Craving Fry Sauce

Hires:Product » Hamburger and Fry Sauce Two Pack
Arctic Circle: Original Fry Sauce 

cnr_frysauce.jpgThere are few things less healthy to eat, and few things more satisfying, than fries with fry sauce. It's kind of a Utah thing – it was written up during the Olympics, it showed up on pins and posters, but still a locally acquired taste.

It's not just ketchup mixed with mayonnaise; there's a bit more kick to it than that. When I was growing up in Utah, there were several local burger eateries, and Mom and I went to them all in turn.  We often went to Dee's, which was… just okay. My uncle Charlie had done some photography for their local ads for them, and  used to tell stories about how they had to engineer their flagship burger to look appetizing on camera. This affected our perception of Dee's, and it wasn't our first choice, but it was our cheapest choice other than McDonald's. For some reason, it was the favorite of one of our neighbors, who we often took along for jaunts (maybe she liked the price? ). So that's where we went, most often to the one in Sugar House. I can't remember what's there now, since the area has undergone a major gentrifying makeover. 

But the better burger, and also a pretty awesome frozen lime concoction, was found at the Arctic Circle (always pronounced "Artic" Circle). They had this stuff to put on the fries that was really, really good, and they put it on the burgers too. The burgers themselves compared to a Big Mac, really, but the sauce elevated them to "better than McDonalds" status.

There are a still a few local burger places in the Salt Lake area – one of them famous for incredible milkshakes,iceberg.jpg the Iceberg Drive-in. It was located pretty far from home, as we reckoned it, but not far at all by my adult standards. The location I remember best was just down the street from the hospital where Mom landed in June -and several family members decamped for a break and a creamy, frosted treat there. They had really good onion rings, and of course the shakes were incredible and super-thick. Just click on the thumbnail and have a good look at the shakes -yes, the ice cream is towering above the rim of the cup – and the thick hand-cut onion rings. And that bun, with an honestly grilled burger peeking modestly out, promises a big mouthful of mmmphfalicious juicy beef. They have their own "homemade fry sauce" as well.

But the best of the locals, and the place Mom and I went as a special treat, was the Hires drive-in downtown. Even when I was getting over a really nasty stomach bug, I wanted Hires. More recently, when Timmy and I were starting to clear the decks in Mom's house and get things organized so they could be given away to family or donated, we wanted a big nasty Hires and a frosty mug one day instead of lighter fare. 

Let there be no mistake: Hires' burgers are awesome, their root beer (served in a frosty mug!) is awesome.FrySauce_sm.jpg Everything on the menu is fresh, the buns are baked to their own recipe, the meat is top shelf. But the fries and onion rings postively sing when dipped in fry sauce. This is a burger to make you go "Mmmmmmm," whether you're sitting inside getting table service, or out in your car listening to your radio while waiting for the carhop to bring you a tray of frosty mugs and big, juicy burgers wrapped in paper marked D + O (for "double with onions" ) in black marker. And the fries, of course. With extra fry sauce dripping on the upholstery…that's the best. Even better if you're driving a rental car, as you'll never get the smell out and you'll find yourself getting unaccountable cravings when the weather warms up.

I've been there a couple of times in the last year, and the fry sauce there was better, to my mind, than what I remembered of Arctic, sorry, Artic Circle's. It sticks to the fries (and your ribs and arteries) and is completely addictive. It's all comfort food, even if it does pack on the pounds if you don't ration your visits. 

Now that I'm on a much more healthy food-and-fitness kick, fry sauce is pretty much out of the question. And besides which, it's all the way back in Utah, so I'm safe enough, or would be if it weren't for teh evul Internets.

Er… two pack? Hmm.

via OneUtah 

Indy: Oldest. Whippersnapping Archeologist. Evaarrrr.

NPR : Harrison Ford Returns As Indiana Jones

Another graying action star is reviving an old role. Harrison Ford will once again crack the whip, 18 years after Indiana Jones' last adventure. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are also back, directing and producing. Excited fans do wonder if, at 64, Indy can still do the stunts.

