Wednesday, December 5, 2012


It's a sad day for jazz fans.  News came that the legendary pianist Dave Brubeck has died at the age of 91.  He was the leader of the Dave Brubeck Quartet for many years and that was how I first saw him.

I was a college student in North Dakota in the 1950's and learned that the Quartet was performing at a Minnesota college a little more than a hundred miles away.  I had to go see him.

I can still remember at one point during the concert, his saxaphone player Paul Desmond put down his horn and left the stage.  Then the bassist, Eugene Wright, left.  Then Brubeck stopped playing, turned around and leaned back against the piano as the drummer, Joe Morello, played a very lengthy solo.  Finally Brubeck turned around and began adding chords and the other two players returned and finished out the number.  Sure, it was a little bit schmaltzy but it was effective.  The crowd loved it.

Now the rest of the story, as someone used to say on the radio.

I was the co-editor of my college newspaper.  I managed to get backstage to meet the legend by telling one of the guards that I was "the editor of the newspaper" and wanted to interview Brubeck.  I was amazed when he showed me to the area where the Quartet was preparing for the concert.  And Brubeck graciously gave me an interview.

Once that was done he and Paul Desmond posed for a photo with me (in my very collegiate sweater vest) and my co-conspirator, Phil Perry.

Needless to say, we were thrilled to meet our idols and, yes, I did do an article based on the interview.

I attended at least two more Brubeck concerts over the years and always loved his music.  But that first time was a real treat.  Brubeck was a musical genius, I believe, and I'll miss him.  From a performance a few years after I originally saw the group, here's one of their most famous pieces from that era - "Take Five".

Monday, December 3, 2012


Remember the old Yellow Cabs?  Or the black British cabs?  All it took was a glance to know that was a taxi.  But nowadays?  Apparently they can be any color under the rainbow.

And while I'm at it, Taco Bell doesn't look the same anymore either!

(grump, grump, grump)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

SHEEEE . . . . IT!

Well, that didn't work so we're going to have to go back to the old system, folks.  I'm really sorry but there's just no other way that I know.

Some advice.  Take it slowly and just look at one letter at a time.  If that doesn't work, just put in anything and the tool will give you another word.  Sometimes the second or third one is easier than the first.

I apologize.  God knows I'm sorry but I just have to do this.

Stay with me.  Please.  I need you.


NO, WAIT!  I may have another solution.  This one requires me to approve comments.  I'll try that.  Hang in there.


Once again, I have been having trouble with spam to my account.  It's grown to dozens of comments a day.  I don't want to put the mystery word system back on the blog so I've attempted to put a filter in to catch and delete them.

It is designed to stop comments and email from an account named "Anonymous".  But I notice that some other commenters use that term.  So, please change your ID so your comments don't get blocked also.

Thanks and sorry for the hassle.


Steve Benson, the editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republic, took a shot at the governor this morning.

I must agree.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


What is the younger generation doing these days?  Well, here's what some of the brighter ones are doing.

Now for something for those of you of a slightly older generation, here's one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite singers, Lyle Lovett.  (Warning: one line in the song is not proper for sensitive audiences.)

And with that we come to Saturday's Gratuitous Critter Photo.

"Nice pony."

Friday, November 30, 2012


Well I told you my plans to move to Phoenix had aroused great interest in the blogger community.  Why, just today I received a video from my good friend Tom way out there in California's Central Empire.  He always has good advice.

Well now I had to ponder on that for awhile.  But eventually I decided the best thing was to just ask the question I was havin' trouble with.

Just a couple of good ol' boys havin' some fun on a cold Friday.

So now here's today's Gratuitous Critter picture.

"Those human beings are sure strange!"

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I hadn't realized when I posted yesterday and mentioned that SWMBO and I are considering a move to Phoenix what a splash that would make in Blogdom.  

We lived in Phoenix from 1972 to 1987 and enjoyed the city, if not so much the summer heat.  But we're retired now and can stay inside when it gets hot so we're ready for it again.  We've been here in Prescott Valley for 16 years (hard to believe) and have about exhausted the restaurant scene and the social scene.  So, in our grayer years of our dotage we decided to opt for Phoenix once again.

