Holmes Family Newsletter vol 8 no 1

Once in a Blue Moon

Vol. 8 No. 1, February 1997

A lot has happened since our last newsletter, so let’s just jump right in with the “news”…

Mike and Evelyn get married

Almost two years ago now (June 21, 1995, actually), Mike married his longtime friend, Evelyn. Only a select few of the newsletter staff were invited: Lionel (“PopPop”), Eleanor, Grandma and Lucy (“Mom”). It was so long ago, we’ve forgotten all the details, but they all said it was great.

Mike and Evelyn live in Stockton, CA, now. In case you want to send them gifts, which Mike says are always welcome, their address is Stockton, CA.

Doug and Jana get married

The wedding ceremony was held July 20, 1996, in Bratislava, Slovakia. It was the same church that the bride, Jana Cupkova’s, parents and several kings and queens have been married and/or crowned in. Doug and Jana chose the site in preparation for their inevitably being named King and Queen of Slovakia. Officially, they tied the knot in Tahoe earlier last year. Bill was the only newsletter staff member in attendance. Somebody had to report on it! Besides, he was the Best Man, so he pretty much had to be there. The U.S. reception was held at the groom’s parents’, Lionel and Eleanor’s, house in Sacramento. As requested, after his “performance” at the Bratislava reception, Bill did not attend the U.S. reception.

Lucy visits Nashville

Last summer, on her way to North Carolina to judge a Schutzhund dog trial (or something), Lucy made a stopover in Nashville. Ostensibly, the stopover was to visit Don, Diane, Bill, and her friend Sherry (however she spells it) in Shelbyville (pronounced “shovel” by the locals). The real reason for Lucy’s visit, of course, was to visit the Grand Ol’ Opry and pay homage to the legends of country music.

Bill Buys Condo

Tired of throwing away money on rent, Bill took the plunge and actually bought a house (actually a condo/ townhouse). Several friends helped with the move. A week later, a housewarming party was thrown. Hardly anyone showed up, but it was still a party, and the best people showed up!

His new address and phone number are: Nashville TN 37211, (615) xxx-xxxx.

Bill Gets Cat

Don and Diane found a stray cat and took him in. Their resident cats weren’t happy about it, though, and Don and Diane were threatening to give him to the animal shelter. They were probably lying, just to get Bill to take the cat himself. Bill wasn’t happy about it, either; but, always a sucker for the old “unwanted cat” story, Bill fell for it.

It’s a male orange tabby (gotta love the hair color, anyway) with orange eyes. After days of agonizing over it, Bill decided to name him Myca, which is short for “my cat.”

Bill to Host Christmas ’97

Since he’s a homeowner now, Bill — on Mike’s suggestion — has decided to host Christmas in Tennessee this year. There, you have ample advance notice, so make your plans now!

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 7 no 1

The Wandering Eye

Vol. 7 No. 1, March 19, 1995

[We’re back! Sorry it took so long between issues, but the entire staff was frozen solid in a block of ice the past three months. We just now thawed out. You know how it is. We should have known better than to visit Antarctica in winter. We figured, hey, it’s south, it must be warm. Oh well, live and learn.

For those of you waiting on pins and needles for the next installment of that story “Murder, Or Just An Honest Mistake?”, you’ll just have to wait a little longer. We still haven’t completed the next installment. Hey, great works of art take time!

What else … well, nothing comes to mind, so with an empty mind we begin the newsletter!]

Bill moves

We should just make this a regular column. “Bill moves.” Well, of course he moves! He moves every six months!
Anyway, this time he has moved to a better part of town. His address and phone number are now: 31st Ave. N., Nashville TN 37203, (615) xxx-xxxx
Please make a note of it. Some of you are still addressing Bill at Ferndale Avenue, which is now two moves and a year out of date!

Dog gone!

We have some bad news. Steve and Denise lost their dachshund, Frieda, on January 12. We never met the dog, but we’re sorry to see her go.

A shepherd is born

This isn’t a religious story.

A couple of Lucy’s dogs, Credence and Etsel, bored with that old Schutzhund protection dog thing, have turned their talents to the game of sheep herding. And apparently, they’re pretty good at it.

“They haven’t killed any sheep yet,” said Lucy. “So far, so good.”

What most people don’t know is that Lucy herself has killed plenty of sheep. She lures them into her yard from the almond orchard across the street, and kills them the instant they cross her property line. “Well, sheep shouldn’t be in an almond orchard, anyway!” says Lucy. She’s got a point.

Dog found!

Good news! Steve and Denise found their dog, Frieda. Remember, [above] we mentioned she was lost? Well, they placed an ad in the newspaper (in the time it took you to get from there to here), someone read it, and told them where to find the dog.

“The wind broke part of our fence,” Steve explained, “so she went next door.” And it seems that yard had a small hole leading into the next yard. It was in the second yard that they found her.

Surprise, surprise

On February 22, a surprise birthday party was thrown for Eleanor. Several of her former co-workers from 25 years ago at the Board of Equalization were invited (even though they used to call her “Mother Superior”), along with local family. A grand time was had by all. In fact, a few guests had too good of a time and had to be thrown out. But then, that’s a typical Eleanor party.

Bill rides in ambulance

It’s 4am, February 11, a Saturday morning. Bill is awakened by a sound at the front door.

“Where’s my gun?” is his first thought. The 9mm semi-automatic pistol, unused in two years, is in the closet collecting dust.

Deciding against the gun, Bill opens the bedroom door with a jerk — where the jerk came from we have no idea — ready for hand-to-hand combat with whoever might be lurking about. No one is there — not even the jerk, unless you count Bill. The sound at the door turns out to be the wind.

Suffering from “cotton mouth” due to the previous night’s drinking, Bill goes to the kitchen for a glass of juice. That’s when the real excitement begins.

The juice is ice-cold, like everything else in the house, and he gulps down a couple of quick glasses. As he stands in the kitchen with the empty glass in hand, his heart starts palpitating. It’s done that before, but usually lasts just a second or two. This time, it just won’t stop. He decides he’d better call an ambulance while he still can.

“I need an ambulance,” he speaks calmly into the phone, as if ordering a pizza.

“That’s a different number,” the woman says gruffly. “I’ll transfer you.”

“Fire department,” says a male voice a moment later.

“Yeah,” says Bill. “I need an ambulance.”

Bill doesn’t wait for them to show up at his apartment. He gets dressed, puts on a jacket and cap and walks out into the freezing night. He flags the fire truck down as it pulls into the parking lot.

“I’m the one who called,” he explains to the confused driver. “I’ll be in here,” he adds, pointing to the laundry room.

A fireman joins Bill in the laundry room. “What’s the problem?” the man asks, with a look that says, “You look healthy to me.”

Bill explains that his heart is doing flip-flops — still — and he thinks someone should check it out. The fireman sits Bill down on a bench and takes his blood pressure. A few minutes later, an ambulance arrives and Bill is whisked away to Saint Thomas Hospital, just a couple miles away. “I feel perfectly healthy,” Bill explains to the female paramedic, “it’s just that my heart is racing.”

They wheel him into the emergency room. Bill’s heart is still beating like some whacked-out jazz drummer. They shave his chest, plug electrodes into him, take his blood pressure every five minutes, and do an EKG. They stick an IV into him and give him a dose of something called Cardiozem. This seems to bring his heart back into proper rhythm. After twenty minutes, the drug wears off and his heart is dancing again, so they give him another dose. In all, four or five doses are given.

Eventually, a doctor comes in and asks Bill about his medical history. Bill tells him he doesn’t have a medical history, except for when he was 17 and it was thought he might have a heart murmur. That turned out to be a false alarm, and Bill had had no problems since.

The doctor asks Bill what he was doing earlier in the night. Bill admits he had six beers and had smoked a few cigarettes. And that was it. The doctor shakes his head, and Bill says, “Really, that’s it. No drugs. I don’t do drugs. Of course, this past week I’ve been drinking 3 to 6 beers every night, and there’s been a lot of stress at work.”

The doctor shrugs and says, “Well, you’ve had what we call an atrial fibrillation; or what we sometimes call a ‘holiday heart.'” He gives a smug little grin. “It’s often brought on by too much drinking. It’s probably nothing.”

Another doctor comes in after the other’s shift ends. Bill again recites his medical history and his actions leading up to his being in the emergency room. This doctor says basically the same as the first, except this one says Bill should spend the next day or two at the hospital for observation.

They give him a private upstairs room, and he spends the next several hours in bed attached to an IV and a heart monitor. Bored out of his mind, Bill calls Don and Diane. they show up around 5pm, and after Bill explains that he feels almost 100% now, Don says, “You wanna leave with us?”

“Yeah, I do, actually,” Bill nods.

