I don’t suppose anybody really cares where I walk or what pictures I take. That’s ok. This blog is Atroll’s Entertainment, and it’s part of my extended diary documenting ordinary life in the early 21st century. I probably should be writing a review of Mad Max: Fury Road instead of showing a bunch of cell phone pix of me staggering around in a forest, but the two hours spent hiking with my sister was every bit as much fun as the two hours spent watching Mad Max. My two hours in the woods were a first-hand experience in the world, and watching Mad Max: Fury Road was just a rerun of Mad Max: the Road Warrior. The faces have changed, but the action is the same in the movie. Crazy vehicles zoom all over a barren wasteland, and lots of people, if you can call them people, get shot. Yay! Actually, it was fun to watch, but this is real, not a Hollywood fantasy that really doesn’t make any sense.
Hiking with the Trollgod
On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, I visited my sister Neloa in Payson, Arizona. After lunch the two of us went for a hike in the manzanita forest a few miles from her house. We parked the car across from the country club, and found a trail leading into the woods. Have you ever noticed that there aren’t many flowers inside the forest, but always lots of them on the edge?
Have you ever wondered why real wildflowers are always so small? I don’t know what thise little violet things are–probably a weed.
Neloa promised to show me an Indian ruin. This wasn’t the one she had in mind, but was the only one we actually found. Actually there isn’t much left after a couple hundred years of being abandoned in a forest. The trained archaeologist recognized that such nice circles of rocks are not natural.
I don’t have to lead the way into the unknown. My sister claimed to know the path, so she’s the one out front.
The dead trees were more interesting than the living ones. This old stump would be really spooky by night.
Come on, Ken! Try to keep up! Yeah, she outwalked me pretty easily. Graciously allowed me to stop and catch my breath once in a while. To be fair, Payson’s elevation is 4000 feet higher than Phoenix, and climbing hills at a steep pace is a bit of a workout for me.
Not far from town, but it feels like the wilderness. There is nothing artificial or manmade in this picture except the trail itself and maybe our tracks in the dirt.
That big granite boulder in the distance is our primary goal.
How to be a real outdoorsman–learn to recognize different kinds of animal poop when you see it. All these little black pellets are elk scat. Watch where you step when walking in the wild.
Another dead tree monster by the trail . . .
When we reached our destination and climbed up on the biggest rock on the mountain, Neloa wanted to point out various landmarks. I wanted to sit down and catch my breath. That line of mountains you can see in the distance is the actual Mogollon Rim.
I got this selfy of the two of us together at the high point of the trip. The yellow safety glasses we are wearing function as sunglasses and also make everything appear more vivid. Greens are greener, blues are bluer. As you can see, Nel has a level head on her shoulders, but I’m at my usual tilt to the world.
This was taken from the top of a second boulder even higher up the hill than the first. The houses in the woods belong to the upper class of rich people. Only they can really afford to live out here in the woods.
We took a few minutes to admire the view.
Somebody planted an American flag on top of the higher rock. Someone else planted a flower on top of the flag.
One of the things I love about hiking in Arizona is that you can see for a long way. This is small town northern Arizona, nothing special, but I think it’s beautiful.
After a couple of hours we came back down and went home. That’s the way to hike, folks. Pleasant trips that get you out into the fresh air, make your heart beat, but don’t kill yourself at it. We were going to go to antique shops afterwards, but my legs were kind of wobbly, so we just sat around and talked.
Final reward for the day’s adventures . . .
Home made banana split, Trollgod style. The perfect banana was cut into fourths and lined the bottom of the bowl. Two big scoops of vanilla pecan ice cream topped with strawberry jam and Hershey’s chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top. Yum! What a nice reward for an afternoon of hiking.
So, Arizona is full of wonderful places to hike and explore. Thanks for sharing the trip with me. Atroll is not always out in the desert.
If you’ve ever hiked around in the forest and stepped in wild animal poop, why not leave a comment?
Saturday was a very busy day for me.
First, I went to see the Avengers Age of Ultron movie with my friend Daniel Horton and my son James St. Andre. Terrific action movie. I’m not reviewing it here. If you’re a Marvel fan, you should see it. My one comment is that the movie has almost noting in common with the big apocalyptic Marvel crossover series that inspired it.
This is a graphic novel compilation of the original Age of Ultron series from early 2014. Because I saw the movie today, I wound up buying the graphic novel later in the afternoon when I visited the Poisoned Pen bookstore.
