Month: September 2009

Annie’s New Outhouse….

Annie’s Outhouse(Annie’s Throne)

A blogger friend of mine, Annie who runs the “Mzodell’s Page”blog, has been diligently laboring over the construction of a new outhouse for one of her domiciles. Now this may be to some, news of inconsequential importance but to us that live in Arkansas its deserving of some measure of accolade and acknowledgement.

Now before I get to far along here let me clarify that Annie does not reside in Arkansas. No….Annie resides part of the year in Nova Scotia, part in Toronto and the rest of the time traveling here and there. It’s just that staying in tune with what is going on in the world with regard to outhouses helps us here in Arkansas to retain some measure of our heritage. And given the heritage and tradition here in my home state of Arkansas with regard to outhouses, new outhouses rarely go unnoticed. Also, others in our State who still have outhouses may glean new ideas from those designs incorporated into a modern day outhouse design such as Annie’s pictured above.

Annie began her labor of love August 31st and in a couple of short weeks has constructed an outhouse very deserving and newsworthy in this author’s opinion. There are five (5) documented chapters to Annie’s outhouse project so sit back, click on the links below and enjoy her project’s progression….

Chapter 1 – Busy Day

Chapter 2 – My Throne

Chapter 3 – Breakdown

Chapter 4 – And on the Fifth Day She Rested

Chapter 5 – The Outhouse

Outhouses demand such attention here in Arkansas that several years back I decided, being a song writer of sorts, that I should pen a song about outhouses. It’s an instrumental piece appropriately titled “Thar’s A Skunk in the Outhouse”. I have left it up to one’s own interpretation as to whether there really is a skunk in the outhouse….or it just smells like there’s one in there! It’s arranged in a Bluegrass style so you can make up your own words if you like. I told Annie I would have to let her hear it so it is only appropriate to add it to this journal entry so click on the arrow on the player below…..

“Thar’s A Skunk In the Outhouse” – The Electric Key Orchestra

Skunk

Annie noted in her last chapter that she had one last thing to do to the new throne so I will be waiting with great anticipation to see this final touch. A wide-screen TV, a stereo system or perhaps just a simple magazine rack…..or perhaps a nice scented candle. I’ll be waiting Annie!

Where’s the beef?

Beginning in the early fifties I have had to endure thousands of unsolicited commercials whenever I decided to relax and take in a little television – as has the entire world population I suppose. But every now and then a commercial comes along which in many cases will upstage the actual program I may be watching.

Recently the “Ally Bank” has been airing several commercials and I immediately had to add a couple of them to my “Favorite All-Time Commercials” life list. And thanks to “YouTube” I am able to archive and share those two latest gems….

But the commercial that has been in the Number 1 position on that favorite’s list of mine will be very difficult to topple, even given the two above. The commercial I refer to was a Wendy’s hamburger commercial and it first aired on television January 10th of 1984. A catch phrase from that commercial, “Where’s the beef?”, was to be born and find its way into American culture and enjoyed immense popularity. Even politicians were hurling the phrase at their opponents and associated agendas. The actor who played the part of the old lady concerned with the beef was named Clara Peller. Clara passed away in August of 1987. Clara was absolutely wonderful in her portrayal and the commercial never fails to bring a smile to my face when I watch it. Watch Clara in all her glory in the video below….

Even today, some 25 years later, I find myself uttering that phrase from time to time at a seemingly appropriate moment. Of course, if you weren’t around or aware of that commercial the comment will make little or no sense.

Thanks Clara….

Hello “Catfish”….

Just a follow-up to my previous journal entry….

I received a nice email this morning from Keith “Catfish” Sutton who related he was happy his suggestions and advice related in his published newspaper article helped me in my quest to land a Grass Carp with a rod and reel.

He also sent me another article that was published back in June of 2004 regarding my carp nemeses. There were portions of it that were absolutely hilarious. The article appeared on the “ESPN Outdoors” website and is titled “Out There: The Grass Carp Grand Slam”.

Thanks Keith ….. Handshake - 001

Dear Mr. Keith “Catfish” Sutton….

