Saturday, July 16, 2011

First-Class Education

President's Message

"I never let my schooling interfere with my education." -Mark Twain


I worried that post-Dinky turnout would be low, but yesterday reassured me that book discussion really is our top priority. That isn't to say that Scott's masterfully marinaded meat couldn't have drawn our most recent crew, but I got the feeling that the dudes present wanted to sink their teeth into a good story as well. Thanks to the Silvas for the use of their facilities and another flawlessly executed Dude Squad and Obscure Sports Society meeting. Businesswise, we, or I should say I, decreed that a dude must be present at the meeting immediately preceding the meeting for which he intends to sponsor a book. So this means that it's my turn next. Sweet.

We delved into the weighty themes of the novel right from the beginning and from there touched on some of our favorite parts and characters. The issue of justice as it pertains to personal revenge kept surfacing as did the movie Castaway. Many dudes expressed an interest in Edmund's unconventional education. I, too, am a fan of informal education. I always gain much from the Prawittian wit, or the Chattertonian memory for detail, or the Silvan insight, and so on. And to say more, you can't beat the tuition!

Next month's meeting will be at my place, 1190 Nacimiento Ave., Grover Beach, on August 19th at 8:00 or so. We will discuss The Things They Carried by Tim Obrien. Much thanks go out to those who attended on Aug. 15, 2011: John, Troy, Bret, Scott, Rob, Steve, Dave G, Richard, and Tyler.

Signing off for now,

El Presidente

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dinky Delivers

President's Message

I want to start this one off by extending a big thanks to Steve Hamilton, Leo Bunting and Richard Norman whose combined efforts made this past weekend one to remember. Kicking off the DS festivities on Friday night, Steve was able not only to coax Trevor to comment but also to lure a huge colorful moth to join in. We concluded, after analyzing Job's life, that we may have to go through hell to get to heaven; someone said we may have to make an Abrahamic leap of faith. I'm inclined to hope its all going to be Polish sausage and sauerkraut from here on out, but I've been wrong before.

And that brings me to the Dinky Dinner. We had a tremendous turnout of Dude Squad and kin, great conversation, a royal wedding, scaffolding and a fire for the kids, and a great story shared before we ate. I don't think it could have gone better. We learned that all we have to do to get Jeff Stasell out to an event is raise a pig, slaughter it, store the meat, cook it in a pit, and then organize a little Saturday bash. If only we'd known! All in all, I think everyone had a positive experience and of course, DINKY WAS DELICIOUS! Thank you to everyone who contributed to a great Dude Squad social. We hope to have more in the future.

Now, to clear some confusion and dispel the rumors: I told Scott Silva that he could take my book selection spot after David because I wanted to go in August because my dad will be there then. When David asked for another month, Scott got bumped up to next in line. So my scheming and calculating have gotten us out of order. So to those founding DS members who have been waiting so patiently for your turn, I will make it up to you somehow, someday. Well, Jim, Trevor, Rob, Leo, Billy, Steve, Dave, and Richard, the guys who showed on Friday, I want to thank you for your contributions to the discussion. You are the dudes who ultimately make the difference that makes a difference. So whether you act as Grand Poobah of the railway or fight on the front lines in the war against gingivitis, I salute you.


El Presidente

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Heroes and Ham

President's Message

"The sword glitters not because the swordsman set out to make it glitter but because he is fighting for his life and therefore moving it very quickly." -C.S. Lewis


I have to confess, a bit sheepishly, that I did not read the book. My first few attempts to find it failed and the next thing I knew I was in Don's kitchen, eating his chili and wondering if he could tell. In retrospect, though, I picked up on a few things I might otherwise have missed since I was only listening and not preparing to speak (I learned this from Trevor). I noticed an enthusiasm for war stories, war history and any story that involved heroism. We talked about guys with Congressional Medals of Honor and Purple Hearts in shoe boxes. I liked the one about the guy covered in shrapnel wounds who carried a buddy over his shoulder as flames were licking his rear end who does not have a Medal of Honor to put in a box. So what do we gain from these stories? Is it a sense of appreciation, gratitude, admiration? Maybe. But maybe we also feel that we are the heroes of our own stories, that valor means something on our own battlefields, and that there are people who need us to go above and beyond the call of duty. I've heard it said that every man believes he is a hero on some level. Maybe that. Or maybe its just fun to get together with some sympathetic dudes and chew the proverbial fat. Either way I'm glad I went.

