Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mother of Exiles (Immigration For Dummies)

So many people seem up in arms over the recent influx of immigrant children from Central America. WTF?

First off, they're CHILDREN!!!!! Sadly, there are a lot of them. Imagine their lives. To be sent, alone, across the miles, the desert, to a strange land...where certain people don't want them. We, as a society, should be ashamed of ourselves. 

The US has always welcomed immigrants. Why anyone would want to come to here anymore is beyond me. This country is a mess. I know it and you know it. So, just think how bad these kids' worlds are that this place seems like a better option.

I come from immigrants. Chances are, you do too. And before you pull that "My great great great grandmother was 1/16 Cherokee!" story, I'm going to call bullshit. You better be able to prove it...otherwise, shut the hell up. If your great great great grandmother was alive, not only would she be really old, she'd probably be disappointed in you. 

America, for all it's faults, is still a place of great potential. The rest of the world still sees us as a beacon of hope. The reality may be more bleak, but collectively we still show great promise...provided we ALL stop acting like assholes. 

We spend billions on foreign aid. Well, these kids are coming to us for aid. We should see it as not only our duty but our privilege to help them. They don't want freebies. They want a chance. Let's give them, and anyone else at our door, that chance. 

Before you complain about illegal immigrants, ask yourself this: "Who hires them?" Rich, often white, American people do. Otherwise, they wouldn't be coming here! We keep hiring them, so they keep on coming. And, they'll work harder for less...which, I think, is what pisses off most Americans. Check yourself.

The Statue of Liberty has long been a symbol of this country, it's freedoms, and it's potential. Inscribed on a plaque, at the base, is a poem titled The New Colossus. It goes like this:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Before you complain about immigrants, remember....we invited them. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Minty Fresh (a rough excerpt)

Many of you have suggested that I write a book about my life...and I have been working on it. Slowly. Very slowly. Anyhoo, this short tale may help explain the title a bit....

Having a heart attack is highly overrated. I don't recommend it for anyone. Worst of all, it wasn't anything like you see in movies. I was expecting the whole Fred Sanford moment, clutching at my chest and calling out "I'm coming home, Lord a-mighty I'm coming home!" No such luck.

The day started pretty awful. I had been out late the night before to see a friend's band, in from California. I had been working 60-70 hour weeks and truly pushing myself to the limit. 

I woke up late and seriously, I felt like shit. A gal I had been dating had a really bad cold/bug, and she kept whining that it felt like she had a brick in her chest. I figured this is all it was, and I was mentally making plans to make her life hell for passing this malady on to me.

I only had one client to see that day, but had scheduled a long day with him, so I was really dreading going in. I knew I should just stay home and get some rest, but being self-employed, that was rarely an option. I tried to call to let my client's family know I was running behind, but no answer. I was hoping to luck out and they had cancelled...but that's not how it turned out.

I made it to my client's house, and he was there with his grandfather, who spoke little English. Oh joy. I knew I wasn't going to get much data from grandpa, so I went about my usual day of checking to see if he'd taken his psych meds, and try to sense his mood. Luckily, he was in fine spirits, so it shouldn't be too tough of a day. 

As the day wore on, I just felt worse and worse. I tried repeatedly to contact my client's parents to see if one of them could come home, so I could leave...but no luck. I just dragged myself through the day, hoping for a quick and painless death. Be careful what you wish for.

My client's dad finally showed up around 5pm, and I updated him on his son's condition for the day. The dad tried to get me to stick around a while, but as I just felt like total crap, I simply left.

I was home in minutes, and still feeling like death warmed over, I thought a soak in the tub might help. Every part of my body ached. I was exhausted too. There are few things in this world as miserable as feeling sick AND tired, so I dried off and dragged myself to bed.

No sooner had I laid down, when my teeth began to ache like nothing I had ever felt, and I broke out in a cold sweat. I knew, instinctively, that I was having a heart attack. Alone. This couldn't be good.

I ran downstairs, gulped a handful of aspirin, made one of my lesser brilliant ideas...and drove myself to the emergency room. (Note to the reader: DON'T DO THIS! Call an ambulance!) To make sure I didn't croak en route, I made myself chain smoke the whole way. This may sound crazy...but there was a method to my madness. This made me cough and choke a lot...thus keeping my heart in rhythm. Again, NOT a brilliant move...but I took the gamble and it worked...for me. I'm lucky I didn't die in the car. 

