(as opposed/compared to an optical illusion)

Thurs joon 2nd I must have experienced an illusionary opticon (as compared to an optical illusion).  Struggling to run up a (for me) difficult uphill section of a trail run, I looked back and saw a darkly-clad mountain biker coming up the trail perhaps 100 yards behind me.  Slow as I’ve become, still, one doesn’t want to be passed up by anybody on a workout.  I walked a few yards more, then picked things back up to (at least resemble) a running motion.  I managed that last uphill pitch, and had enough remaining to turn left up the last remaining uphill to my car.  As I continued going through the motions of what “good runners” probably wouldn’t consider a “run”, I hoped that at least whoever this mystery rider was, they would have to exert a bit more effort to catch up to me.  I stopped short of where my car was parked.  Looking around, scanning the 3 or so possible paths the mystery rider would take, I saw no-one.  Grabbing an orange (post-run-workout snack) from the car, I walked to nearby ridge-edges, scanning all the routes this (increasingly) spectral athlete would take.  For several minutes I finished off the orange, seeing no-one.  I decided that I might have had an optical illusion – but decided that THIS WAS (instead) AN ILLUSIONARY OPTICON.

I’m going to ramble on about a few things my increasingly-futile and hopefully-not-too-useless life is focused on.  One thing is:  it’s funny:  that I’m appreciated for participating at something I’m not “good at”, whereas …  there is another activity I believe I do fairly well, and it seems, nobody really cares.

Yes, music.  I recently tendered my resignation – “bowing out” of the Tuesday Night CD “House Band”.  For the past year-plus, that had been my regular once-a-week “JOB” – helping set-up (play some music) and later, dis-assemble the stage after a musical performance.  A year-plus ago, I started doing this somewhat enthusiastically, as, then, I was an intrinsic and established member of the band.

I had been dropping in on the “Tuesday Bluesday CD weekly jam” not regularly, but occasionally for a few years now.  Usually I was able to get up and play, but sometimes not.  In mid-March (2021) I showed up to play … and the vibe was weird.  Weirder than merely weird:  I had previously NEVER felt so appreciated, welcomed, “glad to see ya’ “ as that night.

               Turns out, either the “main”/host guy had fired his up-‘til-then-regular-house-band – or – they had fired him.  Or … something else completely.  The weekly CD-Blues-Jam is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. every Tuesday night.  I ambled in at about 7:20.  Three guys were set to play – the Drummer/Host/”Main Facilitator” and two others – a keyboardist and a guitarist both of whom I had never seen before.  They encouraged me to sit onstage and then … due in large part to an expectant audience waiting for ANYTHING to happen … the keyboard-player said we’re doing “a jam.”  He played a few licks, I quickly joined right in – I KNEW HE KNEW that this would work, we played back-and-forth (well, mostly him with whatever improvised melody line, but I was supporting and supplementing) – the guitarist was reasonably competent on playing rhythm and background.  We played whatever that tune was for several minutes and everything went well.

               Danny Davis –  one of the most interesting, charismatic musicians (extremely proficient bass-player and vocalist) I have ever met, had arranged to attend this session, arriving a bit late.  He had played with Merle Haggard (the keyboardist then mentioned that he had played with Waylon Jennings some time back) – and so, the Tuesday “Blues Jam” took on more than a bit of a country flavor.

               I could tell in short order that Danny liked and appreciated my playing.  The keyboard-player was, I believe, under “the spell” of Danny – and accordingly, “went along” with whatever Danny was, well, going along with.  The three of us (with a bit of help from other musicians) had several weeks of the most musical fun I have ever had.  How do I KNOW Danny appreciated my playing?  About 7 or so weeks later, Danny’s “old” band from Denver came over to River City to play a couple gigs.  I went out to “Koko’s” in Fruita on a Sunday afternoon.  Danny came over and told me the band would play a few songs and then I’d be invited up.  After three songs I took my place on stage, and things seemed to go very well.  During the first break in playing, the drummer came up to me, shook my hand, clapped me on the back and said “You are just as good as Danny said you were.”  Of course I was pleasantly surprised and asked what Danny had said.  Mr. Drummer’s response was something like that if I lived (and played) in the Denver area, I would be one of the best 3 or 4 “country” harp players around.  Whew.  And to think that most my life I had disdained country-music.

               Long story short – Danny stopped playing regularly with the Tuesday night gig after a couple months – presumably aspiring to more-lucrative situations.  And not too long after, the worst possible occurrence – he died in a motorcycle accident.

