Friday, May 29, 2015

I'm NOT Running

I'm NOT running.  Of course I realize that I'm letting the country down by not seeking the presidency, but my two year Army stint was more than enough to convince me that I am incapable of tolerating any additional government service.  Keeping commies out of Kansas while dealing with the olive drab bureaucracy was enough for this loyal American.  Political correctness and playing well with others will never be part of my job description. 

That said, it is imperative that I begin this WAY early assessment of the ever growing field of candidates who think they are good enough and smart enough to lead us out of the full tilt disaster wrought by the Obama administration, a chore almost beyond mortal man or woman.  However, since there is no dearth of candidates willing to apply for such a big job, let's take advantage of the seventeen months we have to make up our mind and vet those who are expressing interest in the gig.

Since the Republican field is overflowing, let's begin there.

Lindsey Graham:  A "confirmed" bachelor from South Carolina who looks like he lettered in glee club and got scout merit badges in knitting.  NO CHANCE!

Rand Paul:  Looks like a deranged duck.  Some good ideas for a 1930's isolationist.  It's amazing that a guy who is an eye doctor can't see himself in the mirror and know that his looks have NEVER EVER won a presidential election.

Donald Trump:  Yeah, right.  He pulls this every four years just to get his mush on TV.  A major blowhard, with whom I generally agree, who will withdraw before the primaries even start.  A joke.

Jeb Bush:  Really?!  Another one?  This guy is "democrat lite".  Another rich guy who isn't quite sure why he's running.  Pass.

Ted Cruz:  The creepy guy who got pantsed a lot in high school.  Very smart but un-electable.  How could someone so smart be so dumb?  No people skills.  Even his Republican colleagues hate him. 

Bobby Jindal:  A goofy looking governor who is unpopular in his home state.  Never going to happen.

Ben Carson:  A wonderful story of hard work and success.  He's not a jerk or a liar, so has no future in politics.  A great doctor and a good and decent man who would be a terrific surgeon general.

Mike Huckabee:  Just what the country needs, another hillbilly governor from Arkansas!  This corn pone phony should just take his TV money and go home.  Former governors in overalls make lousy presidents.

Rick Santorum:  This jackass just doesn't get it.  He looks like he's running for student body president.  Nobody likes him.  He couldn't even get re-elected in Pennsylvania.

Carly Fiorina:  The absolute BEST candidate for the highest office in the land.  She's smart, answers questions, and does not equivocate.  The only candidate who knows what it's like to have a real job in the private sector, she went from being a secretary to president of a Fortune 500 company.  She has been fired for sticking to her principles. You should never trust anyone who hasn't been fired at least once.  Our increasingly idiotic electorate is too dumb to vote for her.  A pity, as she is superb.

 Marco Rubio:  Has a real chance to win.  A smart guy with good ideas who could pick up enough Hispanic votes to put him over the top.  Even though he is young and has only been a senator (we all know how well that worked out with you know who) he is capable of greatness.  He scares the dems.

Chris Christy:  Probably can't win the Midwest and South because he isn't "nice" enough.  I think it would be great to have a president capable of bitch slapping stupid reporters and maybe, please God, taking a swing at Nancy Pelosi.


Rick Perry:  Not as dumb as he looks.

George Pataki:  Seriously?!  Nice guy, but no chance.  He must be looking for a Veep slot or a good cabinet job.

Scott Walker:  Smart, tough, a good governor and--best of all--a college dropout.  Hasn't this country suffered enough at the hands of Ivy League educated nitwits?  How about a guy with common sense and the ability to get things done?  After Carly, I like him best.

And now, the Democrats…

Joe Biden:  A walking talking punchline.  If not for politics he would be the guy who tries to bullshit you into buying a used car.  He doesn't know whether to chase rabbits or bark at the moon.  A dolt with a capital D.

That O'Malley guy from Maryland:  Ha ha ha.  He will soon return to the obscurity he so richly deserves.  A delusional doofus; also a lying commie.

Elizabeth Warren:  Hard to recognize without her war bonnet.  A Masshole of the first water.  A piping hot talking pile of pig flop, flies swarm at the mention of her name.

Bernie Sanders:  A communist buffoon.  How can anyone be this old and remain this dumb?

Jim Webb:  A former Republican turned Democrat.  A good writer and a smart guy who seems at sea with his opinions.  We could, and have, done much worse.  He and Rick Perry are the only two in the running who are military veterans, an important fact.

