For the Love of Sandwiches

History tells us that John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, had a habit of dining on salted beef between two slices of toasted bread while at the gambling table. Hence, the sandwich was born. It was such a great idea that it was named after him! I know a lot of other foods are named after people, but it’s still impressive.

Like any right-thinking American, I enjoy a well-made sandwich. I even enjoy a poorly made one as long as it has tasty ingredients. Bread, meat or a reasonable facsimile, veggies, optional condiments–all in a handheld form and easy to eat. It’s dining simplicity as its finest.

Here in Kentucky we eat hot browns, which we call sandwiches, but they really aren’t. White bread, layered with turkey, cheese sauce, bacon and tomato and then broiled until hot and brown. It’s what’s called an “open-faced sandwich,” which is no sandwich at all since you can’t pick it up. If you eat it with a fork, it’s not a sandwich.

You can put any kind of meat or meat product on a sandwich–turkey, ham, chicken, bologna, roast beef, liverwurst, Spam, pastrami, salami, all manner of fish, olive loaf–you name it. When I was a kid a neighbor offered me a souse sandwich. I declined. If you are familiar with souse, you know why. If you aren’t, click here. Get it, now? The same neighbor once asked my brother “You wanna mater sammich?” He declined. Offering someone a sandwich is a friendly gesture for sure, even if the “sammich” in question is itself questionable.

I’m not sure a tomato constitutes a proper sandwich. It’s like a partial sandwich. When my wife was a kid, she ate mashed potato sandwiches. That just seems wrong to me. Mashed potatoes should be eaten with your sandwich, not on it. Just because you call something a sandwich does not make it so. Perhaps not coincidently, my wife is the only person I know you does not like sandwiches. Somehow, we’ve remained together.

I’m not suggesting that all sandwiches require meat. You can have a cheese sandwich, even though the meat is missing. Even better, you can fry it in butter and call it grilled cheese. Grilled food is healthy, right? I ate a grilled cheese sandwich with country ham, bacon and pork rinds on it. I still considered it merely a grilled cheese sandwich. The angioplasty was extra. Eggs also make for a good sandwich. Fried or scrambled–it doesn’t matter.

Peanut butter and jelly is perhaps the greatest American sandwich. It must, of course, be grape jelly. Anything else is an abomination. Elvis loved fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches. My elementary school served fabulous peanut butter sandwiches. I asked my mom to get the same kind of peanut butter. Mother, a home economics teachers back when there were such things, groaned and gently noted that this “peanut butter” was cut with copious amounts of corn syrup to make it stretch further. We weren’t doing that in our home. Oh well.

I’ll admit to being a bit of a purist with my sandwiches. Nothing too complex for me. The simpler the better. If I want a complicated meal, I’ll order one. There’s nothing more disheartening than to approach a sandwich shop counter anticipating a simple and tasty ham and cheese sandwich, only to see this on the menu:

Ham & Cheese: Organic, free range ham topped with aged Alpaca cheese, persimmon dill chutney, pickled capers and sesame cayenne mustard. Your choice of zucchini, rutabaga or Belgian flax bread.

What the hell do I do now? My ham sandwich is lost in an olio of ingredients which render the ham an afterthought. I can only awkwardly order the sandwich like this:

“I’d like the ham and cheese, but I just want ham and cheese on it. And do you have any other kind of cheese and maybe some regular whole wheat bread?”

Now, I’ve ordered a sandwich which isn’t even on the menu. Oh, they’ll probably accommodate me, but I’ll be judged. Plus, I’m sure they’ll spit on it. Let’s don’t even discuss the likelihood of the order being totally screwed up, too. Don’t do this to a sandwich. Keep it simple. If someone wants to befoul it with all manner of toppings, make that an option, not part of the basic sandwich.

While we’re at it, consider condiments. Ketchup (or catsup for the more refined of you), mustard and mayonnaise are the bellwethers. Heinz makes the only ketchup acceptable to my palate, but I never know what brand is on a sandwich. Fortunately, ketchup doesn’t go on very many sandwiches, even though it’s quite tasty on almost everything. Mustard is great for ham sandwiches and a must for a fried bologna sandwich. Beyond those, it’s a tad questionable.

Mayonnaise is the most frequently used condiment. I must now–publicly and definitely–state my objection to this practice. Mayonnaise consists of oil (why eat oil?), egg yolk (okay but the grossest part of the otherwise fine egg) and vinegar (completely grotesque). How could combining these elements create an acceptable sauce? It’s like 80% fat! Why not just smear lard on your sandwich? (Ooh, that’s not a half-bad idea). People try to make it better by adding spices like cayenne pepper or something else to mask the taste. Then there’s Miracle Whip, which is kind of like mayonnaise, yet somehow different. It’s called salad dressing, even though I’ve never seen it put on a salad. If you want to make sure that I don’t take a bite of your sandwich, drench it in mayonnaise. And don’t tell me to scrape off the mayonnaise. That doesn’t work. Mayonnaise residue remains.

Let’s be clear about something else. Hamburgers aren’t sandwiches. They are burgers. How do I know this? Because they have meat patties on them and are served on buns. True, a sandwich can be served on a bun, too, but it is the basic pattyness of the burger which distinguishes it. I’ll grant you that if one were totally insane and served a meat patty between two slices of bread, it might be a sandwich. Might. I once heard an older person use the term “hamburger sandwich.” I wanted to punch her in the throat.

Onions are another issue. Understand that onions themselves–unlike, say, Brussel sprouts–are okay and can add a lot to many dishes. Why pile raw onions on a sandwich? You may as well have an onion sandwich. What–the taste of chicken isn’t good enough for you? Are you so utterly demented that you think it should taste like onions? Don’t just randomly throw onions on a sandwich. For God’s sake, at least tell a person before doing it.

Unlike onions, pickles have no redeeming value. I know, I know…you LOVE pickles, right? Well, good for you. They’re awful. I surmise that at one time cucumbers were plentiful and there wasn’t much else to eat. Since cukes won’t last forever, someone decided to preserve them and add a little flavor to them. Hence, we have the pickle. It was better than starvation, I guess. It was a bad idea then, and it’s a bad idea now. Removing them for one’s sandwich does little good because of the pervasive pickle juice which saturates the bread and anything else it touches. Everything ends up pickled. Here’s an idea: just soak your sandwich in salt water and vinegar and dig in.

Tomatoes. They’re terribly offensive to me. Now, do NOT tell me that if I love ketchup, I have to love tomatoes. Ketchup is chock full of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup (which, by the way, is the BEST kind of corn syrup) and flavorings and whatnot. Also, that gelatinous, seedy, embryonic goo is removed from ketchup. The tomato adds nothing of value to a sandwich, unless it’s a tomato sandwich, which we’ve already dismissed as a non-sandwich. Ugh.

