Monday, February 02, 2015


Well, folks, here we are, Feb 2, 2015, and our first Groundhog Day without Doc.  As you probably know, G.D. was one of his favourite days, one in which he routinely took off of work to celebrate, and for which there have been more than one gala party and grand event to honour.

May I suggest then, that we raise a glass and we re-read his previous thoughts on th' subject??  Of those posts I found where Doc specifically spoke about this holiday, I find these two that I feel are worthy of reposting:

Have You Made Plans for the Biggest Day of th' Year?

and th' inevitable Post-Groundhog Day Lament.

Stay well; keep warm.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Happy Birthday, Doc...!!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Shawn "Doc" Shaw
November 1, 1971 --to-- June 12, 2014

Doc is the owner and operator of the Western Biological Laboratory. Doc is rather small, deceptively small, for he is wiry and very strong and when passionate anger comes on him he can be very fierce. He wears a beard and his face is half Christ and half satyr and his face tells the truth. It is said that he has helped many a girl out of one trouble and into another. Doc has the hands of a brain surgeon, and a cool warm mind. Doc tips his hat to dogs as he drives by and the dogs look up and smile at him. He can kill anything for need but he could not even hurt a feeling for pleasure. He has one great fear—that of getting his head wet, so that summer or winter he ordinarily wears a rain hat. He will wade in a tide pool up to the chest without feeling damp, but a drop of rain water on his head makes him panicky. 

 Over a period of years Doc dug himself into Cannery Row to an extent not even he suspected. He became the fountain of philosophy and science and art. In the laboratory the girls from Dora’s heard the Plain Songs and Gregorian music for the first time. Lee Chong listened while Li Po was read to him in English. Henri the painter heard for the first time the Book of the Dead and was so moved that he changed his medium. Henri had been painting with glue, iron rust, and colored chicken feathers but he changed and his next four paintings were done entirely with different kinds of nutshells. Doc would listen to any kind of nonsense and change it for you to a kind of wisdom. His mind had no horizon—and his sympathy had no warp. He could talk to children, telling them very profound things so that they understood. He lived in a world of wonders, of excitement. He was concupiscent as a rabbit and gentle as hell. 

 Everyone who knew him was indebted to him. And everyone who thought of him thought next, “I really must do something nice for Doc.”

 ---John Steinbeck Cannery Row

Friends, th' man is gone.  Sometime in th' afternoon of Thursday, 6/12, Doc Shaw took his own life and left us to carry on, somehow.

Oh, Discordia.

Doc was a grand raconteur, historian, outdoorsman, storyteller and bullshitter.  Just like Steinbeck's real-life good friend, Ed Ricketts, Shawn could take any sort of nonsense you could toss into his lap, roll it 'round in his hands a lil' bit, and change it for you into a kind of wisdom, and I have seen him wave to little children and tip one of his many hats to passing dogs (who, in turn, would give him an energetic wag, big grins on their face).  I will miss him terribly.

you can find his obit and Guest Book HERE

there was a time when I thought I had it more-or-less altogether, and thought I knew what to say in moments like these.  Thought that I could stand up, hold high a glass and spin out gossamer threads of wisdom, words woven together in such a way so as to wrap us all up in a collective blanket of warmth and comfort against th' chill caused by th' sudden exit of a great person.  But I suppose I've grown wiser in those intervening years, and have learned that I don't always know what to say, and what's more important, sometimes true wisdom lies in not saying much of anything, but instead sitting back and listening to everyone else.  I've tried to think of something brilliant, poetic and witty to say as a final tribute to my friend, something HE might have said, and I'm not sure that I can; I'm feeling rather raw, as if all my nerves have been sandpapered with 220 grit.

Doc has left us a great deal of writing here in Social Zymurgy-- a blog that I am happy to say that I originally created and then turned over to him when I found myself writing 5 blogs and spending more time scribbling nonesuch than in doing real-world work, and took that proverbial literary ball from me and ran straight into th' endzone o'er and o'er again-- and quite a lot of it is genuinely funny.  For a spell, he took to making video recordings which are well worth watching, but I don't think I'm tellin' secrets when I say that he was a man who was also full of pain.  Pain that, I think, he eventually couldn't stand anymore and took th' only, final cure he could think of.  I remember one time, several years ago, he and I got to talking on th' topic of life, death and suicide, and he said that he frequently would wake up in th' AM and ask himself, "is today The Day?", and contemplate his end.  June 12th, was his day, then.  