Other than probing via the Internet, we have not really begun to explore where we'll live except we're thinking somewhere in Central Phoenix with easy access to the Light Rail line.

Rest assured we'll keep you posted on our new home.

Now to the BRD.  She and her Beau Jack were on vacation last week.

When they need some kickback R and R, their favorite place has become Cancun, Mexico.  It's warm, it's comfortable to them and it's wet.  Possibly a little too much wet from time to time.

But who am I to say?  SWMBO and I spent about 4 and a half years living in Mexico in an earlier retirement and loved it.  We'll probably visit ourselves some time in the future.

And so it goes.

Now . . . as to the Gratuitous Critter photo for the day . . . play on, my friends, play on!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Sometimes life gets busy and you forget all about your real obligations until someone sends you an email asking about your health and welfare.  Such a thing has just happened to me.  I ran out of politically astute or witty things to write about on my blog and so I've been absent for a few days.  But fortunately for me I have some friends out there in Blogdom who care enough to write and inquire.

Such a person is my friend Scott, a.k.a. Lowandslow, from the blog Flight Plan, which you can link to along the right side of my pages.  I got "the email" from Scott last night.  I wish to assure him and any others of you that I am fine, just a little frazzled with decisions about buying a new car, moving to Phoenix and all the "stuff" that comes along with those decisions.  But my health and attitude is A-OK and I'll try to do better on inhabiting this blog.

In the meantime, I'll share with you an image the BRD sent to me this morning.  It's titled "Waiting For the New Dog" and it shall be today's Gratuitous Critter photo.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Just when I thought I'd given up the Thanksgiving tradition of long hours in a kitchen to make a 20-minute-meal, along came one of those pictures from the bacon-goes-good-with-anything people.

Now that's an idea.  Probably not a very good one for someone who already has a Pacemaker, though.

By the way, I guess you've all probably heard by now that Larry Hagman has died at the age of 81.  Hagman was working on the latest iteration of "Dallas", playing his iconic J.R. Ewing once again.

So long, Larry, it was good to know you.

I saw something interesting in my little town the other day.  Workmen were putting up one of those big fancy new signs at Tim's Toyota Center.

But what struck me as odd was what was going to top off the sign.

Bucky's Casino and the Yavapai Casino are nowhere near the Prescott Valley Town Center.  They're a half dozen or so miles down the road on the Yavapai Apache reservation near Prescott.  So why are we advertising them?  It's a mystery, though I'm thinking maybe they paid for the whole sign.

The stars of today's Gratuitous Critters photo certainly are confused.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I think Thanksgiving turkey feasts like we had yesterday are a thing of the past for us.  I still feel stuffed this morning and I had a miserable night.  Couldn't get to sleep for the longest time, rolled and tossed, then had a dream in which President Obama was defeated for renomination for a second term at the Democratic convention by the current President of France, Francoise Hollande.  I can't figure out where the hell that came from but I remember Obama was mad about it.

But back to the feast.  In spite of people who say "Oh, turkey.  There's nothing to it."  But you have to start several days ahead and the day of the feast is a minefield of timing all the various dishes.  Our turkey breast was done way ahead of time as was the dressing which left a short period of heightened activity to get the sweet potatoes and the Brussel sprouts ready before the other stuff got cold.

And then comes the ultimate insult.  After hours, or days, of preparation, it's all over in about 20 minutes!  You wait and wait, nearly dying from the wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen, then you sit down and shovel the food into your mouth and almost instantly it's all over!

Next year, I think we'll either ignore the day all together or go to a restaurant for a lesser celebration.

As for all the artificial bonhomie . . .

And then there is the day after shopping, which actually began on Thanksgiving itself this year.  I am not a shopper so I avoided the mass hysteria and downright nasty behavior by the crowds going for those one in a million sale items.  But it certainly can leave a bad taste in one's mouth to observe the unruly crowds on television.

Bah! Humbug!  Now we've got Christmas to get through.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


The turkey.

The dressing.

The gravy.

The plate.

The salads.

And the pie.

