Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Man's Paradise

I'm always interested in people's varied tastes. Not only in food but in cultural things. I'm heading out tomorrow for three days deep in the Sonoran desert and I find the area I'm heading for to be absolutely beautiful. I don't consider all desert as beautiful, drive to Tucson and you'll see what I mean. But some of it can be outstanding. I've had many an easterner tell me how ugly they found our desert to be. Eye of the beholder. In the high heat of the day sometimes the desert is imposing and drab, but at sunrise and sunset it becomes just mystical. The mountains acquire a glowing purple cast and the skies are magnificent. I've experienced sunsets all over and very few match Arizona's.

I do notice that the older I get, the less I have in common with popular culture. Judd Aptow is a very rich guy having made his money writing and directing movie comedies. Unfortunately for me, they don't make me laugh. Especially the ones about young geeks doing stupid things. I was that age once and it wasn't funny. It was usually painful. Something about scatological humor and body part humor is, to me, almost sad. I'm wondering how talented you really are if you can't find a laugh in this very funny world without resorting to scraping the bottom. A young girl puts male sperm in her hair thinking it's hair gel. Oh boy, that's a knee slapper. One thing I do admire about my kids is that they laugh readily. And, they can find the humor in off beat TV shows which usually leads me to watch the show. Sometimes they lead me to a gem. Their latest discovery is "It's always sunny in Philadelphia". I've got it recording and look forward to seeing it.

I'm off to the desert, I should be back at the keyboard on Monday. I''ll leave you with this;

"What is comedy? Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke!"
Steve Martin

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Position open: Mountain Goat and Snake Wrangler

Sometimes, on rare occasions, I am called into duty to leave the safety and sanctity of my little desk and am forced into the field to assist those capable guys we call Applicators. My expertise does not include applicating so I am usually relegated to pulling hoses and washing flagstone. Most of you know we have a weed control company and this requires spraying a liquid material on all places where the customer does not want weeds to grow. If it gets on something we don't want it on, such as flagstone (it has a temporary color), it has to be immediately washed off. That's my job. Sometimes we get a doozy of a job. Today was one of those days.

Go to Paradise Valley, into one of the most exclusive gated communities, follow the guards instructions and drive the winding road to the very top of the mountain. Sometimes I think that intelligence can be calculated by the amount of money a person has. The more they have the dumber they are. Well, that's not exactly right. It's the amount of money a person has and what they will spend it on. This was a six thousand plus square foot house perched into the side of the mountain. Many parts of it hanging out into space. One of our problems was that it was surrounded by an acre of tile that had been shipped from Italy specifically for this house. When I first saw this tile I thought it had been damaged as it had deep white scratches in it. Then I noticed that they all had deep white scratches in them. I wondered what it cost to ship damaged tile from Italy. Then I wondered why the customer didn't just buy some undamaged tile right here. I've lots of friends with tile. Thank God none of theirs is damaged.

We had to spray the mountain side around the house, down the steep mountain side on either side of the road well before and well past the house. This was no mean feat. Standing halfway down the mountain side, holding the hose I looked out at a beautiful view of Paradise Valley and as I slipped and slid in the mountain shale I looked at the house and wondered if the view was worth spending 6 million dollars to precariously perch the house on a really butt ugly scrub desert and nasty shale mountain. The property manager said this job kept her hopping because the house kept shifting. Huh! Shifting? Really?

And, what do you do with the kids? Junior go out back and play. Try not to fall 600 feet down the mountain again, honey.

And, there was a huge rattlesnake sunning himself on the narrow walkway at the side of the house that went straight down. And, I'm talking huge. Huge! No, really! Huge! Coiled and blocking the way. Unfortunately my friend John was leading the way. John doesn't like snakes. Saying John doesn't like snakes is like saying the surface of the sun is slightly warm. I'm not sure the human larynx was designed to emit the sound that came from John.

