Support Your Police! Uncle Ben’s Tips for Dummy Thugs

There are many kinds of thugs in this world. You might remember The Beagle Boys who were cartoon thugs. They were always trying to steal Scrooge McDuck’s fortune. Now that is an understandable kind of thuggery because there is monetary gain in stealing (sometimes) but, today, there is a breed of thugs in this confusing world who have no idea why they are thugs. Because today’s thugs are so uncertain of their purpose in life, it is imperative we support our police forces just as much as possible to protect ourselves from the sheer stupidity of the youth of today who have decided to follow the thug’s life.

The Famous Beagle Boys

The Famous Beagle Boys

I feel compelled to ask you to speak to as many educators as possible in an effort to convince them we probably should stick to “Common Core” and any other whacko system our far left educators have come up with to educate our youth because their systems are not working.

It’s good the system isn’t working because the kids are getting dumber and dumber, but fret not, oh teachers of the stony heads. You are unwittingly keeping us safe from the very same dumb-downed kids you think you are educating.

Saggy Pants do not a scholar make.

Saggy Pants do not a scholar make.

What little brain he has is in the seat of those drawers.

What little brain he has is in the seat of those drawers.

You keep teaching what ever it is you think you have been teaching  because if these guys (mostly guys) get any smarter we will have done the policemen all across this great country a terrible disservice. I will do my best to help out by listing a few basic rules for dummy thugs so the police can catch a break on having to continually lock them up because of their idiocy. My helpful hints include about ten or twelve golden rules that should still keep us safe but maybe give the police a break from having to lock up every dumbass walking the street after midnight.

So here goes folks – Benjamin Swilley’s Tips For Dummy Thugs:

1 – Do not text and drive in ditches, on sidewalks or medians at the same time. You are not      invisible.

2 – Do not smoke dope, drink alcohol (especially if you are underage) and drive a car with      no insurance, with no tag lights, with no tag, with no tail lights, with headlights off and no      driver’s license or with a fake driver’s license. You are not invisible.

3 – Do not stand on other people’s cars if you have your pockets full of Xanax and no              prescription. You are not invisible.

4 – Do not strike a police officer and then turn and run straight into a tree. You are not              invisible…… but, to tell the truth, the tree probably did not see you coming.

5 – Do not urinate in a downtown Athens alley if you have warrant out for your arrest. You        are not invisible.

6 – Do not go to sleep on the commode in the Waffle House if you have an outstanding            warrant for your arrest. You were very visible when the manager had to unlock the door      so the police could haul your dumbass to jail.

7 – Do not call the police to come to your house because of a disturbance if you have a            warrant for your arrest sitting downtown just waiting on you.

8 – Don’t try to run from the police when you’re in a stolen car and you choose to go down      a dead end street. You are not invisible. In other words…..THEY SAWWWWW YOU!!!!

9 – Do not do push-ups in the Varsity parking lot while you are roaring drunk and you have      warrants out for your arrest. You are not invisible.

10 – Do not drink booze from a flask in downtown Athens if you are a 20 year old gal who          is too drunk to drop the flask back into your pocketbook before the policeman sees            you drop it on the ground. This time you were really, really visible.

11 – If you are homeless, do not raise hell with people who are giving you a place                        to stay and then they have to call the police and then the police find you have                      outstanding warrants for your arrest and then – do not tell them you have no place to          stay because they know that is not quite true because the police know a place where        you can spend the night. You have gone way beyond being visible.

12 – If you are exalted members of the bar do not think you and your fellow barrister are so        highly educated you can do no wrong so you decide to kick back in your downtown            Athens office and fire up a joint with a lady friend. The policemen walking the beat may        not have such finely polished and filigreed diplomas as you guys but these two had            excellent olfactory systems and they followed their trusty noses right to your office.            You were only temporarily invisible before the fine sniffers of the lawmen ferreted out          the wrongdoers.


This fine little book has become a rarity in the world of readers. Few have read it. I think Amazon will sell you one if there are any left. Just try for more misinformation.

This fine little book has become a rarity in the world of readers. Few have read it. I think Amazon will sell you one if there are any left. Just try for more misinformation.








