Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Mother and the solar eclipse

All right, I'll be one of those who say that yesterday's solar eclipse, though exciting and unique, was not as awesome as I had hoped. I thought that 79% coverage would leave Detroit more in twilight than sunlight as if through a filter. Still, I had fun. But more so because of other reasons.

My brother and I were working yesterday and taking turns studying the developing eclipse through an old welding helmet of our Grandpa Joe's. Around two, almost a half hour before the event reached it local apex, Phil said that he thought our mother was interested in seeing what it looked like. Well, as we are self employed, and as you do things for Momma, we had an obvious inspiration. We locked up the Shop for about 45 minutes and went to see Mom, who only lived a couple blocks away.

I'm glad we did. She seemed happy and excited to be able to actually look at it safely. She commented giddily on how different the neighborhood looked in pale sunlight. And I got a good picture of her wearing Joe's old welding helmet, a picture a Facebook friend rightly remarked would always be a treasure. I think it meant more to me that she was getting such a kick out of it than what I did.

Hey Joe, did ya see Eller with yer old helmet on?

Monday, August 21, 2017

Living the dream, if just for a moment

There's this picture I know which will mean nothing to many folks. Most pictures don't I'd imagine. They're someone else doing something else, and that's that. Most pictures are innocuous that way I suppose.

Some are captures of moments which mean little but for the excitement of that moment for those involved. Some are public and capture the peculiar importance of what it is the photographer was shooting. The VJ Day sailor and nurse, his great embrace and her great acceptance, reflect that sentiment. A birthday party or wedding are more the embalmed history of those being partied to or being married show that as well. They are important to all involved or at least, to those photographed.

And then some pictures tell a story which we would all embrace should the tale behind the picture be known by all. I know one of those.

My father loved country music, especially the twangy bluegrass genre which found its way into northern cities such as Detroit as the great northern flight fed them during the hungry days of industry after the Second World War. He met his wife that way, as he had become friends with her brother, my uncle, who himself had fled an impoverished North Carolina in the days after the war seeking a better life for his family. His extended family had, being among them my mother, came north as well. So my parents met. So is my personal history at its' start written.

Years pass, and time yields towards itself. Dad never lost his love of country music, and never lost his love of its history both personal and in its music. He became a salesman for a company, a national company of which he was merely its local rep. And that took him beyond his proscribed territory. It took him to cities which were beforehand out of his range.

He once found himself in Nashville, Tennessee, for a trade show, where he had a few moments to himself. So he took some of those moments and he went to downtown Nashville, to see the Ryman Auditorium where many of his country music heroes had performed. He took a tour and stumbled into an opportunity to envisage himself among country music's elite. He could have his own picture made at center stage as though he were performing among the country music elite.

They gave him a cowboy hat and a guitar. They told him to take a certain spot on the stage, strum the guitar, look one way, and smile, and they would take a picture. He did it all. And he came out looking, as if in an analogy he had used often himself about others, as a kid in a candy store. He looked like a country music singer in his own right.

He was smiling as though it was meant for him to be there. As though he should be there. And as though he was comfortable, right where he should be.

He was a kid smiling like a kid living his wildest dreams. No doubt he was. I see it in that picture I know.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday stream of potato chip consciousness

I like rippled potato chips better than regular. They're heartier; they don't leave chip dust in the bottom of the bag or bowl and I don't believe they leave so much grease on your hands. Yep. I like rippled chips.

On Thursday I bought a bag of Italian sausage flavored chips. They're okay, but I never thought of there being a difference between spicy Italian and sweet Italian. These were spicy. And it's odd to taste a flavor where you don't feel that flavor should be. Italian sausage flavor should be in Italian sausages, not chips. But it was the only bag left and it was on sale. I had to buy it.

Of course, being the last bag left at a sale price could mean one of two things. Either they are really popular or they are really not so popular. Ah, ya pays ya money, ya takes ya chances.

The Canadians were way ahead of the curve on potato chips. Years before we had them in the States they had dill pickle, ketchup, and most wonderfully of all, salt and vinegar chips. Now I see here in Michigan chips flavored 'all dressed' and purported to be the most popular flavor in Canada even though I've never seen them in Canada nor do many (if any) of my Canadian friends claim to know anything about them. Then again, I'm not exactly known for hanging out in Canadian party stores examining their potato chip emporiums.

I like rippled potato chips.

