Monday, March 31, 2008

I Found the Beef - My Town Monday

I like to travel, and I've been to a fair amount of places here in the United States. And when I travel, or anytime for that matter, I like to talk and meet new people. Invariably the question, where are you from will come up since apparently (unbeknownst to me) I have a fairly thick twang to my voice. I think all those people are crazy, myself but what can I do.

Anyway, once I tell them I'm from Amarillo, Texas they either nod politely and say, I'd have guessed Alabama, or they say, "Hey, I've driven through there." And then they mention one of two things. Cadillac Ranch which I talked about in an earlier My Town Monday post, or The Big Texan Steak Ranch.

The two actually have a good many things in common. Both are on Interstate 40. Cadillac Ranch on the western end of Amarillo and The Big Texan on the eastern. Depending on your direction of travel, they are either one of the first or last impressions you have of the city.

They are both listed in various roadside attraction books and magazines, both have been used as movie sets and both revel in their kitschy - ness.

And since I've covered one, I'm going to give you a detailed look at other this week. The following is directly from The Big Texan's website ...

In 1960, the Big Texan Steak Ranch opened its doors alongside old Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas. On evening a hungry cowboy ventured in bragging that he was so hungry that he could "eat the whole, darned cow." Big Texan founder, R.J. "Bob" Lee started cooking him steaks. When the cowpoke finally hollered "calf rope," he had consumed 4 1/2 pounds of tasty Texas beef. Bob vowed from that day forward the dinner would be served "FREE" to anyone who could consume it in one hour.

The FREE 72oz. STEAK dinner is still flourishing at the Big Texan. More than 40,000 people have attempted to consume the Free 72oz. Steak dinner since 1960. About 7,000 have succeeded. People from all over the world continue to visit us to take the challenge and claim the bragging rights.

Interstate 40 is one of, if not the longest interstate highways in the United States. The road runs from Wilmington, North Carolina in the East all the way to Barstow, California in the West. If you travel anywhere on it's length you might spy a billboard advertising The Big Texan and their

*FREE 72oz Steak. Free being the case only of you consume the entire dinner in one hour or less. Otherwise you meal will set you back a dollar for ever once of Texas beef you are served. That's right fail to eat everything on under an hour and the bill will say $72.00.

No, I've never attempted the feat. To be honest I am fairly confident I could eat that much steak, but the rules say you must eat the entire meal which consists of 72oz of top sirloin steak, shrimp cocktail, baked potato, a dinner roll and the very devil itself -- salad. (For those new to the blog I do not eat anything green, especially lettuce as in my view it is the spawn of Satan) And I ain't all that crazy about crustaceans floating in tomato sauce either. Fried or grilled shrimp I like but you can keep the Shrimp cocktail.

If you want to read some interesting facts about the history of the challenge, click here.

Along with the restaurant there is a motel for people and one for horses . Inside the decor is splashed with every conceivable stereotype of Texas and the Old west. There is a small arcade shooting range, hundreds upon hundred of animal mounts, a giant ricking chair. The female wait staff is decked out in the attire of 1880's saloon girl and the men wear boots, jeans and cowboy hats. a three piece western band moves around the table playing old cowboy classics and the kids meals are sered in a straw hat.

Many times they have live music, including a Texas Opry and in the summer they have a live band and dancing in the outdoor facilities.

And of course there is a gift shop stacked with every thing a drugstore cowboy would ever need. There is also a pen full of live rattlesnakes in the shop[ as well as many forms of Texas souvenirs.

The place is frequented by more tourists than locals and is priced along with similar establishments, but I have had many a good steak there over the years as part of our local writing conference out organization normally takes visiting agents, editors, and authors to The Big Texan for dinner.

Stay at any I-40 hotel and The Big Texan will gladly send a limo to pick you up and fetch you out to their establishment. In one of these ...

The limo that is, not the giant cow.

Or, if you are dying to try a a bit of The Big Texan's beef, but you aren't going to be passing this way, you can mail order order their seasoned steaks via But only at the holidays so you'll have to wait a while.

In 2007 Maxim magazine listed The Big Texan as one of America's top ten steakhouses and the travel channel listed it as a top ten destination to make a glutton of yourself.

No it is not my favorite restaurant in town, or even my preferred place to eat a steak but The Big Texan is a unique part of Amarillo and a place that will give you a good meal and a bit of a show while you dine. And The Lee family which still own it today are generous supporters of the city who give back to the community so I don't mind overpaying every now and then. And I certainly recommend it over the other chain restaurant that dominate I-40 through town.

Any of y'all ever eaten there? Seen the billboards? heard of the place?

Links to other blogger's, My Town Monday Posts will be included below as I become aware of them, so let me know in the comments of you decide to join in this week.

Alex Keto reconts a story that got away, while he was a journalist in Bonn, Germany.

Debbie Lou tells us about one of Bishops Stortford, England's famous residents.

Lyzzydee gives us a royal look at England's Hatfield House.

Josephine Damian teaches us a bit of history about her dad, George Washington and her town of New Rochelle, New York.

Sex Scenes at Starbucks takes us down the slopes of Winter Park, Colorado.

Clair Dickson meets us at the crossroads of Livingston County, Michigan.

Ello takes us on a nighttime tour of Washington D.C.'s monuments.

Cameron Williams guest blogs about San Diego, California over at Barrie Summy's site.

Lana Gramlich blogs about some plants near Abita springs, Louisiana that even I can appreciate.

Pattie Abbott puts a bit of Detroit, Michigan's street art on display.

Laura Kramarsky dives in with some interestign signs on the island of St. Martin.

The Anti-Wife introduces us to her college hometown, Carbondale, Illinois.

Merry Monteleone takes us out the the ballgame with a post about Chicago, Illinois's Wrigley Field.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Kicking, Contests, and a Bit of Regurgitation.

We've been practicing for several weeks but tonight is the first game for the pre-K soccer team I'm helping to coach. My youngest is geared up and ready to go. Already this morning he's had to don his shin pads and socks just to make sure they fit.

