Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Be sure to read "SCAM" b4 this one

 Just so you'll know that I am not perfect.

When it rains, it pours.

2 days ago, I received a bill for $315 from Baylor Scott & White for my wife's laser eye surgery.  I was expecting it; but, that doesn't make the pain any easier.  It is the beginning of the new year and we have to reach our insurance deductibles.  She is a lot closer to that end, now.

Then, yesterday, we went to the optical place.  After the laser eye surgery and cataract surgery last year, it was time to get a new pair of glasses.  Eyes are close to 20\20, but a bit off.  Reading glasses are certainly a must.  We went in carrying an old pair of her glasses frames.  Even with her frames, and - as they say: "30% off,"  Our cost would be over $400.  That hurts a poor retired teacher on a fixed income.

I came home to find the red alarm light blinking on my septic system.  The air pump has given up.  Sigh.  Called the repair guy this morning.

So I fret about this stuff.

Then, today, that yokel calls (see the post below).  I put 6 eggs on to boil.  Things got hectic.

Frankly, I forgot the eggs.  An hour or so later, I sat at the dining room table working on my 2023 taxes.  I'm almost through - just the mopping up, so to speak.  At my feet and over about 3 more, is a machine that runs all the time killing bugs - flies, gnats, etc.

I heard this loud pop sound.  I smell something.  I unplugged the bug killer.  Sat back down.   BOOM!!  What was that noise.  Then, another loud BOOM!  The dogs come to investigate.  Yes, if you haven't figured it out yet, I forgot the boiling eggs.  3 of them have exploded.  What a mess.  All over the kitchen.  None hit the ceiling, but the underside of the microwave is a mess.  The dogs & I started cleaning the kitchen.  My wife was taking a nap and the explosions didn't faze her at all.

Unless you have had exploding eggs on your stove, you won't truly understand the mess.  Give it a try, Buddy.  Why should I be the only one?

Now, I am still waiting on the septic repair man.

I need a quiet hobby.


SCAM - I AM SO MAD!!!!!!!

 How many exclamation points are needed to express how mad I am.  Rule book says only one.   !    

I AM SO MAD!    (at myself)

I knew as soon as I answered the phone and guy started talking.  In my heart, I knew.  But, ...

The concept, Medicare was replacing my old Medicare Card with a new plastic one.  He DID represent himself as being from Medicare.  He needed to verify some info.  He knew a lot of stuff on the Medicare card including (I think) some of my secret numbers.  Maybe he was a good guesser.  He knew my complete name - and my wife's complete name.  She uses about 3 different approaches to her name - he hit it right.

We talked on the phone for quite a while.  I hassled him quite a bit.  When he came up with certain info, I melted and verified some numbers.

Then he asked my primary care doctor's name -- hmmmmm --  red flag 

next he asked if wife and I were diabetic.  not really a red flag.  What should have been the red flag was that Medicare had him call about ME  and MY WIFE at the same time.  I thought about that briefly; but, I let it go.  The dogs started to bark.  No excuse.  Just a fact.  It flustered me a bit.  

When I thought it was over, he informed me that they would be sending me a FREE new blood sugar checking meter with my card - after getting approval from my doctor, of course.  I grunted.  But, wait, they were also going to send me a back or leg brace with my new card (doctor approval, of course).  One for me & one for the wife.  No cost to me.  FREE FREE FREE.  He needed to know my height and weight.   And, we would receive either a Cane or a Walker.  Which one do I want - no cost to me  - FREE - after doctor's approval, of course.  

Before it went any further - or is it farther ?? -  I told him force-ably that we didn't need any of this.  He would not stop talking.  "No obligation to you, FREE, with your doctor's approval, of course."  

Finally, I interrupted him enough to get a word in edgewise,  " We don't need any of this.  I am going to call my doctor right now and tell him.  I'm through talking."  

I hung up.

I am so mad.  There were so many red flags which I should have tripped over.  I thought I was smarter than this.  I am so mad at myself.  The guy is jerk.  I bet his grandmother would be proud of him unless she is the owner of the company.  

