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May 25, 2009

Bonfires, joyful chaos and food on sticks

omg%20bowtie%20500fx.jpgHere's Owl Meat's missing Funtastic Thursday Memorial Day post, missing because I managed to publish the wrong one last Thursday. It was worth waiting for. EL

Before I became an urban monk, I had an abundance of pastoral family outings in Pennsylvania.  The photo with little brother Liam was taken at the cottage where we escaped the urban fervor and concrete back yard for family cookouts.  In the lovely dark, deep woods a cookout could escalate into a weekend of bonfires, joyful chaos, and roasting food on sticks.
As a city dweller I was discouraged from experimenting with fire.  Not so in the country.  The elements were our toys.  We were masters of creation and destruction.   I once stepped in melted marshmallows in my new white Keds.  Instead of scraping it off, I decided to be clever.  I put my foot at the edge of the fire and burned the marshmallow off.   Ow, ow ... my foot is on fire!  Keds burn too. To quote David St. Hubbins, "It's such a fine line between stupid and clever." ...

picnic200%20500crfx.jpgIt was the place where I remember my old Irish relatives being hilarious.  My great aunt Ruth on a riding mower ... in full nun's habit. Girl's just gotta have fun.  When I dropped a hot dog in the dirt, my great Uncle Bobby said, "It's okay, Bobby.  You gotta eat a pound of dirt before you die."  Baffling advice. 

It's where I learned the value of punctuation.  Great Aunt Mary once found this note: "Joe in / lock up."  So she went down to the local jail.  It never occurred to her that Uncle Joe was in and she should lock up.
We used to wolf down hot dogs, hamburgers and corn on the cob, then against medical advice, run down to the creek and jump in.  No cramps, no drowning.  Then a neighbor started dumping raw sewage into the water.  After reason failed, it was time for a covert operation.
Under cover of night my father mustered his beery mercenaries, waded to the other side and packed the sewage pipe with concrete, a dry log (it would expand when wet), more concrete, another log, etc.  I sneaked down to the water to watch.   It was a work of art.  The next day my cousin Sean shipped out for Vietnam.  I never saw him again, but I remember his hysterical laughter as he tried to float a tub of concrete across our creek on Memorial Day.
Sometimes a good cookout is much more than just food on sticks.

(Photo courtesy of OMG)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 2:05 PM | | Comments (45)


If you have room for dessert after this little snack check out my final guest post on Midnight Sun. Chain stores in England are advising customers NOT to buy wine on certain days because of the ill effects of the Moon. These are large chain stores, not just some random lunatic.

Plus there's a cool photo of the weaponized wine in space.

David St. Hubbins, huh? But truer words were never spoken.

Good one, Owl. Why haven't we heard about little brother Liam before?

If you click on the picnic photo you might think that I starred in an old TV show due to the consumption of "COLA" brand cola. Or you might think these photos are from a German television program called Die Sparsamen Jungen Verbrecher on Saarländischer Rundfunk Tuesdays at 8:10 PM in 1984,

Think what you will.

David St. Hubbins – legendary guitarist from Spinal Tap.

Marty DiBergi: David St. Hubbins... I must admit I've never heard anybody with that name.
David St. Hubbins: It's an unusual name, well, he was an unusual saint, he's not a very well known saint.
Marty DiBergi: Oh, there actually is, uh... there was a Saint Hubbins?
David St. Hubbins: That's right, yes.
Marty DiBergi: What was he the saint of?
David St. Hubbins: He was the patron saint of quality footwear.

OMG, I assume your cousin was killed in Viet Nam. Post his picture and I'll include him on my annual Memorial Day trip to the Wall. I will need his full name to look up his record and get the location.

Good post for Memorial Day, Owl!

For your cousin Sean, and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, we shall be forever indebted.

I like the juxtaposition of the photos. In the top one Owlie looks like a junior member of the landed aristocracy with his bow tie. In the second photo he is all hoi polloi with his COLA brand cola.

And I've mentioned this before to him, but that COLA doesn't even look like a normal soda can. It looks like a canister of Ajax cleaner. Apparently for a brief period of time the people from Amway made soft drinks.

