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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Top 10 Guitar Songs

Sir Hook and company have been known to Rock N Roll, so I thought I would share the Top 10 Guitar Songs from Rolling Stone's new issue, which features the Top 100 Guitar Songs. Of course, with any poll, it's subject to interpretation; however, in my humble guitar playing opinion they have done alright, especially in leaving me out of the top 100!

1 "Johnny B. Goode"
Chuck Berry (1958)

"If you want to play rock & roll," Joe Perry told Rolling Stone in 2004, "you have to start here." Recorded 50 years ago, on January 6th, 1958, at the Chess Records studio in Chicago, Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" was the first great record about the joys and rewards of playing rock & roll guitar. It also has the single greatest rock & roll intro: a thrilling blast of high twang driven by Berry's spearing notes, followed by a rhythm part that translates a boogie-woogie piano riff for the guitar. "He could play the guitar just like a-ringing a bell," Berry sings in the first verse — a perfect description of his sound and the reverberations still running through every style of rock guitar, from the Beatles and the Stones on down. "It was beautiful, effortless, and his timing was perfection," Keith Richards has said of Berry's playing. "He is rhythm man supreme." Berry wrote often about rock & roll and why it's good for you — "Roll Over Beethoven" in 1956, "Rock and Roll Music" in '57 — but never better than in "Johnny B. Goode," a true story about how playing music on a guitar can change your life forever.

2 "Purple Haze"
The Jimi Hendrix Experience (1967)

The riff is pure blues — the same kind of guitar figure Hendrix played nightly back on the R&B-club grind, as a sideman for Little Richard and the Isley Brothers. But in "Purple Haze," Hendrix's second British single and the first track on the U.S. version of his debut album, he declared himself a free man — "'Scuse me while I kiss the sky" — and unveiled a new guitar language charged with spiritual hunger and the poetry possible in electricity and studio technology. "Guitar — you can play it or transcend it," said Neil Young when he inducted Hendrix into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. "Jimi showed me that. I heard it, felt it and wanted to do it." Hendrix wrote "Purple Haze" backstage at a London nightclub in December 1966 and recorded basic tracks with his band, the Experience, two weeks later. But the galactic travel came in overdubs recorded on February 3rd, 1967: Hendrix's solos, swimming in echo and sparkling with harmonics, were put through an octave-boosting effect and played back at twice the speed. In less than three minutes, Hendrix opened a new age of expression on his instrument.

3 "Crossroads"
Cream (1968)

Eric Clapton once described Cream's music as "blues ancient and modern." This track is what he meant. He was not yet 23 when he played this high-velocity version of the Robert Johnson song at San Francisco's Winterland on March 10th, 1968. Everything in Clapton's solos is grounded in the blues vocabulary but pointed to the future. "When Clapton soloed, he wrote wonderful symphonies from classic blues licks in that fantastic tone," Little Steven Van Zandt told Rolling Stone in 2004. "You could sing his solos like songs in themselves."

4 "You Really Got Me"
The Kinks (1964)

It was, at first, "a jazz-type tune," said Kinks singer Ray Davies, and the two-chord figure driving it was a sax line. "That's what I liked at the time." Then his brother Dave played it on guitar through an amp speaker he had poked with needles and shredded with a razor blade. ("It was a Gillette single-sided blade," said Dave.) Dave's solo — a tangle of zigzags and viciously bent notes — heralded the birth of Sixties garage and punk-rock guitar in one fell swoop. "I said I'd never write another song like it," said Ray. "And I haven't."

5 "Brown Sugar"
The Rolling Stones (1971)

"Satisfaction" may be the Rolling Stones' most recognizable riff, but this Sticky Fingers hit — based on a gutbucket guitar part devised by Mick Jagger — is the band's raunchy guitar pinnacle. Keith Richards' secret weapon: He's playing a guitar that's missing its lowest string.

6 "Eruption"
Van Halen (1978)

Eddie Van Halen's 102-second mission statement was a piece he invented onstage: a solo showcase for his mastery of tone and technique, notably the rush of notes he produced with his fretboard tapping. An army of teens would try to duplicate it, emerging years later in every metal band of the Eighties.

7 "While My Guitar Gently

The Beatles (1968)

This is a tale of two guitar giants at an empathic peak: George Harrison, who wrote this song on acoustic guitar in India, and Eric Clapton, who amplifies Harrison's vocal dismay with a waterfall of blues fills. It's the finest examaple of his jagged, late-Sixties tone.

8 "Stairway to Heaven"
Led Zeppelin (1971)

"Stairway," Jimmy Page told RS in 1975, "crystallized the essence of the band." It's a masterpiece of dramatic ascension: Page's acoustic picking rising into chiming chords, which introduce the solo, a brilliant succession of phrases that steadily move toward rock & roll ecstasy.

9 "Statesboro Blues"
The Allman Brothers Band (1971)

In 1968, Gregg Allman went to visit his older brother, Duane, on his 22nd birthday. Duane was sick in bed, so Gregg brought along a bottle of Coricidin pills for his fever and the debut album by guitarist Taj Mahal as a gift. "About two hours after I left, my phone rang," Gregg remembers. " 'Baby brother, baby brother, get over here now!' " When Gregg got there, Duane had poured the pills out of the bottle, washed off the label and was using it as a slide to play "Statesboro Blues," the old Blind Willie McTell song that Taj Mahal covered. Duane had never played slide before, says Gregg, but "he just picked it up and started burnin'. He was a natural."

