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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, November 26

Gaiety & Stephen Sondheim

I think I should come out of the closet. If being gay means one loves the singing of Barbra Streisand and a love of musical theatre, then I must be gay. I listen to today’s hip-hoppers, rockers, and rappers, and I can’t understand a word from any of them, the lyrics and music smothered by three or four electric guitars and heavy percussion. And even if I could make out what’s being sung, I wouldn’t hear lyrics worth hearing. I make my case with one of the songs ranked near the top as best of the Twentieth Century, The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”:

I can't get no satisfaction, Cause I tried and I tried, And I tried and I tried. I can't get no, I can't get no — When I'm driving in my car And a man comes on the radio, he's telling me more and more About some useless information supposed to fire my imagination, I can't get no, No, no, no . Hey, hey, hey, That's what I say — When I'm watching my TV And a man comes on that tells me how white my shirts can be But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke the same cigarettes as me. I can't get no satisfaction , I can't get no girl reaction. When I'm riding around the world And I'm doing this and I'm signing that and I'm trying to make some girl Who tells me "Baby, better come back maybe next week 'cause you see I'm on a losing streak." No satisfaction.

I rest my case.

How can I tell if the singer (singer?) is any good or if what he/she is singing has any meaning?

When I was in high school and shortly thereafter, my parents and I would visit my sister Helen and her husband Paul in Wisconsin. Helen took me to Chicago to see current musicals and I never got over it. I saw the touring company doing South Pacific with Janet Blair as Nellie, Forrest Tucker as Harold Hill in The Music Man, and Carol Channing in My Sister Eileen. Yikes! I was enthralled with the singing and dancing, the staging, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Wednesday evening, PBS gave us a Broadway musical cornucopia with the 80th birthday celebration for Stephen Sondheim. It was wonderful, and full of wonder as Broadway stars, both current as well as not-so-current singers, reprised songs from his many shows: Patti LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Elaine Stritch, Nathan Gunn, to name only a few. It was one of the best two hours I’ve ever spent in front of the tube, hearing clear as a bell Sondheim’s witty, sophisticated lyrics, watching the many beautiful men and women singing those lyrics. I could hardly contain myself or my tears.

If that makes me gay (it certainly made me happy), then let the closet door swing wide, because I “can’t get no satisfaction” from Justin Bieber and his ilk, or Beyonce and her ilk, or Fitty Cents and his ilk, or Mick Jagger and his big-lipped yucky ilk.

Monday, November 22

Sting Love

Years ago I bought a Sting album and I never really listened to it until one of the songs got popular enough to be played with some regularity on the radio—“Fields of Gold”—and I fell in love with it. So today I listened to the whole album looking at the lyrics. Oh, my, was it ever good. It’s called Ten Summoner’s Tales and all the songs seem to be related in that they tell stories of people set in some kind of magical Middle Ages. Great music and vocals, but excellent lyrics. I not only want to be able to sing them like he does, I wish I’d written them. For example, here are the lyrics to “Fields of Gold”:

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves, Upon the fields of barley. You’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky, As we walk in fields of gold.

So she took her love, for to gaze awhile, Upon the fields of barley. In his arms she fell as her hair came down, Among the fields of gold.

Will you stay with me, will you be my love. Among the fields of barley? We’ll forget the sun in his jealous sky, As we lie in fields of gold.

See the west wind move like a lover so, Upon the fields of barley. Feel her body rise, when you kiss her mouth, Among the fields of gold.

I never made promises lightly, And there have been some that I’ve broken, But I swear in the days still left, We’ll walk in fields of gold, We’ll walk in fields of gold.

Many years have passed since those summer days, Among the fields of barley. See the children run as the sun goes down, Among the fields of gold.

You’ll remember me when the west wind moves Upon the fields of barley. You can tell the sun in his jealous sky, When we walked in fields of gold, When we walked in fields of gold, When we walked in fields of gold.

