Friday Firesmith – Adopt Don’t Shop

Friday firesmithBella would still be Bella but that damn crazy woman in Florida got the “Bella Vita” tattoo and I just didn’t Adopt1want to have that linked to a puppy. There was a Pit Bull who pulled her mom off some railroad tracks and lost a leg doing it and her name was Lily. Lillith was named after a brave dog and was not going to be named after a child killer. I do not know for certain that woman killed her daughter but I do know for certain she didn’t lose a leg trying to prevent it.

Sam certainly never had a name. He was tossed as soon as he was weaned and it’s possible his Adopt2dog mom was out in the woods trying to keep him and his siblings alive somehow when she was killed. Sam and whoever was left wandered off and finally Sam, the last survivor, was found by Bert. I often wonder how it is Sam got to be where he was. Patrick the Wonder Dog looked downright robust in comparison to what someone left me to deal with. In twelve years I’ve learned more about the long term effects of abuse on a sentient creature than I ever feared there was to know. But I gave Sam twelve years and a name. I gave Sam a home and some siblings. Death is never truly cheated but Sam and I have run a scam on the Old Man and we’re still running as fast as Time will let us.

Adopt3Maybe Bert had a name and perhaps he did not. He wasn’t ill kept and Bert was always happy. His dog sister was in the same pound and I wish I could have foreseen who Bert would be for I sure as hell would have liked that genetic line in a pair of dogs. I have no idea who else was in that litter with Bert and his sister but I would like to think somewhere out there is someone who still has her, or maybe there are two or three out there like Bert. That dog was a dog lover’s dog through and through. There aren’t enough words out there to get it right, really.

Adopt4I think Lucas was dumped, too. The vet told me that Lucas would be stunted and if that’s true I am very happy because otherwise he might be a Water Buffalo. I’m told that people will dump accidental puppies that belong to larger breeds because “they get too big”. That woman in Florida might have had some of those very same thoughts for all I know. But Lucas turned out beautiful as well as big. There wasn’t a way to prepare for Bert’s death and there isn’t a way to mend that loss, but Lucas did arrive in time to get some training from the best dog ever. He has done the most with it.

Adopt don’t shop. I can’t tell you that you will find what I did, those gems in the woods, on the road, and in shelters, but I can tell you that is the only place you will find them.  Click on photos to enlarge

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Fans

Friday firesmithFans are by their very definition people whose opinions are not likely to be objective. I used to make a killing off college football fans, and especially those of Florida State University, which is located in nearby Tallahassee, because they would get so terribly excited about the game they would bet anything and everything if someone just put them in the right frame of mind before kickoff.

I made nearly a thousand dollars off their losses to Miami in the 80’s and still made money when they won because true Seminole fans would always spot me a few points. Sometimes more than a few and a Kurt Warner fan gave me 21 points in the Rams versus Patriots Superbowl game back in 2001. I would take nearly any team on earth against nearly any other if you would give me 21 points.

But that is the nature of fandom. I knew guys who had lived in South Georgia all their lives and had never graduated from High School and they were still rabid FSU fans. A friend of mine who drank too much could be counted on upping the bet if the Seminoles were losing. I paid rent for two months one year because he couldn’t give into the idea HIS TEAM might actually lose and lose big.

I knew a Raiders fan who watched very game with a helmet on. We went to a sports bar and he brought his hat, really he did. That was a very bad day because they lost in the final minutes of the game and we had the tab riding on it. There was no way I would have been able to pay that one off but I wasn’t worried. Helmet Boy had spotted me ten points.

I like football but not nearly as much as I once did. People who know me won’t bet with me anymore, not after that Tampa Bay Superbowl fame where I racked up four hundred bucks in side bets before half time and passed out in the third quarter. Online betting isn’t nearly as fun because you can’t make people defend their turf and give you points for it. Picking the team that will win isn’t really that hard but getting someone to pay you to do it is a bitch.

The time is coming where I won’t be a football fan at all, I fear. Seau’s death was something that I have some issues with because directly I have made money off that sport and indirectly I have supported the sport that helped kill him. There was a time when a brutal hit on the field excited me and even more so if I was in a room full of cheering people. Now I wonder if that’s the hit that will cause permanent damage.

