Tuesday, December 30, 2003

December 31, 2003
Well, I have fallen in love with this Spanish country. It really is deep in history and is the backstory for the American West. Those onery Conquistadors gave us so much it's not even funny.

I guess the most amazing thing I've seen on the trip is that every Spanish town we have been in has had a thriving downtown. It's like something out of the 1950s, with people walking along bustling streets, dressed up, buying things, talking, laughing. When we first got here I thought maybe it was just because of the Christmas season, but it keeps going. On the main square in Toledo, where it was maybe 5 degrees Celsius, everyone for miles around was there. The men wearing ties, the women dressed in long, fur coats, the kids running and playing. Last night in Valencia (a Tuesday night!) they had a 5K run and everyone lined the streets and cheered. Of course they are on Spanish time so the race started at 8 pm. It is now 11:30 and people are still out, walking around. Just such a sense of community and fun. Really inspiring (and where did we go wrong?).

One possible reason I've come up with is that we haven't encountered what I call the thug factor. You know how in the states no matter where you go there are these punk guys, gangstered out, running in packs and looking intimidating (and I'm talking about all races and ages, I've even seen junior high kids that make me nervous). There is none of that here. We were standing at a subway station entrance and these ten boys, maybe 16-17 years old, were standing there and they were trying to talk to girls, the usual, but they were like teddy bears. Not the thug type 'tude. We walked everywhere, at night, in a crowded downtown and felt completely safe. Amazing.

The other thing I noticed: no mobile homes, and no tin sheds. Every town is built with adobe and the whole town looks like a cohesive part of the same unit (and these towns are 400 years older than ours!). There isn't that ugly sprawl, that hop skotches out away from the center. They apparently have never encountered aluminum siding either.

And by the way, a little off of the subject, we have a new poll on the website. Give us your thoughts on the Ron Howard movie, The Missing. Go vote now!

"Still can´t wait to get home to the states"
December 30, 2003
We are back in Valencia and are flying out to England tomorrow to spend New Year's Eve with the Dave Clark Five and Fred Nolan. Then back home on Jan. 1.

Travelled some of the back country coming back here, stopping in Cuenca, famous for it's "hanging" houses, although that is a bit of a misnomer. The houses, church and buildings are built on a big ridge, or cliff and they are built right up against the walls and it is scary looking. Of course they did this in the 1650s and it's just amazing they knew how to even do this. We stayed in an old dormatory, built in 1668 and it was way cool.

But let's go back a few days. On Christmas Day, we checked out of our hotel in Granada and had breakfast in a busy, local cafe. Actually, in Spain they have all these places that are billed as a Cafeteria-Bar (coming from the U.S. I expected to see senior citizens slamming down shots of Cuervo at Luby's but here it has a completely different meaning). They do have wine bars at their truck stops though and that's a gas. Anyway, over breakfast in this crammed little cafe, we sat next to this American family and they were sniping at each other good ("so where is the organizer, who's going to tell us exactly where to go today?"), and we were feeling mighty smug. I should have known better, that it would soon be our turn in the barrel.

We took off around 11 and drove for about five hours and finally pulled into Toledo (a town built inside a real live castle) at about five. We had studied two guide books and had a read on finding a hostel in our budget range of 30-50 Euros a night. But when we pulled up inside the castle walls, the whole place was slammed with tourists and as Tommy ran down the hill to check one out, Kathy and Deena ran the other way and I stayed with the car which was doubled parked.

Fifteen or twenty minutes later, Deena came up, complaining that her mother was being picky and tourists were coming in behind them and snatching up everything. Then Tommy ran up and said the place down by the moat was just "okay," so Kathy asked me to help, so I went into the first place I came to, which was the Alphonso VI Hotel and asked if they had two rooms. The inn keeper looked at a crammed ledger and said he only had two. I asked to see them. The porter took me up to the second floor and showed me this suite with a stunning view of the entire town. It was 85 Euros a night and I said, "We'll take it." I rationalized that most rooms in the states would run at least that much and besides they didn't have a view of a castle. I assumed I would be a hero. This was not the case.

Deena cried and said, "Don't ever talk to me about money again!" (she's in college and her mother is always on her case to conserve money). The both of them got into it and the next thing you know, it's my fault!

They got over it and the two rooms were fantastic. In fact Deena wrote to her friend Xavier and said, "We are staying in a hotel room we can't afford, with a view we can't afford to miss."

However, if you really want to find out what someone thinks of you, try driving across Spain in a Ford Focus. Ha.

"The road is the only thing."
-Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, December 29, 2003

December 28, 2003
The Spanish love traffice circles. They are everywhere, even on freeway off-ramps. The worst are in the cities where multiple lanes meet cars from other directions and then all the lanes disappear and everyone starts jockeying at 40 mph in a circle. Just pucker city.

This morning, we snuck out of Toledo at 7:30 and drove up to Madrid to catch the Manet show at El Prado. It is free on Sunday's so we expected huge lines. We managed to get in line in the TWA-light and got in relatively easy. By the time we got out the lines went all the way down the block.

Manet is one of my heroes, and I wasn't disappointed in the show, but I have to say, the local boy Velasquez is the real king of the hill. Madrid has a huge collection of his paintings so they were able to combine derivative paintings to show where Manet (who is French) got his inspiration or in some cases outright stole concepts or themes. The end result is a stunning appreciation of Velasquez that I never had before. He was a monster painter. No one has ever achieved what he was able to do in the 16th Century! If you took all of the giants (in my mind) and that would be Tolouse Latrec, Van Gough, Rembrandt, Remington, Russell, Rockwell, Wyeth and John Singer Sargent and stacked them up, one on each other shoulders, they still would not reach Velasquez's armpit. He's that amazing. Unbelievable really. The expressions, the luminosity is as current as if it was painted this morning.

Kathy and I also took a cab to the Joaquin Sorolla Museum which is not far (the kids went shopping). He is another painter I discovered on this trip who I really admire (Buckeye Blake told me to watch for him and I saw his work at Valencia last week and made a vow to catch his museum in Madrid). He is also bold and loose. Really enjoyed it. And of course, all museums are free in Spain on Sundays so that was nice.

We had a money meltdown several nights ago and I'll tell that story tomorrow.