Malcolm Mitchell – “The Magician’s Hat.”

11953168_410297495845025_6278741926024803135_nThis is how Malcolm Mitchell became my hero and it was not at a football game.

It is UGA football time and I don’t think nearly enough people have heard of Malcolm Mitchell’s impressive move from being one of college football’s premier wide receivers to being the author of a children’s book. It is a lateral move that generally has no parallel in the world of jocks.

UGA’s Mitchell has suffered past injuries that have kept him from being fully active on the football field. In a thought process that is far from average for young athletes today Mitchell apparently began to wonder what his mission in life would be if he could no longer play football. During his musings over his future he must have seriously realized how precious a college education was going to be for him if he couldn’t earn a living as a football player. It was at this same time he worried over the fact he was not exactly your average speed reader. In fact, he knew he was not such a hot reader at all.

You’ve really got to admire a young guy who sees his future as clearly as Malcolm Mitchell saw his. He made a trip down to the Barnes and Nobles Bookstore. While searching for material he thought he could read and understand, he saw a woman customer choosing several books. Mitchell made a wide receiver’s quick decision to catch this woman and to ask her advice about reading material for himself.

He approached this lady, asked her a few questions and before you could say Malcolm Mitchell is in a book club, Malcolm Mitchell was in a book club. He found he was the only guy in the club, the only black person in the club and he was the youngest person in the club.

After joining the club and he beginning to master the reading part of the reading and writing equation his next play was to go for the long ball. That’s right, he wrote his own book. His childrens’ book, “The Magician’s Hat” can be found on any respectable website that sells books. Get your copy now.

This is a short sweet message about how Malcolm Mitchell discovered all those other worlds in all those books but it is basically the same story we all lived. We knew not much at all until we began to seriously read. All we know and have learned we learned mostly from reading. Thankfully we were taught to read by caring people and, by the right flip of the coin, Malcolm Mitchell chose a book club made up of older white women who undoubtedly gave him many helpful hints on reading and writing.

And so, my fellow Americans, all we really need to do is to get back to the basics of education for our young people; the school kids who keep floundering as they approach each new level of education they hope to attain.

All we need to do is find that Magician’s Hat that Malcolm Mitchell found. There is a magic wand in that hat with a four letter word stamped on it…..READ.


I’ll bet you can tell this came from The Athens Banner-Herald newspaper.



Day Two – Camp Kay – Ken Ken and Mary John – Athens 2015

Aunt Kay took us in a neat little shop called Entourage. We decided to buy just earrings while we were there. Uncle Ben said the loop earrings were so big they looked like the kind monkeys used to swing on at the circus.

IMG_2764Then we went into town and we parked behind the Tate Center at UGA so we could visit the book store. We were surprised and delighted to see a large football type person we thought we knew from South Georgia. He came out of the Student Center and got in a van. We backtracked a few steps so we could catch up with him and say hello and tell him we were from Albany. By the time we got to the van he was already entering the side door and he spun around in surprise and gave us a totally blank look before we could even speak. Then the door took one of those embarrassing, unceremonious slides and clicked shut before we ever got a chance to say a word. The van drove off while we were still standing on our tongues. I was in a state of shock but once we got in the book store we realized how goofy we must have looked and we laughed and laughed and laughed.

IMG_2768Once we got used to the book store we tried as many ways as possible to find expensive things that had Bulldogs and UGA emblazoned all over them. We had a great time looking at all the good stuff you can spend a fortune on to prove you are a die hard Bulldawg lover. Then Aunt Kay made us put it all back on the shelf because, as she             IMG_2771

said, “We cannot give your fathers ulcerative colitis because you want to buy all the red and black paraphernalia in Athens, Georgia.

We went to The Off Broadway Show Warehouse. We tried onIMG_2773   over 200 pairs of shoes in 45 minutes. A nice young guy waited on us there. I was a little bit confused by him because when we first went in the store he looked like he had a head full of light brown hair but when we left I noticed there seemed to be places on his head that were bald. Maybe I missed something that happened while we were trying on shoes.

