Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween Everyone!

May you all have a great Halloween experience.  A brisk walk in the cemetery at dusk (wearing your mask, of course) always sets the mood for me.  "Try it - you'll like it, " as the old television commercial used to say.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Spirits Will Be Disappointed...

As faithful Blog readers know, I recently read Stephen Kings's novel "The Shining," and ever since then have had an overwhelming urge to visit the Stanley Hotel up in Estes Park (the setting for the story).  More specifically, I was planning to go up there on Halloween night.  It was if the Spirits were calling me there.  I was all set to make a reservation for the Halloween Ghost Night Tour when I found out that the two main roads into Estes Park - US 36 and US 34 - were both closed due to flood damage. The only way into Estes Park these days is via State Road 7, a winding, twisting, snow-packed road through the mountains that King describes perfectly in his novel.  The weather here in Denver has been horrible lately, and no doubt much worse in the mountains. If I drove up there on Halloween night for the tour, I might wind up getting snowed in at the Stanley.  And that is the EXACT plot of "The Shining." Everybody knows how that story turned out. I might be dumb, but I am not stupid.  Maybe next year, Stanley Hotel Spirits!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Nostalgia - Part II

The photograph above, taken at the DU Bookstore on a Halloween long ago, shows Victoria (who now works for the U.S. Department of Fish and Game in Oregon) trying to strangle Rose, a fellow employee. The last few years that I worked at the DU Bookstore - when it was still institutionally owned - I was both the Finance Manager and the Sales Floor Manager, and was often tempted to use the above management technique.  However, only Victoria was able to bring it to fruition.  And don't worry - Rose was just fine. Eventually.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Nostalgia - Part I

Back when the University of Denver Bookstore was institutionally owned, during simpler times, Bookstore employees actually used to wear costumes on Halloween.  In the photograph above, Donovan, the Computer Store Manager at the time, and Tristy, the Bookstore Director back then, pose for their Halloween portrait.  "The silver-colored yesterday," as Chicago author Nelson Algren once put it.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Boo From The Zoo

The monkey in the photograph above (a Northern White-Cheeked Female Gibbon, to be technical) has 2 private islands to play on in a lagoon at the Denver Zoo.  The zoo people are evidently pretty sure that monkeys - like vampires - don't cross water.  Speaking of vampires, it appears to me that this creature is already dressed up in a costume.  How would you like to see this guy roaming around the neighborhood Halloween night? If only I could make that happen.  Talk about a fun Halloween.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A DU Reunion!

Several of us former and current DU Bookstore (as well as University of Denver) employees and spouses got together last night at the Bonnie Brae Tavern here in South Denver to have dinner and reminisce, gossip, grip, discuss the possibility of contract hits, etc. etc.  In the photograph above (from left to right) are Bill, former Operations Coordinator of the DU Bookstore; Wally, who is still employed at the bookstore;  Bill's wife Renee;  Wally's wife Linda; and Mark, who works at the University of Denver's Penrose library.  It was a very pleasant evening, topped off by no-calorie ice cream at the world famous Bonnie Brae Ice Cream Shop across the street.  At least everyone told me was no cal, and they wouldn't lie, would they?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Thursday Night Burgers And Beers

I got together with my friend Stuart Thursday night for burgers and beers.  We had originally planned to get together last Thursday night, but Stuart had a big project at work to finish and I had to "go postal," so to speak, so we weren't able to get together until last night. Stuart had lots of news to tell about work and family, so I wasn't able to tell him about the spirits calling me to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park this coming Halloween (see yesterday's post).  No matter - he probably would have just thought I was talking about a new brew pub opening up there, anyway.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Those Shining Mountains!

