Saturday, April 12, 2014

Beth’s Books: From Here To Eternity by James Jones

Beth's BooksThis is #62 on the Modern Library’s Top 100 list, and yes, I’m still plugging away at that list!

I started this last summer, but got a little bogged down in it, so I set it aside for other books after making it about halfway through. (It’s an 860 pager, so I’d already read what would normally be considered a fairly good-sized book.) I recently returned to it, and I was still struggling with it a bit. Although Jones was very descriptive, he tended to get a little too wordy at times, and I was to the point where I was almost ready to give up...but I was over 60% of the way through (I read this on my Kindle), so I decided to keep going.

I’m so glad I did. By the time I got about 85% of the way through, the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, and after that, I just didn’t want to put it down.

You can read the synopsis elsewhere. A very brief description is that it takes place in Hawaii, with the main location an Army base, in the time leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor and our entry into WWII. We get to know several characters quite well, including Sgt. Milt Warden and Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt, and I came to care about these characters very much. We follow them through various Army-related and decidedly NON-Army activities, such as love affairs, drunken binges, and visits to town and its bars and whorehouses. One of the main reasons I kept reading was because I wanted to find out what happened with some of these characters.

The main thing this book gave me was a glimpse into the lives of the WWII-era soldier. I have never read or watched anything that brought them to life as much as this book. I read the restored version rather than the original 1953 heavily edited version. All the profanity, all the sex, all the anger and hostility and human frailty is there. With the passing of several decades, I believe we have come to see WWII veterans as noble warriors, and have mythologized the Greatest Generation to a remarkable degree. I’m not saying this is wrong. My Dad and several of my uncles were WWII veterans, and they were remarkable men who did remarkable things.

However, they weren’t saints. I don’t know how much of a hellraiser my Dad was during the war, although I know he was a bit of a one before he joined the Army! He didn’t talk about the war much, and it wasn’t until I was probably in my late twenties that he told me a few stories. I think he had his share of fun...there was one story he told me about wandering around some city in North Africa with one of his buddies. It sounded like they were having a pretty good time!

This book showed the bravery as well as the humanity. The soldiers weren’t all innocent young rubes who walked on water. They were ordinary men who went into an extraordinary situation and sometimes did extraordinary things; sometime they just did ordinary things. Like every other human being.

I am very glad that I persevered on this book. I enjoyed the weaving together of the characters’ stories, but most of all, I enjoyed it for the sense it gave me of what my Dad might have been like as a young soldier, about 15 years before I was born. I don’t think that his experience was necessarily like those of some of the guys in the book, but I bet he knew guys who DID have similar experiences. It helped me to think of them as human beings rather than vague “Greatest Generation” demi-gods.

That makes me appreciate even more what they did.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Stuff and Thangs

Stuff and ThingsMy, how time flies when you’re doin’ stuff and thangs like Rick Grimes! Here almost two weeks have gone by, and I haven’t written one word here.

Nothing major has been happening. I’ve been healing up from my abdominal hematoma and going through some blood work because my doctor wanted to check for any clotting disorders. I’m not overly worried about that; clotting disorders don’t run in my family, and I’m not a bleeder. It hasn’t been too much of a hassle, although I wasn’t real pleased with my service at my former place of employment. It was unpleasant enough (they had to stick me three times, and I have great veins) that I sent an email to the VP who runs lab operations, my former head honcho boss. I wasn’t mean about it, but it really was a quality issue, and I believe she’ll address the problem. I’ve gone back to working out, and I should be able to start lifting weights again...I’ll try that tomorrow.

As you can imagine, I was all wigged out and excited about the season finale of “The Walking Dead.” Some people seemed to be disappointed by it, but I loved it. Badass Rick is back, and I think he’s going to be more badass than he ever was. October seems like it’s a long way away!