I'm grateful this is indoor soccer since the wind is howling upwards of 40 mph today.


I'm feeling random today so be prepared for one of those unfocused posts.


I submitted two entires to the Women's Fiction contest over at Bookends Literary Agency. These are the first 100 words from the first two novels I ever wrote ...

From Ain't Life Grand

Angela Ross slowed her beat-up Datsun to a crawl. Wind tugged at the duct tape on the top of the passenger window. Only a couple miles of barren highway, and acres of rangeland, separated Angela from her old hometown. The sight ruined the tranquil, peach-hued sunrise.

What she wouldn’t give to turn the car around and disappear again.

This time forever.

From this distance, the towering grain elevator loomed over the trees and smaller buildings like an over-sized tombstone. Yep, from this vantage point the entire community of Grand, Texas looked exactly like a giant grave.

and The Dark Side of Luck

Click, clack. Click, clack.

The gurney’s wheels ticked across the sterile tile floor. Rolling death. Three years at Heritage Nursing home, and Destiny Holt had yet learned to cope with the regular sight of patients leaving for good, beneath a stiff-white sheet.

Click, clack. Click, clack.

The men from the funeral home rounded the corner with Mrs. Gershwitz’s body. Destiny thought of the two blue-eyed little girls who smiled down from a frame beside the woman’s bed. Working nights, Destiny rarely met the residents families, but she knew them just the same. She'd heard all the stories.

I know realize that beginning with your protagonist going back to her old hometown is a bit cliche but that was my very first novel and I still believe in the story as a whole. The second one was originally called UnLuckLess but no one except for me ever liked that name so I changed it. Unlike a lot of authors I still like and have hope for both of these stories even if they were part of my learning process. I have rewritten them several times and might do so again one of these days.


Speaking of contests, this info comes from one of my writing friends, Cicily Janus


Exciting new opportunities are underway at Aesthetica magazine - New Aesthetica Annual Creative Works Competition

The Aesthetica Annual Creative Works Competition will champion new talent in the genres of visual arts, photography, poetry and fiction.

The competition is separate from Aesthetica Magazine, however the annual event is organised by the founders of Aesthetica Magazine.

Details of the Annual Competition:

1. The competition will accept entries of creative writing (poetry & fiction) as well as artwork and photography.
2. Each section will have one winner that will receive a prize of £500 and a subscription to Aesthetica Magazine
3. The new Aesthetica Annual will be a book that will present winning entries and runners-up in the genres of artwork, poetry and fiction.
4. Entry allows the submission of either five images of artwork, three short stories (up to 2000 words each), or five poems (up to 40 lines each).
5. The entry fee for the Aesthetica Annual Creative Works Competition is £10.
6. Deadline for entries is 31 August 2008.

For further information please go to

Since the deadline isn't until August, I might even enter myself once I get Plundered Booty finished and out the door.


Somebody visited my blog from Cork, Ireland today. I just felt like adding that little tidbit since I think that name has a nice ring to it. Cork, Ireland. Any of y'all ever been there? How about any of these other (what I would consider) exotic locales where I've recently had visitors from.

Reggio Emilia, Italy
Cuiaba, Brazil
Haslev, Denmark
Baden Baden, Germany
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Hello, Christene)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Brooklyn, New York (hey, it' exotic to me)


In the last few days these search terms have led surfers to my blog,

tramp stamp fiction
pretty butt
liar, liar pants on fire
benefits of a molasses enema
nymphadora spanking
testicle hitch ball covers

There are more but they are not nearly as damning as these are. If no one knew a thing about my blog except that searching these terms inked them to me what do you think their opinion would be?


And let me leave y'all with a great invention idea from me.

If even some of you fall into my habit of hitting the snooze button three or four times each morning have I got just what you need ... The Pukinator Alarm Clock.

I can set the alarm clock radio to full blast or set the dial to that annoying shrill buzzer but neither of those sounds can penetrate my drowsiness.

But let one of my boys crawl into bed with me, and and the first hint of a gag, (you know that ruuugh sound), and not only am I awake in an instant but I spring out of bed like Spiderman at the merest hiss of a Raid can.

I'm thinking I'd never oversleep or be late for work again if alarms clocks sounded more like a child about to vomit on your head.

Ahhh ... the joys of parenthood.


Have a nice weekend. I'll see you Monday for next week's My Town Monday.

(Don't tell anyone but I usually cheat and get my post up Sunday afternoon, so I can spend Monday gathering everyone's links.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Take That Fabio

This guy has nothing on me ...

Neither does this fellow ...

Or even this chap ...Sure, they and their well defined bodies are featured in calenders, but you know what?

So am I soon to be. That's right, your truly has been selected to be a calendar boy.

Okay, so I wasn't chosen on the basis of my chiseled good looks and rock hard abs. I was selected for something even better.

My ability to string words together.

I submitted an essay on the craft of writing to Bylines Calendar, a weekly desk calendar for writers, and this week I found out they had accepted my essay. So now I have to send them a picture to include along with the essay and my bio. Here is a description of the 2008 edition. I will be in the 2009 version.

Bylines 2008 Writer's Desk Calendar:


Each week features an author sharing his/her insights on the writing life.


Ample space for jotting notes, and highlighting upcoming events on the calendar


Weekly calendar; also a "month at a glance" view for planning longer projects

Extra Features:


Daily listings of famous writers' birthdays


Handy resource list of our favorite books and writing-related websites.


Page to designate writing goals for the year; also pages for writing monthly goals


Listings of "literary" holidays


Pages to write down conference notes


An expanded resources section

Even MORE features in the 2008 edition:


Handy submission tracker, that can be copied as needed


pages for recording phone numbers and email addresses


pages for keeping track of travel/business expenses

And you know what? The essay is an abbreviated version of one of my older blog posts. So now I can officially say this blog has helped my writing career.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Two Line Tuesday & Tattoos

A bit of introduction before I give you two lines from something I've read this week.

