Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something Real

Woody Guthrie's home place (c) Libby Hicks
Or at least "real."  Voting is going to come.  In NC it has come, in its early voting phase.  We can all go and actually do something.  As opposed to talking about doing something I mean.  There's no doubt that we can still wonder about the illusion of democracy--the odd way computer voting machines sometimes function or malfunction, the curious coincidence of decrepit machines ending up in minority districts, or in districts where Democrats tend to win.  Hanging chads. Done deals.  And then we can wonder about how democracy actually relates to the fact that if you have enough money and can lie incessantly for a long enough period of time, many and possibly most people will end up believing the lie and acting, i.e., voting,  accordingly.  As Doghouse says this morning, it would do the Democratic Party some good to get a beat down next week, except for the fact that the Clown Car Party will then be in charge.  That's a hell of a choice.  And last weekend we, that is, the U.S. Government, was unable to communicate with one ninth of our ICBM fleet for unknown reasons.  Some kinda glitch.  Wires got "crossed."

Digby reports today that "we" are discussing with Russia about whether they might send a component of military into Afganistan.  We need more men with guns than we can provide ourselves.  And since Americans seem unable to remember much further back than a year--otherwise, why in the world is America according to most poling seriously considering putting the very same foxes back into the hen house after only two years sorta out back in the woods, where all they could do was to catch a distracted pullet now and then.  So sure--let's get "Ivan" to hep us out over there, since he shares a border with Afganistan, and used to be quite concerned over whether Afganistan might become so weird and radical as to upset the Soviet "natives" on the other side of the border.  Sure.  Let's get "Mikey" to give it a try.  How many people have died in pursuit of keeping Ivan out of Afganistan, a policy that started with Jimmy Carter fer gawd's sake?  Never mind.  That's ancien histoire, as Henry Kissinger would say in his seminar on politique real. 

Because we know that Afgans will never ever remember when they banded together and kicked Mikey right outa there back in the '80s.

I won't even speculate over whether that stern life the Afgans try to live--dust, rock, little electricity or video games or NFL or NASCAR or chocolate fruit loops or diabetes or heart disease or tv--has some how made their old memory pods stronger and more functional, for some reason.  Sure thing.  Mericans can't quite finish, bring in the Ruskies.  No dots will be connected.  Why?  BECAUSE WE NEVER EVER CONNECT THE GODDAM DOTS HERE.  Now do we?

I believe, ultimately, in the existential choice.  I will be at the polls next Tuesday.  I will vote for the Democrats.  Sometimes you have to opt for sawing off your arm to get out of the canyon, and with the sure and certain knowledge that you might indeed bleed to death before you make the rim and that cell phone you left in the Jeep before you decided to take a little afternoon hike to catch a few perfect photos of the sun dropping down below the rim.

Update.  My good old friend Malcolm Owen was here this week and we were talking about the ideas in this post.  He pointed out that if Jesus had wanted us to live in a democracy, He would have given us some candidates worthy of our vote. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

You Gotta Take Out A "Political Ad"?

number crunching

A man named Thomas Duane Poole, of Clayton, NC, took out a full page ad on the back page of the News and Observer, Raleigh's newspaper and the political paper of record in NC, last weekend.  Here's a link:

At the bottom it's described as a "political ad."  While the text presents a bit of history which has some political implications (one would hope), it's hardly an advertisment at all, but a history lesson mostly concerning Federal surplus and deficit since World War II.  Mr. Poole is rightly angry with the insistent dissembling which has become a daily feature of political conversation, particularly on the Right.  Like me, he has tired of hearing endless falsehoods, and of watching a living experiment in the Big Lie.  Except Mr. Poole went and did the actual research and offers, in his "ad," a history lesson.  Good for him.  There's an actual address on the bottom of the ad.  I plan to send him a note of thanks, as I hope others will as well.

