Monday, January 31, 2005


Turn to Page 123

Fellow blogger and friend The Downtown Guy -- -- whose entire blog is dedicated to the promotion of downtown Oklahoma City, a cause I support but a fetish I do not share, has launched one of those fun what-are-you-reading games.

He wants Page 123, sentence 5.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. In a comment on this blog, and on your own blog, post the sentence along with these instructions.
(He's kinda persnickety about it. He says:)
5. Don’t search around and look for the “coolest” book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.
(Pbththp. The first book I grabbed didn't have five sentences on Page 123, and the next one didn't have any text at all on Page 123. So, wing it!)

"On one point, official Union policy appeared to be clear: active guerillas were outlaws and were to be executed when captured in arms on the field rather than to be treated like regular prisoners of war."
-- from Michael Fellman, Inside War: The Guerilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
Editorial comment: This is one official policy the damn Union should've kept. Would've made Guatanamo moot!



Brush with Greatness ---------- Jack Kemp

An occasional series.

By The Erudite Redneck

On April 6, 1987, Jack Kemp, Republican New York congressman, former NFL football star, made his formal announcement as a GOP candidate for president in 1988. Ol' ER was present for the to-do, in Washington, D.C.

Ol' ER was for Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware at the time. Then, Biden withdrew with a brain tumor, which has since healed, leaving him one of the most passionate, articulate and erudite Dems in the Senate today.

Ol' ER then went for Al GOre in the Oklahoma Democratic Primary, because -- believe it or not -- Gore was perceived as being the most conservative Dem in the race. Truth be told, Gore WAS the conservative in the Dem primary in '88, based on what the candidates' said -- but the truth, clearly, was not told.

Ol' ER then rode out the Dukakis Debacle with everybody else in '88.

Anyway, it was fun to be in attendance at Jack Kemp's announcement. It probably will be the only such presidential announcement Ol' ER will ever attend. It was handy.

Ol' ER sure didn't support some of what he had to say that day -- especially about SDI, the Strategic Defense Initiatice, commonly called "Star Wars." Of course, the rhetoric about God and country always resonates with a culturally conservative Erudite Redneck such as myself. The reference to Dred Scott was way overboard, but it served his modern Yankee purposes.

Below is the text of Kemp's speech. It's interesting for what was deemed important at the time, with '70s "malaise" and stagflation still casting a shadow, the Soviet Union still a clear and present danger, and Osama bin Laden still hidden in the misty future. It's from a great historical site on presidential campaigns and candidates, -- or click on the link above.



APRIL 6, 1987

Ladies and gentlemen. Six years, ago the leadership of our President and our party helped jar our country from despondency, and a long retreat and rekindle a renaissance of hope here at home and throughout the Free World.

We rejoice at America's new beginning and our steady progress under Ronald Reagan's leadership these past six years. But we have so much to do and a long way to go, as we get ready for the 1990's. Like the good shepherd, America must reach out to the weak and to those who have fallen behind. That has always been the strength of America.

There are those, in both political parties, who look to the future with such anxiety and pessimism, that they can only think of ideas which would impose austerity and pain, protectionism and isolationism.

At a time when families are under stress, they would meet the challenge of budget deficits by increasing taxes, cutting back on Social Security and weakening our national defense. They would meet the challenge of global competition by raising new walls to foreign imports. And, they would meet the challenge of securing global peace by conceding territory and human freedom to those who respect the rights of neither.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is a better way, a more confident way and that's why we're here!

America must have a vision for the future that includes victory: A victory for the idea that there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed; and that there are no limits to our future if we don't put limits on our people; a victory for the American Idea of peace, prosperity, democracy and freedom -- not just for America, but for the Americas; not just for our hemisphere, but for the whole world.

I believe that our future begins with faith -- faith in the Jeffersonian ideal that God is the Author of life and liberty; that He is the Author of our personal freedoms -- political, economic and religious -- and that these freedoms are at the heart of all human progress. No government in history has been able to do for people what they have been able to do for themselves, when they were free to follow their hopes and dreams.

The American Dream is not to make everyone level with everyone else, but to create the opportunity for all people to reach as high as their God-given potential allows. in this Nation, if you're born to be a mezzo soprano, or a master carpenter, or even an NFL quarterback, there ought not be anything standing in your way, not color, not creed, nor station in life.,

What a long - way we've come in the last six years, but what a long way we have to go. There is more hope and less poverty, but too many are left behind and there's too much despair.

As we look out on the world, we can take satisfaction that the Soviet Union has made no real territorial gains on President Reagan's watch. But we must continue to hope and plan realistically that the next President will win back to freedom what has been lost in both hemispheres. In short, there is much for our next President to do.

So where do we go from here? I believe there are three great challenges facing us in the decade ahead: The defense of peace and freedom; the defense of our children and the family; and a national commitment to the highest ideal of economic justice -- full employment without inflation for all Americans.

I believe in growth. I am proud to have carried the banner of growth for our party; proud to have fought for two historic pieces of legislation: The Kemp-Roth bill which lowered tax rates on workers and savers; and our historic tax reform which raises the personal exemption to $2,000, and lowers the tax rate to 15 percent for more than 80 percent of American families.

I believe in liberating both labor and capital from high taxes and bureaucratic tax forms, and I have opposed, and will continue to oppose, any plan, from any quarter, to raise taxes on the American people.

The biggest threat to our Federal budget is not American families being undertaxed, it is too much spending, too much unemployment and too little growth. More growth, more jobs, lower interest rates and less government spending is the only real way to balance our federal budget.

We must not only fight, we must win the war on poverty by enlisting the greatest weapon ever invented -- free enterprise.

We must enact free enterprise zone legislation to reach into the most stubborn pockets of urban and rural poverty with a helping hand of job creation; and we won't rest until we pass urban homesteading legislation, so that families in public housing who work hard and save will got the chance to become homeowners.

We must assist farm families whipsawed by the inflation/deflation cycles of the last decade. We must give our farms and factories a stable dollar, low, long-term interest rates, a chance to work out from under their debts and new markets for their products.

As we move forward, we must increase our vigilance against wasteful public spending. I favor strict limits an spending, starting with the line-item veto, which 43 governors-have but the President is still shamefully denied by big-spending liberals.

We have seen an end to the ruinous inflation of the 70's. But we, need- to, ensure the integrity of the currency, so that interest rates can drop further, and Americans will know that their job security, savings and ability to earn a living in the world marketers not at the mercy of fluctuating currencies and volatile exchange rates.

We must guarantee the purchasing power of the dollar, make the dollar, once again, an honest dollar, a dollar as good as gold. And we should move, without delay to convene an international conference to convince our trading partners to open their markets, stop their subsidies, and stabilize their currencies.

I believe in growth for the whole world. While we are an independent Nation, we live in an interdependent world. Encouraging greater growth abroad is an imperative for us at home. Growth in Asia and Europe, and particularly in the economies of Africa and Latin America will do more than anything else to help create new customers for American factories and farmers, while helping the world combat poverty and underdevelopment.