After the movie I had James take this picture of Daniel and me standing gy the Age of Ultron display inside the theater.
I had just received my first Marvel Collectors package in the mail a few days before. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to wear the Ultron t-shirt that came in it. These collectors t-shirts will be relatively rare, but they are also very light and cheaply made, so I can’t wear it much or it will wear out too quickly. In case you don’t know me, I’m the man with the hat.
After the movie we decided to go to lunch together. My suggestions of the CostCo food court or Denny’s at 35th Avenue and Bethany Home were not chosen. Instead we went to a Vietnames Restaurant that Daniel knew about located at 17th Ave. and Camelback, about 1 mile from the theater. James and I had never eaten in a Viet restaurant before. He had a sub sandwich. I ordered the same thing Daniel ordered, and it was delicious.
Drink. The coffee brews itself right in front of you. Very strong and sweet and served over ice. You can see the finished product in the picture above.
Here I am enjoying lunch. My glasses only have one lens in them these days after cataract surgery on my right eye a couple of weeks ago. I will get the left eye corrected on May 12, 2015 and quit wearing these glasses entirely.
The restaurant is just a hole in the wall place in a little strip mall, but it has a lot of beautiful art inside.
Later in the afternoon, I went to Scottsdale to participate in the grand opening of Cafe 64–an upscale bistro co-owned by my friend Scott Hagen.
Here I am arriving at the Cafe 64 about 4:30 p.m. The table on the far right is where I wound up sitting and talking to the guys sitting there.
The place was really very busy. It had all the customers it could handle.
The place was so busy that I could not get a table inside or even a seat at the bar.
Although the place was jammed, Scott took a few minutes to talk to me. He got me a dark chocolate beer and I bought a souvenir jug from him. It features an art pun done by artist Steve Crompton, and has a tentacle on it along with a picture of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. The bar is called Craft 64. Get it? We love Craft.
Scott is the perfect restauranteur host.
Here he is showing off what I think is a very unusual souvenir item. I don’t think I’ve ever been tempted to buy a big old moonshine jug before.
Scott seemed quite proud of this jug. I think it must have been his idea, and he got our friend Crompton to do the art for it. See the tentacle. We love tentacles–they are kind of a fannish joke favorite of mine.
I got a drink and had to go outside to find a place to sit and drink it. This guy, Victor, gave me a Phoenix Ale beer glass. Last time I got one of these was at the grand opening of the Changing Hands bookstore in Phoenix, and that one cost me $10. Getting one for free was nice. These glasses are the perfect size for holding a bottle of beer.
Victor, another hat guy, and a contact for me at the Phoenix Ale brewery.
I wound up taking home glass from my trip to Craft 64. They also make great gourmet pizza, but I was in no mood to wait around to get one. So one glass of dark beer and out–see what a moderate guy I am?
I like the way Lovecraft seems to be peeking over the Phoenix Ale sign. Talk about the Mountains of Madness . . .
I finished my drink, only 1/3 empty in the picture above, and walked back to my car, which I had cleverly left in the parking lot of the Poisoned Pen bookstore. Because I love bookstores, I had to go inside before going home. I was hoping to see a friend that I used to work with at Mesquite Branch Library some 7 years ago.
I was in luck. My friend Patrick King was on duty that afternoon. It was pretty slow, but he actually had to take a phone call and do a little work while I was there.
That gave me a reason to just wander around the store and take pictures of books and things that looked interesting.
Star Wars for young readers . . .
I don’t know what the book is really about, but I loved the cover and Collins is a mystery writer.
The bookstore brings in a lot of well-known authors to do signings. I have attended a couple of them, and if I were a true mystery fan, I could see better authors than me at least four times a month or more. I missed somebody that day. The celeb was there at 2 p.m. and I came in a bit after 5. Truth is, I’m not that big a mystery fan.
8 X 10 glossies of some of the authors that have been there, and a whole section of autographed first editions for those who collect such things.
And now, here’s something you probably never expected to see–the inside of the Poisoned Pen bathroom. And yes, there is a bookstore cat, but this one doesn’t require any kibbles and bits.
I don’t know why the cat is trying to get into the garbage can.
Parker has pride of place here. :) Even though Parker has been dead since 2010, his best creation, P.I. Spenser continues.
By the end of the day I had spent about $70 enjoying myself, but this is how I felt, and I think it was worth it.
Ok, too much good stuff. Time to wrap it up, and go home.
