Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Today we have honored our soldiers, all our soldiers. I give particular thought on these patriotic holidays to a Continental soldier in the American Revolution, a 19-year-old named Thomas Ponder. Ponder fought in the crucial Battle of the Cowpens in South Carolina in 1781 against a brutal British commander named Banastre Tarleton. The American commander at Cowpens was a tough and crafty hillbilly sort named Daniel Morgan. Morgan did some tactical maneuvering on the battlefield that messed with Tarleton's head. Along with King's Mountain, Cowpens was one of the important fights in the campaign in the South. Thomas Ponder was my great-grandfather's grandfather. We heed that very old history less than we did when I was a kid, but we should all be mindful of the debt we owe those men who stuck their necks out to secure our freedom.
Then there was my uncle, MSgt Russell Ponder, who I always believed won WWII. In a way, he did, because a lot of duty-bound men like him did it together.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pipe this

Go here. Pick your year [or if you're really old, you get the entire Forties]. Then sit there and sing along, tap out rhythm with your cane, prove disturbing to your spouse.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dancin' in the street

Check out this nimble, porky little tanguero dancing in the streets in Buenos Aires. You go out, say, on Sunday morning to some street fair, and there will be people tangoing in blocked-off streets. Or wander down toward the Ciudad Vieja in Montevideo, and there they are, people dancing for crowds that accumulate to the sound of the music. It seems like something touristy, and there are touristy tango venues, but the dance is absolutely basic in the cultures of the Rio de la Plata countries. There are people, mostly females, i think, who come from other countries and immerse themselves in tango. It's really sexy music and dance and no doubt provides a steady supply of chicks for BsAs tango guys to hustle.
It's an odd thing, people who completely embrace other cultures. There used to be a Japanese guy who did country fiddling, and around Austin many years ago a Dutch guy who did American folk music. He'd go on about 'Pick Pill Proonzy.' I've always had a weakness for Mexican ranchera music of Forties and Fifties vintage. Ayy, Cuco Sánchez. I'll scratch around and find some Cuco one of these days. We had an interesting conversation in Vigo, Spain, with an internet cafe guy who picked up our Mexigringo accents and engaged us; turned out he was a big fan of the same music. It's an amazing world.

Combat photography

Friend sent this along. Anyone who knows any photographers will love it.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mimosa, swallowtail

Wife returned home a couple, three days before I did and caught the mimosa in the sideyard all full of swallowtails. Almost an excess of flashy natural beauty. And we're rolling into that wonderful time of year when we have to hustle to stay ahead of the tomatoes. Makes up for all those mealy, flavorless tomatoes we eat in the wintertime.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Little lady preachers

We went to a birthday celebration this afternoon for a friend who's turned 70. I couldn't even kid him about being old, being within easy sight of 70 myownself. The party was held at the little Methodist church here in **Adrift where the pulpit has been for the last couple of years in the possession of a young female who looks about 20 years old. She is about to be ordained, and the pulpit here will pass to another.
For whatever reasons, it put me in mind of this Tom T. Hall song. I was very devoted to Tom T. back in the 1970s and saw him two or three times around Austin. I had the thought when I was teaching English in Mexico that his songs would make a nice tool for people trying to learn the language, as they tell stories that are universal and catch nicely a basic part of American culture. 'The Homecoming' is a perfect song, and Tom T. Hall is a genius. Haven't seen anything of him for some time, but he must be around 70, like the rest of us. Maybe he just went home to Olive Hill, Ky., and sits on the porch and picks for his own pleasure.

This & that

Made a drive yesterday that would have been worthy of my younger, iron-assed days of driving, all the way from Yates Center, Kan., to **Adrift, a trip that appears to be more than 700 miles. Now I'll be paralyzed for two days ... that's the catch with trying to relive youthful exploits. Have to retire the thousand-mile shirt.
There are interesting doings at Citizens Hospital in Victoria. Although I haven't noticed coverage in the Vicad [I have been out of town], the story has received ink in the NYTimes via Texas Tribune. For that interesting bit, go here to read of claims of discrimination by some South Asian heart guys and responses from Citizens people.
And, jes cuz, a nice pic of swallowtail butterfly in the mimosa. Wife captured this shot; she said the tree was filled up with butterflies a few days ago.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A dispatch from the frozen North

I am in Yates Center, Kansas, maybe 650 miles north of **Adrift. The wind is blowing cold, it's maybe in the low Fifties, and people are wearing actual, real coats to be outside. I received a first-gator report from herself back down south.
I am in the severalth day of trying to make some things happen on Rancho San Fulano, the summer White House, the dacha, the doomstead. Things happen slowly in farm country, as people are gaited to Nature's own rhythms, which run more to 'when the grass greens up' or 'when the water goes down' than to '2 Tuesday afternoon.'
It's very pretty up here, with nice flowers ... some amazing irises. These people enjoy a just reputation as neat and tidy. They are also beautifully civil and courteous. One refreshing note: When you say 'Thank you,' you get back 'You're welcome' instead of the somehow annoying 'No problem.'
Employment is dire, with no big enterprises to spread money around. Seems like most men work a piddling job and two more scuffles, on the order of scrapping or selling firewood or doing catch work. About the second largest job category I encounter is being on disability, which doesn't pay much but is steady and reliable. I hope to leave with the assurance that things will go forward and that I will be able to come up next time and find the place habitable.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ayyy, Cuca!

We've got this thing going for a Portuguese singer name of Cuca Roseta. She is amazingly beautiful and has a voice that can make you teary-eyed. Check this out. It's not a tango, but it's not bad. Four or five years ago, we spent several days in the north of Portugal, just across the border from Spain. It was beautiful country with the feeling that all the buildings were built four or five hundred years back when the Portuguese were running all about the world. The old days of empire left influences that you wouldn't think about at first: African immigrants, chinoiserie from the old days in Macao, curries because of the Goa connection, and Brazilian workers around. Pore place's getting roughed up the the current economic climate, which is sad, as they had such a long, dry spell before the little burst of Europrosperity. You could stand to live there; the food is very good, excellent wine is cheap, people are amiable.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday night misc

Pore ole Mexico continues its disravelment in astonishing ways. Gangsters are snatching people off buses in northern Mexico and killing them, apparently just for the pleasure of killing. Dashiell Hammett, in Red Harvest, called that kind of gleeful violence going blood simple, and some movie guys appropriated the phrase for a movie title. It's sad to remember that Mexico was once the place we wanted to run off to. Not ten years ago, I was looking at property in Yucatán and dreaming of huevos motuleños and morning coffee at the Express in Mérida. Some music from the old days, when Mexico was more romantic than tragic.

And a funny, sorta, piece about wild boar in Berlin city limits. We can sympathize with the Berliners and their pig problem. Ck it out here on the BBC.

And a blog comment that I liked: '[C]ivilization is defined by the presence of musical instruments, alcohol, and literature, in that order.' And, so, another little copita of tinto for me, and maybe a bit of book and a tango CD.