the Amazing Randi – still alive

Image result for james randi

It’s time to pay homage to the ‘Amazing Randi’.  You don’t know the name, but you know his work.  Remember Uri Geller and his bending spoons?  Ever seen a ‘faith healer’ work a room?  James Randi is the reason you no longer see them in popular culture.  He exposed them all.  Best part?  He wasn’t subtle.  He exposed them all in the biggest way possible, doing it live (to tape) on the biggest show in the world > Johnny Carson.  He would do the exact tricks these asshats would do… but he would do it better.  AND… he would show you how he did.

The best was when he was very publicly tormenting Uri Geller… he of the mystically bending spoons.  Both men (Uri and Randi) were often guests on Carson.  Uri would go on one night and do something spectacular on camera.  Randi would come back a week later and show how it was done.  Someone, thank god, finally thought to bring them both together on Carson one night.  Have Uri do his magic right in front of Randi.  Impressively (and foolishly)… Gellar showed up.   Carson sat them side by side and prompted Gellar to do his magic.   Gellar, all the sudden, “wasn’t feeling it”.  They gave him time, and even a commercial break.  When they came back, Gellar (sitting next to Randi) explained he wasn’t feeling the spirits, and the time wasn’t right.

This man is a hero and a god.  A magician who has spent his time and talent exposing scams.  Because he is adept at all of these scams… he could be running them.  Instead, he is a ‘white hat hacker’ who is using his powers for good.  Penn and Teller caught on, and often do the same thing.  They will show you a mind blowing trick… and then 30 seconds later show you exactly how they did it.  Besides, are you going to fuck with this guy?  This is Randi, at 90 glorious years old.

Image result for james randi

In the 60’s, he famously put out a magical mystical bounty (my term, not his) of 1 million dollars to ANYONE who could prove to him they had psychic powers.  That bounty has STILL not been collected.


Friday Fives – Potpourri edition

What would you tell people you did for a living if you won the lottery?

Mercilessly mocked the lottery, and the losers who play it.  BUT THAT’S NOT ALL.  You know what happens when you get crazy fucking rich?  People “you changed, man’.  You used to be cool!”  In full anticipation of that, I have already begun changing.  I am already standoffish, and act to those around me in a petty and condescending tone.  Just in case.

Don’t believe me?  I wrote this almost ten years ago.

Invariably, you hear this from lottery winners.  “People around me started changing.  We are still the same people we have been.”

You here that a lot.  All of the sudden, people changed.  I couldn’t trust people, and didn’t know if they were interested in me or the money.

Right.  I am going to head that off, if I win.  I am going to change like a motherfucker.  Standoffish?   You bet!  Mistrusting?  for sure!  In fact, I am going to start practicing being a reclusive dick right now… just in case I win.

Let me tell you, if I win ten million, I will be a VERY changed man.  You will think I have become more remote, more distant, a bit of of a dick, and out of touch with the working class.  I will not just be ‘more guarded’ emotionally, I will physically be guarded by Suge Knight at all times.  You will say I have changed, and you will be right.  In fact, that is first on my lottery winning to do checklist right there.

 Either I anticipated winning the lottery 8 years ago… or I at least anticipated this stupid question.   Apparently, I wrote this during the 2 to 3 week window that Suge Knight was not in jail for something or other.

What are your best ways to shut down a conversation?

    looks down at phone.  “oh my god.  OH MY GOD!  I am sorry, I have to go!”

keep it brief.  No details.  and yes, it gets awkward.when they see you only move 7 feet away to talk to someone else.  That is why you really gotta sell it!

What is a feature on a newer car that you never realized you were missing out on because you didn’t have it before?

Holy moley, I just got a new truck, a 2018.  My last truck was a 2007.  Boy has technology changed!  This new truck has remote start, bumper sensors, satellite radio, GPS based emergency tow service (ironic, since I work for AAA.  But, its an American truck… prolly union made… and will probably need my AAA tows AND my Dodge tows) and an app on my phone that can unlock or even start the truck.

