Thursday, December 26, 2002

December 26, 2002: So here's what I'm wondering about on this day after Christmas. North Korea is ramping up its nuclear facilty that can create plutonium, and its ramping up its rhetoric, too. Seems to me that North Korea is a lot more dangerous to the U.S. than Iraq and is blatantly doing what Iraq is merely accused without proof of doing. So what's happening? Is Bush calling for regime change? Not a bit of it. He's off on vacation and not calling for anything. As usual, I don't get it.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

December 25, 2002: Merry Christmas to all! I got a lot of nice gifts from Santa, and from my family as well. My son took some of my rapidly deteriorating cassette tapes, cleaned them up and burned them onto CDs. Some of the stuff is very hard to find these days, like the two Billy Ward and the Dominoes tapes from Holland, so I was glad to get it. He also fixed up my Kingston Trio STEREO CONCERT PLUS tape, and it sounds great. I got some DVDs, too, and lots of other great stuff, including a book from my daughter. The book allows me to generate Shakespearean insults. Maybe I can use it somehow in a novel.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

December 22, 2002: We were told of Laura Higgins' murder last night. She's the youngest daughter of Marjorie and Roy Powell, two members of our Sunday School class, and she was found shot to death at a warehouse owned by Perry Homes. She was a model-home decorator for Perry and had gone by to check on a piece of furniture. Her purse, keys, and cell phone were taken. I don't know how parents ever recover from something like that, and my sister, whose daughter was murdered, certainly never will. I have no idea why someone would have been hanging around the warehouse, but my theory is that he's the kind of guy the death penalty was meant for. I hope they catch him soon.

Friday, December 20, 2002

December 19, 2002: Since I can't call in and get the talk show hosts on the phone, this is were I can express my opinions. I guess it's nice to be able to do that.

Sean Hannity is a guy who drives me nuts. Yesterday he was screaming about the Trent Lott situation by saying "Why isn't anyone asking Bill Clinton these questions?" Well, Sean, nobody is asking Clinton because he didn't make the comments that Lott made. The first think you learn in debate class is how morally bankrupt and intellectually dishonest it is to switch the topic of debate. Sure, we could ask the questions of all 50 senators and all the hundreds of congressmen, and even of the members of the Supreme Court, the president's cabinet, and on and on and on. But they didn't make the comments. Trent Lott did.

I see in the papers today that Hans Blix is asking the U.S. to give him the evidence that Dub claims to have about weapons in Iraq. Dub's message is, "We know they have the weapons, but you can't find them. Therefore we know they're lying. But we're not going to show you any proof they have the weapons, and we're not gonna tell you where they are." You'd think he'd at least say, "You're getting warm." Or maybe "You're getting cold."

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

December 17, 2002: Once again it's a while between postings here. Not much of interest going on in my life, and the political world mostly just makes me sick. Looks like lots of Bush appointees are abandoning the ship lately, not that I blame them. Why hang around that guy? And of course old Dub is busily appointing perjurers to all kinds of high positions. Thank God we all know that "character counts." People used to say that Reagan was the "Teflon president," but he's not a patch on Dub.

Friday, December 13, 2002

December 13, 2002: Friday the 13th. Oh, boy. The news today is typical. CNN reports the the administration is "downplaying" yesterday's front page report that Iraq gave nerve gas to the al-Qaida. In fact, there's no evidence at all. The report is not credible, in spite of the news yesterday that it was. This is typical of the Bushies. First they give you the Big Lie. It hits the front page. A day or two later they retract it, mainly because there's no evidence at all to support it, but it's already established as fact in the spongey brains of the talk-show crowd, hosts and listeners alike. Limbaugh will probably repeat it as fact for the next ten years.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

December 11, 2002: So it's been a while since I posted. So what?

I love it when politicians put their feet in their mouths, and the latest is Trent Lott. It was bad enough that he said it once, and the Republican spinners immediately started in about how "it was said in the heat of the moment, just a tribute to a fine old fella, nothing more." But of course Lott had said it before, more than 20 years before, and in almost exactly the same words. Which would indicate to me (if to no one else) that he really meant it and that he really meant it exactly the way it sounded. But the talk-radio blatherers will spin out of it in some ridiculous way that only the talk-radio audience would believe.

And speaking of the talk-radio blatherers, one of the Houston ones was talking yesterday about sending a letter to the "Hollywood left," advising them never to write open letters to the president again. After all, the "Hollywood left" is composed of morons, as we all know. I suppose the Hollywood right, on the other hand, is composed of geniuses who should be president, like Ronald Reagan. And nobody seems to want ask what the difference is between actors and radio-talkshow hosts, who all proclaim that they're just entertainers, as Limbaugh does again and again, yet who seem to think that their opinions on everything are not only right but the only opinions that anyone should ever hear. What they are is hypocrites of the first water.

Saturday, December 07, 2002

December 7, 2002: Pearl Harbor Day. I was a little over four months old when the surprise attack occurred, so naturally I don't remember a thing about it. I do remember the war, though.

I love the little dances that go on when someone is fired in Washington. Of course Bush didn't appear in public yesterday to answer any questions about the firing of his two big eco guns. And of course he'd never admit that his eco policies are flawed. But if they were any good, would his top guns have been fired? Now that he has to think about re-election, maybe Dub will try to do something about the economy. Or maybe he's still hoping the war will divert attention from it.

Friday, December 06, 2002

December 6, 2002: In a brief respite from the "All Iraq, all the time" blather of the Bush administration, the Treasury Secretary and another big economic honcho announced their resignations today, one coming within an hour of the other. Ari Fleischer told the press that "they resigned, and that's all I'll ever say about that." In other words, "Move along, asshats. Nothing to see here. Move along." Another coincidence was the fact that the unemployment rate spiked up to 6%, the highest in 9 years. Of course nothing like that ever happened on the watch of that lucky S.O.B. Bill Clinton, which must gall Dub in the extreme.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

December 4, 2002: We went to hear Leon Hale at the ACC Foundation's annual Christmas banquet last night. He read "The Chamber of Commerce Bull," which was pretty funny, and told a few funny stories. He got a very good reception. The silent auction and the regular auction made some money for the Foundation, too.

Very rainy and dark and gloomy today. Not the kind of day to make anyone feel good, except maybe someone longing for London in the winter.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002

December 3, 2002: What I don't understand today (I'm constantly in the dark, it seems) is why Dub doesn't just go ahead and bomb the hell out of Iraq. I mean, it's clear tht he's just itching to do it and that the UN inspections, no matter what they find, aren't going to stop him. So what's he waiting for?

Drudge revisited John Kerry's hair today. He's not paying as much as Drudge said at first. Gee, nothing like a newsy retraction like that to get the day off to a great start.

Monday, December 02, 2002

December 2, 2002: OK, I'm back. What? You didn't even know I was gone? Oh, well. We had a nice Thanksgiving with my daughter. We picked up Judy's mother and brought her here, and our son came in from Austin. He carved the turkey. I'm not competent in that area, so I have no idea where he learned. We took Judy's mom home on Friday, and I met with some of my high school classmates on Saturday. It's always great to see them again and to find out what's been going on in their lives.

