My books can be purchased as e-books for only $1.99. If interested, just click here: Books.
Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Monday, September 28

The Cardinals were in the national spotlight last night, and just like last year when they had the public stage, they folded like cheap lawn chairs. Downright embarrassing. How can they look so good one week and so bad the next? I must point out that the playcalling sort of stunk, and that's on coach Whisenhunt. What do you do to slow down a pass rush? You call some draw plays and screens. Were any of those plays called last night by the Cardinals, who looked like they'd been hit by a runaway locomotive? No. And Dwight Freeney, the Colts' defensive end, was the locomotive. One little dink screen pass over his head to the left and he wouldn't have been thereafter so eager to rush like a mad bull (to switch the metaphor). Thank heavens they have next week off. Maybe they can lick their wounds and get back to the win column.

It was interesting to see Phil Mickelson finally get his act together and shoot the lights out of the final round in the Tour Championship. And Tiger held on to place second and secure his win of the overall FedEx Cup, with a ten million dollar payoff. As though he needs another ten million. I'm guessing that his net worth right now is somewhere near a billion and a half. Eventually, after his playing career is over, I'm sure Tiger will heed his father's advice and make a second career of overseeing his many charitable works. And while he's doing that, he may also get involved in politics or acting. He'd be excellent in either field.

Sunday, September 27

We watch commercials because there's little we can do except watch them. Or use them for potty breaks or drink breaks. And we can always record programs and then watch them later, fast forwarding through the numerous timeouts for sales pitches. And we do that quite often. But still, when we can't do any of the above, we suffer through commercial time. The very most obnoxious of them are the Altel commercials with the irritating Chad. They seem to run them five or six times an hour. Then there are the very best of them, like the Target spots that always seem to be fresh and new and cleverly done. And, of course, the Geico commercials. I never really understood the Caveman theme, but at least they're varied enough not to be boring. The same for the stack of money with eyeballs atop, clever and varied. Then there's the iconic figure of the Geiko Gecko. He ranks right up there for all-time honors with the EverReady Rabbit and the Aflac duck. Rosalie is so in love with the Gecko (Is he British or Australian?) that I went on-line to find one I could buy for her. And I found one. How does he look?

Saturday, September 26

I've been watching the FedEx Cup finale in rain-drenched Atlanta. Yesterday, Tiger did something no one expected, hell, no one had ever seen before. He missed two putts inside five feet on fifteen and sixteen, two strokes that would have given him a three-shot lead after two rounds. Unheard of. Here's a man who makes more putts inside ten feet than anyone else on the tour. He hit a gorgeous five-wood into the par-5 fifteenth that left him a shortie for eagle. Missed it. He hit a gorgeous iron into sixteen to within four feet. Missed it. The world, the commentators, even Tiger couldn't believe it. It should be interesting to see how he responds today.

I'm just finishing a frighteningly tense novel called The Siege, by Stephen White. It's tense because White is a very good suspense novelist whose previous novels centered on a Boulder psychologist named Alan Gregory. It's frightening because the bad guy is an unseen terrorist holding a number of Yale students inside a fortress-like building called Book and Snake, one of the tombs that house Yale's secret societies. The FBI and all its components are trying to figure out what the unsub hopes to gain by holding the students hostage, allowing some of them to leave, killing others in very public ways. It seems that what he wants is information he could use to kill as many as 30,000,000 Americans. Frightening in what it implies our enemies might do in their war of terrorism against our country. We've come a long way since 9/11. Let's hope nothing like what Stephen White is telling us in this novel ever comes true.

Friday, September 25

Time rushes onward and I simply can’t keep up with it. Before I know it I’ll look and act like a man I saw at the medical clinic yesterday when I went in for my physical. He was waiting near the lab as I was waiting to have an x-ray. I heard him tell someone his birth date—January 11, 1925. Eighty-four, and he looked and acted like he was an infirm hundred. Please, please don’t let me get to that point. I really need a poison capsule, maybe loaded with venom from a Golden Dart frog, inserted in one of my teeth to make my escape if need be. My luck, I’ll probably try to crush a popcorn old maid and I’ll make my exit, screaming, "I made a mistake! I didn’t mean it!" On the positive side, I know plenty of men here who are 84 or older and they don’t look or act like he did. I realize the numbers are only numbers, but sometimes we lose our physicality and nothing we do can help us keep it. I don’t fear death nearly as much as I did a few decades ago. I could let go quite easily if I had to. Lots of unfinished business I’d regret, though. So, just go on living as well as I can. But, oh how I wish the days wouldn’t go shooting by like heavenly debris showers during one of the Perseids.

Thursday, September 24

I own more music than I can ever listen to, yet I continue to buy more and more cds. Some strange compulsion, I guess, about needing to have at hand the things and sounds I love. The things are for the most part books. I also have more of those than I'll ever have time to read. But I need them. What would I do if WWIII fell upon us and I was still alive and living in a cave somewhere? I would need some device to play the music on and a large box of books to keep me sane for the remainder of my cave-dwelling days. Half a century ago I bought a 45 album by Carmen McRae, the cover a stark white with multiple luscious red lips. Can no longer remember the album title, but I do remember the lips. And the voice. Carmen in her early days had a crystal clear voice, young, perfect pitch, wonderful. And as her career progressed, her voice became richer, huskier, smokier, boozier. And it too was wonderful. Sort of parallel to Sinatra, who went from the clear-voiced bobbysoxer idol of the Forties to the more mature and much better voice of the Sixties and Seventies. So I listen to the old voices from my youth, the McRaes and Sinatras, the Vaughans and Bennetts and Damones. And I'm young again, if only for the duration of the songs. But I also keep discovering newer voices and then must have them also. I found Karrin Allyson about four years ago and was blown away by her vocal skills. She can out-scat Ella, and Ella was pretty good. But more than that, she can make any song, any style, any language sound delicious. I buy her whenever she comes out with a new album. I now have about 12,000 tracks on my computer, and that's not everything I own. Some cds are not included on my hard drive because I don't need them that accessible. But I have them in case I need them. Others I've found in recent years are a few older voices, mostly club voices and not widely known except to the inner circle of jazz: Shirley Horn on piano and intimate voice, Mark Murphy on just about anything. And some sort of in the middle of their careers like Diana Krall (vocal sex), Chris Botti (a trumpet to dream to), Ann Hampton Callaway (voice like milk chocolate), and Bobby Caldwell (indescribable). A Chicago club singer who dabbles in experimental jazz vocals is Jackie Allen, a close second to Karrin Allyson. And a few young voices just beginning careers that should last a lifetime: Madeleine Peyroux (a little Norah Jones and a little Billie Holiday), Lizz Wright (too different to explain), and Renee Olstead (still only a teen-ager but well known in jazz circles). As I age, my savage breast often needs soothing, and my musical friends sooth [sic] me every time.

