Friday, February 26, 2016

The legend of Adak Charlie

The following is an excerpt from the book 
Keep the Round Side Down.

By Tim Jones
Copyright©Tim Jones
 We come off them square riggers in a hurry onct they shet down the whaling.  We's comin' down the Bering Sea out of the Arctic when we heard, and the Skip, well, he says, What you want to do? and I says, well, I heard they was doin' some high-priced fishing right there in the Aleutian Chain.  But, I also heard they was the roughest kinda sailors and I'd jest as soon head back for home.  So the Skip, right predictable like he was, he says he's dumpin' me ashore at Adak and to go pack my kit.  He says how we done so poorly my share don't come to passage to San Francisco, so he's tyin' her up right there and I could just go about takin' care of myself.
So, pretty soon there we was in Adak way out there so close we might as wella been in Siberia, which we might as well a been in anyways by the look of things.  Just a little island out there, somethin' you could trip over if you wasn't watching, it was so small.  Anyway, I bends my head into the horizontal rain and goes alookin' for some kinda ride.  Weren't too many of them square riggers left no more and I didn't know what I was goin' to do.  I jest went along hunchin' into that wind and rain proceeding one step forward and two steps back with my slicker a flappin' and that's when I run into Adak Charlie.
A course, nobody runs into Adak Charlie, he more runs over you.  What I did was commence to crawl over this little hill until I realizes its the big bulb toe of a bigger rubber boot and I looks up and there was Charlie, well, at least there was Charlie's knees.  Well, that man stood tall as a mainmast and just as straight and he blocked out the sun; at least he woulda blocked out the sun if there'd a been one.  The sun showed up so little out there most folks didn't really believe there was one except now and again somebody'd recall seein' it one time or the other.  Anyway, I crawls into Charlie's lee and looks up.  Sure enough up there on toppa all that rubber, they's a face.  I yells up Howdy and he yells down Howdy and I says is there any work for a honest sailor around here and he yells down he thinks they need crew on his boat and I yells up what kinda boat is it and he yells down BERING SEA CRABBER and I yells up Good-by and he yells down Ain't man enough, huh? and I yells up, Yeah, but I ain't stupid enough and right there he commences to look a little disturbed and I decides this ain't the kind of man to be callin' stupid so I decides I better ship with 'im or the whole situation could get a whole lot worse right there in the wind and the rain and the mud.
So, me and Charlie heads toward the wharf and I'm runnin' along in his lee while he's amblin' along and we gets to the ship and he steps over the gunwale and I climbs the ladder and no sooner's we aboard than I hear a engine start up somewheres and it scares me right out of my sail trim.  See, I'm a sailin' man.  I ain't never been on no steamer before and all that machinery whirlin' and growlin' kin get to a man used to the quiet creakin' in the rigging.  I'm lookin' around for masts and canvas and the boat's moving and against the wind and I'm wonderin' how that could be when Charlie, he points to the focs'l and says. "Stow your gear."
Well, I walks down the companionway and runs into the roughest lookin' bunch a thugs ever turned a windlass.  There was more eyepatches than a herd of spotted dogs and more scars than one doctor coulda ever sewed up in a lifetime of stitchin' and they looks at me and I looks at them and to myself I curses the Skip real hard for leavin' me to this and then onea these thugs points to a empty bunk and grins so hard the scar that run from his port side ear to clear under his chin turns so bright red he looks like he's smilin' twice.
We cleared  port and heads out to sea and Twice-smilin', that was his name I swear by St. Elmo's fire, he says sleep some, but I ain't sleepin' with that bunch of criminals in attendance.  I did lay down but I keeps one eye cocked, but I musta dozed some 'cause I hear this big CLANK and it wakes me up and I says what's that, and Twice-Smilin' says that's the first buoy and to hit the deck and then there's this other big clank and he says that's the other buoy and we goes up on deck and Twice-smilin' starts to showin' me the lines.  I says I thought you picked little rubber buoys outta the water where the pots was and he says that's the way most of 'em do it but that was too slow for the likes of Adak Charlie and what he does is run with these two big magnets and when they come up on one of his steel buoys, them buoys jest fly outta the water and clangs into them magnets.  "Saves a lotta time findin’ ‘em in the dark, too," Twice-smilin' says.
