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.

Thursday, August 29

Cats & Jokes

Must be a slow news day or I'm just too tired to come up with anything else. So, here are our kids in their cat condo. Charlie's the oldest and biggest, so he gets the top floor. Tiger is next biggest so he gets the second floor. And Tuffy, the smallest but sweetest of the three, gets the bottom.

And how about some cute jokes that friends sent me.

A couple made a deal that whoever died first would come back and inform the other of the sex after death. Their biggest fear was that there was no after life at all. After a long life together, the husband was the first to die. True to his word, he made the first contact:
" Marion ... Marion "
"Is that you, Bob?"
"Yes, I've come back like we agreed."
"That's wonderful! What's it like?"
"Well, I get up in the morning, I have sex. I have breakfast and then it's off to the golf course. I have sex again, bathe in the warm sun and then have sex a couple of more times. Then I have lunch (you'd be proud - lots of greens). Another romp around the golf course, then pretty much have sex the rest of the afternoon. After supper, it's back to golf course again. Then it's more sex until late at night. I catch some much needed sleep and then the next day it starts all over again."
"Oh, Bob are you in Heaven?"
"No . . . I'm a rabbit in Arizona.”
* * * * * * * * * *
A drunken man walks into a biker bar, sits down at the bar and orders a drink. Looking around, he sees three men sitting at a corner table. He gets up, staggers to the table, leans over, looks the biggest, meanest, biker in the face and says: “I went by your gramma's house today and I saw her in the hallway buck-naked. Man, she is one fine looking woman!”
The biker looks at him and doesn't say a word. His buddies are confused, because he is one bad biker and would fight at the drop of a hat. The drunk leans on the table again and says: “I got it on with your gramma and she is good, the best I ever had!”
The biker's buddies are starting to get really mad but the biker still says
The drunk leans on the table one more time and says, “I'll tell you something else, boy, your gramma liked it!”
At this point the biker stands up, takes the drunk by the shoulders looks him
square in the eyes and says, “Grampa, go home!”
* * * * * * * * * *
Then there’s the tale of the golfer who’s been slicing off the tee at every hole. He finally gives up and asks his long suffering caddy, “Can you see any obvious problems ?”
The caddy tells him, “There's a piece of crap on the end of your club.”
The golfer picks up his club and cleans the club face.
The caddy, as diplomatically as possible, tells him, “No sir, it’s at the other end.”

Tuesday, August 27

Three Movie Reviews

A few reviews of movies I’ve seen recently, from worst to best.

I can’t say Elysium is a bad movie, just the worst of these three. As sci-fi Elysium was pretty good, but with some jarring holes in the plot and action. It was directed by Neill Blomkamp, whose previous sci-fi success was 2009’s District 9. Matt Damon works in an assembly plant in a devastated earth, nothing but poverty and illness on a dying planet. And he suffers an accident at work that involves deadly radiation. He has only about five days to live. At the hospital where he’s taken after the accident, he meets his childhood friend, now a doctor with a daughter who is also suffering from a deadly disease. How to solve his and her problem? Somehow get the three of them up to Elysium, a satellite where the rich folk live in healthy splendor, with medical beds that can cure any illness known to man. But the plot then gets confused with way too much hand-to-hand combat between Damon (now fitted with a harness that gives him superhuman strength, with a computer wired into his brain) and assorted robot policemen and a nasty-ass guy in the employ of the head of security on Elysium, played robotically by Jodie Foster. Damon is good as a head-shaven, really buff hulk. The scenes on Elysium are excellent. The ending is obvious. The action sequences are too much right out of Terminators I, II, and III.

Second in this trio, The Butler is the true story of Cecil Gaines, a black man who served as White House butler from Eisenhower to Reagan. And we get the whole bunch played by one after the other of immediately recognizable stars. In fact, the viewer gets caught up in the name-that-star game as we see them through the years: Robin Williams as Ike, John Cusack as Nixon, Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan, Mariah Carey as Cecil’s mother, Vanessa Redgrave as the white plantation owner who first teaches Cecil the finer points of buttling (please forgive the slang). And don’t forget Oprah Winfrey, who plays Cecil’s wife Gloria. And last, but certainly not least, Forest Whitaker is outstanding as Cecil Gaines. The man can make his 6’ 2” frame fit almost any film character, from Charles Jefferson in Fast Times at Ridgemont High in 1982 to Big Harold in Platoon in 1986 to Jody in The Crying Game in 1992 to Ghost Dog in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai in 1999 to Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland in 2006. His performance is very worth seeing, but the thing I’ll most remember about this film is the awful history of our treatment of blacks in the pre-civil rights movement, the movement that brought this treatment to an end. Well, not quite to an end, but we’re getting closer.