I'm wondering, too. I'll never forget the time I saw the first Indiana Jones movie, which was around New Years when I was still in college. I've been a fan of Harrison Ford's since American Graffiti and Star Wars (okay, yes, I've had the hots for Harrison since 1977. Deal). I found the second movie mostly diverting ("Hang on, lady! We go for ride!" ), albeit repulsive (Bugs! Monkey brains! Kate Capshaw shrieking in a sari! ), and I totally adored the third movie (aw… Indy's dad is Sean Connery, how geriatrically hot was that?). Why risk screwing all those great cinematic moments up??  Harrison, my Harrison, why risk the humiliation of being described as "another graying action star?" But hell, Connery is older than he is, and he's still sexy. So what the hell.

I still remember a time before Indy. It was the 80's, Reagan was President, and Star Wars had been firmly embedded in the American psyche (they were up to the second movie by then, when Han gets embedded in that carbonite stuff, and I was heartbroken). Then these great comic-book style posters and full page ads started showing up in the movie section of the local paper. On the Sunday before the opening, there was a full color one, I think… it was all very mysterious. I think it just had the hat and the whip and some old-timey movie serial copy, but no title. I saw Harrison Ford's name in the "mystery" ads and thought "Oh, boy!" Then I saw the full-cover poster with the hat, the whip, the open shirt, the holstered gun, and I thought "Holy CRAP, somebody hose me down."

My girlfriend Debbie and I went, after having drunk part of a bottle of pink champagne (and spilling most of it when we had a catastrophic failure in the uncorking procedure). We rode bikes downtown to the one big fancy old theater, wobbling a little as we went.

We were enthralled. Beguiled. Debbie gleefully translated all the German swear words. The first action sequence, with the rolling ball, totally exhausted us, and that was in the first 15 minutes.

But I fell irrevocably in love with Indy when he came running over the hill, trailing cobwebs, the dust of centuries, and an entire tribe of pissed-off Amazonian Indians and their poison arrows. When he jumped in the passenger seat of the little floatplane… and got totally freaked out to find his buddy's snake in his lap, I lost my heart completely. That's when I knew we we'd better strap in and hold on, because the rest of the movie would be a hell of a ride.

What with the wine and all, both Debbie and I had to take breaks in the middle of the movie, at different points in the story. I tell you, I nearly didn't bother to take the break, which would have been nasty for the cleanup crew. I didnt want to miss anything. Neither did Debbie.

No problem… we just sat through it and watched a second time. The theatre guys never said a word, they just cleaned up around us as we discussed the movie and caught each other up on what had been missed during breaks. And we weren't the only ones to watch it again, either.

A few years later, Temple of Doom premiered. I remember seeing it sitting in the balcony, up high and to the left of the screen, but I don't remember if Debbie was there, or if she'd moved away by then. I just remember getting all shaky and a little nauseated during the human sacrifice scenes. It was revolting, but aside from that sequence everything else was great except for Kate Capshaw. I laughed loudest when she was freaking out while Indy and Short Round were playing poker, and ran, shrieking merrily, around and around their camp before finally knocking herself out… I think by running into an elephant? Either way, "Bwah!"

After I moved to Seattle, The Last Crusade opened Memorial Day Weekend in 1989. As it happened, several old college friends all happened to be together. Debbie and Aleta were staying with me for the Northwest Folk Life festival, Arne came into town and surprised them, and Kevin was in law school at the UW. We all drove to the theater in 2 little cars, singing the main theme and testing the theory that humming the Indiana Jones music made you drive more recklessly. We weren't all able to sit together, as the theater was packed out. Didn't matter. We had a blast, and then drove around again real fast (I think we ditched Arne because Kevin was driving too "Indy," sorry about that).

Good times. I wonder if arranging for a reunion to see the premiere with everybody is in the cards? Kevin and his family live a ferry ride from Seattle, Arne and his family live in Colorado, Debbie lives in Washington DC, and Aleta is living in California, I think. The movie is supposed to open in May, 2008. Hmm. Memorial Day? Folk Life in Seattle? Driving around in MUCH nicer, much faster cars, singing "Ba da-da DAH, ba da-daaaaah. Ba da-da DAH, ba da da da DAH!" Not losing Arne?

