Monday, January 31, 2005

Two-for-One Memes

Stolen from Georgina...

Choose a band/artist and answer only in song TITLES by that band: Jellyfish
Are you male or female: The Man I Used to Be
Describe yourself: The Glutton of Sympathy
How do some people feel about you: All is Forgiven
How do you feel about yourself: Brighter Day
Describe your ex girlfriend/boyfriend: Hush
Describe your current girlfriend/boyfriend: Always Be My Girl
Describe where you want to be: I Wanna Stay Home
Describe what you want to be: The King is Half Undressed
Describe how you live: Too Much, Too Little, Too Late
Describe how you love: Bedspring Kiss
Share a few words of wisdom: Bye Bye Bye

And just for fun, let's do this again with all Slayer song titles:

Are you male or female: The Antichrist
Describe yourself: Angel of Death
How do some people feel about you: Here Comes the Pain
How do you feel about yourself: I'm Gonna Be Your God
Describe your ex girlfriend/boyfriend: Necrophiliac
Describe your current girlfriend/boyfriend: Overt Enemy
Describe where you want to be: South of Heaven
Describe what you want to be: Tormentor
Describe how you live: Die by the Sword
Describe how you love: Perversions of Pain
Share a few words of wisdom: Evil Has No Boundaries

Let's Get Kinky

Kinky Friedman for Governor in '06. Hey, I'd take him over Rick Perry...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Boys Go Fishing

From the Gulf Coast Boy, Doug Briscoe:

The phone rang. It was 'bout 11:30am. My friend Bobby from Matagorda was calling to say that the fish were almost jumping in the boat over in the 'diversion channel'. That piece of water is an extension of the Colorado River as it extends into West Matagorda Bay.

He said if we wanted to fish there, I would need to bring my boat down because it was about a 10 mile trip to get there. Or we could just go out in his pontoon boat and fish around the Matagorda jetties or in the river. I opted for the jetties...I really didn't want to have to drag my boat 60 miles for an afternoon fishing trip.

As I started getting my stuff together, I decided if the fish were in the diversion channel, then that's where we should be fishing. So I got the boat ready and lit out hell bound for Matagorda.

When I got there, the fishing trip had included a third guy. That's pushing the limit of comfortable fishing in my 17' boat, so we went with the pontoon boat.

Now, I've fished a lot from that old's got a ton of room and 3 or 4 guys are not a crowd.

But almost every trip has resulted in a disaster narrowly averted.
Bobby always brings his old white Lab, Firecracker, along with us. Firecracker mostly sleeps.

Well, we loaded all our rods and tackle and bait and set off..

We got about a mile down river and the motor just quits..dead..I had the foresight to add my spare battery to the equipment list...but it did no good. We drifted up on a muddy bank. Cell phones are pretty useful, at times. The 3rd guy, Jimmy called his lady friend to come get us.

"Honey, we need you to come pick us up...the motor went out..."

Bobby and I waded the mud and waited for the ride back to his house to get another boat to pull the old pontoon back.

Now, we had 2 options...either drive to a boat ramp and unload my boat...or use Bobby's small 14' jon boat with a 2hp motor to drag the pontoon boat back...

Believe it or not, we opted for the 2hp jon boat...ya' see, the tide and the wind were in our favor and all we needed was to get it off the mud bank and into the river...tide and wind would get us home with just a bit of steerage from the small boat.

We came along side the old pontoon and lashed the small boat to it.
Bobby gunned it and the 'little motor that could' was actually making progress dragging that 24' boat off the mud...all was going well...
About then, the entire engine came off of the jon boat transom and did a 360 loop into the river...

So there we were...2 boats tied stuck on the mud with a dead motor...the other with a motor only connected to the boat by a fuel hose.

We retrieved the little motor by hauling in the gas line...

Cell phone time again....

"Uh, Honey, we need another ride..."

So Bobby and I waded ashore again. The ride came and we went to get my boat...

We drove to a nearby ramp to launch it. They charge $3.00 per launch..I asked Bobby if we needed to pay...He said, "Naw, I'm a local...the ramp fees are just for tourist."

I climbed into my boat and Bobby backed us down the ramp to launch it.

Soon as I had enough water I cranked the engine...I put it in reversed and backed off the trailer...or that was the plan...

I gunned movement...then it hit me...

With about all of the local marina folk watching, I had to wave to Bobby to pull me back out of the water so I could take off my 2 transom boat straps tied to the trailer...

We did eventually get launched and I pulled the two boats back home...

We even went across the river and caught a few fish...and if you can do that after the afternoon we had, then you just know fishing is in your blood!

Gulf Coast Boy


January 30--Happy birthday Dad!

How about Pop and his storytelling? I'd say that my love for the written word is based in no small part on Dad's way with a story.


It's a great Saturday night around here. The kids are in bed, I've got an iced Americano from Starbucks, Kelli's practicing her GRE exam, and I've got a good Paul McCartney compilation playing in the study (aka my Fortress of Solitude).

It's been a pretty good weekend so far. THEBOY and I attended about an hour of the Lone Star Classic Judo tourney this morning. We caught some kata competition and some kids going at it.

I'd seen this slick-looking little yellow belt warming up before his match. I watched him push a smaller kid around, and I wasn't too pleased for sure. Perfect gi, perfect hair, bad attitude... at age eight he was already acting like one of the bad guys in Karate Kid.

So he happened to be in one of the matches we saw. He squared off against this white belt. For those of you who don't know, a white belt is what you start with. It's what I have. I didn't see too many white belts there today.

Anyway, this little thug kept busting out all his fanciest stuff against the white belt. And Whitey kept his head in the match, watched for opportunities. He kept managing to interrupt the little thug's throws and send him to the mat with foot sweeps and basic trips. And what do you know--Whitey won the match handily.


Statistics was a beating, but not because the material was difficult; today we learned just how easy it is to sidetrack the professor and watch him do something meaningless for an hour. On the one hand, I'm glad it resulted in less homework. On the other, it only took 10 minutes for me to realize what he was doing (showing us formulas in an obscure spreadsheet program called Minitab) was pointless, so it became rather excruciating.


We got THEBOY a new drum set today, an electronic one. Seemed sturdier than the type he busted earlier this year. He was thrilled, and it was only $15 at the Big Lots store. It makes some crazy sounds for sure. I think he's perfectly ready to tour with Yes and play "Owner of a Lonely Heart" for the encore.


Let me just say, for the record, that the most consistently good drummers I hear are in banda and conjunto music. This is Mexican stuff, in case you didn't know. I was out a while ago and had the radio tuned to 94.1. On Saturday nights they bust out the liveliest banda stuff. You'd know it if you heard it: tuba instead of bass, lots of horns, accordion,a polka beat... honestly, it's a hoot. Conjunto is more like an electric band with a bass, but it also has an accordion and perhaps a bajo sexto (a guitar-like instrument with a lot of strings. Can't remember exactly how many). And they have the craziest syncopation sometimes, the toughest turnarounds, not to mention bizarre modulation (key changes).

And I know it's not that common for us crackers to pay much attention to music sung in a language most of us don't speak, but you know, you don't have to know much Spanish to get the gist of it. Here are some essential words/phrases to help you understand all the Spanish necessary to appreciate this music:

Corazon = heart
Alma = soul
Perdido = lost
Amor = love
Ella = she
Querida = dear
Gritando = crying
Flores = flowers
Besos = kisses
Morir = to die
Nada = no one
Cielo = heaven
Beber = to drink
Quitar = to leave (as in to leave a person)
Porque = why
Saltar en el rio y morir = to jump in the river and die

And so on and so forth. That'll pretty much get you through most banda or conjunto stuff, especially that's played on a Saturday night around these parts.

(I joke, but I really do respect what they're doing.)


The nutria story is coming soon. It's just too long to tack onto the end of this.


Have a good weekend.

Friday, January 28, 2005

I Believe the power of music

...that art should challenge us and obliterate boundaries the value of silence God, but not the one with the robe and the white beard... mine seems much more elusive... I'm still looking for Him

...that a good boss will let you take off early once in a while

...that not every meal is an event

...that blind faith comes too easily to the ignorant masses, and that this is a dangerous trait

...that you should read the bit about blind faith one more time

...that it's important to have the confidence to say "no"

...that addiction is not a disease. It is much more complicated than that the sanctity of marriage, and that we should cherish our partners

...that no one will ever hijack an airplane with a box cutter again using turn signals the healing power of watching my children sleep

...that big biceps are overrated

...that big breasts are too, and that implants for the sake of vanity are barbaric music that comes from an actual vibrating source, like a guitar string or a drum head, and not a "start" button

...that hip hugger jeans aren't flattering to the tush

...that evangelism is a haven for hysteria and unnecessary drama... these are the same kind of people who burned "witches"

...that every child breaks their parents' hearts at some point

...that celery has no place in a salad

...that "wind chill factor" is a useless description... comparing "45 degrees and windy" to "32 degrees and still" doesn't say anything useful... a cold windy day feels worse than a cold still day

...that celebrity is what you make it

...that cute is sexier than perfect

...that a nutria changed the course of my life


My Kitty

From Killing the Buddha. Warning: This is not light reading. Powerful though.

