SLIDESHOW EXPLANATION

THE PHOTOS SCROLLING BY IN THE SLIDESHOW ON THE LEFT ARE ORIGINAL AND CAN BE VIEWED OR PURCHASED AT WWW.WIZARDPIXPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Thursday, March 25, 2010

OH, IF ONLY IT WERE THIS EASY...

COMPUTER ISSUES AND THE PRICKS WHO BRING THEM TO US ALL!

    Ever wonder what makes a person decide to spend their free time invading your computer with viruses and trojan spyware?  I have had to dump and delete and wipe hard drives so many times now that I can't even begin to keep track, all because there are people out there in the world who would rather mess you over than find their own way through life.
    Have you gotten one of those shit screens that tells you unless you immediately download this wonderful new virus cure you will continue to suffer this pop up screen?  In other words, they infect your computer and then try to sell you the cure.  I'm sure Typhoid Mary could have made a fortune if she'd known what she was doing and had access to chloramphenicol...
    Wouldn't it be sweet if it were possible to hook up your infected computer to a live 220 volt line and send it back to the scum-sucker who sent you the original virus?  Just the thought of a monitor exploding in the lap of some third-world spammer makes me smile...

"... you killed my father, prepare to die!"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE... WHEREVER IT IS...

THE OBLIVIOUS MAJORITY

      We just got back from St. Thomas Hospital after having totally wasted the morning and over $700 in copays and insurance deductibles... but that's not what I'm writing about today.
       The intersnake to Nashville is always a clusterfuck of the highest order, even on good days.  Today wasn't a good day.  The congestion started before we got to the Lavergne exit, which is twenty miles from anything even close to Nashville... and they wonder why people show up for doctor's visits with elevated blood pressure.  The only way to avoid Nashville traffic and the related elevated blood pressure is to actually live at your doctor's office.
        When we finally arrived at St. Thomas we started the parking lot search a mere five minutes before I was supposed to at my doctor's waiting room for the pre-MRI registration.  This is one of those tiny parking areas directly in front of the hospital reserved (supposedly) for admissions and registration only, so you might cruise around in circles for an eternity waiting for one of the spots to open up... and that's what we were doing when I spotted an elderly woman with keys in hand heading to her car just ahead of us.
         As she unlocked her car and climbed inside I made the mistake of smirking the Hooey Gods aloud by saying, "I hope she isn't one of those people who has to balance her checkbook before she pulls out."  Turns out she wasn't one of those people at all.  She was one of those people who has to pull down the sun visor to open the mirror for a complete makeup tuneup.  She started with a base powder, moved along to some serious tissue work around her eyes, then began to repaint the damage with various tubes, brushes, and paint-by-numbers devices.
        While this was going on the car behind me began that wonderful tactic of rolling as close as possible to my rear bumper in an attempt to intimidate me into moving along so that THEY could get that spot if and when Cindy Crawford's grandmother got through with her makeover... but I'm harder to move than that!  I simply sat very patiently while Gramma started in on her lips, and then began another serious round of damage control with the tissues.
         A good five or six minutes passed while she primped and preened and grinned into the mirror, and I fully expected her to begin flossing at any moment.  At about this point I took another glance at my Seiko and noticed that I was now on the verge of being late, and then remembered that this particular office had a rule about billing customers who didn't phone ahead to cancel or announce tardy arrivals.  That's when I very gently blew the horn a couple of times.  Apparently, Gramma wasn't wearing her hearing aids this morning, or didn't process the audio as anything she needed to be aware of, and the dusting and painting and smearing continued in the visor mirror unabated.
       Then, without any prompting from me, she suddenly looked around, noticed that we were waiting for her happy ass to move out of that spot, and began a frantic search through her bag for the keys she had just used to unlock and open her car door.  I was hoping she wouldn't take off another car's bumper as she pulled out at light speed, and she didn't.
        In her defense, she did apologize through her open window as I pulled into the spot she had vacated.  I'm pretty sure on any other morning I might have given her a smile and a "No problem, have a good one!" but this wasn't one of those mornings.
       When you navigate through the traffic from hell to barely make an appointment and then have to sit through the painting of the Mona Lisa for a parking spot certain niceties seem harder to muster up than usual.
       My wife thinks I need to take Valium before every encounter with other humans.  I agree.  Now if we can find a doctor to concur with our mutually agreed upon diagnosis all we'll need is a parking spot at the pharmacy.
       I want my morning back!!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

