Monday, December 26, 2011

Rebel Clipper

The Colonel needs a haircut.  Badly.

Even a bad haircut would do.

The Colonel's had the same hairdo since he was eighteen.  Early on the Colonel paid a weekly visit to his barber for the traditional Marine "high and tight."  Then the Colonel began to notice that there was less and less on top to cut "tight."

The Colonel also broke down and used a little bit of not-so advanced mathematics and discovered that at three or four dollars a weekly barber shop visit, a $20 hair clipper set would quickly pay for itself -- plus give the Colonel some regular practice in case he needed to cut hair to augment his retirement.   

For the better part of the last three decades the Colonel has, each Monday morning, set his trusty clippers, Semper Clip, on the lowest setting, and reduced his meager mane to a barely visible stubble. 

Sometime back in September (that's as specific as his rapidly diminishing collection of viable brain cells will allow him to remember), the Colonel missed a Monday morning meeting with Semper Clip.  It wasn't necessarily intentional, mind you.  He just forgot.

And, it wasn't all that noticeable a week later. 

Nor the week after that.  

The Colonel, being the creature of habit that he is, missed a whole month of Monday morning meetings with Semper Clip, and just that quickly began a new habit.

After about six weeks, there was enough fur around the Colonel's ears for one of his domino buddies to look up from the table, squint at him like there was a big daub of axle grease smeared across his face, and ask, "Growing your hair out, Colonel?"

"Nope.  What makes you think that?"

"I dunno.  Just looks like you and your barber had a fallin' out."

"Nope.  Just giving my follicle's a rest."

"Looks to me most of your follicles have been resting in peace for quite some time now."

Soon, the hair was as long as it had been since just before the Colonel's dad returned from Vietnam.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda held her peace for as long as she could bear it and finally, in her gentle and loving way, told him what she thought of the Colonel's new 'do.

"Hey, knucklehead!  You look like a hippie gone to seed!  You need to cut that mess off your melon before people start asking you how you came up with E equals MC squared!"

The rest of the Colonel's family displayed even more loving interest in his noggin' wrapping cultivation.

"Daddy, you look terrible!" The Colonel's favorite daughter always knows just what to say to warm his heart, cockles and all.  "When are you gonna cut your hair?"

The Colonel flipped his locks and flippantly declared, "When Ole Miss finally wins a football game." 

"But, Daddy, this season's over!"

"Yep, looks like I won't get it cut until after the Spring Game."

"But, Daddy, didn't they tie the Spring Game last year?"  

Hmmm.  Wonder what the Colonel would look like in dread locks? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Season Reason

The old man didn't believe in much, and he certainly didn't believe in anything he couldn't prove. He was too intelligent and too learned to indulge himself in beliefs that required faith -- that was just too simple-minded and uneducated for a college professor.

He wasn't completely passionless -- he did love his birds.

As a trained biologist, he knew every detail of the physiology and behavior of animals in general, and, as a ornithological specialist, his knowledge of birds was particularly deep and broad. He was unabashedly vain in the surety that he knew practically everything there was to know about birds -- he was darn near omniscient when it came to feathered fauna. He lived alone and kept several feeders in his backyard to attract the birds he loved so much -- they were his company, and he often, embarrassingly, caught himself talking out loud to them.

He stood at the window as the light of the late December afternoon dimmed to early evening twilight. It had snowed most of the day and several inches had accumulated. The temperature was dropping precipitously -- it was going to be one of the coldest nights of the year. But, that hadn't deterred his neighbors from their annual ritual of asking him to join them at church for Christmas Eve services. He had politely refused, and even wished them "happy holidays," even though he considered it hypocritical to do so.

His principled disbelief in the basis for the holidays prevented him from even recognizing Christmas in any way. There was no decorated tree in his house, no silly lights outside, and certainly no gift giving. He was no hypocrite.

As darkness fell, he heard the bells ringing from the church down the road, and he marvelled at the waste of time, energy, and resources devoted to Christianity. How could anyone with half a brain buy in to the "immaculate conception" fairy tale? If there was a God running this universe, and he was fairly certain there wasn't, why would he waste his time on the insignificant life forms on an insignificant rock circling a nondescript star in a galaxy of billions of stars, in a universe of billions of galaxies?