Many of you know Charles Gramlich from his blog Razored Zen. If you've never been there, you should. He is also a frequent commenter here at my blog. I try to do my best to support fellow authors especially those I know, either in person or from the blogosphere, as is the case with Charles. So I ordered a copy of, Swords of Talera which is book one in his Talera trilogy.

Truth be told I didn't expect to like it all that much. Oh, I expected it to be well written and all. I knew that much from reading Charles's blog but you see fantasy, alternate worlds, and that kind of stuff isn't normally my thing. I tend to read fiction rooted more in the reality of everyday life. I read fiction for great characters that I can relate to and sympathize with.

I bought Swords of Talera and sat on it a few weeks. Then I picked it up and finished in two days. Charles sucked me in quicker than you can say action packed. Now I will have to order the next two editions of his fantasy adventure the next time I hit the book store. Here is a two sentence taste.

I do not remember what I said. I think there were words about liberty and honor, about glory, such things as you say to men when you know that many of them will soon die. ~ From Swords Of Talera by Charles Gramlich

And a two sentence sample of my week's work on Plundered Booty ...

WifeGate. That's the term the whole betting fiasco soon became known as around the dealership.

Two sentence Tuesday was founded by Laura over at Women Of Mystery.


Now to the tattoo portion of today's post.

I have none. My wife has one. Hers is what is commonly known as a tramp stamp. For those who might not know what a tramp stamp is I'll give you a bit from the Urban Dictionary.

“Tramp Stamp” is a derogatory term referring to a tattoo which a women places on her lower back. It is especially popular among women born in the late 70’s, 80‘s, and even early 90’s. Fair or unfair, these tattoos have a socially constructed connotation associated with them.

Someday, I will share a funny story about that term and the day a friend of ours put his foot in his mouth, but that is another story for another day. My wife's tattoo is a small three inches or so heart. Inside the heart is the Lone star and colors of the Texas flag. She has had the tat for eight or nine years now and has wanted to expand on it or get a another one for a number of years. I have always been against the idea. Not because I dislike tattoos. Quite the contrary, the right ink on the right person is often very alluring. And I do like her current tattoo, but it always seems that when she gets the itch we are busy, or our budget is tight, or maybe those are just excuses on my part. Who knows?

But that's not my point of this post.

My wife Jennifer has long wanted me to get inked, but I have never been compelled to do so.
I enjoy watching Miami Ink. Not only for the great art those guys do each week, but also for the stories behind the tattoos, so I appreciate a nicely done piece. I'm not particularly afraid of needles, or incapable of sitting still for hours while a tattoo artist does their thing. So why have I never been inked?

First off I'm a tightwad and spending the kind of money it takes to get a tattoo the size and quality I'd want is expensive. Second off, I've never been thought of anything that I was willing to permanently use my body as a canvas for.

But the other night I made a pledge to my wife - with witnesses around. When Plundered Booty sales ... I will get a tattoo.

Yes. I already know what I want and where on my body I will get it, but I'm keeping both of those a secret for now. Now it is a matter of finding someone to draw a paper version of what I want and of finding the right tattoo artist to do the work. Oh, and of course finding an agent to rep Plundered Booty and an editor ready to print it. But first I gotta finish the dang thing so I better get off here and get to work.

In the meantime y'all weigh in. Got ink? What and where? If not. Would you ever get any done? Why, or why not?

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Town Monday - Sing me Song

Since it has been a few days since I posted, and I was away and didn't do a My Town Monday last week, I'm posting this week's edition extra early. To read past My Town Monday posts, click here. This week's version is going to be about Amarillo's role in song. Here is my first attempt at adding a video and this also is probably the best known song about Amarillo.

The song Amarillo By Morning is one of country music's all time recognizable songs and it certainly helped launch George Strait's career. George never has written his own music and this particular song was around long before he cut it. The song was written by primarily by Terry Stafford though Paul Fraser is credited as well. Here is an interesting link to an obituary about Terry Stafford who was an Amarillo boy. In my humble opine, both Terry's 1973 version and rodeo champion turned singer, Chris Ledoux's, are better and sang with more feeling than George's so if you get a chance check them out.

But if you live on the other side of the Atlantic this might be the song you most associate with Amarillo.

Is This the Way to Amarillo was written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, but was popularized in Europe by Tony Christie. Amarillo was chosen as the title city because Sedaka couldn't think of any other city name that rhymed with the words willow and pillow.

The following comes from this wikipedia article ...

The song was recorded by Tony Christie and released in the UK in November 1971, initially reaching number 18 in the UK Singles Chart. However, it was a substantially bigger hit at that time across Continental Europe, notably in Germany and Spain where it made number one. In Germany, the song's chorus is widely adapted as a chant by football and hockey fans even today. Following its re-issue in 2005 - when it reached number one in the UK - the song gained even greater popularity. In 2006 it was played at the World Cup Final in Berlin and was also played by The Central Band of the Royal British Legion on Centre Court at Wimbledon before the start of the Men's Singles final.

To be honest I never heard this song until it was rereleased in England in 2005 for some kind of comic relief benefit. I ahve also seen a video of a bunch of British soldiers dancing to the song. Maybe DebbieLou, Lyzzydee, Stephen Parrish, or the globe-hopping Alex Keto can vouch for the European popularity, but I can promise most people in Amarillo know very little if anything about this song. Though I find it quite catchy it is not my favorite song about Amarillo.

This is ...

Not only is Amarillo Highway my favorite song about Amarillo, but Robert Earl Keen is my favorite songwriter, though he did not write this little ditty. Terry Allen did though his version is a bit slow paced in my opinion. Nothing goes with this song like a six pack of Shiner Bock and the company of good friends.

For those of you not from The Texas Panhandle Plainview, Idalou, and New Deal are town names from the area. This song makes me think of warm summer nights, cold beer, and outdoor concerts. I have seen Robert Earl perform it many times live and it never fails to make me tap along and sing off key as I drive.

