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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day

On 10 April 1963, the USS THRESHER (SSN-593) sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean with 129 people on board while testing its deep-dive capacity. One of those people was a good friend, having served on the USS NEPTUNE (ARC-2) together in 1956, name of Romeo Constantino from the Philippines. After he left the NEPTUNE, I heard nothing of him until 1967 when a young swabby from the Philippines checked aboard the USS CLAUDE V. RICKETTS (DDG-5). His name was Jose Constantino and out of curiosity, I asked him if he knew a sailor named Romeo Constantino to which he replied, "Yes, he was my uncle. He was on the THRESHER when it sunk."

I couldn't believe it, and it's still hard for me to know that he died at the bottom of the sea, but his name is on the list of casualties. So I'm dedicating this Memorial Day to his memory and the good times we had on the NEPTUNE. My condolences go out again to Jose and the rest of the family. 

 My wishes go out to everyone to have a nice Memorial Day or Decoration Day as my parents used to call it as they prepared flowers to decorate the relatives' graves in the local cemetery.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It is Woodstock!

Woodstock is far from being part of the West unless you consider being northwest of New York City the West, which at one time it was. Now known as Bethel Woods, there is a monument to the Woodstock Festival with all the names of the musicians who performed at the Festival in 1969 and a museum on the grounds. Which brings me to the subject of today's blog, a book by Michael Murphy entitled Goodbye Emily, published in 2012 in paperback and e-book, available at amazon.com.

It's the story of three high school buddies from Pennsylvania, who once had a small band in high school called the Buck Naked Band. Here they are forty years later in their sixties making a trip back to Woodstock to spread the ashes of Emily, the wife of the one called "Sparky". Sparky is now a professor at Milton College, er, he was a Professor until he was fired by a young PhD Warfield to make room for one of his buddies.

Sparky's wife passed away from cancer two years ago and Sparky has been wallowing in self-pity ever since and it turned a smidgin worse after he was fired. He and his dog, Lady, live in the empty house now and cuss the next door neighbor, Old Man Simpson, for letting his cat use his flowerbed as a bathroom. Other than that he maintains himself with food for himself and Lady and makes a mess of the house with all the trash built up since he lost interest in life.  Sparky has a daughter named Cloe, a lawyer, who comes by often to see how he is getting along and one day gets him going enough to visit one of his old buddies, Josh, who is now an Alzheimer's patient in the local Sunrise Center. He also pays a visit to Buck, the other close friend and past band member.

Buck and Sparky have to break Josh out of the home to take him with them to give Emily a last farewell. Josh doesn't remember them, but Sparky brings him a picture of his dog Buttons which he does remember and Josh digs up the words of some of the songs played at Woodstock somewhere from his memory and sings along with them on a couple of tunes.

I really thought this story of their trip to Woodstock was funny and joyful and they had a helluva time avoiding the cops on the back roads. An APB was put out for the three for kidnapping an Alzheimer's patient and the trip gets exciting, suspenseful, and humorous on the way to Woodstock. The author did a fine job explaining and carrying me through the book to the end. A wonderful book of a great American musical event as Sparky, Buck and Josh have the adventure of their lives and meet the girls of their dream, at least Sparky did, and so did Buck late in the book when he finds the girl he met at the festival.

Michael Murphy is a member of the Arizona Authors Association as am I and he has posted several items on my Pinterest board, but this in no way has any bearing on my review of Goodbye Emily,  one of the best books I've read. Mr. Murphy also writes mysteries, such as Scorpion Bay.




Sunday, May 17, 2015

Let Out/Clouds

The Garage door is fixed and we got out in time to make my appointment Friday. The problem was not what I thought, the cables, but the long spring over the door. It broke about six inches from the center of the garage, and that's why it wouldn't open manually. It cost $165 for a new spring and service on the door. YIKES!

Anyway, it's fixed for now, so here are some clouds passing by, the remnants of Friday night's rain. We received almost an inch and it made our day. We seldom get any rain in May. Along with the snow in the high country it will help the drought. Pictures:


These were taken from my front yard around 10:00 A.M. Saturday morning.By Preakness time they were about cleared out.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Locked In

I can't go anywhere today unless I walk. The garage door busted about 6:30 yesterday evening, and it won't budge from its closed position. The car is inside, of course. I consider myself lucky that it's closed instead of wide open where the thieves can walk in and steal all my precious tools and other junk.

It hasn't been a year since I had it serviced. Maybe that's the problem, too much coddling. The heckuvit is, it hasn't worked very good over the last few years. Seems like every summer, something goes wrong with it and it costs me a bundle to get it fixed. I'm beginning to think I'm being ripped off by the garage door people. I bought a brand new garage door opener two years ago and thought that would be the end of my problem, but maybe the servicing hasn't been done right or was incomplete. A door should last forever since its just a door, you know, an inanimate object that is pulled up and down by cables on each side. Unless someone runs his car into it, it should be just fine.

This time both cables came loose and are hanging near the door, saying, "See, I told you last time we were up to something." They should have an emergency warning light that goes on when something is about to break so you could make arrangements to park in the driveway.

