Springtime at the Speedway

speedway

Photo via MorgueFile.

by Erin Abernethy

 

Welcome to “Race Week,” y’all!

Bring us your hicks, your drunks,

your gas-guzzling RVs,

your big-ass campers and overgrown pup-tents,

jockeying to park in a nearby churchyard.

That’ll be $20, son.

Bless y’all. Jesus loves ya.

 

Bring us all your bad habits –

we don’t have enough of our own –

all your trash and your spit,

your sweaty sun-stink,

your potbellied, yellow-toothed,

smoke-sucking men;

your brassy blonde women

overflowing their shorts,

your children more monstrous

than all of your trucks.

 

Come and jam up the traffic

bring it all to a standstill

while cousins with roadside stands

make a few bucks

from selling you tickets and

overpriced firewood,

t-shirts and caps sporting

Earnhardt and Petty;

pocket the cash and

don’t tell the tax-man.

That’s the American Way

around here.

 

Never mind all the locals,

so lucky to live here with all this

Excitement. Oh yes,

it’s a great big adventure,

trying to get out to work

when the cops fix the stop-lights

to let trailers through.

Watch the race car parade:

look, it’s Bobby!

Is that Greg’s Ford?

We may die of amazement,

so impressed by these strangers

you call by first names.

 

Like a biblical plague,

this infestation, this

visitation of fools;

smell the diesel, the smoke,

as the cars run in circles,

the dinosaur roar

scaring dogs miles away.

How much gas do you think

will be wasted this weekend?

This is what our troops fought for:

more American horsepower!

 

So welcome to Race Week, y’all!

Get to the grandstand,

grab a beer and sit back.

If you pay close attention,

some driver might wreck;

you could be there, ringside,

see some cars crash and burn!

Holy crap!

Oh, sweet Jesus!

It’s the American Way!

Waving flags,

making noise,

blood and brains on the track.

Welcome to Race Week.

 

© Copyright 2015 by Erin Abernethy.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Print

The Rites of Spring

Spring Catkins by PL Miller

Photo: “Spring Catkins” by P.L. Miller

Compiled by Erin Abernethy & Hunter MacKenzie

The Spring Equinox is also called the Vernal Equinox. The word “vernal” comes from the Latin word “verno” which means “to burgeon, break into bloom” or “to be young.” Accordingly, spring traditions and rituals have historically emphasized fertility, cleansing, renewal and regeneration; many revolve around the “dying god” legends. The following are some of the more interesting ones we have found in our research.

In some of the villages of Germany, it was the custom for young people to gather and make a straw man. This was then carried out into the open fields; during the procession, they would sing a song about carrying Death away. Upon reaching the chosen spot, they would dance in a circle around the straw man, then tear it to pieces with much shouting. When torn apart, the straw man was then burned in a bonfire as the young people danced around it. After this, the young people would then return to the village and go from house to house begging for eggs, explaining that they had just carried Death away from the village to make way for Spring.

(Sort of a mixing of the modern traditions of Easter eggs and Halloween trick-or-treating.)

The ancient Romans celebrated the spring equinox on the 25th of March rather than on the 21st as is customary now. Part of their celebration centered around the resurrection of Attis, a god of vegetation who was considered to be dead or sleeping during the winter. Interestingly, when Christianity as a religion was still in its early stages, the widespread belief was that Christ’s crucifixion had been on the 25th of March, and accordingly, Easter was initially celebrated on this date.

March 25 was also at one time considered to be the date upon which the world was created.

(One wonders what was going on from January 1st through March 24th of that year… planning, perhaps? Waiting for project approval? Supplies on backorder?)

The word “Easter” comes from Eostre, the name of an Old German dawn goddess.

April Fools’ Day has its roots in the tradition of the Norse god Loki, a notorious trickster. The trickster archetype is not exclusive to Norse culture and mythology, of course. Many societies have had specific allotted times when it was permissible to engage in behaviors that were usually frowned upon.

In certain areas of France, bonfires are lit on the first Sunday of Lent. When the fires have died down, the young people take turns and compete in jumping over the embers; those who can do this without getting their clothes singed are supposed to be married within the year.

(Perhaps this is the origin of that phrase “better to marry than to burn.” Or perhaps not.)

Among some of the early tribes in China, an annual celebration was held to destroy all the evils of the past twelve months. It was carried out by burying a large clay vessel filled with gunpowder, stones, bits of iron, and so on; a match was set to a trail of gunpowder and the clay pot was blown up. Doing so was supposed to disperse all the ills of the previous year.

(Don’t try this one at home without safety glasses.)

Human sacrifice was reportedly not uncommon among the Aztecs of ancient Mexico, but it was also an annual spring event occurring around the last week of April. For this purpose, a person was chosen to symbolize a god for an entire year; he was treated as the embodiment of the god for that year, receiving all due attention and reverence. At the time of the festival, he was then killed and eaten by the people.

Parilia was a Roman festival held in April to honor the deity Pales. It included decorating sheepfolds with green branches, offering milk and cakes to the divinity, and driving farm animals through the smoke of fires in the belief that this would protect them from illness during the coming year.

