Monday, July 19, 2010

Takin' a break

Summer time blues have taken over and I'm going to take a little blog break. Be back in a month or so.

Do good
Sam

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One liners

Don't you just love one liners? Don't you wish you'd thought of them?


A guy knows he's in love when he loses interest in his car for a couple of days.

When I met Mr. Right I had no idea his first name was Always.

Women don't want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think, in a deeper voice.

I always wanted to be the last guy on earth, just to see if all those women were lying to me.

A man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then he's finished.

A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don't need it.

Money won't buy friends but you get a better class of enemy.

Imagine if there were no hypothetical situations?

I don't consider myself bald. I'm just taller than my hair.

You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy and the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese.

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.

The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win you are still a rat.

Give a man a fish and he has food for a day. Teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him for the entire weekend.

It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.

I have my standards. They may be low, but I have them.

I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.

Deep down, I'm pretty superficial.

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for the coffin.

I drink to make other people more interesting.

Have you noticed that anyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac.

From the great Yogi Berra; "I really didn't say everything I said."

And finally: It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don't say it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Faux Holidays

If Mother's Day is a holiday formulated by Hallmark (second highest sales day of the year), then I have to believe that Father's Day is probably the child of Sears or Home Depot. I've been reminded that Father's Day is Sunday and there's a gathering of extended family to celebrate all the Dads. I'm grateful for that. This kind of homogeneous gathering takes the pressure off of everyone. I have three offspring. One hasn't spoken to any family member in over twelve years. Another lives 1500 miles away and is filled with her own life as am I. This leaves the chore to Amanda. This way the pressure is off her and even more so, off me. This way I won't have to pretend to be gaga over a present. Not that she doesn't give good presents, she usually does. But there have been times in my past where I've been blessed with presents like The ultimate flower arrangement book. Or, Tai chi in four easy lessons. Or maybe even something cool like a good cigar, but whatever, this way I'll share the moment with other fellows and we are all off the hook. Amanda's little friends are now grown ups and we have a surge of new babies, so the new fathers will hopefully be the focus and take the pressure off us old guys.

My Dad died when I was very young so I never had the pressure of remembering Fathers Day. If on January the first you asked me what day in the year Father's Day fell on, I couldn't tell you. If you asked what month Father's Day fell on, I couldn't tell you. I can tell you that Valentines Day (another Faux Holiday) is in February - I think. And, Mother's Day is in May. I'm pretty sure - didn't we just have that? But that's pretty much the extent of what sticks in the cobwebs of my mind. New Years Day is January first. I still have the facility to figure that out. The Fourth of July usually falls on July fourth. Thanksgiving is tougher but I think it is always on the third Thursday of November. The two I'm really certain of is Christmas on December 25th and opening Quail Season day which does fluctuate but is always within the first two weeks of October. See, the important days stick with you.

Seriously though, to me Father's Day came when my first grandchild was born, and when Amanda got her Masters Degree and when my daughters married good men and when I see the little things in them that make me realize that they are of good character and filled with moral strength. When I notice a phrase or mannerism that I realize came only from me. When I knew that Amanda could not only bait her own hook, but also help her Daddy clean the fish. When I hear her laughter across the yard during a party and I know that she has that Jackson sense of humor.

That's my Father's Day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

No time to waste

I've been gone the last couple of days because my son in law Lance and I have been installing a new and improved back yard at my house. Lance owns and operates ACLS - Arizona Complete Landscape Services - so he is doing everything landscape wise at my house. It has been an interesting time bonding with my daughters husband. Lance - also known as Bus - is a very sharp guy and a hard worker, however "early to bed and early to rise" is not necessarily his mantra. Because of this we normally got started around 8am. Now ordinarily this is not a big deal but did I mention that it is June and 110 degrees outside. At 6am it's 80 degrees. At 8am it's 93 degrees. This doesn't seem to faze my outsized son in law. He wears a dark, long sleeved shirt with a T shirt under, jeans and work boots. I'm frying with a T shirt, shorts and tennis shoes. Those that know me know that I'm not really into anything project. Mechanical things bore me to tears. I can do them, I just don't like them. This puts Lance and my efforts in a very good place. Lance figures out what to do, tells me what to do then I do it. Pretty good partnership. But, besides getting a new back yard this gives me quality time with my son in law. Amanda is pregnant with a little girl they, so far, call Lily and now this makes it very important for my son in law to get a little SamLeeJackson time. Time to impart knowledge onto the boy. The way I see it, is that I'm 63 years old. This maybe gets me, if I'm lucky, another 20 years. Some where along the way he's going to be responsible for all the Jackson descended girls maybe even including Carol. Therefore he better be a damn sight smarter by then. Important things like not drawing to an inside straight and quit calling those bingo cards games you play with your buddies for money - poker. It's not poker. He's got a lot to learn and I'm just to guy to help.

Right?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oh pain and agony. Oh woe is me!

Woe is me! Things are just too tough and I don't know if I can stand it. The economy is recovering but that doesn't stop my small business from having the slowest down turn in it's history. Times are tough. My house and my kid's house isn't worth what we paid for them. Our income is down and so is every other small business owner I know. My diverticulitis is acting up and my back hurts and my friend John has a bulge in his spine and can't work and airline fares have doubled, thus making it very difficult for me to visit my beloved cabin on Pana Lake, and though there is only two of us I can't go to the store without spending as much as my first car. Well, it was an old heap, but still.

Then, I heard just today that a local radio personality died of stomach cancer at age 55.

And, less than two months ago entire families that had thriving shrimp businesses in the gulf were put out of generational family businesses in the instant of an explosion.

And, a thousand wonderful young soldiers have given their lives for us in Afghanistan.

And, thousands more are trying to rebuild their shattered lives while missing arms and legs.

And, the homeless and parentless children in Haiti have already been forgotten because of the oil spill.

And, a mother lost her focus for just a moment and crossed over into the oncoming lane and now she's dead and three teens are in critical care.

And, hundreds of thousands have been laid off.

And, hundreds of thousands have suffered foreclosure on their family home.

And, a million kids graduated from college this last month, carrying the baggage of huge school loans and there are no jobs.

And, the children's hospital is full.

And, the prisons are full.

And, life for many is a bitch.

And, And, And

Gosh I feel better.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summertime

Darling Amanda turned 27 over the Memorial Day weekend. She had friends and family over to our house for an old fashioned hot-dog, hamburger cookout. It was a modest little gathering by Jackson standards but a whole lot of fun never the less. I made note that we had our first Amanda birthday party in this back yard twenty one years ago, celebrating her 6th birthday. That backyard has seen a lot of memories. I've been blessed to be surrounded by many people with musical talent, so most all the parties had live music of some sort. This was no different. The evening ended with the un-holy trio of Lance (Amanda's husband), Lance's brother Blake and their good friend Eric digging through a box of song charts I had, looking for something to perform. Now, understand the charts are nothing more than the lyrics with the chords written above them. So, if you don't know the song, you are out of luck.

Unless you are the un-holy trio. Eric and Lance provided the guitar licks and Blake sang the songs, making up the melodies as they went along. If only those songwriters could have been there to see what they could have written instead of what they did. Help me make it through the night has a whole new deal. Sorry Kris!

As said, there have been many good memories spawned at Amanda's parties. Our friends Curt and Karen, just a little tipsy, swinging hard on our wooden swing until the S hook straightened out and they went crashing to the ground. No one harmed.

And my old best friends brother Jerry waving his arms around as he got more involved in the story he was telling until I warned him to watch out for the ceiling fan. "What fan?" he said sticking his hand straight up and destroying a $400 ceiling fan. Yeah, I know, you can buy'm for fifty bucks, but not if your wife wants just that one particular fan.

The one thing that we all agreed on was that it was a good thing to be older because the party ended at a reasonable hour instead of going to the wee hours.

Well, happy birthday baby and next year you'll have that little one to help celebrate. Probably means the party will end even sooner.

That's OK.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Honor

I was talking to a fella recently about a business deal and at the end I asked if we needed to write anything down. He stuck out his hand and said "This is all I need." We shook on it and as far as I'm concerned that was as strong as any contract.

I'm a born and bred Mid-Westerner. Missouri to Illinois. In twenty years of running an insurance sales office I noticed a distinct pattern. Not absolute but enough to notice. Mid-Westerners showed up to meetings on time. Southwester's and Californio's didn't. I was told once to -just relax. It's no big deal. We're just not as uptight.

They miss the point. It's not about being uptight. It's about honor. You agreed to the meeting then you agreed to show up on time. It's a matter of your word. If you can't make it on time, say so. One of my very pet peeves is being promised something will happen, then it doesn't. It is really easy. Say what you're going to do, then do it. Don't say it unless you mean it, if you mean it then do it. If you can't do it, say you can't do it. If you intend to do it, but something gets in the way, call as soon as you can and explain why you can't do it.

Why do I bring this up? I see many young people brought up to be okay with just being kinda close to honoring their word. "Don't worry about him, he's always late." Bad on him. If I can't trust him to keep his word about being on time, I can't trust him to keep his word on much else.

"Son, I want you to take out the garbage."
"Sure, Dad."
"Son, why didn't you take out the garbage?"
"What's the big deal, they'll be around again in a couple of days."
"The big deal has nothing to do with garbage. The big deal has to do with you giving me your word you would take it out."
"I didn't give you my word."
"You agreed to take it out."
"But I never said I give you my word."
"Who's words were they?"

This can be a lesson for my daughter and all her friends but it's a lesson for some older folks too. We were at a gathering of family and friends and one of the invited called to say they would be a few minutes late. This was met with amusement. They must be really uptight to call just because of a few minutes. My thought was - right on!

