Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Haunting

Our first house in the high desert was--in 1973--way out in the middle of nowhere (pictured above as it looked in 2002). It was a ranch-style place with no electricity, no phone, and water had to be trucked in. This house had a real ghost inhabiting it that many people encountered, but that's not the story I'm going to tell today.

Instead, I've been thinking about a seance that we had there one Halloween night. My brother and I, along with our best friend Calvin--all teenagers--gathered around a candle-lit table with the woman we lived with at the time who definitely had some kind of psychic powers. Maybe my mom was there as well.

We held hands and instead of conjuring up the ghost who lived in the house, the woman asked us to concentrate on the two graves that were in the front yard. These graves, marked by a sign that said "Hard Times," were there when we moved in, along with a lot of other "ranch" paraphernalia. We had pretty much come to the conclusion that these graves were props to make the place look more like an Old West ranch. But there was always a small bit of doubt. Maybe the graves were real?

After a while, the woman said she was getting an image in her mind. She said the people buried in the graves were trying to communicate. Keep concentrating she said. I thought I felt the table move. I thought I heard voices in the dark upper corners of the room. I thought I heard a bell.

She said she saw a man...he was wearing a uniform who looked a like a military man. She couldn't tell what branch of the service he was in, but he had many stripes on his sleeve. He was a high-ranking military man. He was there and he wanted us to know something. I thought I saw him in my mind too. He had a confession to make. He had committed suicide and killed his wife. They were the ones buried in the graves out front. He wanted us never to forget what had happened.

The woman then abruptly stopped the seance. She said she didn't think it was a good idea to go on. Then she got up and left the table, leaving us teenagers there stunned.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Skeptical of Everything

"I read in Harper's Magazine a few years ago an article by a highly educated man wherein he told with what conscientious pains he had brought up all his children to be skeptical of everything, never to believe anything in life or religion or their own feelings without submitting it to many rational doubts, to have a persistent, thoroughly skeptical, doubting attitude toward everything. In other words to weazen and kill in themselves all spontaneous love, passion, enthusiasm, all creative power. I think he might as well have taken them out in the backyard and killed them with an ax."

Source: "If You Want to Write" by Brenda Ueland.

Found on Inward/Outward

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Now Reading... 3 Nights in August

Back in the late 70s, I used to go to Dodger games with my girlfriend Sharon and her family. I used to stare at Dodger outfielder Rick Monday and think, "What a job that guy has. He gets to stand out in a grassy field all day, getting a nice tan. He makes good money. Girls love him." I thought, since I had to choose a career anyway, why not be a baseball player? Seems like a good job. Somebody has to do it.

Well, I never made any steps in that direction, so consequently, imagine my surprise when I never made it to the big leagues. Now, I'm thinking I may be a little too old. I guess I will have to be a manager.

3 Nights in August is a great book for prospective major league managers like me to read. It looks at St. Louis Cardinal manager (and vegan) Tony LaRussa, examining how he coaches through every pitch, every at bat, every situation in a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs in 2003.

If I were a manager--say of the Boston Red Sox in tonight's World Series game in Colorado where they can't use their designated hitter--my first decision would be to sit slugger David Ortiz and stick with the red-hot Kevin Youkilis ("The Greek God of Walks") at first base. That way you get great offense along with great defense---and of course base running, which Ortiz doesn't offer. Ortiz would then be available to pinch hit.

The real manager of the Red Sox, Terry Francona, must have access to some esoteric stats I don't have. He's going with Ortiz at first and benching Youkilis. Hope it's the right move, Terry. You're on your own on this one.

Amado's First Blog



Friday, October 26, 2007


The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction
the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.
Who can deny?

(From “Song” by Allen Ginsberg. Read the whole poem here.)
That's what fall is all about....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Kids + Co. report from yesterday: "Amado had a great day. He loved playing soccer and watching the helicopters outside as always."

Halloween on a Budget

I've been too busy with work and still lacking energy from being sick last week to post much, but if anyone is looking for cool, economical, Mexican-themed Halloween costumes, check out Loteria Chicana. Blogger Cindylu has compiled a list of easy-to-do costumes if you want to be La Adelita (above), Cantinflas, Antonio & Mirthala, Scarecrow, Frida, or La Chilindrina. These costumes may only work in California, but sí mon, they are really cool.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Greatest Sports Names!

October's a great sports month, with the Major League baseball playoffs, the World Series, and the NFL and CFL. So what better time to salute the greatest names in sports. These are my nominations, if you have better ones just let me know....

Baseball: Coco Crisp

I guess I'm getting used to Coco's name now that he's on TV a lot with the Red Sox. But the first time I saw him I couldn't stop laughing at his name. One of the commentators said he was named after his mom's favourite breakfast cereal. Watch him tonight in the American League Championship. However, he's been pretty soggy so far in the playoffs.

Football: Coy Bacon

Growing up in LA, I remember Coy Bacon from his stint with the Los Angeles Rams around 1970. I think I just realized what a cool name this man has. Cool, but a little weird. I'm hoping that he wasn't named after some kind of breakfast his mother had.