It took a couple months for the keyboard-guy to shed the “Danny spell” and, along with a guitar-player who became the usual established ‘regular’, I began to feel that I wasn’t “part of the band”.  Oh, there were a few instances where/when the “vibe” I had felt when Danny was there, manifested again (in varying degrees) – but this feeling of unquestioned-inclusivity has been, basically, a downward spiral down the drain for a few months now.  And so, now that that feeling has been gradually diminishing and shows no signs of reversal — for the time being — and who knows how much longer, I have decided that I will not participate in the playing-music aspect of the CD Toosday Jam.   Basically, my “value” to the aforesaid ‘phenomenon’ has not been to-any-appreciable degree whatsoever musical but to merely assist in the facilitation of same.  Not playing the music: but background “roadie duties”.  It is definitely not my intent to be “stickin’ it” to the drummer who pretty much does all the work so this weekly event can happen.  But I am walking away (for a while — -reflect&consider) from the situation I had so enjoyed a year back.

               It could be that I’m THIN-SKINNED (& THICK-BRAYNED).  Yes: I’m not only feeling like my musical contributions are, basically, ignored, but I’m irritated how almost all the musicians who show up, either regularly or even occasionally, RARELY HELP IN SETTING-UP AND BREAKING DOWN AFTER THE MUSIC IS DONE.  On a good/quick/efficient night, Mr. Drummer and I would finish by midnight.

Besides, Mr. Keyboard and usual lead guitarist don’t givva shit as to whether I’m there or not.  They even give less of the proverbial poop when there are horn players present.  Not to mention Brian, when he played “six daze on the road” a few weeks back (in the key of A! no less) and didn’t toss me a solo? I left THAT night right after that.  Yeah: it’z prawbly ‘cause I’ve become soooo thinskind …

I’ve been in groups where I felt I was an integral part of all that was going on – rarely signaled to “back off” / shut-up! / don’t play! – more&more of keyboard nerd’s signals – and so, I hope to find a group/venue where (as a few times before) I am part of everything (and not just a not-so-useful appendage to the keybored OVERLORD’S ever-increasing swell-headedness).  Whew.  There, I’ve said it.  And same sentiment in regards semi-regular guitar-guy too. 

Oh:  the thing I’m not good at, but welcomed AND appreciated when I show up?

Ice-hockey, of course.  Recently at our local ice-venue there have been three weekly “pick-up” games – of which at two I’ve sometimes been the only goalie, sometimes there’s another, for some time now.  Some games I’m half-way competent, but just as often, not.  Doesn’t matter.  All the other players would much prefer having someone, anyone, in front of the net rather than that “plastic” net-goalie-facsimile thing.  Besides, that “shooter-tutor” has so much better stats than I’m capable of.  Last Friday (June 10) there were 7 skaters … and me.  Another half-ice (like a half-court basketball) game.  With no subs, everyone gets a lot of action.  Fortunately, we took a break every 10 minutes or so …  and, as expected, I was super-duper tired afterwards, and tried to drown in beer, our swim pool, and later in the hot tub.

Much of my present life must be engaged in considering illusionary opticons.  And, or course, THAT could be the case for … eh, all? much? of my life so far.  I suspect that THAT aspect has a good chance of not diminishing …

I do have and continue to perform yet another … job? Duty? Obligation?  Which doesn’t involve “hockey nuts” nor “music afficionadoes”.  (Yawn.  More on that, maybe, later).

Below:  weird pod (& plant) out in the “high desert” a few weeks back.  Received some facebook- feedback as to what this (somewhat rare and mysterious) “pod-plant” is.

After having gone to (1) run (2) hike (3) tire out the dogs (4) poach yet another 1/2 – truck-load of flagstone for Betty’s never-ending yard … uh, landscaping?  We were driving back, and

convinced this guy, or girl, to GET OFF THE ROAD as the next person by might not be so nice.  (s)He was about 5’ in length, apparently enjoying warming-up in the sun on the hot road – but we cajoled him/her to go do that elsewhere.

And, Annie, the Qween of Death (especially to small defenseless creatures) waits under the hummingbird nest (in the pansies).