En route to the hospital, I phoned my dad. As usual, he was busy but I told him, "Shut the fuck up and listen! I'm having a heart attack and I'm on the way to St. Margaret's Hospital." I then hung up on him, as I was doing about 80mph, chain smoking, AND having a heart attack. I didn't need to push my luck by trying to talk on the phone as well. 

The ER would have been laughable had it not been for my condition. I made my way to the desk, and told the lady, before she could finish asking what I wanted, that I was "Having a goddamned heart attack". She jumped up, yelled for a nurse, and hurriedly wheeled a wheelchair under me, just as I was starting to collapse. This was the last good thing that happened at St. Margaret's. 

She then wheeled me over to triage...and right into a wall. My body fell forward and my head hit the wall and all I could think was, "I'm going to die with my head against a wall"...not exactly classy, nor the way I've often pictured the end to be. If I have to go, onstage would be nice. Under a beautiful super model would also work. Slumped against a wall, in a wheelchair...not so much.

Before the nurses out there yell at me, let me say how much I love and appreciate nurses. It's a tough job. That said, the triage nurse was a fucking useless moron. The info that she needed could have been obtained just as easily while wheeling my dying carcass in through the big doors to where the doctors hide, as in her little triage room. If a person is having a heart attack, DO NOT ask them to get out of the chair and walk in. She did. She checked my blood pressure, and to her amazement, it was something like 300 over 200. I suggested, calmly, that this just might have something to do with ME HAVING A FUCKING HEART ATTACK, and how I thought that NOW would be a good time to wheel me through the aforementioned big doors to wherever the doctors were hiding. 

Luckily, she agreed.

Back into the rickety, community wheelchair I went, and BANG, right into the big swinging doors. It never occurred to her to push the button to open them. This was the point when I started laughing out loud at the absurdity of it all.

Next up were two ER nurses that I will simply call Dumb & Dumber. How these two obviously misplaced rocket scientists managed NOT to kill me, is beyond my comprehension. I could feel my life ebbing away with each weaker and weaker half-assed beat of my dying heart. I just kept laughing because it was like something out of a bad comedy.

Nurse Dumb, again, tried to take my blood pressure. I suggested she look at the chart. Her associate, Nurse Dumber, tried to stick a needle in me, and due to my elevated blood pressure, blood shot out everywhere. Nurse Dumber then decided it was in every one's best interest to stop what he was doing, and grab some paper towel to clean it up. Finally, a doctor stuck his head in the door and suggested that it might be best to leave the mess to housekeeping and tend to the patient. I suggested to Dr. Nose-in-the-door, that just maybe, since he had graduated from medical school, he might want to join our little party and actually attempt to save my life. 

He seemed to take umbrage at my feeble request, and suggested that Nurse Dumb give me some nitroglycerin. 

We've all seen movies or TV where a person with a heart condition pops a little pill under their tongue, whilst apparently dying, and VOILA! They're OK again. Guess works! But....

Nurse Dumb tells me to open my mouth and she sprays nitro under my tongue. No tiny was a spray! And not just any sirree! It was like a blast of the greatest breath freshener ever made! Nurse Dumb asked how I felt and seriously, all I could say was, "MINTY FRESH!!!!!!! My mouth has never felt so fresh before! Give me more!!!!!!"  She laughed and asked if I was still having chest pain. I noted that, surprisingly, I was not. I did, however feel completely exhausted. Nurse Dumber had seemed to disappear...presumably to go find someone from housekeeping to clean my blood off of the walls, floor, and everything else. 

Next, I and the gurney I was on, were wheeled into a hallway (apparently this is where the real medical magic happens) wait. It was decided that I needed to be transferred to a better hospital; one equipped with real doctors, nurses, a cardiac lab, and machines that beep and go PING!

I can only guess that the ambulance driver was moonlighting from his regular job as a taxi driver. He drove like one. And, amazingly, took me the longest route possible to the next hospital. I actually had the gall to ask him, "Where the hell are you taking me? I'm supposed to be going to Presby!"

