Welcome to the Monty Wolf Blog!
Here you will find random bits of me

Saturday, December 1, 2007

biting the bullitt

we were in san francisco twice this week.

on wednesday we were at the auto show as guests of nissan for the unveiling of their new gt-r and a minivan concept car: the forum.

we actually saw the forum in las vegas a month ago at the sema show. but, the gt-r has only been seen in public a couple of times.

nissan gt-r

it’s gonna be a pretty hot car!

we didn’t get to see the entire show, but we did get to see most of it.

interesting color for a lamborghini!

it was a beautiful night in san francisco and i could have walked through the city for another hour before heading back to the parking garage.

on friday we were back in the city; this time for ford day at the presidio overlooking san francisco bay and the golden gate bridge and another absolutely gorgeous day.

the golden gate club at the san francisco presidio

we met ford’s design director, freeman thomas, and got to drive some of the new 2008 products: on hand were several fords, including two bullitt mustangs and one saleen mustang, 3 jaguars, a few mazdas, a range rover, land rover and a volvo.

on our first ride, ron got behind the wheel of a mazda suv. i’m not sure what model. but, it is based on the same chassis as the ford explorer.

on our next ride, i was in the driver seat of a new jaguar xk-r.

jaguar xkr

oh, was that a sweet car! as much as i would like a new mustang (more on that later) i really enjoyed driving the jag! everything about it felt right! it was smooth, powerful and handled like a dream!

it also attracted a very attractive woman who, when we stopped to get a shot of the car with the golden gate bridge in the background, agreed to step into frame for a few shots. nothing makes a great car look better than a beautiful woman! thank you for joining me, ali!

l-r: xkr; monty; ali

upon our return, ron got behind the wheel of a new range rover, which was not much different from the 2007 “classic” we had a few months ago, but still a very nice car.

sosso with a range rover

the ride of the day, however, came next when i slipped into the driver seat of a 2008 bullitt mustang. the bullitt mustang commemorates the 40th anniversary of the movie “bullitt” starring steve mcqueen, which was filmed in san francisco. in case you have forgotten: bullitt was the first of the great car chase movies and still one of the best car chase scenes ever filmed.

every time we took out one of the cars we used the same mandated route, which drove around the north tip of the southern peninsula, under the golden gate bridge and back to the presidio; about 20-minutes in all.

the limited edition 2008 bullitt mustang

most of the route had speed limits of 25 mph. except for the brief stretch on 19th as you enter the tunnel that leads to the golden gate bridge, which is 45 mph.

when i drove the jag i was able to get my foot into it a little, but didn’t go any faster than 60 mph.

but, when we got here in the mustang, i couldn’t resist hanging my leg in it to feel all 315 horses.

as i rounded the corner from lake street the car in front of me took a wide turn and went for the right lane. that left the left lane open for me; there was no one in front of me for as far as i could see into the tunnel.

i rounded the bend, slipped it into second, checked the mirrors for police cars, waited until i was passed the other car, did another search for authorities and put my foot halfway down to the floor.

this engine sounds so sweet, but wrapped by concrete walls that surround the ingress/egress of the tunnel, the engine sounded like a nascar stocker revving up!

without stretching it out too far, i shifted into 3rd, gracefully got back onto the throttle and was lifting before i even reached the mouth of the tunnel as the speedometer eclipsed 90 mph; probably faster than any of the cars ever ran when they filmed the infamous car chase scene in the movie for which this sporty green mustang is named.

from there i calmly drove back to the presidio in time for them to start loading up the cars.

i missed a ride in the 620 horsepower saleen extreme mustang as it was giving a low tire pressure light on the left rear tire and by the time it was corrected we were too late to take it out. like i needed another 300 horsepower than the bullitt had.

we left the presidio, only slightly deflated after the thrilling rides, and headed for perry’s on union street for drinks and dinner.

it wasn’t long before the vacant seats to my right were taken up by two attractive buffalo-gals (from buffalo, new york now living in san francisco and not resembling bison in the least, thank you) who quickly became our new friends.

megan and carolyn were a lot of fun and, as it turns out, carolyn’s uncle owns slim’s, where my friend and hero, adrian belew and his power trio, will be playing on february 23rd. not only is carolyn, who also happens to work for rolling stone magazine, going to hook me up with tickets, i think she and megan and even ron are going to join me for the show! i’d better try to remember to bring earplugs for ron!

after an hour, or so, the girls were off for a previous engagement and we were working over our dinner (a thick broiled, pomegranate glazed pork chop for me and steak fajitas for ron).

after dinner we walked across the street to grab coffee from starbucks and began our drive back to the castle.

ron has been trying to get me to ford day for the past 4-years. i missed taking a ride (ride not drive, unfortunately) in a ford gt.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

who's the turkey?

thanksgiving was not what i expected it would be.

not entirely.

originally, we were going to go out for dinner; i’m not sure where.

then, around a week before, susie decided she was going to make dinner; roast a turkey; make dressing; all the traditional trappings.

come tuesday night (that would be the tuesday just 2-days before thanksgiving) i learned that what susie meant by roasting a turkey actually meant that she was buying a roasted turkey from whole foods.

she had not, however, yet ordered it.

so, wednesday morning i ventured into the hell known as whole foods to buy one of these fabled roasted turkeys.

there were none, as i suspected. there also were no fresh, or even thawed, previously frozen birds.

without haste, i left whole foods, and the chaos of neo-hippies, brain-dead liberals and wealthy idiots who seem to congregate to be seen by the other neo-hippies, brain-dead liberals and wealthy idiots, and drove around the corner to the monte vista market.

the monte vista is known for, not only the workplace of the original melvin (pronounced: mebbin) and his magnificent barbeque work, but the best meats on the peninsula; unless, of course, you are a neo-hippie, brain-dead liberal or wealthy idiot.

i set out looking for a 12-pound turkey; i had to settle for a 15-pound free ranger sans hormones.

on the way back to the castle i stopped off at save-mart to grab a few other provisions, spices and necessities.

