I Gotta Move to Texas

I am standing in Peet’s. Tomorrow is 2012 and I need a kick. Peet’s Coffee & Tea as you know, was Judge Ito’s juice of choice. It’ll do. I like any java. I never complain about the old dishwater I drink in the Navy. In good naval tradition, I have never washed out my mug. Not once. And when I say mug, I’m not talking about my face, but my cup.

Can I just get a normal coffee? I ask the short guy behind the counter. Starbucks has screwed me up with the crazy sizes. Plus all the soy, frappee, latte bs. Fah-get-a-bout-it. Not me. Just give me the dark elixir. Day old? Sure.

What size do you want, the barristo asks.

Um, give me a medium.

No problem. He smiles. Way too widely. And I look at him. And see a cursive tattoo peeking out from his shirt. On his chest. Creepy. I hand him some money. Thanks, he says. He seems really feminine. Which is okay, I’m not at Peet’s to make friends. I just need coffee.

He turns and says something to the man, the helper, behind him. Probably my order. And then he slips me my change. I put the coins into the tip jar. And wait. The man hands the barristo my coffee. Except the helper is not a man, but a woman. Who is about 100 pounds overweight. And has wild spiky hair.

Don’t freak out, alternative readers. I am not being sexist, racist, or gay-ist, I am just observing what is occurring around me.

As I said before, I just want coffee. So I take it and sit down in the corner. And start up my novel. I am running with the words, listening to Vampire Weekend in my ear buds, A-Punk.

The song ends and I hear a mother and her kid talking. Much too loudly, next to me.

We resonant politically, the kid whines. The only reason I hear them is that A-Punk has ended. By his voice, he sounds like a high schooler. A sophomore. We are both very worried about all the terrible things the Tea Party is doing.

I pray, beg for the next song to start and it does.

This is not a political blog, but I can’t help but to think of all the terrible things that the Tea Party is doing. Imagine the Constitution-sized list and then put yourself in my shoes.

I don’t say anything, but between each song, I hum quietly. So I don’t have to hear them.

The kid gets up to leave. I look at him and he smirks at me and I realize he is older than high school. Probably a sophomore. In college. Or maybe a recent grad. I don’t care. I just want peace.

I write and listen. Listen to music and write. I get up to go to the bathroom. Behind the counter are two new employees. One, a normal looking dude. And a skinny, Englishy majory type girl. With long red hair. Dark red.

I glance at the normal dude and he is not as normal as I thought. His eyeballs are lost, baked in genius thought. I may be in the Navy, but I came up in Berkeley and know stoned when I pass it.

I look to the English major. She’s not high and she leans on the counter, pushing up the sleeves to her sweater. God bless her.

I go to the bathroom and return and write some more. I don’t finish my four dollar drink. Suddenly I don’t want to. I’d give anything for some pis black Navy mess coffee. Peet’s sucks.

I pack my bag and step out into the sunlight.

Am I judgmental? No. I just filmed the inside of Peet’s the best I could. Do I dislike any of the folks there? Nope.

I just want out. Of California. I gotta move. To Texas. Someday. When the Navy does not own me. Not that I am complaining.

In forty years, maybe I’ll be one of those old guys muttering to myself as young’uns run through my yard. Damn kids, I’ll say to your great-grandchildren.

Update: The Marine Corps is passionate about their coffee too. I hear a Ka-Bar makes a good stir stick.

Have You Seen Banana-Sam?

Pssst, have you seen this 2 pound fellow, goes by the name Banana-Sam?

Someone broke into an exhibit and stole a monkey from the San Francisco Zoo, the zoo discovered Friday morning.

The one-foot-tall squirrel monkey’s name is “Banana-Sam.” He is 17 years old and weighs about two pounds.

Animals. Stealing monkeys, shame on you. Hang tough, Sam. We will find you, even if we have to send in another Sam. . .

Yosemite Sam to the rescue!

Are we too late?

Friday afternoon, someone claiming to be Banana-Sam started a Twitter account under the user name @SF_BananaSam. The user claims to be an escapee from the zoo and has almost 80 followers as of 2:30 p.m.