Ah yes, the h-bird nest.  Sorry for poor photo-quality – “mom” was sitting in it and I didn’t want to disturb her.  Yes:  the nest is fastened to the underside of the upstairs porch by THUMB TAX & DUCT TAPE.  “Mom” had built the nest two years back, when the porch underside was covered by vines.  A year or so back, the main trunk/line/vine died, and subsequently all the “underside vines” withered away.  This sad state of deteriorating vine death looked, well, like death and we removed them.  Except for the section of vines “mom” had built her nest in.  We tacked it back up in the same spot as before – and didn’t fully expect her to return – but she did, and as I type this her 2 kids are soon to “fly the nest” – and, as happened last year, she might raise another family.

My daughter commented that the non-dino-skeleton is the #1 Whirled Hide&Seek Champion ~

& yet another encounter …


My wife and I (& numerous others) had a recent encounter with an individual member of a human sub-species – the PigPeople.

We went for groceries at our local store two weeks ago.  Things were busy, being mid-afternoon, and we could tell that this particular establishment was experiencing the need for additional help.  We loaded our cart and went to check out.  There was only one (non-self-help) register open – besides the one for “15 items or less.”  We took our place in line, which continued to ‘pile-up’ along the frozen-food aisle behind us. 

A call went out for an employee to assist with check-out and open up another register.  As soon as the “open” light turned on, a squat porcine female waddled up and went to the front of the soon-to-be-opened check-out line.  My wife and I politely mentioned that there were several people waiting to check-out – assuming that the ethical and polite thing to do was to go to the end of the line.  Ms. Pig-Person looked at us like we were kidding, saying things like “act your age” – which to me, being over 70, found incongruous, as I have little or no idea as to how to “act that age.”  Never-the-less my wife and I (and a couple others) complained at her some more.  She turned to (presumably) her son, complaining in turn as to how could these other un-entitled un-worthy people get on her case.  “Besides, I’m in a hurry.”  As if everyone else had all the time in the world.

And what did this Pig-Lady do right after checking-out her groceries?  Languish for many minutes more in the adjacent coffee shop.  And … where was she parked?  In the nearest “Handicapped only” spot.  Besides her totally-absent sense of integrity and fair-play, she was not physically handicapped, and her vehicle did not have the appropriate handicapped-tags nor markings.  I could only wish some law-enforcement or whatever passes for “parking-spot police” had come by and ticketed her for that!

The fellow ahead of us in line mentioned “karma” a couple or three times, and, yes, believing in reincarnation as I do, such an example of sub-humanity no doubt has, probably, more than a few future lifetimes to evolve into what we’d like to regard as “fully human.”

It’s benna (while since)

ITZ BENNA WILE Since I WP postid anything.  We’ll start with a possibly “historic first” for me.  Wish I could say/write something actually historic (e.g., a perfect game? So far I haven’t had a perfect period!) happened in/at hockey – but (!) the incident was related.  I don’t think that ever before a hockey game (or anything requiring contact lenses) I was able to put in each contact ON THE FIRST TRY!   This occurred a couple o’ weeks back, before the latest-in-January game.  If ever THAT had happened before, I don’t remember.  And the subsequent game was … okay.  The usual lotta fun, actually.

And for the second time, Fry-day Feb 11, again the “perfect” contact insertion prior to yet another typical game.  Historic deuce.  But I had a lot of fun – would have been a bunch less fun had I NOT stopped more shots than went in.   Kinda wee-urd, seems NO-1 questions nor intimates the seasoning (so 2 speak) of a particular goalie.  And, I’m sum-whut ashamed to say, I was by far the less-competent goalie, but the other goalie was getting hammered a lot more than I was, my team “won” – and so during the after-game hand-shaking, etc. I felt a little bit embarrassed that I was getting a bunch more accolades than I really did deserve.

“X marx the spot”

Recently (Feb 4), another fun game.  John, thinking he was “old” (izzat a relative or absolute determination?) walked into our locker room, and pronounced this was “the “old person’s locker room”.  I didn’t (nor won’t) say anything to him about this, but he is a mere twenty-years younger than me … and calling everyone present “old.”  Hmmm.  Mike – “a lineman for the county” from Montrose is “up there.”  Hal, who wandered soon after that pronouncement is just a bit into the aged category (Hal is doing very well, especially hockey-wise, to hide that he is mid-60).  And good ol’ Leroy is a poster child for the over-60’s.  It’s been a while since ANYONE asked me to quantify my seasoned-status.

John bantered on (locker-rooms are usually much better and fun when a lot of bantering is ensuing) –saying that he’d been encouraged to “move up” in the official hockey-league ability level, from “C” to “B”, and, apparently, was improving – though the uptick in speed and such was especially tiring due to his (almost) senior-citizen status.  Hal and I didn’t say anything. I looked around the room at everybody, then stated that everyone here can still IMPROVE – whereas I was at the age where all one can do is try to hold on to what little ability one has left.   And, I announced “All of you here are hoping and trying to get better.  I hope to improve to mediocrity.”