We should negotiate free trade zones to break down barriers to U.S. exports. We need an International Monetary Fund and a World Bank that understand growth, and that are willing to support it, rather than impose the austerity of endless tax hikes and currency devaluations upon developing nations. We must have a State Department that sees people as a resource, not as a drain on resources.

But all of our efforts to build opportunity and prosperity will be for naught if we do not meet our second great challenge: The defense of the West and the expansion of freedom in a world at peace.

The central drama of the 20th century is the struggle between democracy and totalitarianism; and the central dilemma of our day is that we lie defenseless against Soviet missiles.

As we speak, we have protection against tanks, submarines and aircraft, but we have no protection -- none -- against accidental or deliberate missile attack. America's survival rests precariously on a thin ledge of strategic deterrence -- and that ledge continues to erode under the growing Soviet strategic threat.

I want to be able to tell our children and our grandchildren that we found the way to protect America, to move the world from the Doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction to a far safer world of strategic defense. My friends, we can. The Strategic Defense Initiative is the greatest peace initiative in postwar history.

The same technology that is revolutionizing medicine and industry can help protect this planet from the nightmare of nuclear war. Laser technology that can today eliminate a cancer cell could tomorrow neutralize a Soviet ballistic missile in space. What then prevents us from going forward with strategic defense? Not technological know-how, but political tunnel vision.

The State Department and the Democratic Party would rather use SDI as a bargaining chip, and would rather bind this country to a treaty the Soviets have violated since day one, than give America and our allies the defenses we need. More important than any paper promise from the Soviets is the ability of the West to verify and enforce Soviet-compliance with treaties -- on this there can be no compromise.

The most urgent question facing this Nation is -- will America be defended in the 1990's or not? I believe our highest defense priority demands in 1988 a national referendum -- not just on the research and testing of SDI in the laboratory, but on the research, testing and deployment of SDI as soon as possible.

Ladies and gentlemen, all I have seen in my travels to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, throughout Latin America, and to the USSR, convinces me that freedom is the most powerful, progressive and successful political idea the world has ever known.

America is on the side of history. But we must be on the side of democracy for all people, on the side of human rights for men and women across the world struggling against the Soviet Colonial Empire. In a very real sense, America defends her own freedom and values when we help other brave people struggling to win their freedom. Sadly, the Democratic Party has all but turned its back on the noble tradition of Presidents Truman, Kennedy and Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson.

This country cannot abandon its friends or appease an adversary who defines "peace" as the final triumph of communism. Let us unite behind a strategy for victory that says we must go beyond containing communism to the ultimate triumph of freedom and democracy. We can start by formally acknowledging and marshalling support for the legitimacy of freedom fighter movements around the world.

Just as we must decide whether or not America will be defended, so, too, must we decide -- what kind of America will we defend, what values will we stand for, what kind of people will we be?

It all begins and ends in one place: The family. I believe our third great challenge for the 1990's is to fortify, nurture and protect the bedrock of our Judeo-Christian values - our families and our children.

Of all the challenges we face at home, none stand more menacing to the future of our democracy than the threats to families: we see these threats in the breakup of families, and in all too many cases, their failure even to form; we see the decline of discipline and erosion of values in education; the danger of sexually transmitted diseases; the loss of many young people to lives of crime, drugs, and even to suicide.

There is a common denominator here. America needs a rebirth of respect and compassion for the value, dignity and sanctity of each and every human life. And the first human value is what our Declaration of Independence called the inalienable right to life.

As we commemorate the. 200th anniversary of the world's oldest constitutional democracy, we must come to grips with this core constitutional question: Will the right to life be withheld by the Supreme Court, or can and shall it be protected democratically, by all the American people?

In 1857, a tragic Supreme Court decision, Dred Scott v. Sandford, declared that Congress could not outlaw slavery in the territories. But that decision was overturned five years later by a simple act of Congress, clearing the way for the Emancipation Proclamation. As democracy and human dignity prevailed over Dred Scott in Lincoln's time, so can democracy and human dignity prevail over Roe v. Wade in our time.

Let us press forward, appoint judges who uphold our Judeo-Christian values, and continue to seek Constitutional protection for human life. The time has come for Congress to pass legislation that permits the citizens of each state, for the first time since 1973, to protect the inalienable right to life of all children.

A compassionate society cares as much for each child's life after it is born as before. There are children to be loved and there are parents eager to love them. We need leadership and laws that honor and encourage adoption.

As our children grow, let us remember that the quality of our culture, as well as the security of our Nation are ultimately determined by the character of our children. Education must continue to be reformed along the lines of Secretary Bill Bennett -- rewarding excellence, and the teaching of values.

For example, in a pluralistic society, we need the competition and choice, as well as the quality, of Magnet schools, so successful in my hometown of Buffalo and other cities. This idea should be promoted and extended to other communities throughout the country.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is one office that can mobilize the ideas, talent and dedication to help unite America, make our lives more meaningful, and our world more secure.

Understanding the solemn responsibility of that high office, and the historic opportunity of this moment, I announce today that I am a candidate for President of the United States.

I am confident I can lead our party to victory in 1988 -- not for one person, nor for one party, but for one nation, under God.

I have spent the last 17 years developing ideas, building bridge&, advancing the strategy for jobs and freedom that captured people's imagination -- a strategy that can make the Republican Party the majority Party of America.

We will take this campaign to company halls and to union halls; to young people and to senior citizens; to entrepreneurs and yes, to inner city families so that we, the party of Lincoln, can once again hold up the dream of liberty and justice for all.

Like so many Americans, I remember the history of my family, who followed their dreams from England to America, who settled in New York, then founded a new town in South Dakota and eventually moved on to California.

The dream came alive for my Mother and Father as they started their own business -- a small trucking company in Los Angeles, which supported our family through the Depression, and helped provide a college education for their four sons.

I knew the dream was real when I married Joanne and we began our family. Our journey took us from college to pro football, from the San Diego Chargers to the Buffalo Bills, and in 1970, here to the Halls of the United States Congress.

Today we are embarking on a great new journey. I stand with colleagues whom I respect and esteem so very much. As I look at our family and sea Jeff, Jennifer, Judith, and Jimmy, and Jeff's dear wife Stacy -- I think of all our families -- all our hopes, our dreams, our future, our freedom and peace ... I know that's why I am in this race, and why I want to be President. Thank you. God bless you and God bless America.


Saturday, January 29, 2005


Brush with Greatness ---------- Ray Charles' band

An occasional series.

Dr. ER and I were privileged to be in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 2000.

Privileged because it was the beginning of the new millenium. Privileged because it was before 9/11. Washington will never be the same, which is a shame. We love the place.

We were part of the large crowd on the Capitol lawns who saw wonderful fireworks and heard Ray Charles sing his beautiful rendition of "America the Beautiful" on the Fourth of July.

We were staying at the fancy-schmancy Washington Court Hotel, just about hollerin' distance from Capitol Hill. Click on the link above to check it out.

