Monthly Archives: May 2013

20130528 – Indianapolis. Hallelujah, survived the Bible Belt without any long term damage.

Tuesday – warm and sunny.

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Drive up to Indianapolis.

Check in early and then go Downtown to explore. Really good tourist game in Indianapolis would be “hunt the visitors centre”. I’m dammed if we saw a single sign. Finally found one in the state park in town. Lovely building with guy sat counting the ceiling tiles and picking lint out of his navel. “Ah we’re only for the state park.” Complete waste of space. In fact putting some town brochures out would have at least filled the place.

Downtown is lovely, when you find it? Cultural DSC01716trail all through the town, elegant canal, not too busy, lovely buildings, plenty of museums and even a state park down town.

Have a pleasant wander around. Coffee at Starbucks. Place is heavy into war memorials. End up in a pleasant Mall, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms.

Thought we’d escaped the Bible belt but after Baptist and Jewish hospitals now we have Methodist. What hope is there for Aetheists!

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Wow I’ve just been awarded a TripAdvisor “Top Contributor” badge. I’m orgasmic! Pity they don’t give you a certificate I could have it framed and hung up alongside my 25 Yards Breast Stroke certificate. I think it would be great if they sent out physical badges such as “Top Whinger”, what an impression as you check in at hotel.

The murder of soldier Lee Rigby has unsurprisingly provoked a backlash of anger across the UK, including the attacking of mosques, racial abuse and comments made on social media. Eleven people have been arrested around Britain for making racist or anti-religious comments on Twitter following the brutal killing in DSC01727Woolwich.

The incident has also prompted a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents, according to the organisation Faith Matters, which works to reduce extremism. Before the attack about four to eight cases a day were reported to its helpline. But the group said about 150 incidents had been reported in the last few days, including attacks on mosques.

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Two men from Bristol, were held under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred. Detective Inspector Ed Yaxley of Avon and Somerset Police said:

These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol.

Surrey Police said a man has been charged in connection with comments placed on a social media website following the murder of the soldier. Superintendent Matt Goodridge said:

Surrey Police will not tolerate language used in a public place, including on social media websites, which causes harassment, alarm or distress.

A Hastings man has been charged by police after allegedly posting an offensive message on DSC01776Facebook.

Meanwhile, a Southsea woman has been charged with allegedly sending a grossly offensive message on Facebook, an offence contrary to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

So how is grossly offensive defined? It seems that the Law Lords have decided that “Usages and sensitivities may change over time … there can be no yardstick of gross offensiveness otherwise than by the application of reasonably enlightened, but not perfectionist, contemporary standards to the particular message sent in its particular context. The test is whether a message is couched in terms liable to cause gross offence to whom it relates.” A legal minefield. What about free speech – we need a 1st Amendment. Whatever happened to “Sticks and stones”.  Dangerous ground.

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Getting ready for Illinois here’s some of there dumb laws:

Those under 21 can drink legally, but they must be enrolled in a culinary program to do so

It is illegal to hang “obstructions” form the rear view mirror, including fuzzy dice, air fresheners, GPS units, etc.

You must contact the police before entering the city in an automobile.

The English language is not to be spoken.

You may be arrested for vagrancy if you do not have at least one dollar bill on your person.

Wednesday – very hot and sunny.

Drove to Conner Prairie an Interactive historical park. Again no kids with us but they let us in and 
DSC01771Wendy scrounged an OAP discount. What a fantastic place for all ages. Has an Indian Village; 1836 township; and Civil war Dupont town. Actors in period costume abound and tell you about life in those times. They keep in character and their time, will not discuss modern times. They’re all very knowledgable and passionate about their character or life skill.

Civil war tells the story of the 1863 Confederate raid on Dupont and makes fantastic use of modern technology to make it entertaining.

I had a great time in the woodwork shop talking to the joiner; used spokeshave to make a stick; had a go with treadmill lathe; tried my feet on the stilts; experimented with electric circuits. Pottery was fantastic. Wendy gets to try her hand at weaving. All done without having to sign a 94 page waiver or any H&S restrictions. 

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Great discussion with store keeper, how everything was on credit and settled up at the end of the year – very little bad debt. They even had a debit / credit systems between the various tradesmen, basic banking. Then we got a rant from him about the banking crisis of 1832 when President Jackson wouldn’t approve the National Bank – so it looks like nothings new then. Fantastic chat with the Blacksmith, learned how to make wheel rims and never realised what a highly paid member of society a Blacksmith was in those days – he’d earn enough in a year to buy his house 2 to 3 times over in a year.

Common sayings we’ve learnt about today:

Bite the bullet – patients were given something to bite down on while a bullet was removed with DSC01798no anaesthetic.

Beat it to death – what Blacksmiths did to meld metal together to create a metal ring for a tyre on a wheel.

Now heres a good idea we learnt from our visit of Conner Prairie, “Sale of Poor Person” back in 1836. No it’s not selling poor people into slavery. Rather it’s bidding to take care of someone infirm  or disabled. Lowest bid wins the duty to care for that person for the coming year and the State pays them the amount they bid. If they can do it for less they make a profit – Obama care?

A great day out. Epic!

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More dumb laws in Illinois:

One may not pee in his neighbor’s mouth.

Citizens can be hit with a $120 ticket for having an improperly displayed and outdated city sticker on their car.

All businesses entering into contracts with the city must sift through their records and report any business they had dealing with slaves during the era of slavery.

It is illegal to give a dog whiskey.

It is forbidden to fish while sitting on a giraffe’s neck.

As always Pat Condell says it all see his superb rant, “Muslims must reject Jihad”, on the recent atrocities. To my mind sums it all up.

20130526 – Cincinnati, Deep Fried Cheesecake, Deep Fried Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich

Sunday – hot and sunny.

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Depart Louisville for a short two hour drive up to Cinncinati.

Arrive at lunch time to yet another hotel. This time it’s a Quality Inn & Suites. We’ve got a lovely 3 room suite, kitchen, lounge and separate bedroom. Two nights free with our loyalty points but would only have been about $90 anyway. Includes breakfast. 

But with all Choice Hotels these days we have started to develop our own Quality Control Checklist that we apply before accepting a room:

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1 Does WiFi work and is it a reasonable speed?

2 Is the room noisy?

3 Toilet works ok?

4 Does the room stink?

5 All lights work?

6 Microwave works?

7 Air conditioning functions properly?

8 Taps work and water is hot?

9 Shower works?

10 Fridge works?

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11 Is there an iron and ironing board?

12 TV works?

13 Bedding clean?

14 Adequate towels?

Sadly items 1 to 11 are based on our last 8 Choice Hotel stays.

Drive down town to visit Fountain Square and Downtown area. There’s a “Taste of Cincinnati” event on. Culinary extravaganza and live pop groups. The place is hopping.