On the news front, Deep-pit Dinky will soon fulfill the measure of his creation. On Tuesday, the 29th of March, I plan to go with Richard to witness his last moments as honorary Dude Squad member. We plan to serve him up hot at Leo's on the 30th of April around 4 or so. Families are invited and buy-in is $20. Hope to see you all there. Also, the night before, we will be discussing Steve Hamilton's book Michael's Reward by Mario Bernheim, a modern take on the Book of Job. I figure if I can't find this one, at least I know where to find Job.

Gentlemen, its been a pleasure.


P.S. I should mention those in attendance for our March 2011 meeting. Don, Billy, Scott, Steve, Tyler, Dave G., David R., Richard, Leo, Jim and John.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Pure Gold

President's Message


Once again the universe has conspired in our favor to bring to pass a legendary Dude Squad event. Call it karma, call it beginner's luck, call it what you will, Rob put together a great meeting and also redefined the meaning of soup to man. Getting underway with a salute to the author, literary alchemist Paulo Coelho, we embarked on a grand tour of the book's many treasures. Thankfully, a stop in Cairo wouldn't be necessary for our journey.

We talked about freedom and fate, risk and respectability, talents and creativity and what it means to seek one's own personal legend. One concern was how to square our own search for personal fulfillment with our duties as husbands and fathers. Another concern was how to get Trevor to speak at a DS meeting. We mentioned the allegorical richness of the book and seemed to agree that any attempt by Hollywood to retell it would be to bastardize it completely.

We witnessed a resurgence of Leo's Audio Books as copies of Don's book for our next meeting, The Forgotten 500 by Gregory A. Freeman, started circulating. Unofficially, we will try to announce each book a month early so as to keep Leo gainfully employed. I'd like to recognize the 12 stalwart knights of the Dude Squad who attended Rob's meeting: Rob, Tyler, Leo, Jim, Trevor, Troy, David R., Don, Steve, Richard, Scott, and David G. I think we all left Rob's place feeling a little more enthusiastic about life. And that's the point.

Gentlemen, don't be afraid to disappoint me.

El Presidente

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spies Like Us

President's Message


The first thing you should know is that the proceedings of Thursday's meeting are confidential. The conspiracy theorists among you should turn yourselves in. We will be monitoring you all for suspicious behavior and unpatriotic speech; we know where you live.

Thanks to Jim who spearheaded the operation as well as Trevor who provided a swanky venue worthy of Bond himself. Our discussion of The Train to Potevka touched on issues of morality as we grappled with the question of whether spy work is inherently out of harmony with moral principles since it involves so much deception. We concluded that spy work, albeit deceptive, is so for a higher purpose and is therefore ethically sound. We heard the strange tale of the high-security cemetery near Pt. Sal and wondered what the government could be hiding. We indulged in a little eschatalogical chit-chat expoudng wars and rumors of wars. Finally, we pounded some root beer floats, played a little ping-pong and gazed at the moonlit belly of the ocean. Not bad for a bunch of dudes on a Thurday night.

Of course we also saw stock in Leo's Audio Books fall dramatically as Rob unveiled his choice for next month, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, during the meeting-- (which is completely within Dude Squad rules and regulations). We will meet at Rob Chatterton's place next month. I should mention for the record all who attended: Don Zimmerman, John Larsen, Richard Norman, Jim Sparks, Leo Bunting, Scott Silva, Trevor Beck, Steve Hamilton, David Radmacher, Ivan Rootsky, and David Greenal. Also, Don Zimmerman requested a directory of everyones' name, cell phone and email, occupation, social security number, and bank account numbers. I think it is great idea. Send me your info and I'll put together an official Dude Squad directory.

