Rainy Night

October 4th, 2015 19 Comments

Tehachapi rainbow 002 (Small)


It rained last night. I know that’s small potatoes to most people, and certainly not welcome news to the poor devils in South Carolina right now, but after so long a dry spell and such a long, hot, dusty summer, the rain came as a welcome relief.

So many people in wetter parts of the world complain about too much rain, or too long a rainy season and I would almost certainly be among them. We have a friend in Portland, Oregon, where it has been known to be a trifle grey and rainy in the winter, who has to do light therapy and take meds to help her through the winter, and I suspect I too would be affected by the absence of sunlight. It’s one of the great joys of living in California: the vast preponderance of sunny days and the ability to spend more time outside here than almost anywhere else in the world. Even in the winter, when it’s cold—and that’s a relative term; the thermometer in the low forties qualifies as a cold winter day for us—it is usually sunny and you can do just about anything outside your heart desires.

But this past year has been so dry that, apart from all the negative aspects of drought, with many more negative aspects (higher food prices, primarily) yet to come, I had sort of forgotten how wonderful and refreshing rain can be. It wasn’t much of a rain—basically just enough to clean the dust off the roof and out of the air—but the wonderful freshness of it when I walked outside was intoxicating, that magical “mud-luscious and puddle wonderful” smell that makes the world and the smeller both feel vibrantly alive.

We need more, a lot more, desperately, and when we get it I’ll probably bitch and moan and whine, but this morning was magical.




October 1st, 2015 26 Comments

question mark


I’ve been a little preoccupied the last couple of weeks. I’ve been working on the kinds of articles that actually put beans and rice on the Parker table, and in my spare seconds being wildly self-indulgent on the side, working on a short story to provide spiritual beans and rice for the Parker soul. So I was little nonplussed to get an angry email from a man taking me to task for saying false and derogatory things about Ben Carson.

I admit that sometimes I go off on a riff when I’m writing: I start on a certain tack, but something seems to take over and I indulge myself with wild flights of fun and fancy. I also admit I sometimes forget what I’ve written, or when, or why, or even when or if I posted it, but I had no memory of ever having written anything about Ben Carson, laudatory or derogatory. I was so nonplussed that I actually went back through some recent blog-posts to see if maybe I had written something and then had a brain fart and forgotten all about it.

Then I remembered that I have an evil doppelgänger. He is a doppelgänger because the name he writes under (and which I assume is the name he was given at birth) is Jameson Parker, spelled correctly, just like that, like the Irish whiskey on the front end and America’s greatest shotgun on the back end. He is evil because he is my complete opposite, a sort of one-hundred and eighty-degree mirror image of me, the good and deserving Jameson Parker, and since I am good and deserving he must, by definition, be evil. (Think of the Good Goofy and Bad Goofy in one of the Mickey Mouse cartoons. Or maybe it was the good Pluto and bad Pluto.)

Anyway, I wasted time I really don’t have to do a little research on this evil doppelgänger, and I was able to track down the on-line magazine he writes for. It would be easy to dismiss him as just another humorless, wild-eyed liberal with fuzzy-minded ideas about social justice and equality and zero knowledge of history to guide him: where I write only occasionally about political issues and current events that catch my attention, he writes exclusively about those issues; where I would approach them from a conservative point of view, he is an unabashed liberal; and like too many liberal pundits, he seems to delight in categorizing everyone on the right as racist Neanderthals, but too many of us on the right like to categorize all liberals as wild-eyed and fuzzy-minded.

But I read a few of his articles and one (an anti-gun, anti-Republican rant, natch) compelled me to take pity on him, and in the spirit of spreading goodwill and perhaps elevating the level of discourse in the public internet forum, I will offer him some very rudimentary advice.

Dear Evil Doppelgänger:

It is always a good and instructive thing to read alternate points of view and I found some of your articles interesting and better written than much of the tripe that passes for information in our polarized, post-literate, internet world. I mean that sincerely.

However, if you wish to persuade someone that your particular point of view is the correct one, the direct pipeline to the infinite, as it were, you might want to consider carefully which sources you quote. If I wish to convince you of the infallible integrity and correctness of my point of view about a particular topic, I would be well-advised not to cite, as a source in support of my point of view, any group or organization or news source which is well-known to believe precisely and only what I believe.

