George RR Martin

In what has to be the blurriest selfie I’ve ever taken, here is a picture of me and Game of Thrones author George RR Martin. I went to a book release/signing for his new collection A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and had about five seconds to snap this picture!

I’m way excited about the new book. I picked up Game of Thrones on a whim a couple years ago and didn’t sleep for more than four hours a night the next six months until I completed the series. The new book is a collection of previously published short stories, but they’re new to me. It’s fairly short, so I expect that I’ll only have a weekend of sleepless nights.


A Most Glorious Return to “Acting”

New Mexico offers some tax breaks to television and movie producers, so the film industry here has been booming for a couple years. There is an incentive for production companies to hire New Mexico residents, and I took advantage of this a few times. I was appeared in a couple of “blink and you’ll miss me” background scenes. 

Colorado has its charms, but a burgeoning movie industry isn’t one of them, so the roles dried up. Now that I’m back in New Mexico, I’m getting calls again. I don’t want to give too many details, but I’m going to be on a movie set again next week! I’ll fill you in on everything closer to the movie’s release date.

Trinidad, Colorado

I feel like I’m cheating by posting here with pictures from another social media account, but I can’t seem to hold to my promise to post weekly, and besides I’m more and more into Instagram these days. I thought I’d resist because my iPhone’s camera doesn’t have the resolution or color of my Nikon. But its pictures are good enough, and the filters mask the iPhone’s limitations by accentuating–rather than hiding–the graininess. On a slightly more philosophical level, I love that Instagram’s filters are all designed to make your pictures look like photos from your childhood family photo album. Instagram is nostalgia-inducing, but for something that has literally just happened seconds before.

Anyway, I went to Trinidad, Colorado this weekend. It’s an old coal town on the other side of a mountain from Raton, New Mexico. When I told people I was going, someone told me that it was an old Mafia town that had an intricate system of tunnels underneath the town. Another person told me that Trinidad was “the sex change capital of the world.” I didn’t see proof of either of those, but I went to a restaurant with singing waiters and another restaurant that served ice cream in the shape of spaghetti. I climbed Simpson Hill to get the Instagram shots below. I also went on a walk at Trinidad Lake, a reservoir which exists over a few flooded ghost communities. In an effort to feel like I’m not entirely stealing from my Instagram account, I’ve posted a non-Instagram (but still iPhone) picture of Trinidad Lake below as well.



trinidad lake

EDIT: I could not get the Instagram pictures to load when I embedded them here, so I’ve uploaded them directly here. I suppose the moral of the story is that you should follow me on Instagram.

Celebrity Sightings


Well, I don’t want to say I’ve backtracked on my earlier promise to write a weekly 300 word post for this site, but I’ve fallen a behind. I’ve been trying to get back in the jogging habit, and trying to experience some of the great things that Santa Fe has to offer, and I’ve come across some wonderful shows on Netflix, and who am I kidding? I sort of backtracked a bit. I’ll work on catching up this week.

New Mexico has been sort of a refuge for artists and actors for a century now. And while I know that actors and artists like it here because it is a bit more remote and they value their privacy, a guy’s gotta blog, right? I don’t want to come across as some kind of star-crossed celebrity fodder junkie, but if I’m going to get back into blogging I have to start somewhere.

I don’t know if I should count this one, but on my first day out here I arrived with the dog and a couple of pieces of un-built furniture IKEA. I needed some groceries so I headed to the nearest grocery store. I would swear to you that in the produce section, I saw Peter Fonda, the actor probably best known for his role in Easy Rider. That movie came out about 10 years before I was born, so I know him best because he pops up in crossword puzzles sometimes, as the actor who played the very-crossword-friendly title character in Ulee’s Gold. I had to make it over to the dairy section so we parted ways, this man who was either Peter Fonda or a very convincing facsimile and I.

