Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Publick notice

Been a busy week ’round these parts, with a concomitant lack of time for posting. I’m hoping to rectify that shortfall later on this evening if I can. In other site news, I had to shut down new user registration due to a sudden deluge of Russian spammers, a tsunami that various anti-spam plugins were unable to cope with. So I’ll be spending some time this weekend looking for solutions to that annoying problem; even though we don’t get a ton of comments around here, the ones we get are always high quality, and I value ’em greatly. That being the case, shutting down comments altogether is not something I’m all that happy to contemplate, although a temporary shutdown could conceivably prove necessary until I can find some way to deal with the spammer scum.

I believe it’s one (or more) of John Ringo’s novels that features a character who is known for slaughtering spammers every time he finds one within his reach. When I first read it I laughed right out loud, since over the years I’ve come to share that same sentiment, with fucking bells on and a-ringing. I’d gladly strangle one manually myself, and damn the cost to my painfully arthritic hands.

Anyways, back as soon as I can, y’all.

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Nose to the grindstone, people

Time to get back to work at Job One: kicking Lefty while he’s down.

When we gather together this Christmas, it’s going to be super-awkward since everybody is dead because Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Scam, repealed net neutrality, and cut taxes. The depredations of Genghis Khan, the Black Plague, and the repeal of the Obamacare mandate – these are pretty much the same thing. Santa Claus and all of our dreams are dead too.

On the plus side, since we are all dead there’s no one to make egg nog, which is the worst of all possible nogs.

You know what these eggs need? Some milk. And then rum.

No. Whoever invented egg nog is the second grossest human being ever who is not Lena Dunham, exceeded in grossness only by the first person being who thought, “Look, an oyster! I know. I’ll put that slimy thing in my mouth.

The Democrats are the egg nog of American politics. Discuss.

The rest of the column is great fun too, but I felt it was most important to get this part in as the excerpt portion, every word of which I wholeheartedly endorse. Especially that bit about oysters. Ugh.

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Site news

Look for a new theme hereabouts next week, folks. With Christmas nearly upon us, it’s soon going to be time to put dear ol’ Scrooge Picard back on his shelf for another year, so I’ve spent most of my late-night insomniac time this past week putting together something I think y’all will really like. Ordinarily I’d leave Picard up a little past New Years, but I’m pretty excited about how this new thing is turning out and am eager to activate it and see how it actually runs in the real world. As always, any information you can send me about malfunctions or glitches you encounter will be much appreciated, if groaned at initially.

Update! Where will wants not, a way often opens, or so t’is said. I got the new theme pretty much set and ready, and in my usual impatience with delayed gratification, lo and behold if I didn’t come up with the idea of marrying old Scrooge Picard with the new style. So, y’know, here ’tis. Merry Christmas, and don’t say I never gave y’all nothin’, hear?

Updated update! More site news: I’ve seen an almost incredible influx of Russian-spammer registrations via the comments section, for some strange reason. It started earlier today, and really crescendoed once I activated the new theme. Got no idea why that would be. No spam in the comments yet, though; guess the good ol’ Akismet anti-spam plugin is still working, and up to the job.

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Nougat? NOUGAT?!?

I don’t write about these things much anymore, and haven’t in a while. I used to really enjoy tweaking Steven Den Beste about my beloved Macs versus his crappy ol’ PeeCees back in the old days; him, me, and Brian Tiemann had many an enjoyable and informative three-way e-mail exchange about that stuff, with my old friend CapLion chiming in on mine and Brian’s side now and then, just to make the fur really fly. It was great fun, and educational as all hell, too. I like to think the resulting rasslin’ around on our respective blogs yielded some worthwhile reading for our respective audiences to enjoy as well.

But nowadays tech is slowly but surely leaving me behind. Perhaps even more appalling, I’m A-okay with that increasing disengagement, too; I’m an old dog now, getting older by the minute, and am finding myself less and less interested in all the new tricks. I do make a half-assed effort (okay, quarter-assed) to at least keep the young ‘uns in sight as they blaze off into the ether in their self-driving aircars and their personal jetpacks and their Travolators in the sky and suchlike. But as time grinds implacably on, the appeal of just staying on the porch and waving at them from a creaky old bentwood rocker as they reach escape velocity grows ever more compelling.

