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  #151  
Old 07-08-2019, 01:22 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Hot Day

It’s Sunday afternoon in the city of Baton Rouge and the temperature is 98 degrees. The relative humidity is only 46%, so it could be worse and often is. Have not been out of the house since Friday, and tomorrow is uncertain. I’m not sick, it’s just that it is pretty easy to be cool inside and besides, I have been going out too many times when I didn’t really feel good enough to play one-pocket, and have embarrassed myself. I need energy to be competitive and I don’t always have it.

AT&T contacted me, wanting to know why I had dropped my TV coverage, and I told them that I had quit watching when I discovered YouTube. Now I have a little inside antenna that makes the local news available when I want it. When I broke the ATT package, I saved about eighty dollars a month, and they responded by letting me know that now I would be limited to 1024 gigabytes a month of high-speed internet service. I thought this might be bad news, so I called customer service and asked what my usual usage has been in the past. 48 gigs a month was the answer to that – big relief. I suppose the heavy load is gaming and music and movies online. In the bedroom I also have a little inside antenna, and like the one out front it offers about ten to twelve channels, which is more than I need. However, I miss my nightly doses of Forensic Files. Instead, I can pick up Alfred Hitchcock, Mannix and Cannon. No wonder it doesn’t cost anything. One night I turned in early and got Jack Benny and then George and Gracie. In the afternoons they offer MASH and Andy Griffith and Gomer Pyle. Hardly any infomercials at all – don’t know why. (Yes, I do)

On YouTube I’m a junkie on the subject of WWII, and the more I watch the more they offer me. There’s no end to it – it really was the first war to be recorded at length and in detail. If you have ever watched any battlefield pictures from the American Civil War you may have noticed that all those dead soldiers seem to have died face-up, or else somebody was busy rolling them over. Not so WWII and other wars since, where we can see them as they fell. We mustn’t forget.

In the same vein, I discovered a series of twenty-minute biographies online, featuring many historical characters of that era, especially in eastern Europe and around the Balkans. The series is called Biographics, and it’s put on by an Englishman named Simon Whistler, who lives now in Belgrade for some reason. He is baldheaded, bearded, fast-talking and animated. (I guess you have to wear a beard of some sort to appear on today’s visual media). I have watched his presentations on Hitler, Stalin, Tito, Churchill and such as those. The series is extensive. Unable to help myself I went on to hear about Billy the Kid, Charley Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and the BTK guy. Simon knows all about everybody and can’t wait to tell us.

If movie stars and other entertainers is your thing you might prefer the offerings of Jerry Skinner, who does biographies more domestic. You have to like Jerry and his deep south accent – not far from the Gulf coast I imagine.

The Morning Advocate this weekend added a couple of names to the list of clerics ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse in the Baton Rouge Diocese. Up to forty-three now and still counting. Nation-wide it’s thousands. I was going to write ‘who knew?’, but the sad truth is that people did know, but wouldn’t tell. That’s pretty sick. Hundreds of millions of church dollars are being spent every year for the victims and their lawyers. Sex is big, kids are small and a lot of people just aren’t worth a shit. Enough about that.

Gonna be a long hot summer, and this is when the coaches discover who really wants to play. LSU should have a good season and a lot is expected from their quarterback. Joe Burrow came south barely a year ago, having seen the handwriting on the wall at Ohio State. He’s cool and smart and he can run a little and we think he will be a winner. But we have to go to Tuscaloosa again – annual bullet to bite. Later -
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  #152  
Old 07-31-2019, 01:59 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Eagles and such

Well, just about everything I have learned this year has come from Google, YouTube and this website. Everybody is watching TV but all the news there is bad, so I stick to my reliable sources. I suppose this puts a bit of pressure on you guys, but it is what it is.

