(7:33 am Nov 06, 2005)
Cheese. Now you have all kinds of cheese. But there is one kind of cheese that was more famous than all the rest when it comes to the Bahamas.
Daisy Cheese. This is the cheese you want in your grits and cheese. I sure do miss it. Cheddar has been my substitute of choice in latter years. It works for grits and cheese well enough, but it is not a perfect substitute.
Now, in the Bahamas, some people make their grits runny and some make theirs hard or stiff.
On a recent trip, I was talking to someone from Louisiana who told me they made their grits different than we did and went on to tell me they made runny grits.
Well, runny grits was always the way to go in my family. There was a long running (that's a pun for those who are not paying attention) juke in the family that if you couldn't count the individual grains, it was not runny enough.
There are places you can go and they make the grits so hard that it is almost like a pie. You can cut into it with a knife and it will stand up. Not in our house. Runny is how we run things.
Daisy Cheese. You go to the corner store and they cut a wedge for you from the block or wheel and wrap it in paper. It is always nice if you get the red from the edge. It can be wax paper or brown paper. You probably let them cut you some thick slices of bologna (likely Maple Leaf) from the big stick. If you are lucky, you buy a loaf or two of hot bread (unsliced) from the bakery nearby.
By the time you get home, you probably need to turn around and go back and repeat the order. Slam Bam!
(7:50 am Nov 06, 2005)
(8:07 am Nov 06, 2005)
Bruno was getting back to working on his book when there came a knock at the front door.
"Come on in Jelli, the key is under the mat."
"Stop talkin foolishness, there aint no mat here much less a key under it."
"Be right there, this isn't the sixties you know. This is the naughties. (I use the American spelling to make the joke work better. For those who prefer the English way, the noughties. The decade with the noughts get it? Oh forget it!)
"Jelli man, what are you doing here this morning, didn't I tell you last night that I had to write this morning."
"I know, I know, Beat, but I thought you would want to know this. I just got the sip sip that there is a pickup junkanoo rush out starting in a while over at the park. I found someone who will lend you his drum. They have the fire going for you now. So how is the book coming anyway."
"Jelli, man, that's great news. You know I gatta do that. But I gatta do this too. And I am having great fun with this book. I am in the middle of this great ruse that I have been setting up for years now."
"What kinda great ruse? I love ruses. Is it elaborate?"
"Oh, it's elaborate, Jelli Man. In my book, I have this guy writing a novel where I am one of the main characters. Now the thing is, this guy doesn't actually exist. But I have set things up so that he seems real."
"How can someone who doesn't exist seem real, Beat?"
"Well, here's what I did. Last year, I signed up for him at NaNoWriMo and wrote a book and submitted it and won in his name. I did a lot of posting in the forums as him and have actually been leaving traces as him on the net for years. Man, I think you might still find evidence of him on the Digital Oasis if you can ever get an account out of the sysop."
"Man, I remember Digital Oasis, what was your handle on it?"
"That's just the thing Jelli, I never had a handle of my own on the Oasis. I used this character's handle."
"OK, so what was it? I wanna see if I remember it."
"Jelli man, it was zotz and I know I remember dealing with you."
"Zotz! Are you having me on? That's not possible. Next you're gonna try and tell me that you fictional character ran the ZotzBoard."
"You got it Jelli, I have been laying the threads for this year's nano for years. Now, obviously, since I have been laying these threads since before nano existed, I wasn't laying them with nano in mind, but I was laying them on purpose and when nano came along, I saw my opportunity. I bided my time. Then, like I say, last year I signed up in his name and wrote a novel as if I were him. I submitted it and won. Or he won. This year, I entered as him again and and writing a book as him again but this year, I am one of the main characters in the book he is writing."
"Beat Man, that sounds like fun, but it is too elaborate and is taking too long to explain. We gatta go if you want to get dat drum and get in dat rush."
(8:35 am Nov 06, 2005)
(9:23 am Nov 06, 2005)
Cang was on his way back to Nassau with XXIII. His heart was troubled. His heart was singing with joy. Troubled because of what had happened last night. When that net dropped on him, he knew he was done for. He could feel the strength in it. The more he had struggled, the tighter it had bound him. He could see the bad intent in those soldier's eyes too. He thought of scuba equipment. Well, only one piece really. Aqualung. He played the part of the little girl in his mind's eye.
Then XXIII had come crashing through the front plate glass window like some stunt man in a lousy, big budget blockbuster movie. Claws snapping like they were guns blazing.