As an aside, have you eaten a sugar sandwich? Years ago, I read a story about a boxer named Danny “Little Red” Lopez. He was so poor growing up, that’s what he ate! I’d try one. No onions, tomatoes or pickles, please. Hold the mayo, too. But I digress.it’

How about cheese? Like any patriot in our great country, I’m fond of American cheese, but I’m no xenophobe. The Swiss gave us both tremendous pocket knives and damn good cheese. Cheddar, mild or sharp, is always a winner. I don’t know what Monterrey Jack is, but I like it. I grew up eating Government Cheese, a dazzling cheese product that goes good on everything. Of course, we can’t leave well enough alone. Gouda cheese is now offered. How about Edam, whatever the hell that is? Bleu cheese? Hell’s bells, is that even cheese? It’s more like something you’d discard in the cheese-making process. Provolone is a little weird, but I can handle it. Mozzarella is good is a sandwich– a meatball or a chicken parmesan sandwich. Oh, and speaking of parmesan–it’s technically a cheese but more like some kind of seasoning. That’s why it generally it isn’t offered on sandwiches.

I almost forgot about bread. Look, bread is bread. Let’s don’t get too creative with it. White, whole wheat, multi-grain, maybe focaccia–we don’t need more choices. Options with seeds or odd colors or shapes don’t enhance my experience. Rye bread is weird, probably the result of some ill-conceived bakery experiment. Edible? Yes. Better than normal bread? No.

It’s starting to sound like I don’t like sandwiches. Maybe I don’t. Then again, consider that John Montagu had a storied career in politics and the military, yet he remains best known for eating salted beef between two pieces of toast. If such simplicity was good enough for the Earl himself, it should be good enough for all of us. Now, go make me a sandwich.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

 

 

 

Making Social Media Fun Again…for Me!

I hesitate to do this, but I must. It’s time to lay down the law for you people. You need a set of rules for your use of social media. I’m not so much concerned about how you interact with each other. My concern is more personal. It’s about how you can better interact with me. After all, that’s what important here.

A few years ago, I prepared a simple users guide for newcomers to Facebook. I must say that you failed miserably in following my advice. I am undaunted. My enjoyment of social is important to all of us and certainly worth preserving. Let’s get started.

TIMELINE CLUTTER

If I follow you or we’re friends on social media, your posts appear on my timeline. Think about that. I see what you post. You may not have thought that through. Your memes, photos, status updates and sundry ravings all pass before me. Let’s try to keep it entertaining.

What do I like? A lot of things. Babies are cute. Most small kids are, too. Jokes are good, too, as long as they’re funny. I like a clever pun. Pictures of you are okay, too, but try to make them interesting. Your selfies get tedious, unless you’re really attractive. It’s best not to risk it. Let’s keep it PG-13, too. There are other places to go on the Internet for more “mature” material.

There are many things I don’t need to see. Abused children and animals top that list. If there is a person who must see photos to know these things are bad, that person is either  stupid or insane. As far as you know, I am neither of those. Oh, and no one needs to see dead people. People who want to see pictures of dead people are dangerously disturbed. Don’t indulge them.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m unsure of what to do. What if my posts aren’t entertaining? There are three categories which never fail to entertain me:

Baby Pandas

Post a picture of a baby panda or multiple baby pandas. I’ll like it. I might even comment on it. Here’s one:

babypandas

 

I’m smiling. Don’t confuse Giant Pandas (the adorable ones) with Red Pandas. According to my research, the Red Panda is a weasel-like beast, a kind of tricked-out raccoon. I’m not saying that they don’t have their merits, but they aren’t cute enough to entertain me.

Monkeys Riding Dogs

Several years ago, a friend of mine posted a video of a monkey riding a dog recorded by him at a minor league baseball game. I laughed. I LOL’d, as it were. Here’s a picture of monkey riding a dog:

monkeyrodeo_wide-307fc1e70816bf01cb93296037a053f1e2977234-s6-c30_jpeg

I just laughed again.

I realize not everyone likes monkeys riding dogs. Here in Lexington, Kentucky, our local minor league baseball team actually cancelled a dog-riding monkey show because people complained. I guess it’s not good for the monkeys or maybe the dogs. I disagree. I’ve watched those videos. The monkeys are clearly having a blast. As for the dogs, they seem fine. Dogs are pretty affable, you know. It’s not like they’re riding Maltese or Chihuahuas. If it were apes, there might be a point. Apes are big and can be dangerous. Besides, we humans ride horses. We even race them, and I’m not 100% sure the horses even know they are in a race. We are in no position to judge monkeys–or dogs, for that matter.

Cars Hitting Buildings

I’ll admit that this is a little odd. What can I say? I’m a fan. I live in Lexington, Kentucky, a city which has an usual number of car-on-building accidents (if that’s what they really are). I’ll just say it–I am the one who first identified this phenomenon. It happens all the time here. Here’s a typical post:

carskid

I don’t know why this happens, but it entertains me, and that’s the point. One rule–don’t post about one if someone gets killed or seriously injured. The humor is in the property damage. Some folks are so kind as to post these and tag me so that I don’t miss out. Those people get it, and I like them for it.

POLITICS

As much as I dislike the topic, I must mention politics, specifically your politics. I’ll be blunt: No one cares about your political views. By “no one” I mean me. I once mentioned this in a Facebook post. One “friend” commented that I was wrong and that all his friends were very interested in his views. This same guy later called me a bigot for saying that the presidential election wasn’t the end of the world. It seems unlikely that he actually has any friends. I certainly can’t be counted among them.

I want to be clear about something. I’m not saying that you can’t post about politics. Of course, you can. That’s what the blocking and unfollow functions handle. I don’t have to see them. Prattle on if you must. Where we need to be careful is on commenting on my posts. I rarely say anything political. If I do, it’s fair game. Comment all you want. What you musn’t–nay, can’t–do is make a political comment on a decidedly non-political post. Here’s an example. Let’s say I post this status:

Wow. I can’t believe this warm weather we’re having.

This banal post doesn’t even merit a comment, unless you want to point out that where you are is actually quite cold or some other such equally uninteresting comment. Here are examples that won’t fly with me:

If Trump has his way, global warming will make every day like this.

What I can’t believe how great it is to have Trump as president. I don’t even care about the weather anymore.

The rule is simple: If my post is not political on its face, your comment cannot be.

RELIGION

Unlike politics, I have no problem with religion. I like all kinds of religions. Like Thomas Jefferson, I don’t care if you worship 20 gods or none. Good for you, I say. It’s important, though, to keep it to yourself most of the time.

As with politics, I’m not too concerned about your posts. I can’t force you to be entertaining. The same rules about political comments apply here as well. If I post about a recent sporting event, I don’t need to be reminded that God doesn’t care about it. I also don’t need a bunch of Bible passages cited or quoted. Believe it or not, I know a lot about that stuff–probably as much as you do. You’re not really teaching me anything.

A lot of people ask for prayers on social media. I’m cool with that. Pray for me, too, if you want. One caveat: I can’t participate in “unspoken” prayer requests. You know the ones:

I have an unspoken prayer request. God knows about it.

I don’t know what you’re asking for here. Maybe you’re calling down a curse on me or praying for something like the eruption of a super-volcano. God knows I can’t have that on my conscience.