I know that Jesus walked on water, but my friend John must be able to walk on thin air. How else did he get around me. There was no room. And yet before I could react he was up the path and backing toward the street making a strange, agonizing sound. I didn't know until today that snakes could laugh.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh, Sweet October

As a Phoenician don't you just love October. Finally after what seems to be a year and a half the heat begins to abate and the evenings cool down to absolutely delightful temperatures. I know it is still warm during the day but the end of agonizing heat is nigh.

I've just spent a wonderful few days at the cabin in Illinois. It was cool and wet mostly with just enough good weather to coat the roof and of course, catch some fish. We bet one dollar on the first fish, one dollar on the most fish and one dollar on the biggest fish. Cindy Bennett won first and most but Charlie and Carol claim to have caught the biggest. You note that I say "claim". They are their only witness and had no evidence to support such a claim. Oh, the one that got away!

"The only time a woman can really change a man is when he is a baby!"
Natalie Wood

Okay, girls imagine this. You and some of your good friends are going to a spa. To be really pampered with massages and facials and all that wonderful hand and foot treatments. Then lay around a beautiful pool snacking on wonderful tidbits with a really cold glass of crisp white wine. Isn't that a wonderful image?

Well, us guys are going to quail camp. Quail season opens Friday morning and all us he-men are packing our creature comforts and our camp tents and cots and are traveling out into the unfettered desert to spend a few days chasing those little cute creatures and blowing them to kingdom come. Ah, yes. We are going to men's spa. Now don't think we're going out their just to hunt those elusive little dickens. We're going out there for the exact reason you would go to that spa with your buddies. There will be relaxation, fine drink and copious B.S. around the camp fire to compliment the succulent cuisine we bring with us. Oh, the joy to scratch and spit at will. If Will comes this year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.

I wonder if we are the only family that seems to continuously try to cram 10 pounds into 5 pound bags? It seems that the hurrieder I go the behinder I get. We are going to beautiful Mara's wedding tonight and Carol is helping Cindy Bennett with the flowers. Cindy is a wonderment with flowers and probably was up at 2am to start putting things together. But, if things are normal I can guarantee the last flower will be in place just seconds before Mara comes down the aisle. Unfortunately Mara's father is in the hospital and won't be able to walk her down the aisle and that is a terrible pity. Speaking from experience, there isn't much better than having your daughter on your arm as you make that life altering walk together. We wish him well and pray for a speedy recovery.

Being the father of the bride is an unusual position. Except for the act of reaching for your wallet the father really doesn't have much of a role. For you guys out there with daughters coming to that age let me give you a glimpse. You have spent your daughters life with her listening to every word, every piece of wisdom, every admonishment. Well, that stuff is over. Save yourself some frustration, don't offer any opinions on the wedding. Don't suggest where it should be held, don't suggest who should be in it, don't suggest how many to invite, don't suggest how to do the reception, the rehearsal dinner or the bachelorette party, and Lords knows don't say anything about which dress for her to wear except to say, "You look just beautiful!" Your opinion is just not wanted. I know that sounds harsh, but it is true. This wedding belongs in the hands of your daughter and her Mother.

My friend Charlie said it best. He said, "Being the father of the bride is like being the caboose on a runaway train!"

Good luck to all you future fathers of the bride and don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh Fabjous Vacation!!

Don't you just love getting ready to go on vacation? I believe the days preceding the actual trip are just as filled with anticipation and joyful expectation as the actual thing itself. Carol and I with friends Charlie and Cindy are heading for the cabin on Monday. We have a great little place on a most beautiful lake in south central Illinois. Pana Lake, the place of peace and the actual catching of fish. Not just fishing. Fishing is looking for, hoping for, waiting for a fish. Catching is actually getting the little buggers. My buddy Jed says he gets bored fishing. Come to Pana buddy, you won't get bored.

