Saturday, January 31, 2015

What Is Art?

I attended the first Final Friday of the year at the Denver Art Museum (The DAM) last night, and was a bit disappointed in the evening.  The museum is featuring a big show these days called Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century, exhibiting collections of very famous jewelry, and so all the events and artist talks last night seemed to be about diamonds, jewelry, rocks, etc.  The only event I liked was the Buntport Theater presentation by Joan and Charlie (in the top right of the above collage), dressed up like the iconic subjects of the museum's famous painting of the same name.  The stage, by the way, is the museum's freight elevator, but somehow it works.  It was pretty damn funny, too.  And no - I don't think jewelry is art.  But perhaps theater is.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The National Western Stock Show - Part II

I can't leave the subject of Denver's National Western Stock Show behind without the obligatory snapshot of one of the baby animals at the petting zoo.  The line to get in was pretty long, and so my friend Stuart and I just looked at the animals from the outside.  It probably makes for a better photograph anyway - a kind of  life behind bars effect.  That is, life behind bars if they are lucky.  At least at the zoo, the animals, although behind bars, won't wind up as somebody's dinner, like some of the baby lambs on display at the stock show. Still another downside of the rural lifestyle.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Stock Show Memories

It has been only 4 days since my friend Stuart and I attended the last day of the National Western Stock Show here in Denver, but already I am feeling kind of nostalgic about it.  Attending that event was kind of like visiting an America from a different era, one that emphasized children, family, and a rural lifestyle all but forgotten in today's modern world.  Everyone there seemed happy, relaxed, and friendly, and nobody objected to having their photograph taken.  The Stock Show symbolizes a lifestyle that amazingly still exists in places like Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming. On the other hand, all those places have cows and cow byproducts everywhere you go (or step), and the entertainment options are a bit limited.  And therefore, if it is indeed paradise there, it is definitely paradise with an asterisk attached.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Open Mike Poetry Night

Monday night was Open Mike Poetry Night at the Bookstore where I work on Colfax Avenue here in Denver, and who should show up to read his poetry then my old DU Bookstore colleague Noah.  Noah is still the DU Bookstore's Stockroom Manager, and tells me that things are going well for him.  He came to poetry night with Jake, another DU Bookstore stockroom employee, who also read some of his work at the event.  It was a very nice evening, although I must say that a lot of the poetry being read was a bit on the dark side.  Perhaps next month everyone should read happier poems, perhaps even Limericks.  I'll even volunteer to start off the evening: "There once was a barmaid from Wales..."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Libations At The Historians Ale House

My friend Stuart (in the photograph above) and I had burgers and beers at the Historians Ale House on South Broadway Sunday night after spending the day at the National Western Stock Show.  South Broadway here in Denver is becoming very trendy these days.  Since Stuart and I are as hip as they come, we felt right at home, even if we were the oldest guys in the joint.  Plus, Stuart has a degree in history and so is an honorary Historian, with all the rights and privileges that go with that.  Which I must state here and now does not include free beer.  Bummer.

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Mother's Birthday

Today my mother would have been 99 years old if she had lived.  I had hoped she would have lived at least as long as her grandfather, Charles St. Pierre, who was 99 years old when he passed away, but that was not to be.  In any case, the above photograph of my mother was given to me several weeks ago by my sister. And in point of fact, I was the one who took it, on the 9th hole of the golf course at the Monterey Yacht and Country Club in Stuart, Florida, where my mother spent 30 very happy years, for which I am very grateful.  Happy Birthday Mother!

Sunday, January 25, 2015


I was taking some photographs on my way to the Union Station Light Rail Station after work the other night and took the above photograph of one of the cows from the CowParade art exhibit here in Denver back in 2006.  The exhibition featured fiberglass cows decorated by local artists and placed throughout the city.

