On the Times, and how they are a changin’


in some ways, stayin‘ the same.

So, as many of you know (both of you who still read this, thanks Mom and Carla), I have started The Great Adventure. I am, after 10 years in Paradise, moving from Austin to San Francisco to at last be with Carla and her girls, and I am happy beyond measure. The Great Adventure was preceded, as was necessary, by The Great Purge, which largely consisted of selling, donating, or flat out just giving away the vast majority of my crap. This was a hugely stressful process that involved at least one sleepless night and resulted in the endurance of a sinus headache and infection well beyond the natural half-life for that kind of thing. Plus, now I can carry my entire life in the trunk of my car.

Except of course, for everything that’s already waiting for me in SF, most especially three beautiful little blond ladies who are hopefully eagerly awaiting my arrival.

I departed Austin on Sunday afternoon, rather uneventfully with little pomp and little circumstance, and I think that’s best. My entrance to that beloved little blue oasis in the red state that has been my home for so long was marked with considerably more of both, and it was not pretty, let me tell you. 10 Years Ago, as we call it now, my Mother and I rolled into town after an eleven hour drive from Lubbock that nearly exhausted both of us right into the grave, and then proceeded, within mere moments of getting out of our respective conveyances, to start tearing each other a new one. So, I was pleased that I managed to make it out of Austin and into Dallas with relatively little difficulty, and arrived safe and sound on the first stop on The Great Adventure, Mom’s House.

Mom’s House has been, I am very very grateful to find, exactly the same. She made Pot Roast. We talked a LOT. She bought me a much needed new pair of blue jeans, and gave me a little cash even though I told her not to. She helped me put a few extra things in boxes and ship them off, she told me how happy she was for me. We watched a movie, we went to my Grandmother’s place and cleaned up the yard a bit. We did, in short, the things we always do when I visit her. There were no grand pronouncements, there has been no sappy worrying (at least, no more so than usual), and this stop on The Great Adventure thus far is exactly the same as every other time I have been here, and while I am eagerly and enthusiastically undertaking this trip, and the great new life that awaits me at the end of it, I am incredibly grateful that this step remains familiar and unchanged. I am moving, and I am opening a great new chapter in my relationship with the love of my life, and I am hoping for sweeping change and grand rebuilding of many parts of that which make up Me, but I am really glad that this fundamental part, and by extension many, many others, remains unchanged.

On a Memorial, Long overdue…

Or, just a good chili recipe.

A long time ago, one of my very first bar regulars used to make me chili. It was de-frickin-licious, but he would never share the recipe with me. Wild Bill was a bit of a card, and what might be called a West Texas Renaissance Man. He played bass in the Lubbock Symphony Orchestra, and also worked selling tires and sometimes at the drive-thru beer barn known as Docs Liquor on the infamous Lubbock Strip. That was where we first met, and by the time I was slinging drinks at Hub City Brewery, he was already a great bar regular. He often came in for breakfast, hands a bit shaky, and he often had to be carried out the door. He never gave up his keys as he should have. He was sometimes overly forward with the waitresses. He had a wealth of dirty jokes and a neatly trimmed silver goatee. He wore his silvery hair long and dashing, and dressed well when he could. He had a beer named after him at the bar, Wild Bill’s Yellowhouse Wheat, and it was our best seller. He was a steadfast if not perfect friend, and he is missed.

Here, as I have very nearly perfected it, is a tasty treat. It is not actually Mr. William “Wild Bill Perkins’ chili recipe (to my knowledge, it died with Bill more than 8 years ago), but one of my own concoction over years of effort. However, my recipe includes, and at last makes public for the (not even remotely) first time, Mr. Perkins (may his soul rest in inebriated peace) long lost Secret Ingredient. Hint: It’s beer. Try it, and if you like this true Texas chili, then wonderful! If not, you may go to Hell. Say hi to Wild Bill when you get there.

Jefe’s Memorial Yella Belly Chili

3 pounds ground beef
8 ounces of chopped peeled green chiles
4 ounces of chopped jalepenos
One 10 ounce can of Ro-Tel
24 ounces of tomato sauce
3/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon Lowry’s season salt
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons of dried whole oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teapsoon salt
3/4 cup of water
1/2 a can (or bottle if you must) of Coors Original Banquet Beer. Swig some of the can after pouring, and pour a little out for ol’ Wild Bill.

