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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 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, April 24

Barbra & Shirley

Shirley MacLaine had her eightieth birthday today, Barbra Streisand her seventy-second. I can remember Shirley when she starred in a Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin flick called Artists and Models. That was when Jerry and Dean were still partners, before they had their big falling out. That was in 1955. That makes it fifty-nine years ago. Where in the world did all those years go? I remember telling my English classes that Barbra would become so huge a star that no one would be able to afford her. I said that in 1965, right after seeing the CBS special called My Name Is Barbra, forty-nine years ago. Where in the world did those forty-nine years go? Shirley went on to star in 64 films as well as countless tv shows, winning best actress Golden Globes for The Apartment and Irma la Douce, a best actress Oscar in 1983 for Terms of Endearment. Barbra went on to fulfill my prediction with roles on Broadway, tv specials, movies, Oscars for best actress in Funny Girl and best original song “Evergreen,” which she co-wrote with Paul Williams. She is one of only a few who have won an Oscar, Tony, Grammy, and Emmy. She’s recorded sixty-four albums, most of which have been best-sellers. She’s the only female artist who directed, wrote, produced, and starred in a movie, the 1983 Yentl. Wow! And she’s now seventy-two. And Shirley is eighty. Wow! And I’m older than either of them. That rates a very unemphatic wow.

Monday, April 21

Darwin's Theory

I read in the news that, according to a recent Harris poll, only 43% of teens and 47% of adults believe in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Wow! In an age of enlightenment (supposedly) less than half the people polled believe in evolution. Granted, 33% of teens and 25% of adults said they weren’t sure. But that still leaves a whopping one out of four who believes in a creationist explanation for the origin of man and the universe. Wow! I don’t mean to step on any Bible belters’ toes, but that number astounds me. I didn’t think we had that many stupid people in this country. Well, since I’ve now insulted a quarter of our population, I may as well go all the way. Most of that 25% reside in either Tennessee or Alabama. We’re on the brink of discovering life forms on other planets, or at least the probability of other life forms in the universe, and we still have that many people who regard the Bible as literal truth? Wow!

Time to lighten the mood. Here’s one of the funniest cat jokes I’ve ever seen.

An elderly lady called the vet to advise him she had a sick cat. “His eyes are dull and he’s listless, just mopes and sulks all day and he won’t eat,” she said.

“I see,” said the vet. “You’d better give it a cup of castor oil and I’ll be out about three this afternoon to have a look at it. You may have trouble giving that castor oil. With your left hand, force its mouth open and pour the castor oil with your right.”

The old lady had quite a struggle with the cat but her efforts were highly successful.

At three that afternoon the vet knocked on the door and asked, “How’s that sick calf of yours?”

“Calf? Why, I have no calf. I called about my sick cat.”

“Cat? Did you give it that cup of castor oil? We’ve got to do something about this mighty quick or you’re going to lose a good cat! Where is the animal now?”

“I don’t know,” she responded. “Last time I saw him he was taking out across the cornfield with nine other cats.”

“What in the world was he doing with nine other cats?” asked the vet.

“I don’t know for sure,” she said, “but I think he has formed an organization. He had three of them digging holes, three of them covering up, and the other three were out looking for new locations.”

And while I’m at it, how about a few clever sayings.
Happiness is like peeing in your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel its warmth.
A river is like intelligence: The deeper it is, the less sound it makes.
Let’s eat Grandma. Let’s eat, Grandma. Commas save lives.
Don’t join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects.
The butcher backed into the meat grinder and got a little behind in his work.
Seven days without a pun makes one weak.

Thursday, April 17

Blood Moon


Last Monday, Rosalie and I decided we’d stay up late enough to watch the lunar eclipse. It was scheduled to begin just after 11:00 p.m. So we pulled two lawn chairs out to our driveway and had a front row seat for the display. The night was still, with no one else out to share in the sight. The full moon made our street almost as light as day. And then it began with what looked like a dark bite something had taken out of the left side of the moon. The old man in the moon had lost a cheek. It took nearly an hour for the shadow to pass completely across the moon, and then we could see what the papers were calling a blood moon, an orange orb that looked like a golf ball. The red planet Mars perched just above and to the right of the moon and became much brighter and redder as the moon’s light faded. We sat, listening to appropriate songs on my iPad: “Paper Moon,” “Moonlight in Vermont,” “Blue Moon,” and Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” It was a wonderful experience, one that we’d never before had and one that we’ll never have again. I’m so very glad we were able to share this experience. Life is too short not to take advantage of celestial wonders, too short to let such moments slip away. If you missed it, shame on you.

