Notes From The Cactus Patch

Tall Tales and Ripping Yarns from The Great State Of Texas

Archive for the month “July, 2021”

“Our Neighborhood Wizard”


We got ourselves into so much trouble that our Mothers would take shifts whooping everyone’s butt just to give the other moms spanking arm a break.” It was 1956, and that’s how it was for my neighborhood pals and me.

Summer was our best and our worst season because there was more playtime outside, increasing the opportunity to get ourselves into predicaments that never ended well. Our moms didn’t buy into that “Dr. Spock crap.” I would bet that none of the moms in my neighborhood ever heard of that weirdo. There was no negotiating out of corporal punishment, and trophies were non-existent.

My neighbor, Mr. Mister, was the neighborhood scientist and inventor; our very own Mr. Wizard. Not the dweeb on television, but a real-life mad scientist with a movie star wife.

We kids would spend our weekends sitting underneath his Mimosa tree, watching him build his oddball inventions in his garage that doubled as his laboratory. Looking back, he was more a “mad scientist” than an inventor. The only thing missing was the Frankenstein monster lumbering out of his garage.

Mrs. Mister, his Hollywood-looking wife, would keep a steady supply of cold Kool-Aid and cookies flowing. She closely resembled the movie star Jane Mansfield but could bake a cookie-like Betty Crocker. Always with a frosty martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other, she was the dream Mom none of us had. No butt whooping’s around the Mister household, no matter what we said or did. So we were free to be our feral selves.

Some of Mr. Misters’ inventions were downright crazy. My two favorites were his motorized and drivable charcoal griller and the half-size rocket that took Fred and Ginger, his wife’s twin poodles, into the stratosphere, returning the two. “Dog-o-nauts” small space capsule safely to earth; via an Army surplus parachute.

After the spectacular launch, which also torched the Misters’ back yard and part of their garage, Mr. Mister was paid a visit by the F.B.I. and the Air Force. Who in the world knew it was a national security violation to build and launch a solid-fuel rocket from your backyard?

That incident caused Mrs. Mister to suffer a minor breakdown, so no more using the pooches.

As in most neighborhoods, there are disagreements with other groups of kids. A gang of mean and nasty punks lived across the railroad tracks from us. They were older, bigger, and made our lives miserable. We called them “The Hard Guy’s.” A few of them carried switch-blade knives that had been smuggled in from Mexico.
We all attended the same elementary school and suffered their daily attacks during the school year; now, they were sneaking into our neighborhood, cutting our bicycle tires with their switchblades, egging our houses, and stealing our goodies. So we devised a plan to get even, and of course, it involved our hero and mentor, Mr. Mister.

Mr. Mister said that he had experienced a similar gang of kids growing up in East Los Angeles. So he suggested a way to retaliate using every kid’s favorite firecracker, “Cherry Bombs,” delivered by an ancient invention called the catapult. Wow! what a guy. With his help, we built a small wagon-mounted catapult in a few hours. It was a beaut. He donated a shoebox full of the little bombs for the cause.

The first Cherry Bomb we launched from the weapon went 50 ft and exploded; not enough weight. So Georgie suggested putting a Cherry Bomb inside a sidewalk biscuit, like the ones his sister and her friends make.

For the folks that didn’t grow up in the 50s, the “sidewalk biscuit” is purely a kid invention native to Texas. It’s made by putting a large glob of dough on a red-hot 250-degree sidewalk and letting the heat do the rest.

We stuffed a Cherry Bomb into a fist-size glob of dough and placed it on my front sidewalk. Within an hour, we had our weapon of mass destruction. The hot concrete produced a biscuit-bomb the size of a grapefruit with a beautiful golden crust. Georgie tried to eat one and chipped a tooth.

The test shoot was a success; the biscuit bomb flew about 100 yards and exploded as it hit the ground; perfect. We were ready for revenge. Mr. Mister beamed like a proud Father.

Word in the neighborhood was that Chucky, the leader of the “Hard Guys,” was having a backyard birthday party, and his gang of hoodlums and their families would be attending. Unfortunately, we also learned that a few of our neighborhood girls would be there, which made them traitors to the cause in our minds. We tried to warn them without revealing our battle plan, but, oh well, they will be sorry when the crap hits the fan.