It's extravagant.  It's too much.  But it's delicious.  And it's only once a year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I am thankful today for many things.  But most of all I am thankful that I can  . . .  once again  . . .  listen to and share with you this great story from our old pal, Arlo Guthrie.  Happy thanksgiving and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


In case you didn't know, Thursday is Thanksgiving Day.  It's the annual day of feasting, overeating and napping between football games.  This year I volunteered to do the turkey (breast), the dressing, the sweet potatoes and the gravy.  The real cook in the family will do the rest.

So today I began the early prep work on the dressing, which involved tearing up two loaves of bread.

Does that look like a lot of bread to you?  It sure does to me.  It's going into the turned-off-but-with-the-light-on oven for 24 hours now to dry.

SWMBO assured me that the bread will shrink once the wet ingredients are added and she reminded me that I love dressing.  I can eat it hot or cold.  I can eat it in a sandwich.  I can eat it with a spoon standing in front of the refrigerator.  So lots of dressing will be okay with me.  

Tomorrow the bread will be combined with two pounds of breakfast sausage, celery, onion, eggs and a bunch of spices.  Then it will be refrigerated until being baked Thursday.  

I don't know about you but I'm getting hungry.

As for today's Gratuitous Critter picture, I think this guy is just looking for a snack.

"I'm lookin' for food in all the wrong places."

Monday, November 19, 2012


Last month I posted about a sculpture created at Bronzesmith in Prescott Valley.  Here is that post.  While the clay sculpture, hopefully to be finished in bronze and stationed in front of the Town Hall, was based on a painting by Western artist, writer and publisher Bob Boze Bell, I failed to name the sculptor.  She is one Deb Gessner and you can read more about her and see her picture at Boze's own web site, here.

My apologies go to Deb for not identifying her in my earlier post.  She is, quite obviously, a very talented sculptor in her own right.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


From The New Yorker:

And then, there's today's Gratuitous Critter picture.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012


It seems Arizona's senior U.S. Senator, John McCain, is becoming more and more loony as every day goes on.  Here's what Dylan Byers of POLITICO reported today:

Hill reporters seem to be testing Sen. John McCain's patience.
Yesterday, Sen. McCain told a reporter that his question was "one of the dumbest questions I've ever heard." 
Today, when asked by CNN's Ted Barrett why he had missed a classified briefing on the attack in Benghazi, Libya, he responded thusly:
"I have no comment about my schedule and I'm not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media."
Asked why he wouldn't comment, McCain grew agitated: "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”
When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, "I'm upset that you keep badgering me."

ALERT:  Watch for McCain to check into a rehab center soon to get his emotions under control!!!
Once again, today's Gratuitous Critter photo resembles the angry Senator.

"Will you idiots just leave me alone!!!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I have lived in Arizona, off and on since 1972, for a total of 34 years.  So, being 72 years old, and never having lived anywhere else for as long as 34 years . . I consider myself an Arizonan.  But I have to say this: my state's senior U.S. Senator is an angry old man who ought to retire.  76 year old John McCain appears to have never gotten over being drubbed by Barack Obama in his presidential run four years ago.  It seems he picks fights with the President at every opportunity.  Frankly I am sick of seeing his scowling face on my television screen as he delivers another screed.  

Currently he and his buddy from South Carolina, Senator Lindsay Graham, have said they want a Watergate-style investigation of the attack in Benghazi, Libya that took the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and two other Americans.  The not-so-dynamic duo have also come out saying they absolutely will do everything in their power to prevent Susan Rice from becoming the next Secretary of State because of her early statements about the Benghazi attack.

President Obama, at his news conference today, addressed the McCain and Graham attacks on Rice, saying . . . if they want to pick a fight let them pick it with me.

Numerous administration officials have said repeatedly that Ms. Rice made her statements based on what was known at the time.  She did not, as Graham and McCain would have it, lie to the American people.

But I have wandered.  I realize that up until this election, Arizona has been a reliably conservative Republican state in the last few years.  But I also heard the pundits this year who said Arizona will be a swing state by 2016.  Coincidentally that will be the year we will see if the then 80 year old McCain will run for reelection once again.  For the sake of my sanity, I certainly hope not.