(Smoke inhalation was evidently of no concern.)

April 24th is a traditional night of divination in regard to romance. A young woman who wished to see a vision of a future lover was supposed to fast from sunset, making a barley cake during the night. If she left her door open, her future lover was supposed to come inside for the cake. Floralia was a Roman festival to honor Flora, goddess of flowers and youth. Beginning on April 28th, it was known for its encouragement of sexual license. Medallions depicting various sexual acts were handed out, and seeds were thrown into the crowds as a symbol of fertility. In many places this time began the May festivals which featured the phallic Maypole and other fertility symbols; the traditions corresponded closely to the Roman Saturnalia (in December) and still survive in some form in many parts of Europe.

(Today we just have the annual Spring Break beer bashes on the beaches.)

© Copyright 1999 by Erin Abernethy & Hunter MacKenzie. Republished 2013, 2014, 2015.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Print

Edgar Heard the Bells, All Right

xmas bells

by Erin Abernethy,
with apologies to Mr. Longfellow and Mr. Poe

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.

YA’LL HUSH FOR TWO MINUTES AND PLAY NICE!
AND QUIT MAKIN’ THE DOG PEE ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE!

Hear the loud alarum bells–
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now their turbulency tells!

MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! HE TOOK MY FIRE TRUCK!
YOU PUT THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW!

And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

WAH! WAH! WAAAHH! WAAAAHHHHH! WWWAAAAAAAHHHHHH!
HUSH, OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHIN’ TO CRY ABOUT!

In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!

DADDY, SHE HIT ME! MAKE HER QUIT!

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll’d along th’ unbroken song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

SOMEBODY TAKE THE DAMN BATTERY OUT OF THE SMOKE DETECTOR!
IT GOES OFF EVERY TIME I OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!

Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire

MAMA, THE CENTERPIECE IS BURNIN’!
SISSY KNOCKED THE CANDLE OVER!

And in despair, I bow’d my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

YA’LL BETTER SETTLE DOWN RIGHT NOW OR AIN’T NONE OF YA GOIN’ TO THE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE WITH ME AN’ MAMMAW!

Oh, the bells, the bells, the bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!

IF YOU DON’T GET TO GO TO THE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE, SANTY CLAUS WON’T COME AN’ BABY JESUS WON’T LOVE YOU AND YOU’LL GO TO HELL!

“For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.”

MAMA SAYS YOU’RE GOIN’ TO HELL, SO THERE!
OPEN THE KITCHEN WINDOW AND CLEAR SOME OF THIS SMOKE OUT!

How they clang, and crash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour

GRAMPAW SMELLS FUNNY, AND HE AIN’T SNORIN’. IS HE DEAD?

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

WHAT’S A SEIZURE? CAN I HAVE ONE TOO?

And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a Runic sort of rhyme

I AIN’T TAKIN’ NONE OF YA’LL ANYWHERE WITH ME EVER AGAIN–
NOWHERE, NO WAY, NO HOW!

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men.”

NOW HUSH AND SAY THE BLESSING!
HURRY UP BEFORE IT GETS COLD!

Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
To the tolling of the bells
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

AMEN. YA’LL DIG IN.

© Copyright 2004 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Print

100% Pure Genuine Government B.S.!

govegan

by Erin Abernethy

[Editor’s note: Back in the early years of the 21st century, when George W. Bush was occupying the White House, Erin Abernethy kept a blog called Brimstone Bites,” which consisted of equal parts political snark, overheard conversations, and general silliness. The blog was put on hold when she enrolled in her Advanced Statistical Analysis class, and it was taken down when a hacker turned it into some sort of bizarre real estate phishing scheme. However, some of her original posts were recovered, and we thought you’d enjoy seeing a few of them from time to time. Here’s a series that dates back to the days of the spinach contamination scare of September, 2006. – R.C.]

Need to Bury a Body Fast? Well, Too Bad.

cemeterysign

And you know how long it takes to get a committee to agree on anything….


Bite This.

flea (‘flE) n. a small wingless bloodsucking insect

The government and most civil service agencies love acronyms. We’ve got the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, the DHS, the NSA, and you’ll need your ID and SSN or at least a PIN pretty much anywhere you go.

Considering all that, I find it interesting to note that in press releases and news stories, no one ever uses an acronym to abbreviate one of the lengthiest and most common phrases we hear today:
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.

Hmm.


Exercise Leads to Weight Gain. Don’t Let Those Infomercials Fool You.

Overheard between a sporting goods associate and a very hefty guy shopping @ a local Wal-Mart:

Assoc.: So can I interest you in one of these exercise bikes today?

Hefty: Nope, I just need some fishing line.

Assoc.: Didn’t your wife say the doctor told you to lose some weight?

Hefty: Yep, that’s what she said.

Assoc.: You oughta get yourself one of them weight machines, start workin’ out.

Hefty: Nope, don’t think so.

Assoc.: Well, you ain’t gonna lose no weight fishin’, I can tell you that right now.

