Dan Parker/Port Aransas South Jetty
Probably best to use a glass.

How Did I Miss That? Whiskey With a Bite; Yellowstone Boils

Steve Russell

I was reminded of a song by the late Allen Wayne Damron, bard of Terlingua:

Mezcal from Oaxaca that smooth velvet touch

You don’t need no olives or cherries or such

All you need is a campfire and big Texas moon

And a soft place to fall if you kiss him too soon


You been kissin’ the worm, kissin’ the worm

Barfin’ and belchin’ and kissin’ the worm

Yeah, we have booze down here with a drunk worm floating in it. 

“If the worm is sober,” my cousin Ray Sixkiller chimed in, “it’s not the good stuff.”

Even being used to that, I was skeptical on reading a story in the Port Aransas South Jetty about a visitor from Michigan, Carole Mahalak. She claimed to have found a bottle on the beach that contained a snake and a scorpion floating in whiskey. Then I consulted the Google machine, and discovered lots of alcoholic beverages infused with reptiles. Too many to list.

She had found a discarded bottle of Vietnamese Cobra Snake and Scorpion Whiskey. It’s real and it’s for sale on line.

My wife wouldn’t let me order it. She reminded me I still have those cat poop coffee beans I was going to grind when I got tenured. That was a long time ago, but the coffee beans are vacuum-sealed and do you understand how expensive cat poop coffee is? I guess it’s just as well she won’t allow Cobra Snake and Scorpion Whiskey in our house, thinking back on the cowboy poet’s warning about Mezcal, which all of a sudden sounds tame:

Now, if you’re a virgin, a word to the wise

First time you try it you may be surprised

You wake up next morning red eyed in the dawn…..

With your tongue and your liver and your kidneys all gone!

I’m not much good at headlines, which is why I seldom write my own. I was reminded in Wired that a good headline can really get a jump on the story: “SpaceX Landed a Freaking Rocket on a Robot Boat in the Dark.” Each rocket SpaceX is able to soft land saves them tens of millions of dollars. This particular Falcon 9 rocket had just delivered a Japanese communications satellite to an orbital altitude of 22,300 feet. For a reasonable fee, of course.

The San Antonio Express-News reported that Chastity Hopson, 29, was arrested for possession of methamphetamines when she responded to a Facebook post by the Granite Shoals Police Department claiming that meth and heroin sold in the Central Texas area had been tainted with Ebola virus and people should report to the nearest police station to have their drugs tested with a special device.

“I always heard,” Cousin Ray snickered, “that stuff affects your judgment.”

KSL.com reported that Yellowstone Park’s Boiling River has been running unusually hot this winter. In spite of the name, Boiling River is not 212 F. It’s normally between 120 and 134 degrees, which it too hot for comfortable swimming and one of the reasons people have to go to the confluence with the Gardner River to swim. The Boiling River has gotten hotter since August and has been as high as 139.5 F. If things return to normal, it should be between 105 and 110 when spring runoff hits in late May or early June.

In a probably unrelated development, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on May 6 that in the previous eight weeks, a “swarm” of over 130 tiny earthquakes have been detected under Mt. St. Helens. The quakes are very low magnitude, the largest being 1.3. The USGS said that although St. Helens is clearing her throat for an eruption, it’s not expected any time soon. There were many more earthquakes just before St. Helens blew her top on May 18, 1980.

“What do you mean ‘probably unrelated?’” Cousin Ray looked genuinely puzzled, so I’ll assume that was not a rhetorical question. I’m just saying there’s a supervolcano resting quietly under Yellowstone National Park. When it goes off, it will make St. Helens look like a ladyfinger compared to a stick of dynamite. And it’s “when” rather than “if.”

Right now, the only eruption we are having is political. To cash in on it, International Business Times reported that a new dating site, Maple Match, is launching to serve Americans seeking a Canadian spouse. The announced purpose of Maple Match is to help Americans “find the ideal Canadian partner to save them from the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency.”

When Trump became a serious candidate on Super Tuesday, Google searches for “how to move to Canada” spiked. A site called Marry a Canadian launched with the second Bush presidency. While that site is defunct now, the number of U.S. citizens who got permanent residency in Canada during the Bush years almost doubled.

