World goes mad in Georgia. Stay away.

Oh. This can’t be good.

Lawmakers in Georgia have passed what the NRA calls “one of the most permissive gun laws in the nation.” Talk about permissive. The law, that Republican Gov. Nathan Deal intends to sign, would allow guns to be carried in bars and churches. The legislation is a virtual “Guns Everywhere Bill,” according to those who oppose it.

Okay, once more. I am not a gun opponent. I have owned guns for a good portion of my life. I enjoy target shooting, specifically, if it involves blasting the hell out of cans. Take that you damned polluters.

But — and it isn’t just quasi-liberals like myself or just plain liberal anti-gun people — many people believe guns should  just not be welcome in some places. Allowing guns in bars and churches is like inviting folks back into some Old West movie.

It doesn’t take a sociologist to know that the nation is politically divided at the moment. People who are getting hammered in bars may sometimes particularly get prickly when discussion of political issues get out of hand. Bar shootings are certainly not novel. The same goes for churches. Inflamed passions also may erupt when some preachers get on a tear and start calling a sinner a sinner and a who is a what’s it. Shootings in churches are not something that never happens. Even more is that true when someone has a bug up their ass about certain religious faiths.

Stay out of Georgia is on my agenda and should be on the minds of others as well.

Around my area, here in Southeast Texas, the big thing is promoting open carry of guns. We’re talking mostly long guns — rifles and shotguns, assault-type weapons — but maybe pistols too. The whole shebang locally started when a man who had a gun store in our local mall was detained by police for walking inside the mall to his store with a so-called assault rifle in plain view. Some nervous people made several calls on the man to police because he was exhibiting the weapon. That makes perfect sense in light of several mall shootings in recent years, both in the U.S. and in foreign countries. It wouldn’t have hurt anything if the man carried his rifle in a case, bag or box.

People thought nothing of it when, as kids, we would walk through town with our guns going hunting in the nearby woods. But that was then and this is now. I have thought that perhaps open carrying of weapons, as opposed to concealed carry, might make sense if you were in a frame of mind to pseudo-license handguns. I no longer think that is a good idea. Why? It’s partly because of seeing these men, women and children marching up and down the shopping area sidewalks carrying their rifles and shotguns. I don’t think it does anything other than upset folks. And when you have people with inflamed passions … well, see above in churches and bars.

My neglected blog reason revealed. The fault was all Jimmy Leg’s.

Looks like my friend, Paul in Tokyo, did some updating on this Word Press program or whatever it’s called. As far as I know there are no obvious outside changes but there are a number on my side. For instance, there are more than a dozen platforms from which I can embed videos.

I apologize, to myself mostly, for being neglectful of my blog as of late. Part of the excuse is that I now and, have been for some time, on a 32-hour per week work schedule. That isn’t just Monday-Thursday and three days off. My schedule can be seven hours Monday through Wednesday, six hours on Thursday and five hours on Friday. Crazy man. Like way out there, as some former president in the 20th century would say. Yes, I’m talking about George Herbert Walker Rodney Andrew Jackson Gamaliel Harding Bush Sr. Wow, that Warren G. Harding was a character.

I mean, I like Obama although he has certainly disappointed at times. But the real Obama haters out there are almost as bad as all the Gee Dubya Bush haters. And I wasn’t one of the latter, as I have said in the past, I talked to him before he was even running for governor and had no one accompanying him, and I found him to be pleasant enough. I guess where I really got crossways with him was Iraq. I’m beginning to  think Afghanistan as well but I haven’t made up my mind yet. I also shouldn’t have to remind folks but the subject deserves a caveat that I didn’t like the war or wars. But I was for the military men and women.

You may say hating war but liking the warriors isn’t possible. I say it is. Hey, the conservative Christians say it is possible to hate the sin but love the sinner, when speaking of homosexuality. That is a whole bucket of fishing worms where I shall not stick my hand. That may also be a thin analogy. At least I’m writing something.