Hillary Clinton:  Richard Nixon in a pantsuit.  A confirmed liar who will do and say ANYTHING to get elected.  America now has more than enough voters not encumbered by facts or historical knowledge to slide her ample carcass into the White House.  The good news is that odds are better than even that it will take her devoted husband, Bill, less than six months to get caught porking the help.  Comedy gold!

And there you have it, our candidate pool for 2016.  The most powerful thing we have in life is choice. It's just too bad these are all we have from which to choose.

If you need me for further advice, I'll be busy boating with my grandson in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where men are men and the women are after them.

 Life is sweet, until I turn on the news.

Doing boat stuff with grandson Dan

Friday, May 22, 2015

Never Forget

May we never forget the thousands of men and women whose courage and sacrifice gave us the gift of freedom.  Our gratitude and remembrance are insufficient re-payment for their selflessness,  yet it is the only currency we have.  Remember them always as we continue to breathe free.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Stalking the Wild Huckleberry

I live in huckleberry heaven.  Until about a year ago I had managed to walk the planet without ever having tasted this tasty cousin of the blueberry that thrives in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
Huckleberries are everywhere in northern Idaho.  They are slightly more tart than a blueberry and have a few more seeds to give them a crunchy texture.  They're ubiquitous in farm markets, grocery stores and souvenir shops throughout the region mostly in the form of jams, jellies, BBQ sauce, pies, syrup, candy and my absolute favorite, ICE CREAM.  Not cultivated commercially, these little gems can only be picked in the wild during late summer or early fall.  It's also important to note that they are also a main food source for a wide range of animals including: deer, rodents and…GRIZZLY BEARS!


Huckleberries are the favorite food of grizzlies and constitute up to 1/3 of their diet.  This is something to keep in mind should you entertain thoughts of grabbing a pail and heading for an afternoon of berry picking in the mountains.  One third of an 800 pound bear's diet has to be one hell of a lot of huckleberries! I'm guessing that these little beauties serve as a dessert reward after a long day of snarfing salmon and trout from local lakes and streams,  (It probably also helps fight bear breath.)

Born to ride

I bring all of this to your attention as a safety measure should you decide, like me, to spend some time this summer with a bucket in a huckleberry patch.  In the interest of self preservation I plan on packing a couple of pounds of bacon and a unicycle when I head for the hills.  If needed, the pork product should momentarily distract Mr. (or is it Ms?) bear while I go for the unicycle.  If you've ever been to a circus you are well aware that bears simply cannot resist getting on those one-wheeled contraptions.  The ursine buffoons are mad about them and will ride them for hours.  At least that is my theory.  I also hear good things about bears and juggling.

If these distractions fail it would be wise to simply offer the bear your berries as you share a friendly "get to know you" in the woods.  Rumor has it that the picnic may take a while but be patient and allow the bear all the time he or she need to become satisfied.  Much like making love with a gorilla, it ain't over until the very large critter says so.

"Please, sit down and share your delicious huckleberries with me."

Friday, May 8, 2015

They Went That-Away Pardner

Hopalong Cassidy

Sorry, "Brokeback Mountain" doesn't count.
At the local cineplex or on our TVs Westerns have ridden into the celluloid sunset.  Replaced by dopey super hero schlock, teenage romances and flicks built around multiple car chases, the "horse opera" is now at home among the dusty DVDs of those who still remember and revere Hoppy, Gene, Hoot, Roy, the Cartwrights and other saddle pals of our youth.  Oh, we have the Western Channel, available on Direct 'TV and select cable systems offering a steady source of old west fair but finding cowboys anyplace else is like panning for gold.  Now and then there's a nugget but mostly you're wasting your time.

Westerns were always fun and easy to understand.  The good guys really did wear white hats--Hoppy and Pat excepted--and the stories were guaranteed to be resolved on a high note complete with a moral message confirming that truth and justice were the foundation of the American west.

Hoot Gibson
Gene and Pat

I especially miss some of the ever present western plot devices that have faded with the genre.  The always popular convenient knockout of a character that, instead of putting him in a coma, resulted in a five to fifteen minute nap that allowed either a good or bad guy to accomplish an element critical to the plot.  How many sheriffs were knocked unconscious when a low down dirty varmint whacked them over the head with the butt of a pistol?  Rocks and whiskey bottles accomplished the same thing without ever killing or maiming.

