In the interest of better access to Alaska’s hunting and fishing grounds, Mrs. Animal and I have been looking for an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) to get us farther afield, faster. Such are popular and, in some cases, near-indispensable for accessing good Alaska terrain.
Problem is, there isn’t much in the way of used inventory available. So we bit the bullet and ordered a new 2022 Polaris ATV. At least, as I reckon it, buying a new one and taking good care of it should ensure that it will last, well, as long as I’ll need it to. We should have delivery of it in late August, just in time for hunting seasons. Watch this space for narratives!
In 1991, just after we got home from the General Schwarzkopf Traveling Road Show’s Highway of Death Tour, Mrs. Animal and I were able to catch one of America’s most famous concert events when we saw the Grateful Dead at the old Mile High Stadium in Denver.
It was a hell of a show. As I recall we paid $17 for tickets. Carlos Santana opened; he played for 90 minutes. The Grateful Dead, backed up by Bruce Hornsby on keyboards and Branford Marsalis on sax, played for almost six hours. For comparison, I remember reading that same summer Michael Jackson did a show in Las Vegas. Tickets started at $65 and he was actually on stage for less than an hour.
Here, then, from the live album Without a Net, recorded on that same tour, is the 16-minute epic Eyes of the World. It’s probably my favorite Grateful Dead tune. Enjoy.
As I’ve noted (only yesterday in fact), spring comes late to the Great Land. But we share a harbinger of spring with most of the upper tier of the Forty-Eight, that being the return of our robins (Turdus migratorius).
Our robins have only been back for a week or so, and they’ll depart in mid-September, if last year was any gauge. They’re mostly ground-feeders and depart about the time snow starts to fall. We had them in our old digs in Colorado, too, but there they were year-round residents.
Here, they are again the sign of spring that they were in the northeast Iowa hills of my youth. There’s one singing in the top of one of our big birch trees as I write this, and it’s nice to hear him; they have a cheery, pleasant song, and it’s a promise of warm, sunny days ahead.
OK, that’s all I can take this week. I actually do read these, you know.
This Week’s Cultural Edification:
In his eponymous 1980 album, Peter Gabriel had a number of good tunes, but one I’ve always found interesting is the song Games Without Frontiers.
While this song is often described as an ‘anti-war’ song, and it is that, it seems to me to spend more verses poking fun at the whole world of international relations, not only war but also our attempts at diplomacy.
It’s an interesting listen, and the video – well, the video is very Eighties. Here, check it out:
It’s been a busy couple of weeks here at the Casa de Animal, and we’ve got some busy weeks ahead. Snow is still melting, but we’re starting to see patches of actual yard surface. Getting hit by two major winter storms in February left a lot of snow on the ground even for south-central Alaska, and with the snow’s melting comes a lot of spring cleanup.
We’re also tilling up the garden plot and prepping the greenhouse for sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes and whatever else we can grow. Right now, given the current state of national affairs, being as self-sufficient as possible just seems like a good idea.
If possible, True Believers, I suggest you do likewise.
One of my favorite John Wayne movies for a number of reasons (at least one of which should be obvious) is the 1960 film North to Alaska, which also starred Stewart Granger and featured a great performance by Ernie Kovacs as Frankie Cannon, the slimy antagonist of the piece. Check out the trailer:
One of the best bits of this film was the soundtrack, led off by Johnny Horton’s song of the same name, North to Alaska. Here, then, is that song – enjoy!
Normally I would stick this in the “This Week’s Idiots” section, but the recent action of the Washington state legislature and government were so egregiously stupid that I felt the need to comment a little more. What did they do? They banned the word “marijuana.” Why? Because it’s racist, of course. Excerpt:
“The term ‘marijuana’ itself is pejorative and racist,” Washington state Rep. Melanie Morgan claimed last year during testimony on the legislation she sponsored. “As recreational marijuana use became more popular, it was negatively associated with Mexican immigrants.”
Uh huh. Because no white people have ever smoked marijuana. Honestly, this is Richter-scale stupid, right here. You just can’t make this shit up.
