Monday, November 24, 2008
Thanksgiving is a holiday created by and for Yankees. I don't mean just the Evil Empire nine from New York, but the entire region of the North such as it existed in 1865 when history ended due to the unfortunate surrender of Robert E. Lee (everyone in Dixie knows Appomattox was a conspiracy, Lee would have never given up - I suspect a second gunman or a black helicopter or something). Massachusetts liberals dreamed up the idea many years ago and have foisted their culture on us in one of the most insidious flanking maneuvers of the culture wars.
Raised as a southerner, I have to wonder why we allow our regional uniqueness to subverted by this so-called tradition. There is little doubt in my mind that with a little tinkering, we can take this day, meant to celebrate our thankfulness for all that God has given us and taken away from the Indians, and make it our own. Southerners killed just as many Native Americans as anyone else, there is no reason we should be given short shrift.
What changes need to be made to add the required regional flavor? The meal is, of course, the centerpiece of the holiday, so any improvements should start with a full-frontal assault upon our taste buds. Some of our Southern neighbors have already seen the light and begun to fry their turkeys. A step in the right direction to be sure, but we must go further in our attempts to take back the day. First, go outside and fill the closest wild turkey full of lead. After plucking and dressing your bird, marinate the bird in sweet tea, fry the bugger in lard, and stuff her with grits n' gravy. We will eliminate the traditional mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and corn. French fries, onion rings, and fried cranberry sauce (try it you'll like it) will make for some tasty, healthy Southern treats.
Don't forget to prepare for the vegetarians as well. Always have a bottle of Wild Turkey on hand for those who don't eat the real thing! They will want to be part of the celebration, too.
The atmosphere in your home is also crucial to making the day a success. Plant a few confederate flags in your front yard to let everyone know that you mean business. I know this space is usually reserved for storing old appliances and rotting vehicles, but be flexible with your decoration - Thanksgiving only comes once a year, unless you are half-Canadian. Feel free to have a bonfire going in the back yard, your family and guests may need to keep warm, depending upon the weather. If you have a couple of wooden crosses sitting around the house, just use those.
Manners and hospitality are an integral part of our Southern Thanksgiving. Yankees are rude and impatient - don't allow any of that foolishness in your household. During dinner, wait for your elders to be served first, and give them some time to eat before you grab yourself a plate. Grandma and grandpa may have to share one pair of dentures and, if so, they will be a little slower to masticate than the rest of the crew.
Also, always have enough grits on hand to satisfy your guests. There should be an unused tub full of grits and gravy sitting out in the front yard if necessary. Don't let this food go to waste, even if you aren't hungry anymore. Grits are well-known to sustain the health and vitality of your skin as well.
Take these bits of advice and you can count on a Happy Thanksgiving next year. That is, of course, your family isn't composed of a bunch of total ass holes.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
What has happened to my soul as I drift down the long road that is the life of the travel correspondent? I felt the taint of corruption penetrating frenetically down to my inner core like a mole on ritalin. Perhaps too much time spent near politicians in our capital cities? After recently visiting such exotic locales as Washington, DC and Columbia, South Carolina, I sensed the moment had come to take a break. Why not enjoy some of the beauty that exists in our more immediate surroundings? Since the onset of autumn, I had been hearing the hills of western North Carolina calling me home like the song of the sad sperm whale, wondering how the hell it got beached in the middle of a mountain range.
Much of my childhood was spent amidst the landscape of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, wandering the dusty trails with my mother and father leading the way, my brother and I straining our little legs to keep up with the grinding pace set by our parents. Not since the days of the Bataan Death March of World War II have such arduous treks been undertaken.
Despite my moaning, I admit that I owe a great deal to these hikes. During that period in my life I came to appreciate the brilliance of nature and the astounding diversity of plant and animal life that Mother has to offer. More importantly, I think, I learned the feeling of satisfaction that comes with completing a difficult journey. There are few moments in life that match the instant when you take one last painful step and are suddenly confronted with the awe-inducing panoramic view of tree-lined valleys and wind-sculpted rock that God (or infinite chance for you Atheists out there) has created as the reward for your suffering.
Stuck in the iron grip of such nostalgia, I made my way towards the Blue Ridge Parkway, located just an hour's drive north of most Upstate residents. The park stretches almost 500 miles through the moonshine-drenched mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. You can almost hear the banjo and fiddles pounding out their tunes as you twist along the country roads, wishing you had a bottle of white lightning in your lap. Remember kids, in the wise words of NOFX, "Don't drink and drive - you might spill your beer."
My father had rented a cabin in the area and brought along his new wife and her son. My brother and I arrived without Tommy Lee to complete our motley crew. We set off soon after to explore some of the park, which was built in the 1930s as part of a government works project designed to combat the Great Depression (little known fact: Herbert Hoover was a great inspiration to our current president). The first thing that struck my eye was the beauty of the trees, whose dying leaves created a kaleidoscopic array of reds, oranges, and yellows I had not seen since my latest lapse into the land of the lysergic.
