Archive for July 2012
I had already seen ’8 Men Out’ but it sort of goes with the Chicago reference
The Cubs ownership let me down this year, and a lot of inertia has to be shifted for me to get behind the Mets (again) as my National League team (I split my AL energies, these last few years, on the Sox–White and Red). Left without a good reason to seek out baseball broadcasts this year and with the weather too shitty to hit the cricket grounds, baseball movies seemed worth a go. I watched Moneyball (you can find your own movie link, this one goes to an article) on the flights home from Germany and found it a nice start to the Baseball Film Festival…based on a former Met from my last time around supporting the club and centered around the A’s (who along with the Tigers were my childhood American League favourites). The hook was set.
Somehow I never got around to Bang The Drum Slowly, although Moriarty and De Niro are a couple of my favourites. It is a bit dated, though not as bad as M*A*S*H; not only a little too sentimental it has a lot of the anti-hero AND baseball clichés you might predict. Still, De Niro’s Georgia accent is outstanding. If you like the movie, read the book (linked above); if you read the book already you might be a bit disappointed with the film.
Batting third was Bull Durham, which somehow eluded me despite my abiding love of minor league ball and the inanity surrounding it. I think I was avoiding anything that required Kevin Costner to work hard at acting, but this wasn’t it and I should have seen it years ago. Quite a pleasant bit of fluff.
Clean-up was Pride of the Yankees, which I’ve seen before and I get annoyed that every time the “luckiest man in the world” speech comes around it isn’t as moving nor as funny as almost every impression of it I have ever heard (and EVERY American over 30-years-old has a version of it, usually vibrating their cheek or larynx with a hand to simulate the Yankee Stadium echo…ask one of ‘em to do Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech, if you don’t believe me, but don’t tell them why).
And pitching, of course was Dock Ellis. If you haven’t heard of him, he threw a perfect game on acid. Robin Williams tells the story well enough in two minutes here, but the better film is this little documentary, online, called Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No (and still it is only 5 minutes). I’ve done some amazing things on psychedelics under all sorts of stresses, but to perform at a top, professional level in any athletic endeavour whilst tripping your ass off is…if I need to explain it, you’ll never understand.
Short list of other good Baseball Movies worth a look:
‘Eight Men Out,’ John Sayles on the Black Sox Scandal
’61*,’ an epic journey to break one of the great records
‘Damn Yankees,’ ’cause whatever Lola wants…
‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ for the World Series scene in the day room
‘Ken Burns’ Baseball,’ as the ultimate documentary on the subject
and, the one that got away: ‘Cobb,’ because Tommy Lee Jones as The Georgia Peach has got to be worth a look.
Rumour has it the Marlborough Arms is haunted by multiple ghosts. I can’t vouch for that but the price of a pint of lager is scary enough to keep me from returning. They’ll never rid themselves of spirits with tariffs like this.
Down a side street from the Talbot I spotted a pub sign and felt I should investigate; I found a friendly house known as the Oddfellows Arms tucked into the line of Cotswold block terraced houses. It is a Hook Norton venue, as well, and I settled into a quiet pint of Hooky and a several weeks old copy of the magazine from the Independent Sunday edition.
The front is deceptively small and there is a fairly large enclosed garden area I spied on a walk around the space. Fourth pub on this run and third in the last half mile, I decided to get in one more (only after at least one more mile, though) and headed on to explore the neighbourhood a little more.
Not far from the Waggon and Horses, I encountered The Talbot which looked like what it is, a roadside inn with a bar. The sign showed that there were no vacancies, but these bookings must have been phone- or internet-sourced as it would be hard to imagine anyone walking in and deciding this messy hovel with the angry staff was the sort of place to sleep, even with your clothes still on.
I was sweaty from the last few miles and headed toward one of the outdoor chairs scattered around the indoors and the barman said, “don’t sit on those in your state;” of course, he was right–the moist warmth of my shirt would have been a prime breeding ground for whatever fungus or bacterium they were propagating on the upholstery. I stood near the dead bar and drank in silence.