There are many more songs that include Amarillo in the lyrics and I'll get to a few in future My Town Mondays. My hometown is also the birthplace or hometown to some talented songwriters which I'll also discuss in later editions but next week I think I'll talk about food and how living here has made me a beef man through and through.

So tell me which of these three songs is your favorite? Or do you have another tune that you like that mentions Amarillo? I'm betting Ol' George wins out, but don't worry I won't hold that against you.

Links to other My Town Monday participants can be found below as they are posted. If you plan to participate drop a line in the comments to let me know.

Shauna Roberts introduces us to Riverside California and the mother tree.

Lana Gramlich takes us on a stroll through Abita Springs, Louisiana's historical district.

Patti Abbott talks about the original Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the state of book buying today.

DebbieLou gives us a fascinating post about Bishops Stortford, England that isn't a bit corny despite being all about corn.

Barrie Summy tickles your appetite and the ivories at a San Diego joint made famous by the movie Top Gun.

Stephen Parrish hoops it up about his former town Louisville, Kentucky.

Claire Dickinson introduces us to Livingston County, Michigan.

Lois Karlin from Women of Mystery relays how hard it is to focus and write during springtime in rural New York.

Josephine Damian gets Jakey with a post about New Rochelle, New York's founding father.

Ello gives us a bit of history on the Georgetown area of Washington D.C.

Anti-Wife gives us a picture from her formative years in Peoria, Illinois.

WordVixen offers up a mouth watering post about the Coffee Co. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Britta Coleman's post on Fort Worth, Texas goes to the dogs this week.

Jason Scott Adams, my childhood best friend introduces us to his town Sugar Creek, Missouri.

Lyzzydee tells us how garden cities such as her town, Welwyn Garden city, England came about.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Broken, family fun, & Naked Baby Eating Birds

My writing mojo is not very mojo-ey right now. Not when it comes to blog entries and not when it comes to working on Plundered Booty. Taking a few days off has left me disjointed and impatient. I'm not letting the flow follow a natural course. I am rushing my thoughts and the points I want to make. Even though I realize this is happening I seem powerless to stop slow down and let a rhythm take over.

I will not be finished with Plundered Booty by Sunday as was my goal. Between my desktop dying and being forced to type on on my laptop and a couple of new revelations that require reworking part of the plot it will most likely be April before I finish. Yes, those are excuses, but I'm throwing them out there anyway.

Also I'm way behind on answering email, reading blogs, and posting links so please forgive me if you fall in one of those categories.

What is going good?

I've been having a blast with my family. We had perfect weather at Six Flags and for any roller coater connoisseurs I highly recommend the Batman The Ride.

I also give high praise to The World Aquarium in Dallas for a family activity. Sure it cost us $64 dollars as a family to get in but the place is much more than fish in tanks. from monkeys to manatees. Penguins to Puffer fish. It is a worthy place to visit. I will post pictures when i find that dang cord for my camera.

I've spent most of today burying "Treasure" (candy, dollar bills, Hotwheel cars, and other prizes suitable for 5 and 7 year old boys) and drawing pirate maps they can follow to find their loot. We have nearly three acre, more than enough for many a pretend adventure.

Tomorrow, we are going to the park to play frisbee golf.

In non family related good news I have discovered a tasty new beer. It's called Tilburg's Dutch Brown Ale. The beer itself is dark and has a grainy almost nutty taste. It's the kind of beer that will put hair on your chest not that I need any help in that department. The label also has one heck of a freaky picture. It appears to be some kind of bird like creature ingesting a naked baby with an arrow protruding from it's butt. There also appears to be an extra set of human legs. Here is shot I found on the internet.

Strange huh? Does anybody know the origins of this picture or what it is supposed to mean or represent. I'm curious but in the meantime I'll have another few beers and ponder the label. Who knows if I drink enough the words just might begin to flow again. That tactic seemed to work for Hemingway.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Along the Broken White Lines

I'm back home, but not quite back in the groove. I wanted to post a few pics, but I can't find the cable that connects my camera to the computer. So without pictorial accompaniment here are a few random observations I made while on the road.

I'm no economist, but I do know prisons are big business here in Texas. As you travel throughout the state it is common to see the sign, DO NOT PICK UP HITCHHIKERS IN THIS AREA. It seems like one out of every four towns with any size at all has a state prison in it. We have two right here in Amarillo. One of which is named after a former governor,William Clemens. Which brings me to my point.

Who wants a prison named after them? Is it really an honor? Highways, bridges, overpasses I get. But a prison? That has to rank at the very bottom of the honorary totem pole. Just below having a tollway named after you.


Sorry for the confusion over this week's My Town Monday. Next week will be back to normal.


I hate the air hand-dryers in bathrooms. Is a paper towel too much to ask for? A good eighty percent of the roadside bathrooms are nasty enough anyway, but then you got to stand there while lukewarm, recycled bathroom air is blown on your clammy paws. The floor beneath these machines are always stained and nasty from so many dripping hands and I'm always to impatient to wait for my hands to completely dry so I end up finishing the job with the back of my pants. I can live with the smelly dirty yellow urinals, the poorly spelled graffiti message, the John Wayne toilet paper, but for the love of God, give me a paper towel.


Here's a related question that arose on the trip. If you stop and use a business's restroom are you obligated to make a purchase?

I say yes. Our friend who joined us on the trip said no. What say y'all?

More as soo as I find that dang computer cable.

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's Alive

Thanks for all the concern. I am alive and well in Dallas on a little mini-vacation, that's why I said last week that there would be no My Town Monday from me this week. I don't have time to post all the links of those who picked up my slack and continued MTM this week but most everybody left comments on my last post for those looking for a My Town Monday fix.

By the way I'm glad to know I was missed. Nice to know so many of you would notice if I disappeared tomorrow.

Take Care, and I'll be back into the fray in a few days.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hopping Down The Bunny Trail

Last week I wrote about my days as a freakishly large Easter Bunny and the beat down that occurred after a little birdy flitted by. Today, I'll share another Bunny Funny.