Last night we went out the Atlanta Highway to The Olive Garden. Mary John’s sister Marli met us there and so did Paul Swilley. Paul has a full beard that is three or four colors. He looks like he’s a lot older with that beard. We had a pretty good time. We had a waiter who speaks   IMG_2784IMG_2782English with a heavy Italian accent. Uncle Ben speaks English in three or four pidgin dialects that sound like a shepherd’s frantic plea when a wolf is attacking the sheep and the cattle are all dying….all at the same time. It was a Mexican standoff….I think. Uncle Ben says he won. Paul tried to referee but Uncle Ben sometimes gets excited and he wouldn’t let anybody else talk…including the waiter.

The waiter was a good salesman and he was trying to add side order after side order to Ben’s Seafood Alfredo. The waiter was going, “Dada,dada,dada,dada,” and Uncle Ben was going, “Nada,nada,nada,nada,nada.” Anyhow Uncle Ben says he won because he only had a few mushrooms added to his dish when he finally got it.

At last we got back to the house and Uncle Ben found peace in an easy chair where we probably should have filmed a historical first….a man who can snore from his mouth, nose and ears…..all at the same time.                                                        IMG_2776


Probably, maybe, and quite possibly if you click on the picture above it will automatically shoot you straight to and they can tell you how you can purchase this fine little, clean little, amusing little book for a mere pittance. That would be the picture of the lovely older woman in the beautiful blue shawl and you will magically find a way to buy this book so I will have more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches next year. If I don’t live that long I will get my wife to mail the peanut butter and jelly directly to you.


Return to Camp Kay – Ken Ken and Mary John – Athens July, 2015

Aunt Kay says to tell you she does have a few chairs around the house but we didn’t look like we had been using chairs. She thinks that is because They taught us at DW you can’t fall off the floor.

To my Mama –  Kim Cooper Brooks.

We blew into town on Monday afternoon in my beautiful white Ford Escape. Uncle Ben said Escape was a good name for the car because we looked like escapees he has seen in the past right before they are captured and returned to prison. He also said the little sign on the back of the car that reads “Ego-Boost” was appropriate for us because we looked like we could stand some ego boosting. I almost didn’t have heart to tell the old blind rascal that the little tag reads “EcoBoost.”

He said he was glad we didn’t roar into town in a Ferrari because he felt sure you and Daddy and Mary John’s folks would want us to be safe and well protected where ever we go and that might be tough for him because he gave away all his baseball bats years ago. He says baseball bats are best for knee-capping eager teenaged rebels who want to hang out around your door when pretty young girls are visiting. What does “Knee-Capping” mean?

Aunt Kay is taking us shopping this afternoon. I forget the name of the place but I think it is a French word for “Let’s see how much we can get in American dollars from these crazy women who obviously like to adorn themselves in baubles, bangles, bracelets, rings and other useless junk straight from China. Uncle Ben says that’s no real problem because girls usually bring home inanimate objects that are fairly harmless. boys bring home snakes and frogs and things that will either bite you or scare the hell out of you.


Uncle Ben says we are camera conscious lens hogs. The minute the camera came out we both turned and gave it a big winning smile.

Tonight we are going into town to eat at the Olive Garden. We chose the Olive Garden because Aunt Kay has a fist full of gift cards for the Olive Garden and Uncle Ben says he loves a woman who eats sensibly. He says he will clean up for the occasion but I heard him tell Aunt Kay he was tired so he was just going to shave the right side of his face. Then he’s going to sit to everybody’s left. If photos are taken his best side will be to the camera.

We are going to have our cameras ready tonight because Aunt Kay says she can use some good photos of him with just half his face shaved to show the judge when she’s having him committed. What does “Committed” mean? will actually sell you one of these totally self-immersible books. That means you can really get into it. It is not waterproof.



The Athens Polar Bear Plungefest – Where Were You?

These young women would have you believe they are happy. I personally believe freezing off important and much needed body parts is not truly a pursuit of happiness.