Well, we's standing there in rubber suits from head to toe and I says what's we supposed to do and Twice-smilin' starts explainin'.  He says on most boats a guy stands there by this here little wheel pulley sort of a contraption, they call it a power block.  Well, I ain't used to this power stuff and I got to ask just how many sailors it takes to power this thing and Twice-smilin', he shows me this know-it-all grin you save for a child, only twice, and he says it's the engine does all that powerin'.  Anyway, he says one guy usually stands there and coils the line from the crab pot as it comes up through that block and one guy he runs the engine controls.  I seen a guy in my mind with a whip floggin' them sailors to power that block, that's the kinda controls we use on the square-riggers.  So, when the pot comes up over the side a coupla other guys wrassle it around and separate the crabs and put in new bait and toss her overboard again.  I asks Twice-smilin' what I'm supposed to do and he says, "Wrasslin'."


"Ya see, Smit," he says, "On this boat she's done a bit differnt."
Right then Adak Charlie himself comes walkin' out on deck.  He looks at them two steel buoys aswingin' from them magnets and he walks to the middle of the deck and he spreads his feet and he says, let 'er rip.  Two guys start them two pulleys and that line come flyin' up at about forty knots and Charlie he takes one in his big right hand and he starts to makin' a coil in front of him and he takes the other line in his big left hand and he starts to make a coil behind him and we commences to hauling them first two crab pots.
Twice-smilin' he takes me over to one a them coils and he says we should just be watchin' them in case something goes galley west, but he says with Charlie coilin' nothin' ever goes galley west and we just watch that line go into those coils and the coils go higher and higher and Charlie's hands is just a blur and he's singin' away at the top of his lungs about great storms at sea and all I'm doin' is gettin' wet from all that spray flying offa that line as it comes over the block.  Of course, nothing goes wrong and then there's the loud KEE-BANG! and then another one so loud, sounded like the king's navy was holdin' down on us with all their cannons blazin'.
"Pots," says Twice-smilin'.  "Here we go."
We goes to one side and here's this big square contraption with webbing all round it and Charlie he reaches over the side and throws her up on deck and we tips her and dumps the crabs out.  Twice-smilin' says how on most boats you have to separate out the female crabs and the small ones but on this boat we never get none o’ them and sure enough, every one a them crabs is a legal-sized male king crab, big ones and Twice-smilin' he explains why.  "Watch old Charlie there," he says, "he always touches the bait with somethin' Charlie ain't tellin' what it is but whatever it might be works.  Guys get to jokin'," he says, "and everybody figures it's the essence of Kiska Katie he's puttin' on that bait and that bait draws them big males just like Katie herself draws them crabbers to her place when they's ashore."
So, anyway, Twice-smilin' says, "We put them in the big crab tank there," and I says, "It's full of WATER," and I goes lookin' for a life jacket and Twice-smilin' he smiles twice and says it's supposed to be full of water, but he ain't convincin' me and I'm ready to abandon the sinking ship and he says it's to keep the crabs alive and I says who ever heard of pumping water INTO a boat and he says again it's OK, the boat's built that way and I says, all right, but I ain't convinced and I'm watchin' the freeboard from then on.
We goes on to dump them crabs into that water in the boat and Charlie he puts the bait into the pots, touches the bait and tosses 'em over the side and off we goes a runnin' until we hears them clangs again when two more a them steel buoys come flyin' out of the water and she starts all over again.  I says to Twice-smilin' how this ain't near so bad as I'd heard and he gets to smiling real hard twice and looks at me real knowledgeable-like and he says wait til you see the mile-squares, and I says WHAT and he just walks off smilin' twice.
