Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012

Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas San Diego, Ca. March 2012
Eddie Arana, Rick Thibodeau, & Chris Bakunas at Luche Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, March 2012

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Unfavorable Result Of A First Date

She rejected him, but in the nicest, most pleasant manner
Still it hit him hard, and he drove home over-analyzing the
Had he talked too much? He knew he talked too much, he
Had he not asked her enough questions about herself? He
Was he too over-the-top with the initial compliments? 
Had he come across as too self-centered? Too egotistical?
Or had he just appeared graceless, like a big clumsy oaf?
He stewed, he fumed, he worked himself over like a petty
He was sure it wasn't how he was dressed - he was neat,
Maybe he should have asked her more about her life's
Maybe he should have mentioned far fewer of his life's
Was it possible he had unknowingly committed an egregious
       Faux Pas?
He tried to recall every word he spoke, every minute of their
This neurotic cross-examination went on for the rest of the 
And all the while she was thinking he was just a little too

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Storm Settled Down But The Passion Never Did

She looked for all the world like a film star
From the golden era of movies
When all the men wore tuxes to all-night parties
And the women wore out the men

Kept her thick dark hair cropped short
She liked it to frame her face for effect

He looked like a man confused and out of place
Standing near a fountain in the warm afternoon rain
With an unopened umbrella tucked under his arm
She walked up and asked him for the time

He watched her lips as she spoke but didn't hear a word
Motionless he stood as she waited for an answer

He snapped to as she repeated the request
And he stammered out words that riveted her attention
She liked the way his eyes darted furtively as he smiled
Wondered if he might be more than a good tan

They stood together by the fountain in the afternoon rain
Words tumbled out of mouths and into eager ears

Mutually attracted, mutually intoxicated, mutually askew
They had both known this feeling before, this feeling -
Like swimming in mud through the middle of a traffic jam
Time slowed down around them as they made the jump

Numbers exchanged, plans made for coffee on Tuesday
Tuesday coffee making for a Friday night date

The date lead to years of complete unrestrained indulgence
In one way or another in every way they could imagine
Reckless, feckless, they left each other breathless
Two hearts fleeing from the world as one

Decades passed and they both liked to tell the story
Of a how a young woman with thick dark, short cropped hair 

Asked an out of place man standing by a fountain in the rain
If he had the time
And how the man's confused look cleared up when he said
"For you, I have all the time in the world"

The Limitations Of MS Paint

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Very Large Fungus Shaped Cloud

He reached for a bottle of wine
The one with the twist-off cap
It's been awhile since he's seen the sun shine
It's been awhile since he's been able to walk a straight line
'been awhile since he actually gave a crap

Shambolic indifference
To anything anyone has to say
A distinct lack of interest
A distinct sign of his spiritual decay

Spends all day in front of the television
Doesn't care if anyone thinks its a waste
His ears never hear the words of derision
Might as well try to give an elephant a circumcision
If you think he'll spend a second feeling disgraced

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day, 2015

                        Bronze of Danny Dietz sculpted by Robert Henderson of Canon City, Co

"I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans, always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves."

From the US Navy SEAL creed

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Today's Helpful Hint

We've all seen the Steve Martin movie "The Jerk," right? Remember the scene in which Steve's character in the film, Navin R. Johnson, gets a bit of advice from his surrogate father as he is preparing to leave for St Louis?

"Lord loves a workin' man; don't trust Whitey; see a Doctor and get rid of it."

It's sound advice - heck, it's RT's favorite advice. The last bit, the "...see a Doctor..." part. Yeah, that's real important and should not be ignored.

Case in point:

This is a picture of my buddy TD in his hospital bed this afternoon. Why, you may ask, is my buddy TD in a hospital bed? Well, it's simple. He didn't see a Doctor and get rid of it.

A week or so ago, as he was slicing into an avocado, TD accidentally cut his left hand with the knife he was using. It wasn't a deep cut, and it wasn't even very bloody. But it was somewhat of a serious gash, and made with a knife being used to prepare food, which meant it was covered with microscopic biological agents capable of serious harm.

TD bandaged up the cut and continued to prepare dinner, thinking nothing other than the cut would be a nuisance but not a handicap, as it was in his left hand and he is right handed.