But wait… there’s more!  It has a cold weather sensor (extremely valuable as we head into Colorado weather at 6,200 feet).  When the weather is colder than 40 degrees outside, I can remote start the truck from the kitchen.  It turns on not just the truck, but the defroster thingies, and the seat heater and the steering wheel heater.  Yes, I have a steering wheel heater.  I thought it was dumb, and unnecessary.  In conversation, though, people told me it was amazing.  We have already had snow, and it IS amazing.  I guess that is the long ass way to answer your question.  Heated steering wheels!  God Bless America!

What is a cruel name to pick for your children?


I think Jason Lee wins with ‘Pilot Inspektor’.  However, Penn Jillette is a very close second naming his daughter ‘Moxy Crimefighter’.  These are true, I swear.  Google it!

 I love both of these guys… especially since Jason Lee renounced Scientology.  We can only assume his poor choice was influenced by severe lord Xenu, and so is forgiven (since he left the church.  I can not stress this enough.  If you leave Scientology, you are totally forgiven and highly respectedBeck… I am looking in your direction!)

What is the worst gift you’ve ever received?

When I was way young… single digits, my wonderful and amazing and awesome grampa gave us stock for Christmas every year.  Yes, partial ownership in large companies.  I still have these, and am seriously and eternally grateful and appreciative.  However, at age 7… that gift pretty much sucked ass.  Hey Billy, you got a bike?  AWESOME!  Me?  I got… um… fiscal responsibility.

I am glad I was wrong.  Go figure.

Third week in Chelsea – ever watched a band break up?

Even heard a band break up?

I don’t think you have.  You have watched a band break up, sure  The Beatles did that magnificently in ‘Let it Be’.  Maybe its been referred to, or coyly alluded to. However, its certainly never been done as perfectly and beautifully as Jorma Kaukonen did with Jefferson Airplane.  A quick and obligatory set up. Jefferson Airplane was a big San Francisco success that gave us ‘Somebody to Love’, and ‘White Rabbit’. It is NOT the band that brought you ‘We Built this City’.   That is Jefferson Starship. BIG difference. All the people are different, except Grace Slick. Plus, that was 15 years later after this.

The Airplane had a LOT of people in the band, five.  Frankly, it’s too many. See, like every band, they got big and famous and most of them became intolerable, drug addled, assholes.  Paul Kantner, I am looking squarely in your direction. Also, according to absolutely everyone who was there (Grace included), Grace became a raging alcoholic monster.  Also leading to the strife is ‘who’s band is it really?’ You have NO idea how big this one is. It is what broke up the Beatles, and Guns and Roses.

(recently deceased) Marty Balin started the band.  It was his band. I will always think of it as his band.  Grace wasn’t even in the band for years. Thing is, once Grace dropped it… it propelled them to greatness.  She became the focal point for the band, as all great charismatic front men do. Grace got to basically run the show.  But with whom? Again, it depends who Grace was banging in the band at the time. I am serious, and (again), Grace has admitted to this.

Jorma is their awesomely talented guitarist, one of like 6 in the band.  As the are getting big, Jorma is tired of all of it… the rock star-ness, and egos, and clashes, and drugs.  We are lucky that Jorma and Jack (bass player for the band) are still around. And… still touring… together… in their goddamn 70s!  Jorma wakes up on day on tour in Manhattan and just kinda snaps. He writes this ode, ‘Third Week in Chelsea’. I won’t bore you with all the lyrics, but they are here.

What I will bore you with is some key lines.  Again, usually songwriters cloak their feelings in obtuse metaphors.  Not Jorma, god bless ‘im!

So we go on moving trying to make this image real

That what they read in the Rolling Stone has really come to be

And trying to avoid a taste of that reality

All my friends keep telling me that it would be a shame

To break up such a grand success and tear apart a name

But all I know is what I feel whenever I’m not playin’

Emptiness ain’t where it’s at and neither’s feeling pain

Well now what is going to happen now is anybody’s guess

If I can’t spend my time with love I guess I need a rest

Time is getting late now and the sun is getting low

My body’s getting tired of carryin’ another’s load

Oh man, that smarts.  Look at that last time.  “My body’s getting tired of carryin’ another’s load’.  No subtext there.

