Saturday, December 18, 2004

Scott Peterson, Ed Gorman, The M's

When O.J. was first arrested I asked my late friend Bob Samoian, who was an Assistant District Attorney in Los Angeles, what he thought about the case. He said this: "He's guilty but he'll walk." He was right.

Now we have Scott Peterson. According to a dozen of his peers he's guilty of murdering his wife and in so doing preventing his son from being born. His sentence: death.

Frankly, I think he did it. And I think he could have gotten away with it if he'd kept his big mouth shut after the fact. But I still have problems with the trial and the sentence (though I admit I didn't follow it as closely as I did the horribly disappointing O.J. debacle).

First, we don't know how Laci died. Second, we don't know when she died. The presumption is that she was killed right before Scott went fishing and dumped in the bay while he was supposedly enjoying the angler's art. Maybe he did. Most likely he did. But can anyone say for certain he did?

What about the cause of death? Police speculate she was strangled or smothered. But they don't know. For the sake of argument let's say she and Scott had a spat that escalated. He pushed her and she fell, or she fell on her own, and somehow died. He panicked and decided to dispose of the body lest he be blamed for murder.

Is this likely? I don't think so, it is speculative. But so is the official theory. If you're going to find someone guilty and sentence him to death I'd prefer there was less speculation and more facts.

Then there was the post-sentencing interview with the three jurors. They seemed to consider it very important and telling that Peterson remained stoic during the trial. Is that their idea of proper jury deliberation? Some people are just unemotional. And you have to consider that by the time the trial got under way Peterson had months of dealing with cops and lawyers and the press and it's easy to imagine that all the emotion was drained from him by then. Judging him guilty by reason of his demeanor is a travisty.

So, while I'm confident the result is correct, I'm very leery of the manner in which this verdict was reached. Call it poetic justice. But legal justice? I have my doubts.

On a happier note, allow me to recommend Ed Gorman's new western, BRANDED. The story deals with a town full of people with their own physical and psychological brands, from birthmarks to a burn-ravaged face to self mutilation born of religious guilt. There are few normal people in an Ed Gorman western; rather, everyone has some kind of cross to bear, some hidden secret, some fatal character flaw. Because of these their actions and motives are hard to figure and the plot constantly surprises one by shifting directions in ways you can't see coming. Indeed, it seems like every time the protagonist finds deliverance he gets his pins kicked out from under him and you wonder how Ed can possibly pull the rabbit out of the hat. The suspense elements should appeal to any mystery lover yet the book doesn't forget it's a western.
I think Ed is on the cutting edge of the modern western and I recommend his books wholeheartedly.

I see the Seattle Mariners just bought a couple of high-priced players. Let's hope they pan out better than Cirillo, Spezio, and Aurelio did.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ken Jennings

You know Ken, the guy who amassed over two million bucks on Jeopardy. Very impressive, and my hat is off to him. But all the while this was happening I had this niggling worry in the back of my mind. Why? Because he's a Mormon and they'll likely be raking 20% of the gross off the top. Yeah, I know it's his money to do with as he wishes, but I'm not a big fan of Mormonism and I don't like to see them enriched.

Many years ago, when I lived in California, some friends and I were sitting around and the subject of door-to-door proselytizers came up. We each vowed that the next one that darkened our door would be allowed in and we'd listen to everything he, she, or they had to say. Did I mention we were stoned at the time?
Sure enough, within days of this dubious pact a couple of young men in three piece suits riding ten speed bikes came to my little hippie pad.
"Come in, gentlemen, come in," I said expansively. They must have thought they had a live one.
I listened to their spiel and told them they could come back and show me their all-important and explanatory film strip a few days hence. I suppose nowadays they have videos or DVDs.
So a few days go by and they show up with one of those ancient film strip machines. I was given the lowdown on why God chose them to take over the world. Nothing about Joe Smith burrowing under the old oak tree with a bridge auger and planting his little box of revelations, nothing about the Mountain Meadow Massacre, just some gobbledegook about ancient prophecies and the will of God.
Finally they popped the question: Did I want to go to a service at their church.
Not content with my answer, they started with the salesmanship techniques. Why not? I don't own a tie. You don't need one. What kind of guy do you think I am that I would go to church without a tie? We'll get you one. Neither a borrower or lender be. We'll buy you one. I don't want your charity. Back and forth until they finally got the idea that I wasn't going to join the sect.
Their biggest selling point, polygamy, was no longer in force. I wonder if a lot of men joined originally just to have their own harems.
Over the years I've known a few Mormons and liked them as individuals. I just don't like the tenets of their church. Indeed, I think of it as more of a cult than a church, but I suppose that argument can be made for any number of churches.
Somewhere in this junk-infested room I call an office are a series of books by (if my senility is in remission) Robert Irvine about Moroni Traveler, a fallen-away Mormon/private eye who operates in Salt Lake City. He shows very clearly the stranglehold the Mormon hierarchy has on the state and the followers of the LDS sect. I found it eye opening, and recommend it not only for what it teaches one about this group but because Irvine is a fine writer.