And last, but certainly not least of these three films, a most remarkable performance by Cate Blanchett as Jasmine in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. I remember being fascinated with Joanne Woodward’s performance in Three Faces of Eve, during which I just knew I was watching great acting. Well, in watching Cate Blanchett in this film, I again knew I was watching great acting, a performance that will certainly earn her a nomination for best actress as well as a probable win in that category. In fact, there will be a bunch of nominations from this film: Woody Allen for best director. Woody Allen for best screen play, Blue Jasmine for best film, Andrew Dice Clay for best supporting actor, and maybe even Bobby Cannavale for best supporting actor. I won’t even go into the plot. I highly recommend you go see this just to sit and watch and admire what Cate does with this reprise of Blanche DuBois from Streetcar Named Desire.

Monday, August 26

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard is gone. He’s just the last in string of writers I admire who will pen no more—John D. MacDonald, Dick Francis, Robert B. Parker, Ed McBain. Dutch Leonard was a winner. I remember gobbling up his novels like popcorn. And so many were made into great movies that starred people who went on to bigger things: Burt Reynolds in Stick, who could con his way out of anything; Charles Bronson in Mr. Majestyk, who could whip anyone that got in his way; John Travolta and Gene Hackman in Get Shorty; George Clooney in Out of Sight; Travolta again in Be Cool; Paul Newman in Hombre, one of the best westerns of all time; and Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma. In looking back in my journals, I found this that I’d written over ten years ago, right after finishing Be Cool:

“What am I going to do when old Dutch drops dead? I guess I’ll have to go back and reread him. After all, 32 novels so far, nowhere near John D., but still enough that I might have forgotten most of what I read up to ten years ago. And the way my memory is going, I’ll be able to hide my own Easter eggs any year now. As though I’m ever going to run out of things to read. If I spent the rest of my life rereading nothing but the books by MacDonald, McBain, and Leonard, I’m not sure I’d have the time. The three of them have written over 250 books.”

I and your millions of fans are going to miss you, Dutch.

Something else I found in an old journal:

“In the first few pages of one of Parker’s Sunny Randall novels, a character, responding to an inquiry about his health, said he was 'same-o, same-o,' and I cheered to think that finally someone had supported what I’ve said for years, that it was never 'same old, same old.' I first learned that expression when I was in Korea and it was the response from Korean chogie boys, who meant 'same, same.' "

And while I’m at it, here’s another literary snippet from the past:

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst is a remarkably well-written book, about a man whose wife has just been killed by falling from a high apple tree. The only witness to the tragedy was their dog Lorelei. So the man embarks on a project in which he will teach his dog how to talk, to let him know what he needs to know about his wife’s death. A few notable quotables:

“I was thirty-nine when I met Lexy. Before that, I was married for many years to a woman whose voice filled our house like a thick mortar, sealing every crack and corner. Maura, this first wife of mine, spoke so much while saying so little that I sometimes felt as if I were drowning in the heavy paste of her words.”

“All this to say: I am forty-three years old. I may yet live another forty. What do I do with those years? How do I fill them without Lexy? When I come to tell the story of my life, there will be a line, creased and blurred and soft with age, where she stops. If I win the lottery, if I father a child, if I lose the use of my legs, it will be after she has finished knowing me. ‘When I get to Heaven,’ my grandmother used to say, widowed at thirty-nine, ‘your grandfather won't even recognize me.’ ”

“How can it be, I wondered, that we can be lying in bed next to a person we love wholly and helplessly, a person we love more than our own breath, and still ache to think of the one who caused us pain all those years ago? It's the betrayal of this second heart of ours, its flesh tied off like a fingertip twined tightly round with a single hair, blue-tinged from lack of blood. The shameful squeeze of it.”

“I sing of a woman with ink on her hands and pictures hidden beneath her hair. I sing of a dog with skin like velvet pushed the wrong way.I sing of the shape a fallen body makes in the dirt beneath a tree, and I sing of an ordinary man who is wanted to know things no human being could tell him. This is the true beginning.”