At dusk, our small group of commandos, wearing our best Army surplus helmets and packs, pushed the catapult to the edge of the railroad tracks. The party was in full gear, Elvis was on the record player, parents were dancing, kids were yelling, and a clown was making balloon animals; we could smell the hamburgers cooking, reminding us that it was supper time.

Skipper, our math wiz-kid, calculated the trajectory and distance with his father’s slide rule. Georgie loaded the “Biscuit Bomb” into the catapult pouch and then pulled a can of Ronson lighter fluid from his pack and doused the weapon. Countdown from five to one, I lit the fuse and the soaked bomb and pulled the release lever.

The “Flying Burning Biscuit Bomb” sailed high and long, leaving a trail of black smoke and flames as it soared toward its target. We gasped in awe at the beauty of our weapon.

The first biscuit bomb bounced once, landed on the charcoal grill, and exploded. The adults sitting nearby were coated in charcoal-broiled hamburger patties, weenies, and biscuit chunks. A piece of hot charcoal set Chucky’s mom’s beehive hair-do on fire, and his father wasted two cold Schlitz beers dousing the flaming mess.

The second “biscuit bomb” blew up “Squiggles The Clown’s” prize table, sending balloon animals, Captian Kangeroo penny-whistles, and birthday cupcakes in all directions. It was pure pandemonium at the Chucky place.

The third bomb was a dud. We were in the process of loading a fourth when the “Hard Guys” came running towards us, followed by their fathers. We had no plan of retreat, no “plan B.” So we did what any commando would do; dropped our gear and ran like hell towards Mr. Mister’s back fence. Reaching the fence, we vaulted into the backyard and to safety.

Mr. Mister knew the attack was a bust, and he gathered us around the Mimosa tree. Mrs. Mister gave us a cold glass of Kool-Aid to calm us.

The “Hard Guys” and their fathers stood at the back fence yelling obscenities. Naturally, this didn’t go over well with Mr. Mister, so he walked to the back fence and addressed the lynch mob.

Mr. Mister didn’t sound like himself. His voice was deep and foreboding as he spoke to the group. ” Millard Mister here, Colonel, U.S. Air Force, this is my wife, Captain Jane Mister, U.S. Air Force, is there a problem here gentlemen?” The fathers jerked to attention, eyes forward. This sounded serious.

Chuckies father explained the scenario. Mr. Mister replied, ” I am aware of the operation and why it took place.” He then explained to the fathers all the havoc their sons were creating in our neighborhood. The gang of hoodlums realizing the jig was up, took off running for their homes, angry fathers right behind them. We had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

Mr. Mister turned, gave us a salute, and said, “job well done men.” Three kids stood as tall as nature would allow and returned his salute.

The rest of the summer was great for us, and Mr. Mister invented the first Air-conditioned Riding Lawnmower.


“WTH? The Olympics and More”


As if today could get any worse. It’s 101 degrees and expected to stay that way for the next week. There isn’t enough water to save my veggie garden, and my landscape plants are begging me to put them out of their misery. The birds at the feeder are lethargic and barely peck at their seeds. It’s summertime in Texas, ya’ll. We don’t need a stinking grill, just lay that meat on the concrete patio and walk away for a few minutes. Chef Ramsey would dig it.

Simone Biles exited the Olympic competition because of a mental issue? Well, what do we expect when the weight of the entire American team is on her 24-year-old shoulders, and she supports her whole extended family, that happens to live pretty damn well. Her coach should have seen this coming. Let us hope she finds some relief or inner peace. If she was a quitter, it would have happened years before this.

” Aw…come on man” Biden bitch slapped one of his most famous defensive line- women, news lady Kelly O’Donnel, and she is pissed. He called her a “pain in the neck” because she actually had a brain fart and asked an honest question that wasn’t scripted and expected a logical answer.

Peppermint Pattie got through another presser without answering any questions. Maybe the Fox news guy should dress in a Charlie Brown costume. Who knows, it might work?

Ben and Jerry, those two famous 60s radical Birkenstock wearing-granola munching anti-semite ice-cream guys are pulling their products from Isreal. Makes sense to me, it probably doesn’t sell anyway. Isreal could do with a shipment of good old Texas Bluebell ice cream. Instead, B & J are giving the peaceful folks in Palestine their own ice cream flavor. “Yasser Ara-No Fat,” chunky vanilla.

Famous Democrat Crazy woman Barbara Boxer got mugged and robbed while sight-seeing in Oakland, California. Well, what the hell was she doing in Oakland? Buying crack?

