Pasteurized cream and salt.  Those are the ingredients in the little butter packets that rest in a bowl in front of me as I sit and enjoy my meals aboard the M/V Maersk Texas.  You can’t convince me that a substitute containing 29 ingredients, some of them with names that contain every letter of the alphabet, is healthier than butter.

I like butter.  Maybe I will be the last one standing but if I do nothing else in my life I will continue to fight the good fight and slather everything in sight with real butter.

I was frying up some chicken wings one weekend back in the day when I was married.  My soon to be ex wife strolled in about the time I was whipping up some homemade wing sauce and was aghast to see that I was adding approximately a pound of butter to the mix.  You see, she was somewhat a health nut.  Well, that is if you don’t count a fifth of vodka a day.

Anyway, she never ate my wings again.

That marriage was doomed.

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I like my blog music to be original, mostly because I like to impress my readers with my wide reaching knowledge of the musical world.  The truth, however, is that the music that is currently tickling my eardrums sometimes inspires what I write and it would be less than truthful to try to sound cutting edge and funky when in fact I am enjoying an old standby.

I’m listening to Pink Floyd’s The Wall.  Possibly this is fitting as a large part of my vacation centered around this album and I have yet to write about it.  I think I will be probably be blogging bits and pieces of my vacation over the coming months so I won’t apologize for setting the mood with a classic.

Tune your stereos to, “Hey You.”

“But it was only fantasy.  The wall was too high as you can see.  No matter how he tried he could not break free.  And the worms ate into his brain.”

Yeah….That’s my present state of mind.  You get it or you don’t.  As always.

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Nothing much blog worthy has happened on this ship as of yet.  I have a feeling it will only be a matter of time.  However, writing being somewhat like exercise I felt the need to flex my literary muscle and work out some of the kinks and get the soreness out of the way before the good stuff comes along and requires my “A” game.

I’m going to tell you a few things about my ship, share a few unsolicited opinions and give you a flashback to the early days of Rusty the Pirate.  Go ahead and get offended by the Rusty the Pirate poem.  It will save time later.

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Captain Phillips

Pretty Good movie.  I am glad that some light was shed on an industry I have grown to love.  Not only does it pay my bills but I believe in what we do.  I believe in doing it while flying and American flag.  I believe most of you have no idea what it takes to be a merchant marine.

I can’t stand people who think their job is so much harder than everybody else’s.  Jobs are called jobs for a reason and you receive a paycheck for going for a reason.  In some form or fashion, they suck.  Some aspect of your job is difficult, stressful or challenging.  You have a boss that is a douche bag or an employee that is an idiot.  You have customers that are impossible to deal with and vendors that don’t keep their promises.  If you get out of bed in the morning and do something to support your family and contribute to the economy then I respect what you do.

The difference with my job is that I think our unique challenges are unknown to the general population.  Even if you are not a nurse working in an emergency room you are aware that they have to work long hours, deal with difficult patients and more difficult doctors.  You don’t have to be a cop to know that they take a chance of being shot.  Not many people know that we exist, much less realize what we sacrifice for our jobs or what we contribute to our country.

I’ll write my ode to the merchant marines another time.  We were talking about Captain Phillips.  The Maersk Alabama was carrying food aid to Africa, among other cargo.  That ship doesn’t come back to the United States.  At least it didn’t back then.  The sailors signed articles and committed themselves to sailing back and forth in that shit hole for up to four months at a time.  There was no shipboard internet back then.  No cell phones.  They feed us well but fresh fruit and vegetables run out quickly.  You can’t go out to a restaurant, we are not allowed to have a cold beer after work and nobody is flying your girlfriend out for a conjugal visit.

On my first ship I was not too far from the Alabama’s location when I received word that my Peepaw had passed away.  I was very close to my grandfather.  I didn’t get to say goodbye.  I didn’t get to hug my dad and tell him I was sorry his dad was gone.  I didn’t get to cry with my grandmother.  I didn’t get to stand up and tell everybody what a good man I thought he was.  I just sat in my room alone for a few minutes and looked at the floor.  Then I went back to work.

We give up a lot.  I ran away to sea because nothing else in life was working for me.  For some people it is in their family – their dad or uncle was a sailor so they became a sailor.  Some are just too weird to fit in anywhere else.  Some come for the money – I have no idea why.  We all have our own reasons but we have some things in common.  We serve our country.  We help the military.  We are often the first to answer the call when other countries are in need.

It is a good life but a lonely one.  People have asked me how accurate the movie was.  I have no idea.  I wasn’t on the ship when it happened.  But I can tell you that it was good to see my industry get some press.  People need to realize we are out here.

Hug a sailor today.  It helps.

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Obamacare

Seriously?  I have to address this?  What a joke.  Here’s the problem with politics in our country.  Yeah we have corrupt and lying politicians, out of control lobbyists, bills being passed with earmarks that have nothing to do with the legislation in question…ok, I’m getting a headache.  The point is that there is plenty wrong.  But I was going to tell you the main problem.

Us.  We are the problem.  Obamacare is a disaster.  It just is.  Sorry.  I know some of you wanted it to work.  Guess what?  It’s not working.  It’s not going to work.  It was never going to work.  It is a bad idea.  Of course conservatives like me are going to jump all over it.  That’s what we do.  Obama could say he was giving everybody free ice cream and we would scream that he was killing diabetics.  What we need are liberals to hold him accountable for his actions.

That will never happen.

We are such party line people.  If the Republicans could hold their people accountable when they are whack jobs or come up with ludicrous proposals (are you listening Marco Rubio and your ridiculous immigration reform?) then something might change.  Republicans don’t much care what liberals think – you aren’t supposed to like us.  But when the people whose votes they depend on point out their buffoonery, change may happen.

