Saturday, September 30, 2006

Light of my Life

It is interesting that something as simple as a flashlight can bring memories rushing back. From the disposable Expo 67 flashlights my folks bought us at the world’s fair in Montreal to the little Cub Scout flip light my grandmother had given us, flashlights have played role in our lives. Not so much for giving light but for driving a stake in the ground during a certain time period. The fascination with flashlights has stayed with us – when we were older it was the powerful lantern that could send a beam high into the night sky. Nights when we threw the old tent up in the backyard and camped out, or just lie beneath the stars looking for meteors and UFOs. Lights taped to our toy rifles so we could be T.H.R.U.S.H. agents trying to off Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. If you have to ask who those two were you are probably too young to be up so late – go to bed.

My brother was kind enough to send me a flashlight on one of my birthdays. It is a most notable light in that it features Roy Rogers, yet another one of my favorite childhood memories. It would have been the kind of light we would have gone crazy for because aside from the bright main beam it has a red emergency beacon. And you can’t top a light festooned with pictures of the most famous cowboy in the West (ok, the Hollywood version of the West)!! Best of all it makes me think of my brother making it the best flashlight I have owned to the present.


Fluke, or I know Why the Winged Whale Sings
By Christopher Moore

The world of cetacean research is about to be set on his head as Nate Quinn tries to figure out why whales sing. The whole program is being funded by an old broad who claims the whales talk to her and were demanding a pastrami sandwich - even Amelia Earhart figures into the story.

Christopher Moore bends facts, warps time, and vandalizes science to bring the reader this tongue in cheek look at the world of research and theories of creationism and evolution. The book is a fun read, speckled with laugh out loud humor and a confounding mystery, probably why the research vessels were named “The Constantly Baffled” and “The Always Confused.”

Thursday, September 28, 2006

When the Smoke gets in Your Eyes

Spent last week visiting with my son, his wife, and the grandpuppy, as well as our daughter and her husband. It was a very nice visit. I really hated to see it end. This week has been a drag, lots going on at work and here at Casa Lucky. I am not really being anti-social, just playing a bit of catch up and I will be out visiting soon.

We are starting t o get some of the smoke from the Day fire here, the upper air currents are just right. It sucks for the people going through the fire, but does make for some spectacular skies here. My son and his wife had to drive near the fire on their way back to Northern California, but they said it wasn’t too bad on the highway.

See you soon!!


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Digery Don't

I came across a Digery Do at the world market and contemplated picking one up. I am not musical in any way, shape, or form, but the annoyance factor for the neighbors was pretty strong motivation. One problem, how do you make it go? The family line, being rather thin on aboriginal blood of any type, means the secret to playing the thing was never passed down. I love the near brown-note noise the thing pumps out when in the hands of a professional, and I know my neighbors would love to hear me crank the thing up at sunrise every morning – Ms. Phos won’t let me have a cannon, my other option for greeting the sun each day.

Then a thought came to me – a lot of my visitors are from the land of the upside-down and may be prodigious Digery Do players in their own right. Hell, they might even have some sheet music! So if you are from the bottom of the world and hold the secret to Digery Do mastery, please pass it along so I can entertain the neighborhood!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

It is a Dogs World

Having three dogs in the house has been a real education. Especially since two of the dogs don’t see eye-to-eye on whom the boss is. Austrella, the smaller of the bunch doesn’t want any paw prints on that train wreck so she keeps a low profile while the others fight for dominance. We have had some fang baring and a couple of scraps (can dogs have a cat fight?) but no blood has been drawn, yet. As for now there is an uneasy truce, both Alpha wannabes keeping their distance. Just what every vacation needs, tension…

