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Saturday, June 30
This December first will be the 18th anniversary of our arrival in Sun City West. How can that be? Those eighteen years have fled like they were pursued by a band of howling banshees. Eighteen years. When we got here, Sun City West was surrounded by empty desert, the small community of Surprise to our south, the original Sun City seven miles to the east. It was a safe haven compared to too many communities in the country, virtually no crime, a place whre it was safe to walk the streets alone at any hour. Eighteen years later, Sun City West is surrounded by housing developments, and sleepy little Surprise has mushroomed to nearly 200,000 residents. And it’s no longer safe to walk alone after dark. We have no police presence here, only our sheriff’s posse, a group of residents who patrol our streets and maintain a nearly instantaneous connection to the sheriff and his deputies. But for thieves and vandals our city must appear like a defenseless golden egg. We now have too many breakins at local business, too many incidents of house burglaries, from open garages too many daylight thefts of golf clubs and golf carts or anything else of value. It no longer feels safe here. The thieves all seem so brazen, so little profit from the thefts, so much to lose in prison time. Every day we have many landscaping crews in town, and how easy it would be to case houses, looking for empties after the snow birds fly home. How easy it would be to knock on a front door to make sure no one is home, then go to the rear of the house as though to do some tree trimming, then force a patio door and into the house. A quick search for jewelry or gold coins or cash, a quick unhooking of television sets and computers to be left for a nighttime pickup. Then out again, all innocent smiles as they climb into their truck and away. The garage thefts are even more brazen. Most garages are always closed, but I’ve heard people tell me they had gone shopping and were carrying their groceries in. Within minutes they come back to the garage to find their golf clubs gone. That takes brass cojones as large as bowling balls. So far we haven’t had any home invasions or physical assaults, but they might not be far off. Are we still happy to be living here? Yes. Do we still feel as safe as we used to? No.
Wednesday, June 27
My admiration for Steve Carell went up a couple notches after I saw him in Seeking a Friend at the End of the World. I’d always liked him for his off-the-wall humor, never overplayed or reliant on toilet gags. I loved him in Crazy, Stupid Love, and here he is again, only this time more dramatically serious than comedic. In fact, I can’t figure out why this movie was labeled a comedy. That may be the only criticism I have, that the few places near the beginning where humor was intended didn’t need to be there, or at least not for the sake of comedy. The bit when Dodge is still at work selling insurance, quoting the cost of an Armageddon policy, could have been played straighter just to indicate how nonsensical it would be to keep going to work even though science has shown that the world will come to an end in three weeks, that Matilda the asteroid was really going to strike the earth and kill us all. The salacious comments at the house party weren’t really necessary except to show how hedonists might act with only a short time to live. The question I and everyone else who sees this movie would ask: What would I do if I knew I had only twenty-one days left? Would I go to work every day like some of his fellow insurance salesmen or Dodge’s housekeeper Elsa? Would I leap from a tall building like some of the Wall Streeters on Black Thursday in 1929. Would I hire a hitman to take me out? Would I join the rabble who loot and burn just for the thrill of looting and burning? Would I stay at the party at “Friendsies,” drinking, drugging, kissing everyone is sight, screwing everyone in sight? Would I be one of those being baptized at the beach? Would I be like Speck, who built himself a well-provisioned bomb shelter for the day after? Or would I, like Dodge, try to find the love of my life, try to find God, try to find some meaning in a life about to end? After he pulls the weeping Penny (Keira Knightley) into his apartment from the fire escape, they both set out to do the one thing they most want to do, Dodge to find his one true love, his high school sweetheart; Penny to get back to England to see her family for the last time. Along the way they encounter people doing their thing, a trucker (Bill Peterson) who has hired a hit on himself (But why would the hitter need a fee?), Speck with his titanium-walled hideaway, Dodge’s estranged father (Martin Sheen). They also, despite their age difference, find their own true loves—each other. I loved the quiet romance between them. Keira Knightly, whom I fell in love with in Pride and Prejudice for her beauty and sexily pursed mouth, wasn’t that same beauty, here rather squinty-eyed and with unattractive hair style. But Steve fell in love with her as did I all over again.