There is a bit of fussing and calling of nurses and doctors before Bill gets permission to leave the hospital. But, in the end they agree Bill seems to be back to normal and, yes, he can leave, on two conditions: one, that he quit drinking beer; and two, that he make a follow-up appointment with the doctor. Bill agrees, and the nurse is soon wheeling Bill out of the hospital in a wheelchair.

“I know you don’t need the wheelchair,” the nurse explains politely as she wheels Bill out, “but it’s hospital policy.”

And that’s it. Anyway, Bill has now officially quit smoking (for good, this time) and has vowed to keep his drinking under control. “I’m just glad to be alive,” says Bill.

Letters to the Editor

“Your newsletter is like an oyster. It’s slimy and smells bad. But every once in a while it produces a pearl.” — Anonymous

[Thanks you! You know, oysters are said to be great aphrodisiacs, just like this newsletter.]

“Some of the stories you put your to are stupid.” — disgruntled subscriber

“I had no students for three days, due to the Rio Linda floods. Denise had two days off due to flooding around her school. Neither school had any real damage, though.” — Steve, Sacramento, CA

“For those of us who have spent many a Super Bowl Sunday drinking tequila with Bill (a.k.a. Editor), we were just wondering … Did he dip her? Did he drop her? Did he then fall on top of her?? And, to make matters worse, did he get up anD do it all over again?!?!

“Good to hear you’re dancing again, Bill … we think! Ich vil mein tahnts bein svingin (German for “I want to shake my dancing legs.”) — Jinx and Jan, Westchester, CA

[Actually, you’re the only two subscribers of this newsletter to have the “pleasure” of the Bill/tequila/Super Bowl mix. And for those wondering what Jinx and Jan are talking about, let us just say that Bill is an excellent driver, I mean, dancer.]

“Because we know that all of the readers and staff of this illustrious Newsletter have vast worldwide knowledge, not to mention supersonic IQ’s … we were just wondering how the heck that little white M gets smack dab in the middle of every single one of those tiny little M&M’s??

“(Always searching for the answer. Let’s hear yours! HA!)” — Jinx and Jan, Los Angeles, CA (did they move?)

[We don’t have the answer to the M&M question. If we did, we’d probably be killed for “knowing too much.” Besides, some of life’s mysteries are better off left unsolved.]


In our previous issue we cut off a portion of Lionel Holmes’s epic How I Spent My Summer Vacation. From the sentence beginning … “From Eleanor’s perspective in the passenger seat, it seemed like he came …” The rest of the paragraph should have read “… within 2 inches. But in fact is was only 2½ inches!”

There. You happy now?

a letter from Doug to the Sacramento Bee

Modern Justice?

Whatever happened to old-time justice and honesty? Take for instance this incident which happened to me last year:

Here’s the scenario. Two people are witnesses to an 18 year old employee stealing $20 from my business at the “Doug’s Mugs” cart at Arden Fair Mall and they report it to me while I’m on vacation in Portugal. The thieving employee has quit and his final pay check is withheld so that I an deal with it. Upon my return after 3 weeks, a final pay check is sent which deducts the $20 and about $130 more in stolen money which was NOT witnessed. I send the check to the boy’s mother with a letter attached itemizing all the deductions in hopes that the mother would do her duty and reprimand her wayward child.

Quite unexpectedly, I get an irate phone call from the foul-mouthed mother making threats of legal action for compensation for this “injustice.” These threats are carried out and the Labor Board fines me $900 for paying the employee late.

Because there is no way to prove this theft in court (no videotape record, etc.), there is no way to fight it. The whole reason for paying this up-and-coming criminal late was to sort out all the missing money he stole before paying him the balance of his earned wages.

Granted, I learned an expensive lesson about withholding pay. But we’re dealing with small change here and who wants to make a big fuss over this anyway? Just the time and effort of pressing charges because of $20 stolen would not be justified. And why tie up the courts with such a menial case or pay a lawyer to fight for me in a losing cause, thus adding to my out-of-pocket expenses? No. None of those things will correct this injustice. My only vengeance will be to try and see that he never works anywhere again.

The simple solution of taking back the stolen money has cost me much more than I had bargained for. One hundred years ago, this would never have been a problem. The little criminal would have gotten kicked in the ass and sent packing. It’s a simple solution to a simple problem. But nowadays, people have the mentality where they want to get something for nothing. If they can cheat their way through life and defraud insurance companies and sue “big corporations” for absurd sums, they’ll do it. His mother is sure teaching him well, eh? Is this justice? I think not.

Actual test answers in health and first-aid courses:

  • For nosebleed, put nose much lower than body until heart stops beating
  • For dog bite, put dog away several days. If he has not recovered, kill it.
  • For asphyxiation, apply artificial respiration until patient is dead.
  • For drowning, climb on top of person and move up and down to make artificial perspiration
  • To prevent conception, wear a condominium

Stupid bumper stickers

  • Warning: In case of rapture, this vehicle will be unmanned

    [We can only hope.]

Birthdays, etc.

Conan Mar. 13

Dad Apr. 2

Greg Apr. 20


If French food is so wonderful, how come you don’t see a lot of French restaurants around like you do Italian, Mexican and Chinese? Speaking of Chinese, today’s question is: How come Chinese-speaking people always seem to transpose the “L” and “R” sounds? You know, instead of saying “Little bowl of fried rice,” they’ll say, “Rittle bowr of flied lice.” They can obviously pronounce both the “R” and “L” but they always switch them. Why is that? The person who answers either of the above two questions satisfactorily will, as usual, receive a free subscription to this newsletter.

More on Nashville drivers (no pun intended): Since our last tirade against Nashville drivers, our reporters have noticed a few more things and have come to a few more conclusions. First of all, it seems to be the women who are more inclined to tailgate, while it’s the men who are most likely to pull out in front of you.

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 6 no 7


The only newsletter we do!

Vol. 6, No. 7, December 29, 1994

Belinda Has Puppies!

Another one of Lucy’s dogs has gone and had a litter of pups. This time the mother is Belinda, a Rottweiler, and she gave birth to a litter of ten, nine of which were boys. This is Lucy’s Nightshadow Kennels’ seventh, or “G” litter.

Pursuant to contractual agreement, we are obligated to come up with names for the little mutts. Also pursuant to the agreement, Lucy will not use any of our suggestions.

Here they are, anyway: Greasy Grimy Kid’s Stuff, Gas Pump Jockey, Go Figure, Growling Gremlin on Acid, Grassy Knoll, Greaseballs Afire, Gratuitous Sex, Gidget Goes Canine, Gary, and Going Postal*.

* “Going postal” is a term coined by a friend of the editor [I thought at the time], and refers to disgruntled employees going berserk and showing up for work with a machine gun.

Bill Goes Dancing

Showing blatant signs of insanity, but not quite to point of “postal,” Bill has taken up country line dancing. Yes, that’s right. Bill, ultra-cool dude (or so he thinks), has completely lost it and is now doing the Boot Scootin’ Boogie and Texas Two Step, and a few other dances neither he nor anyone else can figure out.

He wears cowboy boots, jeans and a stupid western shirt now whenever he goes to places like Denim & Diamonds or the Wild Horse Saloon in his adopted home town of Nashville. He’s embarrassing the entire newsletter staff, more than usual. Next thing you know, he’ll be wearing a cowboy hat.

“I’m still looking for just the right hat,” he explained. “A proper line dancing outfit is not something to be taken lightly.”

Michael Moves

Trying desperately to make up for lost time and catch up with his uncle Bill in the ongoing family “habitat-hopping contest,” Michael has moved again. [Just 37 more moves, and he’ll catch up with Bill.] This latest move has brought Michael and his girlfriend, Evelyn, to the big city of Modesto, CA.

“It’s an older house downtown,” says Michael, “with tall ceilings and cute furniture. Evelyn’s an art major, so she’s in charge of the interior decorating.”

Modesto, as you may know, is the boyhood home of film-maker George (Star Wars) Lucas and served as a backdrop of the early Lucas film, American Graffiti.

Commenting on the Lucas connection, Michael said, “Hey, if George Lucas started here, why can’t I?” Michael and Evelyn’s new address and phone number are: Modesto, CA 95354, (209) ???????.

Horse Stuck in Ditch!

One of Jeannie’s boarding horses, a mare named Zanna, got stuck in a ditch for 44 hours recently and lived to tell about it! Well, not actually tell about it, but she did survive.

It seems Jeannie’s daughter, Tiffany, and her friend Joan were out riding when Joan’s horse, Zanna, was spooked by a cow coming out of the bushes. We all know how scary cows coming out of the bushes can be!

Anyway, Zanna spooked and lost her rider. She then freaked and tried to run home. The problem was that Zanna had never been that far from home before and was surprised when she came upon an especially wide ditch. She tried to jump it, but failed. And then, for the next 44 hours, she wallowed in the mire until one of Jeannie friends, with the aid of his 4×4 truck, pulled her out.