He taped the two fingers directly above the cut together so he could still use the hand, albeit awkwardly and with a little pain. He never even entertained the idea of going to a hospital or Urgent Care place - TD had cut himself a hundred times if once, and he wasn't a hospital-visiting wuss.

Yesterday morning he woke up to find that his hand had swollen considerably, to a point where he could not bend his fingers anymore.

It was then he went to the hospital, and in short order it was determined that he had a fairly serious infection that had to be excised, stat.

The surgery effectively removed the majority of the infected tissue, and as of today the swelling has subsided a lot, but he had to stay in the hospital last night, and will again tonight, as he is hooked up to an IV that is pumping antibiotics into him 24/7.

Which leads us to today's helpful hint, or rather, hints.

1) You cut a gash into your hand (or any other area of your body), get to a Doctor. Especially if the knife you cut yourself with was exposed to organic matter prior to entering your body part.

2) Tetanus shots should be gotten every ten years. If you don't remember the last time you got a tetanus shot, it's probably time to get one.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Minimum Order

The escalator man didn't have much of a chance
With the elevator girl when he asked her for a dance
They were two opposed souls traveling in different directions
Glances they thought they were catching 
Were actually just reflections

Friday, May 22, 2015

Weren't You One Of Those Teens...

Wait a minute Mr. Critically Judgmental
Weren't you one of those teens
That listened to the same song for hours on end
Trying to figure out the lyrics that had such profound meaning
Yes, yes you were
And weren't you one of those teens
Who spent hours in front of the mirror
Tracking every blemish on your face
Looking for the slightest reason to hate yourself
And weren't you one of those teens
Who devoured every word on every page of every book
Trying to find meaning for your life
Again, yes, that was you
And weren't you one of those teens
Convinced no one could ever understand you?
Would never understand how it feels to be your special self
Going through all your own special little trials and tribulations
Remember when you were one of those teens convinced that
Not one of those adults had a single clue what life was about
And they had no idea what they were talking about
When they said you would grow out of it
Yes, yes indeed, that was you
Think hard, try to remember
All of those times when you struggled to find an identity
Find a way to fit in, to be cool, to not feel awkward
It was all there, you experienced it all
And you also experienced all of the criticisms, all of the hate
You suffered through embarrassment after embarrassment
Trying to grow up, act like an adult, stop acting like a child
It took you forever
So cut the kids who are going through exactly what you did
And who are doing many, if not most, of the things you did
In order to cope, to try to deal with some of the stress
Of being a kid

A little slack. Just a little.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

An Emotional Longing Tinged With Self Doubt

With the passing of the years
It's become evident that I've learned a few things
Particularly about how life has a way of forgiving
Mistakes that had been made, missteps that had been taken
So very forgiving
Generously so
All life requires is 
A bit of letting go
Just letting go
Let it go
And live to understand life
As the greatest gift you'll ever know

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

...It's The Circle Of Life...

                                  There you go,,,look twice before darting out into traffic

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Water, Water, Everywhere It Shouldn't Be...

About the only thing that comes close to the disconcerting smell of fire upon waking up has to be the disconcerting waking up to the sound of running water...where there should not be the sound of running water.

The ol' boy just couldn't hold it together any longer

When I walked down the stairs this morning I heard the sound of running water - not running as if from a faucet however, but running as in flowing across a surface.

The former location of the ol' boy

To my annoyance, the laundry room and the garage were underwater - not a lot of water, mind you, but underwater nonetheless. At first I thought it might be from all the rain we have been getting here in Lakewood (I haven't had to water the grass since mid-April), but that wasn't the case. 

It was the water heater.

                              Same day installation in this case meant do it yourself  - so I did.

The water heater came with the house when I bought it 15 years ago(!), and had been installed by the previous owners in August of 1991. Twenty-four years is a helluva life for a water heater, much longer than should be expected.

I spent the day taking the old water heater out and installing a new one - whoo hoo! Do not tell me I do not know how to party!

Be sure to deburr and then rough up the ends of the copper pipes

Fortunately, I have adequate Plumber skills. After removing the old water heater, I cut the copper pipes (in and out) so I could replace the old school straight pipe with flexible copper conduit, which allows for the forming of a water hammer arrestor just by bending a nice hump into the FCC.