As much as I am uninterested in your religion, your views on the religion of others is even less compelling. Resist the urge to deride anyone’s religion on my pages or walls or what have you. This is particularly applicable to my atheists friends–and I have quite a few. You folks tend to be very proud of your non-beliefs. Hey, I would be too if I were confident that all the many religions are wrong. Nevertheless, you must resist the urge to continually remind us of your superiority. Careful now, don’t do it in response to this, either.

I’ve not covered everything–sports, for example. It’s annoying when your favorite team wins and you act like you actually contributed to the win. I do the same thing, so I’m not exactly on the high road with this one. Likewise, we carry on about what fabulous, sainted parents we have, forgetting that we know people whose parents were little more than monsters which could procreate for some reason.

You’re probably wondering or perhaps even saying aloud: Why should I care what his clown thinks about what I do on social media? That is, indeed, a valid and thought-provoking question. I suggest, however, you consider that if you can make one person happy every day, you have not lived your life in vain. If that one person is me, we both win.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

AUSTRALIA: CAULDRON OF EVIL

Everyone knows I love being an American. As I write this, Donald J. Trump has just wrapped up two weeks as President of the United States. Weird, right? In that time, he has threatened such diverse enemies as Mexico and Chicago, Illinois with intervention by “troops” and “feds.” Since the President makes most of his announcements via Twitter, we’re not sure what any of that means, but we know he’s serious. Hell, he seems serious about everything. He doesn’t seem to be a fellow who enjoys a good joke.

In years past, I have beseeched our leaders to crush our international threats, primarily Canada and the allegedly “Great” Britain. I even went so far as to draw up complex nation-building plans. My warnings went unheeded, and today we remain at the mercy of our Anglo overlords. Many have no doubt wondered why I haven’t addressed the third side of the Triangle (or “Tri-Anglo,” as I call it) of Terror, the demon state Down Under.

The so-called “Commonwealth” of Australia is an island nation located somewhere way far away from civilization, unless you call Papau New Guinea and New Zealand civilized. Maybe it’s not island, just a small continent. In any event, Mr. Trump had a heated phone call with the Prime Minister of Australia–whose name escapes me–about an agreement for America to accept refugees from Australia. According to Presidential tweets, this agreement is “dumb” and he’s not having any of it. If  I know Mr. Trump–and if I don’t, who does?–he won’t stop there. I’m still uncertain if he knows who our friends are, but he knows our enemies. In fact, no President in recent memory could make enemies faster.

With President Trump in office, I have new hope. Australia is as good a place as any to start. I say accept every refugee we can hold from Australia, as long as they aren’t actual Australians.

I know what you’re thinking: Hey, those Aussies are like Americans. A lot of them are blonde. They speak English. If you’d bother to even lightly scratch the surface, you’d see this for what it is–a subterfuge hiding threats to our very way life.

A common and deadly conceit lulls most Americans into inaction when it comes to foreign lands. We believe that foreign people must look and speak differently in order to be threats. While these are certainly telling signs, they tell only part of the story.

Any  similarities between Americans and Australians are mere historical accidents. Like the United States, Australia was founded when England sent its undesirables to another continent. In the case of Australia, they were really undesirable–mostly a bunch of convicts. The Brits probably thought they were sending them to Austria where they would fit in. Regardless, they ended up being shipped off just about as far away as possible. Shouldn’t that be a clue, people? On the other hand, our country was settled by a bunch of buttoned-up, glum religious nuts. That alone makes us superior and them a dangerous criminal element.

Here is Australia:

australia_political_map

Major cities include Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane. It speaks to the intellectual paucity of the inhabitants that they soon exhausted real names and simply made up names for other cities and towns. Thus, the land is littered with names such as Wollongong, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, Bong Bong, Cock Wash and Mount Buggery.

What I know of Australia comes from movies and Wikipedia. It should come as no surprise that I’ve never been to Australia nor do I intend to go. Let me explain.

As we examine Australia, let us consider the three characteristics which make any country worth its salt:  1) Its language; 2) Its sports; and 3) Its people.

LANGUAGE

Australia has no official language. Think about that. What kind of savages can’t even settle on a language? Most Australians speak English, which will come as quite a surprise to you if you’ve ever heard any of them speak.

To be precise, they speak “Australian English,” which combines normal English with an accent that can only be attributed to the country’s well-known love of alcohol. They sort of sound British but not really. Where the Brits sound haughty and intelligent, Aussies come across as menacing and quite possibly insane.  “G’day, mate!” is an acceptable form of address as is vomiting on the ground when staggering out of one of their many road houses. Here is a typical Australian exchange:

Bloke No. 1: G’day, mate. I’m stoked to hit the turps, but I’d need a mate’s rate for a slab.

Bloke No. 2: Fair dinkum. I’ll drink with the flies. You gotta make a quid.

Bloke No. 1: Everything’s costing big bikkies. It’ll come good once I give it a burl.

Bloke No. 2: Good on ya.

Here’s a pointer when trying to interpret their speech: Just assume they’re talking about drinking.

I will admit that Australia gave us Mad Max, and that’s no bull dust as they might say. When the original Mad Max was released in the United States, the dialogue was re-dubbed into English. That’s right. English was dubbed into English. That’s all you need to know about this “language.”

SPORTS

Three popular sports in Australia are cricket, Australian Rules Football and something called net ball. The irredeemable nature of the culture of this nation is best explained by a brief description of each.

Cricket combines croquet with the more boring aspects of baseball. The pitcher is called a bowler. They throw the ball and one-hop it to the batter. The batter hits it with something akin to a flat-sided baseball bat. Players run back and forth and scores (runs) are made at some point. After several hours, the game or match or whatever the hell they call it mercifully ends.

In the nascent days of ESPN, the Worldwide Leader didn’t have rights to baseball, basketball, football or any other sport followed by the modern world. As a result, it broadcast Australian Rules Football. Like cricket, it combines several perfectly sane sports into one. American football and soccer with a touch of rugby (okay, that one’s not sane) are rolled together in face-paced game which appears to have no rules whatsoever. The only redeeming feature is that it is often violent. I have no proof that the players are all drunk, but they should be.

Net ball is a game where a metal hoop is secured to pole, and players try to throw a ball through the hoop. The hoop has a net attached for the ball to pass through. Sound familiar? You might call it basketball, if didn’t look like this:

net-ball

Seriously? I watched it on TV once. Once. No dribbling. Awkward passing. White people. That’s right. It’s 1930s basketball played in the 21st century.

THE PEOPLE

I’ll admit the we have common ground with the Aussies. We, too, weren’t welcome in England and had a God-given right to terrorize and subjugate the native dwellers in our new land. That’s where the similarity ends.

Coming from the questionable gene pool of convicts, the degradation of the Australian people is etched into their leathery, sunburned faces. True, they gave us Mel Gibson, a handsome man by any standards.  Despite our best efforts, they haven’t had the common decency to take him back.