Cang was so proud. Those soldiers were so much bigger than XXIII and there were two of them. They stood no chance. He tore into them and they were confounded by his snappy style of kung fu. Every move they tried to make was countered three moves ago by his technique. While he held the two of them off with his little biter, he had begun to snip through the net with his big biter.
Cang smiled and his heart sang with joy when he remembered watching the plan unfold in XXIII's sharp mind right before his eyes. Yes, XXIII had started to snip through the blue nylon strands of the net, but then Cang had seen a gleam come into his eyes and he had switched strategies in mid snip. He began an amazing untangling process with his big biter while continuing to hold off the two big soldiers with his small biter.
The two soldiers had been conducting a combined frontal attack, but when they saw XXIII switch from the cutout maneuver to the untangling play, they too had switched tactics. In their case, it was to prove tactics of mistake. Unfortunately for them, it was a mistake on their part.
Bruddah Bing had continued with the frontal attack while Bruddah Boom had tried a flanking maneuver. XXIIIs kung fu was strong though and again he had countered their moves three moves before they made them.
Before Cang knew what had happened, he was free and the two big soldiers were bound hopelessly in their own net and hidden in some bushes.
Egg. Tadpole. Tadpole with legs. Froglet. Frog.
(9:42 am Nov 06, 2005)
(10:46 am Nov 06, 2005)
A bullfrog dressed in soldier's clothes
Went in de field to shoot some crows,
De crows smell powder and flyaway,
De bullfrog mighty mad dat day.
Adapted to the islands would go something like this.
Bullfrog dress up in soldier clothes
Gone to da river to shoot some crow
Crows smell fire and dey all fly away
Bullfrog get wex an he cry all day
In the islands, the frogs like to sing for you after the rain, especially at night. An chile please. Don't talk if ya gat rainwater tank. You juss ga have frog song den.
Bullfrog it's rainin, don't go cross da road.
Da frog, he don't like salt though. He do like. No dat een right. She do like to leave her eggs in ya barrel of rainwater or in dem swimmin pools an in da puddles and ponds.
Potcake was a frog. Try to remember this. If you miss it things could get confusin and you will end up confuddleated. Potcake is a frog and Froggy is a potcake. Dat's juss how tings verk out and you need ta stay on ya toes and min ya Ps an Qs or you ga be confuse.
So Potcake was hangin in the rainwater tank in the park. You may wonder what a park needs a rainwater tank for. Well, it goes like this.
Once upon a time, (I bet you didn't expect a once upon a time story in a book like this.) there was a house on the land that the park now occupies. It was a nice two story wooden house with nice balconies all around and two big rooms in the attic with dormer windows all around. A big family lived in the house and during the hot months in the summer, all the children slept outside on the upstairs porch. The father in this family was a fisherman and one day he was out on his smack boat (11:13 am Nov 06, 2005 - dreaded google research sidetrack has struck) and the sloop was done in by a water spout. The father never returned. There was fighting in the family over the will and one thing led to another. Several lawyers made out well. The mother was allowed to live in the house until the children were grown and moved out and then the house sat empty for years.
If you look, you can still see the front gate and the stone walkway up to those stone stairs going nowhere right over there. That's all that is left of the house. That and this rainwater tank that we are sitting on.
Potcake is down there in the damp darkness below us now.
Lignum Vitae. This is the wood you want to use to make your pegging tops from. Now a pegging top is a spinning top used in the game of pegging. You don't want none a dem play play store tops if you are going out to peg in da street. You need a good native top with a powerful peg an a hard body.
A lignum vitae top.
Problem is, the Lignum Vitae tree is the national tree of the Bahamas and it is not so easy to get good lignum legally anymore. I don't know, that might not be right, but you hardly ever see a good lignum top around anymore.
Pegging goes something like this. Say you draw a line on the road. Everyone gets to try and peg the line.
To Peg: to throw your spinning top down at the ground with an overhanded motion. If pegging on macadam, pegging will leave a hole in the tarmac.
OK, so the one whose hole is farthest from the line has to lay his top down for others to try and peg.
So far so good? Is that clear?
Now the game really begins. The object of the game is to split your opponent's top in half and put him out of the game.
Play proceeds something like this.
Each remaining player goes in turn and get's an opportunity to peg the top in the ground.
If you actually manage to peg the top on the ground and inflict damage, or even split the top, great. You are done for the round. If you miss the top in the ground in your peg, you must bring your spinning top into contact with the top on the ground before your top stops spinning.
This is generally done in a couple of ways.
The most desired but the most chancy and the one requiring the most skill is to loop your top string down over your top and around the peg and to give a quick lift. This will pop your spinning top up into the air. You then catch your spinning top in your palm as it descends. You then proceed to walk your top, still spinning on your palm, over and drop it on to the top on the ground. Done right, this will inflict minor damage at least.
