Saturday, September 02, 2006

Warsaw Wally's by Lori Witzel

“Antone’s in Austin is iconic, but Warsaw Wally’s was the kind of place where the air is bruise-colored and the music pulled everyone, and I mean EVERYone, in close.”
Lori Witzel

Read Warsaw Wally’s.

Change is Constant II

After reading comments to my last post from Lorna, Spider Walk and Lori Witzel, I’ve decided to turn this blog into a Writers Resource and Blues Bar.

Lori Witzel was generous enough to provide a link to a poem she wrote about her best blues bar experience “Back in the day, at Warsaw Wally’s in Phoenix.” So my debut post in my newly renovated blog will be Lori’s poem.

Stay tuned.

~ dtb ~

Friday, August 25, 2006

Change is Constant

There’s a change of season in the air. Nights are cooler. Days are shorter. Occasionally I spot a clump of yellow leaves in a tree, flashing in the sun like a warning light.

Maybe that’s why I’m in the remodeling mood.

So I’m going to turn this blog into a dark and smoky bar in a cellar that features live Blues until the sun comes up. Whiskey is cheap and the music is loud.

Not really.

I’m going to turn this into a writers resource blog. It will feature a growing list of useful links for writers. If you don’t see your favorite site let me know.

As for the posts, they will evolve as time goes on. Short answer – I don’t know yet. My blogging experience so far has been, “I wonder what would happen if I did this?” In that regard, nothing has changed.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Ravages of Time

This is my latest entry in The Scheherazade Project. I call it The Ravages of Time, which happens to be the current theme.


We closed on the house.

It has seen better days but we fell in love with it, the same way we fell in love – at first sight.

“Help! Needs TLC,” is what the real estate ad read. The house has been neglected over the years, as if no one cared anymore. But we care. We bought it. Our first house. Our first love.


Valentine’s Day was special this year. He bought me roses and we shared a pizza on the floor of the dining room. It was silly and romantic. I will always remember it.

I’m saving the pizza box.


Planning. I like planning. The battle plan. The strategy. I have a notebook of sketches and ideas.

The kitchen cabinets have to go. Too dark. And the bathroom! Too nasty. We’re going to take out the wall between the kitchen and living room. Open it up. Put in a breakfast bar. Make it a great room.

Skylights would be cool too.


I wish she would quit changing her mind. We talk about an idea. We decide on a plan of action. And then – bam! No warning. She’s talking about doing it completely different, acting like I know all about it. But I don’t because she never bothered to tell me she changed her mind.


I would really like to paint the bedroom pink. I’m thinking of a soft pink, with light blue curtains. I saw some the other day at Penny’s. He says he doesn’t like pink but I’m sure we can work it out. He’s already finished his workshop. That’s his room. He spends a lot of time in there.


I can’t believe he forgot our anniversary. He says he’s so busy with his job, plus this house.

Sometimes I hate this house.


Damn it’s hot! I’m hanging drywall, taping, sanding. Drywall dust gets everywhere. Taking out that wall really makes area look bigger. I like the way it looks.

But the dust!

I’ve got the bedroom sealed off with a temporary plastic door to keep the dust out. It’s a god-awful pink in there.


She and I are not sharing the same vision of this project. I can see it in my mind. I describe it to her and I draw her pictures. She still can’t see it, can’t decide if she likes it or not. And when we finally do agree on something, she changes her mind and it’s back to square one again.


At least all the drywall is finished. What’s left now is mostly painting. But winter is coming. It’s either put up with paint fumes or wait until spring when we can open up the windows.

Sometimes I don’t think I can stay with him until spring.


I’m really tired of living here. It doesn’t feel like home to me. It feels like just what it is – a construction site.

He never listens to what I have to say. Sometimes when I’m actually able to make a suggestion he gets all defensive and angry, like I’m trying to sabotage his precious plan.

I feel lonely sometimes. It’s not that he’s gone somewhere. He’s just not “here.”