In a heavy pan, brown the ground beef, then set aside and drain all (or at least most of) the fat. In a large stew pot, add the rest of the ingredients, then stir in the ground beef. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low and simmer for about an hour. Serve with Saltine crackers or over hot dogs with your choice of cheese, fresh onion or jalepeno toppings. Also works well on Fritos.

Special thanks also goes out to the folks at Eskimo Joe’s in Stillwater, Oklahoma for insight and a good start on this, long ago.

On the More things Change, the More I stay the Same.


How I learned to stop worrying and hit the penalty box all over again.

The last few months have been yet another time of conspicuous absence here at the ‘Wrangler, and for that, Lonely Reader, I can only offer the same sad and ultimately worthless apology. As I have said before, I’m a poor wordsmith in the best of times, and a lazy one the rest of the times, and times, while they are a-changin‘, seem never to change me.

Today, I walked away from losing my temper, the first time in a while that I have been able to do that. My job tests my temper every day, and I fail regularly in my efforts to keep it under control while I am there (though the clients never see it, just my coworkers). My office nickname is LBH.

Little Ball of Hate.

Now, I’m a hockey fan and a (very brief) former player, so while I enjoyed the Pat Verbeek reference, it bothered me that the Texans in my office, almost to the man, don’t get it. I’m not sure any of them have ever seen ice, and I was shocked someone knew that nickname. Meanwhile, frustrating customers make me slam my phone down, loudly. I often have to go out in the alley and kick the dumpster. Hard. And a LOT.

Tonight, during an event I “host” every week that I was going to skip this time around but was talked into doing last minute, a guy I like a lot snapped at me about ruining the fun for everyone. I get animated at the weekly BD Riley’s pub quiz sometimes, and apparently it makes it no fun for everyone else. Or, at least, it makes it no fun for this guy. Why did he come to something he finds distasteful, when the last minute invitation only garnered 4 folks? Not sure. But I know that in the past some people have found me abrasive. My sense of sarcastic humor is not shared by everyone, I get it. That’s why it’s called a SENSE, and not THE EMPIRICAL FACT of humor. But it’s not something some people, anyone really, ought to get angry over.

So, when he snapped at me, I nearly lost my temper. I realized in that moment that I have been losing it a lot lately, and that it has been making me very unhappy. Losing my temper is one of my two least favorite emotional states (jealousy being the other, I look terrible in green) and it makes me miserable in an oddly unique way. I need audible stimulation to clear it out of my head, most times. I need to break things, the hear smashes, to yell. I have lost and broken many things of value, a few of them friends, over the years to my temper.

Tonight, I was determined not to do so again. I choked down my response, quietly payed my tab, threw in the gift card that had the remains of previous Trivia Night’s winnings to cover the rest of other folks tabs just in case, and left. I was shivering on the way back to my truck, and I’m not sure if it was the cold or the adrenaline pumping through my scathingly angry frame.

And then, I got home, vented for 6 seconds to 2 dear great friends, got invited back out for a cold one with my best friend, and it all just melted away. The guy i was angry at is a good guy, and I have no idea his motivations right now for popping off at me, so I am gonna let that shit go. Life is too short. And my friends, my really good ones, are there, and accepting of me. Even when I lead the league in penalty minutes.

On loving the words of others, at random.

or, as they say in AA, Fake it ’till you Make it.

I’m not writing much of my own stuff lately, but I feel the urge building. As usual, it makes me want to read more, like stretching before you exercise. And recently, in a space where I spout off my opinions, as do others, a friend put forth this interesting little game:

“Okay so I found this somewhere else and brought it here, sue me.*

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence here.

*don’t really sue me.”

It took me a bit, but I have loads of great sentences lying around the house, and so I got into it. Here are some faves:

“ANYONE would have been better than this noncer with his objective correlatives and his Earl Grey and his sorry ass bank balance, and on that bank balance – two words : Oh dear.” Page 56, sentence 5, spoken by our narrator, Lucifer, on his unfortunate physical possesion of a young man named Declan Gunn.

Now I’m just grabbing books off the desk,

“Also present was a nurse with the head of a great brown rat.” King is a wierdo.

“When he was little planes were so rare he and his brothers used to run outside on the lawn and point up when an airplane went by.” This book is actually way sexier than that sentence, I took a shot.

“Even the Tooks (with few exceptions) thought Bilbo’s behavior was absurd.” Wonder where that came from? Geeks never stray far from their teachers.

“He gained strength through familiarity with the thought that the emergency exit stood always open, and became curious, too, to taste his suffering to the dregs.” Man, what a great sentence. Hess was crazy as shit, but that guy could write.