I like to call our place the "Lake House". Or, when I really want to impress "The Lake Property". Carol is a pragmatic farm girl, she calls it the "trailer". No matter, I love it. There are times when I can't sleep and stressful thoughts of business fill my head and I toss and turn. Then I turn my mind to the cabin. (There, that's a good compromise). We had a screened in deck built on the back. It's about 12x20 and we furnish it with comfy deck furniture. I think about sitting there, a cool breeze flowing through, the screen keeping all the pesky Illinois bugs away, and looking out across our green and peaceful cove. The wind moves the surface of the water a little causing gentle ripples and once in a while a small circle appears where a fish has surfaced to snack on a white fly. You listen to the wind in the trees and troubles melt away. Once in a while it may even start to sprinkle. One of those light refreshing rains that cleanses everything and makes all the green greener and everything new. And, I look down at our boat dock and I think about taking a rod down and trying my luck under the overhanging branches of the trees that line our side of the cove. But cooler heads prevail and I decide to light a cigar, fix a cocktail and sit and enjoy God's gift for a while.

For a view of the lake from the deck go to my website, and look at my painting "Jessie Rows". That is what I look at from my perch on the deck. Excuse me, I know I'm early but I have to go pack now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Man Rules!

A friend of mine gave me a book of man rules compiled by Esquire Magazine. I expected funny, what I didn't expect was how close to basic truths they would become. My friend immediately pointed out rule #250, "There is no shame in well-done steak!". My friend likes his meat mutilated and burned beyond the capabilities of the CSI team. This is one rule I just can't go with. My good and lovely friend, forgo the steak and eat the charcoal.

Here are some that speak truth:

Rule #247

People who fish are very unlike people that don't fish.

If the Apocalypse comes in my lifetime. If the flag goes up and civilization is doomed, I want the people who fish with me. Meet at my house, bring your gear.

Rule #293 (For all you teenagers and twenty somethings)

Before getting any sort of tattoo, devote a few minutes thought to figure how it will look on your saggy, wrinkled, puckered flesh in the nursing home. Don't scare the great grandchildren! (I added that part).

Rule #291

This for you all that travel together. "On any road trip, he who is driving gets control of the radio. No exceptions." Almost no exceptions. Anyone fascinated with Celine Dion or Barry Manilow are exempted.

And this last one for today. For you fellas out there;

Rule # 302 (In our circle of friends with so many babies coming so fast and furious, this rule could save a valued friendship.)

"The correct description for any photograph of someones else's baby is 'Adorable!'. Have this word ready to go before the photograph is shown, so that, even if the baby is shockingly ugly, you can utter 'Adorable!' without hesitation.

Of course this doesn't apply to any of our new babies.

Okay, one more;

Rule #274

"Pliant people are, more often than not, smarter than stubborn people."

Rule #275 (Here comes the rub)

"But stubborn people are always more effective."

Watch the 24 hour cable news cycle. Those stubborn people are loud!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Sundown Corral

I am really excited that my website, has been updated and one of my novels is being uploaded. If you wish to access it you can do so from this blog. I've written five different novels and three of these are westerns and looking at the title above you might think The Sundown Corral is a western also. You would be wrong. It does take place in the west, right here in Phoenix, but the time is 1980. When Phoenix was not yet the big glass and concrete sprawling wall of noise it has become. Back then it was still an almost sleepy big cowtown. Everyone was friendly and down to earth. We had no high rises on Camelback, no sports team except the Suns, no massive housing developments and for me, no worries.

This is my Steinbeck novel. John Steinbeck (Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden) was the best at capturing the real people. The regular folk. The ones that really inhabit the world.

I worked a very short time as a bartender at a little bar on 32nd Street named the Sundown Corral. I used it as a backdrop for my story. I was fascinated by the sub culture of bar people. Fascinated at how the neighborhood bar was as much a part of their lives as church is to my Christian friends. Many of the characters are based on real folks. The Old Man, Diane, Butch, Duane, Chicago George, John the Painter and many others actually existed but not necessarily in the form I created for them. The physical description of Jack and Cassy was based on real people but their circumstances are purely fiction. The description of the Corral is accurate. The description of the "Rodeo" is accurate. Doc Goldman is retired and living in Michigan teaching Junior College Math. Many of the bars are still there though some have changed names.

However, this is not a story about a bar. It is a story of redemption, a story of reconciliation, and mostly a coming of age story of a young man searching for the father he never had and finding so very much more.

