Funny and/or Strange meme Uncategorized

Autumn Coming: Time For Pumpkin Flavored Everything

We recently had the first crisp evening that hinted at the changes to come, that feeling in the air that native Westsylvanians recognize as “a Football Night.” In the verges, the annual flora are showing wear, the color of goldenrod lines country roads and the counts of our prolific whitetail deer seen dead along the highways, stirred to their violent ends by the hormonal surges of the rut and the the instinctive understanding that food will soon be much less abundant. In the trees, the earliest leaves are already beginning to flush, and in the bars and coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries, the taps and pitchers and shelves are suddenly and predictably weighted by food and drink flavored with “Pumpkin Spice.” If you expected me to offer consolation, I apologize. I have none to give. Indeed, the words that might help are these: be strong and resolute. Like all tribulations, this too will pass.

Christmas Commentary

Merry Christmas, My Friends

Another year, another Christmas, another opportunity to thank those of you who make time in their days to see what kind of drivel I’ve posted this time, and also to those of you–and I know that in many cases you are both of these–who put forth the effort to share with the rest of us, to entertain us, educate, titillate, agitate, and inspire us with your work, your examples, and the small truths of your lives within which we see reflections of our own. Thank you for it all, and regardless of how–or even if–you celebrate the holiday, I hope it is a good one.


Photo I Took

Eleven Years Ago…

…we bought a particularly nice tree from this unsavory character. I made the mistake of saying, “hey, toss me that tree over there…” Opps.


Man, does time go fast. The semi-feral six-year old ragamuffin making sure the tree is safely nestled in the bed of our truck is going to college next year…

meme Uncategorized

Memeday:Deer Day

Because there just aren’t very may funny hunting memes…
…and, frankly, I just didn’t feel like trying that hard.


sheer awesomeness video

Mobula Rays Fly, Fly Away

This is awesome, but don’t take my word for it.  Look for yourself.

mobula rayAccording to the narrative on…

“Mobula rays aka flying rays are also known as the devil fish of the ocean. They are similar in appearance to manta rays and they fall under the family of eagle rays. They can attain a disc width of up to 5.2m (17 ft). They can weight over a ton and are known as the second largest Manta species in size. But other than this, not much is known about them. That is why this video is extra special.

NatGeo managed to capture this beautiful event where a record-breaking school of mobula rays arrived off the coast of Baja. Thousands of mobula rays are gathered in the ocean and it is really mind-blowing to see them fly….”


New Year Reflections: Love & Christmas Cards

cardsI’m back, after a pleasant holiday hiatus disguised somewhat by the magic of scheduled posts.  It’s time to write again, and it’s time to catch up reading on A LOT of blogs (yours probably among them, if you’re reading this) that I’ve ignored during the busy season.  (I feel really bad about that, and I miss you–I really do)  But hey, what a season.

The great joy of the season for me is love–love for friends, and family, and occasionally even strangers on the street.  We hosted one party, ultimately staying up until 4am with a some folks we’ve just recently come to know better and enjoy, and attended half a dozen others through the season.  Ate a lot.  Drank a lot.  Told a lot of tales, shared a lot of hugs–and there it is: I bet I’ve squeezed king hell out of a hundred different people in the past month and only a few of them froze awkwardly and board-like in my embrace. Do I now have a head cold with a sore throat?  Sure, I do, but  I’ve often said that we should care for people year-round like we do in December, but that’s an inaccurate observation: it seems to me that it’s not the love that is lacking, just the willingness to express it.  Thinking of that old song.

It’s not the glow you feel
When snow appears
It’s not the Christmas card
You’ve sent for years…

…So may I suggest, the secret of Christmas
It’s not the things you do
At Christmas time but the Christmas things you do
All year through the year.

I disagree a little about the Christmas Cards.  I suppose a lot of folks sit down and burn through them as a chore–my wife of 19 years has a cousin who every season sends us a card that grossly misspells my last name–no, that’s not even it, she’s made up an entirely different name, with just the same first consonant, and assigned it to me– and, what’s more, she thinks my first name is Christopher.  It’s Charles–(hence the “Chuck” in Junk Chuck).  Of course, each year we send her a card as well, with the correct names on it, which she clearly isn’t reading.  It’s become a bit of a joke–I look at the card, see the misspelling, mutter “Fuck you, Andre” and sit it with the others. At least she’s trying.  I’ve met the woman once–but there’s the thing: at Christmas we make the time to service our connections, however tenuous, however ineptly or half-assedly.

We don’t go all out.  We don’t have photograph sessions in matching outfits, and we don’t write letters detailing our somewhat banal lives over the previous 365 days–our cards are pretty much bargain-bought boxes purchased each January at deep discount and squirreled away over the intervening 11 months. We’re not out to impress you with our creativity–a noble enterprise when you pretty much lack artistic sensibilities–we just want to wish folks well.