Isn’t that something? It’s all about romantic love and the passage of time, and how that love gets lost, or just grows old, whatever. I’m such a sucker for romantic love. I’m not at all sure that that isn’t the one thing that makes life worthwhile—romantic love, and even the nostalgic feeling of lost or unrequited love. It’s better than sex, sex is so short-term, but romantic love makes life worthwhile while most of life isn’t worth all that much, not nearly as much as the gold in those fields as the sun goes down.

Thursday, November 18

Dusty Garfield



Unless you have a cat or two, you won’t really understand this Garfield strip. I am owned lock stock and barrel by one of our cats, Dusty. Quite a few years ago I made the grievous error of feeding him soft cat food, and ever since, that’s about all he wants to eat. But the feedings require that he get only a little bit at a time, just enough for him to finish it all in one feeding. Otherwise, whatever is left over is left forever. I mean, he wouldn’t bring himself to eat food that’s become unfresh, would he? Absolutely not. Which brings me to my current problem. Before we go to bed, I give him food and he eats it. But two hours later he wants more, demands more. If we go to bed at 10:00, I know that he’ll bug me at midnight to get up and feed him. Which I do. Then again at 2:00, and 4:00, and 6:00. And if I try to ignore him, he will sit near my head, his face about two inches from my ear, and whine in a really obnoxious Garfield way until I finally relent and get up to feed him. Yes, just like the times when we had a new born who required nightly feedings, Dusty is now our new born. But new borns grow up and out of this nocturnal need. Dusty doesn’t. I am truly owned by him, and though I love him dearly, I wish I’d never started him on soft food. Too late now.

Wednesday, November 17

Unstoppable & Oddities

We went to Harkins to see Unstoppable today, and even though we already knew that nasty runaway train really was stoppable, the tension was palpable as we watched Denzel and Chris Pine interact and finally bring the behemoth to a halt. The story was pretty thin, but the action shots Tony Scott filmed—the increasing speed of the missile, Denzel and Chris’s dancing around on and under the 70+ mph train, and the audience’s realization of what exactly might have happened if the train had not been stopped—were enough to make this a most enjoyable thrill ride. And besides, I’d gladly watch Denzel just sitting somewhere, discussing life and times. He wouldn’t even need to move, just sit there.

Two oddities in the mail today. I got a check from Xlibris, the company that published my books, for $.57. That’s right, fifty-seven cents. The letter informed me that it had to do with Google whenever someone clicked on one of my books. Not to buy one, just to show a “click’s worth of interest.” Fifty-seven cents. I’ve decided to keep it as a souvenir and not cash it. The other strange thing in the mail: a few days ago I went online to find out where to order some litmus strips to check our pH levels, see how acidic (bad) or alkaline (good) we were. There was a company in Scottsdale that made a product called pHIon Balance. So I ordered a bottle of ninety strips. It arrived today and when I looked at the bill, it said it had been shipped from, of all places, Mobridge, South Dakota. How coincidental is that? Mobridge is a tiny town in the middle of the country, the birthplace of both Rosalie and me, and of all the tiny towns in the U.S. our hometown was the shipping origin of the test strips. It truly is a small world.

Tuesday, November 16

Technology

In this year’s Christmas letter I wrote about all the technological possibilities in the next ten years. It never occurred to me to mention flight like you see in the photo below. I’d never heard of such a thing as jet wings until I saw this in a recent National Geographic. Man has always desired to fly like a bird, trying all kinds of crazy methods, right from Icarus and his wax wings that melted on him to the Wright boys at Kitty Hawk to the present-day tiny ultra-lights. But plane flight isn’t quite the same dream as flying like a bird with only wing-like arms to sustain one. I remember not long ago seeing on a Sixty Minutes segment the crazies who jumped from mountain tops to sail down cliff walls frighteningly fast, like para-gliders, nylon wings from arms to hips. But as you can see in the photo, this is truly Iron-Man technology.



And in the same magazine, they spoke of the fastest automobile, capable of going over a thousand miles an hour. Whoa! How could a car going that fast even keep tires on the surface? I’d think it would just go airborne for a thousand yards at a time, sort of bouncing along like a grasshopper.



 

We’ll see such wonders in the near future as we can’t even dream them.


