Monday, September 15, 2008

Things I Don't Understand

I was just thinking today that I must be becoming an old curmudgeon because I'm starting to see the world as a collection of things I don't understand; stuff that to me is inexplicably popular, that lots of other people seem to luuuuurve but I stand there scratching my ass wondering "Is it me, or...?" Stuff like...

Sarah Palin. We've had eight years of repeated Three Stooges routines because we elected a mook that is 1) badly educated and warn't too gud at thinkin' to begin with, and 2) has the intellectual curiousity of a torpid sloth, yet 3) has no doubt of his "gut" and is convinced he's right - makes decisions based on his beliefs and not on outside facts. This has succeeded so well that the man's approval numbers rival a homicidal Great White Shark. So we want to elect another Christopathic, intellectually vapid, slogan-spouting, badly-travelled and poorly educated bush league goober...why?

I don't understand.

Segways. I just don't understand.Why not walk? It'd be faster and you could wear lederhosen and not look as dorky.

Segways as law enforcement tools.


I mean, how slow are the crooks in China, anyway?

I reeeeeally don't get it.

Hummers. While we're on the subject of transportation, what the fuck is with the crazy appeal of these road monsters? Remember, I've driven the Original, the "Ultimate War Machine" that all these donut-chomping fightin' data compilers WISH they were ramming down the highway to Fallujah instead of tooling between Vancouver and Oregon City on their way to their first coronary.IMO they're a clumsy, underpowered, uncomfortable, badly-made and breakdown-prone diesel hog that compares unfavorably for off-road fun with almost any civilian 4WD including the original army 4WD, the Jeep. I liked my old M151A1 quarter-ton a whole lot better, and it cost me less than $100 a fill-up at the old Mogas tank out behind the 2/187th Motor Pool. Plus their outsize wheelbase makes them slide in and out of the ruts in the interstate. Get a fuckin' Jeep, dummy!

I don't get it unless it has something to do with compensating for a small pecker.

Playing the lottery. "Lottery games are not for investment purposes"...WTF!!?? If it was designed to make YOU money, they'd make you run the thing. Once in a while, fine. But $10, $20, $30 bucks a week? They must think you're stupid. Seems like every so often they're right...I don't understand this beyond "you can fool some of the people...".

Beets. Starving in central Europe?

OK, fine.

Doing well enough in north Portland? Are you kidding me?

And beet borscht - is there any food worth getting outside of that comes in pink?

And kid food doesn't count; kids will eat anything. Except for beets.


Hunting cougars.

Would you stalk, shoot and eat a pussy cat? You want some fries with that cougar? Why the hell would you kill something that's not a) tasty or b) has an even chance of killing you first?

I don't understand this at all, and I love to hunt stuff I can eat like duck, pheasant and deer. You want me to go after a cougar? Make me single and available and put me on a barstool next to this cougar.


And this?Don't even BEGIN to understand...

Republican Economics. Let me get this straight; the guy who runs Lehman Brothers is a tool. He's just run his company into the ground. The guy who cleans the toilets at Lehman Brothers may very well be an Einstein of Toilet Cleaning, a maestro of the shiny porcelin bowl, a terrific worker and top of his profession. With Lehman heading down that very same toilet, the CEO is going to leave with his multimillion dollar salary and tons of other goodies that will ensure that, enormous fuckup that he is, he can live like minor royalty even if he never works again. The toilet guy may very well never work again, either, but he will have to eat fucking cat food to do it. I don't understand: why is this OK with John McCain, Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and their friends?

And that's just off the top of my head.

How about you? Are you starting to feel this way, or is it just me, having my first long-lasting Senior Moment?


Lisa said...

No, it is not just you, Chief. These things are insane. Republican economics, Segways, Hummers, hunting cougars -- who could approve of these things? Madness.

Now, beets are another matter. A highly underrated food. The NYT reported they are among the 11 best foods you are not eating --

"Beets: Think of beets as red spinach, Dr. Bowden said, because they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters.
How to eat: Fresh, raw and grated to make a salad. Heating decreases the antioxidant power."

Peasant food to be sure, but having a father of Russian parentage, who would cook a pot of potatoes and call it a grand day, I came to see beets as food. (You can see why "Lush Life" was not my first inclination?!!)

FDChief said...

Lisa: Oats are famously said to be a grain which in England was fed to horses but in Scotland supported the people. Not sure what to say about beets and Russia other than I can understand why Stalin massacred the kulaks if he'd been fed beets as a child.

My mother loved two foods above all: liver and harvard beets. So once a month she'd serve both and announce that we could eat them or starve.

I think we snuck into the pantry and ate dry breakfast cereal instead.

My condolences on the beets...

However, I should add that "lush" is not necesarily a process but a product. If beets are what produces a smart, vibrant, preceptive, vital woman then I'd call the results pretty lush. Good work, batiushka!

