Monday, June 30, 2014
I went up to Fort Collins, Colorado yesterday afternoon to visit my sister Susan and brother-in-law George, since it has been such a long time since we have gotten together. I brought a pizza and beer from South Denver's Kaos Pizza for the occasion, too. Poor George has been having trouble with his eyes since November, and his doctors (Moe, Larry, and Curley) finally found out that he had a detached retina, and operated immediately. I usually take photographs of Susan and George to put on this Blog, but since George is recovering from such a serious operation and is in some pain, I have decided to just take a photograph of their dog TuTu instead. Am I a sensitive guy, or what? No thanks necessary!
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Yesterday, June 28th, 2014 was the 100th anniversary of the unofficial start of World War I. That was the day Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia, resulting in a bloody four year war that killed an estimated 16 million soldiers and civilians. In memory of that historic event, I bought a copy of World War I Day By Day from the bookstore where I work, costing me, I might add, $8.50 with my store discount (who says I'm a cheapskate?). In any case, I intend to read the book over the next four years, dutifully following each day's events. And to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of that conflict - on Armistice Day, November 11th, 2018 - I fully intend to retire from the workforce and begin living a life of wild, decadent hedonism, just like they did in Paris after WWI. Get ready Europe - here I come! Eventually.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Yes, the pool at my condo building is finally open for the season. If it seems like it is opening a little late, there is a very good reason for that, as regular Blog readers know. The pool never opens until after the end of the University of Denver's school year. This is because in the past a small minority of DU students have tried to impress the coeds by jumping into the pool from the building's balconies. Just last year a DU student tried this from the second floor balcony, hit the bottom of the pool pretty hard, and afterwards wandered around the yard in a dazed condition with a broken collarbone, until someone finally called 911. Thus the attempt by condo management to remove temptation. In any case, the photograph I am holding was taken of my grandmother Louise Spillard (on the right), my mother Mary Hoyt (in the center), and I back in August of 1963 at the Sun Castle Hotel in Pompano Beach, Florida. I was planning to wax nostalgic about what a time of innocence it was for America back then, before the Kennedy and King assassinations and Vietnam and all that, but after thinking about that long ago trip, I remembered the details of driving through the American South at that time. I remember seeing hand-lettered signs on the gas station bathrooms saying "White Men Only," a young black couple from the north being turned away from a "whites only" motel in Macon, Georgia, and black families sitting on the porches of shacks that looked exactly like the one from the Beverly Hillbillies television show only a few miles to the west of our hotel in Pompano Beach. In other words, taken as a whole, the times really are better now.
Friday, June 27, 2014
I just finished reading an advance copy of Foreign Correspondent, courtesy of the bookstore where I work. It is an autobiography by David Greenway, who had an absolutely wonderful career as a foreign correspondent for Time Magazine, The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, as well as several other publications. He reported from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Hong Kong, Iraq, Afghanistan, you name it. He knew all the famous international reporters and photographers of his time, including Sean Flynn - the son of Errol Flynn, the famous movie actor - who rode off on a motorcycle to take photographs of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia one day and never came back. When I was young, I too wanted to be a photojournalist in far off lands, but it never happened. It was probably all for the best, since most likely I would have gotten my ass shot off (pardon my French}. And that brings up the age old question: would it be better to be a deceased adventurer like Sean Flynn or a live bookkeeper like me? The votes are still being counted on that one. In any case, I would definitely recommend picking up a copy of Foreign Correspondent when it comes out.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
I went to Coors Field here in Denver with my friend Mark (seen in the photograph above) Tuesday night to see the Colorado Rockies play the St. Louis Cardinals, and will also get together with him tonight to watch the World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Germany. I watched the game between England and Uruguay with Mark last week, and was very surprised to find that the game took only about 90 minutes or so. I had expected it to last at least 7 to 10 hours at a bare minimum. Mark is also a cricket fan, and tells me that those games do indeed often last 10 to 12 hours. In that case, I'm afraid Mark will have to count me out for the next televised cricket match, although I suspect cricket does explain why the British (as well as their former colonial subjects) have that dazed look on their faces all the time.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I got a call from my friend John (seen in the photograph above) last week, inviting me out for dinner and beers at the Bull and Bush Tavern here in Denver. John works for Nebraska Book Company, and was the DU Bookstore's sales rep before the store was outsourced to Follett Higher Education Group, Nebraska's arch rival. All is well with John, as well as with the other Nebraska reps that we used to see on a regular basis. As for what has been happening back in Lincoln, Nebraska lately, the answer is - surprise! - nothing. However, that will be changing very soon. The Lincoln Saltdogs - a minor league baseball team - will start playing in short order, and once that happens, I am sure things will liven up quite a bit back there. Get your tickets and make your travel plans now! There is nothing like Nebraska in the summertime, after all. Which is why I imagine John spends so much time here.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I met Hillary Clinton at the bookstore where I work yesterday, and I must say that she was quite impressive. Despite having to sign 1000 copies of her book, she was very gracious, greeting each person, shaking their hand, and exchanging pleasantries. The only downside was that we were all told to have your hands empty when meeting her, which meant no photographs. Fortunately, a bookstore staff person told me I could turn around and take a photograph of her as I was leaving, which is exactly what I did. I was able to get off two snapshots before the Secret Service grabbed me. One of the photographs was blurry, but the other one turned out okay and is displayed above. Plus, I didn't even get arrested. I definitely call that a successful day!
