Thursday, June 30, 2005

How Not to Tow a Boat


Irish Mental Health Hotline

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tom Cruise-World's Most Intelligent Man

A question I always wanted an answer to-If you're in a relationship with an actor or actress, how do you know that they're not just acting like they love you?

Redneck Humor


1. You take your dog for a walk and you both use the same tree.
2. You can entertain yourself for more than 15 minutes with a fly swatter.
3. Your boat has not left the driveway in 15 years.
4. You burn your yard rather than mow it.
6. The Salvation Army declines your furniture.
7. You offer to give someone the shirt off your back and they don't want it.
8. You have the local taxidermist on speed dial.
9. You come back from the dump with more than you took.
10. You keep a can of Raid on the kitchen table.
11. Your wife can climb a tree faster than your cat.
12. Your grandmother has "ammo" on her Christmas list.
13. You keep flea and tick soap in the shower.
14. You've been involved in a custody fight over a hunting dog.
15. You go to the stock car races and don't need a program.
16. You know how many bales of hay your car will hold.
17. You have a rag for a gas cap.
18. Your house doesn't have curtains, but your truck does.
19. You wonder how service stations keep their restrooms so clean.
20. You can spit without opening your mouth.
21. You consider your license plate personalized because your father
made it.
22. Your lifetime goal is to own a fireworks stand.
23. You have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say "Cool
Whip" on the side.
24. The biggest city you've ever been to is Wal-Mart.
25. Your working TV sits on top of your non-working TV.
26. You've used your ironing board as a buffet table.
27. A tornado hits your neighborhood and does a $100,000 worth of
28. You've used a toilet brush to scratch your back.
29. You missed your 5th grade graduation because you were on jury duty.
30. You think fast food is hitting a deer at 65 mph.
And last, but not least...
31. Somebody tells you that you've got something in your teeth, so you take them out to see what it is!
Shameless purloined from Jim at Parkway Rest Stop who stole it from someone else.

Are there any limits to human depravity?

Man Pulled From Women's Outhouse Tank
Teenager Reports Seeing Man's Face In Toilet

POSTED: 4:56 pm EDT June 28, 2005
UPDATED: 6:05 pm EDT June 28, 2005

ALBANY, N.H. -- A man is facing charges after police said they pulled him from a tank under a women's toilet that was filled with human waste.

Police said that Gary Moody, 45, was under a log cabin outhouse off the Kancamagas Highway in Albany.

"You can draw your own conclusions as to the conditions we encountered," said Capt. John Hebert, of the Carroll County Sheriff's Department.

Police said that they got a call from the parents of a teenage girl who said that when she went to use the facilities, she saw Moody's face staring back at her from the hole.

Moody was hosed off before police cuffed him.

"It's a very filthy environment, and before we put anybody in contact with him, we had to decontaminate him," Hebert said. "We treated him as if he were hazardous material."

Hikers using the outhouse on Tuesday said that the story was enough to make their stomachs turn.

"He just must be sick to put yourself in that muck. Disgusting," said Harriett Voysey, of New Jersey.

Police said they don't know how long Moody was in the tank, but they said the door to it was locked, which means he must have gone in through the toilet. They said they don't know why he was there.

"I started this business in 1980, and I have never in my career encountered anybody in this type of situation," Hebert said.

Police charged Moody with criminal trespass, and they said he could face more charges. He is out on bail and due back in court next month.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

In Tennessee, "Where there's a will, there's a way!"

Deputies suspended in sex case

06/23 2005

Two Madison County sheriff's deputies have been suspended with pay after an alleged incident of inappropriate sexual contact between a male inmate and a female inmate occurred under the deputies' supervision.

Deputies Danny J. Wilson, 49, and Richard A. Baxter, 52, were routinely suspended, pending the completion of an internal investigation, Sheriff David Woolfork said Wednesday.

The incident reportedly occurred Friday, while the male and female inmates, both 34 years old, were being transported between Dyer County and Lake County. Woolfork said he received information regarding the incident on Monday.

A preliminary investigation found the inmates had consensual sexual contact, according to a press release from the Sheriff's Department. Both were wearing restraint devices that included waist chains and handcuffs, the release said.

The incident is being investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Madison County Sheriff's Department.

The male inmate was returning to the Madison County Jail on charges of burglary, theft of property and vandalism. The female inmate was returning to the jail on charges of violation of probation/theft of property.

It is not unusual for sheriff's deputies to transport male and female inmates at the same time, Woolfork said. He explained that while deputies are transporting inmates, the inmates are restrained and both officers should observe what is going on.

The vehicle they used to transport the inmates has a door that opens, a window deputies can see through and an intercom system deputies can use to hear the inmates, Woolfork said.

The investigation is expected to be complete no later than Friday.

Hockey Humor

New Jersey Zamboni Operator Accused Of DWI At Rink

MORRISTOWN, N.J. -- A Morris County employee's Zamboni driving days are on ice.

Authorities say John Peragallo was drunk when he drove the four-ton ice-cleaning machine at Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown on Sunday.

Police said an employee reported that the machine was speeding and nearly crashing into boards.

Police say Peragallo had a blood-alcohol level of 0.12. Persons are legally drunk in New Jersey at 0.08.