have you figured it out yet that i’m now the chief thanksgiving chef?

i’m a smart guy; i should have known when i heard that susie was going to make dinner that i was going to be doing the cooking.

but, not being much of a fan of traditional thanksgiving foods, i find it difficult to get geared up to preparing those foods. but, i decided to give it my best effort.

i slipped some fresh herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary) and ground pepper between the skin and meat, popped a cut-up onion, a few cloves of garlic and some celery tops into the cavity, dry-rubbed ground pepper and salt over the skin and put the breast-down turkey into a 450° oven for 20-minutes before backing the thermostat down to 325. after a couple of hours i tuned the breasts-up and took off the foil-tent to let it brown.

i was given a sit-down-to-dinner-time of 2:00 (why is it that thanksgiving dinner comes so early?). but, when my bird was already out of the oven and resting, ready to be taken up to the dollhouse, i got a call telling me that i would get a call in about an hour to bring the turkey, gravy fixin’s and candied yams; susie needed more time to finish her part of the dinner.

by 4:30 i gave up, packed up the dinner and headed to the dollhouse.

when i got there susie was just beginning to prepare a whole foods version of stovetop stuffing and mashing potatoes, her contribution to dinner. oh, and a can of cranberries (it’s no wonder that people hate cranberries if all they have had are cranberries out of a can).

by 5:30 we sat down to eat my turkey dinner that was ready 3-and-a-half-hour earlier.

well, you can’t have turkey without stuffing, right?

but, we couldn’t eat until ron told us a thanksgiving story.

despite the tardiness: the turkey was still moist!

and, since it had the chance to “rest” for such a long time, it carved (even with one of the dollhouse's not-so-sharp knives) easily and neatly.

knowing that i would be facing the same situation for christmas dinner, i have already volunteered to cook the entire dinner.

i’m such a fool!

Monday, November 26, 2007

the hobby habit

it’s been a while since i’ve updated my blog; i’ve been staying busy with a couple of new hobbies.

the first one began from getting ron’s radio show, “wheel talk coast to coast”, reformatted and back on the air in los angeles.

in the past: ron did his show live over the phone at each station that carried it.

we are now recording it in our studio. this not only gives me a chance to put a little spit-polish on it, i can also put music behind it. but, i’m limited to music that is royalty-free.

which means i had no musical options.

so, i started poking around the second disk of my adobe audition audio editing software and began putting little tunes together from the loops (some :12 seconds long while others measure out as single drum-beats) that are included.

at first, i practiced with loops that were made to go together, which is kind of like a paint by numbers method of making music.

i’ve tried to link directly to each of the tracks i have below, but the loop-site won’t let me do that. so, you’ll have to click “play” on each title from my catalog of tracks. just scroll down a bit to see the listings. find them here.

make sure you turn off the music on the playlist before you play the loops.

my first attempt is called “technoblo.”

i have since graduated to making my own drum loops for each song.

the first example of my own drum loops is a little jazz track is call “funky for helen.”

another free-er form of freeform jazz can be heard on “sosso.”

“wheel talk coast to coast themes” has the intro, interludes and outro themes from ron’s show.

these loops are a lot like playing a video game. it is also that infectious.

now, i go to several websites to get my samples.

i’m working on a series of loops for a fishing show that we syndicate.

my other new hobby isn’t really a new hobby; it’s photography.

ron just bought the company a new digital slr camera. which means: i have a new digital slr camera to play with.

it’s a canon rebel xt and i’m already loving it!

i have yet to use any of the “creative” features (except for the repeat shot) and am just using the basic features until i get used to it. but, i intend to experiment with it the more i use it.

the pictures i've attached to this blog were taken at "our beach" using the continuous shooting feature.

if you look in the right sidebar of this blog you will find a link to my online photo album. the latest pics are in the file "11/24/07". there, you will also find a bunch of pre-digital pics.

i’ve shot about 75 images so far. but, despite just coming out of the highest tide of the year, the waves have been less than spectacular since we bought the new camera. of course, the day before we got it, the waves were raging! and, until today, it has been very sunny. so, it has been to bright for a decent picture. i’m a patient man. i can wait.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


the morning after we got back from vegas, i ran ron over to the monterey airport so he could go to the american film market for a day-and-a-half, leaving me at the castle to operate the business and organize our event with bob lutz, the head of general motors, which takes place next week.

ron returned on saturday, november 3rd for the make a wish foundation fundraiser, which was put on by clint and dina eastwood at tahoma country club, which happens to be owned by mr. eastwood.

i drove ron and susie up and back in the 700 series bmw, which was an adventure in itself. just to get to the clubhouse you have to pass through two guarded gates and dodge dozens of deer roaming freely on the roadway.

the best part of the night, as ron tells it: he and susie got seated with some high-dollar prostitute from las vegas whose breasts wouldn’t stay in her dress.

the following morning we were heading down highway 101 for the second-half of the american film market.

being a person who never wants to do things the easy way, ron wanted us to stay all the way down in fountain valley with an old friend of his. jim and patty and jim’s mother are wonderful people and i’m really happy i got to meet them and truly enjoyed their hospitality and hot tub!

afm was a zoo!

i don’t know where to start or how much i really want to say about it.

it was held at two hotels on the beach in santa monica. we were in loew’s hotel just down the coast a few hundred yards from the world famous santa monica pier in a suite with david heavener, stan derain and greg berkin. all three have film projects they were shopping around and greg also was there to promote his new mobile movie platform for smart phones and palm devices, which he developed and ron and i are trying to help promote.

besides spending $18 for 2 bottles of water and 2 cokes (all of them 8 ounce bottles), i was able to sneak off for a few minutes with ron to find my first socal, and ron’s first ever, geocache. i did, however, only find the velcro that, at one time, held the cache in its former place.

i also hung out with one of the actresses in one of david’s new projects: a tv show called “chronicles of an exorcist. you may remember lee benton from “mickey spillane's mike hammer” who played jenny the bartender.

