Happy Thanksgiving!

“Let us give thanks to the Almighty who has seen fit to guide us through the trials, tribulations, and funny hats on this glorious New England day!  Deer, pheasant, turkey, the gift of maize, that weird-ass jello mold, and all manner of wo…seriously, Runs With Scissors? Eel pie? Well, no playing in the First Annual Shirts vs Redskins touch football game for you!”

 

Tony the Pony

 


    Some of you may have noticed, most of you probably haven’t (given the audience numbers for this blog), I haven’t been submitting to Stuff and Nonsense for quite some time.  Oh sure, I posted last week about my experience at the Virginia Beach polls, but it had been a while since I had given you anything new before that.

    In fact, as  the two of you who read it-thank you, Alex and Liz!-know, my last post was October 10th and was about Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”  Since then, bumpkus.  However, since no one complained, I wasn’t too worried about it.

    Anyway, I have a good reason.  I was finishing up my latest book, Tony the Pony.  The fourth of my so-called “Navy” books (so-called by me, by the way), it documents my time with the men, women, and bowling shoes of Patrol Squadron Eleven, a Navy (have I mentioned “Navy”?) P-3 squadron based in Brunswick, Maine.

Sadly, the base at Brunswick is closed, the P-3s are decommissioned,
and I'm whining about low readership.
    I used the past month to wrap things up on an endeavor which took me over two years to complete.  Now, mind you, I’m no George R.R. Martin when it comes to taking my sweet ass time to finish my book.  Whereas George labors mightily (one hopes) to churn out this novel or that, I pretty much took my…uh…sweet ass time to finish my book.

"Of course, I've been working on the next Game of Thrones book for over ten years. Sweet ass time?  Sure. 
But, my books don't suck."
    Anyway, I’m proud to report that it is finally finished.  I can now take the rest of the year to recharge my literary batteries before I launch into writing my ninth book. 

    For those of you who may be wondering why, if I’ve written eight books, I’m not listed on the New York Times bestseller list,  I suck my books are a labor of love for which I don’t seek laudatory praise of any kind.  Or a truckload of royalty checks.  Although, would it kill you?

     But, if nothing else, they don’t cost all that much and would make great Christmas gifts for people of which you’re not too fond.  In fact, Tony the Pony is only $9.99 and the Kindle version is even cheaper.

    So, what have you got to lose?  Maybe Dad or Mom are Navy veterans who might get a kick out of reading the tales of what it was like back in the day.  At the very least, they’ll feel superior to a wretched little troll from Stratford, Connecticut, who finally got his wish to fly.

I mean, how could they not?

    If you'd like to do so, just click on Tony the Pony and you'll go right to the Amazon site.  Easy peasy.  With the possible exception of paying for it.

    You'll feel good about yourself.

Buy my book. 
Otherwise, I may have to consider another line of work.


Numbskulls, Fools, and the Electoral Process

    


    As I’m sure quite a few of you know, I worked the polls this past Election Day (that it was on Election Day is probably obvious).

If it was the day after, I probably would have been pretty lonely.

    Anyway, I’m happy to report that it was remarkably free of any monkeyshines, chicanery, or the hijinks that are often associated with voting.  While not crazy busy, we were steady throughout the day.  In fact, the busiest we got was when the polls opened at 6:00 AM.  Surprisingly, we didn’t see a huge rush in the two hours before we closed up shop at 7.  Rather, it was a steady flow.  At no time we were bored or struggling to stay awake.

    There were a number of first-time voters, which made my heart happy.  After all, someone has to replace us when we shuffle off this mortal coil to our eternal  reward.  Or wherever I end up.

"Yep, got you right here. 
King-size by the pool with a micro-fridge and cable TV, eternity. 
No, just kidding.  Except for that 'eternity' part."

    Even though there was a mixture of liberal and conservative among the ten of us, I had no idea of anyone’s party affiliation.  That was absolutely fine with me.  I am convinced that the vast majority of Americans only want the best for themselves or their families.  While I may disagree with their beliefs, that obviously does not make them bad people.

    That there are knuckleheads out there (on both sides) is undeniable.  But, I didn’t see any on Election Day.