Notwithstanding my creeping fuddy-duddydom, to any of you Android users out there wondering about the new 7.0 update and willing to trust this old dog’s assessment: DO IT. Just do it. I installed it yesterday, and it is GREAT: a noticeable up-kick in speed across the board, and the extension of battery life (thanks in part to a sleep feature called Doze) is nothing short of astonishing. There are other new features I haven’t played with much yet, and not being a smartphone guru by any stretch I probably won’t get around to exploring some of them at all. I have fooled about a little with the split-screen dealie, which is a neat little confection but maybe not all that useful to anybody but a true power-user—which, as I already admitted, I sure ain’t. But the jump in speed and battery life alone are enough to make it well worth installing.

If it’s of any interest to anybody, I’m on a Moto X Pure which I’ve had for about a year now, and just love to little bitty pieces. They were discontinued towards the end of last year, if I remember right, which made me glad I’d gotten mine under the wire, and for an almost unbelievably cheap price* too. Now, with this update breathing new life into the old girl, I’ll be happily hanging onto her for a goodish while yet, or so I hope.

Yep, you whippersnappers can have your damned Dick Tracy wrist teewees and your Star Trek communicators a-beeping and a-blatting at you and all. Me, I’m gonna stick to ol’ Princess over here. It’s got a great big bright ol’ screen that I can actually read—and at my age that ain’t optional**, nosirree. And with this update, it looks to stay current enough for my purposes for a long, long while yet, unless I drop it in a toilet or lay it on the floor and then forget and step on it or put it in the microwave for no damned reason or something.

Now get off my damn lawn, you kids.

Den Beste would probably have been annoyed with me for not having an iPhone, if only because it would leave us with one less thing to joust over. Probably he wouldn’t have ever openly admitted to giving a damn, and would have been all ready with an elegant, eloquent, and well-reasoned two thousand word treatise on why he didn’t. But as one curmudgeon surely knows another, I bet I’m right. I can just tell.

Truthfully, though, I just never did get too excited about the iPhones, although I do still love my Macs. I don’t know why. Maybe my gravitating to Android over iOS was an early symptom of latent codgerhood. Maybe my disinterest in the iPhone was my last gasping breath of the adolescent rebellion and nonconformity that was like oxygen to me my whole life. Maybe they’re just too freakin’ expensive, and I can’t afford one, and I resented it subconsciously.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a PC someday just for the hell of it, and get Steven spinning in his grave for reals. Just because.

Damn, but I do miss that boy. If you got the time, I strongly recommend that you click the link above to the archives of his old USS Clueless site and poke around a bit. You won’t be sorry, I promise; he was one of the very best of us OG warbloggers, and it’d be a shame for you noobs not to hip yourselves to him. It was an honor and a thrill to be linked and excerpted by him now and then, and I got all happy every time he did—even when he was deftly demolishing one of my arguments, jackhammering it to rubble bit by pitiful bit until there was nothing left of it but a slight whiff of failure wafting gently away into nothingness. Which I admit he did, once or twice. The Mac/PC stuff excepted; he was just dead fucking wrong about all that, of course.

Ahem.

From Den Beste to Droid to Den Beste in one mid-length, mostly-coherent post; don’t know how that happened, but I assure you you won’t find such toothsome noodling about anyplace else but right here, folks. Which, y’know, might not be the ringing endorsement I think it is, now that I consider it. The mostly-coherent part is no mean feat either, when you’re high on Metamucil and Geritol, wear a pair of readers around your neck full-time, haven’t bothered to pick up your hairbrush in weeks because what the hell’s the point, and have enough laxatives bouncing around in your belly to break down three miles of I-85 into a fine powder.

So yeah, go getcha some Android 7.0 Nougat, y’all. Do it for Steven.

*Does a whopping 200 bucks for a brand-new smartphone—delivered to my door direct from Motorola, highly customized and without any of the bloatware installed by the big service providers to clog things up—that only a couple months before had been the flagship of the line and thus went for 700 sound like a bargain, or what? I mean, COME ON, people.

**One of the new features I haven’t fooled with yet is the ability to increase the size of everything on the entire screen, icons, text, and all. I probably won’t be bothering with it, actually. Despite all my joshing and jesting above, I ain’t quite that far gone just yet, thankyouverymuch.

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Scrooged!

That’s right, folks, it’s time once again for good ol’ Scrooge Picard to make his traditional holiday appearance. I’m actually putting him up a little earlier this year than I have in the past, y’all CF lifers may note. I admit to having done my share of obligatory complaining to friends and family about how the stores are jumping the gun on Christmas more and more each year, so much so that the season this year seemed to get cranking more or the less the day after Halloween.

But if I’m honest with myself, I’m really not all that bothered by it. I’ve always just loved the Christmas season: the festive lights and decorations; the houses decked out and twinkling; the small-town Main Streets all tinseled and garlanded; even the cheesy holiday displays in the stores—these things all combine to make the very air itself seem fresher and more cheery, and I find myself going well out of my way to pause and enjoy them.