Home again, home again where I could now watch the Agents of Shield episode that tied into the Avengers movie I saw in the morning. All in all, Saturday was an excellent day for me.
If you’ve had a really good day lately, why not leave a comment?
I have been thinking lately about Beauty. The urge to beautify the world seems to exist, in different forms, in almost every human being. The south end of 15th Avenue–just before you reach the Rio Salado–is an ugly, utilitarian part of the city. There are no parks, no beautiful homes, nothing very nice–just warehouses and railroad tracks and empty lots and a freeway going through it. And that’s where I discovered another manifestation of the Goddess, bringing color and beauty to one of the dingiest places in my fair city of Phoenix.
The hand gesture is peculiar, not really a pointing or a liberating gesture. It seems more like a magical gesture, and if it is Magic, then this may well be the Goddess creating and releasing this butterfly.
Look at her face. She is either in a trance or deep concentration. If she were watching butterflies, her eyes would be open, and she would probably be smiling, but if she is creating them . . .
The butterflies are going in all directions.
You can see the life energy coming out of the hand here.
Many butterflies float through the sky on this underpass.
Butterflies need flowers. The Goddess provides a sunflower for them. The sunflower is a plant that grows mostly in the Southwest. When I was a boy 60 years ago, they grew wild, like weeds all over the city. Now they are hard to find unless some homeowner has deliberately chosen to plant them.
I’ve been showing you the details, but let’s step back and see the big picture.
Tagged and defiled by graffiti and the grime of decades, the Goddess endures beneath this bridge.
I may be reading all kinds of symbolism and meaning into these murals that was never intended. These paintings were done decades ago. My city has a strong hispanic heritage. Chicano artists bring their own cultural themes to their work. Perhaps this was meant to be Our Lady of Guadalupe, another form of the Virgin Mary. Perhaps the butterflies are just butterflies and not metaphors for souls.
Perhaps, but I like my interpretation, and now you have a glimpse at why trolls like to spend time under bridges. A world of beauty, undreamed of by those who pass above, hides under the bridges of Phoenix.
If you’ve ever found anything cool or beautiful beneath a bridge, why not leave a comment?
Well, one out of three is a good batting average in baseball, anyway!
On April 29, the day after my birthday, my brother invited me out for supper. I took him up on it. We went here:
Ya gotta like burgers if you eat here. That’s what they do best.
It’s a fun place. So much fun that I couldn’t help playing with my food.
After supper we went over to where a band was putting on a free show. Rick Linzi and the Roustabouts does old time rock and roll, and they do it really well. The lead singer, Rick, is an Elvis Presley impersonator. He really looks the part, and has a very Elvis-like voice.
The drummer is Jim Marsella, and he is really great at it. I like to brag about him, because he is my brother-in-law and a very good friend. These guys are all fantastic musicians.
The show was paid for by Sanderson Ford, a local car dealership. They were also having a big hot rod show with many incredible cars for the public to admire. I went and took pix of some that I thought were really cool, though I admit, I would be really pleased to own any of these vehicles. They are all collectible, all great, and all require more attention and maintenance than I could ever give a car.
Looks like Ford is getting into the ecology business.
Neon motors. Ghostly.
Let’s make it a yellow cab.
Ford trucks. I think fire engine red like this is my favorite shade of crimson.
Steve Rogers must have come by the show. Here’s his car. Age of Ultron starts tomorrow. I keep seeing these movie reviews by people who are not comcs fans. I am not surprised that they don’t get it.
Some cars need a little extra room to breathe.
Beep, beep, my ass! These guys are heroes in the southwest,
Heh, this blog is Atroll’s Entertainment, and sometimes it is not about science fiction, fantasy, or gaming–just about what makes me happy in life. Food, cars, and rock & roll will keep me amused most of the time.
If you’ve seen any hot cars or listened to any great bands or had a good burger, and calories be damned, lately, why not leave a comment?
It’s no secret that I’m a gamer. Not a fanatical gamer, really–there are other things in my life more important than gaming, and there are many forms of gaming I will have nothing to do with, but on the whole, I support gaming for everyone. So, I’m a Tabletop fan of Wil Wheaton, and I’ve met him once at GenCon, and been in the same room with him perhaps half a dozen times, and he doesn’t know me from Adam, but that’s okay. I like the guy, and I admire what he does, but I’m not a fanboy. 68 year old game designers are a bit beyond the fanboy stage.
