Meanwhile, Back At The Critter Ranch
What's that in the bushes?
David Frederick, maintainer of the the best CONVOY movie site in the world, has announced the arrival of the newest Crispy Critter, Adam Robert Frederick, at 11:31 A.M. on November 25th. 7 pounds, 14 ounces, 21 inches. Mother Joann and Adam are doing well. There's a picture of the family on the CONVOY site, together with a picture of David's Pennsylvania license plate (guess what it says).
Other new Critters include Mark Landis of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Mark has all of the vinyl LPs, and he bought them when they were new!); Walter Pickett of Tucson, Arizona (who said that if I didn't add him to the list then "I will be forced to banish-you-to-the-salt-mines-with-nothin'-to-eat-but-bread-and-water-so-you'll-starve!") ; Ionel Mierla of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (it's pronounced "yun-nell", and it's Romanian for "Little John"); the entire Mckimmie family (they're friends of Ionel); Jeff Davis of Lexington, Kentucky and Caanan Valley, West Virginia; and Paul Wroblewski of Perth, Western Australia (he says that there's no double-nickel limit. Which is good, because travelling at 55 kilometers per hour is damned boring :).
Jim Conte passed along a link to the Bald Eagles Slideshow, a beautiful collection of photographs of the National Bird of the United States of America. (Trivial note: did you know that Benjamin Franklin had proposed the wild turkey as the national bird?)
Brady "Waferdog" Klejeski notes that the current issue of Blender magazine has an article on Chip Davis, with "the obligatory C.W. mention, which actually seems to downplay Bill Fries' role in the whole phenomena." When will they learn? The Blender web site does not yet have the article online (they're probably one month behind the current issue, says Brady).
Ed. Floden (a.k.a. The Space Cadet) spoke to the Honorable Bill Fries last Monday (November 25), and was brought up-to-date on affairs McCall. Rena (the Real R.J.) had her 70th birthday not long ago, and she's now using a pacemaker. She's feeling much better. Bill, of course, celebrated the 74th anniversary of his birth on November 15th. Trivial information, in no particular order:
- In the song "Nishnabotna", Bill's friend was named John. Bill's dad (William Sr.) found the boys on that infamous day and drove them back home. Bill's sunburn was so bad that he passed out during the trip back. He wonders if that sunburn will cause any health problems now.
- Bill refers to the "West Nishnabotna" River, although the East branch is the closest to Audubon. Bill said that he didn't like the word "east".
- Bill was born in Audubon, but his family moved to Exira when he was 18. He did graduate from Audubon High School, though.
- Chip Davis, now 54, is tiring of the constant touring for Mannheim Steamroller. He's received several offers for the purchase of American Gramaphone, the most interesting offer coming from Sony Music. (Bill stopped touring as C.W. McCall when he reached 52 years old.)
Old Home Café: The Next Generation
Kicking the tires
Episode V: Meet The Neighbors
This is a serial story by Edward Floden, based on characters and situations created by William D. Fries, Jr. Any resemblance to actual persons or events is coincidental. I hope.
Well, it's Pisgah town in mid-July: the sun is hot and your throat is dry. But at the Old Home Café the air temperature is at a comfortable 75 degrees Fahrenheit (that's 19 degrees Celsius, for you modern readers) and the electric meter on the back wall is singing like a buzzsaw. Yeah, it's a hot day.
There's a truck with a liftgate parked outside, and two guys doing their best to unload a 60 cubic foot refrigerator with stainless steel doors. Inside the Café, a carpenter is assembling the last of the new wooden booths that line three walls of the room. The walls glisten with a fresh coat of light blue paint, and over in the corner Jon Bach is wiping down the equipment behind counter. The Bunn coffee maker is shining almost as if it's new; the Coke dispenser is actually dispensing Coke, and root beer and orange and something that's sort of lemon-lime. The counter itself sports eight new stools with red vinyl cushions.
The Old Home Café is almost ready for business, but not quite yet: the county inspectors haven't yet done their inspecting, and Jon was expecting that those inspections would be done this afternoon. A couple of signatures to go and that business license on the wall would finally be useful.
Jon heard the back door open as the new refrigerator was wheeled in. He stepped into the kitchen and pointed to an empty spot by the back wall. "Right there," he said, "next to the freezer." The freezer was also new; but on its right was the old Westinghouse unit that had served as the refrigerator for the last eighteen years. The old fridge was still plugged in and crammed with the perishable necessities for a restaurant. Anticipating the opening of the Café, he'd done some shopping and had a few deliveries made. Except for bread, he had everything that he needed to supply the meals that were listed on menu.
Jon returned to the dining room. "How's it going, Bob?" he asked the carpenter.
