Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rambling Again

I've been hard at work shaping my booty. Both the one attached to my body and the book.

I'm seventeen pounds down on the first and progressing well on second. I'm hoping to be back to querying the new and improved Plundered Booty by mid-summer. Blogging may be sporadic while I'm hard at work revising.

But I have had time to make a few recent observations.

The other night I was flipping through channels and nothing was on. So I ended up on one of those countdown shows. I can't even remember what the topic was. Most Shocking Celebrity Hair-Do's or World's Loosest Grip on Stardom. You know the ones I'm talking about.

What struck me odd was that here was this show, critiquing and ranking celebrities, and who is making the commentary and criticism? Celebrities no longer famous enough for anyone to care where they rank in such matters. Donny Bonaduce, Vanilla Ice, the girl who played Punky Brewster.

I think we need a show that has current celebrities pinpointing when it all went wrong for those faded stars. Johnny Depp could laugh and make a, What you talkin' about Willis? crack while a video played of Todd Bridges various mug shots. Angelina Jolie could offer a pun about Tonya Harding being the charter member of the thin ice club. Britney Spears could diss Shannon Doherty.

After that show ended I began watching World's Craziest Police Chases. Now I'm wondering. why ever video had some dude in a worn out four door sedan. I know criminals are stupid but are there really that many people who think they can outrun the fuzz in a '78 Buick Le Sabre?

My guess is they never show us the ones in Corvettes or Camaros. The ones that do get away at times. I thought it was reality television. Show them all. or how about the videos of the cops wrapping their car around a telephone poles?

Now those are videos they could trot out the former child stars and assorted B-listers. Leif Garret, MC Hammer, Gary Coleman and the other one time celebs that actually know a thing or two about brushes with the law.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coo, Coo Kachoo

Chris Eldin recently had a little trouble with a raccoon, which reminded me of a raccoon story from my past. I might have blogged about this one before, but if so i can't find it in my archives so I'm gonna tell it again.

Back until a few months ago my family dwelled out in the boonies. There were deer and quail, and skunks, and porcupine, and ... well you get the idea. Critters were plentiful, including raccoons.

Generally speaking the masked marauders are nocturnal so we only saw them once the sun set, but one hot summer day I get a call from my wife while at work. She explains that her and my oldest sun were outside swimming in the hillbilly pool (a large metal stock tank that was designed to water livestock, but that we used as a swimming hole) when a large mangy looking coon walked right up to the edge of tank.

At the time my wife was five or six months pregnant with our second child and she was in hyper-protective mode. Given the ragged appearance of said raccoon and the fact he was wandering about in the hot sunny part of the day she decided it must have rabies. At the time there was a rabies outbreak in our county and every night on the news they mentioned that animals behaving weirdly could be infected.

Like I said I was at work so I listened to her concern but there wasn't a thing I could do. For the rest of the afternoon the raccoon wandered about our property and my wife kept close tabs, but when i got home the thing was no where to be found. Her mind made up that the animal had rabies and that her and my son were under house confinement as long as the thing was around she urged me to get rid of it.

Now to fella like me get rid of it means only one thing -- Shoot it dead. Remember I am a true Texan. That's just the way of the land here in the Lone Star State.

So I load up the twenty-two and begin my coon hunt. I tromp around the woods behind our house looking for the diseased critter but to no avail. My wife insists that the thing is under our house so I go to the kitchen, open a can of peaches, and set set up for an ambush.

The wait as short as out waddles this sad-looking decrepit raccoon. Half of it's fur is missing and my wife was right it does look sick. I peer through the cross hairs and when the time is right squeeze the trigger. The bullet finds its mark and I think problem solved.

But no. not fifteen minutes later my wife looks out the window and cries out, "Oh my God."

I rush to look and now wandering about my yard are four or five baby raccoons.

I shot their momma. Did I mention my wife was pregnant? When she found out she'd given the death penalty to a pregnant raccoon she became somewhat hysterical and irrational saying things like. "I told you to shoot it because it looked bad and I waddle when i walk and I look bad and what if somebody shoots me."

That was one long night as we layed in bed and listened to the babies call for their mother. The next day my nephew came over and crawled under the house and caught every last one of the babies.

Yeah i know right about now you're thinking the heartless ogre probably grilled and ate them, but no we took them to a local vet that bottle fed them and raised them as if they were his own children. Okay that's crap. I don't really know what he did with them but he did say he was going to bottle feed the babies. Who knows, maybe he fattened 'em up and fed them to his pet tiger. No he didn't really have a pet tiger.

Be sure and go read Chris's raccoon post which can be found here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering - A My Town Monday Post

Many a time on this blog I've pointed out terms that I consider misnomers or poorly chosen. On this, Memorial Weekend here in the United States I wish to share yet another one.

Friendly Fire.

This is the term used to describe military incidents when service men or women of the same uniform accidentally, or intentionally, shoot one of their own.

Way I see it there is nothing friendly about a chunk of lead hurling toward you at high speed, regardless of who happened to pull the trigger. The resulting damage is just as lethal, and for those who have suffered as the result of friendly fire, the tragedy just as pronounced. Maybe more so, since you expect a declared enemy to induce harm whereas you have placed trust in the hands of those who have volunteered to serve alongside you defending your countries principles and ideology.

