Hammock Man with Uzi

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I’ve come home injured to Pineapple Hill, my beach house in a cow pasture in Jonesville, South Carolina, several times and, always, boredom gets the better of me. I recently found a bunch of home movies made a few years ago at about the time I began writing Blue Rubber Pool. In this one, I’m in a hammock reading Pablo Neruda with an Uzi resting on my lap. Why? I’ve no idea whatsoever. (Especially about that Uzi.) Thanks for looking. And not judging…

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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Was it live? Or was it Memorex?

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“My time in the pool that summer was a Big Chill meditation covering religion, politics, subversion, capitalism, marriage, Southern culture, angst and paranoia. When I finally got out of the water, I had this book, reflecting those and other issues, half written in my head. I wove it into a convoluted mystery to make it fun.”

BLUE RUBBER POOL

NOW AVAILABLE AT AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE and other booksellers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #252

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The companionway is open. The doors are swung open to rest against the cabin trunk like butterfly wings. We hold our camera angle close on the companionway itself, a dark gap like the entrance to a cave, while listening to Ray and the dishes and, now, two guys talking down below. The frame is suddenly filled: a blur, then a woman–buxom, blonde, late-forties–has walked into our shot. She stops on the dock and turns, calling back to one of the boats, speaking in German. That accent is the sexiest thing you’ve ever heard. Someone off camera replies, also in German but instead of soft and seductive it is male–guttural and growling–reminding you of Nazis in movies you’ve seen. You recall rumors of Hitler escaping to Argentina. Sightings of Der Fuhrer and his henchmen–or their offspring and ever loyal followers–still come out of South America from time to time. The woman exits the frame and continues down the dock, away from the other voice, heading to the laundry shack beside the small cabana.

Our shot, now free of the fraulein, is still frozen on the ketch as black smoke begins billowing out the companionway, becoming thicker and blacker as it does. Now a big ruckus: loud cursing, things clanking and thudding down below while the smoke still thickens.

One of the guys–yours truly, twenty some years ago–clamors out. He holds an iron skillet, using a tee shirt to protect his hand. The skillet, spitting flames, renders a Hiroshima mushroom cloud that reminds you of a skull and death. He tosses the whole deal overboard. This fine lad is the younger, handsomer, fitter, less cynical version of me. He is the Me that once wore a ponytail and Army fatigue pants cut off at the knees. He swears and flicks his hand in the air, trying to cool the burn. He sucks the wounded fingers then, right on cue, the second guy emerges with two cans of beer. Alaska is laughing his head off.

Younger me takes the can, pours beer on the burn, then drinks. Alaska taps his can against mine, still cracking up, then drinks.

“Wish you’d give up on that cooking-with-rum. You’ll burn us to the waterline.”

“Just trying to jazz things up. There’s only so many ways to eat beans and sardines.”

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #237

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[NOTE: This excerpt from Blue Rubber Pool comes from early in the book.]

Squinting in the fading light, I saw it: a big, black blob chewing on my precious banana trees again, the little patch I put in to feel at home while still homeless and scouting builders. This beast was not just an intruder, it was a connoisseur, having chosen musa bashoos from the mountains of Japan, a house warming gift from Alaska. I thought it interesting that a cow eating a banana tree sounds like I do eating celery. I enjoyed watching the big dumb beasts while they stayed in the neighbor’s field, just loafing. It relaxed me. Especially after a hard day at work, shouting into the S-Phone at some guy speeding across the desert, or at some guy shouting back under heavy fire in the jungle. Cows took the edge off the fact that good help had become hard to find, nobody willing to go out delivering duffel bags anymore.

But a cow on the loose in my yard–Scooby snacking on my plants–screamed out for countermeasures. But which ones?

I dialed in the colonel. He answered right away.

“Well, what kind of cow is it?”

“Black. Built like a tank. A boy, I suspect, stocky and close to the ground. And short tempered. Not particularly glad to meet outsiders.” Beyond that, I was clueless to the ways of cattle–I was an alien who landed amongst farmers, just there for the farmer’s daughter.

“Just shoot the damn thing and be done,” he advised. That was always the colonel’s “go to” Plan A.

“I don’t want to kill it. Just want to save my bananas.”

“Call in an air strike,” he added, screwing with me now. The colonel thinks he’s funny.

“Too over-the-top. I need a ground-level solution, something low key that won’t unnerve the natives.”

“Do you still have that cattle prod I gave you?”

“The one with the broken amperage adjuster? Yeah. How’s that guy doing anyway?”

