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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.

Friday, July 29

Convention Contention

We’re done with the contentious conventions and can now get to the serious business between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, their battle plans and battles on the field of debate. Three long months of finger-shaking and mud-slinging. Let the games begin. I still can’t believe what the polls are showing, that they’re in nearly a dead heat. I still can’t believe there are really that many stupid, misguided people in our country, enough of them that could, if we’re not careful, elect Trump to be our next president. Both candidates have disapproval ratings among those polled, somewhere around 37% approval, 63% disapproval. But of the two, Clinton should be seen as less disapprovalable than Trump. Donald Trump is as close to unelectable as anyone in American political history. Benedict Arnold would have a better chance to win. Richard Nixon would have a better chance to win. Thankfully, these two wretches are dead. But Donald Trump, himself as wretched as either Arnold or Nixon, is still very much alive, physically and politically. And that scares the hell out of me. Can there really be enough stupid, misguided people who will go to the polls to elect him? I fervently hope not.

The DNC did its best to paint Hillary in favorable colors, but to the Bernie advocates and most Republicans, she’s still too much gray and black, too untrustworthy. Her acceptance speech was better than Trump’s, but then, a circus-trained chimpanzee might have delivered a better speech than Trump’s. Hillary’s speech was at least thirty minutes too long. A good speech should build to one major crescendo, not four or five minors. Would Maurice Ravel have considered several more repeated theme passages before bringing “Bolero” to its emotional close? Would Abraham Lincoln have elected to spend an hour or more to give tribute to the dead at Gettysburg? No and no. Wouldn’t it have been refreshing to hear Hillary Clinton spend no more than five minutes telling us how humble she feels, how honored she feels to have been chosen to run for the presidency of the United States?

During the DNC, probably my most memorable moment was when I was shown by one of the speakers the new sign for “togetherness”: fingers intertwined, arms extended, then a circular clockwise motion. I will remember that sign and use it in these next three months to greet friends and strangers. Maybe we can all come together next year after we elect one or the other. Maybe Donald, if he’s elected, will be able to state his political goals in a more comprehensible togetherness. Maybe Hillary, if she’s elected, will be able to win over those who hate her, and bring us all together for a peaceful, prosperous future.

Saturday, July 23

Good & Bad Singers

In past blogs, I’ve written about some of the singers of my youth who were, maybe still are, great. Among the females, Ella first comes to mind. And Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, June Christy, and Rosemary Clooney from way back. The best presently would have to be Barbra Streisand, who spans the past and present, Karrin Allyson, Jackie Allen, and Whitney Houston. Of the men a number of decades ago, Sinatra has to rank number one. But we also have Steve Lawrence, Jack Jones, Vic Damone, and Matt Monroe. Today, there’s the Canadian Sinatra, Michael Bublé.

When I say “great singers,” I mean vocally and stylistically better than anyone else. But what about the singers who were, maybe still are, really bad, relying more, much more, on style points than vocal excellence. Immediately, I think of Louie Armstrong. Louie may have been a wonderful man and musician, but that voice could turn milk sour. And an Armstrong contemporary was Jimmy Durante, he of the big schnozz and lousy pipes. Fred Astaire was a wonderful dancer but not such a good singer. Same with Gene Kelly.

What about females back then who made it vocally on style, not on excellence? I know some people would like to whip me for saying what I’m about to say, but here goes anyway. Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington were not very good singers. Lady Day died at 44 from abuse of alcohol and drugs, but her fan base was enormous. Dinah died at 39, from an overdose of sleeping pills, died with an equally large fan base.

Singers today, both male and female, are almost too shrill to be considered great vocalists. Bob Dylan is vastly overrated, as is Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler. Stylists but not necessarily great vocalists? Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, Rod Stewart and Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Elvis Presley, Taylor Swift and Madonna. One of the most curious modern singers and performers is Lady Gaga, who stands in both camps, performing outlandishly to appeal to her fan base, yet singing wonderfully well on the old standards she’s done in concert with Tony Bennett. Her version of “Lush Life” may be the best ever.

People’s choices of great and not so great singers varies with the ages of the choosers, the decades during which their vocal tastes were first developed. Mine go back to the Forties. But my criteria for greatness is far more astute than that of much younger and less musically appreciative generations.