"That's where I'm taking you", was his reply. He seemed a bit taken aback by me, an obviously delusional sick person, questioning his Pittsburgh navigational skills.

For those who don't know Pittsburgh, this trip started at St. Margaret's Hospital, which is just north of the city. The fastest route to Presby would be to take Rt 28 south, go across the 40th St. Bridge, up 40th, left on Liberty, right on to the Bloomfield Bridge, left onto Bigelow, then up behind Soldier's and Sailor's Hall to the rear ER entrance. At a high rate of speed, this should take an ambulance driver, maybe, 7 minutes. Remember....heart attack patient in the back. Time is of the essence. Mr. Ambulance Driver opted to take the longer, less scenic route, of driving all the way down Rt 28, and catching the 579 bypass and on to the Parkway and then into Oakland, where Presby is. Had it been 4am and there was a guarantee of NO TRAFFIC, I could almost see his logic. But, as it was evening, and rush hour was still in effect, the Parkway would be, and was, a nightmare. Stop. Start. Speed up. Slow down. Change lanes. Almost 20 minutes it took. I kept messing with the driver, telling him that if I died because his dumb ass took the long route, I would come back and haunt him. He seemed to take this seriously. Perhaps he was already being haunted by a previous patient, who'd died in his ambulance, from his arrogant navigational methodology. 

Finally at Presby, I was whisked to the cardiac lab. There, I was greeted with a phrase that I have loathed for decades. "Hey! Aren't you Dr. Metzger's son????", asked one of the nurses. Again, I just broke out laughing at the absurdity of it all. I told her that yes, I am, and could she please finish saving my life and then we could play 20 questions after. I then made a mistake that I paid for for months to come.

One of the nurses needed to shave me. Down there. You know what I mean. My naughty bits. Still reeling from laughter at just how bizarre this whole experience had been so far, my smart ass side answered for me. I asked if she could leave a 'landing strip' some gals get when they get a bikini wax. Much to my horror, she agreed and that's just what she did. I was shaved bald as a baby's butt...except for a strip of hair. For months, it was like an itchy mohawk growing down there! My OCD side was going nuts! I was having to trim things on a weekly basis to keep them even. But guessed it, it all got weirder.

This was when I met the man who seriously saved my life and has kept me alive for the past 7 years, my little Chinese doctor with the porn star name. Not only is he an excellent cardiologist (even dad thinks so, and he should know!) but he has a good sense of humor and an amazing bedside manner. He explained everything he was doing, step by step, the WHYs and HOWs, and I will never forget, as he shot the dye into me, telling me, "OK, you're going to feel a hot flash, and then it will feel like you've pissed yourself...don't worry, you're not...just DON'T MOVE!"

Damn if he wasn't right! That was EXACTLY what it felt like. And just that fast, it went away. Seriously weird.

I dozed off for a bit as they put the stent in. I figured, if they needed me, they'd wake me up. 

Next thing I know, I'm being wheeled to my room, by a very nice nurse/surg tech who I'll call 'Milton' (name changed to protect his identity). Milton was a very nice, apparently homosexual man. He seemed genuinely concerned with my well-being too. We had a pleasant little chat while he wheeled me, and when he got me to my room, asked if it would be possible to see each other socially when I got out of hospital. Sweet Land O Goshen, dude was hitting on me! Apparently, the sight of me naked, and with a landing strip to boot, was more than his libido could handle! He must be what some folks call a 'chubby chaser'. Let's be honest, I'm short, heavy, and somewhat hairy. Supermodel material I ain't! 

I told Milton that I was flattered, but didn't date men...but as he'd just helped save my life, I couldn't flat out say NO. I asked if it would be OK if I thought about it for a few days. Besides, I could have another heart attack and snuff it before I ever left the hospital. Milton told me he hoped that wouldn't happen, and told me he would check on me from time to time. Dammit if he didn't! He stopped by every day, and even brought me flowers and home-made cookies! Finally, my friend Linda came to visit and when Milton asked who she was, I lied and said she was my girlfriend. (Sorry Linda!) Broke poor Milton's heart. 

