Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Now for the foxes

Taking out the trash late last night I spotted a fox making its way down 27th Street past our house. He seemed quite relaxed, trotting back and forth across the street, pausing at bush or tree for a considered sniff, and (probably) keeping an eye out for a late-night cat- (or rat-) snack.

Quite strangely (again, I was taking out the trash), I had my camera with me, so I trailed after him for a minute. But it was dark, obviously, and he wouldn't let me get close enough for a flash shot.

Not the first time I've seen a fox in the neighborhood (both, I think, were red foxes), and while these ain't exactly the mean streets, they're certainly the highly irritable streets of the Big City. To see such a stereotypically woodland creature looking to "score" around here is strange.


Insert hastily googled factoids here

But it turns out that red foxes are fairly common in Denver. In fact, I found a whole page on them at the magical Denver.gov site. Outstanding quote:

What to do for foxes teasing the dogs:

Keep the dog in the house or in the garage at night and early in the morning for a few days. The fox will lose interest and stop coming around. Foxes seem to have quite a sense of humor. They seem to enjoy watching the dog running back and forth and barking.

They're not the only ones. (That's Billy Bob being tortured, of course).

And I actually got a picture of a red fox out on the town once, across the street from Sloan's Lake Park a little west of here:



He was a big healthy looking bugger, too. Beautiful.
Must be the all-Canada Goose diet at Sloan's Lake.


More animals in strange places

Like the bear cub found sleeping under the roller coaster at Lakeside Amusement Park a few years ago. That's in this part of town too. Now, even though I distinctly remember reading about it, I couldn't find the incident mentioned in either the Rocky Mountain News or the Denver Post. No, where I finally found it, logically enough, was in the completely sane Dave Althoff, Jr.'s utterly unobsessive Roller Coaster Almanac. Between entries like

January 3--1984: A woman was killed when she fell from the {Matterhorn Bobsleds} roller coaster at Disneyland.

March 30--1999: Press day for {Apollo's Chariot,} new Speed Coaster from Bolliger & Mabillard, at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia. During the ceremonial first ride, a celebrity rider, male model Fabio, is struck in the face by an errant bird. Fabio was not seriously hurt; the bird may have been killed.

and

November 19--1867: United States Patent #70,985, "Rotary Swing," granted to Isaac N. Forrester. This is the earliest patent for a vertical pleasure wheel (Ferris wheel).

there it was:
September 3--2001: A bear cub was found sleeping under the roller coaster at Lakeside Park, Denver, Colorado.
Thanks, sane and unobsessed Dave!

Update: "Vertical pleasure wheel?"

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Ten Nights in a Bar-Room II: The Drunkening

Actually, just a selection of pics 'n' links to TNIABR-related stuff. Even in this soul-draining septic tank of a blog you gotta feed the algae* every once in a while, but it's XXX-mas night for me and the Drunkawife, if you know what I mean (and if you do, please e-mail and explain it to me), so this is gonna have to do for tonight:

A colorful cover from a 2000 reissue by Applewood Books (at Amazon).

A still from a 1926 all-black version shown in a "Race Films Series" at the University of Chicago in 2001:


The stars of many of these films seem a little, um, pale, don't they? Was this usual in early African American stuff?

UC program notes:

This film, based on a popular temperance play performed in black communities, features two of the leading black stage actors of the day: Lawrence Chenault as a shady bar room proprietor and Charles Gilpin as a drunkard. The production company, the Colored Players Film Corporation, was founded in 1926 by white producer David Starkman, who produced popular melodramas about black families and communities. Ten Nights enjoyed the longest continuous run of any race film in the silent era: four weeks at New York City’s Grant Theatre.
Of course, it wasn't popular only in black communities. Here's the cast of an 1896 stage production, from the "Yancey [County, NC] Visions" page:


Whiter whites: "Players in 'Ten Nights In A Bar Room' given in Burnsville around 1896. Reading [left to right] Back Row: Charlie Ray, Julia Ray Silvers, Gaither Parker, George Lewis Riddle, Prof. E. E. Hawkins, Little Ray Chase, Sol Evans. Center Row: E. Frank Watson, Cora Ray Watson, Bert Austin Smith. Seated on the Ground: Oscar Lewis, Fred Ray, J. Bis Ray, Dora Lewis Anglin, John Lyon, Ida Lewis Letterman."

