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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.

Friday, April 30

Papa's Shoes

Today, one can hardly avoid any of the television commercials for curing ED: Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Testora, Aspire 36, and other less well-known remedies. Only a few years ago, one could hardly discuss such a problem for fear of what it said about one’s masculinity. ED, erectile dysfunction, the male condition most males wouldn’t admit to even if subjected to round-the-clock waterboarding. Wouldn’t admit to it then, but now it seems that nearly all males, young and old, are victims of this non-uplifting condition, and nearly all are more than willing to discuss it, admit to it, spend millions of bucks to cure it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to invite a good-looking woman into the woods to lie in adjacent bathtubs admiring the scenery? Viagra got the balls rolling in 1998 and it’s been open game for other products ever since.

Last year my brother sent me a small card, now yellowed with age, that he’s had ever since our father died almost half a century ago. According to Bob, the card was found in our father’s billfold, apparently carried there from some distant time in his past. How unusual that he would have found it amusing enough to carry it with him.

Three quatrains, untitled:

I’m growing old and feeble,
My pilot light is out.
What used to be my sex appeal
Is now my water spout.

I used to be embarrassed
The way the thing behaved,
For every single morning
It would stand and watch me shave.

But now I’m growing older,
It sure gives me the blues,
To see the thing hang down my leg
And watch me tie my shoes.

Monday, April 26

Pigs & Other Propositions

Wow! I’ve been neglecting these blogs lately. Guess I haven’t had anything very important or insightful to say. Some would say I’m engaging in puffery by suggesting that what I say is insightful, but I think sometimes what I have to say is worth repeating. Or not.

First, my wounds and their care. I’m just completing my fourth month of treatments at the Wound Care Center in Sun City. If they had told me at the beginning that I might be only partway healed after four months, I’d have said, “You’ve got to be kidding!” But now it seems that I’m in for the long haul. Today my doctor, Matt Essary, told me he thought they were making progress, especially the small one. I said wonderful. Then he cleaned them out and scraped them (oh, how I hate the scraping, a necessary step in the healing process . . . or at least that’s what he says) and told me he was going to continue the treatment he started two weeks ago, putting pig intestine in the wounds, that it was called “stacking” by putting the pig intestine in three or four times over one or two week intervals, that my body would absorb the pig goop and react by building up a platform at the bottom of the wounds, thus eventually allowing new skin to grow across the top. I figure, at the rate established in the first four months, that I have at least another four months to go. Damn! I want to say to him (but I won’t), “Do you realize that these eight months could very well represent 6.7% of the rest of my life?” He’d probably reply, “How do you figure?” I’d say, “Assuming I have about ten more years to live, or 120 months, eight months is 6.7% of that total.” Oh, well, I still have lots of books to read.

Several days ago we received in the mail a ballot for voting early on a special election about a 3-year, 1% increase in the state sales tax. Two things about this ballot bother me. First, every word on the ballot is in both English and Spanish. Second, nowhere in any of the literature or ads telling us to say yes is there a word about how unfair an increase in a sales tax is. First, the language thing. Almost everything sold in Arizona now has descriptions and instructions about how to use or construct products in both languages. I realize that almost half the population of Arizona is now Hispanic, many of whom are first-generation, having lived here anywhere from thirty years to one day. But the language of the U.S. is English. In our melting pot history of immigrants from all over the world, we have always expected these new citizens to learn our language, and in almost every case, they have, without expecting all publications and documents to be written in their native tongues. Not so anymore, at least not in Arizona. Second, the most unfair tax levied has always been a sales tax. The actual amount of one’s livelihood makes 1% a disproportionate amount, a far greater amount to someone earning only $15,000 a year compared to someone earning $200,000 a year. This 3-year tax will be used to support our school districts, retain teachers who will otherwise have to be released. A worthy use for this money, and it will pass without a doubt. But why hasn’t anyone pointed out how unfair it is?

Saturday, April 17

Gun Uncontrol

Arizona’s Gov. Jan Brewer just signed a new bill that eliminates the requirement for a concealed-carry weapons permit, joining Vermont and Alaska in that regard. The only time an Arizonan would need a permit is if he wants to carry a gun into a restaurant or bar. Well, that’s nice. In any other place in the state, he can carry a concealed weapon anywhere on his person, or wear it in a holster at his waist, or carry it in his teeth. Other elements of this bill: no need for a background-check to buy a gun, no requirement for classes in the safe handling of weapons or training on a range. You know, this bill should make me feel safer when I’m out on the town or shopping in a store. I mean, a killer or armed robber or a hoodlum who thinks he’s been dissed would think twice about whipping out a gun and aiming it at me if he thought he might be outgunned by twenty or thirty gun-toting spectators. And if he did, well, too bad about any collateral damage to folks in the area. That’s just the necessary result of protecting our Second Amendment rights.

