Daily Archives: November 12, 2011

Book Review – Aztec Autumn, Gary Jennings

When I came across this tome in a thrift store for a quarter it reminded me I’d read and enjoyed Aztec, by Jennings sometime in the 1990s and enjoyed.  So I snagged it for a quarter and got a read I’d be hard pressed to sell for less than a couple of bucks .

Jennings does a workman-like job of creating strong characters and a seductive plot involving a personal grudge leading to the Mixton War between the tribes of Mexico and the Spaniards.  While Coronado was battling his way around New Mexico searching for the Seven Cities of Cibola, an Aztlan nobleman leading a consortium of tribes and slaves with the intention of driving all whites out of Mexico briefly spilled a lot of Spanish blood.

The primary character, Tenamaxtli, encounters Cabeza de Vaca, Estevan, and Frey Marcos de Niza in various wanderings through the plot, and visits villages throughout northern Mexico for a probably realistic-enough look at conditions and cultures.  There’s also an underlying flow of attitudes and behavior portrayed in the interactions of the tribes among themselves, the Spanish treatment of slaves, both native and imported, and the policies of the Church toward the indigents.

All in all a good read.  If I had it to do over, though, I think I’d have searched out Aztec and given it a re-read before pursuing this one.

Old Jules

A Bullying Commie Americauna

Bullying’s getting all out of hand here since the weather’s cooled.  I’ve written about this hen before, probably under the heading, News From the Middle of Nowhere.  She’s always been a Communist from earliest chickhood.  But most recently she’s begun spending her nights locked up with the two younger roosters, one a Black Silky, the other a Silky/Australorp cross.  Then, after everyone’s out ranging, I let her out of the young rooster pen to range with the rest of the flock and do her laying in the same nests as the other hens.

The chickens are allowed to bully the cats here because it’s the lesser of two evils – the cats all know and respect the fact chickens aren’t to be bullied, whatever their feline instincts argue otherwise.  So naturally, the chickens are well aware of this and bully the hell out of every cat that gets in the way of whatever catches their eye.

Sooooo.  I re-established the cat houses for the cold weather and the felines explored and tested each for personal priorities and preferences, not taking into account the Commie hen.  The cats know those are THEIR shelters.  The one this Communist is sitting in is the preferred sleeping place of Shiva the Cow Cat.  Not a nesting box for Communist Party meetings between chicken and egg.

Unfortunately, Shiva also knows she’s not allowed to swat the bejesus out of the hen when it becomes a contest over who gets to take over the Shiva-house.  So Shiva snoozes until the Commie arrives, then the chicken comes in and gives her a couple of pecks, Shiva exits out the other side, and Ms. Commie settles down to drop a bluegreen egg.

But that’s only a piece of the bullying going on here.  I was going to tell a bit about an 8-9 year old kittenish cat named Tabby who’s begun testing my patience by bullying the hell out of the older felines. 

But I’ll save that so’s I won’t be tempted to use language strong enough to cause the lady-readers to blush.

This place is looking every day more like a bunch of human beings trying to get along.

Old Jules

My Original Veteran’s Day Post

I'd guess Phil probably resembled this young marine when he arrived

I hadn’t thought about my old running buddy, Phil, for a while.  That last blog entry got me chewing on thoughts of him.  I’ll tell you a bit more about him.

Phil went to the Marine Corps as the result of being a 17 year old driving from Temple, Texas, to Austin with a case of beer in the car.  A Williamson County Sheriff Deputy stopped him on a tail light violation, asked for his drivers license and saw the case of beer.  Old Phil, being a clever youth, gave the officer a Texas Drivers License with an altered date of birth, so’s to keep from being arrested as a minor in possession of alcoholic beverages.

The deputy wasn’t fooled.  He hauled Phil off to the slammer to reflect on his sins.  He was offered the alternatives of going to prison for presenting a phony ID, or going into the US Marine Corps.

In Vietnam, at least, Phil was old enough to drink.  He became Marine Recon and a sniper.  Phil was in the jungle with a squad of other snipers surrounded by a NVA rocket launching unit when the first rockets were fired into Da Nang AFB.  The squad wisely stayed hidden and didn’t take any shots, they radioed in the location of the rocket unit and brought an airstrike down on top of themselves.

They’d be dropped into an area where the NVA was expected to set up a battalion or division headquarters, sit there a couple of weeks waiting quietly, and try for a head shot at a senior officer.  Once the shots were fired they’d try to sink back into the bushes until things went quiet, then slink out to some place where they could be lifted out.

Phil did two tours over there.  When he came back he had such a chest full of medals they snatched him up for Nixon’s Honor Guard.  Which Phil believed would be easy duty.

Instead, it was riot control.  Wherever Nixon went there were anti-war riots, and Phil and his unit busting heads, which he thoroughly hated, since he agreed with the demonstrators.

Phil hated politicians, hated war, hated the men responsible for sending him over there and making him the troubled, rage filled human being he was during the decade and a half I knew him.

But the Vietnamese body counts were a lot higher because of Phil.

When I last saw him half his face was eaten away by Lupus, contracted as a result of Agent Orange in those jungles.  The Veterans Administration was fighting and squirming denying all those guys were ill from Agent Orange, that the problems were Service Connected, so they’d have to offer disability and whatnot.

Phil used to observe that he might have been a lot better off if he’d just let them send him to prison for the beer and phony ID.  Then they couldn’t have even drafted him for that place.

I wonder if that old Agent Orange has killed him yet.  Another victim of friendly fire with a delayed action fuse.

Old Jules

Tom Russell –Veteran’s Day