Hefty: No, but I can’t start workin’ out, because muscle weighs more than fat, see? I start workin’ out, next thing you know, I’m gainin’ weight. I can’t be buffin’ up an’ puttin’ on muscle if I’m supposed to lose weight. They don’t tell you that on them infomercials, that muscle weighs more than fat. They don’t want you to know that. They’re tryin’ to sell machines, see. How many you reckon they’d sell if they told everybody muscle weighs more than fat?


Drug Companies Are Evil.

Oh, you want proof? Fine.

666coldmed

Now you know. But hey, don’t let that ruin your buzz.


Enough.

“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”

~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The great error of nearly all studies of war… has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics…”

~Simone Weil


100% Pure Genuine Plastic!

shower

Does the word “luxurious” really belong in a description of a shower curtain?

For that matter, should the words “luxurious” and “vinyl” ever be allowed next to each other?


Bad Spinach: Christian Cow-Eating Government Plot?

I almost hesitated to post this one because I was sure no one would believe what I overheard some big bubba-boy in coveralls saying this morning in a local grocery store:

“You know, that spinach thing, it’s a government deal. Y’all remember how they used AIDS to try and get rid of the homos? See, they’re usin’ this e-co-lie spinach to get the vegetarians. Them vegans, you know, they’re the ones always causin’ trouble, wantin’ to save the owls and keep the ten commandments out of schools and all that kinda stuff. That’s why the government ain’t gettin’ in no hurry to figger out this spinach thing. They’re hopin’ the vegans’ll starve to death and then we can get on with business.”


© Copyright 2006 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2015.


Header photo by oFace Killah. Licensed CC BY 2.0.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Print

This Week at Gatewood: August 23–29, 2015

SDRandCo (36)

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in!

Before getting into our weekly wrap-up, I’d like to make a quick announcement. Freelance writer Robin Flanigan is working on an article for BP magazine, and would like to interview bipolar people over 50 years of age. Please email robin@thekineticpen.com to get in touch if you’re interested in this. Also, we’d appreciate it if you’d help spread the word for her, so feel free to pass the information along to other folks you know. If you want to check out some of her work, her website is The Kinetic Pen.

Here are our features for the week of August 23–29:

Monday:Peace Will Never Give Up,” art by Delawer-Omar

Tuesday:After the Races,” poetry by Erin Abernethy

Wednesday:Baseball in New York, 1950” artwork by Zengael

Thursday:The Psychology of Ritual” by D.V. Gray

Friday:In the Mystery,” photography by P.L. Miller with a quote from physicist Fred Alan Wolf

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

docBe sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as humor, literary opinions, animal pics and rescues, and all your behind-the-scenes Journal action.

pigeon1Did you know you can subscribe to Gatewood Journal and receive a monthly newsletter with all our features for the month? Like a weekly wrap-up, only monthly, so your e-mail box won’t get cluttered. Like a magazine, only digital, because we love trees.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of August 23–29, 2015. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!


Header photo via Morguefile.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Print

After the Races

junk-420827_1280

by Erin Abernethy

After the races have been run
and the cars rolled into trailers
and the drivers have changed out of
brand-plastered jumpsuits
into cheap Wal-Mart casual
and moved on to the next track…

After the crowds have vacated the grandstand,
left their bottles and go-mugs and wrappers behind,
maybe a diaper or two in the parking lot
(people get paid to pick that shit up –
don’t trouble yourselves)…

After the festive blue portable toilets
have been whisked away to
other fairs, other carnivals,
other gaudy pageants of
carnage and noise…

After the fields are returned to the cows
and no longer used for parking or
camping or public displays of
stupendous redneckery…

Still I’m surrounded
by forests of shotguns,
thickets of Confederacy,
bald patches of people so swollen with pride,
so whitewashed with bliss, so willfully ignorant
they could just bust their buttons at the
sight of it all –
these supreme infestations of loud local color
will never be gone,
hidebound and rootbound,
with their blonde Jesus gospel,
after the races.

 

© Copyright 2015 by Erin Abernethy


Header photo via Pixabay.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Print

This Week at Gatewood: July 26–August 1, 2015

moon

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in!

Here are our features for the week of July 26–August 1:

Monday:Dead Roses,” black and white photography by Nez

Tuesday:That Awkward Ride Home,” poetry by Erin Abernethy

Wednesday:Fogged Doorway” photography by K.C. Collins

Thursday:Not Coming to TV This Fall,” humor from Johanna Rigby

Friday:Human Nature & Society,” photography by P.L. Miller with a quote from psychologist Abraham Maslow

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Be sure to follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as puzzled commentary on current events, animal pics and rescues, cartoons, and all your behind-the-scenes Journal nonsense.

Did you know you can subscribe to Gatewood Journal and receive a monthly newsletter with all our features for the month? Like a weekly wrap-up, only monthly, so your e-mail box won’t get cluttered. Like a magazine, only digital, because we love trees.

That’s it for the Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up for the week of July 26–August 1, 2015. Enjoy your weekend, and visit us again soon!


Photo by Alain Audet via Pixabay.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Add to favorites
  • Print
error: This is copyrighted content, and may not be used without permission.