Friday, October 31, 2014

Talk About Scary...

I drove out to Lakewood, Colorado last night to have dinner with my friend Stuart at the Summit Grill and Tap House, which recently opened up in the space formerly occupied by the late lamented Hops Restaurant and Brewery.  It was a very pleasant evening, and as usual, I took a photograph of Stuart to put on this Blog.  Imagine my surprise when I downloaded the photo and got the image seen above.  Talk about a scary Halloween.  I have heard of people taking photographs and then finding ghosts on them when they were developed, but I never thought my trusty Cannon G9 was capable of doing this.  In any case, as far as I'm concerned, Lakewood, Colorado is Spook Central.  I've known for years that there was something wrong with the place, but I never suspected anything like this.  I would definitely avoid Lakewood at all times if possible, but especially on Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Nostalgia

Tomorrow is Halloween, and I can't help but remember that last year at this time I spent Halloween delivering mail for the U.S. Post Office in the South Denver suburb of Highlands Ranch.  As regular Blog readers might remember, Highlands Ranch is the home of the devil (seen in the photograph above).  Once the sun sets in that suburb, the Powers of Evil are exalted, no matter what the day of the year happens to be. Not that I mean this as a criticism of either Highlands Ranch or it's citizens.  They can't help it if the devil lives there.  He probably just got a good deal on a house.  A perfectly reasonable thing to do, even for the devil.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cannon Beach Here We Come!

Yes!  It's true!  Another Hoyt Family Reunion is set to take place 4th of July weekend in Cannon Beach, Oregon (seen at dusk in the photograph above).  Cannon Beach is a wonderful little town, nestled on the miost scenic part of the Oregon coastline.  Plus, it has small town charm. It appears to me that anyone can take part in the 4th of July parade if they want  And whoever is not in the parade is sitting along the curb watching it.  Plus, they love Hoyts in Oregon.  There is a Hoyt Arboretum and a Hoyt Street in Portland, and daily Hoyt news on the local television stations.  And why do they love us so much?  I say why ask - just sit back and enjoy the accolades.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rep Night!

It was "Rep Night" Sunday night at the Bookstore where I work.  A number of sales reps from various publishers came to the store to speak to the staff about the new fall titles.  The last speaker was Meg, the W.W. Norton representative, seen in the photograph above discussing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, a new title about a young woman whose first job was at a crematory.  Meg, by the way, in discussing that book, told us that "All of you will die at some point in your lives."  Truer words, as I like to say. In any case, food and drink was provided, but the big draw was the free gallery copies of the books they were promoting. Some of these titles were quite pricey.  In addition to an annotated H.P. Lovecraft, there was a copy of Earth Is My Witness, a fantastic $95 photography book by Art Wolffe, with commentary by Wade Davis.  I think the entire audience was focused on that title.  And the first person to get to the table at the end of the event could claim it.  The hostess barely got her thanks to the audience and reps out before the mad rush began.  Talk about facing your own mortality.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Great New Art Exhibit At The University Of Denver

There is a great new art exhibit at the University of Denver's Victoria Myhren Art Gallery:  Visual Trips: The Psychedelic Poster Movement in San Francisco.  On display are San Francisco concert posters and flyers from 1965 thru 1971, and they are wonderful.  These artists were highly talented and like Toulouse-Lautrec, produced commercial work that is actually high art.  I heartily recommend going to see this exhibit, despite the fact that, as regular Blog readers know, DU "retired" me (in other words, laid me off) after almost 30 years of service when they outsourced the DU Bookstore to Follett Corporation.  I am certainly not the type of person to let a little thing like that bother me after all this time. Not me. No way. I say go ahead and see the exhibit anyway.  Just don't give them any money.  It only encourages them.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Kodak Moment

Darrel and Linda hosted a dinner at their east Denver home for the usual gang of former DU Bookstore employees and their spouses, as well as me, yesterday evening, and it was a very pleasant get-together. When Darrel got up to take a photograph, I knew the time for my particular Kodak moment was at hand.  Of course, Darrel took just a single snapshot, while I took 3 or 4, barking specific instructions at the same time.  Could this be why so many people dread seeing me coming along with a camera?  Or for that matter, just coming along? Nah!  I'm sure they love it.  After all, nobody at the dinner table jumped up, grabbed my camera, and smashed it.  I take that as positive reinforcement.  In the photograph above (from left to right) are Darrel, former Accounts Payable Supervisor of the DU Bookstore; Chris, former Accounts Payable Assistant; Chris's husband Jim; Jake, Valarie's significant other; Valarie, former Operations Manager of the DU Bookstore; and Darrel's wife Linda.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Made In Bangladesh