Friday, July 22

Trump's Acceptance Speech

Last night, I think I may have seen the face of demagoguery, and I’m frightened for the nation and the world. Donald Trump spoke to the GOP conventioneers and worked them up to nearly frothing at the mouth at his words. His acceptance speech was delivered in a way like no other politician I can think of has ever used. It was almost entirely shouted, his face red, his eyes in that characteristic squint, his chin thrust up and his mouth in that characteristic belligerency. The audience reaction was much like that of the crowds at a soccer match, or a Super Bowl, or a rock concert, all noise and unthinking emotion with an audience waving various support signs, their eyes somewhat glazed as they listened to his message. I try to envision Barack Obama using this same coach-at-halftime pep talk. Or Ronald Reagan. Or John F. Kennedy. Or anyone else in national politics now or then. No. Only Donald Trump. He strayed from the teleprompter and the prepared speech only a few times. It wasn’t so much the words as the manner in which they were delivered. The words were mostly as empty as the words in his other speeches—lacking intellectual substance, relying instead on emotional knee jerks. He inserted all the groups whose support he needs—Isreal as our greatest ally in the fight against ISIS, the NRA as an eager endorser, a bow to the evangelicals and even the LGBT movement, legal Latinos and Muslims, Blacks and women (but only as long as they understand they will now be living in a white, patriarchal society). He was the epitome of what we thought we were leaving half a century behind, the Ugly American, the arrogant braggart who gives the rest of the world the middle finger. His credo seems to be isolationism instead of globalism. He will take back all the jobs and manufacturing that have been stolen from us by Mexico and China and other nations. He will force our NATO partners to pay back all the money we’ve spent protecting them. He will make our military so strong that no other nation or terrorist group can survive our might. He will stop the inflow of refugees until they’ve been thoroughly vetted, the flow of rapists and drug dealers from the south by building that gigantic wall along our southern border. He will repeal Obamacare and replace it with something much better. He will appoint Supreme Court Judges who will respect the laws and the Constitution, a statement that seems to suggest that our present justices don’t respect the law nor the Constitution. He shouts that Hillary and her Democratic cronies are trying to do away with the Second Amendment, that Hillary is a liar, a cheat, and a criminal who should be in prison instead of running for the presidency. All through these shouted promises, the crowd chanted, “USA! USA!” It sounded eerily like the “Seig Heil!”s that greeted Hitler in his speeches in the 30’s. He will make America and Americans rich again. He will make America safe again. He will make America proud again. He will make America great again. And the balloons and confetti came raining down. I now no longer see this man as a buffoon, a comical clown. I now see him as a very real threat to our nation and to the world, one who might actually win in November if he can keep enough eyes glazed in the polling booths.

Wednesday, July 20

Shrek the Musical

“Delightful” isn’t a word I use very often. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever used it. It may be a little too lighthearted for my tastes. However, after seeing Shrek the Musical at the Arizona Broadway Theatre last night, I find that “delightful” is the only way to describe it. “Double Delightful” is twice as accurate. I wasn’t sure what we’d be seeing. I remember the animated films about Shrek and the Eddie Murphy version of Shrek’s friend, the donkey. But a musical? Not only was it a musical, it was a delightful sight for sore eyes, with a set that had to be seen to be believed, with costuming I wouldn’t have thought possible, with clever choreography. The score didn’t contain any songs I was familiar with except for the closing, “I’m a Believer,” and the voices were good but not great. But they didn’t need to be. This was a visual treat. There was Shrek (played by Jason Simon, who gave us the unforgettable Tevye in ABT’s Fiddler on the Roof) in his pullover Shrek mask complete with horns, Donkey with big butt and hooves, fourteen ensemble members portraying an assortment of fairy tale characters
from Pinocchio (complete with nose that grew) to Humpty Dumpty, the three bears, a sugar plum fairy and an ugly duckling, and an itty bitty gingerbread man, to name only a few. But the most delightful, the funniest of all, was the costume for Lord Farquaad, the ever so tiny villain of the piece. When he first appeared onstage, I couldn’t figure out how they’d found someone so small, so short (only about three feet tall) to play this part. It soon became apparent that the tiny Lord was a man walking around on his knees, his bottom half hidden by a voluminous cape, the front of him sporting tiny little legs that stomped around and occasionally danced. Delightfully hilarious. When Shrek and Donkey were on their quest to rescue Fiona from her tower prison so that she could marry evil Farquaad and Shrek could get back his swampy land that Farquaad held, they encountered the Dragon that guarded her. The dragon made its entrance from the rear of the theater and through the audience to the stage, a fifteen-foot dragon complete with flashing red eyes, carried by four handlers such as you might see at a Chinese festival parade. Delightful. And Donkey fell in love with it/her and it/she allowed Shrek and Donkey to continue to the tower to save Fiona. After seeing last month the first half of Rock of Ages and then walking out in disgust, I can now say I’d be happy, maybe even doubly delighted, to see Shrek the Musical again tonight.