Monday, June 23, 2014
Hillary Clinton will be signing her book Hard Choices at the bookstore where I work today, and the entire staff is abuzz with excitement. Since I work in an office just a few yards from where she will be sitting, I was originally planning to just pop out the door on the way to lunch, take a few photographs, and then be on my way. Then I learned that if I did that, the Secret Service would shoot me. As regular Blog Readers know, I am perfectly willing to make any sacrifice to "get the story," but if they shot me, who would upload the photograph? Therefore, I had to come up with a Plan B, which was to actually buy the book and take a photograph while standing in line. I hate to complain, but it cost me $25 (US Dollars, no less) to purchase the book and obtain position number 611 in the line. I'll have you know that I have met other famous presidential candidates, including both Jerry Brown and Ralph Nader, and none have ever insisted on 25 Big Ones to take their photograph. But I am not bitter. Much. I am getting two Blog photographs out of this - the one above and the one - I hope - of Hillary today, which brings the cost down to $12.50 each. After all, I remember back in the good old days spending hour upon hour trying to take a photograph, with just the right lighting, of the bar at the late lamented Jordan's Irish Pub, which used to be located just kitty-corner from the University of Denver. I often spent at least $12.50 taking those shots (my dedication to photography and this Blog knows no bounds). And so, let the signing begin! Can't wait to meet you, Hillary!
Sunday, June 22, 2014
I watched the World Cup Soccer game between England and Uruguay Thursday night with my friend Mark (see photograph above). Mark works at the University of Denver's Anderson Academic Commons, which used to be Penrose Library before DU remodeled the place and changed the name (evidently DU students are deathly afraid of any place where a lot of books might be located). Mark is a big fan of England's soccer team, and explained all the rules to me during the game, although the fact that England lost big time and was eliminated from the tournament needed no explanation. In baseball, Chicago Cubs fans are able to say "wait until next year." However, in World Cup Soccer, fans will have to wait another 4 years for England to start losing again. If only Cubs fans had that luxury.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
I went out for pizza and beer with my friend Stuart last Sunday night at the Old Chicago on Colorado Boulevard here in Denver, but as often happens to the last guest on the Tonight Show, he was bumped for 5 straight days due to Rick Steves Week. And so at long last, Stuart is being featured on the Blog. And for everyone out there who has been waiting to find out what Stuart has been up to lately, I can finally tell you in great detail. But in the interests of brevity, I'll just give you the short answer: nothing. Glad to finally get that out there to everybody. And keep those cards and letters coming in.
