long time since I participated in Patti Abbotts great weekly blog feature -- Forgotten Book Friday, but I recently read a novel that fits the bill.



Bride & Finn by Harry Cauley was published in 1994. Set in the early 40's during World War II it is very much a character driven novel. Exactly the kind of book I love.

Told from the POV of a young boy, it is very much the tale of a relationship. Finn hates Bridie when she shows up in in fourth grade class, but everyone else falls in immediate love with her. The rest of the novel is all about their relationship over the next decade. They must deal with the realities of war, racism and of course the discovery of sex.

I enjoyed the authors ability to take me inside Finn's head and to slowly reveal the other's character traits in subtle ways, but the writer in me was awed by the ending. Some might find the ending abrupt and not completely satisfying but myself I enjoyed the reality of it. I've always been bothered by the tidiness of endings when in reality life and it's problems rarely comes with a neat little bow ties on top. This novel reads and feels very much like a tale that a personal friend might tell you. It is the kind of story that stay with you and if it were possible I'd feel obligated to give the narrator advice once it was over.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

RSVP Now ; Before It's Too Late

Lots of people dread turning 40. Many go so far as to lie and claim to be 39 year after year. I perhaps have the best reason ever to dread my 40th. No, I don't turn the big FOUR OH anytime soon. Not for more than three years as a matter of fact. So you might be asking yourself. Why the hell is Travis rambling on about something so far away.

Hold your damn horses. I'll get there in a minute.

This whole post is inspired by the fact my wife and I went to the movies the other night. We saw the latest Harry Potter movie and before I say anything else I will say I thought it was probably the best movie adaptation of the series thus far. I did come away with a few observations.

Is it just me or does Hogwarts caretaker Filch closely resemble the King of Texas, legendary Outlaw and true Texas hero Willie Nelson? You decide.

Those aren't the two best comparison shots but the first time Filch showed up in Harry potter and The Half Blood Prince I actually thought for half a second, What the heck is Willie doing in the movie.

And that wasn't my only observance.


I do believe if you took NFL star quarterback Peyton manning, a bottle of peroxide, and a magic wand you could easily turn him into Draco Malfoy. Again not the best comparison photos.

But this post isn't about lookalikes. Remember it's about my 40th birthday.

So before the Harry Potter they showed a trailer for a new movie. This movie is called 2012 and is about the end of times. In case you are unaware the Mayan calender stops abruptly on December 21st, 2012.

December 21st is also the winter solstice. According to the lore of fantasy books and what not it is the day the worlds most powerful wizards are born on. But of course only if they are the 7th son of a 7th son.

If a baby born on December 21st is merely the first son of a first son they grow up to be big hairy bloggers. Least that is how it worked out for me. yes I was born on December 21st. December 21st of 1972 which according to the Mayans means that come my 40th birthday -- the world will cease to exist.

Talk about a reason to dread turning forty. I mean a bad day is one thing, but the end of days? Doesn't get much worse than that. And guess what? 12-21-2012 falls on a Friday. Seems to me the word should at least wait until Monday to say piss on it, I've had enough.

Here's my take -- I don't buy any of that apocalyptic prediction crap. I say the Mayan dude in charge of calendar building got lazy and said, "Why the hell should I keep going past 2012? It ain't like I'll be around to see it." Then when his supervisor audited his work he came up with some cockamamie story about the sun passing close to the equator and the world erupting into a fiery ball.

And I'm so sure of it, I'm gonna have one hell of a 40th birthday bash on 12-21-2012 even if I have to plan the thing myself. Come 12-22-2012 all of my buddies may feel like the end of times but I'm certain that will have more to do with the rum than the Mayans. And yes, all of you are invited.

Who knows? Maybe we can even get Willie to show up and play.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Return From The Far Blue Mountains

I'm back. I went through a stage in my teenage years where I must have read a 100 Louis L'Amour books. One of my favorites was in the Sackett series and was titled To The Far Blue Mountains.

I think of it every time I head to the mountains in New Mexico and greeted with this view as I'm approaching.


