Tuesday, August 16, 2011


So, people say "where's your blog?  Haven't seen a new post for awhile."

And the only response I can come up with is "It's the middle of August, I'm bored, and lazy.  It's the Dog Days."  Or as you might say in our neighborhood, the Cat Days.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I'll bet you thought this post was going to be about the presidential campaign announced today by Texas Governor Rick Perry, didn't you?

Sorry.  Fooled you again, just like the clouds over our part of Arizona.

Some promising clouds in the sky yesterday.  It's been mostly overcast much of the day today.  Rain?  Only a few drops.

Friday, August 12, 2011


For foodies: a new food magazine put together by New York chef David Chang of the famous restaurant Momofuku's.

I got my copy yesterday and have made a quick run-through of it.  It's about 175 pages with absolutely no advertisements!  If you can imagine an impromptu and alcohol-fueled conversation (rant) between Chang, Anthony Bourdain and Wylie Dufresne at Cafe de la Concha in San Sebastian, Spain, you may begin to understand the unvarnished language used throughout the magazine.  For example, one of several photos of paper-wrapped chopsticks scattered through the magazine - this one emblazoned with how-to-hold-them drawings with the heading "Would you f---ing learn how to do this already?"

There are a number of easy-to-follow recipes in there also but a warning - this entire issue is dedicated to one subject: ramen.  Not the type you get in packets from the grocery store but real hearty ramen.  Like the one pictured on the back cover.

Lucky Peach is slated as a quarterly.  This is the first issue.  You can get a closer look and even buy it or subscribe at the McSweeneys web page.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Big surprise, huh?  Old Catalyst writing about cats again.  What can I say?  I lead a quiet life.  So anyway.  You may recall that the BRD added another kitten to her menagerie a couple of weeks ago.  She sent over a couple of pictures recently.

He seems to have run down in that picture.  Wrigley, too, seems to be exhausted from trying to keep up with the new cat who, so far, seems to have the name Taz, short for Tasmanian Devil.  He is an active little rascal, according to the BRD.

Even Lily seems surprised that little Taz finally has run down but she seems not too relaxed about the intimacy.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Sorry, friends.  I've been out of pocket for a couple of days with my computer in the "hospital".  Got it back about an hour ago along with a bill for around $85.  Turned out a piece of RAM had gone bad and needed to be replaced.

That after I mistakenly suspected a virus and purchased a $60 Norton protection plan.  Oh well, at least now I'm protected.

On another front, here's a photo taken at Chase Field Sunday during the Dodgers/Diamondbacks game.

I'm not sure what he was doing there but the D-backs did win, in spite of the blueness of this character's outfit.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


My Arizona Diamondbacks had lost two in a row to the Los Angeles Dodgers so it was my duty to go down to Phoenix and take charge for the final game in the series.  Amid chants of Beat L.A.! echoing through the stands, the D-Backs took an early 2-0 lead on a home run into the swimming pool off the bat of Kelly Johnson.  But the Dodgers fought back and eventually had a 3-2 lead late in the game.  But the home team came through as Cody Ransom crushed another two-run home run late in the game and the Diamondbacks bullpen shut down the Dodgers over the last two innings.

Here's a shot of my buddy and host, Steve Torbeck, and I at the game.

The one bad thing about today?  107 degrees in Phoenix.  Thanks Diamondbacks for a domed stadium.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I am indebted to my friend Dawn, who lives in Newfoundland for tipping me to the subject of today's post.  By the way, check out Dawn's wonderful video of the incoming tide.

