Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Newt Gingrich lost both the Alabama and Mississippi primary elections tonight.  That was supposed to be his territory.  But he LOST both states.  How much longer will we have to put up with this fat little spider.

This photo is not photoshopped.  It is an actual photo of (big) Newt dancing with his (####) wife the other night. 

The man may feel like he's big enough for the job of president.

We feel like he's too big.

Goodbye Newt.


Friday, March 9, 2012


Yes, after all these months and years, Trader Joe's has finally opened it's first store in our immediate area.

Only a couple of hours after the doors were opened, parked cars ringed the building.

SWMBO said she probably wouldn't go near the store for a week or so because it would be mobbed.  During the months since the store was announced there has been a running feud going on in the local paper.  On one side people like me who said they couldn't wait for the store to open.  On the other side the grumps who said it wouldn't be popular.  Guess which side won the argument today?

The employees wear Trader Joe's t-shirts or Hawaiian shirts.

I merely walked through the store, taking pictures.  I didn't even try to shop.  Not today.  But lots of people did.

A couple of doors down, a Five Guys hamburger shop appeared to be still under construction.

I asked a fellow bolting steel tables together when they would open.

"11 o'clock," he said.  That was less than an hour away.  He said at 8 o'clock this morning they didn't have any tables.

There's another shop - the House of Bread Bakery Cafe - in between Five Guys and TJ's but it looks like it's opening is a little ways away yet.

Meantime, adjacent to the Trader Joe's property more ground has been cleared and leveled in preparation for construction of another row of shops.  Sort of looks like the economy is recovering.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


SWMBO and I made our annual trip to Scottsdale today for the 2012 Celebration of Fine Art, a huge show with more than 100 artists displaying their work and demonstrating their techniques under huge white tents.  The show lasts three months and features some of the finest artists in the nation.  Unfortunately photography is not allowed so I can't show you any of the show.  I am happy to say that every one of the artists I spoke with said the show had been good for them.

Many of the artists have been showing here year after year.  One artist we spoke with today was back for his 19th consecutive year.  Apparently they return because sales are good, even in tight times.  It's a great show with many different styles of art.

Then it was time for lunch and we went to one of our favorite restaurants in Phoenix - Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen.

The outdoor patio is beautifully designed and features water features and gorgeous spring blossoms.

Inside, lots of dark wood and skylights with a seafood theme.

There is the requisite lobster board above a tank of fresh water.

But getting down to our lunch.  We began with an assortment of six baked oysters.  Unfortunately we scarfed them all down before we remembered the camera so all you get is a photo of the aftermath.

But we did better with the entrees.  Mine was my favorite - blackened catfish with Cajun spices, red beans and rice.

SWMBO couldn't resist the Cajun Combo - blackened catfish and shrimp Creole over Dirty Rice.  She brought a large portion home for her evening dining.

A couple of glasses of wine - Australian Shiraz for her, Argentine Malbec for me - topped off the meal.

A terrific meal after which we paid a visit to a nearby Barnes and Noble bookstore.  Our local store closed at the end of the year so this was a treat.  We picked up a couple of iced Mochas for the road and headed for home.  A little over an hour later we were there.

A good day.

Monday, March 5, 2012


Some of us just don't take good care of their teeth.  I don't know why.  Maybe because of the dentists we had when we were kids.  Our dentist was my godfather.  He was a little short guy and my brother insists that he used to climb up in the chair, putting his knee in one's stomach to get the leverage to work on the patient's mouth.  My brother has lousy teeth.  Mine aren't as bad but they're nothing to write home about.

So, why am I telling you this?

Because I have an apparently abcessed tooth that's going to have to come out next Monday.  And, as my new dentist told me today, serious gum disease that will have to be treated.  Now, I don't mind going to the dentist.  Hell, I don't even mind having a root canal.  The last couple of them I had (years ago) were done after I'd been shot up with enough Novocaine to put a small country to sleep and I didn't feel a thing.

But the point of this is why do I, we, put ourselves through the agony of dentistry, if that's what it is.  Frankly, I think with the new dentists of today there's very little agony involved.  Maybe just mental.