Charles Gittings said...

Well FDC, let me tell you...

I started feeling that way about the time I was 10. It's been all downhill since. That's a story I've been meaning to tell even, about three ten-year-old boys sitting by the railroad tracks in Highway City, California, watching a spectacular red sunset and shooting the shit, which at that particular moment (late October, 1962) was a very large pile of shit indeed. Who I am now is a direct result of that one conversation.

But I guess if you must eat beets, borscht is definitely the way to go. My theory has always been that it frees up extra cash in the household budget for vodka.

The question I've always had about the Hummer is this:

How many WW2 jeeps could you make for the cost of one hummmer?

You Know Where You Are With said...

Check on everything. (Segways just look to me like some guy wanted to see if he could rig up a push mower as a rider....)

Except for beets. I love pink food.

And American Idol. Again with the pink food (think: cotton candy).

Oh, and not to put that nail in your curmudgeon coffin or anything, but she wouldn't really be a cougar to you, would she?

*Ducks out of the line of fire now.*

FDChief said...

Charles: The past fifty years have been a strange and often trying time to come of age in. (But I suspect every generation says that to themselves!) Your passion and eloquence, at least, suggest that not all of the time and place has been dystopian.

I did a little searching: the initial AM General contract for the M998 cargo carrier and its variants is supposed to have been let for $1.2B for 55,000 vehicles. That works out as about $22K per vehicle. I have had a hard time finding the cost per unit for the old Willys Jeep; one website said $300, which seems extemely low even for 1941. So let's say about $500. Tht works out to 44 jeeps and change per Humvee. Assume that the "jeep" of my day, the M151 MUTT probably cost $3-4,000 a unit, that's still beween seven and five trucks per Humvee. Not a great deal unless you see the Humvee as that much better: I've driven both and I don't. But, there, I'm a curmudgeon...

YK:"...but she wouldn't really be a cougar to you, would she?"

Kim? My dear, I may be old but I am not so antiquated as all that! I think the lovely Ms. Cattrall is in her mid fifties to my early fifties. She's certainly old enough to have figured in my young adult fantasies as an grown woman!

I see she's listed in Wikipedia as 52, born in 1956 to my 1957. But...I suspect that may be an "actress birthday", since she is said to have graduated HS in 1972, a full three years ahead of me!

Regardless, she is a very funny and talented woman, whose panty girde I am unworthy to fasten and as a...well, I can't be a cougar, but perhaps if I could be called a "he-cougar" I know I'd certainly yowl at the base of her tree!

And the thing I dont understand about "Idol" is the singing. I was a singer in high school and college and still have a good voice and love vocalists with as broad a stylistic range as Blossom Dearie to Billie Holiday to Dolly Parton to Rickie Lee Jones to Madeline Peyroux to Suzy Bogguss to Suzanne Vega. But "Idol" seems to have made an institution of the "screaming belter"; the gawdawful roaring, full-emo, Whitney Houston-style screamer. Listen to the original Dolly Parton "I Will Always Love You" and compare it to the Whitney version: there's no comparison. The Whitney/Idol style loses every bit of subtlety and complexity for a glurge of throbbing...whatever is throbbing in Whitney as she sings it.


Anyway, I find the "Idol" belting-singing style loathesome and the fawning of the judges for the screaming appalling. It takes away whatever goofy fun the otherwise silly concept might have for me - that's why I don't "get" it...

But in entertainment, as always, de gustibus nil disputandem.

Ael said...

If you have never had (Western Canadian) borscht made from fresh garden vegetables, you are missing a real treat.
Of course, it really is just vegetable soup. Put a bunch of beet leaves and beets into a pot of water. Go along your garden and throw in a vegetable from each row.
Season to taste.

Don't forget the truly important role the hummer played: It allowed the army to demand new helicopers (cause the UH-1 could not operationally lift a kitted hummer).

All the other characteristics were an side effects of needing to be too heavy.

sheerahkahn said...

I happen to prefer venison, elk, buffalo, and bear myself.
I have it on good authority they taste somewhat like chicken...but you better cook it really, really good...they carry parasites...but for me...I prefer petting over, I'll let that topic drop now.
Republican economics...why is I'm trying to remember a time when the republicans actually had a good economic plan I could point at?
Ah well, all I can say is that I voted for Reagan the first time, but I didn't make that mistake twice.

The Minstrel Boy said...

i loves me some beets chief. borscht is a wonderful thing.

segways? phaugh. hummers? my off road vehicle is a horse. i need to get me another mustang though. one of my nieces rustled my last one away from me with outpourings of love and affection. mustangs are fickle like that. too bad, she was a noble critter, able to carry a pack saddle on a long juant without having to be led or bothered with. she was also very adept at foraging.