“She valued the considerate neglect she had at some cost taught them after years” Frost is a depressing fuck.

“The gin and the vermouth were both dry in taste, and the orange bitters had been an ingredient in the Martini up until the 1950’s.” From “Classic Cocktails”, by Salvatore Calabrese. Yes, I keep that by my bed.

“From the gate of the beloved ISHTAR, the sphere of LIBAT, I call to Thee!” From, really, The Necronomicon, allegedly written in the 8th century by an Arabian madman named Abdul Alhazred. It is said that to read too long from this cursed book of evil magic is to risk madness yourself. I have a $2.99 paperback copy, it’s pretty fuckin’ funny.

OK, time to come up with some doozies of my own…

On quite an ending

to quite a run.

Only Texas Tech could so drastically assert themselves, and then flush it all down the shitter so forcefully. The only way to absolutely, positively prove to the national media that we were fodder, that same media that was chomping at the bit to eat us for lunch, was to flub the Oklahoma game like pre-schoolers. So, that’s exactly what we did. Instead of blowing a riduculous game, which we used to do as a matter of habit, we blew the biggest game we’ve ever been in, in a bigger way than any Tech team has ever done, setting a school record for points allowed (in a year when we were supposed to finally have a defense, Ruffin) and displaying to all the world that all the talk about us was just that. Talk. I have always loved the idea that being a sports fan is to understand loss, and as a Tech Alum, I have been washed in it for a decade now. But it’s time to decide whether or not it’s OK to be washed, or to try and rise above, and we didn’t tonight. Best season ever or not, we had a chance to represent ourselves and our school tonight, and had we fought valiantly and lost, that would have held. But,we played “like Tech”, like the perrenial also-ran that we he have always belived ourselves to be, and we folded, as we seem to always find a way to do, like lawn chair on the big boys lawn.

On getting the job done

Or, ¡Yo Voté!

The only I voted stickers that had at my polling place were in Spanish, but that’s cool. I speak a very tiny little bit of Spanish. More importantly, I voted today, and so should you. No one should think their vote doesn’t count, that simply isn’t true. Your voice is important, all of our voices matter, and it is your obligation as a citizen of this country to speak up. This could not be any simpler. Vote today!

Also, if you don’t vote, you can’t gripe about politics for 4 years. So get out and get the job done, people!

On the Reason I’m here to begin with


Say what you will, but these clouds don’t wrangle themselves.

I don’t like to start with the negative, but I am sick and bloody tired of people, lots of different people, who do not understand or respect what they are putting into the digital world. So, I am going to say some things about MY digital self.


It is me, in it’s own 1’s and 0’s kind of way. It’s skewed, certainly, by the persona and voice I tend to lend it. However, I have long been a big believer in the idea that this type of self-publishing should be as honest as you can make it, so it is pretty openly “Me”. As a writer, it is my baseline, my Rosetta stone, the honest core of my thoughts, sometimes ugly, sometimes crafted and beautiful I think, sometimes raw, sometimes juvenille, sometimes (often) blatant grasps for attention, but always me, for better or worse (often, worse). It will not always be every single part of me, of who I am and what I do, it is not a map of my comings and goings, and it is certianly not ALL of me. Everyone’s life has private parts, and I will simply keep those to myself. I have, however, chosen not just to write but to publish, and am therefore a public person in whatever way that entails. I will write here of what is important to me, and I make no apologies for it, nor do I fear others interpretations of it. If you like it, I am glad and encourage you to comment if you have something to say. If you don’t like it, I am interested to know why, and encourage you to comment if you have something to say. Change my mind, I am open to it (ask M. about 2 weeks worth of death penalty arguments when I was younger. It turned out he was right, and I was wrong. It happens, thank God.) A hero of mine once wrote, “If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people, and if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.”

Cloudwrangler is about the (hopefully) never-ending attempt to reach out into the world of art, thought, and ideas and to strive for something, anything at all bigger than my current self. It is about the effort to be unlimited in a limited world. It’s about wandering out of the wastes of West Texas where I first learned who I was and might strive to become, with the wind in my ears and dust in my boots, trying to wrestle the big thoughts and wonderful ideas I have experienced to the ground and show them to others, that they might be affected. It’s about reaching out with the ideas that are my own, the value I have gotten from life, and showing it to you, that you may get something out of it in return. It’s about endeavoring to be more than what I am every day.