Tuesday, July 19

Donald & Hillary, Two Peas in a Pod

Finally, finally we’re into the final stages of this silly season, the final four months of this wild, wooly, weird political season. Barack Obama, like the rest of us, must be counting down the days until he can step away from these last eight years. His hair is a lot grayer now (Whose wouldn’t be?), but he’s still the charming, soft-spoken, erudite fellow we elected almost eight years ago. What has his administration managed to do despite eight years of obstructionist congressional voting? Well, he’s reduced the unemployment rate from about 15% to just over 5%. And there are those who argue that these are false percentages. Trump has often claimed that the present unemployment rate is closer to 42%, but that’s just Donald again overstating a position just as he too often overstates his position on nearly everything. No matter how the rate is figured, it’s considerably down from where it was in 2008. The national and world economies, which were then on the brink of financial disaster, have rebounded and now seem healthier than ever, like a bull market rushing through the streets of Pamplona. With the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010, young people and low-income families now have, or can have, medical insurance. The republicans would dearly love to overturn this law, but what would they do to replace it? What has Obama failed to accomplish in his two terms? The U.S. infrastructure is about to collapse like a rusty bridge over the Mississippi. Racial tension in increasing instead of decreasing, although I’m not sure exactly whose fault that is. The war on terrorism remains almost a draw. The national debt continues to grow at an alarming rate. Where will the Obama presidency rank in history? The GOP ranks it as the worst. Only time will give us a more accurate assessment. I think it will be in the top five or six.

And here we are in Cleveland, listening to all the hyperbole prior to the announcement of Trump’s nomination, making him no longer presumptive but still very much presumptuous. And in another week we’ll hear the Democratic hyperbole about Hillary prior to her nomination. Then we’ll have a series of Trump/Clinton debates. It should be interesting (and enlightening) to see how Donald conducts himself when he’s teleprompterless and has to rely on his own words and ideas. Will he continue to attack with clumsy insults? Will he ever say anything of substance about how he’ll govern, should he (shudder shudder) somehow win in November? Or will he be seen as the Hindenburg he is, full of dangerously volatile gas that could blow up in his face at any second? Will Hillary be able to deflate this monumental ego? Will she tone down her shrill delivery that so alienates so many people? It might even be fitting if, in November, the two of them tie and have to share the presidency for four years. I realize that in our system ties are not allowed, but the mental image of them governing together,
with First Gentleman Bill and First Lady Melania flirting in the background, is just too rich to ignore. Come on, November. I can’t wait to see how this Comedy of Errors plays out.

Monday, July 18

E-Books

After all the years, after all the books I’ve accumulated and read in my lifetime, maybe even read more than once, I’m finally admitting to something I thought I’d never admit: I’m now in love with e-books. I swore I’d never read anything but books I could hold in my hands. My love of books was always about being able to own them and have them in case I needed them. I’ve probably bought at least a thousand books in my lifetime, read them, then given them away to friends, or kept them like old buddies on my shelves. When I was very young I had all the L. Frank Baum Oz books, which later went to nieces and nephews. Then I had all the Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan books and most of the others Burroughs had written. These too went to nieces and nephews. My early love of science fiction brought me to everything Heinlein wrote, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury, and too many others to list. And then I became an English teacher and owned most of the novels of the authors I most admired—Twain’s Huck Finn, Melville’s Moby Dick, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, all of Hemingway’s novels and short stories, Steinbeck’s East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath, Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, and the list goes on and on. When I retired, I devoted most of my reading to thrillers and mysteries, and I owned and read them as fast as I could. I’ve written about most of them on this blog, the writers who amaze and fascinate me with the prodigiousness of their output. There's John D. MacDonald and my favorite character Travis McGee
and Stephen and his unrealistic output.
The more books I bought, the more I had to find other homes for when my bookshelves brimmed over. And now I’ve found the simplicity of e-books. My wife and I own an IPad mini and two Kindle Fires, on which I can download for $.99 to $3.99 hundreds of books, maybe thousands of books (I still don’t understand how the storage capacity of these things keeps growing and growing), all there in my hand. No more need for bookcases and shelves except for those books in which I’ve written cryptic marginal notes, reminders of my thoughts from various stages of my life. The one flaw in the e-book phenomenon: Where does one write marginal notes? I’m sure there’s a way to do that, but I’m still not proficient enough to know how. For each of my e-books, I have information about the author, publication details, other books by that author, and recommendations of other books similar to what I’ve purchased. More information than this old English teacher needs. But it’s all very handy.