Leaving the Drillmans Arms lubricated and rested, I turned up the White Way and headed up the hill only to have a builder (taking a beer break with his dog) point out that it is too hot for running; I stopped and said I was only going as far as the next pub and he said that it would be in North Cerney (about 4 miles away). ”I don’t want to go that far, what about this way?” He gave me some directions to, first, the Drillman’s, which I told him had just closed, and then a couple of others, but since I wanted a couple of miles before stopping I made a loop that took me out onto a limited access dual carriageway. Eventually, though, I found my way back to the Waggon and Horses.
The bartender was wrapped up in her puzzle and no one else was around, which seemed strange. The place has quite a reputation for its Thai food so I thought at least one lingering (or malingering) customer would still be there. Oh, well, I decided to Keep Calm and Carry On (by ordering a pint by that name).
Flipping through some photo books of Cirencester during the 1930′s and 40′s, the soundtrack bled through and I realised they had three CD’s alternating treating me to Howling Wolf, the Squeeze album out a couple of years ago, and an album of 50′s honky-tonk music by women singers. Very nice.
Just inside Stratton on the Gloucester Road from Cirencester, the Drillman’s Arms is a small local you might mistake for a machine shop if you weren’t looking for a pub as you passed. Fortunately, I was running to Cirencester and was definitely looking for a pint having just been disappointed by the Plough’s hours. ”We’re closing,” I was informed as I entered.
“But, it’s very hot out and I am so thirsty.” She served me and I dispatched the brown ale not-quite-hastily but would have loved to linger over the papers in this cool little block house. Another time, I suppose.
I’ve been reading Joyce lately. The route everyone else took, and should have taken, is at this link: http://bit.ly/MZW35I
There should be a link to the route the so-called ‘Hashers’ followed on the Oxford HHH site
Gispert’s Birthday, OH3 Trail #701, The ‘Odyssey’ Version
It was a typical hash: Dippy and I were lost on trail within the first 200 meters out of the start
. Atypically, we had a woman with us, our ingénue Stiff Upper Clit. Not wanting to scare off yet another one, I opted to start the Not-Trail drinking with HALF pints at the Black Swan
a move that exposed us to ridicule from the regulars who, I dare say, probably have experience exposing themselves to strangers as well. S.U.C. syphoned down her ice-cold IPA and declared, ‘You two drink like little girls,” then sped off toward the Fir Tree
Some comment had just been made about Dippy’s backyard now being open
Arriving, winded, sometime after her she had already decided the beer she would demolish next. Dippy, on the other hand, could not focus on the beer list due either to his obsession with the Lore of the Pickled Egg or to the lack of oxygen (at birth, not on the inter-pub dash). Pints in, at last we retired to a table full of builders from Leeds; one told us of a colleague of theirs that shoved an 8 inch nail through his own foot “because we dared him,” but we were unable to recruit them to bring along this natural hash talent. We left toward the Rusty Bicycle…
…alas, Chester Street emerged and as it was a downhill slope to the Chester Arms
we were compelled to follow Nature’s Lines of Potential. Unfortunately, potential energy was not converted to chemical energy in the form of ale as the house was closed. Drat. Unable to count on the Isis or our senses of direction to get us there we plodded on to the Bicycle while still vainly seeking signs of trail.
We found none but a helpful chap chain-smoking in front of the Glad He Ate Her Spore Anti-Social Club
(that’s what my notes say, anyway) stopped us before we could enter this Members Only venue possibly to some foul end. ”If you’re runners, you shouldn’t be drinking,” this portrait of health and well-being pointed out.
mmmmmm…beer (James Street Tavern)
Dejection lasted the time it took for us to reach the Magdalene
where the tempo of service gave us time to reflect on where we might eventually find trail once more; in fact, the service was so swift that I only had time to jot down most of the notes here thus far and to recite pi to 4000 decimal places…it has improved a lot since my last visit. And, the sausage rolls are to die for. Watching Stiffy slide one of these past her lips is thirsty work indeed, but we still had to find trail.