I don’t expect everyone to do this kind of thing, but I do expect something of people who make the attempt. If you enjoy my words, if they work for you or you want to get in on it or help or just listen, thank you and feel free. If you don’t, then DON’T. Change the channel, click on to something else. If you want to do this yourself, if you feel the need to write, think, shoot, develop, learn, grow larger and beyond yourself, I applaud you for your effort. I’ll champion you when I can, applaud your successes, and try to be there to help when you have something less than success. If you do chose to pursue this endeavor online, I ask only that you are also honest, and never disrespect your own work. Respect your audience and your self. I also ask that you respect the medium. If you can’t or simply don’t want to, then take it all down, and have no web identity, no public presence. Because you don’t get to be public “a little bit.” It cheapens and ultimately invalidates your voice. Be it politician, celebrity, or (self or otherwise)published writer, you have knowingly chosen to give yourself, your words, your work, to the larger endeavor of humanity. Do so with pride, with gusto, without fear. Or don’t do it at all.

You should check your depth before you dive in head first, but you can’t wade into the pool and not get wet.

This is Cloudwrangler, the digital representation of Jefe, who is only a small part of Jeffrey Daniel Rider. I am an unlimited person, living in a limited world, but I keep trying to change that last bit. Thank you so much for being here, and please keep reading.

On Loneliness

Or maybe just the repetition of old patterns.

I wasn’t expecting to be this wrapped up in loneliness, but I have been, for days now. I’ve never been very good at being kept at arms length by people that I care about, and I often react rather badly to it. I can wield the club of wounded feelings with a heavy hand, as some of you can no doubt attest, and I really am trying to break myself of it. It almost feels as if I shouldn’t even say such things in so public a place. However, I have said so many times, Blog, Write, without Fear. This is honestly what I am feeling, and the attempt to talk about it directly seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Writing about it may help, because I feel myself sliding into a legitimate funk, and I badly need to avoid that. There has been entirely too much slow acoustic music, sour books, and sappy movies (it’s summer for God’s sake, I need action flicks) these days, and I can feel my chemistry starting to churn in that ugly direction. I don’t like this feeling, and writing for me helps to stir my mental pot just a bit, and get it cooking the right way, hopefully.

I haven’t left the house for anything but work, or to do things by self, in three days. Boo fucking Hoo, right? Most people might be happy to be left well enough alone. But not me. The thing is, work isn’t a room full of happy people having a good time anymore, people interested in each other and in me, it isn’t a something I get to play host at any longer. It’s a place full of problem solving, which I like, but it’s often a place filled with the anger, frustration, apathy and simple stupidity of others (not my coworkers, they’re pretty cool) and it’s makes me ache for positive human contact more than ever.

I have wonderful friends, and I would do anything for them. I have turned my club of wounded feelings upon many of them, unjustifiably, many times, and they accept my apologies, when I work to repair the damage, in nearly every case. I lost one recently to the Big Apple, but I know he’ll be back and we’ll talk a lot while he’s there. I’ve been very slowly beginning to communicate with another beloved old friend again, and it lightens my step, it honestly does. I have a far away friendly voice that keeps my mind moving, and I adore it. My friends all have lives of their own, and it is not their responsibility to entertain me 24-7, I know it, but I miss them, sometimes even when I’m around them. The groups never seem large enough these days, and I feel alone sometimes, sticking out of the group lately like a sore thumb.

But more than that, I don’t have day to day contact with someone I care about, and I need that. I’m not one of those people who is constantly “with” someone, and I’ve spent more of my adult years single than coupled. I really don’t do well all alone, my over active mind wanders and wonders and fills in the blanks spaces with horrific images and frightening ideas of betrayal and loss that I know are utterly baseless. I can not force others to be part of my life, and many people need space, I understand.

I just hate this feeling of loneliness, and don’t know what to do about it. I suppose the only thing I can do is keep looking, keep calling out, keeping trying to tell people that I am here, that I care about and love them, and hope they listen.

On the Gallopings of Queen Mab

or, How I learned to stop dreaming and just get out of bed to pee.