We’re putting the house on the market this month. Still some touch-up painting to be done. I’ll replace the floor tile in the bathroom. That shouldn’t take long. We’re going to pay to have the new kitchen cabinets installed. Skylights just aren’t going to happen.

She will be out of town for about a week. I should be able to get a bunch done while she’s gone.


We closed on the house.

It sold for a profit. So we each took our share and went our separate ways. Separation for now. Divorce is a possibility I’d rather not think about right now.

What went wrong? Our love has seen better days. It’s as if neither of us cares anymore. What have we done?

Help! Needs TLC.

~ ~ ~

In today's Afraid to Blink, see the photo Talking Glass.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Wine & Chocolate Monday

You’ve probably heard this before, but as a public service reminder and because it’s Monday – eat dark chocolate and drink red wine because they are both good for you.

According to the latest issue of AARP Magazine, if you drink up to two glasses of red wine a day and indulge in one square of dark chocolate a day you will live forever. Ok, not quite that long.

But dark chocolate and red wine both contain antioxidants which zap those bad guys – the free radicals. Doing so protects our heart and makes our cells healthier.

So remember, at the end of a Monday work day you have a right – no, an obligation – to treat yourself to health.

~ ~ ~

In today's Afraid to Blink, see the photo Here Comes The Sun

Monday, August 07, 2006

Guerrilla Shopping

There was a time in my life I would have eaten broccoli before wearing a hat like this (above). But after years of direct, high altitude sunlight followed by a couple of visits to the dermatologist for treatment and a lecture, I finally bought a wide-brim straw hat yesterday.

It was the first one that caught my eye as I approached the sales rack. I put it on. It fit. “This is the one,” I said.

My wife laughed and shook her head. She and I have differing philosophies of shopping. When our daughter comes to visit they can spend hours shopping for clothes. Sometimes they find nothing. Nothing!

I’m a guerrilla shopper. In and out quickly and decisively. There is no bivouac. There are no chow lines. There will never be The Longest Day.

So I took the hat off because it wasn’t mine yet, paid the cashier, put the hat back on and was home laying patio stones again in less than 30 minutes, feeling cool, tasting victory and thinking of the cold beer waiting for me when I was done.

~ ~ ~

Today in Afraid to Blink, see the photo Monday Leftover.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mercury Rising

This is my latest entry to The Scheherazade Project. As always, I appreciate comments and constructive criticism.

Thank you.


I guess she was just born that way. Seems like she could always hear voices in her head and see things other people couldn’t. Not crazy stuff, if you know what I mean, just more than other people.

But then, towards the end, she started getting messages from Mercury. Said they were trying to tell her something but she didn’t know what it was.

Like I said, that was towards the end, after she started getting sick.

“My hands are numb,” she’d tell me. And I guess they were because she started dropping things more. Things like plates of food. And that’s not a good thing if you’re a waitress.

So she lost her job. Same place I work washing dishes.

“She’s gotta have a job,” I told Gary. I was begging him.

“Karla needs to see a doctor,” Gary said.

We can’t afford no doctor.

“It’s just carpal tunnel,” Karla would say, “and they can’t do nothin’ ‘bout that anyhoo.”

I’m no doctor, but I knew it wasn’t no carpal tunnel.

So she started just doing her favorite thing. She’d walk down to Steiner Lake and go fishing. All day.

“Been fishing there since I was old enough to carry a fishin’ pole,” she’d say. “I’m not gonna stop now.”

The only fish in there are carp. She’d bring the damn things home, fry ‘em up and eat ‘em.

“In China,” she’d say, “this is a delicate sea.” I knew what she meant, but I still don’t eat no damn carp.

Thing is, people around here quit fishing in Steiner Lake a long time ago. They call it Stinky Lake. But I guess it reminded her of her childhood. Fishing there, I mean. It brought back good memories. The whole enchilada – cleaning the fish, frying it (lots of pepper and some kinda secret ingredient), and then eating it with a big glass of sun tea.