I have just about finished reading "The Shining," an early horror novel by Stephen King.  The story takes place in the mountains of Colorado, which I can see every morning by gazing west, but never go into. A good thing too, since it appears that away from the ski areas, the Colorado mountains seem to be "Spook Central" during the winter.  I have nothing against ghosts, per se, but on the other hand, I have enough trouble dealing with reality these days, let alone the spirit world.  On the other hand, why am I obsessed with taking the "Ghost Tour" at the Stanley Hotel (where the novel allegedly takes place) this coming Halloween? Are those spirits summoning me there, or what?   More later, as we approach the dreaded Halloween holiday...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Broncomania - Is There No Cure?

I stopped in at Jordan's Irish Pub - just across the street from the University of Denver, my old employer - Sunday night to watch the Denver Broncos play the Indianapolis Colts.  People are crazy about the Broncos here.  Even when the local baseball team - the Colorado Rockies - were in a playoff race (three times over the past 20 years), the main sports story each night would be what quarterback John Elway's grandmother thought of the team's prospects, or something similar.  On the other hand, whenever I was in Colombia, Missouri for software training (back when I worked for the DU Bookstore), people would be watching baseball in the bars and restaurants, mesmerized by the Saint Louis Cardinals, hanging on every pitch. And now the Cardinals - and not for the first time by any means - are in the World Series.  A coincidence?  I think not.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

At Last! Word From Mozambique!

Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique - has at last updated her Blog.  She reports that she recently returned to the village of Namaacha, where she received training as a Peace Corps volunteer last year, in order to train this year's batch of volunteers.  For all you trivia fans, I believe that Namaacha is where the famous musical "The Man of Namaacha" is supposedly set.  In any case, Cheyanne had to leave training a day early to return to her college to celebrate Teacher's Day.  Cheyanne, seen in the photograph above with some of her students, was even presented with a gift in front of the entire school for being a good teacher.  Be sure to check out her latest Blog posting at

Monday, October 21, 2013

Zombie Night At Boney's Barbecue

My friend Valarie - the former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore - and I had dinner at Boney's Barbecue with the former accounting staff of the Bookstore and their spouses the other night.  The restaurant was located just off the 16th Street Mall here in Denver, where - coincidentally - they were having the 8th annual Zombie Crawl.  Parking was tough (evidently Zombies shun public transportation), but we finally all made it there.  Some of the 15,000 participants were even dining at Boney's.  If we knew about the event in advance, we could have dressed accordingly.  Wait until next year, I guess.  In the photograph above (from left to right) are Jim, his wife Chris (former DU Bookstore Accounts Payable Assistant), Darrel (former DU Bookstore Accounts Payable Supervisor), his wife Linda, Moi!, and Valarie.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beautiful Junk!

I volunteered to work at the Action Center's Beautiful Junk sale yesterday afternoon, helping to pack things up after the sale ended at 4:00 P.M.  My friend Valarie, the Action Center's Office Manager and the former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore, is seen in the photograph above with one of the treasures she purchased, a gold cupid lamp that no doubt was once part of the furnishings of a Victorian bordello here in Denver.  In any case, I suppose that is better than buying an ancient full length mirror with the glass painted all black.  I once saw an episode of "Thriller" (an old, very scary television show hosted by Boris Karloff) where someone did just that and made the mistake of scraping the paint off.  A very bad move, trust me.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pizza And Beer With Wally At Jordan's Irish Pub

I met my good friend and former DU Bookstore colleague Wally for pizza and beer at Jordan's Irish Pub, located just kitty-corner from the University of Denver, yesterday evening.  Wally regaled me with tales of his and his wife Linda's trip to Boston and Cap Cod last weekend, taking the red eye flight Friday night and returning to Denver late Monday evening.  It sounds to me like it was all worth the trouble to enjoy early fall at a cottage by the ocean on Cape Cod.  And incidentally, is this a great photograph of Wally or what?  Sometimes I forget just how good I am.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Blast From The Past

