Archive for narratted

117-Snallygaster?

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The Snallygaster is a Maryland based cryptid whose description is so bizarre that is almost sounds like some kind of Lovecraftian horror. Half eagle, half reptile with razor sharp teeth so hard and dark they look like steel. It has wings to small for its body but yet it flies. It has one large eye in the middle of its forehead like some kind of reptile cyclops. it also has tentacles coming out of its mouth like it has a large octopus as a tongue. Beware the Snallygaster, especially if you are a drinker. We have heard it has a fondness for moonshine.

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092-Marfa Lights

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Joe took a trip to Texas to find the elusive Marfa Lights. He spent time at the Marfa lights festival before driving off the highway to search out this incredible phenomenon.

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085-The Black Squirrels of DC? -a narrative

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Something that I don’t think about much in my daily life are rodents. I do, however, think about the odd and the strange things that I observe. If you have spent time in the parks or outdoor areas of Washington DC you’ll notice that there is one particular part of the fauna that sticks out; the black squirrels of DC. On a trip to Niagara Falls with my wife, we saw many black squirrels in the parks above the falls. This led me to wonder if there was a connection between the two.

I know there are other parts of the country that are home to black squirrels. Marysville, Kansas, for instance, is known as Black Squirrel City and has enacted a twenty five dollar fine for harming one. Their unusual dark rodents were said to be brought there by a traveling carnival in cages and escaped from the exibit. With the abundance of our little nut-stashers on the east coast being grey it seems a mystery where these raven colored rodents came from. Oddly enough the darker are the same species as the lighter eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis). What makes them darker is a melanistic color phase, it’s a recessive gene. It is theorized however that these black squirrels were the more abundant variety at the beginning of our country. The tree canopy was so thick at the time that the shading gave their darker look an advantage of camouflage from hawks and other predators. The trees started being cleared for housing and at the same time hunters would pick them out of the treetops for dinner. The gray phase variety suddenly had the advantage against the the pale blue sky. Their main predator had changed.

During the mid to late 1800’s reintroducing a squirrel population into city parks became a popular undertaking for city officials. Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and Washington DC were all constructing public parks and it felt natural to fill them with the native wildlife. Squirrel hunting within city limits started being banned in cities, including DC in 1906.

That brings us to how a small pocket of black squirrels came to nest in our capital city. In 1902 The National Zoo received a package of 18 black phase eastern gray squirrels from the Department of Crown Lands of Ontario and in exchange they received 18 gray. A few years later in 1906 they made the same exchange again. The entire population of black squirrels that are now blanking the city and its suburbs are from these original 36.

In my research about this subject I fell down a squirrel hole on the internet finding not only black squirrel colonies but also white morph and albino colonies. Olny, Illinois has a white squirrel colony and every year in October they have a count to see how they are fairing. 88 this past year up from 75 the previous. I also found out about an ever expanding group of eastern grays that have taken over a swath of Italy after being brought there by a U.S. ambassador. The quartet escaped and have been putting a hurting on the European red squirrel habitat ever since.

If you have ever visited the nations capital there are many sites to behold. The Smithsonian museums, the International Spy museum, the Washington Monument are all amazing places to visit, however my favorite are the outside places. The National Mall, National Zoo and National Arboretum are all places where you can catch a glimpse of the famed black squirrel of DC.

 

037-How I fell back in love with shaving? -a narrative

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Beards are “in” right now. Mustaches are all over stickers, duct tape, lollipops, the front of cars and most importantly upper lips. Ive seen beard enthusiast facebook groups, facial hair grooming supplies and of course there are the reality shows. Today I want to cross the grain and talk about the antithesis to those macho magnificent man manes, specifically shaving.

You see my father never taught me to shave. I remember being in my early teen years in front of the bathroom mirror with a fresh bic razor procured from the linen closet. Firing half that barbasol can into my hand produced a huge tangible white cloud. The sweet musky smell filled my nostrils as I gently lathed my upper lip. The menthol was tingling on my neck as I slopped the excess shaving creme, giving myself the appearance of a certain red capped, white bearded saint I stopped believing in only a few years earlier. The blade slid across my cheeks for the first time leaving the cold wintery chill of exposed skin. Of course the burning of million tiny cuts filled with aftershave was a definite contrast.

By the time I was sixteen my widows peak had become an eroded beach. By eighteen I decided to shave my head. When some people say they shave their head they use clippers and take the hair very short. This is not my definition. I took a razor to my head. The first time you completely shave down to nothing is akin to doing a polar bear plunge with your scalp. I have always kept an abundance of sideburns on my cheeks as long as I have been able to grow them. I feel a kinship with General Burnsides in this regard. The best aspect of mutten chops is the gratification of having a beard combined with the pleasure of shaving. I know what your thinking. Pleasure of shaving? You must be crazy! Well you must not be learned in the way of straight razor shaving.

I received a straight razor as a gift from my wife. It came with all the trappings of a 18th century man’s bathroom, barber strop, shave cup and soap puck. The problem is that honing a straight razor takes patience, time and skill. All three of which I have none of.

Not to say I don’t know how to sharpen a knife. I was a boyscout and I did have my tote and chip. I’m fairly sure I only had one corner taken off. Sharpning a pen knife and sharpning a three inch razorblade are two slighty different things.

Luckily I found a compromise and it’s called a shavette. This razor is similar to a straight razor but it has a removable blade like those double sided butterfly razors your grandpa used to use. So when it gets dull you just swap it out. All of the majesty of shaving like Sweeny Todd with out all that stropping.

Although I was never formally introduced to shaving by my father he did teach me how to shine my own shoes. I’ve always said a man should know how to shine his shoes or boots. When you finish and look down and see them gleaming in black you can hold you head high knowing you’ve make yourself proud. Shaving with a straight razor be it an heirloom or a shavete gives you the same feeling.

So men and bearded ladies go out and get yourselves a straight razor you’ll thank me for it.