A while back I saw one of those “ten things” lists on Facebook. It was titled “Ten Things to do to Make Your Girl Smile.” It was one of the most condescending and superficial things I’ve ever seen. Filled with things like “tell her she’s pretty,” and “buy her nice things,” and “make reservations and take her to a nice restaurant where all she has to do is show up and look pretty.” Because apparently women are just interested in material items and being told they are pretty. Continue reading “Discussion: How to not be a jerk”
Bring fancy quick-dry clothes made of rip-stop nylon (because the cruelest thorns in the world are found in Africa). The type of clothes that cost a lot of money in Patagonia catalogs. Preferably the pants that have legs that zip off and become shorts. Because you never know when you might have to zip down and run from a hungry hyena. Because Africa is an adventure. Continue reading “Because Africa is an Adventure”
Up to now I have waged a passive protest against racist sports imagery, most notably the Washington DC NFL team, whose name I refuse to acknowledge. I’ve never been shy about talking about it to anyone who will listen, but I’ve never taken an active role. My personal boycott of this team means that I skip over pages of the newspaper that talk about them, I flip past TV stations showing their games and I refuse to speak their name, calling them the Washington Racists or R-words. But ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It’s time to speak up. I will be passive no longer. Continue reading “Honor or hatred?”
This is an excerpt from a much longer work of fiction I have been working on for a very long time. These characters have been haunting me for the better part of twenty years. I think the time has come to share them with the world.
DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. All characters are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.
Walking down a narrow street lined with stout oak and sycamore trees reminds Jake of his childhood in the Ozarks. He thinks of Halloween when he was five years old, going house to house trick-or-treating in the small farming community where his grandparents lived. The smell of rotting leaves and wood smoke in Cape Town’s cold night air takes him back in time twenty years, holding his older sister’s hand as they walk along the sidewalk in their costumes, carrying their bags stuffed with candy, their mother following along slowly on the street in the family car, keeping a watchful eye on them. Continue reading “Chapter 1: A Cape Catharsis”
Today is the autumnal equinox. Goodbye to what must surely have been one of the shortest summers in recent memory. Funny how time speeds up as we get older. After one of the most brutal winters in memory I’m not so sure I’m all that excited to see summer come to an end just yet. Continue reading “Autumnal Days”
So one of the main tenets of upscale shack living is being able to make something out of nothing. When I was about 5 years old (way back in the late 70’s), my grandpa Harry Prettyman taught me how to make a toy “tractor” from a wooden thread spool and a rubber band and a match stick. It was my favorite toy, and I was amazed that he could make something so cool out of nothing but junk. Continue reading “Further thoughts on living the Upscale Shack life”
Lest you think that this blog is going to be all words all the time, let me sprinkle it with some music to spice things up a bit. Here are your Friday jams for this week. Continue reading “Friday Night Musical Interlude”
This is not a political blog. I’m not going to get in the habit of espousing my political views, there are far too many sites focused on every narrow political perspective under the sun, and frankly most of it bores me. Because it seems that 90% of politics focuses so narrowly on single issues that it misses the bigger picture. Instead, I want to focus on what makes us all similar, not what drives us apart. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Scottish referendum”
This should have been my first post. Belatedly, let me explain the name of this blog.
In 1845, Henry David Thoreau quit his job and built a small house in the woods. It was essentially just a shack. But it was an upscale shack, not just some thrown-together lean to. It was small, even by the standards of the day, measuring only 10 feet by 15 feet, containing a single room with a bed, a table and a writing desk. A fireplace kept him warm throughout the winter. He lived comfortably in his upscale shack for a bit over two years, and documented his simple lifestyle in Walden. Thoreau’s most salient advice, which defines the spirit of this blog, was “simplify, simplify.” Continue reading “What is an upscale shack?”
Purple-gloved fingers in my mouth. Surgical steel picks of all shapes and sizes. Her deft fingers manipulate the picks, scraping and digging away at stubborn chunks of tartar below the gum line. She rinses the rubble with a stream of water and then inserts a suction tube which pulls the spit right out of my mouth. She is a detailer of teeth. Buffing and polishing enamel, shining my denticulate bling. She picks and digs, testing the integrity of each suspect spot for hidden rot. My jaw aches. She lets me rest. My gums hurt from the assault. Spraying and spitting, picking and buffing, poking and prodding, she undoes sixth months of neglect. No I don’t floss every day. No I don’t brush after every meal. Just as Santa knows who’s naughty and nice, she knows who smokes, who is addicted to coffee or tea, who chews gum, who chews tobacco, who eats too much candy. My teeth offer a glimpse into my lifestyle and she is the oracle who interprets it. I see her for half an hour every six months but I don’t know her name. Sometimes she asks me questions that I can’t answer with her fingers in my mouth. Sometimes I attempt to reply, but mostly I don’t. She is the cleaner of my teeth. Inspector of my mouth. Chronicler of my oral history. I think her name is Linda?