I was just talking to a friend of mine, something of a Scrooge himself, who maintained that Christmas as we know it now was wholly invented by commercial interests looking only to make a buck. I said that may or may not be entirely true, but if so it amounted to not an “inventing” but a hijacking, and that Christmas was and would always be a lot bigger than that. I refuse to allow my own conception of Christmas to be bounded by such. I look at it in much the same way as I do the Confederate battle flag: these symbols belong to those who reverence them, if they’re bold enough to claim them. And I will no more let ill-intentioned or self-serving usurpers get away with misappropriating the one than I will the other.

So, y’know, here we all are. You’re likely to see an increase in posting frequency (if not quality) for a while, only because I enjoy this theme so much I’ll be making more time to hang around here just to look at it. I’d also bet there’s a handful of younger CF readers out there who don’t know who either Scrooge or Picard are, and find themselves baffled by this whole thing, and…well, I ain’t getting into all that. You guys will just have to look it up for yourselves. As for the rest of you: enjoy. I know I will.

Update! I will under NO circumstances be wishing anybody “happy holidays,” this or any other year. I’m sure you all knew that already, or at least suspected it. But still. Ahem.

Updated update! For those of you whose only experience of Stewart as Scrooge is the TV movie (and this website), here’s some info on the real deal. I was fortunate enough to see the final performance of its 1992 NYC run, and it was simply incredible. Apart from my firm preference for TNG over all other Treks, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Patrick Stewart just for this alone.

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Welcome aboard

Please note that we have a new advertiser here: AmmoMan, whose banner is perusable and clickable near the top of the sidebar over there to the left. I hope you shooters out there will check these fine folks out; as with everybody toiling away in the business of firearms in whatever capacity, they’re fighting the good fight in a time when that can be tough, if not outright risky as hell given the penchant on the Left for wanton, lunatic violence against those whose opinions they disagree with, whose rights they don’t feel obliged to respect or honor.

They’ve also offered me the opportunity to snag a few cases gratis for review purposes here, which offer I will be taking advantage of as soon as I can consult with my brother on a date to get down to his place way out in the middle of nowhere for some serious plinking, and what calibers we’re gonna want to try out. Look for that here before long; I’m by no means an ammo expert, but hey, I know what I like, and I ain’t afraid to bend y’all’s ears about it, neither.

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Annnnd we’re back!

Thanks to a timely assist from our old friend Bob, that is. Sorry guys: once again this year I committed my usual muttonheaded error and forgot to renew the domain name. Don’t know why, but I seem to have a real mental block about that thing; year after year, the renewal date comes up, and year after year I space out completely and forget it until the day when I go to post on the site and find that nothing is working. Apologies to all and sundry, and thanks for your expressions of concern, too. I did a bit of posting over at Bill’s place while things were being sorted here, so if you didn’t peruse those yet, well, here’s your chance. Thanks also go to Bill for his generous hospitality. And as always, thanks to you CF readers just for being here in the first place.

And yes, my choice of “Brilliant!” as a category for this post is entirely ironic. Ahem. Now, on with the show.

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In defense of…whaaaaat?

Brace yourself for a real shocker here, folks.

Though I’ve never been anything more than an infrequent pretender myself, I’ve always been partial to cigarette smokers. Perhaps I developed my taste for second-hand smoke during childhood flights from my Texas abode to visit East Coast relatives on (now defunct) Eastern Airlines. There, while eating your rubber cold-cuts sandwich and sporting your pilot’s clip-on wings (distributed by sunny stewardesses who did not yet realize it was a hate crime for them not to be called “flight attendants”), you’d be entrapped in a tubular suffocation chamber for hours on end, with no escape, smokers happily puffing away all around you as you tried to read your in-flight magazine through a Marlboro smog.

Nowadays, this would be litigated in The Hague. But to me, back then, this was not only the smell of adventure, but of adult compromise. I’d entered a more sophisticated sanctum than the one I typically inhabited. In my elementary-school world, if I had a classmate with an atrocious personal habit—say, little Ricky who wouldn’t stop eating his snot, and whose breath smelled like it—I’d either tell the teacher or chuck a dirt clod at his head during recess. But on the plane, non-smokers and smokers alike all breathed the same air, and stayed civilized, with nobody losing their cool. Long before I went on to become a civil-rights pioneer, this was my earliest lesson in tolerance.