I might also mention that my wife's nephew married a Mormon girl and converted. No problem with that. What sent my antenna vibrating was the way they got their first two kids.
They had been trying hard to have children, without success. One weekend they drove to Utah and came back with a boy. A few years later they did the same thing, only they came back with a girl.
Anyone who has tried to adopt children knows of the long, expensive and somewhat degrading process they have to go through to get a child. Apparently the red tape is much less if you're a Mormon. This couple had no criminal history, but neither had a steady job nor good work history, they didn't own their home, they moved a lot, and they had no savings. Try to adopt through any state agency with those strikes against you. Apparently, being a Mormon was qualification enough to adopt two babies in Utah. Scary.
And to add a punch line, they had a natural baby a few years later.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Another Birthday Notice

Two birthdays, in fact. Dec. 5th is the anniversary of George Armstrong Custer's birth (1839), but that's a subject for another time

Of greater importance is my daughter Kristine's 14th birthday. I can't believe that little baby I played with, watched Barney with, and took to see Ivan the Gorilla is a young lady already. I will say that she's been an absolute joy every day she's been in my life and I wouldn't trade her for all the winning lottery tickets in the world.
For her birthday we went to see FINDING NEVERLAND (by coincidence, it was $26.50 for tickets and $26.50 for snacks), with Johnny Depp as James Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. It was a tender, well-acted movie but a bit slow. No kung-fu, no nekkid ladies, nobody gets blowed up. By another coincidence, the same gabby old couple sat behind me that sat behind me when I saw THE INCREDIBLES. Okay, maybe they were a different set of geezers, but you'd think that people would know how to behave in a theater once they hit their dotage.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A Load Off My Mind

First off, I finished the book I was writing in collaboration with Warren Murphy. It took a hell of a lot longer than I thought it would, and I'm not sure what the problem was other than I haven't had much energy this past year. I think that's been the result of working the graveyard shift. Seems I did most of my sleeping in fits and starts and every weekend I'd return to a day schedule and have to revert to nights again when the work week started. Frankly, I've been a zombie and haven't done much of anything during this time. The extra money for graves was nice, though.
This will all be moot in another week. The powers that be decided I was making too much money and changed my hours. I'm not sure working from 4:30 in the morning until one in the afternoon will be an improvement, but other than quitting in protest there's not much I can do about it.

Reading has been sparse this past month. I had a rush job to line edit a manuscript for a lady in my critique group and that, along with my own writing, took away from my reading time. One book I did finish is VALLEY OF HATE, by Clay Burnham (Black Horse Western). Clay is actually Oregonian Steve Kaye, an fellow member of OWLHOOT, the world's only western apa, and a fellow I've met a couple of times when I visited Powell's City of Books. Nice chap.
He'd posted the first chapter of VOH on line and I read it. Alas, I thought, there's enough purple prose here to create a new Zane Gray book. Luckily, the descriptive passages that led off the novel gave way to a well-told and engaging yarn about two friends who set up adjacent cattle ranches in an unclaimed valley. Eventually one falls prey to his darker instincts and the other tries to protect and reform his friend before the locals host him a necktie party. There's also a comely young girl whom each of the cowboys desires. All of the elements dovetail into a satisfying conclusion and I'll shortly begin the next book in the series, SADDLED FOR VENGEANCE.
A word about Black Horse. It's an English publisher and not distributed in the US, although copies can be had on Amazon UK (much as I hate to plug Amazon). They're slightly undersized hardcovers with slick illustrated covers, somewhat pulpish in appearance. I paid $20 each from the author, who kindly inscribed them to me even though I only wanted autographs. Ah well, it's a very nice inscription.

