Friday, January 27, 2012


I owe Mrs. Miller one pair of shorts. She let me talk her out of them, and all I can add is, Thank the Lord for small favors!

They are..were...a yellow, girlie, summery pair of shorts she made some years back, and neither one of us can recall the last time she wore them. So she gave them up for the sake of the arts here in River City. The show is The Fantasticks, opening tonight, 8pm, for the paying people on the Dinner Stage down at Backdoor.

And a HUGE THANK YOU to all who came out last night for our Press Release, Friends & Family opening. That first time in front of a breathing audience really points out the sweet and sour spots! Like in the second act when Socrates and Lodevigo manhandle Matt off stage while lustily singing a quick homage to West Side Story. Helluva place for a laugh break!

This is my fourth show at Backdoor? The first, I believe, that Mrs. Miller hasn't been up in the tech booth to run lights and sound. She's always been so good at lighting me up! Last night she got to see the show for the first time like any regular person, and I think she got a kick out of it. I know I did, but I surely miss not having her on my crew!

Fantasticks will run for a couple more weekends, at least, so get your reservations in now to see what became of AnniePie's britches!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Save your work!

Save your work, Children. Save your work!

We just dumped nearly a page of monologue and stage directions for our entrance into The Fantasticks... right after the Fathers’ It Depends On What You Pay number.

Six days out from final Press Rehearsal, and I’m still stumbling over lines.

So, I thought, write out the entire scene, complete with lines, stage movements and timing in as much detail, and in as few words as possible. The exercise helps me set my scenes internally, like dropping into extreme slow motion ...

Anyway, I was a good half page or better into it when my steam-powered laptop burped and swallowed it all! What untold labors are farted off by old men because old machines ate their homework?

We will have the lines AND the blocking AND the timing down pat come 8 pm Friday, Jan. 27 when we open the show at Backdoor Theatre’s Dinner Stage. Come see us!

Save your work, Children! Early and often!

The Age of Dinosaurs Has Expired!

President of these United States, Barack Obama yesterday thumbed his nose at Big Oil on the Keystone XL deal.

You may recall the other day one of Big Oil’s biggest talking suits told President Obama that if he rejected the pipeline permit, there would be hell to pay politically; that the full shock and awe of Big Oil Bucks would be targeted against the President’s re-election.

Good Lord knows I’m no fan of Corporate Greed in general nor Big Oil in particular, but I am a huge fan of a President who stands up to the neighborhood bullies.

ROAD-READY, TAGGED & STICKERED! 1995 Chevrolet Corsica, Asking $600. If interested, leave your contact info in the "Comments" box.

[Vehicle pictured is NOT the car offered]

Journey well, Miss James!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


That's the telephone number to leave a comment at the White House on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington, D.C. Somehow, it never dawned on me before today that I could call the President of the United States to tell him what's on my mind. Now, I carry his phone number in my cell phone's contacts list.

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have noticed yesterday that I publicly thanked President Obama for rejecting the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline across the heartland of America. I did not merely agree with his decision, I stood up and cheered (1) for him doing the right thing for Americans and (2) for telling Big Oil to shove their political threats up their pipelines!

In the clear light of a new somehow did not seem like enough, especially when you consider how much flak he is going to catch. So it seemed appropriate to look up the White House number and personally call to thank the President for his decision.

All things considered, I was surprised to be on hold for a mere 20 minutes or so...time enough to write up this posting and go to the White House website to fire off an email. The volunteer who took my call was very friendly, graciously taking down my 'Thank You' for action to stop Keystone XL.

"Let me be sure I've got this correctly," she said, soft laughter in her grandmotherly voice. "You want to thank him FOR rejecting the pipeline permit, right?"

I confirmed, laughing with her.

"Just wanted to be sure I got that in the appropriate column!" she added.

No doubt that other column is somewhat longer. So do me a favor, would you? If you, too, applaud the President for rejecting Keystone XL, call him up and say so!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a night in the woods!