Stay tuned to the t.v. show, “Emergency 911,” for a complete video account of the entire ordeal!

Birthdays, etc.

Monica* Dec. 28

Renée Dec. 28

Jeannie Dec. 31

Rick* Jan. 4

Michael Jan. 18

* New subscriber (whether they like it or not)

Special Mention

John’s mother, Tina Brouns, had a stroke on December 16. She seems to be doing okay, but we certainly wish her our best. Take care, Mrs. Brouns!

Predictions for 1995

Well, Christmas has come and gone. And we hope you had a good one. We hope Santa was good to you. Christmas is great for big dinners and family & friends gatherings, isn’t it? But now it’s time to look forward to the New Year! And in that spirit, we’re making our predictions for 1995 here:

  • California will sink into the ocean … again.
  • Western Civilization as we know it will collapse … again.
  • Bill and Hillary Clinton will be impeached and imprisoned. Unfortunately, some equally sleazy politician and/or couple will take their place … again.
  • Bill Holmes will become a published author and make a million dollars … again.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

by Lionel Holmes

After 6,620 lead-footed miles on the road, Eleanor and I returned Friday, October 21 from our 2½ week cross-country trip from Sacramento to Washington D.C. and back; fighting sandstorms, snakes and tarantulas across the Arizona desert; scumbag lobbyists and legislators in the nation’s capital; blizzards and savage Indians across the Great Plains; and quicksand and coin-eating slot machines in Nevada.

None of which is true, of course, except the 6,620 miles and 2½ weeks. In fact, the only excitement on the whole trip was losing Don in a Mexican restaurant in Nashville. And there was a near-miss with a truck-and-trailer on US60 in Kentucky.

Because of snowstorms over the Sierras and Rockies on departure day, Oct. 4, we headed south on I-5 south to Barstow and east via Flagstaff, AZ; most of the time driving on US40 through New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, ArKansas to Tennessee. Gorgeous scenic travel on the freeways through the latter three states, and great weather all the way.

Got lost in Nashville. Nobody had heard of Ferndale Avenue, Don and Diane’s street, much less Don, Diane or Bill. Pulled off into a rough-looking neighborhood to phone Don for directions, and managed to find their house nestled among million-dollar mansions in a fancy area of the city.

Bill joined us there, and while Diane visited the doctor, Don and Bill toured us through Nashville, which surprised us by its beauty. Truly an attractive city. You think Sacramento is a city of trees? You should see Nashville. In the plush areas the homes are set back from the street by an acre of lawn, and no fences anywhere to mark the property lines.

About losing Don in the Mexican restaurant: It was in downtown Nashville, the sidewalks teeming with a Saturday night crowd making the rounds of the bars and bistros. The crowds, not us. We had parked a couple of blocks away, and after dinner Bill and I went to get the car to pick up the others in front of the restaurant. When the car arrived, Eleanor and Diane were at the corner, but no Don. Bill went looking for Don, then I went looking for Bill and Don. It seems Diane thought Don went with Bill and me; Don thought Diane had gone to the corner for ice cream. Bill looked in the restaurant restroom, where Diane thought maybe Don had been mugged. I found Don and Bill in front of the restaurant waiting for the car to come from around the block, only the car had come around a different block.

Anyway, it was a nice two-day visit in Nashville. We toured Diane’s chiropractic setup in their house, including the basement where Don installed the x-ray machine; heard Don’s latest song, which will be part of a demo tape he’s preparing; met Diane’s three cats, including the one that goes into hiding when visitors appear [Bart]; and visited Bill’s apartment, which was near our motel.

On we went to Washington via the beautiful Great Smoky Mountain and Blue Ridge Mountain Parkways in eastern Tennessee. In quaint Pigeon Forge, we stopped to take a picture of the Rainbow Jamboree Theater of Ava Barber and Dick Dale, who were regulars on the Lawrence Welk Show. Pigeon Forge was as fascinating as its name, and wish we could have seen more of it than possible on a drive-through. All of the business establishments had elaborate Halloween pumpkin-and-scarecrow displays.

In the Washington D.C. area, we stayed in Arlington. We met Charlie Ericksen at his Hispanic Link office, and because it’s impossible to find parking space in Washington, had him keep our car after he dropped us off at the Smithsonian to do the tourist bit. Somewhat disappointing compared with our two previous visits; guess we’re getting jaded in our old age. Charlie was to pick us up at the Smithsonian at 6:15PM, not knowing that the place closed at 4:30. We waited outside, but began to get a bit nervous with no Charlie at 6:15, and darkness slowly approaching. He showed up finally at 6:30 with wife Tana, and we went to dinner somewhere in Washington, driving around and around trying to find some place that had parking. We finally made it. After taking them home, we got momentarily lost trying to find our way to Arlington in the dark.

Next day I had an appointment to see a lady at the Library of Congress who was interested in obtaining a complete collection of my O Progresso newsletter. We had been invited to be her guest at a reception for the Prime Minister of Portugal, but that would have meant another night’s motel bill, so we begged off. [You see one Prime Minister, you’ve seen ’em all.] Would like to have toured the Library with her, but she was busy with other dignitaries from Portugal.

So off we went toward California, via the beautiful Bluegrass and Western Kentucky Parkways. Somewhere on US60 past Paducah is where we had the near-miss with the truck-and-trailer rig. In seeking to avoid a disabled van at the side of the road, big-rig swerved over into our lane. From Eleanor’s perspective in the passenger seat, it seemed like he came within 2 inches of us. But actually it was 2½ inches.

Our next destination was Branson, Missouri, where all the has-been country-western stars have huge theaters, attracting countless busloads of tourists even older than we are. We reached Branson on a Saturday, booked our room, then made a phone reservation for the Lawrence Welk Theater. The show was to start at 8:00PM, and although we left the motel at 6:30 we barely made it in time, traffic being bumper-to-bumper and stop-and-go for all of the only five miles traveled. Saw some of the old Lawrence Welk regulars like the Lennon Sisters, Tom Netherton, Ken Delo, dancers Bobby Burgess and Elaine Baldwin, and tap dancer Arthur Duncan (still nimble in his sixties).

Many of the shows were closed on Sunday, but we did manage to take in Mel Tillis, which was okay. Trouble with all of the shows is that the close-up seats are reserved for the tour groups, and the individuals like us have to sit back where you can barely see the stage. Same with the restaurants. They reserve the window seats for the tour groups.

Leaving Branson, we stopped in Springfield to give the car a tune-up, and found we needed more than that. When we left the Montgomery Ward auto service shop we had new front wheel brakes and new water and fuel pumps. The car work required an overnight stay in Springfield, at the Hampton Inn, best motel on our trip. That’s when the good weather ended. We walked back to Wards in the rain to pick up the car, and for the rest of the way across Missouri it rained, sometimes so hard we could barely see the road. By the time we reached Oklahoma it cleared up, but we had lost our scenery, something the Oklahoma panhandle is short of.

We had picked up the scenery again: spectacular snow-covered mountains in southern Colorado, and unusual eroded shapes of red-rock mesas in Utah. Nothing scenic about Nevada, so at a 70-mph clip we sped on Friday, Oct. 21, via Ely and Fallon to South Tahoe, where we stopped for lunch and lubricated the slot machines with nickels and quarters for an hour or so before heading on to Sacramento and home, of which there is no place like. We picked up our accumulated mail at the post office, had dinner, then slept the night away.

Overall, an enjoyable 17-day trip, averaging 500 miles a day. And costing an average of $117 a day, including food, lodging, gasoline, shows and incidentals. But we won’t do that again soon.

A Day at the Races

by Bill Holmes

The first Saturday in May. What does this date mean to you? Probably nothing, except that Spring has finally arrived, unless you live in California where it’s been Spring already for two months.

But ask any horse racing buff, and he or she will tell you, without hesitation, the first Saturday in May is the day of the Kentucky Derby! Well, this story isn’t about the Kentucky Derby or the first Saturday in May. So settle down. This is about the Breeder’s Cup and the first Saturday in November.

It was on this day that I ventured north from Nashville to Louisville, Kentucky, and Churchill Downs; about an hour and half drive. I had never been to Churchill Downs before, so I followed the map, always a good idea, anyway, and I found the place with no problem.

I’m sorry. Did I say “the place”? I meant to say The Place. You know, the site of the Kentucky Derby since 1875? Twin spires? The first race of the Triple Crown? The Mecca of Horse Racing?

All right. Enough of the melodrama. Fact is, it was just plain cool to be there.

I prowled the neighborhood, looking for a parking lot, but there didn’t seem to be one. So, I ended up paying $10 to park on some guy’s front lawn. The price was high, but it seemed to be the going rate. At least it was just a few yards from the track entrance.