I remember one time when my favorite uncle was in his late 70's.  He had always taken incredible care of his teeth, brushing after every meal, flossing (presumably), and keeping them clean and white.  But here he was, in his 70's, being told by his dentist that he needed a root canal.  Now, what the hell is the justice of that?

So, I'll go.  I'll get my tooth pulled.  I'll begin treatment for my peridontal disease.  I'll probably bitch and moan to my wife about how much this is costing.  And you know what? 

Some day I'll die.  Anyway.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Tanning is not good for the skin, say the medicos.  As does my wife.  We have known a number of people who were dedicated to their tans, only to end up with tiny melanomas late in their lives.

But.  I read awhile back about a man who lived in New York City and always had a lovely tan no matter the time of year.  Meeting an acquaintance on the street, he would be asked how his Florida vacation had gone.  Truth be told?  He never went to Florida.  His son revealed that he would spend 10 minutes a day in the sun, every day, and thus acquired his all-season color.

So I thought I'd try that.  For several weeks, I have spent 10 minutes a day facing directly into the sun, on the days when there was one.

This was how I looked today.  Not much different, I'd say, from my normal Norwegian pastiness though there is a bit of color beginning to show.

Here's (sort of) what I'm aiming for.

Probably a little less orange and a little more George Hamilton bronze than this.

SWMBO keeps telling me to put on lotion when I come inside and, variously, telling me I am crazy, not being conscious of my health, will be sorry someday, etc.

She seems convinced that I will turn out more like this:

She may be right but I like to think that living in Arizona, I will retreat from, as I call it, "the solarium" long before the temperature rises high enough to do that kind of damage.

But . . . time will tell.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Bennett and Gaga

SWMBO and I watched Tony Bennett's "Duets" show on PBS last night.  The more I watched, the more I realized that Frank Sinatra's statement that Bennett was the world's greatest saloon singer was absolutely true.  The man swings, he's soulful, he's just great.  And he's 85 YEARS OLD!!!

There were many great performances with singers ranging from Andrea Bocelli to Willy Nelson but we both agreed that this one was our favorite. 

Blue hair and all . . . that gal knows how to swing.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I'm gonna have to stop watching the news.  It just gets crazier every day.  Two examples.

Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who held a news conference to report that his investigation has shown that President Barack Obama's birth certificate is phony.

Sheesh!  Even Donald Trump gave up on that.  Why is a county sheriff in Arizona investigating the birth certificate of the President of the United States any way?  Because he's a publicity hog, that's why.

And then there's this cretin.

The increasingly disgusting Rush Limbaugh, who said that a young woman who was denied the right to testify before a Congressional committee is a "slut", a "whore" and a "prostitute".  The young woman in question wanted to testify that employers should be required to cover birth control pills in their company healthcare programs.  Limbaugh further suggested that such women should provide videos of their sexual activity in return.

This goes beyond the pale.

Joe Arpaio and Rush Limbaugh are creatures cut from the same diseased cloth.

I can't express strongly enough how much disgust I have for both of them.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Oh, they've done it again, those Republicans running for President, they've gotten under my skin.  Mittens Romney seems to do it virtually every time he opens his mouth but recently Rick "the former Senator from the 14th Century" Santorum did it to me. 

And surprisingly, it wasn't his comment that President Kennedy's speech about separation of church and state almost made him throw up. 

And it wasn't his comment that President Obama is a snob because he wants every young person to go to college.  (Santorum, by the way, has three college degrees.) 

It wasn't his critique of Romney's wealth.  (Santorum lives in a home in a rich suburb of Washington, D.C.)

No what got under my skin was a recent campaign appearance in which Santorum stated that when the Republicans nominate a moderate, they always lose.  And when they nominate a conservative, they always win.

Senator, does the name Dwight David Eisenhower mean anything to you?  He was a moderate Republican and he served two terms as President.

How about the name, Barry Goldwater?  He was known as Mr. Conservative when he ran for President in 1964.  He lost.