"Oh, I get it. You got your he-hoes and you got your he-has and it all comes together really bonito." -Deena Bell mocking her father as a redneck on vacation in Spain (hija and hijo are Spanish for son and daughter)
December 27, 2003
Drove up through the farmland of La Mancha two days ago. Had the usual freeway fight with the girls. They want to cruise, get to the next destination. Me, I want to take the two-lane back roads and see the out of the way places. I got outvoted, so T. Bell cruised along at 120km in our tiny Ford Focus while the girls sat in the backseat and read books. This drives me crazy. When you are in new country, you need to look! We blew past numerous little villages tucked along the rivers, just off the freeway. We were on our way from Granada to Toledo (It's so sad when a country can't come up with names of their own. . .) and the terrain was a cross between eastern Colorado and northern California. Lots of olive tree fields which gave the land a kind of tattooed look, as the fields went right up mountainsides and looked to be thousands of years old (and probably are). We then topped out in a wide plain, full of vineyards and long fields and, believe it or not, John Deere tractors and a John Deere tractor dealership. This is not tourist country and it had an authentic, farmer kind of feel. I really enjoyed it.

When the girls went to sleep, I told T. to pull off and I took the wheel and took a two-lane blacktop towards Consquengo, and the back way into Toledo. This is Cervantes country and the inspiration for the Don Quixote story were everywhere. Castles on almost every ridge. And these aren't some dinky, rock piles. These are full on fortresses that still could be defended successfully. Flanking the castle at Consquengo were a half dozen rebuilt windmills riding a rocky ridge that looked like Casa Grandes (it´s so sad when. . .)Arizona.

Almost every mile there were grand haciendas in ruin, crumbling back into the earth. Big, ambitious, successful compounds, with corrals and barns and cool looking walls.

Found a great little cafe, Restaurant Castilla in a small town and had a great lunch and the girls thanked me and told me I was right.

Got into Toledo at dusk. Bought a beret. Can't believe I did it. Kathy showed it to me and I just up and bought it (6 Eruos). Deena calls it the Gay Beret. More on this tomorrow.

"All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don't sit looking at it-walk." -Ayn Rand

Friday, December 26, 2003

December 26, 2003
Just a catch up for new readers: I am visiting Europe for the first time. My wife Kathy (she's never been here either) and our daughter Deena, 23, flew over on Dec. 12th to visit our son, Thomas, 20, who is a junior at NAU (Northern Arizona University) and is studying in Valencia on a study abroad program.

On Christmas Eve we left the beachtown of Nerja and drove up into the Sierra Nevadas (we have a running joke that goes like this: whenever we see a name that has an American counterpart, one of us says, "It's so sad that a country has to copy names from the U.S. because they can't think up anything on their own."

After visiting Alhambra, the Red Castle, in Granada we went up the adjacent ridge to visit the Barrio Aribe (Arab section) where hippies and tourists gather every night to watch the sun set on the magical castle. On the way down in our rental car we got into trouble.

I knew we had made a wrong turn when Deena started driving down steps. I'm not joking. Clipping the rear right wheel well on a 90 degree turn didn't add to the comfort level. As the sun set and we tumbled down a narrower and narrower street, we finally realized we weren't going to make it (the next day T and I walked up there and measured the width of the "path" and at the widest it was eight feet and the narrowest, four feet! Finally a guy came out of a house and offered to lead us out. It took us four turns to get the car turned around and we barely managed to scrape our way free. We weren't out of the woods yet. We had to find a hotel or hostel and T and I dropped the girls off on a plaza and began to try and find a parking space. Five blocks away we were trapped in a one-way zone that started to narrow down, we took a right hand turn and ended up in an alley with three cars parked on the left side of the exit. As T tried to get by, the curb on the right side, smoked the tires and the mirrors flipped back as we puckered by, the smell of fresh paint, perfuming the air. We finally found an underground parking garage that was equally as claustrophobic, but we got it parked and walked the ten blocks back to the square where we found the girls had found a room at the inn (80 Euros, about $100 for two).

We left our Christmas tree in the glove compartment so Kathy jerry-rigged scarves and colored underwear over a lamp in our room and Secret Santa came around midnite.

The Spanish custom is to exchange presents at midnite, then the kids go out to the bars until dawn. Amazing. We could hear them all night.

We had Christmas dinner back up on Arab ridge in a fascinating place that looked out on the Red Castle in the moonlight (82 Euros).

I have been here for about two weeks and this is what I miss about the U.S.: refills on coffee, wide open parking lots and spicy, hot Mexican food. Everything else is here, except all my friends and family. To them and you I wish you a Happy New Year!

"Every man kills that which he loves."
-Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

December 24, 2003
Well, this is the oddest Christmas Eve I've ever experienced. Here we are 6 billion kilometers (75 miles) from home, in a white-washed beach town on the Mediterranian and although there are Feliz Navidad light ornaments everywhere it feels more like Spring Break in Cancun than It's A Wonderful Life.

I'd tell you how cold it is, but I can't find out what 15 celcius is. It feels like about 60 degrees but I'm guessing.

The Spanish think it's groovy to put the door knob in the middle of the door. This applies mostly to the outside of the main door, but still, when you've opened every door in your life for 57 years by reaching to the left, it is quite weird.

Another thing that's hard to get used to is the light switches which go down for on and up for off. And, not to complain like an ugly American, but the urinals are quite high. I'm six feet one (150,000 milimeters) and I often have to stand on my tip toes to do my business. Most Spaniard men are around five feet seven. What do they do? Use it for a chin rest?

We had our first family road trip meltdown three days ago. Deena cried and said her mother and I were driving her crazy. We were in an Argentina bar and Tommy and Kathy went to get the car while we got a drink and waited for them. Over olives and a diet coke, she broke down in tears and said I am oppressive, obnoxious and obsessive. I told her my staff at True West would love to talk to her about this, but she didn't think it was funny.

We came to an agreement that the next day would be "The No Expectations Tour". It was the first day of our road trip and I promised I would not give quotes and antecdotes that had Aesop morals about graduating from college and getting a job (something I was doing obsessively and obnoxiously for the first seven days of the trip). This was hard to do, but I bit my tongue a lot and got drunk on a half liter (35 gallons) of red wine at San Jose. Later, when I came to, on the curvy highway leading into Nerja, I got cranky and demanded to be taken home (to Cave Creek), but the kids just laughed at me and turned up the Strokes and blasted me out of their lives. Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to managed health care, when this will become a daily occurance.