The second method is to put your top string behind your spinning top and to pull it over to the top on the ground and have your top bump into it.
If you manage to cause contact between your top and the top on the ground, your turn is done.
If, however, your top stops spinning before you manage to bring about the needed contact, the top on the ground is taken up and your top replaces it. Now your top will be the one getting pegged.
There used to be a top season in days gone by and you could see children out pegging in the streets and on the playgrounds in the neighbourhoods and in the playgrounds at schools.
No more. Pegging has all but disappeared from the streets of the capital.
Ooooh, here is a secret for you. Pegging still thrives underground. I know it is hard to believe, but there are underground pegging clubs where lignum tops still do battle with the help of re-purposed clothes lines.
If spme shady character should offer you some contraband while you are walking the streets, ask if they know where you can get in on the next pegging game. It is a spectacle not to be missed.
(11:56 am Nov 06, 2005)
(1:29 pm Nov 06, 2005)
Another favourite in the islands for the young and the young at heart.
Now please understand that we are not talking about cheque kiting although that too is a favourite in the islands. Only adults tend to be involved in this pass time though.
No we are talking about the kind of kites that you fly. At one time, like top season, there was a vibrant kite season in the islands. Fathers would teach their sons how to make kites and then go out on windy days and fly them together.
Kites were often made out of wooden shingles, twine, and tissue paper or news paper. Now, when your dad taught you to include what was known as a hummer or a singer and your baby was high above your head making sweet music, calling out to you sweetly above then wind. Man, then you was havin fun.
Now one of the standard designs for an island kite is the hexagonal kite. To build your singer, you could generally go one of two ways.
First let me say that the hexagonal kite of the islands is made by overlapping three sticks, say split shingles or bamboo, in the centre. Think of laying down an X with and extra stick crossing in the middle horizontally.
These are then lashed and glued together. A string is then run around the outside of the sticks. The paper is then cut a bit larger than the kite. Notches are cut out near the sticks and the paper flaps remaining are then folded over the string and pasted down. The paste is traditionally made from flour and water.
OK, back to the singer.
Making a singer, method one:
Leave the top section of the kite without paper. Now, in either method, the singer itself is the same. You make it by folding over some paper and snipping the edge. So, after you have left the top section without paper, you will have bare string across the top of your kite. Take some paper and cut two square pieces that when laid side by side are not as long as the bare string on the top of the kite. Fold each square in half and hang the folded pieces on the bare string. Paste the sides together in a manner that they can swing freely around the string and be sure and leave the bottom pieces of the paper not glued together. All you need is a thin line of paste near the string but not touching it. Now take scissors and fray the paper by making cuts from the bottom, free edges up to just before the glued section. Bam Sookie!
Making a singer, method two:
To do this, you make a slightly different kite design. You have two sticks longer than the third. You then have the two longer sticks poking up or down (take your pick) but tie the string around the edge of the kite and put the paper on the kite as if all the sticks were the same length. Now you tie another string at the ends of the sticks that poke out. Form your singers on this string as you did in method one.
So Jelli was sitting on the rainwater tank in the park, flying a kite that was humming sweetly to him as he watched Bruno rushing with the rest of the group. Now, although the kite was humming to him constantly, Jelli could not hear it except every once in a while. I doubt the kite has been made that could be heard above the sound of the junkanoo drums.
Bruno was rushing and beating his drum to this junkanoo rhythm. Each thump would hit him hard in the chest before passing through. All around him where cowbells, whistles and horns. It was a life changing experience.
Here is another secret for you. There is a small movement afoot to let non-Bahamians into the junkanoo lifestyle. Don't even think about it if the only TV show you have a chance of being featured on is "Lifestyles of the poor and unknown." No, if you're not a native and you want in on the lifestyle, you bess come loaded. You know those tourists taking those trips up to the space station? That kind of loaded and then some.
So come loaded, ask around. Don't bother asking those guys that I told you about in relation to the pegging though. If you are lucky, you may run into the right contact. One that will be able to hook you up. Come back in November, certainly by December. Spend your nights in the shack. Pasting, beating, blowing, shaking. Sleep and beach it in the day if you must.
Yeah, yeah. I know most of you big city types think you are experts at rushing, but down this way, we bring a whole nother meaning to rushing.
If you are lucky and show enough promise. You may get slipped into one of the big parades on Boxing Day or on New Years Day. The parades are at night though. Das we tings.
(2:15 pm Nov 06, 2005)
(6:25 pm Nov 06, 2005)
Superstar. "I am a Superstar. I am on top of things. I am succeeding beyond my wildest dreams. Stop, stop."