Tina has the first four chapters up and I like this segmented uploading as it allows someone to read a little at a time. Take a few minutes from the day and go to another world. A world that in my memory was a lot simpler and a lot sweeter than today. I suppose that is the way of all memories.

If you like it let me know. Either post a comment on this blog or e-mail me at If you don't like it, be kind.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

From a ten to a three in a glance

So this guy walks into the Doctors office with what appears to be a duck growing out of the top of his head. The Doctor says, "Oh my, that certainly looks to be a problem!" and the duck says "Yeah, so how are you going to get this thing off my butt?"

Carol said I should make these blogs funnier.

Driving to work today I stopped at a stop light waiting to turn left when a sports car pulled up beside me. I glanced over to see a very attractive blond girl at the wheel. I mean very attractive. Hey, I'm old but I still have eyes. So I glanced at her again and that's when I saw the cigarette between her fingers. I was surprised at my reaction. The girl went from a ten to a three in an instant. She's good to look at but I don't want to be close enough to smell her.

Now I have to tell you, when I was her age I smoked. Everyone smoked. Every movie star, everyone on television. We all had a Pall Mall or an Old Gold hanging from our lips. Bogart wouldn't have looked so cool if he didn't have the cigarette. When you smoke you don't smell it. I admit freely I will smoke a cigar on festive occasion and I like the smell of pipe smoke but lingering cigarette smoke stinks. Bad. But, since we all smoked we all smelled alike. And we were ignorant. At age 56 my father died of lung cancer, a pack and a half smoker his entire life. He cried at the end. It still took me another ten years before I realized that I couldn't say I was really smart and at the same time have a pack of fags in my pocket. Fags, weird huh? That's what we all called them. My Dad wouldn't quit but he he knew the danger, even back then. I remember him taking a white handkerchief and drawing a cigarette through it and showing me the brown nicotine left behind. That goes into your body, he said.

See Carol, that was funny.

One last thing, whichever of the twelve of you that reads this blog, I mean the one that is a personal friend of the President I want to say Thank You! Evidently you told him of my previous blog that was an open letter to the President. The one about him taking command of this health care debate. Well, I watched his speech last night and he obviously had heard about my blog. So, whoever you are, thanks again!

I know there are many sides to be considered in this issue and most don't understand insurance anyway but as I spent over twenty years in the health insurance industry I feel I have a little better perspective than the average boy. Hey, if you have any questions about your health insurance or about the debate e-mail me at and I'll try to help you understand. No political agendas. If I can't help because I don't have enough information, I'll tell you that also. Mention this blog as the subject so I won't think it's spam.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food oh glorious food

Don't you just love food. Don't you just love the fact that you can eat anything you want and all you want and never gain a pound? What? Oh, you too?

Is anyone else addicted to the Food Channel? I was watching one of the shows, maybe Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and they were frying everything. I mean everything. Hotdogs, sandwiches, everything. One of their specialties was french fried Twinkies.

Just before Amanda was married I had taken her to the Bridal shop for a fitting and we stopped at the Texaz Grill at 16th street and Bethany Home Road for lunch (great place!). After having the usually superb lunch the waitress asked if we wanted desert. Being a born and bred smart A I said not unless you have french fried Twinkies. She laughed and said "Sorry, I don't have that." It wasn't two minutes later she came back with a french fried Twinkie and set it in front of me. "There you go," she said. Amanda and I and everyone within earshot cracked up. It appears the Manager overheard me and yes indeed, happened to have a Twinkie that he threw in the fryer. Laughing, Amanda said, "Okay smart aleck, now you have to eat it!"

It was delicious.

My Mother was a good cook, not as good as Carol but good in the simple fare that we had available in the early fifties in the northern hills of Missouri. She made the best fried chicken, mashed potato's and gravy you every put in your mouth (Texaz Grill's chicken fried chicken comes close). She also baked our bread, we rarely had store bought.