But, to today's post.  Watch and listen to Tim Hawkins.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Yes, I know.  I've been quiet again, especially here on my blog.  It's not due to any lingering pain from my angiogram.  In fact, I haven't had any.  Part of the reason for having the procedure was to see if opening up a couple of veins might eliminate the cramping I'd been having in my right calf.  And it seems that worked.  I made a trip to Sam's Club the other day, which as anyone who has ever been in one knows is about as big as a major league baseball park.  I walked briskly (or as briskly as I walk these days) and did not have a recurrence of the cramp.  But I told SWMBO afterward the real test will be when I go to a store and do a lot of slow walking, starting and stopping, and standing in one place for awhile.  Strangely, that seemed to bother me more than a brisk walk.  Well today was the day.  The first Wednesday of every month is what is known hereabouts as Old Farts' Day at a local supermarket.  Discounts galore and it draws hundreds, if not thousands, of what are politely called Senior Citizens.  We have avoided it frequently but the larder was low and SWMBO decided today would be a good day to load up and to test my leg.  There was no disappointment.  The store and the parking lot were both jam-packed.  I had to park some distance from the entrance, then go back out to find a spare shopping cart in the parking lot.  Then I was sent to the deli for a couple of items and stood waiting to be served for probably 20 minutes or more.  We got out of the store after something over an hour and all went well with my leg.  So that part of the mystery may be solved.

Now as to my Diamondbacks baseball team.  They had a very good 9-game road trip, winning six of the games, winning each series with San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco and finally catching the Giants again for first place last night.  Unfortunately today's final game was a bit different.  The team recently made a trade to acquire pitcher Jason Marquis because of his very good record of mastering the Giants.  He made his debut today and gave up 8 runs in 5 innings.  Oops!  So the Diamondbacks once again are one game behind the Giants.  And since it was an afternoon game, I'm looking forward to a quiet evening.

Friday, July 29, 2011


My angiogram this morning went well.  Doctor did two or more angioplasty procedures (balloon thingy).  I'm back home.  All is well

Thanks to all you kind folks who expressed your best wishes.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Roto-Rooter Work

I have to get up at an unconscionable time tomorrow morning: 5:15 a.m.  That's in order to get to the hospital in Prescott by 6:15 to begin the paperwork which will allow me to have an angiogram a little later.  I was telling Blackwell about this last night and he said "They're going to do . . . WHAT???"

I'm told it's nothing to worry about, though.  Of course that's what they always say when they're going to knock you out and start probing your body.  I DO like that idea of being knocked out, though.  I was talking to a nurse the other day who said she had to go in for some hand surgery a few years ago and they told her they could just put some kind of shoulder block in which would work as a local anesthetic.  She'd be awake but she wouldn't feel any pain.  She said she was terrified until she got to the hospital and a nurse there told her that it was her choice.  She said "KNOCK ME OUT!"  She said she didn't want to know anything about what they were doing to her.

With some reservations, that's pretty much how I feel.

So, with good results, I'm expecting to be home again sometime late tomorrow, hopefully the better for the experience.  If not, you may find one of these in my front yard.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Several rains recently have done wonders for our bits of urban gardening.  For example, a vine in the back yard suddenly sprouted some flowers.

To my great surprise, it is a trumpet vine.  When we lived in Mexico, there would be thousands of blooms on them.  But the buds apparently exude something sweet and the ants love it.

Getting down to something to eat, there are cherry tomatoes by the dozens.

A good crop of Romas.  (That one down low, partly hidden, was red enough to pick last night and will probably be eaten tonight.

In another pot, some Thai chiles.  One small one ripe already.

Another pot holds some basil and parsley.

Marigolds are supposed to be a natural deterrent to bugs.

And the mint is running amok this year.

Meanwhile, out in front of the house a couple of hibiscus plants have gone into full bloom.

Come with me, deep into the center of this beautiful flower.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


There comes a time when a person's pets can take over their lives.  In our family we have often joked about whether one or another of us is about to become a "cat lady".  You know, the woman who has cats everywhere in her house and is usually dodging the health department.  The BRD has, once again, added to her menagerie with this so far unnamed 9 week old kitten.

She already had two cats and a dog but as she said there's nothing like having a new kitten in the house.