It was snowing again, and he reached over and turned on the outside light so he could watch the flakes fall. His attention was drawn to the ground just at the edge of the circle of light, where a flock of small birds was huddled motionless in the snow. He was immediately concerned. He had seen this kind of behavior before and it normally resulted in the death of all the birds in the flock. Stunned by the sudden onset of bitter cold, they would just sit there and freeze. He hated to see that happen. He loved his birds and it just tore at him anytime he found one dead. He had to do something for this flock.

He quickly pulled on his coat and boots and stepped outside in the snow. He thought maybe he could scare them into some life-saving activity. Maybe he could chase them into the air and they would fly somewhere safe. He waved his arms and stomped his feet, but the birds just moved out of his way and continued to huddle in the snow.

He walked across the yard to his workshop at the back of the lot, opened the door, turned on the light, and stooped to turn on the space heater in the corner. He propped open the door and then stepped outside and into the shadows. He hoped that if he remained motionless and hidden the birds would see the light and warmth of the workshop and move inside.

After a few minutes, it was obvious that the birds weren't going to take the initiative to move into the workshop on their own. He would have to try to move them himself. He walked over to the flock and bent to pick up a bird, but it fluttered away and landed on the other side of the flock. He tried several times to catch a bird, but the results were always the same. He tried to herd the birds toward the warmth of the workshop by stooping and waving his arms, but the birds just scattered in front of him and then rejoined to huddle in the snow.

Again and again he tried to shoo the birds toward the lifesaving warmth, and he became increasingly frustrated at his failure to save them.

The temperature was dropping perceptively and he noticed that one of the birds had slumped lifelessly. He redoubled his efforts to herd them to the workshop. Another bird slumped in the snow. He was frantic now, speaking to the birds, trying to reason with them, and then caught himself, embarrassed.

He said to himself aloud, "If I could just become a bird for one minute, I could lead them to the light and warmth of the workshop and save them from dying in the snow."

At that moment, the bells on the church down the road began to ring again.

The old man sank to his knees in the snow and understood.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Tallahatchie Free State 2012 Gift Catalog

Christmas 2011 will be celebrated here aboard the Colonel's vast holdings at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere with all of the joy and familial...

*** We interrupt the Colonel's latest literary libation to bring you the following crass commercial message.***

Due to overwhelming demand and underwhelming supply, the following Eegeebeegee Christmas Gift and Tallahatchie Free State Souvenir items have been sold out for this season, but will be available for advance ordering beginning in late Spring 2012:

The Comely and Kind-hearted Miss Brenda's Wild Blackberry Jam Sampler.  Spoon a dollop of Miss Brenda's Wild Blackberry Jam on a hot buttered biscuit and take your taste-buds to a whole 'nuther existential plane.  Blackberries lovingly hand-harvested by the citizens and legal residents of the Tallahatchie Free State at the height of their finger-staining ripeness.  A six ounce jar for only $29.99, plus S & H.  A bargain at twice that price!

The Semper Filet Souvenir Sawdust Display Board.  Keep your family, friends, and the many guests in your home entertained with the ultimate conversation piece.  A half dozen samples of the most prodigious product of the Colonel's sapling to sawdust process mounted on a rustic mill-sawn foot-long 1 x 6 board.  All logs converted to lumber and sawdust come from timber harvested by the Colonel on the Colonel's timber plantation at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.  For a limited time only... $299.99 each, plus S & H.  (The Colonel's signature $0.37 extra.) 

The Colonel's Carbon Creator Special.  For that special person on your gift list who has everything, but needs to leave a lasting legacy for his or her progeny.  Prior to harvesting, the Colonel will name a tree in honor of the giftee.  The tangible gift (in addition to the intangible personal knowledge of making a tree-hugger cry) is a framed collage of photographs depicting the Colonel's death-defying and maim-missing chain-saw dance 'round the base of the standing tree, the Colonel's death-defying and maim-missing chain-saw dismemberment of the fallen tree, the conversion of the tree's logs into lumber and sawdust, and the bonfire consummation of all tree products not converted to lumber and sawdust.  Personalized with placards in each photo on which the giftee's name will be scrawled in a special ink composed of kudzu extract, loblolly pine charcoal, and North Mississippi red clay (aka Confederate Concrete).  $499.99, plus S & H.