The night's weirdness wasn't over yet! There was the matter of all of the blood thinners I was on, and the fact that my little Chinese doctor with the porn star name couldn't get my bleeding to stop. (This bleeding was in my groin, where he slid the tube up into my ticker...I don't care to be more graphic) Apparently, the doc had tried using surgical cement to close the incision, but with all of the blood thinners I was on, it was taking my blood a while to clot.

A young intern was sent in to 'handle' this. In all honesty, I felt bad for him. His job, for the next hour or so, was to hold the incision in my groin shut....with his hand. guessed it. Smart ass time again! Oh I tortured that boy!

Intern: "Hi Mr. Metzger, I'm Dr. So & So. I need to hold this incision closed to try to stop your bleeding until your blood starts to clot on it's own"

Me: "Hi doc! Fancy meeting you here! So, I guess we're gonna be stuck like this for a while, huh?"

Intern: "Yes sir. Until your blood starts to clot on it's own."

Me: "Well then, I guess we should get to know each other, you know, especially since you have your hand on my dick."

Intern: "Um, it's not on your penis sir"

Me: "Well, close enough. I don't usually have strange men's hands in my crotch. I'm not saying you're strange...but you know what I mean..."

The intern looked really uncomfortable. 

Me: "You have warm hands. Thank God for that!"

The intern was trying to ignore me now. 

Me: "That's a very nice cologne you're wearing. I bet it drives the nurses wild. Don't be alarmed if I start getting an erection..."

I seriously thought the kid was going to vomit right about then.

Me: "So, do you often have your hands in another man's crotch or is this a first for you too?"

Intern: "Mr. Metzger, I'm just trying to stop the bleeding."

Me: "And I thank you for that! Uh oh...did I just feel a twitch down there?"

Intern: "Mr. Metzger, you just had a massive heart attack. I think you should be getting some rest instead of talking so much."

Me: "I guess a blow job is out of the question then...."

Intern: "Mr. Metzger, please stop talking."

He ignored me after that. Some people just have no sense of humor. Maybe he should've asked Milton to hold the incision closed. I bet HE wouldn't have minded!

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from my upcoming book! Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A rare sermon from the world's laziest preacher....

As many of you know (although some may not), I am an ordained Christian minister. I have been for about 12 years.  I don't flaunt this, nor will I ever preach in a church or from a pulpit. That's not my calling. I am, however, still the same guy you've always known or thought you've known. I am, still, just me. Loud, weird, goofy, and anything else you've ever thought of me. This is simply one more part of me.

The Supreme Court's ruling in the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby Stores upset me more than anything in a long time. It was the first step on a very slippery slope towards a neo-Christian, hate-filled, judgemental theocracy. An American Taliban, if you will.

You might think I'm overreacting, but I assure you, I'm not. This legal precedent will open the doors for all sorts of nonsense. It's only a matter of time before corporations will claim their religious rights, and then what next? The right to only hire people of a certain ____? Give this some serious, serious thought people.

I was so upset on Monday, that I nearly renounced my ordination. I felt ashamed of what Christianity in America has become. It's become just another tool...a dividing wedge between 'us and them'.  Here it is, two days later and I'm still upset...but my thinking has cleared. I've done a lot of prayer and meditation on this subject, and the same things keep coming to my heart and mind.

If you are a Christian, leave your so-called church. The Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ tell you that belonging to a fancy, social group that meets in a dedicated building is not how one prays or lives a Christian life. Sure, some folks feel the need to belong to something...but your community should be enough. If you need to belong to something larger, remember, you're also a part of your town/city, county, state, country, and most of all....a part of the human race. We all have but this one world. We all need to live together.

Many people are confused about the need to belong to a church. In Matthew 16:18-19 it reads
"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus wasn't telling Peter he was going to build a church on top of a rock and then hand him the keys to the building. The 'rock' is the earth. The whole planet.