It seems that the speciality cuisine here in Cincinnati is “Deep Fried”. Try two cholesterol specials DSC01678/ culinary delights. Deep fried cheesecake and deep fried Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. Actually they’re both rather good. Glasgow and its Deep fried Mars bar better watch out.

Enjoy a pleasant afternoon in the sun.

What is it with car parks in America. Most of them are just dodgy bar stewards who keep their prices hidden until you’re well inside and it will be difficult to reverse out. Here in Cincinnati they have the ultimate rip off scheme. Sign says $1 parking. Sounds good. Oh but what they omitted to mention it’s $1 per 20 minutes. Marketing men try and screw joe public yet again.

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Book our flights on Virgin to Florida ready for our Marco Island trip.

Some crazy laws in Indiana:

State government officials who engage in private duels can be dismissed from their post.

A person must get a referral from a licensed physician if he or she wishes to see a hypnotist unless the desired procedure is to quit smoking or lose weight.

Smoking in the state legislature building is banned, except when the legislature is in session.

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All males 18 to 50 years old must work six days a year on public roads.

Baths may not be taken between the months of October and March.

Check forgery can be punished with public flogging up to 100 stripes.

Unbelievable jobs worths and lunacy stalks the streets everywhere:

 Swedish parking laws, however, continue to be rigidly enforced despite the increasingly chaotic situation. Early Wednesday, while documenting the destruction after a night of rioting in the Stockholm suburb of Alby, a reporter from Fria Tider observed a parking enforcement officer writing a ticket for a burnt-out Ford.

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When questioned, the officer explained that the ticket was issued because the vehicle lacked a tag showing its time of arrival. The fact that the vehicle had been effectively destroyed – its windshield smashed and the interior heavily damaged by fire – was irrelevant according to the meter maid, who asked Fria Tider’s photographer to destroy the photos he had taken. Her employer, the parking company P-service, refused to comment when Fria Tider contacted them on Wednesday afternoon.

Monday – hot and sunny again.

Drive down town again. Visit Covington a DSC09680German township. Quite quaint little place with lovely clock tower, some great old style houses but alas it’s Memorial day so a lot of places are closed. 

We get a minutes silence to remember those who died. The Americans at least do it right and have a Bank holiday to remember them by. Sounds a better idea than a minutes silence or even celebrating May day.

Drive down to Kempton and have a drink by the river.

Visit Washington Park. A lovely modern park with fantastic water fountains for kids to play in; a special area for dogs; a modern and safe playground for kids. Have our extravagant lunch watching everyone having fun. It also seems that every evening there is a concert or something going on in this park. Young guy asks me how I’m going and I ask him back. What a lovely reply  I DSC09681get “I’m just peaches , thank you for asking”.

Wanted to go to the Cincinnati Museum at Union Station. It’s mentioned more times than there are Talibans at a stoning but no hint of an address. What a load of numpties! But alas like the Freedom / Underground Railway museum it’s closed for Memorial day. Perhaps in one of these towns we’ll eventually get to visit one of the many Civil Rights / slavery Museum. So we do the American thing and go to the Mall.

Drive down to the Mall at Kempton for a coffee, at you can guess where. Then a stroll across the two bridges and back. The roar of the crowd and fireworks at the Rounders game can be heard all over the riverside.

Then the highlight of the day, final confirmation that we’ve survived and escaped from the lunacy DSC09683of the Bible belt, as we visit the Hofbrau House – the first one in America, must be the strong German influence around here. Dinner of Bayerisch Scweinbraten, Sauerkraut, Potato Dumplings and who can resist a Hofbrau. Hallelujah! Civilisation at last and unlike the miseries in Tennessee  they’re friendly around here.

Wendy has to drive home. Brave.

More crazy laws in Indiana:

Mustaches are illegal if the bearer has a tendency to habitually kiss other humans.

It is illegal to sell cars on Sunday.

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Pedestrians crossing the highway at night are prohibited from wearing tail lights.

Oral sex is illegal.

No one may catch a fish with his bare hands.

A man over the age of 18 may be arrested for statutory rape if the passenger in his car is not wearing her socks and shoes, and is under the age of 17.

Men are prohibited from standing in a bar.Turkish blogger jailed for a year for blasphemy

British Government speaks of proposal to ban hate preachers from TV:

Hate preachers will be banned from British television, Theresa May signalled last night.

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The Home Secretary condemned the BBC and other broadcasters for interviewing disgusting extremist cleric Anjem Choudary after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby. May said she will ask TV censor Ofcom to step in.

Under plans to be drawn up by a new task force on extremism, Ofcom is expected to be given powers to stop hate preachers appearing on television. At the moment the censor has the power to intervene only after an inappropriate broadcast has been made.

The move is the most dramatic attempt to gag extremist views since the Thatcher government’s 1988 ban on IRA spokesmen being heard on television, which led to the words of Gerry Adams being read out by an actor.

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Mrs May said it was inappropriate to interview Choudary – who helped form the now-banned Islamist groups Al-Muhajiroun and Al Ghurabaa and is accused of helping to radicalise several terrorists – in the wake of Drummer Rigby’s death.

If this is the case why isn’t he under arrest awaiting trial. We watched this interview and he is an arsehole. The clowns in Parliament should be ashamed that he is still wandering around. I’m all for the rule of law etc., but common sense says enough is enough. It amazes me that the EDL or some other extremist organisation hasn’t taken this geezer out.

Fed up with Hate Preachers and the ineptitude of the clowns in parliament in getting shut of them. The ancient Greeks had the answer. Ostracise. It was a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger, it was used as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant. Each year we could vote and the top 10 most objectionable citizens could be kicked out. Problem solved. Simples.

20130524 – Louisville Another Laid Back City

Friday – warm and sunny.

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Forgot to mention the delightful scrots you must get at the science museum. When the lights came up in the Planetarium found a pair of knuckle dusters on one of the yoga mats you get to lie on. Obviously fell out of some scrots pocket. Kicked them under a mat so that they were hidden and if he came back wouldn’t find them. I suppose if you’re not allowed to bring guns in the NRA would say you need some form of defence. Saw the big fat black scrot marauding around. How did I know they were his. Well he had some bling knuckle dusters on a chain around his neck.

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It’s goodbye to St Louis as we head to Louisville in Kentucky. Really liked St Louis, a pleasant relaxing city with plenty to do. 

Driving through Illinois and Indiana one could think we’re in England, apart from the clear blue sky.

To be on the safe side, as we leave, I call in the supermarket to buy some wine. Kentucky is a bit too close to the Bible belt for my liking and the religious fanatics may have imposed their intolerant dry county laws.

