Hillbilly Highways is on Temporary Quasi-Hiatus

Real life commitments already cut my blogging time way, way down even before the shit hit the fan.  Now I am doing everything I already barely had time to do, plus transitioning all my classes online and taking care of no-angel most of the day since we took her out of daycare.

I don’t plan to stop posting entirely, but I also don’t want to possibly go weeks without posting without explanation.  Things are going to get worse before they get better.  I don’t expect my situation to change in a couple weeks, especially since I am in a position to more easily social distance than most people.

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Whiskey and Book Club ep. 1 with Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer

Between transitioning at work and taking care of a toddler most of the day, and the stress of watching COVID-19 chew through America, I don’t have a lot of time and energy for reading and less for writing blog posts.  The solution?  Avoiding the hard work of writing by recording a YouTube video instead, something that only requires talking and drinking (although the latter is not, as I understand it, strictly required).

Joining me for the inaugural episode of the Whiskey and Book Club ep. 1 is the inestimable Andrea from The Little Red Reviewer.  You might know Andrea as the founder of Vintage Science Fiction Month.

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Music Monday: RIP Joe Diffie

Whelp, we just had our first country music COVID-19-related fatality.  Joe Diffie, 61, died yesterday of complications related to COVID-19.  (And John Prine is in the hospital in critical condition.  Ugh.)  People who don’t know who Joe Diffie is (what kind of asshole brags about not knowing who someone is, let alone after they die?) missed an artist who kind of epitomized 90s country.

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Fiction: The Son by Philipp Meyer

The Son is less one long book than three ones. The book covers four generations of a Texas family: a frontiersman turned cattle baron captured by the Comanche, his titular son, and his great-granddaughter, an heiress turned oil baroness. The problem is that it is one very, very good book and a couple mediocre ones.

The first story, about the “Colonel” as he’s referred to elsewhere, is the best and can’t be treated as anything other than the main story. His family settled on the frontier of Texas in the 1800s, and he was captured by Comanche is a raid. He starts as a slave and becomes a Comanche warrior. Meyer’s research on the Comanche shows. If only he could have done more research on the rest of the story.

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Music Monday: House and 90 Acres by Chris Knight

I was down in Oklahoma this past weekend.  It being my first time there, I was excited to check out some Red Dirt.  Checked the local venues, didn’t see much in the way of the regular Red Dirt crowd, but I did see that Chris Knight would be in town.  I am always down to see Chris again, even if it is for the seventh time in the fourth different state (once in NC, twice in Virginia, three times in Texas, and now once in Oklahoma).

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Oddments: A Dang Fine Coat

I turned 38 earlier this month.  An unremarkable age, on the whole, although it does have one bit of significance.  When I graduated high school I set out into the world; when I turned 19 I asked for a man’s coat.  My mom bought me a Carhartt duck coat[1] from an outlet shop in BFE connected to a gas station.  I still have that coat, which means that I have now owned it for half of my life.

That Carhartt coat has been with me through a lot.  I drank many a beer by many a fire on many a cold mountain night wearing that coat.  It would get me through two winters in Chicago and serve me well on my return to the Rust Belt (I did add a heavier Carhartt duck coat).  It is still holding strong 19 years later.  It is a little worse for wear, but then I am too.  There is wear at the end of the sleeves, probably because it is a bit too big.  And it is a little faded.  But I think it might have another 19 years in it.

[1] I picked up the term from Cormac McCarthy’s great Border trilogy.

Oddments: On Not Being Scots-Irish

Scots-Irish is almost synonymous with hillbilly in the US.  Scots migrated first from Scotland to Ulster (not Northern Ireland), then to the US, often entering through Philadelphia, walking west until they hit properly tilted country, then working their way down the Appalachian Mountains (at the time America’s “backcountry”).  But many Scots immigrants never detoured through Ulster.  More importantly, as David Hackett Fischer points out in Albion’s Seed, a large portion of that immigration wave were from northern England.  They weren’t from Scotland at all.

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