The song quickly became a part of the Allman Brothers Band's repertoire, and Duane's slide guitar became crucial to their sound. "Statesboro Blues" was the opening track on their legendary 1971 live double album, At Fillmore East, and ever since, the moaning and squealing opening licks have given fans chills at live shows. "It wasn't something that Duane would play the same way every night," says current Allman's guitarist Warren Haynes, one of many guitarists who have filled Duane's shoes since he died in late 1971. "But in all of our heads, that's the way it goes."

10 "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Nirvana (1991)

Most of "Teen Spirit" came easy — Nirvana nailed it in three takes — but that crucial Kurt Cobain guitar intro required an overdub ("That pissed him off," said producer Butch Vig). It was worth the effort: That riff, along with the band's loud-quiet-loud dynamics, defined Nineties rock.

So there you have it, for better or worse, the Top 10 Guitar Songs. Personally I would have included the next three in the Top Ten. There are: #11 "Whole Lotta Love", Led Zeppelin...#12 "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", Jimi Hendrix...#13 "Layla", Derick and the Dominos (really Eric Clapton). I believe that Chuck Berry's "Johnny B Goode", though a pioneer in rock n roll, is listed as number one because it's a pioneer, not because it's such a great guitar song. Kind of like a "Lifetime Acheivement Award". From these Top 13 songs, my Top 10 would be:
1. "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", Jimi Hendrix
2. "Purple Haze", Jimi Hendrix
3. "Layla", Derick and the Dominos
4. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", George Harrison and the Beatles
5. "You Really Got Me", the Kinks
6. "Whole Lotta Love", Led Zeppelin
7. "Stairway to Heaven", Led Zeppelin
8. "Brown Sugar", Rolling Stones
9. "Eruption", Van Halen
10. "Crossroads", Cream

Now, I invite you to comment on your Top 10.

Rock On!
Sir Hook the Rock Guitar Hero of Warrick

Our Newest Ladies of the Knights

Meet our newest Ladies of the Knights. A new phrase I coined for our fairer and superior sex. Lady Tilly of Orange and Lady G of Red Bank treated this old errant Knight to lunch at the Gerst House to pick my brain, our what's left of it, and other wise ask my sage advice, for what it's worth (obviously lunch at the Gerst House).

These two fine ladies have started their own advertising agency called ICR. Being fresh off the battlefields, a twenty five year battle scarred...grizzly veteran of the ad wars, I gave them a point or two on how to keep the smiles that a new campaign always brings before the storms settle in. We wish them God Speed, and look forward to frequent updates as to their progress, both in their profession and in life, as well as the opportunity to work with them in the future.

Sir Hook the Recruiter of Warrick

Friday, May 30, 2008

Space Toilets: The Final Frontier

Space Toilets...The Final Frontier...or...To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before! I note this with interest on the CNN Technology page...

You think it's bad when computers on the International Space Station get spazzed -- just imagine the chaos when the primary commode decides to stop functioning correctly. As of now, crew members are being forced to urinate in a "jury-rigged system" that's connected to the seven-year old (!!!) can, but thankfully, the solid waste collecting part has yet to act up. Still, we can imagine that folks on board are already fearing the worst.

NASA officials have stated that they are currently mulling the idea of tossing a few parts on the Discovery just before it lifts off next week for a planned docking trip, which we can only hope pans out. Godspeed just took on a whole new meaning.

With all our technology, and whizz bang gadgets and jumping on planes and haring around in cars all at the flick of a switch... we tend to forget we are simple sentient beings that need food and water and to make waste. Being cooped up, weightless, in a tin can in Space, must bring this potent fact home big time, and i will be saying prayers of thanks then next time i am sat in the throne room.

Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Warrior of the Light: In the Wheel

As you all know by now, I'm a big fan of Pablo Coehlo. Sir Bowie and myself have referenced his online newsletter, Warrior of the Light Online. Well, this morning, being without much time or thought, as I have a very early work day, I checked my email and here was the latest edition. Very thought provoking for Pablo and Sir Hook. Therefore, I share with you:

In the wheel of time

I had proposed to publish here, once a year, texts by Carlos CastaƱeda, an anthropologist who influenced my generation with his tales of meetings with Mexican sorcerers. For lack of space, I have not done so since 2004. Today I woke up thinking: CastaƱeda, despite all his critics and all his work that later on seemed so disorderly to me, should not be forgotten. So here we present some of his reflections.

Intention is the important thing: for the old sorcerers of Mexico, intention (intento) is a force that intervenes in all aspects of time and space. To be able to use and manipulate this force calls for impeccable behavior. A warrior’s final goal is to be able to lift his head above the rut where he is confined, look around him, and change what he wants. To do so he needs to have discipline and pay attention all the time.

Nothing is easy: nothing in this world is given as a present: everything has to be learned with a great deal of effort. A man who seeks knowledge must have the same behavior as a soldier going to war: absolutely attentive, afraid, respectful and utterly confident. If he follows these recommendations, he may lose the odd battle but he will never cry over his fate.