Of course things look different close up. All of the following shots were taken in Cimarron Canyon between Cimarron, new Mexico and Eagles Nest, NM. The canyon is home to Philmont Scout Ranch, a 200 square mile property owned by the Boys Scouts of America. There is also plenty of state park land for public use.


For this trip we stayed in a cabin in the tourist town of Red River, New Mexico. We did a lot of hiking and fishing and it was nice to get away for a few days while enjoying the finest nature has to offer.


This mule deer doe did a bit of wading as we were fishing nearby.

Red River is a ski town and in the summer the chair lift offers a scenic ride.


A ticket enables the rider two way transportation but my family decided to walk down the mountain rather than ride. We'd already done a fair amount of hiking but the boys really wanted to walk. It took us nearly two hours to traverse the steep slopes on foot.



At the end of our long hike back down the mountain and to our cabin my seven-year-old flopped down in a chair, took off his shoes and sighing said, "Man, nature really hurts."


More vacation adventures to come, but for now I'll leave you with one last shot ...






For you fellow fisherman that is a 17 1/2 inch rainbow trout. I caught it on a blue and yellow Panther Martin spinner while flipping beneath some overhanging trees in the stream.

Come on now, you didn't really think you'd escape without seeing me in another fish pose, did you?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shoeing In Another REPEAT Post

While I am away fishing I thought I'd bring back a few of my previous posts that you may have missed. The date below is their original publication date.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Shoe in My Mouth

You know what I haven't done on this blog in a while?

Simply told a story.

When I first started this blog I thought I would talk exclusively about the writing life, the craft of fiction, and the pursuit of publication, but I soon got bored with that. And to tell the truth not many people read this blog when I tried to make every post a how-to article. It wasn't until I began sharing anecdotes of my crazy life that I built up much of a readership. I will always consider myself a storyteller first and a writer second.

I've told you about my days working for Earl at the Feedstore, my flight on Sasquatch Airlines, my first set of swats at school, and of course my days as a second rate mall Santa Claus. There are others but not lately so I thought today I'd don my storytelling hat and share a humorous tale about one of just many times my wife has contemplated murder. Hey, it ain't easy being hitched to me.

"What was that?"
I wanted to ignore the question and drift back to sleep but my wife's elbow jabbing my rib cage made that impossible.
"Wake up. Do you hear that?"
Wind driven rain lashed at the window and thunder rumbled the panes of glass."
"Yeah, it's raining." I rolled over out of elbow reach.
"The tornado sirens are going off!" Panic filled her voice, but being that she was about five months pregnant I didn't put too much store in that. Only a few night before she'd woken me up in a panic because she smelled ketchup. I had to get up and turn on the lights to show her no evil band of home invaders had stormed our house and began painting the walls with ketchup at three in the morning.

I listened half heartily for a few seconds and then said, "That's not the sirens. it's just a dog howling somewhere."

She flung the covers off and with a sigh headed for the living room. To tell the truth I was just glad that her pointy little elbows were now out of reach.

I heard the TV come on and the first words out of the weatherman's lips, "Their is a possible tornado over the Lake Tanglewood area."

Our property is about a hundred yards from Lake Tanglewood so I knew my night of peaceful slumber was over.

My wife had never been a worrier until our first son was born, but she has made up for that ever since. He was twenty months at the time and she immediately ran to his room at the opposite end of the house. All the while shrieking that there was a tornado and that I needed to get up.

We do not have a cellar but our neighbors across the road do so I swing my feet to the floor and began searching for a pair of pants since I didn't figure they wanted to see me in my boxers. At this point my wife flew into our room with my son in her arms. She barked a few more orders my direction and then grabbed the phone to dial the people across the dirt road to let them know we were headed their way.


As I was dressing the hail began to fall from the sky. The sound of the ice chicks striking the roof drowned out even the thunder, but not my wife when she noticed me lacing up my shoes.

"WE DON"T HAVE TIME TO PUT ON SHOES!" And she ran from our bedroom.