Dark Suits and Sunglasses

Started the day with a nice cup of whatever Starbucks had brewing and a cinnamon scone. Mmm... nothing like that double dose of sugar and caffeine to start a Friday...


May have a new entry from the Gulf Coast Boy (aka Dad) soon; seems his most recent fishing trip turned into a debacle of the greatest magnitude.

And I'd suggested that he write a story about the time a bad man in Brazoria County got the attention of the FBI, who enlisted Dad's help. I'm not kidding. But it turns out that some of the prominent players in that scenario are currently still in the public eye, and Dad doesn't feel that trotting out the details would be a good idea. Can't say I blame him.


And you know, the above-mentioned episode doesn't involve my step-great grandfather, who also got the attention of the FBI. This man was, from what I gather, something of a con artist. Got himself crossways with the gov't over $600,000 in income taxes and ended up in prison. It wasn't exactly maximum security, though, and on some sort of work or work-release program he simply opted one evening not to show back up. Next thing you know guys in dark suits and sunglasses are interviewing some of the family. But really, none of us ever saw him again.


I dreamed some relative of mine married rapper Ice T, and as some sort of gesture of gratitude he was trying to deposit $4mil in my bank account. I was all for it, but it drew a lot of attention, and our hopes of keeping the IRS unaware of it were shot.


Happy Friday. Go home and forget about your jobs tonight.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Not really sure what to make of this, but it's nicely written.


The latest from the infirmary: All are fairly healthy in the Briscoe abode, though THEGIRL is congested and sounds bad. She doesn't seem to care much, except for when she gets up in the mornings.

My toe doesn't bug me much as long as I keep it taped up. Everything else is in working order.


Finally got our March travel plans set for spring training. Erik Hood and I will be in Phoenix, heading out to Surprise to see the Rangers, and wherever else we can catch a game that fits our schedule. He's determined to see an Arizona State baseball game too, and heck, I'm up for anything. The plan is to just gorge ourselves on baseball for a few days (March 17-20). I'm not that big on autographs, but I've got a good photo I took of John Wetteland at the Rangers' camp in Florida back in 2000. I might ask him to sign that if I get a chance; the guy was the '96 World Series MVP after all.


I buckled. I bought the $102 Texas Instruments TI-83 graphing calculator, even though it was inches from the Casio I'd been seeking for days (at $27.98 even). But I just couldn't shake the image of that sales guy emphasizing to me how important it was to have the calculator the prof likes.

I didn't buy it at that guy's store though.

So I went home, started on some homework, and one problem called for the calculator. In the sidebar next to the problem was a set of instructions for how to figure the answer on a TI-83.


Might work parabolic mic Sunday afternoon for a local Arena Football League game. I did plenty of that last fall for the state high school playoffs. There were some big kids for sure, but I have to say that I really don't want to get mowed down by any AFL guys.


I'm out. Hang in there--Friday's almost here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Machinery of His Downfall...

As if I weren't already anxious enough about this statistics course... a scene from Office Max last night:

Me: "Hey, do you guys have the Casio graphing calculator? Your website shows that you sell it for about $40, which is a lot less than the $100 my statistics prof said I'd pay."

Clerk: "No sorry, we're out."

Me: "Dang... time to go with plan C, not that I know what plan C is at the moment..."

(Plan A had been to get it at Office Depot, where it's $34.98... and they were out too...)

Clerk: "Listen, man, take it from someone who failed statistics: Get the good calculator (the TI). You don't wanna be fighting your cheap calculator if you're struggling anyway. Makes it hard to keep up in class."

Me: "Oh, uh... okay."

Clerk: "What's your major?"

Me: "Well, I have to take this class for--"

Clerk: "Mine was psychology. Had to have that one class and just couldn't pass it."

(Our hero's heart races)

Me: "Um, okay, thanks."

So this guy was a psych major who may have had his whole career plan derailed because he couldn't pass the main class that stands between grad school and me. And now he's makin' $8 an hour at Office Max selling the very calculators which were part of the machinery of his downfall...

I don't know if he's aware of the irony, but I didn't need to hear that either way.


The problem with using one of those hand-held baskets in the grocery store is that, until I get any groceries in it, I walk along swinging the damn thing like I'm Little Red Riding Hood. I can't help it.


Saw a wreck happen on the freeway this morning. I heard a loud "bang" and looked over in the fast lane to see that a young woman in a Chevy Cavalier had had her hood fly open. The windshield was completely obscured, and she peered out the bottom gap to see what she could while slamming on her brakes and pulling to the shoulder.

The truck behind her did an admirable job of stopping in a hurry to avoid her, but the van behind him had no such luck. BANG! Instant black smoke. Bad way to start their respective days, I'm sure, but I don't think anyone was hurt. Still, scary at 70 mph.


Sleeping very well these days for some reason, not waking up at all. Problem is, it also means I'm sleeping right through the nighttime noises THEGIRL makes that wake up Kelli.


I interview with the Betty Ford Center in Irving this afternoon. I'm hoping to squeeze in some volunteer work there, mostly because it'd look good on a grad school application. I think it'd be good for me though.


20 days until pitchers and catchers report...

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Had one of those crazy dreams where I have to explain something to someone in Spanish. The kicker was that it was a joke, and I had to repeat it to President Bush in my better-than-average-but-still-not-fluent Spanish. I spent so much time trying to remember the word for ball, and finally did: pelota!

Wish I could remember the joke though.


Statistics looks pretty intimidating at this point. It's a really important class. I need to get this one done to have any chance of getting into grad school this fall. Well, I mean, I could take it later, but that's no advantage to me, unless repeating it would mean I'd absorb more. Numbers... ugh. Pretty intimidating. I have a really good mind for a lot of stuff, but I just do not get along with numbers.


Not a single comment on the Viking bit yesterday. Dang. I thought that was pretty funny.


And here's Launch playing "Love and Happiness" by Al Green. I saw Eric Johnson at La Zona Rosa once (one of dozens of times I saw him back in the day). The crowd was milling around, waiting for the headliner. The PA was playing just a bunch of forgettable whatever stuff. Suddenly this song came on, and every woman in the crowd started moving to the music. It was quite phenomenal. That moment is when I realized that Al Green wasn't just any singer.


New developments in the Carlos Delgado rhubarb: Jamey Newberg reports that his sources tell him that the Rangers offered four years and $48 mil, and when Delgado's agent said that wasn't enough the Rangers said more money would mean Delgado would have to agree to DH most of the time. Interesting.

Gil LeBreton had a good piece about all this in this morning's Startlegram.


Bought some Brazilian coffee for a great price at Sam's, and whaddya know--it's really quite good.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Conqueror

See, THIS is what happened to the Vikings. It's weather like this which basically made it impossible to procreate. I imagine the scene played out something like this:

Sven the Conqueror: "Man, I thought Magnus and his wench would never leave."
Mrs the Conqueror: "Take off that helmet and come over here you elk-slayer you."
StC: "Say, your feet are really cold tonight, my little muskrat hide."
Mrs tC: "Don't worry about that. They'll warm up."


Mrs tC: "What's the matter, o' razer of the outlands?"
StC: "Uh... it's little Sven... I don't think he likes it quite this... cold."


Mrs tC: "Oh, don't worry... I'm sure it happens to every Viking at some point..."


Several sources are reporting tonight that the Rangers have pulled out of the Carlos Delgado negotiations. Word has it his agent took Texas's offer and waved it under the Mets' noses. Tom Hicks made it quite clear that Friday's offer was their best, period.

Delgado's agent, David Sloane, is now grumbling about Texas only today clarifying that Delgado would be the designated hitter most of the time.

(Pause for both of my readers to yell "bullshit!")

Guys guys guys. Even if Texas didn't clarify until pressed what Delgado's role would be here, what the heck were he and his agent thinking? That Mark Teixeira would be the DH? Delgado's an okay first baseman defensively, but nothing more.

Here he could have put up of Hall of Fame numbers with our short right porch and the chance for him to DH so often. What a way to inflate one's numbers, you know?

He can go to the Mets. Shea Stadium, I'm told, is no hitter's paradise, especially for a lefty.

He can go to Florida. Not so great; they play in a football stadium that's also not geared for lefty power hitters. AND, they're feuding with the city of Miami; they could be playing in some as-yet-unknown venue in LAS VEGAS (I'm not making this up) in two years.

Or there's Baltimore. Another fine park for a stud lefty hitter, but shoot, that's the AL East, man. He can inflate his numbers while watching New York and Boston keep the Orioles out of the postseason year after year.

