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You don’t smoke, you don’t chew, you don’t drink, you don’t screw—damn, boy, what do you do?

Memories of those words and that question, and memories of Archie Williams, W.C. Fields, Shirley Temple, dirty old men and a certain red-haired office typist—all came together in my thoughts this morning while I reminisced in search of fodder for my blog. If that group has in any way piqued your interest, read on.

I’ll begin with the red-haired office worker, an administrative clerk sitting sideways with legs crossed while operating an old-time word processor, a dinosauristic but cleverly constructed machine that combined mechanical, electrical and manual functions, a machine known as a typewriter. When the machine was operated properly it produced ink impressions, alphabet letters, on white unlined material—paper—a versatile material with many uses, made from wood pulp and commonly used for writing and printing upon but with various other uses and capabilities and sometimes referred to as tissue or tissues, quintessentially used at work, at home and away from home.

Just as an aside, I wonder how many readers will resort to Wikipedia for a definition of the word quintessentially. In the past, one in search of a definition would have referred to another dinosaur, that quaint publication known as a dictionary. Alas, that item is swiftly disappearing from our society, but I have one to which I felt I was entitled. I purloined it from my office when I retired from government service. In fact, I retired twice from government service, first from the military and then from federal law enforcement—the dictionary I brought home on the second retirement was simply a free upgrade of the one from the military.

But I have digressed from my original objective, to tell the story of Archie Williams. For that I apologize and return forthwith and continue towards that objective. From the information given in the first paragraph you, the reader, probably have in mind the image of a young auburn-haired beauty in a mini-skirt seated sideways before an office typewriter with her legs crossed and showing lots of leg, both lower leg and thigh and you would be right—except for the fact that the typist was a young red-haired male member of the United States Air Force, clothed in khaki shirt and trousers showing no leg, belted in blue and shod in black, sporting on his sleeves the three stripes of an Airman First Class, engaged in a spirited conversation with Archie Williams, an Air Force master sergeant, a six-striper similarly clothed who embodied and displayed the unique characteristics of W.C. Fields, an old-time veteran Hollywood comic of black-and-white film fame, in at least one of which films he shared billing with a very young and very precocious Shirley Temple, a child prodigy who tap danced, beautifully and at length while wearing a very short dress, and whose characteristic close-ups revealed curly hair, a cute smile, snow-white legs and significant expanses of white underwear, both front and rear, as she tapped and whirled and smiled enticingly for the camera.

I know, I know—you’re wondering why the previous sentence is so lengthy, nearing 200 words. It’s because I’m trying to equal or surpass the length of the one in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, not the longest sentence in literature but certainly among the longest—1,300 words. Of course, that’s very brief compared to a sentence in Ulysses by James Joyce that has 4,391 words—more or less!

I will digress no more—I’m running out of ink, so I’ll try to finish this posting. I’m reasonably certain that you, the reader, are wondering where this is going so I’ll put your mind at rest. I read an article in a magazine prized by men that in big city theaters that show the old black-and-white movies in certain theaters with Shirley Temple displaying her dancing talent, the major part of the audiences consists of dirty old men. Admittedly, some of the dirty old men simple needed a place to rest or to sleep, and some were addicted to black-and-white movies regardless of their contents—some may in fact have been movie producers, black-listed by Senator McCarthy and forced out of the movie industry—maybe.

My contention is that the dirty old men in the audience felt that the child prodigy was wearing that smile and showing the underwear just for them, and as a result of that feeling they perhaps—alright, probably—reached illegal and unimaginable plateaus of pleasure during the showing, a la Pee-wee Herman.

While I was busy in the Administration Office on a typical working day, I was privy—inadvertently—to a conversation between Archie and the young red-haired leg-crossing sergeant that centered on the typist’s off-duty activities. After quizzing him on those activities Archie told him, in Archie’s replication of W.C. Fields whiningly nasal tone, poetically and in rhyme, You don’t smoke, you don’t chew, you don’t drink, you don’t screw—damn, boy, what do you do? Archie’s height and girth, his stance, his ambulatory movements and his habit of carrying an unlighted cigar all mimicked W.C. Fields. While Archie’s physical characteristics were not controllable, I believe that the cigar and his voice were perhaps props, intended to imitate the old-time actor and indulged in so much over time that they belonged to him and were part of his persona, just as legitimately as they were for W.C. Fields.