One of the most liberty-minded songs in rock & roll history is Charlie Daniel’s 1974 tune Long Haired Country Boy. Consider the refrain:
‘Cause I ain’t askin’ nobody for nothin’, If I can’t get it on my own. If you don’t like the way I’m livin’, You just leave this long haired country boy alone.
Charlie Daniels had a long and distinguished career, bending away from rock and over to country as he aged. He’s probably better known for The Devil Went Down to Georgia and Simple Man, as well as for his amazing work with a fiddle. But Long Haired Country Boy is still my favorite bit of his long discography. Here, then, is that fine old libertarian tune. Enjoy.
For unknown reasons, our pals over at The Daley Gator have been booted off WordPress.com. For now, they have reactivated an older site here. Once they get a new site up and running, we’ll update links on the blogroll and let you all know.
Last week I finally filled a space in the gun safe that’s been empty a while, when I successfully bid on a Savage 24B-DL. This is a neat little combination rifle/shotgun, sporting a .22WMR barrel over a 20 gauge shotgun barrel. Just the thing for casual pokes through the woods for grouse and showshoe hares.
This is an early model of the 24, with nicer wood than the later models, not to mention a more robust frame-mounted selector. I’ve already ordered a wide-angle, low-power scope to go on the rig, to better accommodate my aging optics, although it occurs to me that a peep sight would work well too.
I like the .22WMR over the more common .22LR in this gun, favoring as I do that little extra punch on big snowshoe hares or maybe, now and then, a sleek winter fox or pine marten. I suspect this rig will see a lot of use in the Alaska woods – there’s a reason these old combo guns are very popular in the Great Land.
Some songs have popular covers that are better (well, that I like better) that the originals. Aerosmith did Come Together better than the Beatles, as Joe Cocker did the best version of A Little Help From My Friends.
Another example is Grand Funk Railroad’s version of The Loco-Motion. While “Little Eva” Boyd did it first, in 1962, and did it pretty damn well, I still like Grand Funk Railroad’s 1974 version better. And so, without further ado, here it is. Enjoy.
We’ve had a few new visitors around the bird feeders lately.
First up, a while back some new chickadees started showing up along with our usual chickadees, the black-capped variety. The newcomers, slightly smaller and with brown caps instead of black, are Boreal Chickadees, a type found only in the north. I’d never seen one before moving here, so their late-winter presence has been fun.
The second was a Bohemian Waxwing, another bird of the north, and another I’d never seen before. Back in the Iowa of my youth as well as the Colorado I lived in for so many years, we had Cedar Waxwings as frequent visitors, but this is my first look at the Bohemian Waxwing. I hope they stick around; waxwings are so beautiful that they don’t look quite real.
As I’ve said so often, I like having our birds around. They punctuate our days with song and color, and life is better for their presence. Now then…
OK, that’s enough for this week. I actually do read these, you know.
This Week’s Cultural Edification:
Glen Campbell was a man of rare talent, which I have showcased before in these virtual pages. While he’s best known as a country balladeer, with songs like Wichita Lineman and Southern Nights under his belt, what I find fewer people know about him is his excellent technical guitar work and occasional forays into other genres – like classical music.
Here, from a performance of unknown year but obviously later in his career, is Glen Campbell backed up with a full symphony orchestra, and his take on The William Tell Overture – complete with a bit of commentary on Glen’s youth and the Lone Ranger. Enjoy.
For some time now, I’ve been looking for a compact lever-action carbine in .45 Colt, to go along with my pair of revolvers in that round. Wanting a lightweight, slim piece that’s easily portable while woods-loafing, I’ve been looking at the various 1892 Winchester clones out there. The company that calls itself Winchester nowadays makes one, as does the Brazilian manufacturer Rossi, but both of those are marred with extraneous (and ugly) external safeties. As I have always held that a gun with an external hammer requires no added safety – and in any case, the only safety a shooter can really rely on is the one under his hat – I’ve been looking at the various clones offered by Uberti and Chiappi, which are made with more care to the original plans.
Then I had a chance to look over one of Chiappi’s replicas of the 1860 Spencer carbine, likewise modified to shoot the .45 Colt. It’s a neat little thing, a little different in operation than ‘traditional’ lever guns, as it is fed by a tube magazine in the stock and the side-mounted hammer must be manually cocked for each shot. But it’s a little different and unusual, and being a little different and unusual myself, I kind of like it. So I’m focusing my efforts on those at the moment. Watch this space for more.