Here's a comedic version from 1920 called Ten Nights Without a Barroom (get it?), starring the apparently ubiquitous Tom Kennedy. Can't tell if it's available anywhere.

Finally, here's a review of the 1931 version starring the equally ubiquitous William Farnum. This version is out on VHS and can be ordered here (scroll down; third from bottom).

*the word "algae" does not refer to most Drunkablog readers.

(Credit: Here's the Yancey County, North Carolina home page.)

Update: Talk about your ubiquitouities, Slim Summerville, second-billed in Ten Nights Without a Barroom, got around a good bit himself.

Update II: Drunkawife says, "you get me vastebosket for Creesmoose. You think you getting some deesgusting XXX-mas from me? It is to loff."

Update III: It wasn't a wastebasket, goddamnit, it was a solid waste storage facility, extra small.

Merry Christmas!


Or else.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The company he keeps

Lisa Jones at RockyWatch has been subjected to repeated slanders and scurrilous attacks by the anonymous Ward Churchill defender "John Moredock" at his Try-Works blog. Now Jones challenges Churchill to repudiate Moredock and his mentally disturbed sycophants. I doubt it'll happen, but you'd think even Ward "Little Eichmanns" Churchill could figure out that Try-Works can only add to his disrepute and speed his final degradation. What scumbags the man draws around him.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Another thrift store valuables case

I'll get it out of my system. Another DAV too, this one at Colfax and Chase. The case itself is beautiful, and was probably looted from some museum:


Note numbers at top of case.



Museum quality: belt buckles; doll haid.



Stop staring at me.



Whoobooboobooboo! Boink! Spread out, you lunkheads!

Forgot to check prices. Too much, probably.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A little song, a little dance . . .

During the Christmas season Americans of all faiths and creeds are required to gather 'round the piano and sing the songs of World War I.

Okay, okay, bad intro, but only because it's not true. Listen anyway to "America, Here's My Boy"and, for diversity's sake, "Don't Take My Darling Boy Away."


Mothers have always been strange, but in the early 20th century they had to wear a funny uniform too.




Notice what these songs have in common? They stink.

So do a lot of WW II songs ("Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition" comes to mind). And let's just skip Korea and Vietnam.


What's your point, chucklehead?

Well, just that in a weak genre, the worst song ever has to be Keith Toby's (sorry, Toby Keith's) Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue. It's just embarrassing, and that's even compared to the North Korean stuff, on which I've become something of an involuntary expert.

Holding this opinion reveals me as an out-and-out communist, of course, but I'm a communist who recognizes bad music when he hears it.


Interesting facts and figures

The music to "Don't Take My Darling Boy Away" is by Albert Von Tilzer. Coincidentally I have my grandmother's sheet music to another Von Tilzer tune, "The Alcoholic Blues":


Scroll down a few songs here to listen.

Von Tilzer also wrote the music to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

(Credit: The sheet music covers and the recording of "The Alcoholic Blues" are from Parlorsongs, a very neat site.)

Update: Music starts blaring immediately when you hit some of these links, I forget which ones. (Gotta work on my "not work-safe" warnings.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Real Nice

This was in the Daily Telegraph Monday:

NHS may not treat smokers, drinkers or obese

People who are grossly overweight, who smoke heavily or drink excessively could be denied surgery or drugs following a decision by a Government agency yesterday.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which advises on the clinical and cost effectiveness of treatments for the NHS, said that in some cases the "self-inflicted" nature of an illness should be taken into account.

People who are grossly overweight, who smoke heavily or drink excessively could be denied surgery or drugs following a decision by a Government agency yesterday.

The Nice. Creepy. And even creepier when you remember that the "N.I.C.E." was the space demon-controlled "National Institute for Co-ordinated Experiments" in C.S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength. Philip E. Johnson recalled in 2000 that Lewis's N.I.C.E was
empowered to solve all sorts of social and genetic problems without being bothered by "red tape." Mark and Jane Studdock are a young childless academic couple at Bracton College, whose faculty’s Progressive Element is willing to sell its woods and its soul to entice the NICE. Mark and Jane’s marriage is unhappy because, like most modern people, they see marriage as a contract for mutual advantage rather than as a sacred union. Mark’s consuming desire doesn’t even involve Jane. He wants to be a big shot, a member of the "inner ring" first at his college and then at the NICE. He gets his chance because he is good at writing propaganda.