I'm not saying he's not Hall of Fame bound if he doesn't come to Texas. I'm just saying that there seems to be a genuine lack of smarts in the Delgado camp.

What this should probably make even clearer than ever for us is that it's all about the biggest contract, period.


Spoke to Dad tonight, and you know, I can't wait for him to get a chance to take THEBOY fishing. THEBOY brings it up almost every day ("Is Papa Briscoe gonna take me fishing today?"). In some ways THEBOY is more like my father than like me.


And Amanda got to spend a chunk of the weekend at a condo in Galveston. I hope she had a great time. I know she needed it. Heck, I need it too...


Started my statistics course Saturday. My God... it's... it's three hours of a guy blathering on about statistics every week. I think I can do it, but man, by the last 20 minutes my mind was in spring training.


Starting to put together plans to see the Rangers in spring training in March, in fact. Trying to nail down a yea or a nay from Henley on this. Hood and I are a given. Texas shares a facility with Kansas City in Surprise, Arizona. We'll be some serious baseball geeks, taking in as many games as we can.


Tuesday I think I'll wear my Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series Champs cap. Once Hood sees it, I may not actually live long enough to go to spring training.


Okay, enough rambling. Ya'll have a good week.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Interior Desecrations

Remember when houses were decorated like this? Boy I do.

Maybe it's just the combination of fading vertigo, benadryl and this grande iced Americano from Starbucks, but I giggled like a schoolgirl...

Now excuse me while I go squish some of the spiders I see coming out of the walls (borrowed from Bruiser--remember dude?)

Gripping the Walls

Eh, it's not as bad as all that, but I've been dizzy since Judo class Wednesday night. Just enough to be bothersome. There's a lot of rolling, flipping, tumbling, that sort of thing in Judo, and one move just started my internal gyroscope to wobblin'. I wish it would quit.

Seems like it's getting better very... slowly...


Yesterday the dizziness was bad enough to send me home a little early. Love the boss's response to me humbly requesting to leave 30 minutes early because I'd felt like crap all day:

"You usually leave at 6:30?"
"You can make up the :30 minutes next week, or take it off of your time card."

No "hope you feel better," no "hope you're not having an aneurysm," no "hey, it's just a half-hour and your work's all done--just scoot out." I'm 36, and I don't know when I'll leave the UTTERLY SOULLESS CONFINES OF BELO, but let me tell you, sometimes I feel like burning this bridge with an epic-length manifesto-type "go screw thyself" letter. This is the most stuffed-shirt bunch of assholes on the planet. We'll have our monthly staff meeting in early February, and I fully expect that we'll be chewed on a third time for the two minutes some of us (not me) spent at the window watching the snowfall during our one winter storm last month.

They seem to have no idea how many resumes are floated out of there on a weekly basis; if the job market didn't stink they'd be struggling to put butts in seats, let me tell you.

Do I seem a little angry? Maybe I should save the rest for my manifesto...


Let me clarify one thing, though: I think my boss is the best one there (and she doesn't read the blog as far as I know, so this isn't just brown-nosing). She's good. Thing is, she's loaded down with lots of projects (like a new station), and I'm currently not dealing with her directly much. I've got a team leader or some such that I report to mostly. I trained the person who trained her, and now she's my boss... sorry... save it for the manifesto...


THEBOY is better, thank God.


Randy Galloway, a fairly useless radio personality and hack Ft. Worth columnist, reports that Jim Reeves, a good Ft. Worth Columnist, is going to report tomorrow that he thinks the Rangers have Carlos Delgado locked up.

(Follow that?)

You know, I can't say the prospect of having his incredible left-handed bat in our lineup doesn't sound enticing. And hell, I'm not the one signing the paychecks... I just didn't think that splurging on pricey free agents was our approach these days. Didn't we learn anything from the Alex Rodriguez debacle?


Dad informs me that reading the blog is inspiring him to write more. Good!


Kelli continues to work out and drop weight. It's inspiring, I have to say. When that woman sets her mind to something WATCH OUT. She's lookin' finer than frog hair, let me tell you.


Mike Llorca is living those hazy early days as a father. Joshua is, what, two weeks old now? And I gather no one's getting much sleep. Ah, I remember those days. Sort of. But I'm thrilled for him and Denise, and I'm only chuckling a little when I say they'll get through it. It may seem like a long way off now, but babies do often start sleeping through the night at six weeks of age.


Be good--but not too good--and have a happy weekend. Good luck Michael.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Not So Good...

Bad morning. THEBOY had puked last night, but he slept well. He made a really valiant effort to eat breakfast this morning, even suggesting I put a barf bowl beside him at the breakfast table.

Then he lost it, all over his plate, the table, his pajamas, the chair, the floor.

And I lost my appetite.

Kelli is staying home to care for the poor kid. I can still hear him over the toilet last night, asking himself, "Why am I always sick?"

(***Update: As of noon today he began eating and drinking. At 1pm we spoke and he'd kept everything down and was clearly feeling better. Hope this one is done.***)


So I got on the train today and discovered that I'd left my wallet in the van. In my wallet are my rail pass and my money. This meant that I could be kicked off the train during a routine ticket check. I gather this procedure involves police and gets you a fine. Luckily they did not check tickets this morning. It was a nervous ride in nevertheless.

This also means that I have no money to get breakfast, lunch, or a one-way rail pass home. Well, I do now, since a coworker floated me a $10 loan.


How Not to Prepare for Judo Class

1. Eat a late lunch and nothing else prior to the 8pm class.

2. Go to an eatery you occasionally patronize only because they're walking distance from work (no one goes there because they like the food).

3. For that lunch, eat the biggest cheeseburger they make. Follow it with a large order of fries

The result: You will want to blow chunks before you've executed your first O-goshi.


But I did okay, just pacing myself, focusing, deciding I wasn't going to beat myself. Like I told the instructor, "My stamina left, and it didn't even leave me a note."

And I've re-aggravated the muscle strain in my side. Hey, do the same throw 50 times and you too might feel like your love handle is on fire. But you know, this isn't "Tiddlywinks for Creampuffs 101," is it? People all over class are taped up, discolored here and there, wincing, taking the occasional misplaced knee or awkward fall. God knows I'm brittle enough; I could stand to toughen up anyway.

We did an exercise where you lie down and one person pins you above the waist and the other holds your legs. Again, I was paired with two black belts. And you know, one time I got out of Thuy's kata gatame. I was proud of that.


A crime is being committed, folks. I know most of my friends have heard of Jellyfish, one of the greatest pure pop bands since, yes, the Beatles. Tight musicianship, stellar songwriting, and the vocals... I saw these guys do an in-store set in Austin many years back. I stood on a stairwell behind them, listening to their monitor mix. Their harmonies were perfect.

And the crime is that after they broke up, vocalist Andy Sturmer just sort of faded away. I mean, I know he's done some producing here and there, some music-related work that didn't result in a gleeful BB holding a shiny new CD at any point.

But some Jellyfish enthusiasts on the Jellylist have discovered that he's doing some music for cartoons like Teen Titans. Lo and behold, someone posted a sample. This man should be required by law to make more CDs, ya'll.


I'm taking off Friday. I've got a couple of things to do, like meet a grad counselor at Texas Wesleyan University. Gotta make sure I'm getting all my ducks in a row to get my fanny registered for the fall.


Better day to ya'll. And me.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Man in the Moon by Doug Briscoe

I've known for over 49 years, with a sure and certain knowledge, that there really is a Man in the Moon.

I watched the Moon landings back in 1969, but I knew they wouldn't see him.
He's there, all right, but you've got to know how to look for him. I learned to do this in 1954...

I was almost seven, and I'd sit on my Grandpa's lap out in the back yard, when the mosquitoes weren't too bad...

He had a big wooden chair...I think they call them Adirondack chairs now....that we would sit in together and look at that big yellow Moon thru his old binoculars...

When the clouds were cooperative, we could see that Old Man and marvel at how good he looked.....

I swear, sometimes he even winked at us...

When we got tired of looking at the Moon, Papa would tell me stories of his early days. He was from Indiana, and his boyhood was like reading Huck Finn...I never got tired of his tales..

As I grew older, Papa and I discovered many wonderful things together.
He was a great fisherman from the days when good fish were plentiful. But he was always ready for just the two of us to get a leaky old rowboat and go down some river and fish....his smile was as big as his heart when I'd catch one...

I loved every minute of it.

As I grew older still, Papa shared a bit more earthy knowledge with me...
He had an occasional taste for the spirits...saying he was a 'drinker' would stretch the point...but he did enjoy a drop or two of Old Hickory from time to time and he knew which end of a Pearl beer to open...

Our county was 'dry'....meaning no hard liquor could be we made a trip every so often to the county line.

Papa had a friend that owned a liquor store there....Oscar..

