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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 is 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, you can find an archive list at the bottom of this page.

Friday, October 29

Texting, Politics, & a Pun

Dear Amy,

I spotted a short news article the other day, about a man and his 4-year-old son ramming into a train stopped at a crossing. Right through the barrier arms, lights flashing, warning bells clanging, into the side of the train. Rescuers had to cut them out of the car. How could the man have driven into a parked train, you ask? Right, he was too busy texting to notice. I wonder what he’ll tell his son one day, maybe on the day he gets released from prison: “Oh, yeah, well, see, son, it was really important.” I hope they throw the book at him.

I must be politically naïve . . . or maybe just stupid. Why can’t we regulate the amount of money spent on any campaign on both a national as well as a state level, make the amount small enough that no candidate would want to waste money on the sort of attack ads we now see . . . over and over again. Why should elections now be decided by the amount of money candidates can raise instead of on their stand on issues? A billionaire doofus can now buy a seat in congress if he’s willing to spend most of his fortune. I’m certainly glad Ben Quayle isn’t a billionaire. Oh, yeah, he’s a doofus, but not a rich doofus.

Pun time: A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel, and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of his office and asked them to disperse. “But why?” one of them asked as they moved off. “Because,” he said, “I can’t stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer.

Whoa! Sorry about that, Amy.

Love, Jerry

Tuesday, October 26

Amy and Hereafter

Dear Amy,

Since it appears that you're my only reader, I may as well simply address these blogs to you. Thank you, by the way, for being so loyal to my ramblings. I can't tell you how much it means to me.

We went to see Hereafter today and I have to say it's a must-see. It wasn't the best film I've ever seen but it made me feel better than any film has made me feel for such a long time. For the life of me, I can't understand how filmmakers can create such scenes as the opening tsunami episode. It's like all the sleight-of-hand and magicians' illusions that also confound me. The movie may depend too much on the coincidental joining of the three plot strands, but who cares. I love Matt Damon, I loved all the other people in this film. I loved this film. I hope you do too.

My last trip to the doctor revealed that absolutely no progress has been made in the healing of my leg wounds. I'm about to tell him, despite the fact that he's a very nice man, that I won't be coming back to see him. He's tried every trick in his book of healing tricks and nothing has worked. So I think I'll just treat it on my own and let the wounds fall where they may. What do you think? Would that be too premature of me?

Today is a gorgeous Arizona day, low eighties, windless, clear skies. So nice that when we got home from the movie, I decided to walk to Pebblebrook, a nearby golf course, to putt a bit. I may not be able to hit a golf ball anymore, but I can still putt. The course is an easy fifteen minute walk from our house so I was hardly panting when I got there. Naturally, I ran into an old golfing buddy who just had to chat for a while. We chatted for a while. And then another old, and I do mean old, golfing buddy showed up and we three chatted for a while. By that time I was out of the mood for putting. I putt 15 times, made three rather long ones, didn't have any 3-putts, and decided to call it a day. On my way home, halfway there, with my legs really starting to yell at me, the second old buddy drove by and asked me if I'd like a ride home. I agreed hastily. And that's when I decided to write you this note.

I hope all is well with you and Rick and the kids. Greet them all for me. Love, Jerry

Saturday, October 23

Puns, Football, & Movies

Some puns are punnier than other puns. There was the person who sent twenty different puns to his friends, with the hope that at least ten of the puns would make them laugh . . . no pun in ten did. And Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and with this odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him a super-calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis. Let me know if you think you can top that last one.

Saturday afternoon, nothing but college football on the tube. Iowa State did a nice number on Texas. ASU looks like they're going to lose again to California. And Wisconsin is trying to pull a minor upset over Iowa. And last Thursday night I watched maybe the craziest hurry-up offense I've ever seen--Oregon with a frantic offense that could run two or three hundred plays a game. I don't know how the offensive personnel could keep everything straight or not jump offsides. But I can appreciate how awful it would be to try to defend against that bunch of swift Ducks.