A couple of days ago, Mr. Limbaugh, whom I sample for a few minutes during my lunch drive, said that this year's election was entirely about "ideas."  That was one remarkable statement.  What ideas?  I haven't noticed any at all.  On the Right we find nothing but mischaracterizations of the current administration.  On the Democratic Party's side, there is mainly a frightened effort to stress that each election is local and involves the particular candidates on the local ballot--not Mr. Obama. 

Big cudos to Mr. Poole, a fine North Carolina citizen.  Maybe the N&O ought to put him on the team.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

West Virginia Hall of Fame

Tommy Thompson, Switzerland, 1977, (c) Mike Craver

From the Charleston Daily Mail, October 13, 2010:

Tommy Thompson of St. Albans. Born and raised in St. Albans, Thompson first heard many of the old jazz players and was introduced to Cajun music during a stint as a Coast Guard officer in New Orleans. He entered the graduate program in philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963 where he divided his time between the five-string banjo and academia. In 1971, he took first place at the prestigious World Champion Old Time Banjo contest in Union Grove, NC. That same year, he co-founded the original Red Clay Ramblers, which he anchored for 22 years. Thompson died in 2003.

First of all, let me congratulate Tommy's extended family for this well-deserved honor, and I'm sorry Tommy didn't receive it while he still breathed.  "Give me the roses while I live" is a dictum up there with "living well is the best revenge," if not a Carter family paraphrase.  (Bloomsbury, meet A.P.; A.P., Mrs. Woolf.)  And then I'd remark that it is indeed true that Tommy Thompson co-founded the original Red Clay Ramblers, along with Jim Watson, Mike Craver, and myself.  Jim, Mike and moi will be playing at Mountain Empire Community College, Big Stone Gap, Va, this coming weekend. Joe Newberry will ably fill the "Thompson Banjo Chair."   Y'all come out and give a listen if you're in the general area.  There will be no trumpets in attendance, and hopefully no snow cones.

For more about Tommy see my link, Early Blurs, and

Update.  The whirlwind weekend gig was a complete success.  The good people of Big Stone Gap treated us with wonderful professionalism; there were no sno-cones, which suggests to me that our acceptance of the critique of the sno-cone, even so much later down this road of tears, was acknowleged and accepted with forgiveness by our true and best audience. (One wonders if the Incorporated fared as well up in Asheville.)  The Powell valley is a beautiful place, and Mountain Empire Community College a beautiful facility.  One glimpses but briefly the great economic engine nestled behind the wooded ridges that line US 23 as it wends it's way to Norton and Alt 58--a quick and vanished view of more distant hills now eroded and flattened by coal removal, and then, at the bottom of a confluence of ridges, a gigantic processing facility, which appears to be in the process of expanding via the use of big red cranes.  (Wish I'd had my cam, darn it.)  I'll go to work in an hour and possibly watch at some point this week some 80 coal cars full of the black rocks that burn, rumbling past to our own electric plant down in the SE corner of Chatham, augmenting our own Nuclear Plant over in New Hill.  My computer works; the fridge mutters; the ball games were on as usual on a beautiful fall Sunday.  For another week we're safe from the true climate, which also required yesterday the first fire of the season here in our little redoubt--for some reason I was quite chilled and though it was warm outside, the house had gotten cool over the weekend.  There's plenty of wood till January at least, but it's time to get to cuttin'.  Good thing I have a full can of gas and a nice Echo at hand, keeping winter at bay.  My little forest is bought and paid for; that 'lectricity comes with a bill.  And dressing in the dark this morning, my bare little toe found that one chunk of oak I didn't put into the hopper last night--another proof of the season, less visual but more vivid than the maple on the hill. 

And discussing colors and such as we were just now, I agree with the suggestion by Charles Pierce that Ole Miss should be called "The Faulkners."  And why not the Tennessee Maples, I ask you?  They have the colors just exactly right out there in Knoxville. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Short Stuff

Driftglass, this morning, said (or quoted) the following remarkable lines:

Like German soldiers after the fall of Berlin, they have stopped running away from the catastrophe they created only long enough to burn their uniforms.

