Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sumo Wrestler

I'm taking a little break today. My wife and I are in Chicago, celebrating 25 years of marriage (our anniversary was yesterday), and if I even THINK about touching a computer, I think she'll kill me.

To celebrate, here's a little song I wrote a few years ago that's a favorite with the kiddos. I've never told anybody this before, but if it hadn't been for my wife, this would have been a song about Mountain Men.

You see, when I was working on the song, I asked her opinion about the lyrics. She thought they were degrading to mountain men. I was taken aback. What could be more funny than hairy, smelly, I-eat-skunk mountain men? It was great! It was perfect! And I knew all the kids would love it!

"Nope, it puts mountain men in a bad light, and I think it's awful," she said.

Okay, how about if I change it to Sumo Wrestlers.

She thought about it for a moment and said, "Now THAT'S funny!"

And here it is. If you want to sing along, the lyrics are down below. (Oh, and please don't judge me by my hat. Thank you!)

Sumo Wrestler

I went to the movies last Saturday night
Jackie Chan was on the big screen a kung fu fight-
In came a big old man and he sat in front of me,
I tried to look around him but I just couldn't see.

The flick was just beginning and Jackie threw a chair,
But all that I could see was the big man's hair.
Everywhere I looked that man was in my way,
And like a big dummy, I opened my mouth to say

Hey there mister could you sit a little lower,
Your head's in the way and so are your shoulders,
By the way I think you're naked go and put on some clothes,

He just looked at me, said something in Japanese,
And I had no idea what he was saying.

He was a Sumo Wrestler (look at that belly),
A Sumo Wrestler (it jiggles like jelly),
He's a Sumo Wrestler, as big as a bear,
Parading around in his underwear.

Well, after the movie I thought that I would
Head to McDonalds and order some fries
And a big cold drink and a burger to eat.
I never have the onions, I always cut the cheese.

Up at the counter the lady said, "Hi,
Are you ready to order?" And then I saw her eyes
Get big and round and I knew she didn't see me,
Something behind me was making her queasy.

I turned around to see what the lady was a seeing,
And wouldn't you know it was the biggest human being
That I ever did see with a diaper 'round his waste,

He just looked at me, said something in Japanese,
And I have no idea what he was saying.


It was then I started seeing Sumos all around,
I saw them going uptown, I saw them going down to the
Record store, pizza shop, Sumos galore,
I even saw a dozen in a Wal-Mart store.

I saw one try to get in a little bitty car.
I saw one stumble out of a sushi bar.
I even saw a Sumo dancing The Twist
And it wasn't a pleasant experience.

And then it just hit my, I had a suspicion,
They must be having a Sumo convention.
I went up to a Sumo to ask if I was right,

And he just looked at me, said something in Japanese,
And I had no idea what he was saying


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Turtle on the Airplane

la tartarughina della signora Maria
Ten-year-old Carley Helm learned a valuable lesson the other day about airplanes and turtles, and how grownup rules are sometimes very childish.

To make a long story short, Carley brought her pet turtle to the airport. It made it through security, it was obviously deemed a non-risk (no little turtle pistols or little turtle explosives), and the turtle, in its cage, was allowed onboard an AirTrans Airway flight heading toward Milwaukee.

Everything was going great until a big, nasty stewardess said the turtle wasn't allowed. The plane was turned around on the tarmac, Carley and her sisters were asked to get off the plane and "do something" with the turtle, and they chose to throw it in the trash (they eventually got it back). The girls, crying, got back on the plane, and it didn't take long for the Associated Press to glom onto the story -- and for me to write the following poem based upon the story:

The Turtle on the Airplane

There was a little turtle who was sitting on a plane,
He had a little suitcase and little walking cane.
"You really shouldn’t be here,” the stewardess proclaimed

He said, “Why not? I’ve paid my fare, I’m trying to get home.
I let them search my luggage, I let them see my phone.
I even took my shoes off,” said the turtle with a groan.

“Turtles aren’t allowed on planes,” the stewardess did say.
“You’ll have to leave and get back home some turtle-icious way.
Those are the rules,” she said as if she said that every day.

Seeing that there was no use, the turtle disembarked,
He walked back through the lobby with a disenchanted heart.
“There’s no such word as turtle-icious,” the turtle did impart.

“I know, I’ll take a taxi. I’ll take a train,” he said.
“I’ll make it home before they do, and rest my weary head.”
And it was true, for late that night he slept in his own bed

The plane, I’ve heard, it was delayed.
They should have walked instead.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My practically true summertime fish story

My brother and I have an unspoken agreement that we don’t talk about religion or politics. He leans one way, I lean the other, and it’s just much better if we limit our conversations to fishing.

So, in honor of my brother, here’s a summertime fish story that is true, for the most part, as well as I can remember it.

To begin with, I am not a lake fisherman. For some reason I have no idea where the fish are on a lake. Besides, the water just sits there doing nothing, which is probably the reason so many kids think fishing is boring.

No, I’m a river fisherman. Put me on a river and I can tell you exactly where the fish are. Not only that, but the river is constantly flowing, constantly changing, so you really don’t have time to get bored.

Anyways, one summer a long time ago, my brother and I were fishing on a Colorado river, enjoying the day, probably arguing about gun control or “The Dukes of Hazard,” when I threw my fishing line all the way across the river and got my lure stuck in a tree on the other side.

Since I had already lost two fishing lures that way and didn’t feel like losing yet another one, I decided to go downstream, wade across the shallows, and retrieve my lure.

At the exact moment that I was dead center in the river, the largest rainbow trout I’ve ever seen jumped from the water and snatched the hat right off the top of my head. Ate it whole, he did. And it was my favorite hat, too. My brother just stood on the riverbank, laughing at me.

“I told you these Rainbows were big here,” he yelled at me. “Next one will probably swallow you whole.”

After that, I made it across the river as quickly as I could. I didn’t cotton to being bait.

I eventually found the lure, dislodged it from the branches, and was about to throw it into the water for my brother to reel in, when I had an almost brilliant idea. Since I needed to get back to the other side but had no intentions of getting back into those monster trout-infested waters, I decided to hitch a ride on a huge log.