Wednesday, September 23

Today was another windy one, maybe not quite as strong as yesterday, but close. Another not-so-fun day on the golf course. I play bad enough on nice days, I don't need twenty-mile-an-hour winds to make it even worse.

I have nothing new to say so I'll insert something I wrote a few months ago.

My Royalty check for "All Over You," the song I recorded on the album above. $12.36, whew, and I don't know how to spend it all. I feel bad about the way it was recorded, because it missed almost entirely the double meaning intended. Instead, it was done as a straight country, guitar and twang and all. Check out the lyrics: "You said you’d never leave me, And I bought that old lie. When you walked out, believe me, I wanted to cry, but I didn’t. I thought I would die, but I didn’t, And if I can only make it For one more day or two, I know I’ll be all over you. You said you’d always love me. I heard you solemnly swear By all the stars above me You’d never leave, but you did it. I wanted to grieve, but I hid it, And if I can only make it For one more day or two, I know I’ll be all over you. All over you, all over you, It just takes time Before I’m mine again— Another month, a year or two That’s all it takes Until I’m fine again. You said we’d last forever, You never meant a word. You said we’d be together, Our love would last, but it didn’t. We’d hold on fast, but we didn’t, And if I can only make it For one more day or two, I know I’ll be all over you. But if after all you’ve said You come crawling back into my bed, Am I gonna let you back in it? What do you think I’ll do? I’ll let you back in in a minute, And then I know I’ll be all over you."

Just another of my songs that only I will ever hear as I intended it.

Tuesday, September 22

Tonight we're going out to dinner with Mike and Staci and William. They invited us to meet them at Black Angus to celebrate with them William's tenth birthday. A few weeks ago, Mike told us that William was going to join the band and needed an instrument better than the one they gave him to use, a battered old trumpet. Mike wondered if we still had my old cornet, the one I'd played briefly and begrudgingly when I was a mere lad. I was always too lazy to become anything more than a second or third chair in our high school band. But I'd kept the horn through all these years, letting Laura play it briefly and begrudgingly when she was in high school, and ditto Mike. And it still resided beneath our guest bedroom bed. I promised Mike that we'd give it to William for his birthday. But first, I had to find a new case for it, take it to a music store to have the valves loosened, the whole thing brought up to speed. And now it sits in its brand new, red case, a 63-year-old Holton cornet that still looks pretty good for an old guy. I just hope William will play it better and more lovingly than I or Laura or Mike did. I'm sure he will.

I wrote a short essay about our two cats I thought I'd share with whoever is still out there maybe reading these blogs:

Anyone who has never been owned by a cat or dog won’t understand any of what follows, won’t have a clue. If you’re one of those owned, however, you’ll recognize all of what I say. I’m limiting the ownership to cats and dogs because, although maybe cute as buttons, goldfish or gerbils or rats just don’t make the same connection with humans that cats or dogs do. Most of us who are owned by pets would agree that cats and dogs are really just humans in fur coats. My wife and I are kept by two cats named Dusty and Squeakie. Dusty is the elder statesman and is generally more sedate and serious than Squeakie, but he has his moments of silliness. Every now and then, when he thinks no one is watching, he’ll crouch low with head near the floor and wiggle his butt in preparation for pouncing on an unsuspecting Squeakie. Once or twice we’ve caught him flipping one of Squeakie’s toy mice around. He stops as soon as he sees us and licks a paw or yawns as if to say we must be mistaken if we think he would be so kittenish as to play with mice. Both of them insist on ice cubes in their water dish and we obey that dictum without fail. In fact, if in the morning their litter box isn’t cleaned fast enough or their food dish isn’t filled to the brim we both feel their displeasure. In the evening when I’m in a chair watching television, Dusty will sit on haunches in front of me and give me the old cat staredown. He never says it but I know what he wants: he wants me to get up so he can take over in the human heat I leave behind. And I always give in. Squeakie will join him there and the two of them will cuddle for an hour or so. This usually concludes in some mutual grooming, obvious affection between them. But then one or the other will take offense at some cat code infraction and tiny cat slaps will ensue, culminating in a wrestling match that always tips them both onto the floor where they go running off in opposite directions. Our evenings end almost ritualistically. My wife and I turn off all the lights and encourage Dusty and Squeakie to come to bed with us. They never do. But nearly always just before we climb into bed, Squeakie will make her way into the shower stall and Dusty will sit just outside our bedroom door, playing hard to get. We ignore them both and go to bed. Most nights Squeakie will leave to do her Squeakie thing, a nighttime snack or a late evening visit to the litter box. And Dusty will either quietly climb onto the bed to wish us good night or he too will leave to see what Squeakie is up to. Fifteen minutes later (almost to the very minute) we will hear the patter of galloping feet as Dusty starts his run somewhere in the living room, down the short hall, and the final leap onto the bed. We’ve never witnessed this run and leap, only heard it and thereby imagined it, but we would give a month’s income to have it on tape. Almost exactly five minutes later we will hear the approaching mournful meows of Squeakie as she lugs her bundle of yarn, a loose relic from her youth, down the hall to our bedroom. The meows are doubly mournful because the yarn in her mouth muffles the cries and makes them even more pathetic. We encourage her to get on the bed with us and we all then can sleep through the night, two cats named Dusty and Squeakie and their two pets, my wife and I.

Monday, September 21

People might wonder why I have a blogspot and why I write stuff and insert photos.  The answer is simple.  I'm egotistical enough to think that I say things that are interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes heavy.  But that implies that I have readers.  I may have one or two, or maybe more.  Possibly none.  Too often lately, I feel like I'm in a huge, empty auditorium, walls so far away they actually curve with the earth, and I'm talking to all that emptiness. Just me hearing the hollow echoing of my words as they bounce back from those distant walls.  The main reason, I guess, is that it gives me a place to write a diary.  Also, as Rosalie would attest, it keeps me busy and out of her hair.