Oh, and the other reason for my neglect of the blog has been my damned knee. There was a little more to it than a simple meniscus tear. No, it also involved the dreaded Jimmy leg. Nonetheless, I have probably another month of physical therapy and several more weeks of light duty at work. This doesn’t count the number of days I lost since my knee first began to act up in January. By the end of it, when I hopefully am back in acceptable condition, I will have spent 4-to-5 months tied up in one way or the other because of this knee. How ’bout those Jimmy Legs?

Thanks Paul, for updating my system. My fellow J-school friend moves in stealth these days, free from Facebook. I envy him.



The finer things in life, baloney! Seriously!

Here I sit eating pieces of beef jerky. I have often wondered why is it that I do not find myself in a position in which someone will ask me: “How is beef jerky made?” To which I would answer: “Well, first you start with a very, old cow.”

I couldn’t say if I ate jerky as a kid. I can long remember eating Slim Jims, which are the same as jerky only different.

In many cases there are numerous foods today which were not available to the general public when I was growing up. A major reason for that was or is geography. I grew up in a town of about 2,000 people which was some 60 miles from a “metropolitan area.”

The first Mexican food I remember eating was actually what is identified today as Tex-Mex. That makes sense geographically since I grew up and live in Texas as well as Texas standing next door to Mexico. My mother would buy these enchilada and tamale TV dinners with frijoles y arroz, which we knew, of course, as beans and rice. Although I had eaten at a few Mexican restaurants in Texas and the South, I was never exposed to honesto a dios Mexican food until the time I spent in the El Paso-Juarez area and in Southern California. The first “authentic” Mexican food that I found in a restaurant outside of the Southwest was in Lufkin, Texas, of all places.

First of all, I went to college in Nacogdoches, which was just across the river from Lufkin. Casa Morales was the name of the restaurant. Located in downtown Lufkin, the place had great food and an ambiance to match. As well as a good plate of chile rellenos, one might search through the racks near the cashier for historietas, the graphic novellas which were more lurid and even pornographic than comic. Casa Morales later built another restaurant in Redland, a community closer to the Angelina River that separates Angelina and Nacogdoches counties.

Growing up, pizza was something my mother made with a Chef Boyardee Pizza Kits. I probably first had pizza in a pizza place in high school when I traveled to the Beaumont area, where I now live. Since that time I have eaten pizzas in the northeast U.S., Chicago, the West Coast as well as Australia and New Zealand. I must note, I have never visited New York, though I have had so-called “New York-Style” pizza.

There was some standard fare growing up. My mother made wonderful fried chicken. I remember her fried tripe was excellent although some people I know might gag at the sound of the entree. By the way, I had some really good menudo the last time I stayed in El Paso with my friends. Menudo is known, of course, for its magical powers as a hangover cure though I didn’t eat it for that reason on that particular occasion and it was still delicious.

Other dishes from my mother’s hands included, probably my best-loved dish that she made, her pigs-in-a-blanket. This was long before I heard the term kolache, but this was very near what her pigs were.

We were country folks and as such we would eat some dishes not-so-mainstream growing up. One of my sisters-in-law told of her being stunned to see on one of her initial visits, served on my family dinner table, a cooked baloney. Of course, that is considered soul food in some parts of the country today. My Dad, himself a good cook having served as a merchant marine steward in WWII, would buy a billy goat for the 4th of July that he would barbecue. The meal, especially using meat of a kid goat, today is known more by the Mexican method as cabrito.

I would be remiss not to mention a concoction my dad would make that he called “Son of a Gun.” Now my brothers and I have discussed this many times although I am not sure we arrived at a collective agreement as to what this meal was and what all it contained. Some of my siblings said it was my Dad’s version of “Sonofabitch Stew,” the old cattle drive fare that included just about any ingredient of a cow or other edible meat and lots and lots of hot sauce. But this stew my Pops whipped up was more like a Slum Gullion Stew, which is a watery stew of practically any ingredient handy.

In my Dad’s case, this thin stew consisted of potted meat and some type of canned tomato product such as tomato sauce or tomato soup or perhaps canned tomatoes. I surmise he added hot sauce, salt and pepper and he would often bake up some homemade corn bread as a side. It was truly some righteous stuff.

