Archive for May 2014
On the morning that Ken woke up early
He read his email, and thought naughty thoughts,
And his conscience said, “You should take a walk!”
So, he grabbed his camera, and jumped in his car,
And drove away . . .
Past homes and businesses,
Through intersections and curves,
And finally came to where the rich things are.
Then he got out of his car
Sunrise where the rich things are.
And he said, “I will climb that mountain!
Heading up 56th Street
And I will walk where the Rich Things Live.”
And Ken thought maybe the Rich Things would walk their fancy dogs,
Or drive their fancy cars, or smile their terrible smiles,
But most of the Rich Things were still asleep,
So Ken took pictures of their fancy lairs,
Just to show that he dared walk where the Rich Things live.
As Ken walked, signs appeared and told him where he was and which way to go next.
Until he came to where the King of the Rich Things lived in his fancy castle.
This isn’t the biggest or fanciest house on the southern slopes of Camelback Mountain, but it is the one that looks most like a castle now. There used to be a real medieval castle up here, but it has been torn down.
But the King of the Rich Things was fast asleep, and did not come out and talk to Ken.
Then Ken said, “Now I am on top of the world,
Or at least up pretty high.
I will look down on my world,
And make pictures so all may see
The magical land that is my country,
Even though I am not the king here.”
And Ken took many pictures of the Land known as Phoenix.
Then Ken grew tired of being alone in the land where the Rich Things are,
So he walked on down out of the land where the Rich Things are.
He walked past lairs and palaces:
And through an enchanted forest
Yea, he passed the Land of Many Palm Trees . . .
Walking down the byways and the highways
And past the gates where Rich Things from other Lands came to stay and play in the Enchanted Forest
Until he finished the circle that was in no way round, and came at last to his trusty automobile
“Let’s go get some food,” said Ken.
And drove back through curves and intersections,
Past businesses and homes
Until Ken reached his own home at last
And went in and fixed himself coffee and cereal,
And it was very good!
If you ever wander into the lands where the Rich Things are, why not leave a comment?
The City of Phoenix, Arizona has a light rail system that runs from downtown Mesa 30 miles to the southeast past the airport, through the center of town, and northwest to a major shopping center called ChrisTown on the corner of 19th Avenue and Bethany Home Road. That shopping center is only 3/4 of a mile from where I live. The City has decided to extend the line another 3 miles north along 19th Avenure. That goes within two blocks of my apartment, and creates all kinds of traffic problems as 19th Avenue was a major thoroughfare for this part of town. Of course that means that all kinds of heavy equipment is always working on 19th Ave.
Perhaps it is the kid in me, the part that never grew up, but I kind of like to watch heavy construction equipment in action. I frequently walk around the neighborhood, and have seen bulldozers, scorpions, dumptrucks, cranes and other stuff in action. I’ve often wished I had my camera with me when I witnessed some construction in progress. On Monday, May 20, 2014, I set out to take a morning walk, and I brought the camera with the idea that I would take pix of all the heavy equipment I saw upon the way. This is that record.
Water truck. Construction stirs up a lot of dust, and the solution is to wet the dirt down and deal with mud instead. Go figure!
Looking north on 19th Avenue, the sign warns me that I’m in a Work Zone
Part of the job is widening 19th Avenue.
There are a lot of palm trees in my part of town.
Dig holes, make piles of dirt.
Then park the digger on top of the dirt. Does that make sense?
Glorified fork lift in action
Make mud now.
A lot of the job seems to be telling men where to guide the monsters.
Giant pipes will be going underground somewhere nearby.
White truck. It’s hard to say anything brilliant. I don’t think the best machines were at work this day.
I’ve run out of dumb things to say. From here on, the pictures will have to tell their own story.
19th Avenure and Northern, so messed up–1 miles of men at work.
Some of the work extends onto Northern Avenue. Beyond this point there was nothing worth photographing.
So, why is the really heavy equipment all yellow while the trucks are all white? Inquiring minds want to know.
This blog has been just a slice of my life–nothing special, but it’s kind of fun to watch these machines in action and imagine oneself as the driver.
I call this blog Atroll’s Entertainment. As you can see, I’m easily amused. 🙂
If you’ve ever worked on a road construction crew, why not leave a comment?