I found her a few seconds later in the living room. She was trying to tie one of the throw pillows from the couch onto our son's head.

"What are you doing?"
Wide-eyed she looked at me, "It's hailing. I don't want him to get hurt."
"Give him to me," I said. Stuffing him inside the flap of the raincoat I'd just put on I turned to my wife. "Follow me. We're gonna have to run hard."

The rain and wind swirled when I opened the door and I leaned forward in an awkward stance to run so that the trunk of my body would shield my son from the rain and hail. By this point the hail as only pea sized.

I slogged through my front door and the ankle deep river of mud that was the road between out house and the safety of the a cellar. My neighbor's wife was on their front porch when I made the fifty yard dash. I handed her my son and turned back to help my wife, but she was no where to be seen. I started across the yard calling her name and then I spotted her on her back in the mud and muck of the dirt road.

As lighting crashed all around I helped her to her feet and we scramble for their house. They brought her a towel and a change of clothes as she explained that her feet had slipped because of her flip-flops.

I shouldn't have, but I did say, "You should have taken time to put on real shoes like I did."

Yep, I was met with an icy glare.

We stayed at the neighbor's for several hours as the storm passed. A tornado never did touch down and as dawn broke the rain had let up to the point that I was more than ready to head home. So our little family started back for home in a slight sprinkle.

My wife took one step onto the muddy road and .. You guessed it fell again.

And of course I said, "Bet you wish you'd have put on real shoes now." She wouldn't even take the hand I offered to help her get up."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Good Plan Gone Bad -- REPEAT

While I am away fishing I thought I'd bring back a few of my previous posts that you may have missed. The date below is their original publication date.


Friday, May 30, 2008

How I came to C the light ...

School is over today for both my boys and my wife. She is more than ready to relinquish her teaching duties for a few months and they are eager to spend their days chasing lizards and swimming. I'm happy for them and I will get to spend more time with my family which is a good thing, but my writing time will suffer as it does every year when the days get longer and it is much easier to hang go fishing or hang out outside.

Yesterday, I went to my boys school awards assembly. That got me to thinking about my old school days. Particularly when one boy got an award and the teacher joked that he would be the perfect student of only she could read his writing.

No one ever confused me for the perfect student, I found my way into too much trouble for that to ever be the case, but I did make good grades throughout and I think most of my teachers liked me. Of course one or two did not, and the most adamant of those was my forth grade teacher, Mrs. McCarthy. Given the laws of nature I feel fairly confident she is no longer with us so I don't worry too much about her reading this and tracking me down to stand above me with that disapproving frown I saw so often my fourth grade year.

Even in Mrs. McCarthy ... (oh, how I wish that would have been Jenny McCarthy) Sorry got distracted. Anyway even though Mrs. McCarthy found fault with my tendency to talk in class or clown around with my buddies I still made all A's and B's, mostly A's I might add. Except in one subject -- Handwriting.

Now I'll be the first to admit, a recovering heroin addict in day three of the shakes, could write more legibly driving down a pothole-filled gravel road than me. Doctors look at my markings and ask, "What the hell does this say?" I haven't written a word in cursive in years since I can't even read it, but all that aside most of my teachers in the past would give me at least a B- so that I could attend the A/B honor roll functions. They basically threw me a bone since I kicked butt in my other subjects. But not Mrs. McCarthy. She gave me a big fat C every six weeks so as we were approaching the end f the year I had not attended a single pizza and coke party with the other burgeoning geniuses of my school.

I lobbied my position and cruel Mrs. McCarthy said, "I'll give you a B when you actually deserve a B."

Ouch.

That's when fate stepped in and helped me out. Or so I thought.

My mom was and is a hairdresser so I spent lots of times in the presence of gossipy old ladies, hairspray and perm solution fumes, and bobbie pins. A young boy can only watch so many ladies get their hair curled before he looks for diversions. After a while even Red book and Better Home and Gardens start to look good. One day while flipping through the girly mags (no not those kind, actual mags that pandered the the thoughts and ideas of middle aged women -- maybe that's where my whole thing with women's fiction started?) I'm wandering again so back to the story.