I rode the bike by this guy or gal a couple months back, near the Gunnison River at the Delta/Mesa County Line.  Saw  a pair of eagles (presumably this one and its mate) Feb. 12.

My sister left this realm last Dec. 1 — crossed the reign-bow bridge, or whatever — below, my daughter eulogizes at the service two weeks later, before my turn to do the same.

Feces – itz been 6 years (almost) since I segued from full-time employment to, basically, none at all.*  I have almost forgotten what it was I used to do (something to do with petroleum-engineering, and, being “the governmental regulatory person”, having to rubber-stamp (sometimes I’d ask questions and/or ask for more data) and passing judgment on industrial representative’s plans and requests and such in regards oil/gas extraction matters).  Most (possibly all) of those of whom I reviewed their proposals were invariably much more knowledgeable than I about pertinent matters, but I HAD TO PRETEND I WAS THE EXPERT, AND (in a sense) THEIR BOSS.

I haven’t been doing that, as stated before, for a while.  I still have occasional nightmares which incorporate this phase of my life, usually mingled with other phases, in which (1) I can’t find my office, (2) I try to drive impossible-to-operate vehicles, (3) there is either babysitting and/or lots of house- (office) cleaning involved.  A dream-interpretation expert might recommend I proceed to the State Mental Health Hospital.  No need to, I feel I’m already there.

Below: in early January Annie spent a half-hour playing with that attractive interesting other cat in the puddle.

*Okay – there are still three “responsible” tasks I continue to, if not actually “do”, go through the motions of.  (1): I am the local “running club”s secretary and newsletter-editor.  This task I have either been actually trying to do a good job of, or, (prawbubbly more often than knot) go through the motions of.  This task (or “job”, or “position”, or “obligation”, or … I’m not sure what this really is, or isn’t) befell me (I think) in 1995.  The outgoing President of the organization

(‘organization’ might be a bit loose of a term – maybe we’re an autonomous collective (don’t ask me to define THAT!  But that’s a line/lying I’ve forever me(s)morized since wartching Monty Python & the Holy Grail))

stood up at a meeting – announced his retirement as President – and (without the detriment of elexions and such) told those at the meeting who was going to do what after he left.  Mark Reece had excused himself to go to the restroom.  Soon-to-be-ex-President Bruce Ricks announced that Mark was the new President of the group.  Everyone present learned that we should never be out of the room when business was being conducted, unless one was prepared for something unexpected upon returning.   Bruce looked around the room.  His eyes fastened on Conrad.  “Conrad will be the new treasurer.”  Good choice, Conrad had been in banking for many years and had a knack for addition and subtraction and, bottom line, balances.  Larry was appointed a position he already had – race director consultant and assembler of the annual calendar.  Tom had already proven to be more than adequate at planning and membership communications – facilitator of communications to and with the membership.  A few more appointments, then … Bruce turned to look at me.  We had just “lost” (I think she just up and quit) a very capable newsletter compiler and editor.  “I hope you don’t mind,” Bruce said, continuing his gaze my direction, “filling in as the secretary and editor until we get someone really capable.”  I was not offended.  I would try to fill in the shoes of the just-departed editor, and would endeavor to do so until “that person who could really do the job well” would be found and persuaded to come on board.  HERE IT IS, SOME 25 YEARS LATER, AND THE MESA-MONUMENT STRIDERS IS/ARE STILL LOOKING FOR THAT PERSON.  Until that happens, I am the interim-temporary-acting Secretary and Newsletter Editor.  Possibly forever.

(2)  I will try to minimize the boring story and haphazard sequence of events (some were “non-events”) about how I have become the local ice-arena’s #1 goalie for pick-up hockey games.  It is NOT because I’m good at being at that.  It’s because I make every effort to show up.  (Didn’t Woody Allen proclaim in more than one of his movies that “99% of life is just simply showing up”?)  I actually played as goalie in regular league games (2006 – 2008 or so), but as more and more players signed on, teams could actually get GOOD goalies, and I don’t exactly know why, but teams in the leagues actually wanted to WIN GAMES – and thereafter if I was to play, I had to play “out”.  This was sort of fun, and I played “out” for a few years until the arena went out of business.  But, a couple or so years before the previous arena-incarnation went out of business, I received a phone call (don’t know why, but I do recall it was in December).  Dave Ash – who was the facilitator/main guy of the Wednesday night pick-up “Dave Ash League” – it might have been 2012, maybe a year or two later – said that the D A League had consistently been getting a lot of players, but goalies had been getting scarce.  He guaranteed I would be the “main” and regular goalie if I simply showed up.  And so I did – for a few more years I played in each and every D-A-L pick-up game I could, and also most of the Friday noon pick-ups.