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Check in and then toddle off down “The Avenue” for dinner. Typical marketeers bullshit, an over active imagination when describing “The Avenue”. Let’s face it they lie. Yes it has a lot of restaurants, but charm and character is a bit on the thin side. At least it’s not described as one of the top 10 streets in America, although to be fair it had more places to eat than the one in St Louis. Could do with these marketeers doing a job on Blackburn. 

Eat at the “Irish Rover”. Food was pretty good and it certainly had atmosphere.

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Amazing Wendy asks for cucumber and they say lettuce. I know our accents are different but how can these two words be confused. We’re finding the accents around here easier to understand yet “they” are really struggling to understand us.  God help us.

Catch some quality American TV – The Lone Ranger – my god makes you cringe at how basic it was. Yet as a kid it was awesome. I even remember going to the pictures where he turned up in person on his horse Silver.

What a boring state Kentucky must be. Hardly any crazy laws:

Throwing eggs at a public speaker could result in up to one year in prison. (Repealed, 1975)

DSC01604One may not dye a duckling blue and offer it for sale unless more than six are for sale at once.

It is illegal to fish with a bow and arrow in Kentucky.

Dogs may not molest cars.

A woman may not buy a hat without her husband’s permission.

One may not receive anal sex.

An Istanbul court has sentenced Turkish-Armenian writer Sevan Nisanyan to 58 weeks in prison for an alleged insult to the religious character Muhammad in a blog post. The charges were insulting the religious beliefs held by a section of the society.

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Nisanyan was charged with blasphemy after writing a blog post titled:

[We] need to fight hate speech. Making fun of an Arab leader who claimed he contacted Allah hundreds of years ago and received political, financial and sexual benefits is not hate speech.

On May 22, the day of the sentencing, Nisanyan bravely retweeted his blog post, writing:

Let’s share the article that was sentenced to 13-and-a-half months at the Istanbul 10th Criminal Court for insulting religious bla-bla.

Now I suppose I’ll have to keep out of Turkey

Saturday – warm and sunny.

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Breakfast at the hotel is totally depressing. Quite a good spread but of the 25 people in having breakfast there’s only Wendy and 1 other who isn’t grossly obese. I stick to a bowl of cornflakes and pass on the waffles, bacon and eggs.

Drive down to Main St to do a walking tour of the area and 4th St. Visitors Centre are running a scavenger quest around downtown so we give it a go. Quite interesting as it takes us around the more interesting areas of downtown and the waterfront. Free to enter, all good fun and you get a free Tee shirt at the end of it – can’t be bad.

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Quite a relaxing city. Loads of museums, places to visit and some impressive architecture. There’s an Abbey Road (Beatles) concert on all weekend. Fortunately, at $30 each, we give it a miss although we do briefly watch one look alike group.

Seek out the famous Derby Clock and finally find it despite the map that is wrong. Visitors centre are amazed the maps wrong, mind you they claim they’ve only recently moved the clock!

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Louisville seems to be yet another town, like St Louis, that has a Jewish hospital. In the Bible belt there seems to be a lot of Baptist hospitals. Don’t see any Islamic or Taliban hospitals!

Some crazy laws in Indiana:

Waitresses may not carry drinks into a restaurant or bar.

Hotel sheets must be exactly 99 inches long and 81 inches wide.

If any person has a puppet show, wire dancing or tumbling act in the state of Indiana and receives money for it, they will be fined $3 under the Act to Prevent Certain Immoral Practices.

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Anyone 14 or older who profanely curses, damns or swears by the name of God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, shall be fined one to three dollars for each offense, with a maximum fine of ten dollars per day.

A three dollar fine per pack will be imposed on anyone playing cards in Indiana under the Act for the Prevention of Gaming.

It is illegal for a man to be sexually aroused in public.

20130522 – St Louis

Wednesday – sun and cloud but warm.

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Visit the USA’s  tallest monument, at 630 feet, the Gateway Arch has beckoned visitors for more than 40 years with its iconic, awe-inspiring shape. The vision of renowned architect Eero Saarinen, the Gateway Arch commemorates Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion of the United States.

I take the tram trip up to the top and the viewing platform. Certainly not for the claustrophobic so Wendy wisely passes. I have my prayer mat out praying that I’m not in one of the 5 man pods with 4 bloobies for the 5 minute trip to the top – given a 35% obesity rate the odds are not in my favour. Well worth it. Great views and a stunning landmark.

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The visit the free Westward Expansion Museum. 200 years ago, Lewis and Clark set out on their great journey. Today, the Gateway Arch stands as the iconic monument symbolizing the westward expansion of the United States. 

Two great attractions in the one location. You might know it was run by the National Parks, well worth it as always.

Then visit the Botanical Garden and especially the Japanese Garden – don’t tell the kids they’ll have us committed to an old folks home. The whole place was impressive, especially the Japanese Garden. Unlike most we’ve visited DSC01342the Japanese garden was done on a grand scale and it was great to see the more spacious changing vistas as you made your way around. I still think the one in Portland was the best so far, even though more compact.

Then we drive down to the Loop. Supposedly one of the top 10 streets in America. Doesn’t say diddli squat for the other 9. Grossly overrated, typical of what you get when Marketing Men put together travel literature. Have dinner at Fitz’s Premium Rootbeer Restaurant. Fried Ravioli is a St Louis speciality and is quite nice. Pass on one of their Ginger Rogers – Pi Ginger Beer topped with 3 blobs of vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and whipped cream, see picture.

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Now here is a country that’s been added to my must visit list. Free Wifi all over Taiwan, now that’s civilised.

Yet more terror in the name of religion:

‘You and your children will be next’: Islamic fanatics wielding meat cleavers butcher and try to behead a British soldier, taking their war on the West to a new level of horror
One of the men arrested is believed to be Michael Adebolajo
Two men repeatedly stab and tried to behead off-duty soldier in SE London
They shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ attack and told 
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Charged at police officers with rusty revolver, knives and meat cleavers
Killing took place 200 yards from barracks and close to primary school
Both men placed under arrest after being treated for gunshot wounds
PM: Killing is ‘sickening’ and Britain will ‘never buckle’ in face of terror.

Good to see that the council of Mosques denounced this unreservedly. Meanwhile hate preacher Anjem Choudary blames presence of British troops in Afghanistan for Woolwich killing as he admits to attending the same mosque as suspect. It really is about time the clowns kicked this scrot out.

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More stupidity:

It is illegal for more than four unrelated persons to occupy the same dwelling (The Brothel Law).

Frightening a baby is in violation of the law.

It shall be unlawful to provide beer or other intoxicants to elephants.

Dancing is strictly prohibited.

A milk man may not run while on duty.

Thursday – cloudy and cool.

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The remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico are preserved at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, now a World Heritage site. One of the greatest cities of the world, Cahokia was larger than London was in AD 1250. The Mississippians who lived here were accomplished builders who erected a wide variety of structures from practical homes for everyday living to monumental public works that have maintained their grandeur for centuries.