Fans are not going to give up a sport just because their heroes are becoming brain damaged. Hell, people still sniff glue, huff gas and use meth. As long as it is big business it will survive even if the players do not.

I’m still a fan but I can feel it waning. Just wonder if I would have that feeling if I was still making money off of it.

Take Care,



Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.

Friday Firesmith – Gay and Marriage

Friday firesmith

So far, the religious people aside, no one can answer both of these questions.

(1) What harm could it possibly do us to allow gay marriage and…
(2) What good does marriage do the rest of us anyhow that we couldn’t get from a “civil union”?

Religion isn’t important in this debate simply because marriage isn’t something that means anything outside a courtroom. Smiting hasn’t happened to anyone committing adultery for as long as I can remember and divorce is as common in church goers as those who sleep in on
Sunday. Honestly, other than tying a man to a child support payment, marriage is pretty much an outdated concept.

My marriage last nine hundred and eighty-nine days. But hey, that is seventeen dog years. At the end of the day, what started out as a peaceful get together between two people became a honey hole for two lawyers. They racked up some fairly impressive fees while the two principals involved lost all of that for no good reason at all. In a divorce the lawyers always win.

Now, when there are kids involved there’s a little more to consider than who gets the Alanis Morissette CDs. But this has nothing at all to do with marriage. Two people who have never wed can have custody battles and bitterness and gunfights just like married people do. The kids are going to lose no matter who wins and a couple of lawyers go out and get bigger homes for the one they just destroyed.

I don’t like divorce lawyers. That’s going to come up again, trust me.

So why bother? Really, why bother letting anyone get married? Let’s just have a couple of standard form contracts for pre-nups, stamp a seal on them and call it a day. Hey, if someone
wants to wear a white dress in a church and have rice thrown at them by drunks that’s between them and the Almighty, but seriously, when was the last time you heard of a preacher dissolving a marriage?

Despite what most people say in their vows marriage has as much to do with religion as yelling, “Oh God!” during sex does.

Actually, less because at least during sex you have reached heaven, in a manner of speaking.

So this brings us back to the two questions; is there a reason, other than religious that Adam and Steve can’t play house as well, or as worse, as man and wife? In there really a reason to keep the institution of marriage around other than a relic of the religious? Should we start rethinking what it all means when two consenting adults get together, for procreation or recreation?

If you really love someone do you need a ceremony and a ring and the blessing of a cleric and the approval of the government?

Make Care,



Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.


Friday Firesmith – Heroin

Friday firesmith

There was a heroin junkie I once knew who told me that even though he hadn’t shot up in a decade he was still addicted. The feeling never left him, the craving never stopped and he said there was never one moment of one day he didn’t miss it. The high he got on heroin was his god, his wife, his lover and nothing in the life he lived today could ever match it. He had spent a couple of years in a hellish prison and went through a weird inner debate as to if he would try to quit heroin or go ahead and quit life. He decided to live but he told me he regretted it. The life he was living looked ordinary enough but to the former junkie it was a one act play in which he pretended to be the man he was but deep down inside he still craved the needle.

He still dreamed of it. He still woke up in the middle of the night and felt that feeling again, the high, the cocoon, the buzz, and the envelopment of all time and space and sense of self with the warm glow. He would wake up and realize he was straight and sober and it was all he could do to keep from sobbing that it was gone.

It’s unfair, he told me, that I could write all I wanted to and that was my thing. I could have that. People who drank could drink themselves silly and they could have that, and in fact, there were bars and clubs and stores with all sorts of alcohol in them. People celebrated with alcohol, gave it away as gift, launched ships with it and only those hardened drinkers who killed people with cars or lay in a coma in the gutters were condemned.

He had left his wife, kids, his friend and his job for his habit, and he had betrayed ever trust for it. He stole money from everyone he knew. There was a woman he had teamed up with and they stole from stores, stole from their neighbors, stole from each other and in the end, it was her death that really affected him the most. Not out of loss, mind you, because he was more than willing to deal with the loss of anything and everything. It wasn’t the degradation that came with the habit, for he had sold his woman for money, watched as she was taken in front of him, and was happy that she could be a source of income for the habit.