The present incarnation of the local ice arena, now known as the RiverCity SportsPlex (they plan on more sports and activities besides having ice) has been operating for 4 or 5 months now.  And, like the D A League, I’ve become the most-regular/dependable goalie for the “Friday Noon Lunchtime League.”  As circumstances permit, perhaps I’ll find a second game each week.

Below:  wish the photo was CLEARer — a Halloween bunch of winter-time activity skeletons on a roof in Steamboat Springs ~

*(3)  Roadie (or Toadie) AND “part of the band” – the C. Dwellington’s Tuesday Night Jam band.

This (sort of) qualifies as some sort of “employment”.  On a good night, I might make more than $8 an hour!  This surprisingly long-lived event has been occurring nearly every Tuesday nite at the present location for about 7 or so years.  And also Toozdaze at other nearby locations for a few years before that.      So? — Oh yeah, I had been dropping in (more than half the time playing with the band) once or twice per month for a few years until a year ago.  Last April (2021), was just about the weirdest vibe I’d ever encountered at this gig.  For starters, the three guys on stage all were glad to see me, or pretending very convincingly.  (THAT had never happened before).  I have not put the proverbial dos & deux together – but I suspect the guy who puts this on, the same guy who has been facilitating this since quasi-pre-modernhistoric time, had a falling out with his regular band.  He fired them or they fired him.  Or both.

After a “oh-well let’s just start out with an instrumental jam” – I could tell right away that as soon as the keyboard player started playing and I joined in, jamming in & out of his rifts, he got noticeably (to me) less anxious — I felt he knew he had compatible company.  Not too long after, the tardy bass-player showed up.  Danny Davis.  He had actually played with Merle Haggard some time ago – and the keyboard player divulged that he had toured with Waylon Jennings.  The “Toosday Bloosday Jam” took on a decidedly country twist.  And I was fairly certain that Danny liked my company, calling for a harp solo (or two) every song he led.  And because Danny (I’d like to think) appreciated my musical presence, the keyboard player (I think, though he didn’t show it, nor admit to it) was somewhat under the influence of Danny – and what was right with Danny, was right with him.  Wish that sentiment was the case at present.

Playing with (and I KNOW I was “fitting in”) with these seasoned players every Tuesday was a whole bunch of fun, borderline exhilarating, for many weeks.  I even played with Danny and his former band from Denver at a venue in Fruita when the ‘former band’ was passing through town.

Danny died as a result of a motorcycle accident not too long after.

Itz mid-February (2022) and I’m not very comfortable nor secure with respect my position in “the band” – but being (and having been so for a few months now) the only dependable “roadie” to set-up all the equipment and (more importantly, since this involves working from 10 p.m. and hopefully finishing by midnight) taking everything down and ensuring that the equipment is loaded into the van – it might be that the “roadie” aspect is why I’m “in the band” more so than my musical aptitude.  I digress, a little:  during the Danny Davis period, I was and felt definitely part of the collective.  There seemed to be no question.  Since Danny’s demise, there have been frequent times I’ve felt that I’m not an integral part of the collective.

Feces! A couple weeks back I played beyond my expectations (and surprised even myself in regards the possibility of brilliance @ the jam), and nobody in the banned sez anything.  Four people out in the audience came up to me and said that my solos were the best they’d heard that particular night.  More impressive than Kellen’s … and Eric’s … and the sax players … and even John Brown the bassist’s solos.  Well, maybe not the bass soloes …

I guess I’ll continue to “toy” along with this ‘gig’ for as long as …

Above: Rachel and her sons (Eddie, Henry) pose for their “Moody Music Album Cover” while we were hiking last year.  Below, “catzawncouch.”

& … finally ~

3. short stories (while i was a student @ “Moo U” (colorawdough state Univ.)

Three  Short Stories

(CSU, having been the state’s “agricultural” college earlier (Colo. A & M Univ) was also affectionately known as “Moo U.)

