Friday, March 1, 2013

"and me, the chirp..."

The Marlinspike Hall gang is home from the wilds of the Lone Alp, where we did some x-treme camping.

Oh, okay, so "extreme" as it gets when hoisting and foisting all the livelong day with such a diverse (rapidly becoming my least favorite of the Progressive Vocabulary, soon to join such Coastal Suck Speech as "artisinal," and, maybe, "regional") crowd as The Castafiore, Cabana Boy the Unexpected Tenderfoot, Marlboro Man Wannabe Sven Feingold, Fred I-Can't-Leave-The-Fire's-Embers-Alone Vanderbuck, and me, The Chirp.

For the second time in elle est belle la seine's history, let me explain my use of "The Chirp." The first?  I had to look it up and it made me laugh so much I got sick. It's called, "Yay, Us!" Largely, it celebrates the wisdom of myself and Grader Boob in not procreating, in ending the line.  Of course, not everyone Born of the Blood was so pessimistic and our streak was ruined.  Still, "yay, us" for doing our darned level best.  Anyway, the previous reference to "The Chirp" came midst that family-fortifying affair known as the Casey Anthony trial down Florida way.  One day, exulting in my family's accomplishments, I wrote a friend:

kept the tv on and watched the trial every time i took a break... lordy, lordy, lordy. you know... my family is/was dysfunctional but i am slightly cheered to think that we never murdered anyone, or covered up major crimes. we had loads of denial, silence, repression, enabling, and our share of abuse. but we never murdered anyone.   yay, us!
Believe it or not, the past few days have uncovered more reasons to ejaculate another "Yay, Us!" but the prospect of relaying the story makes me want to... you know, puke some more.  So we'll save the Weirditude of my "family" for better times.  I'll give you a hint, just enough to imperil my bleeding stomach:  an oil portrait of the Mother-Unit, kept hidden for over 30 years, presumably from the Nazis, now in my possession.  It's beautiful, she's lovely, and she's about to hit the Underground Railroad of Mother's Oil Portraits.

Back to "The Chirp."  It's a phrase from  Joni Mitchell's Miles of Aisles, her designation for her role in The Band -- in that case, L.A. Express, back during the Court and Spark tour.

That reference drew a weird amount of ink, and I wouldn't waste time explaining it again but for that irritating Urban Dictionary.  Their chirp is rarely a noun, and is as far from referencing my chirp as chirp can get.

So yeah, we're "home," though squatters we shall always be.

I'll talk more at you when the meds kick in, the ginger ale is sipped, and Dobby gets caught up on belly rubs.  I threw this vid/song in when composing "Yay, Us!" but mean it even more haphazardly now than I did then.

The Chirp:

The Webcast of Daisy Merrick's Memorial

Daisy's Memorial from Reality on Vimeo.

Courtesy of the Merrick's site, Pray for Daisy.

Monday, February 25, 2013


we're all piling into ruby the honda cr-v -- as many as she'll allow -- and are off for some x-treme camping.

we'll see you later in the week!

check out the archives, why dontcha?

cheerios and fruitloops,

the marlinspike hall gang

Sunday, February 24, 2013

she finally has a place all her own

I'd like to give a warm blogger's welcome -- oh, Lord, that sounds awful, like reheated, too thick, orangey cheese soup served over a chunk of brown bread, the pope's nose.

Let me try again.

Do you remember the many pleas made here and elsewhere on behalf of my friend Joyce and her husband Billy?  No?  Maybe?  Well, click HERE to refresh your memory.

Billy died, of course, which is what most people with Stage 4 lung cancer do, and Joyce has and will run the gamut of emotions in her grief, as most widows do.

She's full of stories.  They're just bubbling inside of her, trying to get out.

So she's started a blog.  She's called it: life, from childhood to adulthood.

Joyce is shy and sees herself as the product of an accumulation of bad, evil, and unlucky things. It is our job, Dear Readership, to show her a world of welcoming, to encourage her voice, and to respond to what she says -- or she might give up.

Actually, Friends, she will try to cut and run, write and delete, start and then declare it a failure.  So tell her about the day you realized that you had actually written a hundred posts, that writing regularly filled a void, and introduced you to people you'd otherwise never have met.  Tell her about the day you realized you had a voice, and that it mattered.

Just by virtue of having cats, and cute ones, at that, she's gonna have a certain following.  Dobby's ears are already rotating.