I have eaten barbecued monkey meat on a stick in the Philippines. I added an egg to a hamburger in Australia but turned down the “beet root.” Today you can get just about any kind of meat or vegetable depending on how much you want to pay and how far you want to travel. But sometimes the simplest meals one may find are the things no farther than one’s pantry or local grocer store. It is all the better when you know the food is made at home, and for love just as it is prepared for sustenance.

Today’s ‘entertainment’ news: We’re not dicking around, Mr. Johnson.

Here is some truly bizarre news. A rapper affiliated with the group the Wu Tang Clan reportedly severed his penis and leaped from his second-floor apartment in what was described as a suicide attempt, CNN reports. Christ Bearer, whose real name is Andre Johnson, performs with the group Northstar. Neither Johnson, nor Johnson’s severed Johnson should be confused with All-Pro Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson. The rapper survived the fall and was taken to a Los Angeles-area hospital in critical condition.

Apparently, it has yet to be reported if known whether Johnson and Johnson jumped together or separately. However, Johnson’s severed Johnson, or penis if you will, was taken along with the rapper Johnson to the hospital.

The hip-hop Wu Tang Clan emerged in 1993, according to is website. Among its original members were Method Man, Raekwon, RZA and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard.

In other penis-related news … I just can’t bear to write about this. If you desire go ahead …

You can check out anytime you like, but be sure to rehearse

Another trip to the knee surgeon this morning means another month of little doing. After surgery last week I now am prescribed a knee brace to wear while doing relatively nothing until yet the next doctor’s appointment in about another month. I can start light duty again at work next week, so at least I will have some people with whom to speak.

Days like today make me wish there was a decent pub nearby. Actually, there is a decent hotel bar not far away but one can rack up quite a tab even at happy hour. I don’t know what the price of a bar beer was back in the day in which I drank beer in a bar. It doesn’t seem draft beer was all that expensive but you definitely got what you paid for drinking draft.

These days I drink beer vary sparingly, to the point that a brew tastes pretty good after you’ve not had one in awhile. Just as when I would go a week or two at sea without a cold one.

Marines shift American colors to Philippine as Subic Bay Naval Station is handed over back to its host country in 1992.

Marines shift American colors to Philippine as Subic Bay Naval Station is handed over back to its host country in 1992.

Talks about bars and drinking kind of go hand-in-hand, I suppose, since I feel somewhat melancholy about life in general. I started listening to the Eagles on the computer but I realized how blue some of the birds’ songs can be. “After The Thrill Is Gone,” for example.

 “What can you do when your dreams come true and it’s not quite like you planned?/What have you done to be losing the one/You held it so tight in your hand./Time passes and you must move on, half the distance takes you twice as long/So you keep on singing for the sake of the song/After the thrill is gone. 

Who cares if one doesn’t hear iambic pentameter in the lyrics? The harmonious vocals and e-lec-tric-i-cal guitars all seem to work.

If you keep listening to the Eagles you may hear something more sad and pensive or perhaps you might even run into something funny whether it’s meant to be or not. The late 1970s hit and title track of the album “Hotel California” spawns several funny thoughts that have less to do with the song so much as it does the title.

Several hit songs from “Hotel California,” including the title track were hitting the airwaves in Southern California in July 1977, just as I got there to board my old destroyer for a year of Western and Southern Pacific duty. “Life In The Fast Lane,” a particularly fitting song for driving the freeways from L.A. to San Diego, was popular just as I arrived in San Pedro/Long Beach, where my ship was in drydock. A month or two later we sailed down to our homeport of San Diego. I stored my car in Long Beach because we were only to stay in San Diego for a couple of weeks. An aside, I was worried my Corolla would be a solid rust bucket upon returning because the car was in a gated, but exposed, area seaward on Terminal Island. Luckily, all the then-3-year-old Toyota needed upon returning was a jump from some battery cables.