I have painstakingly interviewed various sources in order to ascertain whether the recent drought creates more or less vivid colors in the foliage and they all disagree. I suggest you go check it out for yourself next year, even if you have never visited the parkway and have nothing with which to compare the sight, you can always feign expertise. How do you think I got this column?
In between the colorful canopy of the forest and the breathtaking valley views, we paused along the way in order to make brief excursions to some of the other fine features available in the local wilderness. Looking Glass Falls was our first stop, a cataract that drops sixty feet. The falls are named for Looking Glass Rock, whose expanse the creek runs underneath before making its hasty descent. The view of the falls is especially impressive during autumn and there is no hike involved, so it is a good spot for those who want to check out nature's dripping, naked beauty, but are physically unable to endure the inconvenience of walking in the process.
Not yet tired of watching molecules of water conform to the whims of gravity, we hopped back into the auto and headed toward Graveyard Fields. The area got its name in an age long gone from the tree stumps and surrounding trees that looked similar to grave stones in a graveyard setting. Influences such as forest fires and the living dead have changed the area's appearance greatly in the intervening years. I recommend pausing in the parking area, which provides an awesome view of the surrounding countryside. Once we were done pausing, we quickly dove for the cover of the forest canopy - it was colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra up there!
Once your eyes grow tired of gazing upon one bit of the Earth's majesty and would like to move onto the next, there are a couple of options at Graveyard Fields. You can either visit the lower falls, only a quarter of a mile away or take a longer jaunt to the equally impressive upper falls. Let me know if they are as impressive as I say, frankly we only had time to check out the shorter path.
As the sun fell from the sky and the frigid mountain air began to beat against our skin, we realized that it was time to abandon the wilderness and make our return to civilization. A hot meal was also on the agenda, and we decided to visit the nearby town of Asheville in order to find the best available vittles. Dad's new wife Nalan happened to be turning twenty nine that day for the twentieth time, so we decided to pick out a special spot so we could properly celebrate this joyful occasion.
After a brief discussion we chose to obtain a reservation at Jerusalem Garden, smack in the center of the vibrant city. Colin's girlfriend Arby joined us at the restaurant and we sat down for an impressive repast. I started with an Efes, a Turkish pilsner named after the ancient city of Ephesus, located on the western coast of Turkey. I sipped my beer and laid back to soak in the rhythms of the Middle East.
Surprisingly, despite being the home of several terrorist groups and a religion even more repressive than Mormonism (debatable, I suppose), the Middle East is a source of a lot of great culture. Belly dancing is just one fine example, and we were treated to a fine display by a lovely lass whose sensual movements and penetrating glances would turn even the most stone-faced macho man into a weeping mass of shameful lust. Behind her played a two-man band, cranking out classic hits from 1056 on their ut, a guitarlike instrument, and darbuka, which are somewhat similar to bongo drums.
As we enjoyed their ancient Billboard Top 40 music, we dined upon a smorgasbord of dishes from the region, beginning with baba ganoush, hummus, falafel, and a mouth-watering pie made out of spinach and feta cheese. I was particularly surprised that I enjoyed the spinach appetizer, being that I am the anti-Popeye. Eating a can of the stuff would cause my body to break out in hives and my muscles, limited as they are, to run away and hide.
We finished off our meal by discovering the location of the long lost sheep of Little Bo Peep. Apparently, they were being prepared and served in a cornucopia of entrees by the kitchen staff. Lamb kebabs, lamb schwarma, and minced lamb arrived on steaming plates and the flock soon went to its ultimate fate, digested inside our satisfied stomachs. Colin also took home a very nice new sweater.
For those interested in visiting Jerusalem Garden for a private party, they do have a back room decorated with colorful Arabic rugs and tapestries. If you like chairs, do not apply, the private dining area provides a more authentic experience, which does not include such modern amenities. In exchange, you will receive personal performances from the lascivious, lusty lass with the belly of jelly. You might have to go elsewhere for a happy ending, though, unless in your mind the term connotes the end of another one of my interminable diatribes. If so, you are in luck!
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
With the passing of the devil's favorite day, Halloween, it suddenly hit me that I have spent way too much time here at Thoughts Askew focusing on the positive. Alas, there are some bad people out there who would try to ruin our lives, and end the worldwide party of peace and love that those of us who abide are attempting to perpetrate.
Today, we shall expose these bastards by putting them in a list, similar to the FAA's no-fly list, but with one million less entries, in order that I may finish writing said list before my personal expiration date comes to pass. To make this a traditional countdown, we will start with number 10 and move inexorably towards the number 1 spot until the evil thickens around you like a quicksand composed mainly of devil's food cake, death by chocolate, and other sinful creations. Occasional shout-outs to Dante (the medieval author, not the Detroit Lions quarterback who spells his name wrong) will pop up in the form of my own circle of hell punishments that must be administered to these fools if there any justice in the afterlife.