I've been learning a lot about writing lately and at the most unlikely of places -- a website for writers.  I already have a stalker there, a read idjit who calls himself -- get this! -- "amicus." I'd laugh out loud but my throat is raw.  It's a slice of real life -- some people are mean, some stupid, some open-hearted, some closed.  There's a whole lot of failed genius seeking comfort.  And vanity?  And vanity press ads?  Oy!

I'm having a great time.

Which is what I wish for Ms. Joyce Thang over there at life, from childhood to adulthood.  I joke about wanting her to write, not so much about the things that have happened in that lifetime, but what and whom she's seen, why she loves old cars, what is it about the thick blood of family?

I joke because if she tells her story -- life, from childhood to adulthood -- I am not sure we could take it.  So yes, may it all come out, but gently, layered between stories of the hills, revival tales, and character studies.  But it must come out, I imagine.  All of the hurt done to her needs its telling, too.

So make her not scared, not nervous -- but welcome.  She finally has a place all her own...

from Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

Fallon and Obama, Jimmy and Michelle: Mom Dancing

uploaded by latenight to YouTube, February 22, 2013

In a ghastly pink cardy and pedal-pusher chinos, Fallon was having his own hair moment (was he channeling Tina Fey with that swingy brunette wig?) while unlocking a devastatingly creaky portrayal of self-conscious uncool. Then Michelle Obama swivels on, in her own cardy and, yes, pedal pushers–way spiffier, natch. But would she truly represent? You could hear a million Moms around the country fret. Then a few more beats, a few more hip bumps, and the Mom-in-Chief’s dance cred resolved into smooth, self-mocking genius.

i was, in short, diminished

This was written... lemme see... wow: 2 January 2010.  If you're a new Beloved Intrepid Reader, I am, as I was on 2 January 2010, stricken with the Dread Viral Crud, cannot sleep, and therefore feel compelled to raise whatever Dead Drafts that are not full of maggots or have worms playing pinochle on their unfinished snouts -- compelled, I say, to raise them from their Drafty Files into the light of day, or the lamplight of night, and where, O where, is the NyQuil?

There's some funny stuff hiding out in the draft pile.  What's not so funny is how things don't seem to change much around The Manor.  Remember, though:  You're never in a rut so long as you have a moat!  [C'mon, Intrepid Reader Darlings, 'Sing along!']

okie-dokie, so we are sick as dogs... although, where the meaning of that comes from, i dunno. dogs are not, by nature, "sick."


in fact, i love dogs.  i am not, by nature, a cat person, no that lifestyle was foisted upon me.  (i just read that sentence out loud, and damned if i did not sound like w. c. fields. go ahead, try it, no one's listening.  especially that end part... "foisted uponnnnnnn meeeeee."

i love dogs so much i once left fred for three days on behalf of my mostly lab girl puppy, name of emma.  he was mean to her, and i had told him that were he mean to her ever again, i was leaving him.  so there we were, after midnight, me (using a walker), emma, an overfull suitcase, and a big plastic bag full of baby girl dog paraphernalia... and one pissed off taxi driver.

a friend who was in barcelona had offered me the use of his apartment.
on the fourth floor of a building with no elevators.
just me and my outraged sense of justice for my baby girl dog who was highstrung, needed lots of exercise, and had a bladder that a pea might envy.

you know how this story goes.  i managed three days, read all my friend's journals, all the secrets everyone had known for years, hurt myself in a dozen new and ingenious ways, but, by god, walked that dog five times a day, even took her to play in the park, but even emma was looking at me like, "why are we at alex's place?  why can't we go home?  don't worry about me, i can take on fred!"

we went home, but rather than force my baby girl dog to have to worry or fear anyone, i returned her to the animal shelter, and i pray every day that they did not take the light out of her eyes.  the days when fred can't figure out why the hell i am such a bitch?  those are my emma days.  god bless that pup. her brain could not seem to process any incoming data as being code for less than brightly dancing bubbles and slobber love.

this virus is cruel. it's a grown-up's virus.

i woke feeling pretty doggone (who let the dogs out?) good. no coughing. temp 98.4 (no shit! i almost called an ambulance... "make haste, there's something horribly amiss!").  just an aching head, with pesky swollen glands. for me? a big nada. no problem. gonna coast through the day, get some work done, mebbe write a little, do my wii, a french clay facial and if there is time left in the day, clean the bathroom. (we're having procastination issues).

i was looking forward to showing off for fred.  let him marvel at what recovery looks like, let him renew his faith, for it *is* possible to speak without a wheeze!  "how do you feeeeeellll, ffffred, dahlink?"