The 40th annual LepreCon science fiction convention was held at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Mesa, Arizona on the days and nights of May 8-11, 2014. This is Phoenix’s oldest science fiction convention. Believe it or not, I helped start it back in 1974 or so, and was Con Chairman in 1979. I usually attend–as a guest or participant. I think I’ve only missed 3 of them. I went again this year, mostly to see my friends. I’m long past the stage of gathering autographs, buying things, and paying any attention to the panels. I took a lot of photos this year, and I’m going to share most of them with you here. You should take my comments with a pinch of salt or pepper, as I’m frequently crossing my fingers and/or distorting the truth in what I say about things.
When I walked into the Con on Thursday night, the first person I saw was Jason Youngdale. Jason is a friend of mine. I joined him to listen to some music and drink some beer.
The band is called Squid Dog. They are a motley and aged crew, but they produce a rocking sound.
This is my artistic composition in honor of LepreCon. You can see the program book in the foreground, and the best drink I had for the weekend in the background.
Paul Tanton, Jason Youngdale, and I went off and played some card games. I took a selfie shot of myself while I was playing cards, but it’s way too accurate in representing the real me, and thus too horrible to look at. I’m not gonna show it.
They gave me a grilled cheese sandwich in the staff lounge.
Griller of cheeses. With volunteers like this, the future of LepreCon is in good hands. Of course, this is the only volunteer like this that LepreCon has, so maybe it’s doomed!
I went to the Art Show. I was mostly not impressed, but I did like this troll skull, so I bought it. I’m sure I’ll find all sorts of uses for it. Troll skull by amateur artist David Perrine.
Back in the gaming room, my main home at conventions, we wound up playing Magic for the rest of Friday afternoon.
Late Friday night, I walked into the command center for the whole convention. Yes, friends, this is what the high command of these affairs look like when no one can see them.
Saturday, I spaced it and left my camera at home. I have no pix from the most important day of the Con.
Walking into the Marriott Convention Center from the rear. The Marriott in Mesa has been quite the popular convention site for SF fandom in Phoenix for the last 5 years.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here! Beyond these doors lies much that is fannish.
Some of the usual suspects. From left to right: The Flash (out of uniform), Paul Tanton, Victor Bugg, Jason Youngdale, and ???. I should know the last guy, but I don’t.
The entrance to the Dealers’ Room. There are many wonderful things and even more wonderful people inside this room.
The woman in white is author Gail Carrigher, our Guest of Honor, best known for her steampunk fiction: The Parasol Protectorate.
An ever-changing cityscape lived on this table. I don’t know why.
The fans of David Weber and Honor Harrington owned this real estate. Spiffy space marine uniforms they have.
Flag desecration in poster form.
Artist, dealer, weird female person. I like her.
Oooh, oooh! That fan might buy something!
Bennie Grezlik, author, nice guy, creator of Princess Pain.
Since she was all painted up like a mime (Harley Quinn for DC Comics) I asked costumer Krysta Crawford to do the “I’m Trapped in a Glass Box” routine.
Local authors. I ought to know everybody. They know me, but I don’t know these guys.
I don’t know this guy either, but he has some cool steampunk weapons for sale.
I took her picture because she was wearing a mask. Doesn’t she look like someone just hit her in the head and knocked it sideways?
Fabulous artist, friendly guy. I don’t know him.
You, too, could be wearing a fabulous mask. Buy them here.
I took her picture because she was wearing a corset. You can’t really see it very well.
A complete gallery of the bizarre art of Steam Crow.
Friendly woman, weird art.
Intentionally weird art for a weird magazine.
Steampunk grandees. I vowed to photograph every corset that came my way.
Phoenix has another small sci-fi convention called CopperCon.
Artist Gilead (yes, that is his whole name) teaches a few people the finer points of drawing tentacles for fun and profit.
They’ll let anyone on these panels–even officers from Star Fleet.
I was trying to take a picture of a table full of fannish t-shirts when a woman wearing a fannish t-shirt walked into it and blocked out half the picture.
The “mand” in Mandy stands for “Command”. She ran the art show, helped with registration, and generally tried to keep the convention functioning normally.
The hotel has a beautiful fountain. We’ve been here before in earlier blogs.
Would you believe that Curt Stubbs here was once known as Captain Coors, and that he helped bring the World Science Fiction Convention to Phoenix in 1978? It’s true. He was also Con Chairman for LepreCon 1, I think. I was there, but I can’t really remember that far back.
The Staff Lounge–where hard working staff and con participants like me could go to party.
The staff lounge had food . . . and television, and comfy places to sit.