Later that week, I managed to get a front row ticket to see one of my favorite comedians, Tig Notaro. She had to reschedule a bunch of shows from last year’s Boyish Girl Interrupted. Sad for her, but she recovered and I guess the timing worked out well for me. (In my mind, I called this show part of the Boyish Girl Interrupted Interrupted tour. I thought about shouting from the front row so I could say that it was Boyish Girl Interrupted Interrupted Interrupted, but that is bad form.) Anyway, the show was great and I think you can see most of the material in a new special. A couple of weeks later, her podcast Professor Blastoff ended; I already miss it.

I’ve can’t find the site now, but I used to spend some time with a wonderful English-to-Chinese translation website that tried to achieve Google Translate equilibrium. You would enter a phrase in English and it would use Google Translate to make the conversion to Chinese, and if the phrases did not literally match up, it would translate it back to English, then back to Chinese, over and over until the phrases were 100% equal. It resulted in some delightfully odd phrases, none of which I can remember because, like I said, the website is lost somewhere in my mental ether. Anyway, I thought of that website when I saw Billy Bob Thornton’s band The Boxcars. They reminded me of that website. They sounded like the halfway point between The Beatles’ and Buck Owens’ versions of “Act Naturally.” The band was good, and Billy Bob Thornton’s between-song banter was priceless. The venue was nice and intimate. As you can see from the picture above, I had a really good view.

I moved to Colorado in mid-2014. It didn’t work out like I planned, and I moved back in New Mexico a less than a year later. A simple story, but apparently a logistical nightmare for the two states’ Department of Motor Vehicles. I’d registered my car in Colorado, but I moved back to New Mexico so quickly that Colorado had not gotten the paperwork to New Mexico, so the car was registered in both states. It seems like it should be an easy fix, but I probably made 15 trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles trying to get it straightened out. The people who worked there were friendly and knew me by name. Anyway, I spent so much time there that in retrospect it seems inevitable that I would run into somebody famous. And I did, on my penultimate trip. I was in line right behind one-time Batman portrayer Val Kilmer. I thought about getting a picture, but you’ll just have to take my word for it: nobody likes being at the DMV. He was wearing a custom hat that you can buy on his website. On my last trip to the DMV, I ran into my friend Carl, whom I met when I lived in Albuquerque and I thought had moved to California. Small world.

That’s been the extent of my celebrity sightings in Santa Fe so far, but I’ve only been back a couple of months. Also, this post is up to almost 900 words, which I suppose technically atones for my three-week absence from my quest for weekly 300-word posts. But that seems like the easy way out. Maybe I need to value my privacy a little less and get on it!


Vote for Liam!


If you want to support a good cause AND help my dog Liam get featured in a monthly calendar, please consider supporting him in the Santa Fe New Mexican 2016 Pet Calendar Contest. It’s only a dollar a vote, and a portion of the proceeds benefits the Espanola Humane society. The voting comes in two rounds: after the first round, the 25 animals with the most votes get a professional photo shoot. After the second round, the 13 most popular animals are featured photos in a monthly calendar.

When you’re voting, please be sure to use Pet ID# 39!

Liam is super handsome and friendly, and doesn’t that adorable face just scream “Mr. October”?

Smart Curling


There’s that old cliche about how it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. There’s some truth to it. In Midwestern river towns like the one where I grew up, it can take three showers a day to wash away the muggy August air. But a hundred degrees is a hundred degrees, and even in the dry New Mexico air you’d have to be a bit foolhardy to be out in the sun in the height of a summer afternoon. Maybe an ice rink isn’t the first thing you think of in the middle of summer in a small high desert town, but I’m glad we have one, and I’m glad that our town has a curling league with lenient admission standards that allow newcomers like me to participate.

When the Winter Olympics roll around, I always make time to watch the curling events. It’s like shuffleboard on ice. It’s mesmerising–the slow motion release, the aggressive sweeping, the satisfying thwack when one stone hits another. Like bowling or shuffleboard, it seems like curling takes an incredible amount of skill but not a whole lot of athleticism. And that’s something that a relatively uncoordinated fellow like myself can get behind. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, but until earlier this year I never lived in a town that had a curling league.