Well, we run like that day and night right into winter.  Lost track of the days we just hummed along respondin' to them clangs and tossin' them crabs and working on the gear when there's time and I learned this and that and along the way I learnt these crab guys look the way they do from flingin' them pots and lines and crabs around all the time and gettin' banged up all the time and afore long I got a pretty good scar a formin' on my hand from the day the boat rolled when I was choppin' up bait and I'm startin' to look a little bit like the rest of them thugs, myself.
There was this day we was runnin' between strings of gear and everybody's sittin' around on deck on piles of line and we can hear the radio goin' and they come up on the weather report and we all liked to listen, even if it didn't make no matter, 'cause that Charlie, he didn't stop for nuthin, even a typhoon.
So, this guy gets through the weather report and starts to givin' what he calls notices to mariners and he says in this real official voice:  "Two Aleutian islands are reported off station and missing," and he gives some latitude and longitude numbers from their last known position, and then he says, "Mariners are urged to exercise extreme caution when transiting the area."  Then he says anyone seein' them islands should report them and that sets the whole crew to laughing.  I’m wondering what's so funny about two missing islands and how they could be missing and Twice-smilin', who's laughing twice now, between giggles he says, "I seen 'em.  Fer sure, Smit," he says, "You seen 'em too."  And I says, "Where'd I see 'em?"  Then he gets to laughin' all the more and when he catches his breath, he says, "They're right up there in the wheel house" and that gets everybody to listing with laughter even more.  When they finally got 'er down to where they can breathe and talk at the same time, Boarder, now he's a story, lets off with that high-pitched giggle of his and commences to tell me the story.
Now I been told not to pay much mind to Boarder 'cause he's a little off his trim, like maybe he don't have both oars in the water, and nobody knows if he's called Boarder because he's borderline crazy or because of the two-by-four he's usin' for a starboard side leg.
Well, he goes into this real authoritative-soundin' voice he could muster when he wanted to and he says, "You see, Smit, we came in from a long hard trip one time.  We unloaded the crab and then everybody crawled off into town for the party.  Adak Charlie, there, he went up onto a hill after a while and laid down for a nap.  He's so big when he spread out his arms sprawled out there, his hands sort of slopped off the island and his hands landed palm up in the water.  And he fell asleep that way.  Unfortunately that was the day the government people came to chart that part of the country.  They went flying over and drew everything they saw and when the charts came out, there were these two new islands.  Of course, they weren't new to the people doing the charting because they'd never seen any of it before.  Those islands are a perfect picture of Charlie's hands.  Well, when Charlie woke up and went back to the ship, he took those two islands with him and they've been off station ever since."
"They help him a lot with coilin', Twice-smilin' laughed twice and that set them all off to laughing again and Boarder finishes the story by sayin' the government people been out there every so often lookin' for the two islands and every so often they ask on the radio if anybody's seen 'em.  That give us a laugh fer most of the day and we needed it 'cause it was that night we run into the big ones.
I was layin' in my bunk tryin' to get some sleep listenin' to them crabs a scritchy-scrawlin' around in that tank which didn't help none.  Had a lot of trouble sleepin' on that boat and I had a lotta dreams about spiders, too.
Anyway, all of a sudden there comes onea them clangs again only, this one, it's different.  For one thing, there's only one of them and for another it was louder than any I'd heard before.  Twice-smilin' comes awake, too, and looks at me, only real serious, like he's frownin' twice and he says, "mile-squares."
Well, all us thugs, yup I was one of 'em by this time, didn't have no eye patch, but I was gettin' pretty cut up, all us thugs comes a-boilin' up on deck and there's Charlie standin' there real serious, too, rubber all the way to the sky.