Yesterday, I looked at my bookcase, the one under the window to the kitchen, looked at the two shelves of books I'd culled from the many I'd had in New York, all the books I'd used when I was teaching, many of which I'd had for over forty years--the bios of my favorite writers, the collections of poetry and books about the writing of poetry, the collections of essays on authors and the famous stuff they'd written, the volumes on linguistics. These are all my old friends, still dear to me, still in many cases with pages marked with tiny slips of paper or articles from books and magazines relevant to whatever it was they were marking, pithy notes in my cramped hand in the margins, passages underlined that I had once thought important enough to underline. It struck me that no one else would give a good damn about these books. No one would pay even a skinny dime for any of them at that inevitable garage sale after my death. My kids wouldn't know what to do with them. Would any of them actually thumb through them to see what they could find? I've heard stories about eccentric old people who scattered twenties inside books in their libraries, an act designed to reward those who later looked through their books or simply the act of senility. I have no extra twenties to scatter but I would hope that some of my marginal notes are worth at least that much to a lucky reader. My thoughts about the probable demise of my books led me to thoughts about the demise of my thoughts. All those wonderful ideas and scintillating thoughts stirring around in my brain, in my memory, one day soon to be gone forever. I must have thousands of song lyrics stored in my brain. Why? And who but I care that I can sing along with thousands of songs or quote dozens of Frost's poems, of Emily Dickinson's, of T. S. Eliot's, of E. E. Cummings'? Nobody. I guess that's the main reason I feel the pressing need to put words on paper, so they don't vanish quite as quickly as words written on air.

This poster below doesn't really express my attitude about what people think of me.  I just love the cat and the half a rat hanging from his jaw.  And I think it's funny.

Sunday, September 20

When we were younger and somewhat dumber, we loved to have an occasional stinger after a fancy dinner out.  It was a reward, a dessert.  And qute often, one just wasn't enough, so we'd reward ourselves with another one.  This is a very dangerous drink, because the drinker just doesn't realize how potent this rascal is . . . until the next morning.  A number of years ago, I decided to write this poem in a series of four limericks to epitomize this experience.

           "The Curse of the Stinger"

Have you ever been stung by a stinger?
It's what drinkers regard as a zinger--
      It's a bonk on the head
      With a sockful of lead
Or a tit that's been caught in a wringer.

Your body becomes rather numb,   
And a needle stuck into your bum                                                       
         Won't have any effect
         And you'll want to reject
All the stuff in your gut, and then some.

It's a mixture of minty old brandy,
Gustatorially good, just like candy.
         So you drink one or two.
         And then what do you do?
You drink anything else that is handy.

In the morning the size of your tongue
Just barely leaves room for the dung
         Some hynea has shat
         In your mouth, and with that,
You've been cursed by the stinger that stung.

Saturday, September 19

If anyone wants to read posts other than the ones on this page, the list of previous posts (to the left) can take you there one at a time.

Friday, September 18

What's in a name? As I was reading the weekly newspaper from my hometown, Mobridge, South Dakota, a very small village located on the east bank of the Missouri River, now a huge body of water known as the Oahe Reservoir, I was struck by the number of last names of many native American residents of Mobridge, struck by the unusual qualities of those names, often the beauty of them. I read about Jake Takes the Gun, Samuel Takes the Knife, Labre Afraid of Hawk, Cheryl Long Feather, Fabian Comes Flying, Mark Iron Wing, Orivile Marrow Bone, Athea Little Bear, Franklin Red Bear, Keith Looking Back, Joy Circles Eagle, Justin Flying Horse, Luke End of Horn, Thomas Iron Moccasin, Cory Yellow Ear Rings. And the name of a young man who is the Standing Rock Tribal Chairman, Ron His Horse Is Thunder. His is a name I not only admire but also envy for its beauty and poetic imagery. How does one live up to a name like that?

Thursday, September 17

President Obama has been in office for less than a year now and he's getting grief from too many aggrieved Republicans, for his stimulus plan, which seems to be working even though we still have way too much unemployment; for his health care plan, some form of which just plain has to be passed. But also for his personal attributes. Too many laughingly refer to the Black House, his new residence, too many dislike his propensity for hugging instead of handshaking, too many think he's unreasonably friendly instead of grim, too many think he's too youthfully naive to run a nation as large as ours, too many dislike his oratorical style (yet he's probably the best speaker since Reagan). In too many cases, they're simply objecting to his blackness. And now, even former President Jimmy Carter is getting lambasted for actually suggesting that too many of our citizens still don't think a black man is capable of running this country. I guess we need this generation of seniors to die before we can actually be rid of the remnants of redneckism. We've come a very long way in race relations in the last two hundred years, but we still have a long way to go.

Tuesday, September 15

Another carbon copy day--calm, clear, high of 101. I'm assuming the monsoon season is over for another year since it feels like the humidity has dropped down to desert percentages. We should have really wonderful days ahead for at least another month and a half.

I'm reading a book by Alan Boss called The Crowded Universe.
I can't remember where I first heard about it, probably in a short news items in the paper or maybe in Newsweek. He is making the case that in the next year or two, either of two space station telescopes will confirm once and for all the existence of earthlike planets in our universe. I say either of two, because the United States has put one such telescope into space and European scientists, three years ahead of the U.S., also put one in space. How they'll determine where these planets are located is complicated. They'll be looking at sun systems about the same size as our sun, hoping to spot a Jupiter-like planet revolving around the star. They can tell it's there by the wobble it creates on the star's rotation. They also assume correctly, I hope, or incorrectly possibly that if a star has a Jupiter-like planet in orbit, then it's very likely there will be a rocky planet with surface water somewhere between the gaseous planet and the star, a rocky planet very similar to earth. And once they find such a system, they'll go on to find more . . . and more. They will then assume there could be a limitless number of systems with earth-like planets that have life forms either like us or some other species that came to dominate the planets. I hope I live long enough for this to be determined. I'm enough of an old science-fiction fan to say that I've always believed in the existence of other intelligent life in the universe. I also hope they're more intelligent than we are, we who are doing our very best to destroy the planet we call home.

We watched the much anticipated opening of The Jay Lenno Show last night. We weren't among those who were waiting for it with bated breath. We just thought it would be interesting to see what he'd come up with for his new comedy hour. Not much, it seems. We quit watching The Tonight Show when he was hosting because each night was a copy of the previous night, and not very funny. His new show is the same, not very funny. Even Jerry Seinfeld couldn't save it. I'm happy that we switched it off before Kanye West showed up with a tearful apology for what he'd done on the MTV awards show. What I don't need to see is Kanye West shedding tears.

I need to include some pictures of my favorite friends, Dusty and Squeakie.

I call this one "Mr. Golden Eyes."                                                  Squeakie in a sink

Dusty in a plastic nest

Squeakie's shoe fetish.

Dusty gets belted.

Dusty's guardian.

Monday, September 14

Well, I should have seen it coming. The Cardinals looked just awful, making the same old mistakes that plagued them in years past, stupid mental errors that resulted in ill-timed penalties. They even had a delay of game penalty after the 49ers had taken a timeout. Wasn't Warner looking at the clock? Wasn't anyone on the sidelines looking at the clock? Stupid, really stupid. This could be a very long year for the Cardinals . . . again. I'm betting they'll post an 8-8 season, and miss the playoffs . . . again.