We are here to drink beer.  We are here to kill war.  We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us.

---Charles Bukowski

 Did Death indeed tremble?  It pleases me to think so, to think of that hooded spectre momentarily rubbing his chin with a bony hand, perhaps thinking I'm not so sure 'bout this one, before doing th' job he has been appointed, and releasing Doc's soul up and into the Light, but who are we to know?  There are some 7.2 billion folken on earth as I write this, and he's no doubt a busy, busy man, but I'd like to think that there was at least a moment when Death paused and thought, I hate to do this, there's so much more you can do, but I suppose in th' end this wasn't his decision.  ...And perhaps that's where th' real trouble lies, but maybe that's a story for another hour...

In the end, there is a great hole in th' world, a giant void that will not soon be filled in, and we shall feel many things about this place where Doc used to be, and some of us shall feel this new vacuum more than others, and that is as it shall be.  I feel it most when I think to th' future, and realize that there shall be no more:  no more stories told 'round th' fire, no more new flax-golden tales to be spun, no more bursts of laughter, no more comfortable silences to be still in while we sit and think of what was just said.  I am glad that he's recorded many of his (and other's) tales for us here and on YouTube.  I'm glad he's left us some touchstones of who he was in this life so that we may look back in fondness, and he may live on into th' future.

I grieve for th' holes he's left for his friends and his children, and I wish there was something more I could've done, some little thing that might have turned him away from this decision.  But at th' same time, I know he himself wouldn't want us to be sad for long.  I think he would want us to know that he is free from pain and likely feels better than he has in a long time, and that, in time, we'll all get th' chance to see him again.

Goodbye, my friend.  I love you like my brother.  Rest well.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

With Boots On...

"A man with forty acres plowed and planted
Can't send no fourteen year-old boy to no school.
The only thing I learned in the years I worked on my daddy's farm
Was, "Son, you better get them crops in when it turns cool."

In the magazines, I saw the naked women.
I heard about the drinkin' and the bars.
If my daddy could've caught me, he'd a-killed me.
He said, "You might run, boy, but you ain't gonna get far."

I hit town or you might say that it hit me.
Next mornin' there were things I knew more about.

The woman who had taken me in said, "Country boy, you're all right."
The same way I turned her on, she turned me out.
The first law I broke, right away they got me.
I helped them build the country roads for awhile.
They fed me two times a day and knocked me down about four.
For thirty days I didn't even crack a smile.

I met a nice girl and she said I was her baby.
She let me go and would never tell me why.
I learned what it means to be somebody's baby.
They let you lie in your bed by yourself and cry.

The miles were good but the mileage is turnin' my hair gray.
I've met some people that knew me and call me friend.
Ain't no sense in wantin' my life to live over.
I'd find different ways to make those mistakes again.

So let me say this, I never tried to hurt anybody.
Though I guess there's a few that I still couldn't look in the eye.
If I've got one wish, I hope it rains at my funeral.
For once, I'd like to be the only one dry." Tom T. Hall

I, Shawn Homer Shaw, being of unsound mind and of weak body, do decree and declare this to be my final will and testament. Riley gets the Jeep. Lucy gets my swords and the two acres in the country. Eion gets all of my camping gear and canoe, as well as all my firearms. Elizabeth gets my bowler hat and Scotland gets first pick of my books. Everything else goes to Jenny.

Best of luck to you all, and my Providence protect and keep you all.


Monday, June 09, 2014

Lucy has a Question

The other night Lucy and I are snuggled in bed on the porch. We talk in hushed tones as we listen to the night noises. Riley has already toddled of to bed, as well as the rest of the house, except the cats who keep strange hours.

The crickets sang and I told her how much I had missed being out in the country. "I could never get used to town," I explained, "All the people and the traffic." I told her how uncomfortable it always made me feel living in a land of blacktop and concrete, where you couldn't see the stars. I told her about the birds I watched catching their breakfast of worms from the yard.

They would glide down from the powerlines and look around, peck at the ground once or twice, then look around again, always on the watch for predators. Then, low and behold, in a single peck, they would produce an earthworm of prodigious size that hung from their beak like an enormous walrus mustache. Then the bird would drop the worm as if it didn't really want it.

It would look around a bit more, then return to it's pecking. After repeating this over and over, it would clasp half of the worm in it's beak as if it had it's mustache shorn for church on Sunday, then fly off to enjoy it's meal. A little later, it would return for the other half.