The 63-year-old was given a summons and a July court date, where he'll risk losing his driver's license for motor vehicles and Zambonis if he's convicted.

Peragallo has worked for the county park commission since 1994.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Boat, Beach and Burning Rubber

A light breeze from the south and a quick exit from work allowed me to make the 20 minute run to Cape Lookout National Seashore this afternoon. Fishing has been as poor this year as I can remember and I thought I would try some different spots and even if nothing cooperated, the scenery is unparalleled. The boat ramp was nearly empty as I launched the boat about 5:30 and I hugged the shore of Carrot Island to see if I could spot some bait. Hell, this year I haven't even been able to net any bait save for four small shrimp weekend before last. No luck so I gunned the boat out of the no wake zone, through the green and red buoys at the mouth of Taylor's Creek and around the first red daymark. Four hundred yards and I made the 90 degree cut that put Cape Lookout Lighthouse directly off my bow in the distance. It was dead low tide so I stayed in the channel and got to the lighthouse without passing another boat in either direction. The lighthouse glowed in the afternoon sun, last year's paint job still looking new. I never get tired of seeing it-its diamond pattern has guarded ships from the dangerous Cape Lookout Shoals that extend like a finger out twenty miles from the furthest spit of land. Here is how it looked today:

I snapped this shot then went out Barden's Inlet to the ocean side on a quest for bait. I threw the net for an hour and came up empty. The bait was so tiny it just got strained out the net as it was pulled up. Back inside the bight I hugged the eastern shoreline looking for bait, fish-anything of interest. I saw some birds busting into the water but it just lasted a second and they were gone. I sat on the poling platform and drank a couple of beers and drifted around in the nearest marsh that was filling up with rising tide. I looked inside the live well and low and behold there was a shrimp still in there from two weeks ago-still scooting around on the bottom. Lucky for me-unlucky for him although he was never gonna get out of there alive anyway. I put him on a hook and suspended him beneath a popping cork and lobbed him to the edge of an oyster bar. A minute later I cranked in a pissed off fish. I hoped it was a speckled trout, something good to eat but as it got closer I could tell it was just a small bluefish showing it's ass. Bluefish never look happy. They have this snubbed nose and jaws that are constantly chomping and an all-round bad attitude. This one bit off my line, fell onto the back of the boat and flipped itself out before I could kick it out. Little bastard. Out of bait, I put on an artificial, synthetic bait called a Fishbite- supposed to smell like the real thing to the fish and I must say, I've had pretty good luck with them. My next cast was right up against the bank and when I checked it ten minutes later, I had hooked a 3-inch sea bass. Un-freakin' real. I tried the marsh, then about dusk I made a run to Beaufort Inlet which proved equally as fishless. It was dark and time to head in.
My friend Scott likes to say that "nothing good ever happens at the boat ramp." This is true. Getting your boat in and out of the water properly can't really be considered a "good" thing-it's supposed to be the norm. So anything abnormal that happens is therefore "bad." I've probably launched and re-trailered my boat 500 hundred times without much incident. I've had the dead battery thing a couple of times and I've broken off my trailer guides by being too aggressive five or six times, but tonight's episode takes the cake for sheer ridiculousness.

My trailer guides, the PVC poles that sit vertically on each side of the trailer to guide the boat directly onto the bunks have been snapped off for a month. I have seen no need to replace them until tonight. My trailer has two bunks or rails that cradle the boat underneath and aloow it to center itself. I usually back the trailer about halfway in the water, guide it onto the bunks, make sure it's centered then gun it up to the "stop," then hook the safety chain and then the wench. I can do this in my sleep by myself-it is a very trailer friendly boat. Tonight I backed the trailer in, set the parking brake, got into the boat and gunned it up on the trailer. Little did I know that I had backed the trailer in too far and the boat did not center but floated undetected over the left plastic wheel well. I did not know this until a mile down the road when a car behind me blew his horn. I craned my neck out the window, looked back and saw smoke pouring out from behind the trailer tire. I thought at first I had burned out a wheel bearing but I hadn't heard the tell-tale squealing and those don't smell like Akron, Ohio on fire. I pulled into a sidestreet and went back to survey the damage and saw the left side of the boat boat sitting on top of the plastic wheel well. The boat had mashed the plastic onto the tire and the tire burned it's way through the plastic and even burned the bottom of the hull. I tried to push it off the plastic well but the boat was melted onto it. I couldn't drive it anywhere, even back to the ramp to re-launch and re-trailer it properly so I contemplated my few options. I decided to unhook the trailer, turn my truck around and use the front bumper to push the boat off the well and onto the trailer properly. I gave it a good shove with the car which just sent the trailer spinning-there was no resistance to push against. I had by now attracted a small crowd that offered their help. I hooked the trailer back up to the truck, convinced that the eight of us, including three 20-something studs could lift and push the boat off the well. Wrong again-heavy boat melted onto plastic well is one tough cookie. The old dude who had seen my previous comical attempt to ram it on with my truck told me to try that again-they would hold the tongue wheel still so there would be some resistance this time. One good push and it was off the wheel well but I had also pushed it cockeyed in the other direction. Still it was drivable. I thanked them profusely, made it back to the ramp and launched it back into the water. There was a guy who asked me what I was going fishing for and I had to explain the whole sordid tale to him or he would think I had some disorder that compelled me to launch and re-trailer boats instead of fishing out of them. I got it on properly, drove it to the boatwash, then home where I surveyed the unique damage. I can't wait to explain this look to every Joe at the boat ramp for the next month. As my old friend Cliff Barrett would say, "What a maroon."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Robert Heinlein Quotes

Robert Heinlein (1907-1988)

Being intelligent is not a felony. But most societies evaluate it as at least a misdemeanor.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

If you happen to be one of the fretful minority who can do creative work, never force an idea; you’ll abort it if you do. Be patient and you’ll give birth to it when the time is ripe. Learn to wait.