“Okay, here’s what we’ll do,” I called out to my brother. “I’ll attach the lure to the end of the log, get on top of the log, and ride it across to the other side. You just reel me in. So, what d’ya think?”

“I think you’re an idiot,” he said, “but let’s give it a go.”

I attached the lure to the end of the log, climbed on top, pushed myself away from the riverbank, and (you can see this coming, can’t you?) toppled into the water – boots, heavy coat and all.

The flow of the river and the weight of my clothes dragged me down to the very bottom of the river, and there, right before my eyes, I saw five monster Rainbow Trout circling around me, trying to make up their minds whether to eat me now or save me for later. They were so big that I could have fit comfortably inside their bellies, with enough spare room for me to stand up and take an afternoon stroll. Luckily, my brother saved me before that inevitability became inevitable.

From the riverbank, my brother watched me go under the water, and without giving it a second thought, reached his long arms beneath the water and pulled me up by the hair on my head – which explains why there’s not much left up there today, but I hold him no grudge.

At about the same time all of this was happening, my mother and aunts happened to walk upon the scene, and couldn’t stop laughing until the next Tuesday. This day being Friday, they had a good long weekend of laughter.

I tried to explain what I had seen under the water – the five hungry monster fish looking to have me for supper – but they attributed it to brain freeze caused by cold river water, and took no notice of anything I said after that. In fact, to this day they still don’t believe a word I say.

And that is my summertime fish story. Hope you’re having a great summer, and if not, go fishing. It might do you some good!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Okay, so who let Prince Albert out of his can?

C'mon, when you heard the news and saw the photographs, you were thinking the same thing I was -- how did "the beast" attract that beauty?

From what I hear in the news, long-time bachelor Prince Albert of Monaco is giving up the single life to marry South African and former olympian CharleneWittstock. She's 32 and he's 52. She was an olympic swimmer, and he was on the bobsled team. She is model gorgeous. He looks like a balding history teacher.

And once again we're left to wonder, "Why do really ugly guys end up with drop-dead beautiful women?"

With that in mind, I went searching across the interwebs for the answer -- and here's what I found:

Curt Smith, Relationship Coorespondent at, says: "Over the years, U-men [ugly men] have developed two kinds of strategies to date beautiful women. The first strategy is called Scouting For Beauty, and involves looking for undiscovered, up-and-coming beautiful women. The second strategy is called Impressing the Beauty, and involves impressing a beautiful woman who has no boyfriend and is sick of all the head games played by G-men [good looking men]. All she wants is an honest, trustworthy, fun man who can bring stability into her life."

Okay, so HE says it has nothing to do with money or being royalty, but I'd rather have a second opinion.

Over at (I think it's a community forum about relationships, but I'm not sure. I didn't stick around very long), some guy named Teddi had the following theory about the matter:

"Blokes are in a club and see a sexy girl alone at the bar. Boke One tells his mate "**** me would i shag that!" and his mate replies "oh yeah!" but they dont do nothing about it cos they dont like rejection, especially in front of their mates. However, come 5 to 2, they pick a '5 to 2' bird as at this point they are too drunk to care. On the other hand, you have ugly bloke, used to being picked on and rejected etc, so what can he lose? Ugly bloke approaches sexy girl and asks if he can buy her a drink. Now here is the twist! Sexy girl can not believe that someone actually likes her!!! So of course she will let this bloke buy her a drink!!! and as this bloke doesn't love himself, he treats her right!!!!"

What I think this Teddi bloke is trying to say is -- well, I'm not sure, but I'm sure HE does.

Somehow I ended up at, which is not a relationship site, but someone asked the following question in one of their forums: "Can a semi-ugly, ugly, or really ugly guy have a girlfriend who is pretty??"

A forum participant named Hallenbeck77 (I think I prefer Teddi) gave this answer: "Yes it has, and can happen. In some cases, money helps, but in others, there are girls out there who realize that some ugly guys will try harder, be more faithful, caring, and understanding than any pretty boys out there. Plus, as a cosmic joke, some ugly people are...shall we say, "more blessed" in certain aspects in life than others."

I hope Hallenbeck is talking about being blessed with "humor" because this is a Rated PG-13 site, and I wouldn't want anybody to imagine anything more graphic!

So, after all this almost scientific research, I've come to the following conclussion for why hottie Charlene would want to marry frumpy Albert:

Charlene, who hasn't dated a bloke since kindergarten and couldn't believe that someone liked her, decided it was better to marry a balding but faithful man with a "huge sense of humor" than a gorgeous specimen of manhood who would spend more time in front of the mirror than she would.

Besides, he's a prince!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oh no, it's another Bloggy Friday

Okay, I give you fair warning. This is going to be one of those bloggish type of posts where I rip out my insides and splatter them all across the interwebs. How you got here, I don't know, because I certainly didn't do any promotions on this piece of twaddle -- but since you're here, you might as well stay and see the carnage.

Bloggy Friday

That last "musical parady" about McChrystal was a bunch of goat poo, and the story before it about Jerry Seinfield looked like it could have been good, but turned out to be goat poo, too, and it just seems all I put out are heaping amounts of goat poo, and I'm just glad nobody has invented "Smell-a-Webs" yet.

And did I actually post a story about buying a hat? I must have been on drugs.

It might be possible I'm running out of ideas. It might be possible I never had any good ideas to begin with. It even might be possible that I'm just like a million other people on the internet, trying to make their mark, but always coming up short because we're just mediocre and that's all we'll ever be.

Regardless, I've already made up my mind to continue, to never quit, to keep plugging along until the percentage of non-goat poo stories outweighs the smelly stuff, but it could take years, maybe even decades, to get the formula just right. And that's being optimistic.

Nope, I'll give it a year. A year is more than enough time of trying to be more than I am. And then after that, I'll go back to just going to work, coming home to feed the goats, mowing the yard on Saturday, and maybe even getting a little bit more exercise -- maybe.