“Never mind that. You’re sure you still have it?”

“Of course I do. But I don’t need intel. I just want the cow to go away.”

“Use the cattle prod.”

“Seriously, Colonel, what’s a friggin’ cow going to tell me?” I was on a roll. Too much bourbon, I guess. The thought of interrogating a cow still cracks me up. Who’d want to torture a cow? What’s next, waterboarding chickens?

I heard Colonel John calmly light a stogie, take a long draw, then chase it down with bourbon of his own. I could see him in my mind, shaking his head the way he does.

“Listen to me, son. Two words: cattle and prod. Do the math.”

After that, he was gone. A mirage again on the Money Trail.

Weird, I hadn’t made that connection about the prod, always assumed it was meant as a brand name–like Rhino brand truck bed liners, implying the product stands up to a rhino.

You wouldn’t actually put that on a rhino.

Hmmmm. Cattle plus prod.

Well, I’ll be damned.

Always thought it meant “More than you’ll ever need for reluctant villagers because it’s strong enough for a cow!”

Silly me.

# # #
Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Book Review: Gringos in Paradise

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The gates between the United States and Mexico open in both directions. People coming into the USA seeking a better quality of life meet people heading into Mexico seeking the same thing.

This summer, at the Pages on Pine used book store in Spartanburg I bought Barry Golson’s Gringos In Paradise because the sub-title—An American Couple Builds Their Retirement Dream House in a Seaside Village in Mexico—caught my attention. I was curious how their experience building in Mexico compared to what I went through  building in Jonesville, and whether or not they had done much document forging with “Gassoway Oil & Gas Co., 1924” embossing stamp like the one I still have it. They hadn’t, btw, but they had a few tricks of their own.

I enjoyed the book ‘s description of the Mexican people’s emphasis on family and friends, odd viewpoint on punctuality,  wide, near bi-polar swings between laid back and passionate moods. It did a nice job describing the handsome terrain and easy climate and the Mexican difference between corruption and “augmentation”. And, of course, it gave an eye-opening walk through on the hoops and ladders of getting a house on its feet.

The Golsons, in Mexico, had building codes while my builder never mentioned them  where I am. We both had house plans that began as rough sketches—theirs scratched in the dirt, mine on the back of a manila envelope—and both ditched the sketched in favor of actual professional drawn up plans due to not trusting sketches. And but neither their plan nor ours synced up with the concepts of budget and deadline.

Not wanting to give too much away I’ll just say that building a house is a totally crazy adventure whether in Spanish or English. Btw, both of us experienced it in both languages.

# # #

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Beat Andy Garcia Reading Neruda

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Can you beat Andy Garcia reading Neruda?

I’ve tried. But face planted. O yes I did.

A few years ago at Pineapple Hill—in my hammock recovering from an injury—I decided to read “The Morning Is Full out loud to a “dead” parrot then other Neruda poems to other things: an Uzi, a book of Nautical charts, a bag of frozen peas.

I cannot decide if this happened as a result of living in the boonies. Or if my move to the country was on account of things like this happening. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Yeah, seeing this years later makes me feel like an idiot. But what really sends me crawling under rocks Garcia’s reading of “Now I Can Write the Saddest Lines.”

My Neruda fail is here. Garcia’s triumph is here.

Now that you’ve see the competition, send me a YouTube video link leading to your very best shot at Neruda. Any selection you want. Really. Do it. Do it today!

But be warned: Neruda is not for lightweights. Try “Because Love Battles” sometime.

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Blue Rubber Pool Excerpt #89

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I’d been nineteen and staying–living, actually–at the YMCA in St. Petersburg, Florida. My dorm-style room had a linoleum floor, metal-framed bed, dresser, and nightstand. The nightstand had three drawers. In the top one, a Bible, King James Version. In the middle, old copies of National Geographic. In the bottom, nothing. Nothing at all.

The walls, bare but for a single picture of Jesus, were a blank canvas on which to dream, but when dreams ran out, they closed in tight. There was a radiator, a window, and a bare light bulb hung like an exclamation point, as if to say, “If you are here, you’re screwed!”

It was an old building with old rules posted on the door: No smoking. No alcohol. No drugs. No women.

Another rule, not posted, barred the restless bouncing of a tennis ball. “No playing catch with yourself.” I learned about that one a mere hour into my first night.