I had to cancel my dinner with my friend Stuart last night because I was called in unexpectedly to my part-time job.  We had planned to get together at the History Bar on South Broadway here in Denver, which combines Colorado history and a bar.  As a matter of fact, I think that is Colorado's history.  In any case, in place of the Blog photograph I would have taken, I am using an oldie but goody (from 1982) of Stuart taken from my bestselling book, The Significance of the Ordinary (  I forgot just how wonderful this book is until I checked it out on the web site just now, but I digress. Yes, Stuart is wearing Groucho glasses in the photograph above and no, it was not Halloween. And Stuart is not crazy.  At least not any more.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bill And Millie - Gone But Not Forgotten

It is a well known fact that I was always a big fan of Studs Terkel - the Pulitzer Prize winning author, oral historian, and WFMT radio host.  A number of years ago I found a Hemingway poster and mailed it to my friend Bill back in Chicago (the same Bill who once went to Paris to write the Great American Western). Bill was a great Hemingway fan and was so thrilled with the poster, he went down to the WFMT studios and got Studs to autograph the photograph above for me.  It was a really nice gesture, especially when you consider that Bill was a stay at home type of guy who never left the suburbs, except in this once case.  A short time later Bill's wife Millie contracted breast cancer and passed away soon after.  Bill never got over that tragedy and passed away also not too long after.  Two good friends gone just like that.  Maybe the good really do die young.    

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Baseball In October - But Not In Denver

I walked past Coors Field this past Monday - all is quiet there these days now that the Colorado Rockies finished last once again in their division this year.  In contrast, the Saint Louis Cardinals are in the playoffs and doing pretty well.  I saw them play the Rockies a few weeks ago, and I have to say I was quite impressed with the team.  Not just because they play the game well, but because they truly are a team. Before the game, the entire roster lined up for the National Anthem.  The Rockies had the manager, a few players, and Dinger, the mascot, standing at attention, and no one else.  I have to wonder if the fact that the Cardinals are a team in all respects might be the reason they are in the playoffs.  A possible lesson for the Rockies?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Another Columbus Day

Yesterday was Columbus Day, and as usual, there was a lot of controversy about celebrating the life of Columbus, who was responsible for the European discovery of America (important footnote - the Vikings actually journeyed to North America a thousand years earlier, but as humorist Dave Barry puts it, they were disqualified when it was discovered they had used steroids).  In any case, Columbus and his soldiers were evidently responsible for many atrocities against the native population, and his discoveries marked the beginning of the end for much of Indian culture.  As for celebrating the holiday, I did get yesterday off from my part-time job, but it came at a high price - a holiday at the place where I work results in the following day being pure torture for the employees.  Which of course brings us back to Columbus.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Hounds From Hell

I went up to Fort Collins yesterday evening to visit my sister Susan and brother-in-law George and brought along a pizza and some beer.  Susan and George own the original hounds from hell (Tutu on the left and Blackberry on the right in the photograph above).  Don't let their size fool you - if they are locked in the kitchen and someone is eating pizza in the next room, they sound every bit as hellish as the brute in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Hound of the Baskervilles.  Of course, if they escape from the kitchen and jump on you, they will lick you to death instead of rip out your carotid artery, but trust me, both are equally unpleasant.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Man's Best Friend

People keep telling me I need to get a dog, such as the one in the photograph above.  Although I like dogs, and once had a pet beagle - Irma -  as a child, I still am very hesitant about the whole thing.  Not only do I have a fairly new carpet in my condo, which might suffer if I acquired a dog, but I am away from home quite a bit. Although I am "officially" unemployed, I have a part-time job that often requires nearly 12 hours to complete. It would be cruel to a dog to leave it alone that much.  And if I brought the dog with me to work, all the supervisors would probably "go postal," so to speak.  I guess I will just have to satisfy my desire to own a pet by visiting my sister Susan and brother-in-law George up in Fort Collins.  They have two dogs up there that I believe are the original hounds from hell.  And I mean that with all due respect.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

That DAM Art!