I didn’t merely tolerate smokers, however—I actually quite liked them. Maybe because my first chain-smoking acquaintance was my Great Uncle Phil. He smoked Kools and drank Pabst long before it became the beer of choice for people who wear ironic facial hair. We’d sit on his backyard patio, and while away the day. He’d pour me a tall glass of chocolate milk if it was before noon; a few slugs of Blue Ribbon if it was after. He’d occasionally concoct a mission, declaring that we needed to head “to the boondocks” to look for rattlesnakes and deer sheds.

But mostly, we just enjoyed each other’s easy company, him puffing away on Kools all the while, laconically drawing one after another out of the soft pack in his terry-cloth shirt pocket, like he wasn’t in a hurry to break his lungs but eventually would get around to it. (Which he finally did.) He’d drop pearls of adult wisdom on me, saying things like, “Yep, yep, yep …”, as though he was answering a question that had never been asked. And I took it all in. Along with his second-hand smoke.

I’m not pretending that my seven-year-old self had a clean fix on Uncle Phil, what he wanted out of life, or what doubts or fears he secretly harbored, as all men do. I just knew that we had plenty of time to figure out what it all meant, because he wasn’t going anywhere. He still had a half a pack left to smoke. I’ve always divvied up the world into two kinds of people: stayers and goers. Uncle Phil was a stayer, as most smokers are. They are people whose pleasure shaves years off their lives, as the surgeon general forever reminds us. But maybe they know better how to savor the often truncated lives they live. Smokers tend to be people who prize fellowship, discourse, conviviality, and who know how to stop time, or at least to take the edge off its fleetingness. Because they have to linger long enough to finish up their smoke.

I’m well aware that smoking is bad for you. As Mensa member Brooke Shields once put it, “Smoking kills. If you’re killed, you’ve lost a very important part of your life.” Yeah, fine. I don’t smoke, nor will I let my children. But if we’re picking nits, what doesn’t kill us these days? Trans fats, artificial sweeteners, stress, ISIS, etc. The list is long. As other health-science types promise: “What doesn’t kill us, will eventually kill us.” Lately, there’s been a rash of stories that taking too many vitamins can lead to fatal illnesses. In other words, the very supplements you swallow to elongate your life might be snuffing it out like a cigarette.

I like the cut of this fellow’s jib. And hey, in the words of a great old Stray Cats song: how long you wanna live, anyway?

When I was a kid, my family doctor was a wonderful, kindly old soul named Richard E Rankin. I had seasonal asthma something awful, and he would treat me for it with a cortisone shot every spring while chaining Lucky Strikes the whole while, lighting one off the butt of the other. That would be the unfiltered, he-man ones, not the lights, mind you.

Dr Rankin was such a sweet old guy, and even though I was terrified of him because of those shots, I loved him too, even back then. He even came out to our house once at two in the morning to administer one of those dreaded injections, which will probably seem stunning and bizarre to you younger readers out there, if any. I remember well his coming through the receiving line at my dad’s funeral, so bereft and grief-stricken as to be literally speechless: he tried a couple of times to choke out a few comforting words, failed to manage it, and just took me in a bear hug and moved on. He was a gruff but soft-hearted old small town family doctor, a once-common type they ain’t making anymore, to the huge detriment of all of us.

Dr Rankin lived into his 90s, bless his heart—yes, after all those Luckies. My dad, of course, died relatively young of emphysema, after kicking the habit years before via hypnosis. Hey, you never know, right?

Here’s perhaps the funniest bit of all, though: back in the early 90s, I moved to New York City…and started smoking. I was in my thirties, so I was what you might call a late bloomer. But here’s the part nobody believes, and I make no claims here about causality, but…well, after having been plagued with asthma my whole life, since I started smoking, I never have had it again.

I know, I know. It’s bizarre. Maybe smoking has so degraded my lung capacity that I just don’t notice the asthma anymore; maybe breathing all those airborne NYC toxins toughened me up, thereby inuring me to further trouble. Like I said, I make no claims one way or the other. But it’s the truth, I swear it.

I saw one of those Truthout.com government anti-smoking TV commercials once some years back wherein it was claimed that one out of every three smokers would eventually develop heart or lung disease. It struck me right away that that would mean that TWO out of every three didn’t. Hey, I thought, I like those odds. Talk about undermining your own message.

Maybe I’ll quit someday, if I get tired of it. Given what happened with my dad, I don’t worry much about it either way, because I know that after I go through the hassle and heartache of quitting and denying myself one of the few simple pleasures left in life, the very next day I’ll get hit by a bus instead. Or get caught up in one of those Allah Akbar! incidents that so baffle the FBI, maybe, and end up shot, stabbed, clubbed, or otherwise mown down.