We always went there..they had been good friends for many years.
It was a small store, just a shack, really, out in the middle of nowhere..
I'd drink a Coke and they'd talk..

I liked going there...but then, I liked going anywhere with my Papa...

Oscar had a $.50 cent piece welded to a bolt thru his wooden floor....he got the greatest joy watching people drop something and try to discreetly pick up that old worn half dollar...

Papa also showed me what a 'cock fight' was...we went to a few down in the Brazos River bottoms....illegal, of course...exciting, maybe brutal..but the best life experience a boy could have...

I saw knife fights between men over some grudge or wager...

I tasted syrup made from sugar cane cooked in a long trough over a wood fire...

And I learned that respect among men is earned, not given...

I still have tha old pair of binoculars...the leather straps have fallen off long ago and you can hardly see thru them...

But, maybe someday, I can use them to show my grandsons how to look for that Old Man in the Moon...

The best place is out in the back a big wooden chair....

When the mosquitoes aren't too bad...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

What I Didn't Know...

...was that Debra Winger and Arliss Howard, who starred in and produced the movie version of Larry Brown's Big Bad Love, created the film specifically for ME.

What other explanation is there? Beautiful and artfully disjointed, sort of like if Charles Bukowski had written "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." How huge it was for me to see RL Burnside in a scene, tearing the joint down with his guitar. Or to see Brown himself, delivering a few lines in a bar (echoes of Buk in Barfly...).

Beautiful Southern imagery, colorful characters, and just a chance to breath deeply, to absorb a Larry Brown movie. It was a perfect fit for me, for right now, for this mindset. Yeah, I recommend it, but keep in mind it's MY movie...


...was that a fat gray field mouse lurked in a hole that rotted in the back patio cover. I cleared out a bunch of rotted wood and leaves, and there he was, cornered, clearly in a panic.

I had just enough time to look at him and think, Hey--it's a mouse! before he took a running jump out of the hole and into the air. From 10 feet above ground he leaped, and he went forward a good 10 feet too (the Texas judge gives it a 9.5--he gets docked half a point for brushing my sleeve). He had enough hang time that I could glance at the concrete below him and think, He's toast. And wouldn't you know, he hit that concrete and just kept running. It was incredible. I even went after him, convinced he'd only make it a few feet. Couldn't find him. Not sure how he survived that, even if he did crawl off somewhere and succumb to injuries.


...was that in my first three judo classes, I'd come away with two injuries. The broken/dislocated toe makes some things tough to do. And now I've pulled a muscle in my side that the chiropractor suggests will keep me out of class 10 days to two weeks. I'm not a judo student; I'm Juan Gonzalez (baseball fans will understand).


...was that Saturday night, during the very hour my buddy Danny Henley and I were in a Starbucks, comparing mother stories and opinions, Georgina's mother passed.

I'm really sorry it happened.

I love words, but it frustrates me that they fail me right now.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Gulf Coast Boy... The Community Years

The final installment in Dad's five-part autobiographical series.


It was 1993 or there ‘bouts. I had been a communication technician for the phone company for 23 years. I always worked in the Central Office…The hi-tech stuff and all that. I enjoyed the work, but my old friend Danny was getting involved in community affairs. By then, he had been involved in every aspect of local service and politics and thought I should maybe ‘expand’ a bit.

I began with the Chamber of Commerce. I co-chaired (with Danny) their golf tournament fund raiser for two years and then chaired it for two more. I also did a few committees and such. My wife became an ‘Ambassador’ for the ‘Chamber’…we were socializing in ‘high cotton’…

About then, my company’s External Affairs department took note of me. I was ‘one of their own’ and I was pretty well connected to the local business and political folk. Translation: Use him.

Now, bear in mind that all of this ‘community involvement’ stuff was voluntary and after hours. My paycheck still said ‘communications technician’ and I did all of this other stuff on my own time. I had a great boss who helped in any way he could, but my ‘day job’ always came first. I would change from work clothes into slacks and a dress shirt to run to a ‘Chamber Luncheon’ on my lunch break and be back in an hour…my co-workers watched the clock too.

After a while, the External Affairs manager I worked with started taking me to city council meetings and such. All of the External Affairs managers were registered state lobbyists. My education into politics had begun.

She had a large area with many small towns. But in company politics, there’s no such thing as a ‘small town’.

Once she asked me to come with her to a town meeting southwest of Houston. She had been there once before and became uneasy when they locked the door behind her. This time the Mayor was asking us why his town couldn’t be included in the main Houston area code. They were 60 miles away from Houston. She was baffled, being a political type and all, so I drew His Honor a rough map, showing him that the main Houston area code already had a prefix like his and it couldn’t be repeated. He didn’t understand the math and the meeting ended in a draw…at least they unlocked the door for us…

She once asked me to visit seven or eight small communities alone and present some proposal.

I don’t care how confident you are, city councils can be imposing. Maybe not as much as fighting a garbage truck worker in a beer joint, but you get the idea…

She was a pretty damn attractive woman. I’m sure in her line of work, that was an asset. We became pretty good friends, but nothing more. She spent a huge amount of her time and budget keeping one VIP politician happy. I once asked her if she would ‘sleep’ with him to get his vote on an issue.

She said “absolutely not!” She was lying out her ass, I knew it and she knew I knew it…who said politics can’t be fun?

One of the communities I ‘visited’ was a remote village that had suffered serious flooding about 6 months before. Their ‘town hall’ was a small trailer. As I waited in turn to present my issue, I listened to other citizen’s address the Council. One elderly lady wanted to know what they were going to do about the ‘damn raccoons’ that had invaded her trailer. That problem just didn’t seem to have a political solution…but one councilman offered to come by and ‘shoot a couple of them’. Now that’s service, folks. It went that way all evening…

At one point the Council was to vote on whether to pay the Police Chief overtime for his extended hours in the previous flood or not. They had a very small budget. About then the trailer door opened and the Police Chief himself came in. He didn’t say a thing…but he just found a chair and hiked one leg up on it and stared right at them from about 15 feet away…his very big pistola was jutting out prominently…and low and behold, the issue passed…. Democracy in action is sweet to see…

I presented my proposal soon after and they all agreed it was a good deal for the community. I didn’t even have to bring out my pistola.

But it was about time to get back to being just a civilian with a day job. I phased out of politics and that’s the same thing I could say about my whole life.

Well, that’s about it. I retired in 2000 and put everything in the stock market… Now There’s a good idea! Life has been a hoot, so far, but all of you have stories that are just as unique. You folks get to writing so your friends can be just as bored as you are reading about me.

In January, God willing, I’ll be 56. Party on, Dudes!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Gulf Coast Boy... The Biker Years

The fourth in a five-part series my father wrote.


It was 1986…I sold my boat and bought a Harley. I was 38 years old.

Actually, Danny and I were flounder fishing one day in a storm and I said I thought I would like to buy a motorcycle. He said “You too? I was just thinking about that same thing”.

I bought a Kawasaki and learned to ride. Danny had ridden dirt bikes years before and had almost lost his leg on one.

I was enjoying my new Japanese toy until Danny came by one day on a used Harley he had bought. I picked at him and said, “You’re gonna have to work on it every day and it will leak oil everywhere”.

He said, “Just get on it and ride down the road a few miles”. I did and I was hooked. There are motorcycles and then there are Harleys.

Soon after, I found a used bike, same model and year as Danny’s…except his was a cherry and mine was a wreck. But we had an ace in the hole.

Danny knew a guy named Steve who had a “Hog Shop’. He didn’t sell new Harleys but he knew everything there was and is to know about them. We started hanging out there. Steve and I became friends and he taught me how to work on my bike. Steve is one of those easy, laid back people who can back up everything he says and not be bragging. The hog shop wasn’t where your average yuppie Harley owner goes. His customers and friends might be a little rough, but I never met one that wasn’t good people. I had found a new home.

I loved my old bike. And riding it was great. My wife and I would just take off…she liked the roar of the pipes and the vibration and the thrill of it all. Often, she would wrap her legs around my waist and doze off as we tore down some road.

A big group of us made several trips to camp on the bank of the Guadalupe River in central Texas every November. I had to learn to pack a tent, sleeping bags, clothes, and food all on my Harley. And have room for one wife. (Plus a complete set of tools, of course). Sleeping on a steep bank on rocks got old real quick! But when we got there the party was on! We were all friends, but an occasional knife fight broke out or someone tried to slip off with someone else’s woman and there was a fist fight or some such stuff…you’ve got to expect that…

Once, I swear a woman just walked into our camp. She and her husband had a huge motor home parked across the campground from us. We were having a big party and she came over looking for some adventure. I guess she found it. After wiggling her ass in front of everyone and getting some of the guys pretty wound up, a couple of the biker girls took her aside and explained to her exactly what would happen if she didn’t leave…she got the message and left. All we ever saw of her husband was a flash of a curtain on the motor home…they were gone the next morning. Go figure.