I don't recall the magazine but I came across an article that said a recent study claimed that those with high I.Q.s often had lousy penmanship because their brain worked faster than their hand. I snuck over to my mom's station, nabbed her hair sheers when she wasn't looking and clipped the piece out. Not even Mrs. McCarthy could doubt science.

I presented the article to her the very next day. A B heck, I figured she would be duty bound to give me an A after reading the info. I had the worst handwriting in the class that had to mean I was the smartest kid there, right? Of course, Mrs. McCarthy had the prettiest handwriting I'd ever seen. That could only mean she wasn't all that bright, right?

Actually, I think that's where I went wrong in my presentation. In hindsight, that last little bit of logic probably wasn't the best thing to close my argument with. That six weeks I got my first ever D.


So tell me what kind of student were you? What is the story behind your worst grade ever?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Making Maggots - REPEATED

While I am away fishing I thought I'd bring back a few of my previous posts that you may have missed. The date below is their original publication date. Here is a a tale about a trip that was delayed.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Making Maggots

Okay, I know that title is just plain nasty, but so is my mood these days. You'll figure out why I named this post that when you get to the end.

Summer is officially over. At least for my wife. She is a teacher and today marked her return to work for in-service days. The boys do not have to go back until Monday the 27th.

The back is slowly getting better, but this week of vacation still has turned out to be a huge disappointment. No fun trips to the New Mexico. No standing in a cold clear running mountain stream waiting for trout to take my offering, no hiking through the pine scented forest, no watching a herd of elk move gracefully up a mountain, and no stops at the Albuquerque Zoo.

It bothers me that I promised the boys we would go to zoo and I was not able to deliver. Guess I'll have to make a quick weekend trip to make it up to them.

Also I accomplished very little in the way of writing. If only I could find a way to invert my laptop and have it hover directly over me while I follow doctors orders and lay flat on my back. The one bright spot is the amount of reading I've done. Heartwood by James Lee Burke, The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, and You Never Believe Me by Davis Grubb.

This morning I got up because could hear my six year old in the kitchen. My wife had already gone. He was intently staring at something in the window sill so I asked him what he was doing.

"Watching these flies wrestle," he replied.
I stepped closer and looked.
"See," he said that one is on top of the other one.
I nodded and reached for the fly swatter.
My son said, "Don't kill them. I want to see who wins."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

V Ain't always For Victory -- REPEATED WORDS

While I am away fishing I thought I'd bring back a few of my previous posts that you may have missed. The date below is their original publication date. I'll start with a tale from a previous trip out of town.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Taking one for the team

Hilton -- $189 a night
EconoLodege -- $54 a night
Hilton -- $10 a day internet
EconoLodge -- Free internet

So what does the Hilton have that EconoLodge doesn't? Several things, but for this post I'll focus on one. MUCH THICKER WALLS.

Last night me, my wife, our two boys 4 and 6, and a 13 year old girl (the daughter of friends) stayed in room 220 of the EconoLodge here in Albequerque. An ex-cheerleader with singing ambitions occupied room 219.

You know that song Rehab by Amy Winehouse the one where she sings No, No, No over and over? Well the gal in room 219 had the lyrics all wrong. She sang Yes, Yes, Yes for half the night and let me be the first to say Simon Cowell would never let her go to Hollywood because she struggled to hold the right key and sometimes she sang louder other times it almost sounded like a moan. Pitchy indeed Randy Jackson.

And then she would fall back into her cheerleader routine. Urging her team to victory. And her room was decorated differently than ours. Apparently they had a giant clock in their room because she raved about the big giant clock all night long.

Finally after a good bit of singing and crowd motivation, she turned her attention to urging the team to close out the game. And BOY you should have heard her when the team scored. Guess it was some kind of cheerleading flashback. I mean what else could it have been?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

N Deed

I'm a contranarian. I like to argue simply for the sake of arguing. Not because I like the conflict but because I thoroughly enjoy a lively debate and the discussions that it can spawn. I've presented myself as a ultra conservative to a die-hard Democrat and I've displayed a bleeding heart to a staunch Republican. But I'll never present myself as a vegetarian even for the sake of lively banter.