Bob was down on one knee, attaching the cushion to the bench seat. He stood up from his crouch and stretched, shaking out a cramp in his right leg. "Almost done," he said. "A couple of screws in this back panel, and then I can bolt the tables in. I'll be done by 2."
"Don't rush," said Jon. "I've got you for the whole day, anyway." He pointed his right thumb back over his shoulder. "Want something to drink? I've got the Coke dispenser working."
"Sure," said Bob, taking a bandanna from his pocket and wiping the sweat from his face. "And use lots of ice." He walked to the counter with Jon, then sat on one of the new stools after checking his back pockets for tools. No sense in puncturing the new furniture, he thought. "Still think this'll work?" he asked.
Jon continued to pour the sodas. "This restaurant? I hope so." He turned towards the counter, two cold drinks in hand, placed them on the counter and slid one over to Bob. "It's needed. There's nothing like it until Mondamin."
"But the previous one failed," said Bob, sipping the Coke. "The population here isn't what it used to be. Are you hoping for tourists? You won't get them in the winter." On the counter was yesterday's edition of the local newspaper, the Pisgah Occasional. Above the fold, headlined at the top, was the article "Old Home Café To Reopen." "At least you're getting some press."
"Yeah, any publicity is good," said Jon. "You know, until last week, I didn't even know that Pisgah had a newspaper."
"Now as for tourists, I figure on a few. I've seen a lot of people drive through Pisgah, but not many stop. The resale shop across the street gets customers, though." Jon looked out of the front window. "There's three cars over there now. Someone must be thirsty." He watched three men exit from the shop and begin to cross the street towards the Café. "Like them," he said, calling Bob's attention to the approaching group.
The men were dressed typically for the season: sunglasses, baseball caps (one was obviously a Chicago Cubs cap), t-shirts and denim jeans. There was nothing distinctive about them; they could be local residents, or tourists. They were obviously young; Jon guessed their ages to be around twenty years, give or take a year.
The front door opened and the group of three entered. The lead man removed his sunglasses and cap and paused a moment, looking toward Jon and Bob at the counter. "Excuse me," said the man, "are either of you gentlemen the owner of this fine establishment?"
Jon was intrigued. That was very courteous speech; it hadn't sounded sarcastic, but genuinely inquisitive. "I'm the owner," said Jon, walking from behind the counter to greet the man. "Jon Bach." He extended his right hand in the gesture of a handshake.
The courteous man shook Jon's hand. "Hi. I'm Larry Barry, and this," he said, motioning toward the man now standing to his left, "is my brother…"
At this moment, Jon experienced what can be best described as a brain fart. The synapses were firing, the thoughts were flowing, but from somewhere deep in his brain came a trivial bit of information that should have stayed buried wherever it had been lying. And before he had fully comprehended what he wanted to say, he said it.
"Darryl?" asked Jon.
Larry looked surprised and quite puzzled. He stopped dead in his introduction, and didn't continue for at least five seconds. "Uh, no," he said. "Jerry, actually. Why did you think 'Darryl'?"
This time, Jon thought before he answered. "Old joke," he said. "You didn't watch much television during the '80s, did you?"
"Not really," said Larry. "I was too busy helping my dad on the farm. Anyway, this is my brother Jerry, and a friend of ours who is, coincidentally, also named Jerry." Jerry and Jerry tipped their hats. "Hi," said Jerry. "Hey," said Jerry Two.
Larry continued. "We noticed that you're reopening the cafe, and wondered if you needed any help. We're sort of general handymen."
"Well, the floor needs mopping," said Jon, "and the grounds are messy. Do you have any objection to cleaning the sidewalk and the backyard? And what do you charge?"
"Minimum wage," said Larry. "We're just home for the summer, and any odd job will do. I'm entering my fourth year at the University of Omaha, and Jerry's second year. Jerry Two just got laid off from the local auto repair shop."
Bob the carpenter had been silent; now he rose from his stool and stood beside Jon. "Told you," he said, nodding towards Jerry Two. "The economy here isn't too good. The old businesses in town are shutting down, and you're opening a restaurant? I appreciate the work, Jon, but you're going to have a hard time making a buck here." He took another sip of his Coke. "Unless you've got a secret weapon, that is."
Jon shrugged. "If it dies, it dies. But I'm going to try. Let me tell you," he said, "I've got a friend who runs a web site, and he's making enough to live on. When he started that site, there wasn't one like it anywhere; he had the subject all to himself. He doesn't advertise his existence, but word of mouth leads people to him. They're interested in what he does, and their support is just enough to keep him in the black. For this Café, I'll settle for the same: good service for good customers. The phrase 'wildly successful' may never apply to here, but I think that I'm supplying a needed service." Jon paused, then turned back to Larry. "So, you want a job?"