Fortunately for us, the trail we could not find (nor were even sure existed, any longer) did not deter us from finally reaching the Rusty Bicycle
for some overdue refreshment. However, we encountered the grumpiest foreigner in the Isles at the table that we piled onto. Unwilling to share his paper, he seemed unusually tense as Dippy leaned precariously over to read the celebrity gossip. I made a list of probably future hash names from the headlines (the Sun is good for that) then went over to surreptitiously eavesdrop on the stories of chainsaw wielding amazons the elves at the other end of the table were giggling about. It seemed too much for our level headed muse and upon draining our vessels (grow up, you know what that means) we loped off toward the most probable location of the On-Inn.
Who left this bag full of condoms, must belong to Pink Pussy.
The bureaucratic duties of the circle were at an end and it seemed almost as if the assembled pack had actually run a trail but, battle-scarred as we were, we heard none of the adventures one might normally expect from one of Warm and Fluffy’s endeavours; nor, indeed, did we have time to relate how much we enjoyed the trail or even to make a proper start on the On-Inn Ale
we were handed before–injustice and oppression–we and a No Name (did I mention I made a list?) were hauled before the tribunal and forced to drink ceremonially for, what, I cannot be certain.
Circle is a solemn occasion
“Where’s your sign?” I asked while awaiting my pint.
“On the wall.” ”Blast, have they stolen it again?” ”Here’s a sign for you.” ”You found your way in here without one, didn’t you?” came four of the rapid fire remarks from along the bar. There were others. I do love a bar full of bored tossers waiting to mouth off at a stranger. I’ll try to have an even stupider question for them next time.
On the way to the bus after, this begged to place hold for the missing signage:
While looking for another bar, the Graze appeared less like a restaurant than either of the Golden Cross or the Fleece and yet it holds the most directly restaurant-like remit of the three. Still as clean, bright and sterile within as you might expect for a modern restaurant, the prices don’t take the piss and as a Bath Ales house I was able to enjoy a Gem with a couple of locals heading out of town. The building exterior is fantastic, though, and reflects its proximity to the marvelous Church of St John the Baptist (which you really ought to go have a wander within before starting your own Cirencester pub crawl…details therein are better than the mosaics at the Corinium Museum and free, to boot).
I ordered a Wainwright as the suited businessman arrived at the bar in the Fleece. A charge of £3.80 came with the glass; “that’s a bit dear, isn’t it?” the businessman said as my first sip started…floral hops and light tannic astringence made me smile and reply, “yep, not worth it but not bad.” He ordered one and some pork scratchings and was charged £6.50. ”You’re joking,” he frowned. ”Those hogs studied at Oxford, you know,” I tried to help. Fleece, indeed…Fleeced is more like it.
“As the planets form
That golden cross Lord
I’ll see you on
The holy cross roads”
–Strummer and the boys
From the narrow street, the Golden Cross appears to be an ancient house and seems to promise a dark and quirky interior (like the Black Horse, a block away, does). Alas, the interior is thoroughly modern and the focus appears to be dining; but the honky-dread sporting bartendress and the manager had a great rapport and it was entertaining to watch this short woman stretch to reach the pint glasses on an overhead shelf. She had the diction and accent of Zoe Wannamaker and an easy and natural laugh…if she wasn’t young enough to be my granddaughter I might be smitten.
What follows is the original edit of a recruitment letter I posted to my lab members in an effort to bring out some new flesh to the Hash [final version tacked on after the last of the photos--I didn't want to frighten anyone off]. It might interest some of you, as well (or, if elsewhere, find yourself a local hash and give it a go…Google ‘Hash House Harriers’ and your town or city and odds are something will come up):
I’ve taken some stick from fellow members of the Oxford Hash House Harriers for
1) not showing up for trails in awhile, and
2) never bringing any new recruits.
The next Hash (as the weekly events are known) that I will attend is a special one, at 7 pm on 25th July 2012 celebrating the birthday of the founder of hashing, one A. E. I. Gispert. Since the trail (this time) starts from the James Street Tavern in Oxford, it is less likely to involve river crossings, brambles or thick mud (all part of what is collectively known as ‘shiggy’) than trails starting in rural settings, but you can never really be certain. Although rides to-and-from OH3 Starts are easy to beg I usually can’t be asked; this one, however, is only a short jog from the University (map from PTCL, here) so I have no excuse.