My political comment for today has to do with John Kerry's hair. Apparently it's already become a campaign issue, and the campaign hasn't even started yet. What, I ask you, has the world come to when the fact that a guy goes to an expensive hair stylist becomes headline news. Well, it was headline news on The Drudge Report, which maybe tells us all we need to know about Drudge.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

November 27, 2002: Today is my brother's birthday. Happy birthday, Bob!

Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Well, maybe other countries aren't supposed to have it. In Canada someone calls George W. Bush a moron and is forced to resign. In Britain a comic advertisement is suppressed because it makes fun of Dub. Of course it's OK to make fun of Osama bin Laden, but not of the Great Leader of the Free World. I suspect that it won't be too long before this country has no freedom of speech, either. Too bad.

Monday, November 25, 2002

November 25, 2002: On Friday afternoon, Dub apparently relaxed the pollution restrictions on industry. This really hacks me because of the serious controls the government tried to put on drivers in Houston and the eight surrounding counties by lowering the speed limit to 55. This, in spite of the fact that all evidence pointed to the fact that reducing speeds would have no effect at all, since the studies the government was using were hopelessly out of date. Another example of how the Bush Administration slaps the little guy while the Big Dogs dance on.

And we also heard about the Saudis, who got a virtual free pass in the 9/11 investigations, though it now appears that some of them were funneling money to the hijackers. Yet we're going to war with Iraq, a country that didn't support the 9/11 hijackers and has never threatened of attacked us. Can anyone explain this to me so that it makes sense?

Sunday, November 24, 2002

November 24, 2020: We picked up Judy's mother on Saturday. She'll stay with us until next Friday, when we'll take her home. We'll have Thanksgiving dinner at Angela's house, and Allen will come in from Austin to join us.

Today on Meet the Press, Sen. Richard Shelby, an eight-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, warned Americans to expect another major attack from al-Qaida terrorists. So what did we accomplish in Afghanistan? We spent billions, and this is the result? Another major attack? We could have spent nothing and achieved the same result. But everyone thinks George W. is so wonderful, no one will have the guts to question this. And after the Big Brother computer starts functioning, nobody will ever question anything again. If they do, they'll just be disappeared.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

November 21, 2002: I'm not exactly a whiz at getting this thing updated every day, am I? Well, who cares? Nobody reads it but me, and that's the way it should be.

My latest venture is editing. Five Star Books seems to need a few good editors, and I'm now free-lancing for them. Mostly all I do is copy-edit, which in some cases, not to name any names, is a lot harder than it should be. Some of these people could profit from a good grammar course, or they could if they'd listen and put the principles into practice.

Beautiful weather in Alvin this week, California weather. Would that it could be this way all year 'round instead of only a few days a year.

Monday, November 18, 2002

November 18, 2002: We're back from a weekend at Austin, where I was one of the featured authors at the Texas Book Festival. We went to the coffee at the Governor's Mansion on Saturday morning, but the gov wasn't there. The docents gave us a nice tour of the ground floor of the place, though, and we had a very good breakfast on the grounds. My panel was on Sunday afternoon, and it was a good one. The audience seemed to have a good time. Judy ditched the panel so she could hear Fannie Flagg and Ethan Hawke. She's seen me often, and Fannie is probably funnier than I am, while Ethan is unquestionably younger and more handsome. So I didn't blame her.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

November 14, 2002: George W. Bush doesn't hold press conferences, so people aren't treated as often as they should be to his mangling of the English language. But his mangled English isn't why he doesn't hold press conferences. My suspicion is that he would appear so clueless as to amaze even his ardent supporters.

Now and then, however, Dub does say something. For example, yesterday he talked about the new Osama bin Laden tape. I didn't get to see all his remarks, since they weren't all shown on TV, but not once did I hear him utter the words "Osama bin Laden." He didn't utter even part of the name. It's as if bin Laden no longer exists for him in his little "All Saddam, all the time" world. Here we have bin Laden making actual threats, and he's a man who's attacked us already, but Dub is going after Saddam, who's never attacked or even threatened us. I still don't get it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

November 3, 2002: I'm so old that I can remember when President Bush said that Osama bin Laden was The Evil One. Now Dub doesn't hate Osama any more, or I guess that's the case, since he never even mentions him. I think that he should, and I think that he should refer to him as The (Former) Evil One. Maybe Osama will be so chapped that he'll off Saddam in order to regain his position.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

November 12, 2002: Another trip to Texas A&M today to deliver some boxes to the Cushing Library. They now have plenty of stuff from me, including most of my manuscripts and galleys.

And Osama bin Laden has a new videotape out. I thought that guy was dead and that we'd won the war against al Qaida. Maybe I was mistaken. I remember that at one time Dub said bin Laden was his #1 priority, but that was before he was shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that there was a maniac dictator in Iraq. So now bin Laden is the forgotten man, and Saddam is our real enemy. I still haven't figured out how we got from the one to the other. I can't figure out why there's never any mention of bin Laden any more. I can't figure out why nobody even mentions Afghanistan. Obviously, I'm clueless. Thank God that Dub knows all the answers. I just wish he'd let the public in on them, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

Monday, November 11, 2002

November 11, 2002: The Supreme Court is getting older, which means that Dub could appoint as many as three justices during his second term. If that doesn't scare you, you just can't be scared. If, or I suppose when, it happens, we might as well get ready for a court a lot like the one that tried the Salem Witches 210 years ago. Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards weren't on that court, but their spirits will be hovering over the one Bush appoints, for sure.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

November 9, 2002: OK, so Dub has his UN resolution, and now it's pretty clear that we'll be at war with Iraq within weeks, probably before Christmas. (Peace on Earth, Good will toward men.) But today there's a headline saying that al Qaida is planning major attacks around the world. I thought al Qaida was the enemy, but instead we're going to war with Iraq, which, as far as anyone knows has no connection with al Qaida. We were supposed to be fighting the terrorists, but I read yesterday that the war in Afghanistan is not going well and that al Qaida and Taliban fighters are adapting to U.S. tactics far better than the U.S. is adapting to theirs. But nobody even seems to remember Afghanistan these days. Certainly not George W. Bush. Why? I don't have a clue, and Dub sure isn't going to tell us. He's the Big Dog now.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

November 7, 2002: What really scares me about the big Republican victory is that now George W. will get all his judicial appointees confirmed. I think we're in for The Great Repression and that civil liberties will be lessened. The funny thing is that many people who voted for the Repubs would be horrified if you told them that they were contributing to the repression of freedom. Why, they believe in freedom. They're the ones who want to keep the government out of the people's personal lives. Yeah. Right. So why do they want to tell us what we can read, what we can see at the movies, what we can watch on TV? They actually want the government to rule our lives, but of course they'd never say so.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

November 5, 2002: Well, the Republicans have won a huge victory, so I suppose the stock market will zoom, Iraq will get bombed back to the stone age, and all will be right with the world. I'm completely at a loss to explain George W. Bush's appeal. He can't speak English, he's a doofus most of the time, and yet people love him. Some say it's his "character," which seems to mean that no matter how nutsy he is, at least he's not boinking interns in the Oval Office. I suppose that now his slate of judges will be appointed, and we'll see how much that changes things for the better. I suspect it will change things for the worse, but I seem to be in a minority, which is where I find myself most of the time.