"moi? moi? i feel fuh-fuh-fine, ffffred!"

while waiting for fred to wake up, i did morning chores,
and began to lag.

yes, the energy did flag, and i, i began to fade.

i was, in short, diminished.

sorry. i was briefly channeling t. s. eliot.

or yeats.

it's so hard to tell, anymore. i grow old.

eating the peach is not gonna be my issue. no, i think that monster slinking toward jerusalem is gonna get moi.

hey, i bought a new toothbrush the other day! wait, i didn't tell you i went out, did i? well, i did. grocery shopping:

and i had an emotional meltdown right in the middle of the damned store. see... i hadn't left the house in 29 days. that's right. TWENTY-NINE FREAKING DAYS. that's how high my pain level has been, how miserable my legs, these hands, how very, very bad it has been. oh, poor me, yeah, yeah, and... SCENE!

anyway, i had been begging to go to the store for days, but fred didn't connect my eagerness with the notion of going-to-the-store with my pure excitement at what looked to me as a FUN activity. so when we entered said establishment and he announced, "let's split up, we'll get done faster"?
i started to boohoo. can you believe it? how retarded am i, and increasingly so, with increasing frequency? it was pure lucy mcgillicuddy ricardo, without the charm or talent.

poor man. in fred's mind, i go out whenever he does (pretty much daily, and at least twice a week for social engagements. he had not counted the passing of TWENTY-NINE FREAKING DAYS, nor did he really register the number of DIY amputations of my legs that i had undergone in fits of desperation at the increasingly increasing pain. he *cannot*, of course, and i don't want him to follow the bouncing ball of my suffering, anyway, poor soul. i've ruined his life enough, don't you think?  just trust me... he's told me so, twice in one week, once. with. a. period. between. each. word: and. when. are. you. going. to. die. anyway.

hard to transcribe.

oh, hell, where was i? did i tell you i am spiking a way high, a mile high fever?

the toothbrush. oh, yeah. so we were in the market, en train de faire le marché, when i remembered i needed a new one. i pop a few wheelies and race down the toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, and sundries aisle. fred is tearing after me, the shopping cart careening this way and that... he sees me stop in front of the pitiable selection of plaque-scrapers, and calls out: "wait! we have a supply of new toothbrushes at home!"

now... i don't know exactly why that sent me over the edge (again) -- but it did. i had not been out of the house for... well, you know. do you get how hard it is to run a household by sending a guy with adhd to do the necessary errands? have you tried making a detailed grocery list when you are only able to go to the store yourself but a couple o'times a year? i am a very visual person. back in the day (i.e., before osteomyelitis, crps, before lupus and avn, before ai, and so on), i just took a mental stroll down the aisles, pictured what was there, made my lists in almost perfect synchronicity with the actual order of the products. i made a killer list, detailed but simple, a list on which even the most shopping-challenged could rely.

no more. oh no. now i am liable to hand my sweet abstracted man something in a breezy handwriting along the order of:

apples, if they are under $1.39 a pound. and fresh. also, please don't buy them if the skin is even slightly loosened from the inner fruit. you know what i mean. like they'd been stored in a cold bin for too long. we're looking for très fresh.  don't buy one without a stem, don't buy them if they're dimpled.  smell them, for god's sake.  didn't i see perfectly deep crimson delicious reds for $1.19?' 
keep an eye out for endive. gots to have my endive.  and one day, god willing, i will. 
toilet paper.  i don't remember this week's criteria. 
pasta, wanna try some whole-wheat penne? 
lowfat plain yogurt (7) as in SEVEN 16 ounce containers.  please do not confuse the flower on the carton of the nonfat yogurt with the vanilla flower the idjits place on the lowfat.  someone should write a letter, and yes, there oughta be a law. 
stool softener (i'm sorry) -- docusate sodium, the largest bottle they have, should be a 400-count for about 18 blessed buckaroos. 
drain cleaner

get yourself something for snacking

bananas, pears
12-oz cans of diced tomatoes, no salt, no sugar, nothing added 
         basmati, whole brown, jasmine rices
that everyday spray cleaner with vinegar as its only active ingredient.  i like it. do you like it? 
oils, of all kind. we are almost out of everything from sesame to peanut to olive. did you think that last bottle of olive oil was funny colored, very bland -- old -- tasting? 
diet ginger ale 
your purple sodas 
my bread; your breads. 
i love you for doing this, i so wish i could do it for you...                                                                                   

"I slept in two hootches two stories tall..."