I was forced to drive to the Park Meadows Mall out in suburban Lone Tree to buy some new slacks from J.C. Penney last weekend.  After a mere 10 months, the slacks I currently own are ready for the rag pile.  Is it my imagination, or is the quality of most consumer products a lot poorer these days?  I checked the tags and the 2 pairs of Dockers I purchased were made in Bangladesh.  I guess the Levis Company can't afford to make them in expensive labor markets like China anymore, with the result being a poorer quality product. And this begs the question: Will more manufacturing jobs be moving from China to Bangladesh?  And if so, can 1.3 billion Chinese find work in the service sector?  Time for a major market expansion by Starbucks and McDonald's , I'd say.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Crazy About the Broncos

Denver Fans are crazy about the Broncos.  Or maybe just crazy, period.  I took the above photograph yesterday of fans exiting the light rail train heading for Mile High Stadium and a Thursday night game against the San Diego Chargers.  Last Sunday people paid record prices to see Peyton Manning break the touchdown record against the San Francisco 49ers.  One of my co-workers, who owns Broncos season tickets, was offered over a thousand dollars per ticket for his seats.  For one football game.  A three hour football game.  I wouldn't pay $100 for that ticket even if somebody put a gun to my head and said:  "Your money for these tickets or your life."  "I'm thinking, I'm thinking," would be my reply, as Jack Benny once famously said.  The Broncos won, by the way.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Photographing Zombies

I know you've all been there.  You stop into a place to have a drink and/or dinner, and you wind up sitting next to a family of zombies.  And you think to yourself: "Why shouldn't I take a photograph of them?" And once you do, you get the death stare. A lot of zombies evidently don't like having their photograph taken. They probably think the photograph will wind up on the internet or something.  Talk about paranoia.  Back in the 1950s zombie families loved having their photograph taken.  How times have changed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BEWARE! Denver Has A SERIOUS Zombie Problem...

I went down to the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver last Saturday afternoon, and the place was crawling with zombies.  Denver, needless to say,  has a serious zombie problem.  There were armed zombie hunters there to keep them in line, but if the zombies all went berserk at once, nobody would be able to stop them. And how did Denver get into this predicament in the first place?  Personally, I blame the movie Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead.  I think that film really appealed to The Undead, and once they saw it, they all started moving here.  And what can be done about this problem now?  For one thing, I would sure stay the hell off the streets Halloween night.  If you don't, you're a goner.  Or else head to the nearby suburb of Lakewood.  Not even The Undead would hang out in that place.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two New Posts From Mozambique!

Cheyanne - a "teacher of teachers" with the Peace Corps in Mozambique and the daughter of my friend Valarie - has posted two Blogs in two days this past week - a new record!  The first discusses how jumping in and speaking the local language and not worrying about grammatical mistakes really contributed to making friends with her neighbors and colleagues in Mozambique.  If she had worried about all the mistakes she was making with the language, she would have stayed a foreigner forever to them.  The second post is how Mozambicans celebrate holidays and special occasions - basically the same way each time and taking 12 to 14 hours to do it.  I strongly recommend to her that she delay celebrating her graduation from Gonzaga University until she gets back to Denver.  In any case, be sure to check out Cheyanne's new posts at

Monday, October 20, 2014

Beautiful Junk!

I went to the Action Center's Beautiful Junk Sale at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds this past Saturday and met up with my friend Valarie, the Action Center's Office Manager and the former DU Bookstore Operations Manager.  As usual, I arrived during the last hour of the sale to take advantage of the half price book bag special - $7 for as many books as you could  fit into a shopping bag. The book selection might have been a bit picked over, but I consider them bargain priced, under-appreciated treasures.  Afterwards we went to happy hour at Jose O'Shea's in Lakewood, Colorado, where they have a free happy hour taco bar.  Yes! Free!  All for the price of a drink. And they tasted great!  In a great show of restraint, I limited myself to only 6 or 7 tacos.  After all, I don't want to make a pig out of myself.  Did I mention that the tacos were FREE?  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Visiting With Darrel And Joel