Comrades, this message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Comrade Ivan Rootsky

Monday, December 13, 2010

Welcome to the Jungle

President's Message

How is it that a group of dudes wearing the latest in festive sweater fashions can gather around a ping pong table in a garage and solve the world's problems in two hours while the "best minds" wearing expensive suits can't even balance a budget? Hats off to John Larsen and Dave Greenall and the assorted potluckers who contributed to the gathering on Dec. 8. The slow start made me think that dudes were boycotting the festive sweater look as though I had breached some unspoken rule of manliness with the request. But when the Dentists Three (I'm including Tyler in there) arrived with glittery trim, velcro buttons and silver reindeer, I breathed a sigh of relief. And when Brent arrived exuding the spirit of Kwanzaa, I knew we were headed somewhere special.

We dove right into our discussion of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Interestingly, the book was given a thumbs down by most on account of its unrelenting bleakness and yet it spurred one of the most engaging discussisons we've had (in my opion, of course). We talked about freedom, dignity, morality, propaganda, and rats. We rode the requisite capitalism vs. socialism see-saw and discussed the benefits and responsibilities of living in a free and democratic system. We mentioned our need for heroes in literature and the frustrations that come when a protagonist's freedom is sacrificed for polical purposes. In all, I'd say we have it figured out; I'll be sending the minutes of our meeting to President Obama along with a sweater with velcro buttons.

A very Merry Christmas goes out to all who attended (as well as all those dudes reading this whose wives had chores for them that night): Jim, Robert, Richard, Billy, John, Trevor, Brent, Rob, Tyler, and Dave . Next month we will discuss A Train to Potevka by Mike Ramsdell, a true account of an American spy in Soviet Russia. Details of time and place will be released soon. Thank you for your efforts, gentlemen, may you more fully enjoy your holiday meals in light of all you now know.


El Presidente

Sunday, November 7, 2010

David's Inferno

President's Message

Greetings, dudes! Another Dude Squad meeting has come and gone and as usual, it was a runaway success. Choosing a bold new venue, Dave Greenall decked out the ol' garage with ping pong equipment, a Foosball table and some diabolically tasty finger foods. The fourteen dudes lining the perimeter couldn't have been more at home. Businesswise, we discussed the upcoming pig roast and were honored by the appearance of Dinky the Pig who will be the roastee. I've decided to make him an honorary member of the Dude Squad until we eat him. Also, for our December meeting, we will all be sporting our finest festive holiday sweaters. This is not negotiable. Remember, the louder and more obnoxious the better.

Discussion of Dave's selection, The Screwtape Letters was insightful and thought provoking. We touched on unselfishness, love, prayer, faith, accepting God's will, hidden blessings of faith, the faith of children and why it's a bad idea to marry a crazy woman. We mentioned Lewis's conversion to Christianity and his extraordinary appeal to Latter-day Saints. I believe all who were present and paying attention were edified.

We had a couple of rookies in our midst. Rob Chatterton, who used to jam with my garage band occasionally back in high school in Boise, Idaho, is moving to the area and has shown interest in the Dude Squad. Similarly, David Radmacher, a long lost friend of Tyler Wilson's, attended and contributed some great insights. It is indeed a small world.

Gentlemen, I'd like to thank all who attended Dave's meeting. Keep up the good work: Scott, Dave G, Sam, Rob, Trevor, Leo, Jim, Billy, Bret, Richard, Brent, John L, Tyler, and David R. Next month we will be reading John Larsen's selection The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Meeting place and time will be announced soon.

P.S. I'm looking forward to the sweaters next month, especially Bret's.


El Presidente