Fear is natural: fear of the freedom that knowledge brings us is absolutely natural; however, no matter how terrible the apprenticeship may be, it is worse to live without wisdom.

Irritation is unnecessary: becoming irritated with others means giving them the power to interfere in our lives. It is imperative to overcome this feeling. By no means should the acts of others distract us from our only alternative in life: coming in touch with the infinite.

The end is an ally: when things begin to get confused, a warrior thinks about his death and immediately his spirit returns to him. Death is everywhere. Think of the headlights of a car following us along a winding road; sometimes we lose sight of it, sometimes it appears to be too close, sometimes the headlights go out. But this imaginary car never stops (and one day catches up with us). The very idea of death gives men the necessary detachment to go ahead despite all their tribulations. A man who knows that death is approaching every day tries everything, but without feeling anxiety.

The present is unique: a warrior knows how to wait, because he knows what he is waiting for. And while he waits, he wants nothing, and in this way anything he receives – however small – is a blessing. The common man worries too much about loving others, or being loved by them. A warrior knows what he wants - that is all in his life and that is where he concentrates all his energy. The common man spends the present acting as winner or loser, and depending on the results he becomes persecutor or victim. The warrior, on the other hand, worries only about his acts, which will lead him to the objective he has traced for himself.

Intention is transparent: intention (intento) is not a thought, nor an object, nor a desire. It is what makes a man triumph in his objectives and lifts him up from the ground even when he has delivered himself up to defeat. Intention is stronger than man.

It is always the last battle: the warrior’s spirit does not complain about anything, because he was not born to win or lose. He was born to fight, and each battle is the last that he is waging on the face of the Earth. That is why the warrior always leaves his spirit free, and when he gives himself to combat, knowing that his intention is transparent, he laughs and enjoys himself.
-Pablo Coehlo

In the words of Monty Python..."Say no more!"

Sir Hook the Warrior of Light of Warrick

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cheese Rolling

Perhaps not as innovative as the bar room piss video games, but every bit as unique! Cheese Rolling! No offense Sir Dayvd, but this is something that only the British could pull off with class. It appears some strapping lads run, which becomes rolling, down a very steep hill to catch a rolling cheese wheel! When I first saw it on CNN I thought I found a long lost episode of Monty Phython! The event is held on May 26. Here's the description from the official web site:

So what is Cheese Rolling?
Each year, more than 3,000 people gather on a hillside, in the English county of Gloucestershire, to watch around 100 people throw themselves down a steep slope, which is 200m long and has a 1:1 gradient in places, in hot pursuit of a 7-8lb Double Gloucester cheese, which can reach speeds up to 70mph.

To be honest, nobody really know why! It has been suggested that Cheese Rolling can be traced back to Roman Times, or it could have been a pagan healing ritual. But whatever the origins the annual Cheese Rolling, at Cooper’s Hill, has become a ‘must visit’ event, not just for the locals, but attracting visitors from across the entire world.

There are 5 downhill races - 4 races for men, with one, increasingly popular, race for women – and 4 ‘easier’ uphill races – for boys, girls, men, and women. The event lasts less than 90 minutes and, for those brave – or stupid – enough to chase the cheese it can be a dangerous race. But as an old British (well Gloucestershire tradition) it can't be beaten!

The event in 2007 resulted in 20 people being treated for minor injuries – the lowest for some years (2006 figure was 34). Injuries normally include cuts, bruises, sprains and even concussion.

Get in Training?
Tactics? Well there are none. You cannot train for it – there is nothing else like it. You just throw yourself down the hill, and hope for the best, whilst you question what on earth you are doing...

And there you have it!

Sir Hook the Rolling Cheese Head of Warrick

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Sir Hook knows that I'm always coming up with useless inventions. I have the idea, I write about it and sketch it in my Moleskine, and then I say, "Piss on it!" The joy comes in creating the idea, not bringing it to market.

Well, here's a story of a couple of guys who had the balls to take their idea and literally piss on it all the way to the bank:

Belgian pub toilet game: Don’t cross the streams

Two Belgian inventors have created a video game for men to play while using public urinals, Reuters reports

Werner Dupont, a software developer, and Bart Geraets, an electrical engineer, got the idea while drinking Belgian trappist beers, they told Reuters Television at a local festival on Sunday.

“This thing had to be invented by Belgian people and that’s what we are,” they said.

The ‘Place to pee’ booth is designed for two users at a time and offers two games - blowing up aliens in outer space or skiing down a virtual slope. Gamers hit their target by aiming at sensors positioned on either side of the urinal.

A specially designed paper cone allows women to play too. (end)

So, there you have it. The next time you have an idea and think to yourself that it's too piss poor an idea to succeed, think of ol' Werner and Bart.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Monday, May 26, 2008

This is my first Memorial Day without my father who served in the Army. Memorial Day (United States) has always been a good time for us reflect on the subject of freedom. Freedom. Just about everyone claims to be in favor of freedom, but few seem to agree on what it means.

Even the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit, and Ale recognizes the importance of freedom. One of our mottoes states that we are “Free to create...”

The dictionary defines freedom as “being free.” In turn, free is defined as “not under the control or power of another.” How can there be so much confusion over a definition so clearly stated? But, one person’s idea of freedom can violate another person’s freedom. According to Robert Ringer, one of the great authors on the subject of freedom, “To one man, liberty means doing what he wants with his own life, while to another it means doing what he wants with other men’s lives. Therefore, both of these men say that the other one’s concept of freedom is tyranny.

