Friday, December 30, 2005

December 30, 2005
Dan Harshberger came out at ten and we had a big design pow-wow in the office. Bob and Trish Brink, Meghan Saar, Robert Ray and Abby Pearson weighed in with good feedback. We got some great work done, tweaking and trouble-shooting both new design ideas but dealing with persistent problems (tight space, big ideas). Got some new ideas on our Confessions of a Ghost Town Maniac feature and also our town piece for the next issue (March). I treated Dan, Robert Ray and Meghan to lunch at El Encanto. Sat outside (don’t tell our snowbound friends!). Place slammed with tourists. Had the machaca and eggs and decaf coffee. I treated ($34, includes tip).

I’m enjoying my new iPod immensely. I mostly listen on my way into work and on the way home (anything to avoid commercial radio). For two days straight now I have listened and re-listened to Bob Dylan's Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid album. I am particularly struck by how he changed the words on each take in the Billy Theme trilogy, just slightly, but each version has its own strength and power. In fact, if you asked me, he captures more power in each two or three minute song than most of the books written on the Kid. Dylan has such an ability to get at the iconic, but at the same time personal aspects of a legend. Here’s the three different sets of lyrics

Billy 1:
There’s guns across the river aimin’ at’cha
Lawmen on your trial, they‘d like to catch ya
Bounty hunters too they’d like to get ya
Billy they don’t like ya to be so free

Campin’ out all night on the veranda
Dealin’ cards ‘til dawn in the hacienda
Up to boothill they’d like to send you
Billy don’t you turn your back on me

Playin’ around with some sweet seniorita
into her dark hallway she will lead you
In the shadows of the mesa she will greet you
Billy you’re so far away from home.

Billy 4
There guns across the river ‘bout to pound you
Theres a lawman on your trail, like to surround you
Bounty hunters, are dancin’ all around you
Billy they don’t like you to be so free

Campin’ out all night on the veranda
Walkin’ the streets down by the hacienda
Up to boothill they’d like to send ya’
Billy don’t you turn your back on me.

There’s muse [not sure of this word] inside the minds of crazy faces
Bullet holes and rifles in their cases
There’s always one more notch and four more aces
Billy and you’re playin’ all alone

Playin’ around with some sweet seniorita
Into her dark chamber she will greet you
In the shadows of the mesa she will lead you
Billy and you’re goin’ all alone

They say that Pat Garret’s got your number
So sleep with one eye open when you wonder
If every little sound just might be thunder
Thunder from the barrel of his gun

There’s always another stranger sneakin’ glances
Some trigger happy fool willin’ to take chances
Some old whore of Pedro’s to make advances [great line, not sure of my accuracy]
Advances on your feeling and your soul

The businessmen from Taos want you to go down
So they’ve hired Mr. Garret to force ya to slow down
Billy don’t it make you feel so low down
To be hunted by the man who was your friend

So hang onto your woman if you got one
Remember in El Paso once you shot one
Up in Santa Fe you bought one
Billy you’ve been runnin’ for so long

Gypsy Queens will play your Grand Finale
Way down in some Tularosa alley
Maybe in the Rio Pecos Valley
Billy you’re so far away from home.

Billy 7
Spend the night with some sweet seniorita
Into her dark hallway she will lead you
In some lonesome shadow she might greet you
Billy your so doggone far away from home

They say that Pat Garrett’s got your number
Sleep with one eye open when you slumber
Ever little sound just might be thunder
Thunder from the barrel of his gun

Maybe you will find yourself tomorrow
Drinking in some bar to hide your sorrow
Spendin’ the time that you borrowed
Figur-ring a way to get back home

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”
—Jonas Salk

Thursday, December 29, 2005

December 29, 2005
Unseasonably warm here on the desert with highs in the mid-seventies. The Snowbirds are out in force along our main street, walking this way and that, gawking at every thing they see. I saw in one of the local papers that Cave Creek has about 4,400 residents and is expected to grow to 10,000 in the next several years.

My right eye (the one with the retinal tear) feels sore and blurs out when I look up and to the right. I assume (and hope) it’s just tightness from the laser surgery but at my age you have to take these things with a pound of salt (as opposed to a grain). In other words, every morning I try not to look at the obits in the paper, but all too often—like this morning— I glanced at a photo of some bright and cheerful 45-year-old deceased youngster smiling out at me and I think, "Hey, Bob Boy, your eyes work today, better use ‘em, eh?"

Last night I started reading the Zane Grey book I talked about yesterday. Man, oh, Man, I had no idea! We think of groupie behavior as being a phenom of the latter part of the Twentieth Century, but The Zane Boy took these long desert trips (1905-1930s) to remote places like Rainbow Bridge and brought along these gorgeous, young things, and well, here’s a snippet from the book:

"Women regularly accompanied him on his trips, sometimes as many as four. The few scholars aware of these relationships have assumed that they were paternal and platonic, but they were, in fact, romantic and sexual. There exists an enormous, totally unknown cache of photographs taken by Grey of nude women and himself performing various sexual activities, including intercourse. Of the women discussed in this book, only Nola Luxford and Lola Gornall are not in this collection. These photographs are accompanied by ten small journals, written in Grey’s secret code, that contain graphic descriptions of his sexual adventures."

Shades of Bob Crane! Or, is that pre-shades?

"He who sips from many cups, drinks of none."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

December 28, 2005
We got in a new book in today on Zane Grey: His Life, His Adventures, His Women I had heard from Miles Swarthout that Zane was quite a ladie’s man, but this book really lays it out, complete with pictures of most of his honeys. Ay-yi-yi. The guy had good taste in women. Besides the cheesecake, there are at least two cover worthy shots of the prolific Western author. The book is by Thomas H. Pauly who is a professor of English at the University of Delaware. Looks like a good read. I’m taking it home tonight. Bob Brink got dibs on it second.

My nephew E.J. wants to learn to play the guitar and his dad, Brad, called me last night to ask what kind they should buy him and where to get it. Never mind that he was calling a drummer, or more accurately, an ex-drummer, which qualifies me as a non-musician in most parts of the world (read that any place that has actual musicians). But I showed them, I called guitarist extraordinaire, and Kingman crony, Mike Torres, and the Axe-Man told me to send them to Keyboard City at 62nd and Bell Road (no relation) and to buy a Playmate for about $75. Mike said he bought one for his 11-year-old son and they are a miniature guitar so the kid can get his hands around the neck and not get blisters, which helps them not get discouraged.