I went to our local library with Cousin Shane and my sister Diana to do some research on a family tragedy from almost fifty years ago. One of our cousins was brutally murdered by a local cop, and although Diana remembers it well, Shane and I were quite young when it happened and we only know what little we’ve read in some saved newspaper clippings or have been told by family members. It was very sobering to page through the microfilm and see the story unfold as it happened. It was the frontpage headline the day after it happened, and we all got pretty quiet as we read through these stories. We also are thinking about contacting the county where the trial happened and seeing if we can get the trial records. We figure those are public record, so I wouldn’t think it would be a problem. I wonder if you can get that stuff digitally now? No idea, but we do want to learn more about it.

Ken was on a business trip for the latter half of the week, and I had lunch with Shane and Matt one day, and dinner with my friend Dan from college one evening. Sheeba has kept me good company at home, and I’m never lonely with books and movies.

Ahhh, books...mostly I’ve been lost in Bookland. I got through the third book in the Strain trilogy, although it was a struggle. I liked the first two books quite a bit, but was disappointed in the third one. But since it’s a trilogy, you kind of have to finish it, right? Just like you have to watch the third Godfather movie although it is nothing compared to the first two. Then I picked From Here to Eternity back up. It’s part of the Modern Library Top 100 list, and I got a little over halfway through it last year before I put it down for more fun, summer-type reads. It’s really a slog, but it’s good enough that I DO want to finish it. Interesting characters in interesting situations, if sometimes the writing gets excessively wordy. It’s almost 900 pages, so progress is slow. This will sound terrible, but I’m wishing that Pearl Harbor would hurry up and happen, because I want to see how these characters react to it. I also need to see the entire movie (I’ve only seen parts of it), because I see that Montgomery Clift plays one of the best characters, Pvt. Robert E. Lee Prewitt, AKA Prew. I want to get through it soon, because I have lots of good books to read, including the next one on the ML List, Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Caution Fun AheadAlso speaking of books, I ordered a new Kindle, a Paperwhite. My Kindle Keyboard hasn’t crapped out, and I’m still using it and it’s been a good and faithful companion, but the battery is starting to drain much more quickly. Amazon was offering a deal where you could pay for it over about four months with no interest, so that was pretty much impossible to pass up, especially since I knew I was going to have to order one soon, anyway. I’ve had my eye on the Paperwhite for a while, so I went ahead and ordered it. It seems easy to navigate, and I love the slightly backlit screen. It’s still very legible in the sun, so I’m quite pleased with it. I’m looking forward to reading my first book on it!

Let’s see...we’ve got a couple of Broadway shows coming up at the Morris, tickets to see Presidents of the United States of America with Shane and Matt in Indy in June, and our annual Florida vegecation in July. We’ll fit some minor league baseball games in there, and just plan on enjoying the summer. One of the best things about it will be the warmth. Man, it’s been a long winter for so many of us. We’re usually greening up nicely by now, but all the snow just recently melted. I think it’s safe to say that we’re all more than ready for warm weather and some greenery!

I know this wasn’t a super exciting entry. Just wanted to catch up, and I’ll try to bring some fireworks next time. You know I’ve still got fireworks…! I just need to work up some good outrage about something. It’s only a matter of time.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Public Enemy Number One

Anti-vaxI do my best to live and let live. I understand that not everyone is going to agree about everything, and not everyone is going to agree with me. I’m passionate about the things I hold true, but I try not to beat people over the held with it. Each to their own, right?
However, there are times when things can harm others. One of my hot-button issues is marriage equality. I do not take kindly to those who would deny people I love and value the same rights that are afforded to the rest of us. Are people physically harmed by laws that prohibit same-sex marriage? Perhaps not, but they are emotionally and psychologically harmed, and they are being treated as “less than” the rest of us. I simply cannot abide that, and I will do whatever I can to ensure that these laws go by the wayside. It’s only a matter of time.

My other hot-button issue—probably my main one—is vaccines, which will come as no surprise to many of you. I’ve gotten riled up about this before. Well, I’m even more riled up now. In fact, I’m loaded and ready for bear.