While in the hotel bar, we saw Ray Charles' band arrive. Ray Charles, of course, did not. (Moan).


P.S. Happy birthday to Dr. ER! Check out her recent posts at

Friday, January 28, 2005


Guest Brush -- Bubba Hisself!

This here is an account of a Brush with true Greatness from an e-friend colleague and friend from North Carolina, now livin' in Washington, D.C.:

When Clinton was Prez, he went out A LOT. The office I worked in was about 2 blocks from the WH (that'd be the White House -- ER).

I used to work pretty late into the evening, so sometimes, I would get caught up in all the hoopla of the motorcades. How the cops would whup-whup-whup the sirens (she means Sigh-Reens -- ER) and jump out and close off an intersection -- along with their motorcycle-bound buddies.

Then you'd see the motorcade go by. Some of them were phantom ones, I know.

One night, one went by and the light was on inside the one that was done up with the flags to look like the Presidential one. But I really don't think it was actually Clinton. Something just was not right about the posture or the "look" -- even though it was close enough.

Then, I went out for lunch one day -- a rarity. I recall it was wintertime and that I was wearing my slimming blue wool coat. Something had just been going on either at Andrews (Air Force Base) or on (Capitol) Hill that the president was returning from (I hope I noted this somewhere in my journal) -- and the motorcade was a comin' back to the WH.

So, daylight, no interior light on the Presidential car. I am standing there right at the curb on this little traffic island on New York Avenue, a dismounted motorcycle cop nearby and saluting, and the car goes by.

I think to myself: "Oh, what the heck, smile and wave in that general direction." So, I did. I could only see shadow inside the car -- but a hand went up and waved.

I cannot describe it, but I knewknewknew it was Bill Clinton because of having seen so many pictures and watched him on TV -- the motion and the shape of the hand and all, it was HIM, even though I couldn't make out his face or anything.

The ER houshold misses Bubba. This here was a fine story.


Thursday, January 27, 2005


Darn this sock!

By The Erudite Redneck

“Note for the record that I am throwing away a sock,” ol ER intoned sonorously and seriously, evoking mumbles of incredulity from Dr. ER.

Her skepticism was warranted, turns out, although the darn sock did actually make it into a trash can – but not for long.

Got to thinking about that sock.

“That sock’s almost as old as Bird,” I observed. “Mmm hmm,” Dr. ER muttered.

“That’s one of my D.C. socks,” I allowed, which takes some explaining.

Before a 20-something ER went to Washington, D.C., as a college intern back in ’87, he had never been anywhere, ever, or had any experience whatsoever that caused him to think outside the box.

Hell, he didn’t even know he was IN a box – “box” here referrin’ to the rural Oklahoma upbringin’ that was right fine and dandy but definitely had its limitations, worldview-wise.

ER's time in D.C. was a turning point in his life like no other. (Seriously, I still reap benefits. I am a better student, journalist and person because of it. I still have Potomac fever, although the threat of terrorist attack is a great antidote.)

Back to that darn sock. It is one of the few survivors of the first real wardrobes I ever had.

My big Brudder hauled me to J.C. Penney at Central Mall in Fort Smith, Ark., the winter before my spring internship way back when, and loaded me up with dress shirts and britches, neckties, some actual suits, new shoes and belts and all.

Truth is, when I stumbled of the plane at (then non-Reagan) National Airport, I really had come into into town on a turnip truck, but you couldn’t tell by looking, thanks to my Brudder. I have never been more appropriately dressed.

Some of those 1980s-era ties, most of them horribly dated now (lots of paisley) still hang in my closet. The shoes are long gone. The suits shrunk so bad (wink) over the years they are long gone, too.

But nigh 20 years later, several pairs of those darn socks are still part of the regular sockly daily rotation. It’s a men’s underwear thing.

That darn sock is a historic sock!

There was one other odd reason for me to dig it back out of the trash can:

Kevin Ogle sold it to me. Yep, the current 6 and 10 p.m. news anchor on KFOR-TV Channel 4 in Oklahoma City, was then a part-timer, I guess, at a TV station in Fort Smith, and was workin’ part-time in the men’s department at J.C. Penney at Central Mall.

It is a small, small world, this here world of journalism (a term I use guardedly when referring to TV “news,” although Ogle has always seemed to be a good guy).

And it’s a small, small thing, mayhap, to put such stock in a sock.

But there it is to the immediate left of my home computer screen, draped unceremoniously over the edge of a huge tax assessor-type map of my home county, Sequoyah, in eastern Oklahoma, which I bought and had expensively framed a few years ago in a fit of regional pride, not far from it an old Prince Albert tin I picked up at a junk store because it made me think of Daddy, not far from a near-lifesize ceramic rooster draped with a Confederate battle flag, which is sittin’ next to a coffee mug in the shape of a Hereford bull head, which must’ve been put out by the Hereford people because it follows true Hereford conformation, circa 1950s-1960s, which ain’t far from a lug nut Dr. ER picked up on a visit to DEI (Dale Earnhardt Inc. in North Carolina), which ... well, you get the idea.

Me addin’ a ragged ol’ sock to my stock of memorabilia shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who knows me. I’m a sucker for anything loaded with sappy memories, and, despite the holes in the toes and the tear above the heel, that old gray sock is chock full of them.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005


Brush with Greatness --------------- Richard Childress's butt sweat

An occasional series.

By The Erudite Redneck

There we were -- Dr. ER, myself and Bird -- in Indianapolis, readying for our first (and only, so far), visit to the Brickyard 400, the NASCAR race at the storied Indianapolis "cigar car" track.

It was a few years ago. The night before the race, on the recommendation of a flack I'd been dealing with in Indianapolis, we had searched out one of Indy's renowned steak houses, St. Elmo's, downtown.

It was fun enough being in town for the race. With a steak and drinks on the way besides, ol ER was happy as a calf slobberin' on a salt block.

Then the waiter, knowin' we were race fans in from out of town, said to me all showin'-off like, "Do you know who sat where you're sitting last night?"

"No, who?" ol' ER said.

"Richard Childress!"

"In this very seat?" I said. It was a hardwood straight-back chair against a wall. Maple, I seem to recall.

"No shit!" I said, or some approximation, and the waiter produced a bidness card that indicated that, yep, sure 'nough, Mr. Childress and part of his entourage had been in St. Elmo's recently.

Totally cool.

Now, if you know who Richard Childress is, well, you know how cool it was for my buns to be sittin' in the very selfsame chair that his were, what with his connection to Dale Earnhardt and all, especially.

And if you don't know, why, his connection to Dale might suffice, but if not you can click on the link above and go to the Web site for Richard Childress Racing.

Sniff, sniff. The ER household can smell tires burnin' off. Racin' can't be far off!


Saturday, January 22, 2005


Brush with Greatness -- Reagan

An occasional series.

By The Erudite Redneck

Out popped the president in all his hail-fellow-well-met glory, wide-eyed, all teeth, waving big, looking through and over the people gathered to worship him on a spring day in the Rose Garden at the White House.