Polar Bear Plunge 2

He is either screaming in pain because he is losing fingers, toes and other digits (like his nose) to the cold or he is praying to the good Lord for relief from his pain. Either way the boy is hurting.








Athens, Georgia holds a high place of honor among those communities that continually organize fund raisers for charity and so many needy causes. Hardly a day goes by that Athens people are not engaged in efforts to help those who are less fortunate than those of us who are the more lucky ones.

This past Saturday about 150 of these wonderful people went out to Lake Chapman at Sandy Creek Park and there, in all stages of dress and undress, they leaped into frigid waters and raised over $10,000.00 for charity.

I have always admired people who have so much energy and who express a wonderful depth of altruistic feeling for their fellow man.

I tried to get Katie Mae to go out there with me so I could show support for these wonderful volunteers but like me Katie Mae is a creature of comfort.

I explained the Plungefest folks offer you three varying degrees of participation when plunging, or maybe, not exactly plunging, into the freezing water.

You can take the big plunge by yourself by jumping all the way in.  You can plunge in with a group if you are a great “Misery loves company,” believer. I preferred the Benjamin P. and Katie Mae Swilley method of contributing. It is called the, “Chicken Dip.” You just dip a toe in and that’s it.

Katie Mae told me to forget it (chicken dip or not) and if I didn’t forget it she would help me forget it. She said she would rather spend the rest of her life in prison for killing me rather than go out there and slip even one tiny pinkie in that cold water.

So, you see, Polar Bear Plungers, I tried my best to join you and offer my support to you but since life is still beautiful and I enjoy breathing so much I did not argue with her. I went out on the back deck and tipped my hat to you brave, noble gals and guys.

Believe me, I made it a quick tip.

It was cold on that deck.

Polar Bear on ice floe

This is the real deal. You don’t see any brave souls out there with this bad boy because playing in freezing cold water may only be harmful to you for a while, playing with Polar Bears is non-habit forming and the results are permanently damaging to you….all over.

Polar Bear Plunge

This is the only picture that is of the group in Athens and I stole it from The Athens Banner-Herald. These are really good people although the activity in which they are participating in no way speaks to their general sanity.







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The Camp Kay Soap Making Class Failure report.


Now you have got to admit that is a pretty large hole in the bar of soap. The photographs are the same bar of soap. I had a frightful scare when I thought the soap had attacked me.

Soap 3

This is the same bar of soap. There is little question you could drive a Mack Truck through the hole in this soap.





In every great success story there is always a failure or two and Camp Kay is no exception. It has now been over six months since Camp Kay last convened. I want you to understand that I am using the word ‘convene’ rather loosely because we convene at our convenience. Each day we convene sometime between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM.

I’m bringing this up because I am beginning to suspect that our lax system of rules (generally speaking – the time we convene) may have contributed greatly to my present consternation over the poor quality of a good deal of the soap we made.

The soap I kept was made for me, myself, personally. It was made from twelve years accumulation of old soap I kept in a plastic Double Bubble, bubble gum pail. That’s another problem I seem to be having. My soap all smells like Double Bubble. I smell like Double Bubble, bubble gum and yesterday a four year old munchkin in Wal-Mart tried to bite a chunk out of my calf. I’m talking about a piece of my leg. Little American kids have really well developed teeth by the age of four.

All we did was melt the soap down and pour it into molds I made. For molds I used those plastic drawers you see in small hardware containers that have compartments where tinkerers and putterers keep their bolts, nuts, washers, loose screws and most of their addled brains.

My only problem was I had to make partitions in the drawers so I could have six ounce bars of soap instead of one pound bars which are more of a challenge to to take a bath with as you might guess. Did you ever drop a one pound bar of soap on your toes?

We poured the soap in the makeshift molds and I began to press the soap firmly into each compartment. I used a fairly small hors d’oeuvre knife to press the soap as hard as possible into the form.

After I did a couple I could tell Ken-Ken wanted my job so I let her do it because I was afraid she would fall asleep on her feet and topple over into a hot tub of soap. This was a big mistake on my part because Ken-Ken apparently fell asleep anyhow and she did not firmly press the soap into the molds. She left big air bubbles all in the soap, only you couldn’t tell it because the finished bars looked solid.

