Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Glitter and the King

Ok, so last week I didn't post anything.  To be honest, I was too sick to even remember what a blog was. I spent the entire week home in bed. I won't go into detail, but suffice to say that I'm feeling better and am back at work and even took a walk over to the Arcade to mail a Christmas Letter to the Grand Kids.  The closest Post Office is located in the center of the famous Arcade, one of America's oldest covered shopping centers and located right in the heart of Nashville, and there in lies our story for today.  

The pic above was taken as I walked back out of the Arcade,  The place sort of snuck up on me and surprised me. As I've noted in the past, the Arcade is filled with all manner of businesses from shoe shine to a tobacco shop.  Mostly, you'll find quick eateries for the downtown worker to lunch upon.  Deli Sandwiches, Mexican, Eastern and even a nifty little Cupcake place (now closed, unfortunately) have all spent time in the covered spaces, but this is not a restaurant!

It's a bit nondescript, and it took me a moment or two to realize what I was seeing due to the hanging Christmas Decorations.  Take a close look at the sign in that window.  That's right, it's a Wedding Chapel.  The Rhinestone Wedding Chapel, to be exact.  I've always felt that we needed a bit more rhinestone in the business fare in the center of our city and it looks like they got it right.  

Not only that, the second poster is even better.  
ELVIS!!  ELVIS IS DOING WEDDINGS IN DOWNTOWN NASHVILLE!  Did I shout that loud enough?  I expect I did.  My wife and I often joked about getting married by Elvis, but when the time came we opted instead for the county clerk.  I think wearing a pair of gold sunglasses and a white speckled suit may have  been a better idea. Hey, we do have an anniversary coming up.....

Yes, I've deleted the phone number as I'm not about to advertise for someone else, so if you really can't find them, inbox me and I'll put you in touch.  Just remember, I get pics...lots of pics!  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Is it the Death of Southern Ettiquette?

While walking through the city the other day, I happened to get to a door just ahead of a woman who was carrying a couple of big packages.  (Christmas shopping, perhaps?)  As we both encountered the door at the same time, I pulled it open and stepped back to allow her to go first.  She stopped and looked at me. Then she looked at the open door.  She didn't say a word but it was obvious she wasn't used to that.  She looked at me again, while people passed her by and entered the door and after a few more moments she tentatively walked through the door. 

While all the people walked past us, and when she had finally entered the door, I noted that not one of them paused to say "Thank you."  None. Not one.  And this woman with the packages didn't either.  It got me wondering are good manners finally dead?  In our fast paced, internet based, stare at your phone while you try to carry a conversation world, have manners been forgotten?

There is a history of Manners in the South (yes, all caps.)  Southern Gentility and Manners seem to go hand in hand.  In fact, let's ask the unasked question; What are Southern manners? I'm not talking about keeping your elbows off the table or which fork to use, but more about how to treat one another whether you are acquainted or not.  

Southern Manners are, of course, cemented in Christianity.  Nashville is known as the Buckle of the Bible Belt* after all. Manners in general, and Southern Manners specifically are based on the simplicity of the Golden Rule:  "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." 

I've done a bit of research (talked to a few southern friends) and have come up with a sort of Primer for Southern Manners and offer it here as a place for people to learn and perhaps keep the idea of good manners from dying. 