There was a night he traded her for a fix and she went along with it for a fix, and he sat with the zombie feeling coming over him as he watched some stranger with drugs have sex with his girlfriend. A mouse ran over her arm, which was stretched out over her head and she looked over at him and they shared that moment like two lovers would share a sunrise at dawn.

She died of an overdose and he always thought she did it because the drug wasn’t having the same effect and they had to shoot more and more. She opted out because their god was dying faster than they were. He wanted to follow her, and would have, but then it would be gone forever, and he wanted to live, not to start over with life or to get clean, no.

He lived because as long as he lived there was a chance he could have it again, that the one thing he wanted might one day be found in some form that wouldn’t kill him, and he could have it until he did die.

Take Care,








Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit


Friday Firesmith – Guns and More Guns

Friday firesmith

I own four firearms. For the protection of the house and my mutts and my life I sleep with a double barreled twelve gauge shotgun beside my bed. At close range there is no weapon that is superior to this one as far as knowing I am going to kill someone. If I fire the shotgun in this house I mean to kill someone. That is the only reason I have that gun. The gun is there to kill other people.

I belabor that point because technically the shotgun could be used for hunting, sport fishing, and driving nails. That isn’t why I have it sitting beside the bed at night. I live at least twenty minutes away from any sort of law enforcement and that’s if they’re geared up and ready to go when they get the call. If the one deputy on duty at night in on another call or on the other side of the county then I better be able to either charm someone breaking in or kill them.

This is what gun ownership is all about when we get down to the bone. Hunting isn’t something protected in the Constitution. Sporting shooting isn’t protected in the Constitution. The Second Amendment is all about having enough guns to kill the people we think need killing, and people, let me be the first to say that we are not going to run out of those kind of people anytime soon.

The problem is this; guns kill people.

Where ever there is a high incident of gun ownership the incident of gun related deaths will be higher. Simply put where there are guns there will be people shot with guns. The answer to gun related violence is not more guns any more than the answer to rape is more penises. We cannot arm ourselves into peace. We cannot shoot our way into security. We cannot kill enough of the bad people to make the good people safe.

But I am not giving up the shotgun, oh hell no.

For once I am going to say something that is totally without exaggeration or hyperbole; I haven’t the first clue what to do about this problem. After Newtown, it is clear there are too many guns, too many high power large clip guns, and too many people in the gun industry who are buying too many politicians. After Newtown, we have to admit the gun culture is wrong and dangerous and getting worse.

But I am not giving up the shotgun, oh hell no.

I do not have an answer just a lot more questions.

(1)  Would you support a total ban on all guns?
(2)  Would you support a ban on assault rifles and large capacity clips?
(3)  Would you not support any sort of gun control?
(4)  Something else not listed (Leave a comment)
(5)  No Strong Opinion

Take Care,


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Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit


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Friday Firesmith – My First Porn

Friday firesmith

When I was ten or eleven I found a Penthouse magazine in a ditch and my life changed forever. First of all, I knew that getting caught with such material was an executional offense. My parents had never told me not to pick up photos of nearly naked women but at the same time that was during the days of hit first and reason it out later. That which was not mandated was entirely taboo. I knew getting caught with this magazine meant death and I knew if I showed it to my friends they would eventually say something to someone and the Gestapo that was the group of stay at home moms in our neighborhood would finally track down who had found the magazine and not reported its existence.

The hormones hadn’t really started kicking in yet but I knew there was something likeable about females. I had no idea any of them looked like the women in the magazine and I must admit that something deep and primeval stirred within. I hid the magazine under a piece of plywood in the woods and vowed never to get near it except when there was no one else around for miles and miles and miles, which was nearly never.

I finally devised a better hiding place by going with the “hid in plain sight” plan which would also add to the list of suspects if the parents discovered the existence of my secret magazine. Now, remember, this was the early seventies and Penthouse was basically a T&A magazine that was very mild by today’s standards. But this was something I had heard of but never seen and certainly never experienced firsthand, no pun intended. I hid the magazine in my neighbor’s garage under his stack of National Geographic. I was an avid reader and was forever going over and browsing through his stacks of stuff. Risky, yes, but there was great risk in all of this for me.