Today's Gratuitous Critter picture reminds me of McCain's scowling glare.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I had laser surgery on my left eye this morning to take care of a clouding problem from one of my cataract surgeries a year or so ago.  The doctor told me the clouding or scarring or whatever happens in about 35 to 50 percent of his cases.  So he just zaps the stuff away with a laser.  Takes about a minute and in a couple of hours, once the dilation goes down, you can see again.

I had to be at the doctor's office at 7:30 this morning.  I left home about 7 and was doing great until I got there.  "There" was no longer the doctor's office.  There was a big sign saying it was a Detox Center now but when I looked through the glass door it appeared to be still under remodeling.  No one anywhere.

So I called SWMBO.  She was asleep and didn't hear the phone.  I left a message that said, in an aggravated tone, "I don't know where the hell I'm supposed to be!"

Then I called the BRD.  I told her what my problem was but in my panic at being late and maybe having the surgery canceled, I couldn't remember my doctor's name.  I've been seeing him for years but I was suddenly having instant Alzheimer's syndrome.  The BRD started through the yellow pages, looking for eye doctors.  After a bit of fumbling on both our parts, I remembered his last name.  She found it and said his office was clear up in the north part of town.  I was pretty much in the Central part.  I thanked her and took off, faster than I should have, but keeping a wary eye (the good one) out for police cars.

Then I called her back and got the telephone number of the doc's office.  When I called it a recording said the office wasn't open but if I had an eye emergency I could call a different number.  By this time, my supply of expletives was running out.  But I called the other number, got an answering service, explained my problem and asked her to try to reach the office and tell them I was on my way.  She put me on eternal hold but finally came back and said she had delivered the message.

When I got to the area where the doc's office was located, I found a huge office park.  Each building looked like the other and I had forgotten the address.  So I called the BRD back and got the number and finally found the office.

Somewhat relieved, I got out of my car, went to the door and . . . it was locked!  I saw a sidewalk going around the end of the building, took it and found a window with a young woman behind it.  I knocked on her window, pointed at my eye and she opened up to tell me that my surgery would take place in an adjacent building.

I found it and went in, noting the name on the door: Stillwater Surgical Suite.

They were waiting for me and when I apologized for being late the nurse said, "no problem" the doctor was in surgery.

When I finally got to see the doctor, I asked him if he was from Minnesota.  He said he wasn't.  I told him in Minnesota, Stillwater is a town where the state prison is located.  He laughed and said, "No, no Freudian slip."

I was told by one of the other patients in the lobby that the doctor had moved his practice about a year ago to these new digs.  But I usually see him in consulting offices in my town, which is about eight miles away.  I hadn't been to Prescott to have surgery for over a year.  

Well that was hours ago now.  I can see nearly perfectly out of both of my eyes now and life is good once again.

Monday, November 12, 2012


I forgot to add my Gratuitous Critter picture to my Apple Pie post below.  So here it is:

"Did you say pie?"


Actually it's even better than that.  It's an apple pie with dried Craisins (an amalgamation of raisins and cranberries).

(Later: SWMBO informed me there are no raisins connected with Craisins.  They're just dehydrated cranberries.)

SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) made it yesterday afternoon. The apples within are a combination of Fuji and Granny Smith.

Now pair a slice of warm pie with some cold ice cream and you've got Nirvana.


Sunday, November 11, 2012


Even in Iraq and Afghanistan it's not all shooting and getting shot at. There are also USO shows from time to time.  My grandson, of whom I'm immensely proud, Sgt. Russell Milburn, spent 12 years in the U.S. Army in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Along the way he got to have some fun.

With Louis Black . . . 

. . . and with Robin Williams.

But those were only rays of sunshine in some otherwise dangerous and dreary days.  I salute you, Russell, and thank you for your service.


What a relief.  The snow passed us by.  Oh we had a few flakes late yesterday afternoon but nothing stuck and the storm is now up in Colorado.

But it's a mighty crispy day.  42 degrees F. out there at high noon.  When I rose from the arms of Morpheus early this morning the temperature was sitting on the overnight low: 28 degrees.  

