Sunday, April 11, 2010

..and that's jazz!

There was a free (my favorite kind) jazz concert on the "square" in downtown Prescott the other day. Mike Vax (flugelhorn and trumpet player) is the author of the group. It was a preview of the jazz festival later in the year. And it was good!

I wish I could bring you the sounds but you'll just have to imagine it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mag 9

Magpie Tales originated in the mind of Willow, who posts a photo each week and invites any- and everyone to write a poem, a song, a vignette or a story prompted by the photo. Here's the current photo and what I came up with. You can join in the fun and read more at Magpie Tales.

It was the 1950’s, a much simpler time. Or was it? I had gone to the dance with Johnny Jay, the captain of the football team. Johnny and I had been going together for about three weeks and I just knew it was true love and going to last forever.

Anyway, we were at the dance and Johnny said he was going to go get a soda and he’d be right back. Well, gee, he was gone for over half an hour! I was about to go looking for him when he finally came back. At first I was really glad to see him. But then I noticed something else.

"Lipstick on your collar
Told a tale on you
Lipstick on your collar
Said you were untrue
Bet your bottom dollar
You and I are through
'Cause lipstick on your collar
Told a tale on you."

"Oh, Johnny, how could you do this to me?"


"You’ve been necking with another girl. There’s lipstick all over your collar."

"Huh? Oh, don’t you remember when we were in the car before we came in here? It got a little hot and heavy there and it was just you and me."

Well, a little flush went through me as I remembered that. I was about to forgive Johnny and apologize for accusing him. But then . . .

"You said it belonged to me
Made me stop and think
And then I noticed yours was red
Mine was baby pink
Who walked in but Mary Jane
Lipstick all a mess
Were you smoochin' my best friend
Guess the answer's yes!"

"Oh, Johnny! You’re just a liar! Go on and dance with Mary Jane, I’m going home!

With Karl, who’s been after me all night."

"Lipstick on your collar
Told a tale on you
Lipstick on your collar
Said you were untrue
Bet your bottom dollar
You and I are through'
Cause lipstick on your collar
Told a tale on you, boy
Told a tale on you, man
Told a tale on you, yeah."

(With apologies to Connie Francis, who sang this song in the Fabulous 50’s!)


63 years ago today, Branch Rickey signed Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson to a contract to play baseball for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson thus became the first player to break the color line as a Negro athlete in the Major Leagues.

I was just shy of my 7th birthday then but I soon became a fan of Jackie and the Dodgers. That lasted for some 50 years, until the Arizona Diamondbacks came to my adopted state.

Jackie was, and is, a legend as he kept his mouth shut and his volatile temper under control in the face of bigotry from his competition and even many of his fellow players. He also became one of the greatest players to ever don a uniform, especially famous for his base stealing feats, including stealing home.

Regrettably, complications of heart disease and diabetes brought Jackson's life to an end at the age of 53. But he will be remembered always by baseball fans.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Springing into color

I have been late in showing some of the color this spring but I snapped a few photos today.

Curiously enough, while all of these trees and flowers are blooming mightily, there is still quite a bit of snow on the mountaintops clearly visible from within the town. (These photos were all taken either in or near to the BRD's front yard in Prescott, Arizona.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Guitar Hero

I ran across this video while doing a Google search on Stevie Ray Vaughan. Stevie was one of those fantastic Texas musicians who come along once every once in awhile, that can make your hair stand on end. Take a look and listen.

Stevie died at the age of 35. Not of drugs. But because some dumbass helicopter pilot flew him into a hill in Wisconsin in the middle of the night.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter dinner

SWMBO comes up big on holidays. We're not big on such days but she can outdo herself in the kitchen.

So we started with some delicious deviled eggs.

Then there was the centerpiece . . . a pork loin.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

It's even better when coated with gravy, accompanied by dressing (not stuffing) and some delicious sweet potatoes.

Trust me. It was as delicious as it looks.

Mag 8

A mystic globe
entraps a futile struggle
between a man
and a Roc.

Or is it a Phoenix Bird,
rising from the ashes
of the man’s

I gaze at the scene,
unfolding its miniature terror,
and I wonder . . .

What bird is this?

What dreams are these?

What is this thing?


Read the thoughts of others at Magpie Tales.

And, Willow, thanks for driving me crazy with this prompt!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A little mystery

"So what's the deal, Frankie?"

"Boss, there's a new girl in town. Dark hair, nice eyes, sassy. Goes by the name of Tess. Tess Kincaid. We're not sure yet what her racket is but she looks dangerous."

"Tess Kincaid. Now that's a monicker. You got any background on her at all?"

"Well, we hear she came from Dillinger country . . Indiana . . but she turned up here around Columbus some time back. And get this . . . we only just found out her real name. She's been goin' by the name of Willow and claims she lives in a haunted house that she calls Willow Manor."