I went to a concert at my younger daughter's middle school last night. Kristine started the flute when she was in the 6th grade and now, as an eighth grader, is becoming quite accomplished. She's also had five years of piano--though she stopped this year--and has been learning guitar for the last few months. She's always had a capacity for the performing arts and takes to music rather well. She says she wants to be an actress although she's never acted in anything yet. I can only hope she'll be a big star and let me knock around in her Beverly Hills mansion when I'm in my dotage, which isn't that far away.
Alas, she's on hiatus from her horseback riding lessons. I suppose I should be glad, what with the hit my income will take when I go to days, but I'd rather she stayed with it. I shudder to think what I've shelled out for lessons, shows, habits, and tack over the past four years to have it just stop. Then again, she may continue. I think she likes to ride, just isn't please with taking lessons right now.

I've scapped up a number of the dollar DVDs of old TV shows from Dollar Tree and last week I watched three episodes of Robin Hood, starring Richard Green. A lot of these old shows creak and groan, but Robin held up surprisingly well. The shows were from 1955, a couple or three years before they reached our shores I'd wager, and times out at over 28 minutes each. Since most shows back then ean only 22-24 minutes, they were shortened for US broadcast.
The first show deals with Robin's return to England from the Crusades and the events that made him a wanted man. Then, in the next shows, he joins the outlaws of Sherwood Forest, becomes their leader, initiates the give-to-the-poor policy, and recruits Little John. The theme song I knew as a kid is absent. A medieval ballad is sung instead.
One of the pleasures of watching old shows is seeing actors when they were starting out, or at least when they were not landing starring roles. One of these in an episode of Robin Hood was Leo McKern, who went on to lasting fame as Rumpole. Even then he didn't look very young.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Apple Cup

I got a great birthday present. My girl Steff was with me, laughing and looking pretty as ever. I'm sure it was effort for her to be up and around that early, but she's a trouper.

I watched the Apple Cup through sleepy eyes Saturday afternoon. Wazoo beat the U-Dub, as expected. Still, it was a close game and the Huskies might have pulled it out if they had a decent passer. By the end of the fourth quarter I was dozing on and off. I guess I didn't get enough sleep that day. I don't know what it is about me lately, but I'm getting like our cat, who sleeps about 22 hours a day. Seems I'm tired all the time. Maybe I need Geritol.

I just finished the Kit Carson book I mentioned in an earlier blog. The title was Blood Rendezous and the author Doug Hawken. I've read several books about mountain men, by several authors, and usually the patois is so thick I can barely wade through it, but this one kept the dialect down to a minimum, for which I am grateful.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Felice Navidad

It's that time again, when the old Cap'n adds another tick mark to the prison cell wall of life. In other words, I'm a year older. No smarter, no richer, no prettier, and certainly no healthier, but by god I'm older. I'm giving myself the gift of sloth by staying home from work. I'm also taking the family to a barbecue joint for dinner. I can't get too excited about the whole megilla because my mind has been on Stephanie, my older girl. She's been weaning herself off her antidepression medications for the past two or three weeks and right now she's in a deep funk. She sleeps a lot and hasn't emerged from the house for a while. She's been too weak to make her horseback riding lessons and I can only imagine the torment she's going through.

I saw a movie recently, not of my own choosing. Shall We Dance is a so-so chick flick that has its moments, and some good ballroom dancing, but ultimately left me asking a lot of questions and wondering if there were three different script writers who never conferred with one another. The plot had more blind alleys than Byzantium. Some of the characters had to struggle with inane motivations and dialog. I was struggling to see how the director would disguise the heft of J Lo's butt.
Naturally, as soon as the film started a couple sat sown behind us and started yakking. I shut them up toot sweet, but I couldn't identify nor stop whoever was farting in my vicinity.
I hate going to movies when other people are there.

Winter's approaching. The yard is covered with leaves. I am not a big fan of yard work, but eventually I'll get to it. I was hoping the wind storm we had last night would blow the leaves away, but it didn't happen. Looks like I'll have to break out the leaf blower (which is slower than raking) and create some noise pollution. The nice thing about this blower is that it converts into a leaf vacuum/mulcher.