An armed society is a polite society.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Rainy Saturday Meme

"Five things society at large enjoys, but that I, for the most part, just don't get..."

1. Oprah.- I can't for the life of me understand the mass hysteria generated by this show. What exactly is her talent? She can't sing, dance, or play a musical instrument or tell a joke for that matter. How do you get paid a bazillion dollars just to cry along with someone who has lost a child? She makes Katie Couric seem as deep and intellectual as Descartes.

2. The Nightly News with (Insert Anchor Here)The 6:30 (EST) newscasts are the broadcasting equivalent as the Nash Rambler. There is not one iota of "news" on these broadcasts that folks with half a brain and an computer modem haven't already heard and digested. It is pablum for the masses. Unlike the "salad days" when Uncle Walter had the power to stop a war by reporting an Amercian military victory as a resounding defeat, now every word uttered or assertion made can be refuted or corroborated by a thousand bloggers who actually have expertise in the field unlike the journalists covering the event who generally have none. Bias runs rampant on both sides of the political spectrum and is employed with impunity. Here's a challenge-give me 30 minutes of prime time at the dinner hour for a month and I will have you believing anything I want you to believe. Here's a fair and balanced idea-Have every network reporter wear a campaign button for whom they voted in the last presidentioal election so that will be out front before they spout their opinions. Not that it's not painfully obvious anyway.

3. Hip-Hop and Rap- When we were kids our parents told us that rock-and -roll was the "Devil's Music," and maybe it was--but at least it was freakin' music. This shit is devoid of every aspect of music except one-rythym-of which it has a buttload. No melody, no lyrics unless you count the "rhyme at all costs whether it makes sense" or not as lyrical and no harmonic structure whatsoever. Not only does it suck, but the overhead must be staggering- One or two dudes or dudettes up front doing the heavy shouting and a hundred background homies spinning the LP's backwards to make funny sounds or simply dry humping the mic stands to the "beat." Twenty ho's pretending to sing background vocals to songs with no vocals and twenty more denuded male crotch-grabbers pretending to be dancers. Insufferable can't even begin to describe this horseshit.

4. Kenny ( Chesney- If there is a more cloying, irritating, no talent poseur on this orb, I'll be damned. Proves the point that if you are completely devoid of self-respect and shame, you can go a long way in this life. No shirt, No shoes, No talent, No Shame.....No Problem. Renee Zellweger-What the Hell were you drinking?

5. Britney Spears- I swear to God I can't see the public's interest in this dome-drink swilling dullard. And please pray for the little gutter snipe that springs from her loins onto the pages of every tabloid for the rest of his or her life. She's dumber than a box of hair and in a year she'll be so fat it'll take two dogs to bark at her.

Summer Cold

Is there anything more annoying? Especially on a weekend. I'd rather cut my fingernails too short or step in a festering mound of fire ants than do battle with a headcold in the summer. I've been lucky enough to have eluded a major cold or sinus infection for well over a year-that is until this past Wednesday. The general fatigue, sinus pressure, scratchy throat and post-nasal drip foreshadow at least a week of hell-then you add to the shitty feeling with an array of syrup, sprays and homeopathic "remedies," all of which seem to be an evil mix of candy-flavored alcohol and crystal meth. Men tend to be problem solvers, actually more accurately problem "attackers." We want to do something, even if it's wrong and even if it has never, ever solved the problem before. Sitting around and letting the snotfest run it's course is not an option.
We attack the first symptom-Stuffy Nose. First weapon-the new homeopathic swab jammed up to bottom eyelid. The relief is immediate (due to the auguring of the nasal cavity with the cotton-topped stick) but short-lived (until the nasal cavity realizes it doesn't have to accomodate said stick). Second weapon-the new homeopathic, anti-allergy nasal spray-the price and box size of which cunningly hide a meager 1/2 oz. of spray. Screw the directions! Once every four hours my ass-hell, it's homeopathic. If I'm still stuffy I'm gonna give it a squirt everytime I walk past the table it sits upon-making the $12.00 bottle last less than a day. Weapon three-the nuclear bomb-the 12 or 24 hour nasal decongestant. The trade-off? Sure you get either 12 or 24 hours of nasal congestion relief but you also get that same amount of time of twitching and scalp tingling and the hypervigilance of someone who has drunk a dozen 16 oz. espressos in a row. This charge does not help the positive concentration powers of a person who already has the attention span of a gnat but it does imbue you with the restless energy needed to pick at a scab for half a day or to twist your hair out of it's follicle or pull out your eyebrows or scratch yourself endlessly-all endearing endeavors sure to impress your spouse or roommate. The cleared-out sinus feeling comes on immediately followed shortly by the realization that you can no longer feel the top of your head, except for your hair, which feels heavy- like a biking helmet on top of a numbed skull.
Symptom two-Chest cold and cough. When you've chased all the crap from your head, it usually settles in the chest where it is hacked up for a few days. Only weapon-pick and choose from an array of tussins and 'quils. It doesn't matter which one-they taste as if you crunched down 20 large candy-canes and chased them with a pint of "Old Spaniel." Not only will you be on your ass shortly, but your sense of taste will be gone and your tongue will need to be scraped by a wire brush for the next month to remove the syrupy coating.
Symptom three-Sore throat- Weapon employed-Gargling. Gargling is a sadistic exercise prohibited by the Geneva Convention for use on prisoners of war. Fill your mouth with children's cough syrup or aspirin dissolved in hot water, tilt your head back and try to hold the sstuff as far down your throat as possible without swallowing it-all while "trilling" the liquid mixture around the affected area. The balance is precarious and you look goofy as hell doing it which invariably results in horselaughing and swallowing the nasty solution or discharging it violently out through your nose.
I'm trying my new remedy-rum and coke and copious amounts of sleep. If I can't beat it, at least I'll be as oblivious to it as possible.

