Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Well actually it wasn't Black Rock, it was Black Canyon City.

And actually it wasn't Black Canyon City per se but a sort of a "suburb" known as Rock Springs.

Wednesday in Rock Springs meant lunch at the famed Rock Springs Cafe, the home of myriad pies.

My dining companions were a couple of former colleagues at The Dozen . . . KPNX-TV Channel 12 in Phoenix.

Two legends in their own minds times, Steve Torbeck and Lew Ruggiero.

I worked with Steve as a young photographer from Tucson who arrived just a tad later than I did. He eventually worked his way into doing a feature called 12 Country where he wrote, photographed, produced and voiced stories from around Arizona.

As he once described it "a poor man's Charles Kuralt".

Lew came as an assignment editor but like Steve he took to the street becoming probably the best television reporter Phoenix had and has ever seen.

They're both long retired from The Dozen, as am I.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure why they even agreed to meet me for lunch.

But the sandwiches were great, as were the pies from this House of Pies (although Steve didn't have any) and the conversation was, as always, trenchant and acerbic.

Good time with old long-time friends.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


The embattled CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, has been forced out of his job over sexual harassment charges.

Reportedly he'll leave at the end of this week.


He apparently will be leaving with a 40 million dollar Golden Parachute, health care for life, security for another six months and an agreement from the Murdochs that they'll pay up if he loses the case Gretchen Carlson filed against him.

Plus he reportedly will continue to "assist" Fox News as a "consultant."

I wonder what this old Nixon hand has on the Murdoch family that would result in that kind of a payoff.

And Melania Trump's speech last night at the Republican convention contained several phrases that mirrored those delivered by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008.

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said Hillary Clinton was responsible for bringing the plagiarism similarities to light.

She wasn't.

Former campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski said on the air of his new employer, CNN, that Manafort should resign.

Meantime Angie Holan, the editor of the Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact had this to say about some of last night's speeches at the GOP gathering:

We found inaccurate claims that Clinton supports the Trans

Pacific Partnership (Mostly False), that she is for open borders

(False) and that 350,000 people illegally cross the U.S. border

every year (False).  We also rated this blast from the past -- the

claim from the actor and convention speaker Antonio Sabato Jr.

that President Barack Obama is a Muslim. Pants on Fire!

One can only wonder, how long can this go on while the party's candidate for President refers to Mrs. Clinton as "a liar."

(And people wonder why I don't blog about politics.)

Monday, July 18, 2016


I had entertained the idea of not blogging today because of a lack of anything to blog about.

Not about police shootings, not about Donald Trump or the Republican convention, not about the various birds that have decided Monday is a perfect day for bathing outside my window.

But then Lori from Seattle came through with a page of links to humor, videos, pictures.

This is one of the stories:

A couple who work at the circus go to an adoption agency.
Social workers there raise doubts about their suitability as parents.
The couple produce photos of their 45 foot Class A Prevost coach, which is equipped with a beautiful nursery.
The social workers then are doubtful about the education that the child would receive.
"We've arranged for a full-time tutor who will teach the child all the usual subjects, plus French and Mandarin languages and computer skills."
Still, the social workers have doubts about raising a child in a circus environment.
"We have arranged for a nanny who is an expert in pediatric welfare and diet."
Finally, the social workers are satisfied.
The adoption agency asks, "What age child are you hoping to adopt?"
"It doesn't really matter, as long as he fits in the cannon"

Saturday, July 16, 2016


If you'll take a look at the sidebar, under Others Observations, you'll see a link to Prescott Area Daily Photo.

That's the blog of my pal, Judy (not SWMBO though) who has blogged from this area for probably longer than I have.

She took a break about 11 months ago and has just returned a few days ago.

Hopefully she's refreshed and, to quote somebody, "fired up and ready to go."

Judy, I (for one) missed you and am very happy to see you're back.

And like myself, if you miss a day or two here and there, no problem.

