Monday, September 28, 2009

Z-A Mondays: the Obscure O

Xavier moved in closer to see what was originating from the park.
In among the oaks, it turned out, were ornithologists, ogling their surroundings.

"OK", Xavier inquired, "Where is your obsession leading here?"
"We are open to anything, but offhand, we are only looking to up our overall bird count", opined Oliver, the organizer of the ornithologists.
"This group, in the past year, has added orioles, owls, ovenbirds, even ostriches, and in one case, an ochre collared piculet, to their lists."
Another called, "Don't forget the eurasian oystercatcher!"
And yet another "Oh! And that absolutely ostentatious orange beaked woodpecker!"

You could not overstate these people's awe, or their optimism in pressing on.
"Here", said Oliver, "Take a gander", handing Xavier a pair of opaque binocs.
Xavier scanned the open land and the sky overhead, stopping at one particularly ornate specimen.
"So, Oliver, what is this one?"
Oliver obliged and, once his orbs focused on the subject, let out an ""
The other ornithologists all trained their lenses on the object of interest, and almost in unison, nearly screamed...
"Can't be right...obviously wrong", Oliver muttered. "That species originates out of Colombia... Costa Rica..."
Another ornithologist named Oona officially recognized the find as Xavier's, noting "We shall duly note in the annals of ornithological observation that this....Xavier...., only an amateur, observed this precious ocellated antbird on this day. The bird is off-season, off-continent, and awfully far from home, yet there it is."
Lots of ooohing and awwing from the ornithologists.
Oona asked "Xavier, "Would you oblige us with your signature to evidence your original observation of the ocellated antbird?"
Xavier, writing his name in outsized letters, was overflowing with pride. But he knew he needed to move on, maybe obtain a room for the night, and outline and weigh his overall options tomorrow.

Note: Those bird types...All real, somewhere on the planet!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Z-A Monday - In the Pokey

The policeman motioned Xavier to sit in the cruiser for a pop down to the precinct quarters. Xavier wordlessly proceeded to the car, and headed downtown for processing.

He couldn't get over his plight; headed for prison. The pen. The pokey.

After processing, emptying his pockets, and a mug photo, Xavier was led to a holding cell full of, he figured, pickpockets, pimps, punks, and pranksters gone bad. He didn't even know where he'd place his "one phone call". What would be his punishment? When would he be paroled? He should have stayed a pirate!

He pondered further. How could he have prevented this? How did he fall such easy prey? Positively shouldn't have taken the plunge with these people.

Eventually, a fairly plain but yet pretty young public defender named Pam entered his cell to discuss his plight. He proclaimed his innocence; she preferred that he cop a plea. His predicament was not improving.

After a few more perplexing minutes, a jailer walked over, unlocked the padlocked door, and motioned Xavier out. Pam asked what precipitated this exit, and the policeman pointed to the front desk. "Ask Pierce, up there."

Xavier and Pam pressed Pierce for an explanation.

Pierce responded: "We're springing you. We caught the posse that pilfered that place on Quimby. They persuaded us that you were an innocent bystander. Thought they'd get preferred treatment if we pardoned you. Well, that's a pipe dream, but you're free to go."

Xavier picked up his pocket contents, penned his signature for release, and pulled open the precinct house's door.

Pam asked "Do you need a ride somewhere?" She pointed to a parked, aging Pontiac Grand Prix at the curb.

Pam seemed personable enough, but the truth was that Xavier had no place to go.

"Nah, I guess I'll just be a pedestrian."

This purported "vacation" was certainly no picnic. As he plodded on, passing a park, he noticed some people with binoculars, scanning the poplars and pines. He sauntered over to take a peek.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weird new backyard object

We finally made the move and enlisted the help of a couple handy friends to extend our deck out over a place where the grass never grows anyway. So now we have these 4x4s sticking up at all heights, and we need to figure out the railings. But the deck is great fun; we've eaten our first two meals out there, grilled our first steaks. Enjoying it immensely, cramming in the deck time before, all too soon, the cold winds blow and we're sweeping leaves - then shoveling you-know-what - off the surface.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Fabs Are back

Well, of course they are not, really, back. They split four decades ago! Only two still move about the face of the earth, the other two consigned to that place the Righteous Brothers call "Rock and Roll Heaven".

Every once in a while there is something to stir the soul of those of us who grew up to the tuneage (as Bucky Katt would doubtless say) of the Fab Four. Last time, it was that "Love" CD, that captured the cleverly edited soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas. Before that, maybe it was the anthologies. And all along, Paul has managed to pump out some quite credible stuff. OK, even really GOOD stuff, as is the case of his last couple of records, in my humble...

But, ever since neighborhood buddies Tom and Gerald wore me down and convinced me that this was good stuff, and actually before that, when I bought my first pop music "45", "I Want to Hold Your Hand" b/w "I Saw Her Standing There", these four mop tops have been constant soundtrack among all the more transitory ones.

So now there are new remasters of the entire oeuvre. I needed a piece of this, and bought a remastered Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, and Abbey Road. I have not even had time to properly listen to these, upstairs, with my '60's vintage Dynaco speakers, but just having them is quite an elixir, another sip from the Fab Fountain of Youth.

Well, time is moving on, and at this point Paul may wish he could return to the day when he WAS 64. But, armed with these remasters, the old becomes new again as I seek out the subtle and sizeable differences in the new mixes. And for me, in my life, that's something. All I've got to do is dig it, any time at all. Listening to their music, four and a half decades after I was introduced to it, I feel fine.

The End.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Z-A Monday: Q - the quest continues

Feeling a bit queasy, and with no one in the Captain’s quarters, Xavier decided to quit the seafaring life, making his way from the ship to the quay. He didn’t have to wonder long about his next quest, as, ironically, a Nissan Quest careened around the corner and skidded to a stop right next to him, a quartet of scruffy dudes inside.