“Heading for something called the “Rainforest Cafe,” @SF_BananaSam tweeted. “Sounds promising!”

From Sammy’s Twitter profile:

17-year-old male squirrel monkey. San Francisco Zoo escapee. I like foreign films, crepes, and hurling my dung when provoked.

Damn. Spider-monkeys are prolific tweeters. Endgame. My orangutan, Larry, took over this blog for two weeks last month. Actually, how do you know I am not still Larry?

Two Divorces

Hearts are aflutter in Hollywood and Europe. Two bi-continental marriages have been decommissioned. First up, Russell Brand and Katy Perry. The details:

Branding Russell Brand idiotically stupid for losing his Cali Gurl

British comedian and actor Russell Brand called it quits on his 14-month marriage to “Teenage Dream” singer Katy Perry on Friday, filing for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

Brand, 36, star of the movie “Get Him to the Greek”, and U.S. pop star Perry, 27, met in 2008 and married on October, 2010 in a lavish wedding in India.

The irreverent, former drug addict and the perky Christian-raised singer of international hits like “California Gurls” and “Firework” seemed an unlikely match, but they quickly became one of the most high-profile couples in the entertainment industry.

Kidz, Katy Perry says: read the Mellow Jihadi twice a day!

In recent weeks however, celebrity media reported that their marriage was in trouble.

They spent the Christmas holidays apart, with Brand being photographed in England, and Perry spotted in Hawaii — both without their wedding rings.

“Sadly, Katy and I are ending our marriage. I’ll always adore her and I know we’ll remain friends,” Brand said.

Russell, you crazy idiot. You nevah gonna do bettah den ‘dat. Never.

Gone is your old nick-name Russell “the Love Muscle.” In is your new nick: Russell “Ima Nothin’ But Fussell and Hussell.”

Sinead O’Connor, drug counselor Barry Herridge

Next up to heartbreak city, with a betrothal lasting a whole 16 days, is crazywoman Sinead O’Connor and a drug counselor named Barry Herridge:

Sinead O’Connor has spoken about being handed Class A drugs after taking her new drug-counsellor husband on a marijuana hunt on their wedding night.

The Irish singer says her fourth marriage was in trouble from the start and the wild search on the mean streets of Las Vegas led to their eventual split 16 days later.

The 45-year-old insists she still loves Barry Herridge, 38, but says she ended their relationship on Christmas Eve because of the pain he was in.

Barry, brother, you are a drug counselor and you hook up with this train wreck. How the heck did that happen? You answered her blog entry? Oh noes:

Why is Sinead wearing this shirt after her little SNL episode?

She wrote in September that she was in ‘desperate need of a very sweet, sex-starved man,’ but specified that he ‘must be no younger than 44, must not be named Brian or Nigel, must be blind enough to think I’m gorgeous, has to be employed and he has to like his mother.’

Inundated with thousands of replies, Miss O’Connor selected just one man to go on a date with – her future husband.

Ach, too bad. My name is Brian Nigel NavyOne and I am blind, guess I am outsies. If not for that, I would be lining up (queuing up, in Brit-speak) at her door. What? You say that that garden will lie fallow:

The Nothing Compares 2 U singer says she will never marry again and may not even date anyone.

I’m crushed. . .

The Italian Job II (the Brazilian Job): Some Thrillers Are Hairy, This One Is Hairless!

I like yarns. ‘Cept the definition of yarn I like is stories, not this yarn:

MINI Cooper, Yarn Bombed

I’ll take the above socky creation to the below Orange Mini, created by the Irish fruit company Outspan (Fyffes) in 1972 to advertise their wares:

Outspan had three of these built in 1972, with Mini Parts

Interestingly enough, the new MINI is all-capitalized, while the old Mini is not. The salacious details:

When production of the classic Mini ceased in 2000, BMW (the new owner of the brand) announced the successor to the Mini. The brand name for the new car is MINI (written in capital letters), and it is commonly called the “New Mini”.