I visited with Darrel - my friend and former DU Bookstore Accounting Office co-worker - and his grandson Joel (pronounced who-ell) yesterday morning at the University of Denver's Magness Hockey Arena.  Joel was there to take a skating lesson, but the rink was double-booked and so the lesson was canceled.  I guess DU was figuring it could double it's income that way, but evidently that morning they figured it might be just a little bit too crowed and too dangerous for both groups to be on the ice at the same time.  Instead, we went over to Bruegger's Bagels and had coffee.  Now that's my idea of exercise.  Good seeing you guys!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Even More Nostalgia: Chicago 1948

In yesterday's Blog I recounted my trip back in time to Henri Matisse's studio in Vence, France in the year 1948.  In June of that same year, somebody snapped the above photograph on 111th Street in the South Side Chicago neighborhood of Beverly, just a few miles from Brainerd, the neighborhood where I grew up. A few years ago I went back to Chicago and walked down this very street.  The neighborhood is still as wonderful as ever and the business district is still thriving.  This photograph, by the way, is from the 2007 Chicago Transit Authority Historical Calendar.  The CTA produces an historical calendar each year that you can download to your computer or print out and put on your wall.  Be sure to check out this year's version at

Friday, October 17, 2014

Back In Time Courtesy Of The DAM

I went to the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) last weekend and through the magic of their time machine (part of the new Matisse and Friends exhibition) was able to travel back to 1948 and visit Matisse's studio in Vence, France (see photograph above for documented proof). After rapping with Matisse for a while (Hey Henri!  How 'bout those Chicago White Sox!), I went out and walked around the town for a bit.  And I must say that Vence, France is no Lakewood, Colorado. I couldn't wait to get back to the future.  I say, let the good times roll! Lakewood! Yeah!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Last Days In Vietnam

I went to see the documentary film Last Days in Vietnam at the Esquire Theater here in Denver Sunday night. The Vietnam War raged during most of my formative years.  It started in 1965 when I was in the 7th grade at Fort Dearborn Grammar School in Chicago, and was televised back to America on the nightly news every evening.  When I was at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa during my college freshman year, I had to register for the draft in nearby Cedar Rapids.  The following year, I remember hurrying with much anxiety to the Illinois Institute of Technology's Campus Bookstore to check my lottery number in the Chicago Daily News (one of the city's evening papers) and see if I was going to be drafted.  My number was over 300, thank God, and I missed that free trip to Southeast Asia.  After graduating college, I also remember taking a trip with my parents in April of 1975 to Stuart, Florida and listening to live reports of the fall of Saigon on the radio.  It is this period that the film Last Days In Vietnam covers.  The ambassador to Vietnam, Graham Martin, was in denial about the fall of Vietnam, and refused to make any plans to evacuate either American citizens or the Vietnamese that supported the US and who would be in grave danger after a takeover.  This resulted in the chaos of Saigon's final days.  The movie depicts the heroic actions of many Americans to get these vulnerable Vietnamese and their families out of the country, and also shows how in the end it was too little too late to save many of them.  A sad ending to a very sad and tragic war.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Lion King

Yes. I admit it. The fount has once again run dry.  I am out of Blog ideas, and am again forced to go to the last resort for Blog ideas:  The Denver Zoo.  What do you suppose the lion in the above photograph is thinking as he stares at me so intently? Playtime?  Dinner?  Or going back to the reincarnation theme from yesterday, is this just another old pal now reincarnated as a lion and wanting help making a break for it.  The mind boggles.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Orangutans and Reincarnation

I went to the Denver Zoo Saturday afternoon and was pleased to find that many of the animals were quite willing to have their portraits taken.  I think the nice weather put them all in a good mood.  In fact, as soon as he saw me, the orangutan in the photograph above ran right up to the window next to where I was standing, sat down, and gazed up at me fondly.  He was so friendly that I have to wonder if there might be something to reincarnation and that this might be an old pal of mine.  If true, I would feel honor-bound to break him out of there. How would you feel if one of your pals was locked up 24/7 and fed only bark, leaves, flowers, and fruit? Springing him would be tricky, however, and if we stopped anywhere afterwards for a beer, I would have to wonder if we would be denied service by the bartender.  People can be so narrow-minded.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Matisse And Friends

I went to Members Preview Day this past Saturday at the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) to see Matisse And Friends, a new major art exhibition at the museum.  I was very impressed with the exhibit, and almost fainted dead away when one of the guards told me that it was okay - and even encouraged, no less - to take photographs in the gallery.  Most of the time at these special exhibits, if you try to take a photograph, they beat you senseless and then throw you right out the door on your head.  But since the paintings are on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C, it is actually the citizens of the U.S. who own them, and therefore we can do whatever we want.  Which is one reason why the exhibit is furnished with chairs, couches, and other furniture, to let everyone sit down, relax, and enjoy just looking at the paintings.  I imagine that if you wanted to, you could even take a Matisse home and hang it on your wall for 6 or 8 weeks, if you just asked. And no, I didn't ask.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Chicago Nostalgia Continues...