When I heard Archie’s question I immediately decided that I had no other business in that office, and I hurriedly relocated so I could satisfactorily react to the question without incurring the enmity of the typist. I never knew the typist’s answer, if in fact he gave an answer, and I did not have the temerity to ask Archie how his talk with the typist was concluded. I did learn later from another source that the typist shared his lodging and his life with an over-the-road non-military truck driver. I find it interesting that in that era I was not aware that my service had either an animus against, or a tolerance for, members with sexual preferences that differed from what traditionally has been our society’s norm—there was no don’t ask, don’t tell policy. At that time, circa 1965, I was in my sixteenth year of military service, and if my service had a problem with such preferences it was never part of my training. Over the years I served during peacetime and wartime with several such persons and had no problems—none at that time and none now.

Archie died in the mid-1960s, and his earthly remains were interred in Fort Sam Houston’s national cemetery here in San Antonio, Texas. Full military services were provided, with taps, rifle volleys and uniformed pallbearers, and I was one of the six men that carried the casket, with Archie safely ensconced inside, a considerable distance through interminable rows of upright grave markers to an open grave, fitted with the mechanical device that would lower the casket.

Archie was a big man that in life would have approached a weight of 250 pounds, perhaps more, and at least partially because of that weight I almost preceded him into the excavation that had been prepared for him alone. As we marched towards the open grave I quickly concluded that he had not been embalmed—had he chosen that mortuary option—not required in Texas—he would have been considerably lighter. Of the six pallbearers, I’ll give you three guesses as to which pallbearer was less tall than the others, and the first two guesses won’t count—not that I am necessarily short, mind you, but I will admit that I was less tall than the others.

My position as we marched Archie, feet first through the rows of white markers, was at the left forward corner of Archie’s casket, the corner closest to his left foot, I am convinced that mine was the heaviest area of the weight we carried, perhaps fitted with a large anvil—perhaps Archie had been a blacksmith in his youth and the anvil was placed as a salutary salute to that profession—he may have suffered from a left club-foot, but I doubt that it would account for the weight at my corner.

Just as we moved the casket to a point directly over the grave and the lowering mechanism, my right foot slipped into the opening and I frantically relinquished my portion of the weight—I became an ex-pallbearer. However, the remaining five pallbearers apparently divided up my former contribution to the operation and held the casket up until I could reposition myself and return to pallbearer status, and we then properly placed the casket, stepped back and snapped to attention, and the ceremony continued and was concluded without further incident. In my haste to return both feet to solid ground, scrambling to avoid being interred with Archie, I soiled the knees of my uniform trousers as I frantically returned to an upright position—the soiling process could have been far worse, I suppose.

I have good reason to visit Fort Sam Houston’s national cemetery these days. I don’t remember where we left Archie some fifty years ago—that’s far too much time for me to be expected to remember his Section and Plot numbers. I have promised myself that I will ask cemetery office personnel for the location of his grave. I want to say hello to him, and I may hear again the question below, the question he addressed to that red-haired typist, and perhaps the typist’s answer to the query—if Archie chooses to confide in me:

You don’t smoke, you don’t chew, you don’t drink, you don’t screw—damn, boy, what do you do?

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 
 

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For those that like the taste of spam . . .

The purpose of this posting is to give my viewers a look at some spam that should be recognized with an Oscar for the best poorly written commercial essay. It is the purest gobbledygook that I have ever been privileged to read and the most convoluted English I have ever seen. It is at times almost incomprehensible—this one is a winner and will never be relegated to second place in those categories.

I apologize to any viewer that may be dismayed by my putting a spam item, one that sells women’s shoes, on my blog. I almost trashed it, but then I started reading it and I was mesmerized! I’m not kidding—it’s commercial spam but it’s expressed in a way that electrifies—in fine, it is a commercial essay that would win, hands down, any contest whether local, national or world-wide, on how to most effectively mangle the English language. This essay is amazing, astounding, electrifying and mystifying—I challenge anyone to find its equal or to write anything close to its equal.

One can only begin to imagine the author of this commercial agonizing over the zillion ways for one to express oneself in English, poring over a dictionary, thesaurus and a book of grammar, striving mightily to describe shoes in such a manner that women readers will be incited to drop everything—laundry, dinner, doctor and dentist appointments and the baby, and rush out to buy several pairs of each model.