I can't really imagine how this next movie might play out – Wikipedia suggests the working title per George Lucas ought to be "Indiana Jones and the Ravages of Time." Heh. George isn't normally that funny, or good at dialogue (including his own). According to the backstory now constructed via the TV series for Indy's life, we know he ends up in New York as a 90-year-old man with an eyepatch and a cane, buttonholing strangers to tell them about his adventures as a lively young whippersnapper.

Yes. "Ravages of Time." Indeed. For all of us.

Here's some other suggested titles: "… and the Temple of Prunes"
…and the Adventures in Geritol (or: "…and the Search for Adult Diapers That Don't Leak" )
and my entry: "Grandma-Panty Raiders of the Old Adventurer's Home."

And here's some hopes and fears. Some of them reportedly Ford's own:

Fan favorites such as Karen Allen, Sean Connery, and John Rhys-Davies are rumored to reprise their familiar roles in the new film. Ford himself is said to have blocked Lucas’ wish to cast his wife, Kate Capshaw, in the role of love interest, as he did in Temple of Doom. “Kate is a friend of mine” said Ford “but if I have to spend another year of my life hanging off of a vine while she shrieks in my ear, I’ll freaking let go and end it all.”

Spit take! BWAH! Oh, Harrison, I still love you, a little. You rock.

Squirrelly little guy flew with the dinosaurs | Chicago Tribune

Squirrelly little guy flew with the dinosaurs | Chicago Tribune

A furry, squirrel-sized creature that soared through prehistoric skies–possibly even sharing the lofty view with birds' first ancestors–suggests that mammals took flight nearly 70 million years earlier than scientists had thought.

The evidence comes in the form of a squashed skeleton found in Inner Mongolia that belonged to a tree-inhabiting creature born with a built-in hang glider–a fold of furry skin that stretched between its front and hind legs.

This news item sent me Googling around to chase down an old, old memory from college: a professor of evolution who did an extremely funny and effective impression of a flying squirrel getting ready to hop off a branch and glide. I still remember how he popped his head up and down and spread his professorial tweed jacket in a perky little "gonna fly now" mammalian display.

It was a full-year class which fulfilled part of the science requirements. I stayed on for the whole year, because he was not only amusing and a good instructor, but his wife made him bring donuts and coffee to final exams, as we were an early morning class. His affection for flying squirrels was so great that he and a number of other grad students dressed up as furry gliders for Halloween when he was younger, and that was why he described the costumes and exhibited the behavior for our class one chilly October morning 30 years ago.

To my delight, Prof. William Bradshaw is still at the University of Oregon, which has its own ecology and evolutionary development department now. He seems to have been using mosquitoes for most of his research all this time with his partner… although I'm sure he's pretty happy about this new "furry glider" evolutionary discovery, I bet he does a mean mosquito impression, too.

I’m Having A Bad O.J. Flashback

Popping Off: Its up to us to put an end to the O.J. frenzy

“If I Did It.”

That’s a heck of a title for a ghostwritten book about how O.J. Simpson would have killed two people who many believe he did kill in 1994.

One was his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, with whom he had two children, Sydney and Justin. The other was her friend, Ron Goldman. Both were found in a bloody heap in the courtyard of the condo complex where she lived.

I’m having a flashback to a year that was a big turning point for me, and the whole OJ story was in the background and sometimes the foreground that whole year.

I used to live in Seattle, and this article is from a Seattle-Tacoma paper. My former boss was the sort of person who would become consumed by whatever big, lurid murder story was in the news, and all conversation in the office was nothing but endless speculation and conjecture, with no grisly detail omitted.