Friday, June 20, 2014
We end Rick Steves Week with a photograph of the audience at his "Travel as a Political Act" talk last Saturday at the Amazing Adventures Travel and Leisure Expo, sponsored by The Denver Post and Mike's Camera. My friend Doug, the Textbook Manager of the Follett Corporation run DU Bookstore, calls Rick Steves the "Lawrence Welk of Travel." I assume he is implying that Rick appeals to a more mature audience and that I should be watching more "with it" type of travel shows, such as Globe Trekker, where the hosts and hostesses often take part in such activities as bungee jumping over China's Yangtze River and eating live insects for dinner. This from the DU Bookstore's resident curmudgeon, who does not want to travel overseas - or anywhere else for that matter - and especially does not want to interact with new and different people. Doug says that if he wants to talk with a French person, he will simply walk over to the University of Denver's Foreign Language Department and talk to Frederique, DU's French instructor, until the moment passes. To help broaden his horizons, I once suggested a bargain-priced trip to Devil's Island, off the coast of South America, but he rejected the idea outright, despite the fact that many Bookstore staff members were willing (and even anxious) to contribute to the trip. Go figure.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
The Denver Post - being one of the official sponsors of the Amazing Adventures Travel and Leisure Expo - had a booth at the event last Saturday staffed by Suzanne Brown, Colorado Lifestyle Editor (in the photograph above on the left), and Kyle Wagner, the Post's Travel Editor (on the right). My friends Darrel and Linda and I talked with them a while, which I felt was important, considering the fact that the three of us probably make up 30% of their hard-copy readership (not that I'm saying the newspaper business is in trouble, or anything). In any case, talking with them gave me a great idea. Rick Steves, during his talks, stressed that Americans should travel far outside their comfort zone to better understand the rest of the world, and specifically mentioned Iran as a great place to visit. Perhaps if the travel section gets a little extra money in their budget and their regular writers are too sane to do it, I could get an assignment as a stringer and travel to Iran to do an article. I would even keep the expenses down by staying at the Motel 6 in Tehran (any of their 7 metropolitan locations would be just fine). I just hope The Post wouldn't exhibit any skepticism about the project, such as buying a 7 million dollar life insurance policy for the trip payable to them. We are talking "win win" here, after all.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I took the above photograph of Darrel and Linda posing with Rick Steves of "Rick Steves Europe" fame, or at least with his photograph. The Amazing Adventures Travel Expo, where Rick spoke, was packed, and so this was as close as we were going to get to a photo op. Darrel is the Budget and Office Manager of the University of Denver's Chemistry Department, and the former Accounts Payable Manager of the DU Bookstore. Linda is happily retired from a career in nursing and is now enjoying the good life. They are planning a big trip this year, but to Iowa, not Europe. They are planning to go later in the summer, when it is in the upper 90s and sunny, just like Rick Steves himself, as David Letterman would probably say. Have a great trip and enjoy Iowa, guys!
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Monday, June 16, 2014
I attended the Amazing Adventures Travel And Leisure Expo (sponsored by the The Denver Post and Mike's Camera) at Denver's Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum Saturday and had a great time. The featured speaker was my all-time hero, Rick Steves, who gave talks throughout the day. The place was packed, and it was standing room only for Rick's talks. My only complaint was that the speakers stage was in front of a huge bank of windows, and the speakers could only be seen in silhouette. I have three theories about this: One, Rick Steves is no longer a kid and didn't want the audience to notice this fact. Two, there were several great photographers giving "how-to" talks - including Rick Sammon and Andy Katz - and one of their lessons, which they obviously wanted to demonstrate, was to work with the conditions you are dealt. This is why, by the way, I am featuring the obviously recognizable silhouette of Rick Steves, giving one of his talks, in the photograph above. Three, they were just clueless. Personally, I am voting for number two, although I certainly wouldn't rule out numbers one or three, sports fans!
Sunday, June 15, 2014
If my father, Nelson Hoyt - seen in the photograph above (which I took, by the way) around 1975 - was alive today, he would be 105 years old, which would have made him very crabby indeed. Dad was a dentist on the South Side of Chicago all his life, and hated every minute of it. He was finally able to retire to Stuart, Florida in 1976 at the age of 67. Both he and my mother wound up loving Florida, and they spent their happiest years there. Unfortunately, my father had only 7 years there before he passed away, but they were very happy years for him, for which I am very grateful. He worked very hard all his life and deserved it. My mother spent an additional 23 years in Stuart and thoroughly enjoyed it, too. Now that I myself am just 4 years away from retirement, I am beginning to realize that you should never take life for granted. Live each day fully, because you never know how many years you have left. An important, but difficult lesson to learn for all of us. Happy Father's Day, Dad!