I was showing SWMBO the "baby pictures" and commented "she's crazy!"

SWMBO responded "well, we have three cats."

That shut me up.  I mean what can you say in light of that kind of feminine logic.

Monday, July 25, 2011


We did get our monsoon rain yesterday evening.  It was the first real pound-down rain of the summer so far.  It poured hard for probably 20 minutes or so before moving off.  The drainage ditch in front of our home was running full.  I went out after the rain stopped and moved some rocks and debris to the side so it would drain better. 

Later - supper.  A plate of cold shrimp I had cooked in the afternoon, good homemade cocktail sauce put together by SWMBO, some warm Brie and crackers, wine and this beautiful relish plate SWMBO created.

I have to admit none of the produce came from our garden this time.  The grocery stores provided all of it.  But it was all very tasty and perfect for a hot summer night.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Nguyen Cao Ky is dead.  According to the Los Angeles Times, the former South Vietnamese premier died at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he was being treated for a respiratory problem.  He was 80 years old.

I met the former general once, though it was not in Vietnam, in spite of my "foreign correspondent style" leisure suit shown in this photo.

That's his wife du jour in the center.  He was married three times.  Anyway, it was in northern California where a refugee camp had been set up for hundreds of Vietnamese fleeing the communist victory in the war and takeover of the entire country.

Over the years, I've had numerous people view this picture and say "I didn't know you were in Vietnam."  I had to then explain the photo.

Nguyen Cao Ky was running a liquor store in Southern California shortly after these photos were taken.  He spent the rest of his life living in California and Vietnam.

Friday, July 22, 2011


This is a photograph of a man who might be a Hollywood actor, right?  Nice gentle flicker of a smile, eyes a bit wary.  Not wary enough, as it turned out.  This is John Dillinger, infamous bank robber and killer of the 1920's and 30's.  He led the FBI on a merry chase for a long time but they caught up with him coming out of the Biograph Theatre in Chicago and shot him down on the sidewalk.  Johnny was 31 years and one month old when it happened . . . 77 years ago today.

Another Johnny D portrayed Dillinger in the movie, Public Enemy.  That's Johnny Depp above with the same gentle smile but eyes that seem to bore through you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


First the important stuff.  Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew broke his ankle in last night's Diamondbacks game and is out for the season.  He was trying to score from second on a fly to left field and when he slid at home, his right foot got caught, twisted and snapped.  Oddly enough, on the very next play Milwaukee's center fielder,  Carlos Gomez, made a spectacular diving catch of a blooper, landed on his shoulder and broke his clavicle.  He's out of the lineup indefinitely.  Baseball ain't no sport for sissies, in spite of what the football fans say.

Now then.  My pal Danny Bananas sent me a link in an email to some spectacular aerial photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.  They're well worth a look and you can seen them here.

That's all for today, folks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Sometimes one's best posts are merely referrals to those of another blogger.  Such is the case today as I encourage you to read and view Lucy's post from Brittany about the whimsical work of scrap merchant artist Robert Coudray.

On another subject, I have just finished the late Frank Conroy's wonderful book on the life of a musician "Body and Soul."  It gets a bit deep sometimes when talking about the theory of particular compositions or styles but, all in all, it's a wonderful gripping read.  In tribute to it, I offer this video of one of the musicians mentioned frequently in the book, pianist Art Tatum.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


My former colleague and long-time friend Tommy the C sent a short e-mail today, gigging me a bit about my lack of posts of late.  So . . . here's a compendium of my most original thoughts recently.

When Rupert Murdoch got pied this morning during a hearing before a Parliamentary committee in London, the only hero was . . no, not Rupert . . no, not James . . no, not the pie tosser (a supposed comedian) . . and no, certainly not the rather spineless questioners among the MPs;  no, the hero of the day was Rupert's wife, Wendy, who leaped up and slapped the pie tosser with a long, right arm.  One of the typically idiot MPs later complimented Wendy on her left cross.