A runner-up would be Sherman Plunkett, who my parents named my first dog after in the 1960s. I still remember when I discovered Sherman Plunkett dead and stiff as a board out by the trash cans on our East LA street. I was told he was poisoned. But I digress....

Basketball: A two-way tie between Mugsy Bouges and Spud Webb. Both were amazing 5-foot-something stars in a world of 6-foot-7 giants.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

5:04 p.m., Oct. 17, 1989

I am sure everyone who lived in the Bay Area in 1989 remembers exactly where they were when the Loma Prieta earthquake struck at 5:04 p.m., Oct. 17, 1989. Above is a picture of the destruction in downtown Santa Cruz, where I lived.

I lived in Santa Cruz, however at the moment the earthquake hit, I was on the other side of the world; sleeping in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia and dreaming that my family was riding out an earthquake together in a California hot tub.

Cleveland: Time has come to get a new mascot.

In a time when Don Imus, Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, etc. are heavily criticized for their racist slurs, I am amazed that a major league sports team like the Cleveland Indians can continue to use their racist mascot image without anyone raising so much as an eyebrow. (Well, there are some people who have noticed....) It's the same with the Washington Redskins, whose team name is basically as offensive as the "n-word." It would be a real shame if Cleveland makes it into the World Series and their racist image gets an even bigger stage. And I'm not saying that just because I'm a Red Sox fan. In general I like all things Cleveland: the city was great in Stranger Than Paradise. I love the non-descript Browns. But the time has come for them to rename their baseball team.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I'm just getting around to downloading the pictures from last weekend, when we celebrated Thanksgiving up at the cottage with Wendy's parents. It was rainy, but fall's always a beautiful time of the year up north. And there was no way we could keep Amado from his shiny, nuclear soccer ball, rain or no rain.

Good Morning Toronto XV

Cam Wooledge - Whistler

A beautiful video profile of whistler Cam Wooledge by our friend Sheldon Norton. Sheldon has many more great profiles on his YouTube page:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Daniel Berrigan

I was going to call Daniel Berrigan "a great American treasure," but I would not be surprised if he were horrified by that designation. He's just an amazing poet and priest who has spent his long life serving others so that we all may become more fully human. I had several opportunities to meet him when I was with Sojourners and I came away from each time deeply changed.

I encourage everyone who has the chance to see him to do so. Here's an upcoming appearance in New York:

Daniel Berrigan Book Launch/Peace Event
New York, NY. 6:30pm, Oct. 15, 2007
Celebration for Prayer for the Morning Headlines, the new collection of verse by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Daniel Berrigan, with intro by Howard Zinn, photographs by Adrianna Amari and endorsements from the late Kurt Vonnegut and others. Launch/peace event hosted by Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman, featuring poet/activist Berrigan, Ramsey Clark, The Brooklyn Youth Chorus and young readers from the Builders of the New World program of the Actors Theatre Workshop, with program founder Thurman E. Scott. At The Great Hall at Cooper
Union. Free and open to the public. 212-353-4195

Photo from the interesting site: Celebrities and People of Notoriety Opposed to the Death Penalty.

Free Burma

Free Burma!
The military has rounded up the monks and made prisons out of the monasteries. Some of the civilians arrested have been released, though others have died in captivity. The people of Burma have once again had the light of hope extinguished for a time, though hopefully the world will not forget that they are not free.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Alma's Soulfood is closing for a couple of days so we can celebrate Thanksgiving. Yes, Americans, Thanksgiving. We get a jump start on ya.

As per tradition, we're heading up to the cottage for weekend. See you sometime next week!

Turkey drawing courtesy of Tuck's Turkey Calls. Be sure to check 'em out if you would like to purchase a beautiful handmade turkey call. Start blowing one of these in your neighbourhood and you never know what may happen.


Solitary Man

Amado's daycare has a webcam so parents can check up on their kids throughout the day. However, the site is blocked in my office (after all, they don't want us spending work time messing around on the Internet!), but my Mom and Irene keep an eye on the kid from California and report in via email periodically through the day.

I came home for lunch the other day and grabbed this screen grab, just for you. In it, Amado stands alone--apparently filled with existential angst--looking out the window while all the other kids do something sitting at the table. Oh yes, I can tell that's him. And it looks like he is waiting for someone....

VonTrapp-Reject at Metro Hall

Just in case you didn't get enough of Wendy on her birthday (I know I didn't!).... here's a funny picture taken by Wendy's colleague, along with the loving nickname he's calls her (heavily edited because, after all, this is a family-values blog).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Happy Birthday Wendy!

You've always been the sweetest person I know...and somehow you have managed to remain smiley through all the years, and that is the sweetest thing of all. Happy Birthday mi amor!

(Above, Wendy with her Grandmother Smith in the 1970s.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yeah Man!

Kids + Co. report from yesterday...

"Today Amado had a fun day. He seemed to enjoy tracing and colouring his hand. Amado also enjoyed playing soccer and looking for trucks outside."
(The picture is from last week, before his haircut.)