TALKING TO THE OBTUSE (AND I DON'T MEAN "ANGLES")

    Lately I've found myself in a number of on-line discussions with folks who obviously find my liberal viewpoints offensive.  I don't know why I bother to defend my positions upon request, or offer my unsolicited opinions in public forums that invite such responses... it just happens.
    I have a theory that helps explain why some people are so quick to defend the policies of the last administration, and why those same people are so unwilling to let facts get in the way of their emotions.
    Back when Curious George was appointed to the presidency by the Soupreems it seemed as though everyone had an opinion on the matter.  No one could agree on how to resolve the mess in Florida, and as it drug on week after week it became more and more frustrating to repeat the same weary arguments with the same people day after day.  Once the issue was resolved (if you want to consider the 2000 recount 'resolved'...) those opinions only became more hardened with every water cooler and break area discussion.
     After six or seven fights over the holiday turkey with your brother-in-law those positions had become so ingrained and set-in-stone that it would be impossible for

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

GEE, A CHILD MOLESTATION SCANDAL AT THE VATICAN? how "last century"...

HOW ABOUT TAXING CHURCH PROPERTY AND INCOME?

      I keep reading about budget deficits and how the state of Tennessee needs to shore up its tax revenue base to keep up with state funded programs, and it occurred to me that we have a neverending source of steady revenue at our fingertips if only we slaughter a sacred cow to make it happen.
      I'm not talking about legalizing pot... that would never happen in Tennessee!  Even though it would go a long way toward balancing the budget, provide employment for thousands of hard working Tennesseans in agriculture, marketing, trucking, production, and sales taxes out the yazoo, it ain't happenin'!
      What I'm talking about is a REAL sacred cow, repealing the tax exempt status for churches.  Get your mind around that thought for a minute.  Middle Tennessee has more churches than Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aids, Krogers, Publix, Dollar Stores, Walmarts, strip malls and resturants combined... they're on every other corner in every city, town, village, and even in backyards in some neighborhoods. 
      Some of these churches have morphed from places of worship to actual campuses of education, from kindergarten through high school, covering hundreds of acres of land with building after building, parking lot after parking lot.  They have so much traffic to and from their facilities they require the services of our local police forces just to manage the traffic flow.
       Some of the most valuable urban real estate in Tennessee is owned by organized religion.  They reap the benefits of tax exempt status while sucking in millions upon millions of dollars in annual revenue from their congregations.  Whatever happened to "render unto Caesar"?
       Many of those same churches and temples participate openly in political activities, supporting like-minded candidates and promoting issues important to their version of public policy.  They not only preach to their audience in attendance, but broadcast their services via television and radio.
        These aren't the little country churches from "Sergeant York" or the Andy Griffith Show.  These are mega-churches, cities unto themselves, mini-Vaticans.  Hell, the Vatican's property holdings in America alone would balance the budget.
         Why should this potential windfall go untapped?  Don't hand me a line of crap about how their tax exempt status allows them to fund outreach programs and to feed the hungry.  I don't see a lot of that happening unless it's an outreach program to Costa Rica or El Salvadore wherein the sales pitch for their particular brand of God-R-Us is being promoted in exchange for their "help".
         Let's put a meager 5% property tax on all church property, and add an additional 5% tax on church revenue and see what that does to our books.  I'm betting it would go a long way toward balancing our state budget, and just might free up some really valuable property around the state.

UH-OH... BARNES AND NOBELS IS LOOKING FOR TROUBLE!

WINE WHINE...