The weekend in sports gave tennis a black and purple eye. Serena Williams let a line judge have it bigtime over a foot fault at a crucial point in her match against Kim Clijsters. The things she said to the poor woman who made the call were unforgivable. I realize that Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe could wail away at officials in the old days, but this went beyond simply screaming about a seeming injustice. This was vicious and ugly. The NBA and NFL have too often shown an ugly side with shootings and drug arrests and dui and speeding violations. Now tennis shows an ugly side. Golf may be the last bastion for dignity and fairness.

Sunday, September 13

Tiger gave the field a golf lesson yesterday, a nine-under 62 that gave him a seven shot lead going into today. Ho hum. There won't be much suspense in this round. But, naturally, I'll watch it. I keep telling people it's like watching history. I have the opportunity to see the best golfer who ever played the game, and I'm not going to miss a shot. Some of my friends complain about how the commentators praise Tiger's skill, especially Johnny Miller, who, they say, simply gushes over Tiger's prowess. Yeah, he does tend to gush, but his remarks are pretty accurate once you ignore the idolatry.

And the NFL takes off today. The Cardinals are playing the 49ers, a game that could turn into a bloodbath. I just hope the Cardinals don't start out looking like they did in the middle of last season, just awful.

Saturday, September 12

Another Saturday and another weekend that finds me at my computer, one eye on my typing, one eye on the tiny tv set to my left.  Right now I'm watching Rafa Nadal finally polishing off Gonzalez after two days of rain delays.  Next up will be Serena Williams against Kim Clijsters.  I'll watch that match until the golf comes on at noon.  Tiger is tied for the lead with two rounds to play.  I always feel somewhat guilty about how many hours I spend on weekends watching tv sports.  Even though the Diamondbacks are dogs this year, I continue to watch them lose most of their games.  And tomorrow, NFL football begins, with me pinned to the set for five or six hours watching the big boys try to kill each other.  Then in late fall, the NBA gets started and I'll sweat blood with the Suns, agonizing with them over the course of 82 games, rooting for them against the hateful Lakers and Spurs.  Ah, weekends.

This is a view of my library/computer room. Busy little wall, isn't it? I took this through the window from our back patio. The computer is right below the foreground. That window opening with the figurines and plants opens into our kitchen. The black figures to the left are one of the Green Stamps gifts we got way back in Redfield, S. D., right after we were married in 1960. That would make those figures almost half a century old. Sitting Bull is on the wall in the upper left, next to a Sioux tomahawk. There's a Sioux peace pipe to the left, just out of the picture. In the center, under the kitchen opening, is a long photo of cats, our favorite pets of choice. And right below the right corner of the cat photo is my signed photo of Arnold Palmer. I got this from a former student whose aunt worked as Arnie's secretary. Lots of books and cd's make up my room, lots of knickknacks that keep the whole room so busy. Just the way I want it.

The other night, for lack of anything better to do, I watched High Noon, one I’d taped from nearly a year ago off the AMC Channel. Wow, what a hokie flick. I’d always remembered it from the days of my youth and thought it was a good film. Wrong! Even today, lots of film critics regard it as an American classic. I guess they're seeing it differently than I am.Dimitri Tiomkin did the music and it was equally bad. I guess bad isn’t the right word. It’s hard to believe our tastes have changed so dramatically. Mine, anyway. The background music in those days was really intrusive. Whenever there was a dramatic moment, the music tried to shove it down our throats. Really dumb. And now I know that Gary Cooper really wasn’t a very good actor. A great matinee idol, but not an actor. Nor was Grace Kelley. I remembered in a typically unreliable way that the shootout at noon was in the middle of the street and that it involved only Gary and the bad guy. Instead, it was the marshal against four bad guys and the five of them were running all over town shooting and shooting and ducking and ducking. And after he and Grace (she helped him by plugging the third guy from behind) had killed the three underlings and he finally confronted the bad guy, who was using Grace for a cover, Grace tried to scratch his eyes out and that’s when Gary shot him dead. So, no dramatic face-to-face confrontation in the street, seeing who was quicker on the draw. I guess I have a bad memory. Or a very selective one. Then, almost immediately, everyone in town, all of whom had been too chicken to help old Gare out when push came to shove, came out of their holes and were on the street. Gary drops his badge in the dust and that's the end of it. Really dumb. I wonder if in fifty years, viewers then will think the movies of today are all as stupid as High Noon. Probably.

To counter that argument, though, last night I watched Braveheart, with Mel Gibson, and realized it would probably always be considered a great movie. It was a fabulous film. I hadn’t remembered Wallace’s connection with the French princess. I knew she was attracted to him, but I didn’t remember their consummating anything. What a role for Gibson, a tour de force. I mean, Sir William Wallace? And the center of the stage throughout? And the chance at the end to do a Christ impression with cross and everything? I remember what Rosalie so objected to when we saw it twelve years ago (TWELVE YEARS AGO!!??). The warfare was really up close and personal, with blood and guts just flying around. But the scenery of Scotland was impressive and beautiful, as was the story.

Thursday, September 10

If there's anyone viewing this set of blogs who hasn't already visited my website, please feel free to do so. I describe some books I'm proud of there and would love to share their descriptions with you. Go to

I'm sort of an obsessive reader, always have been. Once I get my teeth into the hide of a writer I like, I devour the entire canon of his/her works, sometimes more than once. For example, right now I'm rereading all of the Lucas Davenport series by John Sandford, the Prey series that nearly everyone in the world reads. I'm now in the middle of the ninth, and while I thought I'd read them all before, I've discovered that I hadn't read four of the first nine. Either that or I'm slipping rapidly into dementia. He reads very fast, but oh my, the violence. If there really were a Lucas Davenport in the real world, he'd be dead about a hundred times over. All in all, I've read the Matt Scudder series by Lawrence Block twice. Just love Matt Scudder. I've read the Travis McGee series by John D. MacDonald four times. Just love Travis McGee. I've read the Spenser series by Robert B. Parker twice and might do it again. Love Spenser (who never seems to age). I've read the entire (and it's a bunch) 87th Precinct series by Ed McBain and will do it again. Love all those guys. All the James Lee Burke series with Dave Robicheaux (a little hard to love but a great character). All the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman (great character who also never seems to age). All the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly (Harry is a literary twin of Matt Scudder, both characters dark as night). All the Elvis Cole series by Robert Crais (Elvis is a literary twin of Spenser, both characters sort of kookie). All of the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child (Jack is a literary twin of Travis McGee . . . sort of). There are more than I've listed here, but you get the picture. I'm obsessive. My first obsession was with the Oz series by L. Frank Baum. Owned 'em all, read and reread 'em. That was followed by all the Tarzan books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Now you have it, now you know part of me.

