the quotable mo sheppo, part 32

“I’ve never seen a mud hen do THAT before!”

note to self: When bird-watching, sometimes it’s better to avert your eyes.

Posted in margarine | Leave a comment

life is funny, part 388

In the pocket of a sheepskin coat,
moonlight in a madman’s eye
For the unfairness of it all,
surely something had to die …
— the prophet mcmurtry

We’re walking around in a ghost town crammed full of people who don’t appear to be ghosts.

Mo said she had claustrophobia, so of course her solution is an outing to a former mining town that now appears to be hosting everyone in the greater Phoenix area. I have no idea where the people in the lesser Phoenix area are spending their holiday.

I like coming here because they have ice cream. I like coming ANYWHERE because they have ice cream. I like ice cream.

It’s a sunny day, the usual brutal mid-70s arctic chill. We mosey along (one must mosey in ghost towns) through the familiar sites. The cool pottery studio, the saloon, the jail, the outhouse, the little train that rides around the perimeter at a glacial pace for the approximate price of a SpaceX flight.

We go in the hat store and Mo decides I should buy a cowboy hat. The cowboy hats decide otherwise. We find ourselves at the far end of the joint, at the combination chapel and shooting range, the perfect combination for a certain political party I keep trying to forget. An ancient fire truck rests contentedly in back in retirement, awaiting a ghost fire.

We stand at the fence and look out on the desert. I suspect you could live here a million years and never tire of gazing at the endless empty miles of saguaros and brush. It’s so easy to forget you live in a wildreness when you spend most of your time on freeways and in ice cream drive-thru lines. I like ice cream. I might have mentioned that.

We turn around to face the crowd again. And then.

“We can’t go past the line,” Mo says. I speculate she’s quoting Clint Eastwood from “A Fistful of Ice Cream.” But she points downward, and sure enough, there’s a line drawn in the dirt. Visions of the Alamo dance in my head. Not really. I was raised as a Southern Baptist. Visions of the Alamo stand awkwardly in the corner in my head.

But the line means it’s time for the show to start. We find ourselves on the edge of a Wild West Shootout. If you have never experienced a Wild West Shootout, it goes something like this. People in Wild West costumes shoot each other. It’s kinda like a Rambo movie except they all wear shirts.

The crowd swarms around the little area next to the jail and sheriff’s office to see the show. There are the sheriff and deputies, dancing girls (actually they’re just standing-around girls so could be Southern Baptists), and bad guys. Hats, guns, vests, spurs that go jingle jangle jingle.

As we wait, the sheriff explains the rules. “We’re using live bullets,” he says in a remark that probably would have been funnier before the Alec Baldwin incident, “so stay behind the line.” Luckily, Mo has already coached me on this. He said some other stuff, but I couldn’t hear after someone fired a rifle next to us just in case we were dozing off. Hopefully the sheriff wasn’t offering free ice cream. And then we wait.

The show begins. It consists of the good guys standing around, the bad guys walking up, and everyone killing each other. Not much of a plot, but again, not unlike Rambo, except none of them say Yo, Adrian. Three minutes after it started, it’s over. Nobody left but one bad guy, who is preparing to finish off the badly wounded sheriff, who is on the ground trying to hang on until possibly someone comes along with free ice cream. The bad guy lowers his gun. The sheriff is helpless but defiant.

And then.

The sheriff’s wife, sporting a provocative bustier (and settling any question as to whether she is indeed a Southern Baptist), marches from the crowd sporting a shotgun. “Stay away from my husband,” she yells at the bad guy. He does not. So she nails him at point-blank range with the shotgun. Once, but he is still standing. Then, a second time, and he goes down. Then a third time while he is on the ground, just for fun.

The crowd roars. What fun! Possibly they hadn’t watched the similar hijinks in the Arbery trial. Watching people shooting defenseless people with shotguns doesn’t seem that entertaining these days. But they seem to love it. And then everyone pops back up. They will live again until the next show, in roughly an hour or whenever the ice cream runs out.

And that’s our entertainment. Watching people pretend to kill each other.

But here’s the funny part. The spectators are jammed together. Virtually none are wearing masks. They’re talking, cheering, whistling, singing Southern Baptist hymns (“Onward, Christian soldiers, shoot the bad guy in the cajones”) in desperately close proximity to one another. I suspect this is a crowd that eschews vaccinations in favor of ivermectin, given the horse theme. The COVID rate is rising rapidly again in Arizona. They do not care.

They’re watching people pretend to kill each other. All the while, some of the members of our little audience are surely killing machines. Surely something had to die.

The victims won’t fall down immediately. They will linger, a slow, agonizing death that won’t be entertaining at all. Nobody will clap. No one will pass the bucket to collect tips. They will wonder why this happened to them. Helpless but defiant. A few more ghosts to add to the town.

We head home. I try to remember back when I cared. Oh, well. More ice cream for me.