The Y was basically for sleeping and, when that became tiresome, dying. A place for old men and down-and-outers at the end of the line. At night, the geezers got up to pee and us young ones heard them trekking down corridors painted in cheap yellow light, heard them coughing, farting, flushing–paper rattling off the rolls, the bathroom door propped wide with a trash can–heard cheap rubber sandals flip-flopping back to bed, then heard them hacking up phlegm, moaning vague echoes, calling out from dreams–names, a wife, a daughter, a son. Noises you’d think the rules would not allow.

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Say Goodbye To Fish Sticks?

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Now they’re saying there’s not enough cod for fish sticks. Here’s a link to Tim McDonnell’s article on the New England’s cod fishery. You better pour some coffee first. Or something stronger.

Interested in books for the beach? check out some of Linda Greenlaw’s books Hungry Ocean, Lobster Chronicles, and Seaworthy. (You might remember her as the female sword fisherman portrayed in the movie The Perfect Storm.) She knows the industry and has a great writing voice to boot.

As for the fish skeleton wind vane photo, I hope it inspires a change in direction.

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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My Che Guevara Poem

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[Note: Che Guevara’s hands were severed from his body following his execution in 1969.
At this writing, their whereabouts remain unknown.]

 

 

The Hands Of Che     

Show us the hands of Che

separate from the body

because the face lies.

 

Make the beret go away

with its stupid star. Let the

faithful poor stay hopeful

loving the notion but loathing

the man.

 

Show us Che’s palms, up,

as in their promises of love,

and bread. Then show them

turn down, dropping the grains

to take up the gun.

 

Show them touching the mirror’s

mouth —Che’s lips curled into

the smile of war. Look closely:

How the vain executioner has

the eyes of a violent mind.

 

Yes, children of the hungry sun,

be angry and, yes, “Be Like Che”

the idea of Che, the compassion.

But see through the mask of

Ernesto that was placed there by

his hands.

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Hammock Man w/Optimum Sailboat book

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Another of my newly found “Hammock Man” You Tube videos. I was recovering from an injury and had nothing better to do. In this one I have a copy of my Optimum Sailboat book. Another for you to add to your great books for the beach and great books for the boat collections.
— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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Book Review: Time Bandit

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I just got out of the hammock having finished Time Bandit, the memoir of brothers Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand whose fishing vessel of the same name has taken them out into the Bering Sea and back—where they brave ice floes and heaving 60-foot waves, gusting winds of 80 miles per hour, unwieldy and unpredictable half-ton steel crab traps, and an injury rate of almost 100-percent in search of “the deadliest catch”: Alaskan king crabs and opilio crabs.

Add this one to your books for the beach and books for the boat shopping list.

What makes Time Bandit especially fun is that these two guys were waaaaaaaay crazy long before they came to own that famous boat of theirs. As young boys they went camping—sleeping by the shore eating crows (which, for all I know, may be the tastiest thing in the world, I’ve never tried it)—while at their feet were a type of mussel deemed tastiest in the world (but they didn’t know, having never tried it).

There were sword fights using garbage can lids for shields. Attempts to jump motorcycles over way to much –resulting in so many trips to the hospital for stitches that the doctor told their mother she’d save a lot of money learning how to do stitches herself.

I think my favorite story was from their childhood was the time a friend decided to become an astronaut by climbing into a metal garbage can while the two brothers lit the odd collection of combustible fluids and explosives underneath.

And not much changed as they got older. When not taking on near death experiences at sea, they faced them on land as well: lots of great bar brawls in this book including the time one of Jonathan’s uber hot girlfriends got her faced slammed into the bar by a biker, resulting in the biker being given a three-day coma by Jonathan.

Next time I’m fishing at the Jonesville Reservoir I’ll take along my copy of Time Bandit.

# # #

— Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

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Book Review: Wind From The Carolinas

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Another book review for my books for the beach and books for the boat recommendations…

Robert Wilder’s Wind from the Carolinas is one of my favorite books for the beach or boat. It’s one of Jimmy Buffet’s favorite books too. I read every other year or so and have several copies including one that lapped me around the pool a few times.

If you like historical fiction you’ll like this story of an aristocratic South Carolina family relocating to the Bahama Islands after ending up on the wrong side of the Revolutionary War. They went “lock, stock and barrel”–even dismantling their big plantation house brick-by-brick and shipping it out as ballast.

The plot unfolds with a fulfilling description of early life in the Caribbean then follows changes to island life through several generations.

There’s a love story in there too.

Bring a copy of Wind from the Carolinas along next time you’re under sail or heading to the coast.

# # #

–Tim Bryant
Author of Blue Rubber Pool
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill

 

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