One thing that could definitely be said for “Hotel California” is that it travels well. It seemed as if hardly a day went by when you couldn’t hear the song played on a juke box or by a local Filipino band in one of the clubs fronting Magsaysay Drive in beautiful downtown Olangapo, Republic of the Philippines. Olangapo is the city that was outside the main gate to the then Subic Bay Naval Station. The U.S. relinquished control of the large naval station and adjacent Cubi Point Naval Air Station in 1992 due to a call among the Filipino people to close it. The control by the Philippines was hastened, as was nearby Clark Air Force Base in Manilla, when the area was engulfed in volcanic dust from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.

In the days I visited Olangapo on and off from September 1977 to April 1978, I had learned of the intensity and dedication Filipino musical groups gave to their work. It was not unheard of for bands to practice eight hours in the day only to go on and perform just afterwards in the evenings. Sometimes, one might think the bands that recorded the popular rock tunes heard in the U.S. were the original bands. But it seemed many groups in Olangapo had one small flaw when it came to playing the Eagles’ hit, “Hotel California.” That would be the pronunciation of “California” itself. The local bands to a man (mostly) sang: “Welcome to the Hotel Cal-i-porn-ya.”

Some afternoons when were let go from work with early liberty, one might sit in a bar alone with his thoughts, with no “Calipornia.” One might then enjoy a cold San Miguel, and wonder what life was to bring. I never thought I would still ponder those times 36 years later, still with a bit of melancholy even though I’ve seen enough to make probably dozens of people happy.

Such is life. Those Filipino dudes sounded great, whether they mispronounced “California”or not. Nothing or no one is perfect. Life would be pretty damned dull if it was.

Here is a toast to imperfection and its restorative powers!

The state seizes Beaumont school control. The circus has left town.

The state board that oversees public education in Texas announced today that an appointed board of managers will rule the troubled Beaumont school district.

A letter from Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams to the Beaumont Independent School District superintendent and school board said the managers along with an appointed conservator and superintendent will run district functions effective June 15. This means the current elected board and its appointed superintendent, Dr. Timothy Chargois, will cease supervision of the largest district in Southeast Texas. A copy of that letter is here.

The announcement comes in the wake of years-long controversy, often based along racial lines, over financial and other mismanagement. Some of the former has resulted in the alleged disappearance of  millions in public dollars. A few pleas by district officials made in federal court may result in prison time as well as financial reimbursement and fines. A deal was also worked out by federal prosecutors and the district’s electrician in which the latter will receive no prison time for allegedly bilking the district for more than $4 million.

A Texas Education Agency report released earlier this month noted ” … a severe breakdown in the management of the district’s finances both by the board of trustees and the superintendent.”

Additional criminal investigations by local law enforcement and the FBI are currently under way.

Not addressed in these official reports are the racial overtones that pervade the controversy. Some of the racial discord dates back more than two decades in which the school district incorporated predominantly black schools and marked the beginning of a “white flight” that has today left Beaumont as a city with a black majority in population. Population estimates for 2012 by the U.S. Census show Beaumont with a population of 118,228. Of that population, 47 percent is black and 40 percent white.

Much of the racial-driver controversy concerning Beaumont schools teetered in the shadows until recent years under the district’s predominantly black school board and its black former superintendent Dr. Carroll “Butch” Thomas. Before Thomas retired in 2012, his salary of more than $360,000 was the highest in Texas. This despite Beaumont ISD was not even in the top 20 Texas schools in enrollment size.

The zenith of the BISD controversy came about after voters in 2007 passed a more than $380 million bond issue. Some of the most vocal critics say Thomas and cohorts mishandled funds in the bond issue. The large “Carroll A. “Butch” Thomas Educational Support Center, with a 10,600-seat football stadium at its center, is perhaps the monument for the BISD storm that either saw its peak today with the state takeover or whatever else is to follow.

Within the fight against the school board has been a vocal minority led by white residents of the district’s more affluent neighborhoods as well local Tea Party activists. The opposition leaders include one of the few white school board members and one local attorney who serves on the Beaumont City Council. Many who are among the most vocal, and often the most racial, can be found at the board meetings and on the comment sections of local media stories. Often the most vocal make their thoughts known pseudonymous online, such as adopting racist names for Beaumont school leaders as well as making sure minorities in other stories are likewise not given the benefit of doubt for their actions.