How do I know this? Well, yesterday I was using one of those bars of soap in the shower and my finger slipped into a big hole in the soap and then my finger came all the way through the soap and stabbed me in the eye. Note the photographs. I didn’t know what happened. I couldn’t see. I thought Norman Bates had jumped me in the shower and was trying to stab me in my eyes.

I started yelling and thrashing around and almost tore down the shower stall before Katie Mae came in the bathroom and told me to shut up. She never asks anymore if I have a problem. I’m afraid to confide too much in her because she’s tried to have me committed to a facility for the mentally unwell a couple of times already.

Later on I tried to explain why the soap attacked me and why I was yelling. I mentioned if Ken-Ken had pressed the melted soap more firmly into my wonderfully created molds I would not have such holy soap.

Katie Mae gives me a really disgusted look and said, “You are such an idiot. Ken-Ken did not help you finish that soap. You finished it by pushing the soap down with your fingers and do you want to know why you had air bubbles in the soap that YOU made?”

I don’t think I looked sheepish because I don’t know how to do that but I gamely stuck my head face-down under my arm and said, “Why?”

She said, ” Because you stopped using the hors d’oeuvre knife and you started using your bare fingers and your right hand has an exceptionally short finger on it ever since that bull dog bit it off back in 1976. That short finger left air pockets in all your soap.”

Well anyhow, I’m sorry if I accused you unjustly Ken-Ken but I still think if you had stayed awake longer you could have brought it to my attention that one finger is still much shorter than the others.

Red and Black Soap

Now this is more like it. This is the glycerine soap we made in red and black for UGA lovers. As you can see we thought using molds shaped like tiny purses and shoes (including flip flops) was clever.

Kensley and Caesar Dawgustus

This is Ken-Ken posing with Caesar Dawgustus in Athens. When Ken-Ken comes to Camp Kay in Athens she always gets to meet the best of the dogs.

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Granny Brooks Comes to Athens.

Arches 1

Granny Grace Brooks captures Athens and declares her victory over the great Bulldog Nation by posing beneath the famous Arches on Broad Street.

Cup Dawg 1

Granny Grace and the famous Java Bulldog. Notice the flower blossom centers are coffee cups.










This story is about a visit to our house by Katie Mae’s Mother, Grace Alligood Brooks who will be 92 on April 2. It is dedicated to my friends Anne Watson O’Conner and Carol Watson Miller in memory of their own dear Mother, Connie Smith Watson, who passed away just a year ago on April 10, 2013. She was 91. Their Mother and my Mother were good friends. My Mother, Rozelle Pitts Swilley, died October 16, 2006 at the age of 93. The common but golden thread woven through the lives of these three remarkable women has to be their longevity and the opportunity provided by that longevity to imbue in their children a great love of life, a keen ability for loving friends unconditionally and a heartfelt and closely held culture of caring. Needless to say the women mentioned here are all great heroes to me.

Great-Great Grandmother Granny Grace Brooks came to see us in Athens and I think we enjoyed being with her more than we ever have in the almost forty years Katie Mae and I have been married. Probably because, for once, we had her all to ourselves.

She will soon be 92 and it has only been six months since she and her middle daughter were able to gather up her granddaughter, great-granddaughter and great-great granddaughter for an all-girl five generation photograph. It was a beautiful picture and they all looked marvelous.

So Granny Brooks came to stay and at almost 92 she reminds me so much of my own sweet Mother. Each of them so often have had the same puzzled look during conversation because neither could hear and both too vain to allow the purchase of a hearing aid. They would not even talk about it (and certainly wouldn’t hear of it).

The same quizzical look is also there when you can see the lights in Granny Brooks eyes flicker with a flash of an old memory too quickly come and gone to be fully grasped and recognized for what it is or was.

Both Mama Ro (my Mother) and Granny Brooks repeated over and over the same comments about how lovely the trees are and how much prettier they will be when Spring returns. The same things were said about the birds and then the absence of the birds and then they would much enjoy the arrival of more birds as they twisted and turned and spiraled abstract paths around the house only to disappear again in an instant.