Except answering all those questions like "Where have you been? What's wrong? Are you ill? etc. etc. etc."

Glad to see you've returned from your "vacation".

Friday, July 15, 2016


In spite of yet another tragedy in France, I am going to forge ahead with the cartoons, trying hard to keep a bit of a smile on my face, while sending our thoughts to Nice.

All right, perhaps that's enough for this week.

If you're smiling, keep it up and try to cheer someone else up.

Have a contented weekend. We'll see you next week.

Here, kitty-kitty.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


This is a story about a true broadcasting pioneer.

I met him when we lived in Mexico during the 1980's and 1990's.

He became my best friend in those south of the border days.

His name was Walter E. Nixon.

This picture was taken after we had left Mexico and he had come to visit us in his beloved home state of Texas.

He was born in 1922 and raised in Harlingen, Texas.

But his career in radio began in New York City.

After working for newspapers, in political campaigns (he was a Yellow Dog Democrat), and in public relations he moved to the Big Apple right around his 33rd birthday.

A friend of his from Austin, Jack Summerfield, was hired to run a new non-commercial radio station owned by the Riverside Church.

Mrs. John D. Rockefeller had put up enough money for great studios, the best equipment and the first 5 years of operating costs.

At a party, Summerfield asked Walter what he thought his new station could do that no one else in New York was doing.

Walter said what was needed was good coverage of the United Nations.

Summerfield thought that was a great idea and asked Walter to do it.

Walter said he had no experience in radio.

Summerfield responded "Good! No bad habits to unlearn!"

Walter began producing a weekly 15-minute program called U.N. Journal.

When the COMSAT satellite went up, WRVR hooked up with WGBH in Boston and a station in Washington as a mini-network providing public affairs programs.

Walter's U.N. Journal, by now a daily program, went on the network.

I figured you might be getting a bit weary of this by now so . . to break things up . . here's a picture of Walter with my beautiful wife at a party in Guadalajara.

That should hold you for awhile.

Meanwhile, back in New York, other stations began hearing about the network, wanted in and it became National Educational Radio, the forerunner of National Public Radio.

Walter became news and public affairs director of WRVR as well as a senior producer.

In 1962, Walter got about a 4-hour beat on everyone else with news at the U.N. of the settlement of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

During the so-called Civil Rights era, a crew went down to Birmingham the day Martin Luther King announced an agreement with city leaders over integration.

They worked all night in a motel room to produce a program called "A Happy Day in Birmingham".

Walter voiced it.

They also went to a Ku Klux Klan rally where Walter interviewed then Imperial Grand Dragon Robert Shelton.

On the way back to the motel they heard about A.D. King's house being bombed and produced several more programs.

Their coverage from Birmingham won them a Peabody Award.

By the middle 60's the money was running out and Walter went back to free-lancing.

Later he decided to put his Masters Degree in Economics to use and went to work for Standard and Poor's.

He retired in 1986 and moved to Guadalajara.

Walter Nixon had been a heavy smoker much of his life and suffered from emphysema when I knew him.

I've mentioned him before on this blog as the father of the stage and screen actress Cynthia Nixon.

One year in Mexico a festive party was held at Christmas and I wrote a limerick for each of the guests and then recited them before dinner.

For Walter I wrote:

About Walter, a puzzle most vexin'
keeps my poor brain a-flexin' and flexin'.
After several careers
in New York -- 30 years!
He still sounds the same: like a Texan.

A great guy and many years later I still miss him.


In my constant effort to identify the trees and flowering shrubs that surround us I have made a new discovery about this rascal.

This is actually on the property of my neighbors but we have one growing in our front yard, as well.

Two, actually.

On the recommendation of another neighbor who said it was a Mexicana plant, we pruned ours to within a propinquity (heh-heh) of death this spring.

But it has sprung back.

(Again, this is not it but one close by)

(As is this.)

That plant quite obviously has not been pruned back to the ground.

Consequently it is much larger than ours.

(At last. This one is ours.)

