Come Mud or High Winds

on the farm again

I went to the farm yesterday to help with this ^^^. Some would say that the John Deere doesn’t look “that stuck” but it surely was. It was passing over a long patch of ground that we suspect has a spring underneath and has ensnared more than one tractor. Plus the Deere is off balance because of the heavy front end loader on its front wheels and a full rock-picker behind it. So we had to unhitch the rock-picker and then pull out the tractor. Then rinse and repeat for the rock-picker.

It was all a pain because we’ve been getting nailed by high winds for over a month now. Try standing up on the prairie in 40 mph gusts. Me and my cousin did yesterday and it’s not pleasant. Add to that I’ve still recovering from that flu/cold/crud bug. For once I was glad to get home and be inside.

Our cats hate these high winds. It was a steady rotation on the bed in the Man Cave as cats came in from outside and sought a spot for an afternoon nap. After working outside for even a small amount of time I had to agree that the cats had the right plan. The wind never really let up last night, pelting us with scattered showers. Now it’s still blowing but the felines all trotted out. I suspect they’ll be coming back to assume the nap position.


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A Bevy of Brews


Somehow I managed to pick up a 72 hour bug of some sort while in the Twin Cities. This was a major calamity because it meant that I couldn’t drink beer. Brothers and sisters, we’re talking Shakespearean levels of tragedy here. Because while in the Cities I was gifted with beer. A freaking lot of beer.

I’m turning sixty in a couple months and my brother gave me a present in advance – a trip to Liquor Boy. This was a godsend considering I was done to the last dregs in my beer fridge and am as poor as an alcoholic church mouse. In addition, our friend Pharm Doc sent a case or more of a “sample” from his beer cellar. It was quite a collection and I’m astonished again at the range of it.

Pharm Doc’s brews are in the photos above and are as follows (some of which I have more than one – that’s not noted here):

Modist – Dreamyard American IPA
Prairie Artisan Ales – Birthday Bomb
Founders – Doom Imperial IPA
Founders – KBS Stout
Founders – Curmudgeon Old Ale
Founders – Sumatra Mountain Brown
Dogfish Head – 90 Minute IPA
Deschutes – The Abyss 2014 Reserve
Central Waters – Barelywine Ale
Fulton – Hopster Session IPA
Fulton – Extra Extra Extra APA
Ska Brewing – Modus Hoperandi IPA
Lupulin – Blissful Ignorance Double IPA
Dogfish Head – Flesh & Blood IPA
Ska Brewing – Decandent Imperial IPA

Needless to say that will take me a while to both process and consume. From my brother I got our old standby’s and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Fulton – Sweet Child of Vine IPA (having one of those right now)
Bent Paddle – Golden IPA
Summit – Double IPA
Bell’s Two Hearted IPA
Surly Furious IPA
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA


So I’m stocked up for well, quite a while. Beer has been in and out of the budget for quite a while and while I’m adult enough to go without if I can’t afford it, it’s a pain in the ass. And now I won’t have to.


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If Eternity Should Fail


Sassy’s Mom, an old friend of ours, wanted to see Iron Maiden and didn’t want to go alone. Guess who got the call saying “I bought you a ticket”? So there I was, in the Xcel Center in St Paul last Friday, getting my ears blistered like they haven’t been in a very very long time. (I am old and wise, I had ear plugs)

It was a stunning display, highly theatrical and yeah, a little cheesy but hey, it’s Iron Maiden. The thing is, Maiden backs the cheese with a just stunning amount of ferocity. Right now most of the guys in this band are around my age, approaching sixty at full speed. Yet there they were, playing like it was their shot at the big time. The tempos never lagged, Bruce Dickinson nailed the high notes while running all over the place, the rhythm section locked in and the guitars never out of sync. At this stage, most of their peers are playing the casino circuit and on the oldies train. Iron Maiden played five songs off their new DOUBLE album. For two hours and change they shook the house.

So that was my weekend. Now I sit here, work stacked up on my desk, battling some sort of cold/flu/crud that I no doubt picked up at that show. And there’s a smile on my face. Up the Irons!