The native Australians are the Aborigines or Aboriginal Australians. They were there first. They’re now relegated to what they call the “Outback.” Outback is another word for “barren wasteland.” It’s kind of like a gigantic American Indian reservation. One place they live is called Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara. Okay. I guess they came up with that on one of their famed benders.

Their idea of a good time is to drink beer until nauseous. They eat things called quandog, muntries, goanna and witchetty grubs. Are these plants, animals or something else? I don’t know, and I’m not interested in finding out. They love vegemite, a goop they spread on toast. Vegemite is made of leftover brewer’s yeast combined with vegetable and spice additives. It is described as salty, slightly bitter and malty. Yum. Politics aside, President Obama summed up this delicacy with this reaction:

“So, it’s like a quasi-vegetable by-product paste that you smear on your toast for breakfast – sounds good, doesn’t it?”

I know little of their undoubtedly bizarre religious practices. I recall reading somewhere that they have a high percentage of atheists. What does that say about a land so vile that it destroys one’s belief in the Almighty? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

I know nothing of the literature or art of Australia. That’s just as well.

As noted above, Australian cinema gave us the Mad Max films. That’s good. If you want to know what Australia is like, just watch one of those films. They could be documentaries as far as I’m concerned. The latest one didn’t even star an Australian. Brit Tom Hardy and South African Charlize Theron were the stars. They didn’t have much dialogue but at least I understood it.

What about their music? AC/DC, I’ll give them that one. Angus and Malcolm Young grew up in Sydney, but they were Scots. What about Men At Work, the band with the popular 1980s song “Down Under?” True, they were an Australian band, but lead singer Colin Hay was also Scottish. Seems Australian music is more properly Scottish music.

Back in the 1980s, they sent us their most famed comedian–Yahoo Serious. Yes, that was his name. He was just about that funny, too. We sent him back. Here’s an Australian joke:

What’s the difference between an Australian wedding and an Australian funeral?

One less drunk at the funeral.

They have all manner of odd animals. The emu is a bird that can’t fly. The koala is a bear that’s really a marsupial. It’s like a raccoon or some other varmint. Of course, the place is lousy with kangaroos and crocodiles. I know that doesn’t have anything to do with the Australian people, but it’s worth nothing for some reason.

Queen Elizabeth II is the not only the Queen of England, she is also the Queen of Australia. Why? Who knows. Her reign there makes as much sense as it does in England.

WHAT NOW?

You may be surprised that I do not advocate immediate military intervention in Australia, as I have with Canada and Great Britain. The Brits took care of this problem for us by sending these misanthropes way the hell to the other side of the world. I’ve looked at a globe, and I’m not even sure you can get to Australia from here.

We don’t have to do anything. Iran recently tested a missile, and the President put them “on notice.” Let’s do the same with the Aussies. You’re on notice, you Foster’s chugging, vegemite-eating bunch of convicts. So, there.

Step out of line, and we’ll build a gigantic sea wall trapping you on your island Hell.  Oh, and guess who’s paying for it? You’ll all be living out in Woop Woop then, mates. Until then, hooroo!

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2017

BREXIT EXPLAINED IN 10 QUESTIONS (AND ANSWERS!)

As I write this, it’s been almost two weeks since Brexit. I initially called in the Brexit but was quickly rebuked for doing so. Brexit occurred on June 23, 2016. On the off-chance that future generations have electrical power to access this blog, they will doubtless be horrified by my rudimentary understanding of this cataclysmic event which will have been taught in all schools, if they are any schools in the future. By the time you read this, Europe will have descended into total chaos, cannibalism will be commonplace and the United Kingdom will have been discarded in the ash bin of history. I write this for my contemporaries in the hope that I can explain what happened and what is to come.

  1. WHAT IS BREXIT? 

It is the BRitish EXIT from the European Union. Get it? BR-EXIT? It’s a clever portmanteau borrowed from the earlier Grexit, which was the GREEK withdrawal from the EU which didn’t happen. Brexit is actually just a vote which took place in the United Kingdom on June 23, 2016 to approve the UK’s leaving the European Union. By the way, the United Kingdom is made up of a bunch of countries besides Britain or Great Britain or England or whatever the hell they want to be called. This should be called Ukexit, but that sounds too much like a Baltic country. Plus, that has the added disadvantage of being pretty much unpronounceable.

2.  WHAT IS THE EUROPEAN UNION?

That’s a damn good question. The European Union (EU) is a politico-economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe. It has an area of 4,324,782 km (1,669,808 sq mi), and an estimated population of over 508 million. The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services, and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs, and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries, and regional development. Is that clear enough? HAHAHAHA! I copied that from Wikipedia. I have no idea what any of that means.

3.  WHERE IS EUROPE?

All the way across the Atlantic Ocean but before you get to Russia. England is actually an island, and I’m not sure it’s really part of Europe (with or without Brexit). Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Belgium, probably Switzerland and Portugal and a lot of other countries are over there.

4. IS AMERICA PART OF THE EU?

Another excellent question. The simple answer is “no.” If you Google it, you’ll see that America isn’t in Europe. Oddly enough, some members of the EU aren’t in Europe, either. Americans aren’t going to be part of any such foolishness as this. Remember, too, that we made our own exit from Europe in 1776. Nevertheless, we should go ahead vote to exit the EU right now, just to make clear that we’re not going to be part of these shenanigans. Before we get too high and mighty, bear in mind that we are about to elect either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton president. Maybe we should vote to exit our own country.

5.  NOW THAT BRITAIN IS GONE FROM THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS?

Whoa, whoa. No one has left the EU. The UK only voted to leave. Oh, and the vote isn’t binding. It’s more like a strong suggestion. It’s like telling your wife you want a divorce. Well, hell, so do a lot of people, but you have to take some action. Now, they have to work out the details. Or not. They can always decide not to do it. That’s right. They can stay in or leave. Pretty much the same position they were in before the vote.

6. OKAY. ASSUMING BRITAIN EXITS THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS?

Hard to say. People who fear an apocalyptic one-world new order say it’s all good. Those who embrace a world economy say it’s bad. Young people hate it. Old people like it. Scotland hates it (for the most part). A bunch of things will happen. The British pound (that’s their goofy money) will suffer or not. The UK will break up or stay together. Germany will probably try to take over the world. (That’s not really part of Brexit. It’s just something the Germans like to try every now and then). People will buy gold, because that’s what people do when things happen.

7.  WILL OTHER COUNTRIES VOTE TO EXIT, TOO?

That seems doubtful mostly because there’s no cool names to use. France would Frexit. That’s okay, I guess. Germany would Gerexit. No good–sounds too much like Jurassic and they don’t want litigation with Steven Spielberg. Spain with the Spexit? Nah. The names for the other countries are equally uninspiring. They’ll all have to stay put.

8. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT AMERICA?