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Sorry for the Absence

Been tied up this week. We had our summer conference Monday through Wednesday and saw tons of friends and my former colleagues from another district. Nobody will ever accuse prosecutors of being a staid and solemn bunch-we will be all over an open bar (or even a cash bar) like a duck on a junebug. About seven years ago there was a near riot when the place hosting our social ran out of beer. I played my annual round of golf and shot my usual score-49-40=89. That is a function of 1) getting warmed up after a year's layoff and 2) the sixth beer kicking in. We played the traditional fivesome and also violated with impunity the courses ban on coolers. Five wise-ass players with five completely different levels of skill and strengths makes for a lot of laughs, a lot of it at our own expense. Huge bath mat divots, low screaming shots richocheting off trees and houses, new curse words screamed after topped tee shots, liberal bending of the Royal and Ancient Rules of golf which do not speak of mulligans, do-overs or the "two-club-length rule," which allows relief form behind trees or in ponds or in the deep rough.
We had a riotous dinner with my old colleagues in a private room in a fine restaurant on Tuesday night after golf. My old boss who is both lactose intolerant and clueless about the contents of food had a large bowl of lobster bisque, a salad with bleu cheese dressing, and entree and a quick exit to go tend his distended belly leaving him unable to defend himself at the table. He's always been a great boss and a great sport-there aren't many bosses that will absorb a rash of shit from their employees and laugh their ass off.
We finished up Wednesday about noon, had a farewell lunch with more laughs recounting the golf round and the dinner, then it was back home. I had a kind invite to play guitar with my friend Dicky Scearce of Scearce and Ketner at the Dockhouse. He was doing a solo gig during the week and I couldn't pass up the chance to join in. A kinder and more gracious person you'll never meet- and a genuine talent on the guitar and vocals. Their new CD is out "Live Crabs," a live recording from several venues and it is outstanding. It is available on their website linked to above. Their schedule is also available on the site so check them out in the Carolinas and beyond. I'll go back tonight to try and improve on my effort last night but mainly to enjoy being up on stage with someone who can carry the whole thing-sort of like playing best ball with Tiger Woods as your partner-you don't have to bring much to the table, just show up and do the best you can. As Patrick Hughes so wisely noted, "self-esteem just gets in the way of a good time." A great motto to live by! Photos tomorrow!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Book Meme