We bought a Christmas tree yesterday and I put it in the glove compartment of the Ford Focus. Details manana.

"Those that make the best use of their time have none to spare." -Thomas Fuller

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

December 23, 2003
Finally got in the Spanish rhythm today. Got up at nine, had breakfast. Went out looking at Nerja (pronounced Neer-ha) at about 11. Bone white buildings along the coast, very touristy. Many Brits and Germans here.

Saw a restaurant advertising for Boxing Day, which I believe is an English holiday. Tommy asked me about it and I said we'd find out, so we are in a Tobac-pharmacia store and the two people in front of us in line are talking the King's English and I say, "What the heck is Boxing Day?" And they didn't know. Claimed it was boxing as in fighting, but I don't think so.

I hate it when the Brits act like distant cousins who think we are somehow inbred hillbillies who don't know Jack. Of course they are about half right but I still don't like it.

Came back at two, had lunch (cerveza and gazpacho soup, 8 Euros), then took a nap! Got up at five, took a shower, went out shopping and then met the family for dinner at 7:30. Had Mexican food at Cielito Lindo. Quite a treat (first Mexican food on the trip) and it made me appreciate the women of Mexico even more for what they created. They didn't get it from Spain. The beauty of tacos, enchiladas, refried beans, tortillas, menudo, posole, salsa, it's all theirs and I thank them for it.

One thing you will never see in Spain is a waitress walking through the dining room with a pot of coffee and saying, "Want a refill Hon?" That is totally an American deal. Here you order cafe con leche and they make a small cup and you drink it and if you want more you have to order another cup. There is no refills of any kind. Same for coke or soft drinks. You get the 8 oz. bottle and when it's gone you are done.

And the darn cups are so small you can't get your finger in the hole! It's so dainty, like squeezing a mosquito's head and trying not to squish the brains out. Really makes me appreciate the big, ol' fat American coffee mug. I miss it terribly.

The other interesting thing is they don't want tips. Or that is the word from the guide books and my son. Feels weird but supposedly no one tips here. I still can't quite pull it off and end up leaving change on the table just to be safe.

We leave for Granada tomorrow.

"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." -Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, December 22, 2003

December 22, 2003
We hit the road early this morning, travelling south out of Valencia, bound for the beaches along the south shore of Spain. Traffic was light until we got to Allacante. The countryside looks remarkably like the southwest complete with century plants, prickly pear cactus and adobe haciendas a la Santa Fe (I drove my family crazy making them stop every mile or so for a photo op).

Had breakfast in Spain's version of Las Vegas, Benidorm. The kid's scrinched their noses at the tackiness of it and all the "loutish northern Europeans about" but I felt right at home and could have stayed a week or two. Hmmmmmm.

Got off the main road on the approach to Almeria and visited a little secluded beach town called of all things San Jose, which ironically is not far from the Sierra Nevadas (it's so embarrassing when the Spaniards copy all of our names). Had a big lunch on the covered porch of a local hangout. Drank wine, had a four course meal for 8 Euros ($10 each, $40 cash). Lots of olives and cucumbers, beef in gravy, flan and cafe con leche afterwards. Haven't eaten since.

Several observations about our road trip:

  • They don't have any jerky. Can you officially be a country and not have jerky?

  • Only one American size pickup so far, a big Chevy, pulling a travel trailer. Other than maybe two other trailers they don't have the Winnebago phenom.

  • Absolutely no mobile homes! This is wonderful. I cannot tell you how great it is not to see any (sorry, some of my favorite relatives live in mobile homes, but man they are oppressive looking to me).

  • The truck drivers here all stay to the right which is great. There also appears to be about half as many semis on the road here.

  • No matter how fast you are driving (Deena was running over 140Km in our four-door Ford Focus rental car) there is someone going 20 miles an hour faster. Sorry, kilometers.

After 12 hours on the road we pulled into Nerja, south of Grenada, and got two rooms with a terrace overlooking the beach at a hostel for 60 Euros. Kind of cool. Can´t wait for morning to see the whole layout. Saw this internet cafe and couldn't resist, came down at about 9:30 to send this.

"Most roads lead homeward, my road leads me forth." -John Edward Masefield.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

December 21, 2003
It's our last day in Valencia. Last night Tommy rented El Cid starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren and is about the famous Christian warrior who saved Spain in 1050. The entire last part of the movie was about saving Valencia so it was cool, kind of like watching Tombstone in Tombstone.

Saw my first Ford Explorer today. Hardly any SUVs here, no GM cars. Weird. Everything is small and smaller and if you saw the parking situation you'd understand why. They park in the oddest places and sometimes three deep. They leave the cars in neutral so the poor saps trapped inside can push the cars away and leave. Incredible.

Signs that I've got too much time on my hands. I woke up today and thought, "Brittany Spears initials are BS." Hmmmmm.

Went to the IVAN museum and saw the Francis Bacon show. Didn't really like it. Too weird, negative and schizoid. Not my cup of tea.

Kids went shopping while Kathy and I had lunch at the museum, then we met the kids and they ate a picnic lunch outside the Commerce Center, circa 1,500 AD. Not sure the place will last much longer. Just kidding. Everything is so damn old.

"There is always one inner voice. Trust it.
-Gloria Steinem
December 20, 2003
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are barking over the sound system in the @Area (internet cafe in downtown Valencia) "Give it away, give it away, give it away now!" Deena and I walked over here from Tommy's dorm to check our E-mail. We are the only ones in here. we ordered two cafe con leches (coffee with milk, 1 euro each). Deena has to guide me over the Spanish controls, right click, copiar and pegar, paste).

Speaking of which, got a correction from mi amigo, back in Washington, Dan Buck:

"Two minuscule corrections. Gaudy comes from the Middle English gaud, meaning trinket/ornament, not Gaudi. And the lisp is not a lisp and has nothing to do with any switch-hitting king. Other than that, que vaya bien."

We listen to Tommy's tapes, mostly the Strokes new album and The Kings of Leon, who sound like they should be from Spain, but are actually from Tennessee.