For instance, consider your August 26th, 2015 column, “Pro-Gun Republicans Offering “Prayers” for Victims of Mass Shootings Should Shut the Hell Up.” The headline happens to express a sentiment with which I heartily concur, just as I also wish anti-gun politicians and Michael Bloomberg- or George Soros-funded anti-gun groups would also keep their yaps shut and not use every tragic and bloody occasion to call for gun laws that they themselves admit would and will do nothing, instead of advocating the societal reforms that might actually accomplish something. In the article you make reference to a “…study which took place over thirty years…” and since you highlighted it, I decided to check your source. It turned out to be Mother Jones magazine. Mother Jones, forsooth! Please, dear Evil Doppelgänger, that’s just embarrassing. That would be the equivalent of me citing Soldier of Fortune magazine or Guns and Ammo as objective and unbiased sources of scientific pro-second amendment information; both are excellent magazines for what they offer, but objectivity about gun control is not their forte.

Working on the blind-pig-finding-an-acorn theory, I read the Mother Jones article you cited. Of the ten arguments against gun ownership that Mother Jones makes, only three cite any source beyond their own opinion. For the argument that you referenced (“more guns means more gun deaths”) Mother Jones in turn cited Pediatrics magazine and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

My goodness. From embarrassment to embarrassment. Ain’t no bias there, by golly.

Pediatrics has repeatedly come out with virulently anti-gun articles and is very candid about its negative views of firearms, so apart from wondering what expertise a magazine devoted to “…the needs of the whole child in his physiologic, mental, emotional, and social structure…” might have about the realities of firearm use and ownership, one has to question the validity of that magazine’s conclusions on the topic.

(For the record, the specific Pediatrics article cited by Mother Jones has been removed from the internet, so I was unable to track that one down.)

As for the CDC, a bureaucratic organization that categorizes “gun violence” (as opposed to knife violence or blunt object violence?) as a “disease” can hardly be expected to have an objective point of view. There is a reason, after all, why the NRA and other gun organizations do not wish their tax dollars being used to fund negative CDC studies about firearms. Other organizations, entities, and individuals have conducted equally valid studies that prove the exact opposite conclusion to the one you referenced, i.e “more guns means a safer society,” so which study you choose to believe depends on what your personal bias is.

I understand the negative attitudes many people have about firearms; we all tend to fear those things about which we know nothing, and we only hate those things we fear. But citing only those sources that you know will bolster your personal prejudices doesn’t win you followers and admirers. The only totally objective source for statistics about firearms, firearm use, crime, and crime involving firearms is the FBI ( so instead of jumping to a conclusion and then trying to sell it as a fact, research the facts and then reach a conclusion.

You owe nothing less to the fine and dignified old name which you are privileged to bear.


The Original, Good and Deserving

Jameson Parker

Often Imitated but Never Duplicated


Fine Dying

September 13th, 2015 32 Comments


Grim Reaper

I got a little crazy the other night.

I was exhausted and had a headache and all I wanted was to watch some boxing or some great old movie on television, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing, I wanted to watch. And then a curious thing happened. Scrolling through the two-hundred some channels of the kind of mind-numbing moronic pabulum George Orwell warned us all about, I found myself gravitating to various reality television networks showing severely dysfunctional people, families, and businesses as entertainment. And suddenly it hit me: Create your own network! I realized I had a prime opportunity to make myself a bazillionaire if only I could come up with a topic guaranteed to be of interest to large numbers of people, and then create mindless and tasteless television shows around that topic. And what topic could possibly be of more interest to more people than death?

What follows is my official and confidential prospectus. I will be establishing a PayPal account for those of you who wish to get in on the ground floor and invest in this guaranteed money-maker.


Note: the following prospectus is confidential. Reading it implies a tacit agreement of confidentiality.




The Fine Dying Network


At Last!

A television network guaranteed to be of “significant interest” (according to a Joseph G. MacGruder & Associates, Inc. nationwide poll) to virtually 100% of potential viewers!


At Last!

A television network that harnesses the fascination and curiosity of over 306 million people!