Not this Minnie

The new Mini is much larger than the original Mini.

It is around 58 centimeters (23 in) longer, 50 centimetres (20 in) wider, 7 centimeters (2.8 in) higher, and weighs around 1,144 kg (2,522 lb) rather than 650 kg (1,433 lb). It is now classified as compact car rather than city car.

On 3 April 2007, the one millionth Mini rolled out of the Oxford Plant after six years of production, just one month longer than it took the classic Mini to reach the same total in March 1965.

Of course, any whispers on the Mini or the MINI or the mini (not the Minnie) require mention of the movie, the Italian Job:

Charlize Theron in front of a MINI in the Italian Job

Word in Hollywood is that the Brazilian Job, the sequel to the Italian Job, once shelved, may be (possibly) back in motion. I sure hope so, the original was great. Mark Wahlberg appeared optimistic last year:

In 2008, “The Brazilian Job” was rumored to be shelved which has been affirmed by Seth Green’s statement that the project is dead. In a recent interview with Collider, Mark Wahlberg has sounded different opinion about the status of the film, hinting that “The Italian Job” sequel is going to happen.

The Brazilian Job

“The Brazilian Job is now kind of getting active again,” he says. Asked further by Collider if he thinks “Brazilian Job” will make it to theaters, Wahlberg explains, “Yeah, I think if it’s ever going to happen it would be now.

“But, you know, with any other movie that I’ve made there’s been talks of sequels but if we can’t make it any better or as good as the first, we just don’t want to do it. It’s just not worth it.”

It caused me considerable concern when I heard the locale for the new movie. That the plot may focus on another kind of Brazilian, ie: the famous (or infamous) Brazilian Wax. Possible movie trailer tagline: The Brazilian Job: Some Thrillers Are Hairy, This One Is Hairless!

And lastly, there exists a nasty rumor circulating amongst the fey Occupy Wall Street folk-ers that they are going to be pressed into the Italian Job sequel. Except the working title on this one, instead of the Brazilian Job, is Any Job:

Not the Italian Job, Not the Brazilian Job, But Any Job

The 25 Least Influential People Alive

GQ has a list up of the 25 Least Influential People Alive. Once again, I did not make the cut. And while I know most of the folks there: U2, Gwyneth Paltrow, Pitbull (not a Michael Vick pitbull, but Pitbull the singer), Han Solo, President Obama, none of them know me. Does that not make me more less influential?

I could not help but be impressed with the deal Metboy Bobby Bo came up with:

Bobby Bonilla – NY Mets

21. Bobby Bonilla
Bonilla retired in 2001, but in July 2011, the New York Mets began shelling out for a deferred portion of the former slugger’s contract that will pay him $1.2 million annually for the next twenty-five years. See, the Mets originally thought this payout was a shrewd move, because it allowed them to take Bonilla’s deferred money and potentially outearn its value by investing it in a firm run by, you guessed it, Bernie Madoff. And so Bonilla, who is now 48, will earn $30 million over the next three decades, until he turns 72. For doing absolutely nothing.

Berkeley Hooked By Texas

Cal Bears Football: 46th Top Helmet

Okay Cal football fans, I have some news that will make your day.

UC Berkeley’s helmet has been designated as iconic. (Please ignore the snarky undertone about our win-loss struggles):

California has an understated script “Cal” on the sides of the helmet, and the simple, unassuming style is one of the best things about the Bears’ program.

After all, wins have been few and far between as of late, and other Pac-12 schools are much more prominent on the football stage.

The bad news? Ted Tedford and the Cal Bears got pummeled by the Longhorns in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, 21-10:

To Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns, the difference between finishing 8-5 and 7-6 is immense.

David Ash added his name to the list of quarterbacks who’ve caught a touchdown pass in the Holiday Bowl and also threw for a score to lead Texas to a 21-10 victory over California on Wednesday night.