Amarillo recently lost one of it's one to so-called friendly fire.

Army Major Mathew P Houseal was a doctor. A psychiatrist who worked for the Texas Panhandle Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center until 2007 when he decided to reenlist in the military. According to reports I've read, he was troubled by the high suicide rates among our military and wanted to do his part to help. Mr. Houseal was assigned to a stress relief center at Camp Liberty in Iraq.

On Monday May 11th, Houseal was shot and killed by one of the men he'd volunteered to help. Mathew Houseal was 54. Four other servicemen were also shot and killed. You can read the news story here.

Mathew Houseal leaves behind a wife and seven children. He was due to return to Amarillo in June where he planned to resume his work at Texas Panhandle Mental Health and Mental Retardation. I ask that you remember him along with all of the other men and women who have made sacrifice upon sacrifice for the sake of their country.

I never met Mr. Houseal personally but for a time his children attended the same school as my boys. My heart goes out to all of his family but especially to his children who have been robbed of their father. A college trust has been established on their behalf.

Benefit fund for Dr. Houseal's minor children, in care of Amarillo National Bank, 410 S. Taylor St., Amarillo, TX 79101.

Check back to discover links to other MY TOWN MONDAY posts from all over the world.

Patti Abbott - Detroit, Michigan
Jenn Jilks - Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Chris - Hong Kong, China
Debra -Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Barbara Martin - Toronto, Canada
Terrie Farley Moran - Arlington, Virginia
Barrie Summy - San Diego, California
Mary - Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Clair Dickson - Livingston County, Michigan

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blowholes and Gum Drops and Barley with Hops

Holier than thou, Priggish, Do-Gooder, Strait-laced, Prudish, Old-Fashioned, Puritanical, Prim, Proper, Conservative, Teetotaler.

All adjectives often used to describe people. People that fall into the goody-goody category.

Speaking of goody-goodies ... Why do they get all the gumdrops? Oh that's right, because the rest of us get all the booze.

Seriously, is there any sillier word grouping that goody-goody?

We don't don't call hell raisers baddy-baddies. And for good reason. Because they would kick you square in the arse if you labeled them with such nonsense.

No, I'm not going anywhere with this observation just simply sharing a recent nugget of my mind drippings. Matter of fact this entire post isn't going anywhere in particular. I'm just blogging to amuse myself I guess because I can't seem to string a cohesive thought lately much less a well put together post.

My youngest continues on with his fascination with animals butts. He calls ham pig butt, and back in hunting season he wanted to know why animals only have holes and not butt cracks. Last night he wanted to know, why whales, and dolphins are the only animals with blowholes. As if on cue his older brother released a bit of flatulence before I could answer and in perfect deadpan Z says, "See, that's why butts should be called blowholes."

I fully expect my wife to reprimand me for once again being gross on my blog, BUT (pun intended) being nice isn't all it's cracked up to be. After all, I don't want anybody calling me a goody-goody.

Saying that, I must admit that I do have a tender heart. Monday night my youngest child, the kid we've often called Baby Z since his arrival, the butt man himself graduated from kindergarten. I was and am quite proud of him because despite being a hoodlum of epic proportions at home, he is a model student. Respectful of his teachers, quiet and eager to learn, and if I do say so myself, downright brilliant at times.

But despite my pride, I was truly saddened to watch his class sing and accept their graduation certificates the other night. My eyes might have even teared up a time or two during the slide show. I can't believe how fast these first six years have gone.

Somehow it was easier with my older son. Maybe because I knew I had another child to come along a few years later. But Z is our last. There will be no more Erwin spawn to come along. I will never again have a kindergartner. Never again have a child lose their first tooth. Never again see that expression of pure excitement in my child's eyes at the promise of their first ever day of school.

Sure I know there will be lots of other exciting days to come. Of first times to experience and new adventures for us to have, but on that one night I couldn't help but think of all the ones we've already had. So go ahead and call me what you will, a nostalgic fool, a sentimental sap, yes even a goody-goody, but damn it, at least give me a gumdrop if you do.

And come on admit it, the title of this post is more accurate than Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Some people make a habit of putting their foot in their mouth. Me on the other hand, I seem to blog my way into trouble. At this point I'm fairly certain karma reads my blog and asserts her power anytime I get a little too big for my britches.

Those that have read my blog for several years may recall the time I made a few disparaging comments about the Bulgarian female weightlifters. I questioned their femininity and then only a few weeks later I get in a cab at Vegas and out of the jillion cabs in Sin City I wind up in one driven by ... you guessed it, a Bulgarian woman. Luckily I escaped that cab ride with my life intact though there was a narrow miss with a city bus.

Later I ridiculed lady luck and truthfully and then proceeded to take a beating at the poker table while training in Norman, Oklahoma. I'm usually a solid poker player and I've won several tournaments both at Vegas and locally but after calling Lady Luck out winning hands became scarce as attractive Bulgarian weightlifters.

And Saturday I did it again. Ranting about the rain washing out my enthusiasm for Homer's Backyard Ball I got on a rant about the swine flu. I covered mad cow, bird flu, west nile from skeeters. Like an idiot I asked ... What's next, goat gonorrhea.