Ah, this is perhaps the most important question. The immediate effect was twofold: 1) the stock market dropped sharply; and 2) millions of Americans went on-line to find out what Brexit means. I was told by three people that the stock market would drop at least 20% in the next week and that it would take years to recover. It dropped a few percentage points and recovered in a week. So, I guess you never know about Brexit. I’ve been told that it’s a sad time for Anglophiles (who, by the way, are not people with sexual interest in geometry). The dollar is now worth more in England, which would be great if they sold anything I like. It might be a good time to hire a butler or a chambermaid on the cheap.

9. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE EURO?

The Euro, of course, is the EU’s weird-ass money. I guess Euros are kind of like dollars but with pictures of foreigners on them. Get this–England doesn’t even use the Euro. Why are they bitching? They still use pounds and shillings and farthings and quid and other dubious forms of currency. Regardless, the Euro will most certainly be affected, more or less, to some not inconsiderable extent. It definitely bears watching.

10. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

The future is a frightening place, full of great possibilities and even greater dangers. Your greatest failures always lie there. I am a male in my 50s. With rare exception, people my age view the future through a prism of despair. The world is falling apart, young people are useless and the future is bleak. In another, they have become their parents.

Things will happen. People will claim to have predicted these things. Blame will be assigned and credit taken. As the old song goes, “There’ll always be an England.”

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

 

MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE: Five Changes You Must Make

When I was a young lawyer, one of my aged partners suggested that our firm should be like the “Athenian youth” and strive to leave the world a better place for our having been here. That is certainly a laudable goal. Who among us doesn’t want to make a difference? Too often, we while away our time on personal, even selfish, pursuits. I hold to the belief that each of us in our own small way can make a positive difference in the world.

You make think it unrealistic to expect to impact the world as whole. You may be right about that. After all, many of us have limited skills and even more limited work ethics. If our efforts require much in the way of ability or effort we likely will fall short. Do not despair. There ways–simple ways, in fact– each of us can make the world a better place. If we can have a positive impact on just one person, we will have made a difference.

The person with whom we should start is me. That’s right. I deserve a better life as much as anyone, maybe more. If you can do even one thing to make my life easier, you will not have lived in vain. You will have helped me. I can think of nothing more commendable.

Here are five things you can do, starting today, to improve my lot in life. Let’s get started

  1. DON’T DRIVE A CAR

The environmental damage from automobiles is well-known. Even electric cars require all manner of minerals for their construction, the mining of which is always controversial. If, like me, this doesn’t persuade you in the slightest to give up your car, consider the effect of your car on me.

Maybe you’re one of those people who always drive 10-15 mph below the speed limit. You’re annoying me. When you look in your rear view mirror and see the line of traffic, just assume I’m in that line. Why inconvenience me? I have to be somewhere–and soon. Besides, the way your drive, you’re close to walking anyway. Just go ahead and hit the pavement.

Even if you drive at normal speeds, you still need to park that car. Traffic stresses me out. I have places to go, things to do. Put bluntly, you’re in my way. Public transportation is perfect for you. Better yet, stay at home. What is so horrible in your home that you are compelled to leave it? Stay there and address your disturbing domestic problems.

Speaking of parking, if you drive you will eventually park somewhere. I need that parking spot.

Of course, some of you drive for your livelihood. By all means, continue to do so. You may be delivering something I need. Plus, someone must provide transportation to those who no longer drive. It certainly won’t be me. I’m busy trying to get somewhere.

2. DON’T PLAY THE LOTTERY

All over our great country, there are outlets available to buy lottery tickets.  PowerBalls, MegaMillions  and other variations beckon. The dizzying selection of scratch off games sit spooled like toilet paper waiting to be ripped loose by cholera-ravaged unfortunates. Riches await. Our nation’s vast network of convenience stores are the prime culprits in separating you from your money.

We all know that the odds winning big in the lottery are astronomical, on par with getting a chance to walk on the moon. Every day, untold thousands of people waste their hard-earned money on these games of chance which amount to nothing so much as a regressive taxation system. (Honestly, I have no problem with a regressive tax. The progressive tax system has never done me any favors. That rant will have to wait for another day.)

These are compelling reasons to avoid the lottery. The most important reason, though, may be less obvious. The next time you are purchasing your tickets turn at look behind you. That is me standing in line. I have patronized this convenience store for–you guessed it–the convenience of it. I know that prices are higher than at the grocery store, often considerably so. I have selected this store for the speed and, again, the convenience of it.

You, guided only by your avarice, have robbed me of the one commodity I value at that moment–convenience (are you sensing the pattern yet?). In fact, there is nothing more inconvenient than to stand in line with a cup of coffee while you negotiate a transaction only slightly less complex than currency arbitrage.

The odds of your winning the lottery are remote, at best. The odds of royally ticking me off, though, are virtually certain. Please, move along.

3. SPREAD THE WORD–SOMEWHERE ELSE

I have no problem with your religion, unless you use it do great harm to others. Even then, my problem is likely to be with how you practice it, not the faith itself. Regardless, I don’t want to hear about it. This comes from someone who has always been fascinated by religion. I’ve studied religion from various perspectives, both the faithful and skeptical. If I’m curious, I’ll get the information.

When you want to tell me about your religion, I’m very likely to be somewhere between disinterested and down right hostile. This is true even if I agree with your views. Why am I so obtuse? Religion (or spirituality, if you prefer) is a matter of faith, not argument or persuasion. Nagging or yammering at someone won’t bring him around to your views. When that someone is me, it may cause the person to adopt contrary beliefs simply to frustrate your efforts.

You might assume that I am directing this solely at Christians. You’re wrong. If, like me, you are an American, you probably live in America where most people claim to be Christian. Naturally, most of our contact is with Christians. Regardless, I implore people of all religions to follow this lead. For example, if you are Hindu do not concern me with your views of Vishnu or Shiva. I know a Buddhist, and I sincerely hope that he does not tell me of the proper path to the Middle Way. I’m comfortable with where I am, leaning much more toward indulgence than asceticism.

Nor are you atheists excluded. As a matter of fact, you’re especially not excluded. I  know you’re proud to be an atheist. Consider me to be on a “need to know” basis. I have no need to know. Here’s idea: Find a vegetarian and you two can “one up” each other on the solid, empirical grounding of your views.

At this point, some readers are preparing comments to enlighten me on why they will not be silent. You’re really missing the point, which is simply to make things easier for me. Your comments won’t do that. Plus, I’m not asking you to be silent. Just be silent around me, and assume that I am always around.

4. VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE–QUIETLY

Everything I abhor about hearing about your religious views applies with even more force to your politics. Unlike religion which is driven (mostly) by genuine belief, political drivel is often impelled by the desire to be in the know and perhaps a bit smarter than others. These are repellent characteristics. More importantly, they annoy me and can diminish my enjoyment of such important pursuits as surfing the Internet and mindlessly watching television.

I’m well aware that there is only so much I can expect here. Politicians and talking heads are inescapable. But, ask yourself: “With all this political discourse, what could I possibly add to the conversation, given my obvious limitations?” I’m sure you’ll agree that you run a much greater risk of annoying me than contributing anything meaningful.