I must admit, it was once fun watching the squabbling on both sides. But no longer is that the case. Many of the opposition to the school board and its appointed leaders Thomas and Chargois, will feel vindicated and perhaps even giddy upon the actions taken today by the Texas Education Agency and its distinguished commissioner, Mr. Williams. It is pertinent to point out that Williams, who is a Republican former Texas Railroad Commissioner, is also black. I fear though that if the white BISD opposition does not get out of those appointees what they want, the vocal minority will likely point at the black TEA commissioner and probably at any African-Americans he appointed to the board of managers. Perhaps even, the loyal opposition may show its ire at the whole group.

If such takes place, it can only result in more discord and more white flight.

A word for the media here. I am sure all the local TV stations will claim their role in this hoped-for correction of the district. The TV stations are already doing their annoying “It was first reported here … ” The local newspapers took a very, very slow start into covering problems in the district as did the TV stations. Were it not for several of the aforementioned ringleaders of opposition, the media coverage of the district problems would have been nil. Had these media outlets been competently led, they might have seen Pulitzer or Peabody prizes in their future. While I would be willing to bet the TV and newspapers may win some prizes, the awards will be nothing near what they might have been had the local media been on the ball. It’s even possible these problems would have never even come this far.

So much for the fun and games. The circus has long stopped being fun. The clean-up crew now has to try and sweep away all the crap that the clowns, rather than the elephants, left behind.


Quick and woozy

My concentration is pretty much shot after taking two Vicodin a short while ago. I have taken a couple of other such Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen tablets today in efforts to relieve my post-operative knee pain.

The surgery went well, as far as I can tell. I can still walk. Yea! Although, my knee — all wrapped up in an Velcro-elastic bandage — is awful sore today. This isn’t unexpected although the knee felt pretty good all of yesterday. I replaced the bloody dressing from yesterday with band aids over the the three little punctures in the skin, two of which showed tiny stitches. It was certainly a quick operation. I remember myself nodding out just after my brother Billy,  who drove me to the clinic and home, left for the waiting room. I have to say I was glad my brother was there to help keep my mind occupied instead of worrying whether some kind of mishap might befall me while I lay in a very brief medically-induced coma.

I woke and I remember a flash view of the nurse taking the breathing tube away. That isn’t to say I remember the tube being removed from my throat, just taken. Each time I have had surgery, the recovery always seems to remind me of Dorothy waking up in her on bed after her wild haloucinogenic trip to Oz. And you were there, and you were there too Toto!

The doctor said the surgery took only 10 minutes or so. I kind of find that hard to believe from what I have read about an arthroscopic meniscetomy. Maybe 15-to-30 minutes but 10? Nevertheless, I am a bit lethargic with somewhat of a wooze factor. So, I’ll keep it short, shorty.

A word before that cold ass operating table …

Tomorrow morning at 8:15 I will undergo surgery to have my torn knee meniscus cartilage repaired. I have been through an ordeal over the past two or three months dealing with some significant pain as well as experiencing some unwelcome foot-dragging between my surgery clinic and worker’s compensation folks.

I, for one, am happy to get this done. Well, not really happy. But you know what I mean.

Today has been a total pain in the ass dealing with my work’s computer help desk in Washington. Those people are just unbelievable. I know most computer call centers are a blight on all mankind — whoa, I guess that’s a bit harsh. Need I just say I am glad my workday is now over.

Hopefully, all will go well with the surgery. I always worry a little, and I think it is prudent to have a little concern, to undergo general anesthesia. I suppose as long  as I wake up with no major problems then everything will be cool.

So until later, ta.

What’s wrong with Ferguson and Geoff replacing Letterman?

It looks like Wednesday, April 9, may finally be the day my torn knee meniscus cartilage is fixed. What a freaking ordeal that’s been.