“Gotta’ have sun tea with fish,” she’d say.

But she kept getting weaker. After awhile she couldn’t go fishing anymore. It broke her heart. I saw it in her face.

And the voices from Mercury...

I tried to grab her one night and drag her down to the ER. To hell with the bill. I’d figure that out later. But she swung at me with a kitchen knife. The same one she used to fillet the carp.

I knew then I was losing her.

One night soon after that she left me. Hottest damn night of the year. At least she was at peace. Probably thought she was fishing, sitting in the shade, cool.

So they did the autopsy. I don’t know why. Turns out she had something called Minimata disease. I knew it wasn’t no carpal tunnel.

Then a police detective started coming around. Just to chat, he said. Asking questions. I told him about the carp and he kept changing the subject. The county owns that damn lake, you know.

I can’t afford no lawyer. Now they’re sayin’ I damn well better get one and if I can’t afford one - - blah, blah, blah. You know the routine. You probably watch the cop shows too.

Last I heard they were fixin’ to slap a murder charge on me.

I swear, if it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have no luck at all. I guess I was just born that way. Born under a bad sign. I shoulda’ ate that damn carp with Karla.

~ ~ ~

In today's Afraid to Blink, see the photo Mercury Rising.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Full Service

Driving Mom to
the grocery store

alone now
frail as dust

we pass
the c-store that

once was a gas station where
she would drive the car

filled with summer crazed kids
for Rusty the owner

to gas up and
wash the windows

and check the oil
and check the tires

and flirt.

~ ~ ~

In today's Afraid to Blink ~ Off Center

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Crazy Driver Update

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post called Rude Awakening.

Briefly, a young man driving his dad’s car left the road at a high rate of speed about 3 blocks from our house. He careened across a muddy drainage area, narrowly missed 2 power poles and a fire hydrant, crashed into an evergreen shrub at the corner of our house, and stopped within 6 inches of actually coming into contact with the house.

We filed a claim with his insurance company. Their offer was reasonable and fair. We were just waiting for the check.

Yesterday, Click happened to be home for lunch when the doorbell rang. It was the kid who had been driving that car. He said the insurance company sent our check to him, and he just wanted to drop it off and apologize for what he did.

Click said, “You know your guardian angel must have been watching you that night.”

He said, “She was. It was my mom. She died 6 months ago.”

Later that evening Click checked our newspapers online obituary archives. His mom died in January. She was 50.

I hope she reads this.

~ ~ ~

In today’s Afraid to Blink, Botanic Gardens.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Scheherazade Project: Theme for 7/17-7/30

The Scheherazade Project: Theme for 7/17-7/30

If you are not seeing "The Rotary Club," click on < < Home below.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Rotary Club

This is my entry in the latest Scheherazade Project. Comments and/or constructive criticism are welcome. It’s a short little story I call “The Rotary Club.”


A pack of wandering dogs moved silently down the street like mist. Betty watched from the window of The Galaxy Diner, watched until they disappeared from sight, then she slowly turned away.

“What are you doing?” she asked.


“I can see that. What are you writing?”

“Just some ideas,” he replied after a pause.

Betty sipped her coffee. TIN Man was quiet.

“Just some ideas,” he continued, “for a screen play.”


“I keep getting this image in my mind of a bus. You know, like a Greyhound.”


“Remember that old joke?” he asked. “The one about the blind guy trying to cross the street. He asked the guy next to him if there was anything coming and the guy tells him, ‘Nothing but a dog, man.’ So the blind guy steps out into the street and gets run over by a bus. He’s lying there bleeding and says to the guy standing over him, ‘I thought you said there was nothing but a dog coming.’ And the guy says, ‘Greyhound, man.’”

“Yeah, I remember. So that’s what the movie is about?”

“No. That’s not what the movie is about.”