These days, I have a cigarette shooter for hand-rolling my own personal lung-busters, with pure tobacco, pre-made filtered tubes, and no strange chemicals dumped in ’em by government mandate. They taste better, they smell better, and the price works out to about eighty cents a pack. I don’t wake up hacking in the morning anymore with these self-rolled dealies, and seem to smoke a good deal fewer of them too, who knows why. Takes about five minutes to roll myself a pack of what they used to call “pure tobacco pleasure,” and I have a fancy-schmancy engraved silver cigarette case that belonged to my late wife to carry ’em around in.

As I told my mother in law a while back, to her enormous amusement: if I couldn’t have a smoke with my morning cup of coffee, I wouldn’t even consider it worth bothering to get up in the morning.

After all that wayward rambling, I guess there’s really only one way to close this post:




Don’t hate me ’cause I’m beautiful, y’all.

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Publick notice

No more posting from me this week; I’m gonna be out of town, taking my daughter to the computer camp I mentioned here a few weeks ago, and have no intention of trying to thumb-type any of my famous extended, wordy screeds on my phone, thank you very much. We’ll be back for the weekend, so I’ll check back in with you folks then. Meanwhile, happy, uhh, Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday, y’all. Ahem.

Mea maxima culpa update! Well, I lied. Or not lied, exactly; the schedule got adjusted so that I don’t have to be in Durham until tomorrow. Plus, I remembered that Madeleine has a laptop (donated by one of you incredibly generous readers several years back), so it may actually be possible for me to do a little posting over the next few days, against all odds. AND…I have another big announcement to make concerning a new writing gig I’m gonna be starting on as soon as I can muster the energy. I’ll be putting up links to those articles here, possibly some excerpts, although it won’t be anything remotely like the sort of impassioned, hate-filled, murderous bigotry you folks have become accustomed to here. I hope to find a way to keep it interesting just the same, or amusing, at least. Be all that as it may…on with the show, people!

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Fundraiser update

Most profoundly grateful thanks to CF lifer Sam Sorenson; he knows why, I figure, but in case not, it involves the recent fundraiser for my young ‘uns computer camp, the whole story of which can be found here. In fact, I think I’ll make this post stick up top for a couple days too, just to be sure Sam sees it. Thanks again, buddy.

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Music break!

So the other day I heard a song on the car radio I hand’t heard in years and years but always loved. I had NO clue who did it, or what the title was; after hearing it, I had the guitar licks worked out in my head, but I could not for the life of me remember who played it. Had a couple of the guys hanging out at my place the next evening, and I played the song for ’em to see if any of them knew it. The only snippet of the lyrics I could recall was “Special love/I have for you” in the chorus, and I sang that bit along too.

But it was no use, we were all stumped. So I got to digging around on YouTube; I dunno, for some reason it just sounded to me like it might be a Badfinger song, so I did a search and started digging through the results when lo and behold, about four or five songs down, there was that distinctive guitar lick! I was so damned thrilled, I was jumping around and shouting like a fool. And now you guys get to enjoy my small victory too.



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A moving post

Very, very moving. We’re in the home stretch now, and everything in the new pad is shaping up very satisfactorily indeed. Thanks once again to all who contributed to the ol’ Cheap Ghetto Apartment fundraiser, without whose generosity I would still be sinking into a financial morass from which there’d be no hope of extrication. And without further ado, let me leave off tripping over unpacked boxes and puzzling over where I’m gonna put what for a few minutes to throw a couple of posts up here quick, just to see if I can still remember how it’s done…

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Unexplained absence explained!

Sorry for the dearth of posting of late, y’all. Spent the last few days painting the ghetto pad; it’s coming along nicely, in truth, and beginning to look as if it might just be the best move I ever did make. These things are actually early to mid-50’s duplexes, and while it’s a LOT smaller than my current living space, will be more than plenty for me and the young ‘un. Added bonus: all the other tenants who live there are good old friends of mine, as I believe I may have mentioned before, and it already begins to feel like home. The young ‘un has already gone all around the place introducing herself to everybody, and has mentioned twice in the last three days how much she likes all my friends. I told her I was very fortunate to have them in my life at all; man, if she only knew.

But she’ll learn. I talked to a good friend of mine yesterday—a real serious lifetime shooter who owns an amazing array of weaponry and who lives way out in the country, where you can still get away with that sort of thing—about beginning her instruction in handling firearms. We’ll get to that in a week or two, and she seems really excited about it, somewhat to my surprise.