Reading has been sharply curtailed this past month. I'm creaking along on a book about Kit Carson, one of those series books about adventures he never had. Light fare, but just what I feel like reading at the moment.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Final Chopper Report (I Hope)

To date I have used the Ultimate Chopper four times. About a week after I got it I noticed a long crack that went up one side, arched about an inch over the domelike top, and went straight down again. If the area were to break awaay it would look like the top piece has a door with a curved top in it, and a fourth of the cap would be missing. So I called the non-toll-free number they provided and they said they'd send a replacement, free. In the meantime I can use the original one, and I have some Superglue on hand in case it doesn't hold. The crack seems to be on the inside and not penetrating all the way through to the exterior of the piece, but who knows how long that will remain?
This points out the main problem with the unit: supreme cheapness of the components. It has done a fine job chopping things so far, but the cover piece, without which the started can't be activated, is made of the flimsiest, cheapest plastic on Earth. You have to handle everything quite gingerly or it will shatter like dropped icicles.
Another drawback is the modest size of the bowl that holds the material to be chopped. If you want to do onions, for examples, they'd better be no large than the average walnut or you have to cut them down to size. Once they're that small you may as well chop them all the way by hand.
I used TUC to mix up some scrambled eggs. They came out smoother than I've ever seen eggs before, but they spilled over the center of the bowl where the chopping assembly sits. This was with five eggs. When I make breakfast for the family I usually use six or seven, so I guess I'll have to mix them in two takes from now on.

For the past two weeks I've been line editing a manuscript for a lady in my critique group, which has put my own reading and writing on hold for the most part. I did manage to work through Grafton's "R" during lulls or as I lay abed trying to fall asleep, and while I liked much of it there were some elements that seemed off. Mainly, I think, it was Kinsey allowing herself to be the victim of a scheming airhead despite her better judgment, and against her character as established through the rest of the alphabet. And, when there was imminent danger, her excuse for not packing her gun rang false. With only eight more books in the series, I'm sure I'll stay the course and read them all, but I hope she uses a little more internal logic and common sense in the upcoming ones. I'm also bothered when a character claims to know nothing of some area (in this case, architecture) and then starts spouting jargon like an old hand.
And that's my take on "R" is for Ricochet. Respectfully submitted, Cap'n Bob Napier.

Oh, and just so you don't think I was a total goof off, I've managed to knock out a few chapters of my own book, which ought to be finished Real Soon Now.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Anniversary Waltz

On Oct 28 I completed 28 years of faithful (kaff-kaff) government service, which incudes the 28 months I was in the Army. Lots of 28s there. This doesn't include the 12+ years I spent as a Navy brat. I'd trade it all for a good lottery ticket.

A couple of days ago I got the Ultimate Chopper in the mail. The first time I used it I overdid the chopping and ended up with pureed onions. Yesterday I made egg salad and it came out great. The machine itself is all plastic and some parts look flimsy, but I don't imagine I'll be using it for anything strenuous and if I'm careful it won't break too soon.

Early on Thursday I watched some sports show where a bunch of alleged pundits commented on the World Series and Red Sox. Several were tripping over themselves to dismiss the Red Sox victory as nothing special and the team as a lucky bunch of misfits. Obviously these were members of the New York press corps.
What they seemed to forget is that not only did this supposedly cursed team win The Big One, they came back from an 0-3 deficit to beat the best team in the AL--a feat never before performed in baseball playoff history--then turned around and beat the best team in baseball four straight. And before this eight game rampage they'd suffered a loss that would have staggered any normal team. What was that score, 19-8?

I think a new curse is at work: The Curse of the A-Rod. Ever since that greedy bum went to Texas he's jinxed his team. And to think he could have played for Boston. The mind boggles.

I don't think Ramirez should have been the MVP, however. Anyone who makes two straight errors in the outfield shouldn't be considered for any special honor. I might have chosen Curt Schilling. At the least his performance was heroic.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Steff's Day

Happy Birthday to Stephanie, my older daughter. Today she turned 15, and I can't believe so many years have passed. I recall clearly the day she was born. She was delivered by C-section so she wasn't all misshapen and red like most newborns. She was a perfect little bundle of beauty with a thick shock of dark hair and big green eyes. To me she was the lovliest sight I'd ever seen in my life.
She's a young lady now and looking forward to her learner's permit instead of the latest Barbie, but one thing that has always been a part of her personality is her huge heart and deep sensitivity.

