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.

Sunday, May 29

Millie & Dancing

Millie Monarch has been hanging around our backyard for nearly a month now. I see her out there, flitting back and forth across the green of the arbor vitae trees. Only her, none of her monarch friends. It makes me wonder why she’s here and not up north where she would go through the same life process all monarchs go through. The southern breeding, the flight north, the milk weeds, the laying of eggs, the eggs becoming caterpillars, the chrysalis stage, then the breaking free to feed on milk weed in preparation for the October flight south. But that’s not for Millie, who must be hearing a different drummer, and Thoreau would be proud of her.

It was so good last Friday to see Cat Deeley and So You Think You Can Dance, so good to see Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe. Good to see some remarkable dancers trying to make it to Vegas, trying to make it into the top twenty. If the fans of Dancing with the Stars consider that show the cat’s meow, fans of SYTYCD consider this show the lion’s roar. That’s how big a difference there is between Stars and Dancing—pussy-foot dancers compared to Big Cat Deeley’s B-boys and high fliers. I’d like to see Kirstie Alley try a B-boy step he called “The Insect.”

Friday, May 27

An Old Arizona Guy

A Florida friend of mine, Larry Sales, sent me this. I know, I know, Internet jokes make the rounds in about four seconds, so my few readers may have already seen it, but this one is too good to pass up. Besides, it’s about an old Arizona guy, and I’m an old Arizona guy.

In town, the banker saw his old friend Tom, an eighty-year old rancher from Arizona. Tom had lost his wife a year or so before and rumor had it that he was marrying a “mail order” bride. Being a good friend, the banker asked Tom if the rumor was true. Tom assured him that it was. The banker then asked Tom the age of his new bride-to-be.

Tom proudly said, “She'll be twenty-one in November.”

Now the banker, being the wise man that he was, could see that the sexual appetite of a young woman could not be satisfied by an eighty-year-old man.

Wanting his old friend's remaining years to be happy, the banker tactfully suggested that Tom should consider getting a hired hand to help him out on the ranch, knowing nature would take its own course.

Tom thought this was a good idea and said he would look for one that afternoon.

About four months later, the banker ran into Tom in town again.

“How's the new wife?” asked the banker.

Tom proudly said, “Good. She's pregnant.” The banker, happy that his sage advice had worked out, continued, “And how's the hired hand?”

Without hesitating, Tom said, “She's pregnant too.”

Don't ever underestimate old guys, especially old Arizona guys.

Thursday, May 26

Finally the Final Idol & Spitting

No surprises this week. I called it over a month ago, and now we have a country Idol winner, Scotty McCreery. Certainly not the best contestant, and he won't ever make it as big as Carrie Underwood on the country side, but he'll be around for the next forty or fifty years, near the top of the country charts. Now, keep track of them and see if you ever again hear anything about Hayley or Lauren. I'm betting you won't. I was always surprised that none of the judges heard the Janis Joplin side of Hayley's voice. Not all the time, but every now and then she would let out a Joplin screech. But I was never a Joplin fan, so I can't say much good about Hayley. At least the thirteen that go on tour will have a nice mix of voices, and when they sing as a group they sound very good. I'm still disappointed in the final choice, though.

Last year I wrote about athletes who spit, especially about Tiger's occasional stream for the tv audience. And a lot of viewers and sports writers let him know about it. How unsightly, how déclassé, they said. How . . . ungolfsmanlike. Since then, I've noticed quite a few of the young golf guns doing the same. Why? For that matter, why do the young baseball players continue a spitting tradition tha began back when almost all ball players kept a cheek full of chew. Now, most of them involve their mouths with bubblegum and sunflowers seeds. Yet they continue to expectorate again and again and again, all in plain view of the tv cameras. How can they work up that much saliva? I don't know. But I still must say, please, golfers and baseball players, keep it in your mouths. We don't need to see your gobs of goobers.

Tuesday, May 24

Reality TV

Thank heavens So You Think You Can Dance returns this Thursday. Of all the too many reality shows on television these days, this is the best. I still can't believe the number of viewers who would rather watch reality than fiction. When I buzz through the listing of shows on prime time, I see too many Dancing Stars, too many Losers both big and small, way too many Apprentices and Real Housewives of countless cities, countless Survivors and Amazing Races, too many Bachelors and Bachelorettes, too many Cooks and Chefs and Undercover Bosses, too many hours of Minute to Win It. And even the dramas are too similar: a saturation of lawyers, cops and robbers, doctors and body choppers. What we need is another great Western or Musical Variety show. Where are you when we need you, Rowdy, Little Joe, Matt Dillon? Where are you, Dinah, Judy, Carol? And please don't say we could always have Justin or Britney or Lady Gaga. Yuck! It just wouldn't be the same.