The real moving work is this weekend; painting should be done tomorrow, power gets turned on tomorrow, and I’ll actually be humping furniture starting Saturday. Gotta save and scrounge for a U-Haul truck; unlike my last move, I am NOT going to do this in eleventy-million trips via my brother’s pickup truck, all of which I loaded myself. Gonna be one shot, or maybe two, and done. Start in the morning Saturday, and Saturday night (or so I hope) I sleep in the new place in my own bed.

Doing a lot of streamlining here too—which, to be honest, needed doing anyway. I have a shit-ton of old memorabilia, odds and ends, doodads, miscellaneous paraphernalia, and sheer out and out junk, some of which has been sitting in the basement in unopened boxes since Christiana was alive. I am by nature a serious packrat, and would never have cleared any of it out except under direst necessity; that necessity is now upon me, and I am frankly glad of it. They say if you ain’t used it in six months, throw it out; you didn’t need it anyway. I’m thinking maybe they are right.

In sum: look for light and sporadic posting to continue for another week or so, and then we’ll be back down to business for reals here. I appreciate y’all’s patience and attention. And while we’re at it: many, MANY thanks once more to those of you who were able to contribute to the spring fundraiser, without whom I would be in one hell of a fine mess. As my daughter reminded me: I sure am lucky indeed to have so very many good friends.

Okay, let me see if I can’t toss a post or two up here before I get back to packing, just to tide you guys over.

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The Help Mike Move Into A Cheap Ghetto Apartment fundraiser!

It’s close to time for the spring fundraiser ’round these parts, and as it happens this one is particularly vital, so I’m gonna get it cranking a bit early this year.

See, I’ve been living the last two years in a house I can no way afford, and slowly sinking like a rock trying to make ends meet around here. Fortunately for me, I have a friend who owns a set of duplex apartments adjacent to one of the harsher ghettos in Charlotte, and he’s agreed to rent me a vacant pad for a mere fraction of what I’m way, way behind on paying now. The others who live there are all friends of mine, and it’s really not a bad little joint at all; “The Compound,” they all call it, tiny little two-bedroom-one-bath jobs built back in the early fifties. These folks have set themselves up a nice, tight-knit little community on the edge of darkest Shitsville, and they keep a close and wary eye on things in and around the place to forestall any potential problems or conflict.

So even though part of me wishes I could hold on here, I’m actually looking forward to making the move and maybe being able to afford things like auto repair, shoes that fit, diabetes meds, and some groceries again…not to even mention a fighting chance at repaying the Everest of debt I’m accumulating where I now am. So give till it hurts, everyone; I am currently WAY short of funds to make the move, so if you can please subscribe, hit the Paypal link (under the “Shameless Begging” banner), or both; you know the drill. And you also know how profoundly grateful I am to all who can afford to throw a shekel or two my way.

This post will remain up top for the rest of the week; new rantage below.

Update! Many, many thanks to all who have contributed; I’m danged close to not only moving in, but being able to rent a U-Haul instead of making ten bazillion trips in my brother’s diesel-swilling pickup for the move. I’ll leave this up here for another day or two, just in case any of y’all blue-collar broke-asses like me somehow find a spare nickel to toss my way. Thanks again, folks; all these years, and I’m still rendered speechless and humble by your generosity.

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More WINNING!

Another reason 2016 was a great year: once again, Doug Ross has been kind enough to include me in his Fabulous 50 Blog Awards, for which I am most humbly grateful. Read through all of them; there are plenty of links to some damned excellent bloggers contained therein. And be sure to check in at Director Blue regularly; it’s a most valuable resource, and Doug and his crew always cover one hell of a lot of ground.

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Twelve Days of…or, Ten, or…oh, hell, you guys got it already

Dang, I almost forgot today’s Ten Or Twelve Days installment. Here ya go: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Way better than that godawful, lugubrious Springsteen version, wherein he…well, I already told y’all how I feel about that one. This one is another A-lads barnburner, although I cannot for the life of me remember who did the vocal on it. Previous installments here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Another Christmas song

Okay, while I’m hipping y’all to some good Christmas tunes, might as well share one of my all-time favorites:




From 1939, Kay Kaiser. Can’t explain just why, but I totally love this song. Maybe it’s all those ting-a-ling-a-lings. I mean, come on, what’s not to like?

But I tell you folks, if I have to hear limousine liberal Bruce Springsteen moaning and groaning his way through Santa Claus Is Coming To Town one more time like a sick hound, I am gonna kill something. There’s a tune in there somewhere, Bruce; please do us all a favor and find it, all right? Lord knows you’ve meandered around it enough. Ugh.