This song reads to me like.  Like he quit, and the band asked him to stay… and he comes back with this letter.  Can’t argue these lyrics.

And that isn’t even my favorite part of the song.  Btw, the song is GREAT. That is the most important part.  It could be a hummingbird shit, the song stands on its own mightily.  My favorite part is that Grace sings the whole song with him. NOTE: this is him deciding to leave the band because Grace has become insufferable.  I also don’t doubt that the others ‘load he is carrying’ is another reference to Grace. Grace didn’t play any instruments, which means she didn’t write songs.  YET… she is getting all the fame and probably most of the money. What does Grace do when she sees the song? Fire him? Shoot him? Discredit him? No, she embraces it and sings along.  Just because of that, I have endless love and respect for Grace. Ok, wih all that… let’s have a listen, eh?

Friday Fives

Image result for fall mandala aspen

What was the best compliment you ever received?

You are an old soul

What are your five best talents?

Um, I can play guitar.  I can cook.  I clean a lot, especially for a guy.  Just not thorough at it.  I’ll scrub a toilet any day, but you’ll never find me on my hands and knees doing baseboards.  I can juggle.  I can speak Spanish.  I know a guy who knows the guy.  That’s what he tells me, anyway.  I can make you laugh.

What do you wish most people knew about you, and why?

I’m on your side

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far, and why does it mean so much to you?

This whole adulting thing.  Having a job and a wife and a life and some dogs and horses and owning a small ranch with a pick up truck.  This is pretty much the fruition of a life long dream ever since we saw Tommy do it on ‘Eight is Enough’.  Only difference… I always wanted it to be in the woods.   Still do, BUT.. with pine beatle and climate change and perpetual forest fires… wooded properties are just too much danger.

If you could achieve anything in your life, what would it be?

Have a hit book, or a hit song



BONUS – I feel like that was an anemic fives.  So, here is a bonus fives.  We just got spotify about a month ago, and it has really changed the game.  I didn’t understand just how amazing it was.  I made playlists and have about a 150 songs downloaded.  Let’s spin through them, and I will tell you about my relationship to the first five that come up.

Estimated Prophet – Grateful Dead (live) 3.29.90

I forgot I downloaded this set.  This is the era I began seeing the Dead live, and really getting into them.  My first show was 1989.  Between 89 and ’91 the band was on FIRE.  I happened to luck out, and come in during one of the greatest eras ever.  Perhaps I am being nostalgic, and everyone thinks that about that era.  We have releases to back me up.  Only 2 eras have been extensively released – 1977, and 1990.  I am also lucky that my first Dead show ever was released on DVD.  Truckin up to Buffalo.

Ok… the song.  Estimated is a great track off Terrapin Station, and a fun one for the crowds.  Bobby went nuts at the end of every song, with some kind of falsetto tourettes that we came to adore… and mercilessly mock.  Bobby Cheese, we called him.  Great song!  Terrapin Station is one of the few Dead studio albums I really like.  My favorite all time Dead song is Terrapin, live and studio.

River Otis – Dead Hot Workshop

Image result for dead hot workshop

this is from the terrific and nearly famous Phoenix band Dead Hot Workshop.  They are terrific, and it kills me they never made it big.  Their heyday was in the 90s, along side good friends ‘Gin Blossoms’, who are also a Phoenix band.  Used to see Dead Hot play the bars in Phx and Tempe and Flagstaff during the college years, it was the best!  Have seen Robin and most of the other Gin Blossom’s guy show up and play with Dead Hot as well.  This album, interestingly, is about the Gin Blossoms.  It’s quite a story.  There was a guy in the Gin Blossoms who wrote ALL their hits, Doug Hopkins.  He wrote ‘Hey Jealousy’, and a ton of others.  He was a genius, and had mental and drug and booze issues.  Gin Blossoms had to fire him.  No one faults them for that.  Shortly after, though, Doug killed himself.  This shook up the whole Phx band community pretty hard.  The cover of this Dead Hot Workshop album below is a picture of Doug in Sedona.