Hey, I might even splurge and get satellite TV!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

McChrystal just misses being on the Cover of the Rolling Stone

Isn't it just common knowledge that if you bad mouth your bosses, and they hear about it, you might get in a bit of trouble?

Well, it must not be common knowledge to Gen. Stanley McChrystal because boy did he do a lot of talking -- to the Rolling Stone, no less. And what purpose did it serve? Well, he got into the Rolling Stone, but other than that, nothing.

Oh yes, he got fired.

Now that his military career is winding down, I wouldn't be surprised if McChrystal showed up this time on the:

Cover of the Rolling Stone
Based on the song Cover of the Rolling Stone written by Shel Silverstein and sung by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show (sing along with the video at the bottom)

I'm a big right-winger, I've got tanks and stingers
And I march everywhere I go
I talk about Biden, and Eikenberry too,
For anyone who cares to know
I run all kinds of drills to give me all kinds of thrills
But the thrill I've never known
Is the thrill that'll get you when you get your picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone
     Wanna see my picture on the cover
Rolling Stone
     Wanna buy five copies for Obama
Rolling Stone
     Wanna see my smilin' face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

There was a freaky old lady name o' Cocaine Katy
Who wrote down the things I said.
I saw my chance to make the cover
Before the war made me dead
Now it's all designed to blow their minds
But their minds won't really be blown
Like the blow that'll get 'em when they see my picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone
     Wanna see my picture on the cover
Rolling Stone
     Wanna buy five copies for Obama
Rolling Stone
     Wanna see my smilin' face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

I got a lot of nasty looks from that Mr. Obama
Who heard every word I said
We had a genuine Indian pow-wow
"You're fired" is sort of what he said,
But I got all the friends that money can buy
So I never have to be alone
And they keep getting richer, but I still got my picture
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Rolling Stone
     Wanna see my picture on the cover
Rolling Stone
     Wanna buy five copies for Obama
Rolling Stone
     Wanna see my smilin' face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jerry Seinfeld IS Lady Gaga!

Have you ever noticed that Jerry Seinfeld and Lady Gaga are never at a New York Mets game at the same time? That's because Jerry Seinfeld IS Lady Gaga.

Proof? Well of course I have proof.

First off, just look at the side-by-side photo of the pair (that I "accidentally" downloaded from the internet and more than likely don't have the rights to use). Can't you see the resemblance? Of course you can. It's in the nose and mouth.

Second off, do you think the New York Mets would just "accidentally" put Lady Gaga in Jerry's luxury VIP New York Mets box? Of course not. Jerry wanted to go to his box, and he forgot he was in his Gaga outfit.

It just makes sense. Jerry Seinfeld was looking for something outlandish to do after his series ended, and voilĂ , enter Lady Gaga!

It's a stroke of genius, I tell you. Genius!

Watch out for old people on Twitter

Old people like me should stay away from places like Twitter. Of course I'm not admitting I'm an "old person" -- maybe old-ish -- but still, we have no business there or anyplace else that requires a certain degree of hipness.

tracyfarr It's hot outside, what say you?

You see -- we talk about lame stuff. The weather, our knees, why our poop no longer flushes down the pipe like it used to. Twitter people don't want to hear about that kind of stuff. They're more sophisticated than that.

chrisbrogan There's simple math that can tell the story of most everything. The trick is to translate that same story into understanding, as well.

I have no idea what Chris was talking about, but somebody did, which makes me feel even more stupid for even trying to keep up with the Tweet-generation.

Now, I know for a fact that this next Twitter quote comes from a young man, but HE makes talking about mundane stuff okay.

scottwynn1 I'm glad the AC in the shop works good now!

If I were to make the exact same comment:

tracyfarr I'm glad the AC in the shop works good now!

You see, it just doesn't have the same panache!

SouthMainMuse Googling fried okra recipes in grocery. Got some from garden today and think that will be my supper. I'm happy.

@SouthMainMuse is not even close to being old-ish, and that's why her tweets about fried okra seem wonderfully down-home and "green." Green is good, which is hip and groovy, which are words I'd probably use on Twitter and get laughed at because I'm old-ish.

tracyfarr Hey @SouthMainMuse, sounds like you're having a groovy time with your garden. Good show!

See what I mean? Now if @CrystalPosey said the same thing:

CrystalPosey Hey @SouthMainMuse, sounds like you're having a groovy time with your garden. Good show!

You see, it has a whole different vibe about it. And why? Because @CrystalPosey is young-ish and can get away with it, and @tracyfarr is old-ish, and can't.

So, I say once again: Old people, be wary of places like Twitter. We don't belong. We don't fit in. We reveal our age with every word we type.

But, if you happen to go there anyway, look me up at

We can be old-ish together!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Buying a hat IS rocket science

I bought a hat today, not that you'll hear about it on CNN, but to me it's a big deal.

My hat
You see, I'd been thinking about buying a hat for the longest time but never got around to doing it. Not that I wanted one to hide my balding head, but just to keep the sun from burning the skin that is on TOP of my balding head -- where hair USED to be.

Anyways, I'd never gotten around to buying one because buying a hat is a personal decision not to be made lightly. A hat can tell you a lot about the person underneath it, and I wasn't sure what message I wanted to send to all those people who would be judging me by my hat.

If you wear a beret, the message clearly is "I am an artiste who speaks with a slightly foreign accent. I am better than you. Do you mind if I smoke? Doesn't matter, I will do it anyway!"

Nope, not for me.

A cowboy hat lets people know that "I've got cow crap on my boots 'cause I work harder than you and drive a truck with a rifle hanging from the rear window, so don't mess with me before I have my breakfast beer. You want one?"

Sounds intriguing, but I guess not.

A baseball cap says, "I'm just one of the guys who follows the crowd. I'd rather not stand out too much, but if you get between me and the baseball game I'm watching, one of us is heading to the dugout due to injuries -- and it won't be me."

Okay, not everyone who wears a baseball cap likes baseball, but it's possible.