Hashers love celebrating special occasions: here are some folks at a Halloween Hash dressed as “Princess Die” and “WTC 9:05 am”
Nor do many of you, and I hope this note will find someone interested in trying out this entertaining, erm, form of exercise…no, that’s not it…uh, social activity…nope…maybe ‘cult’ is the closest thing but a lot less organised than most. Hashing really is an entity unto itself, and no explanation ever really comes to grips with its essence (nor shall the one that follows). It has a humble history, a global reach and more varieties than active chapters (or ‘kennels’).
Hashing involves too much to explain in a short note like this and, as I am recruiting, I will leave out much. Essentially, you meet at the Start and talk bollocks for awhile, circle up for last-minute, pre-run instructions from the person who set the trail for the day (the ‘Hare’), new people will be instructed on how the trail markings work and how the rest of the ‘Pack’ instruct or inquire (on the run) as to whether or not the trail has been found, then you run or walk the trail which can go literally anywhere. After about an hour, you will find the end of the trail (the ‘On-Inn’) where, at OH3 events, there will be food and drink awaiting (at many other hashes, only drink awaits). When all have turned up, the Pack forms the ‘Circle’ and good deeds are rewarded with beverage and song, ill actions are punished with beverage and song, and sometimes beverage and song occur for no really good reason.
Someone might get naked and you might see someone famous
Why would anyone come out? Well, your first time is free (at Oxford, and some others…in fact, rumour has it that at Oxford the small fee isn’t charged the first 3 times), the Circle is a laugh, and no one is really monstrous (except for those that are).
If you find you like Hashing, you will also find that anywhere you go (anywhere: some astronauts are hashers) you won’t be too far from a trail. It is a truly worldwide phenomenon, although the rites and traditions vary greatly from kennel-to-kennel. If you are unfortunate enough to travel somewhere at a time that a trail isn’t happening nearby you can still probably find local hashers that will suggest a good bar and then meet you there (be forewarned, this is not always a good thing, but it will usually make for a good story, nonetheless).
All beliefs are tolerated
I mentioned tradition because of the widely repeated cliché that there are no rules in hashing (except that one, and maybe some others), but Tradition is strictly enforced and wildly celebrated. At no hash are new shoes tolerated (but, they won’t be new after Circle). Some hashes punish athletic clothing or, indeed, any show of athletic prowess. An Oxford H3 Tradition is that odd socks are worn (word to the wise). A new Tradition may be introduced at any moment and be in force for any amount of time deemed necessary by the GM, the Religious Advisor (RA), the Beer Meister, or any of a multitude of other official entities you might encounter.
Alas, these explanations are hopeless. Accurate details sound like wild exaggeration, yet the deeds described are never so wild as an accurate explanation sounds…in fact, most of it is fairly low-key and quietly social although I’ve seen arrests, international incidents [sic, and mea maxima culpa], unexpectedly bad behaviour from otherwise staid individuals and unexpectedly good behaviour from obvious fiends more times than I can count. I have hashed for over eleven years (three of which with Oxford) all over the planet and have made many friends, of sorts, in doing so.
There’s no need to contact me about this, but feel free if you want to. It makes no difference, now. From here on, any details I serve up will be meant to deliberately mislead you (and another word to the wise, don’t follow me on trail because I rarely follow trail anyway and usually miss the On-Inn, although rarely the Circle…a personal Tradition).
There…I have done my part. See you Wednesday. On-on.
My house in Tucson was on the final flight path about a mile from Davis-Monthan AFB. I paint this for the pilots who approached the runway at an altitude about 500ft above this roof.
Not hashing but hash related…the 30 Pack Marathon (the 2012 edition recruiting participants here) and the Great British Beerathon in August.
==========The copy that went out to the research colleagues is below=========
This has nothing to do with work, so is unusual for one of my notes.
Keywords–Free Beer, Exercise, Nothing At All Like Exercise, Beer.
And, more beer. And, rude songs and beer.
Read on, or not…I promised to try and get new folks to try this but don’t really expect anyone to do so:
1) not showing up for trails in awhile, and
2) NEVER bringing any new recruits.
