Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The true story of the pickled foot

Finally, a news story I have some personal experience with: Will hospitals give back an amputated limb if you ask for it?

The article is about a year and a half old, but it somehow showed up on a website I was recently reading. The short answer is: Yes, they will.

How do I know this? Because I was, back in the day, an occasional customer of the prestigious Up Your Glass bar in Corson, S.D. The name of the bar was reflected in the elite crowd who frequented it. It was on my way home from work, had cheap, cold beer and a pretty barmaid, which combined to meet my qualifications for a 5-star joint.

Keep in mind, by "back in the day" I refer to that brief decade or so when I was walking on the wilder side. Now, 22 years without a cold beer, rehashing these stories seems like a lifetime ago and with a different person. But, what the hey, it's a great story.

If you've read the novel, Bags of Rock, you will recall that it begins with a glimpse of this story, as several of my recollections during that time in my life appear in various publications.

So the nut of it is this:

A motorcycling enthusiast, named Snake, owned the bar. He had a long black beard and diabetes. He laid his Harley down on the road one day and ended up having his foot amputated. He did what any of us would do and asked for it back.

I didn't know that (it's not like were BFFs or anything) until I wandered in one Happy Hour and saw a foot inside a pickled egg jar on the shelf behind the bar next to the rumple minze schnapps (of which I have on good authority if you bought the barmaid a shot she'd show you her nipple ring). I asked the barmaid and frequent companion of Snake's if that were indeed a real foot.

She said it was and let me look at the jar close-up. I verified that it was indeed a real foot. And when Snake limped past me on crutches, it added further authenticity to the story.

As the weeks went by and I stopped in on Friday at 5, the foot gradually began to deteriorate. I think they pickled it with vinegar and not with the more effective, but harder to obtain, formaldehyde. So, pro tip, if you're going to pickle your foot, don't do it on the cheap. Because the water had become cloudy. Skin began peeling. The toenails began curling. And the top of the swelling foot that had been sutured began oozing. It was indeed a conversation piece. And not a pretty one.

A couple weeks after it had become a public safety issue, perhaps reaching biohazard status, the jar and the foot disappeared. Just gone. As any enterprising journalist would do, I asked the barmaid: What happened to Snake's foot?

And now is when the story gets gross. Now, you say? Yes, now.

It seems there's a little rougher clientele at 2 a.m. than there was at 5 p.m. when I would stop in. And one of those clientele, a fellow motorcycling enthusiast of Snake's, accepted a challenge. A bet. A double-dog dare. And for 20 bucks, one Andrew Jackson, he said he would take a sip from the pickled foot jar.

As it was replayed to me, the jar was placed on the bar, and the lid unscrewed. The member of the motorcycle gang I won't mention so as to avoid retribution, lifted the jar to his hairy lips. Apparently, the odor was jut too much, and he ... puked all over into the jar. The smell did him in. We're talking one of the baddest, toughest dudes in South Dakota. And it was too much for him.

It was also too much for the bar. Because it's one thing to have a rotting pickled foot in a jar on your shelf, but it's another to have a rotting pickled foot with vomit in a jar on your shelf. It just loses it's allure.

Just goes to show, everybody has their line they won't cross. Sometimes it just takes a while to get there.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Finished: Koontz's 'Forbidden Door'

I've read more Dean Koontz books than from any other author. He's brilliant.

But ...

As for his latest I read in the Jane Hawk series, The Forbidden Door, enough already.

Book 1 was very good. I liked where things were going. Book 2 was promising. Book 3 was bearable. This book, the fourth, was unbearable. This series needs to end.

Supposedly it's a six book series. I'll probably buy the next two, but not sure when I'll read them. I'm invested. Can't quit now.

Basically, throughout these books, it's the same thing. Jane Hawk, former FBI agent, chases bad guys who she blames for her husband's suicide. Then people who work for these bad guys chase her. If they can't find her, they try to find friends and family of hers to kill. Her young son is their favored target.

Jane is very concerned, very worried, always. She chases, kills, gets chased, rescues her son, who she's always leaving behind with other people. Rinse, repeat.

End of this book, she's rescued her son before the bad guys get him. Then she leaves him again. She still hasn't caught the people responsible for her husband's death. It's four books in and she's accomplished nothing!

I wish he'd wrapped things up in three books. That would've freed him up to write some more great stand-alone novels or more Odd Thomas novels.

But, I guess he knows what he's doing. Doesn't mean I have to like it. A 5 of 10 on the Haugenometer. Remarkably to me it has a 4.6 of 5 by the Amazonians, but many of the reviews are scathing. I feel their pain.

Friday, May 17, 2019

One eye is enough

Fit an autobiography into the rotation - Moshe Dayan: Story of My Life. I'm guessing most autobiographies by nature are the "story of my life" but let's not quibble with the book titles of one-eyed war heroes.

Dayan began life as a farmer and ended life as a farmer. He fit a lot of excitement in between:commander of the Jerusalem front in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces during the Suez Crisis, Defense Minster during the Six-Day War, close friend of David Ben-Gurion and Shimon Peres and more.

I've always taken great interest in the history of Israel as a country, particularly its battles, wars, espionage, rescues and general Mossad bad-assery. My brother-in-law is a former Army Ranger who trained with Israeli soldiers and he said they were indeed a cut above. I can't tell you how he actually referred to them because this is a family-friendly blog, damn it.

Dayan either kept journals or had a remarkable memory in recalling events. It would have been beneficial to me, or any reader, to be more familiar with Israeli and Middle East geography as his descriptions often got in the weeds. Maps in the book helped a little, but, really, what guy reads maps?