An English driving hat tells others that, "I'm getting old and I'm too mature to wear a beret, cowboy hat or baseball cap. I have hats in tweed, khaki and leather, and if you abscond with one, I'll let loose the dogs on your arse."

I thought that maybe the English driving hat was the one for me, but it's typical of people my age, and I refuse to send the message that I'm 1) typical, and 2) of that age.

Like I said before, I finally bought a hat. I have no idea what message it sends to other people, but now my wife thinks I look like Sean Connery.

I can live with that!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Subscribe to my newsletter, View From the Porch

Okay, I've been putting out a newsletter for quite some time now, and to be honest, I've only had a lackluster response to it. I've got a few subscribers, they are very loyal, but it's only a few -- and I want more!

So I've changed the format of my newsletter and I really want you to see it!

View From the Porch (that's what I'm calling it these days) is a more down-home look at world events, designed to feel like you're sitting on the porch with your buds, just shooting the ... breeze. Nothing is off limits -- politics, religion, sports, beer, motorcycles, biker babes. You name it, I'll probably be writing about it.

But the best part is this: The stories that you'll read in my newsletter will NEVER appear on my website. I consider them my gift to you for being a loyal subscriber. All those non-subscribers -- those non-believers -- will just miss out on all the fun.

Here's the bottom line: I don't want to be Brad Pitt. I just want a million subscribers to View From the Porch. Will you subscribe?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Housing market is looking better, unless you own a castle

Front Porch
News is out that the housing market may be stabilizing, which means if you're trying to sell a $75,000 home, you might just get it.

But if you're trying to get rid of a mansion, say a $12 million piece of prime real estate, well, the news doesn't look so good for you. Those luxury casas aren't doing so well, and sellers are dropping their prices like hot tamales.

I'd like to say that I felt sorry for those owners, but my Mother taught me lying earned you a one-way ticket to meet The Devil, and I've always preferred not to make his acquaintance.

If you gave me the option to live in either a 10-bedroom, seven-bath castle with a six-car garage and indoor-outdoor swimming pool, or a three-bedroom ranch style on an acre with a wrap-around porch, I'd take the ranch style without even pausing to blink.

What does anybody need with seven bathrooms anyway? Okay, you'd never have to fight for one, but then again you'd always be getting lost trying to remember where they all were. And 10 bedrooms? I guess it's okay if you have eight children, but most of the people who own 10 bedrooms have regular families just like you and me.

No, I prefer the comfort and intimacy of a smaller home, being able to sit on the couch in the living room and yell at someone to bring me the remote and know full well that they've heard me. Sure, I wouldn't mind a few more closets, but that just means I'd have to have more stuff to put in them.

My advice to those homeowners who have more house than sense is this:

Unload that monstrosity as quick as you can on some sucker who doesn't know what he's getting into, and buy yourself a home that you can really live in. If you can smell the hamburgers cooking from every room in the house, then you've done good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Goodwill -- it's the smart way to shop

I don't mean to be boastful, but do you recall that $40 polo shirt you bought the other day? The one that you're bound to spill some grease on next week and never get to wear again, thus wasting your $40?

T Shirt Shopping at Goodwill
Well, I just bought 12 shirts from my local Goodwill shop, enough shirts to last me for the next year, and it only cost me $48. And at those prices, I could care less if I spill grease on them.

I'm a Goodwill kind of guy, and I'm shouting it to the masses (all five of you that read my stuff!)

I used to be a Lands End guy. The catalogue would come in the mail, I'd puruse the mens' section picking out the one or two shirts I could afford, and proudly proclaim that I got a good deal because I knew they would last a couple of years -- not like some other shirts that last a couple of washings, if that!

I'd spend $70 on Lands End polo shirts. Yes, they were brand-spanking new, never-been-worn-before shirts, but they were $70. And I would ALWAYS spill something on them, stain them up really good, and never get to wear them after that. Sevety bucks wasted.

Like I said, I'm a Goodwill guy now!

I needed a leather jacket. Leather jackets are expensive. I bought three from ShopGoodwill for less than $100. Two fit fine, the other was a bit small, so I gave it to my wife. It's her favorite jacket now. All for less than the cost of just ONE leather jacket, brand new!

Why all this love for Goodwill all of a sudden? Because it's smart! It's an organization that helps people in need. And it helps people like me, who are stretched financially, to afford good quality, inexpensive clothes.

Did I really spend $70 on two polo shirts? You bet, and so have you. Will I ever do it again? No, no, and I mean NO!

So, how are you spending YOUR money?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Founding Fathers would have jammed all night

1 Dollar by
Have you ever really looked at a one dollar bill? I mean closely examined one? I hadn’t, until the other day when I was at Sonic waiting for a Blue Coconut Cream Slush. And do you know what I noticed? I noticed that George Washington could have been a great trumpet player.

It was his lips that gave it away. They’re on the thin side. He could have played the French horn or the oboe, but I think if it had been up to George, he would have chosen the trumpet. Trumpet players are outgoing, they are natural-born leaders, unafraid of the limelight, able to play “Charge!” at the drop of a hat – anybody’s hat. And that’s why I believe the trumpet would have been the perfect instrument for Good Ole George.

“But what about the other presidents?” I hear you asking me. “Is it possible they, too, could have had wonderful careers as musicians?”

Well, of course. Just take a look at Abraham Lincoln on the five dollar bill. Our tall, lanky, 16th president would have been a great clarinet player. And how do I know this? Because he actually looks like a clarinet. Don’t tell me the thought never crossed your mind. Of course it has.

Let’s move on to the ten dollar bill and Alexander Hamilton. Now, dear cousin Al never was a president (he served as Secretary of the Treasury from 1789-1795), but if you take one look at his brow, the way he holds his head, and his fancy attire, you’ll see that he could pass as a drummer. Well, maybe not one of today’s drummers, but way back then, it’s not hard to imagine him walking around with a pair of sticks, the girls following him everywhere, and him thinking, “I am drummer, hear me roll.”