     We gots outselves a conundrum here in Tennessee when it comes to buying alkeyhall...
The Holy Rollers decided long ago that certain times and certain days and certain places have to be off limits for alcohol sales, and there is very little logic or reasoning behind the restrictions.  First of all, you can't buy liquor or wine on Sundays.  Ever.  And you can't buy liquor or wine on New Years Day, one of the busiest days for wine and alcohol consumption in America. 
      You can't buy wine in grocery stores, even though they sell beer at every market on every corner.  Nope, wine is for liquor stores only... but don't think you can buy a corkscrew at that liquor store, or a mixer for your tequila purchase... not happenin'!  The liquor stores aren't allowed to sell anything other than liquor, with the possible exception of specialty boxes of liquor that contain cute little mugs, glasses, and shot jiggers.
Those are okay, but they have to be boxed up with the liquor.
      You can't buy beer between certain hours on ANY day, because if you let someone come into your grocery store to purchase beer at 3:30AM you just know they're up to no good and will end up putting their car through a guardrail or their fist through their inbred wife's grill as soon as they get liquored up.   Gotta think of the children, folks.
       You can't stop at your local grocery, pick up all the party appetizers AND a bottle of wine to go with the cheese and crackers... that requires a second stop at an authorized liquor retailer.  But they can't sell you the corkscrew or the mixers to go with your alcohol, so you should have thought of that before you left Krogers, stupid.
       See how this works?  The argument is made that only liquor store clerks are capable of checking IDs to make certain the alcohol is being sold to "of age" patrons, despite the fact that grocery store clerks seem to be mighty diligent about checking my ID (I'm fifty fucking five) whenever I stop for brews...
       What we have here is a failure to communicate.... the liquor lobby in the great state of  Tennessee OWNS our legislature.  They provide enough liquid lubricant to ensure that their wishes are always followed on these matters, and anyone who dares to speak truth to power will quickly find him/herself in a battle for reelection against a suddenly well-funded alcohol lobby friendly opponent in the next primary.
       We couldn't get a lottery in Tennessee for years because the churches and organized crime teamed up to keep it out of reach.  It took an overwhelming amount of pressure from ordinary people to get the matter on a statewide ballot and was overwhelmingly voted in by the people as soon as they had that chance.
       If the people of Tennessee wanted wine sales in their groceries it could happen.  If the people of Tennessee wanted liquor sales on Sundays, it could happen.
       Just a matter of the will of the people over the money of the liquor lobby.  Maybe we oughta get herds of protesters with little shot bottles taped to their hats and have a "Wine Party" revolt?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

EVEN MOCKINGBIRDS GET THE BLUES...

TIME TRAVEL HEADACHES...

    We've been wandering around the house all day adjusting the clocks to correspond with the latest time travel trick required because of Daylight Savings Time.  We started the day by asking one another "If this is Daylight Savings time, what WERE we in?"  Standard time?  Real time?
     Anyway, a quick survey of friends and family reveals that NO ONE likes having their time stolen or added to twice a year, and we ALL want to know why we continue to do something none of us wants to do.  It's like visiting that cranky old curmudgeon relative every year during the hollerdaze... no one wants to go, he doesn't want to see you driving up, and yet every year you bite the bullet and get the car for the trip.
     I used to work in a factory that had a chime system to let you know when to sit down, when to stand back up, when it was okay to eat and when you had better have your ass out of the break room and back on the job... and every time the powers that be fucked with the time it threw off the chime system at work for about two weeks until one of the suits out front happened to notice that people were trying to put up their tools and go home after only an hour on the job.
     This was a place that punished you for being ten seconds late clocking in, so for those unfortunate enough to have Type B personalities, used to showing up JUST IN TIME, the seasonal time changes presented untold problems with their attendance records.  Turning back clocks and watches is an inexact science, so no one really knew what time it was at any given moment.
     No one does this morning, really... unless they have an atomic clock or a cell phone that automatically reprograms itself for these arbitrary changes.
     It sucks, we all hate it, and no one knows why we even started doing it in the first fucking place.
I make a motion that we scrap this shit and leave the damn clocks alone.  Someone second that motion?  Great!
All in favor say "Aye"... opposed "Nay"?  
The "Ayes" have it, motion carries, meeting adjourned. 

I want my hour back!

AND THEY BOW BEFORE THEIR LORD AND MASTER...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

THE REAL COOKIE MONSTERS...

WE'VE GOT 'EM NOW!

KEEPING TEXAS STUPID, YOUR REPUBLICAN TAX DOLLARS AT WORK!