The NICE turns out to be demonic in inspiration, and intends to impose upon England a regime of ruthless social engineering that Joseph Stalin would have admired. The apparent "Head" at the NICE’s mansion at Belbury is the head of a guillotined murderer, kept alive with advanced life support systems, but this gruesome object is merely the conduit for orders from the dark powers. Belbury’s human leaders recruit and flatter Mark, but the human resource they really want is Jane. She is a seer, whose visions involve the return to life of the magician Merlin, long entombed under Bracton Wood. If Belbury can unite its materialist magic with Merlin’s old–fashioned kind, it can achieve its dream of freeing the mind from messy organic life. "In us organic life has produced Mind. It has done its work. After that we want no more of it."

But Johnson misses the satire of bureacracy in Lewis's N.I.C.E., which culminates in the N.I.C.E.'s board of directors, already panicked by Merlin putting the Curse of Babel on them, being trampled and eaten by enraged zoo animals. It's great. It's even funny; as funny as the NHS's Nice, anyway.

Update: Yes, there was also The Nice, who were pretty scary, too.

(via Taranto)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Holiday cheer

Top floor right of this building was my first apartment after leaving the old homestead. I was so young the girlfriend I lived with was actually, you know, a "girl":



The place was kind of unbelievable. About 900 square feet, seven-foot bowfront windows, huge kitchen, 12-foot-high ceilings, a fireplace that (since it didn't work) seated three comfortably. The walls were 18 inches thick and the windowsills were perfect for sitting. And doing drugs. And drinking heavily. And tapdancing. And yelling at the cops. And watching the world go by, such as it does in Lincoln, Illinois. Rent: $180, including utilities.

That was long, long ago, and Lincoln's explosive growth in the ensuing years means the place probably goes for at least $190 now.

Lincoln, Illinois, by the way, is the only town named for often-honest Abe before he became president (hit the link for "The Lincoln Watermelon Christening Monument," if you dare).

But here's something really eerie. For some reason, my mother saved this card from a dental appointment she had as a girl in the 1920s:



"Second Floor, Suite 9" is my apartment. My mother had her teeth worked on in my apartment almost 60 years before I lived there.

Believe it or not.



Update: A professor, noticing my address, once wrote on a paper, "Who would want to Kick-A-Poo? Cer-tain-ly not me. Would you?" Don't tell Vern Bellecourt.

Update II: Sorry about the "Holiday cheer" heading. This post had absolutely nothing to either engender or sustain cheer of any sort, so I'll spread some around now with two Christmas Jokes My Father Told Me:

1. "Everybody was feeling Merry. So she left."

2. "Everybody was laying Holly on the mantelpiece. So she left."

Update III: Don't be raggin' on my daddy.

Update IV: Holiday cheer, my ass.

Quote of the Day

"I like a gay cowboy movie as well as the next chap--as well as the next chap in chaps, in fact."

--Mark Steyn just now on Hugh Hewitt, musing on the relative importance the MSM places on the two top stories today--the other being, of course, the Iraq elections.

Update: Quote changed because I listened a little better the second time Hugh played the interview.

Update II: Here's the transcript. Steyn was quite joyously combustive overall (via Instapundit).

Westword plays catch up

Westword's "The Message" this week finally carries an item on the brouhaha between the Rocky Mountain News and the Colorado American Indian Movement, this one caused by Rocky editorial page editor Vince Carroll's November 18 piece on the death of Native American scholar Vine Deloria. "The Message's" Michael Roberts isn't specific about what Carroll said in the piece about (in Carroll's words) "the wacky nature of some of [Deloria's] views," but Carroll, while acknowledging Deloria's "sense of humor" and "influential" work, wrote that,
in Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact (1996), Deloria rejected the Bering land bridge theory of prehistoric migration to the Western Hemisphere since he believed Indians existed here "at the beginning" - probably as contemporaries of dinosaurs. And this bizarre claim only hints at his contempt for much science.
Colorado AIM didn't like that a'tall, of course, as pointed out at the time by Pirate Ballerina (who later added examples of Deloria's wackiness), and they particularly didn't like the fact that Carroll's piece was published on the day of Deloria's funeral. The predictable series of demands followed (Carroll fired, Rocky apologize, establishment of a monthly column "to publicize indigenous perspectives on topical issues of importance," and another apology for the Rocky's role in "inciting and celebrating" the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864), and when these, inexplicably, weren't met, the predictable lackluster protest took place, this one in front of the Rocky's offices (which, also predictably, the Rocky didn't report).