Life is funny …

Posted in margarine | 3 Comments

clearly, it’s snoopy

The sun isn’t quite up yet, but a hint of orange is beginning to illuminate the palm tree in the next yard. Thinking about thinking about it, as the philosopher Michael Ambri liked to say. It’s Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving these days wouldn’t make much of a Hallmark movie. We’ve downsized over the years as the numbers dwindled and the family thinned out. Our little clan gathered in October to beat the rush. Mo’s sisters will be here in early December. Maximize the partying. So today, it’s just us.

Thanksgiving is our favorite holiday. No gift pressure, no costumes, no hangovers. A day to eat and reflect and share a smooch and eat some more.

We’ll watch the Macy’s parade in the morning. It will be back in full form this year as everyone pretends for a day at least the pandemic is over. We’ll debate which float is best as we watch for old favorites and new additions, and eye Santa suspiciously at the end. They say that ending the parade with Santa signals the start of the Christmas season. They clearly do not watch Hallmark, where the Christmas season begins somewhere in March.

I will wrestle with the guilt of living a couple of miles from two tribes of Indigenous people who were crammed together onto a small piece of land so that we could steal their home. But I suppose we’re all adjusting to changes as we go along, history and horror and hope. I doubt there will ever be a United States of America again anyhow. I wish we could live in a little trailer with them. Great sunsets in the wide expanses of land.

It’s just Mo and me and BK this year. The best thing about a small Thanksgiving is that there’s no pressure to stay away from the pies on the kitchen counter the night before. We should test them to make sure they’re fabulous, we agreed last night. And they were. I mostly married Mo for her pies. No idea why she married me.

She will take a couple of them over for some older friends in the neighborhood who have had a tough year. Pie always makes things better. Until you finish off the fourth slice and become comatose. This is likely why turkey trots were invented.

Our menu has evolved over the years into the equivalent of packing for a race. A checklist of the essentials was doublechecked days in advance. Provisions stockpiled. The supply chain crisis has no chance against Mo. Turkey, rolls, cranberries, other stuff. Lordy, I love a plate of other stuff.

We will spend the day not thinking about the pandemic or inflation or the hard times ahead for so many of us. “It could all be so much worse,” the philosopher Kiese Laymon said. Of course, that was before it got so much worse. It will get better. You have to believe it will get better.

We will give thanks. At the end of the day, and even at the beginning of this one, we have so much to be thankful for. Our family, our friends, our health. A verdict that finally got it right. A hope that things could get back on the right track, even if the track is headed toward a downed bridge.

And mostly, we’re thankful for each other. I’ll spend the day with my best friend and an annoyed cat. We’ll watch the Cowboys, even though that bastard fired Tom Landry. We’ll eat pie, assuming there’s any left by the time the sun comes up. We’ll fondly remember those we celebrated with over the years who are no longer with us. We’ll go out with Rudolph for his annual Thanksgiving jaunt. Maybe we won’t be arrested this year. Maybe. We will be happy. But then, we’re always happy. That’s something to be thankful for.

Maybe that’s the secret of Thanksgiving. Never take life, or pie, for granted. Be thankful every day.

The sun is up. The parade is about to start. I can hear Mo stirring in the next room, annoying the poor cat, who prefers to spend Thanksgiving napping until the turkey and whipped cream appear.

Pie for breakfast? I’m thinking about thinking about it, as the philosopher Ambri liked to say. After all, It’s Thanksgiving.

Might make a pretty good Hallmark movie after all …

Posted in margarine | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

frida’s just another word for millions left to lose

The facts as we know them:

■ A self-portrait of Frida Kahlo sold for
$34.9 million at Sotheby’s on Tuesday night.

■ I’m looking at two portraits of Frida
on the easel in our living room.

■ Downside: They may or may not have been painted by her.

■ Upside: No annoying Diego painted on her forehead.

Act now and these could be yours!
Just in time for the holidays!
Only $17 million (that’s right! HALF the price
of the “other” Frida portrait,

That’s not all!!! Use the code word
and we’ll throw in the cupcake painting.
Call in the next 24 hours and we’ll even
send you the petrified cupcake!!!

“Frida is now on the wish list of collectors who collect
great masterpieces of modern art,” says Brooke Lampley,
Sotheby’s chairman. Surely there’s a collector on your list
who wants a masterpiece? Or an extremely old cupcake?

“There are probably less than 20 to 30 paintings
of hers on the market,”
says Gregorio Lake, former director of the Museum
of Latin American Art in California.
The story doesn’t mention how many cupcake paintings there are
in the world, but there can’t be too many.
Difficult to paint a cupcake without eating it first.

BUT WAIT!!! You WANT the Frida-Diego combo?
We’ll throw in this handsome portrait
at no extra charge!!! An $8 value!

All this, for ONLY $17 million *.
This offer won’t last for long. Call now.

* plus shipping, handling and a Medium Chocolate Frosty.
(Offer not available for residents of Papua New Guinea)

Posted in margarine | 3 Comments

things i wish i had said, part 96

Posted in margarine | Leave a comment