Now, if you so happen to have a $20 bill in your wallet, pull it out right now, take a good look at Andrew Jackson, our 7th president, and see if you can figure out what instrument he could have played. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

(Guessing what kind of instrument a person might be good at playing is a talent that is wonderful for helping beginning band students decide what they want to play, but lousy for picking up dates at a bar. As soon as you say, “Excuse me, has anybody ever told you that your lips are perfect for playing the tuba?” then the chase is over.)

Okay, back to Jackson. Did you notice the long face, the messy hair, and the full lips? Sure signs that Andy could have been a monster trombone player. If the image of him holding a slush-pumper didn’t jump out at you, then don’t worry. With practice, it will. Oh, and by the way, don’t you owe me $20? No? Well, I thought I’d ask.

Moving right along, have you ever noticed that Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th president, looks like he just got home from playing the tuba at Oktoberfest? You’ve never noticed? Well then, grab a fifty and see for yourself. I’ve known a lot of tuba players and every last one of them could pass for Grant. Except for Sheila Knudsen. (There’s always an exception for every rule). Oh, and by the way, Ulysses would never go by his first name. He’d want to be called Grant. I suspect every tuba player would agree with me 100 percent.

Hundreds of Dollars Money Bills by
Finally, did you know that Benjamin Franklin is on the one hundred dollar bill? I see so few of them myself that I wouldn’t have bet on it, but he is. And without a shadow of doubt, I know he would have been a great banjo player. Don’t believe me? Then pull out a Bennie and see for yourself. He looks like he’s just about to tell a joke. And with that bald head, long hair and hint of a grin, he wouldn’t have been taken seriously for anything BUT a banjo player.

So, let’s see what we’ve got. George on trumpet, Abe on clarinet, Andy on trombone, Grant on tuba, Al on drums and Bennie on banjo. I could be wrong, but that sounds like one heckofa Dixieland Band to me. They’d call themselves The Founding Fathers and play every Friday night at Willie’s Tavern.

I’d go see them. Wouldn’t you?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SaddleSore 1,000: The True Story

First, let me say that this story will be a jumbled mess. I'm sure there will be quite a few dangling metaphors, misspelled pronouns and a lot of whatnot, but that's all that I have in me for now. SaddleSore 1,000 drained me of all ability to do anything today, and possibly tomorrow as well.

On paper, SaddleSore 1,000 looks like the greatest adventure any motorcyclist can have. Ride 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours, get home before dark, grill a steak for dinner, and get up raring to do again on Friday. But let me tell you what, was NOT fun!

Bike in Galveston
I thought riding a motorcycle all day (it ended up being about 22 hours time-in- saddle) would be a grand adventure that I would talk about for ages with anybody who would listen, and it will be. I'll probably even "tweak" a few of the little details. But for now, let me tell you the TRUE story.

The first few hours out on the road alone in the cool dark were pretty much okay. Then somewhere around Houston my butt started to hurt (really? like you didn't know THAT was coming?) By the time I got to Galveston, I was ready to get off that bike -- for the rest of the day.

I had some breakfast at IHOP On The Beach (two eggs, hashbrowns, sausage and a glass of water) and thought for sure when I got back on the bike, I would be rejuvenated. Instead, my butt screamed out, "Again? You've got to be kidding me!"

The ride from Galveston to Corpus Christie was a nightmare. Strong headwinds, one lane, bad roads. I didn't really know where I was going, and every time I saw a mileage sign (Palacios 15 miles), I wished it to be for Corpus Christi -- and it wasn't!

And then my legs started to hurt.

Bike in Corpus Christi
I tried every which way to stretch out my legs so they would feel better -- straight out, propped up on the passenger pegs -- and it would work for a few moments, and then it would be back to hurting again.

I thought about taking photos on my way, to help document my ride, and I did get a couple, but after Corpus, I really didn't care about it that much. And then my back started to hurt.

When I finally made it to San Antonio, I was wishing for Scotty to beam me up and over to my house. But wishing never gets you very far. Not only that, but I reckoned that at the pace I was traveling, I wouldn't make the ride in 24 hours. And I vowed that if I didn't, I would NEVER try again. It would be just one of those things that never got done.

So I did what any idiot motorcyclist does when it looks like they're about to face defeat -- I rode faster. And by this time it was dark. Fast and dark. Stupid.

And then my hands started to hurt. I could feel the blisters through my gloves, and I kept trying to relax them on the handlebars, but I couldn't. Fast and dark doesn't help you be calm and relaxed.

Anyways, I made it though Austin and eventually Waco, and I determined that if I could make the 1-20/635 loop before midnight, I could make it home in time. No stopping for bathroom breaks, no stopping for food -- stopping just to fill up and go. And it worked. I finally stopped in Rockwall to "use the facilities" and to get a bottle of water, and I knew I'd make it home before time ran out.

And then I started to fall asleep. Not really nodding off with eyes closed, more like an awake going to sleep. The road disappeared into wavy lines and flashes, like a dream but not. I would be thinking of a book or a movie or a song, and then I'd see it in my mind's eye, and the road would disappear. I only "came back" when a car would pass, or when I'd think, "Wake up, or die."

In the end, I made it home with time to spare. About 60 minutes worth. I left Mt. Pleasant at 2:41 a.m. on Tuesday, and I got back to MP at 1:37 a.m. Wednesday. And then, as I was driving up my driveway, I saw the FERAL HOG that had been eating up my neighbor's yard for the last two weeks.

I'm gonna kill me that hog. That's my new mission. Like Ahab hunting down the great whale, I shall be Tracy hunting down the great hog. I'll write a story about it someday and call it, "Moby Pig."

But that is for the future. Today I'm in pain. Today I'm resting, and not sitting (I have actually typed this story standing up).

Oh, and I will NOT be mowing my yard this week. Sorry, good neighbors.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Brush your teeth and meet someone new

I spend way too much time on the computer. And when I say “I spend too much time,” I’m including YOU because you do too, and you can’t deny it – unless you don’t have a computer, then I guess you could deny it, but I’d think you were lying, so don’t.