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Today after gloating for some two days over my success at landing the infamous Grass Carp with rod and reel after years of failure as related in my previous journal entry, I decided to see if there was some way I might thank the individual who made it all possible. With Google at my fingertips I finally secured information relating to a Keith “Catfish” Sutton who was a free-lance writer and photographer living in Arkansas that had numerous publishing credentials. This had to be my man so having located his website and contact information, I proceeded with sending him the following extended ‘thank-you’ note…..

Dear Mr. Sutton,
I recently read an article in our local newspaper, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, titled “The Fish That Eats Salad” and noted a Keith Sutton as the contributing author. Doing a little nosing around with Google I determined that you might be the prime suspect.
Assuming so, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your article on the Grass Carp, which by the way is not my favorite of critters. But for years past I had tried to land one of those fish with a rod and reel and never had. Growing up here in Arkansas it became difficult to live with the fact I couldn’t outsmart that rather loathsome fish.
As a last resort, in 2004 I took up the sport of bowfishing and extracted my revenge on a few of the critters. I referred to it as “select harvesting” to cover all my misses with a bow and arrow over the next few years. Probably got five or six in the 30 lb range while professing to be a bowfisherman.
Then three weeks ago your article came to my attention while reading the paper and I immediately questioned the credentials of someone who talked about catching Grass Carp as if it was as simple as simply tossing a hook in the water and waiting a few minutes. And the cherry tomato comment was almost more than I could bare. But then fate stepped in…..
While shopping the next week at Kroger I happened to pass by a bunch of cherry tomatoes all bagged up in nice little red bags. “Was it fate?” I asked myself. So I threw a bag in the cart and went on my way. Then this past Monday I decided to put this myth about the cherry tomatoes to the test. I drove down to a small local lake where I knew there were some Grass Carp. I baited up a bare line and hook as you recommended using only half a tomato. In less than five minutes I noticed the line slowly beginning to move away and after about 24 inches of line had submerged I gave it a jerk and oh baby – I had a monster. After about a fifteen second glorious fight my line broke right at the hook but I immediately knew there might just be something to the cherry tomato thing.
So I doubled knotted a new hook, tossed it out again and it wasn’t long before the old line started going under again. Another big tug on the rod and reel and I had a good one. Finally landed this one and it was around 15 pounds. That was it! I immediately packed my gear and headed to the house confident that the ones left behind were mine anytime I wanted.
The point of this email is to simply thank you for your article and your cherry tomatoes tip. One of the items I had on my “Bucket List” was to catch a Grass Carp on a rod and reel and thanks to you – it’s done and I am closer to dying in peace.
Yours Truly……Alan G

I’m sure Mr. Sutton is a busy man and I don’t necessarily expect any measure of response but in all good consciousness, I could not bear to not at least make an effort to let the man know he had contributed to my someday leaving this planet with a measure of peace. And given the man has apparently attained the nickname of “Catfish” which is an all but sacred name here in Arkansas, what more could I have asked for than having been advised by someone perhaps referred to by many here in Arkansas as a spiritual adviser.

Smoke, Smoke Smoke that cigarette… or “How I Quit Smoking”!

Perhaps a little ‘mood music’ would be appropriate for this journal entry. Oh…..if you are just passing by and don’t know how to turn on the music, just click on the arrow and wait a few seconds for the the music to begin.

“Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette” – Tex Williams

I have seen numerous commercials on television and ads in the newspapers over the years regarding aids to help smokers quit their nasty habit. I personally quit smoking in October of 1998 after having smoked for some 40 years. I officially confessed the now condemned social disorder to my mom in 1958 in my junior year of high school. Obviously I had been doing some heavy sampling prior to that but there had been no official declaration up until then. But given the fact that both my parents were smokers and given the accusations leveled at second-hand smoke these days, one could make a case that I had been smoking since birth. In fact, it’s a pretty good bet that moments after I was conceived someone was probably having a cigarette!