Friday, July 15

2016 Open and Wacky Golf Rules

I’ve been watching the Open at Royal Troon, with its gorse and fescue and coffin bunkers and nearby railroad tracks, listening to the Brits chortle over the wind and rain in the second round. “Oh, yes,” they say, “this is truly the way golf is supposed to be played. None of that sissy stuff they play in the States. We want our links course weather to blow and rain and sleet, maybe even snow a bit. Let’s see who’s man enough to get through it.” Well, that’s what they had today—maybe no sleet or snow, but enough wind and rain to bring even the best players to their knees.
Golf is such a peculiar sport in so many peculiar ways and with so many peculiar rules. Golf differs from all other sports (or all I can think of) in that the individual competitors are their own referees. If one breaks a rule, one polices oneself and takes his medicine (penalty strokes depending on the violation). If a player inadvertently moves his ball, not matter how slightly and no matter that no one else saw it move, he calls a 2-stroke penalty on himself. Think about it. Would a basketball player call a foul on himself or give the ball to the other team because he had traveled? I don’t think so. Would a baseball player admit that he’d only trapped a fly ball and not really caught it, even though the referees ruled it a catch? I don’t think so. Would a football player admit that he’d caught a pass but had a toe on the sideline, even though the referees ruled it a catch? I don’t think so.

In the old days of golf, before the presence of all the television cameras zooming in on all shots and players, the players themselves called the rules infractions. Now, anyone watching a tournament from the comfort of his home can call in to question questionable behavior. I remember Paul Azinger in 1991 at the Doral Ryder Open. He was hitting a shot out of the water in a hazard, his feet both in the water. He instinctively kicked back with his foot before hitting the ball. A viewer called in questioning whether Azinger had moved a loose impediment under his foot. The film was reviewed and he was penalized. Nearly all fans of golf are familiar with Craig Stadler’s booboo in 1987 at the San Diego Open. To preserve his trousers when he knelt on both knees to hit a shot from under a tree branch, he placed a towel on the ground. Woops! Two strokes for building a stance to save his pants. Probably one of the craziest rulings involved Justin Rose in 2013 at the BMW Championship. His practice swing cut a divot which struck his ball and moved it. Penalty. Then there’s Tiger, who probably more than any other golfer, always had countless cameras recording his every twitch. In the 2013 Masters on the par-5 fifteenth hole, his second shot struck the flagstick and bounced back into the front pond. He had two options: go back as far as he wanted on a line keeping the point where it went in the hazard and the flag; or drop a ball as near as possible to the spot where he’d hit his last shot. What did he do? Even the intelligent Tiger can be guilty of mental errors. He mixed up the two options and dropped his ball two yards behind the spot of his previous shot. Bang! Two-stroke penalty.

There are obviously many other examples of inadvertent rules infractions, but recent rulings show how silly some rules of golf can be. Dustin Johnson in the PGA at Whistling Straits in 2010 was assessed a 2-stroke penalty for grounding his club in what he assumed was a sandy patch in the rough where any number of people in the gallery had walked through it. Uh uh, officials said. That was a bunker even though it didn’t look like a bunker. Without that penalty, Johnson would have been in a playoff for the title. And again, in this year’s U.S. Open, Johnson thought his ball had moved as he was preparing to putt. He told a rules official that he hadn’t addressed the ball (put the putter down behind the ball) and thus didn’t believe he had caused the ball to move. Play resumed and several holes later he was told that the situation was being reviewed and that he may or may not be assessed a 2-stroke penalty. So he played the last five holes not knowing what his score was. He was given the penalty, but thank goodness for Dustin Johnson that despite that penalty he still won the championship.