Der ist guter Kola, Sie barbarisch!

The first photo was during a brief period when I wanted to grow up to be an editor. ;-)

Haben Sie in Deutschland gewohnt?
Wie lange?


So you and McIntyre really are the same person?

drei Jahre, Pilsman

So you and McIntyre really are the same person?

Ha. Does the bowtie make the man or does the man make the bowtie?

... my father mustered his beery mercenaries ... Shouldn't this have been included in the paragraph that began with hot dogs and hamburgers?? (Forgive me, McIntyre, if I have strayed into your territory!)

MD Canon, five minutes in the punalty box for you.

So this is the same maniac OM who gave us "flesh for fantasy" last week? I am dubious. No verbal pyrotechnics. Subdued, reflective, poingant and open. What an amazing change. It's a great piece. The ending leaves us wondering.

If these are really pictures of you then I can see why old Nazis want to buy you drinks.

"The elements were our toys. We were masters of creation and destruction.". Brilliant. That's a beautiful description of how children treat Nature when adults are absent.

I'm looking forward to where this is heading.

This much actual personal history kind of freaks me out.

Yes it's really me andrew. Thanks for your kind words. I'm, always surprised by what people like. I just tossed those lines out there. Sometimes your subconscious writes some good stuff. It makes me sound like a mini-Nietzschian (is that a word?).

Now given my apparent striving for Überkinder status in my Thus Spake Owlathustra phase, it needs to be said that the Nazi reference in andrew's comment refers to a post about an incident in Paraguay years ago that was in a post on Midnight Sun called "The Creepiest Drink Ever:.

I am and always have been against Nazis. B>)

Owl wrote "This much actual personal history kind of freaks me out. "

My college fiction writing prof always said "write what you know."

Owl, it seems everyone's favorite posts of yours are ones that come from what you know. Please keep heading in that direction.

Thanks LJ. That's very sweet.

It's terrifying to use your real life when you write the way that I do. I'm full bore open throttle and exposing yourself is slightly terrifying, but if I've learned anything from the study of Zen Buddhism it's that I'm just not that important. Life is to be shared now. So here I am. Whatever. Now if only I could remember my childhood.

When I met BG I just opened up all the vauilts and laid out all my crap and faults and flaws and problems and she never flinched. She accepted me as is. It was a unique experience in my life. I felt like a thousand puns of guilt and anger and resentment were lifted from me. That really helped me to have faith in people. Without her my writing would be crap. She gave me the faith to believe in myself again.

I;m sorry, what was the question?

If anyone didn't realize it, this IS my writing workshop. Sorry to those that find it distracting. Okay, I'm not really sorry at all. B>)

"puns of guilt" should of course be pounds

Always nice to get a visit from Uncle Scott and Aunt Zelda

It makes me sound like a mini-Nietzschian (is that a word?).

It is now.

Hey Owlie,
I told you this in person last week. Now I'll say ti for everyone else to hear.

What A Beautiful Story!!! (Sorry, EL for the exclaimation points. Sometimes they are neccessary.)

The part with the sewer pipe and the log reminds me of my own summer river story.

I grew up on the Little Magothy River in the 1970's. Every summer we would have cook outs and crab feasts and the grown-ups would consume large amounts of beer (Natty Boh, natch) and Yago Sangria. These soirees would rotate from neighbor to neighbor. They weren't limited to weekends, either.

Every spring my dad would plant half our yard with a veggie garden and it was my great joy to tend it with him. Our garden always supplied the salad makings,eggplants and fresh corn for the nighly get togethers. As an aside: There is nothing like pulling a warm, ripe tomato off the vine, rinse it under the hose and just biting into it, wiping the juice off of my chin with the back of my hand. Then licking my hand.

But I digress...

At one of these neighborhood get togethers one of the men was complaining about a guy across the river who was up every morning before the crack of dawn racing his hydroplane up and down the river. And up and down. And up and down. If you've never heard the sound of a hydroplane motor echoing off the water let me just tell you that it is LOUD!! He said he had gone over to ask the man to wait just til just a little later in the morning to race his boat but to no avail.