Seeing that cow reminded me of a collage I made that interspersed photographs of these cows with University of Denver Bookstore employees (photo on left). The top left photograph of this collage features the face of my friend and former DU Bookstore colleague Doug photo-shopped onto the face of one of the cows.  Talk about a true work of art. I was so overwhelmed by nostalgia after looking at this masterpiece that I decided to go visit Doug at the Wizard's Chest (where he is the resident magician on Saturdays) to talk over old times. Doug is doing well, and told me that I look the same, except much older.  He also told me he never referred to me as "Crazy Old Man Hoyt,"  only agreed with all the others who called me that.  Thanks for the support, Doug!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Patriot Threat

I picked up an advanced reading copy of The Patriot Threat, a soon to be published Cotton Malone adventure novel by Steve Berry, and started reading it this past week.  And I must say, it is pretty good.  As with the rest of the series, it is set in exotic locations throughout Europe and involves a secret from the past that threatens to disrupt the present day world.  At the end of each book, Berry separates fact from fiction, and explains what is fact and what he made up for the sake of a good story.  However, in a previous book - The King's Deception - Berry says it is very possible that Queen Elizabeth I was actually a man, and so I guess there are facts and then there are facts.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Staying Fit And Healthy

I saw on the news the other night that if you have a job like mine - sitting in front of a computer screen all day long - that you are 68% more likely to eventually die.  To counteract this negative effect, I am making a special effort to catch the bus to work each morning and then walk the three miles from work to Denver's Union station each evening to catch the Light Rail train home.  In addition to these health benefits, walking those three miles also allows you to meet and mingle with the local Colfax Avenue crazies.  Not too long ago, when I was taking photographs of various street scenes on Colfax,  some guy grabbed me by the arm, and while not even once looking at me,  said to me "not the face, man, not the face."  No doubt just another camera shy Colfax Avenue denizen.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's A Wonderful Life On Facebook!

I was very surprised by all the Happy Birthday messages I received on Facebook this past Monday.  People who I haven't seen or talked to in years sent me birthday greetings.  Even the Colorado Rockies and Lincoln Saltdogs Baseball Clubs sent me cheery Happy Birthdays.  In point of fact, I kind of felt like George Bailey at the end of It's a Wonderful Life, when he was surrounded by friends and family singing Old Lang Syne. Was that a bell ringing and an angel getting his wings or was it just the building's fire alarm going off? Attaboy, Clarence!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pet Owners - Are They Crazy?

Not crazy, exactly.  But perhaps a bit eccentric.  I visited my sister Susan and brother-in-law George (seen in the photograph above with their dog Tutu) this past weekend up in Fort Collins, Colorado, and was once again struck at how their dogs seem to run the household.  Everything revolves around their pets - feeding them, playing with them, walking them, worrying about them, etc.  And my sister keeps telling me I need to get a dog, too. Yeah - right.  I might as well just kiss my carpet goodbye if that ever happens.  Perhaps a goldfish, but I'm not making any promises.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Goodbye Forever To My Classic 1987 Honda Civic...

It was inevitable.  The engine of my Honda Civic was shot, and I had to buy a new car.  I only have one parking space, and so I just couldn't keep it around for sentimental reasons.  And so yesterday - on my 62nd birthday, no less - I sold it to a junk yard and they towed it away.  To add insult to injury, on the phone I was told I would get $200 for it, but when they came and inspected it, I was informed it was only worth $100.  What a sad ending to a car that I have owned for almost half my life.  It was kind of like sending your beloved old horse to the glue factory.  On the other hand, I now have a car that I can actually drive out of state without worrying (hopefully) that I might breakdown in some small town in Nebraska or Kansas and wind up washing dishes there for the rest of my life.  Not that it might not be kind of fun.  The glass is indeed always half full, after all.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Celebrating Our Birthdays!

My sister Susan (in the above photograph on the left) and I (on the right) celebrated our birthdays at Tres Margaritas up in Fort Collins, Colorado last night, along with Susan's husband George (center).  Susan's birthday is January 18th and mine is January 19th.  For her first 11 years Susan was the center of attention in our family, and then I came along, stealing her thunder.  After I was born, we would always celebrate our birthdays together on my birthday.  I think Susan was always a little bitter about that, although she eventually forgave me for being born when I was around 55 or so.  Better late than never.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's Susan's Birthday!