Went home for lunch and had leftover Tacos Jalisco and homemade tamales. Whipped out two drawings after lunch and got inspired to do a gunfighter fog piece. I came back to the office and worked on the print versions of True West Moments and also met with Charlotte and Franchesca from the River of Time Museum in Fountain Hills about an art show in January that they would like me to be a part of. We walked the offices and they looked at some of my framed art that didn’t sell at my art show. Ha.

News from the Front Lines:
"I have just recently received both your books on classic gunfights for my birthday. I am almost finished with the first and can`t wait to start the 2nd. Me and my son both think they are great books. I have only been a subscriber to your magazine for a little over a year now and have enjoyed every copy.
"It was because of reading True West that I finally took my family on a vacation to Arizona that I have wanted to take since I was a kid. We saw a lot of the state in just a week. We went from Phoenix to Tombstone (met Buck Taylor) to the Grand Canyon and finally to Monument Valley (my favorite). And we got to see Sedona and all the red rocks.A plus we were not expecting was seeing all the indian cliff dwellings. It’s amazing to think how they lived. The only regret I have is not stopping in Cave Creek to see where you’re located.
"We were there during the 4th of July week when all the fires were surrounding Arizona.We will be coming back to your historical state. Keep all the great writing coming down to us in Alabama."
—Ken Payne

“If I had a child, and he subjected me to Steely Dan in any form, I'd tell him, ‘You probably want to make sure you can spell 'disinherited.'"
—Emma Bull

“Vicky Lane from Monroe, IN called and subscribed today. She saw you on
Encore Western’s True West Moments and noticed in the corner and looked us up, called and subscribed. She said that you ‘are something’!”
—Carole Glenn

"Americans love junk. It's not the junk that bothers me, it's the love."
—George Santayana

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

December 27, 2005
Yesterday: got down to Camelview Five 45 minutes early and stood in line for about fifteen minutes. Less than a hundred seats left when I got to the window. The movie-goer to my right, at the next window, said, "Two seniors for Brokeback Mountain." I don’t know why, but this struck me as funny, so I said, “Four homophobic pre-pubescents for Brokeback Mountain.” ($24 cash) We came in separate cars (the girls went shopping at six in the morning, Tomas hung out with friends and I stayed home and drew), so we rendezvoused at the get-in-the-actual-theater line for a good twenty minutes while I tried to guess who in line was gay. I would say about 25 percent of those in line were gay (a surprising amount of lesbians in cowgirl hats), but I had to laugh to myself when I realized others were probably playing the same mind game and including me in the gay category. Maybe that’s why I said very loudly a couple of times, “I sure love the hetero lifestyle!!”

Besides my family and Mexican food, I love Westerns and I have some strict criteria for elements I expect and demand in them. The Big One, for me, is big, open spaces up on the screen that dwarf humans in a spectacular way. That is key, and that’s one of the reasons Wild Bill disappointed me so much; Jeff Bridges was great but the film was town-bound. The second expectation I have going in is geographic integrity. Don’t show me Vasquez Rocks north of LA and expect me to believe it’s Texas. And being a Hat Nazi, I want cowboy lids that are accurate to the locale (I hated most of the hats in Silverado: New York actors buying custom cowboy hats in Colorado for a film set in New Mexico). Plus, if it’s a contemporary Western I want funky pickups, windswept ranches and loud, but homely honkytonks. With brassy women who are long, lean and horny. Oh yeah, and cowboys who can actually ride horses and talk like it.

Brokeback Mountain has all of the above, and then some, although one of the leads can’t ride a horse for shit, and I don’t want to name names but it wasn’t Heath.

The opening sequence of a floor to ceiling mountain range with a tint of sunrise at the top and a pebble-sized truck cruising across the bottom, headlights fighting the pre-dawn gloom, set the tone pretty darn good. Contrasting the natural wonders with the decay of Wyoming’s small towns shot through greasy windows and craggy doorways of rusted out trailers was even better. This part is pure Annie Prioux, who is genius at portraying Wyoming trailer trash culture. Several times I noticed visual parallels to Last Picture Show and Hud, both, of course, Larry McMurtry classics made into memorable movies.

The Honkytonk scenes were excellent with distorted, overamped band sounds (Tomas got me the DVD of Forty Year Old Virgin for Christmas and there is a club scene that is so lame where the music is pushed way back and the actors are talking in normal voices on a sound stage pretending to be a bar. Paleeeeze!). The pickups in Brokeback are righteous. In the opening sequence, Jack Twist (Jake Gillenhaal) comes driving into a windy parking lot, turns off the ignition and the ancient hulk of a truck, spits, diesels, and the back wheels give off a last ditch death lurch. For pickup lovers, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Heath Ledger, as Ennis, wears a variety of hats, most of them dead on, but my fave is a rancher’s short brim with a fifties crease on the crown (the movie starts in 1963 and goes into the 1970s). Jake as Jack Twist wears big, pretentious lids, which make him look mighty gay, but then, I guess in a movie like this, that is a plus. Randy Quaid plays a mean, lumbering, bigoted sheep boss with a flat-brim, forest service job on his big, fat head and he’s just a hoot to watch and gives the movie some solid cowboy cred (from The Long Riders to Brokeback Mountain is quite a hike!).

But the biggest shock to me, is that Heath is a cowboy wonder with a perfect, dead-on laconic cowboy dialect and delivery (he’s an Aussie!) If I didn’t know better I’d damn sure think he was related to me. He sounded exactly like some of my Kingman cowboy cousins (one of whom is gay by the way).

So, how cringe-worthy were the sex scenes? I cringed royally at the groping and kissing, but my kids were non-pulsed. Both Thomas and Deena said it didn’t bother them in the least. I hate to admit this but both Tomcat and I cried at the end (that damned guitar!), but the girls did not. “They didn’t have the heat,” Kathy said dismissively. Both she and Deena gave the movie a seven. T-Bell gave it a nine. I gave it an 8.5 (I didn’t like Jake’s hats). So what does this all mean?

Well, for one thing, I predict, in years to come, Jake and Heath will be acknowledged as being “brave” actors and lionized for it by a generation that isn't as uptight as we are. Heath’s next movie, which we saw the previews for, is Casanova, which, you have to admit, is great career timing.

Afterwards we drove in separate cars to Tacos Jalisco on Thomas Road and had dinner together and talked about the movie ($30 cash, includes tip).

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table."
—Ronald Reagan

Monday, December 26, 2005

December 26, 2005
Eye is much better. I could finally take off the patch at about six on Friday night. I still have some blurry moments, mostly reading, but what a thrill to have both eyes functioning together! Very thankful for that.

Kathy picked up Thomas at Sky Harbor on Friday and we met at El Conquistador for mole enchiladas ($26, plus $5 tip, cash). Mad Coyote Joe was there having green pork carnitas. Looked good also.