I saw two movies over the weekend, Red and The Social Network. Red was a simple, simply fun movie with four oldtimers acting like bad asses: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich. But Mary-Louise Parker out distanced her four seniors, pretty much stealing the show. Go see it. You'll have fun. The Social Network was good but not a whole lot of fun. I guess most of my problem is that I don't understand this world-wide attraction to the phenomenon called "Facebook." This world of cell phones and cell phone apps and Twitters and Tweets and facebook connections is just beyond me. Technological advances are advancing just too fast for me.

Thursday, October 21

Writer's Block

Wow, I'm stuck. I've run out of topics and much as I rack my brain I can't come up with anything worth writing about. Helluva note. The day is cold and grayish, nothing worth looking at on the tube (no football or baseball, no golf, that is), and I don't much feel like exercising. I went for a walk early this morning, once around our block from our house to Keystone, then up to Conquistador, back to Flagstone, and home again. Maybe a slow mile or less and I was exhausted. These past ten months of inactivity have taken their toll. I hoped as I walked that no one was peeking out a window, seeing this old person weaving and half-stumbling down the sidewalk. My legs felt like rubber and acted like boneless sushi. I decided to divide the rest of the day with some typing, music, Deaver's Burning Wire, and napping a bit. Oh, yeah, have I mentioned that I nap a lot lately? Not on purpose, not lying on bed or sofa, just nodding off as I sit at computer or read in a chair or watch television. I'll wake up thirty minutes later and realize I've just lost another half hour of my life. I think this exhaustion may still be related to the many hours I spent in the hyperbaric chamber. Or not. Maybe it's just that I'm getting old and creaky.

Monday, October 18

November Elections and TNT

Only two more weeks before the elections. Thank goodness. We’re being inundated with attack ads on the tube. I assume the same thing is happening all over the country, and that doesn’t say anything good about any of the candidates. Instead of telling us what the candidate stands for, what he or she intends to accomplish if elected, we get all these really vicious attacks on opponents, attacks that may or may not be true. I’d like to think that the voting public is smart enough to see through the technique, but, sadly, I also know that’s not true. So, whichever candidate has the most money to run the most attack ads will probably win. If candidates would devote the time and energy to tell me why I should vote for them instead of telling me why I shouldn’t vote for their opponents, I’d give them my vote, no matter what political party or persuasion they belong to.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again: TNT now and in the recent past has more really good hour-long dramas than any of the other networks, with the possible exception of Fox. Look at this string of winners: The Closer, Saving Grace, Southland, Hawthorne, Leverage, Rizolli and Isles, Dark Blue, and last, but certainly not least, Men of a Certain Age. The men are Scott Bakula, Adnre Braugher, and Ray Romano, and the three of them together create characters and story lines that are rich and complex. The three are lifelong buddies, all three of that certain age when male menopause kicks in. Ray Romano fooled me completely. I thought he’d never be able to escape his character on Everybody Loves Raymond, but in Men he portrays a man who has lost his wife and marriage because of a gambling addiction, who runs a party favor store, who is searching for a new identity in his late forties. Scott Bakula plays an aging actor with a string of lovers about half his age. And Andre Braugher is stuck in a job he doesn’t particularly like, selling cars for his father. The plots aren’t really plots at all, just character studies of these three men interacting and searching for meaning in their “certain ages.” If you haven’t seen it, you really must tune in: 11:00 p.m Mondays.

Thursday, October 14

My Way

Last Tuesday we went to the Arizona Broadway Theatre to see a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra called My Way. What a great place that is. What a great show it was. This was the opening of their sixth season, the last five of which we’ve had season passes, and we love the convenience of it, the quality of the shows and dinners. No more do we have to make that horrendous trek to Gammage to see a good musical. ABT is an easy twenty minute drive to the Arrowhead Mall area: east on Bell to Chili’s (one light past the Target entrance), turn right for two blocks, and there it is, sort of right behind the Peoria Sports Complex.. Or, on 83rd going toward the Arrowhead Harkins, you could hang a left at Red Robin and follow your nose, easy to get to, easy to park.