Katie Mae and I drove Granny around Athens to take her picture with some of the many big and brightly painted fiberglass replicas of Uga the Georgia Bulldog mascot. I dropped them off downtown so Katie Mae could get a picture of Granny under the famous UGA Arches.

Back at the house Granny Brooks most often sat near a back window and peered down some twelve or fifteen feet into the back yard where she could watch birds and squirrels making their living. Mama Ro would do the same from our rear window in the Statesboro house.

A feral cat is raising her children in the woods behind this house in Athens and Granny Brooks stares intently as the cat hunts the wooded area and then circles back on a regular basis to check on her young. Granny is intrigued by the cat’s actions and movements. I wonder if her fascination with the cat is because it cannot be acting any more protectively than Granny has acted for all her many years when it comes to tending her own brood.

Watching the mother cat can only make me think of the incredible sacrifice she and so many women like her made for us. We are the children of the greatest gals who ever lived. Women who were born and raised from the 1910’s through the 1930’s lived through the most despairing and hopeless times that ever existed for modern man.

Fresh off a depression that created a dearth of available necessities and foodstuffs, America was thrown headlong into a World War that created a crippling, rationing of food, supplies, gas and oil and any commodity you can name.

And that’s the same time many of us were born and raised. It’s unbelievable how well fed and clothed most of us were as we grew older. Our Mothers knew how to save seed from one year’s harvest in order to have seed to plant for the next year’s crops. Our mothers could cook huge meals from the scantiest stocked cupboards imaginable. They could sew with such dexterity that the finished product looked store bought.

Our Mothers made sure we were fed first and foremost and I sometimes feel a trifle guilty when I cannot remember ever missing a meal.

With those thoughts in mind, I questioned Granny Brooks about her own childhood and the hardships she lived through growing up on a hardscrabble farm in Mitchell County, Georgia in the late 1920’s and 30’s. It is an enduring story for people who care but, sadly, a story  that people tend to forget. It would do us all well to remember these women and what they had to live through and what they did for us.

Our son Paul took Katie Mae’s iPad and filmed Granny Grace telling some of her story. I suspect that film will become a family treasure.

This is a woefully inadequate tribute to these fine women. We should never pass up on an opportunity to remember how much we owe them and how much we love them. Thank you Grace Alligood Brooks, Connie Smith Watson and Rozelle Pitts Swilley for all the deprivation you endured so we would not be deprived.

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USA Dawg 2

Granny Grace with the Captain America Bulldog. He is the most patriotic bulldog in America.


Of a Christmas Past and a Charlie Brown New Year

North End of Mantle

The rocking horse has a music box which plays “Toyland” and as it plays the horse’s head and tail rise and fall while the clown on its back raises and lowers his legs. There must be something about riding a horse that tickles a clown’s bottom.

As we approach our 40th anniversary we gain a modicum of intelligence about how to pack away all this Christmas joy and paraphernalia. We are leaving the age of cardboard boxes behind us.

I was dispatched to Wal-Mart or any place that has plastic storage containers for sale. Somehow I do not feel alone.

AT Wal-Mart the brightly colored containers are everywhere. Not only Wal-Mart but Lowes and Home Depot have them and I think I even saw some street vendors carrying the things around on their backs.

So I drag the containers home and Katie Mae faithfully packs all the little Christmas people away for another year. Christmas is over and packing up all the participants gives me a sad, melancholy feeling not helped one bit by our hearing the last strains of “Toyland” from the little rocking horse that has carried that silly clown on his back for over 30 Christmases.

As I carry the containers to the basement, I can still hear the music box struggling to release a note or two but finally it is done and finished and the lights go off in the basement storage room.

And in a flash (it seems) the New Year is upon us. The holidays and all that food have done nothing to diminish my alacrity, adeptness and superior skill at surfing the channels. I hit a brick wall when I reach a channel showing, “Happy New Year, Charlie Brown.” I’ve got to stop and watch Charlie and his assortment of weird friends. I’m a kid again.