Roberts adds nothing new to the story, but at least closes with a promise of further conflict:
With the Rocky unwilling to talk, Colorado AIM-ers met earlier this month to mull over what to do next about l'affaire Deloria. A boycott was among the actions on the table, but in the end, they took a more mysterious path. Spokeswoman Carol Berry says, "We plan to make the racist policies of the newspaper clear throughout Indian country."
But why only in "Indian country?" Don't the rest of us get to be in on the fun? Sounds a little racist to me.

(via, of all places, Romenesko)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Permission and critique

In two spam subject lines. The first, from Rosella Nielson (dear Rosella!) urges what I already intend: "Do fill of murder"; the second, from the exotic Alexandra Ramey, offers some literary criticism: "Proust, it's purina in ellipsis." Too feckin' true, Alex. Time to go "do fill."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hot stove league

Blogging is kind of like baseball--one day you make the highlight reel, the next someone likens your head to a bowling ball with ears.

Only there's no highlight reel in blogging.


Let's talk baseball!

Oh, we already are. Here's an interesting fact or figure: I saw man-mountain Joey Meyer hit a 582-foot home run at Mile High Stadium (sixth graf). This was when Joey played for the gayly named Denver Zephyrs, the Triple-A (minor-league) baseball team Denver had before getting the "major league" Colorado Rockies.

I also, now that I think about it, saw the most incredible game in the freakin' history of baseball. Sorry, but I did. Difficult to find an account of it, but here it is in a history of the Buffalo (NY) Bisons (another triple-A team):

On the field (in 1991), with Terry Collins at the helm for the third straight year, the Bisons not only won their first Eastern Division title, set another minor league attendance mark of 1,240,951, but also, in the fourth game of the playoffs against Denver, staged the most dramatic last ditch rally in the history of Buffalo baseball, only to come up a run short. In the final series, after winning the first two games at home, the Bisons needed just one win in three games at Denver to win the title. In the first game at Mile High Stadium, they were beaten, 8-3.

In the next game they were shutout for eight innings without a hit and went into the top of the ninth facing a 9-0 deficit. Suddenly coming to life, the Bisons scored six runs and had the bases full with two outs. Late-season hitting star Greg Tubbs then lined a double to left. Runs seven and eight scored easily and it seemed certain that speedy Greg Edge would score from first with the tying run. But a brilliant relay by the Zephyrs nipped him at the plate, at least in the opinion of umpire Scott Potter. The Bisons did not agree.

The Zephyrs went on to win the third game for the triple-A championship. But to this day only one home-team pitcher has thrown a no-hitter in Denver--the legendary Ryne Duren in 1957:

Despite Duren's reputation and live arm, the powerful Yankees already had a well-stocked rotation and sent him to Triple-A Denver to gain more experience.

"I kind of objected to that," he said. "I thought I was pitching real well and (K.C. manager) Lou Boudreau said I was probably the best pitcher on his staff, and that he didn't have anything to do with the trade."

However, Yankee executive Larry MacPhail told Duren, "Just go down there, get your feet on the ground and we'll have you right up."

"I went down there and my very first start I threw a no-hitter, and it's the only one by a home-team pitcher in the history of professional baseball in Denver," Duren said.

Update: When Denver got the Rockies, the Zephyrs, God bless 'em, moved to New Orleans.

Update II: There's all kind of lying out there about the distances home runs have allegedly traveled, and since Meyer's was interrupted by a seat in the upper deck of (70,000-seat) Mile High, its distance is probably only an estimate.

Update III: Here's a brief history of Mile High. What doesn't kill you, dear reader, only makes you stronger.

Update IV: The "bowling ball with ears" article avoids mentioning why Bill Lee was called "Spaceman," but it was for his rather militant use of pot, mescaline, amphetamines, etc., in the 60s. This article discusses that, as well as the inspiring story of "Dock" Ellis, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who threw a no-hitter while (as the young folks say) "tripping his brains out" on LSD. Money quote: "The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes; sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't."

Who's lamer, Churchill or the Rocky?