Be sure to solder properly - heat the pipe, not the solder

Once I had all the proper fittings in place, I hooked up the new water heater and after testing all the connections (my soldering skills are first rate, & I lathered liquid soap on the gas line connections - didn't get any bubbles, good to go), I turned the water back on and filled the new puppy up.

The new ol' boy - hopefully for the next decade at least

I had thought about going with a tankless heat surger dealio, but after a bit of research on the Internet, decided against it. 

Admittedly, the fact I could get a new standard water heater today, as opposed to having to wait at least five days for the tankless, had a lot to do with the decision...oh and the price difference - they want real money for a tankless.

And I want a hot shower tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The View From The Back Of The Chapel

I went to her wedding
Took a seat in the back
I don't believe anyone recognized me
Dressed from head-to-toe in black

She and I had been together
Roughly about a decade or so
Back then we made some crazy promises
To never let each other go

Now I'm watching her Dad walk her down the aisle
I'm watching her handsome intended take her hand
I'm watching her answer the Preacher with a smile
And I'm wondering why I couldn't have been that man

Friday, May 15, 2015

Thomas Hart Benton Exhibition & Sale At The Evergreen Fine Art Gallery

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975) is one of my favorite American artists. He was one of the foremost practitioners of what came to be know as Regionalism, and is primarily known for his murals which depicted the life of the everyday American, especially those who lived in rural areas.

Until yesterday, I had never seen any of his work outside of a museum - the Nelson- Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri has a fantastic collection of his larger paintings, and Indiana University houses a set of large murals he did on panels for the state's entry in the 1933 Century of Progress exhibition in Chicago.

Yesterday I learned that the Evergreen Fine Art Gallery (3042 Evergreen Parkway, Evergreen, Co.) was featuring works from the estate of Thomas Hart Benton, and even work from the artist's personal collection.

So of course yesterday I drove up to Evergreen, about thirty minutes from my home.

                                  Thomas Hart Benton, Utah Desert with Horse, oil on panel

The exhibition features about two dozen paintings, lithographs, watercolors, and ink/pencil studies, all of which are for sale. Small sketches in pencil start at around $6,000, while an original oil will set you back anywhere from $295,000 to $375,000.

So, yeah, I didn't pick up anything to hang on the living room wall.

                              Thomas Hart Benton, 5 Figures - 3 Holding, pencil on paper

I enjoyed the exhibition though, which is being held from May 9th through June 6th. The Evergreen Fine Art Gallery staff has done a great job of curating the show, and also has a number of pieces from many other well-known southwestern artists on display, as well as a rather nice sculpture garden.

                            Thomas Hart Benton, Cement Mill, watercolor & guache on paper

                        Thomas Hart Benton, Apache Reservation, ink wash/pencil on paper

                             Thomas Hart Benton, Repairing the Sloop, lithograph 1973

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Essentially, The Message

Her personal ad stated she was looking for a man in uniform, yet when I showed up at her door in the official outfit I wore to work every day at Burger King, she wanted nothing to do with me. Huh, fickle.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sketches From The Second Week Of May

I was asked by an acquaintance why I like to sketch with a ballpoint pen. The answer is two-fold, One, it's extremely convenient - all you need is a pen and a sketchbook, don't have to worry about sharpening a pencil or smudging the sketch (once I trained myself to sketch left to right, top to bottom that is). Two, it's unforgiving, so it forces me to really look at what I'm sketching, get the basic form down quickly, and try to remember where all the shadows fall and where the highlights would be (sometimes I'm not very successful with that, but eh, that's why practice is essential).

