Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Fall Colors

Today was the day I was going to feature a photograph of the Aspens changing color that I wanted to take on a drive into the Colorado mountains with my friend Stuart this past Sunday.  As the above photograph shows, the conditions were less than ideal.  We were damn lucky it didn't start snowing.  But on the other hand, there was indeed color out there.  Just not bright colors.   And lets face it - doesn't photograph after photograph of golden Aspens get boring after a while?  Maybe it's time for a little atmosphere with the scenery.  We definitely had plenty of that last weekend.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Another Trip To The Mountains With Stuart

This is the third year in a row that my friend Stuart and I have taken a drive into the mountains to go on a hike and see the spectacular colors of the leaves, only to wind up drinking beer and eating hamburgers or pizza in a local bistro. In all fairness, yesterday afternoon it started raining like crazy just as we got underway, making leaf peeping a bit of a challenge.  In any case, all felt better once we got back to civilization, if you can call the Old Chicago in Lakewood, Colorado civilization.  The jury is still out on that one.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Visit To The Matador

I had dinner and drinks with the old DU Bookstore Accounting Office gang yesterday afternoon at The Matador, a trendy new restaurant in the West Highlands neighborhood of Denver.  In the photograph above are (from left to right) Linda and her husband Darrel, former DU Bookstore Accounts Payable Supervisor, Chris, former Accounting Office Assistant and her husband Jim, and moi!  I usually avoid restaurants with skulls on each side of the entrance (that was usually a warning sign back on the South Side of Chicago), but the food was actually very good.  Great to see all you guys!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Final Friday Already?

It seems like I was just complaining about the buffet selections at the Denver Art Museum's Final Friday event, and here I was once again last night standing in line, filling my plate with food.  It reminds me of the old Woody Allen joke about two older women at a resort in the Catskills. One complains about how lousy the food is.  The other replies "Yes, and such small portions, too."  But this monthly event is not about food for the body but food for the soul, and so after I stuffed myself with hors d'oeuvres, I attended a brief talk by DAM curator Angelica Daneo about the museum's European portrait collection (see photograph above). It was very interesting and informative, although I must say that every single portrait the Italian born Daneo discussed seemed to have some Italian influence or connection.  Even after 2000 years, all roads still seem to lead to Rome.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nostalgia Time Again? Yes! Deal With It!

I ran across the above photograph of my father sitting in our Stuart, Florida condo the other day while perusing some old family photo albums.  It must have been taken around 1976, because my father is sitting on the couch we had back in Chicago, which was soon jettisoned by my parents for something a bit more tropical. The thing that strikes me most about this photograph - besides the obvious sentimental reasons - is that everything in it besides the couch is either still in that condo or in my condo here in Denver.  That must make me either a very strong traditionalist or quite a cheapskate.  Most likely both.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Hanging With The Beautiful People For Cents A Day

Yes!  It's true!  You can hang out at the remodeled and ultra-hip Union Station here in Denver for next to nothing.  The Terminal Bar has turned the entire waiting room into a fancy cocktail lounge for the beautiful people.  But it is still a train station, too, so you can bring in your own coca-cola and a glass and pretend you are drinking rum and coke.  As I've mentioned before, Jack Kerouac used to drink at the old Terminal Bar, which was located just down the street in what is now Jax Fish House, but these days he wouldn't be able to afford either place.  In any case, I would definitely avoid coming here and drinking Thunderbird wine out of a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag, which used to be the style here at Union Station.  These days the beautiful people who hang out here drink their Thunderbird out of glasses.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Colorado Rockies Have Left The Building

I took the above photograph of my friend Stuart right after the Colorado baseball players did their traditional walk around the field after the last home game of the season.  As you can see, it did not take the fans long to desert the place right afterwards.  I think both the fans and players want to put this season behind them. However, since the team - third worst in baseball this year - drew 2.8 million fans, it is unlikely the owner will make many changes.  You can't argue with success - financial success, that is.   When one fan e-mailed owner Dick Monfort to complain about the quality of the team, Monfort e-mailed him back and told him to stay away. So much for constructive criticism.  A lousy team, but a great party deck, Dick!  Keep up the good work.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mary Ann Sails Into Denver

