Archive for the ‘Ken St. Andre’ Category

Exploring Chandler, Arizona   Leave a comment

I like to walk around and explore cities and towns. I would contend that every city and town in America, possibly the world, has places of interest in it–perhaps not to the people who live there, but to strangers and explorers like myself. And, you know, towns can be like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to find.

I have never really walked around downtown Chandler.  I knew the place existed. I’ve gone to the town a few times during my life, but the last time was 15 to 20 years ago. I’ve had no reason to go there. I really had no reason to go today, November 18, 2014, but I’m envious of my brother Brian St. Andre who is traveling all over northern Arizona and southern Nevada seeing new places. I left my apartment about 2 p.m. and set off for exotic Chandler, about 30 miles away.

Wikipedia tells us that: In 1891, Dr. Alexander John Chandler, the first veterinary surgeon in Arizona Territory, settled on a ranch south of Mesa, studying irrigation engineering. By 1900, he had acquired 18,000 acres (73 km2) of land, and began drawing up plans for a townsite on what was then known as the Chandler Ranch. The townsite office opened on May 17, 1912, the same year that Chandler High School was established.[4] By 1913, a town center had become established, featuring the Hotel San Marcos, the first golf resort in the state.

I always liked Chandler when I was younger because there was a beat-up old jet on a pedestal at the north end of town. I had hoped to start my walk there today, but, that jet is gone now. I suppose the property became too valuable to waste on a rundown memento of World War II. I found this picture of it on the internet, but really I never saw it look quite this good.

Chandler jet

 

I got lost on my way into town. My plan was to come across on Chandler Blvd. from I=17, but I accidentally got off on Ray Road instead. No wonder nothing looked the way I remembered it on the way into town. I was on the wrong road. This I discovered when I got out to start my walk.

One of the things I always liked about Chandler was that the main road through downtown is called Arizona Ave. Further north in Mesa, it is called Country Club.  This is the corner of Country Club and Ray.

One of the things I always liked about Chandler was that the main road through downtown is called Arizona Ave. Further north in Mesa, it is called Country Club. This is the corner of Arizona and Ray.

I decided not to start my walk here, got back in the car, and drove a mile south to start closer to the center of town.

I parked in the exact center of town in a small arts park near the San Marcos hotel.

I parked in the exact center of town in a small arts park near the San Marcos hotel.

Heroic monument to the early ranchers and farmers who settled in Chandler.

Heroic monument to the early ranchers and farmers who settled in Chandler.

Outside view of the San Marcos Hotel. This was the landmark for Chandler back in the day. It seems to have been completely rebuilt and modernized--didn't look like this back in the day.

Outside view of the San Marcos Hotel. This was the landmark for Chandler back in the day. It seems to have been completely rebuilt and modernized–didn’t look like this back in the day.

This is more like the way I remember it. The Skyline has changed and so has the entrance.

This is more like the way I remember it. The Skyline has changed and so has the entrance.

I don’t think I had ever gone inside the San Marcos before. Today I decided to check out the interior.

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Leaving the San Marcos, I walked south through Crowne Plaza looking for targets of opportunity.

SanTan is a famous name in this part of Arizona. It's associated with an automobile test track, and an Apache reservation, but this is a microbrewery.

SanTan is a famous name in this part of Arizona. It’s associated with an automobile test track, and an Apache reservation, but this is a microbrewery.

I didn't expect a knight in armor in downtown Chandler. This seems to be one of the Monty Python knights of King Arthur.

I didn’t expect a knight in armor in downtown Chandler. This seems to be one of the Monty Python knights of King Arthur.

I'm sure Murphy has a good many pubs around the world, but it looks like he's the law in Chandler.

I’m sure Murphy has a good many pubs around the world, but it looks like he’s the law in Chandler.

Chandler has an ostrich festival every year. I've never gone to it.

Chandler has an ostrich festival every year. I’ve never gone to it.  Note the huge display of wind chimes. These dangling metal tubes make (mostly) beautiful music when the wind blows, and they are very popular in Arizona.

Saba's is a very famous store specializing in western clothing. I knew there was one in Scottsdale, but did not know about the one in Chandler.

Saba’s is a very famous store specializing in western clothing. I knew there was one in Scottsdale, but did not know about the one in Chandler.