I started smoking by sampling the old familiar and internationally well known standby, Lucky Strike. Still remember they were like 25 cents a pack at that time.

Lucky Strike Cigarettes

But by the time I scheduled that smoking confession session with my mom, I was doing the grand Pall Mall. They were long cigarettes packaged in a bright red pack – really cool!

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In my day and age it was just a given fact that smoking was cool….and almost everyone participated in the pleasure to include doctors.

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Why even old Saint Nick liked to smoke those Pall Mall cigarettes! No wonder I liked them!

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As I recall, I think I tried to quit a couple of times over the years. The most serious effort was when I was around 40 and I made it to about the three week mark. I was so disappointed at my failure that I never tried again until….

In August of 1997 my mother passed away due to lung cancer. I was helpless to do anything about it and it was difficult to watch her go through all she had to go through till the end. And in the process I learned much more about the other long-term side effects of smoking other than just cancer itself. A couple of months after her passing I decided it was time to give quitting another try but I had to have a serious plan that I felt would work for me.

I can’t say why but I had no confidence whatsoever in any of the smoking cessation aids available. A lot of my friends where trying the Nicorette gum. I did check at Walgreen one day on the product but when I found out the initial dosage package was around $100 bucks I was immediately turned off. Obviously in the long run if you quit using the product, then that was cheap but I wasn’t a big fan of the gum approach anyway. That was the old standard approach in those days to hold off the urge to smoke. Just grab a stick of gum. Are you kidding me, I could smoke and chew gum at the same time. Almost any smoker will tell you that most smokers are very, very ambidextrous. They can not only walk and chew gum at the same time, but they can smoke too! Nope – I didn’t see gum as something that would work for me.

In the end I decided on a psychological approach – a mind game if you will. It was basically a simple approach and was based on the following premise…..

If you get through a day without smoking and never smoke again, then you will never have to endure the agony of going through that first day without a cigarette again. If you get through the second day without smoking and never smoke again, you will never have to go through the agony of those first two days without a cigarette again. Etc, etc.

And so it was for me in the beginning that each day and/or accumulations of days was a milestone. The moment the thought or urge encroached into my brain taunting me with thoughts of nicotine candy, I would recount the time that had passed and reassure myself that I did not want to go through again what had already passed. Then when I had made it through a week – that was even a bigger milestone. Then a month!

And if you paused and seriously applied the simple logic that you were now at point B and you would never have to endure the agony that laid between between point A and point B, that simple logic made it easier and easier to quit with each passing day. I never looked back.

I do miss smoking because I did enjoy it and seemed to get so much perceived pleasure from smoking. But by the same token however, I did come to realize the smelly repercussions of the habit along with what non-smokers had to deal with when being around me. When my sense of smell had been refurbished by my abstinence, I felt a serious measure of personal embarrassment knowing what folks had been forced to deal with that odor when being around me all those years. My only relief was some realization that most of those people with whom I associated were also smokers.

Today I continue to live in a smokeless state never even thinking about smoking…..but with some measure of anxiety in anticipation of the other shoe to fall. It is the ‘cancer’ shoe of course that I refer too. So far so good but I do have a mild version of COPD which is an obvious step-child of my beloved habit.

Nevertheless, I continue to be very pleased with myself that I was able to kick the habit ‘cold-turkey’ as they say. And although I won’t be so bold as to boast about my super universal will power, I am very happy and grateful that it supported me on this issue. Whether I am as clever as I perceive myself to be in this effort to overcome this habit may be debatable but the technique I devised for myself did in fact work for me and that, in the end, is what counts.

What else are ‘cherry tomatoes’ good for?

If you know anything at all about Grass Carp, or for that matter carp at all, you know that they are not caught with your typical fish bait. Most folks use their own homemade dough ball concoctions to catch these scaled and finned critters. But more about that later perhaps.

After recently reading an article referring to Grass Carp as the “veggie fish”, the article went on to recommend cherry tomatoes as an excellent bait for catching one of these elusive fish. Having some doubts about the suggestion since I had on numerous times experienced trying to entice one of these fish to my hook over the years and never being successful, I thought, “What the hell – why not give it a try.” So last week when I was doing my grocery shopping I noticed by chance that they had little bags of cherry tomatoes for sale. So I bought one bag.