Sunday, June 24
Coastal New England, summer of 1965, the island of New Penzance, a never-never land for two young people considered odd by adults. That’s the premise of Moonrise Kingdom, and in such a strange way it works. The words “delightful,” “charming,” and “wryly humorous” come to mind. It’s the kind of humor that’s kept inside the viewers with an occasional outward chuckle, not the spastic hilarity of one of Adam Sandler’s questionable comedies. It’s filmed as a sort of fairy tale, with sets and people that might have come from one of the fantasy books Suzy carries with her. The opening segment shows us a house much like a dollhouse, with one side cut away to present all the rooms as though there were no fourth wall. The Bishops (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) have three small boys and an older girl named Suzy (Kara Hayward), who spends much of her time viewing the world around her through the binoculars she’s never without. The scene shifts to Camp Ivanhoe and the Khaki Scout troop, led by troop leader Edward Norton. Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphan who has a plan to run away with Suzy, following a trail to the far end of the island. Suzy meets him in a meadow, carrying with her a suitcase and a picnic basket holding her kitten. In the suitcase she has three overdue library books and a battery-operated record player she’s borrowed from one of her brothers. Sam is carrying a backpack with everything he needs to set up camp, including an air rifle and a small pup tent. The two are in love, and show their love innocently with lip-to-lip kisses, graduating to French kisses. The rest of the story has to do with their innocence and their flight from various groups—the scout troop and town adults led by the police chief (Bruce Willis). All this while a hurricane rushes toward the island. Half a century ago, and we see the semi-innocence of those times: people smoke cigarettes but never seem to inhale; McDormand and Willis are having an affair but never seem to touch except for sharing a cigarette; one of the boy scouts, with a white patch over his left eye, is referred to as “Lazy Eye”; Sam catches a turtle with “Albert” written on the bottom of the shell; Suzy catches a fish which Sam cleans and cooks, the fish coming out of the pan looking like something from Wendy’s. I think I’d like to see this movie again, just to see if I’ve missed something. You go see it too, and let me know what you think.
Thursday, June 21
June 21, 2012, the day after the first day of summer, and summer in the Valley is really summer. I grew up believing the first day of any season was the 21st. But somewhere along the way it got switched to the 20th. And I don’t know what happened to the first six months—like an F35 breaking the time barrier. I’d better start preparing my Christmas letter or the season will hit me before I’m ready.
Nothing much noteworthy in the news. Romney and Obama haven’t yet brought out the big guns but will soon. The Zimmerman/Martin case is still going back and forth. Jerry Sandusky will be found guilty of something but probably not on all charges. Somewhere between the two sides, accusers and accused, the truth must lie, but not entirely on either side. I just can’t understand what dark compulsion drives a sex offender. Somewhere in the future, through genetic engineering or chemical advances, such behavior will be a thing of the past. I hope so. The chaos in Egypt is disturbing, frightening. I would have hoped for some form of democracy to rise from the ashes, but it looks like it won’t. I fear any group that promotes Islamic law. We’ve come too far in human rights to go that far back into barbarism.
All right, summer, have your way with me.
Wednesday, June 20
A few months ago I wrote about the decline of song intros today. How could I have overlooked this one by Cole Porter from his 1935 musical Jubilee? There were two other songs from that musical that have gotten much play: “Begin the Beguine” and “Just One of Those Things.” But they’re without intros, whereas this one has a long and intricately rhymed beginning. It’s a song that isn’t around much now, but back then it was wonderful. And it still is. Here’s “Why Shouldn’t I?”
All my life I’ve been so secluded,
Love has eluded me.
But from knowing second hand what I do of it
I feel certain I could stand a closer view of it.
Till today I studied love discretely,
But now that I’m completely free,
I must find some kind persona grata
To give me data personally.
Why shouldn’t I take a chance when romance passes by?
Why shouldn’t I know of love?