Chandler City Hall is as modern a government office building as you will ever wish to find. All of downtown looks brand new and super yuppified--just like Scottsdale. I stopped and looked around inside on my way back.

Chandler City Hall is as modern a government office building as you will ever wish to find. All of downtown looks brand new and super yuppified–just like Scottsdale. I stopped and looked around inside on my way back.

Once I passed City Hall walking south, the interesting landmarks thinned out, but there are still a few more sights worth seeing.

There are several of these weird abstract art sculptures cluttering up the sidewalks downtown.

There are several of these weird abstract art sculptures cluttering up the sidewalks downtown.

Just in case you aren't certain, they tell you that you are downtown.

Just in case you aren’t certain, they tell you that you are downtown.

Kind of a weird-looking building, post-modern in design. When I walked back north on that side of the street, I discovered that it is empty.

Kind of a weird-looking building, post-modern in design. When I walked back north on that side of the street, I discovered that it is empty.

Pirates Fish and Chips. This looked like a place where I would want to eat, but there was nobody there in the middle of the afternoon.

Pirates Fish + Chips. This looked like a place where I would want to eat, but there was nobody there in the middle of the afternoon.

My turnaround point at the south end of town--Pecos Road about a mile south of where I started.

My turnaround point at the south end of town–Pecos Road about a mile south of where I started.

Cactus with tentacles--I call them Cthulhu bushes. There's a big motel behind them with typical southwestern architecture.

Cactus with tentacles–I call them Cthulhu bushes. There’s a big motel behind them with typical southwestern architecture.

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As I walked north, I spotted this very cool car–looks like about a 1970 Ford Mustang with wide racing stripe and canvas convertible top. I owned a Mustang once, when I was about 19. It got me into so much trouble, and I loved it. To see this car was to desire it.

The next thing I found was the best Mexican grocery store in Chandler. It was called the Panaderia (bakery) but the wall said Carniceria (butcher shop. Both bread and meat were available inside.

The next thing I found was the best Mexican grocery store in Chandler. It was called the Panaderia (bakery) but the wall said Carniceria (butcher shop. Both bread and meat were available inside.

Inside the shop I found some pinatas.  (The n in pinata and panaderia should have a squiggly mark over it called a tilde, but I don’t know how to make that character, so tough.)

I think that's the Christmas star. It would take a ton of candy to fill that up.

I think that’s the Christmas star. It would take a ton of candy to fill that up.

And I also met one of my personal heroes, and tried to get a picture with him. I never guessed I would meet the most interesting man in the world in a Mexican grocery store.

Well, I tried to get a shot with the most interesting man in the world, but I think I upstaged him.

Well, I tried to get a shot with the most interesting man in the world, but I think I upstaged him.

Here he is by himself. Does he look kind of drunk to you?

Here he is by himself. Does he look kind of drunk to you?

I was surprised to meet Pinnochio and Jiminy on the sidewalk, but I didn't miss the chance to get another celebrity photo.

I was surprised to meet Pinnochio and Jiminy on the sidewalk, but I didn’t miss the chance to get another celebrity photo.

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My penultimate stop before getting back to my car was the Chandler Public Library. It is a beautiful institution. You  can take the man out of the library, but you can't really take the librarian out of the man.

My penultimate stop before getting back to my car was the Chandler Public Library. It is a beautiful institution. You can take the man out of the library, but you can’t really take the librarian out of the man.

Like any good western desert town, Chandler does have a place where you can easily water your horse, or take a bath on a hot summer day if you need one.

Like any good western desert town, Chandler does have a place where you can easily water your horse, or take a bath on a hot summer day if you need one.

We are now leaving beautiful downtown Chandler, Arizona.

We are now leaving beautiful downtown Chandler, Arizona.

It was a pleasant walk, but I was glad to finish it. My feet were getting sore after 2 miles of Chandler sidewalks.

________________________________________________________________________

If you like to walk around in strange towns, or if you’ve ever been to Chandler, Arizona, why not leave a comment?