He'd played this part a million times. Iran-Contra was making headlines in early 1987, the loyal opposition in Congress was starting to call for his head, but if he was concerned, you couldn't tell it.

The Rose Garden ceremony was to honor the University of Tennessee women's basketball team, recently crowned national champions. A 20-something ER was there with a group of other journalism interns serving individual members of the 100th Congress.

Somebody handed the president a big pair of Converse basketball shoes, Tennessee orange. The strings were tied together. He hung them around his neck.

There was the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, goofing around, big ol' orange tennis shoes swaying and bouncing against the breast of his brown suit coat.

Somebody tossed him a basektball. He tried and failed to dribble it, just slapping at the ball, which got away from him. Somebody tossed it back to him, and he tried and failed again to dribble, and away went the ball.

He stepped to a microphone, said a few words, shook a few hands, posed for a few pictures. Then, he and the small swarm of Secret Service types and other presidential hangers-on moved en mass toward the White House, disappearing through a door.

He'd come out to honor the girls. They and others in the not-that-big crowd seemed to have come to worship him.

I have since come to admire the historical legacy of President Reagan, and, with the rest of the country, I was sad when he became ill and sad when he died.

But on a spring day in the Rose Garden in 1987, I was perhaps the lone infidel in a crowd of true believers. It was fun to be that close to a president, to be part of the official "in" crowd that day.

But I was just a visitor in the Church of Reagan.


Thursday, January 20, 2005


Call me "Master ER" -- sheepskin arrives!

University of Central Oklahoma

Edmond, Oklahoma

Upon recommendation of the Faculty and by authority of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education hereby confers upon

(Erudite Redneck)

the degree

Master of Arts

with all honors, rights and privileges appertaining thereto, in recognition of fulfillment of the requirements for this degree. In Witness Whereof, we have subscribed our names and affixed the seals of the Boards of Regents of Oklahoma.

December 17, 2004

Jimmy Harrel, Chairman, Regents for Higher Education
Cheryl P. Hunter, Secretary, Regents for Higher Education
Paul G. Risser, Chancellor, Regents for Higher Education
W. Roger Webb, President of the University
Don Betz, Provost
(Illegible), Chairman, Board of Regents of Oklahoma Colleges

:-) Last time I got one of these, it was 12 years before I started wantin' another one. I wonder how long this'un'll last!?!


Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Fergit hell!

By The Erudite Redneck

Today is Robert E. Lee's 198th birthday. A more honorable man the soil of this continent has never produced.

Below is an introduction to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, of which ol' ER is a proud member.

ER's Rebel was a soldier in Co. C of the Ark. 1st Infantry, from Johnson County, around Clarksville. He died at age 90 in 1930. Mama ER, who was born in 1922, remembers him.

That's how close the War Between the States is to me: I know Mama; Mama knew him -- that's pretty close. That's why, as the song says, I "still smell the powder butning, and probably always will."


The citizen-soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the motivating factor in the South's decision to fight the Second American Revolution. The tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. These attributes are the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the foundation on which this nation was built.

Today, the Sons of Confederate Veterans is preserving the history and legacy of these heroes, so future generations can understand the motives that animated the Southern Cause.

The SCV is the direct heir of the United Confederate Veterans, and the oldest hereditary organization for male descendents of Confederate soldiers. Organized at Richmond, Virginia in 1896, the SCV continues to serve as a historical, patriotic, and non-political organization dedicated to insuring that a true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved.

Membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans is open to all male descendents of any veteran who served honorably in the Confederate armed forces.

Click the link above for more information on the SCV.



On the War Between the States

(From the Washington Times)

In November 1866, British statesman Lord Acton wrote to Gen. Robert E. Lee, asking for the revered Confederate commander's views on the historical consequences of the War Between the States.

Lee — whose Jan. 19, 1807, birthday is widely observed in the South — replied at length. The following are excerpts from Lee's letter:

Lexington, Virginia
15 Dec., 1866

Sir — Although your letter ... has been before me for some days unanswered, I hope you will not attribute it to a want of interest in the subject, but to my inability to keep pace with my correspondence.

As a citizen of the South, I feel deeply indebted to you for the sympathy you have evinced in its cause, and am conscious that I owe your kind consideration of myself to my connection with it. The influence of current opinion in Europe upon the current policies of America must always be salutary; and the importance of the questions now at issue in the United States, involving not only constitutional freedom and constitutional government in this country, but the progress of universal liberty and civilization, invests your proposition with peculiar value, and will add to the obligation which every true American must owe you for your efforts to guide that opinion aright.

Amid the conflicting statements and sentiments in both countries, it will be no easy task to discover the truth, or to relieve it from the mass of prejudice and passion, with which it has been covered by party spirit. I am conscious of the compliment conveyed in your request for my opinion as to the light in which American politics should be viewed, and had I the ability, I have not the time to enter upon a discussion, which was commenced by the founders of the Constitution and has been continued to the present day.

I can only say that while I have considered the preservation of the constitutional party of the General Government to be the foundation of our peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authority reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of a free government. I consider it a chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it. I need not refer one so well acquainted as you are with American history, to the State papers of Washington and Jefferson, the representatives of the federal and democratic parties, denouncing consolidation and centralization of power, as tending to the subversion of State Governments, and to despotism.

The New England States, whose citizens are the fiercest opponents of the Southern states, did not always avow the opinions they now advocate. Upon the purchase of Louisiana by Mr. Jefferson, they virtually asserted the right of secession through their prominent men; and in the convention which assembled at Hartford in 1814, they threatened the disruption of the Union unless war should be discontinued.

The assertion of this right has been repeatedly made by their politicians when their party was weak, and Massachusetts, the leading state in hostility to the South, declares in the preamble to her constitution, that the people of that commonwealth "have the sole and exclusive right of governing themselves as a free sovereign and independent state, and do, and forever hereafter shall, exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction and right which is not, or may hereafter be by them expressly delegated to the United States of America in Congress Assembled."

Such has been in substance the language of other State governments, and such the doctrine advocated by the leading men of the country for the last seventy years. Judge [Salmon P.] Chase, the present Chief Justice of the U.S., as late as 1850, is reported to have stated in the Senate, of which he was a member, that he "knew of no remedy in case of the refusal of a state to perform its stipulations," thereby acknowledging the sovereignty and independence of state action.

But I will not weary you with this unprofitable discussion. Unprofitable because the judgement of reason has been displaced by the arbitrament of war, waged for the purpose as avowed of maintaining the union of the states. If, therefore, the result of the war is to be considered as having decided that the union of the states is inviolable and perpetual under the Constitution, it naturally follows that it is as incompetent for the general government to impair its integrity by the exclusion of a state, as for the states to do so by secession; and that the existence and rights of a state by the Constitution are as indestructible as the union itself. The legitimate consequence then must be the perfect equality of rights of all the states; the exclusive right of each to regulate its internal affairs under rules established by the Constitution, and the right of each state to prescribe for itself the qualifications of suffrage.