    The worst it got was when a gentleman wearing a “WV” cap (the cap is not germane to this story; it just adds to the literary flair of my story) demanded  to know if this election was legal and what kind of machine were we using to tabulate votes.

And, by 'germane,' I don't mean Germane Jackson. 
Sorry for any confusion.

    Even though he was on “my side,” I inwardly sighed and said that of course it was legal (obviously was) and I had no idea who made the machine (I didn’t).

    We were expressly forbidden to talk politics.  As it should be.

    Come to think of it, he may have been on “my side,” but I suspect he’s a starter for the “Loony Side.”

    Other than that, no worries.  However, I do have an observation (this is where you say, ‘He’s FINALLY getting to the point!”).

    The ballots in my town had only two choices:  Congress and City Council.  The candidates for Congress were identified by party.  The ones for City Council were not (although, one was a Democrat and one a Republican).

    Part of my job during the day was helping curbside voters.  One lady was bamboozled by the choices when I ran (really, I ran!) the ballot out to her car.

    She asked which party the ones running for City Council were from.  I replied that it was illegal for me to tell her (as it should be).  Neither could I make any sort of gesture or nod my head in the direction of the candidates’ signage.  WHICH WEREN’T MORE THAN TWENTY FEET FROM HER CAR.

    She hemmed and she hawed as she tried to figure it out.  When she did make her selection, she asked if I thought she made the right one.  Once again, I told her it was against the law for me to say.

    She didn’t, by the way.

    That she was a Republican is irrelevant.  That she failed to do any kind of research is.  Mind you, there are Democrats and other Republicans who do the same thing.  “Well, I’ve always voted D/R and my parents have always voted D/R so I’m going to vote D/R this time.  I don’t care if my candidate has the intellectual abilities of a turnip.”

I'm talking to you, Pennsylvania

    This is my firm belief:  IF YOU DO THIS, YOU ARE AN IDIOT.  For the love of God, you have a right that has not been enjoyed by people for the overwhelming part of world history.  It is imperative that you know who you are voting for.

    If you did your due diligence and think the Democrat or Republican is the best choice, I may strongly disagree with you, but I respect you.  If you don’t know what you are doing and just “pull the lever” for the party, remember…IDIOT.

    Be a numbskull and you run the risk of foisting a bumbling fool  onto your neighbors.

  

"You think he means me?"

  I am convinced that, for example, people voting for Kemp just kept on voting for Herschel Walker.  Likewise, people voting for Shapiro just kept voting for that zombie in a hoodie, Fetterman.  Maybe not, maybe so.

    That some did, I can guarantee.

    FULL DISCLOSURE:  There were more than a couple clowns on the Right up for election this time around, too.  I’m grateful that I didn’t have to choose between a carpetbagger and an Uncle Fester, though.

    If I was made king for a day, one of the things I would do is eliminate party affiliation from ballots.  This would hopefully decrease mass “voting straight down the line” and force people to actually look into your candidate.

    Incidentally, I would DRASTICALLY reduce early voting.
    

    This may be a na├»ve, vain hope.  But, it is a dream I have.

 ********

RELATED:  The first shots have been fired in the 2024 presidential campaign.  I foresee a return to the Republican primaries of 2016, when Donald Trump was my fourth choice for the nomination.  Many debates ensued with more than a few of my friends as I maintained that he would be a disaster.  As it turned out, I love his policies, but I never stopped thinking he was an egotistical ass.  Now, with his attack on Ron DeSantis and racist attack on my governor, I see where we’re going back to those times.  Frankly, I wish he would go away.  He is a toxin who will split the Republican Party.  The last time someone did that was Ross Perot.  And we Conservatives saw how well that turned out (also, Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. You can look that one up).

Looks like I may have to dust this off from 2016


The Great Outdoors

 

Take six chairs, one campground, large stones, and a campfire.
Add drunks.  Voila!  Now that's a camping trip!

            In my other life, I’m a Multi-Venue Consumption Transportation Representative for Uber Eats.  During one of my deliveries, a song by Johnny Cash began playing on the radio.  I immediately had to pull over because I was laughing so hard.