Yesterday Tomcat loaded up my iPod with a bunch of tunes. In fact, too many. For a joke on me he loaded up "The Best of Steely Dan" just to piss me off. Of course I don't know how to get it off yet, but I will. Now I've got incentive to learn the damn thing.

Been drawing like a starving artist, moving into color and piling it on. Quite exhilirating and hopeful. I'll post a few of these monsters when Jason gets back from Christmas vacation.

I'm going down into the Beast in about fifteen minutes (2:40 PM) to meet Kathy, Deena and Tomcat to see Brokeback Mountain. It's breaking attendance records at Camelview Five. I'll have a full review tomorrow.

—Onion headline in one of the books I got for Christmas: The Onion Presents Embedded In America, complete news archives, volume 16

Friday, December 23, 2005

December 23, 2005
Well, today is my fourth day of seeing double, but my eye is slowly getting better. Still wearing the eye patch. Now I’m worried about the effect wearing off because I’m drawing so good with one eye! Ha. Such is life, no?

Speaking of laughing at geeks, writer Emma Bull sent me the following link and I have shared it with numerous friends and we have laughed and laughed. So I thought I’d share it with you.

The best part is the way they name the dance moves. (Select music,
then click the arrow to start.)
—Emma Bull

I wrote back to Emma and said, "I don't know exactly why this geek makes me so happy, but he does." And here's Emma’s cogent reply:

"He's geeky...yet strangely without self-doubt. And that transforms geeky into cool, because cool never asks, 'Am I cool enough?' Kinda comes back to Bonham again, doesn't it?"

Thomas Charles is flying in from New York City today. We’re meeting for lunch at El Conquistador. T. Charles is dying for some good Mexican food and El has the best mole.

When we were filming in Tombstone last week, we drove down to Bisbee for dinner on Tuesday night and stopped at Optimo Hats where the owner Greg put one of those hat calibrators on my head and measured the terrain for a full custom hatjob. Going to cost about a grand, but, as you know I’m a total Hat Nazi and can rationalize the need for it. Sometimes I do feel guilty though, like when I read quotes like this:

"He wore what he could get and he didn’t have much of that."
—Texas Ranger John W. Bracken, describing a fellow ranger in the old days

Thursday, December 22, 2005

December 22, 2005
My best friend is 58 today. Happy birthday Bugs! His wife Linda got him a full-sized Yamaha keyboard with all the effects. Here’s his challenge to me: "Get over here [Fresno] and we will rock out on Just Like Me, which, yes, I can play on the organ. I will even get us three-cornered hats to wear."

The latter is a veiled threat to dress up like Paul Revere and the Raiders, one of our hero bands when we were in the Exits.

Charles and I grew up in Kingman and we were kind of shocked when we went off to the big city (Tucson) to college. As one of our classmates put it: "Most of the kids in college did not have the kind of sex education instruction that we got at Mohave County Union High School. We must have learned 20 or 30 different sex positions, how to find the G spot, and maybe a half-dozen different ways to perform oral sex on a woman. I guess that I never fully appreciated how smart our high school's janitors were.”

I got this Email from across the pond this morning:
“'Gerry Anderson's Wild West Show' was an immediate hit. The BBC plans to
repeat the series almost immediately, starting in mid-January. Must be BBB's hat. Or, maybe, the red shirt.”

I’m going on my third day of double vision, although my eye is getting better. My drawings are still strong though and I stick by yesterday’s theory. In fact, here’s one of my examples to speak for herself:

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
—Helen Keller

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

December 21, 2005
I have been seeing double for two days now. Finally called the doctor this morning and found out this is typical. Evidently, the anesthetics they jammed in my eyeball affect a nerve and it takes a while to wear off. I was worried. Quite disturbing to see two images about two feet apart. Never had that before and the worst part is worrying that I’ll have to go in for another round of eye clamps. It would almost be a toss-up between total blindness and going back. Ha.

The Eyes Have It Department:
The good news is that I’m drawing like John Bonham drums—with only one eye! I have a theory that behind every infirmity is a hidden strength (think Helen Keller, Ray Charles and David Hocking). So thanks for the gift Mr. Universe.

The Arizona Republic asked me to do one of those year-end wrap-up commentaries. Here’s a sneak preview of what I submitted:
One of the great things about illegal immigration is that our Mexican food has gotten ten times better in the past ten years. More regions of Mexico are represented and more sophistication abounds on almost every corner. When I was a kid, it had to be Mexican-American food on the sign or a cafe couldn’t survive. Not anymore. Thanks illegals!

Tina Fey on why she returned to work at Saturday Night Live six weeks after giving birth:
“NBC has me under contract; the baby and I have only a verbal agreement.”

Carole Glenn reports from the front lines:
Elizabeth Davis called and entered 3 subscriptions this afternoon. She had
seen an article in the AZ Rep and read that you had a newspaper or something
and ran across the magazine. She got one sub for her husband and two other
men - she said that they are all crazy about Tombstone and her husband has
some of your books. She was very excited to have found TW.

My spies in Lincoln, New Mexico tell me:
“We hear that the Wortley has sold to someone in San Antonio, TX, but that is
the sum total of info at present. Ellis Store is barely open.”

Lincoln (my fave Old West town), desperately needs another Billy the Kid movie.

Humans—despite their artistic pretensions, sophistication and many accomplishments—owe their existence to a 6" layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

December 20, 2005
I got an iPod for my birthday and Robert Ray loaded it up to my office computer so I can download songs. I also got a couple books, Jimmy Carter’s Lost American Values, from Carole, and 1776 by David McCullough, one of Bob Brink's classmate at Yale. Mike Melrose got me the DVD of Fargo, which is way cool. However, I don’t remember asking for the torture scene from Clockwork Orange but I got that as well.