The combination of a small craft advisory and the gentle urging, not "tagging," of Christina at Feisty Repartee makes me game for the book meme started by Guy at Snugg Harbor. I haven't given much thought to these particular questions before so it makes for a good challenge.
The four questions are:1. Total number of books I own.2. Last Book I bought.3. Last book I read.4. Five books of notable influence on me.
Before I launch into my answers, let me give some insight into my quirky book reading habits. First, I would describe them as "bi-polar." I might go a year without reading a single book, then I'll hear about an interesting read and that will set me off on a book reading frenzy. I'll burn up the Amazon 1-Click button for a month, sometimes ordering the same book twice in the maelstrom. I am the same way about crossword puzzles-I may do them everyday for a year and then stop completely for two years. I have the concentration span of a gnat unless something really engrosses me, in which case I can lock onto it like a laser.Second, 99 percent of my book reading takes place between the hours of midnight and 3:00 A.M., which is why my snooze button takes a pounding and I crawl into work and swill coffee until I am reasonably awake. I am now aware that I do this because this is the time I am having a few drinks. Sucking on a beer and sipping a fine whisky slows down my racing mind and allows me to concentrate. Many times the reading and the booze and the late hours put me to sleep in the chair. Many mornings I have trudged to bed after sunrise to get in a couple of hours of hard sleep before heading in.Third, I do not read serious fiction. I have never liked it nor have I ever developed a taste for it-probably because I don't read it. I'm sure there are millions of fantastic books of fiction and many talented writers. My feeling is I don't care to read something that has no basis in fact and was created out of whole cloth. Shit, anyone can make stuff up. I want to read something that I'm vaguely familiar with and get someone's unique perspective. I will read humor based fiction like the old Woody Allen books or John Stewart's stuff. I can't articulate the distinction rationally other than one makes me horselaugh and the other just takes itself too seriously especially when the author imagines that they have created a real live breathing human being from words on a page. I prefer memoirs, biographies, books about flyfishing adventures and "soft" psychology. My answers:
1. Total Number of Books I Own
A hell of a lot fewer than I did before we moved just over five years ago. Our former house had an upstairs room with wall to walll built-in bookshelves and it was packed with every book my wife and I had accumulated since high school. We boxed up and donated to charity over a thousand hardbacks and paperbacks instead of carting them across state. We kept a hundred or so and that's where the figure stands today, maybe actually fewer than a hundred. I tend to read something and hand it off to a friend and never see it again. No problem-my thought is to share the good stuff, be it music or literature.
2. Last Book I Bought
Last week I came across across a book review by a guy maned Matt Taibbi of the New York Press. He was reviewing the latest book by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times. I know you're all familiar with Friedman-he is the self-acclaimed expert on the Middle East conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, not that I've seen much results from his pontificating. He is also ubiquitous on these constant roundtable discussions where various "experts," (read journalists) hold forth on the topics of the day. The self-importance and self-rightousness of these groups (always a combination of four of the same 10 people) is palpable. If someone would recognize their prescience and put them in a position of ultimate power, the world would be a group-hugging utopia. They are usually as accurate in their predictions and observations as the local weatherman in Paducah. James Lileks pointed out recently that any applicant to journalism school who says they want to become a journalist because they want to "change the world," should be immediately "shitcanned." I agree. Journalists are supposed to report on the world, not be agents of change. That is as absurd, stupid and grossly arrogant as those lofty declarations spewed forth by those bikini clad bimbos at the Miss America Pageant claiming to want to end world hunger. End of rant-Back to Tom Friedman. He is especially irksome. His furrowed brow, serious demeanor and measured words convey the illusion of heft and substance. He is widely proclaimed to be the finest journalist in America usually by his friends whom he lauds on their book jackets. He is, in a word, insufferable. Read a year of his columns on the same subject and he's all over the park. The emporer has no clothes!Matt Taibbi wrote a scathing and "spot-on" take down of this clown's new book last week. It is so deliciously vicious and perfect that I enclose the link:

If I were Friedman, I'd never show my face in public again.

After reading that smackdown, I bought Taibbi's new book, Spanking the Donkey-Dispatches from the Dumb Season- his coverage of the latest presidential campaign. He skewers the candidates, the political parties and the buffoons that cover the campaign for the press. He is a died in the wool liberal but John Kerry's ineptitude gets the biggest panning. He takes Kerry's convention acceptance speech, removes everything that he characterizes as outright lies or complet bullshit and reduces it to it's two sentences of truth-"I was born in Colorado" and "We can do better." Highly recommended and quite humorous no matter your political stripe.

3. Last Book I Read
John D. Gartner's, The Hypomanic Edge-The Link Between (a little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America A great read about the lives of nine men,Christopher Columbus, JohnWinthrop, Roger Williams,WilliamPenn, Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Carnegie, LewisSelznick, Louis B.Mayer and CraigVenter. The book celebrates the success of the hypomanic personality-one marked by an elevated mood state that may be, but is not necessarily, subject to depression. The irrational confidence, ambition, vision, and zeal of these individuals has had an enormously positive impact on this nation's rise to economic prosperity.

4. Five Books of Notable Influence on Me
  • On the Spine of Time by Harry Middleton. A book that is on the surface a recounting of a flyfishing trip throught the Smoky Mountains it is also a meditiation on changing seasons, and the passage of time juxtaposed against the permanence of the mountains and streams. This book reminds me of my initial attraction to fishing in cold mountains streams but it also is reminds me of Middleton's struggle with depression and the curative powers of nature.
  • Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart-Thirty Things You Need to Know Now by Gordon Livingston. Best advice-You are what you do! Intentions don't cut it, it's actions that mean everything. There are 29 more observations that are dead on. I shared this book with a great friend suffering through the slow death of a long and painful relationship. He took it's lessons to heart, moved on and I have never seen him happier. I re-read this book often and find something new everytime.
"My compulsive need to look for the edge and live on it has marked me in more ways than I would want to know or try to explain. Never mind the marks it has left on my skin, let me go straight to the bone," Crews writes in the introduction to this collection.

And, in each of the works, he is more than willing to open a few wounds. Crews is one of the greatest writers from the hardscrabble South. I cannot describe his style so I will include a paragraph from the intro to this great collection.