Jeffrey Epstein made some more headlines a few days ago. He was found laid out in his cell in the pokey with some sort of injuries to his neck. Even YouTube doesn’t pretend to know what happened, so take a guess and you might be right. Appears to be too late for anybody to kill him but maybe he tried to do the Dutch – and if not, why not? It must be tough to be as rich as he is and to be even more notable for something else. We haven’t even been told he was kind to animals or anything like that. Nobody – but nobody – is putting in a good word for Epstein. What will they write on his stone?

I’ve been following a website called Stephen Fry in America. Fry is a portly Englishman on a tour of the fifty states and doing some good shows at every stop. He motors around in a little black sedan – I can’t quite make out what it is. He’s a homely character and it’s not easy to watch him because he resembles that idiot, Piers Morgan, but he is likable and casual and finds people happy to talk with him wherever he goes. Today I watched him travel the river, beginning in New Orleans and tracking the Big Muddy all the way to Minnesota, driving mostly US 61 which goes right through my town on its route.

I also watched the young Big Bear eagle take off on his very first flight, on his one hundredth day of life. All the wildlife cams are wonderful – and the eagle cams especially- but the Big Bear group is a favorite. The TV camera is mounted on the very edge of the nest, way the hell up in the top of a big tree. When one of the parents arrives with a fish, it is torn up and eaten within about two feet of the camera. We can see a river down below, and to the eagles it’s always Friday – they have fish every day. Once we saw one of the wildlife guys show up at the nest and put leg bands on both this year’s chicks, for identification. Later he made the climb again and weighed both young birds. He comes on camera with all his climbing gear on, and it must be a helluva workout to reach that nest. You know how them wildlife people are – they do whatever they have to do and they go where the critters are.

There are also cameras on the bears catching salmon in the rivers and the swift water. There are so many fish that you might see a bear catch one and take a bite or two and toss the carcass aside and catch another one. Down in south Florida there is a young guy who hikes far into the Everglades and sets up Browning cameras that are camouflaged and motion activated. He leaves them up for many weeks and then finds dozens of videos recorded with all the wildlife that passes, day or night. It records the sound, also. Big alligators, by the way, don’t crawl around on their bellies. They get up on their legs and walk. Maybe some of you did not know. But you all care, don’t you? The woods and all outdoors in this country are now full of such cameras. It’s not only the government taking pictures today, so dress nice when you go out hunting or fishing and check around before you pee. Don’t forget what you look like when the weather is cold and a picture of it could show up on social media.

I watched a video yesterday of a dark-skinned man in a jewelry store, who did a very kind thing for a young mother who tried to sell her ring to get money to buy food for her young children. Recorded and sponsored by ‘America For Arabs’. I don’t know what to make of that – never heard of that group before.

I mustn’t forget that this is a one-pocket site and not a Dan’l Boone thing. I watched an old video of an interview with Freddie the Beard Bentivegna in Chicago. If you have been around here for more than just a few years you can remember Freddie. He was very active here from the early days of the site. Good interviewer and a good TV show, very funny. Freddie talked about the ‘old days’ of hustling and grifting and gambling and life at Bensinger’s. He explained what it meant to ‘play on ass’ and what a ‘through ticket’ was and also a ‘shit mickey’. He had been there and had done it all, and he left some great stories here for us. He died too soon.

When I sit here at the computer and watch the matches, old or recent, I do a running commentary aloud. It’s not that I comment that much on the play, but I get pretty excited coaching the players. As I look at the table I generally see the very best shot for the occasion and I point it out to the shooter at least once. He might hesitate, but I don’t cut him any slack – I repeat it until he sees the light or shoots something else. They don’t always pay attention as they should and it’s only blind luck if they succeed without my help. It is just as well that there is no one to hear me.

That’s it. I’m going to bed soon – it’s nearly one AM. High time for the rest of you to call it a day, also – except for maybe Jimmy B – he stays up later than I do.
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  #153  
Old 08-10-2019, 09:51 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Gators

Always on the lookout for items that might be of interest to readers who spend less time on YouTube than I do. Sometimes there is a superabundance of such stuff, and sometimes there isn’t much. I have long since quit reminding myself that this site is dedicated to the game of one-pocket. There are other forums here for that. If I have any function here at all it is reporting and commenting and always hoping that I can find funny things, which after all are the only things worth much.