   As if Texas weren't already infested with a higher than normal percentage of certifiably ignorant assholes, that state's Board of Education has won passage of new curriculum standards designed to ensure the stupidity level never drops below Mississippi's.
   According to an associated press story reported in our local Nashville Tennessean and confirmed on Huffingtonpost.com, teachers in Texas will be "required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state". 
   Every now and then some bright eyed zealot comes forth from the trailer park to insist that biology teachers be required to teach Intelligent Design instead of Darwin's Theory of natural selection and evolution, arguing that nature (specifically the human eye) is much too complex to have ever just "evolved" without devine intervention and inspiration.  This Intelligent Design movement (I call it the Evolution of Ignorance) is meant to promote the teaching of creationism alongside, if not in place of, the Theory of Evolution.  For years the gung-holier-than-thou crowd has bemoaned the supposed loss of Jesus from our nation's school systems, demanding school prayer, less science and more religion in our classrooms.  Not just ANY ol' religion, either.  No, they're pretty specific about that.  No funny hats or turbans or burkas, thank you very damn much, just Jesus and a little more Jesus for dessert, bleeding from the crucifix on every wall just above the Ten Commandments Plaque.
     Today's article on the Texas Dumb-Down for God movement went on to suggest that this might become a national trend because textbook publishers don't like to make different versions of the same book for different school systems across the country, so they might be inclined to use the Texas version as the national textbook given to kids everywhere just to save printing costs.  After all, it's just as profitable to print a book of Fairy Tales as it is to publish an American History textbook if that book is going to be required reading for every kid in America.  Why dicker over content when the bottom line is at stake?
      Don't be surprised if you drop in on your kid's science classroom and notice that the globe is missing and has been replaced by a flat table top model being circled by the sun instead of the other way around.  And those evolution charts showing the ascent of human beings from the early primates?  They'll soon be replaced by posters depicting Noah and the ark animals sharing space with the dinosaurs he gathered up two by two for the cruise.
      I'm going to say this one more time:  If it hadn't been for Tennessee there never would have been a Texas, and we should never stop apologizing for that!

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HELL...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A SQUATLO STORY (NUMBER THREE: THE DAY HIKE FROM HELL)