Quicksand as an added element of peril was everywhere in both television shows and movies about the old west.  How characters managed to fall into these deadly bogs of ick located in the middle of mostly arid mountainous country puzzled me even as a child.  I don't know about you, but I've managed to live my entire life without once coming across any quicksand.  That situation was usually good for a dying confession or a last minute rescue depending largely on whether the hapless victim was a good guy or bad guy.  This would likely work well on modern shows set in the deep south.  "NCIS New Orleans" anyone?  Perhaps we should alert that writing staff to the splendorous propensities of QUICKSAND.

Cattle stampedes were always good for dispatching characters.  Runaway stagecoaches chalked up their share of casualties as well.  Frankly I wouldn't mind seeing any of these tried and true plot devices worked into the increasingly stupid "reality" shows the TV nets seem determined to foist upon us.  I'll admit to having seen only the debut episode of the Survivor series but it only took me five minutes to decide that I wanted every single one of the show's participants DEAD.

"Dad burn, that's funny!"
If we can't have Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke and the rest of those fine old sagas of the west, how about  stampeding a bunch of reality show participants into a patch of quicksand?  Or, even better, have Ryan Seacrest and all those annoying bastards on American Idol and The Voice dragged through town behind Wild Bill Hickok's horse while Gabby Hayes and Andy Devine cackle in the background?  I'd definitely watch that!

Andy Devine

Friday, May 1, 2015

An Anniversary

Twenty years ago tomorrow my dad slipped out life's side door.  My brother called me shortly before midnight California time to give me the news.  Dad died in Springfield, Illinois not far from the small town of New Holland where he was born.  He is buried next to mom in the quiet little cemetery, Richmond Grove, that breaks the monotony of the endless fields of corn and soybeans that stretch to the horizon in central Illinois.

After telling my wife about the not unexpected phone call, I returned to bed knowing I would not sleep.    I decided not to forgo work and rose at my usual 3:30 AM to prepare for my morning radio show on KBZT-FM in San Diego.  I had considered calling my boss and begging off the day but found I actually craved the distraction of routine.  I also thought of it as a sort of "take your dad to work" day.  It wasn't difficult to feel like he was riding with me that morning.  I told no co-workers and the show went well.  When finished at 10 AM I handed an envelope to our receptionist on my way out the door and asked her to give it to the program director after my departure.  I explained my situation in a letter and told her I would return in about a week; then headed for the airport.

The last few years of life had been tough on dad.  He had diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and severe dementia as a final insult.  At 76, an age that doesn't seem that old to me these days,  he had gone quietly just a couple of days after being admitted to a nursing home.  Mom had nearly killed herself taking care of him by herself and had finally acquiesced to the nursing home when he was no longer able to stand or even remember how to sit in a chair.  It was bad.  Steve, my brother, told me that the look in dad's eyes the day he was admitted to the home said, "I'm out of here".  And, he was.

The funeral was, as funerals go, not too bad.  Often, when we were young, dad would say to Steve and me that we "wouldn't have enough friends to bury you" if he thought we had done something unfriendly or anti-social.  That one always sounded funny to me as I considered it a problem only for those responsible for the ultimate disposal of my worthless carcass.  He, on the other hand, had a ton of friends to see him off.  The service was SRO.  Many people we had never met told us stories of good times and wonderful gestures they had received from dad.  Both of us came away feeling as if we barely knew the man.  Like his experiences as a naval aviator in the South Pacific during the Second World War, these were tales he didn't share.  Anything that smacked of boasting was an anathema to him.  He avoided it and despised it in others.

The Navy Hymn was played before the service.  According to mom, that had been his only request.  A minister who obviously barely knew him expounded at length on what a great guy "Hubert" was.  I wanted to belt the blowhard for referring to him by a name he hated and had not answered to since he was in short pants.  He was "Cop" to anyone and everyone who called him friend.  If he could have jumped out of the casket and strangled the pious putz his friends and family would have totally understood and maybe even helped.  The color guard and 21 gun salute at the cemetery made up for it.

Twenty years is a long time yet I find my dad alive and well and living inside my head these days.  His admonitions to: "act like you mean it", "don't do a halfway job", "don't take a lazy man's load", "use your head for something besides a hat rack" and the ever popular "act like a man" resonate far more than when first administered.  Maybe it's because sixty years too late I'm finally listening and hoping that somewhere he is comfortable in the knowledge that I am, and will remain, eternally grateful.