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Boob Tube

The quality of television programming is about to bottom out – looks as though I am going to be doing a live spot cooking a recipe I sent in to the Public TV channel in Tempe. I am pretty stoked about the whole thing and hope it all works out. It is a rare opportunity to totally screw it up in front of a pretty good sized audience. The last time I was on TV was a kid’s show called “Pops” a local Howdy Doody rip-off format show in Milwaukee. That was in the early sixties. I was a cub scout and television wasn’t very old. I think I said “hi”, so this next appearance is going to be a bit more substantial, and in color. Good news for “American Idol”, come October it will no longer be the crappiest TV show in history.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Out on the Town

Bitzee, Breakfast, and Beads

Spawn of Phos, all two of them, and Ms. Phos unlocked the door for a short period and let me out in public. I hadn’t seen my son and his wife in quite a while, so it is nice having them and our grandpuppy Cashew visiting. We were lucky in that my daughter was able to come along as well, though we missed having her husband with us. Someone has to work, I suppose.

Anyway, we loaded up Ms. Phos’ van and headed for Glendale, AZ - a town that is probably one of the more poorly named cities in the US, as there is neither a Glen nor a Dale anywhere within about 500 miles of the place. There is however, a quaint restaurant called Bitzee mama’s where the Phos clan had some breakfast, if you count tamales and tostadas as breakfast food. The food was ok, Ms. Phos and daughter of Phos stuck with the more rational breakfast, son of Phos ordered a hamburger just to needle me (I hate when you take someone to an ethnic restaurant and instead of trying the specialties of the country they whuss out and get the cheeseburger) and his wife ordered biscuits and gravy, which had the appearance of congealed dog vomit. The original Bitzee Mama sold it to someone else and the place isn’t quite the same - the quality of the food has fallen off a bit, so sad but that seems to be the way things go when a popular place changes hands.

After the meal it was off to the Bead Museum, one of the few things in Downtown Glendale worth a look. They have revamped the facility and this time the change was for the best. The museum is really nice and we were lucky enough to see part of the exhibition. The womenfolk retired to the museum store where they proceeded to empty my wallet – ok, the book on making glass beads is mine. Looks kind of interesting and I can see the fascination Gnat has for glass blowing, though this is on a much smaller scale. You can still get some cool shrapnel if you screw it up, so I have that going for me, which is nice.

The final stop in Glendale was Arizona’s Best Kept Secret (their words) Cerreta’s Candy Company. They do make some great candy and once again my wallet found itself in Ms. Phos’ hands. I got some jalapeño peanut brittle out of the deal so all is well.

It is so nice having everyone around, including al three dogs. We had son of Phos’s in-laws over and with her sisters two little ones it was a three ring circus without a ringmaster. The dogs loved the little kids because the kids were easy marks for handouts. As much as I hate this Deitz-Crane shanty they call a house, and I do, it really felt nice to have it filled with life for at least a couple days.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Grandpa Phos's Rules o' Nature

After years of reading Mark Trail, observing nature, TV naturalists, and magicians that work with animals I have come up with a list of the heretofore unwritten rules of nature. It has come to my attention not everyone is familiar with these rules, well more like guidelines actually, so I thought I would share them. Break them at your own peril…

-Big and powerful trumps cute and fluffy
-He who bites best bites last.
-If you taste good, life is short
-Brightly colored things are usually bad news
-Large sharp fangs can make up for stupid
-Mess with the ray, get the barb
-If you don’t know what it is, leave it alone
-Fast and cunning doesn’t work at the edge of a cliff
-If it looks venomous, it probably is
-If it shows no fear, best give it wide birth
-Size doesn’t always matter (see venomous)
-Let someone else taste it first
-You can’t take the wild out of animals; you are only a blue plate special to the lion you are taming
-Dangerous animals make lousy pets

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blood Sucking Fiends

Blood Sucking Fiends: A Love Story
By Christopher Moore

Jody is young, pretty, and a vampire. The bloodsucker that turned her did so for the entertainment value and plans to kill her when he tires of the show. Jody comes into her own with the help of Tommy, an aspiring young writer, a gang of hilarious grocery store stockers, and the Emperor of San Francisco.