Before you think the worst of me let me point out Gonorrhea is the wrong goat infliction, but make no mistake, I did have problems with the ol' goat yesterday.

By goat I mean the large patch of facial hair covering my chin. And by trouble I do mean of the animal kingdom variety.

There I was at work when I felt a stinging pinch among the black chin wool. I reached up felt something and with a tug, pulled at it. Of all the things I thought might be stuck in my goatee ... an owl's nest, a chunk of steak, one of the hundred of Hot Wheels you guys sent my sons after the fire ... No where on that list did I include a tick.

But that is exactly what I found.

And my boss just happened to walk by in the moments after I removed the little blood sucking creature and crushed him between a mail sack label so I informed if that should I die of Lyme disease it would now be considered an on-the-job injury.

The conversation carried on to the breakroom where my fellow employees began to razz me and dispute my claims that the tick was indeed a postal tick. They hinted that I'd been supporting the little sucker had been there a while, that I brought him from home, or maybe from my turkey hunting last Friday.

"But I took a shower this morning," I said.

"So did the tick," the guys laughed.

"But I suds the goat every morning. I would have felt it then."

But the guys stopped listening at suds the goat every morning.

I have the feeling that phrase will be used against me for years. Kind of like the time I said I didn't like to eat alligator meat because of it's toughness. is aid the longer you chew it the bigger it seems to get in your mouth, Yeah the guys seized on that and said, "You're eating the wrong part." But i digress.

I still contend that tick was residing in the old P.O. maybe somebody mailed the sucker, but I know what I know and I felt him latch on. And after further thought, I think that tick was sent by Karma herself or maybe her evil henchman Fate since he has lots of underhanded tricks to deal with bloggers who get a little to cocky during their rants. Therefore 'l be careful about choosing my rhetorical questions from this point on.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Playing Hookie at The Bluff - My Town Monday

I'm a big believer that there is every bit as much to be learned outside of a classroom as in. So with that in mind I declared last week Hookie Week and let both of my boys ditch school to spend all day out and about with me. Each got to choose a cool activity and have there own day. This week's My Town Monday is about my day with my oldest son T. He is 8, and for his hookie day he chose the Wildcat Bluff Nature Center just a few miles west of Amarillo.

Here is a blurb borrowed directly from the nature center's website.

More than 600 acres of rolling grasslands are threaded with nature trails offering a sense of isolation and tranquility. Discover delicate wildflowers amidst knee-high grasses, huge cottonwoods, and a magnificent bluff. Slow down enough to spot a horned lizard cross the trail, a hawk circling overhead, or a quail's nest hidden beneath a bush. Picture the native people who camped here for centuries before settlers came through on their westward trek.

There is a place where you can reconnect with the timeless rhythm of the natural world and ponder the impact of civilization. At the same time, consider whether your great grandchildren will be able to experience first hand these same wonders of nature.

We started off inside, by checking out the various critters. Snakes, lizards, tarantulas, turtles, ferrets, fish, frogs, rabbits, and so forth. We took the time to read the placards and as always T had plenty of questions and observations. Such as ... "Dad, wouldn't it be cool if people shed their skin like snakes."

That turned into a discussion about sunburns and peeling skin and then the question of how come snakes and lizards don't get sunburned even though they live in the desert and sunbathe on rocks? For the record, no, I did not know the answer.

After reading and learning about the animals we headed outside to hike along the trails. The trails are well marked and very easy to hike as the majority of the land is rolling plains filled with natural grasses, flowers and mesquite trees.

Here is a shot of my son reading a sign giving direction tot he varying trails. You can see how close to town the area is by checking out the horizon and spotting the buildings of downtown Amarillo.

The Bluff trail culminates atop a natural bluff, imagine that, which overlooks Amarillo creek, and the Gregg-Marcy trail which was a branch of the famous Sante Fe Trail. The remnants of the Gregg Marcy trail are still evident today. You can click on the pictures to enlarge if need be.

Another of Wildcat Bluff's trails is called the windmill trail. And at the end of that trail you will find a ... you guessed it, windmill.

And down by the creek, on what I'm not really sure is a trail although it is evident others have hiked there, my son and I found a massive cottonwood tree before turning back around and going the way we were supposed to.

The roots of this tree were very cool. My son is three or four inches better than four foot tall so use that as a reference on the gnarly base of that tree.

All in all we had a great time. We hiked about 2.5 miles and spent some great time together.
Wildcat Bluff isn't the kind of challenging hiking environment that the serious adventured covets, but it does provide a nice leisurely stroll among nature, and it does provide a great backdrop to teaching kids about the great outdoors. And for only three bucks for adults and two for kids it is a very inexpensive family activity.

For the record, my six year old son chose to go turkey hunting. We managed to see a few gobblers but his dear old dad missed the only shot provided to us, but as a consolation prize we got some fishing in on a couple of small ponds and young Z did quite nicely there. Maybe I'll share a few of those pics alter in the week.

As always check back throughout Sunday and Monday to discover great blogs and read about their neck of the woods. and if you have something to share about your town simply write a post and then leave me a comment so that I can add your link.


Jenn Jilks - Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Maria - Vienna, Austria
Debra - Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Chris - Hong Kong, China
J Winter - Cincinnati, Ohio
Kathy Ryan - New York City, New York
Clair Dickson - Brighton, Michigan
Barbara Martin - Toronto, Canada
Mary - Olmsted Falls, Ohio
Cloudia - Honolulu, Hawaii

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oscar Ain't Got Nothing On Me

I'm grouchy.

Here it is Saturday afternoon and I'm supposed to be at Homer's Backyard Ball, hanigng out with friends and listening to this great lineup of music.


But now, mother nature decided to make this one of the five days a year we actually get rain. So while I'm waiting for the weather to clear let me spread my good cheer and write about a few other things that bug me.

These phrases need to go the way of the payphone and become extinct, or at the very least very rare.

I just puked a little in my mouth - This might have been funny once upon a time in the right context, like gathered around a keg, but 99% it is simply gross and falls in the too much information category. What's next? I just crapped a little in my pants?

Don't make me open a can of whoop ass And if you have a bumper sticker or t-shirt with this printed on it you are a double doofus. Tis my experience the more elaborately some one threatens you the least likely it is they have the cajones to actually back up their words. And this phrase screams redneck on top of everything else. Besides, the threat of a can of vegetables is enough to scare me off.

I had another phrase in mind but it escapes me now so moving along to other peeves.

Swine Flu - Just like mad cow disease, the bird flu, the hanti-virus spread by mice, and West Nile from mosquito's the aporkalypse has been highly overblown. I'm not saying these inflictions cannot be serious but there is no reason for hysteria either. Wash you hands people but don't go ape shit crazy thinking the world is gonna end tomorrow because the animals are seeking revenge after years of us eating them. If that were the case I'd be public enemy #1. I just wonder what animal related disease is next. I'm pulling for goat gonorrhea because it will be lots of people explain how they caught that one.

American Idol - I know lots of you are fans and I do realize the show has discovered lots of truly talented singers that may not have been discovered otherwise, but I can't stomach the show. I've only seen bits and pieces for the last several years and it's always the same. Simon speaks the truth, albeit harshly and the crowd boos and Paula gets all up in arms and the two of them bicker back and forth in an attempt to upstage the singers. The monotony is broken up by questions of Ryan Seacrest's masculinity.

Mainstream Radio - Country or pop it doesn't matter. It's all commercial and repetitive and too bland for my liking. Satellite radio is my savior for fresh new tunes and performers willing to buck the record executives and actually create music that sings to the soul. But apparently even mother nature has sold out the the corporations and now is stifling my chance at some good live music.

See, I told y'all I was grouchy.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gut Check

Most of you know that I have been shopping my latest novel around trying to land a literary agent. That novel is titled Plundered Booty and after receiving feedback from several agents that requested and read the full manuscript, one thing has become clear. Plundered Booty has a large flaw. A flaw the novel shares with its creator.

Both Plundered Booty and myself sag in the middle.

The consensus is the first 70-80 pages are strong and draw readers in. The last 60 - 70 tie everything together and result in a satisfying ending. But right there in the middle is a big old, unappealing beer gut.

So now I've been reading the novel myself with that info in hand, and I agree. But acknowledging the problem is but the first step. A couple of nights I dreamed about Plundered Booty, the book that is, and by morning I felt inspired that I can indeed fix the novel. The process has already began and I'm excited by the promise that I can complete the transformation by July 1st and have a much better and more marketable novel at that time.

I also have a July 1st deadline to work on that other bloated midsection. the one circling my waist. A month ago I placed a weight loss bet with my friend Arlene. If she loses a higher percentage of weight by July 1 I have to wear a pink Barry Fanilow shirt and take her to see Barry Manilow when our group of friends goes to Vegas in October.

When, not if but when, I win. I am going to make her buy my ticket and go see the new risque version of Little Bo Peep at the Planet Hollywood Casino. The show is called Peep and my guess is Arlene's husband, Rob is pulling for me to out lose his wife because what man wouldn't rather see a Vegas show called Peep, rather than hear the cheesy warbling of Barry Manilow. Is it just me or does Barry Manilow look like the dorky brother of Wayne Gretzky?

THE CROONER ------------------>

THE GREAT ONE ---------------->

And a month in I am 12 pounds down. My goal is to lose 18 more before July 1. Arlene almost conceded yesterday by saying, "At least Rob will enjoy Peep."

So here's to tighter and more appealing midsections.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yacking Away

Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone.

Eli Whitney and the cotton gin.

Thomas Edison and the electric light bulb.

As a boy I often thought it would be cool to come up with some great invention. Something that benefited all of mankind. Something that I could patent and make a fortune off of the rest of my life.

Something like the barf bag.

This little gem caught my eye on my recent flight to San Antonio. It's a bag with a metal fastener at the top. There is one in every seat back on the plane. It never even occurred to me that somewhere down the line somebody invented the barf bag and patented it, until I spotted the number right there on it.

Maybe his patent simply improved on an already good idea. Maybe the barf bags of old didn't have that slick almost plastic quality that seals out moisture to prevent the contents from leaking out. Maybe there was no tie system at the top. Who knows, but I think it would make for a good character in a humor piece to have a man who's family fortunes are tied to barf bags.

One invention I do not get is the label on Coors Light bottles and cans. Have you seen it on their commercials. The mountains turn blue when the beer is cold enough to drink. Really have beer drinkers gotten so stupid they can't decide what's cold anymore? I've never been a fan of Coors beer, light or otherwise. it's all too bitter for my liking, but that whole blue mountain thing kind of bugs me. As does their fake football coach press conferences. Like most things in life, the best beers do not need to resort to stupid commercials or cheesy gimmicks to peddle their beer.

So in summary, I give two thumbs up to barf bags and two thumbs down to temperature sensitive labels. Of course emptying too many of those fancy labels could lead one to need a barf bag. Maybe every twelve pack should come with it's own patented collection bag. That would save many a frat house rug from future stains I'm sure.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lions And Tigers And Bears, Oh My ... A My Town Monday Post,

The Amarillo Storyland Zoo opened in 1955 and for the next 30+ years the facility could be described in one word ... embarrassing.

Luckily, that is changing. First let me tell you what the zoo used to be. I'd hoped to find some old photos to go along with my descriptions and memories but I wasn't able to find any.

The zoo I knew as a kid, we are talking late seventies here was called Storyland Zoo. The entrance was a dark dingy fake cave filled with poorly rendered Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs scenes. Admission was free but as a kid I remember it being kind of damp and scary. And what it had to do with animals is beyond me.

Once inside the zoo was filled mostly with animals anyone could see by driving the back roads in and around Amarillo. There were deer, in a tiny little pen with a gingerbread-esque house. Rabbits and prairie dogs in a large dirt enclosure. Goats, donkeys, and aoudad sheep in cages backed by a false fronted western town, bobcats and coyotes, longhorn cattle and peacocks, and some big goldfish swam in a pond located in the mouth of a large concrete whale.

As a kid the only things I enjoyed were the dome cage full of spider monkeys and the large western fort themed playground. Once upon a time the zoo had an elephant but it outgrew it's small pen and was gone before I was old enough to remember any pachyderms.

The cages were small, the smell was bad, and as I said the Amarillo Storyland Zoo of yesteryear was nothing more than an embarrassment.

And while the Amarillo Zoo, (storyland was dropped from the name a number of years ago) is still far from being comparable to top of the line zoos in larger cities it has done a nice job of working with the resources at hand and improving little by little each year.

The spider monkeys remain, but these days they have a, clean open island environment to swing about on trees and and enjoy the sunshine.

The old elephant pen was combined with the goose and duck pond to create a large spacious area for the black bears.

An interesting side note is that these bears once were the mascot for Baylor College.

A couple of years back the zoo, built a nice big cat pavilion and added three lions a male and two females.

Prior to the lions arrival, the Amarillo Zoo acquired Holly, a Bengal tiger from the town of Lubbock, Texas which is a 100 miles south of Amarillo.

Holly was named for Lubbock's famous son Buddy Holly but their zoo did not have adequate facilities to properly care for her. As an Amarilloan it's always good to know we have something better than our rival city to the south.

Another newish addition to the zoo are the wallabies.

Not Everything is new. There is still a cage full of pigeons that harkens back to yesteryear. And a Longhorn still plods along in a barren dirt corrals. and that old western section full of goats sheep, and aoudads still stands as well.

But the zoo is continuing to work. Elk are soon to be added to the large grassland area already stocked with Pronghorn, deer, and bison. Construction is under way for a new herpetarium and plans are in the works for a new children's area which is to include a petting area.

The Amarillo zoo is now a place I can take my boys and be proud. No, it's not all the way where it needs to be, but hopefully the city and the people of Amarillo can come together to find the necessary funds and expertise to continue the trend of improving the facility.

As always, check back here throughout Sunday and Monday, for links to other bloggers as they take us to their location for MY TOWN MONDAY.

Jenn Jilks - Muskoka, Ontario, Canada
Maria - Vienna, Austria
Shauna Roberts - Riverside, California
Lyzzydee - Welwyn Garden City, England
Cloudia - Honolulu, Hawaii
Barbara Martin - Toronto, Canada
Debra - Village of Peninsula, Ohio
Clare2E- Oakland Beach, Rye, New York
Patti Abbott - Detroit, Michigan
Chuck - Kentucky
J Winter - Cincinnati, Ohio

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fish On!

I'm back from my fishing trip.A very successful fishing trip I might add. Well. except for the unplanned swim both me and my cell phone took.

Anyway before I share any of my angling adventures I wanted to take a quick survey. Lots of people commented before I left that maybe I would catch a bigger fish and replace my profile pic.

The picture all of you are so familiar with was taken in 2006 at Lake Ray Roberts north of Dallas. it is of me holding a nearly five pound largemouth bass. Five pounds is a decent size largemouth but far from spectacular.

This picture is of my biggest catch this past week.

That is a 7 pound 6 ounce striped bass. Pretty good size for the lake I was fishing in but not all that big compared to the size they catch other places. So y'all tell me, stick with the old or change to the new?

Friday, May 8, 2009

If I were a Fictional Dude

I will return tomorrow but for now I'm still off chasing a new, bigger fish to hold up and dangle in my avatar, but I didn't wanna leave you high and dry, so here is another vintage (sounds better than retread or rerun) post that you may not have read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

THE MEME -- Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily Married and Want to Stay That Way So Maybe We Should Forget This..."
I agree, but I'm going to add a few things. In order for me to hook up with any of these fictional creation I too would have to be fictionalized and inserted into the novels in which they appeared, so a couple of my choices had to do as much with my desire to be in a certain book as it does with their sex appeal. And since I am a one woman kind of guy in real life I have to believe my fictional self would be as well. So, I am going to list nine runner-ups,(why they made the list and why they missed being at the top of my list) and one winner as the premiere object of my fictional affection. In reverse, David Letterman style ...

10. Stephanie Plum from the Stephanie Plum Novels by Janet Evanovich -- First off she has that whole Jersey Girl mystique about her. There have been songs, books, and movies about Jersey Girls and the closest I've ever come to meeting a Jersey Girl is a couple of Literary Agents at various writing conferences. Oh, and Brooke, but I only know her via the blog world. Stephanie Plum has that aura of excitement and danger about her that would be fun for a while but in the end I do not think a good ol' boy from the Texas Panhandle and a gal from the Burg would have enough in common. Besides, too much stuff gets burned to the ground around her and I like my meager possessions in their current un-ashed stated. (Boy how things can change)

9. Victoria Roubideaux from Plainsong and Eventide by Kent Haruf -- From the last meme you know how I feel about these books, so I'd love to be written into them. Plus I feel sorry for Victoria she could use a good guy in her life, but since pity isn't the best aphrodisiac she fails to make the cut.

8 . Daisy Buchanon from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald -- I mean her allure can not be questioned. Look at the lengths to which Gatsby went to pursue her. But then again, wanting something at any cost is always dangerous so would I really want to get mixed up with her. I do think it is a shame that we've had to endure bell bottoms twice but that whole 20's flapper look has never came back in style.

7. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling -- No I'm not a pedophile, but there was nothing in the rules of this meme that says I couldn't be written in as a teenage fictional character. Hermione is smart, loyal, brave, and cunning, but maybe a bit too bossy as well. Besides, she couldn't be all that hot. Harry spent all those weeks alone in that tent with her and not once did he make a move. And don't tell me that was out of friendship to Ron. First off Harry was mad at his friend and secondly, I know full well what is at the forefront of all seventeen year old boy's minds.

6. Sophie Dempsey from Welcome To Temptation by Jennifer Crusie -- First off let me say I just want to be in a sex scene written by Ms. Crusie cause I'm afraid to admit it, but in the real world I'm not nearly as limber and flexible as her characters tend to be. Sophie sticks out in my mind as the most memorable character from a Crusie novel, but she's got a bit of conman in her as well, and she could whoop me in pool so again she doesn't quite make it to the top of the list. Her sister was hot too, although I can't remember her name off the top of my head.

5. Juliet Capulet from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare -- Okay I know it was a play and not a novel, but isn't this the love by which all others are judged? Course I don't want even my fictional self to die so this one would need an alternate ending before I was willing to take part. And wouldn't it be interesting to see how Shakespeare would have handled my Texas drawl. Of course he did use yonder. But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
And how about this ... "Oh Travis, Travis! Where are ya Travis? Forget your pa and forget your family name! Or at least swear you love me."
Okay, so it doesn't have the same ring as ... "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?Deny thy father and refuse thy name!Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love."

4. Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell -- Come on what fan of fiction wouldn't want to be written into GWTW? And there is no denying that Scarlett was a real Southern Bitch, but she was also the most interesting character. I can only hope my character would have been more like Rhett Butler than that wimp Ashley.

3. Star Wood Leigh from Star by Pamela Anderson -- Okay I haven't even read this book. But I do know it is a thinly veiled biography of Pamela Anderson life, and therefore the character has to look like her. Yes, I'll admit it, I kind of have a thing for Pamela Anderson, even after she dissed Kid Rock who I am a big fan of. Hey, we all got to have fantasies, but since that is all this is, number four is as high as I could go.

2. Lady Brett Ashly from The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway -- Hemingway introduces her this way ... Brett was damn good-looking. If Hemingway says it, I believe it. She left a wake of men in her trail. Heck she even had impotent men lusting after her. Now that is sex appeal. But to make the top of my list a woman has to be compassionate and capable of returning my affection. Lady Brett comes up short in those departments.

So the winner is ...

1. Nymphadora Tonks from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling -- This gal has it all. First off the name Nymphadora practically has the word nympho right in it. Add in the fact Tonks has the ability to change her appearance on a whim. Blond one day, a redhead the next. I small petite nose or a big honking pig snout. Whatever floats your boat she can be it. Besides the physical side she's smart, tough, funny and an evil-fighting Auror. What more could a man ask for? And ... in book seven she married a werewolf -- which means she likes hairy guys. Yes siree ... Nymphadora Tonks is my choice as the fictional character I'd most want to go out and howl at the moon with.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sasquatching Around

I'm still off chasing a new bigger fish to hold up and dangle in my avatar, but I didn't wanna leave you high and dry, so here is another vintage (sounds better than retread or rerun) post that you may not have read.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Don't Worry, Be Happy

The other day I mentioned that I once woke up in the middle of a medical procedure on my heart. It may have sounded worse than it was. This wasn't open heart surgery or anything like that. It was a procedure called ablation. (I think I spelled that right)

Anyway the deal was my heart would suddenly start racing. On one visit to the ER they clocked it at 278 beats per minute, better than four a second. Over time they finally diagnosed me with something called Wolfe-Parkinson-White and scheduled me for this procedure where they went up the artery, or was it vein, into my groin and used a laser to burn some fibers in my heart which basically were causing a short circuit.

That said, it does hurt like hell to wake while someone is scorching your heart. Like most everything in my life this story does have an absurd twist.

I'm a hairy guy. Besides the chin rug I also have a good bit of fuzz elsewhere. Therefore they had to shave to round patches on my chest to place some kind of monitoring device.

After I got home from the hospital I thought it would be a good idea (don't ask me why) to shave a large arc across my stomach that dipped down below my belly button. In other words I created a happy face on the trunk of my body. I did this to show my wife, and get a chuckle from a select group of friends.

I assumed my belly and chest hair would grow rather rapidly, like my beard and the hair on my head.
Here's a lesson.

Never assume.

Belly and chest hair grows extremely slow.

Several months later I return to the doctor for a check up. The nurse tells me to take off my shirt and hop up on the table. She takes one look at my artwork and in a flat deadpan voice says, "Oh, that's cute."

Thought y'all might find it humorous to discover jsut how big a doofus I can be.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Zoom, Zoom

I'm still off chasing a new bigger fish to hold up and dangle in my avatar, but I didn't wanna leave you high and dry, so here is another vintage (sounds better than retread or rerun) post that you may not have read.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The world is full of 'Em

How come you rarely see a Porsche with tinted windows? I'll give you my opinion later but for now let me tell you about my ride into town this morning.

I'm sitting at a stop light listening to the radio when I hear this engine revving over and over. I glance to my right and there is this guy staring at me like a sixteen-year-old boy out on a Friday night in his dad's car. Only this guy was in his mid-fifties at the very least. With a salt and pepper beard, he looked like a college professor. He revved the engine again and grinned at me. Now I'm not much of a car guy, so while I realize he's driving some kind of silver sports car, I didn't pick up on the fact it was a Porsche, until the light turned green and he took off squealing his tires. He made it all of about three blocks before we hit another red light.

Again, the same routine only this time I smiled and shook my head at his pathetic attempt to relive some bygone dream of his. This time a car turned right off the side street just as the light turned green so I'm out in front while he is stuck behind traffic. Now keep in mind I was only doing about thirty five or forty miles an hour. Not trying to race this character, I was just trying to get home to get on the computer and do some work.

The idiot catches me in half a mile or so, pulls up beside me, grins like a shit-eating monkey, and shoots off like rocket, obviously proud to have outran me and my 1997 Chevy Blazer with his brand new, sticker-still-on-the-window, sleek, silver Porsche.

That's when it occurs to me. People who buy these kind of cars don't tint the windows because then the whole world wouldn't be able to look at them and whisper, Oooh look at the guy. What they don't realize is our next thought ... Wonder what he's compensating for?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

C Squared

I'm off chasing a new bigger fish to hold up and dangle in my avatar, but I didn't wanna leave you high and dry so here is a vintage (sounds better than retread or rerun) post that you may not have read.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Give me a C ... for confused

Have you ever heard of a referee competition? Follow me on this. Can you picture a bunch of guys standing out in some field, clad in their trusty black and white stripes competing to see how high they can throw a yellow flag? Me neither, but it might sound something like this if ESPN televised such an event.

"Boy Howdy Jim. Look at Frank Jones go. He's really on his A game today. I've never seen anyone signal false start with such zest."

"You said it Biff. He got a full 720 on that rotation. And his form was flawless."

Ridiculous right? Nobody cares how well a ref looks while he throws a flag or signals a penalty, so what would be the point of having them compete just for the sake of competition? Refs only have value as long as they are needed to police an actual game.

So why in the world do we have cheerleader competition? What are they cheering for? And who are they leading is these supposed cheers?

Here in Amarillo we have at least two "organizations" that girls or guys of all ages can join and cheer. Not for sports teams but in cheer competitions. Why? Somebody please explain this to me.

I know someone will take offense to this and claim my attitude towards this is sexist, but really I don't think that is the case. To me it is more a case of putting the cart before the horse. It would be like having a Zamboni driver competition based on how pretty of turn they make at each end of the ice, when his real job is to lay a decent sheet down so the game can proceed. Or to take the analogy out of the arena, Like judging a conductor on how well he flings that little stick around(yes I'm aware that description makes me sound like a hick) instead of how well the symphony plays.

What's your opinion on this? I suspect most of you will disagree, but that's okay. I can live with rejection. I'm a writer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Magical My Town Monday

Tomorrow afternoon I'm heading south the go fishing at Lake Buchanan west of Austin. Preparing for my trip meant I didn't have time tow rite a My Town Monday post about Amarillo, so for the very first time ever I'm handing the reins to One Word, One Rung, One Day to a guest blogger. Many of you already know Erica Orloff and read her blogs but let me introduce her for those who do not. Erica is a multi-published author in a variety of genres. On her writing blog she does a masterful job of relating the everyday aspects of life to the craft of writing. She also is the author of an often hilarious parenting blog called Demon Baby and Me. Check those out when you get the chance but first read her My Town Monday post which ties in quit nicely with her just released YA series.