“Also, throughout history, utopian thinkers have confused freedom with equality. But nothing could be more incorrect. No matter what one’s moral desires, nature has made freedom and equality totally incompatible.

“You may be surprised after a little probing,” Ringer continues, “to find that when people espouse freedom, often they are referring to their freedom, not yours. Worse, you are likely to discover that their freedom necessitates the violation of your freedom.”

Of course, we do the same thing. As business people, for example, we want to be free to run our business as we see fit with as little government interference as possible. On the other hand, we may say that it's not “fair” for big oil companies to make a huge profit at our expense. As neighbors, we want to paint our house any color we see fit. However, we don't want to see the property value of the neighborhood decline if our neighbor chooses neon orange and hot fuschia. We don't want big government in our pockets, yet many often yearn for government to “level the playing field” and equalize the result (fair equals equal?).

The more I listen to presidential candidates the more I hear them promise to fulfill artificially created rights – again, creating “rights” for some takes away “freedom” from others. I even read where Mrs. Obama said:

"The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more."

“Everything in life has a price,” Ringer writes, “and, make no mistake about it, the price of artificially created rights is bondage — the exchange of your rights for someone else’s.”

Just something to think about. But, don't let it stop you from having a drink and being merry!

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Heaven and Hell

Sir Bowie mention in his post several days ago about Paulo Coelho's latest Warrior of the Light newsletter. He retold the story of crosses. In that same newsletter there was a story about Heaven and Hell, which I also believe needs to be retold. It fits very well with today's previous post.

Heaven and Hell

A violent samurai who was known for picking fights for no reason at all arrived at the door of a Zen monastery and asked to speak to the master.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Ryokan came out to meet him.
“They say that intelligence is more powerful than strength,” said the samurai. “I wonder if you could explain to me the meaning of heaven and hell.”

Riokan remained silent.
“You see?” roared the samurai. “I could explain that very easily: to show what hell is, all I need to do is beat someone up. To show what heaven is, just let a person go free after menacing him a lot.”

“I don’t argue with stupid people like you,” said the Zen master. This made the samurai’s blood boil. His mind was filled with hatred.

“Now, that is hell,” said Ryokan, smiling. “Letting yourself be angered by silly things.”
The monk’s courage disconcerted the warrior, and he relaxed. “And that is heaven,” added Ryokan, inviting him in. “Not reacting to silly provocations.”

Sir Hook the Silly or Not of Warrick

You Can't Judge a Book by It's Cover

Sir Davyd of Oxfordshire had forwarded this picture to me. It seems that the Chinese government has a new military strategy for the "Tibet Problem". Issuing Buddhist Monk robes to their young soldiers and telling them to go out into the streets and riot, to place blame on the Dali Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist Monks.

I would think that after assimilating capitalism in their "closed" society as well as they have, that the Chinese government would realize that in this day of fast moving information and the Internet that such schemes are truly hard to pull off. The Chinese want their cake, our money, and to be able to eat it too, do things the way they always have. The Oriental mind is truly a deep well of contradictory thoughts and actions; however, this is just simple human stupidity in action.

The sad thing is that I can see my son, who is about to enter the Army, being told to do the same thing and he would. It's not the soldiers fault, it's their government.

As Jesus said, "beware of wolves in sheep's clothing." It also reminds me that the phrase, "you can't judge a book by its cover", is really true!

Sir Hook of Warrick

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thank you Sir Richard of Windsor for bringing this story to our attention. Yes, right here in Indiana, the home of Diversity, between red neck right wing wacko's and left wing liberal blow hearts sits a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. How's that for finding your center?!

Tibetan monks carve out new home in US heartland

by Mira Oberman Thu May 22, 8:55 AM ET

In the rolling hills of Indiana, Tibetan monks pray for their homeland. They have little hope of returning.

While their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, tours Western nations in hope of drumming up support for Tibetan autonomy, these ten monks work to keep their culture alive in exile.

They tend the lush grounds dotted with two stunning stupas and a scattering of Mongolian yurts, teach meditation, hold regular prayer services and introduce curious locals and tourists to the art, architecture and music of their homeland.

Founded by the Dalai Lama's brother, the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center is now run by the most senior religious leader to leave Tibet in decades.

Arjia Thubten Lobsang Rinpoche was the abbot of the influential Kumbum Monastery and spent years publicly defending the Chinese government's policies.

That ended in 1998 when he was told to tutor the Panchen Lama selected by Beijing to replace the child chosen by the Dalai Lama.

Rinpoche, 58, fled to the United States where his is free to air his true feelings about the Chinese rulers.

"His holiness, the Dalai Lama, the Chinese people need a leader just like him," Rinpoche told AFP.

"The Chinese government, the communist government, is very much afraid of that," he said as he sat in the center's colorful temple.

"The fear is the Tibetan movement can inspire the whole of China ... (and be) the fuel that can start the fire and inspire the whole of China to democracy."

Rinpoche denounced the March crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators and the government's attempt to cast it as an ethnic conflict rather than a struggle for democracy.

China's reaction to the Tibet unrest drew international condemnation and heaped pressure on Beijing ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August, with activists disrupting the global relay of the Olympic torch.