“Hey, you, wanna pick up a few quid?” came a voice from the Quest. “Dollars? Money?” Without question, Xavier was quick to land this quarry. He didn’t even quiz them about the job or its qualifications.

“I’m in!” was his response.

“Can you drive this car?”

“Of course”, he replied, a slightly quizzical look on his face.

He hopped in as they motioned him, quietly shifting into drive.

“Where to?”

The guy now riding shotgun, named Quincy, seeming to be the group’s quarterback, quelled his concern with vague talk about a construction job, but first mentioned a convenience store, “Quality Foods”, down the street, to grab some Cokes to quaff, quelling their thirst.

He parked in the Quality Foods lot, and the four got out, Quincy saying “Keep her running, we’ll be right back.” This all happened quite quickly, but Xavier was no quitter.

Three minutes later, the four rushed out of Quality Foods with a couple bags. As they reached the Quest, the quiet was breeched by a piercing alarm, and then sirens from adjacent Quimby Street. The bags were tossed in the Quest, but as the sirens drew near, the now-questionable quartet scattered into the quaint surrounding neighborhood.

Quavering a bit, Xavier shifted to reverse, looked up at the mirror, saw the officer motioning him to stop, and pondered the quantum leap – backwards - in his situation since yesterday. The queasiness had definitely returned.

Friday, September 11, 2009

weird object: Puggle Tongue

Em's little puggle had been running hard. She doesn't get to be off-leash very often, so she made the most of it. And the degree of exercise is proportional, I think, to the length of exposed tongue during the post-exercise cool-down. So here you go...

Monday, September 7, 2009


Xavier woke up to the from a fitful sleep to the sound of Reveille, the ship rolling and rocking in the swells. Then he heard the roaring. It sounded like a muffled "Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!"
Suddenly, two ragamuffin rapscallions ran into the room.
"Arrrr, matey, we're herrrrrrrrre to rrrrrroust ye from yer slumberrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!"
"Rrrrrrrrrrrrrise and shine, swabbey!"

Xavier complied, reticently, and, rubbing his eyes, inquired as to the rough-and-tumble nature of these respective insurgents, replete with replica pirate regalia.
"Aye, swabbey, we're PI-RRRRRRRRRRRRATES! Whada ya think? Now get ye dressed in these rrrags and rrreport to the main deck!"

Again, Xavier complied, reaching the deck right away. He spied his contact from the night before, and asked: "Respectfully, sir, Pirates? Really?"
The Cap'n looked him in the eye (with his one good retina) and replied:
"Matey, yes, we're pi-rrrates, the meanest rrrascals and rrrogues who ever rrrode and rrreigned on the rrraging sea, who rrravaged those scurrrrrrr-vy rrrats, and who rrraised their rrrapiers to rrrrout those rrraunchy rrreptiles!"

Xavier reached to scratch his head, confused, staring up at the Jolly Roger flapping in the breeze. As he did, the men, in a circle, begain ranting and raving as one.

"We'll rough 'em up! We're a rag-tag team!
We're the rowdiest ruffians you've ever seen!
Pass me the rotgut; Drink ye the rum!
We'll raise the roof; We're PIRATES by gum!"

The Cap'n regarded him, finally raising his voice.
"You, Xavierrrrrrr, go rrrig the rrrope! Rrready the rudderrrrr!"
Xavier had no clue regarding this nautical babble. The men knew it, and began ribbing him.
"Ah, ye lubber, ye'll be rrrrowing us home!"
"Mate, you've crossed the Rrrubicon! There's no rrrreturn alive fer ye!!!"
The ragged men moved closer to him, sensing weakness, their rowdy reverie most unsettling.

- - - - -

Somewhere on shore, a rooster crowed. Xavier rubbed his eyes, now awake, at rapt attention. Wow, he thought, that R.E.M. sleep plays crazy tricks with reality. There was no sound; just the roll of the ship. He arose, stomach rumbling, and rambled up to an empty deck.


The Z-A installment for this week will be a little late, seeing as how both kids and the granddoggies are here and keeping us busy. We'll Resume the story shortly. Have a great laboR Day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Weird but Cool Town: Floyd, Virginia

Floyd, virginia is a county seat and has a population of about 500. We stayed there overnight on our recent vacation in the Hotel Floyd, a highly recommended little 13-roomer recently constructed with various green components, like geothermal heating, bamboo floors. Each room has a different theme and features art from local artists. Ours had an African feel.

Hotel Floyd, outside (above) and our room (below)

So this town, out in western Virginia, a handful of miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, is branding itself as a mountain and roots kinda music place. And it's genuine. The country store features a weekly Friday Night Jamboree. There's a used bookstore with a coffee shop overhead. A few little shoppes and boutiques. A good ol' fashioned hardware store.
Those kids are going into the general store for music lessons. It's a big thing in Floyd.
And that's the Country Store - home of the Jamboree.

And we had just missed Floydfest, an annual music festival that brings in nationally and internationally known musicians. Blues Traveller had made the 2009 edition, and a bunch of indie artists.
The guy who runs the motel said his dad, an "aging hippie" who has operated his own successful business and who decided to take on the green motel venture, was one of the town's guiding lights. He said the town is about 1/3 old hippies, 1/3 farmers, and 1/3 business people, and they all seem to get along just fine in the microcosm that is Floyd.
I was fascinated by the town. Don't know if I will ever get back there, but if I do, I want to be there on a Friday night. (I did purchase a CD of "The Music of Floyd" - as expected, heavy on the bluegrass, which is ok by me. Proceeds go to the development of a new community park.)
For more info from the Floyd Chamber of Commerce, go here.