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Has anyone seen Elvis there?

Not a loopy sort of guy

In a recent foray into the wilds of New England upon the banks of the Charles river where it meets the Atlantic ocean (one feels that a comma should go here, as a pause for breath if not as a grammatical necessity) I visited a small shop where they sold artifacts that purported to be of Russian origin. This, I thought, would be a good place to buy a new winter hat.

Mind you, I already have a perfectly good winter hat. Er, well, “perfectly good” may be an overstatement. Let us merely say that it is quite functional, even if it is upwards of thirty years old and the lining has a penchant for wandering about a bit. Still, it keeps my head warm and my ears covered when I face the winds of winter. One should ask no more of a hat than that.

So you would think. However Our Lady of the Oversized Black Dog informed me that it was time and past time that I got a new hat. Women are like that. They will spend large amounts of money on an ancient, rickety piece of furniture that one dast not use lest it fall into a pile of kindling at the slightest touch, excusing its infirmities on the grounds that it is an antique. Let a man, however, possess a perfectly good bit of clothing – a jacket, a hat, socks, or underwear – that is serviceable albeit perhaps a bit frayed here and there, clothing that is comfortable, clothing that is almost like family for having been with him for so long, and a woman will want him to discard that which is almost a part of himself, ruthlessly culling it, and just as ruthlessly altering his image and appearance to Lord knows what.

This may be just as well. It is women with their shopping impulse that keep our economy afloat. If the business of shopping were left to men the economy would be in doldrums save for those shops that feature tools made by Black and Decker. It occurs to me that America would be the land of the best dressed men in the world if only Black and Decker had clothing outlets.

Be all of that as it may, there I was in a shop that sold Russian hats, the kind that form a big black tower on the top of your head, and have ear flaps that run down beneath your chin. Russian hats are serious winter hats; Russia has even worse winters than South Dakota. This, I said, was for me.

So here I am with a fine new winter hat, a hat suitable for hiking in subzero weather. It had, alas, a flaw. When the flaps fold down there are two little bits of ribbon that one is expected to tie under your chin. I am not the sort of man who ties bows under his chin.

Fortunately my friend Deborah had just purchased what looked like velcro dots, little discs with velcro on one side and sticky stuff on the back. I liberated some of these and attached them to the ribbons. They worked, sort of, but they didn’t fasten very well.

Deborah looked at my handicraft and went into whoops of laughter. It seems that these little dots come in two sorts, hooks and loops. My little fasteners were all hooks. With such dignity as I could muster, I informed her that I am not, after all, a loopy sort of guy.

Passing through Branson

No, I did not personally pass through Branson. Friends of mine, however, were describing Branson to me. It is, so am I told, where senility and pop entertainment clasp hands. Troops of human antiquities pass through during the day (night being reserved for refreshing sleep, early and often) to visit little entertainment centers where equally superannuated entertainers perform their greatest hits over and over again. Performers get to relive their triumphs and ancients get to relive their sentimental moments.

There was a chap, I forget his name, who did a song entitled “Blue Velvet”. My understanding is that it was his only real big hit. He has a stall in Branson called Blue Velvet where he sings Blue Velvet over and over again.

The whole idea is moderately horrifying and yet intriguing. It is rather like the movie, “Groundhog Day”, where someone – in this case the performer – lives the same experience over and over again. There is a difference though. In the movie, the protagonist struggles against the cycle and can learn from his experience. In Branson the performers embrace the cycle and learn nothing; rather they cling to singular moments in their life and forget all else. (Parenthetically, there is a rumor that they are making a sequel to “Groundhog Day”. They will reissue the old movie with a new title, “Groundhog Day II”.)

I dunno, but maybe, just maybe, Elvis is still alive and has a tent at the end of a dead end street in Branson, where he swivels three hundred pounds of lard-laden hips to the strains of “You ain’t nothing but a hound dog.” If he is, and someone spots him, please don’t tell me about it.

Speaking of hound dogs

Recently the friendly folks at Earthlink let me know that the traffic on the ~cri site was getting close to one gigabyte a month. Since this is their limit (at my current rate) I will have to do something about it. The first step in doing something about it was to look at the traffic on] my site. This is always an illuminating and sometimes bewildering exercise. I have come to terms with the fact that people are entranced by camel recipes. My site may be more notable for its humor than for its scholarship but the Piltdown Man is a scholarly resource. Scholarship of a somewhat different kind can be found in the “Calamity Jane Austin” biography. The popularity of theFriendship poem is a testament to the sweetness of sentiment of my readers. In the first three days of March, however, 65% of the hits were on the page, A boy and his dog, a not particularly edifying tale of a young lad’s attempt to recruit his dog into his search for sexual gratification. There are a lot of sick puppies out there and you know who you are.

This page was last updated March 1, 2003.
It was reformatted and moved May 15, 2006.

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