            Why, you may ask?  Well, there’s a reason for everything.  If you doubt that...how else to explain the popularity of the Kardashians?

            So it is with this.

            For the longest time, my brothers and I have been going camping towards the end of the summer.  We normally only spend two nights out in the woods.  Anything more than that is too much to bear.

Wrong kind of bear.     

               

                We're not hoboes, ya know.       


"Hey!!"

            Most times we’d go to a state campground in Rhode Island.  One year, though, we chose a site in Connecticut.  I can’t remember why, but we did.

            The weather was glorious, which was a good thing, since we were pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  I know it’s hard to believe that Connecticut has any “in the middle of nowhere” spots, but we were in one of them.  Considering how remote it was, we knew that, had it rained, we would have had little to do but sit in our tents and watch Mother Nature’s waterworks.

Connecticut.
It's more than Bridgeport, ya know.

There's also New Haven
            Of note, we had one such weekend once we resumed camping in Rhode Island a few years later.  We didn’t sit in our tents, though.  The flash floods running into them pretty much ruled that out.

            Although, sitting on our cars with the radio on didn’t much feel like camping.

            Anyway, at the end of a long day which included Ultimate Cornhole and a round of golf (hey...campers, not savages), we pulled our chairs around the campfire after the sun went down.  Red Solo cups in hand, we passed around a bowl of peanuts, planning to enjoy our night out in nature.

            Rather than a ring of rocks, this campground featured metal rings around the designated firepit.  It may not have been the most rustic, but it was effective at keeping the flames confined.  Plus, it ensured that each campsite was set up identically to the others.

            It was further ringed by a collection of rocks to give it that whole "outdoorsey" vibe.

            In the past, we had just shifted picnic tables and firepits willy-nilly.

            So, for the most part, a pretty smart arrangement.

            As the night wore on, and one Red Solo cup followed the other, we began to get a little sleepy.  Still, I determined that the camaraderie continue.  I stepped to the back of my car where I kept the supply of logs I had brought from home.  You’d think we would have been able to gather firewood from the…uh…woods around us, but no.  However, the owners of the park took a dim view of campers cutting down trees in their forest.  Made sense, I guess.


     Since it was dark, my footing was a little unsure when I attempted to return to the fire.  The fact that I was already a few Red Solo cups in and carried an armful of logs probably too much didn’t help matters any, either.  Plus, who was the knucklehead who dumped their golf clubs right behind my car?

           Oh.  Yeah.  That was me.

            Well, the predictable happened.  I tripped as I headed back to join my brothers.  Knowing I’d probably need my hands to break my fall, I flung an armful of logs into the flames.  Luckily, though, my knee hit the edge of the metal ring.  Good thing, too.  If we had been using rocks like in the past, I would have been added to the fire.

            Not the best way to end the evening, that’s for sure.

Mighta made a funny story at the next family reunion, though.

            My brothers frantically jumped up, peanuts and Solo cups flying through the air like confetti at a St. Patrick's Day party.  One grabbed the back of my shirt and yanked me back.  With the exception of my eyebrows being singed off, though, I was okay.  I assured them as much.

"Hey! We resent the implication!
Another?"
            After that bit of acrobatic excitement, we settled back into our chairs.  Figuring that we had enough excitement for the day, we were content to just silently stare into flames.  Flames which, despite the infusion of homegrown firewood, were starting to die out.

            As bright flames became orange embers, we began to fade into the shadows.  All I could clearly see were my brothers’ feet.

It was peaceful.  It was quiet.  Save the crackling of the dying flames.

Soon enough, we’d be heading off to our sleeping bags.

Just as I was starting to think it was time, my younger brother broke the silence,

            “I fell into a burning ring of fire…I went down, down, down, and the flames went higher…and it burns, burns, burn…the ring of fire, the ring of fire…”

            Thoughts of sleep forgotten, I couldn’t stop laughing.  It got so bad that my ribs hurt and I had trouble breathing.  I haven’t laughed that hard before or since.

            That happened ten years ago. 

    To this day, I can’t hear “Ring of Fire” without laughing about the time I almost became firewood.            