Surely, I will recover from this.  There is no telling what may come next.  So Stupid!!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

H.S. STUFF - A rememberance

Oh, this is going to be a long one.  No, it is WAY too long.  I should have divided this entry into several smaller ones.  And I didn't.  If the word "Rambling" is in your vocab, you gonna feel right at home.  It only seems fair to point out this has turned out to be quite long.  We will see.   I don't  know how long other people's blogs are.  

As I begin to type, I have no plan to speak of...

A little band humor to start.  I do not know who originated this.  If you know, let me know, then, we'll all know ... NO?

Here is the deal.  I went to high school in Levelland, Hockley County, Panhandle, Texas.  Dry place, no sand dunes but sandy soil, rough spring weather, town about 10,000 folks, cotton and oil country - County was featured in a "believe it or not" episode because there are NO bridges in the entire county.  Bet you are glad to learn that.  Levelland was platted by C.W.Post of cereal fame.  Also, he was the father of Post, Texas.  Originally, they wanted to call it Hockley City.  I can't imagine why they decided to name it Level--Land instead.  On a clear night (no sand storms), you can go into the country and see the lights of several towns - some 20 / 30 miles away.  

It was a nice high school experience most of the time.  I could give you stories about that - and probably will sometime.  We didn't know any gang members.  I suppose some people thought we were a gang ... band kids, you know how they are ... rock n roll music ... fast cars ... spittin' on the streets ... we wore horseshoe taps on the heels of our black leather shoes ... take it from there==>

My parents at one time or another were public school band directors in Oklahoma.  My father was one of those music men.  He traveled around during the depression era starting bands in small towns, selling instrument - don't know about uniforms.  I understand he started bands in SW Okla including Altus and others around there.  He had a math degree, but did this to make a buck.  Another of his adventures had to do with movies  = y'know, moving pictures.  He'd take equipment into a town and set up to show a movie. . . even set-up outside.  This was a novel thing in the 30s and 40s.  I'm not sure how this generated money; but, I bet it did.

Mom was the band director in Tecumseh, Okla when I was born.  Brother Marshall (about 4-5 yrs old at the time) was the mascot of the band.  He even had a small uniform that matched, along with a small baton.  My mom use to brag in order to win marching contests she would have her majorettes do cartwheels in front of the judges.  Actually, I feel that was not valid plan.  Those must have been good years.   

When I went through high school, Texas was not racially integrated yet.  There was a black school on the other side of town - yes, it was on the other side of the tracks as well -  you might have guessed.  Spanish kids were not over there.  I had several Spanish friends.  We didn't use the word Hispanics back then.  The word Mexican was more prominent at that time.  We were just high school students.  I mention this because we have just finished February, black history month.

Levelland High School grades 10-12; JHS grades 7-9; 3 elementary schools grades 1-6 (East, West, and South).  I went to South & my future wife went to West.  My mom taught at East, which was really in the Northern part of town next to the JH .... just not far enough north to cross the tracks.  When Levelland built a new elementary, it was in the actual eastern part of town.  They named it Cactus.  I suppose that made sense.

Since I was raised in this band/music environment with my brothers, it should be no surprise that we grew up playing music together.  I had my first cornet about 5 years old; the piano came before that.  We were all taught cornet, accordion, and piano.  Later Jim switched to trombone and got a string bass.  I can remember performing with my accordion at a civic club during the 3rd / 4th grade somewhere in Kansas.  Strange thing to remember: one of our songs was "songs my mother taught me."