According to archaeological finds, the city of DSC01534Cahokia was inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400. At its peak, from A.D. 1050 to 1200, the city covered nearly six square miles and 10,000 to 20,000 people lived here. Over 120 mounds were built over time, and most of the mounds were enlarged several times. Houses were arranged in rows and around open plazas, and vast agricultural fields lay outside the city.

The fate of the prehistoric Cahokians and their city is unknown, but the decline seems to have been gradual, beginning around the 1200s. By A.D. 1400 the site had been abandoned. Exactly where the people went or what tribes they became is yet to be determined.

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Amazing when you consider that The Gateway Arch took a few years to build yet these Mounds took 300 years – now there’s forethought. Of course then there is Wood Henge. A wooden circle of posts used to determine the seasons. Yes, America manages to have it’s own version of Stone Henge. Alas not bigger and better but I’m sure they’re working on it. Sadly it starts to rain as we set out to explore the Monks Mound, but the visitors centre was amazing.

Next stop the Science Museum , that’s if they’ll let adults in. Yeah, they let us in and it’s free apart from the planetarium, but at least we get OAP discount.  Great fun building arches (well it is St Louis); creating Tornados; watching the night skies in the Planetarium; building nanotubes. All sorts of exhibits to play with.

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Evolution or is it the destruction of a language. Mother to here brood of kids rampaging down the pavement “Ya way”; translation “you all wait”.

And yet more:

It’s illegal to sit on the curb of any city street and drink beer from a bucket.

Four women may not rent an apartment together.

No person may have a “yard sale” in their front yard.
DSC01528Houses may not have lights on them that shine into the window of a neighbor’s house.

One may not honk another’s horn.

No person may own a PVC pipe.


20130520 – Elvis and Graceland

Monday – hot and sunny.

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Visit Graceland. I’m not really an Elvis fan but Wendy is, sort of. Must say I found the mansion tour interesting and some of the other tours that were included. Very well done. Quite surprising how small Graceland’s is. Overall an enjoyable day out and not bad value. Spoilt however by more retail opportunities than Taliban’s at a stoning.

You have to be impressed with his lifetime achievements. What a waste of a life though.

Wendy downloads his Hitstory album off iTunes – very switched on. She’ll be wanting music on her iPhone next.

Universal law of nature “whenever someone offers to take your photo they always cut your feet off”.

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You know you’re in a civilised area when the supermarkets sell wine and  you see both Starbucks and Bestbuy in the neighbourhood. Whilst dodgy areas offer Dollar General, Check Cash and Bail Bonds.

Another Taco Bell, awesome.

Getting ready for the dumb laws in Missouri:

It is illegal to have oral sex.

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Single men between the ages of twenty-one and fifty must pay an annual tax of one dollar (enacted 1820).

In this small town of only 4,000, yard waste may be burned any day except Sunday.

Though clotheslines are banned, clothes may be draped over a fence.

One may not drink in a bar between 2:00 and 6:00 AM.

I’m all for a secular World but come on lets have a little common sense. Another example of what happens when you let the clowns in politics, especially the loony left, dabble in education:

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Schoolchildren in the northern Spanish region of Asturias will no longer be able to call Christmas by its name now that a new law passed by the local education ministry prohibits the use of “religious” terms in the classroom when referring to the December and spring holidays.

Tuesday – torrential downpour but warm as we leave Memphis. Sunny by the time we get to St Louis.

Decide to move on to St Louis today as there’s not much more we want to see in Memphis. Apart from Graceland can’t help feeling a bit disappointed by Memphis. Beale Street was a scruffy dump, although BB Kings Blue Club had some atmosphere and good music.

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Visit the Arkansas Welcome Centre in West Memphis to see if there’s anything worth seeing on our way up to St Louis. Just like West Memphis, Arkansas seems to have nothing to offer. On the way up we think there’s a Tornado up ahead but it’s a funnel of black rain coming down.

The devastation in Oklahoma City is just terrible, +20 killed and 8,000 homes destroyed. Perhaps its a good job we didn’t go to Oklahoma City after all.

Drive up through Arkansas. Sorry no photos, it was just boring farm country, the rice capital of the USA, nearly as boring as Idaho, but at least it’s green. Then we’re into Missouri, more farm country but at least a bit of character.  

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After a 4 hour drive, rocking to the music of the King, we arrive in St Louis.

Wow we’ve finally escaped the bloody Bible belt and it’s fanatical Blue Laws. Civilisation – wine, liquor and beer on the shelves of the supermarkets. Friendly people who smile and say “Welcome, how y’all ding”. When I reply “Great, how you doing” she says “the Lord’s saved me”. Then the checkout women wishes us a “blessed day” , nice even if wasted on me. Goodbye to “Tennessee – the Groucho state”, the most unfriendly and miserable State we’ve ever been to – must be the Hill Billies.

Watching the Weather Channel looks like we were wise to leave Memphis. There’s severe thunder storm watch advisory and severe flood warnings. Just seen some of the storms in Arkansas they’re horrendous with the potential for DSC01322more tornados. Apparently we need a helmet as part of our Tornado protection plan.

Watched a Bible bashers show. Step out of poverty by picking up the phone, ringing this number now and pledge a $1 a day now to release the supernatural in your life. God will take you from a natural failure to supernatural success. Invite Jesus into your boat and stand on the word of god. Touch the Lord. 124 out of 200 lines occupied. Sounds like a sure way to move from failure and poverty, to a bigger failure and $365 more poverty.  Numpties. Unbelievable. Picking on the stupid. Should be illegal.

Love this joke.

A guys managed to get a complete copy of the Koran on a CD. He burned a few copies for friends and then the riots began.

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More laws:

You can not have a antenna exposed outside of your house yet you can have a 25′ satellite dish.

Installation of bathtubs with four legs resembling animal paws is prohibited.

Minors are not allowed to purchase cap pistols, however they may buy shotguns freely.

Minors can buy rolling paper and tobacco but not lighters.

Sounds familiar, is it the same guy or are the Evening Telegraph just re-running old news on quiet days:

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A TEACHER at a Blackburn mosque has appeared before the town’s magistrates charged with assaulting two of his pupils.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, told the court Mahmad Hajat worked at the Cumberland Street Mosque where it was alleged he had ‘grabbed, hit and slapped’ the pupils.

The court heard the two victims were aged seven and eight at the time.

Conditions of bail include not to teach at the mosque and not to have unsupervised contact with any child under the age of 16.

A spokesman at the mosque confirmed Hajat was no longer teaching students but declined to comment further on the issue until the case had been heard.

 

20130518 – Memphis and the Blues

Saturday – hot and sunny.

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Forgot to mention the first culinary highlight of our trip. In the USA 4 weeks and finally last night get my first Taco Bell – pure joy.

