Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Where bad writing is good

Joy. The 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winners have been announced. You’re familiar with the contest if you’ve ever read Peanuts – “It was a dark and stormy night.” Founders gleefully brag that this is the literary event where www means “wretched writers welcome.”

The first contest back in the 80’s drew only three entries. Today, tens of thousands.

This year’s winning entry was written by Molly Ringle of Seattle:

“For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity's affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss--a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity's mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world's thirstiest gerbil.”

There’s more, much more, where that came from. Click here.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Little snap shots

Enterprising reporters turned up this quote from the 15-year-old neighbor of one of the deep-cover Russian spies just caught by the FBI: “She can’t be a spy,” the kid said, “Look what she’s done with the hydrangeas.”

Former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe died recently. He was a very wealthy man yet a common man. And Briscoe stories began. Here’s a good one from Roy Bragg, writing in the San Antonio Express News: “One woman said she went to his office to buy two copies of his memoirs for each of her grandchildren,” a friend said, recalling a story that happened two years ago. “He knew her and he knew her economic situation. He gave her the books and told her, ‘Just bring me some tomatoes.'”

More than $3,000 is spent EVERY SECOND on the World Wide Web. That’s around the clock. So say horny financial writers.

The word bankruptcy comes from the Italian tradition of conducting banking transactions on wooden benches in marketplaces. And banca rupta means broken bench. No translation necessary.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Appropos of nothing

Alfred Hitchock received an angry letter from a father who was concerned that his daughter would stop showering after seeing Janet Leigh hacked to death in “Psycho.” The lass had already stopped bathing since a bathtub drowning scene in a French movie. Hitchcock drolly replied, “Send her to the dry cleaners.”

A buddy who spent a lost weekend recently at Old Miss quotes the student body saying, “We don’t win many football games but we never lose a party.” Tradition!

One pundit has a name for other pundits who leave angry, yet anonymous, posts on blogs. He calls them keyboard cowboys.

The Weather Channel was ahead of the tornado outbreak which spawned more than 30 twisters in Minnesota. The weather honey said Minneapolis had a five in ten chance of getting hit. “Five in ten,” she said. “That’s nearly half.” Cue the lightning.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Somebody at the Post Office is laughing.

Targeted mail. Makes me paranoid. How do they know? I’ve been receiving a lot of it lately. Today, they doubled-down on me.

First was the four-color flier from Episcopal Homes wanting me to either move in or send money, whichever comes first. Years ago, I retired from the Episcopalians and I have no intention of re-upping. However, I will admit the Tuesday Hot Breakfast is tempting.

Next comes the unkindest cut of all – the catalogue for Kingsize men, big and tall. I know I’ll never get any taller so that leaves only big. Did someone turn me in?

I’m going to court. I’m going to sue the bastards. Clearly, this is a case of Double Indignity.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

If cumulus could talk

There was a time when every kid growing up in Texas knew the story of Quanah Parker, the greatest Comanche war chief who ruled the Plains for most of the 19th century. Or at least we thought we did. But few history books told of his second act. At the reservation, Parker morphed from a terrible warrior to a prosperous cattleman and hard-bargaining politician who became Teddy Roosevelt’s friend. The chief played a leading role in building the Native American Church and defended its role in the use of peyote. “The white man goes to church and talks about Jesus,” Parker said, “but the Indian goes into his tipi and talks to Jesus.” Read: Empire of the Summer Moon.

Put this in your GPS: Chef Point Café, Watauga, Tx. Just north of Ft. Worth, this little truck stop eatery got a nice review in the Sunday NY Times. Operated by chef Franzon Nwaeze, a Nigerian immigrant and his American wife, Paula, the restaurant is seven years old. The banks wouldn’t lend the couple $$$ for a café but they would for a gas station. So the enterprising couple bought a Conoco station and ditched the rotating weiner warmer and slushy machine. Reservations not accepted. Patrons include bikers and Dallas debutantes.

The Minnesota Nice tradition didn’t bother the guy who wrote this car-for-sale adv on CraigsList: “As I have sold here before: No Nigerian princes, principals only, no shipping, we have a great alarm system, Rottweilers and guns but we are very nice to good, decent people.”