Boarder told me once how a Mr. Helly and a Mr. Hanson come all the way from Scandinavia somewheres to build that suit of rain gear for Charlie.  They brought 400 acres, that's right acres, of cloth.  Then they built a scaffolding around Charlie and twenty-seven tailors with block and tackle climbed that scaffold and built that suit of rain gear for Adak Charlie.  Took 'em a month.  His boots is another story.
Well, we's standin' on deck with Charlie and one of them thugs puts the line through both blocks and they crank ‘em up and pretty soon line's comin' on board only slower and the boat's listin' way over to one side and Charlie's straining to take some of the weight off them blocks and I know somethin' heavy's coming up but all anybody says is "mile-squares."
Even Boarder come clumping up on that two-by-four and giggles the way he does sometimes real shrill and he says, "Now you'll see, Smit, mile-squares," and he giggles again and clumps off and I know he ain't rowin' straight.
When everybody got finally to settled in and alls you can hear is the creakin' and groanin' of that line comin' through two blocks and Adak Charlie strainin', too, and singin' a slower song about a storm at sea, and the coil just keeps gettin' higher and higher, Twice-smilin' comes over and he says, "Smit, yer about to see somethin'.  Seems," he says, "out here somewheres there's this king crab.  At least we think there's just one and he's a big old crab.  We seen a leg or a claw now and again where he's holdin' onto a pot tryin' to git at that essence of Kiska Katie and we had to wrassle a pot away from him more'n once.  So, Charlie, he decides he's goin' to catch that crab and he went and made him up some pots just for that and he's going to be catching it onea these days.  See, a crab that big couldn't get into one of our regular pots, so Charlie, he made up some pots and they're a mile square.  I don't have to tell you, Smit, they're big and they're heavy and even Charlie there, he needs some help pushin' them around and we got a string of 'em out here and onea these days that big old crab's gonna be in one of 'em and that ought to be really somethin'."
Well, about this time the coil got up over even Charlie's head and he climbs up into the crow's nest still singing that song about that storm at sea and he's still coilin', and now and then a big grin comes 'cross his face  when he looks over the side fer that pot and what might be in it.
The boat kept a leanin' until the pot finally slams the boat's bottom and Charlie peers down from the crow's nest but he don't care for what he sees and we rigs all the winches and lines we can find and haul her up and it's loaded with crabs but there ain't none like Twice-smilin'  was talkin' about.  We can't put a pot that big on board so a couple of us thugs crawls down in it and starts to pitchin' them crabs up on deck. 
That big old crab, he wasn't in that one and he ain't in the next one either, but he'd been around, 'cause the next one's got the web all tore out and the bait's all gone and all the rest of 'em on that string's just like it, tore to shreds and the bait gone like somethin' real big goin' real crazy after it and we're spendin' more time repairin' and sewin' pots than we're fishin'.  In time we gets through them mile-squares and come back to the regular gear again and the hold's gettin' real full, which is fine with me cause there ain't so much room for water comin' aboard anymore.  Never could get used to pumpin' water into a boat.
We finally got to the point where there wasn't no more room for crabs or water in that hold and I asks Twice-smilin' what happens now and he smiles twice and nods toward Charlie who's takin' off his boots.  ‘Twas then I noticed the little pipes comin' from the heel and toe and a couple of thugs hooks up some hoses to them pipes and all of a sudden we got two new crab tanks.  We kept agoin' til we filled them boots, too, and then we turned 'er for Adak.
Charlie says it'll be a quick turnaround 'cause he wants to git back to them mile-squares and he has an idea.
I'll tell you it was a quick turnaround, all right.  We got in late evenin' and we just worked right through unloadin' and we's pullin' out before first light.  Charlie, he's gone most of the time, come back on the boat real sneaky, nobody really seen him come back, but there he was and he sets a course for them mile-squares out there in the big ocean.  He never come outta the house, just serious runnin', but every so often we'd be hearing these high-pitched tones and we's all wondering just what's goin' on and where Charlie was when he was off the boat while we was unloadin' and what he mighta brought aboard.