(Based on current population estimates by the US Census Bureau, but with a worldwide potential viewing audience of billions!)


At Last!

A television network that offers viewers of all ages entertaining and informational programming focusing on one of the most fascinating and compelling interest areas of 92% of potential viewing respondents – Death! (Source: Joseph G. MacGruder & Associates, Inc. polling services)


At Last!

A television network with 24-hour programming focused on all aspects of Death and Death-related events:


Potential Shows:

Marking Time! – a lighthearted romp through headstones and mausoleums around the world, focusing on different areas of interest: elaborate family resting places; witty and amusing epitaphs; unusual designs and materials; the above-ground graveyards of New Orleans; the catacombs of Paris, Rome, the Vatican City, and many, many more!

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Death! – a serious look at how different cultures around the world face Death and treat the dying, an informative but entertaining look at the end of the road.

The Comforting Ritual! – funeral services and rituals throughout history; in different countries and different cultures; how different religions and cultures bury, burn, or otherwise dispose of their dead. Informative and educational!

A Live Eye For the Dead Guy! – expert advice on how to portray the image you want of yourself for the last time – for eternity! What to wear, hair styles, how to coordinate your clothes with your casket, makeup tips, and so much more!

Where to Rest? – An insider’s guide to the toniest and most exclusive cemeteries in America.

Suicide, Getting It Right the First Time! – informational programming geared for those states with assisted-suicide laws, but with interest and information for all viewers.

Caskets On A Dime! – practical, down-to-earth advice on how and where to buy an affordable casket, for yourself or a loved one! Covering the whole range of economic options from CostCo and other big-box chains to private mortuaries with reasonable prices. A program designed to help you make those practical decisions balancing need and want.

Caskets To Die For! (sister program) – Where to find the most expensive, the most gaudy, the most egregious, the most luxurious, the most pretentious, the caskets that will make your neighbors die of envy!

Final Resting Places of the Rich and Famous! – a worldwide tour of famous grave sites, from Marilyn Monroe to Al Capone, from Napoleon to Elizabeth the Great, from King Tut to Mumtaz (“Taj”) Mahal, visit all your favorites in the comfort and privacy of your own home!

Whither? – A panel of experts from all major denominations will discuss where we go in the next life and how to prepare for that destination.

The Iron Mortician! – competitive embalming, with morticians racing each other and the clock, the results to be judged by a panel of experts and at least one celebrity (to be named)!

The Iron Surgeon! – competitive, last-ditch-last-hope surgeries on terminally-ill patients, with celebrity surgeons competing against themselves and the clock and, above all, with Death himself! (Patients who do not survive will be eligible for appearance on The Iron Mortician.)

And much, much more – 24-hours a day of entertainment and information on the many diverse aspects of the topic that affects all of us! High-stakes competition, re-enactments of famous deaths, funniest home videos, all of it hosted by celebrities, top models, internationally recognized sports figures, and famous experts in their field.



The Fine Dying Network will:

Create the first national entertainment brand focused on Death and the Funeral Industry.

Target virtually everyone! 100% of the general population identified themselves as being likely to die.

Of those, out of 105 million households, over 60% expressed a very high interest in death, and an additional 36% expressed some interest!

The demographics of those expressing interest in The Fine Dying Network are representative of the general national population.

Respondents had very clear emotional reasons for their interest in watching:

*Make them smarter about a topic of interest

*Be entertaining and fun to watch

*Be great family viewing

*Be inspirational

Respondents see this channel as solid “infotainment”!

Has unlimited economic possibilities! (The funeral services industry alone has a direct economic impact of over $150 billion!

Has direct appeal for the families, heirs, and survivors of the approximately 2.5 million people who die every year in America alone!

Research shows that every household in America either has experienced or expects to experience a death at some point in the future, indicating a significant potential for attracting a large number of paying viewers.


Our Programming Strategy:

Our network is designed to appeal not only to the millions of Americans who are dying, but to the entire population, because, let’s face it, we all gotta go!

The programming is assembled to include a balanced view of Death.

By keeping the daily programming predictable and consistent, we can ensure the content provides value to each individual.


Your Involvement:

If interested we will forward a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and upon its receipt we will mail you your own PowerPoint Presentation.