Now, here’s the weird part, if it could get even stranger; Penthouse Forum was an alien concept to me. Reading those stories was akin to reading Satanic writings on the walls of Hell itself. There was a story about a young man who was trying to get a push mower out from the rafters of his garage and he became entangled in a water hose just as the mower slipped and fell. Well, there he was, on his back in the rafters, his hand secured by a water hose and his best friend’s mom came over and caught him in this compromising position and compromised him.

I mean, damn.

This blew my mind. People did this? Wow! I mean, where did these people live that this could and did happen? My brain was totally fried. I eventually shared the magazine with my friends, and in that small group of very naughty boys we discovered that someone’s father had a collection of these magazines and after that, it was on.

The weird thing about all of this is for some bizarre reason I thought about that story last night. It has just now occurred to me, forty years later, that no one would store a push mower in the rafters of a garage.


Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit


Friday Firesmith – Curtis and the Grapefruit Juice

Friday firesmith

There isn’t a whole lot of intellectual discussion going on in a factory that makes batteries and if you think about what some batteries are made from, that being cadmium and nickel, there aren’t too many people with good sense that would take the job to begin with. Cadmium is some really bad stuff to breathe and if a person could get a better job they were very likely to do so. That left those of us desperate or uncaring enough to fill the jobs and that was where I was.

Dave was one of those guys who could have been thirty or eighty but looked weathered and worn enough to be on the upper scale. I was to find out much later in life he was closer to eighty but it was hard to tell. Dave sold pot as a side business and I never bought any smokable drug from anyone who worked around Cadmium dust. It just seemed like a very bad idea. He and I would share a court room one day but that’s another story. Dave taught me much about our justice system and why as a black man he assumed he was screwed if he had to go to court. It had nothing to do with drugs, by the way.

Curtis was Dave’s biggest buyer and one of the two people, me being the other, of the seven man crew who didn’t smoke cigarettes. In fact, Curtis’s big vice, other than weed, was grapefruit juice. He drank a quart before work and a quart at our lunch break. I thought he had to be slipping Vodka in it, but he never showed any signs of being drunk.

The odd thing about Curtis was he was one of the most avowed and severe racists I had ever met, and let’s face it, if you were raised in South Georgia during the sixties chances are you had run into a racist or two. Dave did miss a lot of work but he didn’t have a car and Curtis never gave Dave a ride unless he was out of pot. Dave and Curtis were the only two of us who lived out by the Interstate and Dave never asked anyone for a ride anywhere at any time. So he missed work if it rained or if the weather turned too cold. Or if he got in some great weed. He made seven bucks an hour and could sell pot for one hundred bucks an ounce. Do the math.

Curtis’ thing about blacks was he thought all of them were on food stamps and all of them were thieves. Of course, Curtis never said any of this around Dave, but I had a feeling, which was later confirmed, that Dave knew what Curtis was about. Curtis also didn’t trust his wife. We had thirty minutes for lunch and Curtis lived ten minutes away from the plant. He would race home during break and park in the road in front of his trailer and check the driveway for fresh tracks and then race back to work. He would wolf down a pack of crackers and chase it with grapefruit juice. Oh, and he admitted that this was what he was doing. Curtis said the two kids at the house were not his; that they happened while he and his wife had broken up.


But she was the real story here. I met her about a year after she and Curtis broke up for real. She started dating another guy on the crew and we discovered Curtis never married her because that would have cut into her food stamps. All the rants and raving he had done about blacks robbing us blind on welfare and all the while he was drinking that damn grapefruit juice that was bought with food stamps.

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit


Friday Firesmith – The Third

Friday firesmith

They sent us a new guy for survey and the very first time I laid eyes on the lad I knew, really knew, he was doomed. Land Surveying, the way it was done in the early 90’s meant hacking through the woods and chopping down brush and wading through chest deep briars. This kid
showed up for his first day on the job wearing a pair of shorts and some flip flops. Our Crew Chief was a belligerent man, prone to drinking on the job and throwing fits as well as equipment. He introduced himself to the new kid with a scream. We discovered the new guy’s name was Wasston. Gerald Wasston the Third, but he wanted to be called Cobb.