The Democrat’s 2022 congressional polls are dire, with numbers as foul as the interior of Eric Swalwell’s Prius on the way home from a chili cook-off at Fang Fang’s condo. And the Democrats refuse to crack a window. They are hotboxing a Republican wave so mighty that even the Republicans can’t screw it up.
I’ve presented this before, probably more than once, but it bears repeating. Hank Williams Jr.’s ACountry Boy Can Survive has always been an elegy for those of us who live the rural lifestyle, and probably always will be. The dazzling urbanites (yes, that’s sarcasm, as well as a Blazing Saddles reference) may not understand it, but they don’t have to, just as I don’t have to understand why anyone would choose to live in the hellholes that our major cities are becoming. But if bad becomes worse, my money’s on rural and small-town folks coming through it better than the urbanites, because as Bocephus puts it:
Because you can’t starve us out, And you can’t make us run, ‘Cause we’re them old boys raised on shotgun.
Late last week, a bunch of airline CEOs and other representatives of the various airlines jumped on the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration to drop the masking requirements, already. They state in part:
“The persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates are the most compelling indicators that our country is well protected against severe disease from COVID-19. Now is the time for the Administration to sunset federal transportation travel restrictions…that are no longer aligned with the realities of the current epidemiological environment.”
To which I can only say, “about damn time.” The whole thing entered well into the theater of the absurd months ago. I’m flying rather less than I did a few years ago, but Mrs. Animal still flies regularly to Denver to take her elderly parents to doctor’s appointments and so forth, so we bought some of these to (technically) meet the stupid face-diaper requirement. We like them a lot – you can still actually breathe through them. If you have to wear a face diaper, wear one that doesn’t really feel like a face diaper.
Salon’s Heather Parton is an idiot. As I’ve said before, I’ll start believing climate change is a crisis when the people who keep telling me climate change is a crisis start acting like climate change is a crisis.
Cyndi Lauper is best known for her Eighties work, with songs like She Bop and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun getting lots of radio play, as well as prime-time feature on MTV back when it was actually Music Television.
But what a lot of people don’t know about her is that, when she wasn’t affecting the scratchy, nasal tone of the aforementioned tunes, she actually has a lovely, earthy, almost Joplin-esque voice. In her 2003 album At Last, we finally go to see what she was capable of, especially when she was paired with an artist like Tony Bennett.
Here, then, from that album, is the title song, At Last. Enjoy also, as a bonus, her duet with Tony Bennett on Making Whoopee.
Gas prices have gotten pretty ridiculous here in the Great Land, as they have almost everywhere. Down in Wasilla they are at about $4.80 as of last weekend, and up here in the Susitna Valley they’re about a dime more. And we’ve got tons of oil, but the Imperial City has slammed the brakes on exploration and extraction.
And, as I noted in yesterday’s post, they’re blaming everyone else – Putin, Trump, pixies, leprechauns, you name it. Diesel for my tractor is running higher still, and I’m not sure why, since 1) it was lower than gasoline as recently as last fall and b) Diesel is easier and faster to refine than gasoline.
We are still a great nation – a nation of workers, of innovators, of risk-takers, a nation of solid people, who happen to have as “civic leaders” the greatest collection of fraudsters, hucksters, mendicants, idiots, harpies and nincompoops ever assembled.
Go figure. If I were religious, I’d say “God help us.” I’m not, so I’ll just say “Holy shit, I hope we survive this.”
I’ve never been a big fan of overtly political music, but Lynryrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama is one song with a kinda-sorta-political message that I do sort of like, mostly because it was written and performed to stick a thumb in Neil Young’s eye. Don’t get me wrong – Neil Young has produced some great tunes, along with a big list of only so-so ones – but I can’t abide his politics, and worse, his bloviating.
Back to Lynyrd Skynyrd. The band has been through a lot of members and the ones that are still playing are mostly getting pretty gray now (there’s a lot of that going around) but they can still put on a show. Here, from a 2015 concert in Florida, is the song in question. Note the Confederate battle flag on Johnny Van Zant’s mike. Enjoy.