We look forward to hearing from you about this once in a lifetime (you should pardon the expression) investment opportunity before it’s too late!


Oath of Office

September 10th, 2015 8 Comments

liberty kissing justice


I’ve been following the Kim Davis saga on the news. In case you live in a country that doesn’t air American news stories, Kim Davis is the county clerk in Kentucky who went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On all the news channels I watch (in descending order of priority that would be Fox, CNN, CBS, ABC, and PBS), the hue and cry being raised is that, regardless of her religious convictions, as a government official she has taken an oath to obey the law and—like it or not—same-sex marriage “is now the law of the land.”

(I have put that in quotes because it is in fact not the law of the land. Contrary to what so many people believe, no ruling by the Supreme Court is anything other than a ruling on the constitutional interpretation regarding a specific case. So, same-sex marriage is not the law of the land and will not be a law until congress writes it up and passes it as such, and—just as a reminder—only congress can pass a law, no matter what President Obama seems to think to the contrary. However, since most people erroneously think of every syllable that comes out of the Supreme Court’s mouth as law of the land, and since that is how most of the media are talking about it, and because I don’t wish to get enmeshed in a lengthy constitutional legal argument, I will it pretend it is law.)

I have no particular feelings about same-sex marriage beyond the sort of vague, universal I’d-like-everyone-to-be-happy sentiment that most people feel about topics that do not directly affect them. But I do happen to think the “oath of office” argument is a very valid point and one with which I happen to agree. But my issue is not with Kim Davis so much as it is with the media. No news organization, conservative or liberal, has ever, until now, as far as I know, felt that the laws of the land and the oath of office to uphold those laws were significant enough to merit the condemnation of elected officials who chose to ignore them.

Case in point: When Gavin Newsome was mayor of San Francisco, same-sex marriages were against the law in California, yet Mr. Newsome, an elected official, was ballyhooed for very publicly ignoring his oath of office, flouting the law he had sworn to uphold, and personally issuing marriage licenses at city hall to same-sex couples from all over the state.

Case in point: In 2014, then Attorney General, Eric Holder, the top law enforcement officer in the nation, chose to ignore his oath of office and gave a speech to the states attorneys general in which he praised state prosecutors who declined to defend their states’ bans on same-sex marriage. He also gave a wink-and-a-nod to state legalization of marijuana, even though that drug remains illegal at the federal level.

Case in point: Four states have taken former Attorney General Eric Holder at his word and legalized the possession, sale, transportation, and cultivation of marijuana, even though all those activities remain illegal at the federal level, the elected officials of those states thereby ignoring both their oath of office and the “preemption doctrine” expressly laid out in Article VI, clause 2 of the constitution they swore to uphold and defend.

Case in point: President Obama himself correctly stated twenty-two times that he could not legally amend immigration law by himself, yet he then turned around and did precisely that through executive action.

Case in point: Currently, the elected officials at various levels in over two hundred cities, counties, and states across the country have decided to ignore federal law and their oath of office and have declared themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens.

I could go on.

It makes no difference what your opinion is of any of these laws. It makes no difference what your conscience may dictate. If you are an official, at any level, from county clerk to president of the United States, you take an oath to “uphold” or “protect” and “defend” (the precise wording various somewhat with the level of the position and the location of the office held) both the constitution and the laws of this country and/or the state in which the oath is being given.

Since the President and the former Attorney General both saw fit to ignore and violate their oath, and since multiple officials at multiple levels of government all across this country have seen fit to follow their example, why is everyone getting wrapped around the axle because a country clerk sees fit to do what so many others above her have done? After all, it’s just a violation of her oath of office, and clearly no one at any level these days pays much attention to anything as quaint and old-fashioned as taking an oath.

In fact, I think we all ought to forget all about all laws of the land and just do what we personally think is right, and let the devil take the hindmost. And if there is one thing I can guarantee, it is that if our elected officials don’t see fit to honor their oath of office, the devil will take the hindmost.


Jay Dusard Photography Workshop

September 3rd, 2015 10 Comments

Warner and Wendy (Small)

I got an email the other day from my friend the world-renowned award-winning photographer, Jay Dusard. In case any of you are unfamiliar with his work, the photographs sprinkled throughout this blog are all his (and these are just the first ones I snatched out of my files) as well as the book reproduced here,

Jay Dusard book

which is just one of many he has published.