My favorite hangout was the game room. Here’s a game much too complicated to even consider playing.
The Pathfinder role-playing game over there ran for the whole weekend.
Many goodies were to be had in the Barry Bard movie previews panel late Sunday afternoon.
Eager fen wait for their number to be called.
Mark calls the numbers. There was a prize for everyone who attended. I got a black t-shirt (of course).
They call your number. You go up and claim a prize.
My son James is developing a bald spot (and he’s only 23). He looked so frustrated every time they called a number that was almost his number. It was kind of funny to watch him from across the room.
With the loot all distributed, James and I went back to the game room for a few more games of cards like Parade, which uses an Alice in Wonderland deck that I want. By 5 p.m. it was time to go home, and so farewell to another fabulous science fiction event!
If you have things to tell about LepreCon or funny stories from other sci-fi cons, why not leave a comment?
A lot of good things have been happening to me lately. They are coming almost faster than I can record them. Today, May 7, 2014, I met with my friend Terry Ballard. The two of us have been pals since 1967 or so–we were in high school, but not the same high school. He has lived in New York for the past 25 years, but is in town right now to attend his 50th high school re-union tonight. When he is in town, we usually try to get together and compare lives.
Our meeting place was the Five and Diner cafe on north 16th Street. This is a colorful place with good food at reasonable prices.
Terry was already inside, I sneaked up on him.
I owe a lot (karmically, not financially) to this man. He is a visionary who gets good ideas and then accomplishes them.
Fandom owes a lot to Terry also. He started Phoenix science fiction fandom with the meeting of a few people in his apartment on Friday nights. LepreCon40 is happening this weekend, and LepreCon was Terry’s original vision and idea. I know because I was there when it happened. Terry also started the Phoenix Fantasy Film Society–don’t believe any other stories. Both LepreCon and PFFS happened originally because this man wanted them to happen. In addition, it was Terry who convinced me to start working for the Phoenix Public Library and who told me how to pass the test and actually get a job there. It was Terry who sent my first fan fiction off to Frank Denton and got the first Ken and Terry story published in Frank’s fanzine, Ashwing, way back in 1968. In fact, it was Terry who introduced me to the whole world of fanzines and the idea of fannish activity. He also introduced me to the Tarot, and started my lifelong fascination with that magical tool. He’s only a year older than me, but he influenced my life in so many ways it is hard to keep track of them all.
Here I am, doing what passes as a smile from me.
Our waitress tried to talk us into twice as much food as we really wanted for breakfast. She was a bit surprised when I took her picture, and insisted that she be allowed to pose for the next one. I like this shot. Look at that smile!
It didn’t take long to get another picture of her, posing this time. Terry liked this pic of him. I left her a nice tip for the five cups of coffee she served me.
Terry and I talked about memories and plans, and started a conspiracy to get me to New York for some great walking tours this summer. I’m thinking somewhere around the end of July will be a good time for me to see Long Island and all the wonders that are New York.
When breakfast was over we left the diner, and I showed him the striped rocks I found yesterday in Payson, Arizona. He took one of them with him to be in his rock garden back east.
Having breakfast with an old friend is a simple thing, but it is very pleasurable. Don’t you just love to see and spend time with your friends? I do.
If you ever go out for a meal with people who have traveled thousands of miles just to see you, why not leave a comment?
Despite the catchy title, this will be the last and probably least interesting of the blogs devoted to last week’s trip to Los Angeles and the Magic Castle. This blog is a catch-all for pix I took on the way in, while I was there, and on Tuesday when I headed back home. I think there are a couple of pix worth seeing, and I’m not competing with anyone for most interesting blog every time. This site is a kind of photo diary for me, of things that entertained me at the time. So grab a cold one, jump in the imaginary car, and come on a trip to Los Angeles and the subsequent escape from it with me.
Mark Anthony, my magician host, talked me into buying a new memory card for my camera, and we had to test it, so I had him shake hands with my son James St. Andre on Sunday afternoon after we arrived.
James looks uncomfortable as he gets dressed up for our first visit to the Magic Castle on Sunday evening.
Wave to the camera, Ken.
Ken gets a hug and a smile from Mark’s date, Jo.
The front door of the Magic Castle. No cameras allowed to be used beyond this point. Grrrrr!
Mark and Jo in the posing area. Mark likes black and red for his magical colors.
Three amigos: Ken, Mark, and James.
Here we are looking dynamic. I wanted to do the 3 Monkeys pose.