            These three (stories, &/or experiences) all occurred while I lived in Fort Collins, either while attending or just after graduating from Colorado State University

            I was arrested and led away in handcuffs for shooting Hitler

            When a 4F draft status is “no problem”

            My five seconds of Hollywood Movie Stardom  

            First, the second.  During the initial heavy-duty Vietnam War years encompassing the later 1960’s, I had three friends who went into the military.  Larry joined the Navy, Roy H went into the Army, and Willy enlisted in the Air Force.

            And each of them, all three, summarized their lot:  “if my going into the military has accomplished any purpose whatsoever, let it be this:  to convince all my friends, all of you, to NOT go into the military.”  I, and all my remaining non-service cronies, took that passionate edict to heart.

            At first the path to deferments was somewhat well-marked and easy to follow.  College students got the student deferment, married guys had the married deferment, and I suppose psychopaths had the whacko deferment.  But as the ’60’s rolled towards the ’70’s, the need for meat for the sausage-making apparatus intensified, and it seemed the military was drafting just about anybody.  

            And we all collected stories about how people “got out.”  Frank Zappa allegedly filled the space between his buttocks with peanut-butter and when the “bend over” examination occurred, the attending military medical personnel looked, then stepped back — “what the heck is that?”

            “I don’t know,” Frank allegedly replied, taking a couple fingers, reaching back for a big gob, popping it in his mouth, “but it sure tastes good.”

            None of us were quite ready to go that route.  We heard other stories, some almost as bizarre, some routine.  There was a time when one could simply announce he was a homosexual.  After a while, that by itself would allegedly not disqualify a candidate.  I heard of someone who refused to poop for several days (I have NEVER been able to do that).  The morning of the pre-induction, this guy drank lots of coffee and possibly a laxative and was a “real mess” all during the pre-induction exam.

            But when our friend Dick Olson, unanimously acknowledged as the craziest of all of us, took the pre-induction AND PASSED — we were worried.

            “Long story short:”  when it came time for me to take the pre-induction in early 1969, I got the “psycho” deferment.  This merited a “1Y” draft status — to be considered for the military only in the event of a true major national emergency.  Back in those daze I figured that a ‘true’ and major national emergency would be as it sounds — something major, like the Armageddon itself.  So, in the words of a Frank Zappa song, I felt free, and could go “back to the alley, with all of my friends, still running free.”

            A few years later a change of draft status arrived unannounced and unexpected in the mail.  “4F.”  I was completely and totally un-draft-worthy.  The 4F meant “not to be considered for military service — ever.”

            Fast forward a few years, to 1977.  I had just graduated from college and was going to every college-sponsored “meet and greet” potential employers event.  My watered-down physics degree didn’t make much headway in all the interviews I had attended thus far.

            One particularly depressing day, I was dressed in a suit and interviewed with Tektronics — a company which made research equipment, mostly electronic measuring devices.  I had by-passed all hardcore and useful electronics courses when I switched majors from Physics to Physical Science a year before.

            After a brief introduction and summary by the visiting Tektronics recruitment staff, the interview got down to the ‘brass tacks.’  “What do you know about …?”  and “Have you worked with …?” and “Tell us what you’d do if this happened …” type questions.

            It wasn’t long before I felt like I was a village idiot looking for work in a series of villages each of which already had one.

            I was also reminded of a Monty Python sketch about the Cheese Shoppe.  A man is studying at the Library, stops, and decides he must have some cheese.  He saunters to the nearby Village Cheese Shoppe, stopping at the counter.  Again, after a brief introduction, it’s —

            “Do you have any roquefort?”

            “Fresh out.”

            “How about edam?”

            “Oh, it’s Tuesday, never have any on Tuesday.”

            “French Brie?”

            “Ah, delivery truck hasn’t brought it yet.”

            “Sharp cheddar, then?”

            “No, none right now.”

            After several dozen inquiries, asking for every cheese you’ve ever heard of, including many obscure ones like Siberian Yak’s Milk Curdled Sour and the like, the answer is the same.  Nope.  None.

            “This isn’t much of a cheese shoppe.”

            “Oh, best in these parts, sir.”

            To every question, many dozens of them, about my knowledge of electronic circuits and using equipment and how it all worked, I had to truthfully answer “no.”  Sometimes I’d pause a bit, trying to look like I was considering, and say “not much.”  I slunk out of the interview room, feeling two-foot tall.