On one trip, some of the guys decided to roast a whole pig over an open fire. Seemed like a good idea. The dug a fire pit, hung a rod over it and put the pig on the rod. We were there 3 days and all these guys did for those 3 days was turn that damn pig…and it was still half done…in the end, no one ate any of it...we were bikers, but we weren’t crazy about food poisoning….

We went to an “Easy Rider Magazine” rodeo in Austin one year. ‘Easy Rider’ is a great biker mag. Full of biker stuff, tattoos and half-dressed women. Good stuff like that….

Outside the convention area, a lot of vendors had set up shop. One that caught my eye was the ‘No Pierce Nipple Ring” stand. This guy and his lady were selling nipple rings that didn’t require any extra holes in the body. They had a whole set of Polaroid’s that showcased their stuff. But as soon as I asked about them, she was more than willing to show me the end product. She pulled up her tee-shirt and gave me a “hands on” view. Being a biker was very good.

The ‘Rodeo’ had many interesting events. One was the ‘weenie eating contest’.

A large sausage was suspended from a string…a biker would drive under it and his lady on the back would rise up and try to eat as much of it as she could in one pass under it. No hands could be used, the bike couldn’t stop and no one could touch the ground…Most sausage bit off was the winner…Now that’s a fun little game, isn’t it!

Back at the hog shop, we would hang out, bar-b-que and drink beer. If a ‘real’ customer came in with a flat or some minor repair, some of us would handle it. It was a small way to repay Steve for all he did for us.

None of us were ‘patch holders’. That’s someone that’s a member of a bona-fide MC club. Some clubs were outlaw and some were ‘fringe’. As I said, this wasn’t your ‘Harley Owners Group’.

One biker was a ‘pledge’ with the Viet Nam Vets MC. They look pretty rough, but aren’t ‘outlaw’.

He tried his best to recruit me. Not too many old Viet Nam vets riding around on ‘shovel heads’, even in the mid ‘80’s.

I passed on that…becoming a ‘patch holder’ was a lifetime commitment, and I was starting to rethink the whole biker life anyway. Actually, it was getting a little too damn comfortable. Beer, boobs and bikes…you could pour your testosterone out of your boots.

I think my final straw was when I was playing pool in some beer joint and a guy started giving the barmaid some lip. She was perfectly capable of handling him, but I felt an urge to step in. But before I did something stupid, I learned where this guy worked. I was about to pick a fight with a guy that I didn’t know who worked on a garbage truck. An honorable job, I’m sure, but I decided my biker career was getting out of hand.

So I sold my beloved old Harley, bought Dockers, a set of golf clubs, joined the Chamber of Commerce and became the oldest yuppie in town.

Evolution is weird, isn’t it? It was 1990. I was 42 years old.

End of part 4

You Throw Me, I Throw You...

Made it to Judo with no gi (it didn't drip-dry in time, dang it) and my broken toe. Neither hindered me much, because as it turns out, a black belt in judo can throw me just as well without my uniform...

And you know, they paired me up to train with these two black belts. Both about 5'5". One was fairly small, thankfully, but the other was 200 pounds. The guy is short, wide and strong. I'm six inches taller and 20 pounds lighter... makes it hard to execute my o-goshi.


School starts up again soon. I'll be taking a child development class via ITV, and a statistics course on Saturdays. Three hours of math once a week doesn't sound like fun, but I need the class.


THEBOY had his first dentist appointment this morning, and I'm told he was a champ. They did ask if he's taken some falls, because he has some little chips. Of course he has--he's a four-year-old!


Kelli's working out, eating better, losing weight... that's one pretty woman, ya'll.


This weekend Kelli and kids will go to Corsicana while I stay home to work on a couple of projects. I hope to finish cutting down the tree that has become Kelli's nemesis. I also hope to tear down the poorly-constructed, leaking patio cover in the back yard. I'll look to see if maybe repairing it is easier, but I have serious doubts about that.


Dad's postings have met with a positive response, and it looks like I'll have a couple more soon (besides the last two in the Gulf Coast Boy series). Cool.


Happy Thursday, ya'll.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Gulf Coast Boy... Young Man

This is the third in a five-part series.


In 1966 I married the girl I had courted with my egg farm wages. I was 18 years old.

Eleven days later, I left for the Navy. I had worked with my father for several summers as an electrician’s helper and wanted to do electrical work. Viet Nam was just getting started and I didn’t want to get drafted into the damn Army, so the Navy was it for me. Four years.

I hoped to become a Sea-Bee electrician in the Navy, doing construction. But the Sea-Bees were full and I thought I could be an electrician on a ship.

Growing up in Wild Peach, there wasn’t a lot to do at night. ‘Lawrence Welk’ and ‘Gunsmoke’ on Saturday nights was about as good as it got. But we had a set of 1953 World Book encyclopedias. I read and re-read them like dime novels. A thru Z. I absorbed a tremendous amount of obscure information. During my boot camp in the Navy, they tested us many times to see what we might be good at. The main test score was for “general knowledge”. Thanks to an old set of World Books, I almost aced it.

What I didn’t know was that the Navy automatically redirected recruits who scored well from ‘ship duty’ to aviation. I got my wish…after boot camp I was sent to Florida to train as an aviation electrician.

Planes…next to water, became my passion.

But this story isn’t about my Navy life. I could fill a book with ‘sea stories’. Condensed version is that I became an aviation electrician, got assigned to a patrol squadron, deployed and sent to the Aleutian Islands and later to Viet Nam.

The marriage produced two wonderful kids and lasted eleven years. It ended in 1977…I was 29 years old.

My son and daughter are great people. And I am blessed with two and soon to be four grandchildren from them. I am remarried to the best woman I’ve ever met. Together we have a total of four children and eight grandkids, counting the two still ‘on the way.’…All my life I’ve wanted to be a ‘Grandpa’ and now I am one…

But this story is about my life as a ‘Gulf Coast Boy”, so I’ll get back on track.

Skip back to 1976…

One day I had a knock at my door…a power company service truck was in my driveway with the engine running. When I opened the door, a lanky young man with a big grin shook my hand and said “Hi, I’m Danny and I was told you know how to salt water fish”. That began a friendship that has lasted almost 3 decades.

We began to fish together. I was a bit of an introvert and he was anything but. I still tell him that he can do a ‘three minute routine’ when he opens the icebox and the light hits him.

We bought a cabin in Bastrop Bay. A shack, really, one room 10’ X 14’ at best. We built a large deck and pier along with a shower and such. Young men can do those things. You could only get there by boat. Danny learned to fish pretty good, but he would drive me crazy fishing with a rusty hook tied with a bad knot. But he seemed to catch as many as I did…maybe that was the problem….But we loved every moment of that cabin and still look back on it as some of the best times of our lives.

The water always seems to attract an unusual assortment of people. (We were normal of course).

We made friends with some bait shrimpers and tried to learn how to shrimp. We bought a 20’ box net and dragged it all over the bays. Our shrimp take was almost nil, but we collected a lot of beer cans and oyster shells.

But those shrimpers showed us things like how to get a heavy boat over a sandbar and spot the game wardens before they spotted you. Two brothers were among the locals. One was called Worm and his brother was Charlie. Worm was a descriptive named that doesn’t need more discussion. Charlie, on the other hand, was pretty industrious. Danny and I saw him one day in Cold Pass, heading out into the Gulf to shrimp. His boat was only about 18’ and no winch for the net, but he thought he could get a load of shrimp and make some money. Trouble was, his steering cable had broken. The throttle cable was ok, but he couldn’t steer the boat. So he had tied a 6’ 2x4 to the motor to steer with and was headed out alone to shrimp in the Gulf.

Another one was named Doug..(no relation). He was the handyman, shrimper, mechanic and jack-of-all-trades at one of the bait camp/beer joint/boat ramps along the bayou. Doug could do about anything and do it well. These places had parties from time to time…lot’s of beer and dancing and cussin’ and fun. Water folk letting their hair down. About the time the party got into full swing, Doug came in…in a dress and full make up! The backside of the moon couldn’t be any quieter than that place got. Doug said he thought it was time to be herself. I’ve never seen a braver thing, but his timing was a little off…The owner fired him.

These bay shrimpers are a breed apart. They would shrimp all day alone in a small boat in Texas in August. I’ve seen them run side by side up the bayou, tossing a bottle of “Jack Daniel’s” from boat to boat. If you’ve ever thought about drinking straight whiskey in the Texas sun, pass on that. These men were in their 60’s and did it every day.

But times come and go. We sold the fishing cabin in 1982. In 1983 hurricane Alicia swept it off the face of the earth.

Danny and I sold our boats and bought Harleys and became bikers. Actually he became an engineer and then a manager at his power company. I became ‘scooter trash’, but that’s another story…I was 38 years old.