Monday, May 11, 2015

They Did Not Fall In Love, But it Was Close Enough

It's now just a memory almost too faded to clearly recall

She was working at a diner in College Grove
He was just an acne-scarred kid still in high school

The way she moved her hips when she walked over
The way her brown curls cascaded around her face
The way she smiled when she took his order

He read her name off the tag on her blouse and told her his
She told him he could take her number or come back after 10
He replied he'd find a way to kill the hours until then
They ended up out on the bay sharing a first kiss
Talked for half the night about the mystery that is attraction

She said she had come out from New York to get a new start
Had to get as far away as she could from everyone she knew
She had decided on San Diego because she liked the zoo
He lied to her and said he was in college majoring in art
As the sun came up they eyed each other with satisfaction

They ended up at her small apartment off Rolando
Dancing with one another in the dark living room
Dancing with one another in the dark bedroom

With the audacity of strangers they shared their dreams
With the audacity of strangers they shared their desires

It's now just a memory almost too faded to clearly recall

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Two-Finger Typist Leapt Under The Energetic Green Bear

You wouldn't know subtle if it punched you in the face

The silence screamed like a banshee in your ear

An altruistic devil is stealing your soul

He softly rattled some sense out of your head

His actions spoke in a foreign tongue

All those broken eggs and not one single omelet

The winning-est quitter in the history of mankind

He was doing like the French while in Rome

Time healed but left one helluva scar

The wicked were resting on the couch

That apple came to rest miles from the tree on the hill

The early bird met up with the late cat

The meek are fighting over their inheritance

Pride was well behind him but he still tripped up

Slow and steady came in a distant fourth

The iron was cold but it still did the job when used for striking

The sun was shining but no hay was made

Saturday, May 9, 2015

You Have To Know The Temperature

When I was a much younger man I swore I would not grow up to be one of those men who seemed to desperately cling onto whatever remnant of their youth they have by dressing or acting as if they were still a cool hipster dude.

And yet tonight I found myself at a party, dressed in a black silk shirt that was embroidered with Chinese language characters over the right breast pocket and featuring an ornate embroidered dragon on the back - and with metal buttons in the shape of dice. As well as wearing khakis, with loafers.

Seriously. When the hell did I start transforming into Charlie Sheen?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Meeting Of The Minds

When you walk into your kitchen and your cat appears to be chastising your two dogs for some infraction of pet rules, and the dogs are looking about guiltily, and anywhere but at the cat...well, you have to wonder, just what the hell did those dogs do?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Dashing, Smashing, & Crashing With The South Side Derby Dames

       The High City Derby Divas (in pink) & the South Side Derby Dames (in green) after the match

Years ago, in one of my many past lives, I dated a woman (TT) whose grandmother was a Roller Derby Queen in the 1940's & '50's. 

Now, when I first met TT's grandmother all I could think was there was no way this little ol' lady asking me if I wanted something to drink was a Roller Derby Queen - it wasn't until we went into the Den and I saw her collection of memorabilia and photographs from her hayday that I could envision her as a jammin' slammin' roller skating wonder woman.

                           The South Side Derby Dames and High City Derby Divas in action

Until a few days ago, she was the lone Roller Derby participant I had ever met. Thursday night while out and about I chanced upon a number of Roller Derby athletes relaxing after practice in the bar up the street from my house.

           The SSDD Blockers attempt to keep the HCDD Jammer Wakiki Warrior from breaking free

No, they were not wearing roller skates in the bar, but they were wearing the uniforms of a Roller Derby team - black shorts with fishnets or tights, and bright kelly green shirts and/or hoodies with numbers and nicknames printed on the back.

Initially I approached them thinking it would be cool to get a picture with a group of Roller Derby players, but then one of them, ("Slej Hammer") told me I should come out to their next league match, which was Saturday, May 2nd, and there I could get a picture with the whole team if I wanted. 

                           HCDD Jammer Wakiki Warrior gets past the SSDD Blockers

I instantly thought that would be a grand thing to do, and she gave me a handout that had all the info as to match time and location - it was scheduled for 7:00 in the evening, which was perfect as I got off work at 6:00, and it was at the Rocky Mountain Roller Hockey & Sports complex less than 5 miles from my house. And there would be beer.

                       SSDD Jammer Zoom Bayou fights to get past the HCDD Blockers

So Saturday night after work I raced home, changed out of the monkey suit, picked up my buddy BB, and we headed out for the Schaefer Sports Complex right off of Hampden - the RMH building is a privately owned arena, purpose built for Roller & Ice Hockey league play for children and adults, and it is located just north of the baseball fields at 3603 Independence Street in Lakewood.

The admission was $10.00 for adults (kids under 12 are free). There were quite a few people in the building for the match and BB and I quickly found a place to sit in the stands. The match got underway just as we took our seats.