      Before leaving on one of our frequent trips to the Great Smoky Mountains I made the following announcement to my lovely wife: "I want to hike every day we're at our chalet this time.  No lounging around on the chalet deck playing Scrabble during the best part of the day, drinking beer and enjoying the view.  I want to get out and hike through the woods, take pictures, and DO SOMETHING with our time in the mountains!"
       Now, my wife is a very accomodating woman.  She's willing to spend the day fishing with me, or walking in the woods, or doing just about anything I've got a mind to try, so this little pronouncement at the outset of our trip was completely unnecessary.  Of course we would hike if that's what I wanted to do, no big deal.
       The first night of our arrival at our chalet we did what we always do on the first night at a chalet:  we grilled out a great dinner, enjoyed WAY too many adult beverages, and basically played all night like teenagers on spring break.  Nothing unusual at all, really.
       The next morning, nature called and on my way to the bathroom I noticed the sun beginning to illuminate the tops of the mountains across the valley from our chalet.  Immediately I made good on my earlier threat to get out into the woods, announcing that I was getting ready to go hiking and my wife could either stay in bed or come along, completely up to her... but I was on my way!
        So Mrs. Squatlo rolled out of bed, showered quickly and as I was grabbing cameras and tripods and gear for my photographic adventure asked, "Should we eat breakfast first?"  To which I replied, "Don't have time for that, grab your shit and let's go!"  and off we went.  On the way out of the chalet my forward-thinking wife grabbed a small cooler and dropped in a couple of bottles of water, two cans of beer, and some ice to leave in the car while we walked.  Good thinking, I thought to myself.
        We drove to the end of the road leading up to the Ramsey Cascade Trailhead and parked the car.  At the edge of the trail stood a trail marker sign notifying us that the hike was four miles to the falls.  Now, my wife has a bi-weekly routine wherein she walks/jogs five or six miles, then takes an advanced karate class, then leaves the karate school to go back to the local greenway for another hour on the trail before going back to the karate school to TEACH an intensive cardio/kickboxing class of her own.  Four miles?  Why, she does that to warm up!
        I grabbed my camera bag with extra cameras, lenses, and assorted gear I never use, attached my full frame tripod to the bag, and started up the trail.  Mrs. Squatlo stopped me and asked, "Do you think we should take some water?" to which I quickly replied, "We only have bottles, and I don't want to carry any more shit than what I've already got... besides, it's only four miles, we'll be right back!  C'mon!"  and off we went.
        The first mile and a half of the trail was a very gently sloped, paved pathway surrounded by lovely woods, wildflowers, and scurrying little forest critters.  We bounded along, barely noticing the fact that we were incredibly hungover, hadn't eaten, and we carrying no water despite the prospect of being dehydrated from the alcohol abuse the night before.  What's to worry?  We're only going up the trail for a little while, the nausea will probably pass as we get warmed up, right?
        About two and a half miles into the hike, the grade changed from gently sloping to damn near vertical.  The pavement ended and we found ourselves stepping from rock to rock, and the steps were about 12 to 18 inches above one another.  After about half a mile of this vertical stairmaster it began to get warm.  August in the Smokies warm... and the stairmaster only got steeper.  We had to cross a creek twice over log footpaths, and at one point actually had to climb over a downed tree that was blocking the trail at one of the steepest portions.
        We climbed and we climbed, and since the rhododendron was so thick we couldn't see past the next fifty yards or so of the trail.  That meant we would climb step after step after step, finally reach a bend in the trail only to find that it continued for as far as the eye could see in the same very steep incline. 
      "Look honey!  More UP!" became our running joke... gallows humor.  This wasn't fun anymore, it was like Marine Boot Camp... and at about that point one of us made the following observation, "Sure wish we had brought a couple of bottles of water along."  The sound of the clear, cold water in the creek beside the trail made that growing thirst even more of a problem, especially since even a little sip would no doubt bring about a week's worth of gastro-intestinal maladies neither of us was willing to risk... so we walked on, growing more and more weary, thirsty, and hot with every step.
      About half a mile below the Ramsey Cascade we came upon a trail sign that read, "Warning! Frequent bear attacks have occurred in this area! Severe injuries and deaths have occurred!"  Now, THAT would have been a handy piece of information at the bottom of the trail, not at the top!
      We reached the base of the Cascade, sat down for yet another rest stop, and came to the conclusion that NOTHING at the top of this last set of ladder rung steps could possibly be worth what we were going through... so we turned and started back down the trail.  At about that time, the thigh cramps set in for yours truly.  My wife, being the cardio/kickboxing specimen she is, was sympathetic, but not in any kind of distress herself.  She was, after all, in shape, unlike her idiot husband who was not only hungover, hungry, thirsty, and tired, but insisting upon carrying seventy-five pounds of photography equipment like Ansel Adams going into Yosemite.
       I learned a valuable lesson at this point in our descent... A thigh cramp not only hurts like holy hell, but it prevents the crampee from being able to bend the leg in question.  Try going down steep rocky steps without bending one leg.  I'll wait.  See?  Not easy, is it?  Every step became an ordeal, and resting only put the water at the bottom of the trail that much further away chronologically.   So we limped on, step after excruciating step. 
       At about this point a couple of intreped hikers met us on their way up.  I begged them for water, and one of the two guys (forevermore the saint of mankind in my eyes) gave us a bottle of water and refused to accept payment.  I took a sip, gave the rest to my heavily perspiring wife, and we started down the trail yet again.  The cramps continued, the trail only seemed to get longer and longer as we climbed down one horrible step after another.
        When we reached the paved part of the trail Mrs. Squatlo could sense the water was waiting on ice in the car and began to move at a pace resembling the gait race walkers use when they're not allowed to actually jog, but are still moving faster than most people can run.  I, on the other hand, was trying to die.  My skin had stopped sweating, the cramps were now in BOTH THIGHS, and my wife seemed to be getting smaller and smaller in the distance as she literally bounded along in joyful anticipation of being back within sight of the parking lot.  I had to call ahead to remind her that I had the keys, just to keep from losing sight of her altogether.
        There is something to be said about thirst, cramps, and delirium... it clouds your thinking beyond anything a narcotic could ever hope to do.  Upon reaching the car and the cooler, my wife immediately grabbed and began to drink one of the bottles of water.  I, on the other hand, thought "Hair of the dog" and grabbed a very cold beer, killed it, and then reached for another.  Within five minutes of our drive back down the mountain to civilization the combination of dehydration, nausea, and sudden intake of 24 ounces of cold beer began to percolate. 
        Ever seen the videos of those idiots putting Mentos in Diet Coke bottles?  I was suddenly the Diet Coke bottle, and those two very cold, very fast beers were the Mentos.  My body began an earnest debate about which exit would blow first, heads or tails, and we were still MILES FROM A RESTROOM.
        We survived, I made it to a public facility without incident, and for the rest of that day and the better part of the next one I was couch-bound and miserable.  Groaning became my primary means of communication.
       My lovely wife, on the other hand, took great pleasure rubbing my nose in my previous pronouncements for the remainder of the trip.
       "Whatcha wanna do, honey?  Wanna go for another HIKE?"

