(Last week's recap concludes.)

After San Diego, things wound down. One afternoon we headed out to see a rodeo, which was touted in the newspaper as a Gen-u-wine western –style event featuring Lady Ropers – that’s a description, not a proper name, although it would look good in a Western novel. Forty minutes later we were in Cave Creek, I think, and there were no signs of a rodeo anywhere. We stopped at a gas station; they had no clue. We stopped at another gas station, and they pointed us down the street to Western Days, where sun-shriveled merchants set up tents and sold jewelry in a place called Frontier Town. As far as I know it was a daily celebration as well; hard to tell, since it was set up in an old creaky tourist-trap authentic recreation of the Old West, complete with a noose fer hangin’ varmints. (No trap door, though; they must have just strung the fellers up then had everyone grab his legs and pull.) No rodeo was in evidence, although there were hopeful signs that something horse-related might occur:

We decided to eat at a place called “The Satisfied Frog,” a name that did not inspire confidence, and seemed like some old private joke everyone was tired of explaining.

Hello my darling, et cetera: looks like Michigan J. Frog’s slacker brother.

It had sawdust on the floor and a big menu with thick black marks over every reference to “Crazy Ed.” I asked the waiter what had happened to Crazy Ed, and he said “Ed has moved along.”

Indeed he has: next door.

And there’s a tale, I’m sure.

(As it turns out, yes, there is.) (And what's the title of this page mean?)

We all ordered bbq, and while the meal was being prepared my wife remembered that she’d been here before, and had the bbq, and she’d sent it back for being inedible. Hmm. It arrived a few minutes later, and I took a bite –

Nice to see there’s still a sense of tradition in the old west. The first bite was like a mouthful of damp twigs. It was the hardest meat I’d ever tried to eat, and belied the menu’s description of something so tender it fell off the bone in a fainting swoon. We sent it all back and the items were not charged. Killed everyone’s appetite stone dead, though.

We shopped; I went to a little cave-store with (G)Nat and bought two badges: Marshall of Dodge City, and one that proclaimed me a Pinkerton agent. ‘Cause everyone loves the Pinkertons! Snapped an old sign, or a new sign ruined to make it look old:

And that was the end of that. We got back in the car and kept looking for the rodeo. The third gas station in which we inquired had a clerk who knew what we were talking about, and sent us down a dusty road to a poorly marked arena (there were no signs anywhere) and indeed, there were the raw materials of a rodeo – horses, stables, and arena, bleachers. But the Lady Ropers had concluded long ago – not an all-day affair, as the paper had noted – and they didn’t seem too interested in selling any tickets for the barrel-riding event, or whatever it was. Okay, FINE. Back in the car and back into the desert. Five minutes out of Carefree it suddenly turned into a modern city again –  high-dollar shopping centers, expensive houses, all camouflaged with cacti and desert hues. We went to the other country club pool, where it was apparently Saline Implants Day (Bring one and the second one gets in free!)


Question: lightly trafficked area of an airport, or front door of an expensive condo?

It’s the latter. Our last stop was the Scottsdale waterfront – it’s an impressive project, with enormous condos and a reclaimed canal:

Ate at a place called “Canal,” which had a big video screen showing awful fashion shows. My brother-in-law was called away to deliver  a baby, which happens to him a lot. Lucky for him, he’s an OB-GYN. He said he’d call on the way back from the hospital to place his order. Seriously: modern medicine is so good your doctor can drive to the hospital, bring life into the world, sign a few papers, then head back in time to eat while everyone else is finishing dessert.

The busboy was clearing away our dishes, and asked if there would be anything else; my mother-in-law said “There’s one more. He left to deliver a baby but he’s coming back for steak.”

From the busboy’s expression I can be fairly confident he had never heard those words put together in that particular order.

We flew home the next day – another easy flight. I thought I’d sleep, but didn’t. Watched Perry Mason. I highly recommend watching Perry Mason on the plane. It chews up 47 minutes and it keeps your attention. Landed at midnight, happy to be home. And this concludes the annual obligatory Arizona Bleat.


The Rifftrax project, incidentally, is here. Buy it! Cheap at twice the price, and if I don't screw up their sales too badly, I get to do another one. In case you don't know what it's all about, well, it's a Mystery Science Theater 3000-type snarky commentary track for Spider-Man 3. You pop the movie in your computer, start the Rifftrax audio file, and voila: MST3K-style comments on a big-budget, heavily copyrighted movie. I'll talk about the process and the actual recording session tomorrow.

New Sears1973. I’ll see you at buzz.mn! (Server problems kept the site down yesterday; should be fixed by now.)