Yesterday morning I grabbed my rod and reel and decided to give the cherry tomatoes their chance to help me accomplish a long sought quest after years of pursuit. We have several very small lakes nearby, one of which I knew had a plentiful supply of Grass Carp. I went down and walked around looking for signs. I caught glimpse of a couple out a ways under the water. I cut one of the cherry tomatoes in half and I baited a hook with it, no sinker, weight or bobber, and gave it a toss. The weight of the cherry tomato took it to the bottom. It was only a matter of minutes before I noticed the line beginning to be very slowly drawn out farther and after waiting a moment, gave my fishing rod a huge tug and oh baby…..I had a big one. Unfortunately, about fifteen seconds into the fight my line broke right at the hook.

Obviously I was somewhat disappointed of course but not totally because I knew I had apparently just hooked my first Grass Carp with a rod and reel. I replaced the hook, doubling the fishing knot used to tie the hook to my line, baited it with the other half of the cherry tomato and gave it another toss. After about ten minutes or so I noticed the line moving an inch or so every few seconds. Then again it began to be slowly dragged away. Again, with a large tug on the rod, I had set the hook in what was apparently another big one. This time I won the battle and took a photo to properly document the event. I’m guessing the little critter weighed in at around 15 pounds.

Lakewood Lake No.3 - Grass Carp(Grass Carp Caught in Lake #3 in Lakewood – Click to Enlarge)

As soon as I took the photo and released the carp, I packed my gear and headed back to the house. No need to sit there and catch them all. My mission was to accomplish the goal of catching my first Grass Carp on a rod and reel and it was done! Now I knew all it took was a itsy bitsy little red cherry tomato. Who would have guessed?

I will have to relate more of my adventures concerning carp as time permits along with my introduction to the sport of bowfishing.

It’s been a helluva week….

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Having made a decision in the end to keep “The Cyberspace Dawdler” blog active, first and foremost I just want to pass along an apology for my flip-flopping with regard to journals and blogs over the past month or so. This isn’t the first time I have chosen to shut down a blog as can be attested to by folks like Kenju, Betty or Joy. They seem to keep coming back for more punishment. God knows some of us men can be real pains in the ass.

I’m caught between desiring to apologize on the one hand and then on the other hand being embarrassed by the offering of a public apology, giving the impression that I am a self-delusional blogger who has convinced themselves there may be some measure of people out there who give a rat’s ass whether I blog or not!

That’s the jest of it for now! As previously noted in the preceding revised post, I will be moving the majority of my journal posts here over the next week or so.

Hope you stay tuned…..Alan

Elvis & His Hound Dog….

(Originally published September 17, 2009)

Elvis 01a(Typical 1956 Concert Poster)

Several months ago an old classmate of mine who I had become reacquainted with through a class reunion contacted me and asked if I would be interested in having a copy of a CD which had been offered to them by an individual from the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and contained a concert which Elvis Presley had put on here in Little Rock, Arkansas on May 16th of 1956. I would have been fifteen years old at the time and just finishing the ninth grade of junior high school. I immediately responded that I would love to have a copy and several weeks later I received the copy.

The concert was performed at the Robinson Memorial Auditorium which was pretty much the main venue for big name entertainment and stage productions at the time in Little Rock. Although the audio quality was not all that great it was actually better than I expected it to be, given how long ago that was. The recorded broadcast was apparently done by one of Little Rock’s local radio stations. The CD wasn’t all I hoped it would be with regard to content since it actually only had seven songs on it so it was more of a selective excerpt from the concert of some of the music he had performed.

Elvis May 15th Memphisb(Typical Concert Setup for 1956 Concerts)

Although I did not attend this particular concert but boy I wish I had, I was a huge, huge fan of Elvis and remain so to this day. In 1956 Elvis was really just becoming nationally recognized. But after listening to the subject CD’s content there were three things in particular that grabbed my attention. A couple were somewhat humorous while the other shed some historical light on one of Elvis’ more well known hits.