Drive down to the music district, thinking we could do a walking tour. Turns out to be a bit of a damp squid, apart from a photo outside the “World famous” RCA studios -we remember that record label.

Never mind next stop Grand Old Opry (new location)  and the museum. Car park is the largest I’ve ever seen and it’s full. But it was designed and laid out by an idiot. How do I know this. There are no row numbers; cartoon characters; animals logos or any other way to identify which row you’re on. Common sense is such rare commodity we should DSC01187treasure it.

Alas the museum was closed down after the flood of 2010. As for the Grand Ole Opry there was a graduation ceremony from one of the local medical colleges. Never seen so many black faces makes up for the scarcity in East Tennessee.  Apparently it’s a famous black college. Is this reverse segregation? No of course not, it’s just that there aren’t so many whites who go there. Great to see so many proud families celebrating their big day.

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Never mind there’s always the Opry Mills Mall to fall back on – I’m orgasmic.

Interesting rules in the Opry Mills Mall – you must be identifiable and not cover your face – wonder what they do when a yashmak turns up? Certainly be interesting to have that rule in Blackburn’s new Mall.

Getting ready for our trip into Arkansas I thought we’d better review their laws:

A law provides that school teachers who bob their hair will not get a raise.
A man can legally beat his wife, but not more than once a month.
Oral sex is considered to be sodomy.DSC01225Alligators may not be kept in bathtubs.
The Arkansas River can rise no higher than to the Main Street bridge in Little Rock.

Looks like the laws are as boring as the state. Perhaps we’ll give Little Rock a miss.

I’ve never liked twitter but now I could be tempted:

Saudi religious leaders throw a few trivial insults at Twitter usersThe head of Saudi Arabia’s religious police has warned citizens against using Twitter, which is rising in popularity among Saudis.

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Sheikh Abdul Latif Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh made up a few nonsense claims and pronounced that anyone using social media sites – and especially Twitter – has lost this world and his afterlife .

The sheikh’s comments echo those of the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in April who used his sermon – seen by millions on TV – to warn that Twitter was a threat to national unity.

Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the kingdom’s most senior Muslim cleric, had unimaginatively dismissed Twitter users as fools .

Saudi authorities have mooted moves that could inhibit Twitter users by linking their online accounts to their Saudi ID numbers.

What are they frightened of, as if we didn’t know. What about Facebook, you’d think it would at least DSC01215get an honourable mention!

Sunday – raining as we leave Nashville but very hot and sunny in Memphis.

Pleasant 3.5 hour drive to Memphis.

Check into Comfort Suites which is an experience all of it’s own. Wrong room allocated, well 201 looks like 401; 201 smells; 303 is a spacious and well furnished suite, even has 2 TV’s and wet bar – mind you will I be able to buy alcohol; Internet doesn’t work. It seems to be a feature of Choice Hotels just lately that there’s always something wrong. It gets fixed quickly but inspect the room first and check the wifi before moving in. Says it all when you consider that we don’t bother checking the electricity or water works, that’s taken for granted. Perhaps one day wifi will be the same. 

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Drive down to the World famous Beale Street, “The roots of Blues music and Rock and Roll”. Certainly has atmosphere, mind you so does Whaley range in Blackburn, but I suppose this place does have history and character.

Eat at famous BB Kings Blues Club complete with live blues music. The place looks a bit run down and believe me the paintings fall off the wall, one nearly decapitated an old lady. But I suppose you have to admit it does have an ambiance all of its own. And the aficionados seemed to appreciate the music.

Fried green tomatoes with garlic cream, strawberry jam and caramelised onions. What DSC01230pervert dreamt that up. Delicious.

Well I think by now we can recognise Blues music.

Well that was Beale Street, Memphis. A scruffy dive. BB Kings Blues club had plenty of “atmosphere”; live blue music from a blind musician, of course; fried green tomatoes for dinner.
Glad we’ve seen it but won’t be going back. Sadly overrated.

More Laws in Arkansas

It is illegal to kill “any living creature”.

DSC01231Honking one’s car horn at a sandwich shop after 9 PM is against the law.

No one may “suddenly start or stop” their car at a McDonald’s.

Flirtation between men and women on the streets of Little Rock may result in a 30-day jail term.

It is unlawful to walk one’s cow down Main Street after 1:00 PM on Sunday.

Dogs may not bark after 6 PM.

Get you prayer mats out. Islam could become dominant UK religion in 10 years

London – According to a new analysis of 2011 UK census, one in 10 people under 25 are Muslim, DSC01206Christianity is declining 50 percent faster than previously thought and in 10 years Islam may become the dominant religion with only a minority identifying as Christian.
The analysis of the 2011 UK census by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that earlier analysis which showed only a 15 percent decline in Christianity was bolstered about 1.2 million foreign-born Christians such as Polish Catholics and Nigerian evangelicals. That is, foreign-born Christian immigrants masked the extent of decline of Christianity among the British-born population.
The Telegraph reports that the latest analysis showed that there were 5.3 million fewer British-born people professing Christianity, a decline of 15 per cent in a decade, and about 6.4 million DSC01204increase in people describing themselves as having no faith.
In the same period, the number of of people professing Islam in England and Wales rose sharply by 75 percent. This massive surge was caused by about 600,000 foreign-born or immigrant Muslims.
According to The Telegraph, the massive demographic shift is being driven significantly by young people. The census analysis showed that nearly half of British Muslims are under the age of 25 and nearly a quarter of Christians over 65. The proportion of young British who describe themselves as “Christian” even in the “nominal” sense, has dropped below half for the first time. But in the past 15 years the British Muslim population has gone through a dramatic surge increasing by 75 per cent in England and Wales.DSC01208The ONS calculated on the basis of the demographic trend that although Christianity is still the dominant religion in the UK with about 50 percent of the population claiming the Christian religion, in 10 years only a minority will identify as Christian.

Come on you atheist and agnostics, get out there and spread the word. If that fails then go procreate. Let’s have a secular democracy that protects the right of everyone to practise their own religion including atheism or agnosticism. The separation of religion and state is the foundation of secularism. It ensures that religious groups don’t interfere in affairs of state, and makes sure the state doesn’t interfere in religious affairs.

20130516 – Grand Ole Opry Fame

Thursday – hot and sunny.

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We escape Hill Billy country (picture of our neighbours), we think, and drive 200 miles up to Nashvile. Pleasant drive.

Interesting billboard “Make your man happy”. How? Sex? A nice meal? Wine – forget that this is Tennessee? All wrong. Buy him a razor sharp, lethal bowie knife.

Book to go to the Grand Old Opry at the original Ryman Hall.

Have a walk around Broadway, the music district, and then have dinner in one of the many live music bars. Pork Loin on Texas Toast, well looks more like thick bacon, at least its not that thin bacon that shatters like broken glass when you cut into it. Two girls are sat in the corner playing guitars and screeching for tips. If I wasn’t deaf before I certainly am DSC01053now.