SWMBO said this morning something about Santorum just saying whatever comes to his mind.  I said it doesn't have anything to do with his (alleged) mind.  He just says these things without even thinking about them.

So enough with Santorum.

Since I brought up that 1964 Goldwater run, I thought I should tell you how I decided who to vote for - Barry or President Lyndon Johnson.  After a lot of reading about both men I came to three conclusions.  Goldwater was crazy and Johnson was a crook.  That's two.  Now, which to vote for?  I finally concluded that Congress could control a crazy president but not a crook.  I voted for Goldwater.

A decade or so later I lived in Arizona and covered Goldwater as a newsman many times.  I wrote about him for a national magazine.  I went to Washington to cover the "10th anniversary of his non-inaugural" in 1975.

Barry wasn't crazy but he certainly was unelectable as a Republican in 1964, so soon after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

In his final years, Barry pissed off most of the Republican establishment in Arizona as he seemed to become more and more Libertarian.  Many people blame his second wife but I think Barry was always that way.

I don't think anyone will ever have fond memories of Rick Santorum.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


A winter storm blew through Arizona yesterday and last night, leaving us with just a frosting of snow today.  The horrendous winds have finally calmed down somewhat but with the skies a leaden overcast it looks cold out there.  Better to stay inside if I can.  However I checked the weather forecast and saw a sudden warming trend on Sunday when the mercury is forecast to rise to 66 degrees.  I'm ready for that.

In the meantime, I've kept a cursory glance on Mitt "Richy Rich" Romney and Rick "I LIKE the 14th Century" Santorum as they careen madly around Michigan.  Arizona has its Republican primary today but virtually everyone including the candidates are ignoring it.  Most folks who were inclined to pick among the yahoos voted weeks ago, thanks to early voting.  I caught a glimpse of CNN today and their anchor/reporter was reduced to walking around with Joe Arpaio.  He's self-billed as the toughest sheriff around.  Locals think of him as either the most loved or most loathed public official.  There is no middle ground on Sheriff Joe.

SWMBO must have foreseen this political season and its affect on me as she gave me this book for Christmas.

She knew of my past affection for the good doctor so it couldn't have been a more perfect gift.  I'm reading it slowly so as to extract maximum satisfaction from it.  He was a joy.

Oh, on another front, I was nominated by my "brother", Tom, for a singular award the other day.  I accept.

In return for this honor I am instructed to tell you seven things about myself.  All right, here goes.

1.  I began life as a child.  Growing up in snowbound North Dakota made me a man by the age of six, when I was turned out (on ice skates) to make something of myself.

2.  My first writing triumph came in the first grade when we were assigned to write a (very) short story.  Mine concerned a rabbit escaping from a coyote and exclaiming "Whew!  What a relief!"  My teacher was impressed.

3.  In high school I discovered the dramatic arts and acted in two class plays.  This I carried into my abbreviated college career where I was in several plays, including "Hedda Gabler" and, less classicly, playing the lead in "The Gazebo".  In the latter theatrical gem, one of my fellow players was a young man named Dick Armey.  I am appalled to say he later went on to politics and became Majority Leader of Newt Gingrich's Republican House of Representatives.

4.  My interest in politics came when I was working at a radio and television station in Bismarck, North Dakota.  My boss had sent me to cover a tax conference.  I understood nothing but I came back and wrote a story for him to read.  He asked a couple of questions, to which I gave wavering and uncertain answers before exploding, "Damn it, Taylor, you're a good crime reporter but you don't know (expletive deleted) about politics!"  I figured my job was lost but later my boss took me for drinks and explained that I would just have to learn politics since our station was in the state capitol and the bulk of our news would be politics and government.  I learned.

5.  During my career, I attended (as a reporter or producer) six national political conventions and one mid-term national convention, as well as the 1969 inauguration of Richard Nixon.  Other than the first two - the 1968 Republican meeting in Miami Beach and the Democratic gathering in Chicago - the rest were all just long hours, a lot of work and exhaustion.