            As luck (?) would have it, I encountered an acquaintance, Captain Jim Fulks, who was sitting at the Marines recruitment table in the Student Center foyer/entry.  I knew Captain Jim because of Roy H, who, in spite of his decade-earlier admonition to everyone NOT to go into the military, had gone back and was on temporary duty to recruit in the area.  I was “enlisted” to be on the Marines team during a series of ROTC challenge cross country running races.  It was implicitly understood during these events that I was a “guest” on the team, and it was hand’s off in regards serious solicitation.

            “How’s it going Rosco?” cheerily intoned Capt. Fulks.

            I was straight-forward, open, regarding him as a friend.  After all, it’s therapeutic to discuss one’s problems with friends.  “Jim — I recently graduated and just finished a terrible job interview.  Things are not looking good.”

            Jim switched off the projector showing scenes of the Marines in action, used (probably not too successfully) to lure possible recruits to the table to talk shop.  “How about me buying a pitcher of beer at the Ramskellar and you tell me about it?” Slap on the shoulder.

            Actually, that sounded pretty good at the time.  Yes, I knew he’d discuss another job option, but I wasn’t worried.  I had two aces up my sleeve.

            We took a table in the Student Center Tavern, pitcher of beer between us.  At first we attracted a little attention.  Students at tables nearby gazed at the unlikely duo of Marine Captain in his bright dress uniform, and the long-haired depressed-looking slouch in the cheap suit.

            It wasn’t long before Capt. Jim asked the inevitable:  “Rosco, have you ever considered joining The World’s Finest?”

            “Jim, I can’t.  I’m too old.”

            “How old are you?”

            “I’m twenty-eight.”  I had read that the military wouldn’t consider anyone older than twenty-seven.

            Jim made a quick somewhat-veiled glance around at nearby tables.  I’m sure he didn’t want anyone to know The World’s Finest would compromise their lofty standards.  “Under our ‘Old Men in Good Shape Program’ we can recruit up to age thirty-five.”

            A couple beads of sweat broke out on my brow.  “Is that so?”  We talked a for a few minutes more.  “Okay, is there anything else which is a problem?”

            “Jim, I’ve got a 4F.”

            Another glance at nearby tables.  “Tell me about it.”

            “It was during VietNam …” was as far as I got.

            “VietNam era?  No problem.  We can easily make it go away.”

            I glanced at the imaginary watch on my bare wrist.  I told Captain Fulks I was late for my next appointment, got up and left.  I haven’t seen nor heard from him since.

            In later 1976 I was a Physics major at C.S.U.  My wife was working at some mundane vitality-sapping job with a bunch of lifeless zombies to pay the bills and concurrently put her husband through school.  I was at my desk, fulfilling homework requirements and feeling weighted-down by whatever I figured the oppressive demands of the quotidian sought to drain from my soul.  Like rainwater, my attention went from the textbooks to listlessly turning the pages of a C.S.U. general information booklet.  I flipped through the requirements for other degrees, and, lo and behold, there was a certificate I was well on the way to fulfilling which was somewhat similar (maybe only in name only) to that which I had two years yet to attain.  I could graduate with this other degree in one year.  I felt better already.

            Physical Science.  I already had the biology (a prior attempt at another major), all the math (hard-core physics mandated an additional four or so courses), most the miscellaneous requirements, except for two categories.  Humanities and upper-division courses.  

            I became an expert at upper-division humanities without prerequisites.  I believe I took all classes in that category that the university offered.

            History of Jazz.  Introduction to Formal Logic.  The Nature of Culture.  History of Ancient Israel (at least I had to, finally, read the entire “old testament”! among other things).  The only non-post-grad-level Linguistics course.  And Politics and the Environment.

            Politics and the Environment was intended to be somewhat ‘left-leaning,’ in that the professor who had always taught it was of the viewpoint that The Environment usually got screwed when coming up against Politics.  The first day of class, Professor Meeks took the lectern and made his introduction.  Apparently the usual teacher for this course was missing in some foreign country or something like that, so the university procured a last-minute stand-in.  And he announced that though he did not share the other teacher’s view of the environment needing some assistance in the fight with politics, he’d try to present the material as even-keeled as he could.

            He was an enthusiastic lecturer.  He’d pace back-and-forth on the stage (the venue for the class was a small auditorium) gesturing and debating points, usually smoking a cigarette, with a NO SMOKING sign high on the wall over-head.  He’d finish each smoke, looking down to crush the butt under his heel while maintaining his monologue.