Nancy Pelosi, “the old bag of bones” with a wood hammer, put together a commission to look into the January 6th invasion of the Capitol. It includes two Repub’s that she can trust to not ask any real questions. Maybe she will tell us who killed Ashlee Babbit and why the capitol police invite and give guided tours to the insurgents? You would think it was an invasion on the scale of D Day. Ken Burns needs to set her straight.

So who designed the Olympic skateboard course? It’s too small, too tight, and gives the home skaters the advantage since they have practiced on the course for a year. The only thing missing was those stupid Pokemon characters cheering the Japanese on to victory. The U.S. got a medal, but they could have used some of those grungy little Z Boys from Dogtown on the team.

Stay cool; it’s summertime, ya’ll.

“When The Words Wont Come And The TV News Sucks”


My mind is oat meal mush and my fingers are as useless as a tomato plant on Mars. Words wont come.

I can see them in my mind’s third eye, but It’s as if my vocabulary has reverted back to that of a five-year-old. A massive brain fart has incapacitated my once-fertile imagination to the point where everything comes out “see Dick run, see Sally chase Dick, see Spot bite Sally.” Jibberish on burnt toast.

I may have the answer to my condition, even though I can’t remember how I came to this conclusion, but it must be true.

“Television News.” It’s not “real” news; it’s a short presentation sprinkled with Fairy dust, and Unicorn piss dreamed up by a gang of young writers holed up in a small office on the tenth floor at Rock Center. Nothing but bad, bad Leroy Brown. There ain’t nothing on the news but bad shit, every day, twenty-four hours of hair-pulling madness with “big Pharma” sitcoms paying the way.

Lester Holt over on NBC looks like a million-dollar cloths horse dressed in his pretty suit, sitting there telling us that everything is okay. He knows it’s bull-shit, but he won’t say it. He’s a good dancer and a better liar than most of them. A little taste of doom and gloom, and then POW, “it’ those crazy assed Chritians fault.” Cuba is not communist; they just want the Covid vaccine and after-market classic car parts. Castro wasn’t such a bad guy after all, and AOC is his love child.

Lester said today that his viewers are getting the Delta Varient, even though they are fully vaxxed. You got the jab, you got the gab, and now your gonna be on a marble slab. This little bugger is worse than Epstiens home videos. Just what did those folks in India send to us? The next time I get a scammer call about my auto warranty, I’ll ask the Indian dude, “what the hell?”

I remember “back in the day,” when Walter Cronkite read us the news in a matter of fact black and white. There was no dancing around the subjects or inserting their own opines, just the facts, Jack.

Walter bought his suits at Sears, ate his lunch from a brown bag, and took the subway to work. I would imagine he sold pop bottles to buy those suits. Of course, I was a kid, but I remember being comforted by Walter’s grandfatherly looks and the warm way he reminded us that the Russians will nuke us at any moment over the Cuba blockade, but it’s okay. The good old USA will come back from the ashes and be as good as new. Now, let’s gets those rockets finished and get to the moon, and Kennedy really was a choir boy. Now, boys and girls, that was some real news. He wasn’t Edward R. Murrow, but he got the job done.

There. I believe I am healed and back to normal. Venting works miracles. It will take a while to get to 100%, but you can bet your sweet ass that I won’t be watching the TV News anytime soon. Good Day.

“When Alice Met Arlo”


Photo by: David Crosby

Above is a picture of my 16th cousin removed, Alice B Token, taken at the famous Woodstock Arts and Music Fair in 1969.

She was working for Wavy Gravy and The Hog Farm at the time, so she was used to serving large numbers of hungry, stoned, and confused flower children.

She was the only wait staff left, after her co-workers dropped the brown acid that Wavy warned everyone not to take, so her three days of peace and harmony were a living hell; you can only serve so many needy hippies in a day.

Not one to put up with shit from anyone, she personally kicked John Sebastian’s whiny gimlet ass for saying “Wow” for twenty minuets, and pulled Grace Slicks falsies off during a cat fight over a ham sandwich. Things around the stage got a bit intense. David Crosby grabbed her ass and she whopped him with the closest weapon she could find, which wound up being Neil Young’s Martin acoustic, which was a total loss after connecting with Crosby’s head. That’s why he didn’t play with Crosby,Stills and Nash, and is not in the film. The girl grew up in Texas and was a total bad-ass; enough said.

