I am a pedant. This is a thing I freely concede and always have, though I admit I have become somewhat less strident about it in recent years. It took time, but I understand new words have to be added to the dictionary from time to time and that the speed with which these additions happen has irreversibly increased with the advent of always-on-for-everybody internet and cameras in every pocket. A salient example is the word “selfie.” In earlier times, I’d have shaken a fist at a cloud and muttered about ‘these damn kids.’ But really, there wasn’t a word for such a thing as a selfie before selfies were invented. Words are handles for things, and we need handles in order to communicate effectively.
That said, the other day a variation of ‘coming down the pike’ was brought up in conversation. I know the expression is “pike” and pertains to turnpikes. But I looked it up later and discovered that ‘pipe’ is now also largely acceptable. Why should that be? Why should the world dumb itself down to suit the lowest common denominators who refuse to learn and use the proper or traditional words in our beautiful language? I mean, if you don’t know what the phrase is and just use ‘pipe’ and don’t care, so what? Does the OED need to validate that mistake? I say no.
Victor Davis Hanson is the greatest military historian writing in English today.
I like a lot of the Beatles’ music. People who try to explain to me why I shouldn’t irritate me. And they invariably have recorded zero songs. People like what they like. I’m a pretty conservative guy, a hater of commies from way back. And “The Final Cut” is my favorite Pink Floyd album. I get it, I know what they’re singing. But I like the music. And don’t get me started on the Beach Boys (never mind the Spice Girls).
P.S. Say what you will about the Bay City Rollers. No, really. They were shit.
I think Texas is the best state in our union. I’ve lived in a few of them, read about and known people from all of them. Texas suits me. You can get around good people anywhere in America, but Texas is crawling with good people. It’s just different.
Back in the early ‘80s I drove a 1975 Triumph Spitfire I had acquired through a sort of lease. A friend and I had built it from a solid (yellow) body / chassis that he owned and the motor / tranny from a bent A-frame ‘75 his brother had wrecked. My pal ended up moving in with a woman and needing money more than the car. He wanted 200 bucks for 4 months’ use. Pretty good rental price, I reckoned. It was a fun car to drive (when it was running).
The bonnet (‘hood’ if you must) on that car rotated up on hinges toward the front of the car and the fenders were molded into the one big piece of metal. Seems to me this was designed intentionally so one would have the built-in stool of the front tires to sit on while working on the little engine, which is a constant activity with those fuc… charming little cars.
I was driving this car when I met the woman who became my first wife, and who is the mother of my two children. But this isn’t about her, or even about me. It’s about my maternal grandfather, Mac.
The year was 1984. I had asked this woman on a date. I intended to take her somewhere flash like Red Lobster or some equally classy joint. And… the Triumph wouldn’t start. Color me not shocked. So I’m sitting on the left front tire trying to coax this beautiful piece of shit into life and I’m late for the date. She calls, Mac answers (it’s his house). Unbeknownst to me, he tells her I’ve fucked off somewhere and he doesn’t know where I went. I was in his front yard. He knew. Mac was such a joker.
So, after a couple hours I got the thing running. Went inside, cleaned up, and called her. That’s how we did it back then, kids: Telephones were how we talked if we weren’t in person, and phones were connected to wires. Sadly, we missed the high-class Red Lobster window so we decided on McDonald’s. This was in the early days of the McRib, which I learned about that night.
Moral of the story: McRibs are delicious.
My two favorite holiday season songs:
Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews - Baby It’s Cold Outside
Red Peters - You Ain’t Getting Shit for Christmas
Me and two other guys were once chased through an alley in Angeles City by a transvestite (aka bakla or billy boy). We were working 12s to up manning for some exercise or something, and the three of us went out the main gate at Clark AB to get some lumpia, pancit, etcetera for the whole shop (maybe 10 people) from a joint we all liked to visit. It was close to midnight, I guess. We were on our way back with all that food and this guy saw us. He was drunk as hell and I guess business hadn’t been good that night. So he started yelling incoherently and did that thing those dudes do where he acted like a chick in a cage from a Roger Corman movie and lost his damn mind. Not wanting to cause an international incident (and not wanting to lose all the food in some sort of stupid altercation), we ran. This cat’s chasing us through the dark alleys and we hear his high heels clicking on the pavement. It was quite strange, but as innocent as such a thing can be.
In hindsight, maybe he just wanted the lumpia. It was damn good.
In a museum at the Vatican, I asked a security guard where the statue of David was. He looked at me with a mixture of disdain and pity and said “Firenza.” You laugh, but this was 1995. I didn’t have google in my pocket. I did learn to know more things about places I visit before I go there, though.
That was the only time I was ever in Rome. I went to Florence many years later. Didn’t go see David.
We did stay in a hotel with a patio / terrace on the roof right across the street from Il Duomo, though. That was pretty cool.
I think that’s enough for this inaugural iteration of Rex’s Ramblings. There is no plan here. Just stating opinions and telling the odd story, as old men are wont to do. And as few young people with any sense are prepared to attempt to disabuse us of. And you kids pipe down already anyway.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.