Oops, I've come full circle. Time to stop.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The big race between Pop and Tall Glass

Pop Turner lived near the Shop with his brother in law, who we called Tall Glass. Pop's real name was Frank; I don't recall what Tall Glass was actually named. Okay, some people called him Goldie because his last name was Goldsmith. We called him Tall Glass because me Grandpa Joe stuck that monitor on him. He drank from a long, tall glass, Joe always said with a smile.

Pop and Tall Glass got along well, but as with many families sometimes a little animosity would break out. Usually this was just a shouting match, and usually when they'd both been drinking. Yet it was rarely more than that.

One such rare day occurred while me Pops (not to be confused here with Pop Turner of course) and I were the only two in the Shop and were having a coffee. As it was a warm summer day we had the big truck doors open, sitting by them to catch a breeze. After a minute or two we heard the ruckus. Pop and Tall Glass were at it; the gist was that Pop wanted chicken but he wanted his brother in law to go get it. Tall Glass resolutely would not.

Soon Tall Glass appeared, staggering down the alley in drunk fashion. He was yelling, "Come on man, no. Stop it," as he stumbled along in slow motion. Next Pop appeared, likewise speed and balance challenged. He was yelling at Tall Glass to go to the store for him, and was in slo-mo function as well. Only Pop was brandishing a shovel, holding it uncertainly above his head like a bat, ready to beat Tall Glass into doing his will.

If he caught him. The guys made their way down the alley, probably the slowest, most serpentine chase scene on record anywhere. Dad and I just looked at each other and shook our heads. Eventually Tall Glass fell, allowing Pop to get with maybe 15 feet of him. He begged his brother in law for mercy.

Dad sighed, "I better go do something before one of them gets hurt." He went out and gently took the shovel from Pop, explained firmly that wanting chicken wasn't reason enough to bust a family member's head open, helped Tall Glass off the cement, and escorted the two to their respective homes, making them promise to behave.

Ah, memories.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

It's time for Rifftrax

Tonight is Rifftrax live night. If you're not familiar with Rifftrax, it's a comedy thing where three guys mock old and new, good and bad movies. On nights like tonight they broadcast live to theaters throughout the country, originating in Nashville, Tennessee. Tonight's film is a mocking of The Five Doctors movie from the Doctor Who franchise. It should be good.

Granted, their kind of humor isn't for everyone. But like a lot of good comedy many of their riffs (jokes) actually make a kind of sense. When they question sparkly vampires, as they did when lambasting the Twilight films, it actually makes sense. Why would vampires sparkle? Why, also, would werewolves eat muffins for breakfast, as they do in the Stephanie Meyer, uh, classics?

I'm just skimming the top here. Rifftrax finds and mocks all those old school short films which we were subjected to years ago. It mocks them well; if you know who Mr. B Natural is, you are on my page. Check out their website. There's something for everyone.

All right, enough of this. I'm beginning to sound like a commercial, and I'm not. I simply love Rifftrax. And you should too.

This has been from a non-compensated spokesperson I assure you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Eating from the can

"I don't wash dishes. I wash dish," me Uncle John used to say. You see, he had a habit of eating his food right out of the can. It saved time and effort. And let's face it, an awful lot of our food can be eaten that way.

Tuna, Vienna sausages, mechanically separated chicken, most vegetables; even things such as Spam can be eaten raw (or at least unheated). But Uncle did crease the envelope a bit. He would eat soup from the can for example. I was never sure enough about that to try it. One of the more unusual things he did sell me on though was corned beef hash. I tried it myself that way, straight from the can, and it was really okay. Roast beef hash not so much, but still good.

We hit a point where we would debate what else might be good enough thus consumed. Most things are just fine eaten out of the can it turns out. About the only thing we each agreed upon heartily was beef stew. Beef stew had to be heated. It was simply too chunky and the gravy too much in globules to be enjoyed on the cheap.

So, use less water and soap my friends. Eat from the can!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Feast of the Assumption

Today in the Catholic Church is the feast of the Assumption of Mary. As the doctrine goes, The Mother of Christ was taken straight into Heaven.

Conservatives, and perhaps especially conservative Christians, are too often said to denigrate women. Yet here is an example of a woman being exalted above every man who ever was save Christ Himself. Mary is the greatest creation there is, has, and ever will be. And she is venerated above any man.

If there's a greater respect for women, I simply cannot imagine what it might be.