Dawn Wells (AKA Mary Ann of Gilligan's Island fame) signed copies of her new self-help book What Would Mary Ann Do? and items of memorabilia yesterday evening at the Tattered Cover Bookstore here in Denver. Although she didn't give a talk, she did have each fan sit down next to her and chat for a while.  It was a really nice gesture, but it did take a while.  It reminded me of what Rick Steves said about Emperor Franz Joseph of Austro-Hungary:  the Emperor would talk to subjects on a one to one basis every week, but insisted on everyone standing so that the line would move right along.  If Dawn Wells ever writes another book, I strongly recommend she try that arrangement instead.  And in case you're wondering, I didn't see a single item of Gilligan's Island memorabilia.  Probably all in the hands of private collectors in Europe and South America.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Last Home Game Of The Season

I went to the Colorado Rockies last home game of the season yesterday afternoon with my friend Stuart.  All in all, the Rockies had a very successful year - they avoided 100 losses, nobody died, and no one on the team was even arrested, as far as I know.  This is in contrast to the Denver Broncos Football team, many of whose players and most of the management were arrested for one reason or another this past year.  In any case, baseball stars Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, and Charlie Blackmon were sitting right in front of us at yesterday's game, as can be seen in the above photograph.  And as you know, the camera never lies.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Doing The Hokey Pokey In Mozambique

At least that is what it looks like Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie - is doing with some friends in Mozambique, where she is a "teacher of teachers" with the Peace Corps.  As former Denver Post columnist Dick Kreck once asked, what if doing the hokey pokey really is what it's all about?  In any case, Cheyanne (seen in the photograph above on the left)  is down to her final 10 weeks in Africa, and has pretty mixed feeling about having to leave.  Be sure to check out her latest Blog post at www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com.  And I will have you all know that she actually dedicated this latest Blog post to moi!  It is about a crazy lady she and her friends crossed paths with while having lunch in a nearby town.  And I am not at all offended that when people think of crazy, they immediately think of me.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Beers With The Usual Suspects

I had happy hour beers with my friend and former DU Bookstore colleague Wally (in the photograph above on the right) and friend and DU library employee Mark (in the center) yesterday evening at Spanky's Urban Roadhouse, a sophisticated establishment that caters to the likes of us.  Afterwards, we took the light rail downtown to McCormick's, a very swanky fish house, where we joined Wally's wife Linda and her friends for dinner.  I suspect that Linda is not crazy about my constant snapshots, mainly because she keeps threatening to take my camera away and smash it over my head.  And wouldn't THAT make a great photograph?  But she didn't.  Not yet anyway.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wild Times In Lakewood Colorado

I drove to beautiful and exotic Lakewood, Colorado last night to have burgers and beers at the Old Chicago restaurant with my friend Stuart.  And I must say, even though they roll up the sidewalks early there, people certainly like to have a good time in that town.  Plus, even total strangers, such as the young lady behind Stuart's shoulder in the photograph above, actually LIKE to have their photograph taken. How wonderful is that?  So let the good times roll, at least until the witching hour (9:00 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time in Lakewood).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Speaking of Autographings...

Les Claypool and fellow members of the "legendary" band Primus will be at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax Avenue this evening (September 18th) to discuss and sign their new book Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine.  Personally, I've never heard of them before, so I don't see how they could possibly be considered legendary.  In point of fact, I have always thought Primus is a hybrid automobile made by Toyota. But no matter.  I will not be able to attend the event anyway, since I have to meet Stuart, my friend and former Hatch's Bookstore colleague (a mere 30 years ago) for burgers and beers at the Old Chicago restaurant in exotic Lakewood, Colorado.  And I can't be late, since they roll up the sidewalks there at 9:00 P.M. sharp every night.  In any case, I hope everyone enjoys the evening with Prius and that the band members bring along their accordions so they can play a few tunes for the crowd.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Waiting For Dawn