Boarder, he giggles now and again and says he knows, but nobody'd listen to him anyway and Twice-smilin' says he thinks he knows but he ain't guessin' out loud and all we did was steam toward them pots.
We come to the first one and the buoy hit the magnet and Charlie commenced to coilin' with his big jaw set and the hairs in his beard stickin' out straight and singing a new song about a storm at sea.  "Looks like Adak Charlie means business this time," Twice-smilin" says.
Charlie just keeps coilin’ and again when the coil gets too high he goes up to the crow's nest and keeps on coilin' and when the pot's almost to the surface, he stops his song and lets out a bellow and the cabin door opens.
We's all lookin' to the door and out comes this woman and she's almost as big as Charlie himself and she's all gussied up with paint and perfume and when the wind spreads that aroma around it overpowers the smell of the herring bait; all them thugs come to a stop with their mouths open like a bunch of them Florida groupers, froze right there.
Twice-smilin' was standin' right next to me.  "Kiska Katie," he says and that's all and she sashays over to the rail lookin' to that pot comin' up and it comes to the surface with them little crabs in it but not this big one Charlie's lookin' for.  Well, we finally collected ourselves enough to get them crabs out and Charlie's gettin' ready to dump the pot over again but this time Katie herself puts the bait into the pot and blows a little kiss at it and Charlie sends 'er down, the pot that is, not Katie, and we heads for the next one.
It was on the next one that it all happened.  Charlie coiled that pot up and Katie she watched and she put the new bait in it and, well, just as she was leanin' over to blow that kiss, this leg and then the claw come up over the far side of that pot and this giant crab come a clicking and raging out of the water after Katie.  She screams and then she falls right into that pot and the crab come over the top a crackin' and a snappin' and all that weight on it was too much and she starts headin' for the bottom.  About this time, Charlie sees what's goin' on and he's got to do somethin' and he dives right outta the crow's nest and right into that pot after the crab who was after Kiska Katie and him and the crab and Katie and the pot goes down and started pullin' the boat right along with them.  Me and Boarder and Twice-smilin' jumps to it and lets the line fly so's the boat don't go down, too, and we looks over the side and all we see is water a boilin' and a bubblin' and a foamin' and every once in a while we see a big crab leg come up and go smashing down, or a big fist of Charlie's or a claw or somethin' and then more foamin’ and boilin'.  Then Katie come floatin' to the surface spitting and sputtering and sayin' a few unladylike words and we tosses her a line.  But, instead of comin' to the boat, she takes that line and dives back down into the foam with it and the boilin' gets all the worse and then she come up again and swims for the boat.  ‘Bout this time we wasn't so sure we wanted her on board.  With her in the water, the crab coulda cared less about the boat, but with her on deck he might be comin' after us, too.  We brung her aboard anyway.  Even thugs can't be completely fergettin' their upbringing.  After all, she was a lady, at least fer them parts.  So she joins us at the rail and says she got a line on the critter somewheres and now that she's outta the water and the current's carrying the essence away, it looks like the fight's calming down.  Either the crab's lost interest or he's got the best of Charlie which nobody really believes, or Charlie got the best of the crab which everybody wants to believe and sure enough here come Charlie to the surface and he's spittin' and cussin' almost as bad as Katie, but the foamin's  stopped and he crawls aboard, well, he's too big to just crawl aboard; we had to winch him up and then we gets him on deck and takes a good look.  Well, Twice-smilin' takes to twice laughing and Boarder starts to giggling and everybody's laughing but me and Charlie and then he starts up.  To look at him.  He's got more pinholes in them rain clothes than a man can count.  They were from all them spines on that crab and when Adak Charlie stands up every one of them holes starts spoutin' water soes he looks like he ought to be a statue in a fountain in a park somewheres.  Here and there you could see where that crab got in a good slash at him, too.  Charlie looks down at himself and allows how he's going to have to send for that Mr. Helly and Mr. Hanson again.