            I’d look around at the three or so dozen other students, most of whom appeared to be in a trance, or between bouts of light sleep.  It seemed incongruous — no, not the smoking — that he’d be pontificating loudly, sometimes waving his arms to make a point, and we’d seem to be … well, so dead.

            One day I sat for coffee with him after class.  I mentioned the seemingly strange phenomenon of him lecturing enthusiastically, while most or all the class sat there quietly, as if in a stupor or something.  I said that I’d been considering doing something to liven up the class.  I had a starter’s pistol at home (used to start running races) and thought of staging a mock assassination as he lectured.  I am fairly sure that he was not adverse to this idea.

            THE VERY NEXT DAY the lecture topic was Politics and Overpopulation.  And, I had packed the aforesaid starter’s gun in my daypack.  Professor Meeks paced back and forth as usual, puffing on a cigarette every few sentences.  He progressed toward the scenario of a regime in a country deciding that having many more citizens would be an asset.  Out-number the neighbors, more bodies for the army.

            “Now imagine that I am the dictator of your country.  I am not a democratically-elected leader, I have seized control through ruthless means.  And I appear on the national media and issue an edict:  YOU MUST HAVE MORE CHILDREN!  How would you REACT?”

            I’m sure he looked right at me.  “He’s calling my bluff!” I thought.  Professor Meeks repeated the ultimatum.  “You must have more children!  How would you react?”

            “Why, I’d shoot you,” I said as I stood, aiming the pistol at him and pulling the trigger.

            As expected, the class was not only stunned, and it’s safe to say everyone was awake.  The Professor did not miss more than half a beat.

            “That fellow would shoot me,” gesturing in my direction.  “What would the rest of you do?”

            “I’d complain and write to my congressman,” announced a girl.  A few other classmates joined in the discussion.  This was more group interaction by far than this class had ever had.  I thought my job was done, until the next day.

            I should not have continued to carry the pistol in my knapsack, but after class the following day several town and university officers were waiting for me to leave the room.  I was arrested, and led away in handcuffs.  After telling my story, more than once, ending up with the Chief of the University police, most of them thought that this circumstance was not only ironic, but a little silly.  Arrested for shooting Hitler.  The Chief was surprisingly human, and in spite of the uniform, very much like a normal open-minded reasonable person.     

I was called a few days later and told that the charges were dropped.  The CSU police had consulted with the County D.A.  Charges?  “Using a facsimile weapon in a manner intended to cause stress and alarm.”

            Oh, the things I do to help make class interesting.

            Ah yes, my five seconds of major Hollywood movie stardom.  Like the arrest-and-handcuffs incident, AND the “4F — No Problem” encounter, this episode also occurred while enrolled or just-after-having-graduated from C.S.U. in the later 1970’s.

            An announcement was published in the college newspaper.  It was a solicitation for people to fill up the basketball arena to play the part of a crowd watching college games.  We weren’t going to be paid, but the movie-producers would provide food, drinks (soda, mostly) and every hour there would be a drawing for prizes.  In an effort to keep most the crowd ’til the end, the big prize drawings were after our work was done.

            The movie was called “One on One” and centered on an athlete and his trials and tribulations.  Robby Benson played the main character.  We — me and thousands of my friends — were supposed to spend the entire day pretending to be the enthusiastic crowd rooting for the home team.

            The Robbie-character left Colorado to play for a Southern California university — loosely (?) modeled on UCLA.  We walked into Moby Arena and the usual Colorado state flags were replaced by the California Bear flag.  And — amusingly, since this was supposed to be warm and sunny California, we were instructed to hide our cold-weather hats, gloves, and coats.  No small feat for this cast of thousands.

            I just happened to be wearing my Western State track shirt — a red skin-tight garment with a big white flying “W” in front.  The mythical University, whose athletes wore cardinal uniforms, was named Western University.  During a scene in which Robbie and team were far, far ahead of the hapless visitors, we were supposed to look bored, and some of us were selected to get up and be seen leaving the game early.  I was singled out to leave, slowly, doing my best to appear unenthusiastic, as the camera followed me for a few seconds.  I’m sure it was because of my shirt.  Certainly helped with the cardinal California Western U image.

            And, therefore, my five (might have been four) seconds of being the main ‘actor’ in a Hollywood movie.  Ha!

Pine Gulch Forest Fire

I was on our north patio late afternoon/early evening in later July and was admiring borderline-storm-clouds over the Book Cliffs.  The Cliffs are the natural northern border of the valley our town (and environs) are located in.  I saw a … Continue reading