And now I will do a bit of racial profiling, a technique in which I excel—after all, I was a federal law enforcement officer for 26 years, and I always used racial profiling in my duties—nothing else could explain the high number of arrests and seizures I made while pulling duty on our border with Mexico. Take that, Obama! Take that, Homeland Security!

I will say with a high degree of certainty that the author is of Chinese extraction with ties going back to whatever dynasty was first in China—I suppose that would be the First Dynasty. I will further speculate that the shoes are manufactured in China. I welcome any challenge to the accuracy of my profiling.

Click here to view the shoes—all in all, it’s a decent web site.

This is the posting, exactly as I received it:

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Christian Louboutin Shoes is clique’s most important titanic rake shoe initialism. It brings you the most gripping and alluring admired conduct shoe. This code is selected sooner than multifarious heterogeneous women of all ages. why not be paid a dyad of Christian Louboutin Sale at the trice?

Oh, come on, admit it—you’ve never seen anything to equal it, right?

Right?

Right!

And in my opinion had the sale not been made before, it would be made with the claim that Christian Louboutin Shoes is clique’s most important titanic rake shoe initialism, a claim supported by the writer’s reference to multifarious heterogeneous women of all ages. That would guarantee the purchase—no woman could resist that!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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A letter to Sue . . .

A long-time friend and neighbor of our daughter—the princess that lives, loves and works in Virginia—relocated with her husband from Virginia to Alabama, and that relocation prompted this letter. I’m posting it now in order to record our respect and love for her, and for her friendship and love for our daughter. For many years she and our daughter provided a safe port for each other, a haven to protect one another through all weather, either fair or foul, whether in or out of their neighborhood. They still maintain that friendship, over a considerable distance than before. Our daughter created a keepsake album for Sue, and this letter was our contribution to the album.

This is the letter, exactly as originally written:

Dear Sue,

We’re glad to hear that you’ve found a new home so quickly, and we wish you every success and happiness in your new location. However, we are sorely disappointed that we won’t have the opportunity to spend more time with you—the time we had with you on our visit with Cindy several years ago was all too short.

With your permission (actually, you have no choice in the matter), we will use our space in your album to tell others what sort of a person you are and perhaps in the telling others will learn what sort of people we are. We used the alphabet (English, of course) to describe the characteristics we observed in the brief time we had with you. We also formed some opinions and cemented others in many conversations with Cindy (yes, we talked about you). You’ll note that the adjectives are all positive—no matter how we searched, we couldn’t come up with any negatives.

Twenty-four of the twenty-six words came easy, based on our visit, conversations with Cindy, and our observations of you in numerous photos sent by Cindy—Weedette meetings, costume parties, chocolate parties, painting parties and more—oh, and in the glamor photos Cindy sent, of course.

The two letters in the alphabet which gave us some heartburn were X and Y, so we referred to the American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, an item which I “accidentally” packed with my personal files when I retired. It’s appropriately marked PROPERTY OF THE U.S. GOVERNMENT. We gave the government 48 years, so we figured that was enough to compensate for the loss of the dictionary.

In the remote possibility that you are not familiar with “zingy” and “xanaduic,” we’ll save you a trip to the dictionary: American Heritage defines zingy as “pleasantly stimulating, especially attractive or appealing.” Xanadu was a bit more difficult—the word is defined as “an idyllic, beautiful place.” We felt that the term could be applied to a person as well as a place, so we coined a new word— xanaduic (we briefly considered “xanaduish,” but somehow it lacks the dash and verve—panache, if you will—conveyed by “xanaduic”).

Here are the 26 words we feel will afford others some insight into your character and personality— if you disagree with any, we’ll be glad to discuss—as in argue—them with you.

Affable                Judicious              Sagacious

Beautiful            Knowledgeable    Tactful

Charming           Lighthearted        Unassuming

Delightful           Merry                     Vivacious

Effervescent       Neat                        Wise

Friendly              Open-minded       Xanaduic

Genuine              Perspicacious        Youthful

Heartwarming   Queenly                  Zingy

Iridescent            Righteous

We’ll wrap this up by wishing you and Steve the very best that life has to offer, including health, wealth, long-life and happiness. If you’re ever in our area, drop in—we’ll leave the light on for you.

Mike and Janie, the Queen and King of Texas

(Appointed and anointed by Debbi Coney — thanks, Debbi!).

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Final chapter in the parade of possums . . .

