The rattlesnake game

One day a man walked in the saloon carrying a big glass jar with a live rattlesnake in it. He wanted to sell it. Frank says: “Hell, no, they see snakes soon enough.”

But the man kept arguing with him. He says: “It’s big money for you if you’ll buy it. Now I’ll bet the drinks for the house there ain’t a man here that can hold his finger on that glass and keep it there when the snake strikes.”

To show you what a bonehead I was, I took him up. It was thick glass and I knew damn well the snake couldn’t bite me, so I put my finger on it. The snake struck, and away come my finger. Igot mad and made up my mind I would hold my finger on that glass or bust. It cost me seventeen dollars before I quit, but since then I’ve never bucked the other fellow’s game and it has saved me a lot of money.

Frank bought the snake and he sure made money on it. It was lots of fun to get some sucker that thought he was long on nerve to go against it; no one ever could. But one night a bunch of cowboys came in and I knew some of them. They all tried the snake and failed, and one of them got mad and busted the glass with his sixshooter, and the snake got out and they had to kill it.

that from an excerpt from We Pointed Them North by E. C. Abbott, “Teddy Blue.” In his In A Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas Larry McMurtry says:

Anticipating a road trip to the northern plains I’ve been reading up. I’m good as long as I have a coming road trip to think about.


125,000 some people expected each day – would that make the concert and arts and unofficial fashion festival California’s 49th biggest city, somewhere ahead of Clovis and behind Pasadena? For two weekends anyway.

An “ARTIST A PASS” ticket costs $9,495 through a secondhand retailer.

Is it interesting that of the biggest acts at Coachella in 2023, several perform in a blended English/X language? Spanish for Bad Bunny, Korean for Blackpink? Are we evolving a new global pidgin of pop?

The Coachella event I would’ve most liked to have attended, even more than Beyoncé, might be AC/DC, 2015. When they played their first chord the ground was said to shake in the farthest parking lot. A feeling more body than sound. Felt in the bones.

Derbyshire peaks

huh, I don’t see it. will have to investigate in person some day. That from

and the photo is from Wikipedia, by Vincent.


surprised to find the word “wrongos” passed New Yorker copyedit. That from Margaret Talbot’s review of the new J. Edgar Hoover bio by Beverly Gage.

can’t lose

A senior administration official told me that Xi told President Biden at their summit in Bali in November, in essence: I will not be the president of China who loses Taiwan. If you force my hand, there will be war. You don’t understand how important this is to the Chinese people. You’re playing with fire.

This seems like the kind of thinking that got many US presidents into trouble? Truman losing China: did we ever have it? That from Thomas Friedman’s long thing in NYT, ht my dad.

“This is a dangerous situation. I strongly believe that Biden would like to stabilise the China relationship but both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have staked out a very strong line which complicates things for Biden. I have a concern that Congress is underestimating the relative power of China, the permanence of China, and China’s relationship with so many other countries.” 

Hank Paulson having lunch with Financial Times. Very strange end to that piece:

Another small-town truism: the bill is as modest as the portions were large. Paulson and I walk around the corner to a private parking lot where he left his car. It is no longer there. “I’ve been towed,” he says, with a hint of panic. “I didn’t expect that.” What can I do to help, I ask. “No, no, you must catch your flight,” he insists. I feel a twinge of guilt glancing back at a stranded Paulson as I am being driven off in my Uber. He will have to bail himself out. I feel partly responsible for his unexpected misfortune. 

That lunch at Ciao Baby! in Paulson’s hometown of Barrington, IL. Wikipedia learns us:

On November 27, 1934, a running gun battle between FBI agents and Public Enemy # 1Baby Face Nelson took place in Barrington, resulting in the deaths of Special AgentHerman “Ed” Hollis and Inspector Samuel P. Cowley. Nelson, though shot nine times, escaped the gunfight in Hollis’s car with his wife, Helen Gillis. Nelson succumbed from his wounds at approximately 8 p.m. that evening and was unceremoniously dumped near a cemetery in Niles Center (now Skokie), Illinois.

source on that photo.