You enter a spacious lobby, with bar to the left and ticket office and restrooms to the right. The walls hold colorful posters of past shows. You are then ushered to your assigned table. I think the seating capacity is around 400, and not a bad seat in the house. This night the stage was already set up without a curtain: a semicircular wall at the rear with floor to ceiling openings, New York skyline behind. Three circular tiers on the left led to a bandstand for grand piano, percussion, and bass. On the floor level there were tables and chairs and a bar at the rear. The back wall as we entered was done in alternating cream and pale violet. And right in the middle of stage front, a standup mike with a pale blue fedora rakishly atop. We were all set for Frank.

We arrived about an hour and a quarter before curtain (or in this case, no curtain). Our servers Macy and Steve brought us hot breadsticks and cocktails, then later took our orders: seafood bisque for Don and Jean, mesclun greens for Rosalie and me, and entrées of bistro beef tenderloin for Don and Jean, stuffed breast of chicken for Rosalie, and veal osso bucco for me. This menu is as good, as classy, as you’d find anywhere in the Valley.

And at 7:30 the show began. A cast of two couples sang a total of 57 (57! Count ‘em!) numbers from the Sinatra library. According to one bit of patter from one of the singers, Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded over 1300 songs, many of which were recorded multiple times throughout his career. Most of us grayheads know most of the best known, but some were new to us. The couples didn’t try to do a Sinatra impersonation, just sang his songs in their own styles. Act I consisted of 36 songs grouped according to topic or theme: Favorites Medley, Broadway Medley, Cities Medley, Young Love Medley, Summer Medley, Love and Marriage Medley (Part 1), and Love and Marriage Medley (Part 2). The voices were very good, the songs sung as solos, duets, or four-part harmonies.

At intermission, the house lights came up and we had coffee and desserts, each couple sharing a chocolate brulée tart. Whew! Half an hour later the lights dimmed, and Act II began, 21 songs grouped again by theme: Loser’s Medley, Big Flirt Medley, Moon Medley, and Songs for Survivors. The last number was a rousing version of “My Way,” after which we all stood to give them a standing ovation. The spokesman informed us that Frank never gave encores, but they broke with that tradition by singing “I’ll Be Seeing You.” What a great night out.

What about price, you say. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but well worth it. On the seasonal package, our tickets for show and meal are $60 apiece, plus whatever we spend on cocktails and dessert and gratuity. The whole thing comes out to about $80 apiece. I count it as the best $80 I could spend. Anyone from Sun City West reading this, if you haven’t yet been to the Arizona Broadway Theatre, you should try it. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s money and time well spent.

Oh, yes, and My Way runs through October 24, followed by 42nd Street (Oct. 29-Nov. 21), My Fair Lady (Jan. 7-Jan. 30), The Drowsy Chaperone (Mar. 4-Mar. 27), The Full Monty (Apr. 22-May 15), All Shook Up (June 3-June 26), Baby, The Musical (July 22-Aug. 14), and Steel Magnolias (Sept. 2-Sept. 25).

Tuesday, October 12

New Visitors & Pop Music

I invited a bunch of people to visit me here. I hope some of them actually do because I need an audience for my maunderings. You know, that word sounds like a combination of "wandering" and "meandring." But actually, it's a little less flattering: 1. moving or acting in a dreamy, vague, aimless way 2. talking in an incoherent, rambling way; drivel. A lot of people would say either definition suits me to a tee, especially the last one, "drivel." Well, the older I get, the more likely I'll start driveling down my chin. Enough of the word stuff. If you're new to my site, welcome. I tend to be opinionated, so I hope some of my opinions don't offend anyone. If so, then tough beans. Live with it.