Beijing says Tibetan "rioters" and "insurgents" killed 21 people and accused the Dalai Lama of being behind the violence and fomenting trouble ahead of the Olympics.

Representatives of the Dalai Lama held talks this month with China to try to defuse tensions and the exiled spiritual leader on Wednesday urged Tibetans not to disrupt the Olympic torch relay when it passes through Tibet on its way to Beijing.

Rinpoche said he is grateful for the pressure from the international community, but has little hope that the talks will lead to lasting change.

"Maybe in the future - 10, 20 years," he said. "Before the Olympics I don't think they're going to do anything."

In the meantime, Rinpoche will focus on the center, which had fallen into disrepair and debt after its founder, the Dalai Lama's brother Thubten Jigme Norbu, had a series of strokes in 2002.

Norbu still lives at the center but rarely meets with visitors or gets involved in activities because he has been so weakened by the strokes.

Norbu had taken a more hard-line attitude towards Chinese rule than his brother, who is careful to demand only greater autonomy rather than independence.

After working for years as a representative for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile, Norbu founded the cultural center in 1979 on donated land near Indiana University, where he taught Tibetan studies.

In 1995, he co-founded the International Tibet Independence Movement outside of nearby Indianapolis, which is how Tenzin Namgyal, 35, became involved with the cultural center.

Born in Bhutan, Namgyal immigrated to the United States to study human rights and international law in the hopes of working towards freeing his homeland.

Now, he works as the center's translator, office manager, program director and occasional cook.

Mindful of the center's non-profit tax status, Namgyal is careful to keep politics outside his official duties, especially since Rinpoche also follows the Dalai Lama's middleway approach of pressing for autonomy rather than complete independence.

However, he regularly leaves the center to sit on panels and raise awareness about the situation in his homeland.

"It's really frustrating and sad because the Chinese people themselves don't have access to all the information they should have," Namgyal said over a cup of tea.

The Chinese students he meets in the United States often have distorted views of Tibetan Buddhism - some even say the monks kill innocent people to use their bones in ceremonies.

Sometimes Namgyal is able to change their minds. He hopes they will bring that new understanding home to their families.

We all hope so too! As Sir Richard says, "Buddha didn't come as a Savior, but as a teacher. I think that we have a lot we can learn from the Buddhist."

Sir Hook of Warrick

Friday, May 23, 2008

21 + 30 Part 2

Here's what you look like after a couple shots of Espresso and Birthday Cake with 5 inch icing for breakfast!

Good thing they made me sit in the corner, or I might have made a FOOL of myself!

Party on Knights!

Sir Hook is Feeling Younger Thanks to Silly Hats, Caffeine and Sugar of Warrick

21 + 30

Stephen Stills sang, "4 and 20 years ago a coming to this land"...I wrote 30 years ago about turning I'm 21 + 30...still young twice!!

I thought it appropriate to give you a picture of my birthday look, because with a nice sunny day, little work because of the Memorial Weekend and loaded with Foamer Bucks...this is how I will be seen; fishbowl at the ready being filled with various wondrous libations! I also thought I should rewrite the chorus to 21 for 51 so:
I'm 51
Riding the sky to the evening sun
And dance with the moon
As my bio-clock says noon
Older child...wiser man begun
I'm 51

Cheers Mates!
Sir Hook the Twice Young of Warrick

Frequent Foamer Miles

That's right! I just got $5 in Foamer Bucks added to my Old Chicago "World Beer Tour" Card. If I drink 5 beers between now and the weekend, which by the way are paid for, then I get another $5 for 5 more! It's a beer lover's dream....getting paid to drink beer!

Better yet, they also give me 110 Reasons to Celebrate, which is conveniently the number of beers you must drink to complete the tour to get on the "Wall of Foam"...something that I have already accomplished, but why stop now!

Here are some of the better reasons to drink 110 beers this summer:

11. Two words: Economic Stimulus.

12. When your parents complain that you never stick with anything,
you can show them your WBT membership card.

13. Adjusted for inflation, beer is cheaper than ever!

15. Turns out, Time doesn't come in a bottle... but great craft beers DO!

The government may be sending you a check
big enough for One Whole Entire World Beer Tour plus tip!
Speedos™ are not fashionable in America.

There are fewer people in skin-tight Spandex on $7,000
bikes that they don't know how to ride.
The average pint of Old Chicago draft beer is cheaper
than a gallon of gas- so drink more, drive less!

The President wants you to spend your
Economic Stimulus Package money,
and we're here to help you in your patriotic duty.

Turns out chocolate, beer and wine are HEALTH foods!
American Idol is almost over.

The bartender knows your name


Your wife doesn’t know that the bartender knows your

Ale is the new Lager.

Hot girls in sundresses.
Karma really does work.
You are a World Beer Tour member,
so you just got $10 - how cool is that???

So, if you're American, do your patriotic duty and spend your tax rebate on beer.
If you're not American, then just act like you are!

Sir Hook Who's $10 Dollars Drunker of Warrick

Thursday, May 22, 2008

First Place Losers?

You can thank Dale Earnhardt (in real life) and Ricky Bobby (in the movies) for providing us with the now famous pop culture phrase, “Second place is just the first place loser.”