       (groan.....)

STREAM BELOW RAMSEY CASCADE, GREAT SMOKY MNTS

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NO DRUGS WERE INVOLVED IN THE FOLLOWING PHOTO!

A SQUATLO STORY (NUMBER TWO: FISHING IMPAIRED)

     Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, yours truly used to imbibe in recreational narcotics in an effort to make life more interesting, if not bearable.  Those moments of wonderfulness were often achieved in conjunction with other, more productive activities such as school, work, and later in life, parenting... but the happiest moments were those blissfully oblivious times when I was with friends who were likewise impaired and we were trying to do something that might require some modicum of coordination or common sense.
     This is one of those tales... I convinced a good friend and fellow stoner to join me on a fishing expeditition one day.  We would drive to a nice secluded place along the riverside, deposit our gear, catch a buzz, and then, with any luck at all, perhaps a few fish.  We found our place on a large rock jutting out above the east fork of the Stones River (in an appropriately named recreation area called East Fork Recreation Area, of all things).  We put down our cooler, our lantern, our tackle boxes, fishing rods, and then took care of the first order of business--which was to get five thousand crickets out of my buddy's jacket lining.
      Seems he had run out of hands and needed a handy carrying space for the cricket tube, so he had zipped it up inside his lightweight jacket while we hiked to our fishing spot.  Somewhere along the way the top had popped off of said cricket container and all of the aforementioned crickets had taken that opportunity to explore other sights and smells under my friend's jacket lining.  We knew something was amiss as soon as he unzipped the jacket and the first couple dozen little hoppers made their way out into the light, seeming very appreciative of the fresh air, for some reason.
      Personally, I would have dove into the frigid waters in such a situation, being more than a little creeped out by crawling insects to begin with... but my friend very calmly began to gather up the escapees and returned them to their cell on death row.  Once that had been accomplished to our satisfaction (and several dozen happy crickets managed to take advantage of the chaos and have no doubt spawned billions of offspring by now, all of whom are probably sick to death of hearing grandpa's story about the tube and the jacket and the horrible fate he had avoided on the end of a snell hook) we settled in to wet a line and catch a buzz.
     At some point in the festivities my friend offered up a couple of "pickles", our name for a certain green gel cap barbituate of unknown origin to go with our smoky DOC.  A couple of brewskis later and we were beyond mellowed out.  We might not have been smashed, but we were damn sure well wrinkled.
     Darkness fell and our state of mind became more and more relaxed and less and less functional.  When it became too dark to see our lines in the water we decided to light our lantern and do some night fishing with night crawlers for bait, bottom fishing for catfish... or carp... or submarines... we didn't care at that point.
      The problem with having a Coleman lantern blazing away is that it tends to glare with such a bright light that you can't see anything else unless it's somehow blocked from view, so we put our cooler between ourselves and lantern.  The cooler made a nice little rack to stand our fishing rods against and the lantern let us get a good view of our lines as they trailed out into the darkness and the water below our rocky perch.
     If you've never bottom fished at night, here's a quick primer.  You bait a hook with enough worm to choke a robin, put several heavy lead weights on the line a couple of feet above the hook, then cast it out as far as you can.  Next, you place the rod on some object (in our case, the cooler) and watch the line tension for signs of a strike.  If the line suddenly tightens or goes slack, something has obviously moved your bait on the bottom of the river.
     We sat back and got comfortable.  Crickets were chirping (probably singing "Born Free" in harmony) and other night noises were coming from the surrounding woods.  Another doobie was burned.  Another pull from the Wild Turkey bottle to chase with another brew from the cooler... and all the while the Placadil was coursing through our systems like chemical stupid, slowing down every movement and thought process.  Conversation became impossible, so we just sat and stared at our lines, illuminated by the lantern on the other side of our cooler.
      Right about then I noticed my line get tight, then immediately go slack.  I sat up as quickly as I could (picture underwater divers or spacewalking astronauts to guage the speed of this action) and put my hand on my fishing rod, ready to set the hook when the fish finally took the bait.  And I waited.  And I waited.  And then the line went slack again, then immediately began to tighten up, then went slack, then tightened up, and so on... for fifteen minutes I crouched in this position, bent over like Quasimodo straining to keep an eye on my line while my partner kept telling me to set the hook, he's on, set the hook... whatcha waitin' for, set the fucking hook, Christ...!
     Finally I took the rod and gave it a solid snap back to set the hook... and promptly fell back on my ass.  There was no fish on the line... in fact, there was no line other than the three feet that dangled from the end of my fishing rod.  Apparently, the monofiliment  line had dipped down behind the cooler far enough to touch the lantern where it had promptly burned in two... and all I had been watching for the better part of half an hour was three feet of mono drifting in a very slight breeze, back and forth.
      Realizing neither of us would ever be able to actually tie on another hook, we decided to call it a night.
No fish, just lots of escaped crickets and a cool story to tell later.
      We haven't fished together since, for some reason...