1994 was the last full year that I lived in Seattle as a completely single woman. I met my husband David late that fall, and within a few months, we were a long-distance couple

But before I met David, I was trapped in a job that I didn’t like, working for someone who prattled endlessly about whatever her current fixations were in the news, and how to transform her business, but she never actually settled down to do much work. And that year, it was OJ, and earlier the same year, it was a big murder case involving someone she knew slightly. Every interaction she’d ever had with
the victim in the latter case was repeated endlessly, and over-analyzed until I was ready to scream. Meanwhile, the TV was always on because her school-age sons same to the office after classes. Although they lived in a distant neighborhood, they had the boys in school near work. It was partly practical, and partly snob appeal; she wanted her kids to go to a nicer, more socially acceptable Catholic school than the one nearer their home. Also, the interaction with the other parents at fundraising
events and science fairs was supposed to be good for business.

But I digress. I remember watching the slow-speed chase of the white Bronco all too well; we had no choice but to be glued to the TV, because it was at the end of the workday and it was on all the channels anyway. Remember? There was nothing else to watch but OJ that day.

5 years before that, it was all Ted Bundy, all the time. Every possible encounter my former boss might have had was relentlessly dissected. He was active in both Washington State and Utah in the late Seventies, and I have to admit that I knew of someone in Utah who thought Ted Bundy had followed them home once. Ted Bundy was every woman’s ultimate bogeyman, the attractive killer who appears to need your help. We spent a year discussing his last murders, his arrest, and his trial before he was executed.
I had read the book by Anne Rule, you see. And then I stirred the pot by discussing the most famous murder case from my former town, because I knew several people connected with the Diane Downs case, including a prosecutor and a social services volunteer who had met her surviving kids.

It seemed all we ever did in that office was discuss gory murders or sexy scandals, and occasionally were interrupted by phone calls or visits from clients. It wasn’t a healthy work environment.

So I had that to look forward to, working in that office – every year, the next sensational murder trial, the big lurid news story, on and on.

And what do I think, ultimately, about OJ? There is no “if” in my mind. The investigation was screwed up, the trial was screwed up, all the little players screwed up the timeline, the evidence was manipulated in court, and of course they never found the damn knife. But of course he did it, and for him to go through with this ludicrous “If I Did It” project, and for Fox/Murdoch to have actually contemplated putting it on the air is deeply offensive to me.

Of course he did it. And I’m tired of hearing about it. And I agree, we should stop paying OJ any money, or any attention, ever again.

Willing To Pay The Slacker Tax

What? Me graduate? Perpetual UW-Whitewater student says no | Chicago Tribune

Lechner has had his story told in newspapers and network television shows, not to mention campus publications across the nation that have picked up stories from UW-Whitewater’s student newspaper, The Royal Purple.

By this spring he had completed 234 college credits, or about 100 more than needed to graduate, and was taking seven more.

That qualified him for the so-called “slacker tax,” instituted this school year by the UW Board of Regents to help cover the state subsidy for students who stay long past the usual four of five years to earn an undergraduate degree.

It calls for students who exceed 165 total credit hours or 30 more than their degree programs require — whichever is higher — to pay double tuition.

As a former 6th or 7th year senior, I have to admire Lechner’s perseverance. But I’m just a little curious about his financing, especially if he’s now paying the slacker tax.

When I was in school in Eugene all those years ago, there were a couple of perpetual students hanging around – we thought of them as pathetic losers who just wanted a cheap place to crash and do laundry. The names escape me know, but there were at least two on campus during my time in the late 70’s to mid 80’s.

One guy was a denizen of the men’s dorms on the north side of… Agate Street, I think. My friends Arne or Kevin *might* remember him, but the guy I’m thinking of hung around the dorm that faced right on Alder, and they were both “Tinglers.” This guy looked like he slept outside a lot – he was bearded, grizzled, and talked like an extra ranch hand in a B-grade horse opera. He was most famous for doing laundry (the dryers were free) by dumping other peoples’ clothes out on the floor, and for sleeping in the TV room, and for peeing in the corner of a hotel suite one weekend when a bunch of dorm people went on a ski trip. His most famous comment that weekend was “F$sk you and the horse you rode in on.” Somehow, he always obtained a valid key card and was considered a “student.”