The Minstrel Boy said...

p.s. i've been on some sanctioned cougar hunts and can attest to the total tastiness of the critter. cougar chops treated just like wild pork are wonderful.

i wouldn't hunt them for the hell of it though.

for the last ten years or so any deer and elk hunting i've done has been with flintlocks. lots more hunting, way less shooting.

sheerakahn said...

I prefer caps myself, far more reliable than the flinters.
But do agree on the emphasis of more hunting and less shooting, though I do confess a certain fondness for my Brit .303...and I kinda miss my old German Mauser 8mm.

FDChief said...

MB: I stand corrected on the cat chow, although I have to say that surprises me. Predator meat in my experience tends to be pretty rugged; there's a reason that farmers feed mostly vegetable matter to omnivores like pigs. But I've never tasted the big cat and I'll take your word for that...

I have to agree on that there's a difference between hunters and "shooters". I've hunted all day and passed on shots I wasn't sure would be clean kills, or on animals I wasn't sure were spikes versus fork-horned bucks. It's not as satisfying as bringing home the venison but I'd rather spend a day in the field and never shoot than shot and wound.

Just talking about it makes me want to take the rest of the day off and go sight in the .303

FDChief said...

Sheerah: speaking of .303 and 8mm and things I don't understand, I've never understood the point in the civilianized AR-15 variants sold as "hunting rifles".

Who the hell would go after game with a .556mm round? ISTM like trying to knock down trees with ping pong balls. And yet I've come across "hunters" with these semiauto M-16 lookalikes. Wierd. Don't get it...

sheerahkahn said...

And when I do see someone out in the woods with the 5.56mm, and the ten round clip, the first thing I do is go back to my truck, and leave the area.

FDChief said...



I stand corrected.

But you're right: I try and give these goombas a wide berth. Not sure who thinks they need 20 rounds to bag one deer, but I sure as hell don't want them shooting near me.

Charles Gittings said...

No FDC, not all, but my childhood was in fact very dystopian in a number of ways, each of them bad enough without the others. But that's just context: it was what it was. The other side of the context was my response: I took refuge in books.

So the conversation was about what all the adults were saying about the situation in Cuba. One the guys had heard his dad talking about how there was one USAF base 10 miles that way, and another 10 miles the other way, and those would be among the first targets. Etc, the clearest thing about it all being that the adults were all scared shitless.

Worse, I'd read the Iliad and the Odyssey the year before -- I got that the bigshots in Washington and Moscow were playing dice with the lives of the whole frigging world, for reasons a lot like all the endless scheming and coniving the adults in my world were always doing for the sake of money and status etc to the exclusion of anything that might actually make anybody happy.

So I had an epiphany. I said to myself (and not to my friends mind you, was deeply introverted and highly gaurded by then):

"If I let these people do my thinking for me (meaning the adults), I'm fucked (meaning worse than I already was, which was plenty) -- I don't ever want to be like them."

And the second thing I got right then and there was that I was just a kid who didn't know jack shit from shinola. Didn't even know I was smart at the time, even though the adults were always going on about how it -- I just assumed that was the usual patronizing BS. So I was going to have to figure things out for myself, and I knew just where to look -- books, and just what I needed to study -- power. Within a few months, I was reading Caesar.

At any rate, that was the day I became an adult for all practical purposes... out of the frying pan, into the fire.

You Know Where You Are With said...

Ah, therein lies the rub. No one watches Idol for the singing.

It's the freaking parade of humanity, man.

Lisa said...


Re. Stain and the Kulaks, very funny.

We had the same mother, as mine also adored beets and liver (and tongue, and kidneys...) She was a bit batty (British background), and took pleasure in sneaking the reviled foods in on me.

My poor reaction at seeing the plated tongue at the butcher prompted one such attempt. After she revealed the ruse, I was crestfallen, I think: I had been duped, yet I liked it. I'm not sure what you would call that feeling. I'm sure nothing a little psychoanalysis couldn't tease out :)

Thank you for the beet condolences, however, and the compliment.

Lisa said...

Charles: You seem a very together, and thoughtful, person now. You should write your story.

Chief: One final thought on beets-- they should not be relegated to being something eaten cold and raw. They are delicious chopped up and baked with other Winter veggies (turnips, parsnips, carrots, etc.) Drizzle olive oil over and bake at 375 for 30 mins. They become sweet and tender. You may love them.

Anonymous said...

I simply can't concur when it comes to beets. On all other mentioned topics yes but beets are simply divine. Even better though are the greens. Steamed or sauteed with a bit fo butter they are like a grown up version of spinach.

Lisa said...


Beet greens are a heavenly and highly nutritious food. Sauteed in a bit of olive oil, some goat cheese or feta atop, maybe served over millet. A meal to die for!