29 September 2007

Flower RIP

What a horrible turn of events -- the death of Flower (pictured), matriarch to the Whiskers clan on the excellent series "Meerkat Manor."

The Animal Planet series, now in its third season, took a sad turn Friday when a cobra infiltrated the Whiskers' den. When Flower tried to evict the unwanted tenant, she was bitten -- a fatal blow. It was a stunning event that demonstrates why "Manor" is one of the best series currently on television.

26 September 2007

Orchid You Not

In a world that is rapidly losing so many species of plants and animals, it is nice to be able to report the discovery, announced today, of 11 new species found in Vietnam.

The new species include a snake, two butterflies, and several orchids (one of which is pictured) not known to exist outside of the "Green Corridor" in the central part of the country.

You may read the article
here (make sure to view the slide show).

23 September 2007

Murder Comes To Life

Back in October 2006 I wrote about the dinner I had with Winnie Ruth Judd, who had been accused, tried, convicted and punished for a pair of murders in Phoenix in 1931. That original entry will be found here.

Saturday, Matt and I got our camera and took photographs of many of the places that played an important role in the Judd story. Oddly, they are all within three miles of our house!

With those photographs, and a few others, I have created a little website called Winnie Ruth Judd's Phoenix that might be of interest.

It is so strange to be able to travel the same roads, walk the same sidewalks and streets that had been walked by Judd and the two women who died that night. For the first time I understand the appeal of those murder or crime tours popular in Los Angeles, New York and other cities. It makes the story come alive when you can actually walk up to the place where it happened (pictured, 1931).

21 September 2007

The Hyphen RIP

The demise is being reported of one of the most useful elements of punctuation -- by which I mean, of course, the hyphen (known in journalistic circles as the en-dash).

I do not, however, buy the explanations offered in the article; rather, I would like to blame sloppiness and sloth -- two elements of modern culture that are damaging far more than literature, grammar and punctuation.

Is it the modern way to be sloppy? To write poorly? Apparently. Just as it is the modern way to refuse to learn proper grammar, how to punctuate properly, even -- dare I say it? -- proper manners.

Well, decide for yourself. The article is here.

16 September 2007

Help! Help! I'm Trapped in a Hole!

Sad but ultimately enriching story of humans helping a defenseless animal -- in this case, a donkey who had wandered from his field. Make sure to read how the caretaker scolded the animal. It's priceless!

The article is

15 September 2007

Building the Past

As a child, growing up in the then-small town of Phoenix, I wish I had had as much appreciation for the great architecture that existed in the city then, as I do of what precious little is left today.

Luckily, some of what is left is really great. Phoenix, as a city, has (in the past 20-or-so years) come to realize the diamonds that were being thrown away every time a historic building was razed, and made efforts to curb such destruction.

You will find an interesting article on some of the quirkier architecture in Phoenix from the 1950s (pictured)
here; and photographs of a lot of the buildings mentioned here (scroll down).

14 September 2007

Reigning Cats and Dogs

I want to say something about the impression given in the Los Angeles Times article (below) that pets are nothing more than some kind of substitute for children, relationships, friends, or whatever.

A pet is an important part of my house. My cat is not a substitute for a child (thank you very much), nor a substitute for friends, or for a healthy relationship. I treat my cat with respect, but she is a cat, not a human. She does not wear sweaters, does not get pampered at a day spa, and eats traditional cat food. Is she spoiled? Probably. But she does not get any kind of preferential treatment -- well, except for the occasional bowl of tuna juice, but that's not really unusual, is it?

Here follows two very different views of pets. I am not making any other comment about them. Things are what they are.

In America, pets are pampered and spoiled.

In Zimbabwe, pets are becoming food. (Warning: this article contains some unpleasant descriptions.)

12 September 2007

Together Again

You know, I'm a sucker for young love. I'm even more of a sucker for cute guys. So, when a cute guy is involved in young love, well, I go all woggly -- even if the cute guy is long dead, and the young love ended 50 years ago.

I write, of course, about actor and total hottie (in his day) Lon McAllister (pictured, left). I just found out today that he was boyfriends with fellow-actor William Eythe (right).

Information is scarce, but what I can gather is this:

McCallister and Eythe got together around the end of the war (1946-ish). McCallister was 23, Eythe 28.

A magazine photograph of the pair together enraged Darryl Zanuck, president of 20th Century Fox (Eythe's and McCallister's boss), who sent Eythe to England to break up the pair. It didn't work, of course. When McAllister joined Eythe in England, more photographs started popping up, spelling doom for Eythe. (But not McCallister.)

Attempting to save his career, Eythe did what other in-the-spotlight fags did in those days: he married a woman, in a relationship that lasted barely a year. McCallister and Eythe apparently broke up during that time; but got back together. All told, they had been together more than 10 years when Eythe died in 1957 -- aged 38.

I know it isn't much, but I kinda wanted to get them back together again -- if only in this little blog -- one last time.

More about McCallister here.

More about Eythe here.

11 September 2007

Waste Not

I have not seen any studies, but Americans have got to lead the pack in wastefulness: so many buy clothes, wear them a couple times, then give them away; they buy a big dinner, and only eat half of it, the other half to be thrown away; we have one of the lowest levels of recycling of any country in the world.

We Americans are just not frugal -- and, with the Great-Depression generation dying off, I am afraid we are getting even more wasteful.

I think I live a pretty frugal life. We try not to waste things, we don't waste food, we recycle as much as possible, we buy a lot of things for the house at thrift stores (at great prices, I might add).

Given all that, this is intriguing on so many levels. I don't think I could make the commitment these people made, but it is intriguing.

09 September 2007

Going Down With the Chip

Quite a troubling story being reported today by the Associated Press about cancer being caused by the same identification chips some people put in their dogs or cats -- and that some people are suggesting implanting in humans.

We had a chip in our dearly departed cat Eames; but have not yet chipped our new kitty Eero. Now, I'm not so sure I want to.

Read the story here.

08 September 2007

Rejection, Please!

I would like to think I have been somewhat successful in the 30+ years that I have been a writer. Famous? No. Wealthy from it? No. Published? Yes, many, many times. As far as I am concerned, that's success enough.

Along the way, however, I have received my fair amount of rejection notices -- for both articles and books.

I have written two novels and have had both resoundly rejected -- often.

I received a contract for my one non-fiction book, which I promptly signed amid much dancing around the living room, only to be notified shortly thereafter that the publisher was filing for bankruptcy.

Have publishers made a mistake in passing by my gems of art? I would like to think so. Such confidence is bolstered by a fascinating little essay in tomorrow's New York Times about the books that were rejected by the venerable Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Among them, "The Good Earth," "Animal Farm," "Lolita," and “The Diary of a Young Girl,” by Anne Frank, which was dismissed as “very dull.”

So, I guess there is still hope for "News on the Homefront" (my second novel).

You may read the essay here.

06 September 2007

Warming Up to Global Warming

Whether you are smart and realize global climate change is real, or stupid and think it's just another invention of Al Gore (like the Internet), you have to admit something is changing the planet.

Cartographers have been working diligently to redraw maps, keeping up with myriad changes over the Earth's surface. It is interesting to see how different places have changed in just a few years. A fascinating article about those changes is here.

Even more interesting is a "Top Ten" list of other changes that have occurred on terra firma during the climate change. You will find the list here.