I’ve started watching close to the end of the film but I can see Peppermint Patty is in an ice skating competition and she’s out on the big rink. Snoopy is providing music with a tape player (circa 1980) when all the tape suddenly turns into a huge can of worms (or so it seems) and poor Snoopy is keyless or clueless or tone deaf or anyhow, he ain’t got no music for the Peppermint Patty skating routine.

Patty is breaking into enough sweating, hot flashes (just her cheeks) and scared to death looks that I’m afraid the ice is going to melt. This is a desperate, desperate moment. Did I say this is a desperate moment?

But wouldn’t you know it, our main man, the incomparable canary of unlimited talents flies a couple of neat tight-looped back flips and lands solidly on his little bird legs right in front of Snoopy’s microphone.

He pursed his tiny lips for a whistle. I know. You didn’t know canaries had lips but they do. Chickens do too.

Anyhow, he pursed his little lips until they were about the size of a rhino’s mouth and you never heard such beautiful music even during the long Christmas celebration.

And just what was he whistling? “O mio babbino caro” (“Oh My Beloved Father”), an aria from a Puccini opera. I didn’t happen to know that. I had to Google it. I’m not sure how Woodstock knew about it.

Woodstock saved the day and Peppermint Patty skated on into glory and greatness. I think if a tiny canary can save the day in such a big way we can achieve anything we try (almost).

Charlie Brown and Woodstock have given me a great start to my New Year. You should have seen that canary blow. “The Voice,” “The X Factor” and “American Idol” combined cannot equal Woodstock’s ability to enliven an hour, an evening or a whole brand New Year.

I just Googled it again. This time I am listening to Maria Callas sing the aria. From now on, in this New Year, if I begin to feel sad, melancholy or a little down in the dumps, I will dial up Woodstock on YouTube and let him whistle me up that incredible Puccini aria.







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A Christmas Cat Home Invasion.

Sego on the deck

Sago from the bedroom window








Katie Mae is a short person and short persons often, like small children, can spot things those of us who are taller seem to overlook. I was not surprised then, when she opened the blinds to one of our bedroom windows that overlook the deck behind our house. She then questioned the presence there of a dark shadow against the far wall beneath a small potted Sago Palm.

The deck can be seen in the picture on the left. I took that picture on the same rainy day because I wanted you to see what Katie Mae saw when she opened those blinds. The picture does not show a dark shadow under the palm.

I also saw the shadow and told her it might be a cat. I went into the living room and opened blinds there so I could have a better look at the dark spot.

I then went back to the bedroom and told her it was not only a big black cat but it had more than one head and one set of ears. Even though it looked like a big black blob underneath the plant I could see a silhouette of more heads and ears than most cats usually carry around with them.

I carefully eased out the back door to the deck and the mama cat took off across the deck. As she ran down the deck steps she was followed by an agglomeration of little kitten ears, heads, tails and legs. Most astonishing of all is how thickly furred they were and all four of them were black as deep smut.

She led them through the thick woods behind the house and I guessed that was the last we would see of them. I was wrong. Later that night, I could hear a loud cry from a kitten coming from the back deck. Katie Mae said the cry was coming from the front porch and, once again, that short person’s perspective proved to be right.

I went to the front door and peeked through the panel windows on each side of the door and they were all there to greet me. Momma cat gave me what I would call “a warning smile” and a low guttural growl as she chased her brood from the porch. Her unpleasant greeting made me slightly hesitant to open the door so I didn’t.

I’ve seen her around the neighborhood before and I considered her a feral cat. It’s kind of odd to see any stray animals in our neighborhood but she has been around for a while. She is not completely black. She has orange markings on her side that look like a map of Tasmania. From the looks of her smile I suspect she could be a Tasmanian devil and apparently she has not been a totally single parent. So these kittens are not that kind of Christmas gift. I’m pretty sure she had help making them. If he’s anything like her I don’t want to meet him.

They stayed on the porch late into the night until they got caught up in a tangle that was more than they could handle. Katy Mae has tiny sentinel Christmas trees right outside the front door. They are lighted trees. You get my drift. That means they are electrified. They are about three feet tall and they have electric lights running all throughout their limbs or at least they did before those kittens Sego on the deck 2Order From Amazon.comgot to tussling, scuffling, tumbling and fighting amongst themselves and up under those little Christmas Trees.