A lot of kids are scared of costumes critters anyway, but when you are a nine-foot amazonian rabbit a higher percentage of children clutch their parent's leg. But a determined mom or dad is a mighty determined thing. As was the case with this one mom and her little girl.

The girl as about three and her Junior Leagish mom was in her late twenties or so. The girl was terrified and refused to come within five foot of the bunny's throne. I remained seated knowing if I stood the little girl would run creaming in terror.

The mom came and knealt beside me and whispered to her daughter in soft tones. "See, the Easter bunny is nice." The mom shook my hand. "Don't you want you picture with the Easter bunny?"

The little girl shook her head.

The mom patted my knee with her right hand. "Oooh feel how soft the bunny's fur is." She extended her left hand toward her child.

The girl inched closer.

This went back and forth for several minutes. The mom would pat and whisper things like, "The Easter Bunny loves you. Don't you want to send grandma a picture of you in your pretty dress?" And see how nice the Bunny is. And soft."

The whole time the little girl was inching closer. Problem was, the mom had ceased paying attention to me inside the suit. Her focus was on her daughter and each time she patted my leg her hand creeped higher. The first pats were at my knee, then my upper leg, thigh, and ... you guessed it -- the ol' Peter Cottontail.

The mom hand patted once, twice, and then her face turned a shade of red brighter than any Easter egg dye and in an instance she mumbled an apology and scooped up her daughter and raced down the mall toward Dillards.

Galen asked me what I'd done to her her and I said, "It's not what I did to her, it's what she did to me."

You might ask why I didn't stop her encroaching hand before it got that far. A couple of reasons -- 1) I was trying to keep still so as not to frighten the little girl.
2) It was one of those things that happened faster than your brain can think.
3) This story would have stuck if I had.

Remember, yesterdays post where I asked what had warped you? I'm guessing that woman wound up on a couch talking about the time she felt up the Easter Bunny.

Hippity, hoppity
Look At Peter Go,

None of you will ever hear that song the same way again, and I might be demented, but that sort of makes me proud. And yes, I realize this entire post is warped. Might be my blog theme of the week.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Warp Speed Ahead!

I'm warped.

Okay, that doesn't come as a shock to anyone who knows me in real life or has read this blog very long, but now a genuine medical professional has confirmed all of y'alls suspicions.

My left cornea is warped but so far no erosion has taken place. The doctor said I'll never wear contacts again unless it is a lens permanently implanted, and I can never have Lasix to correct my vision. I go back in six months to see if the warping has worsened or if holes have developed but for now no patch, or parrot and while I did try to convince the kindly doc to write me a script for rum.


Today marks my first of nine glorious days off from work. My wife and kids are off next week for Spring Break and Sunday we are headed south to the Dallas/Fort Worth area for a quick mini-vacations. The World Aquarium, Six Flags over Texas and of course shopping are on the agenda. Blogs posts will be sporadic but who knows, I might get something up while on the road.


Some friends of ours recently bought a town home is a brand new development. Just this morning I drove down their street with my wife who had been their already. For five or six solid blocks every single house looked the same. They all had the same whit front door, the same spindly five foot tree in the same small patch of grass. I asked my wife if she knew the address and she said no, I know which house it is by the solar lights along the sidewalk. Oh, every house had those as well but our friends only had them on one side of their walkway.

This must be where those people with 2.5 kids live. I hope there are no alcoholics on this street. it would be utter hell to come home drunk and try to figure out which one was yours.


So I'm helping to coach my five year old's indoor soccer team. Our team has 3 - five year old boys, 1 - five year old girl, 6 - four year old boys, and 2 - four year old girls. So far we've had two practices and I've managed to make a little girl cry in both.

Who knew little girls didn't like big hairy men screaming NO PAIN NO GAIN! in their face.

I'm kidding. The first broke into tears when I said, "Don't use your hands." The second was standing in the middle of the field watching all the other kids run after the ball. I jogged up to her and leaned down and said, "Come one lets go chase the ball. You gotta run after it."

Her eyes filled with tears as she looked up at me and said, "But I don't like to run."

I'm with her and who knows being forced to run as a child might be the very thing that left me warped. Nah ... I still blame the lettuce.

So what one thing warped you as a kid? Go on get it off your chest. Leaving a comment is way cheaper and easier than plopping down on some fancy psychiatrist's couch.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I've Already Got the Black Beard

It's Tuesday and that means it's time to participate in Two Sentence Tuesday. As I type this the originator of TST, Laura Kramarsky who blogs over The Women Of Mystery, has not posted hers, but I'm sure she will.

This week I have been reading the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, Treasure Island to my boys so the excerpt comes from there.

“Doctors is all swabs,” he said; “and that doctor there, why, what do he know about seafaring men? I been in places hot as pitch, and mates dropping round with Yellow Jack, and the blessed land a–heaving like the sea with earthquakes—what to the doctor know of lands like that?—and I lived on rum, I tell you.

And here is a bit of dialogue work from my own pirate story, Plundered Booty.

"You can't blame J.J. or Jesus for this. Neither one of them forced
you to make those bets."


So, on to my day yesterday. There I was at work not ten minutes after clocking in. I take my glasses off to clean them and make a slight adjustment since they felt loose. The next thing I I have two separate and equal pieces in my hand. Doing my best Revenge of The Nerds impression, I tried to tape them together using black electrical tape. No luck.

When that failed I turned to Super Glue. It worked but knowing the frames were on borrowed time I got on the phone and called around until I fount an optometrist willing to see me later that same morning.

It's never a good thing when a doctor of any kind takes one look at one of your body parts and says ," Wow, that's abnormal."

After a lot of looking on her part, squinting into bright lights on mine, she come to the conclusion I have keratoconus in my left eye only. Basically it means I have a thinning and misshapen cornea. And Thursday I go have my cornea mapped so I can be fitted with a specially shaped contact lens.