I was nursing a hangover and wasn’t sure I caught that last part. “Cobb”? You want us to call you Cobb?

Okay, I remember two things this man said verbatim, the first was this, “Yes, I want to have a nickname that sounds rough”.

We laughed at him and told him to go get some jeans on, and some boots. Remember this was back in the early 90”s and almost no one had personal cell phones. Wasston did. He called his mother to bring him some work clothes and she did, as well as his lunch. She seemed more than a little concerned about the food going bad in the heat. Did we have means for refrigeration of food? No, we did not.

Land Surveying was once damn hard work. With GPS and computers a lot of the manual labor has disappeared but once upon a time a bush hook was my only friend. I learned early on to stay on line when hacking through the woods and because of this weird creed on survey crews no one would tell you if you were getting away from that line. My trick was to pound two stakes into the ground, one in front of the other, and when I looked back, if I could see the first stake behind the second, I knew I was on the line.

I told Wasted, which was the nickname he got instead of any other he might have chosen, how to stay on line while cutting and he told me he was quite certain he could cut in a straight line. It took two hours of cutting before our Crew Chief stopped him and sure enough, his line was crooked as a stick in water. That mean two more hours of cutting and by that time we had discovered the cookies his mother had left him for lunch.

Wasted seemed to be confused by this world he had been thrust into. Pounding survey stakes into the ground was something he approached with the preparation of a surgeon. Hard baked Georgia clay yields to no wood and we set him to getting stakes in the ground one day just to see if he could. He couldn’t. He had called his mother to come get him because he was having an “episode”.

So the day after the episode episode, our Crew Chief decided we would go to a fast food restaurant for lunch and he would discuss Wasted’s future in the world of surveying. I was watching Wasted eat and as he ate his right eye winked. Chew, wink, chew, wink, chew, wink, and soon everyone noticed I was staring and finally Wasted stopped eating.

“Dude!” I said. “Your eye keeps winking when you chew!” and this led to the next set of words I remember exactly.

“I have a syndrome and I will thank you not to mention it again”.

The rest of us laughed so hard the manager asked us to leave. Wasted lasted another week, but on what was his last day, he slipped into a ravine and was trapped by vines. Turtle-like, he floundered away while we raided his lunch bag for cookies. Alas! The indignity of being left trapped by briars was more than his mother would allow, and Wasted became part of our history and lore. But from that point on when someone was out sick or something they would say, “I have a syndrome and I will thank you not to mention it again”.

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Friday Firesmith – The Lesbian Wife And The Porn Magazine

Firesmith logo

Back when I was a land surveyor there were no computers or GPS or anything like that. We used the same instruments for surveying that the Egyptians had used when they built the Pyramids and after a full summer as the low man on the food chain on the crew I came to some interesting conclusions as to what caused the Sahara Desert.

My job was to clear away the brush between two points and I think I cleared enough low bushes and small trees to make a landing site for the mother ship. If the Pyramids had been surveyed then there was some guy out there who did a lot of clearing. The company I worked for had rotating crew chiefs for crews so one day we drew the lot and got the very first College Kid that had ever worked for the company. CK turned out to be okay, but he had no field experience. I became his best friend because CK was terrified of snakes. The fact that I caught them without any hesitation astounded him into long periods of outright babbling. He was really impressed that someone, anyone, did and would catch a snake. Of course, CK didn’t know any better at all and I presented most water snakes to him as the dreaded Cottonmouths. But as far as someone went with a degree and no experience the man really tried hard and we all liked him.

One day as we were heading to the woods CK was totally silent. We knew he had been married for less than a year, had built a nice home for he and his wife and they wanted kids while they were still young. His wife ran the household and he called her “My Boss” but he meant it affectionately. So the day wore on without any comment at all from CK but right there in the middle of lunch he said without any emotion, “I think my wife is a lesbian”.