I found this poster shop called El Atril down a side street three days ago and through my interpreter, Tomas, I got them to go to the basement and bring up three classic 1920s rodeo posters. One is of a cowboy with a big Tom Mix hat on fanning, in the Plaza de Toros (bull plaza) and then they found one of a female, possibly Vera McGinnis, on tour. The cowboy was 93 euros and I got them to throw in a Mamie Van Doren look-alike in a big cowgirl hat for free. Then I went hog wild and bought two more, even bigger¨posters of rodeo performers painted by a local genius poster guy for 150 euros each. Now I have to figure out how to get them home. The local shippers won't touch it. May have to carry a big, long tube on the plane, just like Lee Harvey Oswald going to work in the Texas Book Depository, or at least that's how I'm afraid I will be perceived at Heathrow. We'll see. I feel like a mini-William Randolph Hearst, bulldozing through Europe buying up all things Western and having them shipped back to my adobe on the desert (Mr. Boze believed that if he kept building onto his home he would never die. In this room we see all of the crap Boze brought home from Europe that his wife would never let in the house. Over here is the bed where Mr. Bell slept for the last decade of his life because his wife made him stay with his precious junk. His body is still here somewhere, but no one has yet found it.)

But I digress.

The Spaniards are so sweet. We ran out of gas on our propane in the apartment overlooking the Mediterranian. So Tomas and I went next door and a Spanish babe comes over, wades out on our terrace, grabs the propane hose connector, smashes it down on the new tank, twists it expertly, says about 80 words in 15 seconds, smiles, points at Tomas and leaves. I say, "What the hell did she say," and Tommy says, "She said any time we needed any help to call her." The wedding is next week.

The Spanish women are knockouts. Really sexy and sophisticated. I complain about them all smoking but there is something about a lithe, fetching, black-booted seniorita, smoking and laughing on the blvd. and looking at you with those big blue eyes (so many blondes! Ah, those Mexican stereotypes die hard!).

And speaking of Mexican stereotypes, they don't have Mexican food. None. No tacos, no burritos, no enchilads. Here, tortilla means an egg dish, like a piece of pie, only eggs. Tommy complains how they can't tolerate spicy food. "Oh this is so hot it will burn your tongue!" And Tomas says it tastes like ketchup. Hmmmmmm.

"Live so that you can stick out your tongue at the insurance." -Don Marquis

Friday, December 19, 2003

December 19, 2003
We drove up to Barcelona this morning for my birthday (57). Got into the very busy city at about ten. I secretly hate all the metric stuff (the speed limit is 120K, it's 15C outside and it's 335K to our destination.) When I complained to Thomas, who was driving, he smiled and said, "The Spanish think it´s amusing that we cling to the random measurement of an English King's foot."


Went to the Gaudi church and gardens. Really amazing and inspiring. He is, of course, the guy that we get the word gaudy from. And he earned it!

The traffic is really crazy. Get this: Rush hour is at 9 PM! I'm not making this up. They take siesta from 2 to 5, then go back to work, or out shopping until nine, when they hit the streets and go eat or go home. Last night we tried to go to a restaurant at 7:30 but nobody was open until 8! What a schedule, what a life!

"If it's worth doing too much to, it's worth doing even more to."

Thursday, December 18, 2003

December 18, 2003
This morning Deena, Tomas, Kathy and I went on the beach to have cafe mochas. Inside the restuarant where we got the coffees, we could see a little kid kicking a Christmas ornament around on the floor. His mom and dad were going crazy (he couldn't even walk and his papa had to hold him up, but he got the idea and was kicking like crazy).

This is the nature of the place (all of Europe actually). The papers have dozens of pages on soccer every day. I finally understand how many women must feel in the US (How many photos of guys deflecting a ball off their head do you need to see? The answer is: evidently not enough).

On Wednesday night T. took us to a soccar game in the Valencia stadium. Huge place, big as Sun Devil Stadium, maybe half full. Valencia vs. Murcia. A guy behind us yelling "Puta!" at everything (Bitch, or Whore). Two guys in front of us lit up a huge spliff. The crowd clapped politely and then went crazy when there was a score (only two, Valencia won, 2-0).

Of course there were the advertisements everywhere for companies like Super Desportes and others. Saw three American logos: Burger King, DHL and a very small Ford logo. Made me feel at home (that and the spliff and the swearing).

Game started very late, 9:30, but of course the Spanish eat dinner very late, usually around 9. This is the land of late, kind of nice really, especially with the National nap deal, which I could get used to.

On Wednesday afternoon, we visited Sagunto where there was a Roman fort, built in 100 BC. As we walked around the amazing formations I'm thinking, "They built this and fought here 100 years before Jesus. Jesus!"

I first came to Spain as an infant (56) and when I got home I was reborn."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

December 17, 2003 (2nd edition)
The siesta thing is totally outrageous here in Spain. We went down to the ancient center of town on Sunday afternoon. I´m looking in a book store window and am about to go inside when the lights go out and the door locks. I look inside to see a sales clerk get down on her knees and curl up into a ball and go to sleep. I look at Tommy and say, "What the Espanole is going on here?"

"It's siesta time, Dad," my son says like I'm some ingnoramous from Kingman, Arizona. I look around and the streets are empty, like in some science fiction movie where a nerve gas has been dropped by terrorists, well let's don't go there, but you get the picture.

We wander around and look in windows. We go into a cafe (still open) and have a cafe leche (coffee with cream) and about an hour later we come outside and it´s starting to get dark, and besides it's Sunday night so I'm expecting a late Scottsdale kind of thing, but noooooooo. The town is swarming with people. It's like Christown on Christmas Eve, everywhere. Little ol' ladies walking arm in arm, all the stores full of people, cars buzzing. This goes until 11 at night!

They work until around two, siesta until five, then shop and party until dawn (on Sunday!!!!!) What do these people know that we don't?

"Inches make a champion."
-Vince Lombardid
December 17, 2003
American movie posters are everywhere here in Spain but they many times have different titles. Freaky Friday becomes Ponte En Mi Lugar( Put yourself in my place).

Matchstick Men with Nicholas Cage becomes Los Impostores( The Imposters)

S.W.A.T with Colin Ferrill becomes Swat: Los Hombres de Harrelson. The Men of Harrelson, I don´t get that one.

Bruce Almighty the Jim Carrey comedy becomes Como Dios(Like God).