The heat pump finally got fixed this morning. Just a sticky valve, so not an unbearable expense. The valve is old, so I just hope it keeps on working.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

November 2, 2002: There seems to be something wrong with the heat pump. Naturally, since it's Saturday, there's no one to call about checking it. But we won't have much cold weather for a while, so that's not really a problem. Paying for whatever has to be done, now, that would be a problem. Maybe it will start working again. You never can tell.

One of the cats, Sam, has been roaming around the neighborhood too much. We're trying to get him to stay in the house more. He really doesn't like it, or at least he doesn't until he calms down. After he's run for door to door to door and howled for a while, he usually settles down to sleep. This morning he bedded down in the sink.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

October 29, 2002: It's finally stopped raining. I was beginning to wonder if it ever would. Not that I'm complaining. We can use the rain, and there was no flooding to speak of here in Alvin. Some places in Houston weren't so lucky.

Maybe the rain is just another sign of the Endtimes. After all, Jackass: the Movie was #1 at the box office last weekend. Somewhere the Four Horsemen are saddling up.

Other signs: Consumer confidence is at a ten-year low. The crime and murder rate is up for the first time in two years. (How is Rush Limbaugh going to blame these things on Bill Clinton, I wonder?)

And, of course, it's been revealed that the U.S. has been secretly working on all sorts of chemical and biological weapons in possible violation of numerous treaties. Now, after we finish bombing Iraq, North Korea, and Russia, we'll have to bomb ourselves!

Sunday, October 27, 2002

October 27, 2002: Sam is staying in again today. He tried to climb the dining room shutters, and it took him a while to settle down, but he eventually went to sleep in the den. He woke up while Judy was reading the paper and roamed around and howled a little. Then he went back to sleep in the den. Maybe he'll learn that he has to stay in instead of going out to rove over the neighborhood.

Now that the sniper has been caught, the papers are moving on to other sensations. I didn't see many articles this morning, and not one of those I saw told about the number of times the sniper was stopped at roadblocks during his little spree. A British paper puts the number at ten. The TV footage of the S.W.A.T. team descending on the hapless illegals who used the wrong pay phone shows the sniper's car in the background. He was there watching it all, I suppose.

Uh-oh. Looks like the Rooskies used poison gas on their own people in their big hostage crisis. Now we'll have to go to war with them. Well, not until after we get Iraq. And North Korea. Wait a minute. We're not going to war with North ("Axis of Evil") Korea. Why not? I guess because they didn't try to kill Dub's daddy. (And while we're on that topic, where's the hard evidence that Iraq or Saddam ever actually did that? Probably in the same place all the hard evidence about the Iraq/al-Qaida connection is.)

Saturday, October 26, 2002

October 26, 2002: It's been raining here since Monday, and the weather guys say it will continue through Thursday. We're going to need swim fins just to get the newspaper in the mornings.

We're trying to force our youngest cat, Sam, to say in the house more. He likes to wander the neighborhood and visit in other houses. We're the ones paying the annual vet bill of nearly 70 bucks, so we feel Sam should stay with us. He doesn't see it that way.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

October 24, 2002: My latest moronic episode: Yesterday Judy was playing bridge in Pearland, so I decided to sneak off to Mervyn's to buy her birthday present. It was raining when I got to the mall, and the wind was blowing up a storm. When I opened the car door, the wind blew it out of my hand. I made a grab for the handle and caught it just in time. Then I grabbed my umbrella and dashed for the store. It was only when I got inside that I realized I'd left the keys in the car. There hadn't been any tell-tale "ding-ding-ding," so I hadn't left them in the steering column, but they weren't in my pocket. I also didn't have the little clicker that unlocked the door because it bork years ago. What if I'd locked the door? Well, I had. I could see the keys lying on the seat, but I couldn't get in. I went to the store and got the nice woman at the "Guest Services" counter to call Mall Security. They came and spent a half hour with a Slim Jim, but they couldn't open the door. I didn't have a cell phone, so I went into the mall and called the auto club. They sent out a guy who arrived about 40 minutes later. He tired for 20 minutes, but he couldn't open the door. He called in, and the service said they'd send another guy. He arrived about 40 minutes after that, and he couldn't open the door at first. However, he had a different device to try, and it worked. After only two or three wasted hours, I started home. What an experience.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

October 22, 2002: Actually I have an excuse for not having posted for so long. Judy and I were in Austin at the Bouchercon, where I was Fan Guest of Honor and where we won the Anthony Award for "best short story," the story being "Choclolate Moose," which appeared in Death Dines at 8:30. And is that a long sentence, or what? We naturally had a great time and there were plenty of highlights. Here are a few of them, none of which I am making up:

1. Hearing John Apostolou's superb performance on the duck call in the hotel lobby.

2. Witnessing the spectacle of Bruce Taylor's abject begging as he tried to buy John's wife's duck call. She finally just gave it to him.

3. Hearing Ed Hoch's duck call from the 7th floor balcony in response to John's duck call.

4. Winning (along with Judy) the Anthony Award for best short story. We were very surprised.

5. Hearing Bob Randisi sing harmony with a country band.

6. Learning that Gary Warren Niebuhr once sang "Muskrat Love" in a boy band.

7. Being interviewed by Joe Lansdale.

8. Seeing Elmer Kelton enjoying himself so much at a mystery convention.

9. Going to Rudy's Barbecue with Scott Cupp, Judy, Thom Walls, Bryan Barrett, and Steve Mertz. At Rudy's you get your food in crates and eat if off butcher paper.