Yesterday afternoon I drove down into the beast for an appointment with a retina specialist. I was supposed to go last Friday (I was referred by the optometrist I saw last week) but cancelled. When I did they insisted I come down Monday so I thought, what the hey, it’s my birthday, I’ll listen to tunes on my iPod and make it a road trip. I also had dinner plans at Saba’s after work (Saba’s sent me one of those clever, it’s your birthday, come eat for free coupons). I got to 1101 E. Missouri at about 2:20 and filled out all the insurance paperwork, except for the social security number. Someone told me last week, do not put your social security number on anything! The identity theft problem is out of control so don’t make their jobs easier. Julie called my name and took me in the back and made me watch a video on detached retinas and I sketched the entire time, glancing only occasionally at the amateur production which showed a guy working on his car, and then getting light flashes and tunnel vision and of course he was a bad actor and it was all quite cheesy. None of this applied to me. Next came the eye drops that dilate the pupils and then came the exam with Doctor Dugel. Before he came in, Julie told me he is the best eye surgeon in town and she has worked with plenty. She also told me if she ever had any eye problems she would go to his house and lay across his driveway until he treated her. "He’s that good," she assured me. Doc Dugel came in, short guy, dark, handsome, intense, and all business. He turned off the lights, told me to put my chin in the machine and shined a flashlight in my eyes and started dictating to Julie. This is what I heard: "Macular fine. . .cornea, plus 025 on right retina. . .tear O.C.. . “

A tear! Are you kidding me? Nope. A retinal tear in the right eye. That’s why I've got the floaters. The vitreous has pulled away from its attachment to the retina at the back of the eye. Fluid is passing through the retinal tear, lifting the retina off the back of the eye, like wallpaper peeling off a wall. Happy Birthday and thanks for the tear-rific gift!

Fifteen minutes later I’m in the operating room and the doctor is injecting my right eye-ball with a hypodermic needle. Well, not right in the eye, but just underneath the bottom lid, which is close enough.

After a forty minute wait for the drugs to freeze my eye, and during which I reviewed my life with some regret (“It’s the coffee! I shouldn’t have drank all that coffee!), the doctor came in, put me down on my back, put an eye clamp on my right eye, exactly like the one in the movie A Clockwork Orange and began to probe my actual eye. When I protested that it hurt, he sat me up and injected my eyeball with more painkiller, which I couldn’t feel at all and then it was Probe City. It felt like he was using an ice cream scoop. It was not fun. After he lasered my torn retina, he froze the whole deal with cryotherapy. I actually asked the doc and Julie if they had seen the scene in A Clockwork Orange. They didn't answer or laugh.

Kathy and Carole drove down from Cave Creek. Obviously I couldn't drive, so Carole drove my truck back out to the office and Kathy and I went to Taco Villa for my one-eyed birthday dinner. Had the Pepe Special and two Pacificos ($26 plus $5 tip, cash).

End result: feeling mighty mortal! Got home about seven and went right to bed.

"I may be going to hell, but I'll go there playing the piano."
—Jerry Lee Lewis

Monday, December 19, 2005

December 19, 2005
Great day yesterday at home. Had Deena, Betty Radina and Carole Glenn over for chicken fried steaks, mashed potatoes, green beans and salad. South African wine, Merlot, 1999. Kathy cooked. We only have it once a year and yesterday was the day.

We’ve got a new poll up. Were Apaches terrorists? Yes/No

After numerous Google dead-ends I finally heard from my old radio partner David K. Jones. He’s still in Florida and here’s his Email:

How the hell are you? I miss your old cowboy ass. I hope things are going "westernly" for you. (You know, you have taken all the fun out of finding pennies on the ground for me!) We're alive and well. Tera is teaching and doing "stuff," Ed is surfing everyday regardless of weather or waves and on his way to getting a full scholarship. He wants to be a marine meteorologist...that can't be worse than being a dj. Scott is living with a charming young woman, working at Beach Pizza and getting ready for some college (finally). I'm doing voice overs full time out of my home studio. I'm working with about 80 radio stations and lots of other agencies. Lots of varied work. Yesterday I picked up a contract for voice work for a University in Nigeria, boat manufacturer in Fort Lauderdale and an instructional film for the US Navy. (I forgot to mention to them I'm against the war...I'm just a whore.)
—David K. Jones

Here’s his website:

and his email:

He also gave me this link to a Jones & Boze artifact:

Here’s a belated one from the geezer gams department:
I recently completed Marshall Trimble's Arizona History class. His vast knowledge and humor made the class a pleasure. A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of your blog to show me a side of Marshall that I never thought I would see. I was shocked to view my esteemed history teacher posing in this way - next to someone who clearly has better legs! This must have caused quite a stir when it first appeared. I can see you two are light years ahead of Hollywood who has just now released "Brokeback Mountain". You should shoot an Arizona Historians calendar without delay. I'm sure it would be profitable. You might have the best gams, but Marshall looks mighty fine in yellow. Sincerely, from someone else who grew up along Route 66 (in Illinois),
—Madeline Morrill

"A good tale is none the worse for being twice told."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, December 18, 2005

December 18, 2005
We had our True West Christmas party last night over at the Brinks. Robert Ray made homemade Tortilla Flats style chili. Everyone brought a dish and a gag gift ($10). A delightful time, no shop talk, lots of laughs. Got home about 9:30.

Cold out today. Got a fire going in the wood stove in my studio and another in the house fireplace. Kathy's making chicken fried steak for an early dinner this afternoon. Deena's coming out, Carole and Glenn and Grandma Betty. It's for a certain guy's birthday. I don't want to say who because John Spencer died on Friday. You know, the old guy on West Wing. He would have been 59 this coming week, the same age as the guy who doesn't want the attention.

I'm still on a roll with the six-drawings-every-day-regimen. Came close to missing a couple of days, like down in Tombstone, when I got back to the hotel after 14 hours of travel and shooting, but I forced myself. Quite a collection of images and a style is developing. My stated goal is to draw like John Bonham drummed: fearless, slash and burn and with total passion. It's a worthy goal, especially since I could never drum like him. Ha.

"John 'Bonzo' Bonham—drummer, genius, rock monster, public schoolboy, builder's son, bloke from the midlands, drag-racing fan, family man—was the greatest rock drummer ever to walk this planet. This is something you can say without upsetting anyone with anything to do with drumming, genius, rock-monstering, public school, building, the Midlands, drag-racing or families."
—Al Murray, in the English Esquire magazine

Friday, December 16, 2005

December 16, 2005
Had an eye exam at two yesterday. The fifteen-year-old optometrist (these docs seem so young!) told me I have a "floater" in my right eye, and also one in my left eye to boot, but I just can’t see it. I asked him if there is anything preventative I could do, or should have done. Nope. According to the teenage doc, "Nothing helps." No diet changes, no lifestyle modifications, no zinc supplements, no exercises. He says about 50% of people get them and that the older you get the more of them you get. It's floating plasma, blah blah, blah blah, jaba jaba jaba stuff (he told me in some detail but I can’t remember anything, other than I can’t do a damn thing about it, except "get a yearly checkup" Thanks Doc.)

After my test I picked out some new glasses with titanium rims in case I ever have to command an Abrams Tank. Kind of cool, though, no rims, but the price tag: $495 ($650 without insurance!). I told the sales woman, "I need to tell you my wife thinks I would be an idiot to buy glasses here, and she thinks I should take the prescription and go to Costco and buy the rims there. Hope you understand. I have to live with her, not you." This went over about as well as Bush making torture jokes at a Sunni Chamber event.