Meet the First Place Losers of the Skyy Vodka Bowling League at River City Recreation in Evansville, Indiana!

From left: Sir Norman of William Nottingham Court, Sir William of Keglers, Sir Cock of the Walk, Sir Bowie of Greenbriar, Sir Seamus of Marion, and Sir Allen of Wall.

Would I have preferred to win? Sure! But, Second place in a big league is nothing to be ashamed of. Or is it?

The lesson that many parents and coaches are teaching our youth is “unless you win, you’re a loser!” Is that true? We should be teaching our kids (and ourselves) that failure is not just acceptable, it’s often essential. One of the greatest home run hitters in Major League Baseball is “Mr. October,” Reggie Jackson. He also is the all-time strikeout leader! Who tops the NFL in pass completion? Bret Favre. He also is the all-time thrower of interceptions! Who is the all-time leader in kicking that silly looking black and white round ball into that big net in soccer? (Okay, I don't know anything about soccer). But, the point is that Jackson and Favre are glorious failures!

Failure! How else are we going to gain the experience we need to improve if we don’t “fail” from time to time?

As I look into my box of memories, I see a few First Place Blue Ribbons and A LOT of Second Place Red Ribbons: wrestling, track and field, speech contests… Don’t get me wrong, I hate “not winning.” But, I don’t let it define me AS a loser – unless I come into the event unprepared and don’t give it my best.

Dale Earnhardt may have given us that “second place is the first place loser” crap, but he also said, “You win some, you lose some, you crash some.” I believe that in his heart he would rather have competed and lost, than not to have competed at all. He competed till the end -- that last crash.

Team Legends will be back next year to proudly defend our “First Place Loser” title. Who knows, maybe we’ll just move up a notch. If not, at least we’ll enjoy a cold beer with friends and fellow Knights.

Sir Bowie of Missed 10 pins and Greenbriar

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire!

Knights: May 21st Sir Dayvd turns 53. Have no fear, I will be out again wassailing at the Port Mahon Irish Pub in Oxford, Where, with one eye on the bar TV I will be watching My soccer team Chelsea FC , in Moscow, attempting to beat Manchester United for the European Cup ( the biggest cup you can win in these parts..) while at the same time taking part in a massive Ceilidh which will be going on in the back rooms.

And just in case any of you thought that I didn't do any work...
Once a Knight always a night. Twice a night and you're doing alright!

Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Milestones or Millstones

Milestones are a great invention of mankind. They tell us where we're going, even when we don't know where we're going.

I find myself at such a cross road today. My daughter just turned 21, finishing college with an eye on Grad school. My son just graduated high school last night and is 3 weeks away from plunging head on into the Army. I'm still 2 months away from my first anniversary of breaking my back in the "Great Louisiana Car Crash of '07", and 4 months away from my first anniversary of my new business. I turn 51 this Friday and my 24th wedding anniversary is 2 days after our son leaves for Basic Training. It's a good thing that I have these Milestones to hang onto, or I just might be blown away.

Our, should I just let go and be blown away? The answer my friend, to quote Bob Dylon, is blowin' in the wind. I recall when I turned 21 thirty years ago, I wrote a song titled 21 and the chorus was,

I'm 21
Riding the sky with the evening sun
Dance with the moon
We'll be too old too soon
Old child, new man begun
I'm 21

These past 30 years I have discovered that the old child never disappears and the new man is always beginning!

In uncertain times perhaps embracing uncertainty is just what the Divine ordered. Too often we let our milestones become millstones hanging around our necks and drowning us in our own sorrows, cares of the day and other peoples advice on what we should do.

It's a fine line between inaction, which breeds despair, and unceasing action, which propels us towards burn out. It's OK just to BE! Trust in the wind and where it blows you and soon you will trust in yourself and your destiny again.

So, my fellow Knights and Ladies, as I hoist my sail once again in these tempest winds, join me in a hearty battle cry as I sail off into the unknown...confident that I will be where I'm supposed to be.

Sir Hook the Pirate Captain and Milestone Reader of Warrick

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Shaven Crown

As the local Signwriter and Pictorial artist, I get to work on some nice local historical pieces. I finished one recently that the Knights would be proud of.

It was the swing sign belonging to the Shaven Crown Hotel in the village of Shipton-Under-Wychwood. It hangs from a Gallow frame outside the Hotel (top right of picture).

The hotel was founded in the 14th century by the monks of Bruern Abbey to house pilgrims and as a hospice for the poor and needy. Following the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16 th century the Crown seized the hotel and Queen Elizabeth I later used it as a royal hunting lodge. Subsequently it was given to the village on condition that it became an inn with the proceeds being used to help the poor. Early in the 20 th century the inn passed into private ownership and was named the Shaven Crown in homage to its founders. Through the centuries it has maintained its charm, and many original features remain, including the 14 th century gateway and the double-braced roof structure of the Great Hall.

The sign itself, which portrays a Monk with a "Shaven Crown", had originally been painted just after WW2 , and had naturally fallen into disrepair in the last 60 years. I was called into restore it to its former glory. I photographed the various stages; starting with top left , how it looked when it came to ground, then after clean up, and secureing of the wood surface, then with the first coat of paints, then the finished article.