Saturday, June 14, 2014
I had to go home right after work Tuesday night to let the plumber into my condo (and no, they are not fixing the leak yet, only patching it until the stars align), and so did not get to Coors Field for the Colorado Rockies game until the 4th inning. By then the Rockies were losing to the Atlanta Braves 7 to nothing, and eventually lost the game 13 to 9, continuing a long losing streak. Granted, the Rockies have had a lot of injuries, but so have many other teams. The difference is depth - teams that can replace the injured players with equally talented individuals can expect to be playing baseball in October. If they don't, the losses begin to pile up. In short, don't put any money down for Colorado Rockies World Series tickets just yet.
Friday, June 13, 2014
It appears that Cheyanne - a Teacher of Teachers with the Peace Corps in Mozambique and the daughter of my friend and former DU Bookstore co-worker Valarie - is quite a cat fancier. She is seen in the above photograph with the cat that I assume was the one hurt a while back one night by some sort of animal outside Cheyanne's home in Mozambique. It appears to me that the cat has fully recovered, and personally, I think it is damn lucky to be alive at all, considering what might be lurking at night out in the jungle or bush or whatever they have in that part of Mozambique. In fact, I am surprised that pets, children, and small adults aren't being dragged off willy-nilly into the Mozambican wilderness during the nighttime hours. I may have grown up on the South Side of Chicago, but I have seen enough movies set in Africa to know what the score is over there. After all, Hollywood wouldn't lie, would it? Be sure to check out Cheyanne's Blog at www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com.
Thursday, June 12, 2014
As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, I went to the Modern Masters Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) this past Sunday, and when I came out of the building it was pouring down rain. As I walked back to my car, I noticed a homeless person sleeping next to his shopping cart underneath one of the museum's windows. He obviously didn't want to "Stop By And Sculpt," just get out of the rain and find someplace to sleep. Denver has a significant homeless population, and ever since the City Council banned overnight camping (targeting the homeless), the issue has been mired in controversy. A local group, Occupy Denver, has been protesting the ban in front of the Tattered Cover Bookstores on Friday nights, simply because The Tattered Cover belongs to The Downtown Partnership, a civic organization which supported the ban. Occupy Denver has also protested the ban, on a regular basis, in front of the residence of the President of the Downtown Partnership, which also seems a bit extreme. I suggest that instead of protesting against the ban, they should work on providing more housing and support for these poor people. Perhaps they feel doing that would not be nearly as fun and exciting.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I stopped by The People's Fair in Denver's Civic Center Park late Sunday afternoon after visiting the Modern Masters Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum (The DAM). This year's fair differed from previous years due to the distinct lack of people, which wan't surprising, considering the fact that it was raining cats and dogs late Sunday afternoon. I walked through the gates, took a photo or two, and then walked out again, just to say I was there. Kind of like the mountain climbers here in Colorado who climb fourteen thousand foot peaks, take a look around for five minutes, and then go back down. It's all about the journey, as they say.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
As I mentioned in yesterday's Blog, I went to the Art Students League of Denver's Summer Art Market Sunday afternoon and visited with both Joe and Carol, my former DU Bookstore colleagues and very talented artists. Carol - seen in the photograph above - worked with the ski patrol this past winter and now plans to work full time on her art. Check out Carol's artwork at www.caroltill.com and be sure to mention the "David Hoyt Blog Discount" if you decide to buy!
Monday, June 9, 2014
Sunday, June 8, 2014
For the third time in two years, a major leak has flooded part of my apartment. Once again the contents of my kitchen are spread out on the counters, furniture has been moved all over the place, and there all kinds of drying equipment running day and night, keeping the apartment at a toasty 90 degrees. Well, at least that last part is good. Ninety degrees and humid, just like I like it. Good prep for Florida in August.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Yesterday was both Linda's birthday and the 80th anniversary of the Bonnie Brae Tavern, a South Denver landmark, and so it was a double celebration. Linda is, of course, the wife of Wally, my friend and former co-worker at the DU Bookstore, and in honor of her birthday (I assume), the Bonnie Brae Tavern lowered the price of beer to 80 cents. Yes! Eighty Cents! I haven't seen prices like that since back in Chicago, when the old Florence Hotel in the Pullman neighborhood used to advertise nickel beer on a huge banner I could see as I rode past on the Illinois Central, commuting to a job downtown at Highland Electric. But I digress. After celebrating at the Bonnie Brae, we had cake and ice cream at Linda and Wally's house, where I took the above photograph, despite Linda's protestations about taking any Blog photos. And you can see how that turned out.