When we lived in Dodge City (yes, Kansas), brother Marshall was about a 9th grader - Jim and I were in the 3rd & 4th grade.  Dodge City had a municipal band which did concerts in the Park.  We three boys were featured on one summer concert - cornet trio - played a song called "Three of a Kind."  When we got to the triple tonguing section, Marshall did the triple tonguing while Jim & I just played the first note of each set.  In my stuff, I have the newspaper clipping of the performance.  Bet we were really cute.
Skip forward a little:  There is a this guy who lives in Spain.  He found me a few years back.  He was a fan of Sonny West.  Who?  Sonny West.  Sonny lived with his uncle in Levelland when he was in his 20s.  This Spain guy would write me emails asking all sorts of Sonny West questions.  A true fan.  I have a limited knowledge of Sonny.  But, I tried to answer the questions - good will and all that stuff.  Below is an AUGMENTED reply I sent to him once.  It is augmented because some things need to be stretched out to explain what I was explaining, if you understand that explanation.
I quote:  " I'll put a few things down here right now - maybe something else will come to me later to tell you.  Jimmy was my older brother as you know.  Later in life, he went by Jim; but, in high school he was Jimmy.  Of course, when my mother was mad at him, she called him "James Lee!!"  Jim was about 5' 9" and fairly muscular built.  He was not afraid of very much.  My father was known to call Jim a "Bull in a china closet."  My father would know because he was a reformed "Bull in a china closet."  Jim had a high I.Q. and made excellent grades in high school and throughout college.  His College degree was in Physics with a Master degree in Math.  [aside: he started Tx Tech as a chemistry major.  After he failed chemistry 3 times, he changed to physics.  Go Figure.]

Jim worked for several companies over the years:  Boeing Aircraft and LTV as the top two.  I am not sure what he did for LTV (which now has a different name) - he said that he couldn't talk about it.  LTV helped make stuff that was used in the Spy networks (sometimes referred to as "spook" business).  I do know 2 things he did.  He worked on a radar type unit for small fast flying planes which flew close to the ground.  Hmmmmmm   And he help to design the automated government  postal mail system that is used in the USA today.   He refused to discuss this stuff so we would make up our own stories.
Back to high school.
When we were in the junior high years, we formed a band - not really rock n roll - just a group.  Rock n Roll was not quite going yet.  We called our band The 3 M's.  Metze, Metze, and McKay.  Jim played upright (string) bass, Doc McKay was the drummer, and I played piano or Accordion.  We had a small following of fans (our mothers and fathers, very close relatives, and girl friends if we had one).  

We played our first dance that year for the Lubbock Country Club.  I was an 8th grader; they were in the 9th grade.  Doc's parents got us the gig.  Just couldn't say what possessed them to do that.  We were good of course (JHS students).  Played all the regular songs - well, I played them on the accordion and the other two kept rhythm.  We played on a little stage.  The audience sat and wondered.  

After about 15 - 30 minutes, they paid us off - $5 each.  We left and drove downtown Lubbock to see a movie - Doc's parents stayed behind and danced the night away to the Country Club's juke box.  It was a good thing Doc was there to drive them home later.  We were dumb enough to think that was fun.  And, it was fun.  Made 5 bucks - got to see a movie - my first taste of drunken adults dancing at a country club.

Over the years we would add and subtract a few people to the group.  That was all there was to that.  Later in H.S. we would use the name Saints at times.  That seemed good.  Several of our local h.s. band fellow members played with us.  We didn't use music.  Had none.  

You may have to think about this for a moment.  One of our band members was Frank Lawlis.  He would play the bass fiddle when Jim played trombone.  There is a guy on TV who does the psychology shows - I forget his name Dr. what's his name -- Oft times he goes out in the audience to talk with his his college mentor - Dr. Frank Lawlis.  touch of fame there.

One time we were hired to play for a dance at the local rodeo.  We knew lots of songs and people could dance to our stuff.  Rodeo Dance.  An Experience.  Well, some folks thought we might not be fully okay - bunch of high school kids.  So, they hired this local guitar playing man to play with us.  We were not consulted before hand.  He was a country guitar player.  Only songs he knew were country and western - all in the keys of E or B.  For those uneducated in this, those are tough keys.  Lots of sharps.  We were (pardon the expression) Classically Trained musician.  He wasn't.

His big song was the Sheik of Araby.  I had never heard of it before the dance;  I knew it by the end of the night - in the key of E.  Couldn't tell you how the audience enjoyed the dance music.  We boys had a good time - and so did the Sheik.  The guitar player?  not so much.   He never did call us back and offer to go on tour.  That was okay; we were in h.s. and couldn't leave town anyway.

An extra aside here = Levelland had a strong population of Baptist and Church of Christ members.  They had a pretty good strangle hold on the town.  Our school never had dances.  Dancing was not allowed.  However, during my Junior year (Jim & Doc's senior year) protesters sponsored a dance at the new hotel downtown.  It was quite scandalous.  We didn't have one the next year.  Our group, the Saints, played for the dance splitting time with a local h.s. rock group, the Sparkles.  I think the Sparkles are still performing out there at local taverns.  