The Vegas trip is off; seems straight gran’mas get audiences with Princess Maura J well ahead of mere Great Grandpas.... A new staging—by God Himself, rumor has it--of the old Fantasticks! opens two weeks from tonight at the Backdoor. I’ve got the Old Actor role and get to beat on Jesus.... The Big River City Home Show closes out February.... The Drafty Olde Craft Shoppe’s (DOCS) show pieces are too many hours short of being ready; and I’ve scarcely begun stripping Maura’s Cradle.... Then this old man trips up, taking out TV cable and internet connection in one fell swoop. Had to survive on FB with only a cell phone mere days before this post's deadline!

Children, this old man needs an extended weekender to hook up with his Higher Power! We are scheming for Caprock Canyons but could make do with Arrowhead in a pinch, given what Mamma always said about beggars not being chosers. We did manage to spend most of yesterday in the backyard--this writer's lifetime first camping site--playing Domestic Handyman, and I'm pretty sure I caught a spark. What is needed, though, is full blown, healing fire!

I don't mind telling you, this 2012 American Consumerism Lifestyle is damn near more than this old man can ride. Nor am I alone in sometimes feeling overwhelmed; thank you, Jesus! Sister blogger Peggy Browning the other day wrote about how her old job was killing her, not so slowly and ever so surely. Personally, this old man is fully prepared to turn in his pass and go home. But that's not my call to make, is it? We are, after all, meant to dance for as long as the music plays, are we not?

Henry David Thoreau said it best: In Wilderness is the preservation of the World. My earliest living memory of camping is my sister and I spreading a blanket between our twin beds for a tent to protect us from Ol' Griz, a four-foot-tall stuffed bear. Dear Old Dad never tired of telling how I brought both myself and cousin Frank Ed tumbling assholes over elbows down the side of Mount Scott. I suppose post traumatic stress syndrome wiped that incident from my memory.

One of these days again...soon, I pray. Meanwhile, back at the cabin.... Y'all come back now, hear?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Las Vegas road trip

Playing around with Google Maps the other day, I discovered this cool 3D feature that allows you to sit at your computer monitor and do a virtual flyover of any route of your choosing. This function is in beta testing stage as of this writing and kind of reminiscent of those early flight simulator games. Only this time you aren't bothered with controlling the damn plane!

Our first great granddaughter Maura J. is expected in Las Vegas about mid March, and I'm restoring an old rocking cradle for her down at the shop. What better excuse for an extended road trip than delivering Great Granny Annie and a cradle to Sin City, right? So I decided to road test Google Maps (GM) 3D while screwing up enough courage to buy a realistic-looking pellet pistol and knock over a bank for the real deal come March.

Right out of the driveway GM shows its old bug of being directionally challenged. Rather than directing me east on Speedway to Holliday to connect with the freeway, GM sends me west to Harrison--totally ignoring Brook--then to Kell, then east (crossing Brook!) to the freeway to take the long way 'round! Still, less than a minute after exiting our driveway, we are blissfully highballing west past Iowa Park and probably needing to pee already!

Photographic imagery for this project, in part, comes from the Texas Orthoimagery Program and Image USDA Farm Service Agency, at least for most areas within Texas. The view appears to be roughly from about 10,000 feet, but the drive can be paused at any point to sweep down for a closer view of particular points of interest. Iowa Park not being one, we proceed.

The effects of drought are clearly visible all across the landscape. Nearly everything below is brown to grayish brown with scarce patches of green showing near ponds, streams and irrigated patches. The bed of the Red River is a gashing scar of dirty white salts deposits.

Less than ten minutes in and we're crossing into New Mexico. The ground below begins to show the firsts signs of buckling and uplift. In truth what we're seeing here is the last vestigial remnants of the Rocky Mountains' tail bones, I suspect. We're soon flying past Albuquerque, and it's fairly easy to see how today's I-40 is following old trails and wagon roads through cuts and passes in the mountains.

Less than half an hour into the trip, and we're parked on a corner in Winslow, AZ. Must not be the right corner, though, as there is nary a flatbed Ford in sight.

The images are copyrighted by Google 2011, but there's no way of knowing precisely how old they are nor when they were taken. Wheeler Peak outside of Flagstaff, for example, bears no snow whatsoever. In fact, no snow shows until just east of Kingman, Az, on some unknown peak off to the south.

Inside an hour we're parked at S.Las Vegas Boulevard and E. Flamingo Road, staring at the biggest freakin' fountain we've ever seen before! I swear, the Rat Pack wouldn't know the place, and just where in this crazy town is my granddaughter, anyway?