Thursday, November 11

Taylor Swift

I told my wife last week after seeing Taylor Swift on the Ellen Degeneris Show that Taylor Swift would in the next ten years become as big a star as Barbra became way back at her beginning. And I don't mean as a singer, as a movie star. It was refreshing to see someone whom this instant fame at an early age has affected so little. You just watch, the next ten years. Huge star. And right now you might as well watch her and listen to her sing "White Horse," a really nifty song which, unlike way too many current songs, allows the listener to hear and understand the lyrics. (If you right click on the video, you can watch it "full screen," and when you're done, just right click again to "exit full screen.")

Wednesday, November 10

42nd Street

Last night we went to the Arizona Broadway Theatre to see 42nd Street, what was undoubtedly the best production of the six seasons so far. We were all astounded that we could find in a local area such as ours nearly twenty dancers who could tap the way these twenty did. And sing. And produce such a lavish set design and so many costume changes it was hard to count. I’ve said it before but let me say again, how lucky we are to have such a wonderful venue for dinner theatre in the West Valley. If you haven’t already gone to one of the shows at the ABT, this is one you just can’t afford to miss.

Saturday, November 6

Dusty, Medical News, Spooky Plant

Our cat Dusty is sixteen years old and is beginning to show all sixteen years. He’s way too skinny, he doesn’t seem very interested in anything I give him to eat, his coat is scruffy, and he sort of wobbles when he walks. We’re just afraid he’s not going to make it much longer. And oh, will we ever be sad when he goes. We’ve talked about what we’ll do when that time comes and decided we’ll just have to get another cat to keep Squeakie company. Today I went to PetSmart to get some vitamins and cartons of cat milk. I gave him some of the milk and he gobbled it up. Maybe we can hang onto him for a while. I sure hope so. He’s my best pal in the whole world.

Health news. I went to see my nephrologist yesterday, Dr. Anup Rai. I told Rosalie that she’s maybe the most voluptuously beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, sort of a Halle Berry beauty. She’s the one who treated me when I was in the hospital a few months ago and found that I had a blockage in blood flow to my left kidney, which probably contributed to my high blood pressure. Now I’m on a new prescription, which has stabilized my bp, but it seems that I have a 90% blockage to my kidney and I’ll have to have a stent implant. Man, if it isn’t one thing it’s another. She asked me if I had a cardiologist and I told her I had a bunch of -ologists but not a cardio-. Let’s see, I have a nephrologist, a dermatologist, a hematologist, a radiologist, a podiatrist, and soon a cardiologist, who will set up a date for the surgery. That’s just too many obligations to one doctor or another. I’m beginning to feel just like Dusty.

What to make of this odd plant someone gave us. It's the healthiest beast I've ever seen, and it worries me that some night it may creep indoors and into our bedroom to do us harm. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 2

Election Day, Foreskin, and Taylor Swift

Thank heavens today has finally arrived. That means that last night was the last night we’ll have to look at all those attack ads by one pharmaceutical company or another. Oh, wait, those aren’t attack ads, they’re those annoying ads telling us about side effects, especially if something lasts longer than four hours. I guess we may have to suffer through those forever. I really mean all those annoying political ads telling us about negative side effects if we make the wrong choice at the polls. But then, this will be only a temporary reprieve since one year down the road they’ll begin again. My only hope for this election is that none of the Sarah Palin pals win any seats anywhere except in an Alaskan outhouse.

Quick note about my unhealable wounds. In two weeks we’re going to try one last, very expensive treatment--putting live foreskin tissue in the wounds to encourage skin cells to get busy filling them in. I hope it works, but I do wonder if I were later to take Viagra or Cialis if my left leg would stiffen up on me. For over four hours.

Prediction: The rise to superstardom for Taylor Swift will be nearly as swift as the rise of Barbra forty-four years ago. This is a young woman who’s got it all together at twenty—looks, talent, sense of humor, and a quiet confidence in her abilities that doesn’t require her to shout it to the world. She may not be as good a singer as Barbra, but she’ll become a better actor and command as much attention and money as Barbra. Let’s just hope she doesn’t become as obnoxious as Barbra is reported to be on a set.

Rose is back. Maybe Two-and-a-Half Men can be saved after all.

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