"What's wrong Beat? Come on, try again. "
"I just can't do this Jelli. I mean, I know I go over board sometimes, but I think I am too grounded in reality to talk to myself like this."
"What are you crazy? You are a superstar man. I saw you out there rushing today at the park man. There's nobody like you. I mean, these native boys beat a mean drum, but man Bruno, you are a beat man. I mean, open your eyes man. Look at yourself. Look in the mirror. You don't just have the beat, you are a beat. You, Bruno, are a superstar. And Bruno, you have grown since I first met you."
"Sure Jelli man, you have put on a few pounds too you know, no need to rub it in."
"No man, I mean, you used to just be a back beat. Now, you were one heck of a back beat, but that's what you were, pure and simple. A straight ahead, rock and roll, back beat. And back then you were great enough to change my life. Man I achieved resonance because of you. You are a superstar man. Look at you now. You have grown. You are so versatile man. What you did out there on the park today. man, I've never heard anything like it. I mean, that beat was solid. Pounding. Fantastic."
"Enough already Jelli. Tone it down before you swell my head."
"See, that's what I like about you Bruno. As great as you are, you're just a simple beat. Even when you are into complex rhythms, you are still a simple beat. Not everyone can pull that off."
"OK, so, not to be rude, but can you head out so I can get back to writing."
"Sure thing man, but do you have time to finish telling me about this ruse you are pulling this year?"
"OK, it may help me get back in the swing. Where was I?"
"You got up to telling me how you were writing a novel as zotz agian this year but that you were gonna be one of the main characters in this year's book. Man that is whacked."
"Jelli man, it get's better. In the novel that he is writing about me, he has me writing a novel for this year's nano."
"Wait, so you're writing a novel for nano as a guy who doesn't existand you are one of the main characters in in this guys novel and he has this character, you, writing a novel for nano. So, does he have you ,as his fictional character, signed up for nano yet? What is his word count and what is yours?"
"No, no, in the book, I am not signed up yet, I haven't decided if I will have him have me sign up soon, or at the last minute. Be does have me writing now though. Enough though, see ya later, I gotta get crackin."
(6:50 pm Nov 06, 2005)
Bruno sat down and started in on his novel again. He wondered when Jelli would be back to try and fill in the holes in the story he had told him. He hadn't told him anything wrong. He just hadn't told him all the twists and turns and Jelli had grown a hole lot more shrewd since they had first met all those years ago.
Skyrocket. Fireworks. Roman Candles. Fire Crackers. M80s. Pin Wheels. Sparklers.
A lot of skyrockets had been set off in the last week. A lot of dogs had bothered a lot of people during the same period.
It was not over yet either. More were going off as Bruno pursued his prose as it were. There was a bulldog barking in the backyard right now as a matter of fact. He considered going to the fridge and taking a swig of Mateus but thought better of it. It was hard to concentrate on his writing with all that barking going on. He would not get more writing done if he were to get half cut though.
Cang was safely back in Nassau, hiding out in the downstairs apartment of an old friends house. XXIII was there with him and the two of them were happy but concerned.
Bruddah Bing and Bruddah Boom were finally free, but hey were still stuck on Spanish Wells. They had freed themselves too late to catch a boat back to Nassau. Tomorrow would have to do. They thought of stealing one and trying to get back themselves, but neither of them was an accomplished seaman and they decided tomorrow would be soon enough.
(7:15 pm Nov 06, 2005)
(7:50 pm Nov 06, 2005)
They went over to the local club in the bush and watched from the shadows. They wanted to walk up and say hello, but something about the set up made them realize that this was an invitation only kind of deal. They did wonder how Cang had managed an invite though.
Cang was feeling a bit restless. He and XXIII went out on the patio and sat on the lay off chairs and looked up at the stars and listened to the waves breaking against the seawall. Every once in a while, a light mist from a bigger wave drifted down on the two of them.
They needed to go over what had happened but neither one of them felt up to it yet and so they lay there for a while longer. Soon though, they both started to feel a hunger. Just a normal ordinary hunger for food though. Don't go getting yourself primed for more kung fu action just yet.
One good thing about being in the Cable Beach area, there were a number of good eateries within easy walking distance.
They went to this nice place and got a great buffala cheese and tomato salad and a bottle of red wine.
Fantastic. Fabulous. Top notch. Top drawer. Great. Greater than great.
Frizzell searched for a word to describe what a great time he had had today, but, try as he might, none seemed to do his day justice.