6.  I interviewed many politicians in my career, including a number of presidential candidates.  I believe I shook hands with all three of the Kennedy brothers (John, Robert, Ted) but my favorite interview of all was with an actor, John Wayne.  We went to his waterside home in southern California and he couldn't have been nicer to us, even allowing us to hold his Oscar for "True Grit."  He was dressed in seersucker trousers and a camelhair jacket but the thing that stood out the most to me?  He sounded exactly like John Wayne.

7.  I have been married to SWMBO (Judy) for about six weeks shy of 41 years now and, with some bumps in the road, it's been great.

Now, I am supposed to name several people to pass this award onto.
And so, after careful thought, I name:

Warren at Touch the Wind 
Jerry at Gently Said and
Dana (Bug) at Bug's Eye View

And with that, I'm going to join my pal, Jazz, for a little rest.


Danica Patrick was involved in a five car crash on the second lap of the rain-delayed Daytona 500 auto race last night.  Her car was damaged enough that she had to return to the garage.  She got back into the race on the 66th lap but by then she had no chance to compete.  She finished 38th, becoming only the third woman in history to run in the race.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Well, it's over for another year.  The Academy Awards.  The Oscars.  The glitz.  The glamour.  The guys in basic black tuxedos.  The gals in gorgeous gowns.  I thought every woman looked fabulous this year.  The designers worked overtime and did a great job.  SWMBO and I disagreed on Meryl Streep's costume.  I thought she looked great, she and her friends (more about that later) thought she looked terrible.

Well, she won the Oscar so na-na-na-na-na-na.

But the absolute best costume and most beautiful woman at the Oscars was . . . ta-da-da-dah!

The incredible Gwyneth Paltrow.  All I could say was "wow!"

Lots of commentators were snarky about the choice of the emcee for the night.

Yes, as Billy Crystal himself displayed, this is his ninth time hosting the Oscars.  And his routine opening the show was typical, putting himself in each of the nominated movies.  But I think he's very funny and excellent for the show.  Maybe I'm getting old.

As for the awards, I was amazed to see Meryl Streep win because I had believed all of the hype about Viola Davis having it wrapped up for "The Help."  And just to turn it around, I had picked Janet McTeer for her supporting role in "Albert Nobbs" and Octavia Spencer won for "The Help."

Now here's the hooker.  Of the movies and roles nominated, I have seen "Midnight in Paris", (which won best Original Screenplay for Woody Allen), "The Descendants", (which won for Adapted Screenplay), and "Beginners", which got the Oscar for Christopher Plummer as Best Supporting Actor.

So I'm hardly a good judge.

But I know what I like.

Oh, I almost forgot.  SWMBO abandoned me, as is her wont.  Our friend, DK, has a ladies-only Oscar party every year at her home in Flagstaff.  SWMBO had declined it, I think, last year for some reason or another.  But this year she went.  She reports it was a great party, nine ladies making snide comments about all those Hollywood ladies while eating copiously and drinking perhaps even more copiously of wine.  Ahhh . . . . vino and movies.  How much better can it get?

Saturday, February 25, 2012


For those of you who are not into auto racing, you may not recognize the name Danica Patrick  Or you may.

She was an Indy car driver, a veteran of some 150 races.  She won an Indy car race in Japan in 2008.  She finished third in the Indy 500 in 2009.  But last August she announced she was leaving Indy car racing to drive in NASCAR. 

Thursday in practice for the season's first race she survived a tremendous crash into the wall, climbed out of her car and walked away.

One day later, driving her backup car, she won the pole.

Sunday the race gets underway at Daytona International Speedway.

Along with her racing career, she's been a model and is a spokeswoman for Go Daddy. com.

As one of my friends said today "she's got a great bod."

Here's the proof.

One way or another, this gal has a career in front of her.

Steve is right.  (see Comments)  She was on the pole for Saturday's race but crashed again and finished 38th.  But she'll be out there again today at the Daytona 500.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I don't know if it's because the Academy Awards are coming up or just coincidence but I've been watching more movies lately.  Herewith, my amateur reviews.