Betty sipped her coffee. “So what’s it about?”

“About 2 hours, ok?”

“Ok. Sheesh.”

“You’re always asking me what the movie is about. How the hell do I know? I haven’t written yet. I’ve only been writing it for - - I don’t know how long. Too long.”

“You’ll get it, TIN Man. Someday it will come to you like a flash.”

“I’m having trouble with the ending.” He glanced toward the kitchen. “I wonder where Jackie went.”

“Endings are the worst,” Betty muttered and looked out at the sky turning orange from the rising sun. It was going to be another hot one.

“Blue Moon” by the Marcels played on the radio.

Betty leaned forward and whispered, “It’s a good thing you’re invisible. I’m starting to get stares again from across the room.”

“Stares?” TIN Man was absorbed in his work.

“Yeah. They’re whispering too. They see me talking to you but they can’t figure out who I’m talking to. It’s a good thing, huh?”

TIN Man was silent.

“Then they’d really have something the whisper about, huh?”

“Yeah - - uh, why’s that?”

“Why?” She looked at him grinning. “Silly. Because you’re naked.”

“Oh, yeah. I almost forgot.”

“Well, I mean except for your tennis shoes. Why do you wear those high-top black and white... things?”

“I like them.”

“They’re so un-hip.”

“They’re comfortable.”

Betty giggled.

“Oh, there’s Jackie now. She’s waiting on those people who just came in. The whisperers.”

TIN Man looked up. “I suppose she’s going to leave again at 5:00.”

Betty sipped her coffee. “Poor Jackie.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Sometimes I think she feels trapped here. This diner. This town. I know how she feels.”

“Me too,” TIN Man muttered. “And I haven’t even been here all my life.”

“She needs to get out of Galaxy.”

“Maybe you could talk to her today. You know. If she would just stick around – just a few minutes, at least...”

“She always leaves at 5:00 - on the dot.”

“Here she comes now,” TIN Man said. “Ask her!”

Jackie glided up to the table and dropped the check in front of Betty. “You doing ok, Sweetie?”

“We’re fine.”

Jackie lowered her voice. “Betty, you know it’s Thursday, right?”

“I know.”

Suddenly TIN Man stood up.

“For gawds sake, man, sit down!” Betty hurriedly looked around at the whisperers.

“Jackie,” TIN Man said. “Listen to me. Don’t leave today at...”

“She can’t hear you...”

“Betty stop that!” Jackie whispered.

“Stop what?”

“Talking like that.”

“I was just telling...”

“I don’t care who or what it is you’re supposedly talking to. Personally I don’t care. I’m just supposed to remind you that you have to leave - - it would be best if you leave before the Rotary Club gets here for their meeting. Ok?”

“I know,” Betty said quietly.

Jackie refilled her coffee. “This is the last one, ok?”

“Then you’re cutting me off, right?” Betty smiled and winked at her, understanding. Jackie walked back toward the kitchen, taking her apron off as she walked.

TIN Man watched. “It must be 5:00.”

“I was Queen of Galaxy before some of those guys were even twinkles in their daddy’s eye.”

“I know,” TIN Man nodded.

“In fact, I know things about some of their daddy’s they will never know.”

Elvis Presley was singing “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” on the radio. Betty turned to look out the window at the sunrise. She remembered riding in the back of a brand-new 1961 Ford Galaxy from her father’s car lot, right down Main Street in front of this very diner, sitting up high and all, waving, people cheering, 4th of July, 1961. If she was sitting here then, she could have seen herself and waved back.

“Oh my God!”

“What?” TIN Man asked.

Betty cupped her hands around her eyes and peered out the window.


“The bus..”

“What about the bus?”

“I could have sworn I saw Jackie walk right out if front of that bus.”

“Did she get hit?”

Betty peered out the window again, “The bus just kept going. I didn’t see her after that.”

TIN Man was silent.

“You don’t suppose she’s stuck in the...”