I don't have anywhere I need to go today anyway, but I like to get out at least once a day for a meal or my great-grandson's baseball game, or whatever. I'll be forced to work on my forthcoming novel or watch TV, or read. I'm reading a good book now entitled Goodbye Emily by Michael Murphy, not a western, but a story about Woodstock, yes, the one and only Woodstock. And I'm also reading a non-fiction book, Marianne in Chains, (no, it isn't like Fifty Shades of Grey), it's about life in the Loire Valley of France during WWII under Marshal Petain and the Germans. And I'm reading a non-fiction book by Win Blevins on the Fur Traders. And I'll be starting on another Western novel tout de suite. I have many laying around that I must get read.

Now, if they will only get the damn garage door repaired, I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow in the afternoon and some important places to go like a good restaurant or the mall.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY TO ALL THE MOTHERS OUT THERE!

There is only one person in the world who loves you through all your bad times. Your mother.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Snakes

I was thinking about rattlesnakes the other day. I had to go outside and do a little trimming on my hedge and although it isn't likely that a reptile would be hiding in there, I always look before stepping anywhere close to bushes, etc., since there are venomous critters lurking about the area in general. The evening news a few weeks ago reported that seven people had gotten bit with the warmer weather bringing out the sneaky critters. There was a teenaged girl in Tucson that went for her daily walk the other day and she got bitten by one of the devils. She was wearing flip-flops and it bit her toe.

So, anyway, I have had The Snake Den by Charles Tyrell (Charles Whipple) on my computer for a few months and it came to mind as I was contemplating snakes. It's a fairly long ebook of about 327 pages, but it kept me on my toes all the while I was reading it. It's the story of young Shawn Brodie, a fourteen-year-old, who was railroaded into the infamous Yuma Prison by a man, Fen Dillard, who had designs on Brodie's mother. Shawn had a younger sister at home when he was paraded off to Yuma. Shawn's offense was shooting a cow that broke her leg by stepping into a "dog hole" and he whacked off a hind quarter to assuage his family's hunger. This Fen Dillard gent said he was a thief for stealing the meat after he shot the cow.

The youngest convict in the prison was Shawn Brodie, but they treated him like all the other convicts and put him in a cell with a card sharp, a gunslinger, and a "Chinaman". Brodie was an intelligent kid and the longer he was there, the more he learned from his cellmates, especially the guntoter and the Chinaman, who began teaching him Kara ti to help him defend himself. And there was a lot of defending to do with the likes of the Sergeant of the Guard Bull Tarkington, a sadistic and terrible excuse for a man, and the other guards who ran the prison. The Warden was a man with a wife who ran the prison library, and he was fair in his treatment of the prisoners.

Shawn Brodie got off on the wrong side of Tarkington and was soon hustled off to the room called the snake den. The snakes would fall through a hole cut in the roof of the cave that let in the only light, in this otherwise stark black cell. That was a gut-wrencher as he sat out his time there. On Sunday, one day a month, the Yuma citizens could visit the prison by paying a fee of a quarter, which helped to pay the library expenses. This is a tautly written novel with great suspense and action throughout, as the author explains the good and bad, really bad, events that young Brodie must overcome, like being forced to fight the big champion of the prison in front of the townspeople, who could kill Brodie with a well-placed fist and almost did. And there is crisis after crisis that keeps the  suspense rolling along fast and furious. I could barely turn away from the computer each day, but I had to interrupt my reading over three days it took to get through it. I will end this so I don't blow the outcome of Brodie, but I tell you, it was a mighty fine read and parts of it were tough, especially when prison sex entered it's ugly head. There is some relief when Shawn meets pretty Ann Marie Schoen one Sunday and is quite taken with her.

Another fine book well worth the time it takes to read it.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Quotations Is It You Want?

Al right, quotations:

There's place and means for every man alive. Shakespeare - Alls' Well That Ends Well.

The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year. - Voltaire.

Opposition always inflames the enthusiast, never converts him. - Schiller.

To make a young couple love each other, it is only necessary to oppose and separate them. - Goethe.

Oratory is the power to talk people out of their sober and natural opinions.  Chatfield.

He was a bold man that first ate an oyster. - Swift, Polite Conversation.

Nothing begins, and nothing ends,
  That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in other's pain,
   And perish in our own.
  - Francis Thompson, Daisy.

If we could but paint with the hand as we see it with the eye! - Balzac

Nature abhors a vacuum. - Rabelais, Gargantua.

Man loves little and often, woman much and rarely. - Basta.

To make good use of life, one should have in youth the  the experience of advanced years, and in old age the vigor of youth. - Stanislaus.

The May of life blossoms once and never again. - Schiller.

Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think. - La Bruyere.

We enter the world alone, we leave it alone. - Froude

And what so tedious as a twice-told tale. - Homer, Odyssey.

We are growing serious, and, let me tell you, that's a very next step to being dull. - Addison, The Drummer.