The Spanish must not like fairy tales because Once Upon A Time In Mexico has been changed to El Mexicano (I wonder what they called the Brad Pitt-Julia Roberts flick of the same name several years ago?). Also, the Serge Leon classic Once Upon A Time In The West has been changed to Hasta Que Llego Su Hora (When Your Time has Arrived). Hmmmmmm.

The weirdest one is Dos Policias Rebeldas (Two Rebel Policemen) which was originally Bad Boys. Deena says this is because Bad, or the Spanish word for it, Malo, means awful and there is no good meaning to it.

Shanghai Noon got nixed in favor of The Shanghai Kid because the pun on High Noon gets lost in the transition.

"Begin at the beginning, the King said, gravely, and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
-Lewis Carroll

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

December 16, 2003
I posted from Valencia, Spain yesterday but it is disappearing into the bloggersphere. I am sending this to Carole Glenn, who then sends it to Jason, our web guy, and he is posting it. Too irritating to describe.

Today we went into the center of Valencia. The city goes all the way back to the Romans. Here´s the numbers:

· 800,000 people (styled as 800.000 in Espanole, they reverse the period and comma, so that a $7.20 bottle of wine is priced at 7,25).

· 200 museums

· 600 fiestas a year

· Guys don´t wear hats. Not one. All bear heads

· No pickups, no Harleys, but tons of Vespas, Hondas, very few SUVs, mostly little cars that they drive about 70 on the side streets, faster on the freeways. The parking is outrageous, with cars double and triple parked into the street, cars left right on the street corners, up on the sidewalks, I´m not exagerating.

· Almost all the chicas and mujeres (women and girls) smoke, everywhere. We had dinner in a great cafe yesterday and this family is sitting right next to us and the dad lights up a huge stogie. Really oppressive. The little mujeres are quite small, most under five feet and they walk in a line, down the street like little pigmy gunfighers, arm in arm, talking a mile a minute. I tried to jump over their heads but I clipped a beehive hairdo and pulled a leg muscle.

· Not really.

More later.

"What does it matter how one comes by the truth so long as one pounces upon it and lives by it?"
-Henry Miller
December 15, 2003
We are in Valencia, Spain. Took about 24 hours to get here. We flew out of Sky Harbor at 7:50 PM on Friday night, slept in seat, got into Heathrow Airport in London at noon the next day. I finally understand where the movie Brazil came from. The narrow passageways of this claustrophobic airport are ridiculous, plus everyone bears left, and as an American, I automatically bear right and it was irritating, but not as irritating as the anti-American editorials. It´s funny: when they ignore American news it's somewhat bemusing, when they slam America it´s offensive.

Just had a native dish at a local restaurant, ´"Blackies", the Paella (rice based Valencian dish with rabbit and chicken, 51 Euros, about $61 American, no tip). Everyone still smokes here, and I mean everywhere, especially the women. A guy lit up a big cigar right next to us.

Last night we watched a Spanish movie Tesis (Thesis) an overwrought, but funny movie (the kids translated all the way through). Afterwards we were rewinding and the BBC was on and we heard that Saddam has been captured. Here's how it was trumpeted in the morning papers:Bush Atrapa a Sadam (Bush Traps Sadam). The amazing thing is that in Castillion Spanish, the US is styled as EU (Estados Unidos) and when it´s plural (The United States) it´s EE UU. Weird. The other weird thing about here is that all the prices are in commas, as in 7,25. When I bought a bottle of wine for that price I was worried it was $7,250.00 but that price is actually listed as $7.250,00. Maddening actually.

More later.

"Grasp at the shadow and lose the substance."

Friday, December 12, 2003

December 11, 2003
Rained on and off all night. Tattered clouds hanging over Black Mountain this morning. Seven Sisters shrouded. Woke up at 2:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. Here’s what I’ve got to do today:

• Start and finish Christmas shopping by noon.
• Finish one last painting for Classic Gunfights
• Shoot four paintings and take them up to Foothills Photo for developing
• Rewrite CG copy and add cutlines where needed.
• Make sure Gus is lined out for archival images for the Westerns Channel
• Plug the new poll (Hey, we’ve got a new poll up, go take it! Okay, I can check that one off)
• Study Greystone scripts for interview at noon.
• Oh, yes, pack for trip
• feed the dogs (two weeks worth)
• Practice my Spanish (Oops! Too late! By the way, Spaniards speak with a lisp, on purpose. Yesterday, Robert Ray told me it’s because Spain once had a King who lisped and all the jesters and courtiers started copying him to curry favor and lo and behold it’s Therveza, not Cerveza. Probably about as accurate as Billy the Kid killing 21 men, but hey, it’s a great story and I’m getting in the mood to be the ugly American).

I know, I know, I’m half-way there without even leaving home.

I’m hoping being gone will improve the work of the True West staff (Thank God he’s gone, now we can actually work!) and perhaps the entire country. Here’s a response I got last night from someone in the banking industry:

“Don't Go!!!!! If you can not post while you're in Spain, what am I going to do at work? Work?? I don't think so. Just remember one thing my friend, if you insist on going you just might be held responsible for me not having anything interesting to read while at work.
Have a fun and safe trip.....If you still decide to go.”
—Michael S.

“If it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, December 11, 2003

December 11, 2003
Irritated. I posted a blog for today from the office, but evidently it’s not posting. In brief, the shoot went very well, I had much to say about it but it’s on my computer at the office. The ten “bumpers” we filmed will start running in February on the Westerns Channel.

Got another shoot tomorrow with the History Channel (more Old West Tech, this time on brothels and towns). We’re shooting in my office. Still need to pack, we fly out tomorrow night at seven something. Eleven hours later we pull into London and then another three hours to Valencia, Spain. Supposedly I’ll be able to post over there and I’ll do my best to keep you updated on the thousands of dollars we are spending which we don’t have.

Finished three pieces of art tonight for Classic Gunfights. It’s cold (low forties).

“"The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.”
—Old Vaquero Saying

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

December 9, 2003
Crazed day today. On the run since 6:30 this morning. The electricians came at seven to fix the lights in the studio ($60 house account). Girls, don’t marry a cartoonist (the breaker switch was flipped and I didn’t know where it was and they tracked it down, behind the door in morgue, and turned it on). Ha. What a goofus.