If you are truly committed to improving my life, you will take this to heart. That door you knock on with a fist full of campaign literature could be mine. It could be me who reads one of your wrong-headed screeds on social media. It’s not that I don’t respect your views (which I may not, of course). It’s just that I don’t care. Isn’t it unfair and more than a tad selfish to inundate me with tripe that only you and others care about it? You’re better than that–or at least you should be.

You’re angry about the state of the world. I get it. If I were you, I’d be angry, too. But I’m not you. I’m me. It does no good to have two of us angry.

5. RAISE YOUR OWN FOOD

Modern agriculture has changed the world. We feed far more people than was thought possible even a generation ago. Our grocery stores brim with foods of all kinds. Sadly, the price we pay is high one.

Additives, preservatives, chemicals and the like endanger our food supply. Our farm animals are fed steroids. Genetic modifications have made many foodstuffs risky. Most important in our daily struggle is the cold, hard fact that I frequently go to the grocery store to buy this stuff.

I like my food chock full of preservatives. I want it preserved as long as possible. Chemicals don’t bother me. I like huge, mutated chickens pumped full of steroids. I want my beef dyed red. I want my fruits and vegetables sprayed down with insecticides. I don’t want to eat bugs. In short, the modern grocery store is exactly what I want. You, on the other hand, need to make changes. Why?

You’re the person with 11 items when the sign plainly limits the checkout lane to TEN FREAKING ITEMS! You position your cart in the aisle where I can’t get by on either side. You pay with checks, like some troglodyte who just emerged from his subterranean lair. Why not see if they’ll take pelts? You use coupons. Think about this: If you need to use all those coupons, isn’t it just possible that you can’t really afford to buy food in a store?

Grow your own food. Raise chickens. Buy a cow. Even a modest quarter acre lot will accommodate at least a couple of cows. Get a hog. Grow something. Your ancestors foraged for their food. Get off your high horse (you can eat those, too, by the way) and quit acting like you’re better than your kinfolk.

Since you won’t be driving a car, raising your own food makes perfect sense. It will be convenient for you and, critically, ME. The world will be a better place–at least for me. 

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2016

WITHER GLENN…?

The world is a troubled place. Wars, terrorism, disease, hunger and the like plague us. I have no solutions to any of that. My mind remains clouded by one question: What happened to Glenn?

I am an unabashed fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead. I make no apologies for that nor will I offer any explanation. If you’re not a fan, there’s no point in your reading this. If you are a fan, you know Glenn is in trouble of the worst sort. You’ve likely thought of little else lately.

The last time we saw Glenn (four weeks ago at this writing–Season 6, Episode 3) he was on the ground amid a herd of walkers. (“Herd” is the most common word for a large group of walkers. Personally, I prefer a “stagger” of walkers, but the show’s writers continue to ignore me). Glenn’s fate has been determined by the dastardly Nicholas whose thanks to Glenn for not killing him culminated in a weakly mouthed “thank you,” followed by Nicholas’s suicide shot the head.

At the moment the bullet passed through Nicholas’s worthless head, he and Glenn were standing atop a dumpster surrounded by walkers. Mortally wounded, Nicholas fell into Glenn and both toppled into the walkers below. We then see Glenn silently scream while bloody entrails are ripped from him…or someone.

This looks really, REALLY bad for Glenn.

This looks really, REALLY bad for Glenn.

 

Glenn is dead. Or he isn’t. Or he is. Let’s examine the evidence.

GLENN IS DEAD

Why would I think Glenn is dead? Consider:

  1. Someone got ripped apart. It’s either Glenn or Nicholas. That’s a 50/50 proposition.
  2. Glenn was surrounded by walkers, swarmed even. There’s no reasonable way to escape that. Does he slide (backwards, mind you) under the dumpster which is conveniently elevated several inches off the ground? I just don’t see how that happens without at least a bite or two.
  3. No one has heard from him. No sign. No signals. Nothing. Rick escaped from an RV which was just as surrounded and made it back to Alexandria. It’s been at least days, and there’s no sign of Glenn. That’s bad.

So, maybe he’s dead.

GLENN IS NOT DEAD

How could anyone think he’s not dead? Well, think about it:

  1. Glenn isn’t just any character. He’s not Tyreese, for God’s sake. He’s Glenn freakin’ (whatever he last name is)! He’s been on show since Season 1. He’s the moral conscience of our main group. He can’t die.
  2. We didn’t see him die. As long as we didn’t see him die, he could be alive. Who else died like that? Okay, maybe we didn’t see Merle die either, but Merle was an asshole. We always see the good guys die, and there’s always drama.
  3. There are too many questions. He (and, more importantly, I) deserve some finality, some resolution. Until it’s resolved, he’s alive. Maybe.

He could be alive.

WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN

If I’m not sure what happened,  I do know some things that didn’t happen–or at least better not have:

  1. It’s not a dream or hallucination. Why kind of writing hack would do that to us? It would be the worst kind of manipulation of a loyal audience. The shark would be jumped at that point with Bobby Ewing riding on its back.
  2. He didn’t fight his way out unscathed. All he had was a knife. Forget that one.
  3. He doesn’t get saved at the last minute. Oh, I know it would be cool if Daryl came riding up on his hog (which was stolen in Episode 606) and drew them all away just as they were finishing up on Nicholas’s corpse and about the tear into Glenn. You might as well have all the walkers struck by lightning.

If none of these happened, how could he possibly be alive? I’m thinking he’s dead again. It’s hard to say, really.

WHAT DID HAPPEN?

I’ve studied this episode like it’s the Zapruder film. Yes, I know that Nicholas and Glenn ran past a fire escape. I, too, have screamed at the TV about this, hoping they’d hear me. They didn’t even look at it. I’ve read that one can hear a distinct “click” of any empty gun after Glenn emptied his, indicating that Nicholas’s gun was empty. If so, it’s all a dream. I’ve watched that scene again and again. Is there a click? Maybe. It’s there if you want to hear it. It’s also not there if you want it to be something else.

I can suspend disbelief with the best of them. After all, I accept the existence of walking dead people. I accept the fact that no one ever calls them “zombies” when, in fact, that is all they would be called in real life. All the dead people wear clothes? Okay. Ever notice that no matter how desiccated the dead are, they rip humans apart–by HAND, no less–in seconds? I don’t think that’s possible, but I’ll accept. It’s the same with tearing people apart with your teeth. We’re humans. We don’t have fangs. Why don’t the dead ever get really weak? I don’t know. It’s a TV show. I’ll accept a lot of things to be entertained. But, there is a limit.

If Glenn survives, it needs to at least be plausible within the show’s context. Consider this aerial view:

The-Walking-Dead-Glenn-Death markup

Artist’s rendering of Glenn’s approximate location.

Where I come from, that’s called some deep shit right there. Where is he going to go? Maybe, just maybe, he slides under the dumpster and then somehow gets out. He has to sustain a couple of bites. Do they do replay of Sophia (one of the best scenes EVER, by the way) with Glenn staggering into Alexandria only to be dispatched by Rick? Wow. That would be lame.