I’m downright pissed.

We are starting to see more and more reports of preventable diseases in our country and in the world. Let me reiterate that. Preventable diseases. Outbreaks of measles in New York and British Columbia; outbreaks of pertussis in California and the Midwest; outbreaks of polio in Africa and Pakistan; twenty years after measles was considered to be all but eradicated, it is once again endemic—meaning that it exists there, rather than is a rarity—in the United Kingdom.

This is insane. This has to stop. These are life-threatening infections that can be prevented by vaccines. The worst case scenario is that people will die from these infections, and that happens all the time. Other consequences of infection are deafness, blindness, sterility, and brain damage. There have been over two dozen studies consisting of hundreds of thousands of children that show that there is absolutely no connection between vaccines and autism, but there are still those who cling to their irrational and unscientific beliefs that vaccines are harmful. The initial study that posited a connection, by Andrew Wakefield in the UK, consisted of twelve children. TWELVE. His study was shown to be fraudulent and unethical, it was retracted by the Lancet, and he was stripped of his medical license. He was working for a rival vaccine company, and he completely fabricated a bowel disease caused by the MMR vaccine.

THAT is the guy that these people are still following. An unethical shill for a company that wanted to market an alternative vaccine.

I’m all for letting people live their lives as they see fit, but that doesn’t apply here. Because these decisions aren’t just impacting your child. They are impacting the newborn next door who is too young to be vaccinated. They are impacting your elderly mother who can’t fight off infections as easily. They are impacting the guy you see at the grocery store who is battling cancer. They are impacting the person with AIDS, the person who had a lung transplant, the person with rheumatoid arthritis, the person who had a bone marrow transplant to fight breast cancer or testicular cancer or leukemia. YOUR selfish and uninformed decisions have the potential to literally kill people, including people that I love.

So I am done with this “I understand your viewpoint” bullshit. Because I do NOT understand your viewpoint. You are basing your decisions on a discredited study, you know nothing about legitimate science or how the immune system works, and you have decided that your thousands of hours of Google research of fringe websites and alleged scientific papers that are not peer-reviewed is somehow the equivalent of people who have spent years in school learning about how these things actually work and who have spent their lives trying to find a way to prevent others from dealing with these diseases and their consequences.

I am past the point where I am willing to say that your concerns about vaccinations have merit. They don’t. You don’t understand the first thing about medicine or vaccines or the immune system, and you suck. You are willing to put your own child at risk because of your delusions. Even if your child caught one of these preventable diseases and survived, why would you subject them to the fever and potential trauma that can come with these diseases? Why would you take that risk? Why would you knowingly subject others to such a risk? This is monstrous. You are a threat to public health and you are a threat to a healthy society.

If you want to continue on this ridiculous pathway, go live in a commune in the woods or on an island and take your chances there. Stay the fuck out of our public spaces and deal with your infections on your own. I pity your kids, and I wish I could charge you with criminal negligence. But we’re not at that point yet, so just go away and stop infecting people because you’re too rock stupid to understand how serious these infections are and how safe the vaccines are.

Dr. Paul Offit has said that things probably won’t change until we start seeing a comeback of these preventable diseases, and people once again understand how serious they can be. I’m sorry to say that it seems that he is right. We are now seeing a resurgence of these infections, and it is up to the rest of us to push back against the ignorance and say that we value the societal contract. If we are to be a part of society, we need to understand that our actions have consequences. When you make that misinformed decision for your own child, you are making it not just for them, but for many others.

I am to the point of shunning and public shaming. I don’t want to be around you if you choose to ignore vaccines, and I will not hesitate to point out that you are ignorant about medicine, immunology, and microbiology. The tide is turning against you, anti-vaxxers. As more people come down with preventable diseases, we will blame YOU.