However, yesterday was National Tabletop Day, and in the spirit of the occasion, my son James, his friend Harley, and I went out to do some gaming with complete strangers outside the walls of my own castle. We found a new little game shop that just opened last January in west Phoenix, not too far from my place,. and spent about 5 hours there. During that time we played Magic, Munchkin, and Zombie Dice–alas, no Tunnels and Trolls. That would have required too much preparation and planning on my part, but now I know the venue is there, perhaps I will commandeer a table and run a game some time in the future.
Of course I took pictures. So, here’s what my National Tabletop Day looked like.
Here I am at the front door, taking a picture and capturing my reflection in the window.
The guy in blue behind the counter is Jeff. He is one of the partners who runs the place. He’s also the “card” guy and a champion Magic player. I was in a 5 way Commander game with him later in the afternoon.
Here I am showing off the store logo. The place provides free wifi, so if I ever wanted to bring a tablet or a laptop and connect to the internet . . .
My son James is the one who really got me moving and actually involved in Tabletop Day. Without his enthusiasm, I might have just stayed home with my other big interest–comics.
Most of the tables in the store were plain and functional. But they also had this beautiful painted table.
The store owners provided a feast–sub sandwiches, chips, and soft drinks all free for the gamers who showed up, and that food covered the painted table for most of the afternoon and evening.
They had various demo games available to play. This was the second game we played during the afternoon. Quick review: very well tied to the actual cartoon–funny, played well, but the cards were a little hard to read because of the font they used.
Now I’m jealous. I want a Tunnels and Trolls Munchkin variant.
We actually spent about 2/3 of our time playing this game. A 5-way Commander battle is not a short and easy undertaking. Harley wound up buying cards, so the shopkeepers did make some money from our visit. I’m thinking I might go back for some of their regular tournaments.
We weren’t the only gamers enjoying the place. Here’s a maximum-sized group playing Ticket to Ride.
And this group was playing Dixit. The redhead actually brought in a cake for the day–I had a small piece. So, how cool is that? I say, let’s encourage more girl gamers.
It was a very fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I feel like I should apologize to all my friends who spent their Tabletop Day at the Imperial Outpost (which, imho, is far and away the best gaming store in the whole Phoenix area–too bad it is so far away from me) way up on West Thunderbird Road in far northwest Phoenix. I considered going there for the day, but adding Harley to my group took me the opposite direction and it was just too far to travel. I’ve seen the pix of them at play, and they certainly appeared to be having a great time.
So, Saturday, I spent about 5 hours gaming, and over an hour in travel time. Got home a little after 9 p.m. and sacked out, completely exhausted by about 11.
If you went somewhere or did something special for National Tabletop Day, please go ahead and leave a comment.
On Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015, I drove 100 miles to eat dinner with my sister. Afterward, I got my brother-in-law to take me out for a ride in his rail. By Crom, that’s one tough buggy, it went up and down trails I wouldn’t want to tackle on foot. I got some pictures of the Arizona back country, and I’ll share them with you, but these are the tame pictures. I couldn’t take pix of the really wild fun stuff, because I was hanging on for dear life. Woooooooooo hooooooooooooo!
Granite Dells. Part of my ride was dominated by huge granite boulders. Trolls love this!
What you don’t realize in this picture is that I’m looking almost straight down, not straight ahead on the flat.
If you love to get out in the wild, or have ever taken a wild ride, why not leave a comment?
and I mean that in a good way. Once upon a time there was a small town called Sunnyslope. It existed just north of the city of Phoenix. And I lived there when I was in the 7th grade. In 1959 the community was annexed by Phoenix, because it had not yet managed to incorporate itself as a town. I was living there and attending 7th grade when it happened.
On Sunday afternoon, March 15, 2015, I went back to take my afternoon walk through the heart of old Sunnyslope. It doesn’t look much like it did when I was a kid riding my bicycle all over the place. I went back because I remember there being some strange statues up there. So, for the sheer heck of it, I took my camera and went hunting. This is what I found.
Both sides of the Dunlap Avenue have these weird flat iron sculptures lining the sidewalks. There are several different “people” shown here, but the same figure is repeated at least four times in different locations.
They all have the same general form and size, but the holes cut into them are different, and the head shapes and objects they hold can be different. They look a lot like tribal African figures.
The sidewalk in front of John C. Lincoln Hospital has some large, rather strange murals (for lack of a better word) set into it. The first one I noticed was the word Sunnyslope stretched out over about 60 feet. I could not get the whole word into a single photo.