This posting was prompted by an e-mail from my son-in-law in Wylie, Texas extolling his success in removing a possum from his attic, one that had effectively kept the family awake for many nights. This was the first of two possums he removed from the attic—the first one he captured fared well—that worthy was benevolently released into the wild. The second one that succumbed to the lure of a baited trap would pay the ultimate price for its continued rambling at night in the upper reaches of the house at Seis Lagos in Wylie, Texas.

You can read his description of the penalty applied to the second rambling rodent here—well, possums are not really rodents, however much they may look like a giant rat. They are, in fact, marsupials—much maligned marsupials.

This is my response to his e-mail:

Reading this thrilling saga of the successful conclusion to your PETA (Possums Everywhere in The Attic) problem took me back to the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.

Yep, I was there, except for 1930,1931 and the first eight months of 1932—I began my sojourn on our planet on the nineteenth day of the ninth month of 1932, and so far it has been a great ride. Actually the ride began some nine months earlier. Should your interest be titillated (by my birth, not by my conception), that event and related personal information can be found here, titled “Unto you this day a child was born . . .

For three decades (the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s), the exploits of Frank “bring ’em back alive” Buck dominated the American media. He was portrayed on radio and in newspapers, magazines, movies, newsreel shorts, comic strips, comic books and full-length novels as a great hunter and humanist that preferred to capture wild animals rather than slaughter them and mount their heads on walls.

He also purchased wild animals, probably far more than he captured, and sold them to zoos and any other organization in need of exotic animals, His humane treatment of them, however acquired, won him the sobriquet of “bring ’em back alive.” The term was not conferred on Buck—it was coined by the great hunter himself in a media interview, but was quickly adopted by the media, the American public and the rest of the world.

There is a plethora of Frank Buck information on the internet – just Google “Frank Buck” and you’ll get answers to questions you would never think to ask.

JUST A FEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Born 1894, died 1950 (lung cancer).

Married at 17 (the bride was 41).

Divorced, later married his “soul mate,” used profits from a poker game to finance the wedding.

Was particularly fond (?) of a female orangutan named Gladys – could find no specifics on her age, personal appearance or attributes, but she was reputed to be ‘highly intelligent.” I did learn from “The Free Dictionary ” that, as an orangutan, she was “one of the large anthropoid apes of the family Pongidae,” and that she had “long arms and arboreal habits.” (Hey, no wonder he was fond of her!)

Was a world famous hunter, explorer, author, actor and film director.

Fell out of favor in the ’40s because of his apparent racism and the divergence of the American public regarding the practice of confining wild animals in zoos rather than allowing them to live out their lives naturally in their natural habitats.

Made lots of money supplying animals to zoos – in fact, was commissioned by the city of Dallas in 1922 to populate its entire zoo.

Congratulations on your capture of this magnificent animal, and kudos on your decision to return him (or her, as the case may be) to the wild, even though he (or she, as the case may be) is probably traumatized, confused and bewildered by the abrupt uprooting from familiar and comfortable surroundings.

He (or she, as the case may be) will be drawn towards his former sumptuous surroundings (or hers, as the case may be), and the odds are very high (odds in reverse proportion to winning the Texas Lotto) that he (or she, as the case may be) will be deliberately flattened near the end of that journey by a Seis Lagos teenager exceeding the speed limit in an SUV.

Not really – I just made that up – I don’t believe it for one minute. What I do firmly believe is that your catch was a teenage possum. He was sad and lonely, and that’s why he stayed up most of the night, roaming the attic, pining over the loss of his sweetheart and keeping Kelley awake. His one true love was trapped by your next-door neighbor (remember?) and transported to (are you ready for this?) the same wooded area in which you released your possum.

By this time they will have been reunited and, perhaps at this very moment, are doing everything they can to increase the present possum population in Wiley, Texas (that has a nice alliterative ring—present possum population). And had you released him in Plano it would have increased Plano’s present possum population.

You will hereafter be known world wide, but particularly by everyone in your family and related families in Plano, Austin, San Antonio and elsewhere as  “Bring ’em back alive Brantley” (I’ll see to it by spreading the word). My heart swells with pride at your accomplishment and by your being a significant part of my family.

All seriousness aside, I’m glad you got the rascal–he loved pacing the attic floor above the Dyer Suite also.

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2010 in actor and acting, Books, Family, Humor

 

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