Why wait around when each age has a sage who has found
That upon this earth, love is all that is really worth thinking of?
It must be fun, lots of fun,
To be sure when day is done,
That the hour is coming when
You’ll be kissed and then
You’ll be kissed again.
All debutantes say it’s good,
And every star out in far Hollywood
Seems to give it a try,
So why shouldn’t I?
Monday, June 18
Today’s newspaper had two comics I couldn’t resist.
The Garfield is funny even though it’s about a medical condition that isn’t at all funny—Alzheimer’s and it’s loss of memory as well as the eventual loss of all bodily functions. But if we can’t laugh a bit at life’s ironies and dark corners, then life wouldn’t be worth living.
The Non Sequitur points humorously at the premise in Prometheus that life on earth originated in an alien sprinkling of dna into our oceans. I’m a great believer in the existence of countless life forms in the universe besides our own. So why couldn’t the idea in Prometheus be as valid as any of the many religious theories that people now bow down to?
I just finished a most unusual novel by Ron Rash, The Cove. It’s set during the American involvement in WWI in backwoods North Carolina. It’s both a romance and a mystery. But it also points out the terrible treatment of citizens of German descent during that time, even worse than the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. The cove is a dark place with a huge granite ledge overhanging a scrabbly farm where Hank and Laurel live. The place is shunned by people from the nearby town of Mars Hill, believing it to be bewitched, that the purple birthmark on Laurel marks her as a witch. Hank has lost an arm in the war and finds it difficult to do farm chores. And into this mix stumbles a German musician who had been part of the orchestra aboard the huge German liner Vaterland that was docked in New York. When the U.S. entered the war, he and the crew had been taken into custody and put in an internment camp in North Carolina. He escapes and finds his way to the cove, where he pretends to be mute and illiterate. He stays to help Hank tend to the farm until the war ends when he can be free again. Most unusual, and I recommend it to any readers out there.
Sunday, June 17
I’m watching U.S. Open coverage and it almost hurts my eyes to see what Tiger is doing—two rounds like the old Tiger and the last two rounds like some alien pussy cat. He has just gone +4 on the first three holes, and it looks like he could shoot eighty or ninety today. Ugly. So, instead, I’ll try not to look at him and watch the others, especially young Hoestler, who just made a miraculous par on the first hole. Amusing that this pairing, Jason Dufner and Bo Hossler, should have such obvious nicknames: Dufner, The Duffer, and Hossler, The Hustler. And does young Bo Hossler ever look like a potential hustler. And there will be the excitement of the final pairing with Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk. Bring it on home, Jim.
I just found this in Peter Straub’s The Throat, and thought it too good not to pass on: “Either childhood is a lot more painful the second time around, or it’s just less bearable. None of us are as strong or as brave as the children we used to be.” I like that, but I’m not sure why I like it. Maybe it’s because when I look back at my childhood, live it a second time, it's painful with a pain I didn’t notice when I was living it. Or something like that.
Happy Fathers' Day, everyone.
Saturday, June 16
Saturday and another full day of golf. Tiger and Jim Furyk and David Toms leading at minus one. It will be interesting to see which one blinks first. I’m guessing that Tiger will shoot another 69, and Jim and David probably two or three over. Will anyone else in the field make a move? I don’t think so. Can’t wait to see.
Republicans, those who are elected and those who elect them, all seem to be carping about Obama’s latest decree. Undoubtedly a political move, it allows Hispanic immigrants who were brought here young to remain. But it was also a humane move. The GOPers hate that they weren’t able to do it before Obama. Take that, Mitt.
The world economy has us all worried. What happens in Greece next week will have an enormous effect on the European economy, and next in that pyramid is the U.S. economy. As the value of the dollar shrinks, the value of gold goes up. Here we are, with the Canadian dollar way stronger than ours, with any number of other nations stronger in gross domestic product than the U.S. We’re still the best place to live, with the best living conditions of any other nation. But we’re slipping.