The Colonel's Bucket List Headliner.   The trip of a lifetime!  An all expense-paid working vacation aboard the Colonel's vast holdings at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.  Your stay will include 1/4 star accommodations and a customizable smorgasbord of chores aboard the Eegeebeegee Timber and Wildlife Plantation.  Drive the Colonel's muddy red tractor, Semper Field.  Operate the Colonel's toothy sawmill, Semper Fillet.  Skinny-dip in Lake Brenda.  Attend an ad hoc meeting of the Congress of the Tallahatchie Free State.  Pick-up bed tour (in the back of the Colonel's rusty red pick-em truck, Semper Fillit) of Ole Miss and the cultural center of the southern universe -- Oxford, MS; available.  $1999.99 per day.  Photos with the Colonel at a small extra charge.

*** We now return you to regular programming...***    

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It Ain't Over

Despite the erroneous media hyper-ventilation and political victory lap-taking to the contrary, the announced "end" of US combat operations in Iraq (redux of 2003's "Mission Accomplished"), and the projected end of same in Afghanistan, will not mean the "end" of the war with Islamic extremists and their rogue nation supporters.  It is far from over, and is indeed on the threshold of a far more dangerous phase.  While the people of our nation may believe the war is over, our enemies do not.

If the war was really over, there would no longer be a need for the unconstitutional punishment meted out on the traveling public by the Transportation Safety Administration, in the name of safety and security.

If the war was really over, people throughout the Middle East and Southwest Asia would be governed by, if not a close facsimile of our constitutional representative republic, at least forms of government that respected and protected basic political, economic, and religious freedoms for men and women.

If the war was really over, our nation's hard and soft power-projection capabilities would be focused on the increasing threat from the Peoples' Republic of China (neither of the people, nor a republic -- but, the Colonel digresses). 

As any of the thousands of you who regularly imbibe of the literary libations ladled out in posts hereon will no doubt remember from dozens of treatises on the subject, the Colonel believes with every fibre of his being and without a doubt in his military mind that "the war" could have been over at least five years ago.

Let's spend a little time coming to the correct understanding of just what it is that these re-United States have been involved in for the past decade, shall we?  The Colonel has wasted a great deal of his few remaining brain cells and your valuable rod and cone time in previous posts hereon, explaining, in exacting detail, the correct nomenclature of the diplomatic, economic, and military operations in which our nation and its allies have participated since 9/11.  He won't subject you to a retelling, nor dull the easily-glazed eyes of the Bama and LSU grads who may have accidentally stumbled onto this blog whilst in a frantic search for hound's-tooth hats and Mardi Gras beads.

Suffice it for the Colonel to say, the military operations in Afghanistan since 2001 and Iraq since 2003 are not separate, distinct, and exclusive wars in and of themselves.  They are theater campaigns, in a far larger war.  And, while the American military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan may be ending, the conflicts there ARE NOT. 

Several decades ago, leaders in many countries (primarily in the Islamic world), whose continuance in tyrannical power over their downtrodden and exploited populations was threatened by American-led Western freedom-supporting presence in their region; formed, bank-rolled, and trained irregular para-military formations to carry out asymmetrical attacks against American and Western interests, in order to dissuade those free governments from interfering in their not-so free governance. 

For the Bama and LSU grads, the Colonel will spell out the previous point more simply.  Bad guys like Gaddafi didn't like the fact that Western (American) values and ideals were giving their people "revolutionary" ideas.  Bad guys like Gaddafi paid other bad guys (and gals) to blow up airplanes and nightclubs to send a message to the sponge-spined, weak-willed democrats (little d) to stay out of the bad guy's business.  We call the bad guys (and gals) that blow up airplanes, terrorists.

That war, begun long before 9/11, ain't over. 