Image result for river otis

I dare say the reason the Gin Blossoms fell off the national radar is because they didn’t have Doug’s songs behind them.  I am happy to report that I believe both bands are still mostly in tact and playing.  Odds are, for the Dead Hot guys, they probably have day jobs.

Eleanor Rigby – Love version

I still remember the moment I met this amazing and perfect album, Love.  We were camping with the fam in Northern Arizona, and the wifey’s sister was playing this on her camper speakers.  It rocked my world.  This is a CD of Beatles hits remixed by the late great George Martin for the Cirque de Solei play that ran in Vegas.  It is full of masterful mashups and just too much goodness to even describe.  Find this album and get it immediately.  It also functions, loosely, as a Beatle’s greatest hits.  There is not a single song on there that you don’t know all the words too.

Sex with Strangers – Dead Hot Workshop

Interesting, full random gets me two Dead Hot songs.  I’ll take it.  Mark this band down with Big Jim Slade as much I still love and listen to and miss.  Slaus, where are you?  Dead Hot was a ball out rock and roll bar band.  BUT… had great hooks and thoughtful lyrics, all delivered with a punch you in the mouth bravado a bar band needs to survive.  When I had my own little bar band, I would think ‘what would Brent do?’.  Then, banish the thought because Brent was so cool, he was just being Brent.

  This is their logo for shirts, and it was also the cover of their demo cassette I bought off them in the alley after the show from their van.  That van, incidentally, was rock royalty.  They bought it off the Gin Blossoms when the Gin Blossoms broke big and got tour buses.  This van in question is on the cover of New Miserable Experience.

Related image

ALL of rock and roll for the last 40 years has been powered by the Ford Econoline van.  Wait, didn’t Neil Young sing about that in ‘Tonight’s the Night’?   It is the only car big enough to hold 5 or 6 grown ass filthy nasty men.  Generally, behind it they tow a little utility trailer with their gear.

Friday Fives -hunt for Rocktober

With the start of Autumn just a few days away in this hemisphere and Spring about to start in the other –


Image result for turning aspen

1. Do you have the urge to do a Fall/Spring cleaning as soon as the weather turns?

Cleaning?  No.  Fixing, yes.  Well, there is plenty to be cleaned, but I am trying to find a new maid/cleaning service to come monthly.  I am concentrated on getting things fixed and upgraded and winter ready.  Been doing a LOT of electrical stuff the last 2 weeks, and should have that all wrapped up in a week.  Kinda blew up the kitchen one night.  Thanks to Rod for his quick reactions.

2.What tells you that the season (a certain smell, a certain taste, that sort of thing) has changed?

I think we talked about this, but the sound and smell of hatch chili’s roasting on a street corner.

3.What do you look forward to the most with the change of seasons?

weather stability.  October in Colorado is the greatest thing in the world.  It isn’t hot, it isn’t cold.  It’s just… nice.  And stable!  Meaning, April and May can be nice in Colorado, but that is also blizzard season as well.  Plus, the leaves are changing and that is always nice.  Football is back on, life is good.

4. What is something that you probably should accomplish but won’t this season?

Cleaning the ‘office’, which was once a home office (I worked from home when we moved out there) is now just a bedroom covered in paper that needs to be filed or shredded or something.  Yes, I did too work from home!  No it wasn’t making holly hobby jobs.  It was a job managing a team of small business cell phone tech and sales support for Sprint.  Working from home was GLORIOUS!  No commute, no fancy clothes, not nearly as many disruptions and interruptions as being in an office.  Plus, I worked phone support, but mine was wireless.  So, I could walk around the house, get cleaning done, make dinner, do laundry.

5. What is the most enjoyable part of the oncoming season for you?

Football, and lack of heat outside.  This is a great time to  be working on stuff around the house and property.