End of part 3

Da Kine Dog

Nothing like starting the day with a nice cup of Star Bucks Gold Coast and "Ironhead" by Helmet. I'm serious.


Not sure about going to Judo tonight, dang it, since my toe hurts like it does. Can't bend it without wanting to holler. Taping it up helps me walk, but I don't know how much tumbling I could do. Maybe I can get a good tape job on it, tell the instructor what I'm dealing with and manage to get through 90 minutes of class tonight. The jury is still out.


The video store says my DVD of Big Bad Love is in; maybe I'll go get it tonight. Listened to the soundtrack yesterday (thanks again to Toland), and what the heck, now I'm reading the book again. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn was pretty flippin' good, though once in a while the poetic conceit got a little too arty for me to understand just what the heck Flynn was doing. Still, gripping, chilling stuff. There but for the grace of God go any of us...


Can't find my copy of Larry Brown's On Fire... did I lend it to someone? Toland? Dad?


Still watching Dog the Bounty Hunter on A&E when I can. Since it's set in Hawaii and all it's now got the attention of my Hawaiian buddy Erik Hood. He text messaged me last night: "o bra, you like da kine dog? good show. love it." Nodding like I know what the hell he just said...


Will be posting another Gulf Coast Boy installment today. Happy windy Wednesday, ya'll.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

With Pliers

Watched some of this interesting show last night: Brat Camp. Not sure what channel it was on. Basically it's these teenagers (lots of whom are British) who are troublesome (drugs, attitude, crime, whatever) and their folks have sent them to this place in Utah. They're deposited in the middle of nowhere (blindfolded during the drive, no less--it's to keep them from running away) with no spoons or forks, no knives, no tents... just very basic survival gear. They've got some guides with them, and they get to spend MONTHS out there. No toilets, no TP (well, the TP runs out in a hurry).

These kids are covered with tattoos, piercings... oh the uproar and gnashing of teeth when they're all expected to remove their piercings. It's like dealing with toddlers! Finally the head camp guy comes in with pliers: "You can take them out, or I can take them out." Boom--they take them out.

One kid's modus operandi is to pretend he's insane, and his mother assures everyone he's not. And he's okay at it, but you can see through it, see that he's doing it on purpose. I had a lot of good belly laughs over that show. Gotta see when the next installment is.

Swiped from Georgina:

1. Brian
2. BB
3. Judoka (thanks Whit)

1. misterbbriscoe
2. reverend_blue
3. more_salsa

1. Liking what I like, and screw everyone else
2. Sense of humor
3. The ability to occasionally write something I'm pleased with. Wish it happened more often.

1. Can I get a face-ectomy?
2. I can be a moody bastard
3. Dry skin. Oh the curse of the t-zone

1. Cherokee/Choctaw (ah, inter-tribe love...)
2. Cajun (oops... "French Canadian" as some in the family might prefer)
3. Dutch

1. The possibility that the freaky weather really IS due to greenhouse stuff that our government seems to care not a wit about.
2. The smog over Dallas every summer
3. When Launch suddenly plays a Madonna song. Nothing I do will get it to knock that crap off.

1. Music
2. Coffee
3. Scouring the web for baseball news

1. Jade Mountain Martial Arts t-shirt
2. Blue fleece jacket
3. One shoe (hey, I've got a broken pinky toe)

1. Anders Parker
2. Brendan Benson
3. Bukka White

1. Hermano - "Mother Load"
2. XTC - "Senses Working Overtime"
3. Bukka White - "District Attorney Blues"

1. Humor
2. Good teamwork (essential with kids)
3. Willingness to adapt

1. Girl things: Nice hair, nice clothes, cute touches, understated beauty, and always take care of the feet
2. Their willingness to listen
3. Their vastly underrated strength

1. Dance. And I don't care. I just wish no one else cared that I can't dance.
2. Tolerate fools gladly
3. Compromise my integrity

1. Writing
2. Reading
3. Watching baseball

1. Four words: Pitchers and catchers report
2. To have a much shorter "to do" list around the house
3. To finish winter with everyone in the house healthy

1. Licensed professional counselor (working with alcoholics, specifically)
2. Anything but television
3. See #2

1. Surprise, Arizona (home of Rangers spring training)
2. Vancouver
3. Ireland

1. Get something published (that's not an angry letter to an editor)
2. Get more guitars
3. Learn to trust someone besides Kelli


Old-school Helmet t-shirts:


Happy Tuesday.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Gulf Coast Boy... Teenage Years

The second installment in my father's series of short autobiographical pieces.

Deep woods…. Wild Peach community… 1960… I was 12years old.
I hated to move from Freeport and all my friends and adventures. We had no close neighbors, much less boys my age. But I had a dog and we hunted in the woods every day. I learned to love the woods and even the solitude.
We cleared several acres, mostly by hand. Chain saws weren’t too common back then, but axes were. Red bugs and ticks and poison ivy were a new form of torment. Of course, the mosquitoes were old friends. I had to ride a bus to school. The folk that lived in Wild Peach back then were often ‘unusual’. So were their kids. A bus ride to school could be filled with terror or boredom. Amazingly enough, the bus driver was never bothered by the sound of a punch or a scream from some girl being held down. Against her will. But try to tell him he missed your stop and he’d rip your head off….he was my science teacher too.
My family always deer hunted. We had a great lease about a hundred miles away. 3200 acres…$800.00 a year…that’s .25 cents an acre… prime deer country…. The landowner only wanted 8 ‘guns’ on the lease, so each man had to pay $100.00 a season. I remember my dad having to go to Great Western Finance to borrow the money to hunt on. Rates have gone up since then I’m told…
But I had a knack for deer hunting…I killed my first one when I was 10. We lived on venison most of the year. We only took bucks and nothing was wasted.
Back then we just hunted…no deer feeders, no walkie-talkies, no four wheelers…no catalytic heaters…just sit beside a tree and wait…if it was raining you might take a piece of plastic to sit on so your butt wouldn’t itch…I loved it and would stay out all day…If you killed a deer, you walked back to camp and got the wheel barrow and went back for it. After you lugged and tugged it back you strung it up and dressed it. If wasn’t cold enough, we would have to take it into town to the ice house until we were ready to go home. I never failed to get my limit… (and my mothers and grandmothers and anyone else who had an open tag)… we lived on venison.
One day leaving the lease, my uncle’s car got stuck. I jumped out and ran to a dead tree on the ground. I planned to shuck off the bark to put under his tire. I had my rubber boots on… about the 3rd lick with my hatchet it bounced off the log and went through my boot. It didn’t hurt, and I thought it was just a scratch…when I took the hatchet out, the blood came with it…
One of my older cousins was there and took my boot off. He had been a medic in the Korean War. He suggested I lay back and let him check it. “No way” I said… “I want to see it”…but seeing your own blood for the first time isn’t always what you thought it would be. I laid back… and that car got unstuck in an instant and we were off to Yoakum to the clinic. Somehow, I had cut completely through my foot but between the tendons…anywhere else and I would have been in surgery and had a limp for life. They stitched me up and I was good to go.
When my dad and I got home, my mother was waiting outside for us. She saw the huge bandage on my foot and actually trembled as she asked what happened.
I was cocky, my first real wound and all, and I said “I shot myself in the foot” with a smirk.
I will never forget the pain and horror in her face. The suffering I caused her with that stupid statement has haunted me ever since. I learned something about life and a mother’s love that day, but she paid for my lesson. I was 14 years old.
As time moved on, I met new friends, even out in Wild Peach…it was becoming a pretty good way to grow up, looking back. We would haul hay bales or cut wood or do ranch work for extra money.
We thought we were ready for the world… we never damaged anyone’s property or caused any trouble… but we enjoyed being teenagers. About the worst thing I was involved in was when we saw a squirrel run up a tree and into a hole. One of the guys thought he could smoke it out of the hole by dropping matches into it. Squirrel didn’t come out so we left… 2 days later my dad and I were headed off to the deer lease and we had to stop for some road blockage…seems a large live oak tree had burned down at the base and was blocking the road…. The county crew was clearing it…strange…I was 15.
But, boys have to experiment, I guess. I used to tell my mom I was going night fishing and we would find some beer or something and go down to the mouth of the San Bernard River and drink a bit.
One trip a friend of ours came over from Bay City. He had 2 bottles of whiskey with him. Being such accomplished drinkers, we stopped and bought one coke each to mix with the whisky.
We found a secluded stretch of the river and began our party. One coke each and 2 bottles of whiskey doesn’t work out too well. But after the first jolt, you don’t really care what it tastes like. Pretty soon we were chasing the wild range cows and rolling down a small hill like idiots.
Then we saw the tugboats pushing shell barges up the river about every 30 minutes. We decided to see who could swim out and get the closest to the tugs as they passed. It was pitch dark and the tugboats couldn’t see us… but every time one would come by, one of us would swim toward it. It was a rush to swim to it and then feel the prop wash suck you in toward it… about 30 feet from that monster your self survival instinct would kick in and you’d swim like hell to get away from it. I was 16 years old.
I had a girlfriend about then. Girlfriends require money to date. Wild Peach wasn’t the commerce capital of the world, but there was money to be made. Some of my ‘friends’ told me to go to a local egg farm and I could get a job. I drove up the driveway of this ‘Mom and Pop’ egg farm. About then a wild and crazy old man came running out of his horrible house, his wife behind him. “Git off my property, you bastard…git…git…git…”
I shouldn’t judge, but this man was without a doubt the ugliest man I have ever seen…he literally had thousands of huge blackheads on his face…and he had the meanest look I have ever seen. His wife was a bit calmer and asked me what I wanted. I said I just wanted a job. He lit into me again and said all boys were no good and wouldn’t work and he wouldn’t have one on his property. About then I realized my ‘buddies’ had set me up. Some of them had worked for him and spent more time behind the chicken coop smoking than working.
But they needed help…it was just the two of them…they had two large chicken houses and there was a lot to do.
I was hired. $1.00 an hour…
My main and primary job was to shovel chicken crap from under the chickens onto his old 1954 Chevy truck and drive it to the back of the property and un-shovel and repeat all day long.
Chicken shit never gets hard…it makes a horrible sludge that fills with squirmy things you don’t want to know about. As you shovel the stuff from under the coops, the chickens are going nuts with their squawking… I couldn’t eat eggs or chicken for 2 years.
On occasion I would get to go with the Mrs. into town to deliver eggs to the stores they supplied. That was the best part of the job.
But they paid me…$8.00 for 8 hours…and that would cover a date pretty good in 1965.
At the end of the summer I told them I had to go back to school… and these mean, cynical old people gave me the best compliment I have ever received… they said I had changed their mind about ‘young people’ and maybe not all of ‘them’ were bad…
I missed them after I left. I was 17 years old.