We all spend way too much time on our computers and not enough time mingling with the people around us because 1) we don’t have to brush our teeth to chat with someone over the internet, and 2) we don’t want to talk to real people out in the real world on the off chance that they’ll have last night’s spinach stuck between their teeth.

So anyways, in a fit of needing to make eye contact and to have face-to-face conversations with human beings who have brushed their teeth but are not members of my immediate family, I recently set out to do just that, and here’s how it went:

My first encounter was with Tim at Spruill Honda. He met me at the door to give me the bad news that my motorcycle needed more fixing than just tightening up a loose chain. He and his mechanic, Evan, really look after me because they know I depend on my bike as my sole form of transportation, and they want to make sure I’m always safe.

You might find people like Tim and Evan on Facebook, but you’d miss out on the motorcycle garage atmosphere which includes a girly calendar that you wouldn’t dare hang at home, lest you be hanged yourself by “you know who.”

My next encounter was with Lea at Alan Braddock’s Auto Trim. I went there to get my motorcycle seat reupholstered, and Lea was sitting behind the front counter. She treated me not like a customer, but like I was family. Okay, to tell the truth, she treated me BETTER than family.

(You’ve got to understand, people at my house don’t think I’m funny anymore. They probably never did. I’m just Dad. I’m the old man who snores on the couch so nobody else can enjoy the movie. I’m Mr. Stinky Feet. If there were a vote to eliminate somebody from the house, I’d be the only one on the ballot.)

You might find people like Lea on MySpace, but in the back of your mind you’d be wondering, “Okay, why is this MySpace person being so friendly? Stalker maybe? Psychotic killer on the prowl? My mother in disguise, trying to keep tabs on me?”

You never really know for sure.

And then I met David and Mark at Kwik Kar. They went out of their way to make my oil-change experience just about as pleasant as those oil-changing days of yesteryear. You remember those days, don’t you? You’d pull up to a gas station and somebody would ask you what you wanted and you’d tell them and they’d do it because the customer is always right and they might even bring you a bottle of ice cold soda pop while you waited, and then you’d drive off without getting gas or oil on your hands.

You might find people like David and Mark on Twitter, but they’d only speak to you in 140 characters or less. And would you really trust them to change your oil? Not on your life!

Finally, I met Wanda at Register No. 24 in Wal-Mart, and could easily tell she was tired, probably at the end of her shift, and more than ready to head home. Her body language gave her away, which is something I’d never pick up on if I’d been talking with her through Instant Messenger.

As she scanned my steaks and sweet tea, I did the only thing I could think of to help “lighten her load.” I talked to her, said something funny, and made her laugh. It was face-to-face contact, one human being conversing with another, neither one of us having to shout through Windows.

Wanda helped me load my groceries, and she did it with a smile.

Hey folks – there are real, live human beings all around us. Turn off your computers and go meet some. You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, and don’t forget to brush your teeth first!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saddle Sore Retake

Well, Thursday was my Saddle Sore 1,000, ride through six states on the back of a motorcycle, wear down my big, fat butt until I refuse to ever sit down again adventure -- which was postponed due to weather.

I've rescheduled the ride for Tuesday, 15 June, but I've lost my initial get-up-and-get-it-done-no-matter-if-it-kills-me attitude. It's postpartum depression, in a way, but without having a baby -- thank God!

Anyways, I shall try again Tuesday. And this is the seat which will launch a thousand butt miles!

Saddle Sore 1,000

Ain't it pretty? Had the whole thing reupholstered because it was really looking trashy. I would show you a before and after picture, but I was too embarrassed to take the before picture.

So, if you're really interested in this long-distance motorcycle ride and want to read about it from startup until this very moment, then here are the links to all my updates:

25 April -- I'm Gearing Up for a Pain-in-the-Butt Summer Adventure
1 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 43 Days
8 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 36 Days
15 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 29 Days
22 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 22 Days
29 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 13 Days
2 June -- Saddle Sore 1,000 update
5 June -- Saddle Sore 1,000 update
9 June -- Saddle Sore 1,000 update: The "Go, No Go" Decision
And, you can follow the whole ride, when it DOES happen, at and at

Wish me luck for Tuesday!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hanging out with Santa

A couple of days ago, my little girl asked me, "Why is Santa still out?"

Santa's in the House

She was, obviously, talking about the Santa head which was on the wall; which has been on the wall for six months; which will probably stay on the wall until Christmas, and may very well stay right there until the end of all time.

It's not that it's hard to take down. A person so inclined could do it in a jiffy.

It's not that I'm too lazy to do it, which I am, but that's not the point.

It's not that I love Christmas so much that I need to have all my Christmas decorations and lights and Santa Clauses and Snowmen and trees and sleighs and elves all around, year around, just hanging around.

No, Santa is still hanging on that wall because...I just haven't gotten around to taking him down.

Maybe I'll put that on tomorrow's "To-Do" list.

Or maybe not.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Fantastic Mr. Fox in my front yard!

Well, today was the day I was going to ride 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours, motorcycling across six states to accomplish the Iron Butt Association's Saddle Sore 1,000 endurance ride, but the weather didn't cooperate, which means I'll just try another day.

So, instead of a motorcycle adventure story, I'll show you a photo of a fox:

The Fantastic Mr. Fox

One night, about a year ago, we heard what we thought were the screams of a woman being stabbed to death out in the woods beside our house. I'll be honest and tell you that those blood-curdling screams could have made a grown man pee in his pants -- not that I did, of course.

Come to find out, it was a fox, and the screams probably had something to do with kinky fox mating rituals, which we'll not talk about here because this is a Rated PG site.

Anyways, that's when we knew we had foxes.


Yesterday, as I was waiting to see how the weather was going to be for the Saddle Sore 1,000, I saw the fox heading down our driveway, away from the house. I'd seen him the day before, wanted to take a photo of him, but he was gone before I could grab my camera.

A few hours later when my wife left for work, she hollered at me that the fox had just jumped into the woods right in front of her. So, like a good photographer, I grabbed my camera and waited on the front porch with hopes that the fox would return.