Friday Fives – banned blog edition

Image result for alice in wonderland mandala

*** note – update at the end regarding content and me being redundant and some masturbation discussions.   Scoot down, it’s worth it!

It’s the end of banned book week.  What banned book have you read?

Most of them?  I wish i could say all of them.  The books they fed us in school were SHIT, any made me hate reading.  Don’t give a 16 year old kid that boring ass shit those ‘newberi award winners’.  It wasn’t until Kermit turned me on to read literature. Crazy ass drug taking sex crazed adventures like Henry Miller, Hunter S Thompson, Charles Bukowski.  I like ‘banned books’ so much that i have always wanted to teach a class in this stuff. Maybe prison? Listen to me, i am seriious. I want to teach the prisoners to tell their story.  I want to say “what is the difference betwen what you did and what’s in those books?” Well, they were white, but that isn’t my point. The difference in why the are heroes and you are in jail is they wrote it all down.

These were terrible people, these guys… but GREAT writers.  I actually bought, and still own, a URL for a movement like this.  It is called Renegade Literature.  There is also a short story on there i was working on.  I have never shared it, or showed it, to anyone.

What famous book do you think is overrated?

The Scarlet Letter.   BORING. You could have told that story in three paragraphs.

What is your ultimate must-read book?

My favorite book in the world is ‘Alice in Wonderland’  More specifically, it is called Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

What would a famous book be called if their titles were just summaries of their plots?

The whale is a metaphor – ‘Moby Dick’.

What should I read next?

Animal Farm.  it is brilliant and funny and thoughtful.  Best part? You can knock it out in an evening. Now, the pinheads will tell you its really an allegory of the Russian Revolution.  Don’t worry about all the thinky stuff. The book is MORE than enjoyable on its own. Same with Candide, by Voltaire.

*** my childhood pal Jamie reads all of these, and gives me feedback.  He pops up in some of my favorite stories, too.  Jamie gives me shit if I don’t post on time.   As always, these went up a little late, so I text him when they are ready.  What follows is our text conversation follow up verbatim, and my subsequent thoughts.

6:36 pm – me – “fives are up, just a little late”

Jamie “hhmmm, nothing I just read surprised me.  How do we get the spark back in our blogationship?”

me – I need better questions, from new sources

Jamie – “ok, here you go.  1.  How many times have you masturbated to Caitlyn Jenner?  2.  really?  3.  be honest  4. what about Bruce Jenner?  5.  Be honest

me – “well, if I used to masturbate to Bruce Jenner, but now I masturbate to Kaitlyn Jenner, does that make me ungay now?”

jamie – “you have always been gay!”


So… there you have it.  This is how guys joke around, and yes… we still constantly say or imply each other is gay.  I don’t get why that is.  I love gay people.  the best wedding ceremony I ever performed was for a gay couple.  When us guys makes those jokes, I swear it isn’t meant to be anti-gay.  Maybe it’s just a sill defense mechanism we have to make ourselves feel more confident.   Using the ‘Dave Eggers scale” of ‘perfectly straight to perfectly gay’, I figure I am about a 3.   Dave Eggers didn’t just put that into a book.  Somehow, he got it printed on the masthead with the copyright info.  This is brilliant and odd and courageous.  It’s in his breakthrough novel ‘a heartbreaking work of staggering genius”.  See for yourself below

second thought – he is correct.  My content on fives likely is stale.  It is because I have used the same ‘editor’ for almost every single set of questions for 15 years now.  My wonderful pal Roy got me into blogging.  Point being, send me questions readers, and I will answer them.

Autumnal Fives


Today is the Autumnal Equinox, the end of summer and the beginning of fall.  How was your summer? 

It was hot.  That is literally all I remember.  Too hot to do anything.  Every fucking day.  This is why I left AZ.  Here is a specific example.  We have lived here since 1997.  We have never had AC, and never really wanted for it.  Usually its just a brutal week or so of heat.  This year, June set another record for something like 15 days over 90 degrees in a row.  We finally broke down and bought a plug in room air conditioner.  You may not believe in climate change, but then you weren’t in Denver this summer.