I told her about the wind off the lake that smelled like morning dew and wet leaves. I told her about the biggest, fattest groundhog I have ever seen that the cat had followed through the yard. The cat had no idea what to make of it and the groundhog ignored his sniffing at his tail as if he were no more than a passing bug. I swore to her how the 'hog had been as big as a collie dog and must have been three feet tall as he stood on his haunches to smell the air.

"I've lived in Columbus, Cleveland, and Canton and I never felt at home in any of those places. The people live on top of each other and the only tree you ever see is some decorative bush that looked like it didn't belong. The only bird you ever saw was a pigeon, and even the sparrows looked sad to be there." I sighed.

Lucy snuggled a little closer and adjusted her night-blanky, then we talked about the seasons and what we liked best about them. "I like Spring," she said matter-of-factly, "because I like to hear the rain at night when I fall asleep. I like Fall because of all the golden colors, and Winter because the snow makes everything beautiful."

Neither one of us was crazy about Summer, as it was too hot and the bugs bit, but it was good for camping and swimming.

I pulled her a little closer and said how glad I was to see her. She laid her head on my chest and we breathed in the night air.

Then she sat up and looked at me, "Do you feel that this has brought out your Inner-Hillbilly?"

I suppose it has.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

At Face Value, I'm Worth Thirty-Eight Cents

Yesterday, I ran out of beer and smokes. I have been staying with my buddy Eion while the divorce goes through and Buckeye Lake is a summer bedroom community with lots of bars and not much else. There is however a local shop called The Village Pantry. They have snacks, bread, milk, and canned goods, and an extensive selection of beer.

Perfect for my shopping needs.

I had just gotten out of the shower and dressed in my most casual of clothing when I realized the shortage in the house. The word "Poop" crossed my my mind as I surveyed my stock. I was forced to leave the house for some of the essentials.

So off I went.

The store is two streets over but I chose to drive as I didn't want to spoil the hot shower I just emerged from. I went in and selected my beer of choice and ambled to the counter. The gentleman behind the counter was gray-haired, fiftyish, and wore a black Trilby hat and a loud Hawaiian shirt with pineapples.

"Will that be all?" he asked.

"A pack of lights please," I responded

He rang it up and it was more than I had in my pocket. My wallet was at home in the pants I took off for the shower.

"I need the smokes more than the beer," I said, "just let me have those."


I had six bucks. Four in bills and two in quarters.

"Forget it," he said and shoved the till shut, and handed me my smokes.



I drove home under a black cloud. Here was an honest merchant that I had short-changed. I felt like even more of an Asshole than I already did.

I went home and had a cigarette, and turned around and went back after counting out thirty-eight cents out of my change.

He was surprised to see me again.

"I know they count the drawer at night and I would hate for you to come up short. Here," I said.

I didn't know he was the owner.

He and I stood and talked for a half an hour. He told me how he lived next door and bought the place from an old man twenty years ago.

"I don't mind if you are a little short," he swore,"but please don't steal! I had one of my regulars in the other day and he shoved a ham sandwich down his two-year old's diaper because he didn't have the money to feed the kids."

"I gave him the sandwich," he concluded.

"I'll take that beer now," and whipped out my card, "and I won't shop anywhere else!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Farewell Remarks

My wife has sent divorce papers to a place I no longer work for. I have a few T-shirts and some clean underwear. Other than that, I'm Fucked.

I hope that everything in your life that could possibly turn out well, does. You win the lottery, have a nice house on the beach, and shoes that fit just right.

Me, I'm waiting for the sun to rise. Today couldn't have sucked any worse. I have cried until I have run out of tears. I have nothing and no one. Period.

May you never know debt or loneliness.

For me, I'm had.

I wish you well.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

I have It On Good Authority, I should just bugger off...

It has been suggested, by several people as of late, that I bugger off.

I hate to listen to the negative press, but the people will have their will.

I promise to no longer break wind in an elevator, no matter how far it is going up.

I promise to only eat animals that have lost the will to live. Cows, sheep, etc.

I will pray unceasingly for those who have sinned against the God they believe in.

I will eat rice. (Always good to establish an achievable goal)

I will NOT use the Lord's Name in Vain unless truly invoked against A FUCKER of the first order. Nazis, and Slavers come under this heading.

I will never knock ice cream.

Truth be told, I have had one of the worst days of my life. The last time this happened, I broke my leg. This time around...I won't.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dear Dad...

Dear Dad,
I know that you and Mom are enjoying the great beyond and having lemonade under a shade tree, but I felt obliged to tell you some news.