Got into office at 8:20, had staff meeting. Mike is quite concerned about sales for March issue. We had a separate meeting with him, Bob Brink, R.G. and Carole to go over his plan and I’m confident he’s going to do what it takes to make it happen.

Wrote up several alternate scripts for tomorrow’s shoot. At noon, Abby and Sue H. followed me home and, in exchange for lunch (re-heated spaghetti) they helped me “dress the set� while Celia and another woman cleaned like crazy. What a great space. It’s just a cool place to work, now that I can actually see the floors.

Got back to office at two, worked on April Classic Gunfights. Problems with the backstory. Wrestled with that with Meghan. Need to finish artwork. Going to be out all day tomorrow.

Our producer, Maureen P. from the Westerns Channel showed up at 4;20. She flew in out of a blizzard (Denver) and was excited to see actual saguaros. She followed me over to the Daiss ranchito. Dave and Doreen are volunteering their Sam Stag saddle, a roll-back modern saddle, a Smith & Wesson #3 and a Merwin-Hulbert, .44-.40 pistol (I want to talk about exotic weaponry in the West).

From the Daiss' spread, she followed me home to take a gander at the new and cleaned studio and she was jazzed. Showed her my proposed wardrobe and she picked three different looks.

I had a dream last night where I was trapped on a high cliff. I was on a narrow ledge overlooking a good 1,500 drop down a rocky canyon wall. I thought about going back but it was too high and seemed even scarier. I was trapped. All of a sudden an Indian in a loin cloth climbed up to where I was and started talking to me in his native tongue and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying (this has to be a reaction to my Spanish classes) and gesturing that he wanted to help me. He pointed downward, then turned and jumped in a seated position. I watched him fall about 600 feet. He landed on his butt on a puffy dirt ledge, and bounced and went down another fifty feet, bounced again and came to a standing stop on another ledge where his other tribesmen were standing. There was another 500 feet drop beyond them, but it was obvious they had figured out how to survive the first part of this descent. They were all laughing and pointing at me to jump. I knew I had to, although I was scared to death.

I woke up and realized three things about the dream: number one, it was just a dream and I didn’t have to jump. Number two, some things that will kill you are merely a carnival ride to other cultures. Ancient tribes have figured out ways to survive long falls, where a modern person would break every bone in their body trying to cling to the sides and climb down (whatever). And most importantly, so many times in life, you just need to jump off cliffs and figure things out on the way down.

“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.�
—Old Vaquero Saying

Monday, December 08, 2003

December 8, 2003
Came up with a possibly great title: "Dig Me! Confessions of An Only Child. On the first page will be a giant "I" that runs from the top of the page all the way to the bottom. I, as in Id, the Ego Gargantuan, as in Narcissist Extraordinaire. Tell the ups and downs, ins and outs of being a spoiled brat. Shouldn't be that hard to write.

Also, went for a walk to the cave and fell upon the idea of holding back Mike Torres song for Classic Gunfights and asking him to come up with something else for the Westerns Channel bumper.

Overcast and rainy out this morning. Really a treat for us on the desert because it's so rare. Woke up to a gentle rain. Kathy and I went for a walk with the dogs in the dark (6:30). Dogs are so amazing. They never complain (I'm too tired, come back in a half-hour, I need the sleep.).They jump up immediately like it's Christmas morning and run out in the driveway in the dark (Wow, we can't see anything. Isn't this groovy!). As we watched them bumping into the scenery, I told Kathy I think you could send a dog out in a hurricane and they'd be so happy for the extra wind. Dogs really don't deserve the term "dog-tired" nor do they deserve "hang-dog expression" but they do deserve "doggedly."

Yesterday morning Mike P. from Wild Visions came over to look at the studio for the Westerns Channel filming. He really liked, what he called, the Andy Rooney factor (the place is a mess). Ha. Shooters are quite chameleons. They have to serve several masters: the producers (who write their checks) and the "talent" that can have egos the size of, well, only children.

"Myths are lies, albeit lies breathed through silver."
- C.S. Lewis, during a debate with Tolkieno

Sunday, December 07, 2003

December 7, 2003
What a marathon day yesterday. Gave the speech at the Daughters of the American Revolution Cave Creek Chapter, at the Carefree Conference Resort at noon. Sold some books, got out of there at two, drove down the 101 and got to Barnes & Noble at 2:35, double-parked, dollied in the books and was met by a large crowd (35-45) for a booksigning. Gave a talk, had Gus and Bob McCubbin join me on stage and we proceeded to sign the books. I’m guessing we sold about 60-70 books. Went up to Brink’s house last night for a big party. Bob had a whole slew of Eastcoasters who flew in. They were staying at the Biltmore, had a shuttle bus drive them out to the Brinks for an old fashioned Western feed and yarnfest. Mad Coyote Joe cooked up a great spread and everyone ate outside on the Brink’s spectacular patio. We could see Scottsdale and Pinnacle Peak way off in the distance and it was beautiful out, with the stars and everything.

Poor Bob McCubbin! He had to endure another speech by me (he’s heard me go off on many occasions, was at the signing at 2:30 and then showed up here just in time for my third “speech”). I felt bad for him but he took it gracefully and he was very restrained when he banged his shoe on the table shouting “Lies! Lies! It’s all damn lies!’ Although when he threw one of the Brink’s dogs over the wall (30 foot drop!) and threatened to throw the other one unless I shut up, I thought it was a bit much.

Not really. It was a guy from Connecticut he threw over the wall (so it was no big deal).

Thanks for the voting on the two covers (see Dec. 5 posting). Here’s some of the comments:

“Definitely the John Escapule photo—more dramatic, especially since, when the web-page loaded, my first thought was ‘oh look, Doc Holliday.’ *grin*”
—Wendy H.