And, so far, we're losing it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Freeze Warning

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"     --Paul's letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 11, Verse 1

The Colonel, as his family well knows, and the thousands of you who regularly imbibe in the barely literate literary libations ladled out in posts hereon have surely surmised, enjoys an albeit diminishing reputation for unerring accuracy in his prognostications.  There was a time when, before the ravages of age and mental gymnastics endured attempting to make sense of Ron Paul's appeal to more than three dozen survivalists hiding out in a remote canyon in New Mexico reduced the Colonel's mental faculties and powers of observation to the few remaining synaptic connections still firing across the ever-widening gaps between the atrophying cells lying fallow in the grey goo lodged in forgotten recesses of his bony brain-housing group, if the Colonel told someone a chicken could plow they hooked up a rooster.

That was then, this is now:

The Colonel finds himself, more often than not of late, retracting, retracing, regretting, and otherwise admitting his error on previous predictions and proclamations.  For example, the Colonel was way wrong when at the beginning of the season he predicted that the Ole Miss Rebel football team would stink up the kudzu-clad hills here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere and win only four or five ballgames.

The Rebels went two and ten.  Epic frontal lobe fail on the Colonel's part.    

Predictive failure is happening with such increasing frequency lately that the Colonel is starting to succumb to self-doubt and beginning to make apologies for prognostications and proclamations not yet proven false.  

So it is with the University of Mississippi's hire of Hugh Freeze to remedy the failure of Huston Nutt (and the failure of Ed Orgeron, David Cutcliffe, the despicable Tommy Tuberville, Billy Brewer, Steve Sloan, Ken Cooper, and Billy Kinard before him) to reincarnate the great Coach Johnny Vaught.  A fortnight ago, the Colonel posted the following prediction regarding Archie Manning's mission to find the next Johnny Vaught :

"...So, sometime here in the next couple of weeks, a new head football coach will be announced here in Oxford. He'll be a good guy and all. Young, energetic, positive.

And totally not up to the task of competing in the Southeastern Conference.

Ole Miss football will flounder on, sub-par, for the foreseeable future. That young, energetic, positive coach will last three or four seasons, at most, before giving way to the next young, energetic, positive, and totally not up to the job of competing in the SEC, head coach..."

Three days later Archie Manning sent the Colonel a personal message announcing the results of his committee's exhaustive head coach search. 

Okay, it wasn't exactly intended as a personal message for the Colonel -- there were a few tens of thousands others who got the same message.  The Colonel took it personal, though. 

Archie told me, us, that a young, energetic, positive man by the name of Hugh Freeze would be the next Head Football Coach at Ole Miss.

A short time later, the Colonel watched as Coach Freeze made his first speech to Rebel Nation.  The man's faith and fervor was impressive.  The Colonel couldn't help but feel a surge of hope stirring deep within the shriveled cinder that passes for his heart.  The first play from scrimmage was yet unseen, but the Colonel felt a rekindling of the fires of faith.   

Self-doubt crept from hiding deep in the Colonel's soul and whispered compellingly into his tinnitus-tortured ear, "You could be wrong.  Freeze could be Vaught reincarnate.  He's so positive; so likable; so convincingly earnest.  He's been a winner everywhere he's been in charge." 

Oh, how the Colonel wants to be persuaded! 

The Colonel may indeed be proven wrong once again, but in the meantime he'll cling bitterly to his guns and maintain his football faith rooted firmly in what he has seen.   And, he'll offer Freeze the following warning:

You have embarked on the single most challenging endeavor of your young career.  Your on-field foes at LSU, Bama, and the School Beneath Us pale in comparison to the off-field foes arrayed against your success and dreams of retirement here in Oxford.   You'll be tempted to take sides for or against the tradition-trashing insanity that dwells in the hallowed halls of the Lyceum. 

Don't.  (The Colonel will keep up that fight for you.)

Find and bring us players who share your integrity and want to fight for Ole Miss.  No matter the outside pressure, stay focused on your team.  Love 'em and lead 'em.  Like you said in your introduction, it's really all about family.

Oh, and one more thing...