10. Being the Fan Guest of Honor and basking in the adulation of thousands.

11. Attending the shortest Bouchercon banquet in recorded history.

I guess eleven is enough or maybe one too many, but there were other highlights as well. I'd corresponded with Fender Tucker, but I'd never met him. I wanted to see the guy who was crazy enough to reprint all the works of Harry Stephen Keeler and bind the individual books in his kitchen, using an iron and a glue gun. He's also publishing The Boucher Chronicles, for which every mystery reader should be grateful.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

October 16, 2002: Around 1976, I met Katherine Anne Porter. Someone asked me about that today, and I guess I might as well set my memories down somewhere. The college where I was teaching (Howard Payne University) invited her to come for a symposium and her birthday. She was born in Indian Creek Texas, which no longer really exists but which was near Brownwood, where I was teaching. Porter was around 80 at the time. When I was introduced to her in a motel room as "Dr. Crider," she said, "Oh, Dr. Crider, the pains start right at my wrist and go all the way up my arm!" I explained I wasn't that kind of doctor. Later, my wife and I sat next to her at the big birthday banquet in her honor. She wore a white wedding dress that she'd bought in Mexico when she lived there back in the '20s or '30s, and she also wore a huge emerald brooch, which my wife noticed right away. When she asked about it, Porter said that she made a bundle from Ship of Fools and "Some people buy boats. I bought emeralds." That made perfect sense to my wife. Porter had been to Texas since WWII, so she went with several faculty members (not me, unfortunately) to the cemetery where her parents were buried and had a picnic. Later two of the faculty members visted her in Maryland. We'd heard a rumor that she'd bought a wooden casket in Mexico and that she kept it in her house. I told one of the women to find out. So when Porter was asleep, they snooped in the closest. Sure enough, they found the casket, covered with a sheet. They threw back the sheet and took a picture, which I kept in the lit. book I taught from. I guess it's still there, but the book's in storage. She was invited to appear on stage for the graduation exercises and assumed that she was to hand out the diplomas. She got tired about halfway through and had to sit down, but about half the graduates got their diplomas from her instead of the president. All in all, it was an interesting weekend.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

October 15, 2002: You'd think I'd do better on this thing. I can't seem to get things down every day as I'd like to.

I'm interested in the sniper situation in the D.C. area. George Bush finally mentioned the sniper yesterday after only two weeks. I guess the NRA told him it would be OK. What he said was this: "Any time anybody is randomly shooting, randomly killing, randomly taking life, it's cold-blooded murder." You can't tell me this guy's not a genius!

You have to wonder a couple of things at least: why does the sniper take the weekends off? Is he a football fan? And will he shoot someone today? This is pretty damned scary.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

October 8, 2002: Judy and I saw Bubba Ho-Tep last night. It's based on a Joe Lansdale story, one that has, according to two people I talked to last week, "the nastiest opening sentence" they ever read. (For the morbidly curious, here it is: "Elvis dreamed he had his dick out, checking to see if the bump on the head
of it had filled with pus again.") The movie script is faithful to the story, which may be why it doesn't have a distributor yet. It's vulgar, hilarious, and even touching. Bruce Campbell is great is Elvis, and Ossie Davis is terrific as John F. Kennedy. I don't know who played the evil mummy. Anyway, Joe was there, and he was in fine fettle. YOu can't blame him. It must be great to sit in a theater with 499 other people who are laughing, yelling, and cheering at lines you wrote.

And another thing: You can read about an actor having a "cult following," but until you see it for yourself, it's hard to believe just what that means. Bruce Campbell is huge with a certain crowd. He did a book signing at the theater, and we got there about an hour after it started. The line was at least a block and a half long. It was still almost that long two hours later when the movie was supposed to start. He agreed to introduce the movie and then go back out to continue signing. He did about 15 minutes of stand-up before the movie and was very witty and articulate, so his book might be pretty good.

Saturday, October 05, 2002

October 5, 2002: On Thursday evening, Judy and I went to the Greek Festival in Houston at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral. It's the festival's 36th year, but our first time to attend. Mostly, we ate: pastitsio, spanakopita, tiropita, keftedes, salata, but we also saw the colorful folk dancers and toured the crowded gift shop. All in all, it was fun.

The stock market continues to plummet, and Bush continues to beat his little war drum. Now some experts are forecasting a huge October crash. I hope they're wrong. I'm getting really depressed about teh whole thing. And i still can't figure out how we got from Point A to Point B in the war situation. When did Osama bin Laden cease to be The Evil One and/or morph into Saddam Hussein. First we were going to get Osama, dead or alive. He's probably dead, but no one knows for sure, and he seems to have been pretty much forgotten, just as Afghanistan has. The job there is half done, if that, and yet Dub is all over Saddam. We have to get him. Why? No one will say anything except that he's a danger to us. Why? Well, he just is. He's never made any threats against the U.S., he certainly has given no more aid and comfort to the terrorists than Saudi Arabia has, and yet we have to kill him. Maybe this will all work out, but I know for sure I'll never vote for a Republican as long as I live. No matter how scummy the Democrats might be, they can't match this.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

October 1, 2002: What the hell is up with the Turks? First they say they've caught two guys with 33 pounds of weapons-grade uranium. Then they say, well, uh, it was only 5 ounces. How do you make a mistake like that? But wait, there's more. Now they say, well, er, it wasn't even uranium. And I thought the U.S. cops were morons. Maybe the Turk cops smoke ganja.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

September 26, 2002: Tomorrow Judy and I are heading to Ft. Worth for the Ft. Worth Book and Paper Show. I'm supposed to be signing A Knife in the Back, but I would easily wind up buying more books than I sign. I keep telling myself that I should turn down these signings, but it's not easy to do. The organizer of this one is the president of the North Texas Booksellers Assn., so that means at least my books will be there and available.

The market has been up for two days in a row now. I'd like to think that it's past the bottom, but I'm still worried about it. Dub still won't talk about it. The war is the only thing on his mind right now.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

September 24, 2002: Here's the latest propaganda from the DemocRATS. Seems the DEMONcrats just can't admit that George W. Bush, Our Great President, is the best thing ever to happen to this country. Why can't the stupid LIEberals just give up? We know it's all Bill Clinton's fault!


Inauguration Day Now
Dow Jones 10.587 7.986 Down 32.5%
Unemployment Rate 4.2 5.7 Up 36%
Budget 281b Surplus 157b Deficit
Jobs 111.7 million 109.6 million Loss of 2 Million

Monday, September 23, 2002

September 23, 2002: I'm getting really worried about the stock market. Just when you think it can't go any lower, it goes lower. And George W. Bush doesn't seem to notice. He hasn't mentioned the economy in months. All he can do is beat his little war drum and try to get the country into a fight with Iraq, which, as far as I know hasn't ever, not even once, threatened to attack the U.S. If he's worried about nuclear bombs, what about North Korea, Pakistan, and India? They've got 'em and they've threatened to use 'em. But apparently that doesn't bother Dub. He has a one-track mind, and Iraq is on the track. Now Condi Rice is saying we'll rebuild the country and convert it to democracy. Does she have any idea what it would cost to run the economy, feed and clothe the population, and defend them from their enemies for the next thirty or forty years? Maybe. But she doesn't seem to care any more than Dub cares about the economy. The only people worried about the economy are folks like me, recently retired and watching their life savings draining away day by day. What a sorry state of affairs.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

September 20, 2002: Went to see The Four Feathers yesterday and was mildly disappointed. I guess I'd been expecting a rousing adventure movie, in the vein of the original. But maybe nobody knows how to make adventure movies these days. For whatever reason, the movie wasn't rousing (at least to me), and why, oh, why does everyone these days seem afraid of color? Even the scenes filmed in the full sun of the desert looked as if they'd been shot inside a curtained room. What's up with that? Are people afraid of real color? I know they don't shoot in Technicolor any more, but surely they can find some film stock that will present something resembling actuality. Sure they can. The Scorpion King had real color. Maybe "serious" directors are the ones who don't want to use vibrant colors. They'd detract from the film's high motives. Gimme a break.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

September 18, 2002: Obviously I do this blogging for my own entertainment. Which explains why it doesn't exactly have any focal point. It's just sort of a rambling experssion of what I'm thinking about. And today, I'm thinking about fingernail clippers.