There is a small 20% according to my research that the cornea will continue to deteriorate and that at some point I'll need a cornea transplant. But I, being of the optimistic sort, have come up with a silver lining even for the worst case scenario, which is blindness in the diseased eye.

I might wind up with a cool pirate patch, which can only help me to sale Plundered Booty. Sure I'll have to get a big gold earring and buy me a parrot to sit on my shoulder but at least then I'll have platform.

And finally there will be an apt explanation for my rum affinity.

Yo, ho me hardees!

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Town Monday -- The Road Does Not End

If ever there was a day I couldn't afford to lose an hour it was this one.

I curse you Daylight Savings Time!

Within the first ten minutes this morning I'd stubbed both of my pinky toes. I blame the unbalance created by the shift in time.

I double curse you Daylight Savings Time!

Next week is spring break and I plan to make a break south with my family, so there will be no My Town Monday from me, but feel free to carry on in my absence and if someone wished to take up my slack and post links to all participants let me know and I'll pass that info along in a post later this week.
Now for My Town Monday part II of about Amarillo's eccentric millionaire, Stanley March 3. Part one is here.

Stanley refers to his residence as Toad HALL and this is a shot of the sign near his gate.

This sign is posted along the western ridge line of his residence. Why he felt compelled to erect this is anyone's guess. The letters are probably fifteen or twenty foot high.

Last week I posted a picture of some strange looking legs. These concrete legs now have an addition to them - SOCKS. Here is a pic I took only this week.

Yes, this is another of Stanley's creations, though it often spawns confusion since he went as far as to include a historical marker that mirrors the appearance of those used by the state of Texas. Here is a shot of the plaque, but I'm not sure if y'all will be able to read it.

The gist is that this is the remains of a great statue called OZYMANDIAS. The plaque claims that Mary Wollstone (the author of Frankenstein) and her husband Percy Shelly discovered the statue in 1819. The small print at the bottom goes on to say the top of the statue was destroyed by kids from Lubbock, Texas after losing to an Amarillo team in a sports competition.

But the legs only appeared in the last ten or so years.

Another recent activity of Stanley's is a project he calls, The Dynamite Museum. Basically the Dynamite museum is a bunch of crazy works of art and saying that resemble road signs. Like the one I showed last week that said ROAD DOES NOT END. Here are a few more.

Like I said, last week , Stanly also has his share of critics and he has had a few scrapes with the law. He once interrupted a weather channel live broadcast about an ice storm that blew through the area. Stanly dressed up as an old mountain man complete with a coyote carcass draped across his head and he did some kind of Native American snow dance behind the weather channel reporter. They asked him to leave several times but eventually the police had to be summonsed. Stanley was also was once charged with kidnapping after supposedly locking a teenager up in a chicken coup on his property. the boy came from another well-to-do Amarillo family and the case was settle out of court.

I would not say I know Stanley but her did come into the feedstore where I once worked, and while a bit different he was always entertaining and courteous. He also owned the local ABC affiliate for a while. Along with his wife, Wendy, who comes across much more straight-laced Mr. Marsh has donated to a variety of causes. Land for a Catholic Church and for a Private School and the Marsh's established an endowment at the Texas Tech School of Health.

Should you want to know more about Stanley Marsh 3 there is an award winning documentary titled, The Road Does Not End. Click here to visit that website.

Some hate him, others tolerate him, but either way you have to admit, Stanley Marsh is a true American original. In my opinion the world needs more people willing, or crazy enough, to break out of the pack and howl at the moon, or the sun, or simply the sky. Otherwise we'd all get bored.

As usual, leave me a comment if you post about your town and I'll link you below.

My Fellow -- My Town Monday -- Marauders

Tiggysmum70 -- Gets fancy with a video about Louisville, Ohio.

Word Vixen -- Blogs about a writer's conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Lana Gramlich -- Paints a picture of Abita Springs, Louisiana's art scene.

Barrie Summy -- Take the plunge on San Diego, California's Big Dipper.

Debbie Lou -- Offers up a hot little number on Bishops Stortford, England.

Josephine Damian -- Shares the Paine of New Rochelle, New York. Thomas Paine that is.

Carleen Brice -- Spreads some love for her fellow Denver, Colorado area writers.

Britta Coleman -- Is making Al Gore proud in Fort Worth, Texas.

Patti Abbott -- Is away from Detroit and rubbing our noses with a a bit of Florida sand.

The Anti-Wife -- Looks at her idealistic childhood in Anna, Illinois.

Lyzzydee -- Drink in the water at Wellwyn Garden City, England.

Alex Keto -- Our resident globetrotter reminisces about his days as a foreign journalist in Amsterdam.

Debra -- Introduces us to Village of Peninsula nestled in Ohio's Cuyahoga Valley.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Great Bunny Bash

Back in November and December I blogged about my year in hell as a Mall Santa. I made mention then that I also donned the rabbit suit and portrayed the Easter Bunny.

Beign that it is the seventh of March, spring is officially only two weeks away, and Easter is just a hope farther away, this seems like a good day to tell one of my Bunny Funnies.

I'll start by saying I enjoyed playing the Easter Bunny a thousand times more than I did Santa. The parents were a thousand times more relaxed, the crowds were much thinner, and being locked away inside the rabbit suit provide a bit of anonymity that the beard and padded red suit did not provide.

One huge drawback however was the heat. There were times that the interior of the rabbit head was hot enough to bake biscuits in. Especially when the sun wuld bean in through the glass skylight of the mall.

Also my friend and former boss, that ran the operation had to special order a longer suit for me and even with that the pants were barely long enough to reach me furry feet so the suit gave me a constant wedgie. And let me tell you digging a cottonball out of your crack can get mighty tiresome. Not to mention traumatizing for any kids watching.

Actually my size alone scared lots of the kids so most of the time I remained seated in my pastel throne to neutralize my height. I'm six-five, but the way the head worked was that the wearer looked out through a screen mesh behind the bunny's bucked teeth. That meant with the long face and giant ears the tip of my version of the Easter Bunny towered in right at NINE FEET TALL. That's a long way up for a little kid. Now you know why I sat when I could.