When I got to the gate, they wanted $15. Fifteen dollars just to get in! I said to the gatekeeper, “I just want to get into the infield, not the Clubhouse or anything!” He shrugged and said it was $15 no matter what entrance I took. So I forked over the $15.

As I started downward into the tunnel that takes you under the track and into the infield, a female voice from behind said, “A little steep isn’t it?”

I turned and looked at her as if she was an idiot. It was a slight downgrade, not steep at all. “Huh?” I said.

“Fifteen bucks just to get in,” she said. “It’s a little steep.” And she smiled.

She looked to be somewhere in her mid to late twenties. Thick, long light-brown hair. A little overweight, though it was hard tell with the raincoat and baggy pants she wore. She was fairly pretty, and she seemed to be alone.

“Oh, yeah,” I agreed. “Let’s just hope we can win it back at the windows.”

“Got any hot tips?” she asked.

“Not really,” I shook my head. “You?”

“‘Fraid not,” she pouted.

If I had any hot tips, I wouldn’t have shared them with her, anyway. What good is a hot tip if you go around telling everyone about it? Her boyfriend then came trotting up from behind and, with a quick glower in my direction, whisked her away from me.

“Good luck,” she said over her shoulder as her boyfriend tugged at her to hurry up.

I stopped at the first booth in the infield and bought a program. It cost $2.50, and I suddenly realized I was already down $27.50 and I hadn’t yet placed a bet! Oh well, that’s the price of entertainment. That’s what I told myself, anyway.

In case you don’t know, the Breeder’s Cup consists of seven races. It’s basically the end-of-the-year championship day of thoroughbred horse racing, and it attracts the best horses from all over the world. They offer gobs of money, and that tends to entice the best horses racing has to offer.

Each race has a minimum “purse” of $1 million. The Breeder’s Cup Turf race offers $2 million, and the Classic offers $3 million. The winner doesn’t get all that. They “only” get 60%, with the rest divvied up amongst the next four finishers.

Anyway, on the first race, the Sprint, I put a few bucks down on some horse whose name doesn’t really matter. Ten minutes later, I was tearing up my losing ticket. I skipped the next race, the Juvenile Fillies race, since I’d never heard of any of the horses entered.

The third race was The Mile, and since I had skipped the previous race, I put a little extra on this one. By the end of the race, I was tearing up a couple more losing tickets. It was not a good beginning. And it’s important to get off to a good start in gambling, otherwise you quickly degenerate into desperation. And, as any degenerate, desperate bettor can tell you, desperation is not a good thing.

Following The Mile, came the Distaff, a race strictly for fillies and mares. Again, I lost. [This is getting repetitive, isn’t it?] After the Distaff was the Juvenile (for 2-year-old colts and geldings). The crowd’s betting favorite, the only horse I’d ever heard of, but whose name escapes me now, had odds of 3-5 or something. I figured he’d win, but at 3-5 odds it wasn’t worth it. So I bet on some other horse based on his name and the jockey. I lost again.

By this time, I had lost $60 of my personally-allotted $100 for the day, not counting the above-mentioned initial expenses, and I was getting annoyed. I was paying $4 per beer, Miller Lite, which I generally can’t stand, and $4 for a crappy little cheeseburger that even McDonald’s would be ashamed of. It was time to get down to business.

It was then that I ran into that girl from the tunnel. She was standing about twenty yards from one of the betting windows, watching the replay of the previous race on the big-screen t.v.

“Got any hot tips?” I asked as I approached her.

“Oh, hi,” she said as if surprised to see me, though I knew she wasn’t. I had seen her glancing in my direction, and that’s why I felt comfortable in approaching her. “Well, my boyfriend says Lure is a sure thing,” she offered.

“Lure, huh?” I said. “Yeah, he’s won it the past two years.” I didn’t think much of Lure’s chances this year, but I figured I would let her boyfriend blow his money on him.

Her boyfriend showed up a few seconds later. And, again, he glowered at me before pulling the girl along after him. I hadn’t noticed it the first time I saw him, but this time I saw the words “DAIWA” stenciled into the front of his black baseball cap. Daiwa is a major manufacturer of fishing reels, which explained why he was so “hot” on Lure.

The girl smiled at me over her shoulder, but said nothing as her boyfriend dragged her off. Like a caveman, it seemed to me. I shrugged my shoulders. Some women like cavemen.

Flattered and inspired by this girl’s flirtations, I decided to do something bold. No, it didn’t involve her. What I decided was to just blow the rest of my bankroll on the next race, the Breeder’s Cup Turf, and then simply watch the following and final race as a pure, non-betting fan of the Sport of Kings, i.e., a destitute bum hanging out at the track. Women do tend to inspire me to do stupid things.

There were several quality horses in this race; the above-mentioned Lure amongst them. But they were all quality horses. These were the best horses in the world on grass. The betting favorite, a horse named Missionary Ridge, was giving odds of even money. I didn’t like his name or his odds, but he seemed like a pretty sure bet, and I was sick of losing. So, I figured, why not bet on him? At least I’ll get my money back and have the satisfaction of betting on at least one winner for the day. I put $20 to win on him.

With the remaining $20 of my “bankroll” I played a couple of hunches. That girl’s boyfriend was betting on Lure at least in part because he liked fishing. Well, I like hockey. And also entered in this race was a horse named Tikkanen, presumably named after the hockey star, Esse Tikkanen. He appeared to be a good horse, on paper anyway. His last race was a win in a major grass stakes race. And he was giving 16-1 odds. Never again would I get such good odds on such a good horse, so I put $10 on his nose. The other $10, I put on some foreign horse who had won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, France’s biggest race, earlier in the year.

Well, guess what? My hunch bet, Tikkanen, won and I collected $160! With one bet, I had just paid for all prior expenses and lost bets, and then some. I was jazzed, but I was careful not to show it. There are people who hang out at racetracks looking for big winners to mug in the bathroom or parking lot. A hundred and sixty bucks is not exactly “big money,” but they (these imaginary muggers) didn’t know I had only bet $10. For all they knew, I’d bet $1,000 and would be collecting $16,000. You can never be too careful when they are watching. I sort of hoped I would run into that girl again, just so I could gloat and make her boyfriend look stupid. But I didn’t see her.

For the seventh and final race, the Breeder’s Cup Classic, I decided to follow the same thinking I had followed on the previous race. I put $20 to win on my “intellectually-calculated best bet.” And then, on another hunch, I put $5 to win on a horse called Concern. I don’t know what it was about this horse Concern that told me to bet on him. His name just sort of stuck out in my mind for some reason.

And yes, you guessed it. Concern won and paid $40! I was a happy camper all of a sudden. Again, I looked around for that girl, but she was nowhere to be seen. She was probably huddled with her boyfriend somewhere commiserating over their losses.

As I drove home to Nashville, I stopped for gas at a Chevron station somewhere in Kentucky. In Kentucky they have Lotto and Power Ball. Feeling lucky, I spent $5 on a “quick-pick” Power Ball ticket. The jackpot at the time was $10 million. Small by Lotto standards, but still, I could always use $10 million.

And, guess what? I didn’t win. Oh well. At least I was still $150 ahead of the game, all told. Plus, I had fun, and had spent a day at Churchill Downs, the Mecca of horse racing.

I wonder whatever happened to that girl.

Murder? Or Just An Honest Mistake?

by Bill Holmes

The following story is rated PG. You figure it out.

Madison Ripley Smith was sitting at his desk with his feet propped up when she walked in. Long legs, hourglass shape, luxurious jet-black hair, and matching jet-black eyes.

“What’s with the black eyes,” Smith asked.

“Oh! Is my mascara running again?” And she dabbed at the black splotches.

Then the phone rang. After the third ring, Smith shouted, “Where’s that damned receptionist?!”

“There was no receptionist when I walked in,” the long-legged woman said.

“That would explain why you just walked in unannounced, then.”

“Yes, that would explain it.”

Meanwhile, the phone was still ringing.

“Aren’t you going to answer it?” the black-eyed woman asked.

“No,” Smith said bitterly. “That’s why I hired a receptionist. I guess now I’ll have to fire her. Too bad, too. I was starting to like, uh, what’s-her-name. Wanna be my new receptionist?”

“No,” she said. “I want to be your new client.”


“Yes, client. You know, I give you money, tell you what I need, and you go out and do it?” she spoke slowly and deliberately. “A client.”

“I know what a client is, lady. What’s your husband’s name?”

“What does that matter?”

“Let’s just say I like to know who I’m getting mixed up with.”

“My name is Amalia Maria Rodriguez Sanchez Delgado, wife of Juan Carlos Julia Delgado,” she answered proudly. “And I have a problem.”

“I guess so,” Smith replied. “With a name like that, it must take forever to sign your name.”