BSF is a fast paced humorous romp through the dark side. It is tough to put down, with well developed characters and an absorbing plot. This book is highly recommended for those in need of a good laugh and a way to test vampires. If you love snapping turtles, you may want to give this book a pass…

Friday, September 15, 2006


Taking a break from house cleaning – we have a big hoohah Sunday and I want to get a head start. Looks like we’ll have pretty much the whole Phos clan here this weekend, plus some assorted in-laws. Should be fun. The most exciting part is introducing our grandpuppy Cashew to our unsocialized doggies. I suspect I will get a taste of what Roy Horn of “Siegfried and Roy” felt as the tiger was dragging him off stage for a quick snack (the tiger not Roy). Lucky for Roy the tiger thought the meat tasted a little queer and dropped him.

If you want to see some interesting pictures of Oregon, check out the CrallSpace, Dan has some great shots of the country side and some small towns…

Speaking of photos, I just got a new Canon S3 so I will be bothering you with some test shots… Well, vacuum cleaner is calling, have a great weekend!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Neolithic Tagging

In Search of Something

We have piles of rocks out here in the desert, lots of piles of rocks. Some of these piles are special be cause they were tagged by the local inhabitants before natural climatic changes made Arizona suck. Well, suck in a subsistence agriculture sense, the original inhabitants moseyed on, died off, or decided to flaunt their reservation status and start casinos. Still scalping the tourists after all these years. But that’s not the point. The point is the paleo-people scritched and scratched on some of the rocks out here. There have been volumes written as to why and what the natives were trying to say, but it is all guesses. Hell, archeologists are still trying to piece together what the cultures were like back then - with so little info how can you get inside their heads to find out what they were thinking, what motivated them, what their belief system (if any) was?

Vandalizing the boulders may have been a spiritual thing, or may have been recording actual events. There well may be a combination of reasons for re-decorating the local landscape.

Some would say the carvings portray visitors from space. Maybe, but if so the visitors didn’t hang about, whether they had an appointment to help the Egyptians with their pyramids, or maybe they were smart enough to see the direction earthlings were headed and didn’t want to leave any fingerprints on that train wreck, they left without a trace. Some out here even believe Jesus toured North America, so maybe they were depictions of his trip, but I suspect space visitors would be a more rational explanation.

I tend towards the spiritual thing. Life was tenuous at best during the dawn of man and humans always need an explanation for things. What better explanation for some new phenomena then a supreme sprit willed it, ergo all is well. Another reason I tend towards the spiritual is the Sioux practice of fasting on top of Bear butte for four days and nights on a vision quest. I was lucky enough to see drawings (on paper) done during some of these early quests and the figures in the drawings are very similar to the petroglyphs out here. Now take into account different people in different situation and an earlier time and I may be way off, but all since is, is best guess- heard that in a movie once.
I doubt we’ll ever have a definitive answer as to why the prehistoric public created the glyphs, they are interesting to look at and in a give a measure of immortality to the carvers.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Religion and Snack Foods

I opened a bag of Rold Gold pretzels and there he was – the jesus pretzel, the pretzel who sacrificed himself to free all snack food. I had never seen his like and as tempted as I was to put him on E-bay (in the “there’s one born every minute” section) I felt it would smirch the dignity of the moment. I wasn’t going to eat the jesus pretzel, primarily because despite being a deity in its own right, there was an unwholesome air about the thing, sort of an unfinished snack abortion kind of vibe. This hardly dulls its majesty, however. I am thinking about charging admission to see the thing, after all I come from an area where people are stupid enough to line up to witness a patch of bark that bore an eerie resemblance to mama Mary – couldn’t see it myself, but then I was never good at those 3d hidden picture things and I probably wasn’t as reefered up as the adherents to the miracle.