One has to be very careful with the scriptures. They have been translated and re-translated more times than anyone will ever know. They have also been severely edited. Why? For control. Example, in Hebrews 13:17 it reads "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."  I can tell you, this bit has been edited and transformed into a tool of control. Who are these leaders? Who has chosen them? Are these leaders your ministers, priests, deacons, etc? If that's the case, then listen to me. I just might be the one person not asking anything of you. I've never asked for a dime or a donation, I've never asked for tax-exempt status. I just share the gospels (which means 'good news', for those who confuse it with meaning 'truth') with those who ask and those that can benefit from them. Guess what...that is not everyone nor all of the time. A lot of folks are doing just fine, most of the time. I found my calling in extending a hand to those in the most dire of need. Why? Because I've been there.

Yes, leave your church. Too many of these so-called houses of worship have become dens of hatred, evil, control, confusion, judgement, and downright sin. They have become businesses. Holy corporations, if you will. And they LOVE your money. They LOVE that tax exempt status. They feel that they are better and above everyone...and no, they are not. They are simply buildings, built by humans and run by humans...humans who call themselves Christian but have lost their way. When the media portrays a so-called Christian waving a sign saying that God Hates _______, these people are not spreading the gospels. These people are spreading hate and fear...and this is wrong. It is wrong of the media to give these people attention while not giving equal attention to the good that is done, daily, by people of all faiths. And yes...there are many faiths...I'll get to that in a moment.*

Do not perceive these hate-mongers as Christians. They are not. A true Christian will not judge his/her fellow human. At least, we try not to. These people will twist the scripture to validate their own hatred and fears. It's an old trick. In fact, what you know as Christianity has been based on this. When the Emperor accepted Christianity and then edited the gospels, in order to control the masses, this was the first example of such behavior. Not much has changed since then....except for the words in the Bible. These seem to change every generation. Why? People put things into a context that they can understand and as it pertains to their daily world.

Our daily world is changing, and at a blinding pace. But, love is still love. That is the root of Christ's teachings. Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Love God. Easier said than done, for sure. When reading the every-changing scriptures, remember...this isn't a rule book, or a copy of How To Be A Christian For Dummies. The gospels were written a long, long time ago, and written in a different language (Ancient Greek, mostly) than the narrators spoke (Aramaic, mostly).  Since then, they've been translated, interpreted, edited, and revised. So what we're left with is the gist of the meaning. Try to pare it down to it's basic meanings. Love is love. Love is good. Hate is bad.

I'll say it again, leave your church. Demand that churches pay taxes, just like the rest of us. You'll see a lot of them disappear...because many are in it for the money. Sad but true. Let me say this, most preachers are NOT getting rich...but someone is. That money is going somewhere. In the case of Hobby Lobby (who, while not a church, claim deep Christian conviction), they invest their money, it's been reported, in companies that manufacture the exact products they complained about, namely contraception. Do you see the hypocrisy here?

OK, when/if you leave your church...what do you do? It's simple. You keep on living a Christian life and showing love to the world. But what about prayer? Where do you pray? Again...simple. The Bible already told you that in Matthew 6:5-13:
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

 This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. ’"

Don't forget your "Amen" at the end. It's a nice touch.

Remember too, 1 Chronicles 16:11, "Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." Continue in your good, honest works, and you will find your reward.

Remember, no one is perfect. No one is better than anyone else or above anyone else. These so-called Christians who believe they are special must not have got the memo! James 5:16 reads, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." It takes a strong person to admit their faults. A weak person points fingers instead.

OK, I stated earlier that there are many faiths. While not claiming to know the mind of God, I understand this contextually. When you break most faiths down to the basic components, they all say the same things: Love, peace, wisdom, understanding. Sure, the stories vary as do the characters...but who's to say that's not by design? If God created this world, he also created the many cultures. He gave His word in ways that His many children can understand. That said, it's not a matter of "This is right and that is wrong". Good is good, and bad is bad. I think most of us, inherently, know the difference. You'll feel it in your gut when you do one or the other. Sure, you can try to ignore it...but either will eventually come back to your own life.

Yes, again I will ask you to leave your church. Pray at home, with your family and/or friends. You don't need to put on your Sunday best and go to some building and listen to an old windbag like me ramble on for 90 minutes. If that preacher/priest/minister is worth his/her salt, they could be doing something more productive with their comforting the sick, organizing food and shelter for the poor and homeless, etc. It takes a lot of time to write a weekly sermon. Then there's the day to day business operations of a so-called church. Really, these preachers could be doing something more productive, and Christian, with their time. So can you.