It’s Fathers’ Day tomorrow. So, tonight we’re going out to Red Lobster with son Mike and Staci. We’ll probably have a long wait for a table, but who cares. Time is the one commodity I can spend and spend, even though the spending gets quicker and quicker. I’ve still got a bunch in the bank. Happy Fathers’ Day to any father who might be reading this.
Wednesday, June 13
We’re on the eve of the U.S. Open and look who Vegas has at 6-1 to win. Ah, the bandwagon. I’m guessing that the tv coverage will spike if Tiger can shoot a decent round on Thursday. Should be interesting to see how Phil and Bubba hold up under the pressure of their being together with the gallery of thousands following their every shot. The Olympic Club is without any ponds or out-of-bounds, but will have such ugly rough and cantilevered fairways. I’m betting that Tiger leaves the driver in the bag, maybe even in the trunk of his car, and hits 2-irons and 5-woods on almost every hole. He’s still the best with long irons, so he won’t care if he’s got 200 or more into every par-4 as long as he’s on the short grass. I remember the British Open in 2006 at Royal Liverpool when he hit driver only once and managed to win by two over Chris DiMarco, thirteen over Phil. He was the only player in the field who was never in a bunker. I can hardly wait for the first round even though he and Phil and Bubba will be well into their round before tv coverage.
Last Sunday, we watched three hours of the Tony Awards and enjoyed it a bunch. Neil Patrick Harris mc-ed for the third time and was very good. He was funny without being overbearing, and his opening number, “What If Life Were More Like Theater,” demonstrated his abilities as a singer and dancer, and his hanging upside down like Spider Man was hilarious. I was happy to see that The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess won for best musical revival. I still have the old 3-record album of the original Porgy and Bess I bought almost sixty years ago. I wonder what it would be worth to some old Gershwin memorabiliaist? How would one even find an old Gershwin memorabiliaist? But back to the Tonys. The three hours flew by. I especially liked the five or six musical numbers from the nominees for best musical. That’s classy. And the acceptance speeches were all brief and classy. The Oscars could learn a lot from the Tonys. For starters, they could hire Neil Patrick Harris to mc.
Tuesday, June 12
Thursday, June 7
Miller Lite’s tv commercials make it sound like some brand new method for pouring its beer, a pop top can, the pop made with anything sharp and metallic to any part of the top of the can. Wow. What an innovation. We were doing the same thing over sixty years ago with a church key. And we didn’t need a beer company telling us how to do it.
After more than a month, our coyotes are back, three huge beasties, probably a mom and dad and a son or daughter. We watched one of them jump into the orange tree on our back neighbor’s yard. It wasn’t much of a jump since the trunk has branches within three or four feet of the ground, but a dove came screaming out with the coyote right behind. Dumb dove. Instead of flying up, it stayed low and that was all mister or misses coyote needed. A quick chomp to dispatch it. No more than half a minute later it was all gone, the whole dove--feet and feathers and all. And he/she didn’t share with his/her traveling companions. Life in the wild in Sun City West.
Wednesday, June 6
The final episode of this season’s Glee was called “Goodbye,” and it was as painful as that time we had to say goodbye to friends as we were leaving out nests, our schools, our hometowns to move on to other chapters of our lives. We all swear we’ll keep in touch, we’ll return for visits and reunions, we’ll call and correspond often. But we almost never do. On Glee, we have to say goodbye to the seniors—Rachel and Finn, Quinn, Kurt, Mercedes, Santana and Brittany, Mike, even Puckerman, who got a second chance to pass his geography final. All of them are going separate ways. Wow! Will I ever miss them, especially Rachel and Finn. Glee is an odd anomaly—a musical fairy tale that would seem doomed in a society most of whom scorn musicals. I call it a fairly tale because nowhere in the universe are there glee clubs with voices and dance moves like we see at McKinley High or at the regional and national competitions. I’m a Gleek because I love the characters and the music. I’m a Gleek because I admire the way this show has tackled social issues that need tackling—homosexuality, bullying, spousal abuse. This show has opened a lot of minds and changed a lot of opinions. In season one, the bullying of the glee club members was seen in the slushy cups the football team always threw in their faces. Kurt was especially the victim of homophobic bullies. But in “Goodbye,” the slushy cups contained red and white confetti as the school welcomed them back from winning the nationals. And Kurt was no longer a victim, as the school, his classmates, his father, and nearly all the Glee audience now accept him as he is. He tells Blaine, a junior, that he’ll always love him. When she’s asked if she’s gay, Brittany says she doesn’t know for sure, but she’s sure she loves Santana. And coach Shannon Bieste finally has the courage to leave her abusive husband. What a really good show this is, what a good way to overturn outdated attitudes. I’ll miss the graduating glee club members, but I’ll still have Artie and Blaine and Tina and others coming up, and Sue Sylvester and Coach Bieste and Will Schuster to make next season a musical feast. If you're not already a Gleek, you should tune in next season and get gleeful.