In Minnesota, more than half a million drivers have been convicted of DWI.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Moon over Miami (pun)

Have you ever seen the catalogue from the Vermont Country Store? The venerable mail order business has been in the Orton family since 1946. Sweet stuff. Old fashioned. Suspenders, hand mowers, caftans, Modern, too. Now you can order a “full assortment of intimate solutions” and they vibrate. Guaranteed to arrive in a brown paper wrapper. When did this happen?

Up here in Minnesota, we have learned there is power in the potholes. They can scare hell outta the unwary driver and tear hell outta your vehicle. Now comes a firm who has invented a gizmo that converts the mayhem into electricity. GenShocks actually harvests energy that you can use in your hybrid. If this catches on, I’m going to quit driving in Minneapolis. Hmmm. Use this technology to harness the energy from the Country Store item above and you could light up Miami. You have?

Remember when you were 49 and a half and how indignant you were to get an unsolicited AARP card in the mail? Well triple that when The Scooter Store finds you and starts the incoming mail barrage. How did they find me 1,300 miles from Texas?

From the Collectables Direct catalogue you can order a spiffy multi-function walking stick. This fancy cane is adjustable and packs a 5 LED flashlight – plus an alarm and three flashing lights. Change your design to tote a couple of jiggers of Scotch and it’s a deal.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another true story from the porch

The Mystery Woman has a soothing voice. She is blessed with good diction that smooths her Texas roots. In her speckled past, she has done voice over work for her production company.

So it was not unnatural when she began to read to us on the porch. Out loud. It was just like when Doris Day would burst into song in the movies. (Note to self: find a different example. The MW never liked Doris.)

To continue.

Not only was her voice comfortable, so were the words. I found myself transported back home to a more simple time. Childhood images began to linger in the air. At times, I thought I could smell blueberry muffins about to come out of the oven. I swear I could taste the gravy covering a quality chicken fried steak. And the carrots slathered in butter and cinnamon!

Take me now, Lord.

That’s when I realized she was reading selected passages from the book Eddie Wilson wrote: “Threadgill’s, the Cookbook.”

Maybe I’ve been whining too much about how much I miss Texas cooking. Ya think?

PS -- You would enjoy this little book. It’s about every day food. Southern cooking. A travel guide of sorts. As Eddie says: Threadgill’s Restaurant is a museum of Austin music history and a shrine to Kenneth Threadgill, the grandfather of Austin Country music. And Eddie is a good writer who shares his insights which are unusual and down home in the same breath. More than 40,000 copies sold last I heard.

Don’t forget -- at Threadgill’s, seconds are free.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The new Texas militia

For security purposes, visitors to the Texas Capitol are now screened. However, you can skip the long line if you flash your permit to carry a concealed handgun. Since the rule went into effect, probably each of the 1,500 lobbyist is packing the new form of I.D. Hired gun has real meaning now. Oh, the irony.

In related news, Austin police ran out of coupons as they gave away more than $30,000 in gift certificates to people who surrendered guns for groceries.

Sarah Palin’s last two speeches have been panned by audience members. Noted. File that under “you get what you pay for.”

If you’ve ever watched a young man play a video game with his opposable thumbs, you’ll question your faith in intelligent design.

Glenn Beck. I don't know why but I suddenly thought of him.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The magic porch

The porch is open for business.

Actually, we put up the screens in April but June was a tad cool. Now, the weather is just right.

First-time visitors are sometimes surprised how small it is – about 8’ by 16’ on a good day. But even on a bad day, the view is not bound by the curve of the earth. At least not in our mind’s eye. You can see stuff at the outer limits of your imagination.

If you want to.

For us, this little sanctuary is sometimes a cathedral that is open to the beauty of the sun’s rays back-lighting a single raindrop on a single leaf.

Sometimes the porch is a refuge that protects us from the storm.

Often the porch is a window that frames children laughing on their way back to school after a field trip to Minnehaha Falls just blocks away.

Bestest are the times on the porch visiting with friends, relatives, neighbors.

Like yesterday, when 89-year-old Virginia made it to the to the porch for the first time since she had surgery to repair her broken hip. She came barefoot to feel the warmth in first person.

We live together, the three of us – Virginia, the Mystery Woman and me. Three older people with a full pack of health issues. You name it, we got it. So we take care of one another. Sometimes it is difficult but fortunately we all like each other.

That makes our time together on the porch all the more special.

Come join us next time you are in the neighborhood. Enjoy the magic.

Bring white wine.

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