Happy Birthday, Steff. I love you more than I can ever say and I'm forever grateful that you're in my life.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Week That Was

I've been enjoying a chest cold for over a week now, and even though it hasn't slowed me down a lot it's thrown off my wake/sleep cycle. And I've had some coughing fits that threatened to blow the top of my head off. So I naturally called in sick the last two days of work last week and again tonight. I have this theory that if you take one sick day people think you're goofing off. If you take several you look sick for real. And I am sick. Perhaps I'd best be described as walking wounded.

You'd think all this time sitting around the house would have been condusive to reading or writing, but that wasn't to be. All I read were chapters or stories for my critique group and while I wrote a bit, it wasn't as much as I'd hoped. Thanks, in the latter case, to one of my dear daughters leaving the power cord to my laptop behind the couch. See, I take the laptop with me to the stable and work while they have a riding lesson. Without the cord I was only able to get a short stint in before the machine "hibernated." New rule: kids keep dirty mitts of laptop.

The chopper I wrote about earlier is The Ultimate Chopper.

I'm delighted that Boston won the AL pennant, but would have preferred the Astros were representing the AL. I'm not sure we've ever had a World Series of only wild card teams. The question now is will the Curse of the Bambino manifest itself again. Anyone who saw the infamous Billy Buckner error must shudder in anticipation.

Despite the lack of time to read this past week I have started a new book. Sue Grafton's "R" is for Ricochet. Despite some flat spots in this series I'm still enjoying it. The current one starts out like The Big Sleep, with Millhone visiting an aging rich man at his home to get her assignment--a wayward daughter. We'll see where it foes from there.
The last one, by the way, would have worked better for me if there hadn't been a glaring error in the beginning. She had two deer hunters stumble over a body in the month of August. I'm sure that there isn't a state in the union that allows deer hunting in the summer. Sloppy research, and something that could have been confirmed with a simple phone call.

Last Sunday I managed to stagger up to Seattle for a toy soldier show. It's at times like that I regret not being filthy rich. I could easily have filled a truck with the figures I saw. Instead, I picked up a few pricey guys I wish I'd bought ten years ago, like three Arabs from the Captain Gallant set and three WWII Japanese soldiers made by Lido in the 1950s. Ten years ago I could have had them for 40% of what they're going for now. On the new release front I bought two different sets of Confederates and two of Union troops by a company called Conte. They do some of the best contemorary figures around, and the price was below retail. Finally, I got a bag of new Hong Kong cowboys and Indians for $2.00. Oh, and a couple of free doughnuts. Can't beat that.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Slicer-Dicer Update

A couple of mornings ago I again saw the infomercial for the slicer-dicer I almost bought a week earlier. I decided to buy it. It's called the Something Chopper. Miracle Chopper or some other meaningless adjective. I'll just call it The Chopper.

So I call the toll free number and some young woman answers. We go through the name and address bit and then it starts. For an extra $15 I can get another Chopper. I say no. She starts to enthuse. And today, if I buy two I get a third free. I say no. Well, for an extra $50 I can get the blender attachment. I not only say no, I say I don't want any other offer as yet unheard. In that case, I'm told, she has to get her supervisor to okay skipping whatever other junk they were trying to load me down with.
The supervisor comes on, affirms that I wish to eschew further offers, and hands me back to the original operator.
Now, this Chopper is supposed to have five different colored activation switches available. They're pretty large switches. I say I want yellow. The operator tells me that there's a three month wait for anything but white. I ask why. I'm told it's because there's such a huge demand for the product. So I ask why they're running infomercials for something they aren't able to provide. Why don't they have some inventory on hand before they advertise? No satisfactory answer.
Then the killer. The plain white one will take four to eight weeks to deliver. Huh? The order is being processed virtually as we speak but I have to wait a month or two for delivery? And if I want to hold out for yellow will that add three more months to the delay, making a total of five months before I get this damn thing? I mean, all I want to do is chop a few onions.
In the end I said go ahead and send the damn thing.
I doubt I'll ever order anything from a TV ad again. Not even Girls Gone Wild. And people wonder why I'm a curmudgeon.