I would try to explain what Hash House Harriers
is, as an organisation, but for the fact that it is so disorganised. It must be experienced, which sometimes takes a couple of visits to realise just what it is about.
The first Hash was started by some Brits in Malaysia in the 1930′s
to ‘get some exercise’ and to ‘sate the subsequent thirst.’ There are literally thousands of chapters worldwide and you can almost always find a trail being run anywhere you go or, failing that, other hashers who want to meet up and show you a bit of the town. There’s no governing body (god forbid) and each Hash has very few things in common with others except for these:
A. Hashing is a very social activity. The local branch meets at a pub immediately before each trail and retires back there immediately after. Variations on this theme are rampant.
B. There is an opportunity to get some exercise (although this is quite easy to avoid by joining the walking group which will do a much shorter but usually no less entertaining trail). Some special events (like the 30-Pack Marathon
) are more rigourous than others, but bunking off in the middle is a time honoured Tradition.
C. You see a bit of the area you might not normally see. For outside-of-Oxford trails, swaths of countryside are involved (including the possibility of fording streams or pushing through brambles or worse). In Tucson
and Las Vegas
you might explore a bit of the storm sewer systems; I have personally set trails that climbed to the top of mountains where I had earlier stashed beer for a mid run break during a full moon that was emerging over a nearby city in the distance. Recent Worldwide InterHashes (meetings of hashers globally) have been held in Thailand, Borneo, and Australia; there is one next year in Kenya and National ones (Nash Hashes) draw just as wide a variety of hashers to sites of natural beauty and high densities of drinking establishments.
D. It is a laugh. At the end of the trail there is always the “Circle,” which for Oxford hashes is preceded by some freshly prepared food and some beverages. At the Circle, crimes against the hash Traditions (there are no Rules, except that one, and maybe a few others) are punished with mockery, a song, and a beverage; praiseworthy acts are rewarded with mockery, a song, and a beverage. You probably don’t know the songs, but may know the tunes; many are (or are based on) old regimental or rugby songs (the Circle is a post Rugby match tradition) and that may give you some idea what to expect.
The Traditions (not Rules) are strictly enforced but many of them are contradictory and capricious so don’t worry too much about it (sort of the Mornington Crescent
school of activities). Some are made up on the spot. Traditions common to all hashes include a prohibition against new shoes (really, follow this one…they shouldn’t even look new). Athletic behaviour is usually noted and punished severely (many Hash kennels–as the individual clubs are known–punish obvious athletic clothing as well). Oxford has a Tradition of wearing odd socks…I don’t think anyone remembers how this started. Every year there is a Red Dress Run sponsored by each kennel. I haven’t seen much nudity at English hashes and none at Oxford (which due to the poorly toned condition of most of us is quite a blessing); if you take up the mantle of ‘hasher’ and go to the States, I can direct you to the ones where the threat of nudity is more (or less, if you prefer) likely to occur.
Oxford also has a Tradition that the first Three visits to the Hash are free (thereafter £3, usually, which is still a bargain for the food and beverage alone). So, poverty is no excuse for new folks (drinks at the pub is on your own tab, though).
If you arrive at or before 7, there will be time for an explanation of the trail markings and what the various shouts mean (mostly ways to determine if someone ahead of you or heading in an odd direction is ‘On Trail’ or ‘Looking’ for signs of trail). Do not follow me, as I am rarely On Trail; something of a personal Tradition is turning most Trails into a mini pub crawl then showing up late at the Circle…I’m not the only one, but I dare not speak for the others.
You needn’t contact me about this, just show up in something that can get muddy and sweaty (or, try it somewhere else if you feel adventurous). The Hashers will be bunched together somewhere in the Tavern and easy to spot (several always show up a little early here, but other kennels are notoriously late). Buy yourself a beer or something and go introduce yourself, or I’ll introduce you when I arrive if I’m not already there. As mentioned, it is a weekly event and you can almost always weasel a ride to and from the Trails when they are in more remote locations.
As they say, On-On,
Within striking distance of Paddington, we ducked into the Sawyer’s Arms for a bit of lunch before our train. The rest at the Tea Clipper helped but as soon as we stopped Jackie seemed ready to collapse; she’d been quite brave (and as I am coming down with The Illness, in good weather and without so much ground to cover I realise just how much of a trooper she had been).