The White House doesn’t care that every Republican and their grandmother knows Obamacare is a joke.  We aren’t voting for him or his cronies anyway.  Sometimes, people, you have to admit that your guy is wrong.  That is the only way your guy changes.

Enough of that.

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I’m not worried about an asteroid smashing into the earth.  I don’t understand why people get so worked up over that stuff.

I could eat spaghetti for dinner and ice cream for dessert 13 straight days before growing tired of it.

This football season is a total write off.

If your kids were half as cute as my niece Izzy, you would have some pretty cute kids.

However, I hope for your sake that your kids are significantly better behaved than Izzy.

I’m growing a beard if anybody cares.

I haven’t been in a relationship since 2002.  I’ve probably spent 33% of that time with a broken heart, or at least a sad one.  That seems kind of fucked up to me.  And, yes, I realize it’s nobody’s fault but my own, in case you are reading this and think I am throwing darts, which I’m not.

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4 hours of bridge watch at night and it is freaking cold.

Me – “Christ!  It is some kind of cold on this bridge.”

3rd Mate – “Yeah and I forgot my hoodie!!”  He is Ukrainian so it is pronounced “hooowwdeee.”

Me – 1 hour later – “I can’t feel my nose.  I swear to Christ I can’t feel my nose.  Why is it this cold on the bridge?”

3rd Mate – “This is bad word ridiculous!  I’m going out to smoke a cigarette and warm up.” Go out to warm up???

Me – 2 hours later – “Brother, we are going to have to cuddle and share body warmth.  I can’t take anymore.”

3rd Mate – “You’re joking, right?”

Me – last hour of the watch – “Why is there no temperature control up here?  I can’t believe this is normal.”

3rd Mate – “Oh.  I can adjust the temperature.”

Me – “?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!  #$$^$#&$@#!%#@$#!!!!!!!”

3rd Mate – “Ummmmm…..yeah…….sorry.”

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Unless I have acquired some new readers, you all know Rusty the Pirate.  He is a scallywag.  I don’t approve of his actions or his morals but I can’t help by love him like a brother.  It is important to not get me confused with Rusty the Pirate.  I am a nice guy.  I am a momma’s boy.  I revere women, look both ways before crossing the street and wash behind my ears.

Rusty the Pirate…..not so much.

Before he was a pirate feared across the land and the Captain of his own sailing vessel, Rusty was a young deckhand on a merchant vessel.  He didn’t like being told what to do.  He didn’t like the way the world worked.  He didn’t like how women treated him.  He had thoughts about how he would like things to be.

This is a story of those times

 

Rusty the deckhand pushed his swab

He swiped it back and forth

He was enjoying cleaning the deck that day

As the ship was sailing north

 

Then some jerk-off officer wandered out

And gave young Rusty a hard time

He spit right on the fresh clean deck

And to the crow’s nest made Rusty climb

 

The young lad did just what he was told

But he wasn’t happy at all

Thoughts started brewing in his pirate head

And a new life was giving a call

 

“Ye tell me to swab the deck and empty the trash

And cook you fat boys a meal

Well I tell you what I’ll do it for now

But soon there will be a new deal.”

 

“’Cause nobody asked me what I want

So I’ll tell you loud and clear.

I’m gonna climb down this mast and bend you over

Then shove me swab straight up your rear.”

 

“I’m gonna take this ship and all your crew

Then send you walking down the plank

To Davie Jones’ locker yer gonna go

Beware this ain’t no prank.”

 

“I’m Rust the Pirate and here to stay

A deckhand I be no more

I aim to pillage and plunder and rape and steal

They’ll be fearing me from sea to shore.”

 

Rusty kept those thoughts to himself

And went on about his day

The ship made port in the Bahamas

And Rusty went ashore to play

 

He met a beautiful lass in a local whorehouse

And Rusty fell in love

He thought that she was perfect in every way

And thanked the Lord above

 

She told him of all her problems

And of the other men in her life

But Rusty didn’t get no sweet lovin’

And she didn’t want to be his wife.

 

Rusty was the best friend she had ever had

She couldn’t imagine messing things up

Our pirate friend pretended that was great

But started seeking comfort in his cup.

 

“You want to be my dearest friend

And come crying when he slaps your face

Take me hard earned money when you are broke

And then disappear without a trace?”

 

“Well you forgot to ask me what I want

So let me tell you how things will be

I don’t give two fucks about Tom or Brad

I’m leaving you for the sea.”

 

“I got just one use for that big mouth

And your opinion ain’t what I mean

So keep quiet for once for goodness sake

You make me ache from head to spleen.”

 

“I be Rusty the Pirate and love who I please

You can climb in my bed or get down on your knees.

But if whining or crying is what you need

There be the door, leave your keys.”

 

Rusty kept all these thoughts silent

But the pain inside him grew

And he was determined to be an outlaw

Just him and a murderous crew

 

And the day finally came

When Rusty drew out his sword

The Captain went down

Rusty had kept to his word

 

“Ye never asked me what I want

So I’ll tell you with me blade

This be my ship and my new life

Today a legend has been made.”

 

A new flag went up

On Rusty’s ship that fine day

It had a skull and two crossbones

There was nothing left to say

 

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Me?  I’m a lover.  A thoughtful, sensitive guy.  I don’t approve of rusty any more than you do.

You should take time today and appreciate the loved ones you have in your life.  Anybody who plays a part in driving away the loneliness is a special thing and should be revered.  I think we forget that at times.

Godspeed

Russell Yale

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