on tuesday we headed out to the valley to have lunch with ron’s former-girlfriend, alison freebairn-smith, and ron’s former-houseboy, billy marich, who is a producer at hgtv.

i’ve been hearing about both alison and billy for years. so, it was nice to finally have an opportunity to meet them.

from there were all too quickly back on the road and heading back to the castle.

all in all, i’d have to say the trip to vegas was more fun but the trip to socal was a real eye-opener and certainly introduced me to some very interesting people!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

sema gooda thinga to do ata the time


ron just left to go pick up the shitzus. he thought he was just going to the groomer’s but as it turns out susie left them at the day spa.
well, you can imagine the cruelty involved in taking them to a regular groomer.
on his way to get the dogs, ron is stopping by to rent a new bentley as the day spa doesn’t allow anything less than a car of that price to carry away any of the animals they groom.
i hope the poor things weren’t rushed to quickly from their soak in the hot tub.
# # # # #
i have spent much of the past couple of weeks out of town.
it started with a trip to las vegas for the sema show and ended with a trip to santa monica and the afm show.
since i intend to add a few videos, i’ll probably do this in a couple of installments.
my trip to vegas began early sunday evening, october 28 when helen (who doesn’t want me to write about her, so just pretend you didn’t read her name) picked me up here in pebble beach. after a cruise around the coastline we headed over to cannery row for an unremarkable dinner at one of the area mexican chain-restaurants before driving north to san jose.
early the next morning we left youknowwho’s place for breakfast and then a quick jaunt over to the heavily congested san jose airport; what a mess that place is!
despite the craziness my flight got off on time and, for most of the trip, followed hwy. 101 as far as ventura before heading out to sea.
we began our approach to orange county’s john wayne airport with a sweeping turn over catalina island giving those of us on the starboard side of the aircraft a great view of the isle.
as we made our very graceful landing, we passed a b-25 and b-17 bomber, two c-47s and one reconnaissance (black, of course) aircraft that i could not identify that were parked on the tarmac. hopefully, they are all flight-worthy; it would be such a waste to see them rest as static museum pieces.
within moments i had my baggage in my hand at the carousel and walked to the “white loading and unloading zone” to meet my longtime and dear friend alan. he greeted me with a really pretty charcoal grey mustang he was attempting to diagnose a problem with a computer, which alan says is the first such problem he has seen in the model. he also told me that, in his opinion, which i would have to value being he is fairway ford’s technical service manager, the mustang is the best car ford is making at this time. this only served to make me want one even more.
we circled the airport and headed over to a little, very noisy place for some really remarkable fish tacos and a chance to get to talk, albeit loudly, face-to-face for the first time in about 5-years.
in far too short of a period, alan took me back to just across the street from the airport to meet ron where he was having a luncheon meeting with some of the roex folks.
before long we were headed northeast, across the mojave desert, to sin city and our suite at the luxor.
we checked-in, unpacked and trammed/walked over to the mgm grand for the first of the several parties we were invited to attend, one devoted to electronic devices intended for use in cars.
there was a seemingly unending supply of interesting and delicious foods to enjoy and rivers of upper-top shelf liquor (“knob creek, please!”) pouring from the three open bars as beautiful spokeswomen charmed and flirted with those of us in attendance.
our reason for being at sema was to recruit sponsors for the western automotive journalists media days 2008 in april. so, this party was a veritable gold mine of potential sponsors.
besides making some great contacts both ron and i walked out with brand new gps-receivers courtesy of magellan. neither of them appropriate for geocaching (like most magellans). but, both are wonderful for navigational purposes sporting features like address-to-address navigation and traffic detour routes. mine will find its way into the deathmobile and later into the mustang if things come together with the big project ron and i are working on.
after a cab-ride, which we seemed to wait for forever, the entire following day was spent on the floors and parking lots of the convention center schmoozing more potential sponsors and mugging with attractive spokescreatures of every flavor imaginable.

that night we attended a party put on by honda where the food and liquor continued until, assumingly by the way the crowd seemed to not waiver, far after we left.
before leaving, however, i noticed somebody sitting near our table who looked very familiar. i was certain he was a former bonneville official named bob, but for the life of me i could not remember his last name. finally, i approached the gentlemen and asked: “have you ever been to the bonneville nationals?” “only every year since 1961!” he replied. by then i was close enough to see that his i-d badge read “bob mcmillian.” bob mac, as i always (except for the previous 20-miuntes) remembered him.
bob was always one of my most favorite bonneville-people and it was great to see him that night! his friend, john, grabbed a picture of the two of us and i gave bob one of my business cards, so i hope to have a picture it in my online album before too long.
in further proof that this really is a small world: bob was not only at laguna seca for the american le mans, described in a previous edition of my blog, but was also in the audi vip suite! what a trip!
from the honda party we walked about 50 feet to the next pavilion to the nissan party, which was much more exclusive in as far as invitations went, but not nearly as fun as the others. but, the free makers mark poured freely in the form of a triple; my last drink of the night, of which i only got about halfway through before deciding i had had enough.
we took the monorail across town to the mgm grand and walked/trammed back to the luxor.
the next morning we were on our way back to pebble beach bright and early with a brief stop at david heavener’s movie-ranch in tehachapi.
more on david in the story of the afm in santa monica in the next blogisode.
we made it back to pebble in time to greet the first of the only 4 or 5 groups of trick or treaters to dare approach the castle gate.
# # # # #
i just got an email from bob mac, which included this picture:

monty and mac

bob has been busy since i saw him in vegas: the nhra finals; el mirage exhibit at the wally parks museum and off to el mirage tomorrow for the lakes meet.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

pitstops and packing for sema

i’ve been trying to get this post out for a week. i’ve been busier this week than i have since we painted the castle. we’ve been getting ready for the sema show in las vegas and the american film market in santa monica. some people can only handle one convention in one week. we, on the other hand, prefer to tackle as many as possible.