Southern manners are based on 5 basic principles.
  • Be Humble. Others first, yourself last. Self-denial and deference to others ("After you") are the cornerstone of good manners, acting selfish or uppity is not.
  • Be Courteous: Remember the Golden Rule. Go out of your way to be helpful and kind to everyone you encounter.
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Don't be uncouth, rude, brash, loud, coarse, or cause a commotion in public.
  • Be Friendly: Put your best foot forward, whether you've been properly introduced or don't know the person from a hole in the ground.
  • Be Modest:  Practice modesty in all situations. "Why, shucks, I guess I was in the right place at the right time" would work just fine upon learning that you had won the Pulitzer Prize.
By keeping this five pointed approach in your life, you can easily become more well mannered - Dixie Style.  But there's more (of course).
  •  Always remember to say Please and Thank you.  Always ask, never tell. The only way to make a request is to ask for it, directives are much too surly.  Say "Thank you" without fail.   To show them you're really grateful, dress it up with "Thank you kindly," "Thanks a whole lot," "Preciate it". If your request is denied, say "Well, thank you anyway."  Keeping these two in your vocabulary is the very cornerstone of good manners.  
  • Always use "Sir" or "Ma'am."  It's as important as Please and Thank you.
  • Always refer to those of the female gender as Ladies. The descriptive "Woman" is usually reserved in Dixie for females of questionable respect. If you are a gentleman, then treat all ladies with a courtliness, deference, and respect you'd accord members of the royal family since, in the South, ladies occupy such status. This is an immutable rule of order in Dixie, no matter what may be happening elsewhere on this planet.
  • Hold the door open for all members of the fairer sex, regardless of their social station. 
  • Stand when a lady enters or leaves a room.
  • Walk on the street-side of a side-walk, when accompanying a lady.
In the south, being well mannered is not being "Politically Correct."  It stands head and shoulders above such trivial things.  PC, to a Southerner, is merely a way people try to excuse not bringing kids up properly, and not teaching them Good Southern Manners.

*The Bible Belt is an informal term for a region in the south-eastern and south-central United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism is a significant part of the culture and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Duck Tape is Really Just Another Tool

There have been many jokes and stories of how Duct Tape is one of the wonders of the universe (I often refer to it as the Silver Savior.)  Though I'm not here to dispute that (duck tape is too much a part of my life!) there is something about Duck tape that a lot of people don't understand.

Usually jokes about Duck tape fall into two categories. A) Duck Tape doing something it was not meant to do, like tape together a crack in the asphalt, and B) Duck tape being used to make something like a prom dress.  These two simple suggestions not withstanding, Duck tape is mostly used to stick two things together. Duck tape is so much more than that.

There is an axiom that if it doesn't move and it's supposed to, use WD-40; and if it moves and it's not supposed to move, use Duck Tape.  What a lot of people fail to see is the utilitarian mode of Duck Tape: Duck tape as a tool in itself.  So much so, in fact, that we should really call it Tool Tape  or maybe Duck Tool Tape or Duck Tape Tool (I'm digressing, aren't I? Sorry bout that...)

I know I carry around a roll of Duck Tape (yes, always capitalized.  Always!) and I keep a big roll of it in every tool box and near every work area.  Not to tape things up permanently, but as a tool in getting things done.  This is the quintessential use of Duck Tape.  As a temporary bond while you work, an extra pair of hands or just a grip when you need it.

I've used Duck tape in the following 'Duck Tool' ways.
  • You can open a stuck jar with Duck Tape by sticking one end along the edge of the lid and pulling on the other end.  
  • Duck Tape, by its fabric nature and linear tensile strength makes a great temporary carrying handle.  Wrap it around the item to be carried and leave enough to fold together for a handle.
  • And of course, I've used Duck Tape to keep my knee pads in place while I crawl around under the house. 
  • Most recently, I used Duck Tape wrapped around my fingers to keep metal filings from being embedded under my skin while installing drywall screws.  
  • And of course, you can use it for baby sitting, as the above picture demonstrates.  (No, not me, I wouldn't do that to a stuffed Duck!) 
You can still make that new suit out of Duck Tape, and you can still use it to repair some old broken window or decorate your living room with it. That's your decision.  But if you're like me, you strive to the Southern Ideal of the best uses of Duck Tape.

Put some in your tool chest and rely on it often.  Tell everyone that Southern Guy, Marv, explained it all to you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ugly Is as Ugly Does

It's cold out and for some unknown reason, total strangers make odd comments to each other as they get on the bus.  Today a guy sat down next to me and we engaged in the usual "Ooo Wee, ain't it COLD!" before getting out our reading material: His was his phone, mine was my Electronic Reader.

