Friday, February 26, 2010

Today's Birthday..........

In 1932............

78 years ago today John C. Cash "The Man in Black" was born.

Everyone who has any interest in country music knows who Johnny Cash was. If he had just rested on his laurels that he earned in the early days he would have been well known. But he continued to make music almost to the day he died. He didn't make music that Nashville wanted or even liked but he did things that he wanted to do. By doing that, he reveled a whole different side of himself. It wasn't a reinvention, but a display of a different aspect that the public never saw. If you don't believe me, check out Cash's version of Trent Raznor's song "Hurt". The man's soul is bared for everyone to see.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Even before I started having the problems with my stomach and became so particular about what I could eat, I was a foodie. Food has always been a big part of my life and I enjoy the process of creating a new dish or modifying it to fit my own taste. I also like swapping recipes with others which drew me to the world of blogging because there are so many good cooks that also blog out there. I have leaned to appreciate Cajun cooking and mid-western via these blogs. Hopefully I have been able to share a few recipes that folks have enjoyed in return.

Here is a couple that I got from a good friend in Missouri that are quick, easy and taste good too.

Mexican Poached Eggs

1 cup more or less of picante sauce (depending on appetite or size of skillet)
1/4 onion, finely diced
2-4 eggs
dash of chili powder
seasoning to taste
1/4 cup good cheddar cheese

Saute the onions until tender in the skillet then add the picante sauce. (You could use salsa, but I find it taste a little more bitter than picante sauce) Bring it to a simmer, then add the eggs. Cover the skillet with a lid or anything else that will hold in steam and cook a wee bit until the eggs are nearly set. (you can help that along buy spooning some of the hot picante sauce over the eggs.) Then place some of the cheese over the eggs, cover until it melts and serve it up.

Damn fine eats. But say you aren't in a Mexican mood, Not a problem. You can make this with a Italian flair by swapping the picante for marinara sauce, the cheddar for Parmesan, and a big helping of provolone to cover the eggs with. This recipe just screams for a nice crunchy bread to go with it.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today In History................

In 1804............

Lt. Stephen Decatur U.S.N. in a captured ketch sailed into Tripoli harbor, recaptured the frigate U.S.S. Philadelphia from the pirates who had captured it when she ran aground in the harbor. Unable to get her out of the harbor, Decatur put her to the torch to keep her out of the pirate's hands.

No less than the greatest fighting man of the age of fighting sail, Horatio Nelson when told of the incident said: " It was the most bold and daring act of the age"

Monday, February 15, 2010

Remember The Maine, To Hell With Spain................

I was just sitting here and I noticed it was 9:40 P.M. The very time that a explosion ripped apart the battleship U.S.S. Maine in Havana, Cuba on this date back in 1898. The Maine sank in a very short time taking 266 men with her, 8 more died later in hospitals.

It had been long suspected that the cause of the explosion was either Spanish sabotage, or a underwater mine triggered by the Spanish. The Maine had been sent to Cuba to protect American interest in the middle of a rebellion of the Cuban people against the Spanish. Most Americans made no bones about the fact that they supported the Cubans, so the Maine was a big statement to the Spanish. The press, as always never let facts get in the way of a good story, started beating the drum about Spanish perfidy and printing stories about the evil Spaniards and pretty soon, had the American public fired up to the point that the American government didn't have any choice but to go to war. Later, there has been much research and study that MIGHT indicate that the explosion may have been caused by spontaneous combustion of coal in the ship's bunker, which was located right beside the forward powder magazine. A fire in the coal bunker in old ships was a major problem. Those kinds of fires got hot, real quick and the heat generated could start other fires and set off powder in magazines. Again, at this late date and lack of evidence there is no way of knowing what truly caused the explosion.