Thursday, April 10

Biding Time

For the last few years I seem to be just biding my time. Sort of moving from one memorable moment to the next, but the moments aren’t nearly as memorable as they once were and there aren’t nearly as many. Time is such a fickle beast, controlled by the things we remember. When we were children, we had many moments that were important to us and time seemed to move through a sea of molasses. I remember in Steinbeck’s East of Eden, he suggested that our lives are filled with moments worth remembering, that life was like a long hallway with coat hooks on the wall onto which we would hang those memories. The less space between hooks, the longer time seemed. Early on, it seemed like forever when we looked forward to those important events—a birthday or a Christmas or the end of a school year. Or, heaven forbid, graduation, that threshold leading to adulthood. And then the spaces between hooked memories grew wider and time sped up. One thing we oldsters can universally agree on is that life goes ever more swiftly the older we get. Now, I hook my memories on the rounds of golf I play three times a week. To help me bide my time till those days, I read and write, see movies, and follow favorite sports teams through their seasons. The Masters golf tournament begins this week, an event that I’ve faithfully watched for at least fifty years. But it doesn’t seem like a year since the last one. Tiger is now thirty-eight and, because of back surgery, will not be playing for the first time in more than two decades. Where did that young golf prodigy go, the one I can still see in 1994, raising his arm with a Tiger scream to celebrate making that downhiller on the seventeenth island green at the TPC Sawgrass to beat poor Trip Kuehne and win his second U. S. Amateur title? Where did they go, the twenty years between then and now? They sped by with too much distance between the coat hooks, and now here I am, biding my time. I see my life as a bobsled run, but three or four times longer than the Olympic run, a slight downhill at the beginning with gravity taking me down slowly, then speeding up in the middle, then rushing around that last turn and heading for the finish line. I don’t fear death nearly as much as I did a few decades ago. I could let go quite easily if I had to. Lots of unfinished business I’d regret, though. So, I’ll just go on living as well as I can, biding my time between my memorable moments. But oh how I wish the days wouldn’t go shooting by like heavenly debris during one of the Perseids showers.

Wednesday, April 9

Collecting

I’m a collector. I collect things that simply drive my wife crazy. One never knows when one will need one or more of the things I collect. The daily "Arizona Republic" arrives with a rubber band holding it together. I dutifully remove it from the paper and drop it into my collection drawer in the kitchen. I now have in the neighborhood of two thousand rubber bands in that drawer. One never knows when one will need a rubber band. They reside loosely in the drawer along with the many empty prescription bottles there. I collect those also. I just can’t bring myself to throw away perfectly good empty prescription bottles. I suppose I should start putting the rubber bands into the prescription bottles. Maybe next week. I also have a collection of cocktail picks for the many olives we consume in our evening Scotch-and-waters. My favorites are the black ones from Outback. Whenever we eat at Outback, we each have two dirty martinis with three olives and I carefully save the picks to bring home with me. We must have three or four hundred variously colored cocktail picks. One never knows when one will need another cocktail pick. We also go through a lot of kitty litter, which we buy at CostCo in forty-pound buckets, square white plastic containers with snap-down lids. What does one do with an empty plastic bucket? Well, one saves it. What else? And they make admirable containers for the many books I collect. I keep books by author in those plastic containers. I must now have twenty or more in the garage, filled with books by author. And my collecting of books can just barely keep up with the cats’ usage of their litter. I have about six empty buckets right now, so I think I’m safe for a while. The obvious question that comes up with all this collecting: What happens to it all when I die? In the old days, when I was a mere thirty or forty, death was never a consideration. The collections would always be around and would always be needed. But now, at eighty, I have to think about a cutoff point in my collecting. When I go to CostCo to buy "stuff" in quantity, how many cans of green beans or jars of olives or large boxes of cereal or cans of albacore tuna or chicken or plastic kitchen garbage bags or bags of frozen chicken breasts should I buy? I must always think ahead to the possibility of death. And one wouldn’t want to meet his maker leaving behind too much "stuff." Maybe I should get rid of some of the prescription bottles. Nah, the prescription bottles might come in handy for storing my ashes.

Tuesday, April 8

Bad Words & Butterflies

I spotted a cute saying on the side of a small truck I was following a few days ago: “Old upholsterers never die; they always recover.” So clever, I think I’d call them up if I ever needed any upholstering. But then, at my age it’s doubtful I’d ever need that service.