 = = =

It's been hot across the nation this week.  But nothing out of the ordinary here in Arizona.  108 in Phoenix today.  About 85 up here.  We had a little rain today.  Ho hum.  Just normal.

= = =

My Diamondbacks have been on a bit of a run lately.  Until tonight.  Right now it's 11 to 3 in favor of Milwaukee in the 9th inning.  Might be a hill to high to climb.  Yup, it was.  Game over.

= = =

The Republican presidential field continues to grow.  Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer is going to announce tomorrow.  Texas Governor . . oh, wait a sec . . . oh, yeah, Rick Perry.  I had to Google it to remember his name.  He's apparently thinking more and more about taking the bait.  And yet another group of Big Biz money men are trying to convince New Jersey Govenor Chris Christie to get in.  And Michelle Bachmann's people were roughing up a reporter trying to ask about her migraine headaches.  Does this sound like a crazy campaign to you?  Too?

= = =

So, yadda yadda yadda.  You see?  I really haven't had much to say lately.

Friday, July 15, 2011


This is a fairly common sight in my town.  You see, once upon a time this was a huge cattle ranch, owned by the Fain family.  Little by little the Fains either donated or sold the land so Prescott Valley could be established.  But not all of it.  So that's why you can frequently find cattle grazing within sight of town buildings and residences.

So far, it's an easy accomodation and everybody lives with it.

'Course there are these two who seem to be doing a line from the movie "Taxi Driver" - "Hey, are you lookin' at me?"

By the way, this was not an original idea.  Jarart/Judy did it first last month and better than I did.  You can see her post here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

BLACKWELL . . . IS . . . BACK!

For those of you who have expressed concern about our Big Black Boy Cat, Blackwell, here's a photo I took on the patio this evening.

As you can see, he's back in the prime of life.  He had us pretty worried for awhile because he was acting just like our beloved Smoke was right before he left us.  But SWMBO began dosing him with some antibiotic the Humane Society had given us back when we had him neutered.  As it happened, he hadn't needed it back then.  But this time, it seemed like it was "what the doctor ordered."  He's back to eating and drinking as normal and has lots of energy.

Welcome back, Blackwell.

Monday, July 11, 2011


SWMBO and I went to an outdoor jazz concert the other night.  In the middle of the monsoon!  We had doubts about it but got there early enough to shelter under the roof of the amphitheatre.  It was an occasion because we knew the keyboard player, Joel Robin, from way back in the 70's.  We had never heard his wife, Delphine Cortez, but knew she was one of the premier jazz singers in Phoenix.  And how much can I say about the fabulous Margo Reed.  As I told her at intermission, we had seen her and her sister Francine the first time they sang publicly in Phoenix.  There was a jazz festival going on at a shopping center and these two girls, in their cutoff shorts and t-shirts came up from the audience and just took over the stage.  Margo told me the other night that the band was led by Keith Greko and "he didn't like performing with chick singers!"  But they were fabulous.  Margo later went on tour and became a very well known performer.  Later her sister Francine did the same thing, performing with Lyle Lovett's Large Band and leading her own group, as she was when we saw them in Guadalajara, Mexico during the Cervantes Festival.

At any rate, the concert the other night was a great experience.  Margo was as sassy as ever with all the style of a great singer.  Delphine, as I told Joel, just creates a symphony on stage and she's a great scat singer.

As for the band, Joel is better than I can ever remember him.  He does a number of arrangements as well.  Drummer Cleve Huff kept everything on time and showed some great skill as a soloist.  Saxaphonist Tony Vacca was a new find for us and he was spectacular, whether playing his solo riffs or doing back-and-forth with Delphine.

It was a great evening.  Now, gentle readers, go out and hear some live jazz!

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Something is wrong with our big black boy cat, Blackwell.  He's only eating a bite or two and has cut down on his water intake.  He spends a lot of time under the bed.  We're worried as this was how Smoke behaved before we had to put him down.  But what can you do?