The countdown has begun until the appearance of Dawn Wells (AKA Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island). She will be appearing at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax Avenue here in Denver this coming Monday night to sign copies of her new book What Would Mary Ann Do?: A Guide To Life.  The event schedule says that she will sign either one copy of her new book or one piece of memorabilia.  Which of course begs the question: what kind of Gilligan's Island memorabilia do you suppose exists out there?  Posters?  Action figures?  Ginger the Movie Star lingerie?  It boggles the mind. Fortunately, all will be revealed in just 5 days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Pool Is Closed For the Season

The pool at my condo building is now closed for the season.  As I have mentioned before on this Blog, building management does not open the pool until after all the University of Denver students (who make up a majority of the residents) have left for summer vacation, and then close it before they return.  This is due to the propensity of some DU students to jump off the balcony into the pool and break various and sundry body parts.  The University of Denver claims that DU's students are the best and brightest.  Last night as I watched a DU student ride his bicycle backwards, without lights, down the middle of a darkened street, I began to think that if this is true, it is because they are a case study for Darwin's Theory of Natural Selection. Only the best and the brightest of DU's students survive their college years.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

An Afternoon Of Kaos

After a weekend spent scrambling to catch up at work, it was nice just to spend an hour or so sitting outside and reading at Kaos, the local pizzeria/beer garden on South Pearl Street here in Denver.  It is a great place to relax, and is filled with families, their kids running around, drawing chalk pictures on the sidewalk, and exploring every nook and cranny.  Denver has quite a few of these neighborhood business districts, populated by local mom and pop stores and restaurants and surrounded by quaint old houses.  They are extremely popular places to hang out in these days, which is probably why people are tearing down the quaint old houses and putting up million dollar, 3-story duplexes. Progress! Ya gotta love it.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

More Florida Nostalgia...

Many years after I took the Florida Keys photographs displayed on yesterday's Blog - during an August visit to Stuart, Florida - I drove my sister Susan, mother Mary, and myself to Fort Lauderdale to check out their famous Riverwalk.  Afterwards, we drove to the Bahia Mar Marina - home of John D. McDonald's fictional hero Travis McGee and his houseboat, The Busted Flush - to take a cruise on the Jungle Queen.  We had a wonderful time, cruising past huge mansions and up the New River to an island in the "wilds" of Fort Lauderdale, where various monkeys and exotic birds were on display.  The photo taken of us on the left is one of my favorites, a precious memory of a very happy day, although I am still laughing at the photograph I posted yesterday of my sister - now a health food fanatic - eating the fast-food hamburger she insisted on having, instead of one of the sandwiches my father had made for the trip.  I distinctly remember saying that I wanted to record the moment for posterity, and I did.  My sister used to call me "little snot face" back then, and when I think about it, maybe I was.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It's Florida Nostalgia Weekend!

Several weeks ago when my sister and I were down in Stuart, Florida getting our condo there ready to re-rent, I took a photograph of my sister choosing just the right orange juice at the Downtown Publix grocery store.  It reminded me of the photograph I took of my father many years ago at the local Stuart Winn Dixie, and I had originally planned to feature them today on this Blog.  However, on second thought, I decided that portraits in grocery stores probably have limited appeal (in other words, only to me), and so I decided instead to feature several photographs of a trip from Stuart to Key West, Florida that my mother, father, sister, and I took back in the 1970s.  The top photograph was taken at a rest stop near Marathon, Florida, a town about half way down the Florida Keys.  I remember my sister insisting on a Burger King or McDonald's hamburger for lunch instead of the sandwiches my father fixed, which I find quite amusing today now that she is such a health food fanatic. The picture on the left was taken later that afternoon in Key West.  We visited Ernest Hemingway's home, walked down Duval Street, and even went to Mallory Square to applaud the sunset and watch the street performers.  However, the next morning the weather looked so threatening that my father insisted on driving back to Stuart right after breakfast.  Actually, I suspect he really just wanted to get back to his condo in Stuart, which he and my mother loved so much, and which is the one we are hoping to rent to some lucky soul at a bargain price.

Friday, September 12, 2014

It Is Snowing In Denver, But Meanwhile, Back In Mozambique...