                  Surrounded by his team, SSDD Coach Sum Sing Wong discusses strategy

After a few minutes of watching from the stands I noticed that it was possible to walk around the walls of the rink to get better vantage points of the competition, and even get on the rink fairly close to the taped out oval that the Roller Derby was being contested on. So of course I grabbed my camera and made my way to the heart of the action.

          The blockers for both teams ready to either help or hinder the Jammers lined up behind them

If you have never gotten up close and personal to a Roller Derby, I highly recommend you re-evaluate your priorities. 

While it is not non-stop action like a hockey game, it certainly has fewer interruptions than say, football or basketball. With the exception of the Jammers, who are the scorers for each team (the players with the stars on their helmets), all the players on the rink play both offense and defense, as the blockers for each team try to assist their own Jammer in getting past the opposing team, and prevent the oppositions Jammer from getting past them.
              The South Side Derby Dames bench patiently waits for their opportunity to join the fray

I know that only because BB had gotten to know a couple of Roller Derby enthusiasts seated next to him in the stands, and when I got back from my initial picture taking expedition, he filled me in on what they had shared with him. 

Also, when you come into the arena, the ticket seller hands you a little program and the first page of the program is devoted to explaining how the matches are played

            High City Derby Diva Blockers build a wall to prevent the SSDD's Jammer from scoring

The Roller Derby we were at is known as Flat Track Roller Derby (as opposed to Banked Track) and it is a fairly simple game. There are 5 players on each team, 3 Blockers, 1 Jammer, and 1 Pivot. 

Oh yeah, the Pivot. The Pivot is the player with the stripe on her helmet, and she has the distinction of being able to switch with the Jammer to become a scorer. However, for the most part the Pivot works with the Blockers to either aide their Jammer, or interfere with the opposing Jammer.

                                            Flamin' Skates - the laces say "Bitches Get Stitches"

The matches are divided into two 30 minute periods, and each 30 minute period is comprised of multiple 2 minute Jams - once a Jammer from either team has gotten past her opposing Blockers, she can score a point for every opposing player she laps for up to two minutes. However, she also has the option to end the Jam early by tapping her hips with both hands (though it's not so much tapping as a it is a quick Karate chop motion).

That's where strategy comes into play. A Jammer needs to stay aware of the other teams Jammer.  If she is able to score say, ten points before the opposition Jammer gets past her blockers, then she is smart to tap out and end play before that other Jammer can score more than five points, building and keeping a lead.

    The only thing in my experience that I can compare this to is a Rugby scrum, but with less gouging

Only the first Jammer to break through the blockers can stop play by tapping her hips BTW - the second Jammer does not have that option, so being the first Jammer through is crucial.

                                   Wakiki Warrior, the Jammer for the HCDD, goes down

Like all contact sports, there all a lot of penalties for improper play and/or illegal hits. However, it was beyond me which hits and holds were legal and which were not. Every penalty call seemed to be arbitrary. Some of the calls resulted in a what appeared to be a reset of the Jam, and some required the offending player to sit in a penalty box for awhile.

                     The SSDD bench listens to the encouraging words of an assistant coach

I did figure out that if a Jammer is forced out of the oval (represented by green tape on the rink's surface), then that Jammer has to circle back around to whatever blocker she was behind before she was out of bounds in order to re-enter the game.

       All the spectators gather on the rink after the match to congratulate both teams for a good match

Once I understood the basics of how a Derby was played, it made for a fairly interesting and exciting time. The women on each team appeared to range in age from the low twenties into the mid thirties, with a few possibly close to forty, and each and everyone of them seemed to be having a grand ol' time. 

They all played their hearts out, too - no slackers on either team.

                                           Low fives exchanged between fans and players

From what I could gather via the schedule printed in the little program, teams play once a month throughout the Summer and into the Fall. It's not hard to imagine that the once-a-month schedule is due to a necessary healing period for all the bumps and bruises suffered by all the players.

                             Finally, the picture I wanted to get at the bar.

If you're interested in attending a Roller Derby Match and you happen to be in Lakewood Colorado, check out the South Side Derby Dames website for their schedule - www. southsidederbydames.com - believe you me, there are a lot worse things you can spend ten bucks and an hour and a half on.