I just loved the 1130 South Michigan Building in Chicago where my sister Susan and brother-in-law George had 40th floor studio apartments, and later a large two bedroom 24th floor unit looking south down South Michigan Avenue.  I took the above photograph around 1970, showing their living room view.  You always knew the time and temperature when you lived in that apartment, and also had a strange tendency to always drink Pepsi.  I went back to Chicago a few years ago, and although the building is still there, the view is much different. Gone is the old Illinois Central Railroad Building across the street, as is the Pepsi sign and the building that once supported it.  Also gone are the strange mix of industrial and retail buildings on South Michigan, replaced by a yuppie infested "New South Side."  Even the Hotel Crillon, also seen in the photo above, offering rooms for $2.50 a night, is gone.  A pity since that is where I intended to stay.  Another tourist bargain gone forever.  I weep.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

More Chicago Nostalgia

I took the above photograph of my Uncle Bill (on the left), father Nelson (in the center), and brother-in-law George (seen on the right and more recently in last Sunday's post) around 1970 in the living room of Susan and George's 24th floor apartment at 1130 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago.  My father is seen perusing George's new book on the history of the National Football League, a birthday gift to him from my sister. And my father, by the way, was 61 years young when this photo was taken, the same age as I am today.  Talk about scary.  In any case, the following year George, my father, and I went to Soldier's Field, located just across the street from that apartment, to see the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Colts play the College All-Stars.  It was an annual charity event sponsored by the Chicago Tribune, and the game we attended was the first held at the newly remodeled Soldier's Field.  I remember George being very impressed with the place, and my father not so much.  In any case, not too many years later that annual game was permanently canceled, probably because the NFL decided they were more interested in thuggery and money than charity. As the old saying goes, the more things change...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Detroit: An American Autopsy

I picked up a copy of Detroit:  An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff the other day at the bookstore where I work.   Since it was on the bargain table, I figured it was worth a look, and it is actually pretty good. LeDuff is an excellent and entertaining writer.  He gave up a dream job with the New York Times in LA to take a job at the struggling Detroit News in his old home town.  He figured that painful times in Detroit make for great stories, and he was absolutely right.  In the photograph above from the book I am standing in front of the old Packard Plant, which has been deteriorating since the 1950s.  And I don't know who the woman in the photograph is, what she is wearing, or what she is doing.  Honest.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Psychic Gypsy Thief Problem In Colorado?

I never realized Colorado even had a gypsy population, let alone a problem with psychic gypsy mediums, until I drove past  a gypsy joint on 13th Street here in Denver and around the same time read an article in the Denver Post that a "psychic gypsy medium" had scammed a 65 year old woman - a business executive and a business school graduate, no less - out of $97,000 to cure her negative aura.  He told her the money was being kept in a cave near Estes Park, Colorado and would be returned to her once her aura was fixed. Personally, I have never once doubted that I have a negative aura, but I would never spend close to 100 K to fix it.  To hell with my negative aura, as long as I will still get social security, has always been my motto. Just another version of the glass half full, I guess.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mozambique Musings...

I mentioned to my brother-in-law George that Cheyanne - daughter of my friend Valarie and a teacher of teachers with the Peace Corps in Mozambique - will be heading home to Denver in December.  George suggested that because of Africa's Ebola crisis, perhaps Cheyanne should be quarantined  for 21 days before she arrives at Valarie's house.  I explained to George that Mozambique is on the opposite end of that huge continent from West Africa and Ebola is not an issue there, but now that I think about it, how could it hurt? Granted, Cheyanne would miss Christmas and New Year's with her family, but you can never be too safe, right?  I am sure that Cheyanne (seen on the left in the photograph above in South Africa with her friend Teagan) would be a good sport about it.  Right?  Right?  In any case, be sure to check out Cheyanne's Blog at

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fort Collins, Colorado - Hotbed Of Crime?