Texas Longhorns Football: 4th Top Helmet

Ash caught a 4-yard pass from wide receiver Jaxon Shipley in the second quarter to join BYU’s Steve Young, Texas A&M’s Bucky Richardson and Oregon’s Harrington as quarterbacks who’ve caught touchdown passes in the Holiday Bowl.

The Longhorns (8-5) were even more impressive on defense, getting five takeaways and sacking Cal’s Zach Maynard six times, both season highs.

To add insult to injury, the Longhorn leatherhead was designated number four all-time best college football helmet.

Jenna Bush flashing the University of Texas Hook ‘Em Horns! 

Whenever I think of the Longhorns, I am always reminded of Jenna Bush flashing the Hook ‘Em Horns hand gesture.

When it occurred, it was interpreted three ways. Texas fans understood its meaning and the hearing deprived thought she was flashing the BS sign:

Texans recognized Jenna’s “Hook ’em horns” hand sign as a show of support for the University of Texas Longhorns. But deaf people who use American Sign Language easily identified the sign for “bull—-.”

And the Norwegians interpreted the gesture as satanic:

When Jenna Bush flashed the Texas Longhorn handsign at a Texas event something got lost in translation. In Norway apparently throwing your right hand up and and raising your pinky and index finger is a Nordic sign for “Hello Satan”.

Norwegian Flag

Although shocked Norweigans were comforted by an explanation of the hand gesture in Norway’s largest newspaper, Verden Gang, many of us here in the United State knew that it was. . .

As a linguist, I always find translations interesting and having three wildly different versions of one gesture is rare.

Next year, Cal fans, in Pasadena. Next year. . .

How Do You Say Que Paso in English?

It is a question pondered by the very best minds and mimes of our generation (which may not be saying a lot.) It is a nagging concern to bloggers in 48 States (apparently Hawaii and Idaho bloggers do not lose sleep over it.) The question remains: how do you say que paso in English? And the answer is: I don’t rightly know.

And yet, I think if you yelled Que Paso in a crowded college library, you would be shushed and directed to read one of the below blogposts. (I speak from personal experience.) So, rather than public embarrassment, why don’t you get busy:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

So now you, too, can answer the question, que paso. Well, que paso?

A Tough and Smart Marine Officer

Lt. Col. Karl Trenker, USMC

Two punks rolled up on Lt. Col. Karl Trenker in Miramar, Florida and shot him during a Craigslist deal gone wrong:

A U.S. Marine officer has told the incredible story of how he survived a street robbery by plugging bullet holes in his body with his fingers.

Lieutenant Colonel Karl Trenker, 29, of Miramar, Florida, was shot three times as he confronted two men who had stolen a gold chain from him.

All that for a gold chain? Punks. Enjoy your time in jail. I hope it is hellish. I am not saying there may be prior Marines in jail waiting for you, but I reminded of what Chesty Puller said: “Take me to the Brig. I want to see the real Marines.” And I hope there are one or two Devil Dogs whistling dixie, wanting to hug it out with you.

As for the Colonel: God bless you, Sir, and have a speedy recovery!

PS: Is it possible to be 29 years-old and a Lieutenant Colonel? Let’s say he graduated college or the Academy at 22, that would be 7 years in. I think the media services have a typo there. 39 years-old seems about right. The youngest Navy O-5 I’ve met (and worked for) was 36 and he was promoted early.

Update from a comment in the Daily Mail article: I know Lt Col Trenker and he’s 48. He’s spent 29 years in the Marine Corps. He’s an incredible man, a hero, and a dang fine Marine to have served with. Sir, so glad you are going to be alright. Oohrah Sir!! 
– Beth, USA, 28/12/2011 05:27


Dwight Schrute: When I was in the 6th grade I was a finalist in our school spelling bee. It was me against Raj Patel. I misspelled, in front of the entire school, the word “failure.”

President Obama and Chinese Sailors in formation

My drill instructor would have been seething angry if we had made faces like that in formation. “Hey crazy,” he would have yelled. “You an alien?”