In the opening of the concert I thought it quite humorous that the broadcast commentator, whoever he was, was obviously not all that familiar with Elvis or at least his music since he didn’t know the correct name for Elvis’ first song. Give the excerpt below a listen…..

Heartbreak Hotel – Elvis Presley

I’m sure it was easy to note the broadcaster introduced the song as “Heartbreak Motel” instead of “Heartbreak Hotel”. Obviously I got a pretty good chuckle from that. At the time Heartbreak Hotel had only been out about 10 weeks so it was still relatively new. This was his first national release since signing with RCA in November of 1955.

Obviously his stage presence even then was huge but he seem to have a bit of a hard time with his dialogue and exchanges with the audience. At one point it sounds as if he may have actually burped into the microphone! I’m sure the audience couldn’t have cared less but it is interesting to listen now. Here is an excerpt as he prepares to sing “Blue Suede Shoes”…..

Blue Suede Shoes – Elvis Presley

The final clip is one of a more historical nature, musically speaking. When originally listening to the CD I was immediately struck by the fact that it contained a performance of the song “Hound Dog”. What was odd about it was the fact that “Hound Dog” had not even been released nor recorded at that point in time. “Hound Dog” was subsequently recorded and released by RCA in July of 1956. Needless to say I was quite curious as to how and why a song not yet released had ended up in his repertoire.

After doing a little research I was led to some information regarding Elvis Presley’s first, apparently not very successful, appearance in Las Vegas. He was an “extra added attraction” to another show and appeared in the Venus Room of the New Frontier from April 23 through May 6, 1956. Freddie Bell and the Bellboys was the hot act in town and Elvis went to the Sands at some point to take in their show. Elvis not only enjoyed the show but after hearing their performance of the song “Hound Dog” decided to ask Freddie if he had any objections to him recording his own version. By May 16 Elvis had already added “Hound Dog” to his live performances.

(Obviously what is important with regard to that bit of information is that the Little Rock concert was held on May 16th implying that the Little Rock concert was the first time “Hound Dog” was performed in front of a live audience. It had been just 10 days since his closing in Las Vegas.)

In lieu of this information I found myself extremely curious with regard to who Freddie Bell and the Bellboys were since I personally had never really heard of them up until this revelation with regard to “Hound Dog”. So with little effort – low and behold YouTube would shed light on my curiousity. Below is a video clip Freddy Bell and the Bellboys performing “Giddy Up” which was performed in the movie “Rock Around the Clock”…..

(Freddy Bell & The Bell Boys – Giddy Up)

It was somewhat obvious after seeing this video as to why Elvis may have been so attracted to their act. And some of those moves by Freddy in the video look eerily familiar to some of the moves Elvis use to make. The group apparently did not have any real success in the United States never breaking into the “Top Forty” but did garnish some brief success overseas in Australia, England and France with the song viewed in the video above. I was also curious with regard to the version of “Hound Dog” that they had done that so impressed Elvis. An audio clip of Freddy Bell and the Bellboys performing “Hound Dog” follows…..

Hound Dog – Freddy Bell & The Bell Boys

The audio clip below is the excerpt from the Little Rock concert of that apparent first live performance of “Hound Dog” to include the closing comments of the broadcast commentator as the concert reached it conclusion.

Hound Dog – Elvis Presley

Again I had to chuckle at his vocal mannerisms as he spoke to the audience. Already with the, “Thank you….Thank you very much.” Also a bit humorous was his adding “…and everything.” to almost everything he said. And…..we were all his “friends”. I think most of us may have had a similar irritating vocal mannerism when we were that young. I know I use to drive my parents up the wall by concluding every sentence with “…..you know?”

It was such a treat and pleasure to have grown up with Elvis and been witness to one of our greatest performers. There’s a lot about this old life we endure that really sucks….but Elvis and all that he brought will always remain one of those shining moments that helped make life really good on those bad days.