I got this in the Email bag this morning:
Hey Bob...Dwain Bond, piano player here. It's the end of civilization as we know it. I just saw a bumper sticker that reads. "Seen Brokeback Mountain? Don't ask don't tell!"

"Tell the truth!" That was the first greeting I got standing on Allen Street in Tombstone on Wednesday morning. We were setting up the first shot at 7:30 and a city road crew were inspecting dirt piles along the street when a trio of orange-vested city manager types (one might have been the mayor) looked up, saw me, pointed and barked out the above greeting. I smiled and said I couldn’t really help myself. He didn’t laugh and kept walking.

Twenty minutes later, we were filming the Virgil Earp shooting in front of the Crystal Palace when a guy with a white beard walked right up to me, handed me my Wyatt Earp book with a pen. I took the pen and the book and asked him how he wanted it signed and he said, "To John. I’m sorry for that bad article I wrote." He was referring to our coverage of "How to Save Tombstone" which, among other things, suggested they put dirt on the streets to cover up the asphalt, which they were doing even as we filmed. As I handed him back the book he said over his shoulder as he walked away, "I’m probably the only guy here who forgives you." Gee, thanks.

An hour later, we were in the Birdcage Theater to film a segment on "call drinks" and the owner’s son came up from the house to sign a release. "I probably shouldn’t sign this," he said shaking his head, "considering what you wrote about us." I glanced nervously at their magazine display and noticed they had every single issue of True West of the past year, except the Saving Tombstone issue.

In the Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, one of the town fathers told me off-the-record, "Everything you said in that issue was the truth, but people here in Tombstone just like to beat up on people."

Not everyone was critical. A guy named "Hoss" watched us film an O.K. Corral bit, then came over and said he was a huge fan of True West Moments. That was sweet. But thirty minutes later, while we were filming near Hafford’s Corner, Doc Ingall’s pretty wife stepped out of the store there and said, "The reason Ben Traywick is mad at you is that negative article you wrote about Tombstone." When I laughed and said it wasn’t negative (she’s a friend of mine!) she said, "Yes it was. You come down here and pay taxes and then you can talk." Okay.

So naturally, the film crew began referring to me as, well, here’s an example: when we got to the courthouse, Tom Malone the teleprompter guy (not to be confused with Tom Malone, Sr. who is a subscriber to True West) wanted to know which script we would be shooting and Jeff, the sound guy said, "I don’t know, ask The Man Who Saved Tombstone." It’s hard to be a prima dona with guys like this dogging you.

"If you’re out to beat a dog, you’re sure to find a stick."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Thursday, December 15, 2005

December 15, 2005
Back from the Tombstone shoot. Got in last night at about eight. A long two days of shooting new bits for the Westerns Channel, with a five AM wakeup call Wednesday morning. It was chilly in Tombstone and the make-up was quite cold going on (oh, the humanity!). But not as cold as the reception I got from some of the locals (more on that later). Jeff Hildebrandt of The Westerns Channel in Denver flew into Phoenix on Monday night. The five man crew, led by Mike Pelligatti in a rented twelve seat Ford Econoline ($100 a day), picked him up at his hotel down by the airport. I had driven over to Mike’s house at six and we picked up everyone on the way down.

In spite of my occasional daytime trips, I was stunned at the storm of traffic going into the Beast during morning rush hour. It took about five minutes to make a right-hand-turn onto Carefree Highway at the I-17 Interchange. There was a half mile of cars backed up to make the turn onto the freeway. As we headed down the 17, thousands of red lights lined up for miles, doing five miles an hour, while we shot into the HOV lane (high occupancy vehicle) and missed much of the traffic until we hit the Durango Curve. Wall to wall, snarling trucks and SUVs and rusted out Camero’s battling for road dominance in the pre-dawn desert twilight.

We had an ambitious shoot schedule with the goal of getting at least 12 True West Moments in the can in the next 36 hours and I felt some apprehension about the scripts (which Mark Boardman had tweaked and edited down), my drama coach lessons (Jaba, jaba, Hey Kathy!) and my outfit (Kathy had taken my favorite white neck scarf to the cleaners and I had forgotten she had taken it, thought I had lost it, then found out Monday night when it was too late). But beyond the usual performance anxiety I had an apprehension which I didn’t tell anyone about, not even Kathy—I’ve got a hair-like amoeba deal floating in the center of my right eye. I noticed it about three days ago and thought it was merely a virus, or something, but it didn’t go away. Even with my eyes closed I can see it and my big concern was that we would get out on location and it would affect my ability to read the teleprompter. "Sorry, guys, can't do it. Let's go home."

We got into Tucson at about 8:30 and went straight to the Tucson Train Depot to shoot the Wyatt Earp-Frank Stilwell gunfight. Jeff and Mike had ordered up a state-of-the-art steady-cam so we could get more movement into the shots, and I had an ambitious idea in my mind of walking right down the train tracks as the camera backed smoothly along, with me saying, “The train from Benson glided along these tracks on the evening of March 20, 1882.”

As we did a dry run to work out the kinks, I was relieved to find out I could easily read the teleprompter. Unfortunately, someone reported us being on the tracks, and before we could shoot the sequence, a policeman came driving up the service road to kick us off the tracks. We still got the shot, but it just wasn’t as groovy as it could have been.

Then things got worse. We ran into a trainiac (and I thought Old West buffs were cranky!), but more on that tomorrow.

On Monday, I finished my Ben Thompson illustrations for the March Classic Gunfight and Robert Ray scanned them in and put them in the layout. Here’s a scene of a can-can dancer in the Vaudeville Theater on the night of the killing. That’s Ben Thompson and King Fisher sitting in the dress circle (circular balcony at left).

I got this interesting Email from Colorado this morning:
Thanks for the blog on your web site regarding the True Grit Cafe.  I met a couple who came in today saying they would like to speak to the owner.  They had read your blog and detoured over here from their ski trip at Crested Butte to just check us out.  They were from Corpus Christi, Texas and thoroughly enjoyed all the John Wayne collectibles, and of course, the food.
—Dale Tuttle, Maniac #1060

I’ve got an appointment with an optometrist at two this afternoon.

"I see by your outfit you think you’re a cowboy."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Saturday, December 10, 2005

December 10, 2005
Beautiful day out. No clouds, mid-seventies. delightful. Drove out to Mike Pelligatti’s house near Anthem this morning to try out his steady-cam teleprompter. Tom, the technician was there with two of my True West Moment scripts and we walked around the front yard testing the teleprompter to see if I could read it, in the sun, in the shade and on the move. I easily could and we wrapped the experiment after about a half hour and made itinerary plans for Tuesday.