Look for this post to be updated for the next little while, until I get tired and go to bed. I’ma go find you guys some good Christmas music, I promise I am.

Update the First! The greatest of all possible versions of this one, which is also one of my favorites.




Just classic. Shall I play for you? Why yes. Yes, you shall.

Update the Second! Another favorite of mine, and the most perfect version I know of. Don’t say I never gave y’all nothing.



Update the Third! One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard in my life, from wonderfully eccentric guitar genius John Fahey. I can’t find a version of this to embed that even comes close to this one, so you’ll just have to trust me and hit the link. I promise you won’t regret it. I attempted this one once onstage in New York, and failed miserably. But I play it at home all the time, and every once in a rare while I get it very nearly right.

Update the Fourth! Another of my favorites. And I mean, come on guys. It’s Sinatra.




Nicely done, Frank. Would that all these present-day hacks had the good taste to just sing the damned song straight, without all the warbling, meandering, self-indulgent discant crap they’re apparently compelled to throw in for some reason.

Update the Fifth! Pretty sure I’ve presented this one here before, but what the hell. How do you go wrong with Canadian Brass? You can’t, that’s how. If this one doesn’t make you smile, well dammit, I can’t help you.




And one more from Canadian Brass. Because, that’s why.



Finally, probably my most-loved Christmas carol of them all: Silent Night, impeccably done by Chanticleer. Just gorgeous. Again: if you don’t like this, well, I can’t help you.


So far past gorgeous you can’t even see gorgeous from here.

One last update! Oh, and I don’t care a whit what Rush may say: Mannheim Steamroller? Trans-Siberian Orchestra? No. Just…NO. Not now, not ever. Call me old-fashioned, call me a stick in the mud, but I prefer my Christmas music way less sinister-sounding and without synthesizers and laser light shows, thanks.

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12 Days…or, y’know, NOT

Today’s installment: I’ll Be Home For Christmas, featuring the Oso Grande himself, Rodney Lanier. He’s the fellow the whole benefit project was conceived for, an excellent musician in his own right, who died shortly before its release.

And I only just realized something, to my tremendous embarrassment: I’ve been saying 12 Days Of Etc, because I had it in my head for some reason that there are fourteen tracks on this record, leaving me two extras for alternates. I was wrong; there’s only ten. But 12 Days is the traditional formulation, so I’m gonna stick with it. Sheesh, I’m a dope. Previous installments here, here, and here.

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Christmas bonus!

So I just got internet service back after a pain-in-the-ass outage caused by some local hardware upgrades by AT&T, with the result being that things seem a helluva lot faster now, which is probably just my imagination. But to celebrate a rare pleasant delusion (as opposed to my usual kind), I’m gonna upload a few tunes from a Christmas album I was privileged to appear on a few years ago.

The thing was conceived by my friend Jimmy King as a benefit album for a friend of his, another local musician I didn’t really know who had contracted some rare and horrible disease. Jimmy is in a great surf band called the Aqualads, and his friend unfortunately died a mere few days before the benefit album even got released. This track features a truly soulful vocal performance by my bud Bob Nelson, with a lead guitar track by yours truly. I’ll post one of these per day for the next few days, or until my internet connection shits the bed again. If you like it enough to want to buy the whole album, you can do that here (download only, I think the hard copies are all sold out).

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

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Publick notice

I only just realized I have not updated Ye Olde Blogrolle in a while, and since there are scads of new guys out there that I’m checking in on frequently and excerpting, I needed to get on the stick. In fact, I’ma put the newer ones in their own category, although maybe some of those folks might take some small issue with it. Either way, be on the lookout for: Alt-American.

And now that I dive into it, I see that A) I need to weed out a good few now-inactive links, and B) the WP Social Blogroll widget hasn’t been updated in, like, years. Since a good many of you have let me know how useful you find that feature, I’m just glad it hasn’t been broken by any WP upgrades and still functions properly.

Update! Okay, those of you who pay any attention to the blogroll in the first place may notice that I’ve weeded out plenty of the inactives, but did leave one or two in. Like, in particular, Billy Beck’s Two-Four. There’s a reason, in his case especially: Billy was so perceptive, his perspective so unique, and his writing so damned deft and incisive that even though it may not be current, he’s still worth a look, and I think keeping a link to him here might be of no small value. The man saw so much of the hideousness we’re currently trying to deal with coming way before just about anybody else. He was sharp and sometimes grouchy; he did NOT suffer fools gladly. But he was also almost always dead on the money.