I count myself as a photojournalist. That's what I did in the military for five years. And every good photojournalist follows one truth -- do whatever it takes to get the photograph.

So I waited. Waited and kept as still and quiet as I could.

I didn't have to wait long.

Fox pair

These two guys never even saw me.

As I was sitting there, snapping photographs, I kept thinking what a wonderful gift it was to be able to even see theses guys. It doesn't happen every day, even in the country. I also kept thinking about how some people would have grabbed their rifles instead of their cameras and engaged in a bit of target practice on these two pups.

I'm just glad I was able to shoot these guys the way I did -- before someone shot them the other way.


And that's my Fantastic Mr. Fox story. It isn't as good as Roald Dahl's story, but I've got better pictures!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Saddle Sore 1,000 update: The "Go, No Go" Decision

I'm a certified pilot. I don't fly every day, in fact I haven't flown in awhile, but I went through the training, I passed all my tests, and if I felt like flying tomorrow, I could.

Depending on the weather.

One thing that is ingrained in you during flight training is that everything depends on the weather -- maybe not so much for those who hold an instrument rating, but for those of us who can only fly VFR (visual flight rules), the weather is always the deciding factor. At some point in time you have to make the "Go, No Go" decision.

So, what does this have to do with my Saddle Sore 1,000 ride scheduled for Thursday?

Well, if I was scheduling a flight, I'd be leaning toward the "No Go" side of the decision. The National Weather Service forecast for Thursday is:

Thursday: Showers and thunderstorms likely. Some of the storms could produce heavy rain. Cloudy, with a high near 85. South wind between 10 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Thursday Night: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 73. South wind between 10 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph.

I'm NOT scheduling a flight. I'm riding wheels on the ground. But still, the purpose of the ride is to do something out-of-the-ordinary, in the safest possible conditions, and come home with a story you can tell your grandkids:
"I remember the time back in 2010 -- now stop me if you've heard this one -- I remember a time when...are you listening to me? I said, when I was a youngster, no older than...hmmmm, how old was I? 35? No, older I think. 48? No, seems too old. Well, it doesn't matter. Yes, I was 48...I think. Anyways, I did something, can't remember what, but I'd sure like a tall glass of iced tea. Do you mind getting your old Grandpappy a glass?"
In other words, if it looks like the weather is going to put me in a dangerous situation of not getting to one day tell my future grandchildren the story of my adventure, then I'll put off my Saddle Sore 1,000 ride for a better day.

I'm a biker -- not an idiot.

I'll be watching the weather all day and making my "Go, No Go" decision at 8 p.m. tonight.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Have you seen my keys?

This is an absolutely true story:

I mowed the yard the other day. Don't laugh. I hold off for as long as I can, but eventually I DO have to mow the yard.

Anyways, I mowed it with my John Deere riding lawnmower (if I have to mow, I'm mowing in style), and when I was done, I got a cold drink, soaked in the shower, and then took the rest of the day off.

Two days later, while I was outside raking up the dead grass (I give it to the goats 'cause I ain't paying any more money for hay which is actually someone else's dead grass), I saw something shiny and picked it up.

It was the keys to my John Deere!

Don't ask me how in Heaven's name my keys got there, because I have no idea. And I was darn lucky to be raking the grass in just the right spot to see them.

I ran inside, showed everybody the keys that I found -- and I guess I put them down somewhere in the house because I haven't seen them since.

I should have left them in the grass!

Monday, June 7, 2010

No use crying over spilt oil

I really don’t know what everybody’s worried about – I mean, it’s just a little bit of oil. It’s not like the Gulf of Mexico was pristine to start with, you know.

Sure, it looks like a massive disaster if you’re at ground level, but if you look at photographs from above – like from satellites – it’s just a little dot of oil sitting in the big blue ocean. And people are getting upset over that? Please!

APTOPIX  Gulf Oil Spill
We’ve been dumping garbage into the Gulf for years and nobody’s said a thing. But lose one little oil platform, break one little pipe, leak out a little bit of oil and natural gas, and everybody’s up in arms thinking the world’s coming to an end.

Did the world stop revolving when the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska? Of course not. Did the Gulf of Mexico turn into a tar pit when 3 million barrels of oil leaked out from the Ixtoc I in 1979? I don’t think so. And do you even remember how much oil was spilled in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War? Well over 460 million gallons. But since it didn’t happen in America, who cares?

If we’re going to live in a modern fossil fuel society, we’ve got to be prepared for a little bit of bad in order to have a whole lot of good.

Okay, so maybe we won’t see much shrimp come out of the Gulf this year, but that doesn’t mean the end of all shrimp harvesting. There are plenty of other places where shrimp come from. Besides, if worse comes to worst, some enterprising young chemist will figure out how to make a shrimp substitute from soybeans – maybe call it Soy-Shrimp – and it’ll probably be healthier for us anyways.

Okay, so there are some wetlands that might be affected by the oil spill. But come on folks – they’re wetlands. It’s not like you can build a condo or shopping mall there.

And yes, a couple of fishermen will go out of business because of the Gulf fishing ban. But do we really need fishermen anyways? We live in the 21st Century where humankind doesn’t need to hunt and forage for food. We can buy all the fish we want at Wal-Mart and never have to even touch a fishing pole.

The knee-jerk reaction to this little oil spill is to say let’s wean ourselves off of oil completely, but can you imagine what would happen if the “tree huggers” had their way and all production of fossil fuels was halted? Yes, our air and water would be cleaner and dolphins, pelicans and turtles would all be happy, but our economy would crash, and you, me and my Aunt Edna in El Paso would have to pay premium prices for things we buy on the cheap today. No more cheap fuel, no more synthetic clothing, we’d have to drink water from the tap instead of from plastic bottles, and Hasbro would have to stop mass producing those wonderful G.I. Joe Action Figures.

Sure, we could all go back and live the way our Native American ancestors lived – make our clothes out of natural materials, walk around a lot, hunt for only what we needed to survive, make as little impact on our surroundings as possible – but we sure would stink. Indians didn’t have Old Spice High Endurance Deodorant with its easy-to-use turn-dial stick applicator, guaranteed to provide 24 hours of odor protection with a clean and crisp, sporty fragrance.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather wade through an ocean of garbage than to have to work all day with a bunch of stinky people.