Through a series of flashbacks we learn more about the woman he married, this Lexy who made fabulous papier-mache masks in her basement. I can feel the depth of the man’s despair, trying to piece out the puzzle of his wife’s odd fall from the apple tree. I can empathize with his feelings for his dear sweet Lorelei, the dog who had to have his larynx removed in order to tell his master exactly what had happened to his wife.

What an unusual story and one that I recommend highly.

Sunday, August 25

Arizona Rain & Tiger

A corollary to that other overused Arizona adage, “It rains in Arizona, but it’s a dry rain.” It’s Sunday morning and we’re in the midst of a gentle rainfall, and how nice it sounds at it tinkles off our back patio roof. Too often in the summer we get what’s known as virga, stuff that evaporates before it gets down to us, but this is what we used to call in upstate New York “a gray drizzler.” I hated it back then, but now it’s a most welcome change from our normal dry heat.

I won’t be watching the D-Backs show because I can’t stand to see what folly they’ll be involved in today. Thank heavens the Cardinals aren’t playing again for a week after that abominable display they put on last night. So, the only sports on the tube today worth watching will be the Barclays, with Tiger in the hunt. He seems to be nursing a tender back. Hard to believe someone as physically fit as he is could be suffering from lower back issues. But then, the torque he builds up on that swing could strain even the fittest of backs. I’m amused by the comments of the color analysts, especially Nick Faldo and Jim Nance, who lamented Tiger’s occasional fits of anger at bad shots, like his “Goddammit, Tiger!” and sand slamming after a bad bunker shot. “What,” they ask, “will young viewing golfers think?” Almost everyone who’s ever played this confounding game knows that almost everyone at one time or another has emitted far worse epithets after bad shots. In fact, probably every other PGA tour player has shown the same anger but their every move is not recorded for posterity as it is with Tiger. Did anyone in the broadcast booth say anything about Jason Dufner’s protruding bottom lip and his occasional on-camera spit of what had to be snuff juice? Weren’t they worried about what young golfers might think? I remember hearing Lanny Wadkins dropping F-bombs all over the place when he played, but he wasn’t on camera when he dropped them. I remember Curtis Strange’s comments about a course in Florida (obviously forgetting that he was miked for all the world to hear): “F-bomb this mother F-bombing course!” he grumbled as he strode after a shot into the off-course swamplands. Tiger lovers as well as Tiger haters insist on seeing Tiger’s every shot, every move, every epithet. They follow him in droves on the course, they tune in on tv religiously whenever he’s in the hunt, and even when he’s not. They, just as I do, want to see golf history being made. So today I’ll watch, hoping he can produce some of that old Tiger magic and come from behind to win this first step in the FedEx finals.

Wednesday, August 21

Pet Companionship

We’ve had cats for most of our married lives. Or it is the other way around? Cats have had us for most of our married lives. But it’s only since we moved to Arizona that we’ve learned a valuable cat lesson: one must always have more than one cat. We had three in Lakewood, NY—Dipper, Tweakie, and Stephanie. Here's Dipper.
Here's Tweakie.

And here's Stephanie. But they were outdoor cats, coming and going through a cat door, and they were never very good friends. So the companionship was minimal. Dipper and Tweakie died, leaving Stephanie as a single. She came with us to Arizona on that strange U-Haul journey we took almost nineteen years, ago, like the Joads going west to the Promised Land. And poor Stephanie didn’t pee or poop for almost four days. We had a litter box with us but she refused to use it. Four days, until our first night here in a Best Western room, waiting for our house finalizing, when Stephanie erupted all over Rosalie. Stephanie was with us here in Arizona for almost four years before we had to say goodbye to her. A single cat with us for four years, with only two humans for companionship, two humans who were often gone all day, often gone for visits to South Dakota or New York, leaving Stephanie to fend for herself except for occasion visits from cat sitters. But otherwise alone for extended periods of time. We now realize how cruel that was. How alone she must have felt for too many hours and days. Cats seem to sleep a lot, but Stephanie must have lapsed into near comas to overcome her loneliness. We never again made that error. Our next cats were Dusty and Squeakie, who became bosom buddies for nearly fourteen years. Here they are.