 I would presume that this nicely explains why there is a "Tea Party," as opposed to simply the Republican Opposition.

Update to the "Oregon's Entry" post:  Remarkably, some right side commenters actually think Mr. Robinson bested Ms Maddow in the interview.  It's true that he managed to talk over her questions repeatedly, and to accuse her of "sarcasm" a number of times.  He also was able to ignore the fact that she was quoting his own statements and asking for clarification of them.  If this is "besting," then the parallel universes become that much more perfectly parallel I guess.  Robinson did little more that sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting "la-la-la-la."  Ms Maddow didn't "make" him answer her questions.  But the underlying presumption here--on the part of the right wing analysis--is that in such a conversation, it's all about a triumph of the will (to coin a phrase).  And this is perhaps because that view--that "it's all about a triumph of the will"--is the basic view out of which the right operates, day in and day out.  Well, ok.  But I would point out that such a point of view is the end of conversation, and a way universalizing the dictum that military action is diplomacy by other means.  Or as Mussolini put it, when queried about his program if elected: "My first act as head of state will be to kill you."

Such a world is wonderland.  The experiment has been executed by a number of totalitarian states, notably the Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, China, and Japan, during our bloody century past.  You tell me.  Is it reasonable to ask a candidate if they still believe that AIDs doesn't exist when they've so stated that opinion,  or what the meaning might be of their maintaining in print a book arguing that black people as a race are intellectually inferior, or if they really believe that the theory of human assisted climate change is a "hoax."  Seems to me that these are fair and reasonable questions to ask of a candidate for public office (particularly the US Congress).  Seems to me that a candidate who just goes "la-la-la-la" as a response hasn't actually "won" the field.  I don't think that's just my arbitrary point of view either, to be "balanced" by some erstwhile Mussolini who disagrees.  But this is the place the great conversation has come, it would seem. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Vandals Took the Handles

(c) Libby Hicks, of the Author & Cave Wall

Start out by reading this:

Then when it comes to a theatre near you (or Netflix), watch the documentary called "Inside Job."  I haven't seen it yet, but I certainly will put it on my must see list.  This is reality, as opposed to the shadows on the cave wall we're mostly paying rapt attention to.  The shadows come in many many flavors these days.  Even Socrates lived in a world far adavanced from his distant ancestors, who actually lived in caves, killed game with stone points, and amused themselves watching the shadows thrown up on the back of the cave by the fire they kept going to keep the Ice Age from freezing them to death.  Today?  Sheesh!  We can spend whole lives watching sports, or watching what passes for popular politics.  We can go to Washington and listen to speechs, or we can go to the mall and shop.  As long as we can pay the light bill, we can keep our eyes trained on a variety of screens for nearly all our waking moments.

This is, in part, how the people who want to keep the election process under control have managed since 2008 to convince a large part of the electorate that our current President is a Marxist, an Islamofascist, a hippie, and a Kenyan interloper.  No one in the electorate has much of a clue what's going on--why, for example, the economy in 2008 suffered an enormous crisis of such proportion that the entire governing coterie utterly panicked, threw all of its political shibboleths to the wind, and actually did a few things which actually averted an economic cataclysm.

The cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in the fall of 2008 was as remarkable as the cooperation between Democrats and Republicans in the brief period after 9/11--those brief days before which the Republican Administration began to use patriotism as a club to achieve its assorted radical international economic ends, as dreamed up by the group calling itself the Century for American Progress.

Yet in a few short months, after Obama's election, millions of people in the US became convinced that Obama was an utter outsider--a Marxist, a Kenyan interloper, etc. etc. etc.  And this amazing advertising campaign on the part of--well, lets just call them Republicans for lack of a better term--succeeded in the face of the plain fact that Mr. Obama put the very same people in control of the economic sector who were in control during Bush's Administration and Clinton's as well.