"I hooked up with a carny and worked for a while as a caller for the ten-in-one show. In the world of carnivals, the ten-in-one is the freak show. I was especially fond of the Fat Lady and her friends there under the tent. I think I know why, and I think I know when I started loving freaks. I had been able to rent a place to sleep from a freak man and his freak wife and I woke one morning looking at both of them where they stood at the other end of the trailer in the kitchen. They stood perfectly still in the dim, yellow light, their backs to each other. I could not see their faces, but I was close enough to hear them clearly when they spoke.
"What's for supper, darling?" he said.
"Franks and beans, with a nice little salad," she said.
And then they turned to each other under the yellow light. The lady had a beard not quite as thick as my own but about three inches long and very black. The man's face had a hairlip. His face was divided so that the top of his nose forked. His eyes were positioned almost on the sides of his head and in the middle was a third eye that was really not an eye at all but a false lid over an round indentation that saw nothing. It was enough though, to make me taste bile in my throat and cause a cold fear to start in my heart.
They kisssed. Their lips brushed briefly and I heard them mummur to each other and he was gone through the door. And I, lying at the back of the trailer, was never the same again.
I have never stopped remembering that as wondrous and special as those two people were, they were only talking about and looking forward to and needing precisely what all of the rest of us talk about and look forward to and need. He might have been any husband going to any job anywhere. He just happened to have that divided face. That is not a very startling revelation, I know, but it is one most of us resist because we have that word "normal" and we can say we are normal because a psychological, sexual, or spiritual abnormality can-with a little luck-be safely hidden from the rest of the world. But if you are less than three feet tall, you have to deal with that fact every second of every day of your life. And everyone witnessses your effort. You go into a bar and you can't get up onto a stool. You whistle down a taxi and you can't open the door. If you're a lady with a beard, every face you meet is a mirror to give you back the disgust and horror and unreasonableness of your predicament. No matter which corner you turn on which street in which city in the world, you can expect to meet the mirror. And I suppose I have not been able to forgive myself the grotesqueries and aberrations I am able to hide with such impunity in my own life."

Give Harry a read-he is a hidden gem of southern literature.

  • Into the Sound Country: A Carolinian's Coastal Plain by Bland Simpson. A beautifully written book about coastal North Carolina-it's history, it's traditions and it's beauties. Every time I read it it gives me a greater appreciation and enjoyment of this magical place of sounds and swamps, twisted trees and mosquitos, salt marshes and fish, and hurricanes and snowstorms. I never tire of this reading this book.
  • Naked-by David Sedaris. I have read this book at least 20 times and each time I ache from laughing so hard. Not only hilarious, but poignant and each vignette is perfectly crafted-not one word is wasted. It is brilliant writing from a tortured soul. It has had a profound impact at the way I look at things-we're all just quirky, defective creatures trying to do whatever it takes to get by. To see that exposed is funny as hell.

Thanks for the challenge on this cool, windy day!

Friday, June 17, 2005

"Hunting" fish in the grass

We pulled over at the end of the dirt road and sat facing about 20 acres of spartina grass. In the far distance I could see the sparkle of the Coosaw River and to my left a small tidal creek flowed slowly by. "This is it," Scott said. "We're here." It was October and still warm in Beaufort, S.C. There was just enough wind to scatter the bugs. This was my introduction to wading a grass flat for tailing redfish. I had no idea what to expect. I also had no idea it would profoundly change my life. I will explain that later. It may sound hyperbolic, but it isn't. We strung up the fly rods, tied on a fly and crunched our way over the wash up dead spartina grass and onto a sparsely vegetated expanse of pungent, black plough mud. There was no water at all at the time but with the nine-foot diurnal tide that would soon change. Scott walked. I followed. Soon we were standing out in the middle. We hadn't said much on the way out and still didn't. There was no need for words-it's a guy thing. A shared experience in nature needs no background vocals. Occasionally a jet from the nearby Marine Corps Air Station would thunder through the sky but other than that and the occasional buzz of an outboard motor in the distance, it was silent. The mud was damp, but fairly compact. The blades of spartina grass were covered with small snails hanging on for dear life. Fiddler crabs roamed the mud and darted in and out of their small holes. We stood and waited. Then it "happened." The water did not come in over the river edge and wash over the flat as I had expected it to-the water seemed to just percolate up from the ground. One minute there was no water at all and a minute later I could feel the water creeping up to my ankles. It was like Mother Nature turning on a switch-the entire grass flat came alive. Tiny minnows flipped around, blue crabs scurried by, smaller crabs climbed the grass stalks and swung back and forth. Finger mullet cut V-wakes through the rising water. The water looked and smelled like an opaque "nature soup." Ten minutes later the water was at mid-calf. I looked around and the entire flat was covered in water-it didn't vaguely resemble the place we were standing just 30 minutes prior. I heard the click of Scott's fly reel-he was stripping out some line so I did the same. I had no idea what to look for or to expect. We heard a delicate "splash" behind us and I followed as Scott checked it out. "There he is!" I saw nothing. "There he is again! Did you see it." I lied and said I thought so. Then I saw the most incredible sight-I still get chills when I see one now. A broomlike fish tail stuck out of the water and waved back and forth for what seemed like five minutes. The fish was standing on his head. The water was about 18 inches deep and at least 12 inches of the fish was out of the water-that will give you an idea of how big the thing was. The tail would go back into the water then reappear ten feet away. These fish cruise the shallow flats on a rising tide and literally stand on their heads and suck fiddler crabs out of their holes. They have "inferior" mouths (known in humans as an "overbite). They possess poor eyesight, but they can "hear" the slightest commotion. Scott let me have the first cast to him. I threw the fly right on top of him-a big mistake. I could have poked him with a cattle prod and gotten similar results-he spooked and smoked across the flat and out into the river. Lesson learned. We saw tails waving all over the flat and took turns casting to them. Scott threw a homemade crab fly about two feet to the left of a tailing fish, waited a couple of seconds, then gave it a twitch. The water expoded-it sounded like toilet flushing or someone dropping a concrete block into a pool from the high dive. The drag on the reel whined and I could see the yellow fly line flying across the shallow water. Ten minutes later it was worn out. It was a beautiful 30-inch fish with several spots. It had a bronze-red tint on it's back and a white belly. Released, it sped out to the freedom of the river. I did not catch a fish that day, but they "caught" me. I was hooked on the fish and the mud flat and the serenity and I have remained hooked to this day.