The other guy was known to several of my friends as “the guy that hangs around the EMU (the student union).” He was understood to be a perpetual student with vague ties to the phys-ed/rec ed/Atari ed programs run out of the EMU recreational center. After hearing about him for a while, I actually took a bowling class with him, where he boasted quite openly about taking cornball classes just to keep his school funding coming in. And he really was a dab hand at Starship 1.

After some investigation, I find that even 30 years later, some things never change.

Symptomatic Nerve Gas Is Dead

My current struggles with air quality at my work have reminded me of something from nearly 20 years ago – the “Symptomatic Nerve Gas” guy. This was a street character that I used to see out and about when I was still living in Eugene. I moved from there in 1985, but still remember running into the guy when my friend Jean and I would go to clubs for live music and dancing. We’d spot him and start chanting “symptomatic nerve gas” to each other, because that’s all we ever heard him say.

I was astounded just now after Googling around a little to find that Mr. SNG is now a character in a book by Jack Cady:

FIVE OF US ARE REGULARS HERE. Allow me to introduce the cast. Although years come and go, and so do people, our community is fairly stable.

Our newest member is Symptomatic Nerve Gas, who takes his time a-dying from something gnawing on his liver. He is with us these past two years. Symptomatic Nerve Gas is florid and purpled and beefy. He is in his late fifties. A horror from earlier life lies athwart his brain. In Korea he saw death dealt on a scale larger than any seen by Genghis Khan. Although he sometimes speaks of other things to us, his only public words are “Symptomatic Nerve Gas” and “Felony Assault.” His Army pension sustains him. He strides forth each day with field pack rolled. He wears pressed pants, denim shirts fresh from the laundry; a man of military cleanliness. He stands on street corners repeating his two phrases in a command voice. People are first shocked into avoidance. Then, familiarity brings scorn, Symptomatic Nerve Gas has an important message, but no stage presence. He breaks no laws. People mistake him for a nut.

Wow.

The only thing I’d add to that description is that he always carried a big green duffel, stuffed full. And on the back of the duffel, written with a magic marker in large capitals, it said “SYMPTOMATIC NERVE GAS.”

I’m not sure, but I think he may have been around Seattle, too… as this poem would seem to suggest. And according to this, he used to stand on street corners near the University of Washington, chanting his mantra. Somebody from Fark spotted him there, too, so it must be so. Sadly, he apparently died in 1990.

Requiescat in pacem.

And as for Seattle itself, it seems that a lot of my favorite places are gone, too. This makes me very sad. Especially as on a whim I decided to wear my old “Queen Anne Coffee House” T-shirt, since we’re in the midst of the baseball playoffs and this was the “uniform” for the D- or E- or XYZ-league softball team I played on in about 1993.

Festive Chrismahanukwanzaakah!

chrisma-thumb.jpg

It's that most wonderful time of the year, the season of Xcess! And it's not quite over, as after a successful morning's buffet breakfast and an afternoon of lying around contentedly with full tummies, we headed to the home of nearby friends for a Solstice party of eating, geeking out, and comparing holiday horror stories. It was a really lovely meal, with an actual Christmas goose, served with "goose juice" (Cumberland sauce) instead of gravy and lots of delicious side dishes.

Also, there was a flirtatious kitty to wheedle, and wacky Xcess holiday tunes. The day ended on a fun, if tired note. And I was really, really happy about the cat wheedling, because I hadn't had the chance to do that in a very long time.

Christmas Eve Day was spent cleaning, baking, and decorating – I didn't bother getting the tree up all this week that I had off, so naturally left it til the end. However, it doesn't take that long to throw a few strings of lights on a "faux" tree, and I had found some old-fashioned crackers to put on it again this year. It's not the bushy, over-decorated fragrant pinon pine of my childhood, but it's a pretty tree.