“Both covers are great, but I think the serious western fans will be more intrigued by the picture of Doc. As you mentioned, the Carrie Nation guy has a National Lampoon (or Mad Magazine) quality that takes something away from portraying True West as a serious publication. That's my two cents' worth.”
—Donna Cook

“The Escapule cover should be used. Living and working in Tombstone (and being married to John Escapules great great granddaughter) I have heard stories about Escapule. Many times I have been asked if that picture was Holliday...and always, I give the same response...NO!"
—Jim Newbauer

“I'm pro-Big Face, mostly 'cause I like the text that goes with it. It just sounds like the True West 'tude. That said, you do know, don't you, not to let us fans influence too many decisions about the magazine? We talk a lot, but we are not what you'd call mighty in numbers compared to the folks who read the magazine and don't talk back, or who might spot the magazine for the first time on the newsstand next week. Too much input from the "fans" has killed many a TV series. And that said, that new red cover doesn't just bark on the stands, it leaps out to the end of its leash and pulls the tie stake out of the ground. Nice work.”
—Emma B.

”Art should simplify. That is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without and yet preserve the spirit of the whole.”
—Willa Cather

Saturday, December 06, 2003

December 6, 2003
Back from the cave (8:30). Dogs running and jumping on each other and every bush in their path. Really a glorious morning. Got our first two Christmas cards: from the Richards in Des Moines and the Harshbergers in Phoenix. Ahh to be so organized. It will probably dawn on me somewhere near Madrid that we need to think about getting our holiday letter going (we have sent our cards out as late as March). Ah, better late than nunca.

A whirlwind day yesterday in the office with Bob Reece, Bob McCubbin, Holly and others in the office. Got a call from Greystone and they want to tape next week before I leave. Set it up for Thursday, but got a message on my machine last night that they need to reschedule. Can’t do it Wednesday because the Westerns Channel will be here.

McCubbin is proofing the Old Man Clanton ambush. Going to be a strong one. Need to redo one of the scenes this weekend. Also want to do an overview of the Brady killing for April issue. Reworked some of that copy.

Got a packed day today. Speech for the Daughters of the American Revolution at noon (some of these gals are 186 years old!), then our only booksigning this year for Classic Gunfights at Barnes & Noble at 2:30 , then the Brink’s Christmas party at seven. Mad Coyote Joe and I will be the entertainment.

I’m so proud of my staff for being able to turn out our book in 60 days. Most book gestations take at least a year. Of course, not everyone is impressed with what we’ve accomplished:

”Writing a book is not as tough as it is to haul thirty-five people around the country and sweat like a horse five nights a week.”
—Bette Midler, on touring

Friday, December 05, 2003

December 5, 2003
While digging through the piles of rubble in my TW office yesterday I found an old catalogue from the University of Nebraska Press and inside it had this big, blow-up photo of John Escapule (his handsome visage has been run many times as being a photograph of Doc Holliday but it isn’t). I walked out to the production area and said to Robert Ray, “Hey, do you think we should run this on the cover to illustrate ‘Fakes’ rather than the Carrie Nation Guy?” Robert Ray immediately responded that he did, as did R.G. when he came over. Both said they thought the Carrie Nation Guy was too “National Lampoon,” which both Dan Harshberger and I can be guilty of because we both are inclined in that direction from our Razz Revue days (and because we’re from Kingman). Dan is now developing the new cover image.

Well, here they are. Which one do you like the best?
• Carrie Nation Guy?
• John Escapule: Big Face Guy (in case you cant read the copy on his face, it says: The most famous photo of Doc Holliday. Too bad it's not him. More fakes inside.

Let me know which one you like. Click here to email me and let me know.

Bob Reece flew in last night and is in town to talk to us about selling for the magazine. He’s in right now (10:27) meeting with Mike Melrose. Holly is coming in at 11 for a circulation meeting (her direct mail piece actually made money).

Bill Kurtis Productions in Chicago is requesting as much Billy the Kid artwork as I can send them, especially the new art of the McSween house fight which is only in the new Classic Gunfights book. Gus and I went through both the Billy book and the CG book yesterday and culled out all available artwork on Billy and put it on a CD for them.

”We often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
—Helen Keller, who, ironically was blind and couldn’t see the open door anyway

Thursday, December 04, 2003

December 4, 2003
You know how every once in a while a song catches you right between the ears and you can’t shake it? Last weekend I was channel surfing and landed on Farm Aid, the Willie Nelson-Neil Young annual concert to raise funds for the family farm. I’ve never watched one before, but for some reason I stayed and caught Dave Mathews, Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, but the one set that really nailed me was this skinny chick in a t-shirt (Steelers), who had this rock band. She came out and did this funky tune with a soaring chorus and she just knocked me out. I had heard the song, or part of it anyway, on the radio, but I couldn’t place it. Nor could I decipher what she was saying on the chorus so I could go buy the CD.

This bugged me all weekend. I came into work on Monday and mentioned that I really dug this song by Sheryl Crow but I don’t know the name of it, nor could I sing it, but I told everyone I would recognize it if I heard it. Mike Melrose is a big Crow fan, so he brought in three CDs this morning and I went thru them all, “Nope, nope, nope. It’s crunchy, with this soaring chorus and then ‘Ooo—Ooos like in a Steve Miller song.” No clue and no dice.

Allen Fossenkemper came by for lunch and Carole, Bob Brink and I joined him at El Encanto. Allen had good advice for us on tweaking and streamlining our sales team. I think Bob Brink was slightly suspicious of his motives and asked him point blank, “What’s in this for you?” And Allen said, “Absolutely nothing. I don’t want a job, I just want to help Bob Bell.” With friends like that, it’s hard to complain ($52 plus $10 tip, biz account).

After I came back from lunch Abby said in her shy voice, “Is this the song?” and turned up her CD player next to her desk. Yes it was:

“We got rock stars in the whitehouse
All our pop stars look like porn
All my heroes hit the highway
They don’t hang out here no more
You can call me on my cellphone
You can page me all night long
But you won’t catch this freebird
I’ll already be long gone

“Like Steve McQueen
All I need’s a fast machine
I’m gonna make it alright
Like Steve McQueen
underneath your radar screen
you’ll never catch me tonight”

Robert Ray burned me a CD and I can’t stop playing it. Just really turns my crank.

Other tunes that have grabbed me like this:
• “Flying Purple People Eater”
• “Little Bitty, Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini”
• “Surfin’ U.S.A.”
• “She Loves You”
• “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
• “Long Time Gone”
• “Day Tripper”
• “Hot Legs”
• “Seven Bridges Road”
• “Man of Constant Sorrow”
• “Hurt” (both versions)

”There’s a time when what you’re creating and the environment you’re creating it in come together.”
—Grace Hartigan

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

December 3, 2003
I lost my virginity last night. More on that in a minute.