I try to add Christmas cards to my address book every year–new friends and old friends whose physical addresses have disappeared from my address book over the years due to moves and the preponderance of electronic communication.  I still find this odd–I can reach out to people I love across the country, across the world even, with a few taps on a keyboard, but if I was in their neighborhood I couldn’t knock on their door.  I send cards in opposition to the waning nature of this tradition because they’re tangible expressions of affection. My wife and I wrote them this year while watching a football game on TV, and that was nice too.  Sort of like a date, but with a plate of cookies at my elbow while wearing slippers and a pair of bright red fleece pajama pants with black moose on them and a 16-year old cotton sweater that is so ratty, so stretched out of it’s original shape, that it barely qualifies as a sweater–more like a blanket with sleeves.  It’s not a barn burner, as dates go, but I’ve had worse.  We’re even talking about sending cards next year to the people we see regularly in our lives.  Why not?

Commentary Quote

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Stephen Fry

First_look_at_Stephen_Fry_and_Kiefer_Sutherland_in_Sky_Arts_Christmas_drama_MarkedChristmas to a child is the first terrible proof that to travel hopefully is better than to arrive.– Stephen Fry


My Favorite Christmas Recordings #1 Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme: That Holiday Feeling

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.


Here it is, Steve & Eydie standing tall at Number One!  Unexpected?  Maybe.  They would certainly be a dark horse on most people’s lists, but I’m not most people, and I’ve loved these guys since I was a little kid.  Remember those old promo anthologies I was talking about at the bottom of this countdown?  Steve and Eydie featured prominently in many of them, and those songs still resonate with me today.  I had a hell of a time finding it, in fact–the “new price” for this on Amazon is $42.95, which is robbery.  I bought mine for $24.95 from the artists’ web site and never looked back.

The title track is the first Christmas song I listen to each year, by tradition, because I’ve got that holiday feeling, of course.  The snappy little pop jazz duet is the perfect starting gun for the season, the cover of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is easily as good as Dean Martin’s version, and “Hurry Home For Christmas” just dares you not to sing along–then sing again in the shower, on the stairs, in the car….

Some of the tracks have a big band sound more like the music of the 40’s, some of it like late 50’s Swing–it fits in with my favorite Christmas music milieu.  With huge bonus points for “Sleigh Ride”–the merriest song of the season.  I wish my friends and I had half as much fun as the whoopin’ and hollerin’ on that sleigh ride–and with those whoops and whipcracks at the end of the song, I turned to my wife yesterday morning and said “Is it just me, or does that sound like Steve’s giving Eydie a little spankin’?”

“I know!” She said.  “I just thought the same thing!”  We busted a gut.  You should too.

1. That Holiday Feeling
2. White Christmas
3. Winter Wonderland
4. The Christmas Song
5. Baby It’s Cold Outside
6. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
7. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
8. Sleigh Ride
9. Let Me Be the First to Wish You Merry Christmas
10. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
11. What Are You Doing New Years Eve
12. Hurry Home for Christmas
13. That Ol’ Christmas Spirit
14. Happy Holiday

My Favorite Christmas Recordings #3 Ella Fitzgerald: Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.


So, it’s Christmas Day, I’m busy with family stuff, and I’ve still got 3 album entries and the second part of “Christmas Traditions” to write and post–go ahead and call fumble, I’ve clearly dropped the ball.

If there is a singular voice of Christmas in our home, it is Ella Fitzgerald–what can I say about this legendary singer that hasn’t been said before, and by people who actually know what they’re talking about.  She’s slick, she’s deep, but still accessible in the way the very best of these holiday records must be.  Literally, I’m short of words, and there’s no hyperbole that can tell you how rarely that happens.  It’s just a perfect album, everything you want, and like several others it could (and almost was) the number one choice on this list, falling short only on sentimental value–the two records ahead of it simply evoke more memories and traditions.  No Christmas collection should be without it.



Commentary Uncategorized

My Favorite Christmas Recordings #4 Chieftans Christmas: The Bells of Dublin

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.


At best, I’m ambivalent towards Celtic music, if for no other reason than because a few close relatives of mine have, after a lifetime of identifying as descendents of snobby British folk, have become “just add water” deeply felt Irish.  When my mother bought a kilt a few years ago, that was pretty much the last straw–although it’s great at Christmas, because there is always some kind of crap they’re selling to people who wish they were Irish, whether it’s glossy photography books of rolling green hills and cold, shitty sheep farms, or CDs of hyper-melodramatic mediocre Irish musicians from PBS–like “Celtic Women” or “Celtic Thunder” or mom’s cheeseball (with nuts) favorite, Daniel O’Donnell.


The Chieftains, though, are the real deal–not some box of made for TV marketing tools, and this is one of the best Christmas albums out there, chock full of tradition and reverence.  My favorite track, the “St. Stephens Day Murders” isn’t what you might think if you know a little about Irish history–a hilarious and very familiar tale of internecine holiday conflict.