And now we have Charlie, Tiger, and Tuffy, who make us realize that although they would miss us if we left for hours or days, they would be just fine because they have each other. All pets—cats, dogs, rats, horses, or even Geico geckos—need a companion other than humans to keep them company during those unhuman hours and days. We now have a trio, a ménage a trois, who absolutely adore each other. They’re happy, and their happiness makes us ecstatic.

Here's Charlie and Tiger.

And here's what looks like a two-headed kitten, but it's really the sleeping siblings Tiger and Tuffy.

Saturday, August 17

2 Guns & AMC Theatres

We haven’t seen a movie at an AMC Theatre in umpteen years, but a friend told us about their new seating and how wonderful it was. So we went to see Denzel and Mark do their stuff in 2 Guns. What a strange comparison to the Harkins Theatre experience we’ve known and loved. We got our tickets and stood in line for popcorn, one line only, unlike Harkins where you find from eight to ten lines. You want soda? You buy a cup and dispense your own, just like at MacDonald’s. And the place was amazingly unbusy, only about ten others walking down silent halls. We got to venue eight for the 2 Guns showing. Really small theatre, with no more than seventy or eighty seats. That was more than enough for the ten of us in attendance. And the new seats were, as our friend had reported, very nice—plush, red, faux leather recliners for back and legs, just like at home. It had to be really expensive to put these seats into all fourteen AMC venues. And from the paucity of customers, it looks like a bad investment. The seats were great, the popcorn lousy, not freshly popped and with way too many old maids and if you wanted any exotic spices you had to buy a small container for half a buck, unlike Harkins where they put out shakers of ranch, cheddar cheese, etc. for their customers. We think this will be our last movie at AMC.

2 Guns was good, not great. Denzel Washington, always worth watching no matter what he’s in, played Bobby Trench, a DEA agent deep undercover, trying to get the goods on a Mexican drug cartel, and Mark Wahlberg played Stig Stigman, a naval intelligence officer also deep undercover, trying to do the same thing. Both thought the other was a criminal, and together they pulled off a bank job, thinking they were going to steal three million dollars belonging to the drug lord. Turns out it was actually just over forty-three million, belonging to—-hold on here—-spoiler alert—-a crooked branch of the CIA. And just everygody was chasing the two guys with their guns, trying to get the many millions back. Lots of running and driving and shooting and banging, all in good fun. And the two undercover boys become fast friends. Yeah, 2 Guns was good enough to see but not good enough to remember.

Thursday, August 15

TV Madness

Tv watching is so different now than it used to be. Way back, nearly all shows were either comedies or dramas. Now, at least half are reality shows, most of which stink. Way back, we had access to the three major networks—CBS, NBC, and ABC (although, did anyone ever watch stuff on ABC?). The series usually ran for twenty-four weeks before going on their summer hiatus, and we always knew the summer would be nothing but reruns. Now, the mini-series run for five or six episodes, the maxi-series for ten to fourteen. And the viewer seldom knows when a series in concluding or beginning, or if it is or isn’t canceled, with hardly a clue when a rerun will be mixed in among the new episodes. We now have so many networks we can’t keep up with them all. And so much to choose from we can't do it all justice, just not enough hours in a day. And they’re all making their own series and movies and documentaries. How can they all afford to spend the money for all these projects?

The viewer invests in the stories and characters, and then the season ends, with either more seasons coming or the show is canceled. I remember how devastated I was when I heard that Ray Romano's really good show Men of a Certain Age was being canceled. Another case in point, TNT’s King and Maxwell gave us ten episodes, with the usual cliff-hanger conclusion about a possible romantic connection between the two pi’s and King’s continued investigation into the identity of the plotters leading to the assasination of the senator that led to King’s exit from the Secret Service. Whew! But now I find that the show may not be renewed. What happens to my investment? Third case in point: FX’s The Americans is excellent and I’m fully invested in these two Russian Cold War spies—thirteen episodes from January 30 to May 1. Then an eight month absence until January 2014. Eight months! That’s too long. I’ll probably have forgotten the characters and their story by January next year. Same thing with A&E’s The Bates Hotel (10 episodes from March 8 to May 10, then nothing until January 2014). I probably won’t forget Vera Farmiga’s Norma Bates nor her really strange son Norman, but I’ll have lost all trace of the first season. We should have more mini-series that begin at point A and end at point Z. Done. Fini. Sundance’s Top of the Lake was such a series, and what a great series it was. A&E’s The Bridge has begun to rave reviews, but it should be limited to its twelve episodes and then end. Done. Fini. What’s good about most of the series that we and lots of others watch is that we see self-contained episodes that don’t much rely on what came before, like Person of Interest, The Mentalist, Major Crimes, Perception, Blue Bloods, and Rizzoli and Isles, to name only a few. And while I’m at it, whom do I consider the most beautiful women in all of television? Bridget Moynahan on Blue Bloods and Angie Harmon on Rizzoli and Isles. They win, hands down.
Okay, network bigwigs, let’s bring some order to this current tv madness.