DEPARTMENT OF REDUNDANCY DEPARTMENT

   Your tax dollars at work!  We just received a notice in the mail from the Census Bureau alerting us to the fact that we will soon be receiving a Census form in the mail.
    Let's consider the logic behind this initial mailing... if a person doesn't receive the notice alerting them to the upcoming Census mailing, they won't receive that one either.  If they do receive the first notice, they'll receive the Census form.  Either way, the same result would ensue if they just mailed the census form and let fate take its course.
     This is like calling someone to tell them you intend to call them very soon... or taking dog food out to your dog only to tell him you intend to come back and actually feed him real soon, so he should watch for your arrival with food in hand.
      Considering the fact that EVERY SWINGING DICK IN AMERICA gets a Census form, at least that many will get this notice.  What's the price of a first class stamp these days?  Multiplied by how many millions of us? 
       I'm thinking of sending them a notice to let them know I intend to send them a complaint soon...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

LITTLE PIGEON RIVER, GREENBRIER SECTION OF GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS

A SQUATLO STORY (NUMBER ONE: THE INCENSED MASS AND THE WOOZY ALTAR BOY)

      Back when I was but a young lad with potential my mother insisted that I attend the church of her choice, and as long as I was going to be there she also insisted that I make myself useful... so I had to become an altar boy at the Blessed Sacrament Church in beautiful downtown Harriman Tn during my formative years.  I look back on it now, not with fondness and warm/fuzzy memories, but with a sense of relief that A) I'll never set foot in that creepy place again, and B) I wasn't molested or abused during my years of dutiful attendance.
       But that's not what the story is about... Prior to one particularly "fragrant" ceremony at the church I managed to talk my way into the job of carrying the incense burner during mass.  I forget now exactly what event we were celebrating or mourning, only that I got to carry the smoking orb of incense on the ornate gold chain!  What fun!
       I was an enthusiastic incense orb carrying little guy, apparently.  My mom would roll her eyes and slap her forehead whenever this story was recalled, so I'm quite certain the details of those oft' repeated accounts are accurately represented here (although my own personal recollections are fuzzy, for reasons that will soon become evident).
       At some point during the festivities the priest had to deliver a long passage of Latin from the pulpit, and my job was to stand at his right hand with the smoking incense burner on the chain dangling just below the hem of my cassock.  If you don't know what a cassock is, picture several bright eyed young fellows wearing black ankle length dresses that smelled (oddly enough) of incense and candle wax.  Mine might have been slightly shorter, which is odd given the fact that I was about three foot nothing in those days...
      As Father Whomever It Was droned on, my job was to swing the incense burner back and forth at the sound of certain Latin phrases (which could have translated into pizza recipes for all I know) and then hold it steady at floor level during the passages between those verbal cues (probably when the pizza dough was being kneaded).
      During those long periods when the incense burner was hanging still the smoke began to flow up under my cassock and out through the gaping collar around my neck.  The more I swung the burner the more it smoked during those long passages below my cassock hem.  Before long the smoke was not only visible to everyone in the congregation, but had begun to make me dizzy.  The more I tried to lean away from the smoke the larger the gap between my neck and the collar became, which only allowed more smoke to escape.
       Mom said I was swaying quite noticeably from side to side, and that my eyes often seemed to roll back in my head as if, at any moment, one short, enthusiastic little altar boy with a smoking orb might decide to just stagger face-first off of the elevated altar platform.
        I don't remember any of this other than winning the pregame argument among the altar boys to determine who got the honor of carrying the incense burner.
        I'm pretty sure I killed more brain cells in that one service than in all my years of recreational narcotic abuse combined.
        And I didn't even get the pizza recipe...