She ignored the comment. “I have a case that needs to be solved.”

“A case?”

“Yes, a case. You know …”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Smith snapped.

“Well?” she asked. “Do you want the case, or not?”

“Sure, I want the case.”

Of course I want the case, he thought. I need the money. Besides, I wouldn’t mind seeing this woman’s face on a regular basis. Women and money have been pretty scarce lately.

“What are you thinking?” Mrs. Delgado asked, not liking the looks flashing across Smith’s face.

“What kind of case is it?” he growled, playing the part of the tough-as-nails private dick.

“My husband’s been murdered.”

“Murdered?!” Smith was worried now. He tried to stay away from murder cases. “Why don’t you go to the police?”

“I did,” she said. “They think it was suicide, but I don’t believe them. It was murder.”

“What makes you say that?”

“He was shot through the heart with a bow and arrow.”

“That is suspicious,” he agreed.

“And I won’t be satisfied,” she continued, “until you find the woman who killed my husband.”

“Woman? How do you know it was a woman?”

Amalia Maria Rodriguez Sanchez Delgado looked Madison Ripley Smith in the eye and nodded sagely. “A woman knows these things. So, will you take the case?”

“Yeah, I’ll take it,” he tried to sound reluctant. “My rate is $200 a day, plus expenses.”

Mrs. Delgado tossed a stack of bills onto his desk. Smith counted it.

“Thirteen dollars?” he asked.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, “wrong stack.”

She plopped down another stack of bills. Again, Smith counted it. This stack was nothing but 50’s and 100’s.

“Nine hundred,” he said, again trying to sound casual, even though he could not recall the last time he held that much money in his hand. “This’ll do … for now.”

With a triumphant pout, if that’s possible, Mrs. Delgado nodded and sashayed her way out the door. Smith’s eyes escorted her out.

Later that day, as Smith was looking for clues at the bottom of his desk drawer, he got a call. He was forced to answer it himself since his receptionist still hadn’t shown up. It was a wrong number. The caller mumbled “Rosebud” into the phone before Smith slammed it down in disgust. He wished his receptionist would come back. He didn’t have time to be talking to every whacko who called.

His thoughts then wandered to Mrs. Delgado. What kind of a man had Mr. Delgado been? And why did Mrs. Delgado kill him?

“Why did you say that?” he asked himself aloud. There was no one else in the room, and he could think more clearly aloud.

“She’s the grieving widow, remember?” he answered himself.

“Is she?”

“Of course she is. After all, she’s the one who hired you to find his murderer.”

“Is she?”

“Oh, shut up.”

It was then that he realized he was Cracking up. Not only was he talking to himself, he was having complete conversations.

Several hours later, the phone rang again. It was Mrs. Delgado. She wanted to know how the murder investigation was coming along.

“I’m laying the ground work now,” Smith said as he rolled a semi-hard gob of rubber cement along the top of his desk until it formed into neat little ball. “Don’t expect too much for another few days,” he warned. “These things take time.”

When Mrs. Delgado hung up, Smith picked up the sticky rubber-cement ball and threw it against the wall. It stuck.

“Who am I fooling?” he asked himself. “I don’t have the slightest idea how to handle a case like this.”

The only reason he had taken it was because Mrs. Delgado was so damned beautiful. He was such a sap. He would have sucked his thumb and walked like a monkey if she told him to. He knew that. She knew that. And he hated himself for it.

“God, you’re stupid!” he scolded himself. “Never fall in love with a client! You only get what you deserve!”

Forcing his face into an expression of hard-bitten nonchalance, a look he’d picked up from Robert Mitchum movies and practiced for hours in front of the mirror, Smith grabbed his jacket and left the office.

Walking down the street, he kept the hard-bitten nonchalant look on his face. Robert Mitchum would have been proud. His father would have been proud, too; assuming he had a father. Well, of course, he had a father. Everybody had a father. It was just that Smith had yet to find any proof that he did. He knew he wouldn’t rest until he found that proof. But that was another case. Right now, he had this Delgado thing to figure out.

He strolled down the street, Mrs. Delgado ever-present on his mind. An image of her on a brass bed with her wrists tied to the headboard was the most compelling image. But that would have to wait. Right now he had to find her husband’s murderer.

As he walked down the street, he realized it might be better to use the sidewalk. On the sidewalk, he tripped over a small dog, sending it yelping off into the distance. It brought a smile to his face. That dog looked a lot like the one he used to trip over as a kid.

But he steeled himself against such sentimental thoughts and concentrated on Mrs. Delgado. A couple of blocks down the street he realized he would probably reach her house more quickly if he drove. So, he turned around and headed back to his car.

Turning the key, the engine roared to life before settling to a smooth purr. After all these years, it still ran like a dream. “Good old American know-how,” he said as he patted the steering wheel.

He pulled out into the street in the wrong direction. Without checking for traffic, he made a U-turn. The unsuspecting driver of the car behind him swerved and crashed into a telephone pole. The phone lines snapped and the pole collapsed into the street, barely missing Smith’s car. Smith was oblivious.

When he arrived at the gated Delgado Estate, Smith was surprised to find Mrs. Delgado at the front gate waiting for him. Wearing only a nightgown, she stood clutching the iron bars from inside the property. She reminded him of a scene from one of his favorite movies, “Biker Chicks Behind Bars,” except that Mrs. Delgado didn’t have as many tattoos.

“Hello Señor Smith,” she replied provocatively. Everything she did was provocative.

“Hello, Mrs. Delgado,” Smith replied. “What are you doing out here in your underwear?”

“It’s a nightgown. And I’m waiting for you, Señor Smith.”

“Well, how did you know I’d be showing up?”

She smiled just a hint of a smile. “A woman knows these things, Señor Smith.” And she did that knowing nod again. “May I call you Madison, or perhaps, Ripley?”

“Call me anything you want, Mrs. Delgado.”

“Please, call me ‘honey,” she purred.

“… uh, yeah, okay … honey … my friends call me M.R.”

“Ooh, initials! I like that in a man. It makes you sound very important, eh, M.R.?”

“Sure, I guess so, Mrs… uh, honey. Are you sure you want me to call you ‘honey’?”

“Yes, please. My husband used to call me that.”

“I’m sure he did,” he said, thinking to himself, I wonder if I get to do anything else your husband did.

“Honey” Delgado opened the gate with the push of a button and slid into the car seat beside Smith. It was a short ride up to the house. As they approached the top of the circular driveway and the valet awaiting their arrival, Mrs. Delgado stuffed her hand into Smith’s pants pocket.

On reflex, Smith’s foot slammed down on the accelerator. The valet scattered out of the way, and Smith and Honey circled the driveway at top speed until finally coming to a screeching stop at the now-closed front gate.

Panic-stricken and breathing heavily, Smith panted, “I really wish you wouldn’t do that, Mrs. Delgado… Not while I’m driving, anyway.”

Mrs. Delgado let out a throaty laugh. “I like you, Señor M.R.”

“I like you, too, Mrs. Delgado. But you could have caused an accident.”

“Oh? Do you have a problem with that?” And she squeezed him to let him know what she meant.

“Huh?” Smith looked at her stupidly. “Oh, no, no. Nothing like that.”

It took Smith a moment to regain his composure. Once he did, with Mrs. Delgado’s hand still in his pocket, he put his arm around her and moved to kiss her.

She slapped him away. “I’m not that kind of woman, Señor M.R.” And she pulled her hand out of his pocket.

[To be continued (just as soon as I can figure out where to go next with this story)]

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 6 no 6

Coyote Breath

Vol. 6 No. 6, October 26, 1994

Don rides to Denver

In August, Don rode his motorcycle from Nashville to Denver. He wouldn’t say why or what he did while in Denver. All we know is that he returned to Nashville a week later, but only stopped for a quick chiropractic adjustment before continuing south to Florida.

“I want to be there when the boat people arrive,” he shouted over his shoulder as his rear tire flung gravel in this reporter’s face. Luckily, this reporter was wearing safety goggles, as usual.

[Okay, so that bit about his going to Florida was a complete fabrication. A lie, if you will. We’ve got to stop doing that. All a newspaper/newsletter has, really, is its credibility. If you lose that you’ve lost everything. Of course, this newsletter never had any credibility. Never had it, never will. But, still …]

Actually, by the time Don returned to Nashville his wife Diane’s parents were in town, and Don and Diane spent the next few days entertaining them. When they ran out of strange and unusual things with which to keep the parents entertained, they brought Bill over as a sort of curio.

If you’ve never met Diane’s parents, Bill and Ann Debs, you should go visit them. Right now. Drop whatever you’re doing and drive on up to Kingston, New York. They live in Buffalo, but if you drive to Kingston they’ll meet you there.