Today is my sister Susan's birthday.  In celebration of this festive occasion, I am featuring a photograph taken of her, looking deceptively sweet, back when she was two or three years old.  Around that time, when my father was overseas in Okinawa, Susan and my mother Mary lived with my Grandfather and Grandmother Spillard in their Chicago flat.  Susan and her friend Janet were the terrors of the neighborhood back then, and known as "Bad Susie and Bad Janet."  On the back of the above photograph, by the way, it says that this portrait was taken at The Fair, an old time Chicago department store, and if it was ever published, proper credit should be given to them.  What foresight those Fair people had back then!  And therefore I am giving due credit to The Fair Department Store right now.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Can Summer Be Far Behind?

One of my father's favorite sayings was "he is as honest as the day is long, but the days are getting shorter." But he couldn't use that expression now, because in point of fact the days are getting longer.  For months now, I would leave work and it would be everlasting night out there, dark as pitch.  But lately I have noticed, when leaving work, that there is still light in the sky, as seen in the photograph above, and it is staying lighter longer each day.  Plus, it was almost 60 degrees here yesterday, and will be at least 50 today, and so summer can not be far behind.  Many people here in Denver are even wearing shorts and flip-flops when out and about.  Of course, it goes without saying that many people here in Denver are just plain crazy.  Probably all from California, too.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Upbeat And Ready For 2015

I had burgers and beers Thursday night with my friend Stuart at the Old Chicago Restaurant in exciting Lakewood, Colorado.  Stuart says things are going great for him these days and he is very excited about the prospects for 2015.  Originally he had me take a photograph of him wearing sunglasses, suggesting I use the caption "A future so bright, he has to wear sunglasses."  However, he decided on the above photograph instead, even though I preferred the sunglasses shot, since if he had been smoking a cigarette in a cigarette holder, he would have looked amazingly like Hunter S. Thompson.  And I could have photo-shopped it in! Nothing wrong with that. I say you should embrace your inner H.S.T, Stuart.  Buy that cigarette holder now!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Losing Track of The Decades

I'm pretty sure I was the one who took the above photograph of (from left to right) my father Nelson, mother Mary, Aunt Elsie, and Uncle Bill (my mother's brother).  For a while, however, I wasn't sure where or what decade it was taken in. At first I thought it was taken on the golf course down in Stuart, Florida, where they all retired to beginning in the 1970s.  However, upon further inspection, I realized it was taken on a golf course in Ontario during the early 1960s, when both our families spent two weeks each summer at Torpitt Lodge, located on the shores of Sparrow Lake.  The older I get, the easier it is to be a few decades or so off in you recollections.  Not to mention how easy it is now to confuse Ontario and Florida.  After all, they are both in North America, right?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Radio Daze

As I mentioned last week, I now have a car radio for the first time since 1979, and it has been a bit of a culture shock.  This morning I had the pleasure of listening to a commercial in which a woman tells her friend all about her husband Tom's visit to The Men's Clinic, and what tremendous results were achieved.  As far as I can remember, I don't think they had "men's clinics" back in 1979, and even if they did, you weren't forced to listen to their commercials on the radio.  Of course, there were some offensive commercials years ago.  I remember that whenever one of them came up on the television, my father would shout out an expletive and then get up and change the channel (this was before remotes, of course).  At least these days we have better ways to deal with these annoyances.  I only wish that I could hire injury attorney Frank Azar, "The Strong Arm," another commercial presence on the radio each morning, to sue those damn advertising agencies for doing so much injury to our brains.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Burning Room

I finished reading The Burning Room by Michael Connelly last night and really enjoyed it.  I received an advanced reading copy of the book from Randy, the local Hachette Book Group representative.  I used to buy books from Randy when I was the Trade Book Buyer at the University of Denver Bookstore, back before I became the Finance Manager of the Bookstore full time - until the store was outsourced to Follett Higher Education Group, of course. And don't get me started on that subject, although I do want to stress that I am still not bitter about it.  In any case, my point is that I recommend The Burning Room very highly. Buy it now from your local hometown Bookstore!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Doing Time...