Billy used to comment here now and then, and we had a quite enjoyable and enlightening (well, for me) e-mail correspondence going for a while there too. Truth is, I miss the guy, and I wonder what he might have to say about current conditions. I think I’ll shoot an e-mail to the old address and see if I can raise him. If I do, I’ll let y’all know; maybe I could even entice him into co-blogger status here, which would thrill me no end. Either way, his place is well worth a click, and I can’t recommend his work highly enough.

And I betcha I can name at least one other old-school OG, another good old long-time friend, who will know just what I’m talking about, and will be commenting enthusiastically here on the matter in a mere trice. No, I shan’t name any names. Ahem.

Updated update! You all knew where that update had to lead, right?

I reply to this post because you pose implicit questions which I have long regarded as important and more pressing as each year goes by.

In my view, the very fact that these questions arise in my lifetime is historically significant in a way which cannot responsibly be dismissed. For example: the very idea of armed resistance against the government would have been perfectly alien to my grandfather’s view of America. It simply would never have occurred to him, and the sound of any such discussion in the terms that we hear today would have fallen very strangely on his ear.

I believe that the most divergent of outlooks might yet agree that something is terribly amiss in our country. This is not to say that everything was just peachy in 1953. To cite a single example: my grandfather (a second generation German-American railroad engineer in the northeast) was well aware of the problem of race relations vis-a-vis civil rights – that was a big problem which was going to be a struggle to solve. He knew it wouldn’t be pretty, and Birmingham and Little Rock confirmed his apprehensions. However, he believed that Americans and their institutions would come to their senses, and their sense of justice, and that the pain of those times would bear fruit.

As I said; any discussion of armed resistance would have been absurd to his political outlook.

Bear with me.

I make this point, and cite this single example, in order to illustrate the scope of political challenge in America today. Without diminishing (please!) the importance of, or blood-sweat-&-tears investment in, the civil rights movement, it seems clear to me that it cannot compare to the urgency of the problem which is manifest in the very existence of a “militia movement”. I will stand corrected if I am mistaken, but I think that the last time so many people seriously uttered the words “civil war” in America (outside of history class), we actually fought one. Today, lots of people on every side do their best not to utter that phrase out loud…and they are less successful as time passes. Many people don’t make the pretense of circumspection.

It has long been my view that American political affairs were necessarily bound for such straits. I began studying politics (both as a branch of classical philosophy and the modern practice of “public policy”) at an early age, in 1969. My attention was necessarily drawn to corollaries of economics and history. I grew to adulthood casting a fishy eye at the disintegration of a culture, worried over it. Call me doctrinaire, but I have always been a libertarian, which is to say (without any partisan affiliation); I am convinced of the truth and imperative of human freedom. There is no other way for a culture to thrive and flourish to the greatest possible happiness of its inhabitants, than for each of them to make their own way by their own lights.

The past thirty years or so have been a case-study of the opposite course.

The most cursory glance at this period shows us two things: 1) Government of every species has steadily waxed large and prevalent. There can be no rational denial of this. 2) A general “Index of Dismay” has steadily increased. (I use the term loosely to denote a mixed bag of cultural symptoms which indicate decay, without specific references. Everyone, I think, could point out their favorites; crime rates, rising economic class disparities, decline of morality, declining civility of discourse, appalling new species of corruption and their flagrance, etc. Take your pick.)

I maintain that there is a direct correlation between these two observations.

See what I mean? Prescient, well-reasoned, well-argued. If Bill Beck could be said to represent a type, then we need all of his type we can get.

I don’t even have to say it, do I?

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Publick notice!

So yesterday I screwed around a bit with some old Halloween themes but couldn’t get any of them working without undertaking a major overhaul, which I simply didn’t have time to do; they were all designed years ago for way-earlier versions of WP, and the newer one would require some truly aggressive (read: time-consuming) tweaking to get them barely functional. All that got me to thinking I’d go ahead and activate our traditional holiday theme here a little bit early.

What the heck, I figure we’re all going to need all the help we can get dragging ourselves into the good old Christmas spirit this year anyway. And although Trump makes a damned excellent symbol and figurehead for the Fed Up/This Far, No Farther Brigades, who could possibly argue that Scrooge Picard isn’t a most excellent one in his own right? I don’t know about you, but just imagining a DC establishment stooge cringing under the threat of that stick in Picard’s upraised, wrathful hand—weeping and begging for a mercy that is neither forthcoming nor deserved—fills me brimful with a warm, fuzzy holiday glow. Why, it’s better than eggnog and the merry laughter of children where that’s concerned.

So, y’know, enjoy, y’all.

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"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution



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