The South has contended only for the supremacy of the Constitution, and the just administration of the laws made in pursuance to it. Virginia to the last made great efforts to save the union, and urged harmony and compromise. Senator [Stephen A.] Douglas [of Illinois], in his remarks upon the compromise bill recommended by the commitee of thirteen in 1861, stated that every member from the South, including [Sen. Robert] Toombs [of Georgia] and [Sen. Jefferson] Davis [of Mississippi], expressed their willingness to accept the proposition of Senator [John] Crittenden of Kentucky as a final settlement of the controversy, if sustained by the republican party, and that the only difficulty in the way of an amiable adjustment was with the republican party. Who then is responsible for the war?

Although the South would have preferred any honourable compromise to the fratricidal war which has taken place, she now accepts in good faith its constitutional results, and receives without reserve the amendment which has already been made to the Constitution for the extinction of slavery. That is an event that has been long sought, though in a different way, and by none has it been more earnestly desired than by citizens of Virginia.

In other respects, I trust that the Constitution may undergo no change, but that it may be handed down to succeeding generations in the form we have received it from our forefathers. ...

With sentiments of great respect, I remain your obt. servant.

R.E. Lee


Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Juanita, rest in peace

This woman worked for a living, y'all. Sometimes I think all my runnin' around in life just amounts to runnin' around. Juanita just did what was before her to be done, and made a difference.


gracEmail ('THE LEAST OF THESE')
Jan 16, 2005

When Sara Faye reads the newspaper she usually fills an hour, whereas I "read" it in about five minutes. As a result, she often points out interesting items that I completely miss. This week an obituary in our local Katy Times caught her eye and she saved it for me. As usual, her instincts were sound and I was touched and blessed by reading it. The obituary marked the death of Juana Munoz, who died at 7:00 a.m. on January 3, 2005 at LBJ Hospital -- a charity institution -- in Houston.

"Juanita," as her friends called her, was born in the ancient city of Guanajuato, Mexico. As a young wife and mother she moved to Mexico City. She could not read but she could wash dishes, so she got a job as dishwasher in a restaurant. When her husband died not long after, she raised their children alone, living in an adobe house with dirt floors and a cardboard roof. On her small property Mrs. Munoz raised chickens and pigs, giving the choice piglet of each new litter to her Catholic church. The years went by and her children became adults, instilled by their mother with faith in God and the value of honest work.

When she was about 60, Mrs. Munoz moved to Katy, Texas to be near her youngest son. Here she became known as "the tricycle lady," who arose at 4:00 every morning to pedal through Katy picking up cans which she sold for her income. At 8:30, she would regularly be found at morning Eucharist at St. Bartholomew the Apostle Church, although the service was in English which she could neither speak nor understand. When diagnosed a few months ago with cancer, she informed her family and church with quiet contentment and peace. Before she died, Mrs. Munoz confessed regret that she was illiterate and could not read about God for herself.

The obituary ends with this tribute: "Her death brought many people to prayer and reflections, and her life touched many as an example of humbleness and faith." When we reach our earthly end, will the same be said about us? Lord Jesus, help me always to remember that we look on the outward appearance but you examine the heart. Make me ever sensitive to those whom you blessed with the title "the least of these."


© 2005 by Edward Fudge. Unlimited permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. For encouragement and spiritual food any time, visit our multimedia website at .

Monday, January 17, 2005


Only time I'm agin' Texas!

Oklahoma State basketball is in Austin for a Big Monday matchup with the Texas Longhorns. Tipoff is set for 8 tonight, and the game will be on ESPN.

OSU is 13-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12 after an 83-73 win over Iowa State Saturday afternoon in Stillwater. Texas is 13-3 overall, 2-1 in league play, after a 63-53 victory over Nebraska in Lincoln Saturday.

OSU leads the all-time series with Texas 32-31.

Usually, I say Hook 'em Horns! But not, of course, when it's OSU they're playing.



Sunday, January 16, 2005


"Wrestling," not "rasslin"

Partly from OSU Athletics:

Oklahoma State’s No. 1 wrestling team will play host Big 10 Iowa at 1:30 p.m. today at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Someting like 10,000 spectators are expected to spectate.

Iowa boasts six wrestlers ranked in the top 10, and the Hawkeyes are ranked No. 9 in the latest USA Today/NWCA coaches’ poll. Iowa brings a 5-1 record to town with the only loss coming to in-state rival Iowa State.

This will be the final tune-up for the Cowboys before they travel to Cleveland, Ohio, for the National Duals Jan. 22-23.

Dr. ER and I -- and Bird, who has the privilege of livin' right across the street from Gallagher-Iba, and it's newly christened Eddie Sutton Court -- will be there. She Who is My Wife and I are fans of all things O-State, and we are fans of Bird. Looks to be a fine day ahead.

By the way, this here is "wrestling." Skandar Akbar? Andre the Giant? What you and yer best buddy do when there's one beer left in the ice chest? That's "rasslin."



Saturday, January 15, 2005


The ball's in Eddie's Court

From The Associated Press

After so many victories on Gallagher-Iba Arena's court, Eddie Sutton can now claim it as his own.

After Sutton passed his mentor Henry Iba for seventh place in career coaching victories Saturday by defeating Iowa State, 83-73, at home, Oklahoma State officials announced that the court would be named after Sutton.

Major coolness.



"Autorantic Virtual Moonbat"

I've added a new toy. Scroll down and look to the left for Autorantic Virtual Moonbat, The Left Wing Robot Who Hates You, swiped from

I'm positive the creator of the thing and ol' ER don't agree on much politically. But the lefty robot is fun. Somebody come up with a right-wing version and I'll put it on here, too, and let 'em be real rock-'em-sock-'em-robots!

Both extremes of politics in this country suck right now. Might as well have fun with 'em.


Friday, January 14, 2005


Sequoyah County Times

Hot diggity. A work-related to-do tonight allowed me the mornin' to just sorter stroll into the day.

Read a little GWTW. (Ah am, Ah say, Ah am ASHAMED to admit I've nevah read it befoah).

Read a little Cicero, in a small book given to me as a graduation gift by a dear, dear friend: Cicero's Old Age and Friendship (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1896).

(The ONLY such gift, Bird! Bird, my Redheaded Redneck Stepchild, now a freshman at Oklahoma State, insisted that I delay finishing my dang master's by a semester because she didn't want me doin' that and her graduatin' high school at the same time. "But you'll get all the presents!" a 15-year-old Bird whined almost four years ago, plannin' ahead. NOT.)

Read my home county paper, the Sequoyah County Times. I am biased, but I b'lieve it to be one of the best twice-a-week county papers in the country. Check it out by clicking on the link above or at left.


Thursday, January 13, 2005


"College Basketball"

The Erudite Redneck bleeds orange. That means he is a fan of all things Oklahoma State, sports and otherwise. Those B.S.'s up there were acquired at OSU.

Ol' ER will be listenin' to an OSU wrestling match tonight on-line. Dr. ER and myself are headin' to Stillwater Sunday to watch grapplin' with our Bird, a freshman.