Call me paranoid, but it seems to me that whenever I take photographs of the animals at the Denver Zoo, they stare back at me with a fierce glare that I feel is accusing me of being responsible for their incarceration. In point of fact, the Monkey House, where I took the above photograph, was built in 1918, and so their imprisonment has obviously been going on for way longer than I have been alive.  Therefore, it is definitely not my fault!  And I am truly sorry guys!  Text me an escape plan, and I will be there for you.  Honest!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Zoo In Winter - 2015 Edition

I visited the Denver Zoo Saturday morning before heading into work to catch up on some paperwork.  Not only was it actually pleasant outside for once (undoubtedly some sort of cosmic screw up), but since I don't have a parking space for my new car yet, I had to drive it somewhere or actually feed the meter (yikes!).  In any case, I spent a pleasant morning at the zoo, which was mainly filled with parents taking their young children to see all the animals in lockup.  In front of the cheetah cage, a woman was giving a talk to about 4 or 5 older men and women (even older than me), but was talking to them as if they were all 5 year olds. This struck me as a bit odd,  and so I listened a little closer and learned that they were being trained as docents. Now I understand why none of them leaped in the air when the the trainer asked them to pretend they were cheetahs and see how high in the air they could jump. Obviously none of them are good sports - I would have been leaping up and down immediately.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Great News!

It's here!  The 2015 Chicago Transit Authority Historical Calendar is now online, available for downloading and printing at  I printed off January and brought it to work with me,  where I will hang it next to the photograph I took a few years ago of me standing in the same spot and holding a photo I took many years ago of my parents outside of Chicago's McCormick Place.  The calendar has some great photographs of old Chicago, well worth framing.  You can even download calendars from the past 10 years, too, if you are so inclined.  And it is free.  Free!  My absolute favorite price-point!

Friday, January 9, 2015

The View From Work

I took the above photograph from the top of the parking garage next door to the Bookstore where I work, looking west toward downtown Denver and the mountains.  A very pretty view, which almost makes you forget that with the wind chill it is about a billion degrees below zero outside these days.  Is it better to enjoy a mountain sunset view in the extreme cold, or to hunker down in a condo in Florida with a nice cold beer? The older I get, the more obvious - to me at least -  the answer becomes.  In point of fact, even Florida can get chilly this time of year.  I wonder how much longer it will be before we can once again take the ferry from Key West to Havana and be truly warm?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Telling It Like It Is

I have had the same bank account since 1981 (34 years for all you non-math majors out there) without any incident.  Which is why I was surprised when I received an e-mail from the Senior Vice President of Fraud Protection from my bank letting me know that a hold had been placed on my account after I deposited a check from my money market account to cover the down payment on my new car.  I immediately called the Fraud Squad and asked what the deal was, and after a short time on hold, was told that on second review, the funds had been released.  I called my money market account the very next morning, and was told the check had gone through just fine, which is probably why my bank decided to drop it's fraud investigation against me.  I did ask my bank's customer service rep why a fraud investigation had been launched against me in the first place, and was told that depositing that amount of money into my account was "out of my usual pattern" (i.e. above my station in life, to put it in Downton Abbey terms).  I have to admire my bank for that. No couching their language in politically correct, diplomatic terms.   You are a crook until proven otherwise.  I definitely feel confident my money is safe with them - the only problem will be getting them to give it back to me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My World - Rocked By Radio!

I took the above photograph posing in front of my new luxury automobile yesterday morning.  It is a 2014 Hyundai Accent and came with all kinds of extras that I don't really need, such as A/C, side-view mirrors, automatic transmission, and a radio. The dealership refused to take them out and lower the price of the car, and so I was stuck with them.  In point of fact, I have not had a car radio since 1979.  It has already begun to change my world.  I have decided that if I am ever injured in an accident, I will call "The Strong Arm," Frank Azar, immediately.  And if I ever get engaged again, I will definitely take the extra time to drive to Shane Company, because now I have a friend in the diamond business - Tom Shane himself!  Who would have thought it?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A Clear Lake Update

My plan to visit Clear Lake, Iowa - the ancestral home of the Hoyts - fell by the wayside last year due to a variety of reasons, and so I had to temporarily put off working on my "Blurb Book" about the Hoyt Family and my great Aunt Viola Thayer, who died in 1910 at the age of 17.  Viola kept a scrapebook / postcard / photo album that I plan to use in the project, but unfortunately I will probably never know who all the people in the photographs are.  The above photo had a date written on the back (June 13th, 1909, but nothing else). In any case, I have been told that Clear Lake, Iowa is an absolutely beautiful place.  There are even rumors that George Clooney is thinking of selling his mansion on Lake Como in Italy and moving to Clear Lake.  I just can't wait to spend a long weekend there in the spring.  I'll even drive my new 2014 Hyundai there to impress the natives.  Let the good times roll!