The year I did this there were two of us that worked the evening shift. Myself, and an older fellow, named Clyde, who was a postal supervisor by day. Clyde wasn't my boss but we worked near each other and got along just fine. Least we did before The Bunny Bashing Episode.

Here's how it went down ...

It was a slow weekday night. Unlike with Santa parents didn't keep their small children out late just to see the Easter Bunny. But as usual there were quit a few teens meandering around the mall and a couple of fifteen or sixteen year old boys ended up leaning against the white picket fence that surrounded the bunny throne.

After a bit they started heckling me.

"Hey you!" One of them shouted. "The dude in the rabbit suit!"

Galen, the man who took the pictures and ran things was busy talking to the only customer we'd had in half an hour. His focus was on hte pictures he was trying to print.

"Hey you! What kind of dork wears a rabbit suit?" the boys laughed. "Little doofus cottontail! I asked you a question.What kind of dork wears a rabbit suit?"

I stood up.

"Ooooh a big dork." They laughed again.

Ever so slyly I waved at the lone little girl to my left with one hand while using my giant head to hide the other hand I flipped a bird at the two boys.

"Ahhh, you just got dissed by the Easter bunny," said the one who'd kept quiet.
"Did you flip me off?"

Still waving again I did it again to remove any doubt to what they had seen.

They one boy slapped the other on the back and teased him as they walked away.

But, that is not where this story ends.

Two mornings later, I'm sittting at the break room at work when Clyde walks in. His head is listing to one side like a sinking ship as he sits down across from me and says, "Be glad you didn't have last night's shift."

"Why? Was y'all busy?"
"No, I got attacked."

Just as we we closing a teenage boy ran up and started punching. And with that top heavy head I couldn't maintain my balance, much less see him. He must hav ehit me a dozen times before Galen chased him off." Clyde slowly kneed his sore neck. "I don't even know what he was yelling about. Something about me flipping him."

Yes, once I stopped laughing I did confess my crime, and these days me and Clyde still laugh about him taking one for the team.

By the way I have one more really good Easter Bunny story and then maybe another post of humorous anecdotes and one-liners. I'll try to get them up within the next few weeks.

Also, I've gotten a few emails lately asking if any of my stories are available in print. The only bit of my work still available for human consumption is the short story I sold to Underground Voices late last year. Click here to read it , if you missed the link the first time around.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A slice of my life.

It's snowing here today, and like light, wispy flakes in the wind, my mind is drifting about. As I type this I have no idea where this post is going.

right now I'm sitting in a coffee show doing a bit of work on Plundered Booty, waiting on the other members of my critique group to show up in a bit. A guy with a large tattoo on his leg (yes it is snow and cold out but he has shorts on)is talking about a boxing tournament he is entering down in Dallas. The guy he met here is saying he will go along and wrap his hands.

The guy beside me is siing cofee from a metallic cup and reading a book titled Everyday Theology. He looks preacherly, but seems unfazed that the boxer and pal are now describing someone as a pussy.

Two tables over a girl is talking about some guy with gorguos eyes but I can only hear every third or fourth word.

Do any of these people realize just how close they are to winding up in a scene of mine somewhere down the road. Would they recognize themselves after I got through distorting the snatched of their conversations. Are they wondering about the lone guy in the corner typing away?

Can this post get any worse? On to something else.

On the way here I heard an interesting song called Cheney's Toy.
The song is erformed and written by James McMurtry, the son of author Larry McMurtry.

My interpretation is that the song is about President Bush but acording to the DJ on Sirius some listeners called and complained the last time he aired the song. They apparently thought the song was disrespectful to American Soldiers. But to me it is clearly a musical critique of W.

Check it out here. You can listen to it for free and it may even be a free download. What is your take?

The boxer, his friend, and reacher man are all gone. Now I am surrounded by some kind of sales meeting. I tried to listen but they bored me rather quickly. Snow is still falling outside and my fellow writers should be here soon. One of those is this lady. Check out her blog post on rituals of reading an writing.


A check of my email finds this which made me smile because they are very true.

'True' Friendship
Enough of that Sissy Crap!
Are you tired of those sissy 'friendship' poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship.
You will see no cutesy little smiley faces here - just the stone cold truth of our great friendship.
1. When you are sad -- I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.
2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
3. When you smile -- I will know you are plotting something that I must be involved in.
4. When you are scared -- I will rag on you about it every chance I get.
5. When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be, until you quit whining.
6. When you are confused -- I will use little words.
7. When you are sick -- I will tell you to stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.
8. When you fall -- I will point and laugh at your clumsy ass.
This is my oath....
I pledge it to the end.
'Why?' you may ask.
'Because you're my friend!'

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Trio of Dealios

Remember that Beck song, Two Turntables and a Microphone?

Well, today's post is my blogging equivalent, Two Meme's and a Weekly Feature.

First the weekly feature. The fine gals over at Women of Mystery have started Two Sentence Tuesday. the deal is you post two sentences you've read in the preceding week and two sentence you wrote. (could be from a work in progress, or an email, or an excuse for your kid to miss P.E. class - doesn't matter ass long as your wrote it) I like the idea and it doesn't take much commitment to post something I've already written or read. And if you've never Checked out Women of Mystery you should.

From Far Tortuga by Peter Matthiessen ...

The wind has slackened but the daybreak sky is a dead yellow that turns the sea to glimmering gray. Bruised masses shroud the sun, and an iron gleam is cast on the wet surface of the deck.

And from my novel in progress, Plundered Booty ...

I hurried through my front door with Lila huffing and puffing right behind me. No doubt the wispy black hairs on her upper lip were quivering beneath her oxygen starved nostrils.

Shauna, over at the Coffee shop also tagged me with a book meme. Here are the rules:
1. Grab the book you are currently reading and turn to p. 123
2. Go to the 5th sentence
3. Post the next 3 sentences
4. Tell the name of the book and author
5. Tag 5 others.