I came back to the TW office and wrote up another four scripts for the shoot and Emailed them to Jeff Hildebrandt in Denver and Mark Boardman. So far I’ve got 16 scripts in the can for the two-day shoot.

Yesterday we got some really outrageous research info from Tom Bicknell, who is the Man when it comes to researching the legendary Ben Thompson. According to several newspaper reports, when Ben and King Fisher were riding down from Austin to San Antonio on the train, Thompson got in a fight with a porter, got blood on his "tall beaver" hat, ended up sticking a butcher knife in the hat and leaving it there when he got off the train. He was in his cups, of course (drunk). At some point he took the knife out and cut off the crown and wore just the brim as he sauntered around San Antonio for the last time. Amazing. You can’t make up funnier stuff than the truth. And if I saw it in a Western I probably wouldn’t believe it. Ha.

"Partying is such sweet sorrow."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Friday, December 09, 2005

December 9, 2005
A very stressful but successful day. Lots of negotiating shark infested waters but I made it through with all limbs intact. Well, let me take a look. Yep, it’s all here, what’s left of it.

I feel more like a long distance runner than I ever have in my life. I used to dash here and there, panicking at upsets, fretting about blow-ups, fleeing from angst, staying up at night, weeping about finance, blaming people I loved, you know, the usual male boss syndrome stuff. Today, I only do half of that, and even that half, I can sleep through. As Dr. Weil (that Tucson Hippie doctor guy) puts it, "One of the advantages of getting older is you can recognize patterns better. "Oh, the ties are going out wider—again. Interesting." Or, "You say, the Mods are hip—again? What is this? The eighteenth time?" So, when I now see the glistening of rifle barrels on the horizon, I realize there’ll probably be plenty of time for a nap before the shooting starts and many times the battle is called off before it starts, or someone fires a poop gun and, someone laughs, and then it’s over, or, both sides run and hide. Rarely, does it break out into full scale war, and by that time, it’s too late to do anything anyway.

It’s a tired cliche but don’t fret the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff. Yadda yadda. Except for the big stuff, which I don’t have time for because I’m handling all the small stuff. And it’s a full time job. And I’m the last person in the office at six P.M. but I’m okay. And, dog gone-it, people like me! Yes, I'm a tad buggy.

Anyway, we had a good day at True West magazine. Had very productive talks with George Laibe, Robert Ray, Trish Brink, Bob Brink, Carole Glenn, Meghan Saar, Joel Klasky and Mark Boardman. I’ll let you figure out who made me a better long distance runner.

"Champions have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."
—Muhammad Ali

Thursday, December 08, 2005

December 8, 2005
Well, we got another hit from another town. Here’s a Silver City, New Mexico article on our Top Western Town coverage:

Worked all day on finishing up a Ben Thompson-King Fisher timeline. Those two Texas Tornados were two peas in a pod, Man! They dodged so many bullets and indictments and judges it’s not even funny. But in the end, what goes around, comes around. It really makes more sense when you see their lives side by side, right up the end, when they died side by side in the Vaudeville Theater in San Antonio, Texas. Amen.

Last night at 5:40 I did a radio interview with Fred Imus and Nicole Cox in Tucson. They do a drive-time radio gig at KJLL in the Old Pueblo and what started as a twenty minute interview turned into an hour. We talked about the gay issue, and my books and True West. Fred is like an old shoe and Nicole really knew how to lead me, set up shots for me, support me. She reminded me of Jeanne Sedello, who did much the same role at our old radio show on KSLX in Scottsdale. Speaking of radio. It was fun. And thanks to Samantha who collared me as I went out the door last night, oblivious to the interview. She brought me back in as we waited for the call.

Speaking of being on the radio, I got an interesting inquiry today about being on Howard Stern’s Show (Shades of Marshall being asked to be on Jon Stewart’s Show!). Of course the King of All Media is on hiatus until he launches his Satellite show in January. Here’s the cryptic inquiry from a producer type:

“Howard will be busy until he hits satellite on his new show where the FCC cannot touch him. A few weeks. I believe he would want to do a dicey bit with you that you would not like. Maybe yes.”

Maybe, yes? I don’t think so. Any guesses as to what the "dicey bit" I would not like, would be? I have a clue, but I don’t want to go there.

We are going down to Tucson and Tombstone next week to film new bits for the Westerns Channel and I called up Grant from Optimo Hats in Bisbee today and told him I want a new hat. We talked styles, head shapes and proportions and Grant is coming up to Tombstone to measure me (Now there’s a great Stern bit waiting to happen!).

"I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them."
—Susan Sontag

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

December 7, 2005
My friend Allen Barra Emailed me this morning:
"American Heritage surprised me by putting the interview on the blog today. I thought they were going to edit it or something. Check it out at "

Lots of meetings with my editorial staff (Mark and Meghan) about expanding our features layouts. Bob Brink has complained, and I agree with him, that generally our cover stories just don’t have the punch they need. We backed up and totally re-attacked the new Hutton cover piece on "Why Is This Man Forgotten," to give it a stronger opening. Called Dan Harshberger and talked to him at length about what we want to accomplish. He was quite receptive to the challenge and I’m anxious to see what he comes up with. In the meantime, he pdf’d the cover layout up to me and it is quite strong.

After lunch I got this interesting Email from Marshall Trimble:
"I had a call last week from a New York producer for the Jon Stewart Show wanting me to be filmed out here in January for the big Gay Rodeo. They wanted me to be a 'conservative cowboy' and say gays have no business staging a rodeo because the sport is a rough and tumble real man's thing. I told them to find somebody else because gays have just as much right to put on a rodeo as anybody else. I reckon I missed my chance for 15 minutes of fame."

When I Emailed Marshall and asked him if I could run his comments in my blog he sent me this:

"Sure! I had the feeling they just wanted to have someone (me) get on camera
and make a fool of themselves and embarrass the entire cowboy community.
They were just looking for a schmuck. I don't care much for television and
their self-serving style anyway."

I admitted to Marshall I love the show but that I think he is totally correct on their intentions and if you've ever watched the show and asked yourself, "Oh, that poor schmuck, I’ll bet he wishes he hadn’t agreed to this interview," you know exactly what I mean.

"I’ve attained all the things everyone wants to attain, and I'm here to say, it doesn't mean shit."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

December 6, 2005
Had a staff meeting at 8:30 and a budget meeting at nine. Everything was positive. The press site is working (see front page) and so far we've gotten articles written on our Top Ten Western Towns issue in Pendleton and Cody newspapers. This is all due to customized press releases written by Mark Boardman. We're posting record sales off the web, record ad sales on the next issue (up 27%), record sales in Vegas, a budget that actually balances and allows for growth. As a small business owner, it doesn’t get much better than this.