Oops! I got a camera shot of the carpet inside by accident.
Magic Castle seen from the street after dark.
The entrance is guarded by a griffin.
Valet parking, of course. There is a lighted fountain outside the castle across from the door.
Big wall ad in Hollywood a couple of blocks from the Castle.
Distinctive tower in the neighborhood. Looks medieval.
Mark Anthony says hi to all the viewers of Atroll’s Entertainment.
Stuff on the wall surrounding Warner Brothers.
I was trying to find my way on my own to Hollywood on Monday. I got about halfway before I got lost. Warner Brothers has all these huge signs for their hits on the wall around the studios.
Big Bang Theory must be a big hit for Warner Brothers.
A distant view of the Warner Brothers water tower, made famous for me in the Animaniacs cartoon show during the 90s.
Totally lost, of course I wound up in a bar.
This is Dawn and Chris. I chatted with them in the bar and found out where I had gone wrong. But it was late afternoon, too late to try for Hollywood because we needed to get back to Mark’s place for our Monday night trip to the Castle.
A better view of the Water Tower on our way back to Mark’s place.
The Warner Brothers gate. Mark says we can get a tour here, and we might do that on my next visit.
Terrible view of the ABC television studios.
ABC was once my favorite television network.
Magic Castle from afar seen through a hellish red glare.
Tuesday morning, I took a morning walk with Mark around Montrose, California and found this old style Spanish church which Mark told me was only built ten years ago. Heh!
Looking for a place to have breakfast with James, I found a windmill. You don’t see many windmills that turn out to be . . .
Denny’s restaurants. In fact this is the only Denny’s I’ve ever seen that isn’t just an ordinary cafe building.
Heading east on I-10, approaching San Jacinto Peak and the pass between the desert and the San Bernardino area where there is a huge wind farm.
Speaking of windmills . . .
Sometimes it looks like you’re going to drive right under them.
Crossing the desert, approaching Blythe.
Very windy. The car was almost blown off the road. Dust storm visible in the distance.
What a weak dust storm looks like from the inside
Back in Arizona now, the air has cleared up.
Rest stop west of Phoenix. We stopped for a bathroom break, and I went looking for striped stones. Didn’t find any.
James is driving. I got to take some pix I’ve wanted to take for years.
This is the skybridge ramp from I-10 to I-17 going north. You can see midtown Phoenix in the distance.
Last pic. Camelback Mountain seen behind uptown Phoenix from the skyramp. We were about 5 miles from home, and the great L.A. expedition was over.
Alas, I’m back in the real world again, but the summer is young, and many more adventures await.
If you’ve ever posted a lot of really ordinary vacation pix, why not leave a comment? 🙂
Confession time: I tried to visit Hollywood Boulevard during the day, but I got lost, and never found it. So, I had my friend, Mark Anthony, take me to see the place at night. After watching various magic shows and getting some autographs at the Magic Castle earlier in the evening, Mark, James, and I walked down the hill onto Hollywood Boulevard to see the sights. With all the neon and spectacle, it is kind of like Las Vegas on the Strip, but not as big, and the focus here is on movies instead of on gambling. What follows are some pictures from the evening of April 28, 2014, when I went to Hollywood at night.
We started here.
James St. Andre and I pose for pix at the entrance to the Magic Castle. No photography is allowed inside.
As soon as we got to Hollywood, I ran into an old friend.
The street itself is very colorful, and there were many places to explore. By coming late at night (after 11 p.m.) there were no crowds to deal with.
Hollywood is famous for its stars. Sharon Stone was a sex goddess for my generation. I don’t think James had any idea who she was. I collected her star because it was right next to . . .
. . . everyone’s favorite rodent.
We went exploring. The photos that follow are not in the strict sequence in which they were taken.
It was my birthday. I got to decide where we went. I let my instincts guide me. So, of course, this is the first place we entered.
Going up the escalator led to a meeting with an old hero and role model. What is it with me and the color green?
We came out in a fantastic place–an inner courtyard presided over by albino elephants on the roof.
Mark Anthony, Ken St. Andre, and James St. Andre at the entrance to the Dolby Theater in Hollywood where the Academy Awards take place every year.
James and I also posed on the steps. Mark wanted us to go all the way up, but no way was I gonna do that.
I said hello to another famous monster of filmland. Kong! The 8th Wonder of the World!