End of part 2

Baby Llorca

Got voicemail from my friend Mike Llorca: Baby boy Joshua Michael Llorca was born Friday morning. He's fine and dandy, healthy, coming home today or tomorrow. Mike didn't go into great detail, but hooray! My understanding is that Mike and Denise are thrilled, though she'd still like to trade Mike for a player to be named later...


Congratulations Llorcas!










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Friday, January 07, 2005


Some time back my father wrote a series of short autobiographical pieces, and I'm going to post them here once in a while. I've done almost no editing on them.


Freeport, Texas, 1953…. That’s about the time I became aware of where I lived…. I was 5 years old.
A coastal town, with a harbor and lots of shrimp boats…
We lived in a 2 bedroom rent house… we were poor, I guess, but hell, everyone was poor and it was a good life for a kid.
I grew up in a time when boys played marbles and spun tops for “keeps” … ‘cowboys and Indians’ and ‘hide and go seek’ kept us busy all day…if we had a ball, we might play ‘Annie-Over’ on someone’s house till his mom ran us off for hitting the roof so much…
Not much TV to watch….but none of us had a TV anyway….
No one had air conditioning, except Mr. Johnson across the street who had a heart problem…he had the first home air conditioner I had ever seen…. We all liked to visit Mr. Johnson…
For spending money, we would collect soda pop bottles and cash them in at the Piggley-Wiggley…enough For a candy bar and a soda pop…the movies were .15 cents to .25 cents…and air conditioned…
It was a great way to grow up…
But my best memories were of the water…I always loved the water….
My Dad worked hard like all dads did and still do….he was an electrician and a lineman for a sulfur company….
But almost every Saturday we would go out to “Blue Lake” to catch some red fish to eat for the next week…
Blue Lake was actually a sunken sulfur drilling site….story was that a big drilling rig actually sunk with men on the tower and they all went down with it….but the fishing was good and we always came home with food.
As I grew older, we would travel down to the coastal bays…a long way from nowhere…my dad would catch mullet in his cast net and we would fish all night…he’d set me up with a big home-made calcutta bamboo rod that I couldn’t even cast out….then he’d move about a hundred yards away to fish….
All I could see of him was the occasional glow from his pipe as he re-lit his Sir Walter Raleigh…we had no lanterns or lights…
The mosquitoes were as thick as the air…..the only time I could call for him was if I had a big fish or needed him to re-cast that big rod with a fresh mullet…we would go home after daylight the next morning….that’s how I learned to fish… I was 8 years old…
As I got older, my buddies and I would ride our bikes all day long….
From the beach to the Old Brazos river. One of our favorite places was the shrimp boat docks. My mother always told us not to go near them, so we spent a lot of time there. During shrimping season we got a lot of boats from Florida and Louisiana. The shrimpers would come in and sell their catch, refuel, get new ice and be off again. But before they left, they would go buy a new set of clothes and spend about 3 days drinking their paychecks and never change their clothes. They would go out and shrimp till they got a full load or needed ice or diesel…then they would come back, still in the same clothes.
Several times a season a body would be found floating around the docked boats. Either a drunk fell in the river or an old grudge was settled…the police would fish the body out and make a report...but no one spent much time worrying about it.
Like all boys, we loved to explore. Once we found the entrance to a storm sewer pipe at the edge of town. We went home and got whatever flashlights we could round up along with some sticks and a knife or two. Three of us went into the dark pipe to see what was there. What was there was snakes… damn big and lots of them…there was several inches of water in the pipe, which was about 4 feet in diameter. We were bent over as rats ran past us and snakes were all in the water and up on the walls. We jumped and dodged them as best we could. It was probably good we didn’t have better lights. It smelled like a sewer pipe, too. We decided to go as far as we could. Every few hundred feet a smaller pipe connected at an angle and went to the street above.
When we got tired of exploring, I crawled up one of the smaller pipes and put a stick out of the storm drain entrance. We back tracked, still avoiding the snakes, to the entrance and then walked up the street to the marker I had left. It was almost a mile from where we had gone in. That was neat! I was 10.
One very hot summer a friend and I found an isolated pocket of water near the hurricane levy that was cut off from the channel. It was only inches deep and most fish had died from the heat. But it was absolutely full of big red fish and huge blue crabs. The fish were almost out of the water and swimming mostly in mud. The crabs all had their claws raised out of the hot water. My friend and I went home and got gigs and came back to reap the bounty. Except the water was really just thin mud and you had to lay in it and semi-swim thru it. The crabs were everywhere and we knocked them out of our way with the gigs. We could stick a big red and fling it to the bank. Those crabs must have been pretty hungry cause they came at us from all angles. In the end we got 27 big red fish before we gave out. We were so proud of ourselves. We rode our bikes to the Phillips Petroleum terminal and washed off the mud in the river. They let me use their phone and I called my mom to come with several wash tubs to get the fish.
But in the end, the fish were not good to eat…they tasted like the mud they were dying in…but it was a great way to spend a hot summer day. I was 11 years old….
Most of us boys loved to swim. We would swim in a ditch or anyplace that had water. More often than not, it would be full of water snakes and cottonmouths.
“Seat Hunt” was on TV and I really wanted to skin dive. I had a good mask and fins. I had made a dive belt out of old cast net weights. One day we heard the water was really good at the jetties. One of my friends was 14 and could drive, so we loaded up and went to see.
The water around our part of the Gulf is rarely green, much less clear…but this one magic day it was absolutely as clear as drinking water. Never before or since has the water looked like that. At the end of the jetties you could see the sand bottom in 30 feet of water. We had our chance to dive off of the jetties. Our plan was to recover all the lead weights and leaders and lures people had been losing for years and years and maybe – sell them or something. Mostly just have some fun. It was incredible to see what was down there. I remember thousands of sheephead fish and millions of crabs among the rocks. And the lost tackles everywhere. I would dive down and grab a handful of leaders and lines and cut them loose with my knife. A couple of times I got hung up and had to work fast not to become crab food. But we got all the tackle and lures we wanted. A few cuts and scrapes from being washed against the rocks was a small price for the best day of diving I have ever had. I was 12 years old.
Later that summer we moved about 25 miles away and lived in the deep woods. I missed the water and the shrimp boats and all the things I had grown up with.
But life had more adventures in store for me.

End of part 1

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Killing Time...

...before time kills me...

You know, I never get tired of "The Needle and the Damage Done" by Neil Young. There's a fine, probably lesser-known version on a 1993 (MTV) Unplugged CD. Thing is, the audience insists on clapping along rhythmically during the instrumental opening. Gotta say that Young's harrowing tale of heroine addiction just doesn't strike me as a clap-along sort of tune.


"Nothingness" by Living Colour is a great, overlooked song.


There's an archived interview with author Sherman Alexie posted at

He's funnier, more upbeat than I expected.


Hmm... no word from Mike Llorca today, which is highly unusual. I'll bet Denise had the baby. I'm anxiously awaiting confirmation.