By now it’s in the 90’s outside.

The Grand Old Opry show has a selection of Country and Western stars, most of whom we’ve never heard of but the rest of the audience seem to know them. At least we have heard of Crystal Gale. Ironically, we’re probably the only ones there who aren’t rabib Country and Western fans, yet we’re approached before the show to see if we’d like to go up on stage; brief interview with Larry Gatlin; then seats on the stage for the performance; free popcorn; free giant Pepsi’s. We go for it, it would be a sin not to.

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About 15 minutes into the performance this tall gaunt looking geezer, who’d give any child under the age of 10 nightmares, starts doing an advert for Cracker Barrel at lightning speed with an accent so strong you could bottle and sell it  – we’re incredulous and crack up laughing.  It’s a miracle we even picked out the word Cracker Barrel. What’s wrong with this country. You pay to go to a concert and you still can’t escape their inane adverts. Turns DSC09636out the whole show is going out on WSM radio.

Larry introduces us as some folks from “Good olde England” and escorts us onto this hallowed stage, Elvis, Dolly and Johnny Cash to name but a few trod on these very same boards we’re now on. Larry’s a tad disappointed when Wendy answer his “What have we seen in Nashville?”, with “well we’ve been to New Orleans but actually we’ve only just got here”. The “actually” goes down a treat. Escorted to our luxury, on stage seats – at least they have cushions rather than the hard Church style pews. An interesting experience, not only are we on the stage at the Grand DSC09649Old Opry but we’re on National radio as well. Fame at last.  For some obscure reason Wendy gets Crystal Gayle’s autograph – not that you can read it.

Good show but they manage to bring a bible thumping session by singing gospel songs on demand, really gets all but two of the audience going – thank the lord, hallelujah!

By the time we get out, Broadway is really buzzing.

Drive back to the hotel with the hinderance of a dyslexiic SatNav system that thinks we’re on a pushbike and decided to takes us a circular ride around Nashville – ignore her.

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Friday – wet and grey but warm.

Drive up to Mammoth Cave National Park, a mere 80 miles away. Not only another great National Park; free; great visitors centre, even free wifi; a World Heritage site; a biosphere reserve. Of course there has to be a superlative, it’s twice as long as any known cave.

Pity it was raining but good day to be underground. I did a 2 hour guided tour of the caves. I’ve had some great ranger led tours but this has to be the tops. Superb narrative; mixture of great scientific facts / explanation; fascinating history of the DSC01153founder;  answers to questions; safety talk. Wendy passed on it and given the narrowness and difficulties of the tour it was a good job she did – certainly not for the claustrophobic. Interesting to think how most Americans dealt with the FACTS of a 400 million year old cave system. Can the Bible belt cope with such heresy?

Joy, still in the dry Bible belt. Finally found a liquor store. Hello America this is the 21st century. To top it all there’s more gun shops. Obviously the Bible bashers are ok with a bit of senseless killing – even on a Sunday! And to top it all I wanted an alcohol free beer down in Nashville yesterday, but stood more chance of buying a bible in a DSC01156Taliban book store.

Sure can tell we’re still in the Bible belt, can’t even go for a pee without religion intruding, there over the urinal is a picture of Jesus on the cross with “He suffered for us”. Mind you can you imagine the riots and deaths if that had been a picture of Mohamed!

20130514 – White Water Rafting

Tuesday – hot and sunny.

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Whitewater rafting today, although Wendy gives it a miss. Drive over to Hartford NC. Downtown consists of a restaurant and a garage but it’s classed as a town.

In case you’re wondering in the pictures I’m the one not smiling or waving – you might have guessed.

Rafting the Upper Pigeon Forge river, a class 3 – 4 river and today the waters high, as there’s been plenty of rain, so we get a fast and turbulent ride. 

Grade 1: Very small rough areas, might require slight maneuvering. (Skill level: very basic)

Grade 2: Some rough water, maybe some rocks, might require some maneuvering. (Skill level: basic paddling skill)

Grade 3: Whitewater, small waves, maybe a small drop, but no considerable danger. May require significant maneuvering. (Skill level: experienced paddling skills)

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Grade 4: Whitewater, medium waves, maybe rocks, maybe a considerable drop, sharp maneuvers may be needed. (Skill level: whitewater experience)

Grade 5: Whitewater, large waves, large volume, possibility of large rocks and hazards, possibility of a large drop, requires precise maneuvering. (Skill level: advanced whitewater experience)

Grade 6: Class 6 rapids are considered to be so dangerous that they are effectively unnavigable on a reliably safe basis.

Start off with signing the all important waiver document; followed by a safety briefing, that’s enough to put anyone off; issue life jacket (well they can’t call them that because the lawyers say it implies that they will save your life), helmet, paddle and splash jacket for those that are nesh.

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Then it’s all aboard a typical school bus to the launch site. Wendy comes on the bus to take pictures as we raft down.

It was a thrilling raft ride. After listening to the safety briefing and how to ride down on your back if you fall in I make sure the laws of physics will keep me on board. My feet are well wedged in and under the seat in front. Certainly not strenuous but you do get very, very wet and the waters dam cold this time of year.

My rafts got an American couple in it as well as our guide. They rabbit on incessantly, asking the most inane questions. Is that a rock? Is that a tree trunk? Is the water cold? They’d already been told the water was wet so at least that saved a question.

A great experience and worth the money. I think it would be even greater to do it in a kayak – perhaps next time.

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Of course at the end there’s a merchandising opportunity and the all important photo’s. But I have to say they’re not greedy price wise. You can see them on the screen and get about 20 good photos on a CD for you to do with as you wish – no stupid copy right.

Drive back through the foothills of the Smokies. Very lush and pretty.

One small step on the way to World domination by the religion of peace:

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in three north-eastern states of Nigeria after muslim extremists took control of a number of villages and towns. 

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Army troops have been ordered to the affected states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, while politicians have been told to remain at their posts. 

Islamic extremist group Boko Haram is said to be behind most of the attacks that have killed close to 3,000 people in the last few years. Boko Haram has openly declared that its mission is to drive out all Christians from the North and make Nigeria an Islamic state.

Another place to avoid.

Wednesday – very hot and sunny.

Lazy day before we set off on our road trip. Drive down to Pigeon Forge to visit a quilt shop and stroll around the Old Mill Shopping area. Fortunately there’s someone throwing pots so at least it’s not too bad. 