But basketball is the main thang right now, and the Pokes are doin' good. For a broader look at the world of college basketball, click on the link above. The blogger thereof surfed onto this place, attracted by comments on Coach Eddie Sutton and his matchin' Mr. Iba in wins the other night. Eddie should surpass his mentor on Saturday.

If yer a basketball fan, check it out! And note the addition to My Favorite Virtual Places at left.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005


"Sobering News"

This here is the Erudite Redneck's proposal for a presentation at “The Five Civilized Tribes: Two Centuries of Growth and Change,” Oklahoma Historical Society Annual Meeting, Muskogee, Okla., April, 2005:


“Sobering News: Choctaw Temperance Reporting Foreshadows Advocacy Journalism”

Temperance gave the Choctaw Telegraph (1849) and Choctaw Intelligencer (1850-1852) a platform for what the late twentieth century would call advocacy journalism. The approach was more than reporting seasoned with opinion or opinion peppered with news, both of which pioneers could find in other frontier newspapers. Often, a frontier newspaper with a “cause” concentrated on its pet issue to the exclusion of all others. The Telegraph and Intelligencer, two of Oklahoma’s earliest American Indian newspapers, gave their readers something that would not become common for more than a century: general-circulation newspapers that overtly promoted a core set of values.


We'll see whether the powers that be will let me on the program. I have command of the editorial content of every existing issue of those two newspapers, as well as the broader historical context of the times.

Some who know me might find it ironic that ol' ER has any expertise in anything related to temperance. Well, pbththt. :-)


Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Mr. Sutton and Mr. Iba

Oklahoma State basketball Coach Eddie Sutton took the win over Missouri tonight to match his mentor, Henry Iba, for seventh place on the all-time wins list for Division I. (And Bird was there!)

Mr. Iba had 767 career victories and sits in seventh place on the all-time wins list. It was quite an achievement for Coach Sutton, who played for Mr. Iba from 1955-58, and was a graduate assistant coach for the Iron Duke during the 1958-59 season.

The following is from the Oklahoma Historical Society:

For more than four decades, Henry P. "Hank" Iba reigned as the "Iron Duke of Defense" in college basketball, including 36 years at Oklahoma State University (formerly Oklahoma A&M). He led Oklahoma A&M to NCAA championships in 1945 and '46, and he directed the U.S. Olympic team to two gold medals in 1964 and '68 and one silver medal in '72.

His A&M/OSU teams won 655 games and lost 316 for a .675 percentage. He also coached A&M baseball until 1941 with a 90-41 record (a .687 winning percentage), and he assumed the role of athletic director less than a year after arriving on campus. His basketball teams were known for their tough, man-for-man defenses and for the "Iba deep freeze" in the final minutes of close games, but he adjusted to major changes such as the jump shot and bonus free throws.

Iba, born in Easton, Mo., on Aug. 6, 1904, started his basketball coaching career at Oklahoma City's Classen High School, where the Comets earned a 51-5 record in two years and won the state championship in 1928-29. He led Maryville Teachers College in Missouri to a 101-14 record before coaching at the University of Colorado for one year and then moving to Oklahoma A&M in 1935. Overall, his teams won 767 college games.

His 1945-46 NCAA champions were led by Bob Kurland, the game's first seven-foot player. They beat NYU in the 1945 finals and North Carolina in the 1946 finals. He was voted coach of the year in both seasons. His 1945 champions also defeated National Invitation Tournament champion, DePaul, and 6-9 center George Mikan in a classic Red Cross Benefit game.

Iba held the dual position of basketball coach and athletic director until he retired in 1970. He was elected to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, the Missouri Hall of Fame, the Helms Foundation All-Time Hall of Fame for basketball, and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at Springfield, Mass. Henry Iba died on January 15, 1993, at Stillwater, Okla.



Purdy pictures

Yo. See excellent photos shot by Dr. ER, She Who Is My Excellent Wife (but still won't call me "master"), followed by some sass directed at poor ol' ER, on her blog at Just click the link above.


Monday, January 10, 2005


McMurtry's bookstore(s) -- finis

By The Erudite Redneck

Step 1 of any 12-step program is: "We admitted we were powerless over (alcohol, or using credit, or tiddlywinks, or buying books, or whatever), that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Welp, put me down as a social book buyer then, because I am as pleased with myself for what I didn’t buy as what I did at Larry McMurtry’s store, Booked Up Inc., Saturday in Archer City, Texas, the novelist's hometown.

This ability to control myself did not come easily. It is a change that came free with my it’s-still-in-the-mail master’s degree in history. Fact is, you can’t read all the books you want to read once you get snake-bit by the history bug – so why buy the dang things?

From where I’m sitting, in my home office (home “junk pit” is more like it), I can count one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, NINE grocery sacks of books in the floor that make up the biggest part of my to-read list. In the closet are two shelves of more books I aim to read. And in the bedroom are a few more grocery sacks of books I aim to get to eventually.

So, although I slid seven books off the shelves at Booked Up Inc., I only made it home with four of ’em, and one of them a gift for Dr. ER. It still came to $97 and change – but hey, I didn’t go off on a book-buyin’ bender.

Used to, I’d buy books like a 20-year-old sneakin’ coldbeer at a neighborhood kegger, hurryin’ to drink as much as he can before somebody thinks to check his ID. Not that I personally have any experience at anything like that. Ahem. Now, I’m more into the 12-year-old-single-malt-scotch sort of book buying. Quality, not quantity.

First, the ones I decided not to buy – and I mean I sat at an old table and studied each of my selections all careful like, skimmin’ the indexes and the chapters, and thinkin’ about whether I wanted to own THIS VERY BOOK and pay what McMurtry wanted for it, or be satisfied with a cheaper reprint from somewhere else.

Lots of the books at his bookstore(s) are first editions, or early ones at least, and they ain’t cheap. If all you want is the text of an old book, if all you want to do is read it, in other words, chances are a reprint is available. If you want to own the first edition, or an old hardcopy, then you will pay for it.

The losers were a thick 1970s history of Habsburg Spain and a ’70s biography of Erasmus (note that he is quoted in Latin above in the “masthead” to this blog.) I would like to read both those books, but not at $35 and $25 a pop, respectively. Don’t want THOSE books, I just might would like to read them.

Coming home, somewhere around Chickasha, Okla., I realized that somehow I had gotten away without actually buyin’ this one book that I did want to own, precisely because it WAS a cheap reprint paperback ($4) of a book first published in 1899: Our Red Brothers and the Peace Policy of President Ulysses S. Grant, by Lawrie Tatum. Misplaced it somehow, dadgum it.

What I did make it home with was the following:

Numero uno. John Francis McDermott, ed., The Western Journals of Washington Irving (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1944).

It's a second printing, 1966, and still cost $35. It’s a companion to Irving’s Tour on the Prairies – it’s the personal notes he used to write the book, in fact, after his 1832 tour of what was then wild, unexplored country and is now eastern and central Oklahoma.

Numero two-o. Jack Beeching, The Galleys at Lepanto (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1983).