     I watch a lot of baseball, nearly every game the Diamondbacks play, and I have to comment on all the spitting, expectorating, if you want the fancy word. I realize it goes back to the old days when virtually every player spent the whole game with a jawful of "chaw." Lots of cancer-of-the-jaw-and-tongue later, most modern players are no longer chewing tobacco, but they continue the tradition of spitting . . . every five seconds. None of it’s mucousy stuff, just a normal (normal?) stream of saliva, most spat with the lips, some through the teeth. But they all do it. And now, with our use of tv cameras that can get such closeup shots, the viewer sees it over and over, in living color, up close and personal. It’s a habit that should be abandoned. I can’t think of any other sport in which the contestants spit. Not in football, basketball, tennis, soccer, bowling, beach volleyball, golf. Woops! Can’t really say that about golf since the entire world has occasionally seen Tiger let go with a long stream, usually after having hit a shot not to his liking, even though most of the other golfers would give their favorite putter to hit the same shot. I wish he wouldn't do it. I wish Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig would start policing the players, maybe fining them a thousand per spit. That would be about $200,000 a game for most of them. They’re all making a bunch of money, but at that rate they’d all be in the hole by the end of the season. You'd think they'd all be dehydrated by the end of each game.

Tuesday, September 8

The picture above is of the St. James Episcopal Church in Mobridge, South Dakota, the church where I was given my first lessons in religion and humility.  In terms of religion, it's where I first learned that I didn't need a church for my religiosity.  And as for humility, well I didn't learn much about that either.  Father Clark was the pastor and I remember him best for his sanctimonious delivery on Sundays.  You know, that phony deep-throated churchguy tone of voice that was meant to impress all the parishioners with his sincerity and zeal.  When I say all the parishioners, I mean only about twenty on even the best of Sundays.

A quick summary of my Episcopal impressions:  Sunday school in the basement, exactly where I didn't want to be, listening to stories of the Bible I wasn't interested in; the smell of lilacs either from the bushes outside or from someone's lilac perfume that infused the choir robes that hung in a closet in the basement; the smell of pine needles every Christmas when we would put on the Christmas play; my very short career as altar boy, lighting candles and snuffing them out (I was pretty good at both), carrying out other forgotten altar boy duties; my equally short stint as a member of the choir (I think quite often the choir outnumbered the devotees out in the pews); and last, the evening lessons preparing us for our Episcopal rite of passage, confirmation.  I don't think I was ever actually confirmed.  I think Father Clark just put me through the motions because he knew it wouldn't do him any good to try to actually confirm me in his and the church's beliefs.  The confirmation lessons were just awful.  I would question everything he said to us and we would often end up in loud arguments with no resolution.  God, I must have been a hateful child.  But I was never after that an Episcopalian.

A thought about tv commercials.  There are way too many commercials that are shown way too often, to the point where I wouldn't buy the product advertised if my life depended on it.  The obvious example is Alltel with their highly irritating Chad.  I never again want to see that kid and his family beneath the roller coaster, collecting "stuff" that falls from above, with Chad warning, "I wouldn't wear that," when the mother screams that her son has a new retainer.  Yuck!  My idea is to have a number of variations on the same commercial, changing the dialogue just a bit, a small change in the background or camera angle.  The same commerical but with subtle changes.  It wouldn't even cost much, just doing five or six takes when the ad is first shot.  The viewer would notice the switches and would pay attention down the road to see which variation wouild be next.

We're finally settling into the early fall weather here in the Valley.  Our highs are in the low triple digits, but within two weeks we'll be under a hundred.  Good.  And the humidity will drop once our monsoon season ends.  Good.  And then the snow birds will return in huge flocks.  Bad.  Yes, I know, we need their money and their business, but we don't need their nastiness and their air of superiority over us year-rounders.  The streets will soon be filled with out-of-state cars with out-of-state licenses, all going about fifteen miles over the speed limit.  The Safeway parking lot will again be as dangerous as a street in Iran.

Sunday, September 6

This is the only picture I have of one of the friends I made in Korea. Chuck Cavallero is on the left and Bill Baily on the right. But Chuck is the one I'm referring to. He arrived just before the war ended and we hit it off right away. He was from Philadelphia and had aspirations of being a dancer on Broadway. I'm quick to point out here that although most of the male dancers in New York are gay, Chuck was not one of them. He noticed me working on one of my song lyrics and decided then he'd like to join me in that endeavor. We started collaborating musically, both sort of doing lyrics and me doing the music. We even had an idea for a Broadway musical and outlined most of the songs and orchestrations. One I remember was called "The Show's Closing," and one of the musical interludes was going to be "Study in Chartreuse." How pretentious. We wrote other songs just to be writing songs and made plans for me to join him and his brother in Philadelphia after he got home. I was mustered out in July of 1954 and he sometime in the fall. Our plan was for me to fly to Philadelphia for New Year's Eve, stay there at his parents' house, and then Chuck and I and Chuck's brother Joe would take the train to New York, find an apartment, find jobs, and then continue with our plans for hitting Tin Pan Alley. He would continue his dance lessons, I would take singing lessons, and we'd continue writing music.

And that's kind of what we did. We got jobs with the Washington Detective Agency, working undercover (ooo, doesn't that sound interesting) for two brothers straight out of Damon Runyon. I say undercover because what they assigned us to was sort of illegal. Chuck and I had a clandestine meeting with the owner of White Towers, a chain of hamburger joints up and down the East Coast. We were taken to the meeting by one of the brothers, offered the opportunity of working at various of the New York based White Towers, just to keep our eyes open for any scams our fellow employees might be running that were costing the White Tower Corporation money. I worked in three different locations, the last one right across the street from Madison Square Garden. The scams involved stealing the coffee creamers (big deal) and using one bag of coffee for two pots of coffee, one pot for White Towers and one for the employees to split. Doesn't sound like much but in the course of a day in maybe five hundred locations that would add up to quite a bit. Once a week we'd meet one of the brothers in some hotel lobby, report our findings, get paid in cash from him (usually about $50) to go with what we made above the table from White Towers. It came out to about $100 a week, which in 1955 was equal to about $1,000 a week today. The White Tower thing lasted two or three months. Then we were made official, had our fingerprints taken at one of the police precincts and filled out the paperwork to become private detectives in New York State.

My last assignment was in the Bulova Watch Company out on Long Island. I was to work as an assistant oiler, simply listening for any talk of unionizing and reporting back to one of the brothers. Again, I got paid from both places, both above the table. I was there for one or two months before I decided I'd had enough of New York. I never heard a word about unionizing.