ron flew down to newport beach thursday to a luxury condominium villa where susie and barbie have been staying since sunday. i’ve been going back and forth between the castle and the dollhouse taking care of landyn and logan and shitsus and running the show here at the castle.

lemme tell you: it’s a good thing landyn isn’t my child or i’d be in prison for her death!

enough about the 16-year-old monster!

i did just get back from logan’s game. mpc won 26-3.

susie and barbie drive back tomorrow, so i’m off the hook at the dollhouse.

helen is driving down from san jose to get me tomorrow afternoon. i think we’re going to go to the haunted house at the american tin cannery on cannery row (she says she doesn’t like scary things but the haunted house was her idea). then, we’ll drive back to her place to spend the night. on monday morning, she’ll drive me over to the airport. i fly down to orange county where ron will pick me up, after lunch with my lifelong friend alan, whom i have not seen for around 5-years. from there, we will drive into vegas for the sema show. after a couple of days there we’ll drive back to the peninsula and ron will fly down to l.a. for afm for 2-days, fly back for a make a wish foundation banquet with clint and dina eastwood and he and i will drive back down to l.a. the next day for the rest of the show.

i heard from my friend gary who lives, hopefully still, in rancho santa fe, where one of the california wildfires has been raging. he was evacuated and he, his wife and their great danes were staying in the del mar hilton. they live on the golf course (i think i saw video of a helo drawing water from one of that courses water hazards for a drop). gary said, the last i talked to him, that flames were within ½ mile from their home. those fires are a very sad and scary situation and my heart goes out to him, his wife and everyone else affected by the fires. besides a ferrari, lambourghini and maserati, they have many other lavish items, including the house itself, they have been worried about.

i spent most of last weekend at laguna seca for the american le mans series finale as guest of audi, north america. they really know how to party! i spent most of the time in their luxury vip box eating great food and being treated like i am the dude that i am.

i also got to put on a firesuit and stand in the audi pit (the eventual race winner and season champions). this was a very cool experience! i had on a lightweight suit with a headset so i could hear what was going on.

i was placed just behind the wall about 20 feet from the nose of the car when i came in. i was able to take video of the experience. it is, however, unedited as i’m having so much trouble with the editor that came with the god-awful video camera that we have (advice: do not buy a camera called supacam! your life will be much better if you do not have it. the image quality is horrible, as you will see if you watch the videos, and it is cumbersome and a technical nightmare. according to ron: even i would have bought one after the demonstration by the long-legged-large-breasted-doe-eyed-viking-chick who sold it to him. i doubt it since my tastes in women run more toward the non-synthetic type. but, we have it so we use it from time to time.). the pitstop did not go well as they had trouble with one of the rear tires. at least it was under a yellow flag. they lost ground to the penske porsche team (you can see the two penske cars get out before the audi), but gained it back for the win at the end of the 4-hour endurance race.

in the first video, we are leaving one of the team’s travelers after suiting up and walking over to the pit. you can see several of the other teams getting ready for their pit stops as we make our way over to the first pit stall. i tried to narrate as i walked and during the stop, but you can only
hear me occasionally because of the noise.

after the stop, in the second video, i get a look at the tires that came off of the car. but, because i could not see the screen to tell what i was shooting my aim was a little off. same when i tried to
get shots of myself.

in the third video i get a few seconds of interview-time with andy, the pit tour guide and give you a little bit of a tour of the pits as i walk back to the vip box to hook back up with ron and say thank you to stephanie, who was my personal contact with audi while i was there. you can actually hear me in most of this video.

the audi people were very nice! i got to meet the president of audi, north america and a few of the other mucky-mucks.

one of the things that really impressed me with the audi cars is: they are all diesels! they were the quietest cars out there and had the most horsepower; a winning combination if there ever was one!

there have been a few interesting developments in the last week: i was invited to attend the grammy awards with one of ron’s friends, alison freebairn-smith. alison is in the music biz. her father, ian freebairn-smith, is a composer of note (no pun intended, but it was convenient) . alison’s boyfriend played all of george harrison’s licks in “concert for george.”

it looks like i may also have another chance at being in the movies. another of ron’s friends, whom we will see at afm, is filming two movies with chuck norris. maybe chuck will kill me in one of these. that would be too cool!

speaking of being in the movies: we’ll stop in at david heavener’s movie ranch on the way back from vegas to take a peek. he won’t be there or filming as he’ll be in l.a. for the afm.

i got notice the other day that, after all the years of living in northern nevada and trying to get adrian belew to play somewhere in reno, carson city or up at the lake, he’s doing a show on the south shore (lake tahoe will never be the same once he and the slick siblings rock 'em out! btw: julie's and eric's mother, robin, has a blog of her own listed on the sidebar in my "blog rollcall".) before coming down to slim’s in san francisco. not sure if i’ll be able to catch the tahoe gig or not. but, i’ll make it to slim’s for sure. this will be my third time seeing ade at slim’s and my first time to catch the adrian belew trio mark II.

well, i need to get packed and back up to the dollhouse for shitsu patrol.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

tales to tell: dog gone

several years ago (we’re talking almost 40 of them, dear friends), back when i first acquired my driver’s license, i used to drive my friends and myself around the hills above hacienda heights for shits-and-giggles after school got out. when i first started attending high school i was going to a school (bassett in la puente in the bassett unified school district) with a 3-year curriculum. we moved, however, 4-months into my sophomore year to another district (west covina unified), which put me into a school (edgewood) with a 4-year curriculum. because of this, my classes were all screwed up. for the next 2¾-years most of my classes were with underclassmen. except when they were with the class ahead of mine. so, i did not know very many students who graduated the same year (1971) as myself. i was the first of my edgewood friends to have a driver’s license.

one of the things we used to do while we were up in the hills was visit this old hermit. strange dude! his hands were always loosely tied together with an old ratty robe sash. according to him it was because he had arthritis and it kept him from moving too much. he was living in this old panel truck that was abandoned in the middle of an old dirt road. we used to bring him care packages of food and cigarettes. according to him, his son made him live there.

who knows?

