Monday, June 29, 2009


. . . Vacation . . .

Dear Value Added Services Habitué:

There will be sporadic monkey business on this site for the next 10 days or so ... if there will be any monkey business at all.

You see ... we're headin' out. It's vacation time. Montana calls. The land of "20-years-behind" plumbing. Waving strangers. Lonely stretches of road with gorgeous views. Louis and Clark territory.

There is no DSL where we are going. I believe there to be nary a phone line, even. (I jest, of course.)

The Point Being: It's time to commune with nature, visit relatives, relax and recreate. Time to four-wheel. Pick huckleberries. Time to beat the Father-In-Law relentlessly at Jenga.

Time to leave the blogging for another time, be it with pictures or with words.

While on leave, the camera will be working furiously and plentifully, to be sure. The posting, however, will not. If it does rear its head, it will be by happenstance only.

It will return ... on my return.

You'll survive. I'm sure of it .....
........................... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Saturday, June 27, 2009

He's Not Dead After All .....

I love to read. I have since I was a kid in grade school.

I read voraciously. With volumes and volumes under my wing all through school, I found myself at the tail end of my high school years discovering Stephen R. Donaldson and his The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever series of books.

The first - Lord Foul's Bane got me hooked right from the start.

The first trilogy centers around Thomas Covenant, a writer. Turns out he is a leper, too, despised by society and left to his own devices by his wife in order to protect their son from his disease. Covenant is conflicted and complex and destined to become the savior of The Land so lushly illustrated in the books, unsure if what he is experiencing while there is something real or some figment of his imagination. His sanity is at stake and the health of The Land is something he cannot fathom and even rejects, thus setting up the first trilogy of tales.

This was an amazing read for me way back when.

And then, at some point over the past 25 years, I thought Stephen R. Donaldson - with the six books about Thomas Covenant written making up the first and second chronicles - was dead.

When did he die? Where did he die? What did he die of? How old was he?

I had no clue. And never researched to find out.

Quite amazing when it's my nature to search out information on things that trip my trigger, seeking out every little bit of trivia I come across on an item. I'm a walking encyclopedia, oft times.

So ... I went quietly about my business, thinking Mr. Donaldson was dead and gone, not giving it another thought.

Until last weekend.

I was in a close-out shop of books and I came across The Runes Of The Earth, the first book in The Last Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant. by none other than the "back from the dead"
Stephen R. Donaldson. What a shock to the system. I purchased it immediately.

I found out right then and there that this new (to me) series of books would run four volumes. Giddy with my find, I didn't know whether to dig in right then and there or begin at the beginning and start the entire cycle all over again, just for the sake of the pure joy of reading. And I still haven't figured out what I'm going to do.

But .... I have a vacation coming up. I will be relaxing with the family. And, when I get the opportunity, I'll be turning pages - whether with Lord Foul's Bane or with The Runes Of The Earth - toasting Mr. Donaldson once more, glad that he is alive and well and working on the last two books of the series.

...................... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Rememberance

One of the last joyous times I had with my father was at his house in North Port, Florida more than two years ago.

It had been some time since he'd had a poker party and he was going to have one come hell or high water.

Guests were hailed. Food was purchased. Booze was put on ice.

Promptly, at the time indicated, a slew of friends and cohorts arrived, ancient and spry. I was introduced to each and every one of them. I heard more "Your father has told me so much about you!"-s, the smile that resided on my face had to have looked rote to anyone else that knew me. But not to these folks. It was genuine to them. They were indeed glad to see me. They were thrilled to have finally met me. And I them, no matter what my face might belie.

You see, this was the first visit I had had with my father in five plus years, since he swung out my way when I was last in Utah, on his way to his new digs in Florida.

It was the first time I'd met all his Floridian friends and it was the first time I had ever played poker with him. It was the first time I saw him eat as heartily as he did since coming to visit him a week prior. It was the first time he'd had a beer in ages.

He had ravaging cancer, you see. That was the reason I was there.

While playing poker, he cajoled and spit sarcasm and laughed and denied stories his friends told. It was indeed a sight to behold. It had been a long, long, long time since last I saw him have such unencumbered fun. And it would be the final time as well.

Early the next morning, I would have to call an ambulance to get him to a hospital. And I would spend the next few days in the hospital with him. He would recover enough for me to be able to leave, as scheduled, for home. He was cognizant and smiling and back to his stubborn, unemotional self when I left. His wife, I knew, had her hands full in the coming weeks.

I was back less than two months later. I was able to see him before he passed, coincidentally the night I got in. He was aware I was there, but that's about it.

Between talking to him and praying for him, I reminded him of that poker game a few months prior. I think it was the last time I saw him smile .....

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

........................ Ruprecht ( STOP )

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Macaroni Grilling No More

It was rather a shame
Macaroni Grill closed in this neck of the woods this week. But it was rumored there might be a bevy of treasures being gotten rid off.