SWMBO had me unhook the hoses from our two outdoor water taps as the temperature was dropping last night so no damage there.  But her basil plant, which she neglected to bring into the house, got crisped.

It's a long way from those long snowbound winters I grew up with in North Dakota many years ago.  I can remember building snow forts, sliding off the second floor roof of our house directly onto huge drifts, and ice-skating for hours - - all in 20 below temperatures.  When I'd come inside, I'd sit on our steam radiator to warm my young and nearly frozen bones.  Those were the days!  But I couldn't handle those icy temperatures now.  Among other things I've lived in Arizona too many years.

I remember our first Christmas in Phoenix 40 years ago.  I posed for a photograph in the community swimming pool with a holly wreath on my head and holding a glass of champagne.  The family back in North Dakota simultaneously loved and hated that picture and finally got around to telling me I didn't have to keep telling them about my warm weather as they chilled through December and January and February and March.

Ah well.  Speaking of the arms of Morpheus, take a look at this Gratuitous Critter picture of a turtle apparently seeking warmth in a clutch of puppies!

Friday, November 9, 2012


An early winter storm is scheduled to move through the northern part of Arizona this weekend.

It looked like it was already starting this morning.

The sky is alive with clouds moving briskly and much cooler temperatures.

There's a 30 degree temperature drop and some snow forecast.

I'm staying inside.

It looks like my Gratuitous Critter is feeling the chill also.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


It's another day in the world.  We're all (most of us anyway) still alive.  Autumn continues with blue skies and sunshine here.

But wait!  An early winter storm is headed for Arizona this weekend. Temperatures are expected to drop 30 degrees.  Snow is predicted for the northern part of the state.  Perhaps a trace even here.  The seasons (as was proven by the Northeaster storm on the upper East Coast) continue revolving, regardless of man and his political battles.

By the way, I suppose . . since the Republicans did pretty well in Arizona in Tuesday's election . . that I can show you the Gratuitous Critter picture I had on hand for them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


An interesting election note: Representative Connie Mack lost his U.S. Senate bid in Florida to Bill Nelson.  But Mack's wife, Mary Bono Mack, also lost her reelection bid to the House.  That's two sizeable salaries lost in one family.  'Course they both have big pensions and probably are both independently wealthy.  A better retirement than mine!

Earlier in the year, Republicans had hoped to take control of the U.S. Senate.  When they nominated Tea Party candidates like Mourdock in Indiana and Akin in Missouri, they doomed that plan.  Instead of gaining control, they lost seats to Democrats.  Donnelly in Indiana, McCaskill in Missouri, as well as Warren in Massachusetts, Tester hanging on in Montana, Heitkamp apparently winning in North Dakota, Klobuchar in Minnesota, Murphy in Connecticut.  When the Democrats are joined by several Independent victors, they're likely to have a 56 to 44 edge in the Senate.

So it was a pretty good day for Democrats.  Of course, here in my state of Arizona, not so good.  Jake Flake defeated Richard Carmona for the Senate, Romney was a large winner of the state and 80 year old "toughest sheriff in the Universe" Joe Arpaio won reelection to a sixth term.

Oh well.  It's over.  Finally.  And the 2016 campaign for President begins today.  Yegods.  I'm still tired from this year's.

But to all of those Republicans, especially Tea Partiers, who were so sure about this year's results, I offer today's Gratuitous Critter picture.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


President Barack Obama


This one is just for my readers in the United States of America.  Today is the day we elect our national and state leaders.  Your right to vote is your most precious freedom.  Whichever candidates you support (it hurts me to say) go to the polls and cast your votes today if you haven't already.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Last night, it was catfish cookin' in a black iron skillet.

Now, I'm aware that there is a cultural antagonism to catfish among some of the elites.  But I'm tellin' you, you cook that up with some garlic and butter (al mojo de ajo), as our friends south of the border say . . . and it's nirvana.

So.  That takes care of Sunday night.  Monday?  It was a day of unbelievable beauty at a yard across from the BRD's front door.

I've got to say - my current existence is full of light and life