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Wishing my Jewish friends all the very best of their new year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, which began at sunset last night.
There were untold numbers of heroes of the Big War, most of whom are unknown and whose stories remain untold. Knud Christiansen was a Danish Olympic Athlete and had competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He was also a member of the Danish resistance in 1943.
He was among the first to learn of the SS plans to arrest the Jews in one convenient mass roundup. It was planned on Rosh Hashanah, at 10 p.m. on Oct. 1 in 1943, an evening Denmark's 7,000 Jews were expected at home, almost all of whom lived in Copenhagen.
The House Blond reminds us of the roots of the revolution.
It's going to be a quiet Independence Day around the Casa. Traditionally, we hook up with the in-laws and the cousins, either here or in Tucson. But, this year the kids are off to the beach, Disneyland, and parties with friends. Mrs TWC and I will be left to fend for ourselves with a bottle of wine and grilled steak. The Horror.
I'm a big fan of the fireworks show down in Tubac Arizona. It's a gorgeous resort setting on the Santa Cruz River. Trees, grass, mountains, and far fewer people than the hordes that turn out at every venue in Southern California.
Mrs TWC & The House Blond at Tubac July 4, 2013
Bonus: Tubac skips the TSA-like experience at the entrance gates. They don't search your bags or ice chests, nor will they turn you away on account of your pocket knife. AND, you can buy margaritas. How cool is that?
The only downside is the warrant-less stop and sniff on the way out, which comes courtesy of the Federales checkpoint. The Fourth Amendment don't apply here, Thankee. And if the dog don't like how you smell, you'll spend some time in the other lane while they toss your car. The spot was well-chosen by the Border Patrol because there's no escape from it. Believe me, I've wasted a lot of gas on back roads leading to nowhere, only to end up back in line waiting for the Green Man and his flashlight. Some of the locals don't think much of the checkpoints, neither, which are more about drug interdiction than they are about stopping illegal immigration.
May your Independence Day celebrations be blessed. Though the execution wasn't without flaw, the founder's vision was for a country that elevated the individual above the king and the state. That was a new wrinkle in the continuum.
Back in the days of my vagrant yoot, Pop drove a truck for Knudsen Dairy Products. Long before the sun came up, he'd snaffle a bowl of hot Cream of Wheat. His mid-morning snack was hot-out-of-the-lard-fryer donuts washed down with a quart of half and half. He was a big burly guy who needed a lot of energy because slinging milk cases built of galvanized steel and hardwood was tough work.
Five year old TWC was mighty proud that Dad was responsible for delivering those little cartons of five-cent milk that Del Sur Elementary School was happy to pre-warm to room temperature before serving at lunch.
Although he rarely had two days off in a row, the money was pretty good and the taxes were light. It was 1950's America and we had our slice of the comfortable life.
These days Dad is 85 and still cuts his own firewood though it takes him a bit longer than it once did. He also takes care of his invalid wife.
Father's Day 2009-Mesquite Nevada
Father's Day 2012
Tip of the glass and a Happy Fathers Day, to all the hard working dads out there.
None of these 58,000 some-odd people got away for the weekend at Lake Havasu. They won't be tipping a cold frosty while grilling burgers with friends and family. You won't find them chilling at the beach, the park, or running a 10K on this CONgressionally mandated, three day weekend that mostly marks the first onset of summer.
That's not a scold or a guilt trip..... I don't fault anyone for spending time with family and friends. We all work hard and it's a three day weekend. Enjoying life in the face if what is meant as a somber occasion doesn't mean that people don't care about the war dead, most do.
That said, Robert McNamara, the idea man and purveyor of the Viet Nam War, died at 93. He lived decades longer than any of the people whose names are etched upon this wall. He was called a Wunderkind, but his real contribution to our culture was to ensure that none of these people would ever hold a grandchild in their arms. He, along with LBJ, JFK, and Nixon, bears the moral responsibility for financing the carnage and putting into place economic policies that set the stage for the ruinous inflation of the 1970's and Jimmy Carter's recession.
Sending young men off to die in old men's foreign wars is a time honored tradition. Next time let's send the McNamara's to the front lines. With M-16's that malfunction regularly*.