Count on it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rant O’Clock

Why so seriousI’ve been a little on edge all weekend due to a few things: I’m still not 100%, and it really bugs me to have to move so carefully...I’ve got shit to do, people!; a story over the weekend about a measles outbreak in New York due to anti-vaxxers...I have HAD it with those idiots; another story about some tool of an Indiana lawmaker contacting the president of my alma mater, Ball State University, saying that the university’s policy of banning the teaching of creationism in science classrooms is religious persecution, and he and some of his tool buddies are thinking about filing a lawsuit against the university.

Right. Because not allowing the teaching of a religious belief in a science classroom is religious persecution. Then there were the subsequent comments from the local yokels saying that creationism should be taught, that you can’t prove evolution because no one was there, and that hoary ol’ nugget, “Evolution is just a theory.” GAHHHH! My head was about ready to explode!

However, that didn’t stop me from having fun with family and friends last night. A fun dinner at Chicory Cafe (gumbo and a muffuletta, YUM) and then “The Million Dollar Quartet” at the Morris. Great time, great show, great people. How many times are our good friends and families the last saving grace in the world? I get by with a little help from my friends. Truth.

Well, today the fourth shoe dropped. Or whatever analogy would work better. Fourth and final straw? I don’t know. Anyway, a friend on Facebook posted something about how her local library had a feminism display up, and one of the books displayed was one by Phyllis Schlafly. She said she questioned the addition of that book, and mentioned it to someone at the counter, who said they would talk to the librarian about it. I left a comment, and one of her friends responded:
Me: Good for you. That old broad [Schlafly] is a feminist like I'm an anti-vaxxer.
Her: Or a feminist. 
Well, I don’t know this friend personally, but I respect her, and I wasn’t about to get into it with one of her friends on her page. That’s not cool. What a serendipitous thing to have this blog, though! I kind of figured what she was getting at, but I wasn’t going to respond. She didn’t stop there, though, and I responded to that:
Her: A feminist doesn't dismiss a woman - *even a Schlafly* - by calling her an old broad.
Me: Well, consider me appropriately chastised. LOL
And then...and then...this response:
Her: What's funny?
[falling over laughing] Oh, boy. Where should I start?

First of all, I call myself a broad sometimes, for Pete’s sake. If “broad” is a totally pejorative term in your world, then you need to lighten up a little bit. There are plenty of worse terms I could have used, believe me. Calling her an “old broad” was me pulling my punch significantly, and just slinging a mild insult her (Schlafly’s) way. Sometimes my friends and I use the term in an affectionate and joking way, as in “a couple of broads like us.” Years back, I referred to myself as a “divorced broad.” I don’t think anyone would ever accuse me of hating myself or of hating other women.

Secondly, I don’t call people I respect names or sling even slight insults their way. I do not respect Phyllis Schlafly in any way, shape, or form, and as a public figure, she is open to criticism. Simply being a woman does not entitle someone to respect from every woman, anymore than every man deserves respect from other men. Gender is not an issue for me; kindness, decency, and tolerance IS. Schlafly advocates for subservience to men based on biblical teachings and was active in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment. So she deserves my respect how?

Thirdly, anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I don’t put up with bullshit from anyone, especially condescension because of my gender. Point a finger in my face and call me a “little lady” in a derogatory tone, and you’re going to pull back a bloody stump. I don’t go around beating people over the head and yelling “Respect mah authoritah ‘cause I AM WOMAN!”, though. I always just did my job—and although I made my share of mistakes over the years, I was pretty good at my job—and did my best to treat people fairly and with kindness, no matter who they were or what they believed. Do I advocate for equal pay and equal rights? Yes. Do I support Planned Parenthood and push for reproductive rights and for getting male legislators out of our bedrooms and our ladybits? Yes, I do. If you want to tell me that I’m not a feminist because I called Phyllis Schlafly an “old broad,” then fuck you. I’ll keep on doing what I do, and I don’t feel the need to be a part of the card-carrying Feminist Club. You don’t sound like you’re much fun to hang around with, anyway.