In this year’s Women’s U.S. Open, Anna Nordqvist, in a 3-hole playoff with Brittany Lang, was given a 2-stroke penalty for touching the sand in a bunker on her back stroke. A slow motion zoom lens showed one or two grains of sand had moved. One or two grains. So tiny that no one, not even she, noticed. But the all-seeing camera noticed. It seems inappropriate that such a minor infraction can have such a major impact on winning and losing. But rules are rules and there are no distinctions between a whole lot wrong and a little bit wrong. Just like one can’t be just a little bit pregnant. Anna Nordqvist broke a rule by just a little bit. Was it her fault? You bet it was. Why did she have her club that close to the sand when she addressed the ball? Next time you watch golf on the tube, pay attention to players hitting out of bunkers. All of them address the ball with the club nowhere near the sand. Anna, you should learn to do the same. No sense in being a little bit pregnant.

Thursday, July 14

Fargo, Season 2

I recently did a one-after-the-other run through of the ten episodes of Fargo, Season 2. Even though the Coen brothers didn’t direct, it had their pawprints all over it—the clever use of split screens for simultaneous action or flashbacks, the number and bloodiness of killings, the excellent choice of sound tracks to underscore action, the tongue-in-cheek satire of mobs and mob violence, the universal employment of Minnesota dialect for all characters, the symbolism of dead straight deserted country roads. I also couldn’t help but notice the similarity with another acclaimed television series, Justified, with its equally bloody action, Kentucky twang, and black humorish action.

In 1979, the Gearhardts are a family controlling all criminal activity in the northern areas around Fargo, North Dakota. In the first episode, “Waiting for Dutch,” the Kansas City mob has decided they want to take over the area and are willing to pay for the takeover. But Floyd Gearhardt (Jean Smart), who rules the family with an iron hand, refuses their offer and a war between the two groups seems inevitable. Her oldest son Dodd, who believes he’s the one in charge, is more than willing to begin the blood bath. The two plot lines, the mob war and the death of Rye, a younger Gearhardt son, set everything in motion, and the blood flows like the waters of the Fargo Red River. Ed and Peggy Blomquist (Jesse Piemons and Kirsten Dunst) get involved when Peggy, on her way home from the beauty shop in Laverne, Minnesota, strikes Rye outside a country diner. Rye, not quite dead, is pinned to her car in the broken windshield. Instead of calling 911, Peggy drives home and parks in their garage, with Rye still in the windshield. Ed, her husband, after he finds Rye has to kill him in self-defense. Peggy then implores him to get rid of the body. Peggy is not entirely all there as we learn from seeing her basement, a maze of passages through all the beauty and self-improvement magazines she’s collected over the years. Ed is a butcher in the process of buying the butcher shop from his boss. How does Ed get rid of Rye? You guessed it, you betcha, a parallel to the Fargo film and the wood chipper.
All of the characters are faithful to the Minnesota lilt we first heard in Fargo the film, but Kirsten Dunst is the Minnesota master. Okay, yah, you betcha. I even heard Lou Solverson’s wife utter that old Minnesota expression of distress or disgust—“Oofda!” as she struggles to get out of bed. Who else deserves praise for their performances? Bokeem Woodbine is a black enforcer for the Kansas City mob. He is a complex mix of brutality and intelligence, faithfully fulfilling the orders of his bosses, but also plotting his ascending the ladder to the top of the KC family. One might say he gets what he deserves in the final episode. Zahn McClaron, as Hinzee Dent, is the Native American enforcer for the Gerhardt family, but isn’t treated very well by them, even though he’s been part of their family since the time he was taken in by them as a boy. And, of course, Ted Danson, as the iron-bearded sheriff, is the perfect person to represent all that’s strong and right in western Minnesota. Yah, sure.
If you missed these ten episodes of Fargo, Season 2, you owe it to yourself to find them and savor them despite the often macabre hilarity of the blood-soaked Minnesota landscape.

Thursday, July 7

To Fly or to Drive: That Is the Question

For one last hurrah with class reunions at our old home town, we just took what most likely will be our last airline flight. I realize that terrorist threats now make extreme security at airports a necessary evil, with hours of checking in and going through security check points. But what was once a simple, even enjoyable experience is now painfully complicated, requiring so much time one might arrive at one’s destination by car in only a little more time than by plane. And the standing in line for as much as an hour plays hell on someone my age with a polymialgic back.