–end

 

Posted November 19, 2014 by atroll in Ken St. Andre

Tagged with

Changing Hands Opens in Phoenix   2 comments

Friday night, May 30, at 5 p.m. the Changing Hands bookstore, a store that has served the Phoenix metropolitan area for 40 years, although it has always been in Tempe, opened a new store at 3rd Avenue and Camelback Road, in the central Phoenix corridor on the light rail line. This was the site of a famous old  ritzy restaurant called Beefeaters, but that restaurant closed up a few years ago, leaving just some expensive real estate and the shell of a building behind. Changing hands is one of two great independent bookstores in the Phoenix area–the other one is the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale.  I’m an ex-librarian and an author (and a book accumulator). I love bookstores. I decided not to miss this gala event.

I got there about 4:45 p.m. The parking lot was already full, and Channel 10 television sent a news van to cover the story.

I got there about 4:45 p.m. The parking lot was already full, and Channel 10 television sent a news van to cover the story.

 

A pretty good crowd was already waiting for the doors to open. Many more would arrive in the next hour.

A pretty good crowd was already waiting for the doors to open. Many more would arrive in the next hour.

 

Looking at the front door of Changing Hands.

Looking at the front door of Changing Hands.

Cameraman from Channel 10 waits to get inside just like the rest of us.

Cameraman from Channel 10 waits to get inside just like the rest of us.

 

The owner tells us the doors will open soon at about 5:06 p.m.

The owner tells us the doors will open soon at about 5:06 p.m. A red ribbon has been strung across the entrance and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is ready to cut it and let people in.

 

5:07 p.m., the stampede begins.

5:07 p.m., the stampede begins. I am not the only person taking pictures of this historic event. 🙂

 

Mayor Stanton is in the center of this shot, facing camera, open face, fair complexion. I'm gonna give him props for caring about books!

Mayor Stanton is in the center of this shot, facing camera, open face, fair complexion. I’m gonna give him props for caring about books!

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Good stuff, nothing radical, in the Children's section.

Good stuff, nothing radical, in the Children’s section.

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I also checked out the science fiction section.

I also checked out the science fiction section.

One of the things I wanted to see was what they had in their Games section--looks like word games are popular.

One of the things I wanted to see was what they had in their Games section–looks like word games are popular.

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What really makes this bookstore stand out, is that it has its own bar, called First Draft.  That’s a nice pun since a draft is a manuscript that hasn’t been published, and also a glass of beer that hasn’t been quaffed yet.  Draft is one of those words that has a lot of meanings–I wonder how that came about–which makes it ideal for punning.

 

I found a bucket of tentacles. Just what everybody needs, right?

I found a bucket of tentacles. Just what everybody needs, right?

 

Bookstore coffee cups. I kinda like personalized cups like this and have quite a few, though I didn't buy this one.

Bookstore coffee cups. I kinda like personalized cups like this and have quite a few, though I didn’t buy this one. It’s a coffee cup, but First Draft is the bar–disconnect there.

 

I found a book I decided to buy. This book will reappear in a future blog. I have an idea how to get some mileage out of Weird Arizona.

I found a book I decided to buy. This book will reappear in a future blog. I have an idea how to get some mileage out of Weird Arizona.

 

People really flocked to the bar. Every seat was taken.

People really flocked to the bar. Every seat was taken.

 

Here's a rack full of bottles of wine. Why buy one glass when you buy the bottle?

Here’s a rack full of bottles of wine. Why buy one glass when you buy the bottle?

 

This is a terrible shot of Mayor Stanton enjoying a glass of beer. I thought it might make blackmail material, but I cut off his head. Bwa ha ha ha! How do we feel about politicians?  Off with their heads!

This is a terrible shot of Mayor Stanton enjoying a glass of beer. I thought it might make blackmail material, but I cut off his head. Bwa ha ha ha! How do we feel about politicians? Off with their heads!

 

Here are my purchases for the night--a book and a beer glass from First Draft. I think my clerk's name is Abby. She was very friendly and happy to be there.

Here are my purchases for the night–a book and a beer glass from First Draft. I think my clerk’s name is Abby. She was very friendly and happy to be there.

 

Abby signed me up for the Changing Hands Reader Club. Every time I buy something I'll get a stamp on the card. Eventually, it will get me a disount or something free.

Abby signed me up for the Changing Hands Reader Club. Every time I buy something I’ll get a stamp on the card. Eventually, it will get me a disount or something free.