Beat State!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Sawdust Savant

WarningGraphic images of a real tree's conversion from log to lumber contained hereon.   

As the thousands of you who regularly imbibe in the barely literate literary libations ladled out in posts heron will no doubt recall, one of the critical components of the Colonel's sapling to sawdust production system aboard his vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere is his trusty sawmill, Semper Filet (not to be confused with his trusty red tractor, Semper Field; nor his rusty red pick 'em up truck, Semper Fillit; nor even his former boat and Redneck Riviera partner in redfish and speckled trout population control, Semper Fish).

It has slowly dawned in the rapidly dwindling collection of cells lying fallow in a small puddle of grey goo lodged in a cavernous crevice of his bony brain-housing group, that the Colonel should consider posting a video of the intricately choreographed ballet that is his death-defying and maim-missing dance round the periphery of Semper Filet as the machine makes manageable boards from barely manageable logs. 

The Colonel is indebted to his lady, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, for her assistance as videographer of the clip proudly presented in this post.  The Colonel is indebted to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda for a great deal more than her assistance as videographer...but, there's no room in this tome, nor allowance in your patience, for that recounting.

The first scene in the video clip below portrays the Colonel in the final phase of manhandling a log into the waiting arms of Semper Filet.  What is not shown in this clip is the Colonel's death-defying and maim-missing chain-saw-armed dance around the base of the standing tree -- allowing the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda to witness that evolution would result in either her insistence that the Colonel immediately cease all further felling of timber or significantly increase the amount of his life insurance.  The clip also does not show the death-defying and maim-missing chain-saw-armed dismembering and conversion of the tree into ten-foot logs, for the same reason.

Succeeding scenes show conversion of the log into a squared cant, from which boards are cut.  Still shots at the end of the video show 1) boards stacked for drying in the Colonel's Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility and 2) the most prodigious product of the process.

Now, if you will excuse the Colonel, he must begin drafting his Academy Award acceptance speech.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Lessons Infamously Ignored

"Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."

With these words, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt established the predicate for his request that the Congress of the United States formally declare that a state of war existed between the United States and Japan.  

While Japan's attack on the U.S. military bases in the  Hawaiian Islands was the proximate casus belli, the seeds of the conflict were planted decades before, in much the same way as those of the coincident conflict in Europe.  Nationalism, like a phoenix risen from the bitter ashes of defeat and global disapproval (in the cases of Germany and Japan, respectively) had fostered an appetite for, and an acceptance of, militant dictatorships promising geo-political glory under the banner of imperialist expansionism and clad in garments of overt racism and brutish megalomania.

The British and the Russians had already been long at war with Nazi Germany by the time Japan awakened, in Admiral Yamamoto's words, "... a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve."  It took the United States and Great Britain, in a mutual nose-holding alliance with the Soviet Union, nearly four more years to bring the Second World War to a conclusion satisfactory to the Allies.   

The end of that war brought about, for all practical purposes, the end of the British Empire and ushered in the Superpower Age of the competing American and Russian Empires.  Ironically, it was the British Empire's sacrifices and stalwart resistance early-on against Hitler at the Channel and against Tojo in South Asia that bought time for the Russians and Americans to get their logistical and operational acts together.  

And, contrary to much of the revisionist and shallow progressive pablum that passes for history in American schools at even the highest levels today, it was not so much the military build-up for WWII that pulled America out of the Great Depression, as it was the fact that at the war's conclusion only the United States, and to a  lesser degree the Soviet Union, survived without their industrial capacity in ruins.  That, and the fact that the United States' economy was not shackled by central planning like the Soviet's command economy are the primary reasons for America's global economic superiority for the predominance of the second half of the 20th Century.

The point of this missive, for which the thousands of you who regularly imbibe liberally of the literary libations ladled out in posts heron have no doubt reached the uppermost limits of your patience in anticipation of the Colonel's arrival thereto, is that there are several lessons to be drawn from the American experience following her rude awakening seventy years ago, today.  Unfortunately, many of those valuable lessons have already been ignored, to our Republic's loss and its leaders' discredit.  Two of the most important are provided below:

Lesson #1:  War is an ugly business, the wining of which requires great sacrifice at home and the visitation of great and widespread destruction on the strategic home of the enemy.  Example: There were NO civilian vehicles for private ownership built in the United States in 1943 and 1944.  See history of the strategic aerial bombardment of Japan for an example of great and widespread destruction visited on the strategic home of the enemy. 

