Stripper School: Harder Than You Think

As trade schools go, Stripper School is a lot more difficult than many trade schools. And for the record, they like to be called “exotic dancers.”  It’s classier.

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The Shortest Best Story Ever

This post originally appeared in Old Road Apples’ very first week of existence. No one noticed it. No one even read it. So, I’m giving it a chance at new life, as I will be doing with other, carefully selected posts in the coming weeks.

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Among the students voted “best…” and “most likely to…” for the Senior Class Personalities in my kids’ yearbooks, I noted what has to be the most flattering and impressive designation, “Talks the least. Says the Most.”  I can’t think of a higher salute from one’s peers.

Now I’m thinking about the writer Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway was one of those “gateway writers” who collectively inspired me to study literature and read obsessively.  An early selection of my adolescence-generated prose stinks of derivation, but as I stumbled into my pretentious twenties I mocked him along with other, equally unsubtle critics.  He ate a sandwich.  It was a good, moist sandwich with meat and cheese. The cheese was yellow and good. He had eaten kind of sandwich Nick ate in Italy.  I fell in love with bombast, magical realism, what I jokingly called “maximumism.”  That passed, too, and I’ve come full circle to recognize the subtle  genius behind the man who writes the least  and says, or at least edits, the most.

My favorite story about Hemingway involves him sitting around a table, possibly at The Algonquin, with his friends, a few of whom were towering talents in their own right, and betting the house that he could write an entire story with just a few words.  His eager companions bade him put his money where he mouth (and pen) was.  Hemingway replied with a 6-word novel, hastily scribbled onto a napkin  It read:

“For sale: baby shoes.  Never worn.”

His companions read the words, probably grumbled a little, and paid the man.

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War Is Cruelty, And You Cannot Refine It

Excuse me a moment while I alienate all the southerners reading this blog….

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This is General William Tecumseh Sherman on scenic horse ride through Georgia–I got in a bit of a kerfluffle with a southern stranger on Pinterest last year after I 86c237077812f258c8a367c7e5c7f7depinned the image to the right on the photo saving site, along with a favorite Sherman quote, one I find continually compelling, particularly in light of the penchant for many passionate southerners to look back on the history of the time through the rose tinted glasses of “northern aggression” and all that revisionist bullshit.  If nothing else Sherman reminds us that the South started the war.

“You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace.”

I have no love of the man, whose reasoned barbarism in the civil war was surpassed by his cruelty in the “Indian Wars” that followed–but I found the woman attacking me to be intolerable.

Linda Ricker • 39 weeks ago

“If you had ANY idea whatsoever of what he and his men did to many southern families and their children, you would NOT admire this man at all! He and his men were nothing shy of satan himself! He and his men raped women while their husbands were off fighting. They raped and molested the children while they made the mothers watch. They stole our things and shipped them up North via railways and rivers and the ocean. War is horrible enough, but he and his men made it HELL!”

Junk Chuck • 39 weeks ago

“…because slavery wasn’t cruel? Approximately 10 million captive slaves were killed in bondage in North America, another 1.2-2 million died en route, and as many as 6 million died as an indirect result of the slave trade in Africa. I contend that the numbers of enslaved families were far greater, and the crimes perpetrated upon them far more heinous than the experience of the average southern family. I understand that southern history books teach differently, but Master raped and molested far more efficiently, and far frequently, than did the soldiers in Sherman’s armies. I’m sorry your things were stolen and shipped north–maybe your ancestors shouldn’t have stolen people’s children and sold them. I never see that goddamned rebel flag, the emblem of hate and murder and greed and racism (not a signet of some misguided idea of idyllic, romanticized “southern pride”) that I don’t feel sick to my stomach. The glorious south perpetrated feudalistic genocide and got what was coming to them.”

$(KGrHqFHJEQFC1Y23KpSBQ3ceq6Do!~~60_1The glorification of southern slave culture is something that piques my ire with a singular, venomous sting.  A bunch of Nazis get together to celebrate old times, and we’re convening international tribunals, but we’re perfectly fine with these “rebel” yahoos?  I’m posting this after spending half an hour on the highway recently behind a diesel 4×4 riding crazy huge rims and bearing the following bumper stickers. (These are the the same images, though not on the vehicle in question–I found them readily enough on the internet.)
welfare

 obamidt-300x225dontrenigin2012Now, what I find so–I guess “amusing” isn’t the word, maybe “ironic” or humorously contradictory, is this connection between self-styled conservatives and the iconography of southern rebellion.  The rebel flag is, at it’s basest, a symbol of contempt for America and American ideals, and while our constitution thankfully protects the rights of rednecks and idiots to spit on and disdain those ideals, it could be argued that embracing the confederate flag–the flag of a nation that is NOT the USA I might add–is, at best, an act of anti-patriotism.  Isn’t that just the kind of thing about which conservatives are so often foaming at the mouth?  Remember “Freedom fries?”  Lapel pins?  Just recently President Obama was criticized for carrying a cup of coffee in one hand and saluting the Marine guard as he stepped from his helicopter as being insufficiently patriotic.

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Opps!  Wrong photos.

Yeh, I couldn’t resist that, even though it dilutes and distracts from my argument.  What I’d like to see, next time Obama steps off the chopper, is him dramatically throwing his styrofoam cup to the ground, then fervently salute the Marines before grabbing them on the shoulders and kissing them, one after the other, euro-style, first on one cheek then the other.  Of course, he’d then not only have all the usual trolls riding him, but the Sierra Club would be all over his ass for the litter.