one of the other places we hit was a place we called gravity hill. i think every place has one of these alleged anti-gravity slopes where it looks like you’re going uphill when you’re really going downhill. even my imagination didn’t fall for this place. but, everyone else in the car was diggin’ it so, who am i to be a wet blanket?

something else that was in this area that is in just about every place is a haunted house.

this house was on a peak along the ridge that ran between hacienda heights and whittier. you couldn’t actually see the house from the road, but we all knew it was there and we all knew that it was haunted. even the students all the way across the valley in west covina were hip to this old house and that it was haunted by the ghost of a woman who was killed, along with her faithful german shepherd, some years ago by someone-or-an-other for some-thing-or-an-other; the stories varied, but they were surely true. who would make up something like that?

the entire estate was fenced off with chain link, even the driveway, which had an old wrought iron gate that appeared to not have been opened since the last of the murder investigations way back in the 1930s, or 40s, depending on who told the story. behind the gate was a wall (i think it was brick that had been covered in cement or some kind of adobe to give it a smooth, contoured effect) adorned by inlayed tiles that surrounded the property. the only openings in the wall, besides the driveway, was a front walk that welcomed visitors from years passed and was the only place to access the house as the smooth-sided wall was far to high to climb; the gate was no longer barring the front walkway.

you still, of course, had to climb 8 feet of chain link to gain access. but, what was an 8-foot fence to high school kids looking for kicks? at least it didn’t have a course of barbed wire across the top.

so one day we did, indeed, climb the fence and walked through the archway where the front gate used to swing from its hinges, which were still bolted to the wall.

just inside the archway, the walkway made an abrupt turn to the right in a maze-like fashion. the brick walkway was about 6 feet wide with a wall equal in height to the surrounding wall dictating the direction one would have to walk to enter the property.

after about 50 feet the walkway turned 90° to the left for about 2 feet then made another 90° left around the wall and opened up to a once landscaped hillside, now overgrown with shrubbery and weeds showing years of neglect; large trees shaded the area from the sun.

the walkway followed the other side of the inner-wall until it reached about the midpoint of the outer walkway before turning right and ascending brick stairs, which followed the contour of the hillside; a short brick planter, maybe 2 feet high bordered the stairway.

about 100 feet up the stairs there was a square cement basin about 10 feet in diameter and 2 feet deep that once held water for a fountain, which looked like had been vandalized years earlier; the only thing left in the basin was a shallow pool of stagnant water covered over with a skim of algae; a couple of rusty pipes jutting out from the center. the brick walkway went around both sides of the fountain before rejoining on the other side and continuing back up the hill with more stairs.

the stairs leveled out onto several terraces (maybe 3 or 4) every 100 feet or so as the bricks continued their ascent to the house above. we stopped at each terrace to reassure ourselves that there was really no ghost and if there was we were too wise (spelled: s-t-u-p-i-d) to be hurt by it. the higher we climbed up the stairs, the more of the house we could see as the contour of the hillside revealed more of the structure.

as we gained the top of the stairs the brick walkway split into two directions around the multi-story (3, maybe 4) structure, which stood about 100 feet in front of us.

for some reason, the walkway did not come up to the front, back or even the side of the old house. it came up to one of the corners. i guess the walkway was an afterthought or maybe it was some architect’s idea of a unique approach, or feng shui.

unique it was!

after a moment or two of discussion as to which way we would walk toward the house (left or right) we began to walk to the right; me in the point position.

after a dozen steps, or so, we heard something that chilled us more than the sight of any ghost: a barking dog; a big barking dog and, by the sound, it was quickly running in our direction.

being the one in the lead as we approached the house, i was the last in line as we turned and ran down the stairs!

before i reached the first terrace on our frantic way down i could hear the dog’s claws clicking on the bricks as it ran after us, continuing its frightening bark.

i was sure i was going to fall a couple of times on my way down the stairs as the dog quickly shortened the distance between us (me) and it but did not.

at least not so far.

as i approached the fountain, the dog sounded as if it was about a dozen or so feet just behind me. not wanting to slow down to negotiate the sharp turns around the fountain i ran straight to the edge of the slimed-over pool and leaped across it, not knowing if i would clear the edge, drop into the pool, impale myself on the rusty pipes, slip and break a leg from the algae or crack my head on the far rim.

god knows how, but i cleared the pool and did not lose my footing, which gave me a few extra feet on the dog as it ran around the right side of the basin. i heard the its claws slide on the bricks and body crash against the planter; its bark changed slightly as it crashed into the wall.

not that it mattered much: the dog would surely reach me before i could get halfway up the chain link fence, if i even made it that far before the angry hound would catch me.

all the way down the stairs i was afraid to look around at the dog. not because i was scared to see our attacker. i didn’t want to take the time to turn and maybe lose my balance. besides, i was nearing the bottom of the staircase now and would have to make a 90° left turn at the inner wall; i’d probably see more than i wanted once i got there. especially since the dog was now right on my heels, still barking as its nails continued to sound the distance between the two of us; maybe 8 feet.


as i reached the wall i put my hands out to stop from crashing into it and pushed myself off to give me a little boost to help me negotiate the sharp turn. my friend, tony, was just going around the 180° turn around the inner wall; i could hear bob, or maybe it was dave, climbing up the chain link on the other side.

that left me alone with the dog!

as i made the left turn i looked over my shoulder expecting to see the huge dog ready to pounce as my alleged friends deserted me to be mauled by the mad giant.

there was nothing there!

the mad barking had ceased as well.

all i could hear was dave, or maybe it was bob, now on his way over the fence and tony’s running steps on the other side of the inner wall.

i didn’t stop running until i reached the end of the inner wall.

the dog was not in sight!

“he’s gone!” i yelled out of breath as tony began to climb the fence. “he’s gone!”

“what do you mean he’s gone?” bob asked from his sanctuary on the other side of the fence.

“there’s nothing here!” i replied panting for air, and stuck my head around the inner wall to see tony stopping his climb at the top of the fence. “come here and take a look!”