Jay Dusard photo

Jay is co-instructing—with Bruce Bambaum ( and Bill Ellzey ( a photography workshop that will be held in the High Sierras and Death Valley this coming October 25th through the 31st. As Jay’s email pointed out, these are some of the most beautiful and spectacular landscapes in the American West (I would have said the world) and at one of the most beautiful times of the year to be there.

Jay Dusard, Ian (Small)

If any of you are passionate about photography and wish to study with the best of the best, visit Bruce Bambaum’s website ( for more information. I can’t recommend these guys highly enough, and—as Jay pointed out—while they’re all still in good health, none of them is getting any younger, and the end of the workshop trail is on the horizon.

Jay Dusard vaqueros (Small)


The Definition of Insanity

August 27th, 2015 18 Comments

007 (Small)


What is especially troubling about the predictable calls for gun control that come in the wake of every horrible tragedy, is that the more obviously insane the shooter, the more strident the attempts to place the blame on guns. It is almost as if people are afraid to admit that we have a problem with mental health issues in this country. It is a kind of willing blindness, comparable to the reactions of politicians who, when cities with already draconian and constitutionally questionable gun laws set new records for gang-related homicides (think Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, DC,) invariably place the blame on firearms, never on the breakdown of the family unit, or poor educational opportunities, or a complete lack of viable job options, or a societal construct that glorifies violence, or despicably corrupt, irresponsible, and self-serving administrations, or the too frequent combinations of those causes.

One could make an argument that anyone who commits murder, regardless of motive, weapon, or number of victims, clearly has mental problems, but in the case of the recent highly publicized shootings that have caught the public imagination, name one where the shooter or shooters were not clearly unstable to a greater or lesser extent, in one way or another. Columbine? Newtown? The Aurora movie theater? Charleston? Virginia Tech? The Gabby Giffords shooting? Yesterday’s WBDJ shootings in Virginia? Does anyone believe that any of the people responsible for these acts was sane? Technically, in the eyes of the law, where the definition is reduced to an understanding of the difference between right and wrong, perhaps they were, but who among us would have wanted to live next door to any of those people?

And yet, whenever any suggestion is made to do something about mental health in America, people immediately invoke their right to privacy. They cite the fourth amendment, even though privacy is not mentioned anywhere in the constitution and that amendment was intended to protect people from governmental abuse in the form of “unreasonable search and seizure.”

People cite the potential for abuse by health insurers and employers. But mental health is not the same as physical health; having diabetes isn’t going to be the propelling factor that makes you grab a weapon and slaughter your fellow workers. Being schizophrenic very well may.

Clearly no one can predict who is going slide off the deep end, but every time one of these shootings occurs, people come forward afterward to talk about what a looney tune the killer was, how angry or disturbed or clearly out of touch with reality that person was. After I was shot, people in the neighborhood, people who had lived next to my attacker in other neighborhoods, people who dealt with him in various work situations, all came forward to talk about how afraid they were of him, how angry and violent he was, how clearly dangerous he was.

Today’s New York Times and Washington Post both, predictably, railed against firearms, as if an inanimate object were somehow responsible, but neither of them, nor the Governor of the State of Virginia, nor the President, even mentioned the question of mental health. Is it politically incorrect to even hint that an angry, narcissistic, irrational man with a history of picking fights and holding grudges, might somehow be responsible for his own actions?

The Times, the Post, the Governor, and the President, and all the other usual suspects, have used this tragedy to repeat their call for expanded universal background checks, but if there is no means or structure in place for reporting aberrant behavior, what the hell good would expanded universal background checks have done? If no one voices their concerns, and if there is no way for legitimate concerns to be investigated, mentally unstable people will continue to be able to legally purchase firearms and commit atrocities with them.

People with mental illness shouldn’t have their rights trampled on, but neither should law-abiding gun owners.



August 25th, 2015 14 Comments

Mushroom Cloud black and white


President Obama Calls Opponents of Iran Deal “Crazies”

Headline from multiple online news sources


Crazy, I’m crazy for trusting Obama

I’m crazy, crazy for voting him in

I knew he’d use me as long as he wanted

And then one day he’d make friends with Khamenei too


Worry, why do I let myself worry?