The RMN continues its pathetic attempt to be hip by mangling tried and true blog formulas:

"Caption this! This feature showcases quirky, amusing and newsworthy from Colorado [sic] and around the world. We've given you the real captions. Now it's your turn to write your own. Don't be too mean! We reserve the right to remove submissions. :)"

Apparently nobody is exercising that right on today's picture:

"University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, in sunglasses, stands out among the crowd that turned out in protest of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's decision not to interfere with the execution of Stanley Tookie Williams. (Maria J. Ávila © News) [RMN caption]"


The wittiest caption? "Here Cancer, Here Cancer." Way to vet those submissions, Rocky!

Update: The toxic team of Churchill acolytes at Try-Works weighs in on the photo. Moredock (blech): "But [Churchill's] got the best line on Schwarzenegger and Stanley "Tookie" Williams yet: 'He's signing off the life and death of a man he's not fit to lick the boots of.'"

Wicked Witch: "Churchill applauds at the announcement that brownshirt, neo-con, racist, chickenhawks have finally agreed to enlist with the u.s. army and take a bullet for their draft-dodging, imperialist, pResident [all illiteracies sic]- George Bush."

So what the hell did Churchill say, anyway? Moredock's (blech) quote says "signing off . . . lick the boots of," while Channel 4 renders it, "Residing like God over life and death of a man....he's not fit to lick the boots off," and Pirate Ballerina has it as "'[Pr]esiding like God over life and death of a man....he's not fit to lick the boots off.'" PB has the first half right, Moredock (blech) the second, is my guess.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Fun feature may not have furture

Exclusive pictures of the valuables cases at a Denver thrift store. Sorry how lousy the pics are, but I didn't feel like explaining to a suspicious thift store employee why I was photographing his (double-locked) "valuables." He'd have been sure I was casing the joint for a heist.

This is the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) store on Alameda.




Never noticed 'til I took this picture that the DAV has its own flag.

Anyway, here's valuables case number one:

Great gifts for all the drunks and losers on your Christmas list.


And in case number two, fine watches with price tags stapled to them.

Then there was this. The price tag on the bling (below, lower left) says "$449.00," which is the highest price I've ever seen for anything at a thrift store; even the DAV's refurbished computers don't cost that much.


But look up in the opposite corner there. That, if I know my extruded-plastic WW II fighter planes, is the legendary P-51 Mustang. I wanted to buy it, but it had no price tag yet was ensconsed with the $449.00 necklace. Way out of my league.

Update: That's "future."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ten Nights in a Bar-Room

Yes, the (once-) famous temperance novel (1854) by T.S. Arthur.

Our anonymous narrator is making his first foray into the "Sickle and Sheaf" tavern in Cedarville, meeting the characters whose rum-fueled trajectories he will trace over subsequent visits:

And Judge Lyman, was he a man of principle? One with whom it was safe to trust a youth like Willie Hammond?

While I mused thus, the bar-room door opened, and a man past the prime of life, with a somewhat florid face, which gave a strong relief to the hair that, suffered to grow freely, was pushed back, and lay in heavy masses on his coat collar, entered with a hasty step. He was almost venerable in appearance; yet, there was in his dark, quick eyes the brightness of unquenched loves, the fires of which were kindled at the altar of selfishness and sensuality. This I saw at a glance. There was a look of concern on his face, as he threw his eyes around the bar-room; and he seemed disappointed, I thought, at finding it empty.


The novel became a stage hit, and the song Come Home, Father jerked tears from the eyes of millions.

Update: "unquenched loves" link not work-safe.

Update II: A reader informs me that the "not work-safe" warning should come before the potentially embarrassing link. Well, how was I supposed to know? I'm a "clean" blogger, thank you very much.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Shifty-eyed Nips attack Pearl Harbor!

I became a blogger largely so I could title a Pearl Harbor anniversary post, "Shifty-eyed Nips attack Pearl Harbor!" without being called a racist (yes I know I'll be called a racist).


Hiss-toe-ree

When I was a kid the Arlee Theater ran the 1943 serial, The Batman. It was the first film version of the comic and, as the wiki points out, it was quite amazingly racist. "Shifty-eyed Nips" was the phrase that happened to stick with me, but it was not the only, nor even the most offensive, ethnic slur used in this garbage cliffhanger.

As the wiki also notes, a bowdlerized version of the serial was released for home video. Why? The Batman stinks, and there's absolutely no reason to watch it except to marvel at (and feel superior to) its exuberant racism. It's fun and edifying.