The menu was pretty reasonable and I ordered a sirloin and substituted a salad for the chips and carb-loaded other crap. The Temperanillo they had listed was out but the bartender (and actual Englishwoman–not Australian or Eastern European…English) said that she had a Merlot that would ‘work out to about £12.’ I went with that, wondering what she meant until I got back to the wife who was reading the house newsletter–this was a Greene King, and bottles are the same price as four glasses.
The fact that it was a Greene King was nerve-wracking, though. Typically, the steaks will be tough and fatty and poorly cooked and the salads wilted and unimaginative. Some of the GK houses, like this one, do their own menu and have cooks that know what they are doing; my steak melted (save for a small bit of gristle) and was cooked just rare enough to satisfy my savage palate. The salad I had included a Shropshire blue cheese (orange curd surrounding the blue mould) that was nearly at room temperature and fragrant enough to whiff through the cider-honey-mustard dressing; the greens were alternately bitter and sweet, but crisp to the end. Very nice.
Jackie was quite ill when we left for London Sunday morning but bravely faced the fever and congestion to see Paul Simon. By Monday morning, she was a complete wreck and the prospect of trudging through the downpours to explore Brompton Cemetery was a no go. We opted, instead, to kill the hours before our train at a museum; we arrived at the Science and Natural History Museums concurrent with a convoy of school buses, however, so we ducked into the safety of the Victoria and Albert, instead. There were a number of things that had been closed our last couple of visits but after about an hour she could not go on. We headed toward Paddington with plans to stop as necessary.
Our first break came at the Tea Clipper, a nice old pub down a side street across from Harrods. I ordered a pint for me and a large red wine for J,and the Russian bartender poured my Hook Norton and then asked which red wine in particular. “The operative word was, ‘LARGE,’ but let’s go with the Merlot.” Catching up to her, she nodded toward the bar; “Moose and Squirrel?” she asked. “Yup.” “I thought so.”
[Note to the non-Americans that currently make up 90% of the readers: look up Bullwinkle J. Moose, Rocket J. Squirrel, Boris Badenoff, and Natasha Fatale if you need an explanation of the "Moose and Squirrel" reference...Brits might substitute, "Compare the Meerkat Dot Com. Simples."]
The Greek place we had planned on for lunch was closed so we popped into the Leinster Arms for the Sunday Roast, succulent and filling albeit a bit tough. Our room at the City Park Hotel wouldn’t be ready for another two hours so after the lunch we walked along Bayswater and through some of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens then doubled back for some Bloody Marys at the Leinster. In that brief walk between lunch and our return for dessert the place had filled to capacity and we were lucky to find a seat outside.
The front tables were good for people watching, though. There were a number of bodyguard types hanging around, polishing a few vehicles, then escorting their charges (mostly Dubai families) to the vehicles and speeding off. It is a fairly posh neighbourhood and the brief conversational snippets we picked up from the English passersby were almost always in that clenched jaw mumble of the Upper Middle Class.
The bar clientele, on the other hand, ranged from a station below the residents to damn near poor so it was a comfortable observation post. Most of the other drinkers appeared destined for the music fest (and, in fact it was here that we decided to use our sign language shorthand for mocking the other festival goers).
A friend of mine is in China on business and forwarded these tempting menu items:
I think this one has been on a Red Light District menu in Amsterdam:
Population control when you have 1.2 billion people:
[Thanks, Mike...good luck with the diet.]
Paul is that tiny speck at the far end of the stage
Swore I wouldn’t go to another festival after going to the 2009 Hard Rock Calling to see Neil Young, mostly because of the immense crowds and lousy sound but partly because of Seasick Steve. Then I went to a big music festival in Holland to see Bruce Springsteen and paid dearly with the huge crowds and Seasick Steve’s performance of precisely the same material as three years earlier (right down to the faux folksy patter, faux-ksy, for short). And so it came to pass that I went to see Paul Simon, Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the 2012 Hard Rock Calling this past weekend.