Finally, lighten the fuck up. I laugh at just about anything, and I appreciate a good—and weird—sense of humor, as well as a sense of the absurd. I’ll poke fun at just about anything. If you are so touchy that the word “broad” sets you off, then you need to get laid or something. It would be like me getting my panties in a wad every time I heard a short joke. If that were the case, I’d have that wad o’ panties so far up my ass I’d be walking on tiptoes.

There. I feel better now. I need a drink, though.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Humankindness

Nic and BethWhew, it’s been a busy time lately! As you might recall, we were on a cruise the week of March 2, and we had very limited connectivity, so there wasn’t a whole lot of internettin’ going on. A couple of days after we got back, we had about 6 inches of snow, and I spent a night in the ER with some abdominal pain that was bothersome and quite worrying. Turned out to be a muscle/blood vessel tear in my abdomen, and it is healing up, slowly but surely. My main worry was appendicitis, but that wasn’t the case, and no surgery, so yay for that!

Based on the timing and activities, I think I got the muscle tear when we were climbing a rock formation in Aruba. As I told a friend, “I got this from climbing a rock formation in Aruba” is a much better story than something like “I tripped over the cat and fell down the stairs”! So at least I’ve got a good story about it.

I hope to write more about the places we stopped and our excursions, but I’ll need to go through my pictures to do that, and I need to catch up on laundry and on my online courses first. I’ll get there...eventually.

Nic and SharonToday, I just want to write about how much fun it was to meet new people and learn more about them. The people we interacted with the most were our tablemates at dinner. There were Dave and Gail from Canada, and Nicolas (he doesn’t spell his name that way, but that will suffice for now) and Sharon, and Sharon’s sister, Sharoline. Nicolas is originally from Jamaica and Sharon is from Barbados, but they live in Brooklyn now. Sharoline still lives in Barbados. We had so much fun getting to know them, and we even went out after dinner a couple of times with Nicolas and Sharon. They were such fun and happy people, and I’m sure we’ll meet again. Ken and I have already talked about how it would be fun to meet them all in Barbados when they go back for a visit. You just never know who you’re going to connect with!

Dave and Gail scared us for a moment when on the first night, they asked us about “Obamacare.” I decided to dive right in, and we all agreed that we support the ACA and President Obama. What a relief to learn that they think the ACA is a great start for our country, although they remain perplexed about why so many are against it. Me too, Dave and Gail, me too!

Ken and NicThere was also the couple from Chicago on the sunset cocktail cruise excursion when we were in Aruba. He was wearing a Cubs jersey and she was wearing a White Sox jersey, and much hilarity ensued! (The bartender was making up his specialty drink for us, a Stoplight. Red, amber, and green liquor layered...I don’t know what all was in there, but it had to be about 95% booze. I was a hurtin’ unit that night, believe me!)

There were people big and small; people speaking French, Dutch, Papiamento, Chinese, German, and Spanish; there were mostly happy people, but the occasional grump, like the older lady who was giving me and Ken the stinkeye when we were sitting by the pool...it was weird and bad enough that Ken finally gave her a big grin and a howdy-do wave; there were the guys at the zip line excursion who went by nicknames like MacGyver, Gorgeous, and Hollywood...when MacGyver asked where I was from and I said “Indiana,” he said, “Indiana Pacers! They need to bring home the championship!”; there was the guide on the rum tasting tour who was so fun and hilarious that we bought not one, but two bottles of rum; there were all the waiters and staff and our cabin steward who worked so hard and were always kind.

Sharoline, Dave, GailIt was a mass of humanity of all stripes and languages, and it was glorious. This introvert enjoyed every moment of it. It made me think about how although we speak so many different languages and have different experiences, we are all human beings. We have the same struggles and the same joys, the same triumphs and the same heartaches. I learned about how on the Dutch islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, kids are required to learn four languages in school, and the main language, Papiamento, is a conglomerate of African, Portuguese, Dutch, English, Spanish, and native Indian languages. It made me feel more than a little ashamed of the “This is ‘Murica, lern Inglish!” crowd here in the States.