One of my earliest memories was when she had baked some bread and had a baseball sized amount of dough left over. After pulling the bread out she stuck that leftover dough in and promptly forgot about it. I don't know how long it sat in the oven but when she finally remembered it had baked to the consistency of a bowling ball. She gave it to me to gnaw on. Sometime later an irate neighbor came to the door dragging a squalling, blubbering, snot nosed boy my age. The neighbor really gave Mom the dickens because his son claimed I had hit him in the head with a big rock. Mom called me to the door and asked me if I'd hit that boy with a rock. She was really upset. Innocent as the driven snow I replied, "No Ma'am, I did not! I hit him with your biscuit!"

You get a reputation in a small town it sticks for a while. Mom's reputation as a baker suffered until we had to move.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lightning Strikes

I happened to catch Brooks and Dunn on the Today show this morning where they announced they were taking a break from each other and it got me to thinking about just who lightning strikes. What I mean is that there are entertainers out there that reach unbelievable heights of fame and wealth for reasons I don't understand except to just say that God's fortunate finger touches some people. Kix Brooks was a failing country singer in Nashville when a producer saw Ronnie Dunn sing with a great voice and the stage personality of a post. Hence the great idea of coupling the energetic Brooks with the immovable Dunn. All Kix had to do was show up and jump around the stage and run up and down and pretend sometimes to be singing along with Ronnie. Millions of albums, millions of dollars. God's fortunate finger rested on Kix Brooks.

Who else?

Okay, this is going to get me into trouble. Probably the greatest example of God's fortunate finger is a country singer with a mediocre voice who watched Chris Ledoux swing out onto stage on a rope to the thunderous approval of the audience and decided then and there that the stage show is the thing and it doesn't matter that your voice is no match for the greats. God's fortunate finger touched Garth Brooks and he outsold Elvis. I'll admit he is a great entertainer, but still a mediocre singer. Come on, put his voice against George Jones or Waylon or Cash.

In the literary world I see that Dan Brown has a new book coming. You might remember Dan, he wrote the DaVinci Code. One of the more amateurishly written books to ever become popular. I mean this guy couldn't write his way out of a paper bag. Without the Jesus and Mary Magdalene had babies hook, which energized the ire of the Christian community and thusly gained an ungodly amount of free publicity, the book should have been laughed out of the publishers office. I saw Elmore Leonard, who I have mentioned more than once in my blogs, on the Charlie Rose show. He was asked about the writing ability of Dan Brown. He could only politely grimace. Dan Brown has made millions and with the new book stands to make many more. I fear it is the Emperors new clothes. If the media jumps on the bandwagon the masses will follow. J. K. Rowling almost makes this list but at least she can write a little. I only read the first Harry Potter and it was a cute kids story, but I can't see it deserving the adulation it received. Maybe it was God's knuckle that touched that one.

The other guy I think of is Kristian Bush who joins Jennifer Nettles in Sugarland. Another guy that jumps around to energize the show, unfortunately for him Ms. Nettles has her own energy and I wonder how long it will be before he is jettisoned. I hope never, I do admire loyalty.

Now this interesting premise; how about in your work place. Have you ever known someone with mediocre or at least just reasonable ability touched by God's fortunate finger. When I had my Insurance Agency a peer of mine had the Wisconsin territory. A good guy, but not special and the territory was okay but not a gold mine. Lots of competition. Suddenly the State of Wisconsin did something no other state would do. They actually endorsed our product as the one to buy. For the next five years all he had to do was have enough people to answer the constantly ringing phones. He was rich overnight while the rest of us salesmen still had to go out and beat the bush.

Oh yeah, I like doing it the hard way! Oh yeah, I'm a big believer in hard work! Oh yeah, honest, intelligent effort is always rewarded (unless it's in this economy). Oh Yeah.

Please God reach down and touch me on my slightly balding head.