We had to go to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. It was renamed Mann’s Chinese Theater in 1973, but is still well-known by it’s earlier name. It has been a Hollywood landmark since it was built in 1926, and is very famous for the hand and footprints in concrete on the sidewalk in front of it. We spent about half an hour there, finding our favorite stars, and just being goofy.
I get along well with statues of monsers. The entrance to Grauman’s is guarded by Chinese lions.
When we found John Travolta’s square, I couldn’t keep myself from rocking out. “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Staying alive! Staying alive!” James joined the dance reluctantly.
This slab is dedicated to Star Trek and has autographs of the crew. There was one for Star Wars too, but my sympathy really lies with the earlier show.
Marilyn Monroe may have been the only actress to leave her breast prints in the concrete at Grauman’s. She is the classic blonde actress of which all other blondes are but Shadows and Precursors.
This is a longshot of Grauman’s from across the street.
There was more to see and do on the Boulevard, but you have seen the best of it. Other pix may appear on my Facebook page. You’re all invited to follow my adventures there as well as here. After more than an hour of wandering around and gawking at the neon sights of Hollywood, we called it a night, returned to the Magic Castle, and said goodbye to all the glamor.
Walking back to the Magic Castle in the dark.
I had to stop and pet the African lion as well.
If you’ve ever been to Hollywood, please leave a comment.
On Sunday, April 27, 2014 James St. Andre and I set out on a trip to Los Angeles to visit my friend Mark Anthony. It is about a 400 mile drive through the desert between Phoenix and L.A. James has only recently gotten his driver’s licesnse, and I told him he could have some treats: driving across the Colorado River, passing through Desert Center, and maybe we would see dinosaurs. We stopped for lunch in Indio and I took over the driving again. In a few minutes James indicated he needed a break, so I looked for the next place to get off the freeway. The exit said Cabazon. I pulled off and headed for:
Burger King, one of our favorite fast food places. I spotted it from the freeway.
I found a place to park We were just across the highway from:
San Jacinto Peak
James went inside. I looked around and this is what I found.
Wow! It’s a dinosaur, of the kind we used to call Brontosaurus before we learned that brontosaurs never existed and were actually apatosaurs.
By sheer luck I had pulled off the freeway where the dinosaurs hang out. They are not visible from I-10. I remembered them from trips taken long ago when they could be seen from the highway. I had never actually stopped to look at them on any of those earlier excursions. But, James was taking his time so I wandered around, and this is what I saw.
Does this guy look a bit nervous to you?
Yikes, it Tyrannosaurus Rex, and I think he looks happy to see me.
Taller than a palm tree with small front arm/legs. Lord of all he surveys. Bigger really is Better.
Wait a minute! What kind of brontosaur has an observation platform?
This guy must be domesticated. He also provides shade and a picnic area!
That’s great! Who wouldn’t want to eat their burgers in the shade of a bronto? Sure is a lot of room back here. I wonder if there is anything else . . .
Sure enough! There is more. It’s like a sign from God that she wants me to see more dinosaurs.
Look out, kid!
I sneaked past the hungry head and found . . .
something very tall.
This guy was so big, and in an enclosed space, that I couldn’t get all of him into one shot.
He looks a lot like the brontosaur up front, but the apatosaur probably looked more like this.
Aw, isn’t that cute? The big thunder lizard has a pet. Actually crocodiles go back as far in time as dinosaurs–they just didn’t evolve into something different or die out because of meteor strikes.
There are signs of man in this lost world. Is that dinosaur ahead inside a building?
The trail led up into the unknown. What? Tickets? Professor Challenger didn’t have to buy tickets when he explored the Lost Land!
I went as far as I could go and looked into a jungle I don’t think I will ever explore.
Well, I couldn’t abandon James entirely. I headed back to Burger King Land.
I am the Trollgod, and I am not afraid of giant dinosaurs. Anyway, I had to protect this kid from being eaten. I had to do it without my headpiece because the wind was so strong a hat would have blown away.
Selfie: Trollgod walks under giant dinosaur.
Is this a trophy shot, or just me stepping on toes again? Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!
The brontosaur is hollow, and has a store in her tummy. James had joined me by now. The kid just isn’t impressed by anything.
It is a very cool shop. Alas, the trollcave is cluttered enough, and no new trophies were acquired.
We said goodbye to the prehistoric world and jumped back in the car to continue with the adventure. Now that I know how to find the place, I may go back some day just to finish exploring the Land of the Dinosaurs.
If you have ever been up close with a dinosaur, why not leave a comment?