To put it simply, he was in love. Well, the kind of love that characters in fiction seem to fall into at the drop of a hat anyway. He didn't know if it was true and lasting love, but he knew he was on cloud nine. He knew he had never felt this way before. Never been in love before.
Frizzell was a good looking curly tail. Up on Rose Island, lots of the girls had chased him around the beach. None of those small town girls had caught his fancy though.
Things were different here in the capital. These curly tail gals around here were almost another breed of gal. Stars burning bright in the firmament. And Felina, she stood out above all the others. The curve of her tail was captivating. Enchanting. She had curled it his way last night at the club and Frizzell was hooked.
All the other guys were trying to catch her eye. She ignores them all. Even ignores the King of the Mall.
Frizzell had charmed the club's owner, a nice looking young Brazillian lady into letting him play the guitar for dinner and drinks.
Frizz had played some calypso and some older rock and roll and a bit of clues. The crowds seemed to respond favourably, but Felina, try as he might, he could not catch her eye. Not until he had started in on some old country tunes.
When he started in on The Wabash Cannon Ball, Felina had started trying to catch his eye. Well, needless to say, she did not have a hard time catching it. He though once of trying to play cute, but immediately thought better of it.
Phenomenal. That's what she was. Phenomenal. That's how he felt. Phenomenal. That was his day. Phenomenal. That was his hope. Phenomenal. That was his dream.
(8:28 pm Nov 06, 2005)
Felina, for her part was enjoying her time with this yokel. He was so green it was delightful.
Bruno was stuck. Blocked if you will. The words were trying to imitate gunk. It almost seemed they were super glued to each other. He needed a new wrinkle. Smack. He hit his head on the table.
Well, that didn't help at all. They have a saying in the islands about certain medicines.
If it don't kill ya, it'll cure ya.
Bruno needed strong medicine to get out of his slump, but not that kind. Not the bush kind either.
I am writing my book at a fast pace.
I am writing my book at a fast pace.
I am writing my book at a fast pace.
STOP! This is not for me. I can't pull it off with a straight face. I gotta go out and get some fresh air and play some live music somewhere.
Ah, now there is a special word. A word of strange and wonderful power. Magnetic. Charismatic.
Bruno was walking down Bay Street, with each step, his funk lifted and his joy seeped back in. Before long, his walk had taken on a small bop even. He was light on his feet. He didn't want to make music tonight he realized. Not even live music. He wanted to dance all night to live music.
He wanted to mash a few roaches. he wanted to scull a few dingies. A little line dance perhaps. And if he could find the right someone, a slow merengue. Someone attractive. Someone whose rhythms synced well with his own natural rhythm. A little back beat merengue would suit him just fine tonight.
(8:58 pm Nov 06, 2005)
Felina was getting worried. She found herself more and more attracted to Frizz. She was even thinking of him as Frizz now and not as Frizzell or as that island yokel. This wouldn't do. Felina had big plans for her life and they didn't include getting entangled with some small town tail. No matter how attractive. No matter how funny. No matter how kind and polite. Big plans she didn't want to give up. Big plans she didn't want to put off.
The thing was, she was having fun. Great fun. Too much fun as a matter of fact. And so she was getting worried.
Frizz was having the time of his life. No really. He had never imagined meeting anyone like Felina. She was so much fun to be with it hurt. It hurt so sweet. It was delish. He was attracted to her in a way he could not describe. He felt like he was on top of the world. He felt like dancing all night. Dancing with Felina. Dancing in the dark. Dancing in the streets. Slow dancing. That sounded attractive. Come dancing. dance the night away. He felt like dancing to nine or more guitars. Dancing to a wall of sound even. To something with a beat.
Mona was in the club soaring when Bruno walked in. He heard her sweetness right away and looked around, but the place was crowded. There were gonna be a lot of people with attitudes at work tomorrow.
When Bruno got out on the dance floor, the energy level shot up from its already pegged levels. (Shhh. the pegging is going on out in the back. Wink. Wink.)
The place was jumping, but it smoothed out as well. The dancers became more graceful. The base and the drums hit a groove. I mean we are talking in the pocket here.
Melody knew something special was going on in the club tonight. Something special was taking place out on the dance floor. Something special was occurring up on stage where the band was playing better than she had ever heard them play before.
She took her game up a notch to match.
Bruno heard her again. He looked all around but could not find the source. The way she sounded inspired him though and he took his game up a notch to meet hers.
She found him. She came up from behind and put her hands over his eyes and sang. He turned around, looked her in the eyes. Took her in his arms. Dipped her.
They were dancing together in the centre of the floor when Frizzell and Feline walked into the club.
(9:40 pm Nov 06, 2005)