How about this? Glenn is just gone. He never comes back, and we never know. In this world, that would happen, probably often. People would disappear. The problem–and it’s a big one–is that this cheats the audience. We are observers. We should know what’s happening even when the characters don’t.

(At this point, I must note that the comic book has a much different demise for Glenn. That’s a possibility, I suppose. The show has deviated from the comics many times. There’s no reason to think it won’t here, too.)

Oh, hell, I don’t know what happened to him, either. If Rick can get out of that SUV surrounded by walkers (same episode), maybe Glenn got out. Nicholas was a nut. He could have hallucinated or fantasized or whatever you want to call. Did you notice how hard Glenn hit the pavement when they fell? How did that happen? There was no clear space. He would have land on top of the walker herd. Why would Nicholas fantasize about Glenn screaming? Seems like you’d fantasize about yourself screaming. So many questions. I’m more confused than ever.

Oh well. Again, what happened to Glenn? I have a feeling that we’ll find out in Episode 607 (November 22, 2015). Whatever happens, I’m bound to be disappointed as I’ve convinced myself that no outcome can be satisfy me. I hope the writers prove me wrong.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2015

 

Road Trippin’ 2014

I took a road trip—from Lexington, Kentucky to Riverside, California.  Why?  Because I had an excuse to do it.  My oldest son is in a mathematics research program at California State University—San Bernardino.  Instead of our usual beach-oriented vacation, my wife and I decided that we would visit California.

WHY DO THIS?

Even though it was a family vacation, I drove alone to California.  As a result, many people asked my wife and me why I would do this.  Before I go further, let me answer the most commonly asked questions:

Why did I go by myself?  No one wanted to go with me.  At one point, I thought my middle son would go.  He and I traveled together quite a bit when he played baseball, and he’s a pretty good companion, although he’s a little too picky about meals.  Ultimately, he backed out as I expected he would.  Honestly, he would have been bored to death,  although later in life he would have been glad he went.  There is no way my wife would go.  She can’t stand a day long drive anywhere.  Four or five days of driving would have resulted in madness for one or both of us.  My youngest son gets car sick riding across town.  There was no chance of me driving 4,000 miles with the window down so he can “get some air.”  So, it was either go alone or not at all.

Was I lonely?  I have many flaws, but as I proceed through my fifties, I’m pretty comfortable with myself.  I don’t need people to entertain me. I’m just weird enough that driving and seeing new sights interests me.  I don’t have to force someone else to go with me to enjoy it.

Why did you want to do this?  I wanted to see the country.  I haven’t been across the country since I was kid when my family would drive to Utah to visit my grandparents.  I’m 51 years old.  Who knows when I would have the excuse to do this again?  Maybe never or maybe I’d be too damn old to do it.  This was my chance, and I took it.

HITTING THE ROAD

I left on a Sunday morning headed out on I-64 which I rode into Missouri.  Southern Indiana and Illinois are faceless, bland drives.  It only gets interesting when you hit St. Louis.

One thing I wanted to do was check out Route 66 (or what’s left of it), the famed Mother Road which ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, California.  Prior to the Interstate system, Route 66 was the main artery across the United States.  It still exists, to certain extent, although it has been largely obliterated by Interstates 44 and 40.  It many places it still retains some of its old character.  I checked out quite a bit of it.  I’m not going to give your details of all my stops or a history of the road.  Google “Route 66” and you’ll more information than you can digest.

I had no itinerary.  My oldest son gave me a book about Route 66 which was helpful.  It gave me some idea of where I was going.  Otherwise, I just drove.  A lot of the driving was on Interstates, and a lot wasn’t.

My only plan was to drive until 4:00 or 5:00 and then look for a Hampton Inn.  I’m a big fan of Hampton Inn–clean rooms, reasonable prices, free internet and free breakfast.  Plus, they have fitness rooms.  When I do a lot of driving, I like to have at least a treadmill to use to keep this old body in shape.  Oh, I’m also a big fan of Flying J truck stops.  The restrooms are clean and the coffee is always hot and fresh.  Good stuff.

Here are some highlights:

My first stop—about 6 hours in—was in Cuba, Missouri for lunch.  I ate at Missouri Hick BBQ.  Pulled pork sandwich just the way it should be—smoky and no sauce on it.  I followed Route 66 for about an hour after that but hopped back on I-44 to cover more ground.  I spent the night in Joplin, Missouri, slept well and was back on the road in the morning.  I was struck by how much of Joplin is still destroyed by the 2011 tornado.

This just had to be good.  It was.

This just had to be good. It was.

The old road is no great treat in Missouri.  I-44 obliterates in most stretches.  In others, it’s little more than a service road for the Interstate.   Cuba, Missouri, though, is worth a stop.   In addition to Missouri Hick, it’s the City of Murals with murals painted on almost every building.  It also has the Wagon Wheel Motel, the oldest continuously operating motel on the old road. Pretty cool.

On Day 2, I decided to follow Route 66 for the day.  I rolled through Galena, Kansas and on to Commerce, Oklahoma, small town that surely suffered when the Interstate bypassed it.  I came into Commerce at around 9:00 a.m.  I parked on the main street and looked around.  There were no signs of any activity.  One thing, though, stood out.  Mickey Mantle was from Commerce, and Commerce is proud of it.  Signs line the street proclaiming it.  The center piece is in front of the town baseball park—Mickey Mantle Field, of course.  A huge statue of the Mick is out front.  Something about that statue early in the morning gave me chills.  It is a magnificent monument.  Yankee Stadium would be proud to display it.

IMG_7572

THEY STILL LOVE THE MICK IN COMMERCE.

Next, I came to Vinita, Oklahoma, which is home to the former largest McDonald’s restaurant on Earth—it straddles the Interstate, in fact.  Weird, but true.  It was a nice little town.

Miami, Stroud and other small towns passed by.  I ate in Stroud at the Rock Café, a Route 66 landmark—Nice people and good food, too.  It was one of the models for the film, Cars.

No trip through this part of the country would be complete without seeing the Blue Whale of Catoosa:

IMG_7576

I took the Mother Road through downtown Tulsa and about half way to Oklahoma City.  I hopped back on I-44 to avoid traffic around OKC.  My night was spent in Clinton, Oklahoma, home of Toby Keith.  I learned that every town in Oklahoma is the home of “someone.”

I took one detour before I reached Clinton.  I drove about ten miles south of I-40 to Binger, Oklahoma, hometown of the my childhood hero, Johnny Bench.  There’s not much in Binger, but they have a Johnny Bench Street and Johnny Bench Museum.  They remember Johnny:

JB's sign needs straightening

JB’s sign needs straightening

I lost a lot of time with my wanderings on Day 2, so I stayed back on the I for most of Day 3.  My first goal was the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo which I got to around lunch time.  I’m glad I looked it up on the Internet.  There are no signs or billboards.  You have to know that it’s between exits 61 and 62.  The artist who created it died just a couple of weeks ago.  You’re free to paint your own graffiti on the cars.  Of course, I couldn’t resist:

I chose to tag a car with "UK" for my beloved University of Kentucky.