“you’re fucking crazy!” tony said and continued to climb over the fence.

“no, really!” i said, and leaned back into the other side of the inner wall – the dangerous side of the inner wall. “there’s nothing here!”

tony dropped down the other side of the fence. “get over here idiot!” he pleaded as he hit the other side; the others joined him in convincing me that i should do the same.

i took one last look up the stairs and walked toward the fence. i think i might have walked backwards as i kept an eye out for the phantom dog, but we never saw or heard it again.

i clumsily climbed over the fence as my muscles were now feeling the affects of the run down the stairs and dropped to the other side to join my breathless friends.

without a word, we jumped into my car and locked the doors behind us. we sat there for several minutes talking about what we had just experienced. we all agreed that we were being chased by a large dog, maybe a doberman; maybe a shepherd; maybe something bigger! we all agreed that whatever kind of dog it was it chased us all the way down the stairs before the barking stopped. only i was able to verify the visual aspect of the encounter, or lack thereof.

after a few minutes we left and took the shortest route back to west covina without stopping at gravity hill.

we returned to the house on several occasions. but we never went beyond the fence again.

i’ll leave that for somebody else!

happy halloween!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

snoring to make friends and influence the neighbors

i spent the weekend with helen keeping her awake with my snoring. sorry, helen: i hope you can get some sleep now that i’m not there.

she and i did a little caching around san jose and grabbed a couple of pies (one, a pizza, with sausage, onion, mushroom and pineapple; the other: peach, from marie callender’s, to bring home to ron).

after i got home i hid my first cache in over a year, the first since moving back to california. it is also the closest cache i have ever hidden to home, at about 250 feet from the front door. actually, i hid this cache a little over a year ago in carson city. it was designed by my friend kathy (kacky) in maine. it is a highly camouflaged little piece that looks like a wad of chewed gum. the cache container, itself, is only about the size of two watch batteries. yeah: it’s pretty small. in its original hiding spot, it was awarded micro cache of 2006 at january’s gbes 4th birthday party.

i’ve been back on ebay doing a little purchasing over the past few weeks.

i received “swimming to cambodia” a couple of weeks ago, which i have already written about.

on friday, i received “my favorite year” starring one of my favorite actors: peter o’toole. helen and i watched it saturday before heading out to go caching. i was living in portland, maine the first time i watched this movie. my landlord came up from the basement to see what i was watching because i was laughing so hard.

when i got home, king crimson’s “eyes wide open” concerts dvd was awaiting me. i say “concerts” because it has performances from the “construKction of light” tour from 2000 and from the “power to believe” tour from 2003. i have watched the set several times when willy owned it. but, after he moved away to colorado (he’s now back in fallon living with mark and my dad) he took it with him.

the other dvd is still en route. it is “the big empty.” this movie is so original and unique i wish i had written it. it cannot be described without misdescribing it or telling the entire story. it is bizarre (but not too bizarre for your average-run-of-the-mill-movie-watcher), funny, sexy, suspenseful and takes place in the desert. what more could you ask for? rapidly becoming one of my favorite movies, it joins another of my faves which features bowling (“the big lewboski”); something i have not done for over 40-years and have very little interest in.

i got to see scott gahagen (of the former “scott and monty show”) last week. waj, the group of which ron is president, had an alternative fuel and propulsion exposition in south san francisco. scott, just in the last couple of weeks, moved back to san mateo from carson city. we needed a sound system for the featured speakers and scott does the portable dj thing for a living. so, we hired him to provide dinner music and mics for the speakers. it was the first time since the baboon killer bought kptl that ron, scott and i have worked together. it was nice seeing scott again and it’s way cool that he lives just up the road. he and terri and helen and i are supposed to do a double date sometime soon. maybe we can go to the winchester mystery house... if we can find the door.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

except that the banana sticks to the wall

last night, as i was finishing up the dinner dishes after i made tacos, ron asked if i’d like to join him on a ride over to pacific grove.

as we left, we took ocean road down to the 17-mile drive to catch the sun halfway down the horizon. there were no clouds to accentuate the scene, but it is always a great sight to see the sun set into pacific!

as we drove around lands end, on which p.g. sits, the rising full moon came into view!

and what a view it was!

it was hovering over north monterey and salinas beyond, its reflection shimmering across monterey bay as we made our way around the north side of the peninsula and down to cannery row.

it was such a lovely sight that we parked just above the marina and watched the last of the sailboats catch what little breeze they could in the gathering dusk.

as we watched the moon rise and the hills disappear in the dark, ron enlightened me on a story susie told him about an alleged shopping cult that is hitting all the upscale boutiques in northern california.

apparently, this cult is based out of norcal in some unknown thriving community near the oregon boarder.

i say thriving because: this so-called cult allegedly has no leader and the members just go from boutique to boutique trying to outspend the other. therefore, in order to spend the kind of money it would take to buy some of the merchandise in some of these shops (i was looking at a really lame yellow on yellow plaid – god, i hate plaid – sport coat hanging in susie’s shop with a $3500 price tag on it, wondering who would pay that kind of price, let alone wear the obnoxious thing), the cult members must be independently wealthy.

as spalding said in “swimming to cambodia”: “all of the stories i’m telling you tonight are true. ah, except for one. except that the banana sticks to the wall. that’s it; all the other’s are true!”

or, as ron would, and did say: “you think i make this shit up!”

i guess you have to know susie to really “get” this story.

a few weeks ago, ron and susie went out to eat at the spanish bay club, just around the corner from here. susie ordered chilean sea bass. ron informed susie that it is on the endangered species list. susie’s reply was: “but, it’s already dead so it o.k.”

her grandmother passed away a few months ago and susie inherited, among other things, a mink coat. she’s having it adjusted to fit her, which is going to require the furrier to add a couple of pelts to it. ron suggested that she not say anything about the additions, as there are so many p.e.t.a. members around here who would take exception to the act. susie’s reply: “these things are raised on ranches, so why should they care?”

you think i make this shit up, don’t you?

ron has rented a condominium-villa for late october in newport beach for him, susie, lulu and one of lulu’s mutant friends. susie is insisting that the shitsus go too. but, the villa doesn’t allow pets.

do you think that’s going to stop susie?