The real amusing thing about this sign is that the front of it has the Monk in front view and on the other side it was from behind him. Note: behind the Monk are featured the local drystone walls, (walls built of local limestone without cement to corral the sheep, the main industry of the Cotswolds a Cot being the beds of the sheep and a wold being a hillside ) that are a big feature of the Cotswold district of England to the west of Oxford.

Anyway, it gave me a huge amount of pleasure and of course at the end, like the Monk I got to raise a glass in the ancient bar, after I had put it back up into place.

Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire

Our Cross to Bear

Attached is a very cool photo (one of many I found) of The Hill of Crosses in Lithuania (unknown photographer).

According to one web site, the hill has more than 50,000 crosses on it (and is not a cemetery).

The reasons for the crosses to be there is that there is a story that each one who would put his own cross on this mountain would become a lucky guy, so thousands come here and install their custom crosses.”

It’s been said that this tradition appeared before the Christianity came to Lithuania and Russia and is of pagan origin.

I saw this photo around the same time that I received the latest Paulo Coelho newsletter. Coincidently, it contains a story about crosses:

In a certain village in Umbria (Italy), there lived a man who was always bewailing his lot. He was a Christian, and found the weight of his cross too heavy to bear.

One night, before going to sleep, he begged God to let him change his burden.

That night he had a dream; the Lord led him to a warehouse. "Go ahead and change it," he said. The man saw crosses of all sizes and shapes, with the names of their owners. He picked an average size cross – but when he saw the name of an old friend written on it, he left it aside.

Finally, as God had permitted, he chose the smallest cross he could find.

To his surprise, he saw his own name written on it. (end)

Something for Knights to Think about.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ted Kennedy and the Saving of America

I have been at a loss for words, being in the middle of birthday's, graduation and Ryan getting ready for Basic Training. I literally prayed that today wouldn't be the first day that we have not posted a blog since the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale was founded. Alas, Sir Richard of Windsor comes riding and writing to our rescue! Here's his take on current events:

Senator Ted Kennedy was admitted to a Boston hospital after suffering a seizure at the family compound in Hyannis Port. Love him or hate him, agree or disagree, he has been a real force in American politics. He entered the Senate in 1962 which I believe makes him the second longest tenure in that body behind Senator Byrd. Over the years I've certainly disagreed with him more often than not, but now on some issues I find myself siding with him. This I'm told is a variant of what is the typical American male in that as they grow older they become more conservative. On a fiscal basis, I fit that demographic, but on a social basis, I don't. This is due to the high jacking of the conservative movement by the neocons, and the corporatist among them that has the most to do with my philosophical metamorphosis. You cannot run the world for the benefit of a few to the detriment of the many. This is the rocky ground where the seeds of anarchy and revolution are sown and like the noble old vineyard or olive orchard, thrive on adversity and grow and bear the fruit to which all others aspire. This is well documented in history, and indeed our American revolution had its seeds sown on the same rocky ground.

We have deviated from the standard of democracy where it was "one for all, and all for one" to all for one and one for one. It breaks the prototypical mold of democracy, and will have very dire consequences on American societal fabric, and it is coming in the future. I can't say if it is near term or long term, but unless we change and radically so, it will fall on us. While we are strong, we are not Euclid.

There are no shortages of rocks, indeed boulders today. It resembles the Catalonia Boulder Fields half way down the Baja on the only road to Cabo San Lucas. Huge boulders without a right angle, or for that matter any other angle except where they were blasted for the road. I did figure out the reason for the geologic phenomena, it was where God lost his marbles.

Our boulder field contains many huge stones, health care hand in hand with medicare and social security exacerbated by illegal im- migration, a growing boulder of national debt of which may well take generations to retire even if we were able to start on it today. Then there is our foreign policy that is another huge boulder, and like it or not has led to a huge diminution of our stature in the world among friend and foe alike, and recent foreign trips have underlined this fact when you speak with its citizens.
Sounds pretty dire, but certainly not hopeless.

Over the years I have found that the smartest people I know and have had the pleasure of working with or for had one trait in common. They had the ability to take huge problems and break them down in the smallest component parts that could then be successfully dealt with. That is what is needed now. Someone with the ability and the tools to blast these huge boulders in to small rocks and then with the fertilizer of innovation, the organic matter of imagination, and the water of foresight and diversity, to say nothing of the sunshine of understanding, break these down to fertile soil so instead of having a growing wasteland, we have a lush fertile garden.
It is beyond my comprehension how this can be done by someone who constantly has their eye on the rear view mirror by maintaining the status quo of past policies many of which while being implemented with the best intention have fallen way short of expectations or what the country really needs. Only when people start thinking from this type of perspective will we see any improvement which we really need.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Road Trip: Fort Knox

This is the entrance into the Officer's Club at Fort Knox. Steeped in history, General George Patton graced these walls many a night with his fellow Knights to discuss the best way to "To Hold the Enemy by the Nose and Kick His Ass!" This was the beginning of a 2-day tour of the training facilities that Ryan will be going through in 3 weeks for a period of 15 weeks, courtesy of the US Army. No pictures were allowed of the Bullion Building that houses the US Gold.

This is the conference room of Battalion Command on base. Ryan, being 19 Kilo...Army Armor, will be under the Red Knight 6 Command. Still using heavy cavalry terms today.