Like all misbegotten, misshapen snacks I am afraid there was no choice but to lay the jesus pretzel to rest in the garbage. I am sure it will rise again and perhaps when you open a bag of Rold Golds it will be sitting there in all its glory. Or maybe they fixed the problem that was generating mutant pretzels on their snack food production line.

Pizza Friday

Ain’t Nobody Don’t Like No Pizza

Whether you are Joe Pizzabox or some elitist gourmet pizza snob you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t like pizza. I am sure there are some folks out there that don’t care for it, but I have never visited that trailer park.

Around the Phos household Friday night is pizza night. I like to make my own, because the more I dine out the more I find I prefer dining in. We used to like Streets of New York, but they eliminated the “Old Standby”, a classic tomato based pizza and went with all sorts of effete “metropizzas” and it was never the same.

My recipe is fairly simple, I pirated the crust recipe from somewhere, I have been using it for years and it hasn’t failed me yet – I did substitute whole wheat flour, but that has been the only mod.

1 cup water

2Tbs light olive oil

2tsp Yeast

3 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp Italian seasoning

Yield: two crusts

In a mixing bowl, add warm water (hot from the tap) to the yeast. Allow the yeast a few minutes to revive from its dormant state, then add the oil and whisk on low for about two minutes. Add the salt, Italian seasoning and one cup of flour and mix, then add the rest of the flour one cup at a time and mix to form dough. I use a stand mixer and for the last cup of flour switch from the paddle to the dough hook and wait ‘til the dough balls up and climbs the hook. Safety tip – use some spray oil to lube up the paddle and the hook before mixing or it’ll be the devil’s own trying to get the dough off. If you want to make the dough by hand, have at. I let the dough rise for an hour, punch it down and split it in half. One half goes in the fridge for next week’s pizza, the other I roll out (yes, roll out) with my rolling pin. I toss the plain crust into the oven for five minutes to bake. Remove and allow to cool. It may poof up a bit, just pat it down to flatten while it is still hot.

Sauce and Toppings

I don’t get too carried away with this. I use half a can of tomato sauce (about 4oz), pour it over the crust and spread it out as evenly as possible. Sprinkle on some Italian seasoning, hot crushed red peppers and then grate Romano and Parmesan cheese over the top. Don’t go cheap, not all cheese is created equal and the stuff that comes in the can is crap – spring for genuine Parmesan and Romano. Decorate with your favorite ingredients; top with cheese (I use a combination of provolone and Mozzarella). Drizzle some olive oil over the top and sprinkle on some dried oregano. I bake the pizza at 425F for 12 minutes and then check on it – if the cheese is starting to brown in spots it is ready. Pull the pizza, allow to cool a bit, then slice and eat. Or take a picture of it, then slice and eat, if you are the type that takes pictures of all your food. Bonus: waiting for me to take happy snaps of our food drives the wife crazy!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Odds and Ends, but Mostly Odd

M is for Moron

My wife teaches pre-school and this week it was all that and the letter “M”. Consequently she asked parents to bring something to showthe kids that started with the letter M. To my wife’s dismay, one mother brought a bottle of medicine. Sure enough, starts with M. She said “don’t worry, it is empty”, but turned out it wasn’t so her fall back was “it has a child proof cap.” Medicine, good call. Why not bring a Machete, which starts with M and so do Machine gun and Methamphetamine, which I believe the woman was on at the time.

Another silly thing

We have two Public Smoking Ban laws on the ballots this election day. One of them is backed by a cigarette company and is less restrictive then some of the local city bans already in place – imagine that. When you hear that a cigarette company is backing a smoking ban of nay type you can be sure something is rotten. If they really gave a damn about people they’d quit making the cigarettes. The cigarette companies are not your friend – they are trying to kill you. They even admit they are trying to kill you, read the side of the pack.