Sat in rocking chairs having a coffee and people watching. It’s such a lovely day. Why is it that bigger is better. DSC00977Bigger cars; bigger portions; bigger ice creams; bigger yogurts, almost bucket sized must be 10 times the size of a standard UK yogurt; bigger drinks, why would anyone want 2 pints of coffee or coke. End result is bigger people. Bit of people watching reveals some terrifying ad hoc statistics. Of a sample of people observed, 23 were obese and only 4 were what you could describe as normal, there was only 1 svelte geezer. Mind you that would imply that obese is the new norm – enough to put you off eating for life. This really is the blobby capital of America. Mind you there aren’t many bloodies on the trails. Another useless fact is that in the two weeks we have been here I have only noticed 2 blacks and 3 Muslims. Why is that I wonder?

The other thing I find cloyingly obsessive around here is the constant religious references. Every where you look; in all the shops; on notices they’re quoting the Lord or Jesus.

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Then we encounter more lunacy whereby you can drink wine and beers inside a restaurant but not on their enclosed patio. Never mind we’re heading away from the Bible belt and hopefully towards some sanity.

And I thought the blue laws on alcohol here in the Bible belt were extreme:

Gunmen armed with silenced weapons shot dead 12 people at alcohol shops in the Iraqi capital on Tuesday.

With alcohol forbidden by Islam, Baghdad liquor stores are an attractive target for fundamentalist groups, made more so because they are often staffed by religious minorities.

I wonder what religion the gunman were?

Well tomorrow we leave. Hill Billy country has been interesting and we’ve really enjoyed it, although we have to DSC01026say that of all the places we’ve been in America, especially considering the tourism around here, we did not find the locals that friendly. A lot of the people we have encountered certainly seem to be “slow bouncers”. We’ll miss the Smokies, they are awesome. But as for Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, we’ll be glad to not have to drive through them again. To put it into perspective, imagine having to drive down the golden mile at Blackpool just before you enter the Lake District National Park.

Alas we’ve not really seen any Black Bears and certainly not been fortunate enough to see any on our deck like some people, but Wendy’s taken a picture to make up for it. Mind you we did manage to get a picture of the friendly lizard that Wendy terrified the other night.

20130512 – Appalachian Trail

Sunday – warm and sunny.

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Set off for a short hike up to Grotto falls, its a fairly strenuous and rocky in places. Manage to squeeze pass the blobby hill billie family, all of them so wide they’re taking up the whole of the path. Just love their hiking footwear ranges from flip flops, ballet style shoes to bright purple trainers, but you can tell they’re seasoned hikers as there’s not a pair of high heels on any of them – mind you they probably don’t make high heels strong enough. I’ll  be amazed if they make it. We pass them again on our way back down, 90 minutes later, and they’re still only half way up. 10 out of 10 for perseverance.

We’d always thought that Disney Orlando was the blobby magnet of the World but Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg take that accolade by about 5 stone. Gatlinburg even seems to have recognised the issue by placing forms all along their pavements so that the weary hikers can sit down and rest their excess DSC00842blubber as they go from fudge shop to ice cream shop to burger joint. Fortunately there’s a bypass around Gatlinburg so at least on the way to the beauty of the Smokies you don’t have to drive through that glitz and flab.

Wendy makes a fair but constant pace, puts some of the youngsters to shame, who keep stopping for a rest. Halfway up Ranger Wendy, notices the signs of bears having passed this way, and gives an impromptu tutorial to a family of 4 on what to do if you encounter a bear – she was obviously listening when we were given our bear training.

A nice hike and waterfall at the end, but alas no bears.

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I think I’ve commented many times on the decline in manners in the USA but it’s getting worse. Hardly anyone on this busy walk says thank you when you pause to let them pass. Wendy’s hit the nail on the head though. They’re mainly day trippers, just like your Sunday drivers, whereas your regular hikers, and even walkers, are more courteous.

They’re really bright around here. Women approaches toilet door “y’all locked up” slurred in that Hill Billie drawl. But then eventually the light clicks “y’ll perhaps someun in there”.

Only 1 in 10 UK Christians seeks moral guidance from religion according to research carried out for the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

UK residents who think of themselves as Christian show very low levels of Christian belief and practice, 
according to new research.

Overall, the findings suggest that the number of UK adults self-identifying as Christian has fallen significantly since the 2001 Census. This research found that at the time of the 2011 Census, just over half (54%) the public thought of themselves as Christian, compared with almost three-quarters (72%) in the 2001 Census.

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Welcoming the findings of the research, Richard Dawkins said:

“Despite the best efforts of church leaders and politicians to convince us that religion is still an important part of our national life, these results demonstrate that it is largely irrelevant, even to those who still label themselves Christian.

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“When it comes to belief, practice or even the most elementary knowledge of the Bible, it is clear that faith is a spent force in the UK, and it is time our policy-makers woke up to that reality and stopped trying to impose beliefs on society that society itself has largely rejected.

“In the past, there have often been attempts to use the Christian figure in the Census to justify basing policy on the claim that faith is important to the British people. This time, any attempt to do so will clearly be inexcusable.”

As it’s Mothers day here I treat Wendy to  sickly giant cup cake – bigger and better as always.

Having strayed into North Carolina I thought we’d better check up on their dumb laws:

It is a felony to steal more than $1000 of grease

A bill has been passed that restricts local planning agencies’ ability to use climate change science to predict sea-level rise.

A marriage can be declared void if either of the two persons is physically impotent.

It’s against the law to sing off key.

Elephants may not be used to plow cotton fields.

While having sex, you must stay in the missionary position and have the shades pulled.

If a man and a woman who aren’t married go to a hotel/motel and register themselves as married then, according to state law, they are legally married.

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Monday – warm and sunny.

Big day today as we tackle the Appalachian Trail – a 2,000 mile hike up the East from Georgia all the way up to Main – fortunately today we’re only doing a few mile of it it the Smokey Mountains. It’s a strenuous and very rock trail. We go from the Newfound  Gap up to the Ice Spring shelter. A hard 6 miles but some great views and Wendy’s back can just about manage this distance before becoming a problem. I was expecting it to be more like striding edge as we were walking across the top ridge. Fortunately for my knees it was quite wide so I managed to stay upright all the way. A tad disappointing as there just weren’t the views either side as we’d anticipated. A strenuous 4 hours but worth it.

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Have you noticed the lazy stupidity that seems to overtake people when in car parks. Just love it when they’ll wait for ages while a family of 6 loads there pram, shopping, Zimmer framed Grandma and 3 dogs into a car so that they can park in their space, if they ever managed to find reverse and back out. In the meantime these inconsiderate Hill Billies have a queue of 64.5 cars waiting behind them. I wouldn’t mind there’s loads of empty space just around the corner and the lazy blobbies will be using the lift anyway.

What is it with American toilet doors? There’s alway big gaps around them so people can peer in. Are they a nation of perverts or are their handymen incompetent.

You’re probably wonder what the local industry around here is. Well apart from tourism it seems that every other place is manufacturing rocking chairs. No idea where they sell them all to as there’s already an excess everywhere you look.