Leave your church. You can do more Christian good on your own and in your own community. As the noted theologian Sir Thomas Browne stated, "Charity begins at home." It's time to show the world what REAL Christians are like, and not let everyone believe that we are the same as the hateful, war-mongering, sign-waving whackadoos.

OK...I'll stop my rambling. If you've made it this far, THANK YOU for reading.

Monday, June 30, 2014

When America finally falls....

Thank you to the U.S. Supreme Court for taking us another step towards the end.

A few years ago, I read that one of the cable channels was planning a series called America Town. The premise being that one day, in the not too horribly distant future, the US, as we've come to know it, would be a memory. Many of it's citizens would have emigrated to other countries, looking for a better way of life. The series never even made it to production (that I know of) and I've never been able to find the article here's my take on it.

Imagine a slum in an un-named European city. This is one of the America Towns...not unlike Chinatown or Little Italy in many large US cities. The difference being that it is populated by former American citizens who have fled their homeland looking for a better, happier life in a more tolerant nation. 

Walking through America Town, one would probably smell hamburgers and hot dogs cooking. The residents would be fat and badly dressed. Peanut butter would be a dietary staple, looked down upon by most of the host nation's indigenous population, but considered a delicacy by a few. From the open windows, aging Americans can be heard arguing what their rights are in their new home, and complaining that they're not being treated fairly. Americans deserve to be treated better! 

Somewhere, someone is singing "America The Beautiful"......

Is this scenario really that difficult to imagine? Have we become so comfortable in our self-perception as the greatest nation on earth that we cannot imagine a day when our corporate masters set their sights squarely on us? Could we be the combatants in the last great war? The War of US vs. THEM.

Guess what...the first shots have already been fired. Chances are, you didn't notice because you were too busy be distracted by commercials and advertisements.

Wake up America. You've been divided. Next comes the conquest. Then the fall. That's how it always happens...isn't it?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Play it again Sam....

If you've been following the continuing saga I call LIFE, you may have noticed I haven't seriously played guitar in a while. A lot of reasons for this.

I've been busy doing other stuff tops the list. I went on an insane writing jag for a few months and sort of burned myself out comes in a close second. I just haven't felt like it rounds out the top three.

Well, I'm getting that itch to play again. You know what that means! Time to get loud! Time to round up Robbo & JD and attempt to make some noise. Who knows, we might be coming to a joint near you.

I've also been down. Yeah, it happens. No need to cry and wring hands or anything. I've been sitting on a finished CD for 4 friggin' years. I just don't know what to do with it.

CDs? They don't sell well anymore. Downloads? Are you fucking kidding me? That is the biggest racket in the world! There is NO WAY to account for what is/isn't being sold...and I don't know about YOU, but I'm not gullible enough to trust some corporate entity to be honest.

So...the record has just sat there.

In the meantime, life has gone on. More and more musicians keep getting screwed over. Hell, we should be used to it by now. But things seem to be changing.

Vinyl is making a feeble comeback. Who knows...maybe I'll look into pressing actual records. I like those better anyhow. No downloads. Nope. Don't trust em. Streaming? Fuck that. More money lost. I know I know...that's how things are done these days...

But guess what....

I've never played by anyone's rules but my own. Never. I've toured the world without playing by anyone's rules and I'll likely do it again. I'm getting that itch. Mind you, it could just be a skin disorder...

OK, here's a new old song for ya. I hope you like it. If you DO, please, let me know. It'll give me the boost to get off of my ever-widening ass to do something.

Those of you of a certain age might remember this song. We used to play it back in the 90s. Always went down a treat, too! For the rest of you, it's new to dig it like a hole! I hope YOU like it too. If you don't...who gives a fuck. It's just a song, right?

Here's called "Once Again You Win"

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

23 Flavors (Hey Mikey! He Likes It!)

I've learned to loathe Mikey and that damned Life cereal commercial....

I wound up having the day off...and I'm sitting here trying to think of what to make for dinner. I'm actually craving stuff that I know I can't easily find. I could really go for a nice Cornish pasty, or a cold pork pie, or any number of delicious treats I've had in my travels...but my options in the pantry are limited. I could make some chorizo, I know I have that in the freezer.