First, thanks to Travis for having me. I remember following blog links to his site ages ago, and I think he was in the middle of his department store Santa essays . . . and I thought, “This guy is like David Sedaris, only in a big, heterosexual Texan writer.” Love his voice!

And now I get to do a My Town Monday. My Town is New York City. I live in Virginia now, but you can take the girl out of New York—but not New York out of the girl. When it came time to write the Magickeepers, though, it was actually someone else’s My Town that was woven through the book.

My grandmother, Fanya (always known as “Fanny”) was born in Russia, in Rostov-on-Don. My entire life, she was not the warm, fuzzy grandmother, like my mom’s mother. She was this five-foot-tall Russian who frequently scolded and loved to stuff me full of food (and for the record, she was not a good cook). I didn’t really understand her particularly well. She didn’t do things like other grandmothers. We didn’t go to the park or even outside. She didn’t chit chat like other grandmothers beyond a cursory, “How’s school?”

When I got a little older, and could really begin to understand, I learned she had survived “the Revolution.” At that point, they only revolution I knew of had George Washington in it. Fanny was really old, and so it struck me as possible she and George had been friends. But instead it turned out that she had survived the Russian Revolution.

I could write a book on her experiences. But instead, I recall one story. My grandmother would sometimes sit down and play the piano—dark, complex pieces. And she was sitting on the piano bench when she told me about her town. Her family had been wealthy, and there was a young girl of 15 or so, who used to come and sing opera in people’s parlors.

“When the Communists came,” she said, practically spitting the word, “they took her, this beautiful songbird—her voice was so pure—into the public square and shot her in the head in front of everyone in our town. Her voice was ‘too expressive’ they said as they condemned her.”

It was then I started to understand Fanny better. What she had survived. Why she was darker and more distant. And I tucked away that story, like most writers. When I decided to write The Magickeepers, it was about a rogue clan of robber baron magicians who escaped Communist Russia and settled, eventually, in Las Vegas, where they hide their identities by having a casino and a stage show of illusions. And woven through the book is the idea of this Russian history—this “my town”—coloring every choice and every decision. The idea of bravery and destiny.

You may have a My Town that’s actually an ancestor’s town. Do you have inherited stories from before your time that still resonate as part of you?

And as always, check back for links to other MY TOWN MONDAY posts.

Jenn Jilks - Muskoka, Ontario, Canada

Lyzzydee - Hertfordshire, England

Mary - Olmsted Falls, Ohio

Cloudia - Honolulu, Hawaii

Chris - Genoa, Italy

Terrie Farley Moran - New York City, New York

Clair Dickson - Howell, Michigan

Debra - Village of Peninsula, Ohio

Sex Scenes at Starbucks - Grand Lake, Colorado

Friday, May 1, 2009

Joe Knows Taters?

A little story inspired by the spam folder of my email.

Joe was minding his own business when Erixxxa said, "Look at my to pixxxs," but Joe was too busy trying to develop the skills to become a certified nursing assistant, to appreciate what was no doubt a really good gift. Going from nothing to luxury wasn't easy for Joe, but he really wanted to wear pajamas to work and never have to leave the house.

Working hard to get a degree from home Joe got lonely so he began searching for true love. Jenny, and Sofia smiled his way but he couldn't afford to date until he learned to stop living from paycheck to paycheck. Joe tried to learn the art of culinary magic, but the instructor kept asking, "Is your colon weighing you down?"

That same chef that had no qualms discussing Joe's colon shuddered at the mere mention of utterly disgustingly unwanted hair. When Joe failed to wipe away unwanted hair he gave up his exciting career change opportunity. Cooking didn't provide Joe with money when he needed it most so he learned how to grow fresh blueberries each and every week. Joe had some amazing 8 foot tall blueberry bushes, but his cable bill was still too high, and all that berry picking eventually gave Joe a hernia.

Wouldn't you know it. The patches used in hernia surgery are causing serious problems and now Joe must cure a sagging libido. Joe says, "It's hell getting old."

But he better hurry and heal because there are younger women searching for older men and hot babes wanna chat right now and Joe is still lonely. Sexy Lexi made him a loan offer, but Joe wanted love not moolah madness. then one day he answered an ad that read claim your windfall inheritance and he fell in love with Dr. Lowenstein and her anti aging formula. They took a free trip to the Caribbean and it seemed Joe was set for life. But URGENT! news from Iraq came and Joe read the telegram with a heavy heart Your home is at risk! Bolster your manhood and fight for your freedoms. Twelve inches of hard muscle helped Joe vanquish the blues, but then the doctor said, "Washington liberals are draining your bank account," and I'm leaving you. His heart broken Joe adopted a new motto. Refused to work! Soon Joe could not delay the bankers from foreclosing. The end is near for Joe but then again, nothing lasts forever.

The green words come directly from the subject line of my spam folder. I don't mind spam, but prefer it to be served along side fried taters. Hope y'all have a great weekend.