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More stupidity in North Carolina:

All couples staying overnight in a hotel must have a room with double beds that are at least two feet apart.

It is illegal to have sex in a churchyard.

Oral sex is considered a crime against nature.

A three dollar tax must be paid on all white goods sold.

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Organizations may not hold their meetings while the members present are in costume.

Bingo games may not last over 5 hours unless it is held at a fair.

Serving alcohol at a bingo game is not allowed.

Persons in possession of illegal substances must pay taxes on them.


20130510 – Dollywood Parade

Friday – sun and cloud but warm and humid.

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Hike – so much more macho than walking – 3 trails today. Drive up to Jakes trail, then onto Cucumber and then Little River trail. A lot of bleating and moaning from Wendy as It’s all up hill for the first half and then we get the benefit of the downhill 2nd half. 6 miles in total. Lavish lunch half way through of cheese, tomato and egg butty, sat in the rain. We sure know how to live. Anyway Wendy survives it including a very brave stream crossing, at least it proved her new shoes are waterproof, what a trooper – girl guides here she comes.

Encounter a real mix of hikers on the way from day trippers in shorts and sandals to Rambo like backpacker, complete with camouflage poncho DSC00763with his World in his backpack.

On the way home call in at Townsend, another dry county, but if you drive down to the next county and all is well. Unbelievable, 21st Century in what they believe is the most civilised and advanced country in the World and people put up with this religious crap. 

18:00 is the Dolly parade in Pigeon Forge so we toddle off down for a some excitement. The DSC00755Americans do love their parades, every time we come here we come across one or two. This one is led by a float with Dolly Parton on it. I was amazed how petite she seems. Mind you the Dolly look alike across the road made up for her. We couldn’t quite decide whether they (see photo and you’ll know what I’m talking about) we’re the real thing or a guy in drag. I certainly wasn’t crossing over to find out.

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Most of the people around us were local and couldn’t you tell with the Hill Billy drawl, blobbies and the toothless older women. They make you laugh with their talk about Dolly, almost as if they know her personally. No American parade would be complete without some majorettes. This parade had more majorette groups than Talibans at a stoning. Given the numerous young podgies in most of them you do wonder about the exercise value of these clubs – start em young on the blobby trail.

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Of course being in the bible belt there’s an excess of church floats and the rest seem to sneak the word of the lord in somewhere. No floats from the French Wine industry; breweries; Atheists of America; the Evolution society; Darwen appreciation society.

Overall an hours worth of mirth and entertainment for all.

Final list of loony Tennessee laws:

It is illegal to give any pie to fellow diners.

Spitting is prohibited on sidewalks.

No person may keep a cheetah as a pet.

Males may not be sexually aroused in public.

Anyone rollerblading may not tie his or herself to a moving vehicle on a highway.DSC00768
No person may roller skate and listen to a personal cd player at the same time.

Throwing stones is prohibited as it might break a window.

I’d normally never dream of watching or listening to this geezer, but when the religious fruitcakes get so uppity then it only adds to the unwarranted publicity, peaks my curiosity and becomes essential viewing for me:

David Bowie’s latest music video featuring him as a Christ-like figure surrounded by women in skimpy outfits and priests in a bar has been pulled from YouTube.

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The video for the single The Next Day was temporarily removed from the video-sharing website with a screenshot saying it had been taken down because its content violated YouTube’s terms of service, the singer’s publicist said. 

Bowie appears in the video dressed in Christ-like robes, while Gary Oldman plays a beer-swilling priest and Marion Cotillard is a hooker who transforms into a saint.

The video has riled Catholic League president Bill Donohue. 

Meanwhile ex-archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey said:

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery perhaps Christians should not worry too much at such an exploitation of religious imagery.

I doubt that Bowie would have the courage to use Islamic imagery – I very much doubt it.

Frankly, I don’t get offended by such juvenilia – Christians should have the courage to rise above offensive language although I hope Bowie will DSC09614recognise that he may be upsetting some people.

It’s utter rubbish but they fanned the flames of intrigue and given it more publicity than it deserves. I like George Carey’s comments. A pity more religious leaders can’t take this view. Perhaps a Muslim version would help with the much needed desensitising of that religion too.

Saturday – grey, cloudy, warm and showers.

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Drive through Sevierville to Knoxville. You have to see the tinsel town glitz and glamour of this place – see photos. It’s unbelievable that all there’s all this tat with the Smoky Mountains as a backdrop just 10 miles away. Yes there’s Opry Show; Hollywood waxworks, complete with King Kong climbing Empire State; Hatfiled & McCoy Hill Billy Dinner show; Titanic; National Knife Museum, unbelievable that the car parks full;  Bible Outlet store, no surprise there then; Tangier Outlets to name but a few. But this seems to be what most people come here for. Thankfully, probably never venture anywhere near the awesome Smoky Mountains National Park – quite believable here in the USA but sad.

Free parking around the Market Square area.

Information centre has a free Blues concert going on.

How fortunate can we be there’s a market on, but it must be a French market as they pack up and go home at 14:00. A bit like the Pigeon Forge visitor centre which closes no Saturday the busiest day of the week, mind you we are in Hill Billy country.

Have a wander around the pleasant Market Square district of Knoxville and then the heavens open up. Fortunately find a very pleasant cafe with lovely deep leather chairs. Amazing most people are downstairs queueing for a table yet there’s plenty of room up here.

Have a pleasant wander around, seems a nice little town.

Then visit the site of the 1982 Worlds Fair. Couldn’t have been very big. But it’s another nice area with big open air amphitheatre. I take a trip up the Sunsphere. Wendy gives it a miss as there’s a DSC09621lift involved.

Pass on the free Gospel Music on offer in the amphitheatre. I’ve enough of these bible bashers, foisting there arcane beliefs on the rest of us. I don’t try and make it difficult for them to worship, why must they make it difficult for me to follow my beliefs and have a drink. Although good news is it’s not totally dry here, there is a liquor store, limited choice and high prices – now there’s a surprise, thank you bible bashers.

Manage to buy a box of wine. Sensible store though, they don’t bother asking for ID, and if the CIA or FBI is monitoring this, no I will not rat them out for exercising common sense.

Despite the downpour a pleasant afternoon in a very dog friendly town.

On the way back down the Interstate – Motorway – we see a Hill Billy family letting their dogs out for a crap on the side of the Interstate, no leads – on the dogs that is. They’re just roaming loose and any minute now may run into the carriageway. Only hope is if the dogs wander onto the Interstate, as the Hill Billies are trying to catch them, then any cars swerve and miss the dogs, don’t bother about hitting their owners they’re just DSC09628polluting the gene pool anyway. 

Guess which religion this is?

Gay men and women living in Indonesia’s Aceh province are facing being publicly lashed 100 times under a proposed bylaw backed by politicians.

Perhaps they think it will cure them!