She says she’s going to smuggle them into the suite in her luggage, sneak them out and drive a few blocks away so they can “do their business” (certainly they’ll “hold it” out of respect of the villa, being the classy mutts that they are). nobody will hear them as they don’t bark (too much) and the maids won’t know they’re there because the dogs are so quiet (sure they are!) and won’t shit or pee on the floor like they do at the dollhouse because the only reason they shit and pee on the floor at the dollhouse is because the loganator won’t let them out to “do their business.”


i can see that i’ll be running down there to bailout the piss-machines to bring them back up here so the loganator can dogsit between classes, football practice and watching the simpsons.

you think i make this shit up, don’t you?

speaking of the loganator: he’s off of the injured list and played in every offensive play last saturday in their game against solano, which the team won by a score of 54-34. the lobos have only lost one game this season and it looks like they’re on their way to another win as the team they’re playing this saturday is 0-4 for the season.

logan’s birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks. ron wants to get him a new suit. logan wants to go online with ron’s credit card so he can order more simpson action figures.

during the move to the dollhouse, logan used an entire roll of bubble-wrap to protect his simpson action figures; all unboxed for superior presentation as opposed to keeping them in the original boxes for collectable value.

you think i make this shit up, don’t you?

and just so you know: all of the above stories, except for the banana, were suggested blog material by ron!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

bigger and smaller wildlife sightings for today

it was another amazing day for mammalian sea creature encounters: within seconds of arriving at “our beach” for our morning meeting i noticed what looked like a spray of vapor about ¾ mile off shore. ron looked up in time to see the next spray; it was a pod of humpback whales.

they stayed between ¾ to 1-½ miles off shore, but it was another treat on back-to-back mornings that made for a great start to the day.

from that distance it was hard to tell how many of them were in the pod, but we guessed, by the distance between the spouts, that there were at least 4 of them; maybe more since they can hold their breath for great lengths of time.

i have been here for 3 months and yesterday was the first time we have seen dolphins from the beach and today was the first time we have seen whales. i did see whales a few weeks ago on the pose’s boat and ron has seen a whale come up close (100 ft.) to the beach as recently as last spring and has seen dolphins a few times, but it is the first visit while i was there to witness their appearances.

pacific grove, little more than a linear mile north of where i know sit is known as butterfly town, u.s.a. for the monarch butterflies that gather here each year to sit (fly) out winter. their migration brings them from alaska and canada to hang out around here in the milder temps.

i don’t know what it means for winter up north, but i saw my first monarch butterfly this afternoon.

pacific grove, also known as “america’s last hometown”, has an annual butterfly parade where the kids in town deck themselves out in butterfly regalia.

it must be quite a sight to see so many of the beautiful critters flying about; the butterflies not the children.

these are not leaves in the picture to the right; they are monarch butterflies that have gathered together in the monarch grove butterfly sanctuary.

and add to the wildlife encounters of the day: when i went out to get a case of water from my car i startled a black tail doe that was on our front porch. her adolescent youngster on the front yard stayed put while i walked within 15 feet of it; it’s big eyes not leaving me for a second.

dolphins yesterday; deer, butterflies and whales today; what’s left for tomorrow?


oh, the weather has been absolutely gorgeous with cool night for sleeping-bliss and highs near 80 with crystal-clear blue skies!

Monday, September 24, 2007

coffee for dolphins

some uninvited, yet very welcome guests interrupted our morning meeting on the beach this morning: a pod of at least 4 dolphins of unknown species.

what a wonderful sighting this turned out to be!

ron and i were discussing the october newsletter for waj when i noticed a dorsal fin about 300 feet offshore. moments later we could see them spouting and porpoising about 50 feet off of the beach! except for seaworld, this is the closest i’ve ever been to dolphins.

they were, apparently, working over a school of fish as they swam in and out and across the beach.

at one point, 3 of the beautiful creatures surfed a wave into the beach.

i drank my coffee with great enthusiasm as i watched the masters of the ocean swim just feet from where we were parked.

speaking of coffee: if you are not familiar with mike keneally and his band “beer for dolphins”, the title of today’s blog may have slipped by you as just another attempt at me being cute. well, it is a cute title, but with porpoise . . . i mean purpose.

eventually, 3 women walked by and we pointed out the dolphins to them. it turned out that one of them is a professional wildlife photographer who had a camera with a lens on it that could bring in saturn up-close-and-personal. i gave her my email address in the hopes that she might send me a copy or two of the mammalian sea creatures as they corralled their breakfast.

having a great interest in wildlife, i hope to become much more acquainted with diane, as she seemed quite knowledgeable of the various seabirds that passed over as we observed the dolphins.

# # # # #

i watched my new copy of spalding gray’s monologue “swimming to cambodia” last night. this is the 3rd or 4th copy of this incredible video that i have owned; the first was a copy i recorded from a bravo showing; the second was one dubbed from a vhs tape i rented while living in maine; the third was a vhs copy i bought from ebay a few years ago and is now hidden somewhere at my brother’s.

the clarity of this new dvd is better than i had hoped.

my brother and i were lucky enough to see spuddy perform this, his most famous, monologue in san francisco a couple of years before he died.

i miss spalding almost every day!

it is a high mark for which to reach, but i aspire to be as good and as entertaining as he was at telling stories!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

tales to tell: staying warm in a volkswagen

on christmas of 1992, after living in maine for far too long, while talking with my parents who had moved to nevada 6-months earlier from socal, i decided it was time to pull up stakes and head back out west.

at the time i had “retired” from radio for the first time about two years previous and was working for a telemarketing firm (not a scam outfit, thank you) as an office manager traveling from community to community throughout northern new england. we were working in rockland and i was living out of the tradewinds lodge on the waterfront, overlooking the bay.