Innocents Lost

Tom Selleck's Innocents Lost was very good, and faithful to the Parker style--lots of abbreviated dialogue, lots of Paradise rainfall, just enough rough stuff to keep it interesting. And Selleck's plot left room for several more episodes to follow. Jesse still doesn't have his job back but tells Rose he wants it back. Suit has quit the force to help Jesse. The new sherrif of Paradise police, the son-in-law of a town councilman, is vile enough that the viewer really wants to see his comeupance. Jesse is still battling the Scotch bottle. Ex-wife Jen is still hanging around, if only in a brief phone coversation with Jesse, and hanging onto Jesse's heart. And Reggie, the soulful-eyed Goldem Retiever, will continue to watch Jesse soulfully until the two of them bond. I can't wait for the next one. I do, however, miss the potential union of Jesse and Sunny Randall, but that will probably never happen. One last observation: Selleck looks much better and more natural as Jesse Stone than he does as the black-haired, black eye-browed, black-moustachiod police commissioner on Blue Bloods.

Saturday, May 21

Idol & A Final Trump

Okay, one last poke at American Idol and then I’m done. Despite the really fantastic and expensive set for this season’s shows, despite what they’re spending on outfits for the contestants, despite the level of professionalism they’ve instilled in the contestants, despite their doing away with the waving arms in the first rows--despite all that, I still find too much that’s sort of offensively low class about the production. Wouldn’t it be classy to see JLo come out in a floor-length gown instead of those tiny skirts that reveal everything but her crotch? Wouldn’t it be classy to see Stephen Tyler without lipstick on his pouty lips and feathers in his hair? Wouldn’t it be classy to see Randy in an actual suit and tie? Wouldn’t you like to punch Ryan in the mouth every time he flashes that phony new smile he’s found? All right, I’m nitpicking. But still. Idol has become an end-of-Main Street carnival instead of a Cirque du Soleil performance. And the popularity vote that now has ascended to nearly 100 million just can’t do justice to real musical talent. James Durbin was on the Ellen Show last week, singing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Wow. And the audience went “wow” also. The one comment Randy was never able to make about James, “You were pitchy in a few spots.” That’s because James has perfect pitch, even in those stratospheric notes he somehow manages to hit. He can also sing any style, not just Metal. Did you hear him two weeks ago when he sang a duet with Scotty? His country sounded better and more countrified than Scotty’s. And next week we get to see which one wins it all—Lauren or Scotty. How can either of them be compared to James Durbin? They can’t. But Scotty will win because he’s so very very cute. Because millions of little oooing girls will vote for him 54 millions times. What a shame. Give a listen to James when he sang “Guitar” on Idol. There’s your real Idol winner.

And one last shot at the Trumpster. Benson got it right this week.

Wednesday, May 18

Jerry Mills & Will Ferrell

My Rotarian brother Bob put me on to this video by one of his fellow Rotarians, and it expresses a nice sentiment, one we could all well follow. If you want to see it full screen, just right click on the video and go to "enter full screen."

Come Join Us-EN from Rotary International on Vimeo.

We went to see Everything Must Go with Will Ferrell and neither of us is quite sure what to make of it. Our Arizona Republic reviewer gave it four-and-a-half stars. I’m not sure how many I’d give it. I’d call it a movie in slow motion, about a man’s life disintegrating and then sort of reintegrating in the second half. Ferrell is a salesman, and a good one, but is also an alcoholic who brings about his own downfall—fired from the firm where he’s worked for sixteen years, kicked out and locked out of his house and home, coming home to find all his “stuff” out on the front lawn, having his company car taken by a reclamation firm along with all his belongings in the car, discovering shortly thereafter that he no longer has access to his bank accounts or any of the money therein. Nearly the entire movie is taken up with his living out on his front lawn among his stuff, drinking beer after beer after beer, offending his neighbors. I’ve never understood how some people can do that with beer. I mean, where do they put it? How often must they have to urinate? Somewhere between beers he meets a young black boy named Kenny who signs up to help him sell some of the items on the lawn. Their deal is $7.25 an hour and some baseball lessons from Ferrell. He also meets a young pregnant woman who has just moved into the house across the street. She is there waiting for her husband to join her. They form a tentative friendship in which she helps him come down from his beer dependence after he runs out of money and beer. At first, he doesn’t want to sell the things he’s accumulated in what must have been a rather shallow, childless marriage, but with Kenny’s help, he lets everything go for only pennies on the dollar. His wife finally relents and sends him keys to the house and some money to help him on his way. End of movie, the audience left to assume that he’ll get his life back . . . sort of. The slapstick Will Ferrell does an admirable non-funny, straight dramatic job of portraying this strange loser man. I guess I’d give it four stars now that I’ve thought about it.