Lucy goes to Canada

Not to be outdone by Don, Lucy and a friend [whose name escapes us] packed up a few dogs and drove from Livingston, CA to Vancouver, B.C., Canada in their constant search for a dog show blue ribbon. “The drive up there was nice,” said Lucy. “We passed through Seattle. Now that’s a beautiful city. I wouldn’t mind living there …”

Yeah, yeah, but what about the dog show? we asked. On this subject, Lucy was a little more reluctant to talk, if you can believe it. Finally, she blurted it out.

“The judge hated us!” she barked (no pun intended). “He hated us, our dogs, and the bus we rode in on! He hated our dogs so much, he spat on them! Can you believe that? I think he did, anyway. He might’ve just been drooling. He was a weird guy.”

“Elnli” travel east

Well, it seems everyone was driving long distances over the summer. And that includes Lionel and Eleanor Holmes, collectively known as “Elnli” because of their personalized license plates. They drove from Sacramento, CA, to Washington, D.C., via Nashville, TN.

First on their list of “to do’s” while in Nashville, of course, was to visit and pay homage to this newsletter’s world famous headquarters. They stopped by, looked around a bit, glanced at their watches, and said: “Well, time to go.”

From Nashville, they drove north along the Appalachian Trail to witness yet another, slightly less famous spectacle, the Fall Foliage. The turnaround point of their long drive was Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital, where Mr. Holmes presented the Library of Congress with all the past issues of his Portuguese-American newsletter, O Progresso.

No kidding! The Library of Congress asked for the entire collection, and Mr. Holmes drove all the way across the country to deliver it personally! [We didn’t have the heart to tell him that FedEx would have been faster, cheaper and easier.] But anyway, we here at this newsletter are very happy for him. Heck, we’re just plain excited in general, for we know that now it’s just a matter of time before the Library of Congress asks us for the entire collection of this newsletter! The FBI already has the entire collection, of course, but it wasn’t exactly an “honor” when they asked for it.

Aileen goes dancing

The following article appeared recently in the Orange County edition of the Los Angeles Times:

“… At least she and her best friend, Aileen, also a junior at FVHS [Fountain Valley High School], can count on one free show a week somewhere. In the warmer months, there are three or more. They usually happen after school, on weekend afternoons and less frequently on a Friday evening … [blah, blah, blah]

“Aileen, 15, usually learns about such shows from college radio. A poet and bassist, she believes more clubs should take a chance with all-age shows, providing they’re strict with drinking laws.

“‘We’d be more open-minded about music,’ she says about her fellow high-schoolers. ‘The media tell us what’s in. But we should be able to decide for ourselves. There are local bands that will never get airplay. We should have the option of knowing about these bands so we can decide for ourselves.'”

[picture missing (lucky for her)]

See? She’s dancing. So what if you can’t recognize her in the picture?

Doug Visits Portugal (and Açores)

His itinerary was as follows:

  • 16 Sept. (Fri.) – Sacramento to Lisboa (a.k.a. Lisbon), Portugal (Flight at 7:10am)
  • 17 Sept. (Sat) – Arrive in Lisboa at 9:50am. Spend Sat. to Tuesday seeing cousins in Lisboa & Cartaxo
  • 21 Sept. (Wed) – Drive to Northern Portugal. Stay Wednesday night in the north and return to Lisboa by Thurs. evening.
  • 23 Sept. (Fri.) – Lisboa to Terceira (Flight at 1:20pm) Stay at Jose Leal Armas’ place in Angra. Visit known cousins and find new ones from Rocha & Gonçalves Leonardo lines. Do research in archive and take lots of video of each village for future Ancestor Village videos. make photo copies of valuable books at library. Get many maps.
  • 30 Sept. (Fri.) – Terceira to Pico (Flight at 2:40pm) meet Teresa in Angra and fly with her to Pico. [Who is this “Teresa” person? That’s what we want to know.] Rent car there and stay in São Roque & Lajes do Pico on Friday thru Tuesday while trying to find cousins in Piedade & São Roque areas. Revisit Jose Leal da Rosa in Piedade. Contact the priests of these villages to look through church vital records to bring me up-to-date. Video tape every village on Pico for the Ancestor Village videos.
  • Faial: Take the Ferry from Magdalena to Horta on Wednesday afternoon and stay there until Friday. make contacts with the Horta Archive staff and do more research in the Passport Record Books. Try to arrange the purchase of microfilms. If there is time, drive around the island and videotape as much as possible.
  • 7 Oct. (Fri.) – Horta to Ponta Delgada (Flight at 4:20pm) Fly to São Miguel Island and arrange transportation to the scenic places on Saturday morning. must see the Furnhas. Locate the Archive if there is time.
  • 8 Oct. (Sat) – Ponta Delgada to Funchal (Flight at 2:35pm) Fly to madeira and stay in Funchal. Go to Arco de São Jorge to visit cousins and see the sights. Try to help Teresa research her Ancestry there. Visit the Archive there on monday before flying to Lisboa.
  • 10 Oct. (mon.) – Funchal to Lisboa (Flight at 6:00pm) Fly to Lisboa and box up everything for flight. Say good-byes.
  • 11 Oct. (Tues.) – Lisboa to NYC (JFK) (Flight at 11am) Arrive at JFK at 1:30pm with Teresa. Take cab to nearby motel somewhere to leave all our junk. Contact Carole, Dora & Adele and arrange to meet. Try to meet Diane Oliver and Ron Roel, if possible. See the usual sights of manhattan. Travel by train to get around.
  • 13 Oct. (Thur) – NYC (JFK) to Sacramento (Flight at 3:30pm) Send Teresa off to San Francisco and I fly home to Sacramento. Arrange for someone to meet me at the airport (maybe Flavia or Steve).
  • 13 Oct. (Thur) – Arrive in Sacramento at 10:05pm (Flight #1667)

Doug Returns from Portugal (and the Açores)

“I really had a good time,” said Doug upon his arrival in Sacramento. “I even learned the language a little more and was able to understand a few things.”

“How many languages do you speak now?” we asked.

“Oh ten or twelve,” Doug replied. “I’ve lost track. I can’t say I can actually talk to anyone yet, but I suppose my combination of Spanish and Portuguese is useful enough to get me around. Still, my Hungarian is way better than my Portuguese.”

“You have a Hungarian and a Portuguese? Where do you keep them?!”

“Huh?” he looked confused for a minute. “Well, anyway, you probably already know that I will be teaching a free Portuguese genealogy class at the LDS [Latter Day Saints/Mormon Church] soon.”

“Now I see where you get your bigamist tendencies.”

“What are you talking about!?” Doug shouted, looking genuinely distressed.

“Nothing. Never mind. You were saying?”

“So anyway, I had a few more people write me letters expressing their interest so I have about 8 or 9 people for it now. I have enough raw material with me to keep me busy for a solid month on my Portuguese genealogy, if I had the time! One family I met on my trip is from Piedade, Pico, where our Leal da Roza ancestry is from. He is the one that moved to Chile and married there before moving to Angra, Terceira. Well, this family had lived in Toronto for many years and his two high school-aged daughters were born there. His father was also using the surname of Leal da Rosa (the old spelling was Roza) but he decided to drop the Leal because he already has a middle name and it would be too long.”

“What?” we asked. “I thought they liked them long. The longer the better. You know, like Maria Gonzales Geraldo Conchita de la Guadalajara. Or something.”

“That’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. In fact, it almost sounds racist! Are you a racist?”

“How can I be a racist? It’s my ancestry, too, that we’re talking about here, you know.”

“Well, actually …” Doug paused.

“What?” we asked.

“No. Nothing. I promised.”

“You promised what?”

“I’ll tell you later,” said Doug. [To find out what Doug promised, see Broken Promise, A Family Saga, page 5.]

“So, where were we? Oh yeah, I haven’t checked yet, but this guy …”

“The da Rosa guy.”

“Yeah. He’s a 5th cousin or so. I suppose I could find any person in Piedade and trace their ancestry to find we connect to them. In fact, I found that Denise Silva’s [Steve’s wife] Silva ancestry came from Piedade before moving to Angra, Terceira. This is a new discovery. So, Denise may be a cousin. I’ll determine this in the next few months, I suppose.”

“Are you saying Steve married his cousin?! I thought they only did that in East Tennessee.”

“I’m not saying that,” Doug shot back. “I just said it’s possible.”

He then continued on unabated, as usual. “Another cousin I met, Teresa, is the daughter of one of José Leal Armas’s kids. She’s 12 or 13, and she was such a nice little girl. Her mother was in Germany at the time, so she was staying with her grandpa (Armas) where I was staying. She really likes heavy metal music and The Doors. Her birthday is on the 28th of this month (October), so I plan to buy her a CD, probably Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run.’ I think she’ll like it.”