This is a blow-by-blow account, with appropriate historical context, of the sea battle on Oct. 7, 1571, between the Moslem Ottoman Empire and the Christian Holy League that was a watershed of sorts in the struggle for the Mediterranean and western Europe. Some 30,000 men died. Europe hooted and hollered because, while it didn’t beat back the Turks for good, not by a long shot, the battle did prove that they could, in fact, be whupped. $25.

This next one I bought for the title alone:

Numero three-o. Donald Ogden Stewart, A Parody Outline of History: A Curiously Irreverent Treatment of American Historical Events Imagining Them as They Would Be Narrated by America’s Most Characteristic Contemporary Authors, Together with Divers Delightful Droll Drawings Pencilled by Herb Roth (New York: George H. Doran Co., 1921).

Is that a hoot, or what? Funny guy Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show," author of the recently ballyhooed America (the Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, just acts like he was the first one to write a funny book about American history. The 1921 book is a comic answer to H.G. Wells’ serious nonfiction tome, An Outline of History, which came out the year before to wide acclaim, although it has never been highly regarded by professional historians. I own a copy of the Wells book, so now I have the set. $15.

And, for Dr. ER, I picked up the following, a pamphlet, which she will enjoy, believe it or not (I must admit I like havin’ it in the house, myself):

Numero four-o. "The Nature of Concepts, Their Inter-Relation and Role in Social Structure, Proceedings of The Stillwater Conference, Conducted by The Foundation for Integrated Educated Inc. and Co-Sponsored by Oklahoma A&M College, F.S.C. Northrop and Henry Margenau, Co-Chairmen, June 6, 7, 8, and 9, 1950, at Stillwater, Oklahoma."

Dude. Heavy.

It's cool to me to have such an artifact with Henry G. Bennett's name on it (inside). He was president of Oklahoma A&M then (now Oklahoma State). He is the namesake for Bennett Hall, where I lived back in the day and Bird lives now. Bennett was a big man who did big things right up until he and his wife died in a plane crash in 1951. They were on a trip to Iran at the behest of President Truman, attempting to employ the principles of agricultural extension so successful in this country within the sphere of nation-building and international relations.


Sunday, January 09, 2005


McMurtry's bookstore(s) -- Page 2

By The Erudite Redneck

ARCHER CITY, Texas – Danged if the man hisself – Larry McMurtry (“The Last Picture Show,” “Terms of Endearment,” “Lonesome Dove,” “Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen” and many others) wadn’t in the house when I walked into the Building 1 Annex at Booked Up Inc., McMurtry’s sprawling bookstore(s) here in his hometown.

He was just sittin’ there on a foldin’ table, the kind people unfold for church suppers and other to-do’s, talkin’ to a customer. I’d kind of stumbled in a little bewildered, as usual, since the layout and order of the store is renowned for bein’ laid out and ordered to fit one thing: McMurtry’s own whimsy.

It took a minute for my eyes to adjust from “road” to “read,” but I did notice the somewhat owlish man quietly holdin’ forth a-sittin’ on the foldin’ table and thought, “Holy Archer County pasture sample! That’s Larry McMurtry hisself.”

He is known to be annoyed by particularly effervescent fans. In fact, he has sworn off signin’ his own books or anybody else’s, a fact made clear by notices tacked up here and there in the store(s). And he doedn’t even sell his own books at his own place.

If he wadn’t so famous, I’d say that was a little weird. Him bein’ who he is, he’s a little eccentric.

I am not known for bein’ particularly effervescent about much outside of a NASCAR environment, although I do like McMurtry’s stuff and I obviously am a fan of his bookstore(s). But I aimed to be careful around him anyway. I was gonna just ease around him and try to be invisible and inoffensive.

Wouldn’t’ve been hard since his precise whereabouts were about 10 yards or so from where I was headed second (Texana and Southwest). Where I was headed first I wadn’t sure, since the first thing I wanted to do was peruse, for at least the half-dozenth time, a couple of top shelves loaded with the annual yearbooks of the American Historical Association, most of them just about 100 years old.

Last trip down, I picked up a copy of the yearbook that has U.B. Phillips doctoral dissertation. Any fellow erudite redneck who knows his American historiography, and who has a bit of an antiquarian bibliophilic bent, would be plumb jealous that I own the following:

Phillips, Ulrich Bonnell. “Georgia and State Rights: A Study of the Political History of Georgia from the Revolution to the Civil War, with Particular Regard to Federal Relations. In Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1901. Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1902: 3-224.

Makes me smile just to know I own that. It’s that kind of find that keeps book lovers like me drivin’ to Archer City to McMurtry’s bookstore(s), which is just this side of Lost West Texas, as the fine Texas Associated Press writer Mike Cochran once famously labeled the nearly empty expanses bracketed by Wichita Falls, Lubbock and Abilene, and up toward Amarillo and down toward Midland.

It’s my favorite part of Texas precisely because the towns, like Archer City, Seymour, Munday, Knox City, Crowell, and a sprinklin’ of others, are just minor outposts of humanity on a big piece of ground under a big sky, both of which take turns bein’ boss. You can’t even drive across the place without feelin’ manhandled somehow.

“Can I help you?”

Do what? Danged if that bespectacled fella on the foldin’ table, his sagacious air helpin’ filter out the dust that dances in the aisles anytime you get a bunch of old books together in one place – danged if he wadn’t talkin’ to me.

Well. If he was gonna go and be that open and civilized and all, I reckoned I’d sorter sidle up and meet him. I told him what I was lookin’ for and he allowed as how all those wonderful 100-or-so-year-old yearbooks I always go directly to were all boxed up, for some reason I can’t recall, but that they would be back on display and buyable by summertime.

Okie doke. Plenty more to pore over in this place. No big deal.

“Are you Mr. McMurtry?” I asked. He allowed as to how he was. “Well, I’m (Erudite Redneck),” I said, as HE stuck out HIS hand, which, havin’ read what I’ve read about his reputation for low-grade cantankerousness, surprised me a little. “I used to work at the paper in Wichita Falls and now I live in Oklahoma City."

“Oh, I don’t live here either. I live in Tucson,” he said, which I thought was a little weird, and a little eccentric, and a little like lots of people who come from around here but live somewhere else now: They seem to always want to make sure you know they don’t live around here anymore. (My own Dr. ER is one of them.)

“You’re not here at the store that often, are you?” I asked, knowin’ that he wadn’t and knowin’ that it was a pretty rare thing to walk into Larry McMurtry’s bookstore(s) and find Larry McMurtry sittin’ on a foldin’ table holdin’ forth with a customer.

He allowed as to how he was not here much, but that he had to be sometimes, to which I observed, “Well, I guess you do have to come in sometimes. It is your store. And it’s great. Glad to meet you.”

I went one way and he went another, and when he turned I saw that on the back of his black jacket it said, all splashy and Hollywood-like, “Cybill,” as in Cybill Shepherd, who broke out by playin’ Jacy Farrow in director Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 film version of McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show” and reprised the role of Jacy in 1990’s “Texasville.” (I fell for Cybill as detective Maddie Hayes in the late-’80s series “Moonlighting” with Bruce Willis – and she is still as hot as a firecracker if you ask me.)