10) Rupert Murdoch. Founder of FOX networks and owner of just about everything, this d-bag is most especially loathsome for his creation of Fox News, which purports to be "fair and balanced," but makes Mussolini look like a whimpering socialist in comparison to their extremist right wing views. Ironically, the network, which spends all its time telling us how to be patriotic and pro-American, is owned by an Australian. Yep, Murdoch is from down under, yet another unscrupulous foreigner crossing over the Rio Grande to steal from us honest natives. Ole Rupert also recently made news by finishing 50 out of 50 in a list of charitable giving among billionaires. Kudos to our modern day Mr. Scrooge! For his sins, Murdoch shall be stuck in an endless line at a homeless shelter trying to attain food, but never arriving at the front, an evil Oliver Twist, with his belly rumbling in eternal agony.
9) Art Modell. Ask any Browns fan and they will tell you why he is listed at number 9 here in our countdown. I am a Bears fan, so I have no clue why he is on this list. I will allow the Cleveland folk to dole out their own punishment, perhaps forcing him to live in Ohio forever or something.
8) Robert Mugabe. This gentleman (I use that term loosely) is the lifetime dictator of Zimbabwe (the artist formerly known as Rhodesia). Once known as a revolutionary hero of the African people, Mugabe has become increasingly corrupt in his old age. The crotchety bastard has forcefully taken land holdings away from the majority of white citizens in his nation. While that may or may not be somewhat forgivable given the country's dark colonial past, the dictator has done very little for the native blacks either. Rather than redistributing the land to the people, he divided it amongst a handful of his political cronies. Zimbabwe is currently a place whose citizenry live in dire poverty, terrorized by the secret police. For no particular reason, Mugabe's punishment will consist of being surrounded by movie screens playing "Gigli" repeatedly until his brains drip from his eardrums in search of an escape from the madness.
7) Fred Phelps. You may not know who this bastard is, so prepare to be enlightened. Phelps heads a small group, mainly composed of, but not limited to, members his family. These people attend gay pride rallies and military funerals and attempt to incite the folks there to attack them. They hold signs like "God hates fags" and "Thank God for dead soldiers." Homeskillet's organization tries to use these banners as well as their incendiary speeches in order to incite the crowds to commit acts of violence towards their group. They then sue their attackers, funding their "church" and their sick lifestyle. Once Phelps enters the seventh circle of hell to receive his comeuppance, he will be entered in a spelling bee where he will be asked repeatedly to spell such words as "homoerotic" and "salacious sodomizer" (okay that is two words but I see no reason to let the guy off easy.
6) Steve Bartman. He knows why. Bartman, you are hereby forced to be a Cub fan for all eternity or until the space-time continuum is reversed and Moises Alou catches that doomed foul ball.
5) Radovan Karadzic. The mastermind of the Bosnian genocide was finally captured this year and will soon stand trial at the Hague. For punishment he shall have those annoying birthday candles that never blow out applied to his ball sack and lit, his hands will be tied behind his back so he can do nothing but savor the excruciating pain.
4) Pat Robertson. There are few sins worse in my mind than corrupting the Christian religion by using it to preach hate instead of love. Like the recently deceased and currently burning Jerry Falwell, Robertson has made a career out of this sort of behavior. His insane ramblings could be easily dismissed if the man wasn't a so called religious figure with thousands of ignorant followers hooked on every movement of his twisted lips. Want some evidence of Mr. Robertson's hate speech? Here are some gems. For those of you unable to get the link to work, savor a couple of excerpts:
"(T)he feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." –Pat Robertson
"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up" –Pat Robertson, on nuking the State Department
For Robertson's work in the name of intolerance, he will be forced to become a lesbian living in Saudi Arabia for seven consecutive lifetimes.
3) Omar al Bashir. The relatively unknown leader of Sudan is responsible for the most heinous genocide of the new millennium, the slaughter of nearly half a million people (according to UN statistics) in the Sudanese region of Darfur . Bashir's government has attempted to cover up the killings, so the numbers could potentially be much worse. The International Criminal Court at the Hague currently has three charges of genocide, five charges of crimes against humanity, and two charges of homicide pending against Bashir. Upon expiration, the Sudanese tyrant shall be forced to roam the Sahara until he finds my brother's misplaced copy of Playboy's May 1997 issue.
2) Lowry Mays. This worthless assmunch founded Clear Channel Communications, the radio station-owning corporation that is responsible for the complete destruction of popular music in America. With ownership of over 1200 stations across the country and a stable of right wing talk show loonies preaching hate, May's company is responsible for almost every wrong-headed rumor not heard first on Fox News. Here is the money quote summing up CCC's commitment to fucking over America: In 2003 Mays testified before the US Senate that the deregulation of the telecommunications industry had not hurt the public. However, in an interview that same year with Fortune Magazine, he remarked, "We're not in the business of providing news and information. We're not in the business of providing well-researched music. We're simply in the business of selling our customers products."
For your misdeeds, Mr. Lowry, you are condemned to an eternity of listening to Rush Limbaugh warble Creed's "greatest hits."
1) Osama Bin Laden. I think most of us recall this SOB's greatest hits. If the afterlife is fair, hopefully he will get all those virgins after all. Only it turns out he is impotent and they have cocks that would put a donkey to shame and a propensity to use them on his naked booty. Oh, and in the afterlife he is a chick instead of a dude. I love the smell of justice in the morning!