 

I took my purchases out and stashed them in my car. I didn't want to carry them around. I have grown rather fond of taking pix of myself as a reflection in my car. You can see I was there, but you can't really see me.

I took my purchases out and stashed them in my car. I didn’t want to carry them around. I have grown rather fond of taking pix of myself as a reflection in my car. You can see I was there, but you can’t really see me.

 

5:30 p.m. the parking lot is really crowded now. People trying to get in were clearly disappointed when I didn't leave yet.

5:30 p.m. the parking lot is really crowded now. People trying to get in were clearly disappointed when I didn’t leave yet.

 

Bookstore window from the outside. I was headed back for seconds, but . . .

Bookstore window from the outside. I was headed back for seconds, but . . .

 

I got distracted and went into the restaurant that was also having its opening night. These ladies greeted me at the door and explained things. The blonde told me she was a vampire--she has the teeth, but I don't think she's a blood drinker.

I got distracted and went into the restaurant that was also having its opening night. These ladies greeted me at the door and explained things. The blonde told me she was a vampire–she has the teeth, but I don’t think she’s a blood drinker.

 

I wound up sitting at the community table--a place for people without reservations.

I wound up sitting at the community table–a place for people without reservations.

 

I drank chicory coffee black

I drank chicory coffee black

 

and ate chicken gumbo. It's very spicy, but very good.

and ate chicken gumbo. It’s very spicy, but very good.

 

and I got my picture taken there at the Southern Rail restaurant with my server. What a pretty girl!

and I got my picture taken there at the Southern Rail restaurant with my server. What a pretty girl!

 

Many  years ago this whole building was a famous Phoenix restaurant called Beefeaters. One of the waiters explained that the chandeliers and the walls were just about all that remained from the Beefeater establishment.

Many years ago this whole building was a famous Phoenix restaurant called Beefeaters. One of the waiters explained that the chandeliers and the walls were just about all that remained from the Beefeater establishment.

 

I finished off the gumbo. I drank a second cup of very bitter chicory coffee--at least it's strong, you can taste it, and got the bill. When I tried to  use my credit card to pay for it, the manager came by and said they couldn't take credit yet, and comped me my meal. Nice!

I finished off the gumbo. I drank a second cup of very bitter chicory coffee–at least it’s strong, you can taste it, and got the bill. When I tried to use my credit card to pay for it, the manager came by and said they couldn’t take credit yet, and comped me my meal. Nice!

 

After the meal, I went back and made one last pass through the bookstore.

After the meal, I went back and made one last pass through the bookstore.

 

I took a selfie . . .

I took a selfie . . .

 

and went on my way back home. The whole experience took just under 2 hours.

and went on my way back home. The whole experience took just under 2 hours.

 

I’m glad I went to the opening of the Changing Hands bookstore. I had a good time. It’s a great independent bookstore, and the kind of place I can show off to visitors from other cities. It has more than books, and would be a good place to do Christmas and birthday shopping.  I’m hoping that Changing Hands will have a long successful run here in Phoenix.

———————————–

If you’ve ever gone to a bookstore opening, or even if you just like to hang out in such places, why not leave a comment?

–Ken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where the Rich Things Are   3 comments

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.

Sunrise where the rich things are.

 

And he said, “I will climb that mountain!

Heading up 56th Street

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.

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As Ken walked, signs appeared and told him where he was and which way to go next.

 

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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.

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.

 

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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:

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And through an enchanted forest

 

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Yea, he passed the Land of Many Palm Trees . . .

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Walking down the byways and the highways

 

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And past the gates where Rich Things from other Lands came to stay and play in the Enchanted Forest

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Until he finished the circle that was in no way round, and came at last to his trusty automobile

Sunrise where the rich things are.

“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!

coffee and cereal

 

The end

*********************************************

If you ever wander into the lands where the Rich Things are, why not leave a comment?

–end

The Awesometacularity that was LepreCon 40   3 comments

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.

THURSDAY NIGHT

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

FRIDAY

They gave me a grilled cheese sandwich in the staff lounge.

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!

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!

2014-05-09 02.19.40

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.

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.

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.

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.