"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."
—Frank A. Clark

I got this Email from New York this morning:
Hi, Bob! Well, I'm official, website and all. Go to and tell me what you think. I kind of like it. Now I'll have to figure out how to use it! I figure since it took me 42 years to write this book, I'll need another 523 years to catch up with you, and that's only if you stop writing now, which I sincerely hope you won't do! This has been a True East moment.
—Ron Soodalter

Finishing up details on the Ben Thompson-King Fisher gunfight copy. Really an intriguing affair. My old friend "Beanie Bob" is working up a 3-D schematic of the theater and we are waiting to see if that is going to work in Classic Gunfights. It should really work if we do it on TV. Robert Ray has been wanting to do 3-D for some time but we never could get Gus to do it. Hopefully, Mr. Steinhilber will come through for us.

Worked on my March editorial, which, so far, is a gushing praisefest for Paul Hutton. I must make it more demeaning and humiliating, but I can’t find a way. I must, I must.

"He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator."
—Francis Bacon

Monday, December 05, 2005

December 5, 2005
I got this from Meghan this morning: "I'm guessing you saw the AZ Republic plug on your
book yesterday, but in case you didn't, here's the link:"

Finally finished the rough draft on the Ben Thompson gunfight today. I did three pieces of art yesterday, but don’t think I can use any of them. Need to dig deeper.

The good news is I’m still doing six drawings a day and that is improving my skills. Kathy walked by my opened sketchbook on Saturday night and said, "That’s the best drawing I've ever seen you do." I did the drawings in Vegas, eight of them in my room. After my marathon travel day on Thursday, George Laibe and I ate at one of his fave restaurants, Fuscia, upstairs at the Luxor (the pyramid hotel where the Palomino Hotel used to sit and where my mom and dad always stayed). George and I split a bottle of saki, so we were quite intelligent and solving all sorts of world problems by the time we left the hotel and hailed a cab. When we got in the cab, George was pontificating about the "True West enigma," and we were throwing around numbers in the back seat like a couple of Tyco tycoons: "Show me where the $225,000 is going and I’ll split out your coverage and costs and leverage it into something real and profitable." I kept looking at the cabbie wondering if he could even understand us (he looked east African), but he stared straight ahead like a sphinx. When we got out of the cab in the basement of the Riviera ($13 cash, I paid), the cabbie turned to me and smiled, "I hope you figure out the enigma," he said knowingly, in perfect English. I laughed. Everyone in every language understands money, or at least has an opinion about it, don’t they?

Anyway, I got back to my room, fried, but I hadn’t done my six drawings. I looked at my sketchbook and sighed. After 13 hours, three speeches, an airplane ride, wheels and deals and Pacific rim food, not to mention 36 ounces of primo saki, I sat in bed and whipped out six very loosey goosey sketches to keep my streak alive. I haven’t missed a day since November 12.

And by the way, those six drawings weren’t the ones Kathy praised, it was the drawings from Saturday, one right out the window of the plane, of Lake Mead from 30,000 feet, that she flipped over.

"An ass loaded with gold climbs to the top of the castle."
—Old Vaquero Saying
December 4, 2005
I got home yesterday about one. Bailed into artwork for the next Classic Gunfight featuring Ben Thompson and King Fisher at the Vaudeville Theater in San Antonio. Worked hard trying to get a mysterious curtain effect, with two shooters peeking out into the audience. Not sure I got it. I’m also working on several barmaid and "chair warmer" illustrations.

Vaudeville Theater Stage Manager Frank Sparrow kept a business journal from 1874 to 1884. In his ledger Sparrow recorded who was hired, how much they were paid and what they were paid to do. He also made caustic comments as to the employees talent, or lack thereof. Here are some of his ledger comments from the years 1882-84, which covers the time period when the Ben Thompson affair took place.

• Emma De Haven, hired for 4 weeks as a ballad singer at $25 a week [as a comparison, keep in mind a cowboy made about $30 a month]: “Fine form/ good voice, a good hustler in the [Wine Room] when watched.”

• Jerry J. Dwyer, hired as a violinist and orchestra leader. “[A] fart and a booger from way back. Poor Jerry. Generous to a fault. [There are] worse than him in the world.”

• Lulu Alberts, hired as a "chair warmer" in the wine room at $10 a week for 4 weeks.

• Lizzie Haywood, Seriocomic, $20 a week. "Damn bad."

• Belle Sautley, hired at $20 a week for the balance of the season. A "male impersonator." Her act is "no good on earth."

• Chicago Girls, hired for the fall season. "Chair warmers at 3 in number, ought to be slinging hash in hotel."

• Kitty Wells, Seriocomic, $30 a week. "$15 [is] too much for her. Very fresh."

• Maud Walker, $30 a week. "Very good but very conceited, chair warmer and C."

• Lottie Richmond, 12 weeks, song and dance act, $30 a week. "Too many pads. Hop fiend [opium addict]."

• Daisy Scott, Chair Warmer, $10 per week. "Will never be killed for good looks."

—Source: Legendary Watering Holes: The Saloons That Made Texas Famous,” by David Bowser and compiled by Richard Selcer, Texas A&M University Press

While I was waiting for a cab at the Riviera Hotel in Vegas on Saturday morning, I got a call from my son Tomas in New York City, informing me that this week’s Village Voice has a cover story on Brokeback Mountain with the headline, "Homos On The Range." He was shocked. I was not. We sent them a postcard, with that headline, and the Voice has just been bought by Jim Larkin and Mike Lacey, who also got the postcard. I think I would have been more surprised if they hadn’t used the headline. I asked him to see if they mentioned our coverage and he said he’d get back to me.

We’ve got a new poll up:
Bodie is California's official Gold Rush ghost town and Calico is
the state's Silver Rush ghost town. If you had to pick between the two
to become the state's "Official Ghost Town," which would you pick? Cast your vote!

"A clean glove often hides a dirty hand."
—Old Vaquero Saying

Sunday, December 04, 2005

December 2, 2005
My actual itinerary was awful close to yesterday’s prediction with a couple of surprising differences. I got on the road about 7:10 and took the back roads into the Beast, until I got down to Shea and cut over to catch the 51. Big mistake. I had been cruising until I got on the freeway which instantly became a parking lot and I crawled the three miles to the Glendale exit. Still got to the Biltmore by about 8:05, found the conference room I was speaking in and put mags at all the attorneys general’s name plates, which were laid out in a big square, emanating from the speaker’s podium. It looked like the U.N. with the guy’s name and what state he was from printed on rectangle folding cards. Gave everyone a Homos On the Range issue except the Texas Attorney General, who I gave a Jan.-Feb. "Texas Rangers vs. Mexican Insurgents" issue. I thought it would be a conversation piece to the people around him. "Hey, you got a different one than us. How come we got gay issues?" Or, something like that.