Friday, September 4, 2009


It is finally Labor Day weekend. Ironic isn't it? Three days of leisure to celebrate Labor. As an average boy I have a deep respect for the ordinary laborers that keep our society turning. I was thinking back to the labors I've performed in my life, I was amazed at how many different things there were. I had a paper route when I was seven, at the same time on weekends I would sweep out a machine shop. In Junior High School I was the janitor in a Kresges (precursor to K-Mart). I'll never forget that the Manager somewhat sarcastically called me "Lightning". Wonder what he meant? In high school I pedaled an ice cream cart on weekends and worked in the body shop at Highfield Buick in Decatur Illinois during the week. After graduating in the lower half of my class I went to work at the Caterpillar Plant where I worked on the bur bench grinding the sharp metal shards off of freshly milled metal. After I gained some seniority (a heavy union requirement) I became a hand trucker. We went on strike 6 times in 11 months. From there I became a Station Agent Telegrapher for the Illinois Central Railroad, then a factory worker, a shop clerk, a computer operator, a gandy dancer (during a strike), a Maintenance Manager, a purchasing buyer, a photographer, a retail manager, an insurance salesman, an Agency Manager and a Vice-President of a national insurance company. Then I retired and became a manure inspector. Whew! I think I'll take the weekend off.

Some of you have heard my daughter Amanda sing at church. A God given voice. If you are interested in hearing some more go to my web site and click on music. This is an album of songs I have written over the years that she performs to perfection. She was in college at the time and her voice has only gotten better with age. Uh, not that she's old, she's not. Actually really young yet, not old at all. I have to be careful, she reads this. Don't know why she's so sensitive about being a quarter of a century old. I wonder how many occupations she'll have at 63? Hopefully, with all that schooling it'll only be one.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Those important morality plays called Westerns

Now before you young folks and especially you ladies out there blow this off because it's about cowboy movies, give me a chance. A really good Western is as important a piece of art as a really good play. Many of the best ones can be compared to the original Greek dramas. I'll start with one of my all time favorites, Hombre. Starring Paul Newman and directed by Martin Ritt, it is based on an Elmore Leonard story. This is much more than a shootem' up, fist full of collar cowboy movie. Newman stars as John Russell a man raised on the San Carlos Apache reservation. He finds himself on a stage coach where he is soon banished to the topside because he doesn't fit with the civilized folk inside. All about prejudice. But guess what, when the stage gets into serious trouble and lives are on the line, who do all these civilized people turn to for salvation. Yep, Mr. Outcast. The movie also dwells on moral right and wrong and comes down to one of the hardest life or death decisions I've ever seen in a movie. Also stars one of our greatest actors and probably the best bad guy ever, Richard Boone.

Another personal favorite is Jeremiah Johnson starring Robert Redford and directed by one of the really great directors, Sydney Pollack. Yeah, that Sydney Pollack from Tootsie. I mentioned in a previous blog that I always had a place in my heart for Mountain Men. This movie is based on a true story about a man that came to be known among the tribes as "liver eating Johnson". Now girls, don't let that turn you off, this is one entertaining movie, one of Redfords best. You walk away with a plethora of one liners such as when Redford had just bragged he could skin any animal on earth and Old Griz, played by Will Geer lures a raging grizzly into the cabin and declares "Well Pilgrim, you skin that one and I'll go get you another!" Another is "Saw it right off!" which is what Old Griz comments when ever Redford hadn't listened and ended up paying a consequence. In other words, I told you and you didn't listen and now you pay. Haven't all we parents been there?

Okay, I'll wrap this up. Here are other really good Westerns:

For pure fun, Rooster Cogburn and the Lady with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn and
Cat Ballou with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. Sheer entertainment.

Others will be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, John Ford's classic with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Shane with Alan Ladd, the absolute original morality play about the stranger coming to town to aid the good guys against the bad guys. Another great bad guy, Jack Palance.

For more realistic westerns I recommend Ulzana's Raid and Valdez is coming both starring an older Burt Lancaster. Valdez, again, is based on an Elmore Leonard story.

Two more would be The Shootist with John Wayne with Opie - Ron Howard. This was Wayne's last film and if you listen to the dialog it's as if he knew it. Another recent really good western is the Kurt Russell version of Tombstone. Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday is worth the price of admission alone. "I'll be your Huckleberry!" I don't know how he avoided an academy award. I know a lot of people think the Dennis Quaid version in Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp was better but my money is on Kilmer.