Currently in Hurst it is 34 degrees. But pitchers and catchers report on February 16. The sun will shine again, boys and girls...


One of the great things about riding the train to and from work is the free time it gives me. The commute is about 45 minutes, so I get about 90 minutes to read or study each day. I just began reading Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn, and it's as engrossing and harrowing as I expected.


I managed to get through my first judo lesson without embarrassing myself (much--arriving 10 minutes early and interrupting the women's class was a wee bit awkward, but I beat a hasty retreat). Mister Russ (as he asked me to call him) is clearly a good teacher, a black belt taking up the slack (nyuk nyuk) due to Sensai Mesa's pregnancy. I thought we had a good rapport, and if he's the primary teacher for a while that'll be fine with me.

I did wrench my back a bit while throwing him (I'm 180 lbs, he's 190-something), but I have to admit that I'd somehow tweaked it at work earlier that day. I'm hoping it was was just a freak occurrence and not something likely to hinder my ability to take lessons.

I watched a 100 lb 11-year-old also throw the instructor, and he made it look pretty smooth and effortless. Remind me not to tangle with that kid.

The gi Whit got me is great. Man, they don't mess around when they make these things. Heavy, durable... thanks again, Sifu.


Feel better soon, Georgina.

Here's a photo of Mr. Mojo. When I saw him in '78 or so his facial features were more human-like. He hadn't decomposed to the point where he looked so skeletal. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Are You Ready, or Not?

The inimitable Michael J. Nelson answers the age-old question as to whether he's ready for some football.

(Apologies to Mike Llorca for linking to a story bashing his favorite team...)


Llorca and his wife Denise, by the way, are expecting their first child Friday. Congratulations to them both, best wishes, etc. If you need parenting advice, Mike, just keep this in mind: Don't ask me, because I have no idea what the hell I'm doing.


My niece Maddie came through her outpatient surgery just fine and is home resting now.


Watched some of an ESPN re-broadcast of a Muhammad Ali-Chuck Wepner heavyweight title bout from ... the early 70s? I couldn't place Wepner at first, until I watched Ali make meat loaf of his face for several rounds. He was the real-life inspiration for the movie Rocky. He'd worked in a liquor store, been a security guard, and somehow had managed a few key victories that lined up a shot at the belt. Ali was heavily favored, and heck, it was the first time Wepner even got to train for a fight full-time.

The result? Ali knocked him out in the 15th/final round, but not before Wepner went toe to toe with him, even knocking the champ to the mat with a vicious combination in the 9th; he was seconds from winning, but Ali got up before the count.

Wepner and Sly Stallone had some sort of handshake arrangement, but apparently the cash never materialized for Wepner, who is suing.


Interestingly, the ringside reporters for the bout included Redd Foxx and James Brown, who didn't talk about much that I could tell except that the champ was "about to get serious." When Ali fell, I do not know if Brown sang, "Get up --GIT ON UP-A! Get up --GIT ON UP-A!"

Mr. Mojo Laid to Rest

My grandmother lived for years in Calvert, Texas. One day when I was 9 or 10 she took me to the local funeral home to see "Mr. Mojo," a corpse they kept there. Seems he'd died many decades prior, but his family didn't come up with some funeral-related fees, and they abandoned the corpse.

So Mojo was given a whole lot of preservatives, apparently. When I saw him he was completely white and chalky. I could peer through a little screen window on the coffin lid and see his face as he stood there in the closet. It hardly seemed real. The funeral home guy told me he was half black and half Chinese. The coffin stood about five feet tall.

Apparently, he was laid to rest in '02. I've got a faded newspaper clipping about him somewhere, and the accompanying photo is just as creepy as you'd imagine, a sepia-toned image of that unearthly face peering through the mesh.

A Girl or...

Riding on the train this morning, I overhead a conversation while I was reading Faithful by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King. You may recall that the book is a chronicle of the Boston Red Sox 2004 season.

Guy #1: "We just found out that my wife is pregnant."
Guy #2: "Hey, that's great. Congratulations."
Guy #1: "Thanks. She's due in July. That would make conception time right around game 7."

(The game 7 to which he was referring was the one in which the Red Sox, having lost the first 3 games to the Yankees, won the American League Championship with a four-game win streak. Coincidentally, I'm reading about that very series in the book).

Guy #1: "We find out next week whether it'll be a girl or a shortstop."
Guy #2 laughs.
Guy #1: "I told my wife we could name it Manny"

(Manny Ramirez was named the 2004 World Series Most Valuable Player)

I wanted to turn around and say, "Sorry to nose in, boys, but you really ought to read this book if you get a chance."

But I couldn't. What did the shrink call it? "Moderate social phobia."

Odd. I thought I just hated everyone.


Talked to Dad on the phone last night. The passing of his friend Mike is still difficult, of course. He talked about how he'd known the guy for so long, and how he's just not there now, and how strange that is. He's worried for Mike's wife, of course. Dad's now lost two good friends, the first being his buddy Red back in '80 or so.

But Dad spoke with optimism about possibly leasing a house on the river in Matagorda, and about having his grandsons out there for a week to fish and crab. It sounded great, and Santa DID bring Kevin a fishing rod for Christmas...

Sometime back Dad wrote a series of short biographical pieces, and if I can lay hands on them soon I'd like to post them here. Very interesting and entertaining reading.


The local rags keep saying that the Rangers are still in the hunt for first baseman Carlos Delgado. Okay, I like Delgado and all, but I've read two quotes in the paper from Delgado's agent, both of which basically said that Delgado likes the Rangers, respects their ownership tremendously, but that the Rangers simply cannot pay him enough.

And... do we really need him? Teixeira is no slouch as a first baseman. Okay, Delgado would be a beastly DH, but do we need to pay someone $10mil+ a year to pick up a bat three times a game?


A December quote from Kelli as we were putting up the exterior Christmas decorations: "Hey, this kind of tape doesn't stick to dirt."

(I still love you, hon)


THEBOY is in pre-K now, going on his first field trip today. The Hurst Library, which is barely more than a stone throw from our home, is the destination. He was worried this morning, asked if I could come along to fasten his seatbelt on the bus. The poor kid.

At school as I dropped him off he mentioned the seatbelt to his teacher, who reassured him that she'd help him.

Ya'll be good.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Mouth to Mouth

Happy New Year to my readers (both of you).

Was a solid holiday weekend for la familia Briscoe. Headed to Corsicana for an evening with a honky tonk band at the VFW hall. People assume that because I don't drink and barely dance I'm having a bad time, but 'twas not so. Good for people watching, visiting. A story told to us by family friend Allen:

At dinner one night, as he and his wife dined on a roast, she kept slipping their dog pieces of meat. He said he'd warned her against doing it, but to no avail.

The dog started coughing, gagging. Next think you know, BOOM--he fell down and out, choking. Soon the dog stopped breathing. Allen fetched some pliers and retrieved a big, unchewed piece of roast from the dog's throat. His wife was upset, the dog was not moving, and suddenly he realized that he had to at least try...

So he gave the dog a few puffs of air via mouth to mouth.

And the dog came back to life!

Allen said it got him three days of the best lovin' he's ever had. The fourth day things went back to normal. He said next time the dog stays dead.


"When I first sit down [in his office], I think Jesus Christ, I don't want to work, the sun is shining, I want to go out. Ten minutes later, I don't know that I'm working, I don't even know that I'm alive." T. Coraghessan Boyle

(Thanks Michael)


Got myself a speedbag, and I've been pounding on it most every day. Thus far I set the buzzer for 15 minutes with a goal of just keeping it going as much as possible. I don't have fancy techniques at this point (Whit's sending me a video for that), but after a few days I've gotten to where I can get a good rhythm going for a while. It's a pretty good little workout.


Correction in the Boston Globe:

"Because of a reporting error, Dr. Arleigh Dygert Richardson III, former teacher at Lawrence Academy in Groton, was described in his obituary yesterday as favoring tacky pants with tweed jackets and Oxford shirts. Dr. Richardson favored khaki pants."


I've got a stinking cold now. I've just taken my third type of medicine in the last 18 hours. Benadryl didn't help much, nor did Claritin-D. We'll see how Sudafed does.


It rained like crazy here all night. I swear I saw animals pairing up two by two.


Enjoyed some really trashy TV Saturday evening: Dog the Bounty Hunter. Oh man is it freaky. He's a big ex-con who hunts down guys who jump bond on him. Lots of blonde hair, biceps, tattoos, and Jesus.


Surreal moment from the VFW wingding Friday night: The band (no idea what their name is), after an evening of country songs, suddenly went into the blues warhorse "Stormy Monday" just prior to midnight. I appreciated hearing a blues song, but... they should stick with country. That guitar player was good, but he was no blues player.


Ya'll have a good week.

Hack, snort.