I haven’t been the most graceful newcomer. I wore a pair of tractionless shoes the first time out. I started out sweeping, and I didn’t even make it to the other end before hitting the ice hard. I was smarter the next time around and wore an old pair of running shoes, but it took another couple falls to convince me I needed to buy a specialty pair. As far as throwing goes, the first few matches have been trial-and-error in trying to stay balanced and judge the throwing distance. I am thankful for patient teammates.

I’m also thankful to occasional commenter and all-around amazing friend “thepitchforkemoji” for the wonderful birthday present. Smart Curling (tagline: Perfect Your Game Through MENTAL TRAINING) was written by Vera Pezer, a Canadian curling champion turned sports psychologist. I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Not all of the book applies to me: there’s a chapter on dealing with difficult teammates, which thankfully doesn’t apply to me. But she does offer some simple strategies to improve your game. I tried one this week. I don’t want to say that I’m great yet, but I can say that it helped. I no longer feel like I’m holding my teammates back. Quite as much. I’m somewhere between hopeful and confident that I’ll be able to hold my own by the end of the season.

The Wheel

handsome family

I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores here, but by any objective measure, I’ve had a crazy year. Things have started to settle down in recent weeks, but leading up to now, there were lots of false starts, surprises, and changes; some were welcome, some less so. I don’t want to say I have been unreasonably negative, but when you have a string of big changes, there’s a natural inclination to turn inward and replay the series of events in your mind. Did A lead to B? Could a different approach to B have prevented C? But if C hadn’t happened, then I never would have gotten to D… etc, etc. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s not a cycle I want to be in forever. It’s all about gratitude, baby! I’m going to use this blog to write about nice things. At least once a week, I’m going to post about something good that happened to me. I don’t want to say I haven’t been trying with my posts here, but I don’t think any post this year has topped the 150 word mark. Let’s change that. Each of these weekly posts will have at least 300 words.

So for my first cool thing: The Handsome Family came to town this weekend. They’ve been one of my favorite bands for a long time. When I first heard them, they were a husband-and-wife duo out of Chicago. I hosted a country music radio show in college, and I tried to play a Handsome Family song every week. I didn’t know it when I first moved to New Mexico, but they apparently relocated to Albuquerque. I discovered that when I shared a flight with them on my way back from Los Angeles from my Wheel of Fortune taping. I always thought they deserved a wider audience, so it was great to see that one of their songs got picked up as the opening theme for the HBO series True Detective.

The show was nice. They played a several songs I knew, and several I didn’t. They sang a really pretty song about Albuquerque, more specifically about broken glass in Albuquerque. I haven’t posted about it here, but there’s a special place in town that’s basically a field of broken glass.  which made me a little nostalgic. Santa Fe is great, but Albuquerque has its own kind of magic. They’re only an hour apart but the physical and psychic distance feels greater than that. After the show, I went to the merchandise table to buy a copy of the album that had “One Thousand Diamond Rings,” the song about Albuquerque. They were sold out of the album, but Rennie brought along some of her paintings. I liked the colors on her painting of a snake, so I got it. I told her about the flight we shared on the way back from my Wheel of Fortune taping, so she decided to title the painting “The Wheel.”

I guess the snake sort of loops around, maybe. Seems about right.

Halfway between Albuquerque and Santa Fe

I’ve posted one of these pictures elsewhere, but I figured I’d share here too. I visited Albuquerque this weekend, and halfway back home on the return trip, I came across a little caravan of horses right alongside the interstate. There wasn’t an easy place to to ask them about their trip, and I doubt they would have stopped to talk with me anyway, but it’s definitely not something you see everyday on that stretch of road.

usa mexico


Another new device 

I bought a tablet earlier this year, but when my old flip phone didn’t get reception in my new town, I figured I would get an iPhone too. I never really thought of myself as a gadget guy, but we are what we are, I suppose.

I’ve had it for a few weeks now but it just now occurred to me that I should install the WordPress app.

This is my iPhone test post.  Text is easy enough but what about pictures?

Easy as pie! Editing is a bit of a hassle but that is probably because I haven’t had coffee yet.