Thursday, August 8

Precious & The Way Way Back

Thanks to Netflix, we finally got to see Precious, and although we both admired the acting of Gabourey Sidibe as Claireece Precious Jones and Mo’Nique as her mother, the story itself was so awful neither of us could sleep well thinking about the probable reality of 1987 Harlem—the abuse and rape of Precious by her father, the allowance of such abuse by her mother, the lack of education al values in a school where the 16-year-old Precious could be passed along without being able to read, the welfare fraud depicted by Precious’s mother, the physical and verbal abuse by her classmates as well as by her mother. If that was even close to the reality of Harlem three decades ago, we should all be ashamed for having allowed it to happen. If anything like it is still happening anywhere in this country, we should all be forced to sit in a darkened theatre and watch this film over and over and over again . . . forever.

On a lighter note (but only slightly) we saw The Way Way Back with Steve Carell playing a most unfunny, relatively nasty character. We’ve grown so accustomed to the funny Steve Carell that it was disquieting to see him otherwise. In fact, nearly all the adults in this film are unfunny and relatively nasty—Trent (Carell), recently divorced and now dating Duncan’s mother Pam (Toni Collette); Betty (Allison Janney), divorced and living with her daughter next to Trent’s beach home and who drinks like the proverbial fish; Kip (Rob Corddry) and his wife Joan (Amanda Peet), two minor characters in this nasty group who also live near Trent’s beach house. The only funny and not nasty adult (who just barely qualifies as an adult) is Owen (Sam Rockwell), the manager of a nearby water park called Water Wizz (a name which forces us to consider how often young customers really do wizz in the water at Water Wizz). Owen befriends the unhappy 14-year-old Duncan, played admirably by Liam James, and gives him a job at the water park, where, along with Owen’s help, the boy becomes a man. Well, let’s just say, a more mature young man than when he first arrived at the beach with his mother and her overbearing boyfriend Trent and his semi-nasty daughter Steph (Zoe Levin). The only friend Duncan has, other than his coworkers at the water park, is Betty’s daughter Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb), who shares his discontent with the nasty adults. Although too much of the film was unpleasantly unfunny, the humor in the scenes at Water Wizz and the joy in watching Duncan’s growth made the movie worth seeing. But I’d much rather see Steve Carell take on a straight dramatic role than have him do this unfunny role in a film billed as a comedy.

Wednesday, August 7


You can probably tell from this blog post that I’m running out of things to write about. I tend to remember dreams in some detail when I awaken, and I often write them down. Please forgive me for sharing them with you. Anyone who doesn’t want to see a random sampling of what creeps into my sleeping psyche can skip what follows.

Last night I dreamed that I was in a nightclub with a fat man announcing the piano player for the evening. The pianist asked him if he wanted it slow or upbeat and he told her slow. Then she started playing what I thought at first was “Slow Rain” but then I thought about it and it was “Deep Night.” The announcer started singing it along with her and I went up to her, singing along also, and told her it was one of my favorites. I mean, I haven’t heard anyone sing “Deep Night” for umpteen years and now it’s stuck in my head.