Tuesday, June 5
A cell phone joke from Larry (KarKnock2):
After a very busy day, a commuter settled down in her seat and closed her eyes as the train departed Grand Central Station for Connecticut. As the train rolled out of the station, the guy sitting next to her pulled out his cell phone and started talking in a loud voice: “Hi, sweetheart, it’s Eric, I’m on the train – yes, I know it’s the six-thirty and not the four-thirty but I had a long meeting – no, honey, not with that floozie from the accounts office, with the boss. No sweetheart, you’re the only one in my life – yes, I’m sure, cross my heart,” etc., etc. Fifteen minutes later, he was still talking loudly, when the young woman sitting next to him, who was obviously angered by his continuous diatribe, yelled at the top of her voice: “Hey, Eric, turn that stupid phone off and come back to bed!” Eric no longer uses his cell phone in public.
Monday, June 4
I read in this week’s Time Magazine that David Simon, CEO of Simon Property Group, made $44,000 an hour. That’s $733.33 a minute. That’s $12.22 a second. How can that be and, more importantly, why should that be? David Simon, don’t you feel a little silly? Shouldn’t you feel a little silly? With over 8% unemployment, with poverty all around, with children living without a home or proper nourishment, how can David Simon justify a salary of $137 million a year? And how can the GOP continue to say the top 1% shouldn’t have a tax increase? Come on, Tea Partiers and Mitt Romney, let’s get real.
Tiger had another magic moment Sunday afternoon, what Jack Nicklaus said was one of the greatest shots he’d ever seen. I think later Jack amended that to “the greatest shot he’d ever seen.” A dangerous pitch from deep rough to a downhill pin on the par-3 sixteenth, with water just past the pin . . . and it died into the cup for a most unlikely birdie to give him a one shot lead. Another Tiger moment to go with all the others. Now, he’s the favorite to win the U.S. Open in two weeks. And poor Rickie Fowler, who shot an 84 final round, now knows what it’s like to be in the eye of the Tiger.
Sunday, June 3
We have a new brand of golf idiot on the PGA. Spectator, that is, not player. In the past, these fifteen-seconds-of-fame idiots would scream “You da man!” or “Get inna hole!” after a tee shot. Didn’t matter if it was on a par-3 or par-4. They just wanted to hear themselves when they replayed the coverage on their dvr. Can’t you just see them pridefully pointing out to friends, “That’s me right there. Yeah, that’s me.” On Saturday at the Memorial, on the par-3 16th, just after Levin’s tee shot, we heard a distinctive “W!” and after Sabbatini’s tee shot, “Mashed Potatoes!” See, they just had to distinguish themselves from the other idiots with their personalized shouts. What better way than “W!” and “Mashed potatoes!” I think such bumpkins should be escorted off the course. That would probably shut them up. Or not. After all, they’re idiots.