i was making pretty decent money at the time. but, by living in hotels, i was spending a pretty good chunk of it on eating out 3-times a day. so, very little of it was going into the savings account.

besides: i never did get comfortable living in new england. and in my opinion: there is no worse place in the lower-48 to live in the winter than maine. not that summer is any better; when it’s 85° you can count on the humidity being up around 100%! there is really only about 2-weeks at the end of spring and 2-weeks at the beginning of fall when the weather is tolerable.

so, when we wrapped up rockland, i was in my volkswagen and on the road for the silver state.

there are some things you need to know about my volksy before i go much further into the story.

it was a 1976 super beetle. now, if you know anything about beetles, super or otherwise, you know that the heaters are not the best in the business. it also had a feature they called “auto-shift”. it was sort of a semi-automatic transmission in that you had to shift it, but when you moved the shifter more than a quarter of an inch a servo disengaged the clutch; there was no clutch pedal. that servo turned to junk about 200 miles after i bought the car and it was going to cost more than $2000 to fix the thing; more money than the car was worth. so, i just dealt with it.

one of the problems the servo’s lack of integrity caused was you could only shift it by turning off the engine, shifting it into a higher gear, and turning the engine back on. since it wasn’t like a “real” automatic transmission, it was much like rolling a 4-speed with the clutch out and the key on. only a little smoother; it just fired right up, without a lurch.

it would also not go into reverse! so, i either had to park on an uphill grade so i could let issac newton back the car out or pull all the way through a stall so i could drive straight out.

this was the car the i chose to leave new england in that january.

because of the heater being just about anything but, i bought some vacuum hose and duct tape and directed what little heat was coming out of the heater ducts to just below the front of the driver seat. it worked, but it was still far from a “real” heater.

i just dealt with the transmission issues.

by the time i got the car and myself all packed up it was about 9 in the morning before i was actually on the road and heading south to the maine/new hampster border. not that i could head directly to the border - there were people i needed to say goodbye to before leaving. so, by the time i got to portsmouth, nh, it was dark.

i spent the first night in port jervis, new york on the new york, new jersey, pennsylvania borders.

the morning brought only bad news: freezing rain in the mountains where i needed to travel!

but, i had miles to get under my wheels and hit the road as soon as i got breakfast under my belt.

it wasn’t long, however, before the freezing rain put a thick sheet of ice on my windshield as the defroster didn’t work nearly as well as the heater.

i pulled off of the interstate and, fortunately, there was a mom & pop convenience store at the top of the off ramp.

knowing what it was going to take to get the heat to the windshield from the vacuum hose coming from under my seat, i headed directly to the paper goods isle.

i exited the store a couple of minutes later with 4 rolls of paper towels and began to unroll the toweling from the rolls in the center and began to duct tape the empty rolls to the vacuum hose until the collection of tubing reached the ice-encrusted windshield.

i fired up the bug and stepped out to scrape the ice from the glass as the frost on the inside slowly began to melt.

when there was about 12 inches of clear glass, i headed back to the interstate. it was necessary to keep moving the “nozzle” across the windshield, but i was able to keep the glass clear until i reached the trailing edge of the storm.

when i got into wilkes-barre, pa, i stopped at kmart to grab some handwarmers to, hopefully, add a little more heat to the windshield. fortunately, i did not need to use them, as they didn’t put out enough heat to have any affect whatsoever.

before leaving town, i stopped at a gas station for a fill up.

one of the employees came out as i began to pump the gas and, seeing my license plates said: “you’re a long way from home!”

i told him i was going a lot farther as my destination was nevada.

“nevada?” he said. “you got a lot of balls driving a volkswagen all the way to nevada!”

replying with my motto, which came from a song by the bears, i said: “fear is never boring!”

he replied: “adrian belew!” and pointed at me.

i didn’t bother to correct him. since the song, in fact, was originally performed by the raisins, the other 3 members of the bears, a few years before adrian joined the band.

but, i took that as an omen that the rest of the day would be a good one; adrian being my idol and all.

it was!

i drove all the way to la salle, illinois (on i-80, about halfway across the state) where i spent the night.

the next day was the coldest day of the trip!

i had a thermometer from l.l. bean hanging on the dashboard that never got about 10° on that day. the only way i was able to stay warm was by keeping a blanket over me and trapping what little hot air was coming from the vacuum hose.

i drove all the way to cheyenne, wyoming where i spent my 3rd and final night on the road.

the next day was the longest of the 3-and-a-half days of travel.

i started out at about 7, drove into laramie for breakfast and began to cross the rocky mountains.

after having spent the previous day in a car where the temperature never got about 10°, i actually drove through the rockies with the window down. there was snow all around the highway, but it was a very pleasant day, maybe in the low 40s.

coming down the western slope, of the uintahs into salt lake, i was loafing the engine in an attempt to save a little gas. the only problem was, i loaded up the sparkplugs and the engine would hardly rev to get up the next range. after a little coaxing, and keeping the transmission in 3rd instead of 4th, i was able to clean out the engine and drive comfortably (well, as comfortably as one can in salt lake city during peak traffic-time) into slc and headed west toward my old stomping grounds: the bonneville salt flats and wendover, beyond.

knowing i was in the final stretch, i spent some extra time in wendover, eating a meal i could not find in new england: chicken friend steak, stretching my legs by walking around the casino, and looking at my picture on the wall in the state line casino’s convention center. 1978 was the last year the casino placed 200 mph club inductees pictures on the wall.

from wendover, it was just another 6 hours or so before i pulled into fallon at 1:30 the next morning; my parents, and grandmother, who was visiting from socal, stayed up to welcome me home.

the next morning when i got up and saw all the snow on the ground from the storm that raced across the country and into new england the day before i left i decided i was going to buy nordic skis so i could ski off the patio and into the desert. it was the one and only time i ever saw that much snow in fallon.

but, i was in fallon for the first time in about 40-years and it already felt like home. within a couple of days i was working at the nugget casino as the night club dj.

but, that is another tale to tell.