Lesson #2:  The illusion of victory achieved by a long, protracted, limited war (see U.S. strategic objectives since September 2001) is just that -- an illusion.  A people, any people, grow weary of a war's sacrifice much more quickly than even the most dynamic and persuasive leaders can muster persuasive speeches to prevent; and an enemy, any enemy, can draw increasing strength in the face of  timid military strategy.

Combine the foregoing lessons ignored and the result is strategic failure at the cost of an egregious waste of blood and treasure.  Watch carefully the inevitable fall of Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, et. al. into the hands of the very militant Islamists whose ideology drove 19 young men to use American airliners as guided weapons of mass destruction on 9/11.

And that's all the Colonel has to say about that.        

Friday, December 02, 2011

Life at the End of the Tunnel

The Colonel returned last evening to his vast holdings on the placid shores of Lake Brenda, here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere, after a short trip to the future 32nd through 40th states of Mexico (currently the former Republic of Texas) to briefly reunite the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda with her sister and parental units.  A good time was had by all -- even by the, for all practical purposes, unentertainable Colonel.

The physical distance from Mississippi, provided by the geographical imposition of the not-so great state of Louisiana, and the cyber-space access suspension, imposed by the Colonel's Lady for the duration of the trip, served to isolate the Colonel from the incessant cowbell ringing and bulldog barking that has permeated the state since the on-field collapse and season finale of the worst football team fielded by the Harvard of the South since the Hoover administration.

Worst than the team fielded in 1974 -- the Colonel's first fall of matriculation at Ole Miss -- that went 3 and 8, losing to then-lowly South Carolina at homecoming.

South Carolina went 1 and 10 that season.

(For the errant Bama and LSU fans who have stumbled upon this post in search of tree poison or a good corn dog recipe, the Colonel feels the need to explain the significance of the last sentence.  He'll type slowly.  Ole Miss was so bad in 1974, that the South Carolina Gamecocks' only win that season was against the Rebels.)

Worst than the team fielded in 1942, that was the last (and first) team to lose three in a row to in-state rival, the former Mississippi A & M.

Ole Miss didn't field a football team in 1943, ostensibly due to the country's involvement in World War Two.  The Colonel rather believes that after suffering the shame of losing three in a row to Mississippi State, Ole Miss needed a year break from the game.

The two schools renewed their rivalry in 1944.  Ole Miss won that game, and the next nineteen straight.

Does the Colonel think that history will repeat itself? 


Ole Miss football great Archie Manning is heading up the search committee tasked with finding a replacement for former Head Coach Huston Nutt and soon to be (thankfully) former Athletic Director Pete Boone.  The Colonel thinks the world of Archie, but he ain't got the chance Lee had at Petersburg of finding a really good coach for Ole Miss. 

Frankly, there ain't a really good coach in the land, worth his salt and in his right mind, who would subject himself to the tradition-trashing politically correct administration and Grove and Square party-centric fan base extant at the University of Mississippi.

So, sometime here in the next couple of weeks, a new head football coach will be announced here in Oxford.  He'll be a good guy and all.  Young, energetic, positive.

And totally not up to the task of competing in the Southeastern Conference.

Ole Miss football will flounder on, sub-par, for the foreseeable future.  That young, energetic, positive coach will last three or four seasons, at most, before giving way to the next young, energetic, positive, and totally not up to the job of competing in the SEC, head coach.

The University itself will eventually succumb to the inexorable tide of politically correct idiocy.  The nicknames Ole Miss and Rebels will be found by the liberal loonies running the asylum to be socially insensitive, and a once-great tradition-soaked school will become just another cookie-cutter public university.

Not such a bad thing, actually. 

Maybe without Ole Miss, the Colonel can finally get a life.