Thinking about food has me thinking about some of the foods I've eaten, and how friends in different cultures view them. It's odd, really, when one takes into account societal viewpoints on food. Food is fuel. It serves the purpose of keeping our bodies running. It can also be delicious, fun to prepare, and made to look fancy! But...really, why do people get so bent out of shape about certain foods? Sure, the Bible says not to eat certain things, for various reasons...and I'm sure other religions have their own take on foods. To eat meat or not, vegetarian vs. vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, fat many choices. And really, that's all it is. Choices. And opinions. And we all know about opinions....

Here's a list of some of the wild and wonderful foods I've had over the years,  that folks have commented about...mostly by saying things like "EWWWWWWWW" or "I could never..." I've enjoyed most of these...not all, but most.

  • Kangaroo - This is the one that most people flip over. Personally, I love me some roo! I've had roo burgers, steaks, sausage, kabobs, and jerky, and it's all wonderful! You'd probably enjoy it...if you gave it a try.
  • Emu - I liked it. Reminded me of ostrich, which I also enjoy. Beefy but without that blahh feeling you get from eating a large portion. 
  • Crocodile - Nope. Didn't like it. Reminded me of alligator...which I don't like. Tasted nasty, had a texture I didn't enjoy, and smelled odd. 
  • Alligator - See Crocodile.
  • Rattlesnake - Lovely! Imagine a chicken-like texture, but with a milder flavor. Great for batter-frying. 
  • Skunk - Only had it a stew...and really, it wasn't bad. Gamey and a bit stringy...but tasted similar to most rodent meat. 
  • Groundhog - Again, had it in a stew. A bit greasy, gamey, and stringy...but not awful 
  • Squirrel - Have eaten squirrel a number of times. Really not bad. Very reminiscent of rabbit. Takes a few to fill up on. Good in stew but also good over an open fire. 
  • Ostrich - If you want to enjoy a burger, this is the way to go! Tastes much like beef, but less greasy and without the blahhhh feeling afterwards. 
  • Wild Boar - I am a big fan of wild boar meat! It's like pork but tastier! Can be a bit tough...but learn how to cook it right, and damn, this is good eating!
  • Buffalo - My trips to Sturgis, SD can be blamed for my love of buffalo meat. From that 1st buffalo burger at a diner, in the middle of the night, to the most recent buffalo steak I've had, it's been delicious from start to finish. Imagine low fat beef. That's what it tastes like. It can be dry and tough if not cooked properly, so if its your first time making it, follow your recipe to the letter!
  • Deer - While not uncommon where I live, it might be to some folks. I like deer. It can be gamey as hell, but can also be delicious. Steaks, chops, chili, you name it...its great! Deer bologna (aka trail bologna) is a treat!
  • Ram - Only had it once, but damn it was good! Similar to lamb but gamier. I'd love to have it again!
  • Elk - Reminds me of a cross between deer and moose...seriously. It's gamey...but its good.
  • Moose - Delicious! Big hunks of dark red meat, low fat, strong flavor...this is meat lover's meat!
  • Bear - Best I can describe this is kinda like a strong, sweet pork chop. I like it! Can never get it...but I like it! As long as I don't have to hunt it, skin it, or cook it.
  • Shark - Shark, to me, is weird. I don't like seafood, as a rule...but shark ain't bad. I've had shark fin soup a number of times, and much as I hate to admit it, I like it! I can't really compare the flavor to anything else. It tastes like...shark.
  • Rabbit - No, it doesn't taste like least not to me. It has a similar texture, but that's it. I cried the first time my dad tried to get me to eat. (OK, I was 7) I have since learned that a properly marinated, and well-cooked rabbit is a wonderful meal! Great for BBQ!
  • Horse - Yep. Had it. Liked it. Get over it. It's a cultural thing. Most Americans freak out over the thought of eating "this majestic creature". That's stupid. It's meaty and loaded with protein. And it's tasty.
  • Ox - Beef for the serious beef eater! Hell, even the tail is good! I've eaten ox tail soup, stew, and well as ox roast, steaks, etc. Seriously good eating! Don't skimp on the onions!
  • Shellfish - Like I said, not a huge seafood fan, so I'll lump all shellfish together. I can take it or leave it. I like some shrimp in my gumbo, but some folks get weird about it. Lobster is a nice treat...once every 10 or so years. Crab...could care less. I know that shellfish isn't unusual to most people...but my family, if they read this, will be in shock that I HAVE eaten it. 
  • Cactus - A surprisingly tasty plant! It's like a big chunk of lettuce. Grill off the needles. Dip it in salad dressing.'s tasty!
  • Ghost Peppers - Really, you don't need these. These are only for the culinary masochists out there. I LOVE hot, spicy food...but these are just ridiculous. You DON'T need to eat them. They don't add to anything...they're just painfully hot. Hot isn't even the right word. Imagine molten lava sliding down your esophagus. That's the best way I can describe them. I make an intense, concentrated habanero sauce that is all the heat & spice I will ever need to add to a dish. 1 spoonful in a pot of chili or gumbo is usually more than most of my friends are comfortable with. Ghost peppers...just insane. Again, you DO NOT need to ever eat these. Remember, at some point they WILL be coming out the other end. See how funny you think it is then. NOTE: whenever handling hot peppers, if possible, wear gloves. I once made the mistake of NOT wearing gloves. Hours later, and after numerous hand washings, I scratched a very private part of my anatomy...the searing pain from the residual capsaicin left me in agony for hours...even after a few healthy scrubbings!  
Writing this reminded me of an ex girlfriend...who was not an adventurous eater. I used to terrorize her by answering her question, "What's for dinner?" with "Roast beast".  She eventually stopped eating my cooking. Her loss. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Spider and The Stinkbug