There are places on this earth with a unique capacity to soothe. These places differ from person to person. Some find a golf course to be a haven, others a hiking trail. I used to play a lot of golf but I would never characterize a golf course as a haven for me-I'm too high strung and competitive. Even though the courses themselves are often beautiful, lush and green, for me to feel serene during a round of golf usually means throwing down about 20 beers or a bottle of schnapps. I avoid hiking like the plague even though the scenery can be outstanding. I just see no reason to walk someplace, turn around and walk back. I will hike (but for only short distances) if the trail leads to a place to fish, but that's the only time. Just hiking seems incredibly pointless-to me. A lotof folks swear by it. I am cursed (or blessed) by having an active and restless mind. My brain is constantly churning with thoughts, ideas and general clutter. It is only quiet when I sleep and then I'm sure it just continues to percolate, just without my cognizance. In the early 1990's, I took up fly fishing on a complete whim. I was not influenced by "that movie," in fact found the movie so maudlin and pathetic it probably did more to delay my foray into the sport than anything else. I hate a yuppie more than just about anything. I did not know if I would like flyfishing but I am always curious to try new things so I bought a rod and reel, some flies and the requisite clothing. I took to the stream looking as if I had walked through an L.L. Bean store and everything stuck to me. I certainly looked the part. I lived about an hour away from the nearest cold, running water that supported a trout population. It took me almost an entire year to catch my first fish. Normally that type of utter futility would nudge me on to a new hobby-I like to do the things I do well or not at all, but this new pastime was different. It wasn't about the fish or the numbers at all. As Thoreau once wrote, "many go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish they are after." For me it was the quiet roar of a trout stream-the cool water flowing over and around the stones that comprised the riverbed-that drowned out the disquiet in my head. I could step in the stream and forget every vexation-I was as serene and tranquil as I was capable of being and I sought this refuge over and over, and yes, I also learned the art of catching fish on a fly rod. Flyfishing also forged a bond among my friends who enjoyed the same pursuit. I became a friend of Scott through our mutual love of flyfishing and tying flies. We have fished in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Texas, Virginia, Florida and all over the Carolinas, from the mountains to the coast. This is how I happened to wade that mud flat with him when he yanked a 30-inch fish from 18 inch deep water. This is how I happened to be there standing in the warm, rising saltwater with fiddler crabs and tiny minnows tickling my legs, scanning the water for redfish tales. It was nature, it was beautiful, it was riveting and it engaged completely my restless mind.

It has been just over five years since I left the piedmont of North Carolina for the ocean, bays, sounds, rivers and tidal creeks of the coast. One afternoon I eased the boat down into the far reaches of Bell Creek, a tidal flow that is just off the Intracoastal Waterway at green daymark #21. I was scanning the creek for bait to net and rounded a curve that abutted an old church graveyard. As I looked to my right, over in the sparse grass, I saw a redfish tailing and wallowing in the mud. I had my very own grass flat! I have shared this place just with a few friends and have sworn them to silence. I live for the spring, summer and fall high tides that flood the place and allow this type fishing. It is my refuge-the first place I go when the time and tide is right. I know every inch of it by heart. I know where the hard mud is and where it is so soft it is dangerous to wade. I have a favorite place-a small cut into which I can get my boat way up into the grass. I can stand on the poling platform from where I can spot a tailing fish hundreds of feet away and where I can get out and wade and hunt for the tails. Regardless of whether I catch a fish or see one or ever make a single cast, I can spend hours in the salt marsh by myself. It gives me peace of mind. If it weren't for the falling tide pushing me out, I don't think I would ever leave it. The redfish tail I first saw in 1998 caused me to fall in love with the simple pleasures and "curative powers" of salt marsh, spartina grass, mud flats and yes, the fish. It has truly changed my life. Enjoy the pics below of Bell Creek-my personal sanctuary. Have a great weekend-you'll know where to find me.

Looking east-again scoping it out for a tail sticking out of the water Posted by Hello

Another one comes to the boat Posted by Hello

This is why they call them "spot tail bass" in South Carolina-Other names-redfish, drum, puppy drum, red drum, etc. Posted by Hello

Bingo! Posted by Hello

Wading around in the grass Posted by Hello

Looking west from the poling platform Posted by Hello

This is what you're looking to find in the grass-there is no more thrilling sight Posted by Hello

Same location-Last year I caught a tailing redfish underneath those pine trees in the distance-He was almost up in the soybean field. Posted by Hello

Bell Creek Grass Flat-One hour before high tide Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Bottoms Up! Nothing like a nice big beer to make you feel better. Posted by Hello

New rod-Experiment with marble Posted by Hello

Warn a Brother! Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Sex Offender Poster Child