Their opening act was Alison Krauss who may be a decent performer but can go get fucked for all I care. About 10-12 years ago at the Dahlonega Bluegrass Festival she was the headline act but the fest included Ralph Stanley, Jim and Jesse, and — better than anything — Bill Monroe all of whom have boots she is not fit to lick. So, while these legends performed their asses off during the shows then stayed up through the night jamming with impromptu clutches around the campsites, she hid out in her touring trailer with a 50 foot perimeter guarded by State Troopers, complained that Bill Monroe’s show went on too long before hers, then had her Storm Troopers set up a security area in front of the stage (at a bluegrass festival) before she was brought on for a short and shrill set. At Hyde Park, we went to another stage to watch Big Country instead.
(Let me say that I owned a Big Country album but let a girlfriend keep it because it really wasn’t worth arguing about when there were actually GOOD records in the pile. Let me also say that the band aged well and do a pretty good live performance, considering. Sorry about letting that record go, in retrospect; not too much but some of the ones I do still have from that time are dogs.)
So we were left wondering, as we noted that so many people left the Big Country tent early what was going on and how fucking rude everyone was being…later, after we realised we missed Kodachrome due to the empty space left by a really short and apparently unworthy of comment Alison Krauss set that prompted Paul Simon’s 3+ hour set to start early, we also noted that far too many of the folks there at this bloated venue were so hermetically attached to their electronic devices that hundreds of tests and tweets must have reached the exodising Big Country fans that the Graceland concert was starting that they were compelled to march Morlock-like to the muted mainstage area.
There are many music and other reviews of this fantastic sound scape, like this one and this. But, in the interim we came up with some new, we hope, international sign language…I have really poor and deteriorating hearing due to years in bars and nightclubs, an explosion incident during a carpenter apprenticeship on the MARTA construction sites I worked long ago, and many years in labs supported by noisy vacuüm equipment: as a result, conversation in loud situations is impossible.
Wellies have become fashion, unless you might wander into this mud puddle. The guy probably isn’t a narc; I’m just old and that’s what I would have thought, years ago.
So, things we want to point out to one another to have a laugh require a bit of shorthand. For instance, if we want to point out stupid footwear (usually, but not always, unusually high heels on otherwise inappropriate shoes) we do the walking fingertips using the pinky to point along the line of sight:
If some one is too old and/or fat to manage a shirt they are displayed in we pull a cheek (originally both cheeks but efficiency rules):
And, bald guys with a ponytail get one of these:
Or new one is the sign for “too drunk to be out in public.” You can do it by crossing your palms in front of your face but it has already morphed into the one-hand version with crossed fingers in front of your nose and the pinky pointing at the offender. The cross is the Cross of Saint George, the vertical/horizontal bits of the Union flag representing England and the English. Get it?
A few doors down the hill from the Angel, I spotted some chubby chicks in a romantic embrace (although it might only have been wrestling were it not for the tongue action). This seemed worth a quick visit and I ordered a Carling then promptly (as I had been to four other venues this trip and at one I had a Black Dragon) forgot to document the 121st in the 100 Beer Challenge as I was confronted and confounded by the sausage fest. Dudes, everywhere.
The house was big and tidy (spotless), and painted brightly. The guys seemed rapt with their quiet conversations with one another, showing no evidence of being lured in by the girl-on-girl action at the door…one even appeared to be wearing designer jeans, ironed. Sometimes you’re right and mistaken all at once.
I missed my bus but the Angel was just across from the Bear. However, it seems to take the ‘hotel’ remit a bit more seriously and caters, on first glance, to a somewhat more upscale clientele. It seemed by design that I didn’t feel comfortable at the bar that went ghostly silent after I ordered, so I drank up and drifted off. Looks like a nice place to stay, though.
I got a Fosters at the Bear Hotel because the place was right next to a bus stop. As classy inside as that endorsement would lead you to think, it was also empty (the warmth of the bartender obviously too spare to reel in the custom). I retired to the enclosed yard to chat with the middle-aged ladies out having a few before a night shift at a local factory.
The yard is about 15 feet on edge and is open to the skies but only accessible from the hotel. There are some sturdy rings in the wall that indicate this was some sort of hitching area in centuries past, but they probably serve the fetish community well enough, these days. I assume.