This is dialogue from from Far Tortuga but Peter Matthiessen used no quotation marks.

Last night you hear me say we sailin as three dis mornin, and you wait till I wakes you to oil dem engines? No, mon! Dass no good!

Far Tortuga is an interesting book strangely formatted, but an enjoyable read. At least for me. I have read it before and wanted to reread since I reference it in Plundered Booty.

And for the second meme. I've done this one before, but it has been a while so when Alyssa Goodnight tagged me I decided why not do it again. It is the six strange facts about me meme and believe it or not there are at least six things you do not know about me.

1) I have a reoccurring nightmare where all me teeth crumble and fall out at once. I have read that dreaming this means I have unresolved guilt but I have no earthly idea what I would be that guilty about.

2) I once got in a fight in metal shop class and pushed a kid named Robbie. His hand hit a moving grinding wheel a his knuckled was a bloody mess. No I don't particularly feel guilty about it since he was an ass and had no lasting damage. Besides, picked up trash on campus for an hour every morning before school as penance.

3) I refuse to spend money on greeting cards. Four or five bucks for what? A sentiment you should be able to say to those you love.

4)I can't stomach be in the same room while someone is using a file. Doesn't matter of it's my wife filing her nails or a coworker using a metal file in our maintenance shop at work. the raspiness grates on my very soul.

5) I honestly think I could get in the money if I could afford to play in The World Series of Poker, but the Ten Grand entry fee is beyond my budget. I have won several Texas Hold 'Em tournaments both locally and in Vegas but just once I want to play in the grand daddy of them all. When I finally get a large book deal entering the world series will be my one splurge item.

6) I'll only eat spaghetti and roast beef in the winter because I consider them to be cold-weather foods.

***** An addition ***** I forgot to include my friend Britta Coleman among this week's My Town Monday participants so pop on over here and see what she has to say about life in Fort Worth, Texas.

Monday, March 3, 2008

My Town Monday -- Eye of The Beholder

It's not a bird .. nor a plane. It's not Superman, or even a flying beagle. Nope, the above picture is your average, everyday floating mesa.

At least that is what it is supposed to look like. Actually it's just a mesa with a white fence built around the top. As you can see in this shot taken a bit closer.

Stanly Marsh the 3rd is the man behind this structure and several more oddities near and in my hometown, of Amarillo, Texas. And yes, I used the numerical version of three on purpose. Stanly has been quoted as saying anyone with a roman numeral after their name is just being pretentious.

Stanly is a man of wealth. His grandfather was one of the early oil and natural gas man of the Texas Panhandle. I'm not exactly sure how old he is but I'd guess upper sixties or early seventies. Here is a picture I found at this site commemorating the 20th anniversary of Sir Stanley's best known project. He's the one in the top hat.

The copy right is owned by ©1995-1996-1997-1998 Rik Gruwez but luckily he doesn't mind sharing.

And here are some shots of that project.

This is the view from I-40 of Cadillac Ranch.

Created in a wheat field back in 1974 this roadside attraction has been long been associated with Amarillo. It is one of the things I'm often asked about when traveling. The cars, all Cadillacs ranging in year models from 1949-1963 are buried intact nose down. They are located on private land(owned by Mr. Marsh but the public is encouraged top walk out and even spray graffiti on the vehicles.) Cadillac Ranch has been the subject of songs by Bruce Springsteen, Chris Ledoux, numerous Texas artists, and the Christian rock band Family Force 5.

It has also been featured in commercial and many movies. Most recently in the Disney Movie Cars. Notice the scenery in and around Radiator Springs and the description on the map which says Cadillac Range. This part of I-40 used to be Route 66 so if you've seen the movie you know why it was used.

Stanley has many other projects and I was going to include some of them in this post, but I think I'll wait and break this down into two parts since it is already getting on the long side. But here are a few teaser pics. I'll explain them and post more shots next Monday.

I will say not everyone in Amarillo has a high opinion of Stanley, his pranks, or art. But I tend to think every town should have a Stanley Marsh the 3rd if for no other reason than to keep things interesting. He's not one to care what other think as is clear by this quote.

"Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well." ~ Stanley Marsh 3

This post is part of My Town Mondays and sadly, I am the man behind this blogworld oddity. But I'm proud to say many have joined in on my crazy idea. I will link to them below as they post their town's story for the week, so check back over the next few days and learn about other cities and communities all over the globe. And if you wish to join in we'd be glad to have you. Just drop me a line in the comments once you post.

Pattinase -- A look at Detroit, Michigan's Eastern Market.

Sex Scenes at Starbucks -- Belly up to Grand Lake, Colorado's Lariat Bar.

Tiggysmum70 -- A ncie intro to Constitution town,better know as Louisville, Ohio.

Josephine Damian -- Introduces us to New Rochelle, New York with an interesting bit of history.

Ello -- Stroll down the boardwalks at Brooklyn, New York's Coney Island.

Lana Gramlich -- Takes us on a visual tour of Abita Springs, Louisiana

Barrie Summy -- Is getting sealy about a San Diego, California beach (sorry for the bad word play but I couldn't resist)

Word Vixen -- Tells us about a unique store in Lancaster Pennsylvania called the Rhubarb Market, but sadly she doesn't mention Rhubarb Pie.

DebbieLou -- The pubs and spirits of Bishops Stortford, England

Laura Kramarsky -- Last week at the Women of Mystery blog Terrie Farley Moran gave us a look at Book Row in NYC. This week Laura tells us what it was like to be a young book lover in East Hampton, New York.

Lyzzydee -- A look at a Welwyn Garden City, England landmark.

Alex Keto -- Dives into the murky depths of Silver Spring, Maryland.

The Anti-Wife -- Gives a detailed look at her childhood in Southern Illinois.

Britta Coleman -- Hot Dogs and politics. Does life get any more American than hers in Fort Worth, Texas.