After a few minutes, this guy nudges me as some other guy gets on and he mutters the phrase "Who ever said Ugly goes all the way to the bone was sure right there, amirightbuddy?"  And I glanced up to see a guy I've seen on the bus many times.  He's short, round and very much resembles Danny Divito in his days on 'Taxi.'  He wears a dirty baseball cap and carries a dirty grey canvas zippered bag.  Dirty scuffed work books barely stay on his feet due to the laces being shorter than needed and the tops of the boots open and flapping about.  But with all his dirty hat, bag and even his jeans look well used, he is self effacing, polite and doesn't even smell bad.  

I was struck by the comment made by my unnamed fellow passenger as rather subjective and decide that his comment needs no extra input on my part.  But the more I thought on it, the more it sort of got to me.  Who is HE to be commenting on the looks of anyone, let alone this hard working sole on the bus.

Been a while since I've done a flashback and doing it while some stranger stares me down may seem odd, but let's do it anyway.

Many years ago I worked as a salesman for mobile homes. Not just any  homes, but the Cadillac of Mobile Homes. Very well made, very pricey! On one particular rainy afternoon, we salesmen watched out the front window of our office as a worn out station wagon stopped and jerked its way into the parking lot.  We could make out the dirty face of the driver, the dirty face of the wife and the dirty faces of 3 - no wait, is that 5? kids bouncing around in the back seat.  It was obvious to us that these were people just looking for a way to get out of the house  and let the kids run a bit to wear them out.

We did what any salesman would do: we stood stock still.  

The boss came out of his office and asked pointedly who was going to help the family and we all just sort of shrugged.  He grabbed a handful of umbrellas out of the closet and ran out into the rain throwing epithets of laziness back at us.  We watched as he handed out umbrellas and escorted the family into the most expensive home on the lot.  

In a short while, he returned escorting the family into his office where he made a sale. CASH. He later explained that the father owned a construction company which had just got the bid on a new high school in a small town about an hour away.  He hated to be away from his family so he was buying a mobile home for them to live in during the construction.  The wife home schooled their 5 children and didn't mind the move.  The car was borrowed as his new Mercedes as in the shop for a tune up and her BMW was across town where they would pick it up on the way home. Commission lost, Lesson Learned: never judge a book by its cover, or a person by their worn clothes, boots or dirty canvas bag.  

Coming back to the present, I note that the guy next to me was no real beauty.  He had a big red drinker's nose, a bad comb over and a beard that was more fantasy than reality.  Though he wore a suit, he smelled badly of cigarettes and I'm guessing he hadn't brushed his teeth in a decade. 

I realized he was looking at me expecting some sort of comment about the Divito Look-A-Like who now sat in the back of the bus.  All in all, I just didn't agree with his assessment, but couldn't really say that in so many words. I also didn't want to blatantly insult the guy with a comment on the drinker's nose, comb over etc.  My endeavors to be a true southern gentleman would not allow it.

In my efforts to be the Southern Gentleman, I came up with the best line I could think of.  I put my eyes back on my reader and said rather matter of fact, "We're all ugly to someone, Bubba."  We rode the rest of the way in silence.

Southern Detente, my friends, Southern Detente. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Civil War Reenactments - The Subculture

One cannot live in the South without hearing the almost daily reference to The Great War of Northern Aggression - called the Civil War by Historians and Northerners.  Now, I don't wish to get into a long discussion of the aggression of the north, the way in which it has always been depicted or the color of the uniforms.  (Grey? Seriously?  All the colors of the rainbow and they chose GREY?) 

This week, I'd like to take a few minutes and share with you information about a subculture of individuals (of both north and south) and their love of the war. Well, not really the war, I mean how can someone 'love' a war?  What they love, what they live for is the reenactment of the major (and even some minor) battles of the war itself.  

This is not a bad thing, and I wish to clarify that anything that allows us to learn from history is always a good thing.  The part that amazes me is how these people (women included) go out into the hot, humid and sometimes cold weather and stand around for hours just to reenact one battle which may only take a few minutes to complete.  If it were me? I'd be in an RV watching the entire thing on closed circuit cameras mounted on the roof along with the requisite mosquito cannons pointed in all directions.  (Hate them skeeters, I duz!)  