This amazing event--almost unreported in the main stream press for what it was--now dominates the political season we're currently adrift in.  What the press reports is the anger, the angst, the upset.  The kookiest of candidates get breathtakingly lavish attention.  As the apparent mood of the back wall viewers changes, the press points that out, reinforcing the mood swing if anything--if Joe the non-plumber is upset, I should be too!  And By Gawd, I AM.  It's a kind of journalistic pornography.  Focus raptly and intently on the most emotionally charged parts--and never turn around and look at what's happening out beyond the mouth of the cave, where the ice has melted and the mastodons have moved north to better pasture. The event is the successful advertising campaign--a success accomplished in almost exactly 180 degree opposition to the mostly unreported truth of the matter. 

It's said that with enough of a bank account, profit and loss become provincial details. Perhaps the same is true for perceived genius.  Certainly Larry Summers has floated quite above the maelstrom for some decades now, and retains his credibility even as we speak.   But the idea that Obama is a dangerous Marxist?  Now that's some sell.  And so is the idea that if we don't like Obama we should choose the very same people who just completed an economic wreck job of epic proportions which climaxed during the last election cycle, fall 2008. 

Yesterday, at Fontana, CA, Miss Danica wrecked and finished 30th.  After the race she thanked the reporter for interviewing her at all--usually only the top few racers get interviews, and Miss Danica is sensibly aware that her celebrity is not justification for face time at the post-track events.  Odd that a failed Governor of Alaska can summon less humility than a pretty race car driver, or that a boy wonder with a spotty track record can shuttle back and forth between DC and Harvard, time after time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Oregon's Entry

Rachel Maddow's work the last couple of nights is worth revisiting on the web (hopefully it's there!).  This would be her programs of October 7,8, 2010.  On the 7th she interviewed this Robinson character who's running for Congress from a small pop. mostly rural district in Oregon, against a long-time Democratic Congressman.  Classic set up for the Tea Party dynamics of this year.  Pump money into a small race (see Deleware, Alaska, Nevada), make it about national issues with emotional resonance (e.g., Obama, Kenyan Usurper), voila, you have your pretty daggone weird candidate.  As a blogger recently said, the Tea Party may actually be understood as daring the voter to vote for their candidate.  It's like kids all standing around a frayed wire and egging on the boy who is always fucking up but in a funny way, "touch it.. go on... touch it."

I watched Maddow attempt to interview the Robinson character last night.  Libby had recorded it.  It's a case study in defense and denial on Robinson's part.  There are a few guys like him in the deepest recesses of the Texaco, but I don't really even want to talk to them any more, because there's no longer any point.  They have closed down, the walls are up, the sentries pace 24/7.  I'd actually be kinda nervous to drive down their driveway, or knock on their door.  This Robinson character has a luxurious writing history, going back decades.  He has positions without end on all the emotional hot-button controversies.  When Maddow reads him one of his own sentences, time after time, he reacts by claiming she's attacking him, character-assassinating him, or not talking about the "real" issues of his current campaign.  It's so bizarre and laughable that she finally ends up laughing in exasperation.  It's the clinical example of "entrenchment."  And if Oregon elects this guy to be their representative.... well, they'll get to have first hand knowledge of what it's like to have been "represented"' by Jesse Helms for decades, I'm sorry to tell them.

But Ms Maddow made a very good point last night--debriefing the interview, I guess you might say--that I'd like to expand on just a bit.  Fact is, one of the curious things about Mr. Robinson's campaign is, it's being funded to the tune of $150 K by anonymous sources operating as a national fundraising entity.  Apparently there are no rules which make this situation illegal.  So it's quite possible that monied people--even people from other countries--can so to speak buy a congressman in the US by targetting small population districts in out of the way places and just flooding the district with advertising.  All it takes is money.  Because we do know that advertising works when it's well designed and executed  WE DO KNOW THAT.  It's all around us.