Friday was a very dreary, overcast day here in Denver, so I decided to go to the Denver Art Museum in the afternoon to cheer up. I found myself in the modern art wing, looking at a bronze sculpture of Vicki and Kent Logan, major patrons of the DAM (the Denver Art Museum) and the toast of Colorado society.  As I looked at this sculpture by the artist George Condo, I had to ask myself:  "Is that this guy's real name?"  And if not, why didn't he choose something with a little more alliteration, such as Cary Co-Op or Tommy Townhouse?  Questions to ponder for the ages.  And who says this Blog doesn't have any intellectual content?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Beer Barrel Bowling!

Yes, here in Denver we have invented a new sport in honor of the opening of The 2013 Great American Beer Festival.  I took the above photograph last Sunday on Larimer Street, where the new sport was well received.  Of course,everyone was drinking steins of beer at the time, so I imagine pigeon racing would have been well received, too, but that is not the point.  The point is that there is now an exciting new activity that everyone can take part in at Denver's many brew pubs.  Move aside those tables and lets get started.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lunch With Roddy!

I had lunch with Roddy - the Photography Professor at the University of Denver's Shwayder School of Art - yesterday, and am happy to report that he is doing well and still enjoying his teaching duties at the school. Roddy visited Northern Canada over the summer and not only completed a photography project there, but also did a little manual labor at a gold mine.  Although things are going well at DU, as part of his job he will have to take an inter-term class to London and Paris over the winter break this fall.  I guess that's just the price you have to pay to be an art professor at DU.  Keep a stiff upper lip, Roddy!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The End Of Oktoberfest

Last Sunday was the final day of Oktoberfest on upper Larimer Street here in Denver.  To be honest, the event lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.  There were - allegedly - German bands playing polkas, but only a few people were dancing up in front of the stage.  Very few people were even listening.  Most of the serious action was taking place under the tents, where people drank steins of beer sold by paying sponsors and everyone seemed pretty intent on getting down to some serious beer drinking.  The next big event here in Denver is The Great American Beer Festival.  It starts this Thursday, and will be much more lively than Oktoberfest. Tickets for the festival sold out in something like 3 minutes, although there are still a few tickets available on Stub Hub, starting at $75.  Yes, $75, and that is in American money, no less.  I'll say one thing for Oktoberfest - it was boring, but free.  And you all know my personal philosophy - free is good!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Lives Of Quiet Desperation

Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden that "The Mass of Men Lead Lives Of Quiet Desperation."  Does the same apply to monkeys, too?  The ones at the Denver Zoo are not happy campers.  With no chance of escaping their caged environment, their lack of hope can be seen in their expressions and body language.  I say let them out of their cages and romp with the zoo visitors once in a while.  That will liven things up for the monkeys, and will keep the zoo visitors on their toes, too.  Being chased by a feisty monkey might even help zoo visitors lose a few pounds and get into shape.  Talk about win-win.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Nothing Says Florida Like A Flamingo

As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog Post, I think I might be getting homesick for Stuart, Florida - located along the Atlantic on the Treasure Coast and where my mother and father moved in 1976.  However, I am not sure why flamingos are associated so much with Florida.  I have never seen a flamingo in person except at the zoo, although I hear that a flock (or gaggle, or coven, or gathering) of them is kept at the Hialeah Horse Race Track.  In the small town of Stuart, Florida, you are just as likely to see a unicorn as a flamingo wading in the water, and if you do report one, you will quickly be taken in for a psychiatric evaluation. However, if you deny everything, they will have to let you go.  At least that's what happened to me.  And for the record, it definitely was a unicorn.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Some Like It Hot

One of my favorite films is "Some Like It Hot," starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. For the past 4 weeks, a song from that movie, "Down Among the Sheltering Palms," has been going through my head 24/7, and I'm not sure why.  Perhaps I just miss Florida, where I haven't returned in over 4 years. Or perhaps I really am crazy.  In any case, it is far better than having Carl Douglas' 1970's hit Kung Foo Fighting going through your head 24/7.  Talk about going crazy.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Is Cheyanne On A Quest For Lost Diamonds?