We were able to play a 4 hour dance.  One of my favorite stories about that night - - as with most groups, we'd play some song and then take individual solos to stretch the music out longer.  We had this rock-type riff that we played early in the show.  Play the riff, take a solo; play the riff, someone else makes up a solo;  and so forth.  The kids (hs dancers) kept coming back up and asking us to play the song again.  We did, of course.  Who doesn't like getting requests?  It turns out that our riff that we made up had been recorded by some name group - Nowadays they call it Tequila.  We didn't know.  But the audience did.   Play it again, Sam.

During Jim and Doc's last couple of years in high school, they somehow met up with this Sonny West character.  He was an Elvis almost look alike - actually a lot different looking, but the same type of snear.  Sonny had a lead guitar player named Buddy Smith.  I do not have the slightest idea what happen to him after Sonny quit working with Jim & Doc.  Buddy was a terrific guitar player.  Sonny pretty much played rhythm guitar.  All of this was done in Levelland, which is located 30 miles west of Lubbock.  They usually rehearsed at Doc's house.  Doc's mom was the local dance teacher (ballet, tap, etc.) so she had a fairly large facility for them to use.  It had a low ceiling, but that just made the music better and louder.

During that time, they recorded Rock-Ola-Ruby and some other songs.  It was released on a 45 rpm record.  Sonny used his recordings as demonstrators to sell his original songs to other performers.  Yes, he had dreams of making the big time and selling a million records.  None of his own records sold that much.  A couple of his songs did quite well with other performers.  Buddy Holly did a couple of his songs.  Sonny eventually was put in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame for his writing.  Now that is note worthy.

Sonny's group performed in the area several times.  Back then, many small town local movie theaters would put on a stage show sometimes between feature films on Friday or Saturday nights.  Different bands would perform.  "Battle of the Bands"   I never played for any of these shows, but attended a couple as I rode along with Jimmy and helped Doc set up his drum set....nowadays, I would have been a roadie.

As a side thought. They recorded at a studio in Clovis, New Mexico  - at the Norman Petty studio.  Norman Petty was a known professional jazz organist whose recording of  "Mood Indigo" seemed to be a big deal ... I knew it at the time.  Played it for my dances ... on accordion / piano.

Now this next part I cannot verify - Apparently, Norman was not always a nice person.  People would record in his studio - tapes and vinyl - and Norman would put his name on the recording as a co-writer.  He'd get the performers to sign contracts before recording.  I'm not sure of the details.  It is just something I've heard.  More Money.  Most area bands were just so glad to be recording, they never quite figured out that he was messing with them.  It is my understanding that Buddy Holly and the Crickets recorded out of that studio.  I do not know if Sonny West had any problems with Petty.

I recorded two songs with them.  I will try to remember the names of the songs.  Sonny, Buddy, Jim, Doc, and me on piano.  He brought in 3 local high school girls as backup singers.   Tilghman, Tyler, and Beck ---- Betty Tilghman, Sandra Tyler, and Betty Beck.  They did a good job as back up doo-wops.  The recording session lasted most of the day in Clovis.  I remember a couple of nonsense things - Norman Petty was a really friendly guy to us - and helpful with suggestions.  To make Doc's snare drum sound better, he had Doc beat on a cardboard box.  It made a good sound for the recording - you couldn't tell it was a box, which says a lot for the snare drums in those days. 

During one break, I did start playing Mood Indigo.  Norman Petty looked up from behind the glass and broke into a smile.
Now this is just another bit.  Most songs were written in the keys of E or A.  Apparently, those are easier keys for the guitar. Since most of these guitar players were playing "by ear," one key was just as good as another especially if it laid well on the guitar.  As a piano player, I was raised playing in Bb, F and C - cause those are the easiest for inexperienced piano players - no sharps or major flats to speak of.   I had fits getting the rockabilly boogie type bass line going in the key of E.  It was good for me to play in that key though ... great experience.  They gave me an 8 bar piano solo in one of the songs.  I played primarily a chord progression on that solo - absolutely nothing to brag about - if you ever find that record, I missed one chord on the final recording.