I have recently mentioned a young guy in Florida who hikes deep into the jungle-like Everglades to station trail cameras to collect videos of wildlife. His name is Tim Harrell and his equipment is the Browning Recon Force Extreme trail camera. It comes ready-camouflaged. To be honest, Tim’s posted videos – each about fifteen minutes – can be too repetitive to hold one’s interest. There are endless deer, several bears of various sizes, the occasional panther and plenty of birds and smaller animals. The camera records whenever it sees motion. But yesterday I noted a three-minute record of one of his recent adventures.

Tim films as he walks, no doubt with a camera mounted on his chest. He encountered a sign, posted on a tree, to the effect that he should beware of an alligator bigger than ten feet long which had been observed several times blocking the little dirt road in the sun. Cool weather moves the reptiles who need warmth. Sure enough, on his way out, Tim found the bull gator lying diagonally across the road and blocking both tire tracks. What to do? He had to pass, so he advanced to within about fifteen feet and rapped on the ground with his tripod, hoping the beast would yield. It did not. After venturing even closer a couple of times, the gator still played dead. At last Tim dashed the last six feet and leaped across and ran like hell. Looking back we can all see that the alligator had not even flinched. Tim was exhilarated by the leap, the gator not so much.

He labelled the video ‘alligator jumping’ so you can find it if you wish. It begs the old question – where does an eight-hundred-pound gorilla sleep?

Jeffery Epstein, if not an eight-hundred-pound gorilla at least the elephant in the room, was found dead this morning in his jail cell in New York. Apparently he had committed suicide, method not reported at this time. You will recall that he is awaiting trial on a lot of charges related to under-age girls that he abused sexually and supplied to others for similar crimes. The girls, now adult women, are coming forward in force with damning accusations against him and his death leaves a lot of fascinating possibilities hanging and awaiting resolution.

Epstein, himself, won’t be tried now and cannot be convicted and that in itself is news-worthy, especially for his family. However, although he was the only one charged so far, a number of other notables were named and accused by the girls. A lawyer and Harvard professor, Allen Dershowitz, is one of them and Prince Andrew of the British royal family is another. Both have been denying loudly and squirming visibly for several weeks. What is ahead for them, if anything? Can the justice system overlook possible charges of pedophilia, a felony in any state? Only Epstein is off the hook.

Bill Clinton’s name has come up, naturally, and although he has logged a great many air miles in a flying machine with the children, I’m not aware that any of them has accused him of doing wrong. Donald Trump, in turn, seems to have partied with Epstein back in the day, but being a good Republican we can assume he behaved with great restraint – and they have been estranged now for a good many years. But there are others, foreign notables whose names would not be quite so familiar and whose liability in this country maybe not quite so great.

This tangled mess will be noted in history books before long, and presented in various forms by the various authors of the books. Treachery and espionage could be adjudged greater sins, only in that your country might execute you. Sexual abusers of minor children, on the other hand, might have to do it themselves.
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  #154  
Old 08-31-2019, 12:18 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default YouTube

The U.S. Postal Service thinks I live on Jefferson Highway in Baton Rouge – probably because that’s where they leave all my junk mail – but that’s just where I keep my pool table and my computer – oh, and my bed. Actually, I am living on YouTube, maybe you have noticed. I can’t imagine that I was paying someone good money to provide my TV service. Good riddance. ATT keeps sending me emails with better and better propositions, if only I would come back. What would it take? Well, I might be willing to pay four dollars a month, or maybe as much as four-fifty. Then I could get back to Forensic Files at bedtime.

Here I am, trying to keep up a journal on a one-pocket website even though most of the members here know more about it than I do. That’s pretty cheeky. I have long since posted all my bowling stories and I hate to have to make stuff up (no, I don’t). At the end of the day, as they say in Washington, it is obvious that I should stick pretty much to what I know – which is what? I know how to be old and how to live alone and how to poach eggs and how to do a search on Google. That’s about it.