*Despite being described as “the best individual infantry weapon ever made” in 1965, the XM16E1 began to exhibit catastrophic problems in 1966. Reports from the field indicated that U.S. troops in Vietnam were experiencing chronic failures to extract. In the malfunctions, a cartridge’s brass case would seize fast in the chamber and the extractor would tear through the rim. Such a stoppage could only be cleared by pounding the case out of the chamber from the muzzle end using a cleaning rod—something that was terribly impractical and dangerous to do in the middle of a firefight. This situation was exacerbated by the fact that XM16E1s were not issued with cleaning rods at this stage in production. In fact, they even lacked compartments for cleaning kits in the buttstocks. When a cleaning rod could even be scrounged at all, troops resorted to taping them to the forward handguards of their rifles. Through the end of 1966 and into 1967 these malfunctions reached chronic levels and resulted in lives lost on the battlefield. After one especially violent battle, a Marine wrote home to his mother saying “Before we left Okinawa, we were all issued this new rifle, the M16 … practically every one of our dead was found with his rifle torn down next to him where he had been trying to fix it.”
Someone mentioned that today is NOT National BBQ day. I appreciate the sentiment, but, decades ago, your CONgress decreed that Memorial Day *is* a three day holiday. The main reasons given at the time were to facilitate partying and to give federal employees more three day weekends. Sure, they used big words, but the result is what you see today. The unintended consequence of that mandate is gridlocked highways and oversubscribed recreational facilities. It's the main reason why I stay home.
Sundance, Back In The Day
That and Memorial Day 1977. I realized, too late, that the river was an absolute zoo. My little hot rod was a retired circle racer, a Raysoncraft flatbottom with very little freeboard. The Saturday morning ride up river wasn't bad, but getting back was nuts. The water was choppy and crowded, which meant plowing through at a fast idle, making it impossible to keep enough forward momentum to prevent the sloppy, three foot swells from washing over the transom. There was way too much water for the bilge pump to handle and the damn thing sunk right in front of Sundance Saloon, on the Parker Strip. Sundance is where the wet tee shirt contest was pretty much invented. Ironically, I had just rescued a guy from the same fate. Apparently, no good deed remains unpunished.
BONUS: An outstanding live version of Manic Monday
The Margarita is pretty much synonymous with Cinco de Mayo, at least here in the Great Southwest. However, the ubiquitous Margarita only dates to the early 1940's and was probably invented by Don Carlos Orozco at Hussongs Cantina in Ensenada.
Although decried by purists. frozen Margaritas were served from the beginning, initially using crushed ice, and later poured from a blender. In 1971, Mariano Martinez adapted a soft serve ice cream maker and invented the first frozen Margarita machine, which eventually led to the widespread Slurpee-ization of the drink. Slurpee-ization is when a Slurpee-like Margarita, made in a vat using low-end ingredients, is served from a machine where the bartender has contributed no more to its preparation than a man with a slot handle in his hand. This unfortunate turn of events is now the norm in most chain Mexican restaurants across the country.
Though TWC prefers a rocks Margarita, there is nothing inherently wrong with a frozen Margarita, provided it is made with proper ingredients.
Mrs TWC enjoying TWC's Mango Margarita, a tropical twist on a Cinco de Mayo favorite.
TWC's Mango Margarita
1.5 Oz Gold Tequila
1.5 Oz Triple Sec (Cointreau or other orange liqueur)
1 ripe Mango (or equivalent canned)
Juice of 1/2 Lime
2 Tablespoons of Agave Nectar (or sugar, Splenda or honey)
1/2 Oz Grenadine (optional)
Combine in blender with an equal amount of crushed ice
Years before TWC's vagrant yoot, when he was but a wee lad, we had family friends that were turkey ranchers. The Patriarch spoke with a heavy Irish brogue that may as well have been a foreign language as it was entirely unintelligible to me. Old Man Porter once told me that, after the Big War, a prosperous Irish family owned two bicycles. That pearl was entirely lost on me at the time. He'd come to America and become fabulously wealthy, at least by Irish standards of living.
I loved his 1959 Cadillac with the bullet taillights, the 1959 El Camino with the 348, and the turkey egg that invariably found its way home with me after every visit. For the uninitiated, turkey eggs are pretty much chicken eggs on a Barry Bonds diet. Nothing exotic, they're just big. Fry them over-medium with a little butter, salt and pepper and serve with bacon, toast, and cold milk.
American St Patrick’s Day celebrations date back at least three hundred years. Like so many other things that makes this America, we have embraced this Irish festivity in a style that is uniquely ours. Shamrocks, leprechauns, green beer, green hair, a green river, and a lot of racket, which is old-country Irish slang for an old fashioned welcome-to-the-neighborhood party.
But in Ireland today it’s a softer and more subdued festival that often begins with a morning church service. Despite Ireland’s hard drinking reputation, as recently as thirty years ago most pubs were closed on St Paddy's Day in honor of this religious holiday. Even today the pubs are open mainly to serve the tourist trade arriving to celebrate a real Irish St Patrick’s Day.
We’re all Irish today—or maybe just a secular, Americanized version of what we imagine being Irish to be.