The Spanish American War was on the whole very successful for the Americans. The Spanish were beaten so badly that they never regained their prominence as a world power. The American Navy out fought the Spanish Navy at every turn and almost destroyed it's ability to function and support the Spanish land forces in Cuba. When an American ship was literally shooting a Spanish battleship to pieces at the battle of Santiago Bay and the American gunners were cheering, the American Captain Philip ordered the gunners to be silent with the command, " Don't Cheer Boys! Those poor devils are dying" The American Navy sank 6 Spanish ships in the battle, and lost none of their own.

Yep, it was a pretty good war, we ended up with Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Philippines, Guam, and other odds and ends. America became a world power and a force to be reckoned with.

We soon learned however that being a world power would lead to world class problems. The Philippines in particular became a festering sore that would be a lot like our later experiences in Vietnam. In the Philippines we also had our first experiences with Islamic fundamentalist in the Moro tribes that also rose in revolt. This was the proving ground of the 45 cal cartridge which was considered the only effective round to stop a charging Moro full of hate and Islam.

Oh yeah, one more thing. A certain assistant secretary of the navy just couldn't stay at home when America's young men were going out to fight, so he used all of his political influence to organize a military unit to join the war. The unit was originally commanded by Leonard Wood, but when Wood was promoted in the field, this gentleman was made commander of the unit, The 1st U.S. Volunteer Calvary. This unit was also known as the Rough Riders and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy was Theodore Roosevelt. Of course everyone knows that Roosevelt led the Rough Riders up the San Juan Heights in the assault on Kettle Hill, but few know about the pistol he carried with which he "bowled over a few Spaniards, like rabbits" with. It was a Colt revolver in 38 caliber that had been salvaged from the wreckage of the battleship Maine.

Giving Over To The Dark Side.................

I do not like it when people do "remakes" of anything.

It they did it right, why remake it? If they didn't why waste the time and money trying to improve crap?

So it was with some trepidation that right after I found out they are remaking the classic movie True Grit that they had made a remake of the classic 1941 movie The Wolfman. I must admit that I wasn't very happy to hear it.

I was raised on the Universal Horror Classics, such as Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy and even The Creature From The Black Lagoon. It was a rare Saturday morning or late night when I didn't take the time to catch one running on TV. And of all these, The Wolfman was my favorite. Played by Lon Chaney Jr. It was the perfect role for him. (He was the son of Lon Chaney Sr. man of a 1000 faces who had played monsters and villains in silent movies) How could they take what I thought of as the perfect horror movie and do a remake of it? Particularly with Benicio Del Toro playing the lead role. I don't know, he just doesn't strike me as the Wolfman type.

Having said that, I will probably go see it against my better judgement.

I know that the special effects will be much better than those of the 1940's as well as there will be a great deal of gore. I am also sure that there will also be a modern message tucked into the narrative somewhere. Knowing how Hollywood does things, the movie will no doubt end with the Wolfman being shot by the evil Sarah Palin with a high powered rifle while she is hanging out of a helicopter wearing a bikini.

We will see.......

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Gummi Production.............

As I posted earlier, boredom is a terrible thing to waste, so a friend and I decided to reenact a scene from a favorite movie of mine....

Dramatis Personae: (I love that term)

1 Gummi Rat

1 Single Action Army knock off in 45 Colt

1 Skilled Marksman (well, maybe not so much)

" Mr. Rat, I have a writ here says you're to stop eating Chin Lee's cornmeal forthwith. Now it's a rat writ, writ for a rat, and this is lawful service of the same. See, doesn't pay any attention to me."

(Shoots the Rat)

"Outside is Place for Shooting!!!!!!!"

"I'm servin' some papers"

"You can't serve papers on a rat, baby sister. You either gotta kill'em or let 'em be"

The after effects:

F.Y.I. For those interested, there are EIGHT 45 Colt round hits in the rat's head. I have come to the conclusion that you can NOT stop a gummi rat with anything less than a 12 bore shot gun loaded with slugs and even then, it's iffy.

Not to mention, no real rats were harmed in this remake of this movie scene..........