But I can tell you what I follow on YouTube and save you some time – don’t worry, it’s all great stuff. In case you are into herping (snakes and amphibians) have a look at “NFKherping’, where a sharp young man named Noah Fields and a couple of his buddies are traveling around – often at night – to find these small beasts. Not nerds, either, these guys. They know the scientific names and they take pictures and make videos and leave them all just as they find them. They recently spent several weeks in west Texas and New Mexico, where they turned up some astonishing beautiful and gaudy snakes that look like some kid might have done them with Crayolas. I would never have believed it. Lots and lots of rattlesnakes out there, also. They come in many kinds.

I watch Patrick Bet-David, who does an interview show for TV. Pat gets interesting guests and asks them good questions and that makes him better than the sports guys. There’s Tim Harrell who puts out trail cameras down in the Everglades and lets us see what is prowling the wetlands. There are a number of such cameras mounted high up in the nests of eagles and other birds, and cameras posted along rivers to capture the bears who fish for salmon. I like the shows about organized crime and La Cosa Nostra, and a show called Mob Talk about the guys in South Philadelphia. George Anastasia walks around town reporting about hoods, wire taps, grand juries, crimes, contracts for hits, criminal courts and jails. George posts roughly once a month. Shows about Appalachia are fascinating – one of the oldest wilderness settlements on this side – full of interesting people, poverty, mining, folk stories and music. The kids’ teeth are rotting, and some of the dentists believe that Mountain Dew is the cause. It’s the big drink in that area and many babies are weaned on it. Lots of sugar in Mountain Dew.

I’m a World War II buff of sorts, having watched many videos about the several failures of Adolf Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa that was turned back at Moscow, Stalingrad and the siege of Leningrad that went on for 872 days. Many thousands of German soldiers froze to death in the Russian winters or starved to death and died in battle for the lack of ammunition and winter clothes. The Russians seemed to never run out of soldiers and they spent them like rifle bullets, but they turned the war around, halting the march to the east and starting it back toward Berlin. Never such a bloody war in history.

I will leave it here for tonight and get this posted. There’s a lot more, but it can wait for another time. Today I beat Killer 4-3, and that’s a red-letter day for me. Jojo and I put him up against the wall and made him shoot up in the air. Life is good.

Recently, in a coffee shop, I sat next to a kid who was working on an assignment in his workbook. I could easily see the heading at the top of the page. ‘Calculate your weight in other worlds’. Other worlds? Are they pulling my weenie? Kid looked like he was maybe nine years old. Probably didn’t know the multiplication table. I have lived too long. Later -
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  #155  
Old 09-09-2019, 11:44 PM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default Into the woods

I used to be a woodcarver. At age ten or eleven – this would have been during The War – I acquired an old life preserver. The flotation in it was balsa wood blocks sewed up in the pockets of a canvas vest. I suppose the canvas must have been waterproofed because I have no doubt the balsa would have soaked up water like a sponge. I became the owner of nine or ten sizeable blocks of wood and I had a pocket knife and I carved. Boy, did I carve! Forbidden in the house, I carved in the garage, in the company of two or three milk goats who were good company, indeed. Great animals and much impressed with my work. I don’t recall ever carving a goat.

So I became a great woodcarver? Not. But I did become a fan of those who do it better. Currently, I visit a website called Stinnett Sticks to watch videos of a bearded guy named Michael Stinnett creating beautiful walking sticks. His shop is in Canyon City, Oregon, but the carving is done somewhere else, in the mountains and the woods in beautiful scenery. Along with a fat little fox terrier named Molly he hikes around in the outback carrying a saw and cutting his blanks from downed trees, generally with the bark still on. Imagine this: a walking stick with a diamondback rattlesnake four feet long curled around it and climbing toward a chipmunk at the top. You must begin with a sizeable piece of lumber.