For as long as I can remember, I have had difficulty upon rousing from sleep in recalling my dreams. The images that come to my unconscious mind in the dark stretches of the night are often incongruous meandering adventures that are very fresh in the first few milliseconds of the new day, but while that perception might remain, the details are quickly lost to me upon fully waking. The ones that do stick with me are typically those that repeat themselves in myriad permutations, playing out the various fears and phobias of my sad little melon, reminding me that I am fragile and flawed and very, very mortal. The reasons that these mental voyages tend to recur are all pretty obvious to me, so I often put little stock in them as having any real value in the day to day goings on of my trips about our marble, though sometimes they do influence me. For example, my recurring nightmare about ending up in prison and even being executed by the state keeps me from, quite simply, killing you when you are bothering me. I have spent the night in jail twice, and since I don’t run around pulling thrill-seeker liquor store hold-ups, let’s just assume I am not eager to go back. My adult-onset fear of flying manifests itself in all manner of airplane disaster nightmares, even the simplest of which make the crash sequence from Fight Club and the first episode of Lost look like Pixar children’s shorts.

My other two commonly recurring dreams are based purely on the physical. I would really love to think that my brain is providing my body with all the magical pleasures and unattainable exotic ecstasies of the flesh that it simply can not acquire in the waking world, but I am pretty sure that I only dream about sex so that my pleasantly dreaming mind can give my unconscious body an unconscious erection that will physiologically prevent me from, basically, … wetting the bed. Sadly, sex dreams almost always just mean I need to pee. If I eat salty foods before bed (I used to be a fan of dill pickle slices wrapped in deli ham and placed on a Pringle, seriously,) then I have dreams of wandering the dessert, parched and dying, or of consuming gallons of water, yet never being able to slake the awful thirst. I know this dream even while I am dreaming it, most times, and have actually learned to wake myself and get a glass of water, though it took almost 15 years of mental training to do so. It’s not exactly the Jedi mind trick, you just holler at yourself in the dream “Hey, stupid, there’s a REAL glass of water on the bedside table, wake the fuck up!” I always have water on the bedside for this express purpose, since while I regularly do so while awake, I really hate to lie to myself in my sleep.

However, certain dreams are powerful enough to stick with me once the REM cycles are completed, and because that is so rare, I do what I can to think about them and decide if they have meaning, or even (God forbid) purpose. I still vividly remember the first time I realized that what I wanted most in life was to fall in love with the perfect woman. I dreamt about her one night while sleeping on my father’s couch. I was 12. While I have been head over heels in love a couple of times in my life, it has never been with that woman, who I still remember some 22 years later. She had long wavy deep brunette hair and an exotic accent. She most likely does not exist, and was only a romanticized image in my brain based on all the movies I’d seen and books I’d read and probably my Mom and all sorts of Freudian Oedipal bullshit that I really don’t want to think about. The hope for love like I knew in that one night of sleep has never left me, however, though I am reasonably certain I have never even spoken of this until just this moment.

Lately, a couple of folks have been showing up over and over again in my dreaming, and managing to stick around in the old cabeza even after the alarm kicks me in the face in the A.M. The dreams consist of conversations, most heated in one way or another, and are not at all nonsensical or wild, as most of my forgotten dreams tend to play out. I can only surmise that the reason they have become prevalent actors in my slumbering theater is that these people are on my mind, and I feel I have things I want or need to say to them. My difficulty has become how to cast them in the production of my fully awake and aware daily life, how to organize these scenes, how to properly write and trim the dialogue so that they see that I do care, that I am worried about them, that I admire them, that I do desire them and love them and miss them and enjoy being with them, that I am happy to have them in my life in any way that I might, consciously if I can, or whilst sleeping, perchance to dream of them. I just hope I can find a way to say so, and that when I do, they understand.

On writing just to be writing

I’ve been listening to one of my favorite band’s new tracks, in anticipation of their new album. It’s making me dream things I would not have expected, and remember those dreams vividly, which is a rare thing for me. It still strikes me how much it makes me think of the people in my life that are also connected to that band, even though this is completely new material. Certain intense moments of art, music, film, whatever they may be, stick with you and really resonate when you have shared them with someone else. I had a very similar conversation about a film based on a childhood favorite book (Prince Caspian) recently, and it just struck me that those pieces of art are valuable to me in new ways now, because of the shared love of that work with a friend or loved one. I think it’s one of the reasons I want to create art in the first place. As the artist, you share that connection with everyone who experiences and appreciates your work, and that’s an incredibly exhilarating and heady feeling. It has long been my belief, since seeing said band live for the first time, that that is what we, as an evolved and self aware species, are supposed to be doing with the gift of reason, creating things bigger and better than ourselves that improve our world, that make others happy and comfortable and excited all at the same time. So I need to flex the writing muscles a bit, and perhaps try to start something new, though that tends to be where I get tripped up. It’s time to stare down the blank white page once again, and hopefully not let my fear of it get the best of me, again.