“Wait a minute,” we interrupted. “You just said she was a heavy metal and a Doors fan, right?”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, if she’s a Doors fan why are you buying her a Bruce Springsteen CD?”

Doug ignored the question and changed the subject. “It’s really funny to see the effect that American music has on the whole of Europe. I really had to crack up when I heard Portuguese-language ‘rap’ music! I can imagine the comments if I could get a local DJ to play it in the U.S.!”

“Maybe Mike [Doug’s and this reporter’s “deejay” nephew] will play it?” we suggested.

“Yeah!” said Doug. “Let’s get Mikey!”

“Naaah. On second thought, he won’t play it. He hates Portuguese rap. He specifically told me that once.”

[picture missing]

Above is that wacky crew of mystery Science Theater 3000. From left to right, “Tom Servo” a.k.a “the gumball machine”; Joel; and “Crow” a.k.a “the jai-alai guy.” This is basically what Jinx and Jan of Los Angeles drew for us several months ago (the one we lost).

Grumpy Guy Sounds Off

How about this Pepsi and Coke gimmick of “freshness dating” their sodas? Is that a joke or what? Everyone knows that stuff has a half-life of 3,000 years! Freshness dating, my eye!

And how about this pop music group, “The Spin Doctors”? Every one of their songs sounds the same! And they’re as obnoxious as the breed of political hacks they took their name from!

The opinions expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the newsletter, its staff, or even the person stating the opinion.

Dog show judge spitting on one of Lucy’s dogs

Airplane Crashes Into White House!

Did you hear about this? What a story! From what we’ve been able to gather, several weeks ago a small airplane flew over the White House, then over The mall, then turned around and aimed right at the White House. As it cruised toward the White House, witnesses heard no plane noise because the pilot had shut his engine off. (It’s fairly obvious he was attempting a kamikaze dive on the White House.)

What is slightly strange is that an explosion was heard just before the plane crashed, but there was no fire after it hit the ground. It’s also been reported that White House security guards have shoulder-mounted missile launchers available for their use. [Which is no big deal, really. Our reporters have those.] We figure the security guards blasted the plane out of the sky with one of their missile launchers. Of course, the White House would never admit to that. They’re quoted, in fact, as saying that they did not fire upon the airplane. We don’t believe it. And isn’t it curious that the president and his family just “happened to be” staying across the street because of “construction work being done” in the White House?

Gee whiz, you think maybe somebody was trying to kill the president? We say yes. You be the judge!

Broken Promise, A Family Saga

(Excerpted from an extensive and exhaustive interview between Doug and this reporter, who shall remain anonymous for the sake of anonymity.) In the previous episode, Doug and this reporter were discussing their joint heritage:

“Well, actually …” Doug was saying.

“What?” this reporter asked.

“No. Nothing. I promised.”

“You promised what?”

“I promised never to tell. Everyone did.”

“Everyone who? What the hell are you talking about?”

“Well, you might as well know,” Doug finally gave in. “You’re old enough now to know the truth. A little emotionally unstable maybe, but still …”

“And what truth is that?”

“You were adopted.”

“Hyaa, right!” [Hyaa (huh-yaa) adv., as in “ha” and “yeah” combined. The sarcastic or unbelieving version of “yeah.”]

“No, it’s true,” Doug replied. “It’s a long story, but … well, here goes. When Dad and Mom lived in New York, they met and befriended this band of gypsies. Gypsies were pretty common back then in upstate New York. Anyway, Dad and Mom fed these gypsies during the winter and let them sleep out on the back porch.

“Things were fine for a while. But eventually Dad just got sick of those gypsies hanging around all the time. You know, playing those weird musical instruments all gypsies have; singing those irritating songs all gypsies sing. You know how gypsies are.

“So, anyway, Dad put in a request with his boss to be transferred to the firm’s branch office in Brazil. Of course, they didn’t have a branch office in Brazil, but his boss said okay anyway and Dad, Mom and the two kids moved to Brazil. The whole thing was just an excuse to get away from those damned gypsies!

“It worked, too, until Dad moved the family back to the States a few years later. He thought he was being smart by moving to California this time so there would still be three thousand miles between him and the gypsies. But, well, you know how gypsies are. They have their little network of spies, and it wasn’t long before they found the family again.

“By the time they found us, though, there were six kids, with me being the last legitimate one, of course. It was about a year and a half after that, with the gypsies hanging around that whole time, that they, the gypsies, suddenly just disappeared. Gone. Poof. Never to be seen again. But then, who could blame them after what they did just before disappearing?”

“What did they do?” this reporter asked, hanging on every word.

Doug snickered. “They left behind a little ‘memento.'”

“A memento? What’s so terrible about leaving a memento …” this reporter paused as the realization hit him. “That ‘memento’ was …”

“You!” Doug finished the sentence.

This reporter sat there a moment in disbelief.

“That’s right, buddy boy,” Doug started to gloat. “On the morning of November 2, 1960, Dad almost stepped on you on his way out of the house for work. You were on the front porch, all swaddled up in Indian blankets, turning blue from the cold, the same color you’re turning now, actually …”

“Wait! That can’t be right!” this reporter protested. “I was born November first, not the second! You’ve got it all wrong! And ‘Indian blankets’? I thought you said they were gypsies. What are they doing with Indian blankets?”

“Hey, it was California. Indian blankets are a dime a dozen. And as to the date,” Doug continued, “well, yes, you were born on November 1. It’s just that Dad didn’t find you until the next morning.”

“Which would’ve been the 2nd. Point well taken.”

“Those rotten gypsies had left you on the porch all night. You’re lucky you didn’t die!”

This reporter then struck a thoughtful pose and said, “So I’m adopted, huh?”

“Well, not really adopted, actually. Not officially, anyway.”

“But I have a social security number.”

“Pfft,” Doug scoffed. “Those too, my friend, are a dime a dozen. Didn’t you watch ’60 minutes’ a few weeks ago. They had a story about false papers …”

“I’ve got to find out who my real parents are.”

“Why?” Doug asked. “They were just a bunch of gypsies. They probably don’t even know who’s responsible.”

“But, I’ve got to know! I’ve just got to know!”

Stay tuned for the next installment of: Broken Promise, A Family Saga (This Reporter’s Desperate Search)

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 6 no 5

Behind the Eight Ball

Who is that behind the eight ball, anyway?

Vol. 6 No. 5, August 21, 1994

Jeannie Breaks Hand

Jeannie, a DMV employee in Tracy, CA, broke her hand after falling off her bicycle on the way to work recently. [The DMV doesn’t allow its workers to drive cars.] Luckily, she was wearing her helmet. If not for that, she might have broken her other hand.

How did it happen? “I was trying to outrun a cop,” she explained between gasps for breath. [This reporter just happened to be there for the interview.] “He clocked me doing 35 in a 25 m.p.h. zone. And I just about got away. But I crashed when you [this reporter] jumped out in front of me!”

[Update: The cast is off Jeannie’s hand now, and the lawsuit against this newsletter is “proceeding nicely.”]

Credence Achieves “Schutzhund III”

There was a “giant” Schutzhund (protection dog) trial and Rottweiler dog show in Modesto and Hayward, CA, over the 4th of July weekend. It was so big it had to be held in two towns. “Well, it was just too hot in Modesto for the Schutzhund trial,” said a woman identifying herself only as “Lucy,” of Livingston, CA.

Anyway, Credence, a Rottweiler owned by this “Lucy” person, finally — finally! — achieved that long-sought-after training level known as Schutzhund III. “Now she can retire to a life of luxury,” Lucy explained further, even though we didn’t ask her to. Before we could stop her, Lucy then went on to tell us all about her other dogs.

Belinda, a “German bitch” she co-owns, passed her “ZTP Test.” (The ZTP, is an acronym for the German phrase “zatz tempen p¼chen,” or “temperament and family values test.” It’s given to anyone caring to be tested, though it’s usually given to dogs.) After the ZTP test, Lucy started getting calls from people all over the country, though she wouldn’t explain why.

Since we’re talking about Lucy’s dogs already, we might as well also mention that “Feisty” (the “ugly one”) won the Best Male Puppy competition.

“Thunder,” Feisty’s prettier brother, placed fourth. [It’s good to see that looks don’t count for everything.]

Holmes family connected to royalty?

It’s true, according to noted Sacramento (CA) genealogist, Doug Holmes. “If you trace it back far enough,” Doug explained in a telephone interview, “the Holmes family, of which the editor of this newsletter is unfortunately a member, is related either by blood or by marriage to every royal family in Europe!”

Every royal family? we asked. “Every royal family,” Doug repeated.

Okay, we countered, but if you trace pretty much any family back far enough, couldn’t they say the same thing?

“Not at all,” said Doug.

Surely there must be thousands of families who can make this same claim?