Meantime, I spotted our oldest cat, Muggles, in an uncharacteristic pose today cuddled up for a nap with a ceramic cat.

And a few feet away, Jazz has found yet another box that just  seems to suit her fine.

Friday, July 8, 2011


To the north . . .

To the south . . .

To the west . . .

Hmm, a little rain dripping out of that one.  Well maybe it will dampen down the radiation from that mushroom cloud to the northwest.

Gee.  Right over a fitness center, too.

O.K. Just kidding.  But it does have a somewhat familiar shape.

Meantime, where I live?  Blue skies.  No rain.  Heat.  Bah, humbug!
Update: About 3:30 this afternoon the rain finally came.  It's been raining steadily now for 15 or 20 minutes.  Hooray!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I should have told you this before but the summer heat has given me a bad case of lassitude.  But here it is.  The monsoon has arrived.  As I have written before,  that means a change in the direction of the wind.  And that brings us rain from, of all places, the Gulf of Mexico.  Up here the sky begins to darken and look something like this.

If we're lucky - - and I say lucky because our state has been dealing with a drought for years and years - - we may get some rain.  Here it's been relatively light so far.  Actually a long light rain would be the best because when it comes down really hard and severely it just tends to run off, cause flooding and actually doesn't do the land a lot of good.

So it's the good and the bad.  Or maybe we might stretch things a bit and call it the devil or the angel.

Incidentally, Bobby Vee (Robert Velline) was a young man from Fargo, North Dakota, and the first entertainer I ever saw "up close and personal" right before he became a star.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


So.  It's Wednesday.  Night.  A lot of people have been blogging about last night's dust storm in Phoenix.  So.  It's a dust storm.  We live in the desert.  In the monsoon season, as I've been trying to tell you guys, the wind changes direction and it blows.  Sometimes it picks up sand and dirt from the few open spaces we have left and it forms a huge cloud which is what we call a haboob.  It's an Arabic word.  But we got it and it's ours now.  So the dust blows in and nobody gets hurt.  Except, maybe, some of those newcomers from Chicago.  Other than that, the swimming pools get full of mud, the dust covers your cars, and it's gone.  In spite of the rather spectacular pictures, it's no big deal.  Life goes on.

O.K.  Enough with the dust storm.

Up here in the mountains, we don't get dust storms.  We get rain.  Sometimes a little.  Sometimes a lot.  Sometimes the dry washes around here get hit with a ton of water and sometimes some dumbass drives into it and gets swept away and, if he's not real lucky, he dies.  But that happens everywhere, folks.  If you're dumb enough to risk your life with weather phenomenons, you can lose your life.

I lived for many years in North Dakota.  They get blizzards there.  Sometimes people would try to drive through them.  (O.K.  Personal note here.  I drove through one for about 300 miles the night my son was born.  When I got there, he was perhaps 6 hours old.  So why did I do it?  Stupidity.)  Anyway, sometimes they get through, sometimes they don't.

I also lived in Indiana for awhile.  Occasionally they had tornadoes there.  I can remember one Easter Sunday when one came within, oh, maybe a mile, maybe a half mile of where we lived.  We got out, took our "stuff" and drove in an opposite direction.  Later, we drove to where the tornado had touched down and witnessed massive destruction.

So what am I trying to say here?  Don't be afraid of weather but don't tempt it either.  You get a big dust storm?  Stay in your house.  Close the windows.  It's only going to last for a short time and then you clean up the mess.  No big deal.

You hear me?  NO.  BIG.  DEAL.

Monday, July 4, 2011


How could I forget this.  Many is the time when I had to work in the t.v. newsroom on the July 4th holiday when suddenly our pal Steve Widmann would put a recording of this on and crank up the sound.  It was sensational.  And it still is.  No one ever did this song better than Brother Ray.  Just listen.  (And turn up the volume!)