Yesterday was a hassle. I noticed we had messages on our voice mail so I listened in. They consisted of three pests "returning" my wife's internet application for a home refinance deal. What really annoys me is that there's no way to eliminate these messages until they've played out, and one of those people ran off at the mouth for a long time. And I knew that Linda never made any such applications.
All day long the calls kept coming, however. The first few I gave my usual crazy man rant to, but after a bit I got to wondering why, all of a sudden, did these companies think Linda was interested in their product (which included a long distance outfit and Phoenix On Line College). So I started asking them where they got our number. None of the answers were satisfactory, and some were obvious lies, but they all promised to remove us from their sucker lists.
What has me scratching my head is who got Linda's name into these data bases to start with. My best guess is The National Wildlife Federation. A month or two back Linda foolishly sent them a few dollars. Since then we've gotten solicitations almost daily begging for more. The general tenor of these solicitations is that if we don't clean out our bank accounts and send them everything we have NOW, all animal life on the planet will die by Tuesday. I'm to the point of wishing they would die off just so the National Wildlife Federation would get off our backs.
Of course, NWF may be innocent. Perhaps some brat at the school where she teaches signed her up for these offers. Maybe the state driver's license people sold her name. Maybe her recent membership to Pure Fitness was the villain. I suppose I'll never know, which is one of the frustrating things about modern life. It seems like anyone can invade your home, upset your privacy, and waste your time with complete impunity. Great thing, this modern life.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

On the Road

Don't let the title fool you. This will have no relationship with Jack Kerouac's classic.

Yesterday morning, Sunday, I drove from work to a place in Seattle for a toy show. Old toys, classic toys, collectible toys. Or so I hoped. I knew it was asking too much that I would be able to fill some gaps in my toy soldier collection for a reasonable price, but hope springs eternal. So I drove the hour up there, paid my three bucks to get in, and circled the room six times in search of something, anything, I might want. I ended up with a 100-piece kid's jigsaw puzzle. The picture was of a cowboy roping a steer. The cost was four dollars but the guy sold it to me for half that.
There was one dealer with some Marx playsets, but his prices seems a tad high to me. Another guy had some Marx figures in bags, and his prices were way up there. As I was looking over one bag of six or seven common pioneers with a $27 sticker on them he said to me, "I can do better on that price." I replied, "I should hope so." I'd estimate that half the tables there had junk that was neither old nor collectible. Fast food giveaways, action figures, broken, rusty, moldy items that have lost all value. What are these people thinking?
A few tables had legitimate collectibles. I saw a Lawman lunch box for $37.50 in decent shape. I saw some old model kits, games, advertsing pieces, and comics. Nothing I needed, but the kind of wares that indicate that the dealers know what they're doing.

We're down to one more baseball playoff game in the first round and I'm hoping Houston defeats Atlanta. I feel somewhat responsible for Houston's loss today. You see, I'm a jinx. When I got back from the toy show I tuned in the game and the Astros were ahead 5-2. Not ten seconds after I switched on the set an Atlanta player hit a three-run homer and tied it up. My fault, I know it.

By now the 2004 Bouchercon is over and I'm looking forward to all the reports from those lucky enough to attend. And by reports I of course mean the dirt, the scandals, the lowdown. At the same time I'm feeling a little less connected to the mystery world nowadays. I find too many of the books bloated, the field dominated by women who, while perhaps talented, don't speak to me. It seems the mystery has become a forum for social and political cant and it's losing me. I hate cozies, too. Luckily there are still some authors left I enjoy, and I'm not about to desert the genre entirely, but I can't see myself wallowing in it the way I once did. Not until it changes; and I have a feeling it won't change in a way that suits me.

Happy Columbus Day. Makes you wonder, though. If they can have a holiday for a small city in Ohio why not a large city somewhere else? I think the fix was in on this one. But it means a night off work for me and I'll take that any time.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The Hermit Emerges

I've spent most of my waking hours at my computer this past week. The reason is that the deadline of OWLHOOT, the Western apa, is nigh and I've been printing out my zine and the apa's covers. Since I print everything on my desktop printer, and every page has color, it's a very slow process. Costly, too, when you consider how much an ink cartridge runs. But I guess I've complained about that already.
The bright spot is that I have a chance to watch the baseball playoffs. All the teams I'm rooting for won their opening games, but the Twins look like they're going to fall to the Yankees and I'm not happy about that. I'm still hoping for a Red Sox/Cardinals World Series.