   

"I may be dead, but I can still crush it."

History of the World-The Great Xerxes the Great Sequel to the Sequel

NOTE:  I'll continue to post this disclaimer.  The past several posts and who-knows-how-many-posts to-come are merely what I can remember from Our Lady of Barnum Avenue and history class at Stratford High School.  I will research some specifics, mostly dates and the most obscure of names, and I'll try to place historical events in their proper historical context.  Meaning, I won't have the Aztecs land on the moon.  Or...did they?  Trust me, some of this is true; however, don't use any of this nonsense to prepare for the History Advanced Placement Examination.  If you do, the only college you'll get into is Klown Kollege and you'll probably be confused for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Or Joe Biden.  Especially if you sniff their hair. 

When last we met...oops, when last we met, I was talking about September 11th.  Okay, when last we met, once removed...

    Finally, after calling for some help from the Trojan AAA office, bridges were built and the army invaded Greece.  Threatening local people with the loss of their lands, rape of their women, and vicious titty-twisters, Xerxes picked up allies along the way.  Thessaly, Thebes, Argos, and France took up the Persian banner as Xerxes moved to face his greatest foes, Athens and Sparta.

France immediately surrendered

    Taking up winter quarters in Sardis, because there was no sense visiting nude beaches in the winter, Xerxes set out in the spring of 480 BC.  His fleet and army had been estimated by Herodotus (noted drunk) to number 1,000,000, along with 10,000 elite warriors known as the Immortals (the Avengers having bowed out because the Hulk couldn’t find a suit of armor which fit).

"Tell them we're in the shower."

    First concentrating on Sparta rather than Athens, the Persian army clashed with 300 warriors led by King Leonidas at Thermopylae.  Even though initially rebuffed by fierce Spartan resistance, rock-hard abs, and an inability to understand why the Spartan king had a Scottish accent, the 300 were slaughtered after a traitor showed the Persians the rear entrance (ancient Greeks being very familiar with rear entrances).

"THIS...IS...SPARTA!!!"
    Hey, don’t take my word for it.  Rent the movie.  It has some cool naked scenes in it.

Including a topless Cersei Lannister

Which is better than this shot.
NOTE:  Since this is a family blog, I won't include full frontal nudity. 
If that kind of thing turns you on, get HBO.  Perv. 

"Eff."

    After Sparta, Athens was captured.  Some historians claim Xerxes ordered the cradle of democracy burned while Persian scholars claimed he did nothing of the sort.  Who would be crazy enough to destroy a major center of trade and commerce?

    Oh, I don’t know.  Anyone who’d whip water a couple hundred times?

"Call me crazy but this seems...crazy."
"Hey, it's better than fighting the Spartans.  Have you seen their abs?"
    Xerxes then decided to attack the Greek fleet at Salamis in September, 480 BC.  This proved to be a disaster because, despite outnumbering their foes, the Persian warships were no match for the maneuverable little Greek vessels.  Plus, they should have known better to attack right after lunch, when all they really wanted to do was take a nap.

"Ooh, now that doesn't look good."
    Using the excuse of unrest in Babylon (who really never got over the fact that Xerxes farted on their god), Xerxes sent most of his army home.  He left a token force behind in Greece under command of Mardonius, but they were overrun by a Greek Amish family and herd of sheep at Plataea the following year.  After a few Persian ships anchored at Mycale were destroyed, the Greek city-states once more felt the breath of freedom.

    To continue to kill each other.

    In 465 BC, Xerxes was murdered by Artabanus, commander of the royal bodyguard (how frikkin’ ironic is that?). 

    What transpired next has led to confusion among historians (hey, cut them some slack.  It was almost 1,500 years ago and Al Gore hadn’t invented the internet yet).  Let’s see...Artabanus accused Crown Prince Darius of the murder and persuaded his brother, Artaxerxes to kill him.

"I shall call you 'Artaxerxes."  Meaning 'Bitch of Xerxes.' 
How do you like them apples?  Bitch."

    So, there was probably a little resentment there.