Then I went over into the next room of Booked Up Inc.’s Building 1 Annex to privately enjoy the fact that I’d just unexpectedly met the man who has put Archer City, Texas, on the map for book lovers from all over the world, and to look for history books about Indians.

Just skipped where I meant to head to second, and went right to third, bypassin’ the books on Texana and the Southwest for the time being, knowin’ I’d just looked Mr. Texana hisself in the eye and even shook his hand. And that – livin’ somethin’ – is about the only dang thing that beats readin’ about it.


Saturday, January 08, 2005


McMurtry's bookstore(s) -- Page 1

We're off to Texas today, Bird and I, she to reclaim her car, which quit her down there on Christmas Day, me to get her there, to see a friend or two and to head on down to Archer City to peruse the zillions of books at Booked Up Inc., novelist Larry McMurtry's store.

"Book town" is more like it. He has taken over five big buildings around the town square. See the link above. It's heaven for bibliophiles of all stripes.

Archer City, about 25 miles south of Wichita Falls, Texas, is McMurtry's hometown, where they filmed the classic "The Last Picture Show" and the not-so-classic-but-still-funny-satirical-and good-to-me "Texasville." Once, in '89, tryin' to get to the courthouse for some story I was workin' on, I drove by as they were filming an outdoor scene for "Texasville" with Cybill Shepherd and Jeff Bridges. Major cool.

At the store, I will check out the American Indian, Oklahoma, Texas and Southwest sections, as usual, give a glance to the Civil War-era stuff, somewhat knowingly (now) peruse anything on the Reformation and late medieval-early modern Europe, and cap it with a stroll down the aisle with 19th-century American literature.

A finer way to spend the day I cannot imagine.


Thursday, January 06, 2005


"Back to Sadnormal"

By The Erudite Redneck

Holiday family time is fixin’ to be over at the ER household. Dr. ER flies off to Florida on bidness tomorrow. Bird heads back to Oklahoma State on Saturday.

And ol’ ER will be all by his lonesome. Again.

ER was not mean to be left by hisself. He gets melancholy every time.

Truth be told, he’d accept another tattoo, hell, a dadgum Bird tongue ring, probably, with a reluctant smile, if the option was not havin’ Bird around at all.

Last night was about as good as it gets. Both ER and Dr. ER and Bird were all under one roof. It don’t happen that often anymore – and it never happened enough to suit me ever.

As long as we’ve been married, Dr, ER has been flyin’ off to this or that to-do, or drivin’ to get there, and Bird has spent summers and half the holidays (more than half, it seems like) with her biological father and his wife, and Bird’s half-siblings, in Texas.

Maybe that’s why I am so confounded jealous and protective of Bird, and so desperate for times when she and her mama and me are all in the same place at the same time.

Thank God for Dr. ER and for Bird. ER was 33 before ever gettin’ hitched, and he’d about give plumb up on the notion of ever havin’ his own family. When it happened, he was as surprised as could be.

With Bird easin’ out on her own more and more, ol’ ER gets so sad sometimes he wants to write sad country song lyrics, which, along with cheap whiskey, was how he used to get by back when he was single and so lonesome he could cry, back before Cupid shot him full of arrows and left stars in his eyes for the future Dr. ER and a little Bird.

The strings on my guitar have been on there since at least 1997, which is when Cupid’s shootin’ culminated in a couple of I-do’s before a Justice of the Peace in a Texas county courthouse. Suddenly it seems like a long, long time ago.

Something’s got to give, and it might as well be a new set of strings, the healed-up blisters on my chordin’ fingers from lack of playin’ and a fresh No. 2 pencil pencilin’ in some sad words all wrapped up in C, D, G, F and a few other, mostly minor, chords.

Song No. 1 on the album titled The Next Stage of ER’s Life:

“Back to Sadnormal.”


P.S. No mean remarks tolerated in the Comments on this one, y'all.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Mama ER speaks

Mama ER is my own mama, not to be confused with Dr. ER, who is She Who Is My Wife. Mama ER, who is 82, weighed in, as only my plain-spoken mama can, on the recent saga with Bird.

ER: "Guess what (Bird's) got?"
Mama ER: "What's that?"
ER: "A tattoo."
Mama ER: (laughs and hoots and hollers)
ER: "Yep."
Mama ER: "Well, what is it?"
ER: "It's a little bumblebee, on her ankle."
Mama ER: "Well at least she didn't get one put on her forehead."
ER: "Well, yeah."
Mama ER: "At least she didn't get one put on her breast or butt."
ER: "Not that we know of!"
Mama ER and ER: (laugh and hoot and holler)
Mama ER: "Now, if she comes home with a ring in her nose that'll be too much."
ER: "Yep, for sure."
Mama ER: "You be sweet to her."
ER: "I am, Mama."

:-) Bird comes home with a ring in her dang nose and they will have to just load me up and take me to Vinita.*

*Vinita, site of an Oklahoma state mental hospital. A Texan might say ... "take me to Terrell," or "take me to Vernon," site of same; the funny farm

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Wee bee

Bird has a bumblebee tattoed on an ankle. The wee bee, like most problems in the heat of the moment, seems a little bit bigger than life size.

Don't misunderstand. The inky dinky bee did cause a big problem, a real one. But the storm has passed -- with a fair amount of work on both our parts.

The secrecy and deception explains a lot of recent attitude and behavior on Bird's part.

Bird will hear one more message from me regarding this, unless she reads it here first. There is a law of the universe involved.

Stick a potato in the tail pipe of a car. If it's tight enough, it will cause the car to run poorly, fumes will back up throughout the system, and the car, and its occupants, will get sick.

Get constipated. Your body will suffer. You will get physically sick.

Stop praying. That is, let your own sin keep you from going into God's presence. Your spiritual life will suffer mightily. You will get spiritually sick.

Keep a secret. Lie to keep it hidden. Your relationship with yourself, and with others, especially those from whom the secret is hidden, will suffer. You will get emotionally sick, and it will affect everything else about who you are and how others perceive you.

That ain't really preachin'. It's just the truth, as experienced by the Erudite Redneck. Bird is learnin' it the hard way. But she seems to be learnin' it.


Monday, January 03, 2005


(Dodo) Bird and natural selection

A dodo bird! That's what kind of bird our Bird is! Danged if she didn't go and get a tattoo, sneakin' around to do so. Danged if she didn't then hide it from us for weeks.

My kingdom for a syringe of common sense to inject into that girl. The offense is in the sneakin' and in the deception, not the ink now permanently etched under her skin -- although that's bad enough.

A dodo bird! Not because it sounds cute. But because, like the dodo, the Bird we knew is growing extinct because of natural selection.

She continues to make decisions and take steps that cause her to become someone we don't know, don't respect and don't even like sometimes.

And like the dodo, she seems totally oblivious to it.


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