It’s always seemed to me that the Second Amendment is sorely outdated, being written into our Constitution at a time when our citizens had a greater need for self-protection than now. “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” I’m pretty sure our founding fathers meant “militia” to be a citizen army to protect us from invaders.

All right, the NRA people are correct in wanting to retain the right to purchase handguns, to use them in hunting or for shooting on a range. But why in the world do they think they need to carry guns around everywhere they go? Are they just itching for a High Noon quick-draw shootout on Main Street? NRA members invariably say, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Yes, people with guns kill people. If guns were not so readily available, murder, especially murder in the heat of passion, would drop dramatically. It’s more difficult to kill someone in anger if you use a knife or your hands. A gun can be used without thought, from a distance or up close. All it takes is using a finger to discharge a handgun, no matter the difference in strength or size of shooter and victim. A knife requires strength to be lethal, as does a baseball bat or a fireplace poker or a concrete block.

Thanks, Jan Brewer. You and Sarah Palin can serve in a “militia” that we send to the Arizona/Mexico border.

Thursday, April 8

The Masters

All right, finally. It’s 12:40 and live coverage of the Masters comes on in twenty minutes. I’ve been following the results on the Golf Channel. I say “results” because the Augusta folks absolutely ban any television bits of action, even if it’s only taped. So I listen while Notah Begay and others discuss the biggest news, that Tom Watson is leading at minus five. Unheard of, a sixty-year-old upstart, shooting a round that low. For at least a month now I’ve read what golf people were saying about the new Augusta National’s layout, the added distance, bigger sand bunkers. “Ooo ooo,” they kept saying, “it’s too long, too tough.” Well, from the looks of the leader board, it’s sort of a pussy cat: some twenty or thirty players under par with four in a tie with Watson with 67’s. Tiger and Matt Kuchar and K. J. Choi are in the next to last group, with all three of them under par through the first seven holes.

All right, now it’s time to talk about all the people who have chewed Tiger out in print or in televised interviews (not to his face) about his not treating the game with a proper respect, mouthing a few no-no’s at the viewing public, even an occasional f-bomb, tossing a few clubs back to Stevie with a disrespectful amount of enthusiasm. Tom Watson and others of the oldsters kept saying he’s got to change his attitude, curb his anger, stop the invective. It’s only in the last fifteen or so years that television has been miking players, right there in their faces with telescopic zoom shots, looking up their noses, ready to pounce visually on every misstep or misword. I defy any of these oldsters who were not miked or were never victims of tv’s barrage of close-ups to tell me they never cursed on the course, never hurled really disrespectful words at their ball or the course, never dropped a club with more force than necessary. I remember a classic involving Curtis Strange about twenty years ago at a course in Florida. He had just hit one or two shots into swampy stuff and apparently forgot he was wearing a mike. I remember watching him stomp after his shot, muttering very clearly, “F_ _ _ this M_ _ _ _ _ F_ _ _ing course!” Now that was really disrespectful, but I’ve never heard anyone mention it. And Tommy Bolt in the old days got a much deserved nickname of Thunder Bolt, for wrapping more than one set of clubs around more than one tree.

All right, finally, it’s 1:00 and live coverage can begin. Go get ‘em, Tiger.

Saturday, April 3

Grapefruit & Sarah

The orange and grapefruit trees in our backyard are just now concluding their blossoming, with the once white blossoms now sort of a fading tan as they give way to the process of producing the tiny green fruit. But for a period of two weeks, the air was laden with their aroma, almost over-laden, with the scent slapping us in the face. It’s not an unpleasant sensation, but it can be almost overpowering. And this year we were blessed (or cursed) with so many blossoms that our trees looked more white than green. Even our little transported grapefruit tree is loaded with blossoms. This is the tree we grew from a seed back in New York almost thirty-five years ago, the one we kept as a house plant, finally putting it in the ground when we moved to Arizona, where it grew so thick it was dangerous to insert an arm inside its branches. After fifteen years here, it’s now about ten feet tall. This spring I finally got around to trimming it up from the ground, giving it more room to produce fruit. The tree, in fifteen years has produced only half a dozen grapefruit, and those only in the last two seasons. But by this summer it should have a bunch.

I just read an article in this week’s Time called “It’s Her Party Now.” The “her” referred to is obviously Sarah Palin, and the party is either the Mad Hatter’s tea party, or the GOP. I think the first possibility is much more appropriate, with Sarah as female Mad Hatter and the party attendees as her dippy, tea-sipping devotees. If, in fact, Sarah represents the future for the GOP, then I have to say the GOP is in even bigger trouble than I thought. I’d like to see a 2012 ticket of Palin/McCain, sort of a flip-flop of 2008, with the emphasis on “flop.” Such a ticket would solidify Obama’s chances in the next presidential election.

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