One thing I noticed is that contrary to his Wikipedia entry, Dayan skipped over the parts about marriage infidelity and family issues. I suppose there might be a thing or two or three-hundred I would leave out of my autobiography, but there was nary the mention of anything negative about him in the book. Nobody would believe me if I wrote an autobiography and skipped over all the bad parts.

Such as:
Another son, novelist Ehud Dayan, who was cut out of his father's will, wrote a book critical of his father months after he died, mocking his military, writing, and political skills, calling him a philanderer, and accusing him of greed. In his book, Ehud accused his father even of making money from his battle with cancer. He also lamented having recited Kaddish for his father "three times too often for a man who never observed half the Ten Commandments".
Thanks, son.

Still, it was a good read. Interesting. Dayan was a very confident fella, which I suppose is what you want in a defense minister and military leader when you are being threatened by all your neighbors.

He had one of my favorite quotes too, might even make it the subhead of this blog. After losing his eye to a sniper attack, he said: "Boys, for all that's worth seeing in this wretched world, one eye is enough."

Ariel Sharon once said about Dayan:
"He would wake up with a hundred ideas. Of them ninety-five were dangerous; three more had to be rejected; the remaining two, however, were brilliant."
Then again, maybe that should be the subhead of this blog.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Halestorm hits, other bands all wet

One thing I miss, at least in the newspapers I read, is concert reviews.

I remember back in the day the Sioux Falls Argus Leader had Ann Grauvogl. She attended and reviewed concerts and plays and really got people worked up with her opinions. She was followed by Bob Keyes. He tilted more toward the rock and roll side and did a great job.

Their reviews gave their opinion, but also the set list, the attendance, what the audience reaction was. I don't know that the Argus does that anymore. I know the Rapid City Journal doesn't. If I can't make a concert, I like to know stuff like that. Was it worth the money? I wish they'd bring those back.

I'm not good at reviews, even books. Though I have an opinion on what I like, I have a hard time verbalizing why I liked something.

Still, I wanted to tell you about the Halestorm concert wifey and I went to Tuesday night at the Civic Center in Rapid City.

The opening band was Beasto Blanco. It's fronted by Chuck Garric and Calico Cooper. He is the longtime bass player for Alice Cooper and she is the daughter of Mr. Cooper. They were what you'd expect from anyone with the Cooper pedigree. Head banging and theatrics, like when Calico pulled the arm off a mannequin (which was on stage for some reason) and proceeded to twirl it around and do sexually suggestive things with it.

While not a big fan of growly head-banging myself, I actually preferred their set to the one that followed, Palaye Royale.

These 20-something-age guys are Canadian, so maybe enough said. They call themselves a "Fashion-Art Rock Band," whatever the heck that is. After watching their set it must mean: Let's jump up and down in skinny jeans and shout the F bomb as often as possible.

For a really funny/scathing review of these Canucks, check out this.
Musically, Palaye Royale are the audio equivalent of those ‘Normal People Scare Me’ t shirts you see so many of around Camden Market. It’s all bouncy, sassy instrumentation that lies somewhere in between early 00s emo power pop and High School Musical, with lyrics about being a kooky outsider, misunderstood by the world. Not a bad thing in its own right, but you have to question a band playing the sincere outcast card while they look like, sound like and sell themselves as the result of a marketing director staring at a mood board full of pictures of My Chemical Romance, Panic At The Disco, Twenty One Pilots and massive piles of money. In actual fact, though, the worst thing about their music is that it’s not even shit enough to be funny. It’s just so cynically put together that it bums me out.
So, finally, with the head-bangers and the nose-pickers out of the way, we got on to the main event, Halestorm, and they made suffering through the opening two acts worthwhile.

They push hard rock just up to the level where if it goes any farther I wouldn't like them. But they don't so I do. A lot. They aren't dark, death metal. You can understand their lyrics, some of them somewhat sexual, double entendre-ish. The way I like em.

Their lead singer is Elizabeth Hale and she just down-right rocks it. How she could speak the next day after the concert is beyond me. She follows in the path of Debbie Harry (Blondie), Joan Jett, Pat Benatar and Lita Ford as kick butt female rockers.

As we walked out of the event, two dudes in front of us referred to her as "a rock Goddess." And I'd agree. She's as talented of a guitar player as anyone who took the stage that night. She's beautiful and personable, had a good front-person's rapport with the crowd.

To me, Lizzy Hale is the type of person feminists should embrace. She's in a male-dominated field, is kicking butt (won a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance, the first time for a band fronted by a female) and seems to be enjoying her career.

Her brother, Arejay Hale, is the drummer, who opened the show with a bombastic solo effort.

They played all the songs I knew, like "Love Bites" and "Do Not Disturbed," but didn't play another one I like, "American Boys." Maybe that's not one of their hits, not sure.

Halestorm put on a professional, high-end show. The one thing that struck me is they left the stage somewhat early in one of those forced encore moments. And I'm not quite sure they're at that encore-band level yet. I was worried for them as the crowd's enthusiasm started to fizzle before they returned to the stage. I told wifey: "They better get back out here before people start leaving." They did and finished strong.

I enjoyed the concert. I'm guessing 1,500 people, but I'm not great at that. I was a little disappointed in the crowd size. Thought there should've been more.

The band was very good, but not great. I didn't walk out in awe or buzzing, like after some concerts. Well worth the $35 ticket though.