Cousin Ray and I are tethered to the Cherokee Nation, but he did have one question about Maple Match. “How much stock does Trump own?”

I was reminded of a First Nations guy who said Canadians are just “disarmed Americans with health insurance.” We’re still fighting about health insurance, but I was thinking the other part of that statement would not be so bad when The New York Times reported on the deaths of Holston, Kiyan, Za’veon and Sha’Quille---all two or three year old children who got their hands on guns and shot themselves dead in one week last month. In that same week, four other children shot others, two fatally. The most heartbreaking was a mother killed by her two year old.

The six deaths in one week at the hands of children were just part of the 30,000 Americans killed by guns annually. Excuse me; I’ve committed a terrible offense by suggesting guns had anything to do with 30,000 gun deaths. People did it, not guns, and Americans have enough ingenuity to accomplish killing without guns. How silly of me to suggest that guns kill people.

The NRA would remind us that these deaths are a small price to pay for our Second Amendment rights to have guns handy to shoot police or National Guard troops coming to take away our freedom, which is to say our guns. Without the right to be armed to the teeth, the U.S. would quickly turn into a police state like Britain, Australia, Canada, and all those horribly repressive countries in Western Europe. An unarmed people can never stay free—that is, armed.

General Hossein Salami of the Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) told the Chinese government news agency, Xinhua, that Iran intends to close the Strait of Hormuz to U.S. warships. The IRGC threatens the strait regularly.

Should Iran control the Strait of Hormuz, it would have its foot on the neck of a lot of nations. Thirty-five percent of seaborne oil transits Hormuz and 20 percent of all oil on the world market. This is why U.S. warships patrol back and forth perpetually.

Since I don’t read Mandarin, I got this item from the Xinhua English edition, and I could not avoid noticing the headline rendered “Strait” as “Straight” and that Xinhua made no reported effort to get a reaction from either the U.S. State Department or the U.S. Navy.

“Who do they think they are,” Cousin Ray asked, “Fox News?”

The Jerusalem Post and Foreign Policy reported that Russian troops, after chucking ISIS out of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Palmyra, Syria changed the quality of the entertainment at the ancient amphitheater in the Roman ruins. The Russians hosted a concert by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra. The last show in the same venue was a mass beheading by ISIS.

Cousin Ray does not share my love of classical music. “Listen to classical music for a couple of hours or have my head cut off,” he pondered, “could I give that some thought and get back to you?”

Doctors Without Borders, usually called MSF after the initials of the organization in French, Médecins Sans Frontières, should get the Nobel Peace Prize if had not already gotten it in 1999.

Last year, U.S. air assets attacked an MSF trauma center in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing 42 men, women, and children. After changing its story several times, the U.S. admitted to not having followed its own rules of engagement. Commanders of both air and ground forces were suspended pending investigation.

Last month, the report landed with a thud that satisfied nobody. Sixteen U.S. service members were disciplined, including a two star general who was relieved of command and seven personnel who received potentially career ending letters of reprimand.

One side complains about punishment for errors in the fog of war while the other side complains that nobody got charged with a crime.

The crew of the AC-130 gunship had been told they were flying in support of Special Forces under attack. There were Special Forces in the area and they were under attack. It’s hard to say whether they were within the rules of engagement because the rules are so vague for the U.S. “advisors.”

Reports on the incident noted how deeply involved in the fighting the Americans were, and how little guidance they received from their superiors in Kabul. Some of the Green Berets said that they received no guidance at all even during the fight, with one complaining, according to several sources, “the only sounds audible were the sounds of crickets...though those were hard to hear over the gunfire.”

On April 28, another MSF hospital—this time in Syria—was attacked from the air, killing at least 14 people. Nobody has admitted responsibility but the primary suspects are Syrian forces loyal to the dictator Bashar al-Assad.

It became clear in the investigation that the Afghan government forces were hostile to allowing MSF to operate at all. They expressed frustration that they could shoot a Taliban but if he got carried to the hospital it was against the law to go in and finish him off. 

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page