Self portrait.



We Saw Yesterday Last Week

Mona and I went to see a Beatle’s tribute band last week, and they were a lot of fun.

We didn’t go expecting to relive Beatlemania, we just wanted to sing and dance and enjoy the songs that have become such a part of our lives.  The band we saw, Yesterday: The Beatles’ Tribute, gave us over two hours of solid cover versions, and everyone there had a great time and left happy.

They are on the web HERE.  They’re worth seeing.


If you could travel back in time and kill Hitler as an infant, would you?

I’ve been asked that question before, and my answer is always “It wouldn’t matter.”

The question presupposes that Hitler was a remarkable, irreplaceable human being, and I don’t think that’s accurate. I think he was an idiot.

And in an alternate time-line, where infant Adolf is murdered in his crib, I believe the same societal forces that forced that idiot to the front would just force some other idiot to the front.

He wasn’t that special.

Insects and Such

This is a little Potter Wasp’s nest I found on our back porch screen.  It’s about the size of your thumbnail.  I rarely see the wasps themselves, but I frequently spot their little nests around and about.  It’s filled with paralysed spiders and a single wasp egg, which will delight you if you’re on the side of the wasps and horrify you if you’ve thrown in with the spiders.

I’ve studied insects as a hobbyist for most of my life.  I love finding and identifying something new, then reading all about it.

But I’ve never had an insect collection.  The idea of seeing something beautiful then killing it to display its corpse always seemed awfully morbid to me.

There are a lot of insects that require close inspection to identify.   Flies and dragonflies are often identified by the way the veins in their wings branch, many beetles require you to see tiny variations in their feet and antennae.  Fortunately for me, insects are cold blooded, so when they require a closer look I simply put them in the refrigerator and let them cool down.  They can’t move when they’re cold, so I have plenty of time to examine them under the magnifying glass, then I set them down in the sun where they warm up and fly away (with quite a tale to tell their little insect buddies).

Where have all the flowers gone?

We tried to go to a Bellamy Brothers concert last night.

The evening began with a rousing tribute to our brave and glorious troops, after which the crowd burst into spontaneous applause because they, too, love our brave and glorious troops.

Then we were compelled to rise and recite the pledge of allegiance (I declined), after which the woman next to us, grinning from ear to ear, shouted “AMEN!” Several men, overcome with emotion, pumped their fists in the air.

Nobody but me seemed to notice that there wasn’t actually a flag present.

Over an hour later the band still had not taken the stage. We looked around at the stone-faced polyester stretch pants and western shirts mindlessly contemplating their cell phones, and decided to call it a night.

We’re giving up.

In the future, we’ll drive a little farther to attend concerts that are more focused on music than some weird political/religious litmus test.  East Texas is not for us.

Pete Seeger used to host a famous Strawberry Shortcake Festival in New England. It was purposely, decidedly non-political. He just wanted everyone to come, have some strawberry shortcake, and enjoy singing songs and each other’s company.

I miss Pete.


Grief is a weird thing. It can hit you out of nowhere.

I was in Stein Mart last week and found a wonderful paisley shirt, and as I was heading towards the checkout it suddenly hit me that the only other person who would be as excited about this shirt as I was would have been my mother, but she’s gone.

So I didn’t get the shirt, and it knocked me down for a long, long time.  It’s strange to consider that something as simple as a pretty shirt can light the tinder.


Mona and I went to see ELO in Dallas Monday night, and I was still so depressed we almost didn’t make it.  Mona was ready to punt and drive me home.  But I did rally enough to make it into the venue, and once we there we both had a great time. The crowd sang, danced, and were totally immersed in the experience.  This was Jeff Lynne’s first tour in thirty years, and he hasn’t lost a step.

It was healing.

As If

Mona and I went to see a David Phelps concert at a nearby church last week. It didn’t go well.

I’m not Christian, but I was raised Catholic so I know all the stories. I enjoy devotional music of all faiths, and like David Phelps in particular. I have a few of his albums.

But from the moment I walked in, I felt a very bad vibe. I stood out, and not in a good way. I have long hair and a long beard, and my t-shirt had a picture of Pete Seeger on it. I found myself surrounded by clean-shaven men with very short hair, polo shirts tucked into their belted waistbands. I was the only one wearing sneakers.

A lady sat down next to us, smiled, and said, “We’re a very inclusive church here. We even have some Negroes and Chinese!” She considered this for a second. “They might not be Chinese. I don’t know what they are.”

If I could digress for just a second here: Madalyn Murray O’Hair didn’t set out to file a lawsuit ending mandatory prayer in public schools. Before taking such a drastic step she had gone to the school and explained that, as an atheist, she simply wanted her own child to be excused. The school agreed that he wouldn’t have to pray, but insisted that he would still have to stand, bow his head, clasp his hands, and move his lips as if he were praying. They considered this a reasonable compromise.  (She disagreed.)

And that’s pretty much the East Texas definition of inclusiveness: we’ll allow you to exist, all we ask in return is that you believe the things we believe, do the things we do, say the things we say, and look the way we look. If you can’t do that, well, it’s a free country– and by that we mean you’re free to go, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

I could see the sideways glances direct my way, and I wasn’t happy about being the local sideshow freak, but thought that once the lights went out and the show started, we’d be fine.

Unfortunately, the show stunk. You would never believe these were professional musicians. They seemed intimidated and confused by the instruments in their hands. The mix was all wrong– every time the bass player plucked a note, the lead singer was completely drowned out.

We gave it a few songs, hoping the engineer would notice and fix it, but he didn’t.

So, we called it a night and snuck out early. The ushers glared at us.  One literally shook his finger at me.

I briefly considered giving him a finger of my own, but didn’t.

I was in a church, after all.