It was a good summer, though.  I know these are first world complaints.  Went to a TON of concerts:  Eagles, Jimmy Buffet, Avett Brothers, Dead & Company, Umphrey’s McGhee,  and Pearl Jam in Seattle.  We rarely go to shows anymore because all national tours begin at $100 each (after fees andbs).  Almost done, but we have Beck this weekend at Red Rocks.

What’s the best movie to watch if you want to get into Halloween mood/autumn mood?

Not sure, I think it is the opposite time for that.  This summer was too hot to work outside much.  Plus, it was so hot and never rained… our grass and hay fields never grew.  I used to mow the aesthetic stuff (front and back lawn) about twice a month.  This year, I haven’t moved anything more than once.  My back acres of hay fields used to be waste high by June.   This year, they never got more than ankle high.  Still haven’t had to mow.  What does that mean in the big picture?  That was how we feed our horses.  For free, every summer, off our fields.  No big whoop for us, its just 3 horses.

I can tell you almost every rancher in the southwest does exactly the same.  This summer, it just didn’t rain.  Hence the insanity of the wildfires.  It cost us a few extra hundred bucks to import the hay that we couldn’t just feed off the pastures.  Now think of a cattle man with 2,000 head of cattle.   They all had to buy hay, too.  That will cost you at the grocery store.  That’s ok, though.  Remember, climate change is just a liberal conspiracy.  I am a liberal.  Someone please tell me EXACTLY how I am benefiting from this great swindle?  Getting to say “I told you so” won’t put out the wildfires, or feed the livestock, or put snow on the mountains.

My point was this, and sorry for the digression.  A little frustrated that last week was 95 and above all week… in mid Sept.  To answers your question is I am now getting around to taking care of the property.  Check all the fences for shorts, winterize and maintenance my swamp cooler, scrub, drain, clean, and fill the hot tub.  Junk like that.  It’s fun, actually, when the weather is mild.

What’s your favorite thing about autumn?

Magical, and stable, weather.  October is AMAZING in Colorado.  It is nice every single day, and stable.  Why did I mention stable twice?   BIG reason – April and May are nice in Colorado.  But it could literally be 65 one day and a blizzard the next.  Spring in Colorado is a big wildcard.  Oct, though… is nice. It is also much less windy in Oct.   Last Spring, the winds were so strong they broke my anemometer (wind speed measure thingy).  Plus, the leaves are changing.

Do you have any autumn traditions?


It’s the time of year to stock up on a year’s worth of roasted Hatch Chili’s.  You find the vendors on street corners.  They will have a temporary fence put up, and huge roasters.  Probably the same vacant corner that had firework tents a few months ago.  It is a short window of time.  You have about a month, tops.  They open around labor day, and are closing about now.  So, buy a year’s worth at a time.


Now my real secret, which I swear I invented.  I take the year’s worth of roasted chilis, and break them into about 20 ziplock sammich bags, and freeze those.  That way, you can pull out just a week’s worth at a time.  I do about 5 to 6 ounces per bag, which is about 3 big chili’s.


Then, it is soup and stew time.  To me, Hatch Chili season is as Colorado as Red Rocks and dogs at restaurants.  Even though the Chili’s are from New Mexico (Hatch, New Mexico… to be specific)… it really is a Colorado thing.  You don’t see these in AZ.

What smell brings you back to your youth?


Nothing I can think of.  Except, I have a HUGE fondness for the smell of vanilla.  Could be because poppa and momma used to work in a vanilla factory.  Or, losing my virginity on a vanilla farm.  May have been killing my arch enemy (let’s just say his name rhymes with Todd) in an old fashioned vanilla mill.  They will never find him.  Ok, kidding about all that stuff.   Vanilla ONLY comes from Madagascar.  The shit you and I are eating?  It ain’t vanilla.  Real vanilla is simply too expensive.

The part about me LOVING the smell of vanilla, though, is 100% true.