When the Google images showed a Mexicana plant to have bright yellow flowers, I searched further.

I noted the leaves with their near-Marijuana leaf shape and wondered hmmmmmmm . . .

And the flowers, as you can see, are bright purple.

And then the great gods of Google revealed the truth.

This plant is a Texas Purple Sage!

So what is it doing in Arizona?

It turns out that this is its natural habitat and that it thrives during the monsoon.

Which is now, even though we have had very little rain this season.

So we have TWO kinds of sage.

You remember the Rocketman Russian Sage, which is blooming its fool head off in the back yard.

Incidentally, all that purple foliage turns out to be a natural draw for what appear to be hundreds, if not thousands, of bees.

They move quickly but I got this fuzzy picture of one of them gorging himself.

The first time I saw the bee swarm I was nervous and backed away.

But later, armed with my trusty camera, I found that the bees are so interested in the flower pollen they have no time or inclination to attack a human.

Another fact is that the bees often share the plant with finches of more than one variety.

The goldfinches seem particularly fascinated.

So there you are, Gentle Readers.

I hope you enjoyed your horticulture lesson for the day, (I concluded, sagely.)


Monday, July 11, 2016


Sometimes the only thing that makes sense in this increasingly insane world is dulling the senses with vodka.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

LIFE . . .

. . . is just a bowl of cherries.

(Idea and food styling by SWMBO!)

Saturday, July 9, 2016


Friday night is pizza night at my casa.

SWMBO gets the night off as I "fix dinner".

Warning to the purists: I do not make my own dough.

I buy a DiGiorno's thin crust pepperoni pizza and doctor it at home.

Last night's version featured extra pepperoni, globs of mozzarella, mixed sweet peppers and some grape tomatoes.

Topped off with freshly grated Parmesan fresh out of the oven.

Catalyst's "doctored DiGiornio's".

So it isn't P.C. (Puristically Correct)

It's still darned good.

And I've got leftovers for today!

Friday, July 8, 2016


This Friday nothing seems funny.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Today is a day to remember for Arizona and U.S. historians.

July 7th, 1981, a mere 35 years ago, was the day President Ronald Reagan nominated a judge from Arizona, Sandra Day O'Connor, to become the first female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

When her confirmation hearings began in the U.S. Senate the television station I was working for at the time in Phoenix sent a crew to Washington to document the momentous occasion.

Ron Talley (on the left) was the reporter and I was the field producer.

Wally Athey, who probably took this picture, was the photographer.

O'Connor was confirmed by the Senate and served 25 years on the high court, marking her spot in the history books.

Today there are three women on the court.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


The Fourth of July is a day famous for grilling and fireworks and flag waving and celebrating the birth of our nation.

I hung our flag for the day.

And SWMBO grilled a typical American dinner for us.

Spicy Swai, a fish similar to catfish.

This particular Swai was farm-raised in Vietnam and the Google tells me it is a product of the Mekong Delta.

How's that for a red, white and true blue American meal?

(It was delicious.)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


The Catalyst in a familiar location in an unfamiliar setting somewhere in Mexico.

Strangely enough, I can't remember where it was but I found the bar.

Thanks goodness there's no clock evident but as is often said or sung: "It's always five o-clock somewhere!"

Monday, July 4, 2016

Sunday, July 3, 2016


Beautiful big clouds in the sky yesterday evening.

It's interesting to watch them change color as the sun sinks toward the westward horizon.

We had a visit from one of my good friends.

Reggie has Lori Down the Street on the other end of that leash.

The first time I encountered him, he came running toward me barking fiercely.

But Lori called him back and then I learned his name and petted him and told him what a good dog he was.

Now, whenever he spots me on his daily walks he comes up to me, whining for a rubdown.

He's a good dog.

This morning there was a lot of activity at the bird bath, capped off by this visitor that the Blue Cat seemed to be viewing with resentment.

I've given up trying to scare the mourning doves away.