How do you teach someone? Tell'm, tell'm what you told'm then tell'm again.

Here's the lesson. Don't say you'll do something unless you are going to do it. Don't agree to someone else's timetable unless you are positive you can meet it. If you can't say so. You can still do the thing, but it must be known that the timing will be yours. If you can't do something, or you can't do it in the timeframe requested, then say you can't do it. Don't just try to make people happy by agreeing to something you know will not come to pass. They will be much unhappier when the promised thing doesn't get done.

And, if you do these things you can go to sleep knowing that whatever else, you are an honorable person.

I guess some of you would think I'm just a grouchy old stickler.

What's that got to do with what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Starting a new painting

Thanks for all the kind comments on my last painting "First Roundup". Kind words are always appreciated. I've started a new one. A friend of mine, and a fine photographer, John Foley, took a series of promotional pictures of a dancer for her portfolio then at the end he shot some more just for himself. One of these really caught my attention and he has given me permission to paint it. See below. What you are seeing is the first step which is to pencil draw the portrait. The next stop is to begin putting oil to canvas. The working title is "Hard Audition".


Thanks John!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quail Fest 2010

To my tight nit group of quail hunting friends the two and sometimes three trips out into the wild to hunt those elusive little birds has become along the importance of Christmas and New Years. You can guess that the birds on a scale of one to ten in importance of the trip ranks around a four. As far as the yield, some years are banner years and some are not. With the situation of the drought the last three years, they have been mostly not. We'd get birds but not in large quantity.

So, imagine our surprise when my friend Brent pulled the frozen little critters out of the freezer we had almost eighty of them. More than enough for what isn't but should be an annual gathering of the hunters and wives for a quail feast. Quail Fest we call it. Brent held it at his house and took charge cooking the bacon rapped birds on the grill. The rest was potluck with lots of food to be had. It was a great time. Charlie came up with a hilarious list of what should be future Quail Camp Etiquette which I would list but I didn't get a copy. Maybe later.

After the meal, the scotch and the cigars came out and for some reason the women disappeared into the house. It didn't take long for the conversations of the men to completely resemble the questionable discussions around the hunting night fire. Questions like if Colin's fascination with Andrew Boccelli was sufficient enough to cast a pall on his sexuality? And, like just exactly when during the night does scotch begin to taste like spiced rum. Questions like, just how can a grown man get shot by a single BB in the tongue? Does that man hunt quail with his tongue hanging out like Michael Jordan going for a layup. And, was the guy that shot him a really good shot, or a really bad shot?

And, should each of us wear junk protectors when hunting with the likes of us?

All good questions that were never sufficiently answered. We were simply laughing too hard. Yes we are that easily entertained.

Off to Pana this week. Be back a week from tomorrow.

Be well, do good.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Time doth fly

Hard to believe but Carol and I are heading to the cabin in Pana next week. I've waited for this since last November and it always seemed so far away, now it's here. We are informed by Carol's family that all seems to be in working order. It's a blessing having family back there to keep an eye on things.

Things seem to go so quickly. Soon newspapers will be obsolete. Books will be downloaded, making my bookshelves irrelevant. Gone will be music albums or CD's, everything downloaded at 69 cents a song to your mp3 - whatever that is. Soon the network television channels will be just another number on the remote. Movies can be streamed directly to your laptop which will be replaced by the I-Pad or something like it. Children will become sickly from being indoors all the time playing Nintendo type games. Imagination will be banned and any college kid thinking outside the box will be expelled. The country will be completely divided between ambivalent liberals and the knuckle draggers. Each will start only shopping at their designated retail outlets as long as they last, which won't be long. On line shopping will replace money. Investors will be able to buy gold out of ATM type dispensers. Three mega- conglomerations will own majority shares in all major corporations and their CEO's will be given one of the smaller eastern states as compensation. Geek will take over Hollywood and only really despicably pimpled boys that can belch at will are stars. Actresses will remain young, skinny and beautiful but no longer will fall for the handsome actor, only the bespeckled pimple popper will get the girl. And the bigger and grosser the booger or penis joke the bigger the gross receipts. Gross receipts takes on a new meaning.

Ah Pana, where are you. I'm ready for a little redneck ignorance. None of our neighbors in Pana have computers. They believe bowling is a national sport and their children run barefoot and fish with Zebco 202's. The state drink is PBR and a cocktail is a glass of whiskey on the side.

Here we come!!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There is a Counselor in the family.


Thank God! Now all us messed up people can get help at family discount rates.


Amanda and the extended family traveled to Flagstaff Friday to attend Amanda's graduation for her Master's degree. The weather was perfect, the ceremony ended just as my butt turned numb and the restaurants were packed but manageable. We had a great time. It was gratifying to sit on the outside second story, narrow balcony of the Travel Lodge in chairs we drug from our rooms and hung out like one big hillbilly family. It seemed like we had the entire second floor for no one dared venture up there. Only when the boys brought out cigars did the girls move far away. The highlight - besides Amanda getting her diploma of course - was at one point we were all listening to the gurgling delightful sounds of Allison and Blake's baby, Fischer. The first grandchild. It was wonderful, he wasn't asleep but seemed perfectly happy, gurgling and cooing over the little monitor they had in the room with him. He was just living in that world that babies live in. He seemed so happy no one wanted to check on him for fear of ruining the moment. But, of course, Mom finally had to check, so Allison went to the room and a moment later stepped back out, her eyes as big as saucers and her mouth working like a fish on land.


The boy had done a very big job. I mean a very big job. And by golly, it's just as much fun as silly putty. Poop was everywhere. From head to foot and on everything within reach. I did mention we were at the Travel Lodge, not the Ritz. There was no ventilation, no exhaust fans, no windows that would open and man oh man that room was ripe. I think they ended up purchasing a case of Frebreeze.


I tell you what, I was proud of the boy. I couldn't have done better myself.


And, of course we are all proud of our dear Amanda. Way to go girl!

I stole this

I saw this on a website online and had to share it. I love good writing and especially if there is truth involved. I don't know if I can get in trouble for copying this but I don't care. I give tribute to the author.

SENTIMENTAL EDUCATION by TONY HOAGLAND

AND WHEN WE WERE EIGHT, OR NINE
OUR FATHER TOOK US BACK INTO THE ALABAMA WOODS,
FOUND A ROTTEN LOG, AND WITH HIS HUNTING KNIFE

PRIED OFF A SLAB OF BARK
TO SHOW THE HUNDRED KINDS OF BUGS AND GRUBS
THAT WE WOULD HAVE TO EAT IN A TIME OF WAR.

"THE ONES WHO WILL SURVIVE," HE TOLD US
LOOKING AT US HARD,
"ARE THE ONES WHO ARE WILLING TO DO ANYTHING."
THEN HE POPPED ONE OF THOSE PALE SLUGS
INTO HIS MOUTH AND STARTED CHEWING.

AND THAT WAS LESSON NUMBER 4
IN "THE GREEN BERET BOOK OF CHILDREARING."

I LOOKED AT MY PALE, SCRAWNY, KNOCK-KNEED, BUG EYED BROTHER,
WHO WAS IDENTICAL TO ME
AND SAW THAT, IN A WORLD THAT ATE THE WEAK
WE DIDN'T HAVE A PRAYER.

AND NEXT THING I REMEMBER, I'M WORKING FOR A LIVING
AT A BORING JOB
THAT I'M AFRAID OF LOSING.

WITH A WIFE WHOSE LACK OF LOVE FOR ME
IS LIKE A LACK OF OXYGEN,
AND THIS DEAD THING IN MY CHEST
THAT USED TO BE MY HEART.

OH, IF HE WERE ALIVE, I WOULD TELL HIM, "DAD,
YOU WERE RIGHT! I ATE A LOT OF STUFF
FAR WORSE THAN BUGS."

AND I WAS EATEN, I WAS EATEN,
I WAS PICKED UP
AND CHEWED
AND SWALLOWED

DOWN INTO THE BELLY OF THE WORLD.

I realize why this hit a nerve with me. Between the age of 19 and 29 I lived that despair.

Be well, do good.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Who's Kit Carson?

Amanda just asked what I was blogging about. I said, "Who's Kit Carson?" She said, "Kit Carson, did he die?" I said, "Do you know who he is?" She laughed, "No."

That's my blog. Being an old guy I worry that some things of our culture will fade away. I was researching images of the Old West for subject matter for my next painting and I came across an old, old photo of Kit Carson. The famed scout that led the way down the Santa Fe trail. The Santa Fe what?

See what I mean.

As a boy the settling of America, to me, wasn't that far away. My great grandparents were pioneers, coming from Kentucky and Virginia in wagons to settle in the west. Putnam County Missouri. Carol's great grandparents came from Uvalde Texas before the Civil War and settled in Macon County Illinois. We both grew up with family photos and interesting stories of these pioneers. As a child of ten almost 80% of television shows were westerns. Gunsmoke and Wagon Train and Wild Bill Hickok with Jingles his side kick. Wyatt Earp with his natty clothes and his Buntline Special. (It was a specially made, long barreled pistol.)

I grew up reading the exploits of Daniel Boone and Davy Crocket. "Davy, Davy Crocket, king of the wild frontier". As kids, we played at being Mountain Men, roaming the wild Rocky Mountains in search of beaver and other fur bearing critters. Every boy in my fifth grade knew who Kit Carson was.

This connection to our past is fading with each generation. Ask your twenty something today to name a pioneer and you'll likely get Bill Gates. Or the slightly more educated might say Neal Armstrong. Both would be right but, the men and women that build our country from the wilderness are largely forgotten. Too bad.

They say this is the information age. The age of sound bites and snippets of headlines on the Internet maybe. Seems to me like the information about our forefathers is on page ten of the search engine. You know, so far back you've given up before you get there.

Buried and soon to be forgotten.

Monday, May 3, 2010

This and That Again

Ain't human nature grand?

I just shake my head over this. There is a huge uproar across the United States and into Washington, California and certainly Arizona about this new illegal immigration bill the Governor has signed into law recently. It is interesting and dismaying to see how easily we humans can be emotionally swayed. Swayed by emotion, not with reason. Just a couple of weeks before the 2008 presidential election, Vice President Dick Cheney gave a powerful damning speech that was widely covered in the press. In effect he said that if John Kerry were elected President the radical terrorists would be on our shores within days. I know those weren't his words but it's what he said. 4% of the frightened undecided switched to President Bush in those two weeks and he won re-election.

Just days before Governor Brewer was to make her decision about whether to sign the immigration bill or not, a southern Arizona rancher was murdered. Almost everyone supporting the bill jumped on this terrible circumstance to bring justification to passing the bill. It was widely reported that footprints had been found leading back to Mexico. Everyone thought the heinous deed was committed by an illegal, probably a drug smuggler. People went up in arms and the Governor signed the bill.

Now the Pinal County Sheriff is indicating that the person suspected of the crime was probably not an illegal at all, but an American citizen. Really? An American? Too late. The wolf is loose. No one but the immediate family will remember nor care what nationality the murderer will turn out to be.

We are so easily led.

On another note, is it possible to be ready for the onset of summer? When I was growing up in the mid-west we couldn't wait for summer. Warm weather, fishing, baseball, Fourth of July, picnics, getting a tan. Now it's like waiting for hell to break loose. Thank God it's only four months. I'll do the best I can with my swimming pool and cold drinks. Okay, maybe it's not that bad. Okay, maybe I like some of it. When else am I forced to go the mountains to relax?

Here's another thing. Most know that Amanda's having a baby in September. Suddenly in my house I'm finding car seats and pack'n plays and baby stuff. "What's all this," I ask Carol. I get the look. We're being prepared. When my first kids were babies we put them in blanket lined bathtubs. Their playpens were cardboard boxes. Best invention ever, a wind up swing that put the kid to sleep in thirteen seconds flat.

In the book Tortilla Flat, John Steinbeck wrote about the Mexican woman who had several little babies to care for. She was very poor and lived in a shack with a dirt floor. She would cook her frijoles and then toss them on the floor and the fat little naked babies would crawl around and stuff the beans in their eager mouths. One day the local Doctor came to visit and was aghast at this dreadful state of affairs. He insisted she cover the floor and insisted she bath the children regularly and feed them from a table with clean utensils. Within days all the little babies fell ill. The wise woman went back to her dirt floor and tossing her frijoles and the babies went back to stuffing the beans in their eager mouths. And they all became healthy and fat again.

My friend Charlie and I have talked about the wild and unfettered things we did as growing boys and neither can remember anyone dying from it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Proud to be a Papa.....

It's days like today that make all the trials and tribulations of being a parent worth while. My darling Amanda is finishing her last day of internship at Terros and will graduate next week with her Masters in counseling. Her Mom and I are so pride. There just aren't the words.

Now the girl is eduakated she can go forth and save the world. I'm personally counting on it. Time for the new generation to take up the mantle, pick up the gauntlet and pull the sword from the stone and go charge the awaiting world. I firmly believe that Amanda can make a difference one human at a time. What a wonderful, exciting and scary feeling it must be. To be on the cusp of your adult life with a baby growing inside you and the whole world out there waiting for you to go get it. Oh, I miss those times. As Yogi Berra once said, "Youth is wasted on the wrong people." Oh to have that excitement again.

My life effectively started when in October of 1979 Carol and I loaded everything we owned, including the dog, in a Ryder truck and our '74 Mustang and drove west. No jobs, no place of our own waiting, nothing but high expectations and the absolute feeling that nothing could deter us.

This is what Lance and Amanda have now and they will look back at these days and realize that this was one of the best times of their lives. Uncertain, scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

I'm jealous.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Shel

Here's another little piece of wonderful from Shel Silverstein;

MA AND GOD
GOD GAVE US FINGERS - MA SAYS, "USE YOUR FORK."
GOD GAVE US VOICES - MA SAYS, "DON'T SCREAM."
MA SAYS EAT BROCCOLI, CEREAL AND CARROTS
BUT GOD GAVE US TASTEYS FOR MAPLE ICED CREAM
GOD GAVE US FINGERS - MA SAYS, "USE YOUR HANKY."
GOD GAVE US PUDDLES - MA SAYS, "DON'T SPLASH."
MA SAYS, "BE QUIET, YOUR FATHER IS SLEEPING."
BUT GOD GAVE US GARBAGE CAN COVERS TO CRASH
GOD GAVE US FINGERS - MA SAYS, "PUT YOUR GLOVES ON."
GOD GAVE US RAINDROPS - MA SAYS, "DON'T GET WET."
MA SAYS BE CAREFUL, AND DON'T GET TO NEAR TO
THOSE STRANGE LOVELY DOGS THAT GOD GAVE US TO PET.
GOD GAVE US FINGERS - MA SAYS, "GO WASH'EM."
BUT GOD GAVE US COAL BINS AND NICE DIRTY BODIES.
AND I AIN'T TOO SMART, BUT THERE'S ONE THING FOR CERTAIN--
EITHER MA'S WRONG OR ELSE GOD IS.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Have you ever washed a Bulldog?

The bell rings and the two combatants begin to size each other up. The smart combatant tries to tie the smarter combatant to a tree. This is necessary to keep the dog in the vicinity of the bathing area. And, I'm alone so I only have two hands and can't wash and hold at the same time. She's looking at me with those big soulful eyes wondering what ungodly hell I'm about to propagate. I start the hose. I have a nozzle on the hose so I can facilitate a fine spray. Not so fine to her. She gets me in a double half nelson and takes my legs out from under me. I'm the one getting wet. Undaunted I try to direct the spray at her. As soon as it hits her she begins to shake. I get wetter. I regain my feet and spray her from a distance. She calls me a coward and challenges me to close quarters. I get the baby shampoo. Yes, baby shampoo. Other shampoos sting when she gets it in my eyes. I pour the shampoo in my hand and we begin the race around the tree. She is so fast that soon she laps me and damn her nose is cold. Finally I grab her around the neck and try to massage the shampoo in. Most of it finds the ground and I have to break off and reload. I try again. This time I manage to get some on her body. Holding her with my legs I'm lathering her up and she begins that damned shaking again. Now globs of foam are hitting me like I'm going through the car wash. I get some on her back and that makes her slippery. She's loose and around the tree we go again. Three out of four heats. Now I take command. Holding her collar with the hand and arm that is about to be jerked out of its socket I try more lather. Ten percent makes it onto her coat. The rest is on my chest and belly. I begin to foam up. I come in for the last round. We are a whirlwind of ears and tail and soap and feet and fat white man. In desperation I roll away. I take up the nozzle and spray her from ten feet away. She doesn't flinch. She dares me to come back in.

I give up. I spray the soap off of me and untie her.

She runs around the back yard then goes behind the boat and rolls in the dirt.

Monday, April 26, 2010

God loves the little girls

It's a girl!! Amanda had her ultra-sound and there were no appendages except those you walk on or grasp with. I'm told that this is only the second girl (Aunt Jamie being the first) in a very long lineage of Robinsons. I only have brothers but I'm blessed with girls. My daughter Samantha has three and now Amanda will have one.

I've always loved the girls. I had my first girlfriend when I was six. Her name was Louise Baldwin and she lived on the corner. She had red hair and freckles and I can't read about Charlie Brown's crush on the little red headed girl without thinking of her. Louise's father was a minister and kept a close eye. My next love was Dina Lee Martin. She was good friends with my cousin Vicky. I remember setting on the school swing and holding her hand. I think we were in the third grade. When I was ten we had moved to Decatur and I became smitten with Linda Roberts. She wrote me letters and at the bottom next to her signature she would write "smack, smack". Two kisses. My Dad teased me about about my Chinese girlfriend "Linda Smack Smack!" I guess I was bad luck. Both Dina Lee and Linda died early in their lives.

They called it puppy love but at the time is was a big dog to me.

I was thrilled when Amanda was born and I saw I had a girl. I wasn't really the kind of Dad that wanted to do all those soccer and Little League things. Well, there was no soccer or Little League but there were the song and dance troupes, the school talent contests and the school choirs. So, I did the same amount of transporting just to different venues.

Now Amanda and Lance get the joy and responsibility of thinking up a moniker for the kid. This is a big responsibility. The little thing will have to bear the name all it's life. When I was growing up everyone called my Dad, Tramp. Tramp Jackson. I was at least seven or eight before I realized that wasn't his real name. Mom called him Dad. Walking down the street in Unionville..."Hey, aren't you Tramp Jackson's boy?"

His real name ---Cecil Francis.

Yep. It's a big responsibility.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Red and Yellow, Black and White

When I was nine years old my Mom and Dad split up and my Mom moved us from the idyllic Mayberry type existence in Unionville Missouri population 1200 to the smelly industrialized city of Decatur Illinois, population 100,000. Can we say cultural shock?

Because of arcane and racist "sundown laws" in Unionville I had never seen a black person in my life. For those sheltered ones, a sundown law said a person of color could not be in the city limits past sundown. No I'm not joking.

In Decatur we moved in with my Mother's sister, Aunt Sis. She lived in a two bedroom apartment two short blocks from the downtown courthouse. There were buildings so tall that cricked my neck looking up at them. Our playground became the downtown area of Decatur. The first friend I made was a black kid by the name of Heshless Dismuke. Not joking.

The church was a very important part of Mom's life and Aunt Sis's son was an elder of the church. When Vacation Bible School was announced for the summer they were all excited. Me, not so much. Mostly they sang inane songs and played stupid games and made you memorize the books in the bible. One of the songs sang a lot - Red or yellow black or white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world!

All the adults were entreating every kid to bring all their friends. I only had one. So I asked him and he said sure. Then I told the adults who I was bringing.

"Well, honey, they have their own church. He just wouldn't fit in here."

Nine years old and discovering blatant prejudice.

So now the new immigration law in Arizona. I still recognize prejudice 54 years later and it still is ugly. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. My God, what a State. Where's the simplicity of Ev Mecham when you need him. At least he did no lasting harm and you could just laugh at his foolish actions.

I know they are here illegally. But their great sin is that the vast majority of them are here to find a better life for themselves and their families. Like the Pilgrims. Instead of a law to arrest them, how about a law to form a reasonable path to citizenship. Prove you have at least five years of paying local, state and national taxes. Then go on a five year plan to citizenship which includes education provided to learn to speak English and learn the laws and culture of our country. If you don't have five years of history here then you have to prove you have an American sponsor - a long term job or long term income or you sign up for a work program that proves you are willing to work full time and pay taxes. If you don't work enough, you go back. If you do work enough you buy you own health care insurance. You buy car insurance and you have to prove such things to your local immigration office.

We are voting on a one cent tax to help education among other essentials. This new law will cost us far more in lost tourism dollars. We just went backwards.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shel Silverstein

Here's some fun from one of my favorite whimsical writers:

Boa Constrictor

Oh, I'm being eaten
By a boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
A boa constrictor,
I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor,
And I don't like it - one bit.
Well, what do you know?
It's nibblin' my toe.
Oh, gee,
It's up to my knee.
Oh my,
It's up to my thigh.
Oh, fiddle,
It's up to my middle.
Oh, heck,
It's up to my neck.
Oh, dread,
It's upmmmmmmmmmmfffffff........

Here's the quote of the day;

Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.

Sir Francis Bacon



Monday, April 19, 2010

This and That!

I saw where Taylor Swift was skunked at the Country Music awards. This after winning almost everything last year. The bloom is off the rose. The country music fans are realizing that the Emperor's new clothes don't really exist and the poor man is parading around naked. I actually feel bad for the poor girl. Being surrounded at such a young age with sudden success and sudden money and an entourage telling her how simply precious every move she makes is. Then crash and burn. Better, maybe to have a normal life. Be the "Average Girl".

I saw also where two top al-Qaeda leaders were killed in Iraq. This pleased me and then I began to wonder why it did. Pastor Larry preaches each Sunday that we should develop a personal relationship with God and follow and worship Jesus Christ. I don't have a problem with these guys being killed from a God point of view. God pretty much kills everything and everyone indiscriminately. But, the Jesus of the New Testament, now I wonder what he would think of such things. Turn the other cheek?

There is not a doubt in my mind that the overwhelming consensus of the church goers I see on Sundays would welcome the news of these killings. Maybe a couple of tree hugging, granola eating little girls would object, but mostly the deaths would be celebrated. So that begs the question; can you celebrate and worship Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace follow his teachings and still be happy these two guys died. Is this hypocritical? How about blowing the bejeasus out of a bunch of Iraqis with a bomb from a drone that hits not just the bad guys but collateral damage as well. See how easy it is to discount human life -- collateral damage.

So another question; politically I see more hatred from the Republicans and Democrats and independents and Green partiers and the Tea Party people than I've ever seen in my life. And millions of these people go to church. And millions of them consider themselves devout Christians, so can you hate so violently and be a Christian.

I don't know, but I do have trouble believing that the two can co-exist. They really should give up one or the other.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How to raise those kids?

At my age I usually find myself to be invisible to anyone under thirty. I can stand at a retail counter for hours and if I don't wave a hand in front of the youngster on duty's face, they won't even know I'm there. No, this isn't a pity party, ask anyone over 55 and they will tell you the same thing,
Now, that being said, I was gratified that while I was at a Easter gathering of my peers and their twenty something children that had their own little babies that my opinion was actually asked for. I was so shocked that I immediately fell into my routine and replied something smart ass. Then I realized they were serious.

The question was : How did I or would I react if I found a bag of marijuana in my teenagers room? And what would I do if they lied about it and completely denied it.

The reaction in the room ranged from the young mother just being mortified to the young father grounding the child for life. There was even some thought about corporal punishment.

My response was this: You can't punish character into a child.

I'm not sure this is verbatim of what I said but here's what I meant. First of all, if I can't tell when my child is lying to me, I've already lost control. The thing that gives me the advantage is that I came from a harder background than the young parents in the room. They had mostly been raised in the church by Christian parents and had only Christian peers around them their whole teen years.

In my early teen years I ran with a gang of hooligans that thought nothing of causing trouble. I was drinking and smoking by age 12. I had used marijuana before I was out of high school. I wasn't a bad kid, just a disconnected one. Because of this I was acutely aware of my children's behaviour. If they were smoking dope there would be no way I wouldn't know about it. But, what would I do if they did?

There has to be consequences for unacceptable behaviour. What is unacceptable behaviour has to be learned by the child from the moment they are aware and can think on their own. I don't remember ever spanking Amanda or Samantha but if I did the failure was mine, not theirs. I did spank my son once but the offense deserved the punishment. If the child is raised with whole hearted love and at the same time is held accountable for his or her actions from the get go, then when they reach teendom the character in the child should already be set.

All children will make mistakes. All teens will experiment. All older teens will push the envelope to see how far they get. These are as natural as rain. It's the parents job to understand this and to know their child and react accordingly.

My smart ass reply: If it's good shit find out who the dealer is!

Now don't have a cow, it's just a little humor.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Where have all the pretty girls gone?

You know how sometimes something stops being around and you don't notice it's gone until suddenly something reminds you of it and then you realize that you really miss it and you're sad because it's no longer there.

When I was young one of my favorite movies/musicals was West Side Story. The Sharks and the Jets. "When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way from your first cigarette till your last dying day." And Marie singing "I feel pretty, Oh so pretty......" and all the girls with long luscious hair and pretty dresses.

I was driving home the other day, coming south on 32nd Street just before Shea and there on a corner waiting to cross was a solitary girl, probably a student from Shadow Mountain High School and I was slammed with the realization that I had been missing something.

She had long dark hair and was wearing a very pretty, very pink dress. Yes, I said dress! A real honest to God feminine dress. That was pretty. No belly showing above low slung jeans, no tattoo on the small of the back, no spiked hair, no piercings that I could see. And, she was smiling. Happy to be in this world. Standing on the corner looking like a very pretty girly girl.

When did girls stop wanting to look like girls. What fashion creep put it into their heads that the tougher they looked or the more starkly modern they looked the better they looked.

In just that one instant I realized that I miss dresses on women. Not so much on my friend Charlie but definitely on women. Pant suits - bah! Dresses - yea!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I held the future in my hands

You all know that I'm a big fan of the Charlie Rose show on PBS. I record it every day then once or twice a week I'll run through the shows and watch the ones that interest me and ditch the rest. If you haven't seen the show it is a daily interview, sometimes with just one person about one topic, sometimes up to three different interviews and topics. He interviews everyone from politicians to entertainment folks, new movies, new music, scientists, economists, everyone. I was having a heated political discussion with some friends that don't share my point of view and finally one of them asked an intelligent question "where do you get your information?" My answer, mostly from the Charlie Rose show. He interviews everyone no matter which side of the aisle, and he doesn't give commentary, he just asks and listens. There isn't another show like it.

The topic of discussion I watched yesterday was about the new Apple I-Pad. OMG! This skinny little 1 1/2 lb thing is amazing. It and it's future generations will be laptop killers. The cost at Best Buy starts at $499 depending on how powerful you need it, but it can do so much. Internet, word processing, download books, overhead imaging, just about everything. Kid's getting rowdy in the back seat, pass the I-Pad. Bored on the plane, watch the I-Pad. About the only two negatives is that it doesn't have a application for running Adobe video and it doesn't have a camera. It is so small and thin it is just amazing at its capabilities. It needs no mouse and is the most responsive touch control I've ever seen. Like if you are reading a book you place your finger in the corner and roll back the page just like you would with a hard copy, except you don't have to wet your finger.

And no, I haven't changed my mind about prefering real hard bound books. But, I must say if it's something light and disposable, and I'm traveling, hmmmmmm. Just maybe.

I went to Best Buy over lunch and checked it out. They had floor models but had sold out in a week, or less. Just imagine how cheap this thing will be in a year. No, I can't wait that long.

I told Carol about it and she said she had already planned on getting one. Ha! See, you can't get one past me, I'm so far ahead of the curve. My next blog will be about Plasma TV's and these new fangled digital camera. Imagine that, no film. What am I going to do with all of those Poloroid packs I have in my frig?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Such a curious world

I watched something yesterday on 60 minutes the television show that left me shaking my head in wonder. I guess a while back a company used human genes to develop something that helped clean up oil spills. I'm a little vague about what exactly but the point is that a court ruling allowed them to patent it. The flood gates opened and bingo, companies began to patent different human genes left and right.

Now because of this, if you are a woman and want to test for breast cancer you can only get the test through one particular company because they own the gene that when mutated causes breast cancer.

Huh? They own the human gene? The one in every woman's body? The one that was created by your parents. Or some might say, invented by God! It's not like the company invented it like the light bulb. They just got a patent on it. How can they do that? Does this even make an iota of sense?

The good news is that this is finally being challenged in court. Let's hope smarter minds prevail.

One other thing. Most of you that know me know of my opinion of President George W Bush. If you don't know let's just say the I personally think the guy is the worst President of my lifetime. But, I saw something that actually I have to give him kudos for. In 2004 he starting a program that sent life saving drugs to the HIV riddled Africa. Some of which would cost a patient here $300 a month. People there make $6 a month. HIV was a death sentence. His program has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. I know that my Pastor says you don't have to earn your way to heaven but if you did this just might be W's ticket.

Way to go George. You have my admiration on this one.

Friday, April 2, 2010

ABE'S ANGEL

It was rare that I was sent but I was here. The room was dark with heavy curtains that held a musky smell of age and history and dust. No one could know I was there unless I chose. I sat silent and dark in the corner for the boy.

The boy’s breathing was labored. He was beautiful but tired. An angel in the making.

I could hear the festivities from below. A band played and there was the muffled rumble of a hundred voices speaking at the same time. It was obvious that this room was not known by the multitude of partiers below.

Finally, the door opened and his long, dark, lanky figure stepped in. He moved quietly to close the door behind him then almost floated toward the boy’s bed. He stood beside the boy a long time, his head bent forward. His shoulders were slightly stooped in defeat. I could not see his face in the gloom. A moment later the door opened and a small woman clothed in broad hooped clothing came in. The size of the hoops forced the door open so that light flashed across the floor and onto the bed. I could see the concern on the man’s long and bearded face but the woman closed the door behind her quickly as if she knew. She slid to the man’s side and without thinking their hands reached and clasped.

They didn’t speak. Whatever was between them was kept silent.

It was an eternity or maybe minutes.

Finally she turned to leave. He held her hand and as she moved he held on until she had to stop.

“We have guests,” she whispered. He held her hand a moment more then reluctantly released. She moved to the door and as she opened it, the door opened wide to accommodate the hoops and the light once again spilled onto the boy’s bed. The man had already turned back to the boy.

As she shut the door the room went as dark as it had been. Dark for the man. Dark for me,

The man moved to the boy and sat in a chair pulled close. He gently moved a huge gnarled hand to the boy’s hair and smoothed it. He felt the moist sweat of the fever and looked about. He leaned and picked up the cloth and dipped it into the basin and with the utmost of gentle love, he bathed the boy’s face. The boy didn’t move, his breath remained labored.

He caressed the boy’s hair. After a moment he leaned back and laying the cloth in the basin he put his head into his hands and began to weep. I could see him gritting his teeth to stop from making noise in his sorrow. His great shoulders shook. The sobs were only held in by his physical strength. His sobbing face in his hands, he slowly folded forward, his forehead in his hands until they met his knees.

After a long time his sobbing slowly subsided and it was in that time that he became aware that I was there.

He pulled a huge racking breath into his lungs and sat back. He didn’t look at me. It was a long silent moment; it was why I was sent.

Finally, “I’m going to lose him aren’t I?”

I nodded.

“I’ve already lost so much.”

I nodded again.

“Why?”

I didn’t have to tell him.

He took another breath and wiped the sleeve to his dark suit coat across his eyes. He turned now to look directly at me. “What am I doing here? What can I accomplish?”

This made me smile. I shook my head in wry amusement at such a question.

“Will I be successful in this awful, bloody endeavor?”

It was against the rules but this man was special. I nodded.

“Will I see it end?”

Again, against the rules, I nodded.

He stood.

“There is something there, then,” he said. “Something.”

He moved to the door, “Will I take Mother to California? I really would like to see California.”

I looked at him.

“Too much,” he said, nodding.

As his hand touched the knob he turned back to look at the boy. He stood a very long time, his eyes glistening in what light there was.

He didn’t look at me as he opened the door. “You’ll take care of him?” he said as if talking to the corridor.

He didn’t see me nod as he shut the door.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Starting to take shape

I should have put this up a little earlier to show the slow progress but hey, I didn't so here we are. I feel good to begin to see what my minds eye has been seeing but no one else has. I got the little calf in but please understand that this is far from complete.

I recently went to see Eddie Basha's (local supermarket magnate) personal collection of cowboy art and then Sunday went to the Scottsdale Fine Art show and man oh man did I get inspired. Mostly by the $14,000 price tags on pictures such as this one. Of course they were better and done by real artists, but hey a guy can dream can't he. Amanda thinks I should remind you that you are viewing a tiny representation of the real painting. It is 48 inches by 30 inches. So open your imagination and think big.

Unfortunately, I've been so busy with Weed King that I haven't been able to blog much so I've lost most of my readers. Hopefully, I'll get them back one blog at a time.

Be well, do good.




Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm still on a Abe kick

Abraham Lincoln was once asked if he ever drank spirits or cussed, he replied, "No, I have Secretary Stanton in my Cabinet for that." See, Joe Biden has a role.

The overwhelming majority of soldiers in the Civil War were not much more than children - under twenty years of age. One such, a lad of fifteen, fell asleep on his watch and was sentenced to the firing squad. The lad's mother came to see Lincoln and Lincoln allowed as to how it had almost been impossible for himself to stay awake at fifteen and he ordered the boy's pardon. Months later the boy's body was recovered from a battlefield and in his pocket next to his heart was a picture of Lincoln which he had inscribed "God bless Abraham Lincoln."

Speaking of resentment he said, "Perhaps I have too little of it; but I never thought it paid. A man has no time to spend half his life in quarrels."

And finally this which reminds me of our current President and his opposition:

A leading politician took exception with the way that Lincoln was conducting things. The man had said he thought Lincoln should be listening to men that "had their hearts in it!"

Lincoln replied:

"You think I could do better; therefore, you blame me already. I think I could not do better; therefore, I blame you for blaming me. I understand you now to be willing to accept the help of men who are not of your party, provided they have 'heart in it.' Agreed. I want no others. But who is to be the judge of hearts or of 'hearts in it'? If I must discard my own judgment and take yours I must also take that of others; and by the time I should reject all I should be advised to reject, I should have none left - not even yourself. For be assured, my dear sir, there are men who have 'heart in it' that think you are performing your part as poorly as you think I am performing mine."

Harry Truman, another truly honest man said once, "The only thing new is history you haven't read." Meaning, it's all happened before.

Be well. Do good.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm reminded of a fella from Illinois

I've been reading some of the wit and wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, arguably our most beloved President. Watching the health care reform news I am greatly reminded of him. As beloved as he is now, he was greatly reviled by many people during his presidency. Not just southerners but many northerners as well. The poppinjay General McClellan was so disdainful of Lincoln that once when Lincoln had called to talk about the progress or lack of it in the war McClellan ignored the fact that Lincoln was in his house and went to bed.

If you are ever lucky enough to be in Springfield Illinois you must go to the Lincoln Presidential Museum. It is quite remarkable. One of the very interesting things there is a hallway dedicated to news articles that completely revile Mr. Lincoln. He is called every name in the book. It just illustrates how intelligent humans can also be completely wrong.

I saw on the Sunday morning news show that on the health care reform issue there were 6 lobbyist for every congressman. Including Dunkin Donuts and the cigar industry. Wow. No wonder it's rare for important stuff to get done. I noticed in the vote last night for health care legislation that one of the parties - to a man - voted against it. The other party had 30 some that voted against it but the one party voted - to a man! Really. Every congressman in that party found nothing redeeming to vote for. Nothing. Really. No wonder we are all disgusted with politics. I've never seen such devisiveness in Washington and I've seen every President and Congress since Truman. (Who also tried to pass health care reform).

Here's something of interest to you. President Richard Nixon was formulating health care reform that looked much like what was passed last night but got derailed by Watergate. Yes, the consummate Republican, Richard Nixon.

But back to Lincoln. How could you not love a guy who said, "A man's legs should be long enough to reach the ground."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Being the boss

Ain't being the boss great? You get to tell everyone what to do. You can have things your way. You don't answer to anyone.

Yeah right.

What it is, is responsibility. For starters you can't fail. If you do, it adversely impacts everyone that works for you. You wake up at night thinking of that. If you're smart you don't tell people what to do. You lead people to do the right thing on their own. If you are lucky enough to have good people then they will own as much of the responsibility for their success as you do. That's the formula for success, surround yourself with good, responsible people that own their jobs.

And that brings up the down side. The worst part of being the boss. You've hired someone that is not what you thought and that person is failing. And, worse yet, jeopardizing the operation. And you have to let them go. This just after they were so grateful, in this economic climate, to get a job. This is the worst. It's heartbreaking to have to tell an individual that they are not up to the job. Especially hard when they have family and need work.

This after the middle of the night soul searching. And, now you realize that the person can't be trained up to the job. It's not going to be experience that will change things. They just don't have the right mind for the job. The comedian Ron White says, "you can't fix stupid." Not that I'd say this person is stupid but the problem is unfixable. The abilities and the job are far apart.

So I'm the boss. And this problem stops at my desk. I've always believed that a sharp knife cuts clean. And the quicker the cut the better for everyone. Be honest and straight forward and be prepared to refuse the "I will try to do better." entreaties.

Sometimes I don't like being the boss.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Today that cubicle don't look so bad!

When I was young I worked in a Caterpillar factory building big graders and heavy equipment. Then I went to work for a company called A.E.Staley Manufacturing. Through a set of circumstances beyond my control I was moved from being an hourly union worker in the plant to being a salaried employee. This meant I worked for the company. I was a company man. I was given the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. Which I did. One rung at a time for almost fifteen years. As each year passed I became more and more convinced that I just wasn't built to be a corporate man. Be in the office with suit and tie each morning at 8am. Work in the office until 4:30pm. One half hour for lunch.

Finally I became the almost perfect example of the Peter Principle which states that in a corporate environment an employee will be promoted until he or she reaches a level of incompetence. In other words, going up the ladder until you reach a job you are not good at therefore you will not be promotable and stuck there forever. Mr Peter said that this is why upper middle management that has been there for a while is usually incompetent. I don't think I reached that level of incompetence but I certainly reached a position that I didn't like and had a boss I couldn't stand. This is when I read the writing on the wall realizing that unless something highly unusual happened I was stuck there forever. Other cubicle dwellers in that department had been there most of their working lives.

So I quit, moved to Phoenix and became an independent entrepreneur. Something I turned out to be good at. But, now with Weed King, and with Amanda gone from the office with me as her substitute, and the phones ringing off the hook and Carol and I collapsing onto the couch every night, I look back and think;

If I'd stayed in that cubicle, I could be retired right now. With a pension. No worries. Old and fat and lazy. Watch the daytime soaps. Go to the Mall to walk two laps. Maybe belong to the Elks Club and go to the Friday night fish fry. Have little yip yip ankle biters with fuzzy coats and precious names. Let them sleep in bed with us. Eat popcorn for dinner. Talk incessantly about my latest ailment. Show people my surgical scars. Wonder why the Kids never invite me to dinner with their friends. Sleep late in the morning because there is no reason to get up. Wear a spot in the favorite chair until it is shiny with use.....................

Ah, never mind, the phone is ringing.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The New World

I don't know what Christopher Columbus felt like when he finally saw land on the horizon after months filled with scurvy and dysentery at sea. You have to remember he was looking for a new sea route to the far east. Kinda got off track. I'm sure one of the emotions he had was a kind of intellectual bafflement. (I may have coined a new term for What the hey?)

I think I have been feeling the same way. Looking at this new world I'm living in. I was listening to NPR 91.5 FM on the radio and learned about a new website that is posting - much like facebook - everything a person uses his or her credit or debit card for. It's a social thing, not a financial thing. This way - the web site designers say - you can keep up with the Jones. You can see that the Mrs. spent $400 at Banana Republic and the two of them dined at Chez Louie. The designers say this is to help you make decisions on how to spend your money. You can see what your friends are doing so that you can do it too.

Huh?

Okay, it is understood that anyone my age is pretty set in their ways, but I'm typing this blog on a laptop, so I'm not hopeless. But, at the same time there are some things I just don't get, like wanting to know where my friend Charley spent his money. And there are definately some things I just don't want to become modern.

Like books.

I've heard of the I-Pad and the Kindle and can see the writing on the screen. But, I have a den. And in that den I have a wall length bookcase. And in that bookcase I have real honest to God books. And I love them. I love the way they smell. I love the way they feel. I can only set at a screen and read for so long but with a book I can go all afternoon. I recently picked up a book by Raphael Sabatini called Captain Blood. This was made into a great swashbuckling movie back in the thirties starring Errol Flynn. Half of you don't know who that is but he was the Tom Cruise of his day. The book is not a reprint. It is an original printing from 1922. The writing style is a little heavy handed, like it was then, but the story is a great one. Captain Blood was Doctor Peter Blood, a man who disdained politics but because of that and the fact he wouldn't choose sides between two - what he felt to be - silly factions, he is arrested and sent to a prison island in the south Pacific. One great thing leads to another and next thing you know he is the most celebrated pirate on the bounty main, exacting his revenge at the point of a sword. Great stuff for the romantic in us.

And it's a book. An old hard back book. And even when I'm not reading it again - I can look into my bookcase and there it is in all it's purple cover and gilded print glory.

And it's already downloaded for the next time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

So Sorry

Things are crazy here at Weed King so I haven't the time to blog. So Sorry! I'd rather blog, being the gasbag I am. The phone -there it goes again - is ringing every two minutes. Where were these people in June through December. Oh well, make hay while the sun shines. As soon as I get a break I'll be back.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The President is not listening to his advisors...;

I'm talking about President Harry Truman.

A couple months before I was born, Harry the haberdasher from Missouri was stuck with a huge political problem. If you don't know, it's important to understand that FDR had decided to replace his Vice-President for his next term, which he won handily, with the white bread Harry Truman. A serious man with limited political ambitions. No one really knows why FDR did this.

Then FDR died shortly into his term and Harry the haberdasher was President.

This was at the end of WW2. Iron Joe Stalin had moved his Russian troops, who were still alive because of the Allied help, to take over all of Germany that he could. He got about half. About a hundred miles plus into his territory was Berlin. He had it surrounded and was feeling really good. For a dictator that means powerful and unstoppable.

Iron Joe made an ultimatum. Give up Berlin, or (he hinted) start World War 3.

America and the world was sick of war. I'm not talking 4000 killed in Afghanistan. I'm talking hundreds and hundreds of thousands of lives around the world. Iron Joe was going all in.

President Harry Truman called all his best minds together. They sat around a table at the White House. His experts laid out what most of them knew. Secretary of State. Secretary of War. Ambassadors and experts. He asked for a poll as to what to do. To a man they said "It ain't worth it." One city verses World War 3.

Harry listen carefully. He asked questions. At the end of the meeting he stood up. They all stood up. He was the President. He walked to the door and turned. "We are not giving up Berlin." he said. "I want contingency plans on my desk." And walked out.

Within weeks young pilots were flying extremely dangerous relief missions to the city. Search for the history on this, it is fascinating.

Here's my kicker. Some Cabinet Secretaries came up with a plan to put Germans on a 1200 calorie diet. Leave them small and weak so they are not a threat again. Can't you see this mentality? The pilots and airmen saw that the German women would come and raid their garbage for food for their families. These young men. Nineteen maybe. Twenty-two maybe. Watched this and knew it was wrong. They began to purposefully put food out into the garbage. The hell with 1200 calories. There were babies out there.

Don't think that just because someone seems important and powerful that they are 1:) smart, and 2:) out for your best interest.

Thank God for the little man. A haberdasher in this case, or a nineteen year old soldier. They usually do right.

This is America. Do not listen to the well paid talking heads. Search for the information that is important and don't take it for granted. Double check it. Resist emotion. Do good.


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Friday, February 26, 2010

Busy, Busy, Busy so here's a laugh

It's just been crazy in the world of Weed King so I don't have the time today to blog so here's is one of my all time favorite cartoons from my favorite cartooner Gary Larson. I mean this is funny and I don't care who you are.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Catching Catfish

You ever catch a catfish? You ever catch a ten pound channel cat while in an inner tube with a string with a hook on the end? You ever catch a ten pound channel cat while in an inner tube with a string with a hook on it and try to paddle back to your boat one handed while the catfish is thrashing around and ends up in your lap in the inner tube and the only thing you can do is grab it hard with your thumb in its mouth to watch it grind its sharp little teeth into your thumb while the blood flows freely and you are trying to paddle back to your boat one handed. No, you never did that. Then you are not the thing that legends are made of. I, on the other hand was a short time legend in Moweaqua Illinois. Riding with my father in law we stopped at a fella's house and I was introduced and the man looked at me for a long moment then said, "Yer the fella what caught the catfish in the inner tube!" Guilty as charged. I showed him the scar on my thumb as proof.

The first year Carol and I were married we had a little Yukon Delta houseboat slipped at Finley Marina on Lake Shelbyville. We would spend weekends on it. On this particular weekend we had my two oldest kids, Samantha and Matt with us. We had driven the boat around all day then selected a shoreline to moor off on for the night. Just before dark I attached a trot line to the boat and paddling to the shore with the other end I tied it off and baited each of the dozen or so hooks on the way back.

Then the next morning, bright and early, I lowered myself into the cool water and paddled to where I had tied off the line onto a tree. Carol and kids gathered on the back deck to watch. I was hoping for breakfast. I thought nothing could be more fun for the kids than to learn about cooking fresh caught fish right from lake to pan. I gently tugged on the line and it seemed to be snagged on something and I thought just my luck. I untied the line and began to pull myself along checking each empty hook as they came up. Toward the middle it was snagged. I pulled on it. Still snagged. I gave it as hard a yank as I could because the yanking did little more than move the inner tube around on the water. This time the snag moved. Then the snag began to swim away. I've got something I yelled. Hand over hand I was bringing the snag closer and closer. It was a good thing I still had the other end tied to the boat or I would be dragged across the lake. Finally the snag hit the surface. Yep, ten pound catfish. That's when the thrashing, the yelling and the shouted encouragement from the boat began.

So there I was, trying to one arm paddle to the boat when the catfish - have I mentioned that catfish have spikes that stick out both sides of the heads - punctured the inner tube. The catfish smiled. I was going down to his neck of the woods.

I yelled, pull me in, pull me in! Carol started pulling, the kids watching excitedly. In the nick of time I got close enough to the boat to heave the catfish onto the back deck where it thrashed wildly. Samantha went up the latter, Carol and Matt jumped into the water. The fish owned the boat.

Have you ever caught a catfish while in an inner tube with only a piece of string and a hook?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Free Spa

Have I ever told you about my free spa?

It started this way; a good friend had a spa he didn't want. A nice sized hot tub - I said sure, what's not to want. The first problem was getting it from his place way up north to my place at least ten miles or more south. So here we are, him and I and two or three bright and energetic friends standing around and determining how to first get it out of the yard, then on a truck then into my back yard. I had measured my gate so we measured the spa. Too wide. One of these friends has two big sons. I'm talking big. We're thinking we'll horse it out but after trying to lift a corner that plan was shelved. So now we're thinking a crane to back up to the other side of the block fence and pick it straight up. That sounded good, but where does one get a crane? Finally, with nothing resolved we all went home where I called some spa stores and found a guy that delivered spas. Great! I called him and was astonished at the low price he quoted. I gave him my friends address and my address and tried to explain what I saw as the great difficulties he would have. He politely didn't comment.

Finally the day came for the spa to be delivered. An old beat up flat bed truck pulls up in front of the house. A short middle aged Mexican comes to the door. Here's your spa sir. I watched with amazement as he, a skinny teenager and an old man - at least seventy - lift the spa off the truck, carried it into the back yard and set it into position. A short Mexican, a teenage boy and and old man. Not a crane in sight. I guess I had forgotten to tell them how heavy it was.

Now I need to plug it in. I called an electrician. My house is old. It won't support the spa. I need a whole new electrical panel and lines run to the spa. A few thousand later the electrical is in but one of the motors doesn't work. Another five hundred.

Glory be, we finally got all the ducks in order and Carol and I fell into our glorious new free spa for only four thousand three hundred and twenty two dollars.

Now the timer doesn't work.

Would anyone like a free spa?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Richard's Last Day

I was thinking of my high school best friend Richard Dunn lately.

The last year of his life Richard's mantra was "It sucks to be me". And it did. Two years earlier Richard was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. Not a normal one. As in all things, Richard had to be different. His cancer slowly and painfully consumed the human body. Inch by inch, piece by piece. Of course he ran through the battery of conventional treatment and then a battery of non conventional treatment. All through it his manner stayed upbeat and when we would meet for lunch his smile was as big as ever. He actually embarrassed me once at a Soup or Salad. Having spent a long time in the insurance industry I had made a couple of suggestions as to how to end up owing the hospital less money. It must have worked because when I walked into the Soup or Salad he fell to his knee and began bowing to me. He was never embarrassed. Not that I ever saw.

I loved the way he would tell a joke. He never made it to the punch line. He would get so tickled at the joke that he would be helpless with laughter before he could finish it.

He loved the theater. So on his last day - the day he told me to not make any plans about him past that day - Carol and I drove to Sun City and picked he and his wife Edie up and drove them to the Palm Theater in Mesa. I had to physically lift him in and out of the car. Upbeat all the way he talked on and on about his favorite musicals. They have a buffet brunch at the Palm Theater and we ate and watched a very good presentation of Miss Saigon. At the intermission he had to go to the bathroom. With his arm over my shoulder we made it to the men's room and I literally had to hold him at the urinal so he could do his business. He said we had never been quite that close in high school.

At the end of the program we drove back to his daughters house so I didn't have to go all the way to Sun City. His daughter was going to spend his last night with him. I got him into her car in the passenger seat and he rolled the window down. I took his hand and he told me he loved me. He began to cry and kissed my hand. I was too stupid to know what to do. I kissed the top of his head and got out of there.

That night he mixed a lethal cocktail and went to bed. His daughter called me early the next morning to tell me he was gone.

I've been thinking of my friend Richard lately.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Blanket Thief

Carol has decided to paint the bedroom. This sounds simple. Get out the rollers and brushes, go buy some paint and away you go. Pretty easy. Oh, you don't know Carol. See, first you pick out special paint, the kind that has a special finish and because it has a special finish it takes several coats and then of course we don't want the walls all one color. Different walls, different colors. And of course the other colors are special too. Special colors, many coats. And while we are at it, it's really inconvenient having the electrical outlet directly behind the king sized bed with the thousand pound headboard that requires a crane to move so while we are at it (the most expensive words a husband will ever hear) let's have our good friend Bill Newman Sr come in and move the electrical so we have outlets on each side of the bed and of course that wall has already been painted and so now there is a big ugly strip of drywall repair where we had to run the electrical and of course now we have to sand it down and then it will require at least three coats and where I'm going with this is.....

What I thought was going to be a couple days is now a couple of weeks and we moved into the guest bedroom which has a very nice queen sized bed all our guests liked very much as they slept......alone.

I'm a rambler when I sleep. The king bed was necessary for our marriage. So, for the last two weeks I awaken every morning to vehement accusations of being a &*%$$# blanket thief. Charm hasn't been working.

We are extremely busy at Weed King because of the influx of weeds so my blogging will be spotty. Don't give up on me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mark Twain didn't think much of Congress

We went to see Hal Holbrook in his one man show "Mark Twain Tonight". I first saw him in the Seventies. He was a young man playing an old man. Now he is an old man (84) playing a man in his seventies. Truly an American iconic performance. All of his routine is based on the actual writings and sayings of Mark Twain. What he had to say about Congress in the 1800's still rings true today.

"Suppose you were an idiot? And, suppose you were in congress - oh, I repeat myself."

Not much has changed. I saw in the paper last week that the four (maybe five) biggest health insurance companies in the US enjoyed last quarter profits of over $55 billion dollars. Billion with a B.

I saw in todays paper that individual health insurance premiums are going to continue to skyrocket.

Health care reform lies fallow in a Congress more consumed by polarity and the ideal of doing anything for re-election and the dominance of their particular party than doing work for the American people.

One fellow said we should scrap everything done so far and start over. He's smart enough to know that what he is really saying is kill it. If it is killed now, it will be dead for a long, long time. What we need is some smart people to put together what's best for the American people and for Congress to realize that we can't abide much more in the way of extravagant profits and skyrocketing premiums. But, like Mark Twain, I don't hold much hope for those combatants in Congress to come together. In my lifetime I've never seen such a divided Congress. Even Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil came together many times to get stuff done.

Think about this. The Democrats need a super majority to get anything done because the Republicans are united in "NO". The Republicans will make gains in Congress this next election making the opportunity for progress even more remote. Then, maybe, in the next election the Republicans will gain the majority in Congress. Now it will be the Democrats turn to say "NO". Now the Republicans will need a super majority and a Republican President. This could go on forever. Something and someone has to change.

For our sake.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine for CJ

When the rising tides of sunami
rush against my frail and temporal body
I will stand firm with feet planted in
the foundation of you

When the hordes of Mongols rise over the plains
screaming their obscene threats and
brandishing their murderous arms
I will stand with joy and anticipation with
with the double edged sharpened sword
of my love for you

As the howling, punishing winds of the hurricane
topple trees and disembowel dwellings and toss luxury yachts
deep into the emerald blue of roiling sea water
and the greatest of the great fish swim furiously for the bottom
I will swim resolutely to you and hold you against the wind

As the telephone rings just one more time and you are
worn and tired and at the end of your day
and it is almost all you have to even think of another one
I will don my headset and take that call
that is the depth of my love

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How It's Done - 3

This is the third post on this project.

The continuing saga of my western painting is slowly moving forward. Carol and I used to never miss the Cowboy Artists of American exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Ever since I was a child in Missouri I was fascinated by the American Indians and how they lived in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Historian Shelby Foote once said that "the Civil War gave America its character, but the American West gave it its personality." If you know me you know how I like the west and westerns. So follows the natural progression to attempt a painting with a western theme. My first choice was an Indian setting but I couldn't find anything that inspired me so I turned to cattle drives and after going through a hundred pictures my painting came together. You may start to notice that I'm using some dramatic back light as witnessed by the light on the rider and horse. Because of this there will be dramatic shadows also so much of the cattle will be in the shade.



In order to see the start of this project you may have to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "older blogs". As you see in this latest I've start blocking in the cattle. This will take some time so I may not have an update for a while.



Do Good.




Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Excerpt

This excerpt takes place over half way into the story. Our hero, Jack, is being driven downtown Phoenix by Cassy, the beautiful girl he has met at the Sundown Corral, accompanied by her young son Tommy and his pet beagle Mercutio. All of a sudden Jack spies the Phoenix Art Museum. Having come from more humble origins, Cassy has never been in a museum.




Jack leaned down to watch the passing skyscrapers out the top of the windshield, “There’s not very many buildings downtown is there?” he said. She didn’t say anything. “Not like Boston or New York,” he added.
“Enough for me,” she said defensively. Jack was surprised by her tone.
“I like it, though,” he said hurriedly. “I like it better.” She didn’t answer. They rode in silence, Jack studying the passing buildings and people. Suddenly he yelped, “Hey is that the Art Museum we just passed?”
“I don’t know,” she said.
Jack twisted around in his seat, “Yeah, that says it’s the Art Museum, have you ever been been to the Art Museum?”
Cassy shook her head.
“Really,” Jack said, surprised.
“Yes really,” she said, again with the tone.
“Let’s go look at it. I’ll bet they have some neat stuff, huh Tommy. You want to go look at it?”
Tommy looked at Cassy, “Do you Mommy?”
Cassy shrugged, “Sure, I guess so, I gotta turn around.” She turned on her signal and pulled into the left turn lane. “I don’t know much about paintings and stuff,” she said.
“You don’t need to know anything, except what you like and what you don’t like,” Jack said excited now at the prospect of going through the museum with her.
She did a small U-turn and drove back to the Museum. She parked in the side lot and turned off the engine. Jack opened the door but Cassy didn’t get out. She turned and looked at him, “Me and Tommy ain’t never been to Boston or New York and we don’t know nothin’ about art!”
“That’s okay,” Jack said, not quite understanding.
“You better not make us feel stupid in here,” she said, her eyes fixed on him.
Jack laughed nervously, “I promise! I couldn’t make you feel stupid even if I wanted to. No one can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. Only you can do that.”
“You sound just like the Old Man,” she said opening the door and sliding out.
Much to his objection, they put Mercutio in the cab with the doors locked and the windows cracked enough to allow air in. They could still hear him howling as they went into the building.
It was cool and dark and very quiet inside. Two jacketed attendants stood quietly to the side. There was a woman behind a desk across the entry way. She smiled invitingly at them. No one else was around. A sign behind the woman explained the fees for admittance. Jack dug in his pocket and withdrew some crumpled bills.
“I’ve got money,” Cassy said.
“Be my treat,” Jack said seeing he had just enough to cover them. Tommy craned his head around with curiosity while Jack paid and received the tickets. “Any special exhibits today?” Jack asked the woman.
The lady smiled, “There’s a C.S. Fly exhibit on the second floor.”
Jack frowned, “I don’t believe I know him,” he said.
“You don’t know C. S. Fly?” Cassy asked with mock seriousness.
“No I don’t. I guess my trolley doesn’t make every stop,” Jack laughed. “Do you want to tell me?”
“I wouldn’t want to stop this lady from doing her job,” Cassy grinned.
The lady’s smile had remained in place as her eyes went from one to the other, “Well,” she said when they both looked back to her, “C.S. Fly was a prominent Arizona photographer in the late 1800”s. He had a studio in Tombstone right next to the OK Corral, but was best known for his amazing photographs of our indigenous peoples.”
“Indigenous,” Cassy said.
“Indians,” Jack said.
“They got Indians here?” Tommy asked.
“Right upstairs,” Jack said. He nodded to the lady, “Thank you Ma’am.”
“Thank the lady, Tommy,” Cassy said.
“Thank you Ma’am,” Tommy said copying Jack. He reached up and took Jack’s hand. Cassy smiled. With Jack and Tommy leading the way they started into the museum. They worked their way down the hallway, occasionally pausing and looking at pieces on the wall. Most of them were very old landscapes and portraits. There was one of the Gilbert Stuart copies of George Washington.
“Looks like a dollar bill,” Cassy said.
“Just like,” Jack agreed, but didn’t say more.
They moved into a room that showcased oriental art. It was filled with glass cases full of vases and dining ware. A mannequin stood behind a tall glass case sporting a kimono and a coal black geisha wig with long wooden hair pins in it. Cassy studied it a long time. Jack and Tommy waited patiently by the door, ready to move on.
“Why would anybody wear something like that?” she finally said.
“That was their culture,” Jack explained.
“Well, I wouldn’t wear it,” she said moving by them without a backward glance.
They found the stairs and climbed to the second floor. They passed through a long hallway sporting seventeenth century portraits with half the women clothed in lavish gowns and the other half either nude or partially so.
“Why are all these women fat,” Cassy asked.
Jack chuckled, “It was the fashion of the day. Back then a plump woman was considered very beautiful.”
“Wish it was the fashion now,” Cassy said. “I’d just eat like a horse.”
“Mommy!” Tommy whispered. “You can see their boobies.”
Jack choked back a laugh.
“Yeah, Jack,” Cassy said accusingly. “Why’d you bring my son in here anyway?”
Jack leaned over and whispered to Tommy, “A gentleman pretends not to notice. We’re just supposed to nod very appreciatively, and judge it only as a work of art.”
Tommy studied the nudes another moment, looked at Jack then skipped on ahead.
“Works of art, my ass,” Cassy said softly. “You’re just like every other man, you just want to look at a naked woman.”
“My cover as an intellectual snob is blown,” Jack said. “I’m just here for the boobies!”
Cassy laughed out loud. She reached out and took his arm and gave him a warm squeeze completely unaware of her breast pressing against the back of his arm. Jack covered her hand with his and squeezed it in return. He felt a warm flush run through him.
Cassy released his arm. They turned and followed Tommy down the hall. Cassy looked at the other pieces but Jack could tell they didn’t interest her.
Entering a room several feet ahead, Tommy stopped dead in his tracks then turned excitedly back to them. “Mommy, Indians!” he exclaimed.
“Indigenous,” Cassy said.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Experiments

This will be short. It is by way of a warning. I have become increasingly interested in what was called by my website guru Internet 201. This was his way of describing the rapidly increasing world of blogs and website sales, on line literature and business networking with tools such as facebook and etc.

Another friend, who believe it or not, reads this blog regularly, led me to some other blogs that advocate online publishing and promotion of intellectual properties. No, don't let that term throw you off when thinking of me. As most of you that read this know I have a website to egotistically showcase my paintings, music and novels. At the influence of some of these other blogs I have been led to I am going to post excerpts of one of my novels on this blog. If this generates interest by anyone they can go to the website and read the darn thing. So, by way of warning, tomorrow I will post a synopsis and maybe a few pages. I can tell how many folk have visited this blog so when I see zero, I will have learned what I need to know.

Don't say you weren't warned.

Monday, February 8, 2010

OMG it's WOIK

I have to search very hard in my memory banks to find the last time I actually worked. For twenty years I was an insurance agent and everyone knows that insurance people never have to work and have money coming out their ears. Customers lining up to throw money their way. When I retired from that Weed King was already six years in so when I started showing up in the office Carol found things for me to do that would keep me out of her hair and out of trouble. For the last five years Amanda has worked in the office taking care of everything that Carol didn't so again, I had little to do but ask invasive questions and second guess conversations they were having with customers.

Then a terrible thing happened. Amanda moved on to bigger and better things. And, with the economy in the tank and business down we decided not to replace her. I'll step up, I said valiantly. Holy crap! The rains came and the phone is off the hook and I can't get the data base updated with one phone call before I have another and another one leaving a nasty message because they couldn't get through to us and people calling for the first time and I have to explain what we do and one guy wants us to send him a bill on January first every year no matter when we treat him and there are e-mails to pick up and invoices to cut and bills to be paid and the dog is whining at the back door and a salesman is at the front door and a guy leaving a message that says he's left six previous messages and wants to know what the hell kinda company are we anyway and to top it all off I'm supposed to go to art class on Wednesday and Carol just looks at me, and..................

And to the guy that left the obscene rap about wanting some weed. Cool man. I'm going to put it on as my answering message. That's what kind of company we are!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Average Boy goes to the movies

The Academy award nominations came out yesterday. Carol and I are big movie buffs but unfortunately we don't get to as many as I would like. Of the ten movies nominated for best picture we have only seen four. I'll give you my take on those four.

Avatar - Most of my friends including myself want to go see the movie again. In 3D. That's the important part. I'm not sure I'd revisit it in the theaters unless I see it in 3D. It's worth another look to ride those dang dragons again. As far as screenplay or acting - nothing exceptional. Just great effects.

The Blind Side - This is a Sandra Bullock movie. She makes the movie. I know this sounds like a tired old sports premise and frankly the only reason I went was because Carol wanted to see it. It may be a tired old sports premise but it was the best of its kind. Thoroughly entertaining.

Inglorious Basterds - All I can say is Quentin Tarintino. A completely fictitious take on WW2 with lots of blood, gore and over the top humor. I loved Brad Pitt's character. Entertaining and worth the price of the ticket. Best movie? Not so much but probably a shoo in for Best Supporting Actor for the guy that played the kind of Nazi nasty you love to hate.

Up in the Air - This movie has received a lot of praise and it was very enjoyable. George Clooney can seem to do no wrong. Both of the young ladies in supporting rolls are nominated for Best Supporting Actress and both were really, really good. Probably going to lose to Monique in "Precious". I haven't seen that one but my gut tells me Monique will win. I really enjoyed Up in the Air but it wasn't one of those that I woke up thinking about the next day.

As for the ones I haven't seen the ones I want to see are: An Education and The Hurt Locker. The others don't appeal much.

Here's a pitch for Harkins Theaters. You buy a large drink for under $5 in their refillable cup and bring it with you each time you go to the movies and they refill it for $1. Better yet, buy a Harkins T-shirt for $20 and show it to them each visit and get a free popcorn which can be upgraded to the next size for only $1. For us penny pincher's that love movies it's a great deal. Carol and I go to the matinee with a drink and large popcorn for $17. $15 if we don't upgrade the popcorn. Go more than four times a year and you are in the money.

Gone for the week, be back next Monday.

Do Good!

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Musician's Prayer

I wasn't going to comment on this but I can't help it. The grammy's were on TV last night. Carol and I watched something else. I have been fortunate enough to have lived through sixty years of American music and a lot of it was great. But, not lately. No, no don't give me that stuff. It's not because I'm an old curmudgeon. I have been a musician since the early seventies. I have a good ear. I can watch and listen to a production and immediately pick out the good and the bad parts. I understand completely that one man's music is another man's noise but by and large I can enjoy and appreciate all kinds of music. I grew up listening to the big band sounds and was in my impressionable years during the era of the crooner. I was in the fifth grade when Elvis stormed the Ed Sullivan Show. I was in high school when the Beatles and the Stones hit shore. The sixties and seventies, long hair, drugs, psychedelic rock, are you going to San Francisco? Motown and bebop and Sam Cooke, and then Springsteen and the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and BB King and Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Andrea Bocelli and on and on and on. I know good music.

I didn't watch the Grammy's so I can't say there wasn't any good music on. There might have been. But, it's lonely. It needs a friend. I did listen to radio reports that played excerpts of the songs that won the big prizes. Beyonce, very talented. If you want to dance she's your girl. If you want to listen, not so much. Best thing she's done is the old Etta James ballad in the movie Cadillac Records. Youtube it, it's great. But not new. And Taylor Swift. Oh my! Good music is lonely. It needs a friend. Somebody please help. I know we've been brainwashed into believing this stuff is good. Everyone in the audience claps along. Help us Oh God to stand on talent again. Some where in a garage, Oh Lord, is a music saviour. Send this saviour out Oh Lord, the world is in desparate need. Please one last good song before my time is up. One tune that will last in my head after it is over. One tune that I can hum. One tune that will make me stop everything to listen. Just one tune Oh Lord. Just one.