The child of mine that I named after you has discovered the khaki shirts you left behind that I have saved for 17 years. She swears she will wear nothing else. She loves the color and the tailored fit. She tried on your boots but she hasn't quite grown in to them yet.

You and Mom would be proud, as she has become quite the young lady. Say Hello to George Washington for me.

Your loving son,

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Why I Am Spending $179.97 On A New Career

I am by nature a catalog reader. I can spend endless hours perusing things I will never purchase just for the sake of "looking things over" for when I do decide to buy something. Be it a new pair of shoes, a sweater, or reproduction of a Vietnamese tomahawk, I have a fair idea of my options and prices. One of the catalogs I get comes from an outfit called the Sportsman's Guide and it is chock full of stuff you wouldn't find most anywhere else.

For example, in my most recent edition of the military surplus catalog, I find on page eleven a gently used German military police riot set, complete with jacket, pants, and flak vest, all with polmer shields that slid neatly into shin, elbow, shoulder, neck and groin pockets. Everything is rubberized and the gauntlets have metal reinforcements. As far as this sort of thing goes, it's a nice set if you are looking for that sort of thing.

Then I got to wondering, who would need this sort of thing? I had a cup of coffee and a smoke and I thought it over. In my mind, there was only one sort of person who would want such a thing. An entrepenuer. Someone who courted danger in the vain hopes of making a buck. In short, a rotten fruit saleman.

A guy who would travel to any large gathering of people and set up a small stand at the fringes of the crowd. He would be clad in riot gear and have bushel baskets of rotten fruit, scythes, pitchforks, and torches. He would be the one guy who would be prepared in case a mob broke out. Political rallies of any kind would be his bread and butter.

Of course everything he sold would come with a signed disclaimer absolving him of any blame so that no lawyer had to have his ass, so to speak.


Friday, November 22, 2013

The Most Powerful Word In The English Language Slathered In Mustard

Today I rediscovered a few things. Nothing too breath taking so there is no need of copying and pasteing any of the following. For an extend amount of time in my life I considered the most powerful word in the English language to be YES. Mind you, English is a second language for me as I was raised in a household that only spoke Appalachian and I've found that leaves me at some disadvantage with those who have had a lifelong exposure to it. Nonetheless, I've noticed that the most pointed of questions are YES or NO ones but no one ever answers YES or NO, not unless there is a box to check mark next to them. The answer is always Yeah or Naw, or occasionally Nope.

I rediscovered Yeah when I sat down to watch a Eurymics concert that I recorded off of VH1 about ten years ago. It turns out that Annie Lennox can make Yeah into a whole new word, replete with all the gusto of a punch in the face. I'm sure there are those who would disagree but their opinions will not be presented here.

It turns out that Yeah is the ideal word for me right now.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What's for dinner?

I tell the kids they're making dinner. Riley says "Hope you like Ramen noodles." she heads to the kitchen. Lucy picks up ball bat, "How does sister sound?"

"Gamy" I reply.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


I have been bothered as of late. Well, not bothered as such, nor if I was honest, as of late. I am not myself and I haven't been for some time. I can't quit thinking about love. Anytime I'm not concentrating on the job at hand or there isn't some other pressing matter (e.g. going to the bathroom, eating, extinguishing a small kitchen fire, etc.) I find myself thinking about love. The music at work is no help. Without exception, almost every song is about finding or losing love. There is one that complains of buying something that the singer can't afford but it is under the assumption that this is for a loved one and not for himself. Regardless, I am surrounded by other peoples loves and I find it more than a little disconcerting.

Not too long ago I overheard my boss describe in detail the way she delivered oral sex to her husband and how he described it as "okay, but not the best he had ever had". In no way did I ever want to picture my boss in such a manner. When we were alone, I explained how he lied about that and other things too. It was his idea of a pep talk I explained. She gave me a quizzical look and left it at that. I felt fortunate.

It isn't this kind of love that I keep thinking about. I keep thinking of my wife. I'm sure lots of husbands, when pressed, give this same answer, but not me. My thoughts wander to her at all hours of the day and night. I wonder about her day and the particulars of what happened. I wonder about her mood and influences. I'm curious if her lunch was any good or if traffic was a problem to and from work. I worry.

Not too very long ago, we went through a bad patch and she suggested that we get a divorce. I was devastated. She broke my heart. I have never been more hurt in my existence. I was crushed. We worked things out and get along just fine now but I can't seem to lose the feeling that at any time I'm going to be booted out the door. It is a palpable fear I can't put to rest.