To conclude, humans are a remarkably adaptable species. If it’s too cold, we put on a coat; if it’s too hot, we wear shorts; and if our environment is a little bit polluted, we look the other way and keep on truckin’. We don’t notice the illegally-dumped tires in the ditch or the empty cardboard beer case on the side of the road or that the sky looked a little brownish this morning. And why not? Because we’ve adapted to our environment, and those little annoyances are just that – annoyances.

Well, that’s my two cents concerning the whole matter. I hope I made it perfectly clear on which side of the issue I stand.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saddle Sore 1,000 update

Okay, so now I'm making it official:

DEPARTURE DATE:  Thursday, 10 June 2010, at 2 a.m.

ROUTE: I'm going to head southeast to Shreveport, then east to Jackson, Mississippi. From there, I'm going to head north to Memphis, Tennessee, hook a left and ride to Little Rock, Arkansas, then northwest to Fort Smith. Finally, I'll cross into Oklahoma, head toward Paris, Texas via Hugo, then another 78 miles straight to the house, a hot bath and a soft bed.

I plan on staying in the south during the early morning and hopefully be in some cool, mountain areas during the hottest part of the day.

ETA BACK HOME: 10 p.m.

ONLY THINGS THAT MIGHT COMPLICATE THINGS: The weather, and my bike is still in the shop. I'm not expecting to get it back until Wednesday, the day before.

Anyways, that's the plan.

Here are my updates up until now:

25 April -- I'm Gearing Up for a Pain-in-the-Butt Summer Adventure
1 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 43 Days
8 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 36 Days
15 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 29 Days
22 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 22 Days
29 May -- Saddle Sore 1,000 - T-minus 13 Days
2 June -- Saddle Sore 1,000 update
5 June -- Saddle Sore 1,000 update
9 June -- Saddle Sore 1,000 update: The "Go, No Go" Decision
And, you can follow the whole ride at and at

Friday, June 4, 2010

Don't Worry, Play Banjo

There are some days -- actually a lot of them -- when I don't feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing; I'm not making a difference; I'm not creating anything of use to anyone; I'm just living the life of an ordinary lump of dirt destined to always be an ordinary lump of dirt.

But then I remember:

Don't Worry, Play Banjo
Based on the song Don't Worry, Be Happy written by Bob Marley and sung by Bobby McFerrin (sing along with the video at the bottom)

Here's a little song I wrote,
you might want to sing it note for note,
     Don't Worry, Play Banjo
In every life we have some trouble,
when you worry you make it double
     Don't Worry, Play Banjo
     Don't Worry, Play Banjo now.
(Cool oohing)
     Don't Worry, Play Banjo

Ain't got no strings to play your licks,
somebody came and stole your picks,
     Don't Worry, Play Banjo
The landlord say you play too loud,
he may have to kick you out,
     Don't Worry, Play Banjo
Look at me, I'm playing
(Cool oohing again)
     Don't Worry, Play Banjo
I give you my phone number, when you're worried, call me,
I play you Banjo
     Don't Worry, Play Banjo

Ain't got no cash, ain't got no style,
ain't got no gal to make you smile
     But Don't Worry, Play Banjo
Cos when you worry, your face will frown,
and that will bring everybody down,
     So Don't Worry, Play Banjo
(Cool oohing once again)
    Don't Worry, Play Banjo

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Saddle Sore 1,000 update

Just put my bike back into the shop. The chain is a bit loose, the sprocket is worn down, and I need new tires. Would hate to be somewhere in Missouri with a broken chain or flat tires!

And you know what would happen then? Some lady in a business suit driving a Lexus would drive by, offer me a ride, then tell me how she secretly dresses up in leather, hops on a Harley, and drives around town giving the locals an eyeful!

"Oh, and while your bike is in the shop, would you like to come to my place for awhile? I have a thing for bikers!"

"Uh, no ma'am, I better not. I'm on a diet."

Having to say no to a biker babe in leather would just ruin the whole ride.

Best to keep the chain and tires in good repair.

(Follow along as I ride 1,000 miles --

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Predictions

Deepwater Horizon Fire

Boy, when British Petroleum takes a leak, it really takes a leak.

Nobody knows how many more days, weeks, or months BP will keep vomiting oil in the Gulf, but I have some predictions about the whole thing -- and a statement:

1. Celebrities by the score will drive their Hummers and fly their private jets to the Gulf Coast in order to raise awareness of the disaster.

2. Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and the Jonas Brothers will finally learn the location of the Gulf of Mexico, and then write songs about it.

3. Tourist from all over the world will come to The Gulf to catch a glimpse of it periodically combusting. The man-made phenomenom will be known as The Southern Flames.

4. Native American groups will shut down their casinos in protest, and only THEN will our addiction to fossil fuels be addressed -- not cured, just addressed.

5. Someone will invent a way to produce shrimp-like products out of soybeans.

6. The Gulf will unofficially be known as "Oh, Shit."

7. When hurricane season kicks into full force, we'll have other things to worry about than just a little bit of oil in the water.

8. BP will declare bankruptcy and not be able to clean up the spill. The company's executives will fly off to New Zealand for a little R & R and dine on very expensive non-soybean shrimp.

And now for my statement:

BP is not responsible for this disaster -- WE are. We say nothing about wearing polyester shirts and bagging our groceries in plastic Wal-mart bags; we don't think twice about drinking bottled water (how ironic: water encased in an oil product); we're happy if our cars get 28 mpg and upset if we can't find a convenient parking place near the grocery store entrance; we stand by and do nothing as our world spirals down into an unlivable quagmire of pollution because we know we'll adjust to it and think it normal.

I'm not saying we need to revert to living how our Native American ancestors once did; I'm not saying this is all the white man's fault. What I am saying is that something needs to change -- and change quickly.

Will we really be happy eating Soy-Shrimp?