Someone (possibly my dad, but I don't know. It sounds like something he would think up.) suggested a lovely, simple solution. It was agreed upon and enacted that very night.

Dad went to our garden and picked a potato about the size of an exhaust pipe. Then, he and the other dads swam across the river to the offending boat. They then inserted the potato into the tail pipe and left it to expand overnight. They swam back and finished enjoying the party.

Now, I'm not entirely certain what happened but I can tell you that there was a loud boom that echoed across the river early the next morning and we were never woken by the sounds of a racing hydroplane again.

Dangerous? Maybe. Irresponsible? Probably. Something that I'll always remember? Definately!

Thanks for bringing yoru story Kim. That's a good one. This country was founded on creative sabotage by water. It fits Memorial Day.

I woke up very early after having some wild dreams which I don't remember. Then I woke up again dreaming of reciting to a group of ancient LIttle Italy woman how I made my marinara sauce.


Earnest Goes Blogging.

Wo wohnten Sie in Deutschland? Ich wohnte drei Jahre in Berlin, zwei Jahre in Wiesbaden, und ein Jahr in Ramstein-Miesenbach (Ortteil Ramstein). Es ist eine lange Weile gewesen als ich in Deutschland war... hoffentlich nicht zu viele falsche Schreibungen...

Actually, the Cola brand cola made me think of the Beer brand beer in Repo Man. "Paging Dr. Benway..."

Ich lebte für eine Weile mit meinen Großeltern in den Eulenbergen, als ich jung war.

Auch in Rheinland-Pfalz, oder? Aber im Norden; ich war Sud.

Eulenbergen--naturlich! Heh.

Ha! Just got the Eulenbergen thing... a little slow today.

I hate people that speak in a language I don't understand; How rude in an English ( excuse me ) speaking country.

LEC, funny story - my dad was stationed in Crete for a couple years. When we first got there (by ferry from Italy), we drove off the boat and my father was furious. The reason? As he sputtered to me: "All the signs are in Greek!"

I always wondered why the STOP signs in Bosnia said STOP instead of whatever stop is in Bosnian. I think I've seen them in other countries too but I usually don't notice something so iconic even though it's out of place.

sean, great story! I can emphathize. Our family traveled to Japan in the 90s and we generally got around just fine, until the night we decided to hunt for sushi in the fish market area of Tokyo. We soon realized that there were no more signs that we could read and we were totally lost in the dark. A very nice man came to our rescue and directed us to afabulous sushi place for our dinner. We still have very fond memories of our dinner at Sushi Sei.

When the conversation goes to another language, here is a very helpful tool:

One of my good friends studied German in college and spent about six years in Switzerland. I have a very rudimentary understanding of the language. Anyway, (just for fun) I started emailing him one day in German using the babelfish as translator. At first he was impressed at my German and asked how I learned it so fast. Then he asked that I stop because the mangled translations were a real pain to read.

Thanks all

I was trying to be facetious. I guess you had to be there.

Owlie, you've done it again - what a lovely story! Keep 'em coming, PLEASE!

LEC, did you know that more people spoke German than English at the time of the American Revolution, and that German nearly became the official language here?

Damned Anglos, always selfishly trying to take things over.

Oh Lissa, do yo really thinnk that things would have turned out better if we all spoke German? That scares the crap out of me.

Fl Rob, I use babelfish all the time to translate all of the comments on my Norwegian friends facebook page. The translations are kind of mangled but for just being nosey, they generally get the point across.

On the up side, if I spoke German, I'd understand and be able to speak Yiddish. On the downside, I guess if we were all speaking German, my ancestors would have been incinerated.


if I spoke German, I'd understand and be able to speak Yiddish


Just what we need, more narishkeit on this blog.

there you go showing me up again, RoCK with your superior knowlege of all things Judaism!

I'm getting fahrklempt. Talk amongst yourselves.

Joyce, I am an honorary Member of the Tribe. Now you better get with it before people start thinking you're a shiksa

RoCK, you're tribe to me!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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