In addition, I must admit that there are groups of enactors across the country, in the north, and even as far west as Oregon.  Not only THAT, but within the subculture of  "Re-enactors" you have factions or subcategories of enthusiasts, according to their dedication and accuracy in the performance of their roles.   

There are basically three:  
  • Hardcore: This is the true passionate re-enactor who goes out of his way to buy period manufactured hardware or period accurate clothing.  They wear the same clothes, carry what a soldier of that time may have carried and even cut their hair with a rusty sabre while sitting in an old barn. They are careful not to use any modern fabrics or comforts.    It should go without saying that they look with hard 1800's disdain on anyone who is not in this category. 
  • Farbs:  Farbs are, to the best that I can tell, the direct opposite of the Harcore ReEnactor. They try to be authentic, but get outfits made by costume shops, or buy props rather than official period pieces.  They enjoy the hobby but don't get too wrapped up in its authenticity.  (And before you ask, no one really knows where the term FARB originated.) 
  • Mainstream:   Right in the middle are what both sides call 'mainstreamers'.  These are the people who don't fall exactly into either camp.  They may buy authentic clothing, but still keep their prescription lenses, and comfy underwear.  Its sort of based on what is important - to them.  Comfort, and their own level of need trump what is authentic.  
Of course, none of these categories mentions anything about an RV, cameras or mosquito cannons. I don't think anyone is going to let me set my own category, so I guess I will fall into the one category not part of the re-enactment: Spectators.

Yes, make your own category in life. That's the true southern way.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

One Potato Two Potato

I've stated it time and time again, I love the South.  Yes, capitalized all formal like.  There is no real one reason why I love the south, but just the other day I came upon something that not only surprised me and delighted me but again cemented that thought that the South is the place to be.  

There I was walking to work in the early light when I came up on the most interesting display you see above.  I took a picture. Like it was an art installation of some sort. I marveled at its simplicity.  

Take a closer look.  In fact, here, let me blow it up for you.  
Yep, that's right.  Two medium sized baking potatoes laying right there on the sidewalk in downtown NashVegas.  I looked around for the requisite butter and sour cream (without Sour Cream it's hardly Kosher) but, alas, none to be found.  No ketchup for fries, no pan for hash browns - nothing.  Just a couple of Idaho Spuds hanging out in the Art District of Music City.  It was enough to make you smile, and a smile first thing in the morning on the way to work is the best way to start the day.  

Now, I hear what you're thinking.  I'm spooky that way.  How does a couple of spuds falling out of a shopper's shopping bag mean the South is so wonderful.  It's not the great potates, nor the location, but the fact that someone took the time to carefully lay these off to the side where they a) wouldn't be underfoot and thus destroyed by people headed to the day's toiling, and b) possibly be found by the owner who might come looking for them.  

Now, you begin to see why I love the South?  
Is any more proof needed?  I think not.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I Didn't See You There - Dinnertime Edition

As much as this falls into that area of Suthun Camouflage, I'd love to make a little joke about how if I put my blackened chicken sandwich (with requisite fries) on it to eat; that I might lose it because, well, it's camouflaged.  But this time, this is less of a camo design than an homage to camo design.  (Did I use that work right, bubba?)

This is not the typical leaves on the ground camo design we usually find when out and about.  (Saw a guy the other day with two types of camo on at the same time!  I hear ya: If he was camouflaged, how did I see him. Stop that, you're making me digress!) This design is a combination of both leaves & sticks, but also the side of a log cabin.  It's more picturesque than really 'camo.'  Made of high impact polystyrene, they're designed for use at picnics, barbecues or other outdoor events where plastic dinnerware would be required.

I'd really like to have some of these dishes and may actually find them in my house one day but for the moment, I will just enjoy them in the store.  Just another reason to love things found in the south.