That's why it's always a bad idea to edit for present-day sensibilities, whether it's Huckleberry Finn or Radar Men from the Moon (offensive, of course, to Radar Men wherever the hell they're from). Wisely, therefore, the DVD of The Batman, released just this past October, is unedited.


Please don't drag in old-time radio.

Radio historian John Dunning (who is also author of a best-selling series about a sleuthing antiquarian) used to have five hours every weekend on Denver's KNUS to play his huge collection of old-time radio shows. As an honest historian, of course, Dunning would rather have cut off his arm than cut anything from, say, a Jack Benny program. Also like a good historian, he was apt to call attention to historically interesting aspects of the programs he played, including, naturally, incidents (fewer than you might think) of racism.

In fact, the only concession to modern sensibilities (and the FCC) Dunning ever made was to mention when a program had cigarette commercials (and they all did). "As always, the surgeon general says smoking will kill you dead as a mackerel," he might say, "and the Lucky Strike commercials are included solely for purposes of historical accuracy."

Jack Benny's pretty good too.

Cartoon time

Check out the left panel, from Kenny Be's looonnnnnnnng-running "Worst Case Scenarios" in Westword today:


Not very funny: But Be's batting .500.

Everything's OK now

And better late tha--ah, fuck it: CU fires Barnett. Apparently it was all about on-the-field problems:
Colorado's poor finish was the breaking point, the source said. A month ago, Barnett was on solid footing in his search for a contract extension. Consecutive losses to Iowa State, Nebraska and Texas by a combined score of 130-22 placed a large amount of doubt on whether an extension would still be offered.
Via Pirate Ballerina, who by the way extends this plaintive plea:

Call us cock-eyed optimists, but we're unconvinced that the whole story behind associate professor William Bradford's resignation has been told. If you have any information about Professor Bradford's military service, his work at Indiana University, or what might have precipitated his abrupt resignation, email us. Confidentiality will be respected.

Update: Witness tampering? What's next? Digging up Folsom Field to look for bodies?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Goo-goo-googely eyes

Google Earth is so cool. You must get it at once. But be warned: you'll spend the next few hours looking at your house, your office, the park down the street, the corner 7-11 and your favorite vacation spot (one and the same in my case), in an amazingly clear series of photos taken from outer space. Well, from space anyway.

But cool as Google Earth is, it was our current houseguest, in what the Drunkablog officially considers a Christmas miracle, who showed us just how this technological marvel can connect people in new and meaningful ways.

I need to say here that until recently this guy was living on the streets of a very far-northern city. He'd had a girlfriend of sorts but, like anyone would, she got sick of his drunken bullshit and threw him out. So he lived wherever and yada-yada and now he's here for a while.

Anyway, when I showed him the wonders of Google Earth, he immediately google-earthed that far-northern city he'd just left:

"Okay, here's the football field, so . . . here's where my [ex] girlfriend lives. Oh man! There's her '86 Toyota out in the parking lot! What a piece of shit! Did I tell you how I totaled it [yes--ed.]?

"And there's the steel stairs I fell down that time. Did I tell you how I fell down those stairs [yes--ed.]? And see that little alcove? One time I passed out right there and when I came to there was a kitten snuggled up to me! Did I tell you about that [uh, no--ed.]? And there's the shelter! And the van they take you to detox in! And there's the alley I got mugged in!"

You get the idea. We didn't really connect in new and meaningful ways. He just told me part of his "drunkalog''--which overall is not as elegant as Susan Cheever's, I'm sure, but is just as meaningful. I think. And it was almost like he told me it from space!

Okay, so here's the Christmas miracle part: our guest has been sober for 11 days and already has a job. Amazing. On the other hand, in such circumstances one must always keep in mind Pap Finn:

When [Pap] got out [of jail] the new judge said he was a-going to make a man of him. So he took him to his own house, and dressed him up clean and nice, and had him to breakfast and dinner and supper with the family, and was just old pie to him, so to speak. And after supper he talked to him about temperance and such things till the old man cried, and said he'd been a fool, and fooled away his life; but now he was a-going to turn over a new leaf and be a man nobody wouldn't be ashamed of, and he hoped the judge would help him and not look down on him. The judge said he could hug him for them words; so he cried, and his wife she cried again; pap said he'd been a man that had always been misunderstood before, and the judge said he believed it. The old man said that what a man wanted that was down was sympathy, and the judge said it was so; so they cried again. And when it was bedtime the old man rose up and held out his hand, and says:

"Look at it, gentlemen and ladies all; take a-hold of it; shake it. There's a hand that was the hand of a hog; but it ain't so no more; it's the hand of a man that's started in on a new life, and'll die before he'll go back. You mark them words -- don't forget I said them. It's a clean hand now; shake it -- don't be afeard."