“No,” he said. “that only happens in cartoons.”

Betty giggled.


“In cartoons. That’s funny.” She sipped her coffee. “You know what else is funny?” she asked.

“No, what?”

“I was just thinking. At least Jackie got out of Galaxy.”

TIN Man laughed too.

Suddenly they were both still, reflective, lost in thought for what seemed an eternity.

Betty turned to look out the window. A pack of wandering dogs moved silently down the street like mist. Betty watched from the window of The Galaxy Diner, watched until they disappeared from sight, then she slowly turned away.

“What are you doing?” she asked.


~ ~ ~

In today's Afraid to Blink, see Finger Labyrinth.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

We Don't Got No Biscuits No More

This week is Cheyenne Frontier Days. That’s when our town more than doubles in population with visitors. Traffic is heavier. Restaurants are full.

We wanted to go to the parade today but I needed batteries for my camera and we were running late. So for convenience I suggested we go to two of my least favorite places – McDonalds (for breakfast) which is located inside WalMart (for batteries).

At McDonalds we ordered their bacon, egg & cheese biscuit. You know, the breakfast sandwich.

“We don’t got no biscuits no more,” was the curt reply from the young lady behind the counter who looked like she had more than her share of biscuits in her life.

Period. End of discussion. Said as if it was a challenge. Like, “You got a problem with that?”

Now I’ll admit, we don’t watch much TV so we probably missed the memo. Turns out the biscuits have been replaced by some glompy pancake-like pastry, and they call it a McGriddle. You know how they put a “Mc” in front of a word, and presto! - a new word is born.

Like I said, we missed the memo. Sorry.

Next time (in another galaxy and another time) I’ll say, “Give me a McSandwich made with a McPancake and some McBacon and some McEggs. Oh, and make that a McMeal so I can get that greasy McDeep-Fried-Potato thing and a hot McCup of McCoffee. You got a McProblem with that?”

BTW – the McGriddle sucks!

And yes, she really did say, “We don’t got no biscuits no more.”


~ ~ ~

In today's Afraid to Blink, photos of the parade.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

My Tag Response

I got tagged by Theresa. If you haven’t seen it yet, I am to name five items found in my:

I don’t know what’s in my wallet because it’s in the pocket of my pants. And I’m not wearing my pants because they’re in my pickup.

(don’t ask)

a dead car battery
3 parking tickets
my underwear

(don’t ask)

empty beer cans
a box of 45-year-old “Mad Magazines”
entrance to another dimension
someone else’s underwear

(don’t ask)

I know my pants, my wallet and my keys are in there. I don’t know what else because it’s locked. Did I mention my keys?

(don’t ask)


Today's Afraid to Blink photo.

Open Tag Challenge

Here’s an open tag for anyone who would like to participate. It’s a bit of a writing exercise, but then this is a writing blog so that works out quite well, dontchathink?

Here’s the deal.

~ Add the 2 digits of your age. Remember that number.

~ Add all the digits of your address and keep adding until you end up with a 1-digit number. Example: 2568 = 21 = 3. Get it?

~ Go to your CD collection. Count CD’s from left to right (or bottom to top) until you reach the 1st number.

~ Take out that CD and use your 2nd number to pick the corresponding track.

~ The title of that track becomes the title of your post. Write it.

My track was “Recovering The Satellites” by Counting Crows.

Date: July 15, 2068
Headlines: NASA/Wal-Mart Recovering the Satellites

NASA and the giant defense contractor, Wal-Mart, will join forces in a cooperative effort to recover all satellites currently is space.

According the Wal-Mart spokesman Josh Jason Kennedy-Bush, “Reliable intelligence indicates terrorist drones have hijacked one of our 3492 satellites and armed it with WMD’s. It is capable of raining fire and brimstone down upon us at any moment.”

When asked what brimstone was, Kennedy-Bush refused to elaborate.