    However, according to Aristotle, noted Greek philosopher, mentor to Alexander the Great, and owner of a chain of diners in the Peloponnesus, Artabanus killed Darius first before killing Xerxes with the help of a eunuch, who undoubtedly was cranky because he hadn’t had his coffee.   Then, once Ataxerxes found out who the real culprit was, he whacked Artabanus.

"A eunuch?  That's nuts!"
"Not really."
    Seriously, though, who really cares?  They’re all dead now, anyway.

    Xerxes-one of the great leaders of the ancient world, source of pride for the Persian people and reason why the letter ‘X’ is pronounced like the letter ‘Z.’  After all, it's not like they've had a whole lot to brag about since then. 

    There’s much more to his story, to be sure.  For instance, I omitted the details of his public works initiatives, construction projects, religious beliefs, and his tempestuous 72 day marriage to Artossa Kardashian.  Yes, he was much more than a megalomaniac bent on assimilation of all the peoples of the known world. 

    He also liked body piercings.

"And balloon animals."

    But, like what Hillary Clinton looks like naked, I’ll just leave that to your imagination.

    You may want to get that imagination steam-cleaned though.

 

Fin

Thank God, amirite?

The Day the World Changed Forever

 


            It was just before one o’clock in the afternoon of September 11th (a sad commentary: we don’t even need to identify the year anymore) when my maintenance supervisor stuck his head into my room to wake me.

            “Sir, someone just flew a plane into the World Trade Center.”

            Minutes later, I watched, horrified, as a second plane struck the South tower.  And then, as both of the monstrously huge structures tumbled to the ground as if kicked by a petulant child.

            My unit and I were participating in a multi-nation exercise at the Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland (this explains why it was the afternoon).  A round-the-clock operation, the Keflavik Tactical Exchange gave us a unique chance to evaluate each other’s capabilities should we ever needed to flex our respective militaries.  Little did we know that we were preparing for a type of war which belonged to the past.

            Because the 21st Century came roaring into each of our lives on that late summer day.

            Naturally, the exercise was immediately cancelled.  Foreign aircrews (funny that I call them “foreign’” since we were actually foreigners, too) beat hasty returns to their home bases.  We had to remain in Iceland, because American airspace was closed indefinitely.

            Station security forces went into their highest readiness posture.  Watch teams at the main gate beefed up, rings of barbed wire cordoned off perceived sensitive areas, and armed patrols roamed the perimeter.

            My watch teams and I, on the other hand, remained at our billeting.  Only in Iceland for the exercise, we were considered non-essential personnel who’d only get in the way.

            And so we spent the next few days.

            I received a worried phone call from my wife during this time.  She fretted over my safety.  I assured her that I was fine but omitted the fact that I was more concerned for her and the kids.

            You see, my family lived only a couple hours from New York and only a few from Washington.

            The ensuing few days was a frantic search for whatever updates we could glean from the news and how in the world we’d get ourselves and thousands of pounds of equipment back home.

            Most importantly, we desperately wanted to know how we could get into the fight.  Whatever the fight was.

            Four days later, U.S. airspace was opened to military traffic.  As I glanced through the window of the Navy patrol plane which took us home, I was struck at how empty the sky was-with the exception of the one plane which approached us as we crossed into the United States.  It came no closer than a few miles before it disappeared.

            I think it was a fighter aircraft.

            What’s more, the radio circuits, normally full of the cacophony of countless air traffic controllers, were eerily silent.  The only ones “on the air” were the handful which guided us home.  All else were hushed into silence.

            Our route of flight took us just south of Manhattan, well out of sight of land.  At that distance, even at the altitude at which we were flying, it was impossible to see any of the city skyline.

            But, we did see a huge pall of gray-brown smoke lingering in the air like the death shroud that it was.

            As we touched ground at the Willow Grove naval air station, there was nobody to greet us.  There really wasn't much of anything by way of an acknowledgment that we were back.  Somehow, it seemed fitting.

            After all, we all had something much more important to do.

            Go home to our families.

 

In memory of:

Commander Bill Donovan, USN



AW2 (NAC/AW) Joseph Pycior, USN



and the thousands whose only crime was going to work that day. 

 

Last Plug. I Promise.