Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fry My Hide

Dogpatch Dudes

The internet cannot find everything. Did you know that?

I do – cause I've been looking on and off for ages trying to find my favourite cartoon from Lil Abner. And, I'm having no luck whatsoever.

Why the fuss? I'll tell you why. It is adding to the complete lexicon of my favourite sayings and will (therefore) feature heavily when I am gone. Follow?

I thought not.

Here's how it goes. Lil Abner was (and perhaps still is for all I know) a syndicated strip cartoon in American papers. Based in the fictional hamlet of Dogpatch, Lil Abner is a classic of down-home, y'all, corn-shuckin, bushwackin, goat-ropin humour.

Check out the home page at:

To quote: In an era well before "political correctness" entered the vocabulary, Dogpatch exceeded every stereotype of Appalachia. The hillbillies in Li'l Abner's town were poorer than poor. The houses were hopelessly ramshackle. Most Dogpatchers were dumber than dumb. The remainder were scoundrels and thieves. Most of the men were too lazy to work, yet Dogpatch women were desperate enough to chase them. One preferred to live with hogs. Those who farmed their "tarnip" crop watched turnip termites descend every year, locust-like, to devour the crop. In the midst of the Great Depression, lowly Dogpatch allowed the most hard-up Americans to laugh at yokels worse off than they were. In Al Capp’s own words Dogpatch was “an average stone-age community” nestled in a bleak valley, between two cheap and uninteresting hills, somewhere. To old friends, the denizens of Dogpatch will be old friends. To strangers, however, they will probably be strangers.

In one classic cartoon one of the residents of Dogpatch found a genie's lamp. Rubbing the lamp, as you would do, duly produced the obliging genie. Three wishes were on offer which as the more sophisticated readers will know is just about standard genie fare.

With the first wish the disbelieving resident tried for a left-handed monkey wrench (or something equally nonsensical) and was amazed to see it appear before his very eyes. The second wish produced something truly worthwhile as the yokel finally got the hang of the genie thing and wished for a large pot of gold. The pot duly appeared.

Being more than slightly incredulous at his immense good fortune, our hero upon spying his new-found riches shouts out, “Well,fry my hide!”

Last pane of the cartoon shows the headline in the Dogpatch Gazette, large and in bold letters:

Gold Found! – Hide Fried!

Therefore, when things either go wrongly about the house, or someone states the bleedin obvious; my re-joiner is always, “Well, fry my hide – gold found and hide fried!”

Obvious, innit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Tough Start

NFL begins!

Looking forward to Sunday evening. It's the start of the NFL season and all Chiefs fans are agreed that it can't be as bad as last season. Or could it?

Away at the Baltimore Ravens is not really the game of choice. The Ravens are a truly daunting prospect for the season opener. On the back of an all-conquering defence, Baltimore have had real success both in the regular and post season of late. To that they have added a good offence with second year QB, Joe Flacco, set to build on what was an exceptional rookie year.

In reply, the Chiefs are rebuilding with a new head coach, a new GM, a new defensive system, a new QB and a new-look stadium. Not exactly the ingredients for a huge slice of optimism pie.

Matt Cassell may be the franchise QB we've all been waiting for, but he got smacked around in the pre-season and I predict the coach will not risk him against Baltimore's defence. Certainly he won't start. He may play some. Last year's signal-caller Brodie Croyle will probably get the nod – for all the good it will do him. Tyler Thigpen will play in certain situations and run a bit.

A lot will depend on the rest of the offence. Can they run the ball at all? Not likely. Can they at least keep possession and not fumble or give up interceptions? Not likely.

What about the defence? Can they stop a good Baltimore running game? Possible, but not very likely.

All things point to a long afternoon for the tribe. If they can keep it close and lose by only 10 or less, I suspect the coach will be pleased. So should the fans.

Park and Ride Buses

I'm confused!

Despite the fact that the number of old folks riding the buses for free seems to be exponential and a serious drain on the public purse, I'm only peripherally interested in the finances of the scheme – it's the mysterious disappearance of the buses after hours that really concerns me.

We assume, like so many things in life, that greater minds than ours are involved in the planning and organising of such mundane activities as a bus time-table. Then again, in this age of computer-generated rotas – how difficult can it be?

Take the Sprowston Park and Ride for instance. At peak times a bus leaves the Park and Ride site every 8 minutes. Journey time to the Norwich Bus Station is about 30 minutes. So, how many buses are required to achieve the goal? It must be about 4. At non-peak times the interval goes up to 10 minutes, so you need slightly fewer buses during the day.

Follow me so far?

Now, here comes the intriguing part. When I leave the site at about 18:00 I often see one of the Blue Park and Ride buses leave at the same time – but going in the wrong direction! Instead of turning right into the city, the bus goes left towards Wroxham. It then turns right towards Salhouse. I think I have seen them on the A 47 heading for Yarmouth.

What's going on? Where are they going? Why?

It's been suggested to me that the drivers are taking the buses home so as to get an early start and save on travelling expenses getting to work the next day. I just can't see it. Although it's perfectly possible that the bean-counters who run the bus service don't know this is going on – I doubt that this can be the case.

Why? Where are you going to park a whacking great blue bus? In your driveway?

Perhaps they are going to park somewhere near or in Yarmouth? Again, why?

There can't be more that 5 or 6 buses in total. Often there are three on the site at the same time. Surely when the last bus arrives at night they would just park it on the site with the others. Then, all the buses are there in the morning and ready to go. Why would you want to do anything else?

Aside: some of the controversy about the Park and Ride buses concerns the government's scheme to allow OAP's to ride for free after 09:30. In a recent letter to the editor of the EDP, Gussy Alamein (no I'm not making this up), Marketing and Communications Manager for First East England Buses explains that: . . . the destination on the ticket makes no difference to the revenue received by the bus company. Payments to bus companies are made on the basis of the average fare charged to adult paying passengers multiplied by the number of journeys made by concessionary pass holders.”

Clear? I'm frightened that these people are running the buses. I'm frightened that they are actually running anything. I'm going to find out where the Blue Buses go.

If it kills me.