She means everything to me. She is the one who taught me what love was. I would be lost without her, but I can't quit thinking of her, day or night, waking or sleeping, good day or bad. She is with me always and nothing else seems all that important. I've taken to buying her jewelry, much more than I can afford, but somehow it seems like the least I can do to hold on to the one tangible bit of love that the world has left for me. At night, in bed, she reaches out and holds my hand and it makes all the rotten stuff of everyday fade in the distance. The warmth of her hand reassures me that all is right in the universe and tomorrow is going to be a grand day. She means the world to me and to say anything less would be a lie. I can't live without her and it hurts still to know that at one point she considered throwing me away.

I revel in the fact that we are past that but it is a specter that haunts me still. I live in dread of the day she changes her mind and I am consigned to the scrap heap like a Ford Tempo after a fender-bender. As corny as it sounds, I long for her. At one point in my life I swore I would never, ever, use the word yearn, but the fact of the matter is, I do for her.

I know in my heart of hearts that I will never know peace without her. If fate exists, then ours are intertwined and life without her would be poor indeed.

The rotten thing is, she is going to read this and scoff, poo-poo, and downplay the whole thing. "You are such a romantic! Just a sentimental old fool! Shut up and lump it you dick." The rotten thing is, she's two-thirds right.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

With A Little Time Mr. Lincoln

"The time spanner works," Eion said matter-of-factly. He said it in the same manner as calling out that cheerios were for breakfast. I'd been living with Eion for eighteen months now since my divorce had come through and what better way to recover from a break-up than to build a time machine?

"How's the placement? Does it go anywhere, do anything?" I responded.

"Not quite," he scratched absentmindedly at his goatee, "The placement is spot on. I can get you there to within two seconds and a foot and a half of target. The only drawback is we can only go backwards. The future isn't solidified and isn't a viable target. The past is whole and concrete. Easy to pinpoint. The snag is..." and here he paused to light his twice a year cigarette, "I can give you a fifteen minute window. Twenty, tops." he exhaled a plume of smoke and looked very satisfied with himself.

The truth of the matter being, he had every right to congratulate himself on something that man had only dreamed about since Jules Verne bothered to put pencil to paper. Eion tapped the little bit of ash that had collected at the end of his cigarette into the kitchen sink. "One other thing," he paused, "there is a weight limit. 266. That's it. That is as much as the system can hold. One ounce more and the whole thing gets shredded in the conversion with no chance of retrieval. So," he filled his smug look with a swig of the first beer of the day, "where do you want to go?"


For lack of anything better, I hung onto the the backpack straps tight. The swirling light was so bright that I had to close my eyes, but even that wasn't enough to keep it from blinding me with it's brilliance. I felt solid ground beneath my feet but I blinked and stared for a few minutes before the room came into focus. "fifteen minutes," I kept reminding myself.

As my eyes came into focus, I could make out a large desk and a tall, angular man behind it. "I've come to speak to Mr. Lincoln," was all I could blurt out.

"You have, sir?" came back in a soft country voice, tinged with a hint of surprise.

"I have come very far to bring you gifts," I began. It was a very stupid thing to say but I was still reeling from the transport. My eyes were still blinded but I managed to shuck my backpack and feel for its contents.

"First, I bring you books. Shelby Foote's edition of the civil war and Ken Wilber's The Brief History of Everything. There is also a paperback of The History of Knowledge by Dave somebody. You will find these useful in the days to come. There is also The History Of The Gun by the National Rifle Association. Please use it sparingly. We don't want any more dead than this country can possibly bare."

As my eyes adjusted to the sunlight streaming in from behind him through the windows, I noticed his face cloud with confusion as I laid each book on his desk. "Oh, and two more things. Here is a five-year supply of Welbutrin. You face some dark days ahead as a President and a father. These will help you through the tough times where no whiskey ever could. Also, I've brought some gummi bears and starburst candies for the children. There is also a brass bust of you that I thought Mrs. Lincoln might enjoy."

We stood there staring at each other for a full minute before the silence was broken. "I don't-" he began.

"There isn't time for more than this. Just rest assured that every president after you will seek to be as wise, as compassionate, and as noble as you-" and then the bright light cut in. I sat in the kitchen of our trailer for a full twenty minutes before I could see the beer Eion offered.

"Well," he said with a knowing smile, "how'd it go?"

"We're still one country aren't we?" I asked.