Wondering what that old A-bomb will do

Crazy for thinking America mattered

To Obama or someone like John Kerry too


I’m crazy with worry Iran’s got the big one

I’m crazy for trusting the President’s view

Crazy for thinking security mattered

God help us, oh what are we all going to do?


With apologies to Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline, and a big thank you to my musical wife.


Police Lives Matter

August 24th, 2015 8 Comments

Obituary Photo Edited 8 by 10 (Small)


Dave’s memorial service was held yesterday. It was everything a memorial service should be.

For starters, it was a packed zoo, with far more people in that large church than the Fire Marshall would ever have allowed; standing room only, with an overflow out into the lobby and entrance hall; so many cars over-crammed into the parking lot that some people, including Dave’s daughter, Kristi, just gave up and parked illegally out on the street.

It was, as a memorial service should be, a time of joyous and sentimental remembrance, laughter and tears pooled in the stories and anecdotes, the memories, the photographs projected on the screens of a beloved and doting father, son, husband in all his various manifestations: dentist, gold miner, hunter, indulgent grandfather, superman, baseball player, coach, rancher, fisherman, and—perhaps most remarkably—in one photograph as a giant painted doll playing happily with his children amid among real childhood toys. He looked like something out of a Renaissance festival pageant.

Boxes of tissue passed from hand to hand along with the quiet memories shared during hugs of friends unseen for a long time, along with the sudden bursts of laughter at this memory or that, the chatter of voices, smiles and waves across the room.

But I want to tell you of the golden moment that represents the best of America. Dave’s oldest son, Jason, was speaking, and he introduced Sheriff Donny Youngblood, the man who spearheaded the manhunt for those dreadful eighteen days; Lead Homicide Detective Juan Trevino, who did so much, above and beyond the call of duty, for Dave’s family; and wounded SWAT officer Michael Booker, all of whom were there among the mourners.

Think about that for a moment. Three tired professionals, who for almost three weeks had done little else but push themselves to the limit in their efforts to catch Dave’s killer, all of whom have their own families and their own much deserved need for rest, and yet there they were, on a Sunday when they might legitimately have wanted to recharge their batteries and spend time with their loved ones, offering sympathy and support at Dave’s memorial.

And when those three officers were introduced, the entire body of mourners stood and gave them a prolonged standing ovation. They didn’t rise in sequence, inspired by a single person; instead the entire crowd rose as one to pay their respects and express their gratitude.

We need more police protests like that.



An Update of a Different Kind

August 21st, 2015 3 Comments

sisters Sam and Alex Kimura


Back in May I wrote a blog (

about two young sisters, Sam and Alex Kimura, who were travelling across country in a van, looking for a bone marrow transplant match for one of them who has aplastic anemia. Since Darleen’s only child died of aplastic anemia, the idea of one of these girls being cut down by that horrible disease seemed just too… Just too. Hence the blog.

What with one thing and another, I got distracted (and isn’t that always the way; we try to do the right thing and then go on our merry unthinking way, patting ourselves on the back, and forgetting all about the issue that moved us) and only just now thought to check in and see how they’re doing.

They have created a bone marrow registry, Sharing America’s Marrow (SAM, the name and acronym being in honor of the sister who has the disease) that has the potential to save many other lives than hers and they have a website ( I encourage you to visit. The home page announces ninety matches have been found, but whether that means ninety matches for Sam, or ninety matches for other people is not specified. I hope both.

The website has their itinerary posted and tomorrow (August 22nd) they are going to be at the New Belgium Brewing Company (just because you’re on a mission doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself!) in Fort Collins, CO. If you’re anywhere in that neck of the woods, I encourage you to go, get swabbed; you never know if you might be a match. And while you’re there, have a Fat Tire (one of New Belgium’s beers) for me; it’s one of my all-time favorites.

If you can’t make it there, check out their route, and see if you can help out somewhere else down the road.


Avedon & Colby shirt

August 20th, 2015



Posting a picture of the shirt proved, uh, shall we say, challenging.

Top of Page