It wasn’t just a nice vacation in the Caribbean. It was a great reminder of our diversity and our shared humanity. That might sound corny, but I don’t care...that’s really how I feel. It’s one of the reasons we love to travel so much. It’s a great opportunity to learn about other people and other cultures, and to continue our rejection of the small town, isolationist mindset. It’s a big world out there, and I love being a part of it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Burger Quest

I hope you’ll forgive my lack of posting recently. I’ve had a lot on my mind and a lot on my plate as we get close to our cruise date. Today I got the majority of my packing done, and I feel like I’m in pretty good shape as our departure date approaches. Several odds and ends still to be done, but I feel much less harried than I did, and I found myself hankering to write a bit here.

I’ve had this entry percolating for a while, and I’ve also been gathering data. Well, not so much “gathering data” as “sampling.” I don’t recall if it arose from a Facebook conversation or if it was something that Shane and I talked about, but I’ve been on a kick of trying the burgers at various places we go to around town. I don’t always order a burger when we go out...I like club sandwiches, Reubens, that sort of thing. But I still love a good burger, and I decided to try as many as possible in the area.

I have no criteria for what kind of burgers I order other than I prefer them well done (I’m not a fan of pink burgers) and I’m a burger traditionalist: my favorite is a cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato (usually no raw onion because it sometimes upsets my stomach), and I dip it in ketchup and mustard. I have been known to order and enjoy burgers with different toppings on them, like green olives or avocado or even peanut butter. All fun, and I like trying different things, but at the end of the day, I’m a purist. I don’t even order them with bacon!

It’s been a lot of fun to try this little experiment, and it is ongoing. We’re going to a basketball game Wednesday night, and I think I’m going to get a chance to try another place’s burger! Here is a summary of my results so far. Some of these places are chains and some are local, but we don’t really do fast food anymore, so you won’t see anything like that here. I consider Five Guys fast food, and although they do a pretty decent burger, I still consider it fast food and won’t include it here. Same thing for In-N-Out Burger. Heck, I still get a craving about once every five years for a McDonald’s cheeseburger! But those don’t count as bona fide burgers for my purposes here. General rule of thumb: if you sit down and a server comes to take your order, that’s the kind of place that I’m going to be looking at.

BW3 - I liked this burger enough the first time that I ordered one the next time we went. It was juicy and flavorful, and the bun held up well. However, for some reason, I didn’t enjoy the second one as much and even wondered why I liked the first one as much as I did! Was I hungrier the first time? Were my taste buds more primed for a burger? I don’t know, but it wasn’t the same. Would I order one there again? Sure. I’m not a big wing person, and I like getting their sandwiches.

Maxi’s - This is a local place, so if you want a Maxi’s burger, you’ll have to come visit us! Maxi’s is probably our favorite restaurant in town, and you can’t beat it for delicious steaks. It is also locally owned and operated, and that is a big plus in our book. We like to take out-of-town visitors here, so if you head our way, you can probably expect Maxi’s in your dining future. Maxi’s doesn’t do a traditional burger of just a meat patty. They add some spices and stuff in there, and I’m pretty sure that they add chopped onion. Not the kind of burger that I usually like, but these things are very tasty, as well as huge. I think I took half of it home for Ken’s lunch. It was a little on the pink side for me, and next time, I would probably ask that it not be pink, but overall, this was very good. A nice robust bun, because mushy buns suck.

Brothers Bar & Grill - Speaking of mushy buns, I’m lookin’ at YOU, Brothers! We love Brothers, which seems to be a chain that locates in college towns. This is our go-to place before Notre Dame hockey and basketball games. I’ve had a lot of good sandwiches there, and I love both their chili nachos and chicken nachos. I was very disappointed in their burger, though. It was a nice size for me, and I was able to eat it all, but the bun was soft and steamed, and was unable to hold up to the intense pressure of life with a burger. It squished down to almost nothing and although the flavor of the burger was good, the bun really detracted from the whole experience. Get different buns and toast 'em on the grill for a few seconds, Brothers!