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Charlie Wilson 1934-2010

I heard today that former TX congressman Charlie "Good Time Charlie" Wilson passed on at age 76.

I couldn't help but think of the contrast of reaction that I had compared to when I heard that John Murtha had died.

Wilson was by all accounts a hard partying guy, who had the personal morals and ethics of a tomcat with the ladies. But he was honest enough to admit it to anyone who asked. He had a ego that just wouldn't quit and was said to be the only person who could "swagger" while sitting in a chair.

He also was a unabashed patriot who put so many thorns in the path of the Russian bear in Afghanistan that he could, by any method of measure could be considered one of the victors of the cold war. Wilson saw what needed to be done and did it, because it was the right thing to do. Countless Afghan lives were saved (and in the bigger scheme of things American lives) by Charlie working with the C.I.A. to funnel money and guns to the freedom fighters. Charlie always said with a big grin on his face, that he did it, " Just to stick it to the Russians" I believe that he had other reasons like a very strong belief in freedom and justice. I just can't see that Murtha would have done the same thing Charlie did (Unless of course he got a kick back or it was politically expedient) Granted, we did drop the ball later in Afghanistan by leaving a vacuum rather than helping stabilize the place. But we DID stop Soviet expansionism which in turn lead to the fall of the Soviet Empire.

When Ol' Charlie gets to the pearly gates, and talks to St. Peter, I bet you he will charm his way in. It worked many times for him before. As for Murtha, well if the Marines are still guarding the streets of heaven, as the song lyrics go, I don't think it's going to be very pretty.................

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dramatis Personae...............

Thought I would give you a run down on the cast of characters that inhabit Casa W.

Miss B. My long suffering wife, also know as The Memsahib, Good wife, She Who Must Be Obeyed. She has put up with my strangeness and weirdness for close to 30 years with good humor and charm. Even though "I" think it has been mostly out of a sense of curiosity, she has hung in there with me for which I will forever be grateful.

Wesley. A large, rotund yellow Tom Cat. He has to be the most put upon cat in the world. Every other cat in the house mugs him unmercifully and all he wants to do is eat, sleep and eat some more. Named after John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, who was pretty much put upon also.

Maggie. A small grey and white mottled tortoiseshell cat. Found on the side of the road after being tossed out some one's car window. She is remarkable feisty for as little as she is. Named after Former British Prime Minister Margret Thatcher another personal hero of mine.

Missy. A solid black cat of a uneven temper and attitude. Wants to be the alpha cat, but I will not let her. She retaliated however as she was the key actor in an assassination attempt against me a while back. The good wife named her Missy, I don't know why.

Tommy. A young cat with a great deal of Maine Coon blood. Young and very hard headed. I named him after the hero of the WHO's rock opera, since he can't seem to hear or see me.

Rudi. A young Miniature Schnauzer who is in the process of being spoiled rotten by the good wife. Generally a good natured pup. Named after Prince Rudolph of the Rhine, a Protestant leader in the 30 Years War.

And of course, your humble correspondent.........

So that's the Who's Who of Casa W.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

That Voodoo You Do So Well...............

As most of you are aware, one of my biggest investments in time, money and effort in my day to day life is the world of living history (a.k.a. reenacting) I currently delve into several time periods, to include The French and Indian War, The American Revolution, The War of 1812, as well as the American Civil War. The biggest question that folks ask me is "why?" On many occasions I have tried to figure out the answer to that question, and have come to the conclusion that there just isn't a simple one. At least for me.

The biggest part of it would be my personal quest for knowledge. I have always wondered about things. Why and how things happened, what things were like. The world of living history gives me a very small taste of what it might have been like.