MJZ598The point is this: how can people be so damned touchy about patriotism at one moment, then turn around and…well, what am I saying?  We’re humans, after all, wreathed in complexity and contradiction, glorious reminders of the…no, not that, either–because it’s all a perfect plan, right?  Aren’t inconsistencies at odds with the intelligent design that’s been fine-tuning us for every one of the 3,000 years or so that there has been life on Earth?  So, no–I don’t get it.

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And you thought they didn’t make these!

I learned not so long ago that “you’re either for us or against us.” I can deal with that.  I can get behind that.  My earliest relatives arrived here in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century from England, Scotland, and Alsace, and as far as I know none of them ever looked back. I certainly don’t fly an Alsatian flag on my lawn, or stick one on the bumper of my ILUV (impractically large utility vehicle).  Of course, given the proud martial history of Alsace, I’m not sure it would intimidate anyone, but oh, the beer….

The other thing that occurs to me is that the glorious armies of the Confederate States of America totally and unequivocally got their asses handed to them on a plate…and yes, perhaps they didn’t run, but only because they were left to stumble home shoeless, starving, bloody and broken.  Indeed, the fact that southern cultures exists at all is owed to the decision, made by the Northern leadership, to try to repair the nation rather than treat the south as, perhaps, it should have been treated: as the hostile, former homeland of a conquered and bitter enemy–like the way Israel treats Palestine. I mean, if you’re not going to be grateful….

N370

No.

Just remember, this juxtoposition is inherently flawed.  The two flags, and two mindsets, are incompatible.  One cannot have it both ways–the two are mutally exclusive.  Or, as a not all that wise woman liked to say, “America, love it or leave it.”

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What’s The Ettiquette on Re-Using Old Posts?

I started this blog at a snail’s pace–a lot of the initial posts had 2 or 3 or maybe 5 views on a very good day and some were completely ignored.  It took me a while to Just_A_Repostfigure out the give and take of community building, and now that I have a nice network of associations, acquaintances, and interactions that I enjoy and look forward to, I’m thinking I’d like to throw that stuff back out at the world.  What’s the protocol here?  Is this something, like my Uncle George used to do before reaching across someone’s plate for the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving Dinner, “that isn’t done in the best of families?”  For argument’s sake, rest assured I’m going to do it if you don’t stop me–so please advise.

I’m nothing if not a sucker for a theme:

 

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Autumn Photo: Hemingway’s Bloody Mary

absolut-bloody-mary(85)Ernest Hemingway didn’t invent Autumn’s most iconic cocktail–that distinction is rumored to belong to Ferdinand “Pete” Petiot, a Parisian bartender looking for ways to dress up vodka for Russian immigrants and American expatriots on the lam from Prohibtion–but the iconic American author, and legendary drinker, has been inextricably tied to the Bloody Mary thanks to a recipe he concocted and included in a letter to a friend in 1947.

Autumn is, in my mind, incomplete without spending at least one brisk, sunny weekend morning outdoors, on the patio or perhaps tailgating before a game, with a tall tumbler of this most delicious elixir in one’s hand.  It’s an excellent complement to hearty slab of good, crusty bread and a chunk of assertive cheese.  Do not, under any circumstances, pour this drink over crushed ice.  Any Bloody Mary is better than none, but the Hemingway recipe is definitive.

Hemingway Bloody Mary Recipe
Recipe:
To a large pitcher (anything smaller is “worthless”) add:
1 chunk of ice (the biggest that will fit)
1 pint of vodka
1 pint chilled tomato juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 jigger fresh lime juice
Pinch celery salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch black pepper
Several drops of Tabasco

“Keep on stirring and taste it to see how it is doing. If you gets it too powerful weaken with more tomato juice. If it lacks authority add more vodka.”

Thirteenth_Colony_Distillery_Plantation_Vodka_Vodka__89455A word about Vodka: there is very little correlation between taste and price with Vodka.  That said, a Bloody Mary is certainly not the place to dump your expensive bottles, or your throat-burning cheapies that scorch a path down your gullet like a can of flaming Sterno.  I recommend Plantation, or Luksusowa–both nice balances of price and smoothness.

Some notes: 1.)You’ve undoubtedly seen Bloody Marys served with celery slices, which is fine but not necessary if you add the celery salt.  Unless you like celery a lot, which I do, although I’m still ambivalent. A spring of crushed celery leaf would add better flavor. I’m of the opinion the celery just gets in the way.  2.) The addition of extraneous ingredients–like gin, sherry, vermouth or, gods help us, bacon or clam juice* is a sacrilege.  3.)Large pieces of ice are preferable because they melt more slowly (less surface area) and take longer to water down your drink.  It is rumored that Hemingway used a tennis ball can to make ice cubes for his pitchers.  4) In a pinch, lemon juice can replace lime juice.  5) Using V-8 instead of Tomato Juice is an interesting variation.

*Adding clam juice, or substituting Clamato juice makes a different drink, the Bloody Caesar.

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People Crackers?

My friend Miriam gave me a box of these for Christmas a few years ago.
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I remember my grandmother giving me these to feed to her dog when I was little.  I guess they’re sort of the same deal?
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Autumn Photo: Yellowstone 1990

Wandering around Yellowstone with some friends way back in 1990, mid-afternoon on the road between Mammoth and Tower, we spotted a colorful grove of aspen trees.  We waded out into the dry autumn grass, plopped down, and stared up and through the golden leaves at the perfect blue sky above. We dozed off and had what was, for me, about the most perfect afternoon nap I’ve ever had.
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