"A haunted house?"

"Yeah, she claims people have heard strange noises at night and even seen wispy spirits walkin' around. But she doesn't seem scared of 'em at all, just kinda laughs it off."

"Hmmm, that's a little strange. Any idea what she does to keep payin' the rent?"

"Apparently she doesn't have any problems there. She's got some guy who travels a lot who takes care of that. So she just stays at home and writes poetry."


"Yeah, she's pretty good, too. Whimsical, I think they call it."

"Well, she sounds harmless but let's keep an eye on her."

"O.K. Boss. That'll be a pleasure."

"Tess Kincaid, aka Willow. Interesting."


This little mystery was prompted by a blog posting here this morning. I just couldn't resist.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yellow is the color of Spring

Yes, we do have daffodils in Arizona. Just down the street, as a matter of fact. Click on the picture for a better view.

This was brought up by comments posted on my Mag 7 posting yesterday. Enjoy!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mag 7

Magpie Tales is a writing exercise begun for bloggers, poets, writers and the like by the illustrious Willow of Willow Manor. Each week she posts a photo and she and the rest of us are to write "something" . . . a poem, a vignette, or whatever based on the photo. This week is a bit different as we explore Magpie Tales 7.

"We all live in a yellow submarine,
a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
a yellow submarine, a yellow subm . . ."

What’s that?

A daffodil?

Are you quite sure?



Never mind, then.


I told you it was different. To see the other creations click here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday, Sunday

I know, I know.

I haven't posted since Monday. Living on my Mag 6, you say.

Well, not really. I just haven't had a thing to say. I've been watching the NCAA basketball tournament and following, with glee, the fortunes of Butler's Bulldogs, which are in the Final 4 next week.

I've been keeping tabs on a friend, who is in the hospital.

I've been reading "Game Change". It's a book in the likes of those written by Theodore H. White but it's more superficial. Maybe it's perfect for this era but it's fun, with lots of gossip on the 2008 presidential race.

And I've watched a couple of movies - "The Men Who Stare at Goats" - a totally mindless hour and a half but a bit funny; and "Broken Embraces" - with the perfectly lovely Penelope Cruz and her favorite director, Pedro Almodovar. That one was better.

So, you see, I've been kind of busy. I'll be back.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mag 6

I passed through the gates at the institution for the criminally insane, past thick iron bars, past stolid armed guards. I was told bluntly to stop, to raise my arms and was frisked thoroughly. As the guards eyed me, seemingly hostile, I felt a nervous tremor in my stomach. I was not a threat but they didn’t know that. They knew only that I was here to visit one of their most dangerous prisoners.

Burt Jensen had been born in a tarpaper shack on a dirt poor northern Wisconsin farm. He lived through his childhood in that shack with only a small iron stove for heat, sleeping on a ragged pad with one blanket on the floor in one corner of the single room that housed them all. His mother had died giving birth to him. He had one brother four years older, who used to beat him nearly every day and steal food from the tin plate on which he ate. Those were the good days. The day his father, Olav, didn’t beat him.

One night they both beat him, kicked him into a small bundle and left him on his pallet while they laughed and drank the evil smelling alcohol they brewed out of potatoes. Later that night, after they had passed out, he took a knife and cut both of their throats.

When the police came to take him away, he was hollow-eyed and chanting, over and over

Cops call it

That’s all the authorities ever got out of him. Just that mad rhyme. That was all he had ever spoken since that horrible night.

So now he was here. In the bowels of this huge grey institution. And so was I.

I was a reporter. After months and months of effort, I finally had been granted this opportunity to talk to Burt Jensen. Was I fearful? Oh, yes. Even in spite of knowing that he would be shackled, hand and foot, and I would be "protected" by the armed guard in the same room.

So I entered. And waited. The room was empty except for a small wooden table and two straight-backed wooden chairs.

I jumped as I heard the door clang open. And Burt Jensen came in, with a guard holding tightly to one arm. His dark hair was disheveled and hung down on his forehead. His eyes were on the floor. The guard roughly pushed him down into the chair by the table opposite me. I sat and, slowly, his eyes rose to my face. They were blank.

My long sought interview was a disaster. Burt Jensen didn’t answer any of my questions, he didn’t respond at all, he just stared. Not at me, exactly, but through me. He sat still for the entire time, just staring.

Finally, I had enough. I gave up. I turned off my recorder, looked at the guard and nodded. He took Burt Jensen’s arm and raised him from his chair. And I turned to leave. As my back turned, I heard, for the first time, Burt Jensen’s voice.

Nails in his arms,
Spear in his side,
Jesus Christ
Was crucified.

I stood there, stunned, as he repeated the words over and over again as the guard shouldered him down the hall. His words grew fainter as my hands gripped the edge of the table in an effort to stop the trembling.


This is the sixth in series of weekly writing exercises initiated by Willow, who posts a photo and invites people to write a poem or a story or an essay based on it. You can learn more and read other entrants' writings at Magpie Tales.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

R.I.P. Stuart Udall

A son of Arizona, former U.S. Interior Secretary Stuart Udall, died yesterday at the age of 90.

My favorite line from his obituary in today's New York Times reads as follows:

"When he was 84, at the end of his last rafting trip on the Colorado River, Mr. Udall hiked up the steep Bright Angel Trail from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the south rim, a 10-hour walk that he celebrated at the end with a martini."

That is a man I can idolize.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A nearly private concert

My cousin, Bonnie, has become a musician, playing with a number of groups in Billings, Montana. She plays bass, fiddles some, some keyboard, maybe a little guitar and Lord knows what else. She and a group of friends decided a trip to the Southwest was due and they arrived this evening. After dinner, we all repaired to their motel where they had imposed on the night manager to allow them to do some pickin' in his lobby.

They are, from left to right, Larry, Cousin Bonnie, Clayton and LaLonnie.

LaLonnie plays a mandolin which was made for her by another friend in Montana.

Larry is a fine singer and guitar player as well as the comic virtuoso of the group. (Ask him to sing "I Don't Look Good Naked Anymore!")

Clayton is the true professional musician of the group, playing guitar and mandolin and singing with a sweet tenor voice.

Everyone sings. LaLonnie and Bonnie combine for some beautiful duos.

Several people wandered through the lobby during their one-hour pickup concert. During a break, one pleased young man said "I thought it was the radio!"

These talented musicians are on their way to Scottsdale where they have a couple of gigs planned, then home again to Montana.

Lot of talent up there in Montana.

Spring is here!

60 degrees at high noon, on its way to 70 today.

A fine day for a bit of drinkin' of the Guiness!

Update - 4 p.m. - the high reached 71 degrees (F). What a fine day it is!

Viva San Patricio - Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mag 5

The Captain's Hand

It was made of smooth, tooled wood with amazing hinges at the joints of the fingers. It was a hand. Even the fingernails were delineated. When I first saw it, the fingers were half-clenched. It was beautiful. And it was hideous.

As I gazed at it resting on black velvet in it’s glass case in the seafarers museum, a chill ran over me.

I could only think of the captain.

Like the legendary Captain Ahab, he had lost part of his body in a battle with a whale at sea.

His "hand" was hand-crafted in Sweden by an artisan some years later.
It never worked very well. It was supposed to be controlled by nerves in what was left of his arm. But it didn’t. When he wanted to put it forth to grasp another’s hand, it frequently shot up the middle finger in what was thought to be an obscene gesture.

Needless to say, the captain had few friends.

His life became more restricted, more lonely, and he retreated to a small cabin near the sea on a remote coast.

He slowly became more remote himself, refusing to answer letters from family and friends of his former life. He eventually was thought to have died, passed into the beyond.

Yet he lived on.

Until. Yes, until. A long forgotten, nay, long ignored former love of his came to find him in his self-imposed exile. She had searched for years and finally learned the location of his self-imposed exile. And eventually she came.

But she was too late.

All she found was his artificial hand, floating in the surf, just offshore from his tiny cabin on the rocky crest of land.

It was slightly clenched, as if frozen and no longer defiant.

She took it and cleaned it and kept it.

In a small glass box, lined with black velvet.


This is the fifth in a series of writing tests based on photo prompts put forth by Willow. You can read other entrants' offerings at Magpie Tales.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday night

Most of the nation (U.S.A.) went on Daylight Savings Time today. Arizona, sensibly, did not.

Arizona State University's basketball team was passed over for the N.C.A.A. tournament today. The N.I.T. tournament picked them as the #1 seed. The University of Arizona was passed over by both tournaments.

Glenn Beck has suggested that anyone who is a member of a religion that supports "social justice" shoud leave it. Beck is a member of the Mormon Church. No word yet on when he's leaving it.

The "media" is saying this is crunch week for the Obama administration's push for health care reform. Time will tell.

The weather is warming here in Arizona. The forecast is for the 60's all week. I'm ready.

That is all.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This godawful winter

When I got up this morning and looked out the window I couldn't believe my eyes. Two to three inches of snow covered everything, all fallen overnight. I had an early doctor appointment so had to scrape the windows of the car free of light ice and snow, then watch for slippery spots on the way into town.

By 5 o'clock this afternoon it was 50 degrees and the weather person says it will reach 60 tomorrow.

How can a person achieve any stability in his life if the weather can't?