David's parents came over at about 4pm as I had just reached the point of being finished, dressed, and ready to relax. We had discussed going to a nearby seafood restaurant becase Shel had an Entertainment Book coupon for it, but it turned out not to be valid on Christmas Eve. So we went to Brass instead, because we had received a coupon from them that was valid. Hah! Coupons are one of those inside jokes in the family; for some reason David's dad gets a huge charge out of them, and he'll go miles out of his way to use one up before it expires. So dinner was excellent – the food there is very good, as is the beer and ale.

And then I had to toddle off to Holy Moly for rehearsal before the half-hour carol singing started, and then the main service started at 8pm. Leah came with me – for some reason she likes to come to the occasional special service when they stay overnight with us. And hurray! It was well attended, with lots of visitors – even a few acquaintances from Scott's office (he was not there, but had evidently issued some of the flier invitations we had printed up).

We had a LOT of music to get through, with what amounted to three "party pieces," including a last-minute substitution of "Lo, How A Rose E'er Blooming" for something else during the service that Mark didn't feel comfortable enough to sing without more rehearsal. It all went over very well, and after a lot of visiting and chit-chat afterwards, Leah and I went back home. The evening was not without incident, however; there was a bit of a mishap when I was first backing out of the garage and I got pretty jangled nerve-wise, but no real harm done. Argh.

Christmas morning started with a wonderful dream… it's hard to explain and give it justice, but it was a lucid one and left me in a terrific mood. We all got up a little later than I had planned, but there was plenty of time to get things ready for the buffet brunch. I had picked up a Honey Baked ham, so that took little or no prep – just take it out of the fridge an hour before serving. I finished up goodie bags to give out, made cranberry-orange relish, Leah set out fruit salad, lox, and bagels, and Shel and David did a little food geekery, first doing the classic RTFM that came with the ham, then carving a few slices off while I got ready to make cinnamon-pecan pancakes. Dan, Deb and the kids were the first to arrive, and we had coffee and cider-ginger ale punch set up on the wet bar along with bowls of nuts and candy and other snacks. I started making the pancakes (had all my ingredients all prepped so all I had to do was add the water and stir). We laughed and chatted as I built up a big stack of flapjacks on a plate in the oven, and I had pure maple syrup warming on the stove, too.

Just as I took the plate of hot pancakes to the table and took a break for coffee, Mitch, Gloria and Gwen arrived. I have to say that the table looked great and for once I had all the food out and ready at the same time. Steve arrived very late, on account of staying up until 4 a.m. with Chris and Susan watching the extended DVD of Return of the King. For this reason alone, he was instantly forgiven and the pancakes were still hot enough to eat. So I ended up not having to start a second batch, and could relax at last and have fun.

After everyone had had a chance to fill up the corners of their tummies, I handed round the crackers (there's still cracker-bits scattered in the living room) and gave out the goodie bags. David did a great job finding simple little gifts – on the order of Silly Putty and puzzle books – and there was hard candy and some pistachio nuts in the bags, too. David's brothers and their families left, and then in a suddenly quiet house the rest of us collapsed in the living room in a kind of post-feast afterglow. Steve took off to help start cooking the goose at Chris and Susan's, and they very kindly invited us to come later and join them – THAT was very nice and also really generous of them. But for the moment we chatted a while longer with David's parents and enjoyed the relative calm after all the frenetic activity.

After they left, there was even time for a nap in front of the fire. I had decorated the mantel and had candles going all morning, so it was pretty festive (and also very warm) in the family room. So after blowing out the candles, I conked out on the sofa and snoozed for about 90 minutes. David dozed in the armchair. It was perfect, in fact. After a few hours' rest we pulled ourselves together and eventually found our way to Chris and Susan's for Geekmas, which is absurdly close to our house but still difficult to find via Mapquest. Steve had encouraged everyone to bring laptops, because they were also going to test and troubleshoot Chris' wireless access setup. The goose was amazing and richly flavored, and they had good wine and nice music and a beautiful table was spread with lots of good things people brought. It was a nice way to end the holiday. We decided to come home early-ish (opting out of staying up until all hours watching some more commentary tracks on ROTK). So we came home, and toddled off to bed. It was a good, nay even a perfect day. I wondered if I'd have another lucid dream to "bookmark" the one from the morning, but don't recall anything special. It really was an amazing dream, but to explain why requires a lot more backstory than most might care to know. I'll try to do it justice. Continue reading

We Hates The Yankees!