Tuesday, May 17

Weather Here and There

It’s a chilly Tuesday morning here in Sun City West. The arbor vitae in back are doing their slow dance, bobbing and weaving in the morning breeze, and the doves are hoo hooing all over the place. Last night around 1:00 or 2:00, we were awakened by the sounds of a coyote party only a few house up from us. Some poor rabbit probably bit the dust. And then our wakeup call at 6:00, that lead-headed woodpecker who enjoys sending his message by way of our metal eves troughs.

When I say chilly, I mean it’s only in the upper sixties, rising into the seventies later on. Way below our average for this time of year, but still pretty wonderful. When I think of all the weather related tragedies around the world, around the country, I thank my stars again for living here in the Valley of the Sun. The storms that devastated the Southeast a month ago and now the flooding along the Mississippi must be just awful for the residents affected. The only good thing to be said about both disasters is that they will create many jobs rebuilding those areas. I’m not sure where all the money will come from, but the jobs should put a little life into our ailing economy. Let’s hope so.

Monday, May 16

Shoplifting & Donald Trump

When Rosalie came home from work yesterday, she told me about a new ploy shoplifters have been using in some of the Ace stores around the country: sticking a computer-generated image of a barcode on top of an item’s barcode, changing the cost of that item to one considerably lower. Whoa! This isn’t simple kleptomania, a compulsion to pocket an item from the store. This is a careful and complicated method of stealing from a store. I can never get over how much shoplifting takes place today. Businesses have tried to circumvent it by using convex mirrors mounted in the ceilings, fake videocams, real videocams, and microchips inserted on items that would set off an alarm if the chip were not removed before it left the store. And yet the thefts go on. Even here in Sun City West, where we may have more millionaires per square inch than anywhere in the country, shoppers still do quite a bit of lifting. It takes a lot of nerve to slip an item into a pocket or purse, but it would take huge cojones to do the barcode bit.

And speaking of cojones, I just saw this wonderful news on the Net: the Donald, the Trumpster, telling us that he’s no longer considering running for the Republican nomination. “After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency. This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country. I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector.” How in the world could he have the stones, the cojones, the balls to say that he would probably win next year’s election? If 51% of the voters all filed into the polling places wearing big red noses, big floppy shoes, and clown hats, he might actually have won. But then we’d have been a nation of clowns being led by the biggest clown of all.

Friday, May 13

Idol & Tiger

Well, they did it. The 72 million voters on American Idol, that is. Last night James Durbin got voted off, leaving three, at best, weak sisters—Lauren, Scotty, and, weakest of all, Haley. And next week, Haley will go. What a dumb finale that will be, with Country Boy Scotty and Thunder Thighs Lauren. And guess what, Scotty will be the winner. Bad outcome, dumb season. I swear, and I mean it this time, I will not watch Season 11. I won’t, I won’t, I won’t! Not even to see how much bigger and more offensive Ryan Seacrest’s smile will become. Last night’s results show made it even more obvious what the state of current pop music has become. Jordan Sparks returned to scream out a JLo-like number called “I Am Woman,” really dumb lyrics to a frenetic dance and pelvic-thrusting. And the new song by Lady Gaga, whom I think of more as Lady Gag Gag. And the new music video by Stephen Tyler, who, I think, has even bigger lips than Mick Jagger. Where have good taste and good lyrics gone? About as extinct as the dodo bird.

How disappointed I was at the news of Tiger’s withdrawal from the Players’ Championship. How the mighty have fallen. Discounting all the rednecks who are dancing gleefully over his demise, I and quite a few other golf fans just can’t maintain much interest in any tournament in which he’s not contending. Can he ever get it back? Or even a portion of it back? Maybe not. Maybe he should work on cutting back on his swing, become a David Toms who executes around a course. Anything just to get him back.