Every scale on the snake would be individually carved and hand painted, or every feather if he is making a bird, and all precisely true to life. I believe they are all for sale, but I imagine you would have to want it pretty bad. Here in south Louisiana competitions are held among the artists who carve duck decoys with similar care and artistry. I envy them all. Solitary labor, like the sign painters. I could do that.

While we are outdoors I would mention the name of Shawn James, whose videos can be found at a site called My Self Reliance. Shawn is in the Canadian Algonquin Park, which is just across Lake Ontario from western New York. I don’t know where he is from, but he sounds like maybe Virginia – he can say ‘aboot the hoose’. He is a writer, photographer, hunting and fishing guide and outdoorsman. I think he teaches survival classes and woodcraft, and has built more than one log cabin. ‘Off the grid’ seems to be a popular topic today – it means living in the woods and perhaps in the mountains. How many of us would love to do that?

Mr. James has a place there in the Park and he just seems to keep building. It’s a log cabin, no doubt about that, but he hauled in dimension lumber to build the roof. He camps out there, but I don’t think he is really roughing it. His cabin has a front porch to catch the sun and a big screened side porch to catch the breeze and see the sunset across a valley. There’s a kitchen inside and another one outside and his oven is in a mound of dirt, maybe like the Indians in Peru, and has an A-frame cover to keep the rain off of it. There’s an outhouse and a shed for the firewood and another for the kindling and another for his tools, etc. He builds everything with hand tools and materials found in the woods and has a three-year-old Golden Retriever named Cali for company. Shawn and Cali can dig in and survive blizzards or whatever might come. If you are a fan of camping or living in the outback you would enjoy seeing what they are doing.

From Baton Rouge I am appalled at the pictures of Minnesota and Michigan in the dead of winter when the snow is up to here and the temperature is down to there, and then I recall that there is a whole ‘nother country north of that and it boggles my mind. I’m told that it gets sort of chilly in Maine and New Hampshire also, but I have never been there. Could be only a rumor. And people live in those places, too. Can’t be all that cold.

I’m certain I have mentioned a guy named Shaun Attwood in this journal. He is a former drug kingpin and distributor of ecstasy in the Phoenix area, and has done some serious time in the American penal system. Weird-looking dude without a hair on his head, but a sharp individual. He is out of jail now, maybe deported back to England, where he does video monologues about life on the inside and the criminals and gangs one can meet there. Recently he has branched out into other subjects and is having a ball with the mess Jeffery Epstein left behind when he died in jail. We are a long way from seeing the end of that, and the media promises that big name people will be held accountable for their conduct – one being Prince Andrew, the Duke of York and the old queen’s second son. The royal family denies the reports of Andy’s frolicking with teenage girls, but Shaun tells us that they are circling the Bentleys in London. Since I gave up woodcarving I like to follow this kind of stuff.

There it is – a journal entry without any one-pocket news, because I don’t know any. I am curious to see how this one is received.
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  #156  
Old Yesterday, 01:17 AM
vapros vapros is online now
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Default A terrible choice

Here is a little story. Not a very entertaining story, but one with a moral of sorts. Some of you may know similar stories.

In about 1965 I had been in the bowling business for six years and was deadly tired of smiling at the public, and I was looking for another way to finance my trips to Food Town. At the age of thirty-three I became a sign painter, or rather that was when I began the long and painful process of learning how. In the beginning I sold my work cheap because it wasn’t very good, but there was a market there in the city of Thibodaux. This was something I could do alone. I built a small shop in my back yard, an adventure I will talk about some other time.