"The Kids Are All Right".  I thought this one was kind of ehhhh.  Annette Benning was great as one half of a lesbian couple with two teenagers.  And Mark Rufalo was handsome and appealing.  But otherwise it kind of left me cold.

Next, a documentary on "Sacco and Vanzetti".  I was curious about this one because SWMBO, many years ago, got so intrigued with their case that she read the entire trial transcript.  It was pretty well done and left me feeling a bit outraged at the racism that I feel led to their executions.

"The Rum Diary", with Johnny Depp playing a drunken Hunter S. Thompson character in Puerto Rico . . . which of course was based entirely on Thompson was fairly good because I like both Depp and Hunter.

"The Village Barbershop" with John Ratzenberger as a cantankerous beer drinking barber whose partner has just died was a delight.  He is forced into hiring Shelly Cole to save his dying barbershop.  It's very funny, melancholy at times but well worth seeing.

And then I charged into our DVR'd collection of movies.  I started with "The Maiden Heist" today.  Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman and William H. Macy are all hilarious as they play against their strengths.  Marcia Gay Harden is equally funny as Walken's wife.  The three guys are all security guards at an art museum.  Each one is in love with a different piece of art.  When they are sold to a museum in Denmark they conspire to steal them during the move.

And finally, I finished today with an oldie but a goodie "12 Angry Men" with an incredible cast of Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, E.G. Marshall, Jack Warden, Martin Balsam, Jack Klugman, and Robert Webber and others are fantastic in this 1957 movie that was Sidney Lumet's film directing debut.  The 12 are jurors in a murder trial that seems open and shut as the first vote is 11 to 1 for conviction.  But Fonda works his magic and the final verdict is aquittal.  Highly, highly recommended.

And that's where we are right now.  Some goodies in there but some stinkers, too.  The next thing coming from Netflix is the second season of "Treme."  I can't wait.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

THE 20TH . . . AND LAST!!!

The apparently last debate of the Republican presidential nomination process took place last night in Mesa, Arizona.  The gang of thieves held 20 of them.  TWENTY of them.  They are probably, as Barry Goldwater was wont to say, "sick and tired of being sick and tired."  As are we, the poor television viewers of this sad and ugly saga.

So a quick review.  Virtually everyone I've read this morning mentions the four candidates sitting at desks that appeared to be too small for them, leaving them squirming like little boys.  Frankly I didn't notice that.  I did notice the professor on the far right . . . (hmm, I wonder if I was referring to the television screen or the political spectrum) . . . Uncle Newt seeming to have a difficult time holding his arms over his h-u-g-e midsection.  Calista must have already read the will if she keeps feeding him the Georgia diet!

Unlike his earlier debate styles, Newt seemed to be sharing an amused conversation with Romney (the dog abuser) most of the night.  Asked to describe himself in one word, Newt chose "cheerful."

At the other side of the stage was that groovy guy, Ron Paul.  He seemed to begin each of his answers with a chuckle or two.  I think everyone got a chuckle out of his reply to a question about why he had called Rick Santorum in a t.v. ad "a fake".  Paul looked momentarily surprised at the question and then said "because he's a fake!"  I can't really figure out what Paul's game is considering his dismal performance so far.  But he does provide some comic relief.

Then the two guys in the middle, who didn't provide any comic relief last night, Rick Santorum, the former Senator from the 14th Century, and Cousin Willard, Mitt Romney.  What the hell kind of a name is Mitt, anyway.

Since Santorum has risen to the top of the leaderboard as this week's "not Romney", he got much of the vitriol last night, from the other candidates and from the crowd, which may have been packed by Romney.  As Romney was introducing himself at the beginning, he was interrupted by applause.  Rather than continue his introduction, he quipped "as George Costanza says, when they're applauding, stop talking."

Santorum heard the unfriendly sound of booing several times as he told the crowd things like "I voted for it but I didn't believe in it" and "when you're on a team sometimes you have to take one for the boss."  The booing probably came from Tea Partiers in the room.  We should all remember this debate was held in Mesa, Arizona . . the once and possibly future fiefdom of Russell Pearce, who was the president of the Arizona Senate until he was successfully recalled not too long ago.