In prosecution parlance, this would be known as an "exhibit sticker" case-in other words, you could put an exhibit sticker on this guys forehead, rest your case and get a conviction.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I had read this before and Rob posted it on his site this afternoon. How true it is. I can't think of any of my good friends who aren't "wacked" in some form or fashion. Many have suffered hardships that they have compensated for in ways that make them incredibly complex and interesting. Others deal with their personal imperfections with a vicious sense of humor. Still others who appear well adjusted have a wild side that craves a good time like crack cocaine. All have some sort of edge to them that makes them unique and interesting and when we are together we poke and prod the "fissures" in each other's personalities to reveal the true character hidden beneath. One word accurately timed and aimed can set loose an endless series of stories, rants and funny shit that is unique to the parties involved. This is especially true amongst men whose relationships are built around shared experiences as opposed to feelings.
The dullest and least interesting people are those who have gone through life without hardship. In the legal profession, you come into contact with a good number of these dullards. They are usually the offspring of some pompous, blueblood barrister and were raised at the country club. Their idea of hardship is the diving board at the pool being broken or the sand in one of the traps not having been properly raked by the grounds crew. I know a woman my age (50) who had never ridden in a car without electric windows-she was aghast at a riding in a vehicle where you had to crank the window open or shut. Unbelievable. I wouldn't want to spend a minute of my life with these shallow, insipid bastards. Enjoy the fable, all you "crackpots."

A Chinese Tale

A water bearer in China had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck.. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After 2 years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, and because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?

That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back,
you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house"

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Summer Clamming

Our late spring has thrown a kink in the usual fish schedule I've come to rely on. By May 1 the water temps in the ocean are usually in the low 70's, drawing the fish from the more southern states close to our beaches and the fishing kicks into high gear. This year was the coldest May on record and on Memorial Day weekend the beach water was a frigid 68 degrees-12 full degrees below the norm. The warm water finally pushed into the area in the last couple of weeks and now we're at 82 degrees in the surf and in the high 80's in the sounds and creeks-salty bathwater. Since the fish weren't in a cooperative mood, I would grab my trusty clam rake and try to scrape a few mollusks off the bottom of the Newport River instead. It's a pastime I came to late in life (last year at age 49) and attempted only because I felt foolish when folks asked me if I had ever been and I had to say "no." A friend told me of his friend who made custom clam rakes using stainless steel knife blades-the rakes were so good that you could drag the rake with one hand and drink a beer with the other-that was all it took to sell me on the rake. I bought it for $100.00 and I'm glad I did because the guy split up from his wife soon after that and she got all the clam rake shit in the divorce-no more custom clam rakes!
I had absolutely no idea what to do so I checked the web, found a few articles and also found out that clammers are about as tight-lipped as the clam itself. A good clam spot is as prized as a good trout hole and not given up lightly. I bought a couple of books and got the basic idea but really had no clue where to look locally when we set out for the first time. All I knew was to go at low tide and find a mud flat. Jane and I took off up the the Newport River, which really is nothing like a river-just a large shallow bay bisected by the 12 foot deep dredged channel that makes up the intracoastal waterway, and veered off to the left before entering Adams Creek. It was low tide and I guided the boat toward a mud shoal near the shore. Before we got to it, the skeg hit bottom and the boat dragged to a stop. We got out and took the rake and clam basket onto the shoal and began raking in the hard mud. It was pretty tiring work, nothing as easy as my friend had told me-I was anticipating the rake gliding through the mud as I threw down a cold beer. Hell this was as bad a weeding a damn garden. We clinked up a couple of small cherrystone clams but the yield did not match the effort. Shortly the tide came in and covered the shoal and I thought our clamming window had passed. The boat had drifted into some deeper water-2 feet-and was now a couple hundred feet away. Dejected we sloggged throught the water toward the boat, the rake dragged behind us. I noticed that when the water covered the mud flat, the rake was easily pulled because the mud was softer. Not a couple minutes later the rake hit a large hard object-not the tell-tale "clink" that the books speak of but more like a garden hoe hitting a boulder. I dug the rake in behind it, scooped it up, turned the basket over to wash away the mud and feasted my eyes on the largest clam I had ever seen-the thing weighed about 10 ounces and was as big as a softball- a chowder clam of immense proportions.
That beast was followed shortly by another and another. We would hit one with the rake and at the same time feel one beneath our feet. The best depth was about a foot of water. I gave Jane the rake and she filled her pockets until her pants almost fell off. I crawled around on my hands and knees in the soft mud using my hands and feet and shins to locate more clams. They were everywhere and we filled a laundry basket with them. It was so addicting we had to force ourselves to stop. Those clams were steamed, fried, made into chowders and clams casino and the rest were frozen.
It has become a favorite way to entertain our friends that visit. There is little that can top digging your own dinner with hands or rakes in the solitude of the salt marsh. I went out this evening to recapture that magic-they're still out there except for the ones shown below that ended up in the bucket. Not bad for 30 minutes of "work."

Ready for the freezer Posted by Hello

Bucket o' clams Posted by Hello

The "weapons" for clamming-custom rake and beer Posted by Hello

Low tide in the Newport River Posted by Hello

First pass around the boat-Bingo! Posted by Hello

These were raked from just around the boat in a matter of minutes Posted by Hello

Chowder clams-These had been frozen since last September and are easily opened by soaking them in hot water Posted by Hello

Chowder clam opended up Posted by Hello

Clams after draining and reserving juice Posted by Hello