In the six months I was in New York, I drank way too much, saw about a million movies, broke my left metatarsal when I dropped a full fifty-five gallon barrel of oil on my foot, took about a dozen singing lessons (my specialty song was "Young and Foolish" from a short running Broadway musical called Plain and Fancy), wrote very few songs, although we did have two of them recorded on a demo disk, and that's about it.

The things I never did are more characteristic. Not to be taken for a country hick, I never looked up when I was walking down a NY street or avenue, never climbed the Empire State Building, never went to Central Park, never went to UN Headquarters, never went to any shows other than Plain and Fancy. To complete my list of nevers, after I left Chuck and Joe in New York, I never once wrote to Chuck or contacted him in any way. That was always one of the things I would do someday. Yeah, someday. By the time I finally located him some fifty years later, he had already died from cancer.

* * * * * * * *

I’m a collector. I collect things that simply drive my wife crazy. One never knows when one will need one or more of the things I collect. The daily "Arizona Republic" arrives with a rubber band holding it together. I dutifully remove it from the paper and drop it into my collection drawer in the kitchen. I now have in the neighborhood of two thousand rubber bands in that drawer. One never knows when one will need a rubber band. They reside loosely in the drawer along with the many empty prescription bottles there. I collect those also. I just can’t bring myself to throw away perfectly good empty prescription bottles. I suppose I should start putting the rubber bands into the prescription bottles. Maybe next week. I also have a collection of cocktail picks for the many olives we consume in our evening Scotch-and-waters. My favorites are the black ones from Outback. Whenever we eat at Outback, we each have two dirty martinis with three olives and I carefully save the picks to bring home with me. We must have three or four hundred variously colored cocktail picks. One never knows when one will need another cocktail pick. We also go through a lot of kitty litter, which we buy at CostCo in forty-pound buckets, square white plastic containers with snap-down lids. What does one do with an empty plastic bucket? Well, one saves it. What else? And they make admirable containers for the many books I collect. I keep books by author in those plastic containers. I must now have twenty or more in the garage, filled with books by author. And my collecting of books can just barely keep up with the cats’ usage of their litter. I have about six empty buckets right now, so I think I’m safe for a while. The obvious question that comes up with all this collecting: What happens to it all when I die? In the old days, when I was a mere thirty or forty, death was never a consideration. The collections would always be around and would always be needed. But now, at seventy-five, I have to think about a cutoff point in my collecting. When I go to CostCo to buy "stuff" in quantity, how many cans of green beans or jars of olives or large boxes of cereal or cans of albacore tuna or chicken or plastic kitchen garbage bags or bags of frozen chicken breasts should I buy? I must always think ahead to the possibility of death. And one wouldn’t want to meet his maker leaving behind too much "stuff." Maybe I should get rid of some of the prescription bottles. Nah, the prescription bottles might come in handy for storing my ashes.

Saturday, September 5

I can't remember when I put this together. A long time ago. This was an old "Bert and Ernie" For a long time I couldn't remember the first name. Then I went on-line to find it. Bert, good old Bert. Thank heavens for the Net. I find more forgotten pieces of my memory there. Amazing how many things I've forgotten. I do remember where I first got the limerick about Sweeney. Brother Bob sent it to me at least twenty years ago and I pulled the others from one of my many collections of poetry.

What a nice surprise this morning--overcast skies and rain, yes, rain in the desert. I remember cursing the skies in western New York when it would drizzle and drizzle for days on end. Now I look forward to the few rains we get.

Another weekend of sitting here at the computer and watching tv sports with my left eye, not only split vision but split attention. Right now Federer is playing Hewitt at the U.S. Open, and they're tied after two sets. Tennis on the tube is maybe my favorite sports viewing. So much about the game--the shots, the strategy, the mind games--is more obvious on tv than it would be for the live audience, especially those in the upper decks. And at noon, the Deutsche Bank golf tournament will be on. Tiger's putting woes continue and he's seven shots out of the lead after the first day. Maybe he'll figure it out and get back in contention. I hope so.

It's been sixteen years since I retired and I'm now wondering, in these economically depressed times, if I and the rest of the nation's retirees aren't the last to be able to live in places like Sun City West. My children and the rest of their generation may not be able to quit working until they're eighty or ninety or until they're dead. The Social Security pot will have to run dry soon. The present work force can't continue to support the growing numbers of retired people, and then there won't be anything left for them. How sad. One day, our little retirement oases, like all the Sun Cities around the world and the others like them, will be a thing of the past. I keep remembering Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, in which Clarke's society of the future has everyone living extended lives, technological advances providing for all human needs, no one any longer having to work, everone now able to devote themselves to many careers and intellectual pursuits. It would be nice if the world could make it to that level before killing ourselves or destroying the planet we live on.

The cover of my first novel, the one I was just sure would get published because it focused on amateur golf, club golf such as millions of us are involved in. But the major publishers didn't see it that way. It took me over twenty years of frustration before I finally had it published myself. I still think it would have been a successful venture for a paperback publisher like Bantam.

Friday, September 4

It struck me yesterday, while we were watching the two Millionaires we watch nearly every afternoon, that I hope I don't live long enough that Meredith Vierra starts looking dowdy. She's in her fifties and looks like the million bucks she keeps trying to give away. It's no wonder we hate the show every time she's out for a week or so. No one else can do it like she can.

Disturbing news on the tube a few weeks ago. "Nadya Suleman Gives Birth to Octuplets," it said. A 33-year-old single mother of six (all with the help of fertility processes) now has fourteen children from the age of one week to six years. Wow! Either avowed Catholicism or stupidity. But I repeat myself. In an age of world over-population, we now have a woman with few financial resources who will try to raise fourteen children . . . by herself. What could the doctors who helped bring this about have been thinking? I'd really be interested in hearing them explain how they thought this would be a good idea. This situation is mind-boggling. Am I the only one whose mind is boggled by this example of selfishness? I hope not.

Stray thoughts and observations: I've noticed a peculiar trend in films and television the last several years. We're getting more and more scenes in restrooms, more and more men standing at urinals, backs to the camera, urinating and then shaking off. I wonder why filmmakers find it necessary to have scenes like this. Even Charlie and Alan in “Two-and-a-Half Men” were seen this season, trying to see who could last the longest before having to go back out to pay the restaurant bill. I guess this trend is similar to the upward (or downward) spiral toward ever more vulgar language. And nudity. Even full frontal male nudity. In The Reader, young Michael is seen fleetingly in front as he is being bathed by his German lover. Hung like a young stallion. And I'd bet females of all ages are calling him for a date.