We flew on Allegiant Airlines out of Mesa, Arizona, a smaller airline but one aggressively striving to get bigger, with what were originally fares well below the larger airlines. My main complaint now is with Allegiant and probably not with the other airlines. First, Allegiant charges extra for almost everything, and what is supposed to be economical is no longer a good deal when all the extras are added in. We paid extra for each of our carry-on bags, extra for our pre-boarding seat assignments, extra for early boarding, and quite a bit extra for any snacks or drinks we might have during the flight. The seat sizes are now uncomfortably tiny, making a three-hour flight seem like a day in a medieval torture chamber. We had opted for (and paid extra for) two seats in the right front row, thinking that the extra leg room would make it worthwhile. We boarded and found a very large and talkative fellow in the aisle seat. I was in the window seat and poor Rosalie in the middle, with large talker sort of sprawled into his seat and half of Rosalie’s. I promised her that on the return flight she could have the window and I’d take the middle. Making good on my promise, on the return flight we found our seats and then a very large (that’s a euphemism for corpulently obese) man sort of smiled at me as he stowed his carry-on, then plumped himself into the aisle seat. I have no idea how he managed to squeeze his very large butt between the arm rests. And, oh, how he wanted to chat. I’m not a chatter, especially with fatties I don’t know. I sat there looking straight ahead or out the window to the right. One must never make eye-contact with a talker or they’ll forever have you pinned like a butterfly. I wasn’t looking forward to nearly three hours sitting in a tiny, only slightly cushioned seat, shoulders hunched forward, leaning to the right into Rosalie’s space. Three hours of avoiding empty conversation. I’m not a great believer in the power of prayer, but just before takeoff, the airline attendant, a tiny, attractive woman of Asiatic or Polynesian descent, asked fat man if he’d be willing to move to seat 3A. Something about distributing passenger weight so that the plane didn’t do an unplanned header. He moved and a slender, silent woman took his place. Oh, thank you, Powers That Be, for sending corpulence away and replacing him with slender silence.

The trip was bearable although still uncomfortably tight. Which leads me to my other complaint. Allegiant, to increase their profits has taken their A319 planes and converted them from three seats left and two seats right to three seats on both sides. That meant shrinking the three on the left, shrinking the aisle, and shrinking the two on the right to accommodate that extra row of seats, making what was once acceptable although still uncomfortable into spaces that are little better than straightjackets.
If we were ever to fly anywhere again, we would choose a larger airline with first-class seating. Damn the expense. Give me a seat like on the Lear jet the folks on Criminal Minds fly.

Other flight complaints. Unless one is a frequent flier, one doesn’t know all the short cuts for expediting check-in. When we left from Mesa, we already had our boarding passes downloaded the night before and we had no luggage to check. We stood in line for thirty minutes only to find that we could have gone through security and skipped the check-in line. Duh! On our return flight from Bismarck, we stood in line for thirty minutes only to find a sign just before the security check that told us that children under 12, military personnel, and folks 75 and older could use the expedited line. Duh! Well, why would that informative sign be posted just ahead of the final step? Duh and Duh! And all the phone apps that allow fliers to put their boarding passes on their phones. I’m still ignorant of cell phones and all their applications. I’m sure most old folks are in the same boat. And what about the size of carry-ons? Why can’t airlines simply put an end to carry-ons? And the number of tiny children now flying. Where do the airlines store all the large strollers I see coming aboard?
And the really obese people. How do they squeeze in all that corpulence? Hey, lady, how're you going to get that tray down so you can eat all those snacks you've brought aboard? I'm sure she'll figure something out. We’ve come to a time that almost one in three people can be categorized as obese and you don't want to find yourself in the middle seat between two of them.

We rented a Chevy Malibu from Enterprise and stopped at Perkins, our usual watering hole on the two-hour trip south to Mobridge, South Dakota. There we watched North Dakota farmers at table after table simply shoveling food into their mouths. Is it fact or just my imagination that restaurant meals have gotten bigger and bigger? Is it just my aging appetite that’s shrunk or are these huge platters of food the same as when I was young? I know I can no longer eat more than half of any entrée on the menu. I also know that I’ll probably never again book a flight from here to anywhere. At least not on Allegiant Airlines.


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