They seem to be too dumb to get frightened and with the hot weather here I figured they need water too.

Call it peaceful coexistence.

Or just call me an old softie.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


It's Saturday.

I'm listening to NPR.

I'm not inspired.

So here are some photos of this morning's visitor at the bird bath, a very nervous Scrub Jay.

I said he was nervous.

In between each of these four pictures, he was up in the tree over his swimming pool.

I hope you're enjoying your swimming pool this weekend.

Friday, July 1, 2016


I begin this week's travel down the humor road with some facts about Sriracha Sauce, the new condiment sweeping American palates.

Widely considered to be of Thai origin, it is in fact "an American product that reinterprets a traditionally Thai sauce and was created by an ethnically Chinese man born and raised in Vietnam."

The originator, one David Tran "was urged to make his sauce less spicy in (its) early days. Change it to a tomato base, people told him, so that the sauce would reach a wider audience. “Hot sauce must be hot. If you don’t like it hot, use less,” Tran said. “We don’t make mayonnaise here.”

You can read the entire story here if you're so inclined.

But now . . . let's get on with the cartoonish reason for me even being here, hot as I may be. (See yesterday's post)

Oops, how did that one slip in here.

Okay, boys and girls, that's it for this week.

Have a very pleasant weekend and, for you Americans, a happy and safe Fourth of July celebrating your exit from the United Kingdom. (heh-heh)

Thanks, as always, to all of my contributors and theft victims who make this weekly excursion into madness possible.

And remember . . . always keep laughing.

Here, kitty-kitty.

(oh dear)

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Long hair, mutton chops, Marlboros, love beads, pink shirts, and attitude.

How on earth did I survive the '70's?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Pumpernickel Rye Bread.  Hearty!

Monday, June 27, 2016


I was going to give the elves behind Oddball Observations a vacation but then . . .

. . . the monsoon arrived.

I have turned off the air conditioning and opened the house wide to the wonderful smell of ozone in the air.

This makes all those hot days worth it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


To any of you who may have been offended by the intrusion of politics onto the normally-non-political Oddball yesterday, I apologize.

The mistake was mine in not explaining that I had intended the exchange to be by private email, rather than on the blog.

Be that as it may, today is another day.

The fever blaster says the temperature is 83 degrees outside at 9 o'clock yet I have the window open and a cool breeze is occasionally penetrating the upsurge in heat.

There is a Bluegrass Festival occurring in Prescott today and I had sort of planned to make an excursion there.

But, as frequently happens in my senior years, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

So we'll see.

Speaking of senior years, one of my friends and former colleagues in the tee-vee-news-biz is marking his 80th birthday today.

I now have three friends and/or loved ones in the 80's.

As I emailed the newest of the bunch this morning, hitting 80 is a milestone.  Except in golf. (He is a golfer.)

I'm less than a handful of years from reaching that level myself.

I find that reaching this age means one's life is much less full.

(Well, there is that friend who is the oldest of us who is going on a cruise to Cuba in a month or so.)

When I am not, as SWMBO is wont to say, "wasting my time at the computer" I spend my time scheduling doctor appointments, monitoring my intake of pharmaceuticals and napping.

Oh, I do spend an inordinate amount of time watching the birds.

And on my (very) short evening jaunt I have made the aquaintance of a bunny who freezes as I get to nearly 10 feet of him and seems to listen intently as I speak to him.

And there is reading.

I am about halfway through M.F.K. Fisher's "The Art of Eating", which I have been enjoying greatly.

And kitchen-stuff, such as the loaf of rye bread I made yesterday and which SWMBO and I agreed probably needs more rye flour in the recipe to "kick it up a notch."

And there's always something on television.

I don't know how many channels we have but I can always find something interesting to watch.

Last night it was a program showing the Mark Twain prize for humor being awarded to Jay Leno.

He's older, too.

Which brings me to my new favorite adage: Today I am older than I've ever been but younger than I'll be tomorrow.

Life is good.