Time is really flying this summer. August just flew by me and I barely noticed it. I'm seventy-five years old and figure I probably have ten more years to go. That's 120 months. If each month were a dollar, I'd have $120 in my mental piggy bank. And August just cost me a buck. It seemed more like two-bits. Inflation, I guess. I could stretch it out to twenty years if I behaved myself, lost thirty pounds, went on that exercise program I keep talking about, give up ice cream and booze. But the quality of my life would go down dramatically. I think I'll spend a few pennies thinking about it . . . I thought about it and decided against it. Okay, then, 119 months left. Spend them wisely, fool.

It's been almost fifteen years since I retired and I'm now wondering, in these economically depressed times, if I and the rest of the nation's retirees aren't the last to be able to live in places like Sun City West. My children and the rest of their generation may not be able to quit working until they're eighty or ninety or until they're dead. The Social Security pot will have to run dry soon. The present work force can't continue to support the growing numbers of retired people, and then there won't be anything left for them. How sad. One day, our little retirement oases, like all the Sun Cities around the world and the others like them, will be a thing of the past. I keep remembering Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, in which Clarke's society of the future has everyone living extended lives, technological advances providing for all human needs, no one any longer having to work, instead being able to devote themselves to many careers and intellectual pursuits. It would be nice if the world could make it to that level before killing ourselves or destroying the planet we live on.

Last month, I had to have two chest x-rays as part of my annual physical. As I waited for the technician to see if what he had was all right, I noticed on the door a sign stating that anyone who is pregnant should notify the technician. Below it, in Spanish, was the word for "pregnant": embarazado. What an unusual choice of words. The Spanish word means literally "embarrassed." How does that relate to being pregnant? Strange.

As long as I’m talking about words, here’s another: the modern penchant for using "impact" as a verb. Nearly every newscaster now uses it to mean "to effect," as in to bring about or cause changes. But "impact" is most often used as a noun equivalent of "effect." So, when they say, "The vote in the Senate will impact medical costs for years," they really mean it will "have an effect on medical costs for years." Just another example of the way our language continues to grow and change. But is it always for the better?

The Barbra Streisand tv special last spring was very special indeed. I guess I expected her at 67 not to be as good as she was twenty years ago. Wrong. Same pipes, same absolute pitch, same ability to sustain a note forever. She's sixty-seven. Where does she get off singing just as well now as then? And she absolutely captivated the audience. Yes, I know, the audience was made up of show biz people who were paying her homage because they feared her or hated her or loved her, and the rest of the low-lives who sprang for the price of a ticket were her army of adorees. From what I've heard of her in the business, she's a bitch to work for or with. Doesn't seem to matter. She's still the best at what she does: sing a song so perfectly no one else wants to try it, sell the lyrics so dramatically we all tend to weep at the meaning or the beauty, hit every note right on the button. Now, to demonstrate what I said about her sustaining a note, find this one from Yentl, "A Piece of Sky." Take out a stop watch and time the last note. Twenty seconds. Unbelievable. You should try it for yourself, hum a note softly and see how long you can hold it. If you get to fifteen I'll be surprised, and that's just a soft hum. Now try one full blast and hope you get to ten.

Thursday, September 3

This is a blog post I wrote on my other website and am transferring it here.

Monday, August 31

Another month rushing down the drain, another thirty-one days I'll never see again. It's still above average these days and plenty hot, but before we know it we'll be complaining about how cold it is. And another weekend when Tiger couldn't quite get the job done. I and the commentators and the rest of the world watching the final holes on Sunday couldn't believe it when he missed a putt of 6'-3" that would have gotten him into a tie and a playoff. Whoa! Tiger just doesn't miss putts that short, with that much on the line. He looked as stunned as the rest of us when it went on by on the left edge. It just had to be a misread, because he doesn't mis-hit putts. I almost spelled it "mishit," which may have been more appropriate than "mis-hit." Lots of people are saying he's lost his magic, he's aging, he's losing his edge. Well, let's look at the year and this last tournament. He's won five times for the year, and in this one that he lost, placing second, he beat Furyk by five, Sergio by nine, Phil by twelve, and Vijay didn't even make the cut. If Tiger is losing his edge, what does that say about his closest rivals? Enough. Next week is another playoff toward the FedEx Cup. We'll see how many would bet against him winning that one, or the next two for that matter Tiger should have a lock on being the overall winner of the FedEx Cup.

We watched much of the funeral and burial of Ted Kennedy on Sunday. It was moving, but I couldn't help but think about all those other senators and representatives who will die in future years and not receive even a tenth of the attention given to Senator Kennedy. Hardly seems fair. Granted, he was a long-time senator with a long list of senatorial accomplishments. But he was not the greatest senator of all time, not even close. He was a Kennedy. I listened to the remarks of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick just before the casket was lowered. I think I heard him say something about the "elegies" given by grandson Ted Kennedy and President Obama at the funeral service. "Elegies?" If that's what he really said, then I wonder how a man who knew he was going to be heard by millions and millions of people viewing the telecast could have made such a grievous usage error. It's nearly as bad as the eight-year run of "newk-yuh-ler" from the mouth of George Bush.

Tuesday, September 1

We just saw Julie and Julia and enjoyed it thoroughly. Meryl Streep never ceases to amaze me and the rest of the viewing public. She just plain became Julia Child. You could almost hear the saliva dripping whenever she began to eat a new recipe. And Amy Adams was great as Julie, the blogger cook who tried all 524 recipes in the Child cookbook. What a delightfully fun way to spend an afternoon.