My Dad died last July 3, and I cobbled all of the below together on July 5, and whatever it is, it isn't my usual.  It's a classroom report, something to cut and paste on those posterboard set ups they sell kids who have a presentation to make.  It's pure as gold and it's pure crap, both.  Anyway, it's draft clean-up time again, probably the quickest road to fallen pride, if not humility, that I know.

"Better late than never, though there's nothing much wrong with 'never,' really..."
-- My Family Creed


G'morning, Faithful Readers.  Probably one of the most important, or influential, times of my father's life was as a co-commander of a base in Viet Nam.  We'll call it PRAB because that's what they called it.  I know only a few things about what happened to him and to his men and to his enemies and to the civilians he overflew there, and these memories are filtered through a kid's desperate desire to not understand, so I'm posting, instead, photos from that time and place.

Also, I found a neat archive of a guestbook where USAF personnel stationed at PRAB left a word or two.  It's a place of considerable understatement, which jives with my lifelong experience with The Colonel.  You had but to look in his eyes -- and who could do that for longer than two seconds? -- to see that he would never ever speak to you, or anyone, about what happened to him and to his men and to his enemies and to the civilians he overflew there.  Anyway, I do know that we heard some FUNNY stories about purported antics committed by Our Colonel.  A few were corroborated with photography, some with involontary snorting, and there are a few that I think were just made up.  It's apparent from the entries at the online guestbook that humor was a Saving Grace.

My biggest challenges were getting 
throttle actuators for the J-85s and Type II cleaning
solvent for docks so they could clean the R2800s.
Depot never could get the actuators and they
finally broke the solvent problem by getting it in
Singapore instead of a stateside depot. Also, we
had quite a time getting straight brooms so the
crew chiefs could clean out the cargo bays after
hauling elephants, nauseous native personnel and
leaking diesel fuel bladders. Flashlight
batteries were a problem as were the cargo
rollers. Other than that, a piece of cake.

shop area at PRAB

My first night on base was the night we 
had a mortar, rocket and sapper attack. A bomb 
loaded F-100 was hit below the tower and tower
personnel could be heard on Giant Voice telling
someone to get them out of there. The next
morning at Security Police building, all the
failed sappers were laid out for photographers
to take their pictures. Not a good night for
Charlie. As I remember, a K-9 alerted to the
attack before Charlie could make it to the 

flight line.

Panoramic PRAB

I volunteered to go to Vietnam. I
believed it 

was my duty and the least I could do. 

I met a 
great bunch of guys that loved to drink J.B. I
lived on cans of pineapple slices because I was
always hungry. Worked on the F-100's and the F-
4c's. I loved the Aussie B-47's especially when
they started up with the cartridges. Really cool
looking. I have some old slides of the guys and
the field. Remember hitch hiking and taking the
bus down town and getting some barbequed dog.
Really tasty. lol..

 Movie theater area. Movie Projector shack is
on the left. Movies were projected onto the side wall of the
inflatable warehouse. 

 I was crew chief on F-100D 56-2911. 

Had "Ding How" painted on the nose. It was the 
Sq. C.O. acft "Buzz Sawyer". We lived in tents, moved

into hooches and wooden barracks were being

built just before I left. 
I painted several sleds with 

nose art. Sure 

wish there were pics of them now. 

Often wonder 

where the old aircraft went and 

all the guys that 

crewed them. Its been so long now. 

All the pics 

I had from that era have been lost but sites like
this bring back so many memories....
I retired in 79 and went to the wilds of Maine
where I could enjoy mountains, four seasons,
trees, wildlife and escape the roar of the J-57.

Phan Rang is actually composed of twin towns; Phan Rang and Thap Cham. It is a small town on the coast with its main attraction being Cham historical remnants and towers in the surrounding area. The Cham Empire thrived in and around Phan Rang from around the 8th century its fall in the 17th century. The Phan Rang region is very dry, as it manages to avoid the summer and winter monsoons. It averages only 60cm of rain per year. The immediate area around Phan Rang is very beautiful and is interspersed with grape gardens and is the home of the best dragon fruit in Vietnam.

The main attraction in Phan Rang is a small group of Cham towers which sit by the roadside 7 km on the road to Dalat. These towers were built in the early 14th century as Hindu temples during the Cham Empire. They have been beautifully preserved. The towers were named after the King who invented a system of irrigation used in local villages. As the tourist buses from Nha Trang to Dalat pass through Phan Rang, the Cham towers are seen as a convenient place to take a break along the way. The result of which is that the towers are periodically swarmed by travelers heading north and south. In the center of the largest temple is an ancient linga (phallic symbol) with a human face painted on it. The other towers still retain their beautiful shapes and the carved details are clearly visible.