Not nearly as satisfying as a for real road trip but an interesting diversion nonetheless. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go shopping for a gun.



The write stuff...

I finally broke down and cleaned out the cat box. The cat strolled over, glared into the box and gave me that look that says, "What did you do with my shit, man!?!"

Running dangerously low on orange juice and 'cold medicine'. Could be a long, nasty weekend of HACK writing in the making...

Water, Gas, Electricity. Funds are available to pay two, but not all three. Which one gets cut?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sure could use a little good news today...

When it comes to TV news magazines, nobody does it better than CBS SUNDAY MORNING for this writer's money. I've been a fan since the old days of Charles Kuralt and his ramblings On The Road. This morning, the first Sunday morning of 2012, was no exception. But just because you may 'like' a particular program or whatever, doesn't mean the object of your affection won't ever piss you off.

I tuned in late, the 2011 year end review was already in progress. End of U.S. troop occupation of Iraq...Joplin, MO...earthquakes and tsunami in Japan.... I felt my good mood evaporating. All the top news stories from 2011 involved tragedy or scandal. How the hell are we to carry hope in our hearts and minds into a fresh, new year with a seemingly endless laundry list of what went wrong in the year before? On this day, of all days, why not kick start the new year with a little good news ?

Love, they say, is where you find it, and I'm sure Charles would agree. The same can be said for news. With that in mind, I am joining forces with my own AnniePie in a pledge she initiated this morning on her delightfully quirky Facebook page. Mrs. Miller has pledged to post and re-post good news and only good news stories. No more political squabbling, no celebrity brat-assing, no focus on the bad things that happen to all good people to one degree or another. My AnniePie has pledged to be that change she wants to see in the world by seeking out and celebrating the good tidings that should bring great joy to all of us.

I, for one, stand up and applaud her for that.

Running on empty

Hi. My Name is Jim, and I am a Low-T.

Low testosterone is defined as less than 300 nanograms per deciliter of blood. The symptoms of low testosterone include low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, mood problems, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. Of all men with below-normal testosterone levels, about one-half to two-thirds report symptoms. Low Testosterone Explained: How Do You Know When Levels Are Too Low?

 The effects of testosterone decline came calling and took up residence some three or four years ago, best I recall. "Well, shit," I remarked to Self and to Self only, because real men don't talk about this shit to anyone else, right? "More of the Joys of Aging!"

I recently posted on Facebook "Getting older isn't a sin; becoming lazier is." That's pretty much what Low-T feels like to me, personally--slowly, inexorably sinking deeper and deeper into slothful laziness. The desire to do remains strong, but the get-up-and-get-to-it stays down for a terminal nap! The energy just flat ain't there, so in the words of Jackson Browne, it's like running on empty.

The knee-jerk response to Low-T is like so many other medical/health/physical issues, namely, "There's a shot (or a pill or a patch) for that!" Just motor down to your local Low-T drive-through and get the tank topped off. Turns out that's about a hundred dollars a pop with the need to be popped every couple of weeks. A hundred bucks, maybe once, I could save up for just to feel "normal" again. But $200 to $300 a month for life without medical insurance (assuming medical would cover it) is out of the question. We simply do not have sufficient income to cover the cost.

So it remains how to carry on, doing what needs to get done both at home and in the shop feeling chronically tired all the do-dah day?


Speaking of running to empty... Yesterday was the perfect day to mow for the last time this season and put the old John Deere down for a winter nap. Wasn't much to mow; mostly the backyard and perhaps a light trim to knock down the henbit in front. Surely what little gas there was in the tank would be sufficient to keep the neighbors' gripes to a minimum and empty the tank, too.

Got the backyard decent and the mower was still roaring. Took a sweet tea moment, topped off the bird feeding stations, gazed at a cloud or two and the mower engine is still roaring. Heaved a heavy sigh and pushed the mower to the front yard. I figured the machine would give up the gas before I could cover the entire front, and yet that damn motor kept right on roaring! I was at the point of eyeing the neighbor's WAY overgrown front lawn (the house is empty now) when the machine mercifully sucked down the last drop.

Thank you, Jesus!