I heard the loudest caterwauling I have heard in years coming from our front porch. The kittens were all wrapped up in the electric lights and they had taken to scratching and clawing and biting the wires. I jumped to get a remote control to turn off the lights before all those cats really got to smoking.

I turned off the lights and yanked open the front door just in time to see Mama Cat, kittens, trees, lights and all pass under a street light about a hundred yards down from our house.

I could still see dying flickers of colored lights going down the street and the smell of burning cat hair on the porch was strong enough to make me cough.

I’m sure it was the coughing that made me temporarily turn to strong drink.

The entire episode has been a “Bermuda Triangle” moment for me. I have seen no cats, no Christmas Trees and no lights since night before last.

They have completely and totally disappeared. That can’t all be bad. It makes me believe Santa Claus still loves me.


How to Shop With the Whackos- Christmas 2013 – Athens, Georgia

Russian MadmanAre you in the “last minute shoppers’ mode?” Is it driving you totally bonkers that there is something you meant to buy for somebody but you can’t remember what it is or who that person might be? If you answer no to both questions and you don’t seem to care anymore you can join my new “Bah Humbug” Club.

My club is different because I am saying “Bah, Humbug” to any additional, “Did I or did I not get the right present,” worry and I am not going to worry any more. I ain’t gonna worry no-mo, no-mo! Bah and Humbug to worries!!!

But if, unfortunately, you still have to venture into the shoppers’ world of paradisiacal perdition be watchful and aware you are not alone. Our exposure to whackos increases this time of year. Be careful.

Today I made a tactical mistake you should understand. I walked out of Wal-Mart and I made eye contact with this guy who was walking in beside a woman. Being a gentlemanly old Southern guy I stepped to one side so the man and the woman could easily pass by me.

That was my mistake. I looked dead in his eyes and he was not with the woman. He just happened to be walking beside her. I nodded and spoke to him. It got worse. He thrust 15 or 20 odd looking and different sized currency bills toward me and muttered, “Would you be interested in buying some valuable, antique, foreign, currency?”

The guy looked slightly more presentable than your usual Athens panhandler so I was still a little bit off guard when I returned his mutter with my own babble, “No thanks man, no, no, no, uh, oh no thank you, I don’t think so, thanks but no thanks, uh, thanks but not today,” and then I actually made a clean break of it and escaped.

But I did not escape as cleanly as I thought. I got home and I told Katie Mae about this strange encounter. She was not surprised. It seems to happen to us frequently.

Since it happens a lot to me I could not escape all these questions popping up in my feeble mind. Did this guy see the clear, honest, bright gleam of intelligence in my eyes and immediately know that I am wise in the spending habits of people all over the world? Did he think I could unhesitatingly pick out valuable bills from totally worthless funny money? He couldn’t have been more mistaken. I’m not even sure what American bills are worth. I am not the smart, unfailing, go-to-guy when it comes to purchasing foreign currency. I have a lot of trouble counting my own pennies. Once I count my money I count it again and I always come up with less on the second count.

The reverse side of that strange coin (or valuable foreign currency), is: What if the guy simply picked me out because I look like a straight damned dummy? I think he instinctively knew he had an old red-necked country boy yokel in his clutches. I believe this scenario of looking senseless may be good for me. It got me off the hook with him. He recognized the same brand of crazy in my eyes that he sees when he looks at himself in a mirror. He thought it best to find somebody with a brain and he quickly put some distance between us. He ran off through Wal-Mart with his crazy-dough spread out in his hand like a little fan.

Some how looking common and average and suitably stupid has always worked for me and since I can’t change that situation I might as well embrace the look and keep on saving myself from real whackos with my own set of natural talents.

I hope you have a wonderful and Merry Christmas and I hope you find your niche in life as I have done by looking so adorably dumb………… That probably just works for me. I realize most of you are smart and beautiful.

Straw hat on silly boy                                                         Order From