We Hates Them, We Hates Them, We Hates Them Forever!

I don’t know. All I can tell you is that for those of us who have felt like we never got to have any fun because the Yankees hogged it all, it was pretty fun. No pinstripes at the World Series? I can get behind that.

I can totally get behind that, too.

Now, I’m a transplanted Seattelite living in the Chicago suburbs. The only baseball team I could ever get excited about is the Mariners, because for one shining season in 1995 everything clicked, even when Griffey was out on an injury. Everyone else stepped up and played their hearts out, and we had a team to get behind. I was playing on a coed softball team, we sucked, but we used to go to Mariners games in the old Kingdome. We’d take mitts and everything. We were girl baseball nerds (those of us that were female, anyway).

And that goddamn David Cone and those goddamn Yankees killed us that season, when it looked like we might go all the way. They went on to the Series, we groused. The next year, slightly different circumstances, slightly different personnel, but we got knocked out of post-season by the Texas Rangers. So I don’t love me some Texas teams either, even though at least one former Mariner got traded there for at least one season and did very well.

Since moving here, I totally fail to get with the Cubbiemania. I work with Cubs fans, I work with White Sox fans, I’ve been to one Cubs game, and I just don’t feel the love.

However, right now, I’m loving the Red Sox, because they killed the goddamn Yankees. I didn’t watch one of their games, because frankly I had other things to do. But every morning I’d hear the news on the radio and snuggle happily down into the covers in the pre-dawn darkness, and hope that the next morning there would be more good happy snuggly news.

These last four mornings have been pretty nice for the happy snuggling thing.

The thing is, I am so rooting for the Cards too, because I can’t stand the thought of a Massachusetts team going up against a Texas team in an election year, when both states have a guy in the World Series of American Politics. On the one hand, how very cool if Boston and Kerry both win. How very, deeply, insufferaby annoying if both the Astros and Bushco win. How symbolic of our deeply divided nation if it’s a split decision.

How totally sha-weet if the Astros get killed by the Cards today.

Not Going Greyhound Much Longer

U.S. Highway 40 is one of the initial Greyhound route casualties, taking out a string of Utah cities that includes Vernal, Roosevelt, Myton, Duchesne and Heber, along with Echo and Park City (along Interstate 80), and Logan (U.S. 89). Altogether, Greyhound is eliminating service to 260 U.S. cities and towns between Chicago and Seattle in its first round of cuts, effective Aug. 18.

Long ago, after Pop died, my mom became the defacto “family fixer.” Her brother, my Uncle Charlie, would give her money for a plane ticket to Steamboat Springs, CO now and then to look after their oldest sister, Florence.

Eventually, there was no money for planes, and so Mom would pull me out of school. Sometimes, we’d take the bus to Steamboat from the Greyhound terminal. The bus would drop us off at the Harbor Hotel, and we’d take a cab or call for a ride to their house. Later still, there was money for gas, so we’d drive. I loved the drive along US40, but only when we took our car.

The night bus rides were the most melancholy journeys of my life. To this day, the distinctive bus-smell in a long-distance coach or tour bus takes me back to the nights I’d sit watching the miles unspool like the background in an old-fashioned black and white movie. The first time, we did it in January, when there was a lot of snow in the high country.

The moon shone coldly remote above the snow-blanketed ranches as we rolled by, which were lonely outposts in the empty miles between the small towns along US 40. It seemed to me that there was nothing lonelier in the world than a single yard lamp, glowing brightly but impersonally from out by the barns, and offering no welcome to benighted travelers. And at the end of the journey, there was only toil and frustration and worry waiting to welcome us.

The Steamboat folks would be glad to see us only because it meant that we’d deal with their problems.
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