So we will end on that note and thanks to Popular Quotations for all Uses.
 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Doc Holliday Movie by Bill O'Reilly

So, Mr. O'Reilly has ventured into the Western movie market with his Legends or Lies book and movie series. I watched Doc Holliday Saturday evening and can't say much for it. Done in black and white, which is okay, but the sound overrode the voices in parts of it, too much background noise. He does give a quick biography of the gambler, but not very complete. With all there is to tell about Doc's life, it's too much to crowd into an hour movie. He was fairly thorough on Doc's life with Wyatt Earp and the big shootout at the OK corral (a lie as to its location as he pointed out). And he does a nice bit on the dentist Doc and the TB.

Overall I would give him a seven on the scale of one to ten for this one. I missed Jesse James, but it will probably be shown again and I'm looking forward to Kit Carson. From the ad, I think it will be a little more to my liking.

I enjoyed the Kit Carson movie, although there wasn't much action in it. Of course, Carson didn't have too many times to face off against old enemies or card cheaters like the Doc or Wild Bill Hickock. I finally learned why the Navajo tribe hated him. In the bio I have of him written in 1885, it doesn't mention it. He was ordered to round up the Navajos and lead them in their "Long Walk", the 300 miles to a reservation in New Mexico. He was just following orders of a U. S. Army officer, and he had many regrets afterward. Not much was made of General Kearney ordering him to return to California from delivering messages to Washington, D.C., nor was Kearney's disastrous battle in California made much of. This one was more entertaining than Doc Holliday. 

Kit Carson was followed by Wild Bill Hickok. This episode, I liked even more. It takes us on a short trip over Hickok's life from the time he saved a young Bill Cody until his death. He was shot in the back of the head while playing poker in Deadwood by a person who lost his money to him earlier. Hickok had an adventurous life with all the people trying to kill him because he was a celebrity lawman off and on. Buffalo Bill Cody offered him a job with the Wild West show when he ran across him in a drunken and broke condition, but he didn't stay around long. He worked for the Pony Express in his younger days as everyone knows. I thought O'Reilly did a better job of covering Hickok.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Forthcoming Novel, Bitter Creek, by Peter Bowen

Bitter Creek tells the story of another massacre of the Indians that takes place in 1910 near the fictional town of Toussaint in Montana. This time, the people killed are Metis (descendants of French-Canadian and American Indian parents) and the story is told from a present day perspective. No one in Toussaint is alive when the killings took place, but there are rumors and whisperings floating around about the tragedy. Gabriel DuPre sets out to find who the killers were, assisted by his two friends, Patchen and Chappie, both badly injured in the War in Iraq. There are twists and turns that take DuPre and friends on a wild ride through local history and persons who don't want them to find out the real truth and people who do. Plenty of mystery and suspense in this one published by Open Road Integrated Media.

Not having read anything by Peter Bowen that I recall, I found the story to be humorous, exciting, and detailed in its descriptions of the landscape and types of people involved. There was one survivor of the massacre, a young girl name of Amalie who is now over a hundred years old and is in a nursing home in Canada. To talk to her long enough, they had to sign her out of the home and bring her back to Toussaint where they could do it at leisure, which turned out to be quite an adventure. Along with Amalie, the other characters in the story, guilty or not, are well-described and add much to the goings-on. Gabriel DuPre has plenty to deal with, a couple of killings and trips to Washington, D. C. and Seattle before he finally wraps up the mystery.

It was one of the most interesting books I've read in a while and highly recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries and the West, definitely a five-star rating from me. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

More from Memoirs, One Place and Another

Chief Petty Officer Jones (not his real name) was one of those characters you meet along the way during a naval career. He came along as we checked into a hotel in Madrid prior to reporting to our duty station. The chief had been in the Navy close to thirty years by then and considered this to be his last station before retiring to civilian life. Among the chiefs I had known, he was not the brightest bulb in the garden, but he was easy to get along with. One of his favorite sayings was, "That's what they do" and never explained who "they" were. If anything was changed or something new introduced, he would say "That's what they do," no matter the reason or subject, as if whoever made the change did it purposely to confuse everyone, e.g., if there was an increase in your tax withholding, "that's what they do to make sure you don't have enough to live on, or so you don't get all the last pay increase. They want to keep you dependent," or something else.

Chief "Jones" had been married to a woman that he divorced not too long berfore he was ordered to
Spain, and most of his pay went to support her kids from a previous marriage or marriages. We spent some off-duty time together occasionally, but later on he took a 30-day leave and returned to Kansas, his home State. When he came back to Madrid, he told me he had remarried, this time to a woman who had 10 or 12 kids. Asked why, he said he had known the woman for some time and he thought he was in love with her, besides he received more money for support of all those kids. To his way of thinking, he was walking in tall cotton and he was working all the angles to get as much money as he could. His wife and kids stayed in Kansas. I still wonder how long they stayed married.

On a trip to Kansas, we stopped in Olathe to see if we could find him. And we found a person with the same name in the phone book, so I gave him a call: Hello, hello. I'm looking for a retired Navy Chief with this name and who said he lived in Olathe. He retired from the Navy a few years ago. "Well, that's my name, all right, but I retired from the Marine Corps. I don't think I'm the person you're looking for."  Sorry to disturb you and have a nice day. It wasn't his voice, either, so I'm still wondering even now, even though I'm sure he has kicked the bucket. It's one of those nagging little things "they" do.