So they shook it, one after the other, all around, and cried. The judge's wife she kissed it. Then the old man he signed a pledge -- made his mark. The judge said it was the holiest time on record, or something like that. Then they tucked the old man into a beauti- ful room, which was the spare room, and in the night some time he got powerful thirsty and clumb out on to the porch-roof and slid down a stanchion and traded his new coat for a jug of forty-rod, and clumb back again and had a good old time; and towards daylight he crawled out again, drunk as a fiddler, and rolled off the porch and broke his left arm in two places, and was most froze to death when somebody found him after sun-up. And when they come to look at that spare room they had to take soundings before they could navigate it.

The judge he felt kind of sore. He said he reckoned a body could reform the old man with a shotgun, maybe, but he didn't know no other way.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

70-3

If the D-bog's aluminum-riddled brain could focus long enough to hate, it would probably hate the University of Colorado. That's why it (my brain) told me to hoist my tiny unathletic fist in the air when it (again, my brain) heard about CU's nationally televised humiliation by Texas in the Big 12 championship yesterday.

Seventy to three. Sev. En. Ee. to Th. Ree.

And yet this world-historical defeat (at least, to CU fans) hardly seems large enough to bear the weight of what it symbolizes.

Let's see. Was it Colorado's sex, drugs 'n' booze football recruiting scandal that came first? Or the multiple allegations of rape against the team, including from the first female Division I football player?

Or maybe it was CU coach Gary Barnett's timely and sensitive remarks on the subject?

Or the equally sensitive comments by CU president Betsy "Terms of Endearment" Hoffman, and her strange inability to fire the coach she "swore" by?

And that's only the stupid football team. We're not even up to the many and varied oddities of CU's handling of the Ward Churchill case. And we're not going into it tonight, either, for Christ's sake, or into the intellectual bankruptcy of an entire scholarly field the Churchill scandal revealed. Here's Pirate Ballerina. And here's the Crotchy's huge pile of stories. Go nuts.

Anyway, things are so bad at CU a caller to former CU quarterback (and Barnett defender) Charles Johnson's radio show yesterday suggested the team hire Churchill as coach. It's an idea. Ward probably wouldn't be any worse than Barnett (except for the smoking on the sidelines), and he might even be more truthful and less disgustingly sexist than Barnett turned out to be.

But probably not.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Granny caught some air

Twice recently, working very late, I've heard this guy on the radio who does fake interviews. Never caught his name, but he plays both the interviewer and -ee, and he's really good. The interviews proceed without any cues whatever that they're not with real people, and they just get stranger and stranger until you're wondering if you should call the radio station or maybe the police.

Last time I heard him, he was interviewing a "former NASCAR driver" who taught regular folks racing techniques so they could do things like "draft" behind 18-wheelers. Paraphrasing:

NASCAR driver: I even taught this wonderful 75-year-old woman how to draft in her Oldsmobile, and she couldn't stop talking about what fun it was.

Interviewer: Sir, this 75-year-old woman . . . Is this the grandmother who was killed when she missed a curve and became airborne while drafting behind a semi-trailer at 90 miles an hour?

NASCAR guy: Well, that's the only problem we've ever had. Safety comes first with us--

Interviewer: Sir, did a 75-year-old grandmother, using your driving techniques, burn to death when her car became airborne, crashed into a culvert, and exploded in flames? Did that happen?

NASCAR guy [meekly]: Yeah, Granny caught some air.

Interviewer [dripping scorn]: Granny caught some air.

NASCAR guy: Unfortunately.

[etc.]

Update: His name is Phil Henry. This site has some info, but there's surprisingly (to me, anyway) little out there about him.

Update II: As a reader going under the name "Walter" informs me, the guy's name is actually Phil Hendrie, and far from there not being much about him on the net, there's infinite tons, beginning with his own site, on which, in the tradition of radio guys everywhere, Hendrie modestly calls his show "the greatest show in the history of radio."

Thursday, December 01, 2005