When I went off to college in 1959, my mother gave me a fingernail clipper. It was in a leather case, and it had been a gift from Red Arrow Freight Lines. The Red Arrow logo was on the case. My father worked for Red Arrow, managing the Mexia, Texas, office for many years. That's why we had the clippers in the first place. And I still have them. The leather case is worn out, and you can't see the logo very well. In fact, I took the clippers out of the case and put it aside some years ago. But I use the clippers all the time, just as I've been doing for the last 43 years. What kind of person uses the same pair of fingernail clippers for 43 years? I don't know, but that's the kind of person I am.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

September 17, 2002: The birthday party for Judy's mother was a big success. Probably 100 people showed up, and we got some good photos. I managed to catch a cold, so I'm not feeling too well. Should be OK by tomorrow thought.

The geniuses who gave us the 55 mph speed limit in Harris and surrounding counties have finally figured out that they Wrong. Now they're proposing that the speed limits be raised to 65 mph. It really won't matter. When we came back yesterday, there was no one on the highway driving less than 70, and most were going a lot faster than that. So 65 or 55, the real average speed will be around 75.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

September 14, 2002: Judy's gone to Thornton to get ready for her mother's big 90th birthday party. I have to go to a banquet tonight, so I'm staying here until tomorrow, when I'll drive up in time for lunch and the party. At the banquet tonight, I'll receive the Catherine Foster Munson award for literature. It's given by Brazoria County to a writer who's made some contribution to Texas literature. I don't know what contribution I've made, but I'm glad to be recognized for my writing. That's always nice. The kink in the rope is that I have a cold. Not a very bad one, but enough of one to be irritated by it. A little coughing, a little sneezing. Too bad.

Today is the bond election for Alvin Community College. Seems to me there are quite a few people against it, but they're mostly poorly informed and ignorant of the facts. There are also some who appear to me to be against the bond for personal reasons, and they're the ones working quietly behind the scenes to undermine anything the college tries to do. There's a good plot for a novel here, and I intend to write it Real Soon Now.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

September 12, 2002: We went to Texas A&M on the tenth and deilivered the boxes of material to the Cushing Library. We were treated royally and taken to lunch at the A&M Faculty Club in the Rudder Tower. Joe Lansdale was there to deliver some of his material as well, so it was fun to see him. The Cushing Library is a great place, and it was nice to see how well the books and other items are cared for. My stuff is in good hands.

On the 11th, jerk that I am, I didn't watch any of the TV coverage of the 9/11 terror attacks. There's plenty to be remembered about that day, but TV runs things into the ground with mawkish sentimentality. You gotta wonder if your parents and grandparents spent December 7, 1942, wallowing in rememberances.

Monday, September 09, 2002

September 9, 2002: I went to the college today and collected nine boxes of my "papers" that were still in the office. Tomorrow Judy and I will haul them to Texas A&M, where they'll be housed in the Cushing Memorial Library. I hope those Aggies know what they're getting into, since the twelve boxes are probably only the beginning of the stuff I have for them. I think it's great material, and I'd like to see it preserved properly. I hope that's what they're planning to do.

I have my website up and running at, too. It's not finished, but it's good enough. I need to see if I can get it listed on the search engines now.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

September 6, 2002: I've spent the last few days working on a new website, and I'm not sure I'm competent to finish the job. I keep gettin error messages on one page, and the "customer service" can't seem to help. Maybe it will get cleared up by next week. I hope so because I'm tired of fooling with it.

Tropical Storm Fay lingered off the Gulf Coast for a while, and the TV news crews went berserk, sending every reporter they had to stand ankle-deep in the surf off Galveston and Freeport or to stand in the rain anywhere they could find it. Predictions of the apocalypse filled the air. Around 10:30 last night, the weather guys predicted that the storm would stay in the Gulf all night and move onshore late this afternoon. They'd barely uttered this bold prediction before Fay came onshore. Hardly anything happened. Sweeney, about 60 miles down the coast from here, got a lot of rain. We got a total of 2-1/2 inches out of the whole thing. Not quite the apocalypse, but close enough for me.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

September 3, 2002: Friday night, Judy and I went to the Haak Winery in Santa Fe (Texas, not New Mexico). Dinner was catered by Carraba's, and music was by some Jamaican steel drum band. Charles and Marie Ferguson went with us, and we met Gerald and Sheila Skidmore there. We had a great time, but since the event was outside, it was very hot. We left after about an hour and a half and went to the Ferguson's house for a cople of drinks (well, I had water) and talked about the possiblity of a European trip next year.

On Saturday, Judy and I went to the Museum of Natural Science in Houston to see the exhibit of artifacts from the Titanic. It's amazing that paper survived all those years under the ocean. The whole exhibit is pretty impressive. We went to Scholtsky's afterward and had sandwiches. Angela went with us, but she has a cold and wasn't feeling well. We stopped by Half-Price Books. Didn't find much, however.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

August 31, 2002: Last night I attended what's bound to be the last "official" college event of my career, a retirement party thrown for me by the ACCTA (Alvin Community College Teachers Association). It was held at Darryl Stephens' house, a great old 19th century home with high ceilings, antique furniture, and huge rooms. The people I worked with at ACC for 19 years are the main reason I sort of hated to retire, but I'm sure I'll be seeing all of them again.

One interesting thing about ACC is that there are no bells. Sometime in the past, someone got the idea that school bells were "high school," so no bells ring at ACC. That's probably fine in a lot of ways, but it made me into a real clock-watcher, as if I weren't already. You have to keep on your toes, though, so as not to get deep into some project and miss class. And of course school teaching made me devoted to routine, as if I weren't already. The hardest adjustment to retirement will be establishing a new routine, one that I can live with. I'm trying. Now instead of going to class in the morning, I go for a run. I used to run at around 11:30 when I took my lunch break, and the early morning is certainly cooler (but no less humid). If I could just begin writing earlier in the day, I'd feel I'd accomplished something, but I'm still doing the writing at night. That has to change. And it will. Trust me.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

August 29, 2002: Sure enough, school started without me today. Instead of teaching an 8:00 class, I went out for a run. Not even a twinge of regret. Well, maybe a minor one. When you've been there for the first day of class every semester since starting the first grade (in 1947!), it's kind of hard to believe things just go right on without you. But they do, and I'm sure I wasn't missed. By next week, no one will even remember I was ever there.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

August 28, 2002: A guy at the college tells me that they're headed for near-record enrollment and will certainly come close to the numbers achieved during the recession of George the First. An enrollment like this is a sure sign that there are no jobs out there. The college administration should be pleased, since this is a funding year. Hey, who said Republican presidents weren't good for education?