There was only one real sign man in town, a guy who could swing the lettering brushes and I envied his skill. His name was Frank Lusco and he had a one-man shop a block off Canal Boulevard. He was elderly by the time I knew him and he was an old-time sign man. He didn’t do electric or neon, he didn’t do sandblasted signs and he didn’t do changeable-copy signs with individual letters one could move around to change your message – like in front of churches. (Sign broken – message inside) Frank painted and he did it well, but slowly. He was short and chubby and he had a pencil-thin mustache and dark curly hair. I believe he might have been an Italian – did I mention his name was Lusco? He was always busy and always talking about closing the shop and retiring to rest his heart and I hoped he might be willing to help me. But he wasn’t. If I asked a question about signs his answer was that I could figure it out on my own, as he had done. He might talk with me on other topics but my impression was that he wanted to be left alone and that’s what I usually did. But his place was right on my route to the bowling lanes and the big overhead door was usually open unless the weather was bad, and as I passed I could often see what he was working on, and sometimes I would pull over and go and stand in the doorway to watch. I don’t think he liked it but I didn’t care and I didn’t ask questions. He could have closed the door. He was an excitable little guy and it was not wise to set him off. I had learned that early on.

In 1966 a young man with some money paid the NFL a franchise fee of seven and a half million dollars and became the first owner of the New Orleans Saints. I guess he still had some money left, because a couple of years later he bought a Sulphur mine in the swamp near Chacahoula, just southwest of Thibodaux. Bought it from Freeport Sulphur who had closed it down some years earlier. For those not familiar with the area, Chacahoula is on LA 20, between Schriever and Donner. Young John arranged for a grand-opening shindig at the site, with speeches, live music, jambalaya and possibly some beer. His manager had contracted with Mr. Lusco to paint a sign, to be hung at the mine site by the morning of the party. They furnished Frank with a blank on which to paint the sign. The blank was a slab of steel three-eighths of an inch think and nearly as large as a pool table. It weighed a lot and the men had set it up on saw-horses and braced it with diagonal two-by-fours all around. It was to be a double-sided sign featuring young John’s name in large letters with a double outline and a shadow. Other information below.

When I drove by that morning I could see the big sign just inside the overhead door. The name was done very impressively in eighteen-inch letters. I’m sure the other side was the same. I did a double take and crossed the center line of the street and swerved back and nearly hit the ditch in front of the shop. Wide-eyed, I pulled into the Malt ‘N Burger on the corner to consider the mistake I was about to make. After maybe ten minutes of review I left the truck and walked back to the shop and stood in the doorway. Frank swung around to face me. He had a brush in his hand and he was frowning and waving his arms at me.

“Not today, Mr. Bill,” said Frank. “I just finished and some of the paint is still wet and the truck is gonna be here in forty minutes. You just go on about your business!”

I had made my decision while sitting at the Malt ‘N Burger. “Frank,” I told him, “that’s not the way he spells his name.” There on the saw-horses was John Mecom, Jr.’s sign. It read, in large letters, M E A C O M. The little man’s knees buckled and he went pale as a ghost. He turned and hustled across the shop and into the little office. He emerged with a work order in his hand and a stricken look on his face. He charged up to me and pushed hard with both hands to my chest and I stumbled backward and went down on my butt in his driveway. I sat there and watched him tremble. He was near tears and his glare was pure hatred. I got to my feet and dusted myself off and walked back to my truck. I passed the shop again as I was leaving. His back was to the door and he was scrubbing the beautiful display with rags and a solvent of some kind – varsol or lacquer thinner – and already it was a terrible mess. I think he turned his head as I went by but I didn’t let him see me looking in.

I don’t know what else happened that day. No doubt he had a confrontation with the truck driver when he got there, but I had given him an option. He could admit his spelling error or just tell the guy he had not had time to finish it. He could say his house had burned down or his brother had dropped dead or just about anything. It would have all been the same to the truck driver, who probably worked by the hour. Missing a deadline is never good but misspelling the customer’s name is a cardinal sin. If I had it to do over, which I don’t, I would have bought some lunch at the Malt ‘N Burger and gone on to my job at Sugar Lanes. I never went back to try to make amends with Mr. Lusco. And now, more than fifty years later, I’m trying to think of a punch line for my story, but it just won’t come. You will have to make your own.
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