As it turned out, there was little to see. And not much to be had.

Rupe acquired a gaggle of industrial strength serving plates akin to the one shown here (concoction not included) along with two spifftacular aluminum pizza peels with wooden handles. A couple dozen circular wooden bread serving plates.

Tossed in a conveniently placed dumpster in the parking lot were a couple cases of Macaroni Grill's signature bread - still completely sealed and usable - along with lots of other restaurant refuse. At least the bread would go to a good home - to the homeless we have wandering about, living 'round the storm drains and bridges we have here.

But, Rupe's certain you're wondering about all the wine. Miles and miles of wine that graced the interior of the restaurant. It really is criminal what they did with it. The majority of that wine was uncorked and disposed of. A few were hauled off by the management, the remainder was down-the-drained. It was enough to make any grape-lover cry. The emptied bottles were either hauled off by those that would take them for recycling or smashed and trashed.

Rupe spoke with one of the Big Boys who was overseeing the Grill's closure the day it shut its doors for the final time last Thursday. Rupe even volunteered to do a bit of "demolition work", but was kindly told that wouldn't be possible. Big Boy was accommodating and informative to a fault, but "company policy" prohibited anyone assisting with any "demolition duties".

So ... after wading through rolling bins and burnt-bottomed pots and soiled linens and a full bag of onions among other items, there was naught to do but sigh and leave.

Rupe acquired one sad momento from the Grill ... one of the last legacy items showing evidence
Macaroni Grill was ever a vibrant gathering place for the hungry in the city of Monrovia:

.......................... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Bit Of Redemption From The Knuckleheads

.... and then, every once in a while, there's a bit of shining hope .....

...................... Ruprecht ( STOP )

Derek Fisher, celebrating his fourth championship with the Lakers, along the parade route on Figueroa Street.

..... Richard Curry can tell you exactly why he was standing in the middle of a crowded Figueroa Street outside Staples Center, wearing a shiny purple Lakers jersey with a plastic Lakers medallion dangling around his neck.

"I was down here in 2000 and 2001," he said of the gatherings to celebrate earlier Lakers championships. "I missed the 2002 parade, thinking 'Oh, they'll be back next year.' I had to wait another seven years to come back down here."

The 46-year-old building engineer smiled: "And here I am."

However, it appeared to be one of those times when almost everybody was in "accord for one day," marveled Curry. "You see a lot of different ages and races and we're all kind of getting along. It's Rodney King's dream -- 'Can we all get along?' " .....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

..... "We thought, well, let's cruise on down, this is our neighborhood," said Shannon Vasquez, who lives downtown, looking at her English bulldog, Bridget Jones, who was resting and panting in the street. Figueroa was cleared of traffic for miles. The day and the streets between downtown and the Coliseum belonged to revelers doing something as rare in Los Angeles as gathering together: walking .....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

..... Fifteen people were arrested and two officers suffered minor injuries, police said. Outside the east end of the Coliseum, fans breached a security barrier and climbed onto a ticket booth. When officers on foot could not disperse them, a mounted unit was brought in. Fans threw bottles at the mounted officers, prompting police to use less-than-lethal beanbag shots to quell the disturbance. "We had knuckleheads in several areas," said Chief William J. Bratton, adding that "generally, it went very smoothly." .....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

..... Mostly, fans celebrated calmly, waiting hours for the parade and the rally to begin. Nicole Ebrahimi searched for a bathroom. "I'm 6 1/2 months pregnant," she said. "We'll see if it's worth all the trouble." .....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

..... Jeannette Hernandez, 18, and her friends took three trains from Pico Rivera for a momentary sighting of the Lakers. It was worth it, because team member Shannon Brown winked at her from the bus, she swears .....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

..... Fans descended on the Coliseum so early, in such huge numbers, that police turned away people two hours before the rally there even started. Drew Thomas, 41, of West Hills, brought his three sons to the Coliseum and parked at 10:45 a.m. They were turned away. Later, his children in tow, he sighed. "Sometimes you've got to teach them about the spectacle of things," he said .....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

..... It was a multi-generational group. Along the parade route there were brawny men in Lakers jerseys escorting tiny children in matching garb .....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

..... Laura Watson, 62, a technical librarian who works at Honda in Torrance, was dragged to the parade, her first despite being a lifetime Lakers fan, by her grandkids.

Referring to the economic woes of the day, the Carson resident said the people of L.A. needed the parade to get "their minds off their troubles for a minute, even though they'll still be there when they get back." .....

L.A. Times, Carla Hall and Ari Bloomekatz
with Times staff writers Andrew Blankstein, Richard Winton and Gale Holland

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thank You. Thank You Very Much .....

Dear Dumbasses:

I appreciate you. I really do.