If you ever want to speak to me or say something about one of my opinions, the comment box at the bottom of each entry is there for you to use. I'd welcome any comments. Today was my last day at Stardust and I think I lost a few pieces of my heart when I said goodbye to all my Tuesday friends. Wow, will I ever miss you. Life moves on.

Today, I'd like to talk about modern music. I'm talking about the stuff that now leads cd sales, you know, hip hop by people I don't want to know or to listen to, or Lady Gaga, or all the young whippersnappers that young ladies or lads scream at when they appear. I'm an avid follower of Ellen Degeneres and her afternoon show, but nearly all the new singers and groups she features simply turn me off. Okay, the rhythm is great if that's all you want or need in music. Yesterday, she had on a group called "Broken Bells" (clever name), and I guess they sounded pretty good, four guitars, a drummer, and a keyboard. But I couldn't understand a single word they were singing. I'm from the old school when a song, if it was any good at all, told me a story about mostly requited or unrequited love. The better the songwriter, the more surprising the images and rhymes. There are exceptions today, I know, but for the most part, modern songs just don't say much of anything. And I'm offended when I hear hip hop artists describe the stuff they hip hop to as "songs." They're not. At best they're doggeral verse. I need stuff by the Gershwins, Rogers and Hart, Cole Porter, Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Last week I watched a PBS special, Michael Feinstein's examination of the Great American Songbook. Was it ever good. It was all about his searching out old sheet music and old vinyl records from the past, all about his quest to preserve as much of that past as possible. It was excellent. I think the whole thing is in four parts. If you get a chance, watch any of the segments. He and I share a love of the old standards, the old sets of words and music that make up the Great American Songbook. Today's songs just don't compare. Or maybe I'm just an old fuddy duddy.

Thursday, October 7

Bad Blood

I just finished John Sandford’s latest, Bad Blood, featuring “that f___in’ Flowers. It centers on an odd church group in rural Minnesota calling itself the WOS, or the World of Spirit, as opposed to the World of Law (representing virtually everything outside their church group). They believe that it’s the group’s right, its duty, to home teach all the children in all the school subjects, but also to home teach them about sexuality, as in group sex, incestuous sex, oral and anal sex. It’s a fairly disgusting concept and one that Virgil Flowers and the sheriff, Lee Coakley, spend the whole novel trying to expose.

All the while I was reading it, I had this itch somewhere at the back of my brain that I had, within the last two or three years, read a novel based on the same concept, not a religious group but a familial group, and I’d have sworn that it was one of Sandford’s Prey books. But why would Sandford have used the same plot device in two separate books? He wouldn’t have. So, where else would I have read it? I guess it will remain one of those itches that never gets scratched.

Despite the rather unsavory plot, Virgil Flowers is once again in rare form and for those who are fans of John Sandford this is a must read. One of many bits worth sharing: Early in the novel, Virgil is having breakfast at a local coffee shop. He’s talking to the owner, Bill Jacobs, about evidence found at one of the murder sites. That led to Jacobs’ comment, “I’m so goddamn horny the crack of dawn ain’t safe.” Now, that’s funny.

Wednesday, October 6

Musical Backgrounds

An odd thing occurred to me last night watching television: that too many shows, mostly the action/drama hourlies, feel it necessary to keep a musical background overriding every scene. I hadn’t noticed it until we watched, tried to watch, this week’s episode of Hawaii 50. We couldn’t understand most of the dialogue, either because of excessive background noise (car motors, city sounds, wind) or because of that intrusive musical score overlying the scenes. It was annoying enough that we abandoned the show halfway through. I know we’re both getting up there in years and our hearing probably isn’t what it once was, but I don’t want to have to strain to understand what characters are saying. That got me to thinking about other shows on the tube: How many of them also use this musical device to heighten emotion? So we watched NCIS and sure enough, there it was. Then The Good Wife, yepp, but not as intrusively as with the action dramas. Okay, I guess a musical score has always played a part in most movies, forcing an emotional response in the viewer. Remember the shrieking violins in Psycho, or the thumping theme that introduced the great white every time he showed up in Jaws? Go back a little further (actually, a bunch further) to Alfred Newman’s score for Captain from Castile in 1948, with the main theme called “Conquest.” Oh, man, the entire audience felt like jumping to its collective feet and marching along with the conquistadors. All right, musical backgrounds to movies and television dramas have a long tradition, but when they interfere with my ability to follow the dialogue, I won’t stand for it. Or listen to it.