Friday, June 6, 2014
I know the above photograph is artistically not so great, but I damn well intend to use it since I almost got arrested taking it. I am a great believer in taking photographs of anything and everything, in hopes that one might turn out good, which is why I took a photograph of the engineer's compartment of an RTD Light Rail train. I thought nothing of it, until I was confronted by two RTD Transit Police officers. They told me that taking a photograph like that was highly unusual behavior and immediately called their supervisor to see if I should be taken in for questioning. When a bystander asked why they were hassling me for taking a photograph, they reported him to their supervisor, too. While I was eventually let go with a stern warning, I couldn't help but note that all of this came just a week after a local television station reported that RTD bus drivers were being assaulted left and right these days here in Denver. I am glad to see that RTD has their priorities straight. You can always hire new drivers to replace the dead and injured in this tepid job market, which allows them to instead concentrate on apprehending suspicious terrorist types, such as moi. You go, RTD! Al-Qaeda doesn't stand a chance now!
Thursday, June 5, 2014
This time of year I think back to when I was growing up in the Brainerd neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, counting the days until the school year ended. I remember sitting at my desk on the third floor of Fort Dearborn Grammar School, the window open and a warm breeze blowing in, listening to the sound of the lawn mowers across the street, and wishing school would end. A few years ago I went back to Chicago and took the above photograph of Fort Dearborn, holding a photograph of one of the Kloak kids that I took there way back when. At the time I didn't realize that our teachers were probably counting the days until summer vacation, too. Years later it is only teachers who still enjoy this long break. For the rest of us, time off like that usually means unemployment, which gets old real fast.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Tom Robbins appeared at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Highlands Ranch, Colorado Monday night to read passages from his new autobiography, Tibetan Peach Pie, and to autograph copies of the book for his fans. The place was packed, and although I have never read any of his books, I must say I was impressed with some of his humorous anecdotes. Evidently about 15 years after Still Life With Woodpecker was published, a Connecticut writer called the FBI and told them it was obvious from reading the book that Robbins was The Unabomber. It didn't help that a friend at the Seattle Times wrote a tongue-in-cheek column pondering whether it might be true that Robbins was the Unabomber and publishing a photograph of Robbins, in sunglasses and a hoodie, that exactly matched a sketch of the suspect. The FBI was not amused, and soon interviewed him (after staking out his house for a week or so). Luckily for Robbins, Ted Kaczynski - Evergreen Park, Illinois's own -was soon arrested for the crime. I also learned Monday night that Robbins, hero of the counterculture, will be 82 years old next month. Talk about scary. Time is moving just a little too fast these days.
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
As far as I can tell, Orangutan's are the friendliest, most sociable creatures at the Denver Zoo. When I was there this past Sunday, the Orangutan in the photograph above put his face right up to the glass after he finished the beer he was drinking and gazed at me, as if transfixed. He was either extremely friendly or else thinking to himself "my God what a strange looking creature." Probably just friendly.
Monday, June 2, 2014
I came down with a serious case of Blogger's Block this past weekend, and as usual, whenever that happens, I went to the zoo. I wandered around, trying to figure out what to post, but couldn't think of anything, which is why you now looking at the photograph of still another Denver Zoo monkey. The weekend wasn't a total loss, however. For some reason, I did wind up remembering that I have a dental appointment coming up soon. You always have to look on the positive side, after all.
Sunday, June 1, 2014
The Chalk Art Festival is taking place in Denver's Larimer Square this weekend, with the usual mixture of really good, really bad, and really strange sidewalk art. As I've mentioned before on this Blog, this festival used to be called the Italian Sidewalk Art Festival and featured more traditional art subjects, but I guess the public's demand for more kitschy types of art made the organizers change the format. Either that or they decided they really didn't like either Renaissance Art, Italy, Italians or possibly all of the above. Which is it guys? America want to know.