The book burners are at it again. I've never quite figured out why some goobers are so afraid that someone else might read a book or see a movie that the goobers find offensive. If the goobers don't like it, they don't have to read the book or see the movie. They don't have to let their kids read or watch, either. But no, they want to tell everyone else what to do. Naturally they would be first in line to protest government regulation of, say, talk radio, but not something they deem offensive. They want the government to step right in and take charge.

First there are the nitwits in North Carolina who don't want their college freshmen to read the Koran as part of an assignment. Right. Why expose anyone to a different point of view? They might accidentally get educated. But wait a minute. Isn't education the reason for going to college? Not for these enlightened souls. Keep people ignorant. That's the ticket!

Then right here in Texas, in the lovely city of Cut and Shoot, there are people who are outraged about a book in the Montgomery County library. It seems that It's Perfectly Natural (placed in the YA section) implies that homosexuality might not be a hideous sin for which the vile practitioners will burn in the everlasting flames of hell with Satan giving them a pitchfork enema every day. You sure wouldn't want your kids thinking something like that! Gotta train them right. They have to be carefully taught.

Of course, the Houston police have been carefully taught. Taught to follow orders, that is. So when they went to the K-Mart parking lot last weekend to arrest drag racers and didn't find any, they arrested everyone else who was there, and everyone at the Sonic next door for good measure. Even people with receipts for food at the Sonic or for purchases at K-Mart.

Let's see now: mass arrests of innocent people, banning books, where have we heard all this before. Oh, yeah. Germany, 1938.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

August 26, 2002: Went to the college this morning to practice with the guys for tomorrow's performance. We aren't good, but we're enthusiastic. And we aren't too boring, which means we should be the hit of the workshop.

Allen called. He bought a new hard drive for his computer. 100 GB of memory. That's a lot. A mere $199, with a $70 rebate coming. Sounds like a deal.

I have about three more days of work on the western novel I'm doing, and then it's on to the one with Humphrey Bogart. I have to do an outline, which I hate, but I need the dough. I'm even considering writing romance novels. I'll have to come up with a new name, though. Angela Allen is one I like.

Monday, August 26, 2002

August 26, 2002: Today is registration at the college. Registration week was always the worst week of the semester, and I never slept well during any of it. It was the only bad part of the job. But of course today I didn't have to worry about it, since I'm retired. I went to the school in the afternoon to practice with the G-Strings, though. I'm an emeritus member, and we'll be singing three songs at the workshop on Wednesday, all original compositions: "Workshop Blues," "Waltzing to Alvin," and "In the Fall." I'm sure we'll be a rousing success.

Sunday, August 25, 2002

August 25, 2002: President Bush is calling for an "expanded" and "extended" war or terror, which I guess means a war, or whatever it will be called, with Iraq. Looking back on Afghanistan and our "war" with al-Qeada, I don't see much success. We killed plenty of civilians, several Canadians, and a handful of our own troops. But as far as anyone knows, Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenants are still on the loose, and al-Qeada is still plenty active. And then today a London paper reports that the Saudis paid bin Laden millions in "protection money." What does this mean in relation to Bush's "You're either for us or against us" declaration? From my persepctive, the whole response to 9/ll has been a badly-handled, if not completely bungled over-reaction. And an article in the Houston Chronicle today says that on Tuesday a report will be issued to say that the budget deficit will be double Bush's last prediction. We're in serious trouble here, and there doesn't seem to be a coherent plan to do anything to get us out.

Friday, August 23, 2002

August 23, 2002: OK, it's official. Any way you look at it, I'm retired. Yesterday was the last day of the summer semester, and registration for the fall begins on Monday. I was employed through the end of the summer. So now it's over. After going to school every fall since 1947, I'll be staying at home on Monday. As the '60s saying went, today is the first day of the rest of my life.

So how am I spending it? Other than writing this, I went to the grocery store (seedless watermelon, Olathe sweet corn, lettuce, green beans, potatoes, balsamic vinegar, raspberries, blueberries, mushrooms, peanuts, Pepsi One). And later on Judy and I will be going to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Her choice, not mine. I'd probably pick something with explosions. But who's to say there won't be an explosion in this one? We can only hope.

Actually, I won't be staying at home on Monday. The group I occasionally pick and sing with, called The G-Strings, or sometimes Bill Benton Bill Benton, will be performing Wednesday at the college's in-service workshop. I've been made an emeritus member of the group, so maybe I'll practice with them on Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

August 21, 2002: I went in to try to get a little more done in the way of office cleaning, and my phone wasn't working. I figured this was the final push out the door: first they move your mailbox over to the Old Guy's side of the room, and then they cut off your phone. But, as it turned out, the whole phone system at the college was kaput. Considering that students are trying to enroll and that the college has telephone registration, this is about the worst possible time for something like that to happen. I was glad to know, however, that they hadn't cut off my phone.

This is lawn-mowing day. You already know what I think about that.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

August 20, 2002: When I went to the college mail room this morning, I discovered that my mailbox had been moved from the regular faculty line-up to the Old Guy's area. It must be that my retirement is official. I still haven't finished cleaning out the office, though. That may take a while.

While I was in the office, I fired up the computer and wrote a note to "All Personnel," wishing them a fond farewell. I'll still be around a lot, but it was time to get that done.

Then I went to the bank. There were six or seven people waiting in the tellers' lines. You have to wonder why only two tellers were on duty, but then this is the bank that advertises "12 Drive-Thru Banking Lanes!" And they have them, all right. However, there are usually between four and eight of them open. I've never seen all 12 open, and I've been banking there since 1983. Anyway, I waited in the line for about ten minutes before I decided that the bank was as bad as the post office. I went outside and went to the drive-through, which was practically deserted. Should have gone there in the first place.

Monday, August 19, 2002

August 19, 2002: We're back from Austin and the Armadillocon. Good convention, even if Joe Lansdale tried to humiliate me in his toastmaster speech. He didn't bother me at all, but he might have succeeded with Martha Wells. It was all pretty hilarious. He also did a well-attended reading that was very funny. I was on four panels, bought some books (including a 1972 Buddy Holly bio), and hung out some. James Reasoner, Scott Cupp, and Willie Siros were there, too, so there were plenty of people to talk to. We went to my sister's house on Sunday night, and she cooked lasagna for us (and Allen and her son Scott and his wife, Norma). Had a nice visit there, as well. We drove back through Houston today and picked up my car at Angela's townhouse. Her car is fixed now, thank goodness.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

August 15, 2002: Rain is good, but there's such a thing as too much of a good thing. We've had nearly five inches of rain today (so far). That's too much. I was going to Hugo Valdez's retirement party at the college today, but there's no way I'm getting back out in this mess.

I was at school earlier, and the new chair of the English Department, Bea Hugetz, came by. While she was there, she signed a grade change form for Dr. Fox. That's the first time she'd signed one, and the first time I hadn't in 19 years. Not a big deal, but a sure sign that I'm no longer part of the big scheme of things. Or even the small scheme.