Yes, today is September 12th, still technically summer here in Denver, and it is snowing.  Yes! Snowing! Back on the South Side of Chicago, if this ever happened, people would be heading to the tavern in droves to drink heavily. Of course, they would probably do that anyway, but nonetheless, snow this early is still a shock. Meanwhile, Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique - does not seem to have that problem.  In fact, judging from the photograph above (Cheyanne is on the far right), it appears that she and her fellow Peace Corps volunteers are kind of enjoying late winter in Africa. And don't think for a minute that they are on vacation or anything.  They are getting together for team building purposes only.  Check out Cheyanne's Blog at www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mary Ann Is Coming To The Tattered Cover!

Yes, it's true.  Mary Ann (THE Mary Ann of Gilligan's Island fame) is coming to the Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax here in Denver to autograph copies of her new book What Would Mary Ann Do?: A Guide to Life. I am so excited about her September 22nd visit that I don't know if I will be able to stand the wait without the aid of prescription drugs.  Mary Ann's upcoming appearance has reignited that era's long forgotten argument between my friend Stuart and myself - would you rather be trapped on Gilligan's Island with Mary Ann (me) or Ginger (Stuart).  The only down side is that the Tattered Cover's Featured Events brochure states that "the event is a booksigning only.  Ms. Wells (Mary Ann) will not be making remarks or taking questions."  I hope she isn't going to go into a mime routine during the signing.  That would be awkward.  Plus, all that white face paint would not make for good photography.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Colfax Kind Of Culture

Denver's Colfax Avenue, once "America's longest, wickedest street," is gentrifying.  However, once it begins to rain, as it has done here a lot lately, you quickly realize just how many homeless people and people on the edge exist on this street.  Walking from work to the Light Rail train one rainy night last week, I saw countless street people huddling under awnings, in doorways, on sheltered ledges, almost everywhere they could escape the elements.  It is a sad commentary that so many people have to fend for themselves on the street like that, while millennials and yuppies eat, drink, and amuse themselves just a few feet away.  Is this a case of just the way it is, and always will be, or can this all be changed?  Greater minds than mine will have to figure that one out.  I wonder how Texas Governor Rick Perry would solve all this?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Going to The Dogs - Again

Yes, once again I am shamelessly resorting to animal photographs to fill Blog space, in this case featuring a photograph of Tutu, one of my sister Susan and brother-in-law George's two dogs.  Tutu was named by my sister after a Buddhist Master (Susan has been a Buddhist for many years).  A tutu is also a garment worn by ballerinas, although I believe that if the ballerina  is a little heaver than your average ballet star, she wears a three-three.  Who says this Blog isn't informative?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Another Damnable Flood

It is just like the movie Groundhog Day, but without Andie MacDowell as a love interest.  I have had still another flood in my condo, in the exact same place, from the exact same pipe.  Two months ago, after the first flood, the plumber told me the pipe behind my kitchen wall was in very bad condition and needed to be replaced instead of just patched.  However, since it goes from the first floor to the eleventh, and would be costly to replace, he doubted building management would do anything about it.  And guess what - they didn't.  And so now my apartment is once again filled with the lovely sound of 5 high powered fans running 24/7.  What I want to know is, where is Andie MacDowell when you really need her?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Happy Anniversary Susan And George!

I drove up to Fort Collins from Denver yesterday afternoon to have dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George and to help them celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.  In honor of that occasion I brought them a photograph of our family up at Britannia, a resort on Ontario's Lake of Bays, taken many years ago, at a time when not even I was born yet.  Talk about old!  My sister Susan and her cousin, friend, and rival Judy would run wild for two weeks up there, much to the delight of the college age waitresses up there.  Judy loved the place so much she insisted on having her honeymoon there, the site of so many happy childhood memories.  Susan and George, on the other hand,  got married in Evanston, Illinois, at the justice of the peace, and borrowed the family car right after the wedding to drive to Milwaukee and spend their honeymoon there.  I remember that they were kind enough to drop us off at the Illinois Central train station first, where my mother, father, Grandmother Spillard, and I waited to take the train back to the southern suburbs, where we lived at the time.  Not that I'm bitter about something that happened back in 1969.  Not me.  No way.  Not ever.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Another First Friday!