Monday, March 8, 2010

SPRING BREAK!

CITRUS IN MY DAMN BEER!

      Squatlo needs to rant!!!  What the hell is up with people thinking that limes, lemons, and oranges need to be thrust upon resturant and bar customers in totally inappropriate places?
      I can't order a bottle of dark beer anymore without prefacing my order with the words, "No FRUIT!" or run the risk of having my Killians come back with a lime stuffed into the mouth of the bottle.  What lobbyist with the Citrus Commission threw cash at the resturant industry to require oranges as a side garnish when I order an omelet at Cracker Barrel.
      Who in their right mind thinks an orange slice somehow "works" with a fucking egg?  And other than Americans on vacation in Cancun who wants to taste limes and lemon in their beer?
       This shit started with Corona Beer... a skunky funky brew of dubious quality that somehow managed to successfully market itself to sun-addled gringos on Spring Break or cruise ports of call... and the only way to make that horrible beer drinkable is to stuff fruit into the bottle?
       What's next?  Mangos in my gravy?  Peaches in my soup?
Someone needs to get out an old Norman Rockwell painting of food and make note of the fact that the fruit is probably in its own bowl, not mixed into the veggies and entrees.
        There are lemons in everything but lemonade...

Friday, March 5, 2010

CANADA GOOSE COMING UP FOR AIR

STOCK MARKET PSYCHIC FACES SEC SUIT

     Sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder if someone isn't making up the news...
There's an article in today's business section of the Nashville Tennessean from the Associated Press that says a man claiming to have psychic abilities was able to bilk $6 million dollars from investors after telling them he could predict market trends.
      In my humble opinion, any money you can squeeze out of idiots is found money and not subject to the rules and regulations of modern society.  If they want to invest in Quiji board investors, or drop cash into a collection plate in return for eternal salvation, hey! it's their money!!!  Ernest Angley and Jimmy Swaggart made quite a bit with less to rely on than this guy had to offer, and I don't remember anyone jumping their asses and filing injunctions to return the money to the fleeced.
     A few years ago the Psychic Television Network went bankrupt and hundreds of employees had to be laid off... you'd have thought they would see that coming...

NOT EVERYONE HAS A KLEENEX HANDY (OR HANDS...)

NOT EVERYONE HAS A KLEENEX HANDY (OR THUMBS...)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

SPEND TIME WITH YOUR KIDS SO PEYTON DOESN'T...

video

HOW DOES ONE STONE A WHALE?

I was just wondering about the actual process of stoning a whale... since whales tend to be moving and submerged most of the time, how would a group of really angry fundamentalists go about stoning it to death for killing a trainer at Sea World?
I've got it figured out, sort of. They would either have to drain the pool or drag the whale out of the pool. Of course, then they'd be wondering if they were really stoning it to death as mandated by the Bible, or if it was instead just dehydrating on the concrete in the sun.
I'd look this up, but like I said, I only keep non-fiction in the house. Excuse me while I gather rocks, though. Wouldn't miss this for the world!

THE INITIAL SQUATLO RANT ENTRY 3-4-10

Not that it will matter, but this is the first blog entry from Squatlo Rant, and I'll try to keep it short and simple. Yesterday I read that a fundamentalist group calling themselves the American Family Association wants to enforce Biblical punishment on the killer whale at Sea World that took the life of a trainer during a public show. According to the group as noted by huffingtonpost.com, they claim that the Bible calls for the destruction of any animal that takes the life of a human, and that it must be "stoned to death" for its trangression. Furthermore, they claim that since the animal had killed a human in the past and wasn't destroyed as mandated by the Bible it's owner must be stoned to death as well.
Apparently these happy commandments can be found in Exodus 21:28 and 21:29, but I wouldn't know if that's accurate since I only keep non-fiction in the house.
Whenever I see this kind of nonsense reported as news I'm reminded of why abortion should be kept legal in this country. If you have any doubt that the gene pool needs chlorine, watch this group for future examples of what's wrong with religion in America these days.