Arizona’s Attorney General Terry Goddard introduced me at 8:47 and I whipped into my first speech about lawlessness in the Old West. I wanted to touch on the fact that several of the most legendary fights suffered from too much law, but of course, forgot that juicy tidbit and rolled on oblivious. Sally Ripley, Terry’s assistant gave me the five minute warning hand signal and I wrapped it up, waved, bounded off the stage as Carole Glenn and I ran to her car. I checked my cell phone as she whipped out into traffic and onto Missouri and it was 9:17.

Got on the 51 at Campbell (below Camelback) and shot down past the 202 stack with relative ease and into Sky Harbor. Carole dropped me off at terminal four at 9:40 and I got through security by 9:49 (no butt crack wand checks thankyou very much). Made it to C-12 with time to spare. It was a full flight so the boarding ran late, and that was troublesome.

Got lucky in the airport because Winter Range honcho Dan Wohleen was flying standby on the same plane going to the same SASS conference as me, and his partner, Jon Engerbretson was driving over. I saved Dan a seat (I had an A boarding pass because Carole did that new deal where you print the boarding pass right off your computer and avoid any stops in the airport, sans gate). Got a seat about seven rows back and put my hat in the middle seat. No one challenged me, and Dan, being one of the last on the plane, joined me.

The pilot apologized for being late and said they’d try to make up for it in the air. He didn’t point out any Kingman landmarks, but I glanced out the window a couple of times and easily recognized Yucca, Golden Valley and Union Pass. We made good time but landed ten minutes behind schedule at 12:10 (my worst fear, see yesterday’s prediction).

We were also slowed by the shuttle mono-rail train which takes about five minutes to get to the main terminal. Fortunately for me Dan called Jon, who was outside the terminal waiting for us just as we landed. We hopped in his Trooper and I got door to door service right to the side door outside the Riviera Convention Center where George Laibe was waiting for me. It was about 12:40, (Whew!) and I knew my first speech was at one, so we just made it. I was pitted out, but ready for battle.

George smiled and said, “You gained an hour, it’s only 11:40 here. Let’s go to lunch.” (Prescient, no?) Over lunch in Kady’s, I found out I was giving two speeches, the first at one, the second at 3:30. Talked with Mark Boardman about topics and talking points and went back to the convention hall. Big room filled with trade show booths and a center stage with 120 chairs, divided into two rows directly in front. Bailed into both speeches, sold a whole bunch of books, and ended up at the Luxor, but that’s another story.

"It is possible to own too much. A man with one watch knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never quite sure (especially if he lives in Arizona where they never adhere to daylight savings)."
—Lee Segall


Thursday, December 01, 2005

December 1, 2005
Today is my crazy day of frantic speeches and tight connections. I'm taking off from my house in Cave Creek at seven, heading down into the beast. I'm going to land at the Arizona Biltmore (where Glen Campbell got his most recent DUI). I'll park out back and run into the four star hotel and ask the front desk where I'm speaking.

I will give a half hour speech to all 50 of the United States Attorneys Generals on Wyatt Earp and the Law of the Old West. Jaba jaba jaba.

At 9:15 I will run from the room and mow down old ladies coming up through the lobby with their luggage, and pile into a 2001 Altima, piloted by Carole Glenn. She will floor it, and take out several palm trees, as we shoot down 24th and careen onto the 51, past the 202 transition and into the Sky Harbor Airport. Traversing all four terminals (alright, they tore down terminal one, but kept the same numbers) until we pull up at terminal four. I will tell Carole thanks and run as fast as I can to the Southwest departure display and frantically look for my flight to Vegas. I will take off my shoes and belt, unload my pockets, empty out my hat and go through the metal detector twice. I will have a wand shoved up my crack more than once, and then I'll go through security.

Totally pitted out, I will be wearing the exact same suit I will be wearing for my second speech, which will come off in two hours, assuming I make it. I will cheat and fight my way in to the line of A listing boarders, feign indignation when they look at my boarding pass and see the big "B" and then I will say something lame like, "Do you know who I think I am?!"

I will get on the plane and be forced to sit next to someone who wants to take a nap on my lap. He will be overweight. And snore. I will study my speech on his head. The plane will be late backing out of the terminal. I will do breathing exercises and flick my forefinger at the ear of the guy sleeping on my lap. I will think dirty thoughts just to get an erection in his ear.

The plane will finally get airborne and fly north, right over my house. I will look down and think to myself, "Who's going to run the dogs?" The pilot will point out interesting things out the window, like the Hualapai Indian Reservation and the Duval Mining Slag Heap and I will yell out, "Shutup and drive, dammit!!!"

The plane will land fifteen minutes late, and then taxi for 45 minutes. I will stick my knee out into the aisle so nobody behind me can claim that space when and if the door ever opens. The stewardess will ask me for the last time, "Sir, is that body under the seatback tray yours?" And I will smiile and say, "He's still napping." I will pray she can't see the blood from where she's standing. I will kick my way free, stepping over old ladies and elbowing businessmen. I will run from the tunnel to the ground transportation area, stopping only twice to play the slot machines installed on the moving walkways. I will hail a cab and tell him to step on it, and take me the back way to the Riviera Hotel. I will tell him again, louder. I will look at his cabbie license and realize he's from Serbia and speaks no English. I will make sign language and hold out money. He will smile and start driving in a happy go lucky but erratic manner. There will be no seat belts. He will be listening to NPR. We will hit every single light on Tropicana Blvd. We will pull up to the Riviera and it will be slammed with cars dropping off SASS shooters and Asians by the busload and I will jump out of the cab, throw the cabbie a wad of bills and run to the lobby. There will be a long line waiting to get up to every single checkout
window. I will panic and run down the halls toward the convention center. I will come out into the sunlight and just miss getting creamed by a busload of Nige rians. I will get to the will call window and ask if my name is on the list. The woman behind the counter will look like she doesn't know what I'm talking about and tell me to go back to the hotel. I will threaten her life. She will call security. They will escort me to the backstage area where I will finally see George Laibe and Mark Boardman and they will casually walk up to me smiling.

"Chill Boze," George will tell me. "The speech has been moved back to four. let's go to lunch."

"Why you son of a jaba jaba jaba."