We’ve had two large butterflies hanging around our arbor vitae and fruit trees, swooping up and around and in and out. They look even larger than the monarchs we usually have, yellow with black striping. They’ve been here for nearly two weeks now. Makes me wonder how long they’ll stay, what they eat, where they sleep. Do they migrate like the monarchs? What sort of chrysalis do they make, what kind of caterpillar emerges? Do they, like the monarchs, have some kind of protection against birds? Monarchs feed on milkweed which gives them a poisonous toxin that keeps predators from making them a tasty meal. I did a little research (very little, because I’m lazy) and found that some species, without the monarch toxin, mimic the coloring of the monarch to keep birds away. One wouldn’t think a butterfly could reason that well. I know, I know, it’s instinctive, not brain-driven. I like to think, though, that these pretty creatures have personalities and the ability to reason, especially when one of them perches on my finger and looks me straight in the eye. We’ve already humanized our three cats, so why not do the same for our backyard buddies?

I went alone to see Bad Words, thinking that Rosalie wouldn’t want to have her ears assaulted by all the bad language. There wasn’t any more bad language than in nearly every other movie we’ve seen, and I laughed out loud at some of the dialogue, something I haven’t done in a long time. Jason Bateman starred in and directed it. Good job, Jason. He plays Guy Trilby, a disgruntled man who wants to punish the people who run the national spelling bee. He’s found a loophole in the eligibility rules that allows him to compete against the other tiny tot contestants. And he has an edge on them: he knows and can spell all the words in our lexicon. We don’t find out why he’s doing this until the final curtain. Along the way, he meets the cutest little boy named Chaitanya (Rohan Chand). Chaitanya wants to be Guy’s friend, almost insists that Guy accept him as his friend. Guy teaches the boy lots of “bad words” and some really bad behavior, but they actually do become friends, even though the two of them will be in the finals of the contest. I know Jason Bateman from the many rom-coms he’s been in. I also remember his older sister Justine Bateman from her role in Family Ties, Michael J. Fox’s sister Mallory. I have only good words to say about Bad Words. In the future, I think I’ll pay better attention to films he may star in or direct.

Monday, April 7

PGA & LPGA Golf

I watched both golf tournaments yesterday, the Houston Open with the PGA and the Kraft Nabisco with the LPGA, and both were well worth watching. I was rooting for Matt Kuchar but the other Matt from Australia, Matt Jones, simply snatched it away on eighteen. Kuchar had to make a par on the final hole, but he most uncharacteristically hit his approach into the water and had to scramble for a bogey to get into a playoff after Jones birdied the final hole. And then Jones did his other snatch when he chipped in from waaaay off the green for a birdie on the first playoff hole, number eighteen again. Kuchar will be agonizing over that shot in the water for a very long time, and Jones will be savoring his chip-in for the win for a very long time.
And then we had an amazing display of raw power and talent when Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson went at it in what used to be called the Dinah Shore. Was that ever fun to watch. I’ve been rooting for Michelle to live up to her potential for over a decade now, and she’s only recently begun to look like what she might have been years ago.
Now if she’d only stop leaving putts short, and if she’d only give up that ridiculous stance she uses when putting. And the young colt Lexi looks like she’ll be winning tournaments for many more years. If her back can hold up, that is. She and Michelle take such huge swings off the tee that the extreme torque might cause some physical damage over time. I wonder if her swing coach has ever tried to get Lexi to abandon that chicken-wing follow-through on her irons. But if it works for her, why change it?

And the Tiger-less Masters starts this week. It saddens me that he won’t be there. I’ll watch it as I always do, but it won’t be as thrilling as it would be with Tiger in the field. It was the same when Jack was in his prime. If he wasn’t playing in a tournament, I’d watch with one eye only. Same with Tiger. Many fans don’t care for Tiger, thinking he’s too aloof or too cocky (no pun intended) or that he even engages in cheating. I say poppycock (no pun intended) to all that. He truly is the best golfer of all time and I don’t want his career to end because of physical ailments. It’s what I said about Michelle and Lexi: swinging as hard as they all do, there’s bound to be physical problems. And Tiger is proof of that. But Augusta will be ravishingly beautiful this April, just as it always is, and there will be all kinds of drama on Sunday, just as there always is, and there will be all sorts of bowing and scraping to the overlords of that sanctum sanctorum, just as there always is. And I and millions of other golf fans will watch every minute of it.

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