Here's Sir Ryan of Warrick sitting at the Red Knight section during a briefing from the Colonel in charge of Basic Combat Training, as he explains to us parents what our sons will be going through in a very short time.

Sir Ryan of Warrick, technically now Private Ryan, in front of his ride at the Patton Museum on base. The M1 Abrams tank, named after general Abrams who spear headed the rescue of the surrounded 101st Airborne at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII, is one hell of a tank! Ryan's MOS,Army terms for job, is driver of this magnificent machine.

This is the inside of a M1 simulator from the driver's point of few. I was able to drive one for about 30 minutes at the training facility. It was an awesome experience! Surprisingly smooth over rough terrain, very agile...making tight turns around trees, and fast 70mph top speed, it's one mean killing machine. No one has ever died inside one of these in combat. The same can't be said for the enemy. You lay back in a seat and view through periscopes, heat sensor and night vision. The engine is a jet aircraft engine. It steers and accelerates just like a motorcycle. In my simulation I took two direct hits and kept on fighting.

Here's what a grown man of 50 looks like inside the drivers seat of an M1, a kid in a candy store! One thrilling experience, and a confidence builder about the safety of my son. We went to a rifle range to shoot M16's next; however, we were having way too much fun to take pictures. I was pleased to see that I haven't lost my shot. Out of 120 rounds fired, I only missed target 4 times! They wanted to recruit me as a sniper, but Lady Allwinky said no!

Keep Your Caisson's Rolling!
Sir Hook the Proud Father of a Warrior of Warrick

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Okay, I admit it. When I was younger (so much younger than today), I used to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Its reputation has been, as long as I can remember, “red neck” and “cheap!” But, still, that was my beer of choice. My tastes have evolved over the past 30 years or so, but you can still usually find couple of cold PBRs in my garage refrigerator.

But, I’m never dying to have one. Not like the following guy I read about recently:

by The Associated Press

Monday May 05, 2008, 12:01 PM

Bill Bramanti with his Pabst Blue Ribbon casket.

SOUTH CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Illinois -- Bill Bramanti will love Pabst Blue Ribbon eternally, and he's got the custom-made beer-can casket to prove it.

"I actually fit, because I got in here," said Bramanti of South Chicago Heights.

The 67-year-old Glenwood village administrator doesn't plan on needing it any time soon, though.

He threw a party Saturday for friends and filled his silver coffin -- designed in Pabst's colors of red, white and blue -- with ice and his favorite brew.

"Why put such a great novelty piece up on a shelf in storage when you could use it only the way Bill Bramanti would use it?" said Bramanti's daughter, Cathy Bramanti, 42.

Bramanti ordered the casket from Panozzo Bros. Funeral Home in Chicago Heights, and Scott Sign Co. of Chicago Heights designed the beer can.


Gives you something to Think, Drink, and Be Merry about.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Full Circle!

The second button can make or break a shirt. Where did that come from?

It's hard to believe, but it's been 10 years day since the last episode of Seinfeld aired. This "show about nothing" was always able to draw comedic absurdity from ordinary day-to-day events.

Now one of the most successful TV shows ever, it really is a lesson in persistence. The reception to the pilot was very cool. In fact, not too many people gave it any hope of being continued at all. NBC eventually picked it us and the rest is TV history.

I remember having a get-together at my parents house one time and we kids kept making Seinfeld references. My parents, it turns out, had never seen an episode. "You have to watch it!" we demanded. That night we all gathered around the TV, excitedly waiting for our parents first Seinfeld experience. To our shock, it was "The Contest" episode where
George's mother throws her back out when she falls down after catching him doing "you know." When George says he'll never do it again, Jerry challenges him to a contest of self-denial, when he accepts, Elaine and Kramer want in on the action, or rather the lack of it.

Needless to say, not a word was spoken for 30 minutes. We didn't even laugh -- we were our own Seinfeld episode!
Art imitating life or life imitating Seinfeld? As the year went on, we did catch my mom and dad making more and more Seinfeld quips in conversation. They turned into big fans -- though we never did discuss "The Contest."

The final episode comes full circle with the same inane observation about buttons. The Second button to be exact and how it makes or breaks a shirt.


Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sir Bowie Simpson Take II

As much as I would still love to have as much hair as Sir Dayvd gave me in his version of Sir Bowie Simpson (see previous post), I must see the truth of my going bald. So, in order to give a more accurate rendering, I give you Sir Bowie of Simpson in front of the building he spends a goodly part of his life -- The Old Post Office office building.
Of course, he's wearing his favorite T-Shirt!

Thanks for the brief holiday from reality.

Sir Bowie Simpson of Greenbriar

Simpsonize Yourself

Now, I've heard of synchronizing yourself, supersizing yourself, surprising yourself, sillysizing yourself, simplifying yourself...but Simpsonizing yourself?! Yes, courtesy of Burger King's promotion of the Simpson's movie, you too can become a cartoon character. Actually, I already was, I just didn't look like one! Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire was the first to experiment on himself, then he took it upon himself to do Sir Bowie, and of course being the original fellow that I am, I was soon to follow. So, for your viewing pleasure, I give you the Simpson's Founding Father's Gallery!
Sir Dayvd Simpson of Oxfordshire

Sir Bowie Simpson of Greenbriar
Sir Hook Simpson of Warrick