I just began the most recent book by James Lee Burke, Rain Gods, this time about a new set of characters instead of the usual Dave Robicheaux and company. And again, my jaw drops at some of his writing. I'm enough of a reader and old English teacher that I can spot good writing, great writing, when I see it. It isn't just the way he frames his sentences nor what he's saying nor the rhythms of his words. It's a combination of all of that. For example, the main character, Hackberry Holland, explains why he had to move out of his house, the home he had shared with his wife and children until her early death and the children's departure for their own lives. "The truth was, he could not rise in the morning from his bed surrounded by the things she had touched, the wind blowing the curtains, pressurizing the emptiness of the house, stressing the joists and studs and crossbeams and plaster walls against one another, filling the house with a level of silence that was like someone clapping cupped palms violently on his eardrums. He could not wake to these things and Rie's absence and the absence of his children, whom he still saw in his mind's eye as little boys, without concluding that a terrible theft had been perpetrated upon him and that it had left a lesion in his heart that would never heal." If I were explaining this to one of my English classes, I'd start with the structure, the way he builds on a very simple main clause and then drips the images thereafter. "The truth was . . . something." That's just a basic S-V-S pattern with the second S a noun s-v-o that forgot it's signal word "that." The structure of that noun s-v-o begins with "he could not rise" and then two adverbial 1-o's (prepositional phrases), the 4, "surrounded" (past participle), working with both the subject "he" as well as the verb "could not rise", then the "surrounded" modified by the adverb 1-o-o "by the things," with the "things" modified by the adjective s-v-o "she had touched" with the signal word "that" left out because it was acting simply as the object of the verb "had touched," then the very complicated set of words acting as the second object of "by." All right, we're now up to the sets of words led off by the "wind," which is acting as the s of the 3 (present participle) "blowing" and the object of "blowing" "the curtains." Then another 3 "pressurizing" and its object "emptiness" and the 1-o "of the house" modifying "emptiness." Then another 3 "stressing" and its objects "joists," "studs," crossbeams," and "walls" with the 1-o "against one another" working adverbially with "stressing." Then the final 3 in the series of 3's, all with the subject "wind," "filling" and its object "house," followed by the adverbial 1-o "with a level," then another 1-o "of silence" acting as an adjective to describe "level." And finally, the adjective s-v-o working with "silence" "that was like someone clapping cupped palms violently on his eardrums." Now how to explain the structure of this last thing? I guess I need to create a similar sentence to show it: The silence was similar to (or "like") someone clapping cupped palms on his eardrums. The structure of that sentence is an S-V-S (the silence was similar) and then a 1-o (to someone clapping palms), the object of the 1 being an s-3-o (a gerund with its own subject and its own o), and finally a 1-o "on his eardrums" adverbially modifying "clapping." Whew! Almost no one except for some of my very advanced English students would have any iedea what I just said. I'm not sure Burke knew what he was doing when he wrote that sentence, but his ear told him how to do it without needing to know if it was right or wrong. It's very very right.

I've been checking out some blogs of others here with Blogger, and I've decided mine are pretty bland compared to most of the ones I've seen--lots of images and colors and cutesy things said marginally. Other than a few photos I may insert, I think I'll stick to bland.

We are owned by two cats, Dusty, a male tabby, and Squeakie, a female calico. A few years ago I made the bad mistake of giving them treats sometime during the day, that is, canned wet catfood. They had been given only hard food for the first seven years we had them. They loved the wet stuff so well, especially the king of the roost Dusty, that he became more and more demanding as time went on--food on the floor more and more often and more and more at odd times of the day and night, especially at night. Anyone who might stumble onto this blog and is not a cat lover will not understand what I say next. Dusty always sleeps with us, Squeakie never. When we go to bed we can always count on his joining us within five or ten minutes after lights out. He's good until about 3:00 or 4:00 when his stomach tells him it's time for more fooooood. He never bothers Rosalie, only me, the foooood giver. I try to ingnore him and can usually get another hour or so of sleep before he finally does it and I give up and get up and give him a half can of Fancy Feast (oh, yes, only the best for the king). Then I return to bed and sleep until I hear him make that joyous run from about the living room, down the short hall to our bedroom, and then a leaping crash onto the bed. He's been fed, he's happy again . . . for a while. If he likes the brand I've given him, he eats his fill and is good for the next three or four hours. But if it's something that doesn't just happen to suit him this time, he eats two bites, comes back to bed, and then begins his torture tactics again an hour later. It's a contest every night to see who's goint to win the battle of wills.

Last night, just before we turned out the lights, Dusty, in the bedroom doorway, coughed up everything he had just eaten, an amount that was going to keep him happy for almost the entire night. The pig had eaten too much too fast and up it came. Cat lovers know that cat spitup is just something we all have to suffer with. No big deal. Paper towel for the majority of it, then water to dilute, then a towel to scrub up the rest. No big deal. But I knew I was going to lose the battle this night. He was going to want to be fed again . . . and soon. At 1:30 it began. He gets as close to my head as he can, whiskers brushing my cheek or forehead, then a little meow asking if I'm really asleep or just faking it. So I fake it. The trick is never to move a muscle or crack the eyes open even a tiny bit. He's very clever and he sees me in the dark. More meows, louder and more insistent, his way of saying, "Gettup! Gettup! I want foooood!" I hold myself frozen for five minutes, ten minutes. Then he circles me to the outer edge of the bed, stepping on my legs deliberately as he circles. This time he gives me the ultimate shot, a little saliva-filled sneeze in my face to see if I'm alive or dead. He knows the sneeze trick usually gets me moving. And he's right. It works. I get up and dutifully give him another half can of a variety I knows he really likes. Then, in defeat, back to bed until I hear him make his running leap to the bed, then a few satisfied smacks as he cleans his front paws before lying down till morning's light. God, I love that cat.

Well, I guess if I'm going to say I love Dusty, I'd better include a comment or two about Squeakie. I love her also. She got that name because she doesn't sound like most cats. Her sounds come out as tiny little squeaks. She's three years younger than Dusty, just a baby when we got her and Dusty from Four Paws. Dusty was (we estimate) three when we got him, and became Squeakie's parent and protector. But he knows he's the alpha cat and lets her know it too. We think Dusty was abused before we got him, because he wouldn't look at me or let me touch him when he first came home to live with us. In fact, I had to work very diligently for almost three years before he would believe I wasn't going to hurt him. I'm happy to say that now we're best of buddies (despite his nightly test of wills).

Wednesday, September 2

I'm new to this kind of writing, so I guess I'll just post daily random thoughts and see what happens.

I recently heard a song for the first time and was so impressed with it I have to talk about it. Boz Scaggs, on a cd I just bought, sings "The Ballad of the Sad Young Men" and it's just about the saddest thing I've ever heard. Sad, not depressing. And then I bought cd's by Kurt Elling and Jane Monheit and lo and behold, the same song showed up on both. Then I went exploring to find out who wrote it and when. It was one of the tunes from a failed Broadway show in 1959 called The Nervous Set, music by Christopher Peacock, lyrics by Tommy Wolf. How could I never have heard it in all that time since it first appeared?

Sing a song of sad young men, glasses full of rye,
All the news is bad again, kiss your dreams goodbye,
All the sad young men, sitting in the bars,
Knowing neon lights, missing all the stars,
All the sad young men, drifting through the town,
Drinking up the night, trying not to drown,
All the sad young men, singing in the cold,
Trying to forget that they're growing old.
All the sad young men, choking on their youth,
Trying to be brave, running from the truth.

Autumn turns the leaves to gold, slowly dies the heart,
Sad young men are growing old, that's the cruelest part.
All the sad young men seek a certain smile,
Someone they can hold for a little while,
Tired little girl does the best she can,
Trying to be gay for her sad young man.
While the grimy moon watches from above,
All the sad young men play at making love.
Misbegotten moon, shine for sad young men,
Let your gentle light guide them home tonight,
All the sad young men.

The words by themselves don't do as much as they do with the music. Find this song and listen to it silently. This isn't a conversation tune. You'll see what I mean about its sadness, not its depression.

Blog Archive

Any comments? Write me at