Jesse Gall

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Trip, A Break, A Narrative To Come

In Uncategorized on June 27, 2011 at 11:18 am

In the next few days, you might notice a marked decline in content for The Mended Blend. Never fear, we’re not breaking up. I’m just moving on to bigger and different cities: Brentwood, Franklin, and Nashville! I’m going out for a few days and when I come back, I hope you’re primed and prepped for a sprawling narrative of cultural differences.

I’m sure I will have a lot to say when I come back to you, my faithful readers, considering that I have a four hour drive to allow my brainstorming neurons to fire.

Until the end, the Mended Blend.

I Checked Again, I’m Definitely Still In The South

In Humor, The South, Uncategorized on June 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Due to popular demand and a never ending supply of material, I have decided to continue the “Definitely In The South” series on an irregular yet consistent basis, diligently cataloguing the southern lifestyle in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville . Basically, I’m gunna write ya’ll when I find some thingie er place that makes me hoot and holler like I just sat my behind down on a pile of those firey ants, tell you what. Bless your heart if you can’t read that.

So here are some more southern quirks that make this place what it is.

The Phrase “Bless Your Heart” Now as any good southerner knows, this phrase gets used as much as butter in these parts. At its best, it can make you feel like you’ve bested some moiling and herculean task: “Oh look at that, he’s carrying all those groceries for his momma, bless his heart.” Strangely though, if attached to the end of an insult and complimented with a big smile-and-nod, the blow of the insult is significantly softened. “You are so ugly, bless your heart!” What? Southerners are just nicer!

Life Stories There is no filter of waspish proportions in this part of the country. No, no. The best filter you’ll find between the brain and mouth of most people from East Tennessee is single ply toilet paper. You might get a coffee filter if it’s really early in the morning, but that’s just because the hangover hasn’t been shaken off yet. I sat down at Olive Garden last night and met four people while eating dinner! Now, when I say “met” I don’t mean that I remember their names, I mean that I remember their children’s names, from their first marriage (which lasted 22 years) with Harold, the balding emotional idiot/insurance agent who never properly communicated his feelings.

Southerns have a long tradition of talking your ear off, which I think might be the direct result of one factor: Porches. It goes like this: God, Family, Dog, Porch Time. Look at the facts, the weather here is nicer for longer, southerners actually own land they can look out over, and this is a group of people that historically loves nothing more than being outside.  So, since only a few people put TVs on their porches, southerners just get a lot of practice talking. It makes sense in a cultural evolutionary kind of way. The nice backhand side to this characteristic? They have just as much practice listening.

Well that’s it for now. But never fear, there might be more material here than calories in Dollywood’s cinnamon bread. You haven’t had any?! Oh, bless your heart.

Until the end, the Mended Blend.

Fireflies Like Flashbulbs Part One

In Humor, Local, The Mountains, Uncategorized on June 13, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I did it. I finally did it. Nature opened her doors to me and through the lens of the synchronous firefly Photinus carolinus she showed me a light show reminiscent the night scenes in James Cameron’s Avatar. Three days of failed efforts have paid off, as every piece finally fell into perfectly in place. Not to say it didn’t take some effort and take some time.

Arriving around four o’clock, we camped out and played cards, chasing shade for four hours in the parking lot of the Sugarlands Visitor Center before the trolleys finally started to roll in around 6:45. Hundreds of people began to fall into line as the six brown and red trolleys puttered in to take us away to the Elkmont area inside the Smoky Mountains National Park.

Packed like a New York subway car, the trolley snaked through the mountains for ten minutes before arriving at 555 Middle Of Nowhere Drive. You’ll know you’re there when a park ranger sitting at a folding table hands you a piece of red cellophane to tape over your flashlight. Why red cellophane you ask? The fireflies prefer mood lighting for their mating dance? No. Apparently, fireflies hate white light and  I can’t blame them because, quite frankly, I did too. It kills visibility and completely impairs anyone’s ability to see these finicky flies of fire! I, like a smart person, chose to forget my flashlight in the car. Others could learn from me. More on the evil flashlight-holders later.

Our fancy cooler rolling behind us like a piece of airport luggage, the four of us moved on down what I would call a slightly paved path. What I mean by “slightly paved” is that I’m very sure this particular path was paved at least once. Probably around the same time pavement was invented. Needless to say, our fancy cooler had become difficult to roll.

I digress. So I throw the obnoxiously bulky cooler over my shoulder and the four of us continued on, pushing forth into the forrest just as the sun began to give it’s first appearances at setting. It had started to fade, the light. But the electricity still roared. On the left, giant trees and a rushing river, quick with punchy little rapids and huge rocks undressed by a shallow tide. The water had fallen miles and miles away on a mountain somewhere, probably yesterday.

On the right of the path, the forrest extended into a green darkness as far as the eye could see. A horizon made completely of vegetation, a wall of ferns and weeds and flowers and trees formed with force, a forrest so complete it only broke to reveal the few  rundown tucked away private residences that rest here. They were dirty and haunched places, no regard for cosmetic considerations. I almost judged these dirty houses. I almost judged these people for how they live among the fireflies. What a thought.

TO BE CONTINUED

Until the end, the Mended Blend