I've been a fan of Rodney Dangerfield's since I first saw him on The Tonight Show back in the sixties. When he died a few days ago at age 82 I wasn't surprised, since I was aware of his health problems, but I was surprised he was 82. He's looked about the same age for the past 20 years. Maybe he didn't get any respect, but he had a beautiful young wife and left behind a lot of fans who will miss his rapid-fire jokes and self-effacing style. Ed Gorman has a fine tribute to Dangerfield on his blog.

I've been asked to write a tribute to Fan Guest of Honor Beth Fedyn for the 2005 Bouchercon Program Book. I can't wait. No one deserves this honor more than Beth and I hope I can do justice to her.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Grand Old Game

Baseball's 2004 regular season will be over later today and as the fan of a team that has lost 98 games so far all I can say is good riddance. When Seattle won it's game Friday night one of our announcers boasted that beause of that win we were guaranteed not to have a 100-loss year. Well thank god for small favors. At least we got to witness Ichiro's record-breaking single season hits record, and last night there was a farewell ceremony for Edgar Martinez. If you aren't familiar with The Gar, he's the greatest designated hitter in baseball history and one heck of a fine human being. He's underperformed this year, as have a number of players, but his lifetime stats are excellent and if there's any justice he'll be in the Hall of Fame in five years.

I'm not sure who my post season picks are, but I wouldn't mind seeing a St. Louis-Boston World Series. I don't like Atlanta or L.A. so my second NL choice would be Houston, if they get in, or S.F. if Houston doesn't.
I was a rabid Yankees fan when I was younger, but lately they aren't the team I loved and I'm not rooting for them. Not rooting against them, either, but I'd be satisfied if they were knocked off in the first round.

Getting back to my dull little world, I didn't see another infomercial for that slicer, dicer contraption so I'll worry about obtaining one some other day. I did see an infomercial for a similar machine, but it seemed to puree everything and that's not what I need.

I think I have a cold coming on. The other members of the household had them last week and I'm starting to get the early warning signs: cold body, sneezing, stuffy head, cough. I stayed home from work last night which, I note, means I haven't worked a full week since the first week of August. And next week has a holiday so I can keep my record going a little while longer.

I needed a new tricolor cartridge for my printer so I ordered a couple on line, along with a couple of black ink cartridges. It cost me $70 for the four. But I didn't want to wait until they arrived so I went to K-Mart yesterday morning and bought a lone color cartidge. Cost: $35 plus tax. What a burn. Ink cartidges are the french fries, or the Nikes, of the computer accessory market. They cost pennies to make and sell for an arm and a leg. And we're not talking about some huge cartidge that's going to last for months. This thing is about the size of a Chunky candy bar. It's tiny, miniscule, dwarfish. When I was in my twenties we had a saying: "Come the Revolution, there won't be any more__________." I'd fill in the blank with $35 printer cartidges.

I had a most enjoyable and fascinating time on this blogspot site recently. I logged on to Bill Crider's archives and read everything he posted for the past two years. There were achievements I hadn't known about, political rants I'd never heard, honors he was too modest to mention, and insights into his life I've never witnessed. SEE Bill face his imminent retirement. HEAR Bill comment on GW Bush and his cohorts. SMELL Bill's sweaty comments about jogging. TASTE Bill's savory reminiscences about his old home town. SPEAK back to him if you like. Yes, Bill's entertaining entries aren't at all senseless drivel (I should know, I'm a master of it) but insightful, intelligent looks at life through the eyes of a great observer and a man with a storehouse of cogent memories.

Yesterday I climbed up on my roof, leaned over the edge, and painted the fascia boards under the eaves along the second floor. Since we had the siding installed I can''t use a ladder against the house, so this was the only option. I don't have a problem with heights, but I still didn't enjoy the experience.

Pets? We have pets. Right now the Napier Zoo consists of two dogs (shepherd mix and Chihuahua, and the little dog's brother is a frequent visitor), a 16-year-old cat, a bunny, a rat, and two fish. That's only seven animals total, which isn't bad. In the past we've had as many as 20, but that included several rodents and a tank full of fish plus a bird or two. I told Kristine when she was small she could have a kitten when the current kitty died, but that old cat just keeps going. Admittedly, she's a good cat. She doesn't claw the furniture, prefers to crap outside, and spends most of the summer in the beauty bark out front, sleeping. In the winter she sleeps either on my waterbed or near a heat vent.