Judy and I will go to Austin tomorrow for the Armadillocon, a small regional SF convention. I'm a guest, even though I don't write SF. I'll be on a few panels, see a few freinds, visit a few bookstores. Can't beat a weekend like that.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

August 14, 2002: I went to my office at the college today, and I'm already beginning to feel like an alien there. People who came by seemed to talk a little differently, but maybe it's just my perception. I have to go in tomorrow to make sure that all the summer session grades are turned in, but after that I'm pretty much a free man. And odd feeling.

I had to mow the lawn today, which, as I've already said, is not my favorite chore. Since we're leaving for Austin on Friday, and since we have to go to Houston this evening to see about Angela's car, today was about the only chance I had. Got it done.

The stock market is up, which is good, and I hope it will stay that way. I have less and less faith in George W. Bush's ability to help the economy or the country. He wants to get Saddam, and yet he's the one who promised (without delivering) to get Osama bin Ladin "dead or alive." Maybe delivery comes later. At any rate, if we can't get the one, how can we expect to do any better getting the other?

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

August 13, 2002: Judy went for her final post-surgery visit to the doctor. The nurse saw her and dismissed her. All is well

Angela called. She's having car trouble, so we'll have to drive both cars to Houston tomorrow night and let her borrow one of them. Since we're leaving for Austin on Friday, we'll have to pick the car up on the way back on Sunday. This is getting boring.

Monday, August 12, 2002

August 12, 2002: Highlight of the day so far: driving to Sugar Land to visit Half-Price Books. Didn't find much worth telling about, but I picked up a novel by Mary Astor, who played opposite Humphrey Bogart in THE MALTESE FALCON. I didn't realize that she wrote novels. This one appears to be some sort of romantic suspense. Hey, at half of the 50 cent cover price, I couldn't pass it up. Maybe I'll even read it, but it's not at the top of my list.

Sunday, August 11, 2002

August 11, 2002: Judy and I drove to Houston today to have lunch with Allen and Angela. Allen was in town because he'd worked a private party with Cornell Hurd's band on Saturday night. We all went to Chuy's. I had the veggie enchiladas, which proves what a wild and crazy guy I am.

When we got back to Angela's townhouse, she told us her refrigerator had been making a funny clicking noise. While listening for it, I found water on the floor in front of the 'fridge. We opened the freezer and discovered that everything was thawing. I found a repair service in the Yellow Pages and called for help. They got a guy right out, and he replaced a burned out relay. The Maytag refrigerator is only 2-1/2 years old, so the relay shouldn't have gone bad so quickly, but there's nothing you can do except thank the guy for coming and pay him the Big Bucks. $160 for the part and about 20 minutes' work. But, hey, it was Sunday afternoon, and Angela needed the freezer fixed fast.

We got a call not long ago from Allen, who's safely back in Austin with all the DVDs we got him for his birthday. Now all he needs is plenty of time to watch them.

Saturday, August 10, 2002

August 10, 2002: Here's my take on Gold Medal writer Wade Miller (actually a writing team), as posted to rara-avis, the hardboiled listserv:

I thought I might as well read Wade Miller's THE TIGER'S WIFE (1951) for a very good reason: I'd never read it before. I'd read several others by the Miller team, though, including the one that's probably my favorite of theirs, THE BIG GUY (1953). Before reading THE TIGER'S WIFE, in fact, I scanned THE BIG GUY to see if it was as good as I remembered. It was. Great opening: "Joe Drum glanced dispassionately at the blood on his knuckles. It was not his own blood. Even if it had been, the mere sight of blood would have lighted no fire of emotion in his eyes, which were a rusty-brown color like old armor plate. Noe one ever knew what went on inside Joseph T. Drum, and he was proud of that. He dried his knuckles on the clothes of the mand held pinioned before him." And there's an even better ending, which really impressed me Back in the Day. I read it again, and it's still good. I won't quote it because it's a spoiler. I wonder, though, if Peter Rabe didn't go to school on Wade Miller.

But I digress. Back to THE TIGER'S WIFE. Another classic GM situation: a guy meets a beautiful woman and they marry in haste. As the book goes along, he begins to discover that she isn't at all what he thought she was. That's the case here. Lucius Bohy is a knockaround guy, gun-runner, soldier of fortune, nicknamed The Tiger. You know the type from other GM books. He meets Jill Spring and before he realizes it, his life is really changed. This is definitely not a feminist tract. Maybe it's the reverse, but again I don't want to give away too much. Readable and slick, and if there's way too much of that irritating love talk, there's a good reason for it. The psychology is very 1950s, but that's part of the book's appeal for me. There's some hot (for the early 1950s) sex, some of it just a little kinky. And another great ending.

If you have any of these early Miller books in your collection, give one a try.

Friday, August 09, 2002

August 9, 2002: Judy and I went to see BLOOD WORK this afternoon. Not a bad movie, but pretty easy to figure out. Clint Eastwood was good, and in fact so was most of the cast. It was nice to see an old-fashioned cop movie, with no car chases and no big special effects. Just a straightforward story.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

August 8, 2002: Went to Wal-Mart (Boy, I go to Wal-Mart a lot, don't ? But then where else is there to shop in Alvin, Texas?) and bought the DVD release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Not for me, though. I'm giving it to Allen for his birthday, along with several other DVDs, all westerns. It's nice to know that somebody his age is still interested in watching westerns. I figure most of the ones sold go to people my age.

This afternoon I took Judy to the doctor to get the drain removed from her surgery. All went well, and she didn't even feel it when the nurse removed the tube. This wil make bandaging her back a lot easier.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

August 7, 2002: Here's my take on forgotten writer Jonathan Craig, in a message I posted to the rara-avis list:

Dragnet probably spawned plenty of fictional procedural
series, but two of the best were published as paperback
originals. You all know about one of them, Ed McBain's 87th
Precinct series, which eventually went into hardback and is
still going on. The other one began about a year before
McBain's, and hardly anyone remembers it. Too bad, because
it's a good one. The author was Jonathan Craig, and the
series is set in a (named) New York City. The main
characters are two homicide cops, Pete Selby and Stan
Rayder. They work out of the 6th precinct, and most of
their cases (I think there were 10, all for Gold Medal) are
in Greenwich Village. The book I picked to re-read (for no
particular reason) was CASE OF THE PETTICOAT MURDER (1958).