Now Ms Maddow was just directing the viewer's attention to this rather worrisome truth with regard to Mr. Robinson, a person who had just shown himself to be utterly unqualified for office the night before.  With enough good advertising, she was saying, this guy could actually win.  (As an aside, I have a friend who used to be a criminal lawyer.  One time he was assigned to defend some young men from out of state who'd come down to a drug house and shotgunned several of the people who lived there.  It was pretty cut and dried, this case, but as he sat in the courtroom with his co-counsels, the assistant DA who was arguing the state's case was so inept that, going to lunch, the various attorneys for the defense looked at each other in the elevator and said, "We might actually win this case.")  Robinson might actually win.  Maddow played one of his ads.  It's a decent ad, and bears no resemblance to the actual candidate we had just observed, in the flesh, for 15 minutes.  If this ad runs every night on the local teevee, and if his opponent has less of a war chest for advertising, after a while a lot of voters will just remember "Robinson" when they go to vote.  That's how it works.  

So what does it mean, Maddow said, when we allow a situation where anonymous money in unlimited amounts can swamp a little small population district and get a candidate like that elected?  And I said--to Libby--we already have exactly this in the whole country, don't we?  That is, we have a never-ending election campaign running 24/7 right now, drumming into any and all who listen that our President is a Kenyan Usurper (or to use one of Mr. Limbaugh's many elegant phrases, "a man-child in over his head," i.e., a "boy" if you get Mr. Limbaugh's drift, "wink wink."    Day after day, from Day One, Mr. Obama has been painted as a dangerous 5th columnist from some other part of the world, injected into "our country" by unknown forces to "destroy" "our" way of life.  Thus the Tea Party Slogan, "Take Our Country Back."  This theme, this refrain, has been in the air since the moment Mr. Obama took the podium on January 20, 2009.  The funding for this endless advertising campaign--where does it come from?  Damn if I know.  I saw the other day that Beck had lost 256 advertisers since Obama was elected.  Doesn't seem to matter, not like it does when Kevin Harvick loses Shell Oil.

So we'll see, we'll see.  It's a tricky issue to actually discuss.  Jonathan Alter said last night that "we have to be careful not to make this election about intelligence."  Meaning that it's not politically effective to talk about how stupid a candidate seems to be, or how stupid an electorate might seem if they vote for him or her.  It's true.  People don't like being called stupid.  People don't like to see a candidate diminished in that vein--unless they're doing it themselves of course, as Limbaugh and the rest do to Obama, Pelosi, et al, every day.

But we also surely see, and clearly, that advertising works.  This is a factual statement, and the subject matter of business schools, sociology departments, and political science departments every where.  Advertising pays off.  This is why business spends billions on it every years.  There is no doubt that advertising is effective, and possibly this little noted fact is as important as any fact in the current world in which we live. How do you report on something that, in the reporting, might seem to insult the viewers.  Or, on the other hand--raise questions about the fuel that keeps your so-called "journalism" afloat.  Do tell. 

Right now the United States' electoral system--our democracy--is exposed to anonymous advertising assault in basically unlimited amount.  Certain themes have been played for over thirty years, and it is a fact that repetition is in itself a successful advertising tactic.  We have watched a seemingly grass roots "movement" spring up upon Obama's election, and develop power and momentum.  "Take Our Country Back."  What does that even mean?  Amongst Tea Partiers, it elicits a knowing nod, or a high 5.

Strange that Tom Delay was an exterminator before he got into politics.  What goes around I guess.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Firemen or Pyromaniacs, You Be the Judge

(c) John Cirillo

It's gotten so a reductio ad absurdum argument is being met, down at the Texaco, with agreement.  Strange days indeed.  People used to cite the Fireman as hero par excellence.  Hundreds of brave firemen lost their lives during the 9/11 World Trade Center inferno by running up the stairs in an effort to save the civilians on higher floors.  Yesterday, driving to work and listening to the right wing talk show on our local "Rush Radio" station beaming out of Rawleigh, the hosts and callers were in agreement that that Tennessee Fire Department did exactly the right thing when they stood and watched a guy get burned out.  He hadn't paid his fee.  Tough shit.  Case closed.  (Later on in the day some other conservative yammerers argued that the Tennessee FD was actually a government entity, so that's why they watched the fire.  Possibly some conservatives take both positions at once, since in their "world" contradictions are merely interesting features, like calves with two heads.  Whatever.)