TGI Friday’s - Yes, this is a nationwide chain, and we usually try to avoid those. But we had some coupons, and we were going out a lot because of Notre Dame games, so we decided to save a few bucks. I can’t complain a lot about the food there, either...nothing fancy, but it’s decent. Much to my surprise, their burger ROCKED! It had a nice charred edge to it, and I could really taste that charcoal flavor that I love. The bun was nicely toasted and provided a slight crunch. It wasn’t a massive burger, and I was able to eat it all. My only complaint was the chunks of iceberg lettuce (obviously from salad makings) that they piled on the burger. I took most of those off. Just provide a nice, green leaf of lettuce, and a fresher tomato slice (hard to do in Indiana in the winter, though, so no points off for that), and that’s a burger I would eat again.

CJ’s Pub - This is another local place that we’ve added to our regular rotation, often before going to shows downtown. This is absolutely one of the best burgers in town. I don’t know what kind of seasoning they put on their burgers, but the flavor is fantastic. They have numerous varieties and all kinds of ways to customize your burger. This is where I had the olives on a burger, and I liked it...but a straight-up cheeseburger is still king for me, and CJ’s does it great. I always get the Cubby burger, which is a smaller sized burger that is just right for me. My sister seems to like the Juicy Ducee, which is stuffed with American cheese, and there are all kinds of other varieties and combos you can get. It really is hard to go wrong with these burgers!

Hensell’s Oaken Bucket - I have saved the best for last. Another local place, one that sits on the St. Joseph River. When it’s nice out, it’s fun to sit on the patio and look out over the river. Like CJ’s, I don’t know what it is they do to their burgers, but these have incredible flavor. Every time we go there, I think that I should order something different, but I always end up with a burger. The Oaken Bucket is right up there with my all-time favorite burgers, the ones at Breakers in New Smyrna Beach and Port of Call and Clover Grill in New Orleans. They really are that good. It’s a very unassuming place, with wooden booths and college-town decor, but it’s been our experience that sometimes the humblest places have some incredible food. Even if the food isn’t incredible, it’s fun to patronize local places rather than chains, and step outside the cookie-cutter model of what a restaurant is “supposed” to be. I have to give the Oaken Bucket the Best Burger in Town...so far.

Upcoming contenders: O’Rourke’s Pub near Notre Dame and Pat’s Bar in LaPaz (a small town a little to the south of us). Perhaps I'll try one in San Juan, too, before we set sail...we shall see.

The Burger Quest continues.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Song for Valentine’s Day


"More Bad Times"

1, 2, 3, 4
You never had rabies
You never gained weight
You never drank poison
You watched what you ate
You never came home with a terrible scar
You never so much as put a scratch on my car
You never got measles
You never got gout
You never got dizzy
And you never fell out
You never suggested we all play charades
You never picked up any live hand grenades

You twisted your ankle
I carried you
You got a divorce
So I married you
You fell off a cliff
So I buried you
I wish there were more bad times to see you through
I wish there were more bad times
Wish there were more bad times [x4]
I wish there were more

You never lost contact
You never leaked oil
You never drank cleanser
And you never ate foil
You never got hurt by sticks and stones
You never choked on any big chicken bones
You never got mauled by a mad baboon
You never lost all the air in your balloon
You never got poked in the eye with a spork
You never got sick from all that leftover pork

You twisted your ankle
I carried you
You got a divorce
So I married you
You fell off a cliff
So I buried you
I wish there were more bad times to see you through
I wish there were more bad times

So many things did go wrong
But the list is not long enough
Not enough bad things to fill up a song

Wish there were more bad times [x4]

I'd rather gather your bones
Than mop up this mess
If I scrub us all spotless
I'll wreck our success
I was holding your hand
When it fell on the floor
When you left you broke the knob on the door
I wish there was more