But my contrariness goes beyond politics or artificial debates. I tend to shy away from most things that occupy the mainstream of society. I like a lot of indy muysic and the stuff produced by independent labels. I nearly always root for the underdog when it comes to sports. And I shun any thing that comes with the term fashionable.

Why? Well that is an answer I can't answer in definite terms, but I will tell you my lack of conformity sometimes leads to ridicule, especially when it comes to football.

Now football is huge here in Texas. From high school on up to college ball and the NFL. Guess what? I do not root for The Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders, or even Texas A&M.

I bleed Nebraska Cornhusker Red and I have since elementary school.

Why? This one I can answer. My best friend in grade school was an Oklahoma Sooner fanatic. His room was decorated in OU paraphernalia and only his love for the TV show Dukes of Hazards compared to his passion for Sooner football. This was in the days of Barry Switzer. When every OU recruit got a free Uzi and prostitute. (Sorry Driller and Skeeter) Needless to say OU was a powerhouse in those days. Their only true rival at the time was Nebraska and the mighty Tom Osborn led Huskers. My buddy Mark hated the Huskers so my only choice was to adopt them as my team which they have been ever since.

My friend grew up, went off to Texas A&M and became an Aggie while I stayed close to home and rooted on the Huskers.

Soon enough Texas and Nebraska became rivals of a sort when their conferences were combined and suddenly I became a target for Longhorn fans. One particular year the two teams were scheduled to meet in the Big XII title game and Nebraska was heavily favored. I tried to find a few Texas fans to place a wager on the game but despite the fact I was spotting them three touchdowns not a single UT fan wanted to back their team with so much as a buck from their wallet.

Then in a shocker, Texas upset Nebraska and if that wasn't enough to ruin my day, I left work to find out my Jeep Cherokee had been vandalized. Orange shoe polish covered the windows, gaudy orange streams hung from the mirrors and antenna, and the hideous score was written across the hood in what appeared to be ready whip. This was early December and I froze my butt of cleaning the offensive material from my vehicle. With every shiver I plotted my revenge.

Putting my sleuthing skills to work I soon learned the identity of the culprit as one of my coworkers. A workplace buddy that didn't yet realize his was but the first shot in the war. Just for the record it does not pay to brag about your crimes.

One lawn mower, a dozen cans of red spray paint later, this is what my so-called buddies lawn looked like.


I wish I had a better, bigger shot of my artwork. For the record, that N is sixteen feet high and fourteen foot wide. To create it I cut his lawn as short as it would go and painted both sides of every blade of grass. All in broad daylight and without shame.

My buddies neighbor came out and asked what I was doing and without missing a beat I answered making a Christmas decoration. He replied with, "Don't get any on my yard," and went back inside without another word.

I only wish I could have seen the look on my buddies face when he came home.

The story doesn't end there. He spent some much time watering and raking that one area to get rid of the red paint when spring came he had a big green N which took most of the summer to blend in with the rest of his yard.

After that he declared a peace treaty with me saying under no circumstances would he ever do anything to me again no matter if Texas beat Nebraska a thousand times. I told him that was good because my other idea had involved climbing up on his roof and dumping a thousand pounds of feed corn down his chimney.

And for the record no I do not root for the Dallas Cowboys either. I am a New Orleans Saints fan and before you call me a trader to the Lone Star Ste let me remind you that the Cowboy owner Jerry Jones is an Arkansas oil man not a Texas and anybody who would dump a Texas legend like Tom Landry in such a callous fashion is the true traitor to our fine state.

Yeah I know this post was a rambling affair, but I given the fact I'm on the ever of vacation it's a miracle I strung anything together. This time tomorrow I'll be knee deep in a cool refreshing trout stream without a care in the world.