I thought firemen put out fires.  That was their job, and indeed, their definition.  A guy in a fire suit or driving a fire truck is not a fireman.  Kramer proved that definitively some years back.  If you're a fireman, you put out the fire.  The whole department in Tennessee, who sat and watched this guy lose his house, belongings, and several pets, because he hadn't paid a $75 fee, the whole department should be fired.  Period.  Probably they should also be put in jail for a while too--for negligence.  I don't know whether that's legal or not, so I can't argue that point.  But the whole department should be fired, without any doubt.  They didn't do their job.  That's a simple and obvious situation.  Fire these guys.  Find some other men who are willing to be firemen. 

"Bbbbbut," the guy at the Texaco argues.  "The guy didn't pay his fire fee.  It serves him right."

Let me remind you of something Ronald Reagan did, back in the early '80s.  Not that I'm a big fan of Reagan, mind you.  In fact, I think much of our current disaster can be laid at the feet of Mr. Reagan.  However, back in the early '80s, Mr. Reagan fired a whole group of people--Air Traffic Controllers--because they went on strike.  The idea was, being an Air Traffic Controller was so critical a job that it was dangerous to the public to allow them to strike.  That is to say, they were betraying their fundamental task.
Nope, said Reagan.  You're outta here.  Of course this was viewed as a right wing victory because Mr. Reagan "broke" a union.  And indeed, that's one way to look at it.  But I'd argue that underlying that was simply the fact that Air Traffic Controllers have a duty to public safety that cannot be exempted--it's who they are.  And it's that duty that gave Reagan the support he needed to fire the whole group of them for striking.

I have no idea at what management level the Tennessee Fire Department made the decision to go watch the fire.  Pyromaniacs watch fires.  Did they all do a circle-jerk while they were watching?  One would think that some "Chief" made this decision about the fee.  Can police do the same thing--work on a pay-as-you-go basis out there in Tennessee?  If a bank doesn't pay it's fee, do the cops just watch the robbery unfold?  Or the home being invaded?  What's the difference?  Cops/Extortionists--you make the call.

I used to argue, down at the Texaco, that we actually all wanted a world--a society--where the common good is defended, i.e., that the idea that everyone should pay for each specific "service" if they wanted it, or not if not, undercut all of us.  The police example was usually the reductio that got traction, at least in itself.  Some of the boys still balked at public schools, because the idea of an educated citizen was too abstract for them.  Apparently now they've come to accept the Fire Department case.  I'd guess privatizing the police is just around the corner.  I guess "dangerous to the public" has become an anachronism, a vestige of those old socialist times when Ike and Uncle Joe divided the planet and ruled with iron fists.

Some of this goes along with the gun fetishists club.  "Gun people" seem to think that everyone should have a gun, and be ready to use it.  That would fix up things for the criminals, eh.  And save us lots of money we now pay for police protection.  Which we can spend on more guns I guess.  Neato.  These folks may find themselves, one night, standing out in the cold and listening to the ammo go off like popcorn amidst the inferno, whilst the guys in the fire hats make a big circle and frolic around the it was halloween.

It's a world Ms. O'Donnell, in her pointy hat, will find herself at home in I guess.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Why Nothing Much Ever Happens Part 7,581

Beckham (c) Tbogg
This is some good reporting, but beyond that, just consider that this is also reporting in the vast mundane sea, where one shrimp is pretty much like another, and where the real "story" is the sea itself, calm except for the long swell, shiny with the reflection of the sun, empty, a universe unto itself.  We see, then, a detail, like thousands of other details we might also see, and say: yes.  The United States is a country who's first class citizens are not people at all, but corporations and other business entities.  Their political task is to deal with the inconvenient problem of elections, shaping them to the ends desired for business reasons.  Because for a business, what other reasons exist.