Phoenix Craziness

There is a push for a street race in Phoenix, much to the chagrin of the Phoenix International Raceway folks who are anxious to keep the race money in their own pockets. The crazy thing is the citizens of Phoenix drive in a street race every day of the week for free just getting to work. The city could make a fortune selling all the speed limit signs to some city where the residents actually give a shit; we sure as hell aren’t getting any use out of them.

Baseline Killer

Our newsies here in Phoenix always act as though there’s a CNN scout in the audience and this time is no different as they tried and convicted some dude the police picked up and have accused of being the Baseline Killer. The Baseline Killer was sharing top billing with the Serial Shooter (may actually be Serial Shooters) here for quite sometime, but they caught the alleged snipers.

Now the guy the police caught may be the Baseline Killer. The composite sketch they had was vague enough any black male would fit the bill. To be sure this guy has some impressive credentials having been in and out of prison for aggravated assault and armed robbery. He may well be the Baseline killer, the police aren’t too forth coming to the public as to what evidence they have so it is hard to say why they have come out and said that he’s the man. The sad thing is the news jackasses here already have the gallows built and aren’t privy to anymore information that the general public. I think they forget they are there to report the news, not make it.

The Tortilla Curtain

Building a wall won’t stop illegal immigration. The Berlin Wall didn’t stop people from escaping into Western Germany and the DMZ doesn’t keep North Koreans out of South Korea. Walls may slow people down, but there are ways around or under in some cases the barriers. I think politicians like the wall concept because it is tangible; “See I am protecting you by building this monument to futility” said the tax bloated senator.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

So Long, it's been good to know you...

I found him rather irritating, but it is still sad to see him go. TTFN Steve…

Book Review: Definitely Dead

Definitely Dead
By Charlaine Harris

“Definitely Dead” is the continuing misadventures of Sookie Stackhouse in the world of the supernatural. This time she puts a tiger in her tank to energize herself to deal with rogue Weres, a Vampire turf battle, and the maniac relatives of a woman she killed in self-defense. The book stands well on its own and is tough to put down.

In this volume the reader gets a glimpse into why Sookie is a bit more special then even she had imagined and learns the answer to why Vampires find her so attractive. DD is just the thing for an enjoyable way to pass some time or unwind from a rough day – after the reader sees what Stackhouse has been through his or her day won’t seem quite so bad. .

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Restaurant Review: Carrabba's Italian Grill

Main Entry: 1sucks
Pronunciation: Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Function: verbEtymology: Middle English suken, from Old English sucan; akin to Old High German sugan to suck, Latin sugere transitive verb

1 a :
to keep customers waiting for long periods of time. To not have advertised food and or serve soup that has the appearance and flavor of dishwater. The act of making pizza that has no flavor and charging high prices for low grade dog food.

2 a :
to draw by or as if by suction;when a restaurant sucks the money out of your wallet for little or no return -- Kenneth Browe; inadvertently sucked into the shithole known as Carrabbas-- Martin Levin;

b :
to take in and consume by or as if by suction; a vacuum cleaner sucking up dirt; <suck up a few beers; opponents say that Carrabbas suck the life out of their customers -- Michael Knight;

intransitive verb

1 :
to draw something in by or as if by exerting a suction force; especially : to draw milk from a breast (who wouldn't like that?) or udder with the mouth

2 : to make a sound or motion associated with or caused by suctio; this restaurant sucked ; the walls sucked in and out, the cockroach resting on the waiter's shoe -- Virginia Woolf;

3 :
to act in an obsequious manner; when the waitrer wanted a tip so bad he felt it necessary to read the menu to us...the candidates come sucking around -- W. G. Hardy; -- usually used with up;sucked up to the boss;

slang : to be objectionable or inadequate;Carrabba’s Italian Grill really sucks -- Playboy;people who went said Carrabba’s Italian Grill sucked -- H. S. Thompson; -

suck it up :
to make the effort required to do or deal with something difficult or unpleasant, like eating at Carrabba’s Italian Grill