Tuesday, May 10

Tom Selleck

I just finished reading Parker’s very last Spenser, Sixkill, and found it to be just another of the thin plots Parker used in the last ten or so Spensers. The character he used for the title, a Cree Native American named Zebulon Sixkill, was simply a Hawk of a different color, and one he abandoned after the novel ended. The rest of it was mostly Spenser and Susan or Spenser and Quirk or Spenser and Z or Spenser and Rita Fiore exchanging clever comments about what drives Spenser to be the man he is, an ageless Don Quixote. I’m assuming there are no more manuscripts hiding in a trunk somewhere, but who knows. Maybe Spenser will never die even though his creator went to his grave more than a year ago.

One related bit of good news: Tom Selleck is doing another Jesse Stone on tv. Thank you, Tom Selleck. I love him as the police commissioner in Blue Bloods, but I love him even more as Jesse Stone. Too bad Blue Bloods may be canceled for next season. But may the Jesse Stones go on forever.

Saturday, May 7

Idol Update

Jacob Lusk got his walking papers last week and it was probably the most logical choice of the final five. And then, for his farewell song, he reprised his version of "A House Is Not a Home," very emotional, but it sort of highlighted his weaknesses, very "pitchy," as Randy loves to say. And lots of squeals and screeches and way too many runs. Don't these guys know how to sustain a note? Just listen to Jacob's version and then Glee's Chris Colfer's version. Not even close.

I know which one I prefer. How about you?

Wednesday, May 4

The Full Monty

We went with the McPheresons to the last show in our Season Six lineup at the Arizona Broadway Theatre, The Full Monty, and although I didn't hear a single song I was familiar with, the show was very funny and, once again, done admirably by the ABT people. The singing was great, the sets great, the costumes great, and the pit band even better than ever. And yes, we were all wondering if they were really going to do the "full monty," and they did, in the final scene. But, happily, they also each had policemen's hats to clamp over the monty site as they stripped off their red thongs. I can't even imagine how much courage it took for those six guys to reveal themselves in all their not so handsome nakedness. We're both so happy we've found a theatrical venue close enough and good enough for us to enjoy great musicals. Next season, we're signed up for A Chorus Line, Miracle on 34th Street, Singin' in the Rain, Sunset Boulevard, Tarzan, and The Will Rogers Follies. I can't wait to see what they do with a musical called Tarzan.

Tuesday, May 3

Stray Thoughts

A letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic: “President Barack Obama has provided proof that he was born in this country. Donald Trump should now provide proof that he was born on this planet.” I’ll drink to that.

An odd and frightening statistic reported by Time: “247: The number of of people on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list who bought guns—legally—in 2010.” Hey, NRA members, does that make as little sense to you as it does to me?

Yesterday, as I was driving to Trail Ridge, where I was scheduled to play with our group of Gamesters, I heard a loud noise from somewhere below the cart seat. The belt for the starter/generator had snapped. End of drive to the course. I stood by the cart hoping one of my gamester friends would drive by but no one showed. Finally, a lady stopped to inquire. I borrowed her cell phone and called the course to have someone come pick me up. Then I pushed the cart into the empty Presbyterian church parking lot. My someone arrived and took me to the course where I called Cody, the shop manager at Southwest Golf Carts, and explained what had happened, told him that it was in the parking lot to the west of the church, the only vehicle there. He said they would come get the cart and that I could pick it up after I finished my golf. Good. No problem. But when I got to Southwest Golf Carts five hours later and spoke to Cody, he told me there was nothing wrong with my cart. And when he pointed out the cart, I said, “But that’s not my cart.” Whoa. The yoyo who had come for my cart had seen a cart in the main lot behind the church and picked up the wrong one. Imagine the consternation of the cart owner when he came out to drive home from the church. And sure enough, when I called Posse headquarters, they told me he had reported his cart as stolen They wouldn’t give me his name so I could call him to apologize, but they went on to tell me the manager of Southwest Golf Carts had apologized when they returned the cart to the man’s home. I’m just thankful I wasn’t the one who had to explain the debacle.

And finally, wind. I’m watching our tall arbor vitae trees as they sway back and forth like giant green elephants. This has to be the windiest spring I’ve ever experienced since moving to Arizona. Every day for at least the past month, the winds have blown from 15 to 40 m.p.h. I guess it’s all about the jet stream taking an unusual course through our state, the same jet stream that has been devastating the southeastern states. I shouldn’t complain about what we have compared to what Alabama and Mississippi have had.

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