Friday, October 01, 2004

It slices, it dices

For some time now I've been wanting a compact, simple, well-made vegetable slicer-dicer. I like to cut up an onion and sautee it with some mushrooms for a side dish on my Atkins diet.
The other night--wee hours of the morning to be precise--an infomercial came on for just such a product. Mind you, I rarely watch these things, but the female sidekick on this one was so ugly I was mesmerized. I think she was the last dumb blonde character on Three's Company.
Anyway, this handy dandy machine seemed to be the answer to my animal sacrifices, er, I mean prayers. It did everything from make peanut butter to salsa to chopped liver. It takes up very little counter space, which is important in our crowded kitchen, and it was only $40. But wait! It also came with an eternally sharp, ergonomically designed slicing knife, four steak knives, and one other thing I can't recall. Free shipping, too.
But I didn't make the call. I just can't believe that anything one buys from an infomercial is worth a wad of spit. Cheap plastic, poorly tempered blades that actually do go dull the first time they meet a peanut, dangerous wiring, and a motor that burns out as soon as the last unit is sold. That's what I assume they're hawking.
I also have this theory that the people who sit in for the taping of those commericals are the ones who have invested in the product or work in the factory that makes it, although the lack of Indonesians in the room may put the lie to that last idea.
So I could go to the store and see if I can find a different slicer-dicer or I could continue to use a knife. Or I could channel surf again this morning and see if the same deal is being offered.
Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

29 Sep 04

I made two phone calls today. The first was to the community college to ask about the guitar class I'd enrolled in. They told me it had been canceled and that I'd get a refund in two weeks. Good thing I called because there's no way they would have told me about the cancellation otherwise. I'll believe the refund is coming when I see it. All in all I'm very disappointed. I really wanted to take that class.

Next I called my shyster and told him to settle my lawsuit. I was rear-ended on July 23, 2002 by some idiot and since then I've had a bum shoulder. The lawyer seems reluctant to make a settlement unless I have my arm amputated, but I prefer to keep it. In a week I should learn what, if anything, I'll get from this.
Lest anyone think I'm some faker out for easy money, let me assure you that I live with pain in my shoulder every day, that I can't lift heavy objects or raise my arm high or put strain on it without pain. When I wake up in the morning it's virtually paralyzed and I couldn't beat a ten-year-old kid arm wrestling. Whatever I get, and it won't be much, I'd gladly return to have a normal shoulder again.

One of the things that was lost when I deleted my old blog was a much-deserved paean to Ed Gorman. This was occasioned by the announcement by Ed that he was folding his blog, Ed'a Place, due to the weight of other obligations. Today, out of habit, I checked his site again and was elated to learn that he will continue his blog, although with less participation from him. Other people will help bear the load and any of them are well worth reading.
But I'd like to go on record as saying that Ed Gorman is the brightest spot in modern publishing. He's done more to help newcomers get a leg up and old timers remain unforgotten than anyone I can think of. He also seems to me to be an extraordinarily humane and compassionate individual. Every time I walk away from something he wrote I feel as though I've had my eyes opened by someone of tremendous heart and insight. He's a hell of a writer, too.

THE ALAMO is now out on DVD. I wonder how many people will spend the $20 or whatever it costs to see it when they wouldn't spend half that to see it in the theaters. I'm a big Alamo fan (the real one) and admit I was disappointed in the movie, but I'll get the DVD and see if there was something in it I missed the first time around. Like a serviceable story.

Ichiro watch: There isn't much to cheer about for Seattle Mariners fans this season, but Ichiro's charge for the record number of hits is the one bright spot. He's going to make it unless he breaks a leg in the next game or two, so let's prepare to doff our hats to this incredible achievement.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Did you miss me?

In order to change the title of this blog I had to destroy it and start anew. Sorry if I disappointed those of you who are starved for natter and ennui.
I wish I could redo the long post I created last night, but I can barely recall what it was about. I know I talked about my odd work schedule, which runs from 10 o'clock Friday night to 8:30 Tuesday morning. That's four 10 1/2 hour shifts. So here it is Tuesday evening and I'm trying to stay up as late as I can so I'll be up during the day tomorrow, Wednesday. Normally I sleep days.

Both Linda and Kristine have had colds/flu the past couple of days so they stayed home. I expect to come down with something before the weeks is out since whenever one of us is sick the rest of us catch it.
Kristine missed her riding lesson today, so it was just Steff and one other girl in there.

All for now.