1000 lb bombs ready for loading

I remember when we were infiltrated in Jan and 
then in Feb 69 by CHARLIE. If I remember

correctly an F-100 and a B-57 were damaged.
The Super-cops shot I think 11 VC and then
displayed them in the parking lot in front of
the BX. One VC was a barber who used to cut my
hair at the barber shop.

"Viet Nam Baby Lift," Wayne Day

I was an aircraft Loadmaster on the 
Bookie Birds. I arrived from Travis AFB, CA where I flew 
on C-141s and after leaving Phan Rang went to
McGuire AFB, NJ, back on C-141s. Went back to
Travis in 73 and retired in 76.
Lot of memories GOOD & BAD. Few scary occasions. 
Always looked for and counted bullet holes upon 
landing back at Phan Rang.

Members of No. 2 Squadron’s Australian Airfield Defence Guard (ADG)
prepare to fire on suspicious movement while on patrol outside the perimeter
of the base at Phan Rang in 1969.

 I slept in two hootches two stories tall no air conditioning
in a 2 man room. Next moved to new 35 AMS
Sqadron hootch 20 rooms open floor plan 2 people
per cubicle that if you slept in the top bunk and
jumped out of bed you hit the two lockers that
were a part of the room. Where was the air
conditioned 2, 4 and 6 man rooms...hmmm? Dusty
yes NCO club yes, Airmens club was pitiful.
Entry to down town Phan Rang banned so Dodge
City was the primary choice of recreation to the
Airmen. Mayor of Phang Rang was the reason for
banning visiting the city do to Pathet Lao,
Chicom and NVA activity in the area. Someone
asked the question someplace about getting hit
with rockets and mortars. 1969 Phan Rang by
number not volume beat out Da Nang meaning we had
more weapons dropped on us than they did and I
can testify to that in that working graveyard
shift a month didn't go buy where I didn't find
myself in the bunker next to the 35 AMS building.
One last thing the 3rd snack bar was next to the
hanger across the street from the AMS building
had the worst hamburgers in the world. After 6
weeks and Mess Hall food they tasted pretty

When Dad had things he thought were "heavy" to explain, I was always summoned to the Master Bedroom, my stepmom usually intensely, obsessively engaged in the application of moisturizer to her face, neck, arms, and legs.  We were supposed to pretend she was not there. And so we did.

He asked me if I knew the story of Washington crossing the Delaware, and though I did not (I could, however, reference several paintings of that watery passage, with Washington idiotically standing upright in what looked to me like a rowboat) -- I nodded an assent.  Then came the brilliant segue, that to this day leaves me aghast and close to drooling:  "Well, what if no one had volunteered to row the boat?"

That was his way of explaining that he'd been assigned to go to Vietnam.

The emphasis on volunteerism was a nice touch, especially since he certainly owed no service time to that war, having flown in it and around it for many years already.  And especially since he fought his superiors tooth-and-nail in an effort to get them to tally his air time over Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos and *then* dare to tell him he owed a year "in country."  Didn't flying "hospital" planes, heavy lunky dumpy planes, didn't flying the wounded out to Clark AFB for medical minsitrations count for something -- flying low, flying invisible, in one of the heaviest planes in the world -- so deft a touch, so one with the mission, keeping it light so the nurses would not scare, an Albert Schweitzer of the air -- was that all for naught?

The year and a few months that he was gone were the best years of my fucked-up family's life, and I felt ashamed for every day that I was happy.

The day that he came home, I broke my stepsister's hair dryer, and was so afraid of starting out his return in trouble that I gooped it back together with some inappropriate glue and when it wouldn't stick, I hid it.  When my StepMom drove the car into the driveway, and we all stood there, in a line, waiting, mourning our days of freedom fun, all I could think was "I broke her hair dryer and now I'm going to get in trouble." Look in the eyes, and bullet understatement trouble.

What you don't understand is that I was never forgiven for anything I ever did wrong. Never. Not for a broken hair dryer, for not eating my eggs, or for the most horrible sin you can imagine.  Wrong was wrong, and wrong was not forgiven.

When he got out of the car, he looked like he needed us.

His head was shrunken, all bone, all old. His eyes looked too big for that shriveled face.  And his voice cracked.  "I'm home," he said, his voice cracking, and he cried.