{I include the beautiful photo of Beckham partly because I like to think of him and his spirit, and also because behind him is the calm ocean.} 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Utah Savage

Three Rivers Petroglyph site, New Mexico, photo by Bill Hicks

It's Sunday morning and we're about to undertake a trip down to Tarboro, NC to visit Libby's dad for his birthday.  There's a whole cluster of birthdays around the end of September/early October in our extended family--five or six of 'em.  It's finally thank gawd and at last turned fall here, after the summer held on straight through September with mostly temps up into the 90s.  And out here in the Piedmont South, you can't mitigate anything by saying, well, it's dry heat.  Like they do in Utah or Pie Town, NM.  This equinox the light changed like it does, and the sun has drifted down the tree line to the south, like it's supposed to.  But until mid-week it's been burning up--no rain for nearly a month, trees seeming near death, the woods so dry some yahoo with a 4 wheeler could have burned us out in a jiffy.  Then this week it rained for two or three days straight.  Down on the coast, Wilmington got 21 inches and people were kayaking in the streets.  (A guy told me that at work--he was bringing us some steel-clad batteries that came out of heavy equipment--he said his Wilmington branch had to close for the flooding, something they never did.)

Libby's going to spruce up her dad's bathroom for his birthday.  Pretty new shower curtain and towels.  He's a very guy guy--doesn't see the need, lives in a spartan kinda way, in the retirement apartment he moved into last year.  I changed his guitar strings last time down.  He started playing guitar when he was 72, and loves music, still sings in the choir.  When Libby's mom died I suggested to him that maybe he should get into cooking, learn how to do it.  We knew a widower down on Ocracoke who did just that, baked cakes and pies until he was in his 90s.  Libby's dad was utterly offended at the idea.  He's got a little kitchen in his digs, but seems like the extent of his cooking is probably a can of Campbell's now and then. 

Anyways, before heading out, I want to mention a wonderful blog I found today, called "Utah Savage."  You should check it out.  I put a link up in the links section here.  It includes even a novel, as a section, called "The Narcissist."  Which surely will find a publisher, as its author dreams of finding.  Where's Black Sparrow Press anyways?  I'll definitely be checking back to see what she's up to.  Her most recent post is made up of her answers to one of those "Fifty Questions" things you might see if you tend to thumb through certain magazines.  Here's just one of her answers:

9.To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken? Answer: To very little degree.  My life led me around by the nose.

I like that answer a lot, probably because it has been my experience as well.  It's always amazed me when I run into people who have some big plan, who even had the plan when they were 13, who followed the plan, step by step, who say now, at 50-something--why yes, I knew I was going to be a _______ and it's worked out great.  I have an old friend who played music and studied medicine and specialized in a certain area because he knew that you could have time off in that area (i.e., there were no emergencies), and he moved to a coastal region, built a sailboat, sailed on great trips when he had the time (and he had the time).  It all worked out, far as I know.  But I'm pretty much like Ms Pendleton--things came along.  For example, I never ever had the idea of being in a band, much less a band that was kinda successful if you measure success by getting paid to go to various European countries, or getting mentioned favorably in newspapers and reviews, or being in a kinda lauded (or I'd say now, much later, over-lauded) musical about the sweetened up life of an unreconstructed murdering sadist in 1870s Missouri who was eventually assassinated in 1881.  I did not plan any of this.  And as I've mentioned here before, the dang trees have grown twenty feet taller since I put up the cabin, and are situated just as tenuously in the rocky ground around the house, and could at pretty much anytime take the house out like a sledge hammer taking out a cockroach.  So yes indeed.

Go check out her fine blog.  She kinda reminds me of Charles Bukowski, just a little.  And not the bad Charles, who got awful on camera to his last wife.  More like the Bukowski who endured life working at the Post Office, then ended his wonderful novel "Post Office" by winning at the track, quitting the post office job, and writing the dang thing.

11.You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire. They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. The criticism is distasteful and unjustified. What do you do? Answer: I'd let them finish trashing my friend then tell them she/he is my friend.  Then I'd watch to see how they react.