Now I know on multiple levels that there is no way in God's green earth that we can replicate the past nor would I really want to with it's early deaths, lack of modern medicine and sanitation, and the absolute lack of almost all modern conveniences that we enjoy today. I sure as heck don't do this to glorify war or death either. However I firmly believe that during times of great conflict, that mankind in general shows it's true nature or face if you will, both it's greatness as well as it's dark evil side. Now that is a tool that I can use to teach and share my discoveries with the public.
You see, not only do "I" learn, I also share with whoever is interested in the information. (And can put up with my pontifications) History is a very hard thing for people to grasp unless it directly involves them. If you stick your hand on a hot stove, you will not do it again. But how do people make the connection with something that happened 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, or even 200 years ago? That's when living history comes in. When I go to a historic site, school, genealogy group or where ever folks invite me and set out my displays of period weapons, medical tools, clothing and other items of material culture it gives the public a chance to connect with the past, in so ever a fleeting manner.

I once went to a school and asked a 16 year old student to put on a British wool uniform coat from the Rev War and told him to shoulder my 11 lb. replica Brown Bess musket for about 5 minutes. Then I explained the average British soldier got one uniform coat a year and he wore it both summer and winter. So he slept in it, ate in it, worked in it and marched in it. I let the students ask questions to both me and my young assistant and you could see the lights starting to come on behind the eyes. They had made the connection and had put a human face on those spirits of the past. The mantra that I tell people is that in the 18th and 19th century, people were born, fell in love, had babies, worried about their bills and died hoping that their kids would have a better life than they did. Now how much different is that from today?

There are other reasons I do living history, material culture and the ability to recreate items and tools from the past, the fellowship with like-minded individuals and just the sheer fun of it. The one reason that I don't think I do this is escapism. Again, I think I am way too much a pragmatist and realist to think that I can transport myself back in time. But that isn't to condemn those who feel that they can. There is a very interesting article at a friend who I have never met's blog site that was taken from CNN about those who look at living history as a method of escaping the 21st century. Again, very interesting read. Check it out:

So now, you know why I spend countless hours doing what I do in, clothing that went out of style a long time ago.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stick A Fork In Her, She's Done..............

Well, I got discharged from the hospital and sent home. Maybe now I can banish the drama queen to the back 40 and get back to a semblance of sanity. I hope so.

Thanks for hanging with me.

Happy Birthday...............

I would like to observe and commemorate the birthday of a personal hero of mine today.

A toast if you will, (in Rum, Cuban if possible) to the memory of
William Owen "Buckey" O'Neill. Born 2 February 1860, 150 years ago today.

Sheriff, Yavapai County, Arizona Territory
Mayor, Prescott, Arizona Territory
Captain, Troop A, First U.S. Vol. Cav. " The Rough Riders"

K.I.A. 1 July 1898 in the assault on Kettle Hill, San Juan Hts. Cuba

"The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered
befell just before we charged. Buckey O'Neill was strolling up and
down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was
inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer
ought never to take cover-a theory which was wrong, though in a
volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose
themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our
regimental toast on the transport running "the officers; may the war
last until each is killed, wounded or promoted." As O'Neill moved to
and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of his sergeants
said "Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you." O'Neill took his
cigarette out of his mouth and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed
and said "Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn't made that will kill me."
A little later, he discussed for a moment with one of the regular
officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he
turned on his heel a bullet stuck him in the mouth and came out the
back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant
soul had gone out into the darkness"

Theodore Roosevelt
The Rough Riders pp 123-124

"Who would not die for a new star in the flag?"
On the tombstone of "Buckey" O' Neill at Arlington Va.

"We may have great men.......but we'll never have better!"
Down by the Glenside

Monday, February 1, 2010

Long Day................

Still in. But today I took a lot of steps toward getting out of here. I got most of my stuff taken out, holes plugged, and generally getting pointed in the direction of the door. Tomorrow I get a bunch of staples removed and should be able to return to the casa at the very latest, in the afternoon. Again this only counts if every thing goes well. So keep your fingers crossed. I know I have my fingers, toes and every thing else I could find crossed.