Okay this is way too big, I still have 20 really good movies on my list. Do yourself a favor, get some popcorn, throw one of these in and enjoy good cinema. A word of warning, some of these are not suitable for pre-teens.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Fistfull of Collar

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to blog about the literary genre The Western. I grew up with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. My brother and I would be watching the Gene Autry Theater until we heard Mom's footsteps on the porch then we would switch the TV to the Mickey Mouse Club. Mom didn't allow us to see anything violent which is funny since I was 9 and my brother was 11 and nothing can be more violent than two boys that age. Mom very seldom allowed us to go to the movies, cost was one factor but again, she saw no good coming to us by watching such carrying on. One time we begged to go see Francis the Talking Mule. We had saved some money we got for turning in pop bottles we had searched the streets for and received 2 cents apiece for. So, she asked around and a couple of the church people thought it would be okay since this was a comedy. As we left for the theater her last instructions to my older brother was that under no circumstance should I be allowed to view any violence. As it turned out the movie was indeed a murder mystery so in the opening scenes Francis the Talking Mule witnesses a murder in his barn. As the hand holding the gun came into sight from around a stall my brother tackled me, attempting to cover my eyes. Quite naturally, never taking much from him, I fought back. Next thing we knew we were on the floor between the seats punching and gouging among the spectators feet.

When we got home Mom asked my brother if there had been any violence and he honestly said that he had prevented me from seeing any of it.

But I digress. Shelby Foote the noted American historian once said that while our country had obtained its national character because of the Civil War, we got our national personality from the old west. As said previously, I grew up with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry but I was still young when I began to forsake that shiny Hollywood singing cowboy for more gritty and factual fair. We didn't have television when I was a lad so we spent our summer days using imagination to invent entertainment. Instead of cowboys and Indians we played mountain men. The library was available and we read every book we could get our hands on about the true west. As a young romantic I thought the greatest thing would to have been born a Sioux Indian in the late eighteenth century. I didn't take into consideration the 35 year life expectancy.

So as a young adult I really cherished the nitty-gritty westerns that captured that era factually. Many of my favorites became movies; Shane, The Ox-Bow Incident, Hondo, The Searchers, Riders of the Purple Sage, and The Virginian to name a few. In the last thirty years some other great movies have come out, old ones like The Tin Star, and The Gunfighter, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Stalking Moon, and The Bend in the River. Two of my favorites have always been Jeremiah Johnson and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I started wearing black shirts because of Robert Redford. I've already talked about the Elmore Leonard movies.

This is too long for one blog so tomorrow, whether you be man, woman or child I will name ten western movies you have to see.

I noticed that Google puts ads on my blog related to the subject. Yesterday Anti-itch Fungal Creme popped up. So as an experiment today the subject is How to Enlarge Your ........

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today I indulge......

Today I indulge myself with a couple of personal things. First, my brilliant daughter Amanda who is on the downhill slide toward her Masters in Counseling sat down, one on one, with her first clients. And, not wanting to save the worst for later, her first client dropped a personal problem bomb that Amanda says sent her blood pressure racing. She can't disclose the exact details but she said it was a very serious situation to face your first time out. She did great.

Another thing, my good friend Tina Stephens has my new web site up, not complete as it will be a work in progress for a couple of months. At least my oils and some of my music is available. I will be adding, hopefully today, a link from the blog to the website and back. Visit

Okay, now to something much more important. Am I the only one that standing in line at the grocery or the pharmacy with delicate items that feels that every woman in line is staring at my purchases. A few days ago the area on my finger where my wedding ring resides began to itch. It turned red and scaly (too much info?). My wise daughter, married to an ex-jock football player, suggested I get an anti-fungal cream. Seemed innocent. You go look. Every anti-fungal cream at Walgreen's screams RELIEVES JOCK ITCH! Holy guacamole, that isn't the only place a fungus resides. I felt compelled to explain but the lady said it was just none of her business. I finally had to stick my finger under her nose for her to agree that maybe I didn't have that other problem. I left before security arrived.