SUNDAY

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

The fans of David Weber and Honor Harrington owned this real estate. Spiffy space marine uniforms they have.

Lobby,

Lobby,

Flag desecration in poster form.

Flag desecration in poster form.

Artist, dealer, weird female person. I like her.

Artist, dealer, weird female person. I like her.

Oooh, oooh! That fan might buy something!

Oooh, oooh! That fan might buy something!

Bennie Grezlik, author, nice  guy, creator of Princess Pain.

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.

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.

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 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?

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.

Fabulous artist, friendly guy. I don’t know him.

You, too, could be wearing a fabulous mask. Buy them here.

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.

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.

A complete gallery of the bizarre art of Steam Crow.

Friendly woman, weird art.

Friendly woman, weird art.

Intentionally weird art for a weird magazine.

Intentionally weird art for a weird magazine.

Steampunk grandees. I vowed to photograph every corse that came my way.

Steampunk grandees. I vowed to photograph every corset that came my way.

Phoenix has another small sci-fi convention called CopperCon.

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.

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.

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.

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 “mand” in Mandy stands for “Command”. She ran the art show, helped with registration, and generally tried to keep the convention functioning normally.

Scientce!

Scientce!

The hotel has a beautiful fountain. We've been here before in earlier blogs.

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.

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–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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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!

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If you have things to tell about LepreCon or funny stories from other sci-fi cons, why not leave a comment?

–end

Breakfast with a Friend   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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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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?

end

Escape from L.A.   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.

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.

James looks uncomfortable as he gets dressed up for our first visit to the Magic Castle on Sunday evening.

Wave to the camera, Ken.

Wave to the camera, Ken.

Ken gets a hug and a smile from Mark's date, Jo.

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!

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.

Mark and Jo in the posing area. Mark likes black and red for his magical colors.

Three amigos: Ken, Mark, and James.

Three amigos: Ken, Mark, and James.

Here we are looking dynamic. I wanted to do the 3 Monkeys pose.

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.

Oops! I got a camera shot of the carpet inside by accident.

Magic Castle seen from the street after dark.

Magic Castle seen from the street after dark.

The entrance is guarded by a griffin.

The entrance is guarded by a griffin.

Valet parking, of course. There is a lighted fountain outside the castle across from the door.

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.

Big wall ad in Hollywood a couple of blocks from the Castle.

Distinctive tower in the neighborhood. Looks medieval.

Distinctive tower in the neighborhood. Looks medieval.

Mark Anthony says hi to all the viewers of Atroll's Entertainment.

Mark Anthony says hi to all the viewers of Atroll’s Entertainment.

Stuff on the wall surrounding Warner Brothers.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Warner Brothers gate. Mark says we can get a tour here, and we might do that on my next visit.

Lost.

Terrible view of the ABC television studios.

Lost.

ABC was once my favorite television network.

Lost.

Lost.

Magic Castle from afar seen through a hellish red glare.

Magic Castle from afar seen through a hellish red glare.

Tuesday morning, leaving L.A., had to get off the 210 Freeway which was 2 miles per hour and bumper to bumper. Made my way by surface streets into Santa Ana.

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!

And I found a windmill. You don't see many windmills that turn out to be . . .

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.

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.

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 . . .

Speaking of windmills . . .

Sometimes it looks like you're going to drive right under them.

Sometimes it looks like you’re going to drive right under them.

Crossing the desert, approaching Blythe.

Crossing the desert, approaching Blythe.

Very windy. The car was almost blown off the road. Dust storm visible in the distance.

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

What a weak dust storm looks like from the inside

Back in Arizona now, the air has cleared up.

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.

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.

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 downtown Phoenix in the distance.

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.

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.

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If you’ve ever posted a lot of really ordinary vacation pix, why not leave a comment? 🙂

–end

Hollywood at Night   3 comments

photo 4 (6)

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.

We started here.

 

James St. Andre and I pose for pix at the entrance to the Magic Castle. No photography is allowed inside.

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.

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.

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 . . .

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.

. . . 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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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 witht he earlier show.

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.

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.

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.

Walking back to the Magic Castle in the dark.

 

I had to stop and pet the African lion as well.

I had to stop and pet the African lion as well.

 

If you’ve ever been to Hollywood, please leave a comment.

–end