The operation is expected to last from 3 weeks to 15 years and will cost $9 with a bunch of zeros and commas behind it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Broken rain
clouds pink
like her lips
full wet and

blue sky with music
blowin’ out the
back end of
her pickup

into the
wind and rain
clouds streakin’
‘cross the empty

reasons to leave
turning ‘round
to see if she’s
lookin’ back

as the bluegrass
scatters birds
through the air
like shattered tears,

her foot on the throttle.

~ ~ ~

Today's Afraid to Blink photo.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Scheherazade Project: Theme for 7/3-7/16


The post below is my contribution to the latest Scheherazade Project. The theme: Don't fear the big blue monkey. My story is called "Bobby."

Sometimes Kenneth disturbed people. He would say things like, “The theory of time is inconsistent with fried potatoes.” I mean, shit like that just out of the blue. Or, “Titanium is the root cause of chaos.”

The guy was smart as a friggin’ Einstein, he just made people nervous. Especially when he talked about Jesus, Joseph Smith and Yogi Bear – lumping them together like they was some kind of Trinity. Know what I’m sayin’?

Kenneth scarred people. He knew that. He didn’t mean to.

That’s just the way I am, he’d say to himself.

So that’s why he invented Bobby. I told you the guy was smart. He could build anything. Bobby the big blue monkey. He was probably a good 12 feet tall, head to toe, fully animated via remote control. He had facial expressions. Did you ever see the movie “Kong” – the new one? Bobby could make people like him like that, with his face and eyes. He was charming. He was funny. He wasn’t Kenneth.

And yet, he was Kenneth. And Kenneth was Bobby. Weird.

Remember the old joke, “Where does a 600-pound gorilla sit?”

Answer: “Anywhere he wants.”

Bobby could go anywhere using partly charm and partly his intimidating girth. Meanwhile Kenneth sat in a white van with tinted windows, unnoticed, typing on a little keyboard and moving a joy stick, making Bobby do his thing.

He went to a Dave Matthews Band concert. Just walked in and stood in the back. Watched the whole damn show.

Of course Bobby’s eyes were cameras and his ears were microphones. Kenneth sat in his van and taped the whole concert. The pirated Dave Matthews concert. Sold it on the internet. Maybe you heard about it.

Talking Heads. You remember their song, “The Facts of Life”?

Someday we’ll live on Venus
And men will walk on Mars
But we will still be monkeys
Down deep inside.
If chimpanzees are smart
Then we will close our eyes
And let our instincts guide us
Oh oh oh oh no.

Remember that? Inspired by Bobby.

So Bobby could go places and do things that most people couldn’t. Bobby had access. Therefore, Kenneth had access.

Maybe some people are just naturally evil. I don’t know. I don’t like to think that. But then Kenneth started going into women’s apartments when they weren’t home just to pilfer through their underwear – at first.

What Bobby was able to see and hear would make a CIA agent green with envy. Kenneth started using those little tidbits of information from Bobby to satisfy his sick mind.

Like the underwear. Disturbing and scary, but no one got hurt – physically, that is.

But we all know it didn’t end there.

Kenneth was in a down-hill slide on a slippery path to pain and grief. Pilfered underwear became stained underwear, which led to sexual assault, which grew to rape, which ended in murder.

It wasn’t Bobby’s fault. If the poor guy had a mind of his own he would have refused to watch those women, to eavesdrop, to do Kenneth’s stalking. But he had no choice. It was a shame what they did to him when they discovered his role as accomplice. It was a crying shame.

Kenneth is serving consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole. But Bobby was sentenced to death. He was dismantled, his electronics passed among government agencies like the boots, tobacco and water of a fallen soldier are divided among his comrades.

There are a few in those houses of government who knew the intentions of the bureaucracy were good but misguided, who knew it’s not the machine that is evil.

You see, we shouldn’t fear the big blue monkey. We should fear instead the dark heart inside. Know what I’m sayin’?