Larry nodded. "I've no problem with swabbing decks," he said, smiling. "Jerry, can you and Two handle the outside?"
"Not a problem," said Jerry. "We'll need some implements of destruction, though. Do you have your own, or should be bring some?" he asked Jon.
Jon reached into his pocket for a key and handed it to Jerry. "The garage in the back," he said. "Shovels, rakes, water hose." Jerry took the key, and with Jerry Two following him they headed outside to the garage.
Jon looked at the sidewalk outside of the southside window. "By the way, Larry, do you know anyone who does concrete work? I'm thinking about replacing the sidewalk. It's a bit cracked."
Larry examined the walk. "Cracked? Looks like you'd need a Jeep to cross it. Yeah, I can give you a number tomorrow. In the meantime, where's the mop? I'll get started on the floor."
"Back end of the kitchen," said Jon, pointing to the door behind the counter. "There's a utility closet back there. And…" Jon began to say, when he happened to again look out of the southside window, towards the bank across the street.
At that moment a woman had exited from the bank and started to walk north past the Café. It was the same woman that he'd seen on that Saturday when he had first driven into Pisgah. He'd seen her several times since them, usually at the bank. Maybe she worked there. "Larry, do you know who is that woman?" asked Jon, pointing to her.
Larry squinted into the bright noon sun. "Avis Granelli? She lives a couple of houses down the block from me. She's an accountant, I think. My sister is friends with her."
"You have a sister, too?" asked Jon. I know that I'm going to regret this, he thought, but I've got to know. "What is her name?"
"Merry," said Larry, and spelled the name. "Do you want to meet her? For a new guy in town, you're moving fast." He chuckled.
"I'll consider the offer," said Jon. "But right now, let's get this place into shape. I've got two inspectors arriving at 1 o'clock, and the Café needs to be ready. Bill, despite your misgivings, I've got a restaurant to open. Let's go, boys."
That day did have a happy ending. Bo bfinished the booths, Larry scrubbed the floor, and Jerry and Jerry Two trimmed the vegetation around the building and picked up the trash. The free-standing tables (which had been stacked over in the area of the bar) were placed in the dining area. The building and health inspectors arrived and the Old Home Café passed its inspections.
At 5 A.M. the next day, Jon opened the doors of the Old Home Café for business. He didn't expect to see many customers — which was just as well, as he hadn't yet hired a cook — but as he unlocked the front door, he saw Avis Granelli jogging along 1st Street. Jon didn't believe in omens, but if he had to believe, then the appearance of Avis was a fine omen to him.
In our next exciting episode: Opening Day at the Old Home Café: Hamburgers, Hells Angels, and Heinken.
Song A’ Th’ Week
Words without music. Call 'em poems.
Once again, that time of the year is upon us. In the Northern Hemisphere there's snow, and thoughts of Santa Claus and Pere Nöel and Father Christmas fill the minds of children. But you know better, don't you?
Reg'sters ring, are you chargin'?
Ev'ry aisle, there's a bargain.
Go deep in the hole
Show you've got some soul
Max your credit card and blow your pay.
Livin' Within My Means
From the album
Roses For Mama
Well, I was a poor boy
Just a-kickin' around
Eighteen, with a head full a' dreams
Took some money back then
Did a year in the pen
For not livin' within my means
I worked ev'ry day
I did my time the hard way
I walked out a' that place feelin' clean
I got a job, a guitar
I bought an old beat-up car
Started livin' within my means
Fell in love with a beautiful lady, of sorts
But she was ruthless, restless, and mean
She left me one day
And now I've had to pay
For not lovin' within my means
Then I took to drinkin'
To drive her from my mind
And it helps me forget her, it seems
I just drink now and then
Only now I'm drunk again
For not drinkin' within my means
Now I know that I'm dyin'
But I don't worry none
'Cause I know my soul He'll redeem
But what bothers me
Unless they bury me free
Is I won't even die within my means
But when the dyin's all over
An' I come back again
Say "to hell" with self-pride and esteem
I'll get born in my teens
An' I'll stick to my dreams
Try dreamin' within my means
An early Christmas. Episode VI of Old Home Café: The Next Generation.
The Legend-News is published fortnightly — unless the fortnight is the fifth Monday, in which case it's published fortnightly-and-a-half — by TechRen Enterprises, just down the road from the Batcave. Contents Copyright 2002 TechRen Enterprises, except for anything that we borrowed from someone else. Thanks to Bill Fries and Chip Davis for the words and music, and thanks to a Large Multinational Record Company That We Can't Name Because They Might Notice Us for not suing our pants off. "Antimatter? You mean they're not coming back?"