Arizona dreams are so peculiar in their complexity. One night almost a decade ago, I had a series of very vivid dreams. I can’t remember many details but I know they were very detailed. In one section I went into a sleazy bar to buy some cigarettes and when I asked the bartender for a pack of menthol Parliaments he said, coldly, “Not your turn.” So I waited until he finally deigned to put them on the counter. I paid with a $20 bill and when I went to reach for them he said, “Not time yet. You can’t have them until 10:00.” I thought, “Another really stupid New York blue law.” In another section I was in someone’s living room with a bunch of people, among them my old high school classmates Sherman and Baer and Catey, when a group of hoods came in to make trouble. I gave one of them a beer and then he wanted another. In another section I met Leefa Lesher and her mother and father walking down a street in New York. I’ve been having many school dreams and golf dreams and New York City dreams. The NYC dreams almost always involve my going downtown into the heart of the city to find a bookstore or a department store or a bar, and I’m always driving circuitous highways trying to find my way back out of the city (always to the west). And there are parts of the city I really don’t want to be in and I always seem to be there. I have this dream probably half a dozen times a year, which doesn’t sound like many, but the sheer number of them over the years has grooved the theme. My golf dreams are nearly always about me on a really awful course, usually with water running down fairways and lost balls and impossible shots through heavy trees. I guess I should consider them negative golf images when I should be training my mind to hold only positive images.
Recently I’ve been dreaming dreams that never seem to end. In the most vivid one I was teaching a class in Arizona history and I was telling them about a record of the Navajo alphabet made by some old Navajonian many years in the past. It was made on a cylindrical wooden recording much like the old turn of the century record cylinders, but it was lost and never found. I was excited about it as were most of the class. All but one little girl who insisted on tearing up paper and throwing it all over the room. I told her she had to pick up her mess and she said NO, and then threw more paper scraps at me. I then asked her if she wouldn’t PLEASE pick the room up and she smiled and said she would. I helped her pick it up. When we were done I said she deserved a hug for being so good about it and we hugged. End of dream. Weird.

I had a restless night of dreams. In one I was sitting in on a seminar in some college or other and the teacher had us all put a coin marker on a date on a huge calendar on the floor. The date was supposed to represent one of the most meaningful times of our lives. No one else wanted to go first, so I did. I started telling them about a teacher I had who so influenced me in my desire to do something creatively, in music. His name was Major Sindar Buchanan Fargis. And everyone in the seminar had heard of him. I was so surprised. The teacher then said that he’d do some research and I could continue my story at the next meeting. What a dumb dream.

Last night I dreamed that a number of puppies tried to lick me to death. They were so happy to see me and I them. Later, still sleeping, I noticed a bat that kept flying around the room above my head. And then it tried to bite me and I grabbed it by the throat and tried to hold it off. Later, in a strange golf pro shop, suddenly it was taken over by a Nazi group that had infiltrated the club. I was there and tried to blend in with the Nazis. I looked in a room and there was my manager at Stardust Golf Course, a neo-Nazi. It was much clearer than my description of it here, but like all dreams, the dimensions tend to fade away and vanish after waking.

I had a long dream about taking a final in some college course I was enrolled in, something like a history course and there were very few students in it. The teacher handed out the tests and assigned us numbers and words to put at the top of the test. Most got numbers, but I got the word “who.” The test consisted of five essays topics and we could take it anywhere we wanted to. I went to some room down the hall and began writing. Or trying to write. I suffered the same kind of paralysis I used to have when taking a timed test and I just couldn’t seem to get started. Time was just whipping by and I had only just begun my first essay. Oh, how painful the process. Trying to get thoughts down on paper but always aware of the clock. Finally, I just gave up and went back to turn in my unfinished test, knowing I would have failed the course. What a dumb dream. But how very accurate was the feeling of being paralyzed.

I had another strange dream last night, another school dream in which I was a student and not the teacher. In this one the teacher was really attractive and sexy and even though it was a test day she kept going around the room dancing and flirting with all the males. Finally, she got around to me. She told me to touch noses with her but that I should look only at her nose and not mine. We did that and then she very lightly put her lips against mine. And very slowly it turned into a full embrace and kiss that lasted a long time, during which I became aware that she was crying. I pulled away from her and tried to console her. I had the feeling she was crying because the kiss was so beautiful, so moving, and she’d intended it to be only silly. Now that’s a really silly dream.
In this one I was joining a faculty somewhere, but I was old and doing it only for one year. I had a section of freshmen and another of creative writing. I was in a faculty meeting and asked who else was teaching freshmen and one scrawny fellow raised his hand. Then I asked who else was teaching creative writing and no one raised a hand. I asked in some astonishment how many students there were in this school and someone said about 1800, and I said, “You mean to tell me in a school this size there’s only one section of creative writing?” Then it shifted to my house or apartment and it was an absolute mess. My two daughters Jeri and Laura were staying with me and it was getting very late. I looked outside and two really scruffy men were sleeping in a car, doors open. Laura said it was someone she knew and I was ready to burst I was so angry. I don’t like dreams like that. Not really nightmares because there’s nothing scary about them, but they’re unpleasant because of the anger and anxiety of teaching when no one listens or I’m unprepared.