I chose to tag a car with “UK” for my beloved University of Kentucky.

Before I reached Amarillo, I couldn’t pass up the Devils Rope Museum in McLean, Texas.  It’s a barbed wire museum.  You never imagined there were so many types of barbed wire—hundreds, maybe thousands.  They also had a small area devoted to Route 66 artifacts.  I met a couple of folks from New Zealand.  Their accents and mine clashed  and none of us were sure what had been said.

I made it all the way to Albuquerque where I had dinner at Garcia’s Kitchen on old Route 66 which runs the Old Town section of the city.  That’s a great drive.  Many of the old motels still remain, although I was told at my hotel that it wasn’t the safest place to wander at night.

Garcia’s was outstanding.  Chicken flautas, refried beans and rice.  My waitress was friendly.  Of course, she asked about my accent.  She guessed I was from Texas, but I told her that Texans could understand me, either.

My goal on Day 3 was Phoenix.  If you know your geography, you know that’s quite a detour.  My brother lives in Scottsdale, and we rarely see each other.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to see him.  So, I did

I had lunch in Holbrook, Arizona, a town which I’m guessing hasn’t changed much over the decades.  Many of the Route 66 businesses were still there, including the iconic Wigwam Motel:

IMG_7633

 

It was cool to see and walk around, but I wouldn’t stay there.  While it seemed well-kept and clean, there was just something about the look–maybe it was the old vintage cars parked in front of each teepee.  I could easily imagine a masked marauder sawing the top off my teepee in the middle of the night.  I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen.

I lunched at Joe & Aggies Café, another excellent meal.  Chicken tacos this time.  Great service and atmosphere.

Winslow, Arizona was next.  The sole purpose of this stop was to be photographed standing on the corner.  So, I was:

IMG_7637

 

Seligman, Arizona was also on my agenda.  I learned that it’s pronounced “Sligman” by the locals.  It had a small stretch of preserved Route 66 businesses, including Degadillo’s Snow Cap, which has been in business since 1953.  I had some ice cream and hit the road for Phoenix.

I had dinner with my brother in Scottsdale, and set out for California the next morning.  I had to make up time in order to meet my family in Riverside that afternoon. I would catch the California sights on the way back.  I did make a brief stop in Needles, California where I enjoyed the 115 degree heat.  Yes, I know—it’s a DRY HEAT.  115 is still hotter than Hell.

We spent five days in Riverside at the Mission Inn and Spa.  If you ever a get a chance, stay there.  It’s luxurious and reasonably priced.  I won’t bore you with the history of it, but it’s like a poor man’s Hearst Castle, a crazy quilt of architectural styles and artifacts.  It has to be seen to be appreciated.  We loved it.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite as enthused about the return trip, but I set out to cover the same ground and catch more scenery.  After about an hour on the Interstate, I decided to hit the Mother Road again.  The first landmark was the Bagdad Café in Newberry Springs, right in the desert.  The proprietor, a gentleman named Shaggy, came out to my car and invited me in.  While Shaggy enjoyed his breakfast beer, he gave me the history of the place, explaining that it had been featured in a 1988 film,  Bagdad Café.  Since nothing is left in the real Bagdad, California, the film was made there.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had never heard of the film   He gave me a movie poster.

Shaggy was fascinated that I was from Kentucky, because he and his co-workers had been looking for someone who knew about guns.  Oddly though, they never asked me anything about guns.  Shaggy had worked in L.A. as a mechanic.  He liked my car and gave it a thorough examination before I left.

Here’s Amboy, California (population 4):

 

IMG_7751

I continued on Route 66 for some time before I concluded that this is what I was going to see:

IMG_7750

On my trip back, retraced my path and saw a few new sights, such as the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa:

 

The Blue Hole is a popular scuba diving spot.

The Blue Hole is a popular scuba diving spot.

… and the VW Slugbuggy Ranch in  Conway, Texas:

IMG_7789

On to Amarillo for the night where I ate the best barbecued brisket ever at Tyler’s Barbeque.  After a night in Tulsa, I hauled the 750 miles back home.  I was tired and more than a little road-weary.  I’d do it again tomorrow.

THE PEOPLE AND PLACES

Understand that I’m not one of these guys who shows up and glad hands strangers, but I will strike up conversations when I can.  Mostly, though, I just people watch.  I’m odd enough that enjoy the anonymity of being a stranger in a strange town.  No one knows me, and I don’t know them.  Nevertheless, I met some folks and saw quite a few things.  Here’s a sampling:

  • I chatted with a member of the Bandidos motorcycle club in Texas.  He admired my car and we talked about the bugs in the air.  Nice fellow for an “outlaw biker.”  In Indiana, I shared a restroom with a biker who placed a handgun on the sink while he washed his hands.
  • In Adrian, Texas, I met some Chinese folks at the midpoint of Route 66.  They were thrilled when a rough-looking biker pulled up and began frantically taking pictures of him.  He, in turn, was amused.  He let them pose on his bike for their own photo ops.  I talked to them enough to figure out that only one spoke English–barely.
  • In Oklahoma, I asked a fellow about the nearby windmill farm.  He said folks were pretty pleased with it, but that if you lived near it you had to get used the low-level “hmmm” of the blades.
  • At the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, I watch kids jump into the water-over and over and over.   It was tempting, given that it was 100 degrees.  Kids are kids everywhere.
  • I walked the street in Commerce, Oklahoma at 9:00 a.m.  There wasn’t much activity.  It could have been the small town where I grew up in Kentucky.
  • In New Mexico, I drove Route 66 at sunset.  I parked on the side of the road and watched the sunset while several horses wandered around my car.
  • I saw lots of other towns–Williams, Arizona; Kingman, Arizona; Rolla, Missouri; Clinton, Oklahoma (Home of Toby Keith); Chandler, Oklahoma; Erick, Oklahoma (Home of Roger Miller); Shamrock, Texas; Elk City, Oklahoma (Home of Jimmy Webb); Quapaw, Oklahoma; Ludlow, California; Grants, New Mexico; and many others.

New Mexico was the prettiest state with its red rocks and open skies.  Arizona was the best drive with great scenery and little traffic.  California was the toughest.  Both the Interstate and old road are desolate and HOT.  Oklahoma has the most casinos. Missouri has the most adult video stores.  The nicest people were in Texas.   Oklahoma folks are nice, too.

If you ever want to drive the entirety of the old Route 66, give yourself a couple of weeks.  Drive a vehicle that can handle poorly maintained, or even unpaved, roads.  I didn’t come close to driving the whole route and still encountered plenty of rough driving.  Also, be prepared for maddening breaks in the highway as it gets obliterated by the Interstate here and there.

So, that’s my trip.   I scribbled notes here and there and covered Facebook with posts to the annoyance of everyone, I’m sure. I wrote this as much for me as anyone else.  I’d do it again, but if I don’t get the chance at least I did it once.

©2014 http://www.thetrivialtroll.com