A long shot of John C. Lincoln Hospital–one of the nicest hospitals in the city. I was a patient there back in 1968 when I rolled a City Delivery van down a mountain slope on 19th Avenue. It was a rather amazing high speed accident, and I was very lucky to survive. When they pulled my battered and bleeding body from the wreck, the ambulance took me to this hospital–it was the closest at the time–located at about 2nd Street and Dunlap.
As I walked east along the sidewalk, I found this man lying there casually connected by this stream of breath or smoke to . . .
. . . a pair of disembodied lungs, and that is connected to . . .
this other man–a mirror image of the first, but facing the opposite direction. You have to admit it is strange to find disembodied lungs on the sidewalk in front of a hospital.
This flatman appears to be female.
This one is holding a wizard’s staff. You can tell that it’s magical because it has a large gem or orb of some type at the top.
And then I found footprints in the rock.
walking east some more My shadow got into the picture here. Do you think this flatman is a doctor with a stethoscope? It is in front of a hospital.
what’s this? A brewery in the heart of Sunnyslope? I never knew this place was here. I saw some people sitting on a small patio, drinking beer. I asked a couple if it was very good, and they assured me it was.
So I went inside. The Diamondbacks were on television, playing a Spring training game with the Giants.
There were many tables inside, but I sat down at the bar and asked for their least expensive brew. The bartender, Lisa, asked if I wanted dark or light. I said I didn’t care–give me something good. So she gave me these two samples.
They were both good, but I chose the dark. She told me it was Scottish ale.
I struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to me. It occurred to me that I should get a picture of me in this place–evidence he called it.
He took two, using my camera, of me standing beside the brewery logo on the wall. This became my picture of the day for March 15, 2015. I’m not really all that wildly happy, but I thought a laughing, gesturing Ken would be more interesting than me just standing there. Another coincidence? I wind up inside a bar on the day when I’m wearing the only t-shirt I own that has anything alcoholic/drinkable on it. This green stuff in the bottle on my shirt is probably absinthe, and of course, Cthulhu is a strange and weird god.
After about an hour in the bar, I paid my bill and continued my walk. As I reached the corner of 5-points where Dunlap intersects with 7th Street, and Cave Creek Road angles off to the northeast, I found a flagpole with two flags. The Stars and Stripes flag is on top, and the tricolor below it is that of the Italian Republic circa 1946. That makes sense because the flagpole was in front of a big Italian restaurant, that I did not photograph, but I did not know what flag it was at the time.
The restaurant was on the end of a little strip mall running perpendicular to the street. There were two rather bizarre businesses here–this bony barber shop . . .
and a “House of Fashion” where the ladies of Sunnyslope can acquire elegant and sexy dresses.
There are two fiveway intersections in the city of Phoenix. This one is at 7th Street and Dunlap with Cave Creek Road running off to the northeast. The other is at 7th Avenue and Van Buren with Grand Avenue running off to the northwest. This one is on the north side of the city. The other is like a mirror image 9 miles south and 2 miles west of it.
Another view looking toward the hills east of town–hills with sunny slopes for which the place may have been named.
I crossed Dunlap and started back to where I had left my car, about 3/4 of a mile away, and immediately found this very strange garage. I mean, who names a garage after a character from Alice in Wonderland? This struck me as weird because I fancy myself as a bit of a Mad Hatter, and have created my own Mad Hatter costume.
Walking west, I found this cowboy on the sidewalk, or perhaps he was a miner. The hills around Sunnyslope were once full of old mines dug by prospectors in the 19th century.
A glowing rock next to a pickaxe? Definitely a symbol of mining.
Another one of our flat friends. He must not have liked me taking his picture without permission, because at this point my right calf began to hurt, and I went lame. I would limp back to the car from here.
Reaching Central Avenue, I found this remindrance of today’s namesake. The Ides of March is famous for the assassination of Julius Caesar. Little Caesar is here located next to another location famous for blades in use.
On the corner of Dunlap and Central there is a small grocery that apparently features some rather exotic booze. Perhaps I should have gone in and purchased some Devil ale, but I resisted temptation.
From here I crossed the street, got back into my car, and returned to my home, having finished my tour of everything worth seeing in downtown Sunnyslope.
If you’ve ever found weird stuff in a small town, or even just a small section of the city, why not leave a comment?