This coming Wednesday it will be exactly two months since Cheyanne (a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique and the daughter of my friend Valarie, the former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore) has posted to her Blog.  I have asked Valarie repeatedly about this, but she has been very evasive.  I suspect a conspiracy.  I remember years ago there was a movie called King Solomon's Mines, starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr.  Deborah Kerr hires  Stewart Granger to lead an expedition into darkest Africa to find her husband Curtis, who went off in search of King Solomon's Mines, where a fabled lost treasure of diamonds is located.  What if Cheyanne heard about this alleged treasure and organized an expedition to go find it?  What if the photograph above is not just a scene of people having fun in Mozambique, but the start of a very dangerous journey?  If you watch the film, you will realize that finding a lost diamond mine in Africa is no piece of cake.  Cheyanne better watch the hell out.  Check out her Blog for clues at

Friday, October 4, 2013

The First Snow Of The Season

Today Denver received its first snow of the season.  Almost everyone here has been complaining about the heat and has been waiting for this day to come.  I, on the other hand, prefer the sun and the heat - especially now that I have a part-time job that requires that I work outside 8 hours a day.  I'll bet all these cold weather enthusiasts would change their mind quick if they had to drive to work in that mess at 7:30 in the morning and then spend your entire day getting soaked.  Not that I'm bitter, of course.  No, not me.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

It's October - Can The Christmas Season Be Far Behind?

It seems that the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier each year.  It is now October, and so I imagine the holiday decorations will be put up and the television commercials will be starting any day now.  To get the ball rolling, I am featuring one of the few photographs taken of my family together.  It was taken a few years ago on Christmas Day and shows my mother Mary, sister Susan, myself, and my father Nelson (from left to right) in the living room of our house in the Brainerd neighborhood of Chicago.  Looking at this photograph, I am just amazed at how little my sister and I have changed over the years.  It obviously must be some sort of miracle.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Decisions Decisions

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Carol - my friend and a former DU Bookstore colleague - told me that she was so frightened reading Steven King's The Shining that she threw it behind the sofa to keep herself from reading it any more.  I thought this was a great recommendation, and bought a copy to read.  I mentioned this to my friend Valarie - the former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore - and she told me she thought The Stand was King's scariest novel.  I bought a copy of that one, too.  Now I need to decide which to read first.  Coincidentally, Stephen King's latest novel is a sequel to The Shining, but I won't be buying that one.  It is only in hardcover, and as I've mentioned before, I am a cheapskate and proud of it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Locking In On The Day's Events

I stopped at Jordan's Irish Pub near my condo in South Denver last night to ponder the events of the day. After finishing work at my part-time job around 7:00 P.M. I discovered that I had lost the keys to both my car and my apartment. I was 12 miles away from home, and the lot where my car was parked would be locked at 10:00.  My supervisor gave me the phone number of a locksmith, and Gina, my co-worker, was kind enough to drive me home to meet him and then drive me back to my car, a twenty-five mile round trip. This really made me realize how many kindhearted, wonderful people are still out there, despite all the negative news these days.  Unfortunately, however, I think the locksmith and his company are part of the Russian Mafia.  I was told the lock would be very difficult to open, and it would cost $200 to do this and then re-key the lock.  Since I had little alternative, I said to go ahead, and after 5 minutes the door was open. I mentioned how quickly he did this, and he replied, with a slight Eastern European accent, that it was a very difficult job.  In point of fact, the difficult part was processing my credit card.  The locksmith had to call his supervisor (who I could overhear speaking with a heavy Russian accent) and give him the card information. The supervisor then evidently had to call company headquarters in Moscow to process the card.  This took, roughly, forever.  My advice to Blog readers is to assume you are going to lose your keys at some point in time and find an honest locksmith in advance.  And definitely stay away from the Russian mob.