Tiger looked all right, although he apparently has either a case of flu or serious allergies. He just ran out of gas on the back nine. But it wasn’t his long game that let him down. He just isn’t putting the way he used to. I’ve noticed that his putting stance is slightly open where it used to be absolutely square. Thus, he’s missing short putts that were once automatic. Should be interesting today. I predict that Spencer Levin will fold like a cheap lawn chair. His swing is just too herky-jerky to hold up in the wind and Tiger’s shadow right in front of him. That leaves Sabbatini and Fowler as Tiger’s main competition. I see Tiger winning by two.
A friend sent me this charming video on You Tube. Thanks, Linda.
Saturday, June 2
Another Saturday, another day of confinement, another day of tv sports to make the confinement bearable. First, the confinement. My medical issues, especially the unhealable leg, keeps me close to home. I used to wonder how any Arizonan could avoid sun tanning. Now I know. One simply stays indoors and never sees the sun. That’s me, the pale one. Second, the tv sports. Today I can feast on French Open tennis until 11:30, then a little LPGA until the Memorial comes on a noon I don’t have anyone to root for in the French Open. I just enjoy the instinctive, balletic moves of the players, especially Roger Federer. The ladies on the LPGA are fun to watch, especially Natalie Gulbis . . . for her golf swing. Then there’s Lexi Thompson with her youthful exuberance as she gallops around the course. I’m amazed by the distance these ladies hit the ball, no longer any Nancy Lopez slow finesse shots on tour, just high-speed smashes similar to the guys on the PGA. I still can figure out why Michelle Wie continues to disappoint. She should be like Tiger in his heyday, winning nearly everything she enters. That’s what Yani Tseng is doing. I was surprised when I looked back over my blog posts at how many times I’ve talked about Tiger and his on-again, off-again affair with golf, the media, and his public image. I love watching him play golf, just like so many of the viewing public, even the Tiger haters. The tv coverage spikes every time he plays. We all keep watching to see if he’ll ever regain his confidence enough to give Jack’s eighteen majors a run. I once admired him more than any other sports figure, and then he blew it. I think he may be the greatest athlete ever, not just in golf but in anything else he may have chosen. He’d have made a great wide receiver in the NFL, a great point guard in the NBA. And today, at the Memorial, he’s contending. I can’t wait to see what he’ll do today.
Friday, June 1
For some reason last night, just before sleep, I thought about making French toast for breakfast. We haven’t had any French toast for decades, but there it was in my pre-sleep thoughts. Rosalie didn’t think we had any syrup but I assured her we must have. We did. The expiration date was July, 2005. Now I ask you, how can maple syrup ever expire? So we had French toast with really old syrup, and we haven’t yet expired from using it.
I find that the more blogs I write, the more likely I’ll repeat myself. I’ve written about meals in my youth before. So forgive my repetition. This breakfast of French toast reminded me of my youth, when nearly everyone in town had a waffle iron, and we all breakfasted on waffles or pancakes or French toast. That thought led me to the meal we all got whenever we were sick—milk toast, hot buttered milk poured over slices of toast. I remember it as being so good it was almost worth it to get sick. And the treatments for such maladies: the steam tents our mothers used to drape over the bed, held up by chair backs next to the bed, the Vicks Vaporub, the spoons of Castoria, the awful taste of Castor Oil. I remember a time when I was very young, only five or six, and my mother insisted I swallow a Castor Oil pill. I remember the pills as huge gelatin, squishy things, and I fought her tooth and nail, wailing and spitting it out time after time after time. I don’t remember who won but I suspect I did.
All these memories welling up in me. I remember my dad breaking up a slice of bread and putting it in a glass of milk. I remember how much he liked his steak with lots of suet. No wonder he died of a heart attack. I remember how he never complained about having to eat the chicken back while the rest of us dined on the good parts. I remember the June bugs that would attach themselves to the screen outside my bedroom window, how I’d take such pleasure in flicking them off with my finger. My youth seems to have been filled with summer insects—clouds of mosquitoes, the home-invading millers we’d catch in soapy pans, the crunchy black beetles that swarmed around the Mascot Theatre marquee. Those days of beetles and mosquitoes seem to be gone forever. Did that happen because of the DDT we used back then? Or was the air cleared by clouds of bats?
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