Monday, January 5, 2015

The View From Here

As loyal Blog readers know, I have been without a car for the past few weeks or so.  The day my car died on University Boulevard it was warm and sunny.  As soon as it was towed away, the temperature dropped and it started snowing.  It has been snowing and cold as hell ever since, as I muddled to work each day on the bus, went grocery shopping via the Light Rail train, and used both methods of transportation to look for a new car.  Saturday it snowed hard all day, but I decided to bite the bullet anyway and buy a new Hyundai. I bought it from a guy named Attila, who is originally from Transylvania in Romania.  My last car I bought from William Howard Taft (call me Bill).  It doesn't seem quite that long ago, but I guess it was.  In any case,  I drove the car home through the heavy snow, got it parked, and took the above photograph from the living room of my condo, across the street from the University of Denver - my Alma Mater and my employer for almost 30 years until they outsourced the Bookstore.  But I am getting off track. And I am NOT bitter. My point is that Sunday, the sun came out and the temperatures rose (it must be 70 out there today), and all is well.  I am convinced that now that I have wheels, it will probably not snow here again the entire winter. Was God sending me a message or what?  I just want to apologize to the people of Denver for taking so long to buy a new car.  If I had been a little quicker, this horrible weather would have cleared up much sooner.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Joys Of Car Shopping

The last time I went car shopping was in December of 1986, when I bought my classic 1987 Honda Civic, which gave up the ghost a few weeks ago.  Since that time I have been searching for a replacement car, traveling to various dealerships via public transportation.  Friday night I took the Light Rail train to Arapahoe Road, down in Denver's southern suburbs, to check out a Toyota dealership, but when I got there, I realized that the light rail stop was no where near Arapahoe Road.  What's the deal with that?  In any case, since it was very cold, and snowing too, I decided to head back to Denver and attend the First Friday Art Walk on Santa Fe Drive.  Saturday it was still snowing pretty hard (it seems like it has been snowing continuously since my car died), but I decided to soldier on anyway and take the bus to the Hyundai dealership in Aurora, Colorado.  I was planning on writing a sarcastic Blog about the hell of buying a new car, but wound up actually having a very good experience, buying what I believe is the last 2014 Hyundai in Denver from a salesman named Attila, who is originally from Transylvania in Romania.  Talk about the new global economy. Go figure. Thanks for the car, Attila!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Frigid First "First Friday"

I joined my fellow art lover's on the first "First Friday Art Walk" of the year on Santa Fe Drive here in Denver last night.  There were far fewer people around than during the summer, when the galleries and sidewalks are packed and the food trucks are doing a brisk business.  Last night there wasn't a food truck in sight, and the temperatures were a nippy 20 degrees (4 above zero with the wind chill).  I really enjoy looking at the art at these events, most of which I describe as "World Class Weird" in style.  However, at the Point Gallery (seen in the photograph above), a mixed media artist named Joe Friend had an exhibit of works featuring half naked women adorned by a variety of paints and pasted on objects which I found rather appealing.  What a shame I didn't have $1,500 so I could have taken one home on the Light Rail train.  My fellow passengers would have pointed me out as an obvious artiste, or possibly a dirty old man, depending on their artistic viewpoint.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Union Station New Year's Eve!

Denver's Union Station was lite all in blue on New Year's Eve, and even though the temperatures were frigid, I decided to take the above photograph before I went inside on my way to catch the Light Rail train home. There was a big New Year's Eve party going on in the center court, but since they were charging money to attend - can you believe it? - I decided to just walk on by and head home to celebrate the New Year. Besides, to paraphrase Groucho Marks, I wouldn't want to attend a party that would allow me in as a guest.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year Everyone!

Once again I am featuring a New Year's Eve photo of my mother Mary (on the left) and her cousin Marie (on the right), who was quite the live wire, as you can tell from the photograph.  Marie's husband Ed was a dentist, and was friends with my father Nelson, who was also a dentist.  My father and mother met through Marie and Ed, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Happy New Year's Everyone!