Got a new angle to Classic Gunfights. Did Hollywood Ever Get It Right? Ran the first one in the December issue on the Pinkerton-Younger roadfight. Ran the dialogue from The Long Riders and then graded it on historical accuracy. I’m doing the same thing for the Sheriff Brady killing in Lincoln, using the same scene as depicted in Young Guns. Gus brought in his copy of the movie and we downloaded it onto my computer, so I could start and stop the scene as I typed in the dialogue. Oh, technology! I used to have to sit in front of the tv with a legal pad. Stop and start the VCR, going too far, not going back far enough, scribbling notes down the sides, etc. We also printed out several key scenes for me to illustrate. All in all a very cool deal.

Went into town to get my coumadin level checked at 11. From there I went over to El Conquistador for lunch. Had the Special: Salsa Ranchero and iced tea. Mighty good ($12 cash, includes tip). Then from there up to Desert Ridge and Aaron Bros. for some art supplies ($96 biz account).

Signed another 50 books to fill out orders (we’ve already pre-sold about 75 books). Had an executive pow-wow at 1:30. Went over circ growth. Bob Brink is planning on controlled growth thru 2004 that will put us in a very solid position. Rolland also wants us to go back to doing 12 issues a year. We have so much stuff we could easily do it, editorially wise, but it’s a function of sales. And speaking of which, Sue H. is motivating everyone in the sales department (she got in the Earl Nightingale tapes and had several posted this morning for all to see). I am predicting she is going to outsell everyone. It all comes back to the JC Penny quote (which I couldn’t find, mentioned it in here, and a reader, Dale Overton, googled JC Penny, easily found it, E-mailed me, and here it is) “Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a person who will make history. Give me a person with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.”

Yesterday when the Westerns Channel called and said the shoot was on, I went out into the production area and did my little dance (a little Pony, with a touch of the Ska, Surf, the Jerk and a pinch of the Watusi). Abby looked at me oddly and said, “Is that some version of the Macarena?”

Yes, I lost my E-bay virginity. I had to buy several postcards of Kingman. I have never bought anything online before, but J.Rae sent me these fabulous links and the next thing you know I bid on one (a postcard) of the Bell Motel (built in the 40s and sat right across from my dad’s Flying A station, and of course Punchy and Salty lived there), another of Spring Street (the road to the Court House) and an aerial view of Kingman Airbase with all the dead B-17s parked wing to wing (my dad was stationed there in 1944 and met my mom; 10,000 GIs and 300 local girls, talk about Surf City, “30 guys for every girl. . .’), and a postcard of downtown Kingman on Route 66 with Desert Drugs in the foreground (where I bought my first True West magazine).

"Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time."
—Doctor Ruth

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

December 2, 2003
Picked up the new Classic Gunfights book at 2:30. Met Theresa at a Coco’s on Bell and I-17. Signed about 50 for them, loaded up 300 in my truck and headed back out. Got to the office around 3:15. Staff very excited about the book. Lots of good comments. Gus and Robert Ray found three maps with odd patterns. Something fishy there, but it’s basically something only we would notice. Color is great, my paintings and the original photos reproduction come off excellent.

We’re doing a book signing at Barnes & Noble (Shea and 101) this Saturday at 2:30, and hopefully Bob McCubbin will be there along with Gus Walker so we can all sign your books. It will be the only signing appearance this year (I’m going to Spain next week).

Got a call from the Westerns Channel today. Shooting bumpers a week from tomorrow either right here in my studio or at the office. They’ve hired a big crew, a boom camera, sound guy, make-up, they’re going to do it right.

Tweaked the layout of Old Man Clanton gunfight this morning. Very strong. Tried to whip out a scratchboard of Mexican troops on the march but I failed. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Mixed reviews on The Missing. I haven’t seen it yet. Johnny Boggs said it was too long, but here’s a review I got last night:

“Saw The Missing yesterday--excellent! Historically accurate, as far as I could tell. Not a shred of political correctness. Made me wish even more that Ron Howard had stayed with the Alamo movie. Please add your comments to your journal when you see it (and I know you will).” —Donna Cook

Sam said it made some money last week and is in the top ten. I’m rooting for them.

”The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”
—Mark Twain

Monday, December 01, 2003

December 1, 2003
Finished five Old Man Clanton paintings today at one. Worked last night until dark on a Wyatt and Doc Superposse scene. Got some good effects, quite action-y and blurred.

Finished up the Cave Creek Christmas Day Massacre copy. Meghan did an excellent job of editing, moving things around until it actually made sense. I went through a box of cloud photos I keep in the studio, feeling confident I would find numerous shots of the historic cave. Out of probably 500 photos I have taken of the area since we moved here, there is not one of the cave. Embarrassing. I live right across from a historic landmark and I’ve taken photos of everything but. It would be like living at the Grand Canyon and taking roll after roll of Bright Angel Lodge.

I got up at seven on Saturday and went out and got a good one of the sun just tipping the lip of the cave with a big ol’ juicy saguaro looming in the foreground. This will run in Tom Tumus’ High Sonoran Style Magazine. He goes to press this week and we do a tradeout.

Got a thankyou note from Roxanne Cash: “Loved the tribute to Dad,” she wrote. What a classy lady.

Heard from fellow hat Nazi Rusty York on the Bill Kurtis shoot in New Mexico. He played Sheriff Brady and they taped the Kid’s escape from the Lincoln County Courthouse in the actual courthouse. They filmed for six days. Obviously spent some money (a full crew runs around $3K to $4K a day).

New issue (Jan.) arrived this morning and it looks great. Banta did an excellent job giving us the exact red we wanted. The entire issue is strong and we are moving some of the editorial around to try and ease the oppressiveness of the ads (a somewhat common complaint). We are on a strict 50-50 ad ratio to editorial but sometimes it looks worse than it is.

Just got off the phone with Theresa at Tri Star (4:40 P.M.) and the Classic Gunfights book will be in tomorrow. She will deliver us 300 softbounds in the afternoon. If you ordered a hardbound (most of my friends don’t even consider softbounds as real books) they will arrive on December 11. Very excited. It’s very similiar to having a baby. I’m not exaggerating.

”Not all who wander are lost.”
—Old Vaquero Saying