You know how sometimes you get that feeling deep down inside, the one where you say to yourself “Hey … it’s all about me and no one else!” and nothing is going to stop you from stating otherwise? It’s something we all do in some form or another. Often, it’s something we all strive not to do, but we find ourselves falling into that trap time and again, whether out loud for others to hear … or silently within our own consciousness.

Well … thanks to your generous efforts, you made certain I circumvented those selfish thoughts. You made it clear it’s not about me, not at all. It’s about you and your zealous nature, your zeal in expressing the love for your team in their moment of glory.

‘Cause, after Sunday’s Los Angeles Laker victory over the Orlando Magic, I discovered it’s not about the Laker’s decisive win in the least. It’s not about the pride of a city for their team. And it’s not even about shouting out to the rest of the nation Los Angeles is the best in pro basketball at this moment.

It’s about you. You and your asshattery.

You see: I don’t have enough to do. I need to do more. And you helped to remind me of that, too.

You helped to remind me that I need to explain to complete strangers why Los Angeles is a terrific place to live, despite dumbass hooligans such as yourself. You helped to remind me I need something other than L.A.’s flagging economy to back up to when friends of mine all over the country ask “How’s ‘Ah-Nuld’?” You further helped to remind me it’s necessary to convince total strangers to my business of something other than the need to charge 9.75% sales tax for the wares I supply to them. And, thankfully, you’ve provided an out for me to do so.

So … here’s to each and every one of you brainiacs out there who celebrated by looting and stealing and starting fires and causing damage after the Lakers spiffy win Sunday. I just want to say thanks.

It only took you a moment or two to turn my selfish thoughts to something else. And I appreciate that more than you know.

Yours Sincerely (and unselfishly) .....

………….… Ruprecht ( STOP )

Owner Of Looted Sneakers Store
Surveys Post-Lakers-Victory Damage

"Classy. You know, Boston may have a Puritan reputation, but at least we don't tear our city apart when our sports teams win." - Justin Hall

18 People Arrested In Lakers Melees

"What a stupid spectacle. Look at Tehran right now and then look at Los Angeles. They fight for their freedom. We fight for sneakers." - Commenter

"This is truly sad that a very small minority of so-called Laker fans can turn what should have been a celebration into an excuse for a riot. They are not in any way, shape or form to be considered sports fans, they are nothing more than punks and thugs and they make me ashamed to be a Los Angeles native." - Commenter

"What scumbags ... I hope that anyone who sees the face of someone they know in the many L.A. Times photographs taken last night calls the police and turns those people in. Everyone who took part in the theft or vandalism, or knows someone who took part and doesn't do anything about it, should be ashamed and know that they represent the WORST of society." - Commenter

"Another splendid display of downtown L.A. civility. A bunch of stupid hoodlums." - Commenter

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Of Dance Class & Vacation

June 3rd
2:27 p.m. The littlest is picked up from school:

"Did you decide if you're going to Dance after all that talk this morning before school?"

"No. I don't think so. I don't think Riley's going either ..."

2:47 p.m. The eldest is picked up from school:

"So ... you didn't have to stay after school today for fittings ... does that mean you're going to Dance?"

"No. I have too much homework to do. Plus studying for a big test. And Mom said we don't have to go if we don't want to."


2:52 p.m. A quick run through McCrappage for a chicken sandwich for the eldest, french fries for the squirt. The children are happy.

2:56 p.m. At home, Rupe gets on-line with Wife of Rupe to discuss the situation. After a bit of back and forth, it is concluded - once and for all - the decision is theirs to make: If they don't want to go, that's fine ... they don't have to go.

Rupe's thinkin' just one last attempt is in order, however.

3:00 p.m. Last verification:

"Last chance: You sure you guys aren't going? And Riley, remember: You have an orthodontist appointment next Wednesday so you'll be missing it then, too."

"Yeah ... I know. Naw. I don't want to go," the eldest notes.

"Me either," adds the little one.

"Okay. Then we've had a snack and a rest ... let's get our homework done."

Y'see, the Bright Shiny Lazy Smile Of Summer is coming on hard and strong. It's looming right over their shoulders ... and they realize this. School's almost out and they are in tune with the fact they really don't have to do anything they don't want. And it was evident in our discussion Monday about Dance Class. And Tuesday when we talked about it. Last night, before going to bed, we talked, too. And this morning, we talked. Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. They did their best to be non-committal until this afternoon when they decided, finally, they didn’t feel like going.

So imagine at 4:05 p.m. - twenty-five minutes before the start of Dance Class - the shock Rupe experienced as the girls declared ..... they wanted to go.

(<---- Shocking! A couple ... without kids!)

Rupe immediately shot off a text to Wife of Rupe, still at work. “The girls want to go to class after all. I think I’m going to kill them.”

The Response from Wife of Rupe: “Go ahead. Kill them. We can leave early for vacation.”

............................... Ruprecht ( STOP )