In this pic, she is delivering sandwiches to the bands at the rear of the stage, and appears not too happy about the whole situation.

Joe Cocker, that fidgety spastic Brit dude, had requested a spam and cheese sandwich on a toasted English muffin, while Janis Joplin ordered a cheeseburger, fries and a fifth of Southern Comfort. Celebrities are so damn picky.

This is where she met up with her future husband, Arlo Guthrie, who memorialized her in his song “Alice’s Restaurant.” The one thing she came away from Woodstock with was, “those worthless smelly Hippies don’t tip shit, they don’t have any money.”

“19 Holes With Dirty Harry”


How’s that for a landing! I have never flown a plane in my whole life, but my newly-minted friend, Sir Richard Branson, let me land one of his private jets.

This adventure started last week when my wife and I were feeling “down in the mouth” because all our friends were posting their vacations on Facebook, and here we are, stuck in Granbury.

My wife loves to enter stupid contests found in the back of her trashy movie star magazines, so she entered one that promised lunch with Sir Richard Branson. Who knew that she would win the darn thing.

A week later, out of the blue, Sir Richard sent us an email saying he would be stopping in Dallas on his way to Carmel, California, and if we weren’t busy, would we like to fly out with him for a round of golf and a spot of lunch at Pebble Beach. Well, hell ya!

A few days later, we are on Sir Richards jet heading to the West coast and dining on Picasso Pawns and ice-cold Chardonnay at 30,000 feet. We wondered what all the poor people were doing.

Sir Richard is a gambler and a jokester, so he bet me a fifty spot that I couldn’t land his private jet. Having consumed an entire bottle of cold wine and feeling a bit cocky, I took the bet. It was a rough-assed landing, giving the pilot a heart attack after we slid off the runway, but it was great fun.

Unfortunately, Sir Richard didn’t have any cash, so he gave me his Rolex instead. What a pal!

Arriving at Pebble Beach Golf Club, Sir Richard mentioned that his good buddy Clint Eastwood would be making up our fourth. My wife was so excited she fainted on the spot. Sir Richard brought her around with a few sips of expensive chardonnay, and a pre-paid Platinum Visa Card waved under her nose.

Clint and Sir Richard have more money than Moses and have a running bet of twenty-thousand a hole. We passed on their game but agreed to keep their score, so no one cheated.

Clint had Sir Richard down by two until he missed a critical par putt on 16 and posted a double-bogy.

Being Dirty Harry and all, Clint didn’t take that well, so he pulled a 44 Magnum from his golf bag and blasted his ball into powder, leaving a large crater in the green. ” Take that you little white shit,” he mumbled. He then turned to us and said, “its okay, I own the course.” My wife and I were a bit unnerved but managed to finish the round. Sir Richard knew better than to piss off Dirty Harry, so he let Clint win. It was chump-change to him.

After the game, we made our way to the grill and were seated in Clint’s special booth. He told the waiter to bring four “Dirty Harry Specials,” which consisted of a chili-cheese hot dog with extra onions, San Francisco Curley Fries, and a large glass of Colt 45 Malt Liquor. Yum-Yum, fine dining it was.

Finished with our meal and preparing to leave, we noticed a commotion at the bar, and Clint, being the owner, intervened.

It seems a group of hipster golfers were pissing about their outrageous bar bill and didn’t want to pay up.

Clint grabbed the nearest one and threw him to the polished pine floor. Then, being Dirty Harry and all, he produced his 44 Magnum from his jacket, pointed it at the hipster’s face, and uttered, ” this is the most powerful handgun in the world and it will blow your head clean off. Now in all this excitement, I forgot how many bullets I fired. Was it five or six? Well do you feel lucky, punk?”

Too afraid to move, we stood there shaking, we are sure that there would be a shooting all over a bar bill. Sir Richard offered to pay the tab, but Clint would hear non of it.

Clint got all “beady eyed” and, in his famous Dirty Harry voice, said to the hipster, “Well, do you feel lucky… punk?” The young man, fearing for his life, answered, ” I gots to know.”

Clint then fired a shot into the ceiling, sending everyone in the grill running for the door. He started laughing, as were the hipsters and the guy on the ground. It seems he pulls this act about once a month, just for fun.

It was a great trip, and Clint gave us some coupons for a free game at Pebble.

When Sir Richard dropped us off at Love Field, he asked if we might like to take a little trip with him and some of his mates into outer space. It pays to know the right people.

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