Halyomorpha halys, also known as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), or simply the stink bug, is an insect in the family Pentatomidae, and it is native to China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. It was accidentally introduced into the United States, with the first specimen being collected in September 1998. They are, simply put, nasty.

Halyomorpha halys, aka, The Stinkbug

How nasty are they? So nasty that even spiders won't eat them.

We, in the Greater Pittsburgh Area, have been dealing with these nasty, odorous little pests for a few years now. Here at our house, we haven't had much of a problem with them. Every so often, we'll catch a few in our trap...or find one behind a curtain (sneaky little bastards) and pop it, live, into the trap, where it lives out a fiendish, real-life horror show of being surrounded by the corpses of other halyomorpha halys that have ended up there. I, sometimes, imagine what is going on in the stink bug's mind. "Holy Hell! Get me OUTTA HERE!", I imagine it thinking. Is the stinkbug mind capable of such thoughts, or it's imperative only to escape and terrorize it's new found homeland another day?

I, personally, have nothing against stinkbugs, I just don't want to share my house with them.

The cat won't play with them. I seem to recall her swatting one once, and trying to eat it, and then immediately horking it back out. Apparently, they taste as bad as they can smell.

Today, the young'un noticed a spider web in the kitchen window. This, in itself, is neither unusual, nor something we would normally concern ourselves with. Spiders are OK in our book. In some cultures, it's considered good luck to find a spider in your home. They also keep my sister* from visiting. They can be useful as they eat other bugs, like will our cat (because, let's face it, cats are weird). However, as the young'un noticed, the common house spider does not like stink bugs either.

As I stated, the young'un was in the kitchen, getting a cup of coffee, when she noticed the spider web. She brought this to my attention because, as she put it, the spider was destroying its own web to get rid of the stink bug.

The window, in question, was half open, as it usually is this time of year. This gave the spider a comfortable bit of space to make it's web. Being between 2 sliding windows, this gives the spider a nice, sunny place to reside, and is also a good place to catch any fly attempting to bang itself silly against what I imagine spiders to perceive as the great invisible forcefield.

Apparently, the spider has dealt with stink bug infestation a few times, as when we looked, there were 3 other dead stinkbugs lying amidst torn webbing on the sash.  None of them appear to have been eaten, in any way, shape, or form, by the spider. Apparently, American spiders find these petite beasts as repulsive as their human counterparts do.

* This is a joke. My family all know they are welcome any time, provided I am given enough advance notice to come up with a plausible excuse.