Anyway, they's all havin' a good laugh but me.  I'm lookin' at what a crab can do to a man and I'm not so sure about this crabbin' anyway and I'm deciding right then I'm gettin' off this boat fer good next time she comes anywhere near land.  About then, when I was decidin' that, the laughing kind of ebbs and they starts wonderin' about this here crab.  Charlie says it's inside the pot and we got that line on it that Katie got a wrap with so he starts to pullin' the pot again and us thugs coiled on the Katie line.  I really shouldn't say "we" cause I got as far away from that side of the boat as I could case that crab got a second wind or somethin' when he sees Katie and comes up snarlin'.
It took quite a strain on all the deck gear but they finally come up with the crab and the pot and the crab was sure enough subdued for good and they had to winch it on board, too, just like Charlie, and all in all it looks to be in a whole lot worse shape than Charlie did.  There was no way we could figure the size of that crab.  He took up the whole back deck, but a lot of him was still hangin' over the sides.  Them legs was as big as spars on the clippers and the shell, well, they coulda held a concert in there.  We tried to weigh the thing but he was so unconventional shaped, we couldn't ever get the lines on him right with the scale to haul it off the deck whole.  We finally took to chopping up the legs in sections and tryin' to weight them one at a time.  We come up over a ton and then the scale broke, sproinged right over the side and we give 'er up.  Charlie, he says save the shell and he gits this faraway look in his eyes and says how someday when he gets shut o' this business he just might haul her someplace sunny, settle down and make a swimmin' pool out of it.  Katie, she hears this and looks at Charlie real misty like.
Then we, well, Charlie and all them thugs, agrees the one crab'll make one heck of a payday and they turns the boat for Adak.
I don't mind tellin' you that was the end of my career in the king crab fishery.  When we got 'er back to Adak I jumped ship, I come off that boat runnin', lookin' for anything I could find to get outta there.  I think I woulda rowed for Frisco if I coulda found a boat.  While I was lookin' and moving down the road leanin' into that wind again, there he was, I run right into the Skip.  He almost passed me up; he didn't recognize me at first.
"Smit," he hollers out when he finally figgers out just who the heck I am.  "What happened to you?"
"I been crabbin', you Jack Tar," I says real mean like.
"You look like you been cut up by half the rum-runners in Shanghai," he says, "You look criminal."
"Crabbin' did it to me," I says, "And I owe you."
"Gotta ship," the Skip says.  I don't think he even knew I was threatening him.  "A tramp, sailing south."
"Square-rigger?" I asks, forgettin' the threat for a minute myself.
"Yup."
"Got any fishin' gear aboard?" I asks.
"Not so much as a hook," he says.
"Good!" I says.
Then he gets this dirty smile of his and he says, "Git some if you want."
"‘Bout then I was ready to let him have it and he seen it commin' and he took a step back.  He musta realized I was serious now, 'cause I never seen the Skip take a step back in his life.  But I let him go.  One punch wasn't going to make up fer what he did to me and right there I started to schemin' what was goin' to happen to the Skip for a payback. 
So, like always, I shipped with him and we set our sails for the South Seas and that was that for my crabbin' days and I was pretty glad for it.

Still, you know, there's days at sea when a man's mind wanders and he gets to recalling this and that and there's even a day now and again in the doldrums and I'll get to thinkin' about that crew of thugs and Twice-smilin' and Boarder and who could ever forgit that Kiska Katie.  But, mostly I recall that big man, that Adak Charlie, standin' there just as tall as a mainmast and just as straight and coilin' them lines clear to the sky with both hands and most of all singin' them songs about them storms at sea.  Those times I gets to thinkin' real fondly about them poor souls in the Bering Sea and the time I spent there.  Don't last long, though.  I always come back to my senses.”

1 comment:

Interesting quotations

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeare on Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

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I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve