Thursday, December 25, 2008


Merry Christmas from Texas.

(Even though I am in Florida.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Right now my brain is as scrambled as a Denny's breakfast special. I'm trying to get ready for a trip, then there is the regular holiday rush, and to top it off my boys have been driving me crazy. With both Santa and Disney looming they are are hyped up and flitting about like hummingbirds on crack. As a result of the craziness in my world y'all are getting another jumbled up random post of my mind drippings.


Egg nog? What the hell is it? Eggs and Nog? If so, what is a nog? And are there other kinds of nog besides the egg variety? I'd like a pint of pear nog please. Or maybe some rum nog. That I might could do, unless of course nog is the extract of lettuce or something. For the record I do not like eggs, as I prefer not to eat things that fall out of a chicken's arse.


McDonalds. To my kids, a happy meal is the epitome of fine dining, but in my book only their fries are worth the salt all their food is doused in. And their new ad campaign for chicken nuggets is asinine. Nuggnut. It just sounds nasty and that whole wedding cake of pressed together nuggets is disgusting. Mechanically separated chicken is nasty to begin with, but Ronald and gang have made the thought of eating even one nugget entirely gag worthy.


My 6 yo now tries to get out of trouble by telling me he has a disease.

"Z, quit spitting on your brother."
"I can't, because I have a spitting disease. Anytime someone touches me it makes me spit."
"Z, stop burping in your brother's face."
"I can't because I have a burping disease and it makes me burp to look at his face."
"Z, do not moon your brother."
"I can't because I have a butt disease and it needs air so it can breath."


Why aren't cupcakes made in a cup? You can't drink out of those little frilly paper deals so they certainly aren't cups. And what is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? And home come girls that have a bit of flesh hanging over the top of their pants are not said to have a cupcake top?

Is there anymore annoying holiday song than the 12 days of Christmas. The thing drags on longer than the plot line of a daytime soap opera. It's the Christmas equivalent of 99 Bottles of Beer on the wall without the added bonus of getting lit up as you sing. And who in their right minds wants 9 Lords a leaping or most of that other crap.


Speaking of Christmas songs and family dysfunction, I'll leave you with this gem of a ditty from Texas singer/songwriter and legend ... Robert Earl Keen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Christmas Smile

I stole this off of Laughingwolf's blog because it made me laugh and I can see my 6-yo son asking for this very thing.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Janie's Got A Gun, ...So I Had to Answer Her Questions

My fellow Texan, Janie needed an interview volunteer and in the spirit of the season, I told her I wasn't scared. Which led her to email me a list of questions. Here be my answers.

  1. What on earth turned you on to writing ladies novels? Like most everything I do, my writing women's fiction came about by accident. I've always read a little bit of everything and even in grade school I had no qualms with picking up a Judy Bloom and Beverly Cleary book. Even those that were thought of as girls books. To me they were simply good stories. And when started writing my first novel that was my goal -- to write a good story. Most likely I failed at since that novel is buried deep on my hard drive. I tend to think the description women's fiction is a misnomer. My favorite books to read and write are ones that primarily involve inner and emotional conflict as opposed to an outside source of turmoil. I like a character that has to struggle within themselves as much as they do with a so-called bad guy. Sure external conflict is necessary as well, but give me a story involving a woman, or man battling his own beliefs, fears and desires over a guy simply trying to disarm a bomb any day. To me there is so much more you can do with a character when the majority of the conflict is internal. But somewhere down the line it was decided that emotions were too off-putting for men so any story involving the heart has to be limited to female readers. To me, that is wrong.
  2. I’ve noticed that you thrown down a pretty eclectic grouping of movies – from high drama to comedy. What would be the movie title for the movie of your life? Please elaborate. Tough question. In movies and in books I like characters. They can be having fun or they can be struggling, but when I turn the last page or watch the credits roll I want to feel as if I really know the person. I don't necessarily have to like them or want to go out for beers with them, but I do have to relate on some level as a fellow human. This is why a lot of fantasy is hard for me. And yes there have been great characters that were not human E.T., Old Yellar, Hank the Cowdog but you know what I mean. So saying that, I'd want any movie about me to convey the real me, roots and all. And I'm guessing it would be a comedy of errors so how about The Hairy Root of Trouble
  3. How much time passes before you can forgive someone? Depends. What'd you do. Sneak a piece of lettuce in my burger, or tell me Plundered Booty is a stupid title for a book. I can forgive that kind of thing pretty quick, especially of you were already a friend. But do something to my wife or kids and chances are I'll be plotting against you for years. I'm not a strike now kind of guy normally, unless there is an immediate need but I am a vengeful bastard and I can be quite sneak and vile if need be. I'll share an example of revenge I once did in fun. I am a Nebraska fan and one upon a time this coworker shoe-polished my car after the Huskers lost to the Texas Longhorns. For revenge I mowed a thirteen foot tall big N in his yard and then used 18 cans of red spray paint to complete the artwork. this was December so the grass did not grow back very fast.

  4. Tell us something you regret (and I’m not talking about the Polygamist Sect costumes from Halloween. That was freakin’ hilarious, by the way.) I'm really not a guy who ponders regrets very much. I'm happy with my life and to second guess it would be to second guess everything I have now. Sure, there have been times when I wished that I had gone away to college and I certainly have wondered where I would be at writing wise of I had starting at an earlier age, but by and large I can see the benefit of even the worst experiences of my life. Heck, most of it has become blog and book fodder so what would I have to write about if I'd done everything right the first time around?
  5. What do you do to help others? Boy, you called me out on the carpet with this one. Let's see ... I rid the world of excess beef and fried foods, I do my part to save the environment by growing excess body hair which in turn allows me to keep my thermostat lower. Oh, and I introduced my wife to Alex Keto's blog. I met Alex at a week long writer's workshop in Arizona and have followed him every since. He is a former White House correspondent and foreign journalist who often blogs about the plight of those in Zimbabwe. He's also a fiction writer and one heck of a funny storyteller. (But don't leave your Scotch unattended when you share a cabin with him) His posts on that subject often break my wife's heart. She is a teacher at a Catholic school and every morning when her class says their prayers she now has them include the children in Zimbabwe so it is my doing that a swarm of prayers are sent skyward each day on behalf the the innocent kids in Zimbabwe.
  6. Since you’re a “the Road goes on forever and the party never ends” kinda guy, will you be trekkin’ down to FW for Dec 30th? If so, you could meet some of your fellow bloggers there! (I know, I is one!) Come Dec 3oth I'll be singing the Robert Earl Keen song I Only Use My Gun When Kindness Fails while waiting in the line for It's a Small World After All at the Magic Kingdom in Florida's Walt Disney World. But Robert Earl is my all time favorite musician and The Road Goes On Forever is his best known song and a great one. I'd love to join some fellow bloggers for the show, but Micky Mouse calls. I've seen REK dozens of times and there is good chance my wife will be wearing a ballcap bearing his name as we head down Splash Mountain. But be sure and have an extra Shiner Bock on my behalf.
  7. And – you know this one had to be in there – why did you start blogging? This is the easiest question so far. I started after attending the aforementioned writing workshop in Arizona and hearing multiple times that even fiction readers need some type of platform. I tried to become a White House intern so I could get W drunk and then write a tell all of our Shiner fueled indiscretions, but I withdrew my application when Dick Cheney wanted me to take him hunting. Besides, I don't look all that good in a blue dress. Then I tried to get famous by challenging Vanilla Ice and Danny Bonaduce to a televised goatee growing contest, but they were intimidated by my ability to produce chin wool and declined. That left me no choice but to blog.
  8. What do you think were the events, things, people that shaped your wicked sense of humor? Hemingway said it best ... "A man has to endure a lot of pain to write a really funny book." Actually I just choose to find the humor in most every situation rather than dwell on the negative. Life is a hell of a lot more fun that way.
  9. And last, but not leastwhat was the impetus for starting My Town Monday? This was a combination of my own desire to share interesting things about Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle and my curiosity about the fellow bloggers that I read about. this goes back to my love of characters and in the end that is what makes a good blog ... the character writing it. The blogs that hold me attention all belong to engaging people ... whether they be halfway around the globe in Germany, France, England, or just down the road in Midland, Texas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Out

Rippling abs. Rock hard pecs. Chiseled good looks.

Most of the time those are the words used to describe a calender boy.

Not this time.

I'll let y'all choose your own adjectives, but me myself and I, the man he spews forth nonsense on this blog on a regular basis is now officially a calender boy.

Despite having my ugly mug inside, this weekly planner makes a great tool for any writer. Here are the fact as I stole them from the Bylines website.

Not your ordinary daytimer, Bylines 2009 Calendar is chock full of inspiration, humor and passion. Just the sort of thing aspiring and working writers need to read on a daily basis to keep the creative juices flowing and the angst at bay.

Bylines 2009 Writer's Desk Calendar:


Each week features an author sharing his/her insights on the writing life.


Ample space for jotting notes, and highlighting upcoming events on the calendar


Weekly calendar; also a "month at a glance" view for planning longer projects

Extra Features:


Daily listings of famous writers' birthdays


Handy resource list of our favorite books and writing-related websites.


Page to designate writing goals for the year; also pages for writing monthly goals


Listings of "literary" holidays


Pages to write down conference notes


Pages for recording phone numbers and email addresses

Even MORE features in the 2009 edition:


Handy submission tracker, that can be copied as needed


Listings of popular literary festivals throughout North America


Pages for keeping track of travel/business expenses

The desk on the cover once belonged to Mark Twain and this edition has numerous pictures that tie in to Twain. Being a huge Twain fan that makes being selected for the project all the more pleasurable. Along with myself, Deborah Elliot-Upton, one of my very best writing friends, is also included. Should you wish to purchase an autographed copy send me an email ( Otherwise, you may order direct through Bylines. Cost will be the same, ($16.90 including shipping) but ordering through bylines will be faster, especially since I am about to embark on a week's vacation. Debbie doesn't know it yet, but I'll make her sign your copy as well. You can also email her for copies at(

And when I get back from Florida, I'll come up with some kind of contest to give a copy away.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cock-A-Doodle-Do & Glitter My Sack

Last night I did something I rarely do. No, I did not eat any green leafy vegetables. I said something I RARELY do, not NEVER do.

I plopped down on the couch and watched TV. All night long. I didn't read, I didn't write, I didn't even ponder the comings and goings of the characters in my stories. I simply shut down my brain and watched the boob tube. And Network TV to boot. This morning, I am dumber for the experience.

Here is a rundown of what I saw.

A Muppet Christmas special called Letters to Santa. As a former Fraggle Rocker I can appreciate Jim Henson's creation, but this one lost me right from the get-go, when they opened with a big musical sing-a-long at the New York City Post Office. Trust me when I say, "Ain't nobody singing and dancing at the ol' PO this time of year." Or any other as far as that goes.

And another inaccuracy. There wasn't any glitter in the air. This time of year all of us that work on the equipment look as if we've just gotten back from a stripper convention in Vegas. That's right all that shiny glitter you attach to your Christmas cards ends up in the bottom of the PO's automated machinery and when I have to change a belt or whatever I come away looking like the love child of Tinker Bell and Sasquatch. So do all us Postal employees a favor and save the glitter for your kids school party, or you plan a Britney Spears impersonation for you next anniversary.

After the Muppets, we joined an in progress Christmas story about a little orphan girl, an elf, a polar bear, and a fox all looking for Santa's sack. Okay, maybe my mind us filthier that a reindeer turd, but couldn't the writer's have called it Santa's bag instead of sack. And did the fabric have to be flesh colored? And did the animals have to crawl out of said container and say, "Santa needs to do some housecleaning because that is one nasty sack?" Jay Leno narrated and Brad Garret and Norm McDonald both voiced characters in this poorly written kids story.

But wait, it wasn't just the shows that were bad. Let's talk about the commercials. Particularly the pharmaceutical ads. Is it really appropriate to advertise Cialis, an erectile dysfunction med, during a childrens show? Especially one about Santa's sack? And why do those people have not one, but two, bathtubs in their back yard? And I thought the whole point of taking Cialis was to share ye olde yuletime log. How can you do that from the comfort of you own backyard tub. Wouldn't they need to be in one tub together in order to jingle their bells. Am I alone in these thoughts?

And then there was the one about the insomnia aid Ambien. No wonder that woman can't sleep she has a rooster roaming around freely inside her house. Instead of wasting her money on pills she should invest in some screens for her windows. Or maybe she's tossing and turning because she went to bed hungry. A big chicken dinner would probably solve all of her problems. Don't you think?

**The postal picture above is from Men in Black II and they had it right ... Most everybody who works at the post office is indeed an alien.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tidings of Anything but Joy

I haven't threw out a random thought post in a while so here goes.

I threw this one out on twitter the other day, but only a few of you follow me there so I'll offer it here as well. Why is it the only time you hear the word tidings is during the holidays and in reference to the song. Can you have tiding of something besides joy? I think I'm going to wait until March or April and when something makes me mad I'm going to say I offer you tiding of pain and discomfort. Or the next time Whataburger screws up my meat and cheese only burger I might ask the doofus behind the counter, "Have you been snacking on tidings of stupidity again?"


The other day while listening to Shooter Jenning Electric Rodeo program on my Sirius satellite radio I learned that with the cancellation of TRL on MTV that the network no longer has a single program that shows music videos. So the television channel that made videos fashinable and went on the air to the song Video Killed the Radio Star no longer shows music videos. Who wants to help me write a song called Bad Reality Shows Killed The Video Star. And just for the record The Real World never has seems all that real to me.


If you haven't seen the blog called Vanity Plates : Creepiness in 8 Characters or less you should check it out. The photos of people vanity plates along with the commentary is quite hilarious.


And speaking of good blogs, please check out Sanding the Rails. The author and her husband are personal friends of mine. Her son was on my flag football team and Rebecca does a great job of turning the everyday events of parenthood and life into entertaining reading. She's fairly new at blogging so drop by and give her some encouragement.


And of course this is Tuesday, so drop by the Women of Mystery blog and participate in Two Line Tuesdays. I haven't had time to do much reading this week, but here is two line from the Feedstore Chronicle memoirs I have just begun working on. But let me warn you the Feedstore Chronicles are not for the faint of heart, or the easily offended so bail now if you fit either category.

I'm cheating and including more than two sentences but this selection ought to produce some interesting Google searches. Not to mention generate some strange ads.

In A Perfect World …

There I was, a teenage boy, trapped in a tiny room forced to be the audience, as an attractive, and secure middle-aged woman jacked off a very well-endowed English Bulldog named Brutus. Most would describe that as interesting. Not me. I called it mortifying. Puberty had hit me like a two-ton rock, so I had both an active, fantasy-filled imagination and a strong libido. But none of daydreams about girls had ever starred the canine equivalent of Ron Jeremy.

Sadly, that is a true story and one I blogged about a long time ago. If you want the whole story read it here. Of course the book version will be more detailed than the original blog post as well as proofread and edited.

And since I shared some of my past embarrassment how about you do the same and tell me a tale of one of your embarrassing adventures.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Last One?

This year my family is headed to Walt Disney World for Christmas. The trip cost far more than I was comfortable spending, and I'm certain the crowds will be expialidocious-atrocious at this particular time of year. But my family loves all things Disney, and I fear that this might be the last purely magical Christmas at our house, so I feel like we needed to do something special. And December in Florida has to beat the forty mile an hour wind gusts and single digit chill factor we get this time of year here in the Texas Panhandle.

Oh, Christmas will always be a special time I'm sure, but there is nothing like sharing the holiday with children, who still believe one hundred percent in all the miracles associated with December 25th. From the religious side to Santa and his flying reindeer.

My oldest son is 8. He's already a good 2 years beyond the age where my brother murdered my belief in the jolly old fat man. How long will it be before some classmate, or something he reads,(now that he reads everything), or simply a heavy dose begins to make him skeptical.

Already this year my wife and I have had to up the game so to speak. I have for years told my boys that the elf assigned to watch over them is named Squirtamirt. Taking my storytelling a step farther I tell them that they ride down to Texas on the backs of the Canadian Geese that migrate through the area this time of year.

This year we acquired the Elf on a Shelf story book and accompanying little elf dude, which we hide each night while the boys are sleeping. For now they believe and are too innocent to suspect their parents of deception. I fear this will be the last year that is the case, and once the oldest begins to suspicion he will most likely share his conspiracy theory with his younger brother. For me that will be a sad day so despite the high cost of travel, the threat of long lines, and pushy crowds, I plan to cherish this year while continuing to hope for at least one more, before the magic lamp is tarnished by the sands of time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Write Now

I'm still experimenting with the whole Google ads thing and how to set it up, so bear with me.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I wanted to build up some non-fiction publishing credentials so that is why this article is important to me. My goal is not necessarily to turn this blog into a money making venture. As always my goal with the blog is to connect with other readers, writers, and other interesting people with the added bonus of hopefully creating interest in my own writing.

My first literary love will always be fiction, but with all the economy hoo-haw and the recent shake-ups in the publishing world the always tough fiction market has gotten all that much harder to crack in.

I still have faith in both of my last two novels ...

A River Without Water which is an emotional women's fiction novel.

At seventeen, Lindsay Parker ran away from her Oklahoma home to escape her grief and anger after having an abortion. She has spent a decade roaming the country the west and blaming her father for forcing her to have the procedure. Blue Riggins is a former rodeo champion from Texas turned professional poker player. He too has a tragic past as four years ago his wife died in childbirth. Blue won't come out and say it, but a part of him wishes his wife would have had an abortion. He provides financial support for their daughter, but leaves the raising to his sister, who has put her own life on hold to care for the child. Lindsay and Blue's paths cross on Thanksgiving day and they wind up traveling across the west together. Along the way they fall in love, but as the truth about their past, and their opposing views, come into light the relationship is put to the ultimate test. The tumultuous homecoming threatens to destroy the hope and love that bound them in the first place.

Plundered Booty is a humorous, modern day pirate tale of mainstream fiction.

Hank Zybeck is a meat and 'taters kind of guy with a lifelong obsession for pirates. His belief that everyone should do the right thing would be an asset, except he sells cars for a living. Given his profession, Hank could use a dash of the boldness like the buccaneers of old, but his idea of daring involves ordering anything other than Chicken fried steak from the menu. Or it did, until his longtime boss and mentor up and died, leaving his rogue son, Junior Habershaw, in charge. Harboring a boyhood grudge, Junior pillages Hank's life by stealing his wife, his job, and his dreams, but when Hank decides to fight back, Junior discovers there is more than one type of plundered booty in this tale of an ordinary man determined not to walk the plank..

Anyway, I have been unsuccessful in finding an agent o rep either of these so I'm going to put my query's on hold for a month or two and concentrate on non-fiction. A few articles and a coming of age memoir based on my Feedstore stories. The good news is that I have a New York editor who is pushing me to write these stories into a cohesive collection so I already have someone willing to look at them once I get a fair chunk written.

I also plan to enter Plundered Booty in the upcoming Amazon contest and I'll probably begin querying again sometime in February.

So, what's going on in your writing world. And if you don't write tell me what you've read lately. And if you haven't read anything lately, let me say, shame on you.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brought to You By

I've sold out to the man and added ads to my blog. Actually they are here for a limited time. An editor, I met at a writing conference has been encouraging me to sign up for Google ads for a month or two and then write about the experience. I'm trying to build some non-fiction creds and he's promised to publish and pay me for the piece, so I've taken the leap.

Besides, I have a morbid curiosity as to what kind of ads Google will pair up with my wandering mind. And I'll be interested to hear what you all think of the ads, if they bother you, if you even notice them, if you are offended or amused by the ads Google pairs with my post. Let me know so I can incorporate y'alls reaction in to my article.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fourteen Shopping Days Left

Christmas is two weeks away. Have you finished your shopping yet? If not let me suggest a few items for you.

For the preteen book lovers on your list ...

Barrie Summy's just released -- I So Don't Do Mysteries. Barrie is a frequent visitor to this blog and a My Town Monday participant so I encourage all of you to buy multiple copies of her book to give out this year. Here's a description ...

SO HERE I am spending spring break in California with my best friend, Junie. Our chaperon is a teenager, like us. And soon I’ll get to hang out with the coolest, cutest boy in the Southwest. Life is so good.

Except I should tell you that I’m not actually in San Diego for fun. Even though I’m a normal person who likes normal stuff—friends, clothes, the mall—I’m supposed to be solving a mystery, one that involves a rhino heist and a crazy chef. And I have to do it because my supercop mom is counting on me. Did I mention she’s a ghost? A ghost who can make

contact with only one person. Me, Sherry Holmes Baldwin. My mom is flunking out of the Academy of Spirits, and if I don’t help her, she’ll be banished to an afterlife for ghost failures.

But . . . I so don’t do mysteries.

Fellow Amarilloan, Kimberly Willis Holt also has a preteen series of Piper Reed books that any young reader would love to discover under the tree.
As a matter of fact Kimberly has many fine books available that both boys and girls can read and enjoy. Look for her name and the selectionavailable at a bookstore near you. Many of her novels will apeal to readers of all ages. And she is a National Book Award winner for the fabulous novel, When Zachary Beaver Came to Town.

Danette Haworth's Violet Raines Almost got Struck by Lightening is another great preteen book that I first mentioned her on this blog a few months ago. Here is a link to that post if you want my complete review.

Here are some selections for adult readers.

For the fantasy lover on your list you can't go wrong with Charles Gramlich's Talera series.

For thrillers and suspense, check out Mark Terry's books here.

For romance in a variety of sub-genres pick up one of Erica Orloff's many available titles. See the list here.

If you have a cowboy on your list pick up one of Terry Burn's inspirational westerns.

If for some ridiculous reason someone on your list claims to be a non reader tell them to straighten up and fly right and then shop at these places.

Debra from over at My Skilled Hands is one of the donors to the Cups of Kindness, a benefit of the Canton-Akron area food bank. Artisans have donated a variety of pieces which are for sale here. The items would make great gifts for yourself or someone else. And be sure to order the world famous Little Blue Santa from Debra. She sells out a lot of years so it may be too late to get yours before this year's big day, but you can certainly pre-order for' 09.

Speaking of art, stop by Lana Gramlich's site and look through her many fabulous paintings which are priced very reasonable for original artwork of such fine caliber.

I'll be back later to night or tomorrow morn with another post. Until then, happy shopping.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ho, Frickin, Ho

Mom' surgery got postponed until this afternoon, which means I have no time to write the post that I meant to. So, I'm going to repost one that some of you might have missed from last holiday season.

For those who do not know I spent one financially desperate year working as a mall Santa. I was horrible at it, but the experience did provide me a bit of storytelling fodder. This is one such story. For the others, or to see a shot of me in the full Santa garb, click here.

Second Rate Santa and the Sage of the ... Midnight Meat

Things are crazy around the mall during Christmas time, and they get even crazier when you can count the number of shopping days left without having to unzip your pants. (i.e. - less than ten days for those geniuses who don't have to count things out on your fingers, or for those of a gender that unzipping your pants doesn't help)

That's the time frame for this story. I believe it was the last Saturday before Christmas and the mall was staying open until midnight. Okay folks, let me say it. Their is nothing at The Gap or Banana Republic that you need at twelve o'clock at night. And if you have your kids out at that time dragging them from store to store you seriously need to ask Ol' Saint Nick for one of those Dr. Spock books, because you are in dire need of parenting tips.

Notice I didn't say Jolly Ol' Saint Nick because nothing makes a guy more unjolly than to have been wearing an itchy fake beard all night while dealing with a sleigh full of rude and pushy procrastinators who want to take it out on you for them being behind in their shopping. Add in the fact fact they trot up a tired worn-out kid, who should have been in bed hours ago, and demand, I repeat DEMAND a picture where everyone is all smiles ... Well the whole scenario conjures up the the old saying Shit in one hand and want in the other. Then see which fills up first.

Got an idea what kind of night I was having? Good, because this story really starts after I'd yanked the white beard off, Stripped out of the red velvet suit. Don't get excited ladies, I quickly put on my regular clothes which probably consisted of a flannel button up shirt since it was cold and a pair of wranglers and maybe some lace-up hiking boots. You know your average lumberjack fashion.

So there I was at a quarter past midnight, looking a good bit like an agitated Paul Bunyon. Now normally I'd hike down the mall to the restroom to wash the white wax out of my eyebrows and the middle portion of my moustache, (My brows ans mustache are black so I had to use a white wax pencil to color the portion that showed) but like I said I was fed up and ready to leave so I trudged straight outside where my wife was waiting in the nice warm car. At that time we only had one vehicle.

She took one look at said, "Rough night?"
"You can't imagine."

As we drove, I realized that my stomach was trying to gnarl trough my spine so it could go out and find some food on its own. I'd eaten a dozen or so of those Little Debbie Oatmeal cookies that took star billing in last week's episode of the Santa Saga, but a man can't live on oatmeal and creme-filling alone -- he needs MEAT.

I am driving, since my wife hates to drive at night and her driving scares the bejeezus out of me even when the sun is shining bright, so I pull into WhataBurger, since unlike the mall, most of the fast food joints had closed at a decent hour. Now while I contend no one needs overpriced name brand clothing at midnight access to grease-laden food is an around the clock requirement.

So we pull up at the drive through window and I order a bacon cheeseburger with meat and cheese only.

Simple right?

Not for the fine folks working the graveyard shift at Whataburger. Let's just say I'm not sure the folks on duty that night could have count passed ten whether they unzipped or not. But I didn't know that when I ordered, or even when they handed my sack of food through the window.

It wasn't until I took my first bite and gobs of mustard oozed down my throat. Okay many of you have heard me say, Lettuce is the Devil and it is, but mustard happens to be one of the devils disciples. I hate the stuff and anything that was turned into gas and used as a weapon cannot be good to ingest. But back to the story.

I did a u-turn faster than you can say Blitzen and headed back to Whataburger. I stomped inside with the nasty taste of yellow satan at the back of my throat and headed straight for the counter. There wasn't another customer in the place, but that didn't keep the forty-something-year-old dude behind the counter from staring at me with the slack jawed expression of a teenage pot head. Which no doubt he had been at one point in his life. The pothead probably still fit him, but you can bet your Stretch Armstrong (that was a toy back in the day for any youngsters reading this) he hadn't been a teenager since sometime in the seventies.

Weird look aside, I told him my order was wrong and I wanted a bacon cheeseburger with meat and cheese only.

He opened up my burger and said that's what this is.
"No it has mustard. I just want meat and cheese."
"Oh .." He nodded his head despite continuing to stare at me as if I had an oatmeal turd for a nose. "No mustard. Got it."

I waited four or five minutes and he handed me a new sack. I pulled out he burger to check it and right away knew it was wrong again. I unwrapped it and there was the Devil itself in all its green evilness. Along with a slice of tomato and onion ... but at least there wasn't any mustard.

I should have just scraped the offending veggies off and lived with a bit of tomato juice and what not, but after my long night I was agitated and instead said, "This is still wrong. I only want meat and cheese. Nothing else."

By this time I had noticed the cook peeking over the fryer at me. Along with the occasional weird glance from the drive-thru girl. They took my burger and again I waited. This time when I opened it there was not a drop mustard, nary a vegetable in sight, but you know what else was missing? The hamburger patty.

Right about then I lost it.

I freely admit when I raised my voice and said, "What the hell is a matter with you people!" I was not only taking out my frustration about the burger but every crying, bawling kid, every doubting-too-smart-for-their-own-good-Thomas of a kid, and every belligerent parent as well.

I ranted for a few minutes and then asked to see the manager. When the man in charge appeared he frowned and gave the same exact dumbfounded expression I'd been getting from his employees, but finally he said, "Can I help you sir?"

"I sure as hell hope so. I want a bacon cheeseburger with meat and cheese only. Nothing else. Is that too much to ask for?"

He opened up the wrapper and looked at his employees last effort. What's wrong with this one?"

"There is no hamburger patty in it."

Ne nodded still staring at me and I came to the conclusion he hadn't really heard a word I'd said because he was too busy eyeballing me.

Again I lost it and a little sarcastic elf began whispering in my ear, so I asked. "Is hamburger meat?"
The manager nodded.
"Is bacon meat?"
Another nod.
"Is lettuce meat?"
He frowned, but shook his head.
"Is it cheese?"
"Of course not?" A bit of irritation seeped into his speech.
"Is mustard meat?"
"Are they cheese?"
"Sir, we both know they are not."
"Then quit putting them on my burger and make it the way I ordered it."

My tone finally wiped the dazed looked off the guys face as he crossed his arms and said, "Tell me how you want it and I'll personally guarantee it is made right."

I nodded and said. "I'll make this real easy since all of you seem a bit slow. "Put down the bottom of a bun, add a hamburger patty a slice of cheese, three slices of bacon and then put the top on with out adding another damn thing." I delivered this fine little speech with a good bit of hand gestures to demonstrate how it should be done.

A minute later I finally had my burger just like I wanted, but possibly with a bit of spit added after the fit I'd thrown, but in my book the loogie of some middle aged pothead is still better than either lettuce or mustard.

Out in the car my wife asked, "What took so long?"

I gave her the complete replay and then said, "And the whole time those people kept staring at me as if I was crazy."

She gave me a look very reminiscent of the ones I'd gotten inside Whataburger and said, "Maybe it's because when you get mad those freaky little white eyebrows of your dance all around."

That's when it dawned on me. I still had the colored eyebrows as well as the Hitler portion of my mustache colored white. Somewhere, a former Whataburger employee is probably blogging about the Christmas where some crazed guy with flocked eyebrows and mustache came in ranting and raving about meat and cheese only.

Monday, December 8, 2008

This Post Has Strong Language (sort of)

Given the picture I use as my blogworld identity, it's no secret that I love to fish. I have called myself an angler for as long as I can recall and I have many fond memories of fishing as a boy mostly with my grandfather. One particular thing I always enjoyed was stopping at the bait shop.

Sure the places smelled, but my fascination with the tanks, the racks of lures, and the old men who ran the joints could not be deterred. Slimy waterdogs with their gaping mouth and long tails. Big fat Canadian nightcrawlers squirming in their boxes. The teaming mass of minnows flashing back and forth in their watery holding tanks. I checked them all out but my favorite was when the man in charge would grab his net and catch the minnows.

In one dip he might catch a dozen or more. Their little silver bodies would glisten as they flapped around desperate to escape and get back in the refreshing water where they could breathe.

This weekend, while sitting waiting at the local emergency room with my mom I thought about those minnows when I realized the ER was the human equivalent.

Captured by illness or injury, the mass of people sat in their chairs squirming, eyeing both the freedom beyond the plate glass windows and the hope of relief behind the double swinging doors.

Okay maybe the whole minnow thing is a stretch, but the place smelled like fish, there were plenty of interesting old men, a few individual with more dirt on them than a worm, and I saw kids slink around like waterdogs on the nasty floor.

The writer in me took plenty of notes for future fodder, but my favorite was the man the police brought in. We'd already been there a good four hours and therefore had landed in a room in the back. I room right next to the security room where the Amarillo Police bring their sick or injured.

The man they brought in was a very short, maybe 5 foot four Hispanic fellow in hi mid to late thirties. He had on a plush Mr. Rogers type of sweater and had a short almost wavy hair style. He also screamed nonstop for three hours beginning from the moment he arrived. No, not screams of pain, but rather screams of agitation. he started in Spanish and about every third word I recognized because it was a curse word. Then he would alternate from what sounded like an African chant to cursing in English. The funny thing was he has a heavy accent except when he screamed the F word or a few other selected curses. GD rang loud, clear and well articulated but when describing a feline the man would say POOH (as in Winnie) and SAY for that last syllable.

When calling the policeman the ugly equivalent of a roosterfish, (For those of you who need help with this game roosters are sometimes called cocks and suckers are a kind of fish) he pronunciated very well, but others epitaphs came out wrong. Sook, Deak, Beesh. And I'm still unsure waht Moombaba Bogga was suppsoed to be.

After three hours of this I couldn't help but laugh and now I have this strange desire to see that old movie, Johnny Dangerously.

For the record my mom is scheduled to have gallbladder surgery later today, but she already has gained some relief from a stint they put in due to a large stone. I don't know what happened to the screaming man, but I assume he went to jail once the doctors checked him out.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Town Monday

Just a reminder that I am taking a My Town Monday hiatus until January 5th. However, both Junosmom and that globetrotting Chris have volunteered to compile links for those still wishing to write about their towns while I am slacking off. So if you do a MTM post please let both of them know so as to double your exposure.

Little Ol' Me

The ever-fabulous SUV Mama recently awarded me her highly prestigious and all so rare accolade - the once per year ... SUV Bitch Must Read license plate.

I am honored.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ahh... Ahhh ... Ahhchoo!

I've been sick.

How sick?

Night before last I downed a hearty shot of that medical elixir that Denis Leary so correctly described as Green Effin Death flavor -- NyQuil. I then sat down on the couch and fell flat asleep -- during the Victoria Secrets fashion show, I might add.

Not that halfway nodding off, head bobbing like a dingy at sea kind of sleep, but the chin on chest slobber dripping kind of comatose sleep usually reserved for the tequila and Jaegermeister abusers of the world.

Did I mention that my slumber occurred while a parade of scantily clad women were traipsing across my crystal clear hi-def big screen?

Generally speaking, that sort of thing is something I can stay up for. (Pun somewhat intended)

If that is not evidence enough of my illness, I offer further proof. I was supposed to go hunting this evening, but I am forgoing my pursuit of filling the freezer with Bambi's kinfolk in lieu of staying home to rest. My guess is that this is the result of an evil conspiracy from PETA. They probably have secret agents working out in the field to breathe germs upon suspected hunters and meat eaters just to keep them indoors just as the rut is starting.

Or maybe that is simply the NyQuil talking.

Either way, I've rattled on long enough on here when I would have preferred to do my rattling out in the wilds in pursuit of a big whitetail buck. Pheasant season starts here tomorrow as well, but I won't be making it out for that either.

I know some of you are going to comment and say, "Travis, if you ate some lettuce or other veggies you probably wouldn't be sick."

To y'all I say, "I drank something green. Isn't that good enough?"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No Good Deed ...

I've never particularly believed in the old saying, No good deed goes unpunished, but yesterday afternoon I was certainly pondering it's cosmic possibility.

Four or five mornings ago, I slipped out of my nice warm bed, took a shower, and was ready to leave the house just as the sun was cracking the eastern horizon. I opened the front to to head off to work when I got a surprise. There, curled up in a tight little ball, was a white dog. A big white boxer. She was shivering and I could easily count her ribs.

I woke my wife up and even though I was going to be late for work, we found her a blanket and a bowl full of food.

Since that time we have decided that the dog belongs to some neighbors that live down the road. However it's obvious they don't take very good care of her, and truth be told it doesn't appear like they take very good care of their children either.

But so far I haven't woke up to discover their kids huddled up and shivering on my porch.

So this dog has shown up a few times since and each time my wife or I has set out some grub trying to put some meat on those ribs.

Fast forward to yesterday. Both of my boys were supposed to sing in their school's Christmas program. So we were running around trying to get them fed, dressed, and whatnot so we could get to the school on time.

My 8 year old son puts on his brand new shoes steps outside to the front door and promptly steps in a huge pile of dog crap which I can only presume originated from the big white dog we've been feeding.

So as I stood with a stick scraping dog feces from the tread of his shoes I couldn't help but think ... No good deed goes unpunished.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Important Update

My Town Monday can be found in the post just below this announcement.

Due to the holidays and other demands of my time I am suspending My Town Mondays until January. Unless, someone else wants to volunteer to gather and host all the links. If so let me know and I'll get the word out. I will still be blogging but I do not want any commitments for the next month. Hope this doesn't inconvenience those of you who participate.

If no one takes over for the month I will bring the weekly feature back on January 5th.

When the Sunshine is Gone -- A My Town Monday Post

Each town has its cliques those who don't get along
and then there's towns I know where certain kids just don't belong
so know your rivals and watch your back
'cause no one's gonna be there when the enemy attacks

When the justice eludes you it's the fortunes of war wouldn't things be different had the tables been turned? If the people won't protect you you must fend for yourself when the justice eludes you it's the fortunes of war

You drove right over him and then you sped away how does it feel to kill and know you didn't pay? So walk away even though a life is gone someday, you'll know the price when god repays you for your wrongs

Those are lyrics to a song titled Fortunes of War by the Dropkick Murphys.

They were written about and were dedicated to the memory of a young man named Brian Deneke.

Brian was murdered December 12th, 1997. He was nineteen years old. He was killed in my town -- Amarillo, Texas.

His untimely death was featured on 20/20, Leeza, Dateline NBC, and an MTV documentary. An entire sub culture rallied around Brian's memory, and along with the television shows, labeled Amarillo as a den of intolerance.

Brian was a punk rocker. His killer a jock. And on that cold icy December night, the two, along with their friends, were fighting for no reason other than the differences in their lifestyle.

The argument started in an IHOP parking lot and then moved across to an empty mall parking lot. That is where, according to eyewitness testimony from the trial, Dustin Camp deliberately aimed his Cadillac at Brian and ran him down, saying "I'm a ninja in my Caddy" as he did so. The backseat passenger that testified, also claimed that Brian was holding a black stick.

Both sides acknowledge that they were fighting. As to who started the brawl, which by all accounts involved nightsticks, bats, and chains, varies according to sides. Regardless, every last person at the scene made bad decisions. Both sides had been drinking, and nothing good can come from a parking lot brawl, so it's a shame that neither side found the strength to walk away that night.

The sad thing is that something as superficial as looks and lifestyle choices resulted in a young person's death. A young person that was more than his studded leather jacket, homemade tattoos, and spiked mohawk hair.

Brian was a punk rocker. He was also a Boy Scout, a Kwahadi Indian Dancer, some one's son, a friend to many, a skateboarder, and a young man that others called Sunshine.

The resulting trial creating much resentment. The defense team held up Brian's clothes as if to say no respectable citizen would wear such. They brought Brian's former Boy Scout leader to the stand and had him speak about kicking Brian out of the troop for bringing his skateboard to meetings. They trumpeted Brian as an All-American kid who did what he had to after being attacked by a band of thugs, criminal and street urchins. His football coach testified to Brian's character.

The court did not allow evidence of Dustin's original testimony that Brian slipped on the ice and fell under his 1983 Cadillac and that he braked to avoid hitting the other boy. Testimony that proved Dustin was lying about that night since he later admitted to aiming his car for Brian and there were no skid marks or evidence that Dustin ever hit the brakes.

Dustin was 17 when he ran down Brian. In august of 1999 the trial finally commenced and when the the smoke cleared Dustin Camp was convicted of manslaughter. He received 10 years probation and a probated fine of $10,000 for the taking of a human life.

Questions were raised. Would the punishment have been as light had the fates been reversed? Had Dustin's clean cut appearance and all-American boy virtues bought him leniency? Had the jury not been as sympathetic because the victim did not look like the boy next door?

Was Amarillo a bigoted den of intolerance?

Those are question I can't answer, but as a lifelong citizen of Amarillo I will say the vast majority of people that live hear are good, decent, hardworking people. I would call them reluctant more than intolerant. They are reluctant to accept change, or outsiders. Reluctant to relinquish their conservative values.

Brian's murder and the resulting trial are not one of the cities better moments, but I do not believe it is fair to label the entire town for the mistakes of a few.

A year and a half after his conviction Dustin Camp was arrested on multiple charges including minor in possession and evading arrest. his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 8 years in prison. I believe he has since been released even though his eight years would go through next year.

I did not know Brian, though I have met his father. As a father myself I grieve for him and his family's loss as I can not imagine the pain this crime has caused for them. I look forward to the day when all humans start treating each other humanely.

Brian Deneke (1978-1997)

Links to other My Town Monday posts.

PreTzel - West Bend, Iowa
Lyzzydee - Welwyn garden City, England
Sex Scenes at Starbucks - Winter Park, Colorado
Debra - village of Peninsula, Ohio
Chris - Hong Kong, China
Barbara Martin - Toronto, Canada
Mary - Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Barrie Summy - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Chuck - Kentucky
Nan Higginson - New York City, New York
Patti Abbott - Ann Arbor, Michigan
J Winter - Cincinnati, Ohio
Cloudia - Waikiki, Hawaii
Rebecca - Groom, Texas