I drove up to Fort Collins from Denver Saturday afternoon to have dinner with my sister and brother-in-law, and arrived early enough to walk around Old Town Fort Collins for a little while.  Everyone seemed mellow and serene, and the place reminded me a bit of the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, what with all the street musicians and performers.  Little did I know that just a few hours later there would be a riot in town by out of control Colorado State University students. And this is not the first such incident.  Plus, just a few months ago there was a cat-napping incident at The Northern Hotel.  A couple of college age kids made some sort of request at the desk, which was denied, and soon after the hotel's resident pussy was pilfered. Fortunately the cat was recovered a few days later, and the town has quickly recovered from it's most recent party / riot / football victory celebration.  I strongly recommend the town as a great place to visit, but it might be best to leave your cat at home.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The View from Downtown

It was such a nice day that I decided to take a walk yesterday afternoon around downtown Denver.  The weather was perfect, the Broncos had won their game against the Cardinals, and it was the last day of the Great American Beer Festival, and so everybody was in a great mood. I had read in the Sunday Denver Post that one of the greatest views of downtown Denver was from the mezzanine of Union Station, and so decided to stop in and have a look.  And I have to say - not so much.  I actually prefer the view looking back at Union Station from the Oxford Hotel, such as in the photograph above.  And as I have stated before, Union Station is now the city's major hot spot.  It is just a pleasure to hang out with my fellow beautiful people there.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Fort Collins Foray

I drove up to Fort Collins to have dinner with my sister Susan and brother-in-law George yesterday afternoon, listening to the baseball playoffs on my portable radio both on the way up and back.  When I bought my Honda Civic 4-door sedan in 1986, I thought the cost of putting in a radio was too much, and decided to add one later.   Here it is 2014 and I'm still looking for an acceptable car radio at an acceptable price.  These things take time.  George, by the way,  is recovering from his third eye operation in about as many months, and is hoping the third time is the charm and that he will soon be able to see out of his left eye once again.  This last operation the eye surgeons had to take the whole eye out and then put it back in, which makes me cringe even to think about.  In any case, keep hanging in there, George!  Thanks for the steaks!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

First Friday Thoughts

Yesterday was the first Friday in October, and so I walked to the Arts District on Santa Fe Boulevard here in Denver after work to check out the new art on display.  At the Spark Gallery, I saw some wonderful photographs of Morocco by Barbara Carpenter, but what really riveted me was the painting above of a wolf dressed as the grim reaper. What I want to know is, if you bought something like this, what would you do with it?  Would you hang it your bedroom?  I think not.  If you woke up in the middle of the night and saw that, you would probably have the big one and drop dead.  Perhaps it is a painting meant to be given as a gift to someone else. Perhaps an ex-wife.  

Friday, October 3, 2014

Americans Do Get Exercise!

Humor columnist Dave Barry once wrote that the best way to find out if you are overweight is to simply look out the window.  If you see the United States of America out there, then you are overweight, because every American is overweight.  A bit of an oversimplification, I must admit.  However, I have to say that many if not most Americans are getting plenty of exercise to combat this weight problem every morning as they try to catch their train.  Virtually everyone at the University of Denver Light Rail stop runs past me at full speed each morning as I wait for my bus.  As a matter of fact, I think the Regional Transportation District (RTD) should award cash prizes for the fastest times at each station to increase ridership.  As an additional challenge, they could keep the doors open as they pull out to allow contestants to attempt leaping onto the moving train.  Talk about entertainment!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Photography At The DAM

I went to the Anthony and Delisa Mayer Photography Gallery at the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) this past weekend to see Photography and Vision:  The Influence of Joyce and Ted Strauss.  This couple donated hundreds of photographs to the museum, and the exhibition features a small selection of these photos.  I must say some of them are very good, like the quirky Man on Standing Stones, taken on the Isle of Lewis.  However, some are real stinkers, such as the triptych of a large horizontal mound of dirt with tracks on it. Even I could take a photograph like that. And perhaps I will.  Are the Strausses still in a buying mood?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Reluctant Subject

It seems to me that even dogs are reluctant to let me take their photograph these days.  I explained to the canine in the photograph above that I simply wanted to take his photograph and put it on my Blog, but he still seemed pretty apprehensive about it.  Perhaps I am losing my touch.  Although come to think of it, I did take this photograph at Starbucks, so perhaps the dog was just over-caffeinated.