Talk about a conversation turner. We settled down to listen to him tell us that he had found porn, real dirty smutty porn, hidden in his home, which he had not bought or brought. It was one of those triple X rated magazines that even winos don’t like to be caught looking at. We wanted to see the evidence before we rendered judgment.

So the next day CK brings the magazine and it is even worse than it appeared. It was terrible, at least as far as porn magazines go. We were actually shocked because this man had spoken in tones of reverence in regard to his wife and this…

Naturally, we had advice to give him. Everyone thought he ought to leave it on the bed and wait. I told him to put it back on top of the cabinets where he had found it but leave a small piece of paper on it so if it was moved he would know when she had looked at it. He chose to confront his
wife about being a lesbian.

The rest of the crew and I shot some pool after work and took bets. Was this woman really looking at hard cord porn mags? We were intrigued but I didn’t think so. I thought there had to be a reason the magazine was there and in the end it was even more embarrassing than CK could have ever imagined.

Okay, turns out he found the magazine on top of the kitchen cabinets. He had climbed up there to retrieve a rubber band that he was trying to fit around something and lo… there it was, the dirtiest of all dirty magazines. CK presents the magazine to his wife who reacts strongly and negatively. An argument breaks out as to the origin of the magazine.

Then as if on cue they look up at the kitchen cabinets and then back at each other. With growing horror they realize there is only one answer; the person who installed the cabinets had to have
left the magazine there when the work was being done. Her father had installed the cabinets.


Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit

Mike’s Movie Review – The Hobbit

Firesmith Movie Review

When I picked up a copy of “The Hobbit” from my school library in 1976 the book hadn’t been read in years. No one I knew had even heard of it. My classmates made fun of me for reading it and it would be three more years before the animated version of “The Lord Of The Rings”
created a cult following that would one day become a mainstream smash hit monster.

I had a couple of hours to kill and really wanted to see “The Hobbit” so in I went. The movie seems to be on the very verge of taking off right in the beginning and that’s pretty much where it stayed for nearly three hours.

“The Hobbit” bored me.

This all started back in “Return of the Kong” actually, when they seemed to run out of ideas towards the end and the battle for Gondor was resolved with green ghosts saving the day all the way into the city. The elephant battle went on far too long and this was a reoccurring theme in ‘The Hobbit”. There were just some scenes that should have been left on the floor or at least shortened a bit.

And wow! Radagast The Brown. Did you see that one coming? A wizard with bird manure running down his beard? Trust me that was not in the book and the weirdness with the rabbits? Where in the hell did that come from?

The scene with the hill trolls seemed to drag on and it could have been made better by sticking with what happened in the book. But hell, the opening scene between Bilbo and Gandalf could have easily stayed word for word and we would have loved it. The scene of Bilbo being more or less hurried into going ought to have been kept.

Rivendell was a wonder but suddenly main characters from LOTR are discussing stuff anyone who has seen LOTR should already know. That trilogy has already been shown. It was good, very good, but this movie is slowly oozing towards “Aliens 3” territory which is the one sequelof all time that tainted two really good movies connected to it.

The Dwarves escaping from the den of the goblins looks and feels and sounds a lot like the scene in Moria from “The Two Towers”. And it went on and on and on and on.

There is just so much you can do with Dwarves. In the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman” the sudden appearance of Dwarves nearly killed the movie and ‘The Hobbit” has to deal with them from the word go. It’s difficult to get past the caricature of Dwarves and this movie doesn’t try hard enough. Instead of reinventing what we know we’re fed the same Hollywood type cast for most of them which makes those who are taken from that mold to seem less like Dwarves.

The Ring scene is held nearly true and for that small mercy I am grateful. Still, even that could have been done better. The Eagles scene, please, someone shoot me now, just getting there was an unexpected journey. And by the time it all ended, I had checked the clock three or four times.

Either this is a serious movie or it is not a serious movie. Either we are expected to suspend belief for the characters or we are not expected to, and it’s all about the show. But ‘The Hobbit” drifts back and forth between very serious scenes, downright goofiness, and all of it is wrapped in a setting that deserves so much more.

Take Care,


The Hobbit (2012)  –  PG-13

Take Care,


Mike writes regularly at his site:  The Hickory Head Hermit