Last night, from 3:00 on, I dreamed and dreamed as only I can dream in Arizona—long, involved, complicated dreams about driving strange cars through strange landscapes, trying to sell that house in which there’s that same secret room upstairs in a huge attic, in which I can climb up toward the rafters to find secret passageways. I’ve dreamed of that house for years now, nearly always the same.

Oh, the dreams. I feel like they went on almost all night. The first segment involved an apocalyptic episode in which we had all been informed that the world would end the next day and I and everyone else were so dismayed by the news. Then the next day I discovered that the world hadn’t ended (not yet anyway) but that all vegetation had died. I must have subconsciously gotten that from John Christopher’s novel No Blade of Grass, which I’d read years and years ago. Now I’m lying there dreaming/thinking about all the consequences of the death of all vegetation. All herbivorous animals will die of starvation; all carnivorous animals will die of starvation once they’ve eaten all the dying herbivores; all animals of any kind will eventually die of suffocation once the air has been totally depleted of oxygen because there is no more vegetation to turn the carbon dioxide back into oxygen. So, in order for me to live at least a while longer, I need foodstuffs that won’t spoil—like canned and jarred goods. Society had broken down and we were all scavenging for foodstuffs. I was in an abandoned grocery store filling a cart with as much stuff as I could—canned vegetable and fruits, coffee, canned meats. The last things I put in the cart before I had to rush away were some packages of flat bread and several large pies. When I left the store, a number of other people were just in the process of flying away in old planes. One guy stayed behind and was shooting a thing that propelled a balsa wood plane into the air where it spiraled and swooped and dove before coming back down. End of that segment. Next: I was back at the house in Lakewood, about to drive away on my brand new motorcycle parked out in back by the mailbox. But when I sat on it, it was already running and one of the neighbors came out and apologetically took a key out of the ignition. It seems he’d been using my bike and it was no longer brand new. In fact, there were a number of things wrong with it, like a nearly flat, wobbly front tire. Then someone pulled up at our backdoor in a bright red car, got out, and proceeded to have a luncheon in our living room, and all the while I’m trying to find Chris to take him somewhere on my motorcycle. But he’s busy playing with some other kids out in front. There were other bits and pieces involving golfing and swimming but they’ve since disappeared into that big repository of lost and forgotten dreams.

Sunday, August 4

Geico Gecko

Now that we can DVR our favorite tv shows and watch them whenever we want and fast forward through all the commercial gunk, we don’t pay much attention to network sales pitches. And it’s especially nice to be able to skip that annoying dufus in the Toyota commercials, or that silly family who discover they have no money to pay their restaurant bill and have to wash dishes, bemoaning the fact that they hadn’t gotten a loan on their car title, or the Cox Bundle guy who blurts out to his neighbor the end of a big game the neighbor had DVRed and who captures his son in an embarrassing moment and puts it on YouTube. But there’s one company whose writers must just click their heels at the thought of going to work to come up with more clever and funny stuff to woo the public. Yes, I’m talking about Geico Insurance. There’s never been a cuter, more clever little sales icon than the Geico gecko. The Pillsbury doughboy can’t touch him. The Eveready bunny can’t touch him. The Aflac duck can’t touch him. Jack in the Box can’t touch him. They started out with the indignant caveman, who finally ran his course, and they then began the more popular gecko series. In addition to the gecko ads, in the course of a week we might see a dozen or more different commercials they’ve made: Maxwell the pig who can’t believe that flight attendant actually said she’d believe that when pigs fly; the series about unwise owls and old MacDonald who can’t spell “cow”; all the “How happy is he?” bits about Dracula volunteering at a blood drive, the Pillsbury dough boy on his way to a baking contest, Mutombo blocking shots, a body builder directing traffic, an antelope with night vision goggles, and funniest of all, the camel who keeps asking everyone in the office what day it is. If I ever needed to change my insurance, I wouldn’t hesitate to call up the Geico guys, in hopes I’d one day get to meet that funny UK gecko. Or is he Australian?

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