The title of the article where the picture came from: Ahoy there! President Barack Obama catches the eye of a sailor during China visit

The President, to his credit, is all killer
while the Chinese Sailors appear to be deep in thought:

Guns and More Guns

Steph Hayden, Kris Ford

I am on leave this week from the Navy, minding my own business, over-blogging. Even though I am officially on leave, I can’t flee the area because I have supervisory watch duties that might call me back to base.

As I write this, the television blares the Discovery show Sons of Guns. The usual story: some client brings in a challenging weapon, in this case the Maxim. No, not Maxim Magazine, but the historical Maxim Machine Gun.

Although I suppose the Maxim Machine Gun uses a Maxim Magazine? Hmmmm. On second thought, it is belt-fed. Nevah-mind.

Some elegant monstrosity, huh:

The Maxim Machine Gun, that does not use the Maxim Magazine

A girl comes on, from the blog Girl’s Guide to Guns. Wait, I stop typing. That name sounds familiar! I have a friend who used to blog and she knows (or knew) the ladies over at Girl’s Guide to Guns. I zip over to their website. The site is run by Natalie Foster and Katie Shackelford. Okay. And Jenn Strand also blogs there.

Natalie Foster, from Girl’s Guide to Guns, and Stephanie Hayden of Sons of Guns

So I email my friend, who I would have linked to, but her blog is dead. As in, she has not blogged in almost 7 weeks! And I write her that her blog buddies are on television. I wonder which of the girls from that blog she knows. (Knows is a relative term in the blogoshphere.) No response yet.

The episode continues. Vincent Buckles, Kris Ford, Flem, and the guys finish up the Maxim and mount it to a plane propeller. And then Vince and Steph modify a Glock with special Israeli charging handles to help a customer with multiple sclerosis.

Stephanie Hayden and Kris Ford from Sons of Guns

And later, towards the end of the show we finally learn what Red Jacket means. It is the English translation for Will Hayden’s Choctaw name, Osguma.

I know folks advised me to watch American Guns in my first Sons of Guns post. The former show is about Gunsmoke Guns in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. And I have. I like Rich Wyatt and his wife Renee. And the kids are amusing too, Paige Wyatt and her brother Kurt. As readers mentioned, they are highly professional. More so than Will and the boys. But I like the down-home vibe on Sons of Guns. I can’t help it. I’m a ‘burb-turned-city boy and that backwoods guitar twang, alligator thang gets me every time. The Earth can shake, the sky come down. . .

Kurt, Renee, Paige, and Rich Wyatt

Female Marine: BBC Woman of the Year?

All day long, visitors have been trickling over to the ol’ blog looking for “Kelsey de Santis.” And I wondered: what the heck has the good Corporal done now? She already double-barrel shotgunned Justin Timberlake into going as her date to the Marine Corps Ball. I can’t imagine anything else attracting such attention. Could she have been thrown in the brig? Been deployed?

Nope. Turns out the Corporal has been chosen as one of the dozen Faces of the Year by the BBC. In case you forgot, here is the good Corporal:

Corporal Kelsey de Santis

Whoops, that is not Corporal de. That is:

One of Spain’s richest and flamboyant women, the Duchess of Alba married again at the age of 85 to a civil servant, Alfonso Diez Carabantes, 24 years her junior. The wedding took place at a palace in Seville from which she emerged to dance flamenco. The Duchess is said to be worth more than $4bn.

Take two, without further ado, hailing from the Corps, Marine division, Corporal de Santis:

Corporal Kelsey de Santis

Ach, what the heck is going on with the media department tonight? That is:

Sweetie (Tian Tian), along with her fellow giant panda Sunshine, was welcomed at Edinburgh airport with cheers and bagpipes after the pair’s 11-hour journey from Chengdu in western China. Their arrival is the culmination of five years of lobbying by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the British government. Even the four pilots wore kilts in the pandas’ honour. The pandas are on loan for a decade at a cost of £600,000 per year.