The world of late night TV is also having its own freaking ordeal now that David Letterman announced his retirement last night. Some say he retired years ago. I just think the time has come. I have liked Letterman over the years but his show is difficult to remain with through a night. It’s definitely lost a lot of its freshness.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised Jimmy Fallon has become successful, off to a fast beginning in replacing Jay Leon. I suppose the people who like Saturday Night Live over the last 15 or so years would like Fallon. Of the two Jimmies, I overwhelming say Kimmel is the better. But I don’t really like to stay with his show the entire episode either. Automatically, many think of Craig Ferguson on the CBS Late Late Show which follows Dave as a likely replacement, but I supposed those who like the two Jimmies shows don’t particularly get Ferguson. Not so, me.

Only over the past year or so have I begun watching Ferguson and his very different style of humor. I really suppose I should start taping it so I can get to sleep at a better time. Oh, and I stay with his show, wishing it was just a bit longer.

Ferguson reminds me of the early days of Letterman who, while seeming appearing stable on the outside seems possessing a zany personalaity with deep intellect. Not that Letterman seemed all that brainy, although many times he ends up looking crazy as a fox. Ferguson, a naturalized Scot who shows an abiding love for America with all it warts (most often a difficult task these days), has no band and no real human sidekicks. He has an robotic skeleton, Geoff Peterson, whose fingers seem to be falling off and two people in a horse suit known collectively as “Secretariat.” The latter only dance around and nod their heads at something to indicate an affirmative or negative. Geoff is hilarious as is Ferguson.

Ferguson likewise has great guests and, I don’t know if they rehearse, but they all seem to come off as if they had been sitting around talking all day. A limbo contest between Ferguson and guest Ashton Kutcher last night was a hoot. The Late, Late Show  follows a legacy of another “out there” host whom I really enjoyed, Tom Snyder.

One must admit that there are some intriguing names circulating as potential candidates to replace Letterman. Among them, Chelsea Handler, Ellen DeGeneres, Arsenio Hall, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert. All could revitalize that first late show time spot. Then so could Ferguson and others.

Maybe I just should lighten up and accept what passes for comedy of the more recent Saturday Night Live variety. Maybe I am just stuck in the Belushi, Murray, Ackroyd days. Or maybe not. Too much to ponder.

Happy Weekend.

Start with a microbe, you end up with a redneck pondering speech

Here is a story from Canadian TV that helps put one back in their place: Ah, yes, tales of the “Methane-spewing microbe blamed in worst mass extinction.”

Speaking of methane-spewing, I am still laughing today at a particular scene from last night’s episode “Starvation” on the great FX series Justified. Yeah, I know some may have still not watched it so avert your eyes.

The wonderful redneck criminal character Dewey Crowe, played by Down Under-er Damon Herriman, is caught siphoning gas from a little old lady’s car. Asked if he wants some snack or such she trots off while Dewey hollers: “If you’re gonna be a minute, you mind if I run in and take a shit?”

Not surprisingly, the old woman returns with a double-barrel shotgun. Well, it isn’t surprising she returns with a gun, not that it isn’t surprising she comes back with a “side-by-side.” Or isn’t it?

I’m not all that good in character minutiae, especially with a fast-moving, Elmore Leonard-inspired TV series. But the show’s executive producer Graham Yost tells Entertainment Weekly that another comic exchange, this time between Dewey and lead Timothy Olyphant, has ties to the series’ beginning. Olyphant, who exquisitely plays U.S. Deputy Marshal Raylyn Givens, manages to arrest Dewey after he, figuratively, blew up a chance for the marshals to trap Dewey’s meaner brother Darryl. As Dewey is led away Raylyn gives the hapless criminal some advice that he might ” … stop referring to himself in the third person.”

“What? This guy?” Dewey asks, nodding toward the cop about to drive him to jail.

“Man, sometimes I don’t understand you.”

The last phrase, as it turns out, Dewey uttered in the pilot episode. I don’t know if I even saw the pilot. I’m sure I must’ve. I haven’t missed many of the episodes Justified‘s five season. This is one of the few golden nuggets in TV these days. It is a reminder that the show must’ve had a writer. And it did and it does.

Too bad it wasn’t me.