Tuesday, October 5

Teeny, Tiny Bottles

Wife Rosalie just had both eyes done, cataracts removed, lenses implanted, a really neat bit of surgery that will allow her to see better than she’s seen in a long time. Okay, but then she’s required to put eye drops in periodically until the surgery is healed. Her doctor gave her three samples of a drop called Xibrom, an anti-inflammatory manufactured by Bausch and Lomb, Inc., to use on the first eye,.. These are teeny tiny bottles of drops, 2.5 milliliters, maybe the smallest bottles I’ve ever seen. She used them up on the first eye. No free samples for the second eye. Got the prescription filled: $137.38. Right, one teeny tiny bottle of Xibrom for $137.38. I’m pretty sure that 2.5 ml of gold wouldn’t cost that much. I can’t think of anything in that quantity that should cost that much. Not even some exotic form of happy juice, one drop of which would get you high for a week, should cost that much. How in the world can these drug companies justify that sort of cost? How can the people watch dogging such things (and surely we must have at least one bureau that’s watch dogging) allow such unconscionable prices to be charged? Is no one paying attention? Or does everyone who might do something about it just go, “Humph, not my job,” and go wandering on their way?

Friday, October 1

Potpourri

Nothing much to write about today. I know there must be all kinds of stories in the Tea Party Cup but I don’t feel like sliming my hands.

I found out in reading the Mobridge Tribune (South Dakota) that Holly Hoffman, one of the contestants in this season’s Survivor, is from Eureka, S.D. Small world. And Eureka is about as small a world as one can find. Yet here we have an attractive swim instructor who managed to get on this reality show. Another Eureka celebrity is Al Neuharth, the founder of USA Today. It’s just northeast of Mobridge, a tiny burg we used to play in football, and brother Dick and I on occasion would play in a weekend tournament at their little golf course. Holly is the one who put sand in Dan’s shoes and then submerged them in the lagoon. I have no idea what that was all about, but then, neither of us has a clue about anything that happens on this show. We’ve never been a fan of Survivor, but we watched the episode in which Jimmy Johnson was given the old boot, just to see what Holly was up to. Not much. She had almost no coverage in that week’s action. We may or may not watch next week’s show. Probably not.

The Ryder Cup commenceth. Wales. Rain in huge Welsh buckets. They managed to get in about nine holes in the opening foursomes matches, but then darkness descended. So tomorrow they’re going to play everyone in foursomes and four-ball matches and be able to come to the normal sixteen points with the final twelve points in the singles on Sunday. I just don’t know why they have to play in lousy weather so often when they’re “over there.” Then there’s the time difference. If one wants to watch live action, one has to get up really early. I guess that’s why we have TiVo.

After fourteen years of working as starter at Stardust Golf Course, I’ve decided to call it a day. Actually 4028 days. That’s a long time. I remember telling Carol Fritch in my interview with her that one of my main advantages for the job was my youth. Wow. I no longer feel like I represent youth. I’ll miss all the friends I’ve made there over the years, especially the Tuesday ladies, but I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I guess that weight could be called Rose Putz. In her four-year tenure as manager, she’s “managed” to make my life miserable. I’ve never met a more inflexible person in my life, nor one with as few “people” qualities. She’ll be glad to see the last of me, and I’ll certainly be glad to see the last of her.

And here’s something niece Amy sent me, and I couldn’t resist.

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