Doc was an excellent drummer for the time.  I believe it comes naturally to some people.  He played well and kept time great.  Many drummers can't seem to keep time straight.  Doc was good - a barrel of laughs - and ready for about anything.  After high school, I believe he went to Hardin Simmons Univ in Abilene - He eventually ended up in Denver as a EMT.  Emergency Medical Technician - ambulance etc.  His wife Bonnie still lives in Denver.  Her maiden name was Bonnie Brooks.  Back then, she was a perfect fit for Doc - fun loving - full of energy.  My brain is failing me here, Doc is not his given name.  He had a regular given name - which I should remember.  Nobody called him anything except Doc.

Jim's slap bass playing - it was the style and self learned.  Nobody taught him how.  He did not have an expensive string bass (bass fiddle).  The slapping would mess up his right hand.  He learned to cover his right hand fingers with tape or band-aids to keep the blisters from forming.  Regarding Jim's bass playing, he had a good ear and knew where the appropriate notes were found on the bass.  He played the right notes for the chords.  I have seen other bass players who just slapped around and made noise - Jim's noise was actually music.  We both had been trained to read music and hear right notes.   

Later when we traveled for some jobs, he would put that big ole bass over the front & back seats of the car, letting the neck extend into the front seat.  There wasn't much room for humans in the car after the bass went inside.    During 1963 I bought a big Pontiac, and we carried the bass inside the trunk of the car - much safer.
When Jim & Doc went off to college, that pretty much ended their time with Sonny.  After my recording session, Sonny found a better piano player which was fine.  I can't remember the guy's name.  Strange kid from somewhere back east who was living with his Levelland uncle, a chiropractor - but he could play piano ... lot better than me.  I was jealous.

Now for a couple of things you had in your first note.  [remember that I am writing to a guy in Spain]  Jim played trombone, not sax.   He was a terrific trombone player.  I still have the trombone in my garage.  I was the trumpet player of the bunch.  When we had certain songs and extra people, we would play our horns more than the bass and piano. 

I wish I could give you more Sonny West info.  I will look for photos & the record.  I have a lot of stuff in storage since I am getting older and running out of space in my house to keep treasures.  As I get older, I talk too much.  You may have noticed that old guys can ramble and ramble.  That's me.

One of the things I remember about Jim and Doc.  They played pinball daily.  I believe they had a skill here too.  If I come up with something else, I'll let you know.   Got questions?   I may know the answer.  May not.
Mike mtz "

Sunday, March 10, 2024


 Daylight savings time.  We rejoice.  I don't know when, but eventually the States will make it permanent.  Why they insist on putting it off?  Beats me.  I don't really care.  It will work out for me.

This morning, I slept in and forgot all about the clock. My wife & I both got out of bed at 11:30.  I have not slept that long since I was in college.  I plan to do better in the morning.  Tomorrow.  Y'know I haven't slept past 10:30 more than 4 times a week lately   (do the math).


running joke in the comic strips:

Have you ever wondered why we don't hear about Areas 1 through 50?



Saturday, March 2, 2024


 Who knows why?  

Today the Budweiser Clydesdale horses came to Salado.  March 2nd, Texas Independence Day.  Of all the towns in Texas, why Salado?  I betcha somebody local has some influence.

It was great.  They arrived and did a "parade" down main street - U turn and back up main to their starting point.   8 beautiful Clydesdales pulling the big  Budweiser wagon - 2 drivers dressed in Green  - and a black and white dalmatian riding on the wagon seat alongside the drivers.

After the parade, the group stayed for over an half hour - close to an hour.  The crowd took pictures and talked to the handlers.  It was a good time had by all.

Then, we stood and watched as they unhooked the horses and led them into the trailers.  I'd guess there were at least a dozen workers.  They had a process.  Do this. Do that.  Do this.  Everyone had a special job to do.  It was fun to watch the organization.  

I would hope for you to be a part of this festival someday.  Watch for when the horses are coming to your town/area,  Get there early and enjoy the show.  

They are such beautiful animals.