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A Fond Remembrance of a Black Sheep Show

Ah, Night Court, I remember you well.

I do remember watching it back in the day, at the bottom of that block of Thursday night comedies. We always skipped Cosby because it seemed just way too kid oriented. Family Ties had a little more bite. But it was Cheers and Night Court that made my night. The former because that cast and the writing were just incredible, especially for the time. The hour-long Woody’s wedding episode will always be in my top ten.

Night Court was absurd, often approaching the surreal, almost vaudevillian sometimes, and yet for seasons 2-6 it could almost go toe-to-toe with anything else on TV. That cast had a bizarre chemistry that even now holds up when I come across it in reruns. I remember the sheer weirdness of it, the returning characters (John Astin, Brent Spiner), the obsession with Mel Torme at a time when people had seriously forgotten who the hell Torme was, and then there’s Markie Post’s 80s hair. How can you forget a show like that?

Like all great TV comedies, it over-stayed its welcome and lost its spark. But damn, for those golden seasons it stood with the best and gave me and Carjo a lot of laughs.

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I’ve Never Seen That But I Have Seen This


One of my friends in the UK posted spectacular photos of the ruins of an old abbey. I was impressed and yet a bit saddened. Here in the US we really don’t have anything like that. This country is still too damn young for one thing. We’re also all too prone to tearing down the old to make way for the new. But we do have a plethora of natural wonders. Sights that make your jaw drop and your heart flutter.

This is a photo I took from the lip of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, where it plunges into the canyon it created. Note the mist at the bottom of the photo. That’s created from the three hundred foot tall falls. It’s not even remotely as wide the ones at Niagara but a damn site taller. It’s breath-taking.

So we’ve got places like this going for us and it’s possible that we’ll always have them. Provided Trump doesn’t plow them under for profit…

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Meanwhile, in the Rose Garden


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RIP to a Brother of the Road

Gregg Allman died a few days ago at the age of 69, passing away peacefully in his own home. And that is an end that few would have predicted.

Gregg lived a hard life. He lost several band mates over the years and one, Butch Trucks, just some months ago. But the one that was the gut punch was losing his brother Duane in a motorcycle accident just as their band was ascending into rock’s upper hierarchy. And the Allmans Brothers Band forever became a story of one step forward and one step back. Deaths, drug abuse, breakups, alcoholism, and narcing on a manager to avoid jail time collided with reunions, countless tours, triumphant stands at the Beacon Theatre in NYC, gold and platinum albums, and song after song that not only defined Southern Rock but transcended that genre in an instant.

Duane Allman formed the band and its sound but his younger brother gave it a voice. Most rock acts stick to the formula, especially if they hang around. But the Allman Brothers Band was sui generis like only a handful of musicians are. To pigeonhole them as southern rock or a jam band was highly inaccurate. Their sound was a synthesis of blues/jazz/gospel/rock/country/soul tossed into a high-speed blender and then poured out in an avalanche of thunder, propelled by two drummers and twin lead guitars. They could turn on a dime like few bands could, improvising like jazz men and capable of stunning dynamics. And no matter where the songs went it usually came back to the voice of Gregg, sitting behind the keys. Other members of the band sang, especially Dickie Betts. But the soul of the unit was Gregg’s blue-drenched roar, soaked in pain and seeking release.

A good portion of rock music, especially the stuff recorded in the 60s and 70s, featured white kids singing blues and R&B. Too often they sounded like white kids singing blues and R&B. But Gregg Allman was the real deal, able to shout, plead, growl, and cajole as well as his influences. There was a Beatles cover from one of Gregg’s solo albums that I’ve posted on this blog before. It’s the psychedelic ballad “Rain”.  Gregg took John Lennon’s LSD-drenched dreamscape, rinsed it clean, and took it to church, making the song into a gospel hymn, a plea for forgiveness and redemption. This was something that even Mavis Staples would have been proud of. And such was the artistry of Gregg Allman.

So when you think of the Allman Brothers Band, don’t trip yourself up on yet another airing of Dickie Betts’ tired “Ramblin’ Man”. Dig deeper. Go to The End of the Line.


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