The book opens, as nearly every Selby/Rayder case with the
discovery of a beautiful nude murder victim. It proceeds
with very little action but a lot of attention of details
(both of forensics and of regular police routine). And with
plenty of cross examination by Selby. Craig was really good
with dialog, and the story moves right along. Like all the
crimes Selby and Rayder get involved with, this one has
plenty of sexual overtones. Here's Selby: "People do weird
things for sexual enjoyment; strangling themselves and
others is only one of them. The idea, of course, is to stop
just the other side of climax and just this side of death;
but by the time that point is reached, the victim is often
in such a state of excitement that he no longer recognizes
it. In our years together, Stan and I have cut down a lot
of them: men dressed in women's clothing, girls with their
bodies coveredwith obscene words written in lipstick, men
and women with their stomachs bristling with needles or
forearms livid with cigarette burns." Pretty strong stuff
for 1958. (Trust me; I was there.) But at the same time,
there's Gold Medal's apparent ban on the grosser
body-function words. One character, for example, is "peed

If you read several Selby books in a row, there would
probably be a sameness about them, but I highly recommend at
least one. Why didn't they hit the big time like McBain's
books? One reason was almost certainly Craig's decision to
write in the first person. He doesn't have the big cast
that McBain does. And of course McBain's plots are a lot
more varied.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

August 6, 2002: The reviews for Anna Nicole Smith's "reality" show are brutal. I watched it, of course, because Anna is from my hometown of Mexia, Texas. In fact, my brother taught high school there for many years, and she was in one of his biology classes. Under a different name, of course. She's clearly dumber than a rock, but she was smart enough to somehow go from working at Jim's Crispy Fried Chicken (where my father used to go because he liked the gizzards) to becoming a media phenomenon. Smalltown girl makes good. I mean, my brother's a lot smarter than she is, and he's not famous.

I have to admit the show was awful, though. Anna Nicole slurred her words so that I could hardly understand her. She knew nothing at all about the suicide bombings in the Middle East, and in fact when someone told her about them, she said, "Doesn't that hurt?"

But there she is: a star. Or what passes for one nowadays. Gotta give her credit for that.

Monday, August 05, 2002

August 5, 2002: Time to get busy on the book I'm writing, as I just signed a contract to do another one, due December 15. I'll have to write fast, and I'm just hoping I can get it done.

Today is probably my next-to-last on the job. I have some vacation time coming, and I'll start taking those days on Wednesday. When I get back, the summer session will be over, so there'll be only a few people there. It's going to be pretty strange not to have a place to go. I'll be the Ghost Crider in the Sky, as the guys said in their song. I still haven't finished cleaning out the office, so that needs to be done, and the sooner the better.

I've figured out the digital camera, or pretty much so. No all I need is an excuse to take pictures.

Saturday, August 03, 2002

August 3, 2002: Nothing going on today except my nursing duties. I managed to change the dressings without killing Judy, but I'm so clumsy that it was touch and go for a while there. The incision is very clean, what with all the fluid going into the drain (which I've had to empty twice, so far). Looks like I might have to buy some more tape and possibly some more gauze pads later on.

Later this afternoon I'll give the lawnmower one last chance. I'm tired of messing around with it and having it worked on every summer. A new one might not be any better, but it should get me through a couple of years before it quits on me.

OK, I got a new lawnmower. At Wal-Mart. I asked the checker for help (lawnmowers are heavy). There were five employees in a little knot standing nearby, talking about their rich, full personal lives, I guess. The checker didn't have to call them but three times before she finally got the attention of one of them. He very reluctantly helped me get the mower onto a cart. The checker asked him to help me load it into the truck, but he clearly didn't want to do that. Why, he'd have to walk out into the hot parking lot! I got tired of it and pulled the cart out into the lot myself. When I got to the truck, I saw him emerge from the door. So, what the heck, I waited. Why deny him the exercise. he helped me load it and started to leave. I figured that if he didn't pull the cart back, I sure wasn't going to do it. But after a couple of steps he turned back and I gave him the handle. A typical employee? I hate to think so.

Friday, August 02, 2002

August 2, 2002: Something seems to have happened to yesterday's entry, so I'll mention here that the retirement reception wasn't as bad as I'd feared. The group with which I occasionally pick and sing presented a few numbers, including the stirring "Ghost Crider in the Sky." Hard to believe they sounded so good without me. I got a swell digital camera and a Texas Ranger jersey signed by Nolan Ryan. Now I guess I'll have to go away.

Judy had day surgery today to remove a lipoma from her back. She's home already and doing fine. Her major problem will be dealing with her nurse (me), who's mostly incompetent.

The lawnmower is kaput. The only thing worse than mowing the lawn is not being able to mow it because of the @$#!%& lawnmower. I've had this one worked on far too often, so I'm ditching it for a new one. I can't afford it, but I'm tired of the hassle.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

July 31, 2002: I hate mowing the yard. It was my job when I was a kid at home, and I mowed a big yard with a push mower, one of those old reel-type mowers powered by me. We later moved to a house with an even bigger yard, and after I'd mowed it a couple of times, my father relented and bought a power mower. I thought that was pretty cool, and for a while mowing wasn't such a chore. But then it became boring again. It's been boring ever since. Except for a few years when I was in college and later when I lived in apartments, I've been mowing the yard. Probably forty years of yard-mowing all told. No wonder I hate it.

Tomorrow is the little "retirement reception" that the college is giving me. I'm not fond of receptions, but they beat mowing the yard. The catch is that I mowed my front yard today. Tomorrow I have to mow the back yard when the reception's over.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

July 30, 2002: Spent some time today talking to Bea Hugetz, who'll be taking my place as department chair of English when I retire next month. She's been working at ACC longer than I have, so I'm sure she'll adjust easily to the new job.

Ran in the rain during the lunch hour. It was a nice break from the heat. I got wet, but then I'm soaking when I finish a run in the summer whether it rains or not.

Didn't get much of the office cleaned out today, but I have about a month left to take care of all that. I'm hoping to be allowed to leave several boxes there until the middle of September or thereabouts.

Writing this stuff down and reading over my earlier comments makes me realize what a dull life I lead. Eating Mexican food for dinner will be the highlight of my day.

Monday, July 29, 2002

July 29, 2001: Went out for a run this morning around 8:30. Very humid, but still a pretty good time of day for a run. In less than a month I'll be retiring from my job as Chair of the Division of English & Fine Arts at Alvin Community College, where I've been teaching since 1983. I'm looking forward to the free time, but I'm not looking forward to poverty, which is what I may experience if the stock market doesn't turn around soon. I'm hoping to make a few book sales over the next few years, but that's not going to help immediately.

Judy and I have three cats: Speedo, Geri (or Baby), and Sam. Speedo is about 14, and he's developing what seem to be symptoms of diabetes. I'll have to get him checked out. I'd hate to have to give him shots.

Went to Wal-Mart today and bought Allen some DVDs for his birthday: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Red Dawn; Silverado; The Quick and the Dead. He likes westerns, which is a rarity these days, or at least Hollywood seems to think so.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

July 28, 2002: I'm starting this blog on my 61st birthday, and about one month before I retire. I have no idea what's going to be here, but for now I'll just use it as a diary.
For my birthday, we made peach ice cream, the first time we've done that in years. We used the old wooden freezer that has a hand crank. You have to earn your ice cream around here. It had to root around in the attic for quite a while before I found the freezer, but it was in great shape. The ice cream was as good as I remembered. My mother's recipe. My wife, Judy, fixed lasagna, and our daughter, Angela came over. Our son, Allen, lives in Austin and couldn't be here, but we talked to him on the phone.