First Friday has rolled around once again, and as usual I spent Friday night walking up and down Santa Fe Drive here in Denver checking out the art and doing some people watching.  I took the above photograph of "Tadashi in Action," sitting in front of the windows of an art gallery at the corner of 9th and Santa Fe.  He has been sitting there each time I have attended this event, and very possibly has been sitting there for decades. And I must say, he does not seem to work fast.  I think a much better title would be "Tadashi Puttering Around," but what do I know.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Mystery Novel Set In Bayfield County!

I attended a talk and autographing by Kent Krueger last night at the Tattered Cover Bookstore to hear him speak about Windigo Island, his new mystery novel set in none other than Bayfield County, Wisconsin, where I happen to own 40 acres of prime forestland.  I had never heard of Krueger before, even though this is his 14th book in the Cork O'Connor mystery series.  I leafed through the book, and it features the towns of Bayfield and Washburn, both located along the shores of Lake Superior, and such local landmarks as the Bayfield Inn, where my family has dined in years gone by.  My grandfather purchased those 40 acres south of the town of Herbster, Wisconsin back in 1918, and they have been in the family ever since.  Because the taxes are getting prohibitively expensive these days, I was thinking that if Krueger sets his novels there, he might be willing to buy the land from me, perhaps for the bargain price of half a million dollars. Unfortunately, it appears the Bayfield setting was just a one time thing, and all his other books are set in Northern Minnesota.  I realized immediately that there would not be a half million dollar windfall, but was sitting in the second row and could not escape.  Damn Minnesotans.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cheyanne At Work

My co-worker Peter has been following my Blog lately, and has questioned whether Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique - is actually in the Peace Corps, or for that matter even in Africa.  Most of the photographs I have featured show her on the beach with friends, hiking in the mountains, and even exploring new brewpubs (and yes, they do have them in Africa).  Therefore, today I am featuring a photograph of her with her Juntos (theater) group at the college where she teaches. They decided to make banana bread and coffee cake to sell at a local festival in order to raise money for t-shirts for the group. Be sure to check out her Blog at www.timeinmozambique.blogspot.com for more proof that she is not just laying low in Southern California.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sunset Is Coming Earlier

The days are getting shorter and sunset is coming much earlier these days.  Before you know it, the snow will be flying. Here in Denver our first snowfall is usually in September, which to a native Chicagoan like me is a completely unnatural thing.  Meanwhile, in Denver's Lower Downtown neighborhood, where I catch the Light Rail train home each evening, the philosophy is that the later you stay up and party, the longer summer lasts.  It doesn't seem to be working, but I will certainly give these LoDo denizens an A for effort.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Creedence Clearwater Revisited

I went to hear Creedence Clearwater Revisited at the Taste of Colorado yesterday afternoon, and thought they sounded great.  Although only Stu Cook and Doug "Cosmo" Clifford are original band members, to me they sound the same as the original group.  The crowd was remarkably diverse - old, young, black, white. And standing there, listening to the music in the midst of that huge crowd, I was struck once again by the realization that no matter what their age, race, religion, or creed happens to be, there are a LOT of nuts out there.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Trip To Clear Lake - Postponed

Today is Labor Day, and I had hoped to drive to Clear Lake, Iowa this weekend to take photographs and start my Blurb Book project based on the scrapbook / photo album of Viola Thayer, which featured many photographs and picture postcards of that famous north central Iowa city.  Viola was my Great Aunt (my Grandfather Hoyt's half sister) and passed away in 1910 at the age of 17.  One of  the photographs in her album is of my Grandmother and Grandfather Hoyt (seen above), most likely taken before they moved from Clear Lake to the South Side of Chicago.  Although I was not able to travel there this weekend, I still intend to visit there soon, and also take a weekend trip to Chicago's South Side to continue work on the book. Both Clear Lake and the South Side of Chicago!  Talk about the good life!