And Mitt, who still seems likely to win the nomination eventually.  Not that it will be worth much by August.  He was a little snappish, telling Santorum at one point "don't look at me, look in the mirror."

I'm sorry, folks.  I seem to have lost my sense of humor about this bunch of bull-goose loonies.  Thankfully, we'll have no more debates.  At least not until the Republican nominee demands to debate President Barack Obama.  But I'm not worried about that.  The Prez can just sing 'em to sleep.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


He's been at it again.  Last night was Blues Night at the White House and you-know-who was dragged into the act.

C'mon, Mr. President, express yourself!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


O.K.  Here's a mystery for you.  Anyone know what this is?

Here's a clue.  The first time we ever saw one of these was in 1985 in Saltzburg, Austria.

Got it now?

O.K.  I'll make it even easier for you.

By now, you should have guessed that this is a Salzburger Nockerl.  That is, a sweet souffle Salzburg is famous for.  It's a great way to use some extra egg whites you have in the fridge left over from some recipe that only used yolks.

The Nockerl is famously served with a sprinkling of powdered (confectioner's) sugar and maybe, as we had it, with a drizzle of raspberry ice cream syrup.


And by the way, I had nothing to do with the preparation of this.  All credit goes to SWMBO, who remembered that we saw them coming out of kitchens in a Salzburg coffee house.  They're so light that an entire one can be served to one person, as they were there.  She inquired what they were and after we got home she found a recipe for them.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Is there more Republican stupidity out there?  Oh, yes.

For example, one of Arizona's favorite sheriffs being caught "with his pants down" the other day.  Paul Babeau (I don't think it's pronounced Bobo though it should be) was "uncovered" by New Times of Phoenix in a story about his allegedly threatening to have his Mexican boyfriend deported if he went public about their relationship.  Babeau has since denied that but he couldn't deny the fact that he and "Jose" had had a relationship because there was one picture of the sheriff with his arm around him and the other hand inside his shirt.  That's inside "Jose's" shirt, not Babeau's.  And another picture showed the bald sheriff standing bare except for a pair of jockey shorts.  Let's see, that's how former Congressman Anthony Weiner posed and we saw what happened to him.

Babeau said he had resigned as co-chair of the Romney for President campaign in Arizona.  But, as of today, it appears he's still running for Congress.

Oh, and he admitted to being gay.

Here's a campaign button that expresses my views.

And here's a cartoon about our misguided friends in the Tea Party.

And to top off a near-perfect weekend, here's a picture of a sign at an Alaskan fishing resort that my longtime pal, Danny Bananas, sent to me.

I think what we need is fewer politicians and more satirists!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Oh, this one inspired me.

"Hello, operator.  Could you tell me how to get to Caesar's Palace?"


Other, undoubtedly much better inspirations can be found at Magpie Tales.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


The other day in the grocery store, I noticed something I'd never seen before.  The sign said they were Lemon Plums.

I told SWMBO about them and she suggested I buy a couple, if they weren't too expensive.  So I did.

As I went through the checkout line, my cashier said "these are delicious.  Have you had them before?"

I confessed I hadn't and she said they turn red as they ripen and become much sweeter.  She said they were pretty tart when they're yellow like the ones I purchased.

So we set out to ripen them.  The next picture was taken two days later and you can see the red beginning.

A day later, even more red in the skin.

Finally, today, SWMBO said they appeared to be dead ripe.

So the grand opening began.  I cut vertically all the way around a hard core and pried the sides open.

The fruit clings firmly to the nut in the center so it became a little messy.

I got the first taste and found it very moist with a delicate sweet taste.  I didn't get any flavor of lemon at all.

SWMBO said she was disappointed and thought the flavor was bland, not as strong or sweet as other types of plums.

Your opinions may vary.  Give Lemon Plums a try if you see them in your store.

I found from Wikipedia that they are a fairly rare fruit imported from Chile.  You can read more here.