Take three. Weighing in from the Department of the Navy, Marine Corps (olive) branch, Corporal Kelsey de Santis:

Corporal Kelsey de Santis

And the wordy wordage:

A US Marine from Virginia, Corporal Kelsey de Santis, had a dream come true when actor and singer Justin Timberlake accepted her YouTube appeal that he take her to the Marine Corps Ball in Richmond, Virginia. The combat instructor was inspired to invite him after Timberlake had publicly encouraged his friend and Hollywood star Mila Kunis to accept a similar invitation from a serviceman. “It was wonderful, a really good experience,” she said after the event. Although she said there was no goodnight kiss.

No goodnight kiss? What about a goodnight arm-bar? Ach, none of our business. Go read the others. That’s all, folks!

Young Master Chiefs and Baby Ensigns

I recently attended a conference and briefed upwards of a hundred people on my program. There were almost two hundred Sailors in attendance at the start, but I had the very last brief on Friday and a lot of folks skipped out before the end.

No bother. My question is this: when did Master Chiefs get so young-looking? There were a good handful of them present and I tell you they looked positively Ponce de Leon-ish.

As for the couple of Ensigns. They too looked junior. Like just opened-up-your-eyes for the first time young. Like this:

An Ensign or Siku the polar bear, from Skandinavisk Dyrepark in Djursland, Denmark?

Foul Fowl

The Mellow Jihadi

When it comes to birdwatching, I have two things naturally going against me. 1) I love fried chicken. Like LOVE. So it does not bode well for me to spend hours watching the fowl. I just lick my dry lips and try not to think of those three heavenly letters. KFC. KFC. KFC. And 2) I am impatient. I don’t have the time to slip into the murky coldness of a Western bog waiting for the purple-toed, speckle-chested warbler to make her biannual cameo.

So it follows that this news is not news to me. But perhaps you can cull it for your birdwatching target selection:

A rare Asian hooded crane, normally seen only in southeast Asia, China and Japan, apparently “took a wrong turn” and has joined sandhill cranes wintering at the Hiwassee Refuge in southeast Tennessee, bird experts say, drawing flocks of curious birdwatchers along with it.

Rare Asian Hooded Crane

Birdwatchers, no need to thank me. I have my Google Alerts set to pop whenever I see any news on “Cranes” cross the transom.

Of course, I am on the lookout for a Crane of a different feather, notably Frasier Crane. There’s gotta be a reunion sometime, right?

Martin, Niles, and Frasier Crane (John Mahoney, David Hyde Pierce, and Kelsey Grammer)

A Coast Guard Chief Gets the Last Word

Coast Guard Crew Aboard Healy Conduct Flight Ops

Coastie, a retired Coast Guard Chief, related this reminiscence of his time in the service:

“When I retired, I did not want much of a ceremony. I am a low-key kinda fella. But Coast Guard Regulations actually require a retirement ceremony (I looked it up to be sure) so I made an accommodation with my command.

My ceremony was underway, the day before we pulled into my last port. I wanted it as simple as possible. And it was.

The one thing I was sure to avoid was the long retirement speech every veteran has heard too many times. I didn’t know what to say until I recalled the decommissioning of the CGC Morro Bay (WTGB 106). It is a very poignant experience to send a ship to sleep. And I thought it a good source for my retirement speech:

In 1998, I decommissioned the Cutter Morro Bay. During the ceremony, each department head had a script to read when we reported to the Captain.

Mine was: Operations Department reports all rations have been dispensed, the cannons spiked, the navigation lights extinguished and the chronometers allowed to wind down.

WTGB 106 Morro Bay

I don’t have a lot to say here today that would beat that.

My rations are gone; no longer will the Coast Guard feed me. My cannons are spiked; no longer am I a warrior. My nav lights are extinguished; I will go to sea no more. My chronometer has wound down, my time is done. I thank you all.”

Thanks Coastie! I have served in nearly every single job in a retirement ceremony: MC, flag-boy, award-boy, usher, and retirement officer, among others. And that speech strikes me as one of the best I have heard. Just the facts. And then out.

As is usual, I publish military tales as part of the Next Great Military Blogpost project. Send ’em if you got ’em. . .