“I said ‘not at all,’ didn’t I?” Doug shot back angrily.

Okay, okay. But what we wanted to know was: Is there any money, crown jewels, or maybe a castle in it for any of these descendants?

“I doubt it,” Doug replied reluctantly. “But …”

It was too late. The interview was over. If there’s no money in it, we’re not interested. [Try and remember that the next time you call us with a news story.]


by Eric McGovern

© Copyright 1994

It was a warm, humid night, as are most nights of August in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It was ten p.m. and, as I loaded my fishing gear into my truck and looked up at the full moon, I was getting anxious to fish. I started up the truck, drove about three miles, and turned down a dark dirt road that dead-ended. I had to drive kind of slow as some of the roads in Bay St. Louis weren’t the best, particularly some of the dirt roads, and this was one of them.

The road ended at the base of a large patch of woods. I grabbed my gear and began walking. I hadn’t been to this spot in a few months and I was really glad I’d brought my machete with me, as the briars and poison ivy had gotten out of hand again. And if you’ve never tried walking through woods that are overgrown with briars and poison ivy, I have some advice for you … Don’t try it!

It was about a ten minute walk to the lake, which isn’t far when you take into consideration that only a handful of people ever fished this particular lake, and the fishing was pretty darn good. As the lake came into view, I could I could hardly wait to get started. Piney Lake, as I called it, wasn’t very big—about ten acres—but it was quiet, secluded, and full of fish. I was ready.

I set my small ice chest and tackle box down. I opened up the ice chest and took out a small brown paper bag containing my bait. I have used all sorts of bait for catfishing, from chicken livers to live Earthworms, but tonight I was using dead shrimp, which I consider prime catfish bait. I took one of my rods, and rigged it up with a cork, having decided to try topwater first. I baited my hook and cast out about forty feet.

It was a beautiful night. The full moon gave me plenty of light, so I didn’t need to bring a lantern with me. There was no breeze whatsoever, and the lake was as smooth as glass. You could cut the thick, humid air with a knife, and I pulled a bandanna out of my pocket to wipe the beads of sweat from my forehead. I heard a buzzing sound which sounded like a small plane overhead, but of course I knew it was just the overgrown mosquitoes that had zeroed in on me and were ready for a feast, which I was in no mood to give them. I quickly opened my tackle box and grabbed my Deep Woods Off, and covered myself in a fog of the stuff. The mosquitoes took off and I got back to fishing.

It had just been about three minutes since I had made my cast and I was just about to set my pole down so I could get myself a nice cold beer when the fish struck so hard it nearly yanked the rod out of my hands! “Yeah! Instant action!” I yelled as I tried to turn the fish towards me. He didn’t seem to want to cooperate. As he continued to strip line from my reel, I realized I had hooked a “really big” one. Two minutes went by and the fish continued to slowly, but consistently, take line. I wondered if I would be able to turn him before he stripped my reel clean.

Of the many times I had fished here, I had caught many cats, mostly channel and a few yellow mud. The biggest channel cat I ever caught here was a nine-pounder. This was definitely a channel cat, but he was considerably large than nine pounds. I was using a bait casting reel rigged with seventeen pound test Berkeley Big Game line and a stiff graphite rod, and had never had a whisker fish give me this much trouble before.

I only had about fifteen feet of line left when I finally turned the big cat towards me. I had to work him slowly to avoid breaking my line. I had to be careful because there was a lot of structure in this lake, mostly submerged trees and stumps, and I didn’t want him wrapping around anything and breaking off. I got about three quarters of my line back when the big fish made another run, nearly stripping me again before I regained control.

I could feel the old catfish wearing down and I was glad because I didn’t want to lose this whopper. But it wasn’t over yet. There was a submerged pine tree about ten feet offshore and three feet to the left of me and I had a feeling that this fish was going to make one final attempt to get away.

I continued to reel the fish in when suddenly I got my first look at him. I got a lump in my throat when I saw the dinosaur of a catfish. He was about four feet long and must have weighed about sixty pounds! The biggest catfish I had ever caught was thirty pounds, and now I was nervous. “Please don’t let me lose this fish,” I thought to myself as he made one final run.

Just as I thought he would, that catfish headed right into the submerged pine tree. “Get outta there!” I yelled as I tugged on my rod with all my might. Now, I don’t know if someone was watching over me on this particular night, or what, but I somehow managed to work that crusty old codger out of the branches of the submerged tree and I pulled him up onto the bank of the lake. It was hard for me to believe that there was even a catfish this big in this lake, let alone that I had caught him.

I could see his battle scars from where he had been hooked before. He had two rusted hooks in his right upper lip, one in his left lower lip, and a beat-up old crank bait hooked into his dorsal fin, which is something I had never seen before, and knew I never would again. He also had some old wounds that were probably caused by a gar, as well as several large leeches keeping him company.

I didn’t know how old this guy was, but I knew he’d been around for a long time. I knew this old channel cat had gotten away from other anglers, and he put up such a battle that even though I knew I may never catch a fish like this again, I had to let him go. I removed the old hooks from his lips, as well as the old crank bait from his back.

“Take it easy, gramps!” I said as I guided the old sucker back into the water. I felt good watching him swim off. “He’d have been too tough to eat, anyway,” I said to myself as I re-baited my hook to try my luck again.

Letters to the Editor

We really enjoy your newsletter … keep them coming! — Hal & Del, Alameda, CA

[Thank you. Now, we’d like to point out something about our editor. We were going through his personal papers recently, gathering information for routine blackmailing, when we came upon something interesting: It seems he had a “cumulative” grade point average of 2.74 in high school, and was ranked 306th out of the 486 students in his class. In his final year, he received a “D” in Journalism and a “C” in Creative Writing. That pretty much sums up this newsletter, don’t you think?]


(All “genuine and certified.” Collected by teachers from students from 8th grade to college level. Found somewhere and contributed by Lionel Holmes, Editor Emeritus.)

  • “The 19th Century was a time of many great inventions and thoughts. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up; Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men1; Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis; and Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.
  • The First World War, caused by the assignation of the Arch-Duck by a surf, ushered in a new error in the anals of history.”

1 For those, like our staff, who don’t know who Cyrus McCormick was, he was the inventor of the reaper.

[Wouldn’t you know it? After we put out a newsletter called “Fish Stories,” Eric sends us an actual fish story that same day! It was too late to include it in that last issue. Better late than never. Thanks, Eric!]


Q: How many “Star Trek” crew members does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Six. Scotty to get on the intercom when the light goes out and say, “I canna do it, Cap’n! I’m not a miracle worker!”; Spock to tell Kirk he is “proceeding illogically”; McCoy to say “Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor not an electrician!”; Kirk to screw it in; and two red-shirt security men to die in the process.

Q: How many “baby boomers” does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Ten. Four to talk about how great it is that they’ve all come together to do this; one to screw it in; one to videotape it; one to stick his Cotton Dockers butt in front of the camera; one to plan a marketing strategy; one to reminisce about mass naked bulb screw-ins in the ’60s; and one to play classic rock.

Q. How many blondes does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. One. She stands on the ladder and waits for the world to revolve around her.

Q. How many fundamentalist Christians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A. They can’t. The Bible doesn’t say anything about light bulbs.

Q: How many civil servants does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Two. One to assure everyone that everything possible is being done, while the other screws the bulb into the water faucet.

Q: How many gun control advocates does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: They don’t do that; they pass laws against burned-out bulbs, and then wonder why it’s still so dark.

Steven Wright Jokes …

[We hope we don’t get sued for reprinting them]

  • I once worked in a factory that makes fire hydrants. It was an OK job, but you couldn’t park anywhere near the place.
  • I have a very large collection of sea shells. Maybe you’ve seen it … I keep it scattered over the beaches all over the world.
  • I have a decaffeinated coffee table. You’d never know it to look at it.
  • I named my dog “Stay.” Now when I call him it’s: “Come here, Stay. Come here, Stay.”
  • I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day, because I know it will be up all night.
  • When I was seven, my parents moved to Texas. When I was nine, I found them.
  • I got a new apartment a while back. On the wall is this light switch that didn’t turn anything on. Everyday, I came home and flicked it on and off. Six months later, I get a letter from a lady in Belgium that says, “Cut it out.”
  • There was a power outage at a department store yesterday. Twenty people were trapped on the escalators.
  • If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?
  • I like to pick up hitchhikers and say things like … “Sooo, how far did you think you were going anyway?” and “Put your seat belt on. I want to try something. I saw it in a cartoon once, but I think I can do it.”
  • When I was a child we had a quick-sand box in the backyard. I was an only child … eventually …


this week we’ve got our spotlight on …


  • Clothing: In a climate that is warm and sunny throughout the year, clothing really isn’t all that necessary. For a night out, however, dinner jackets and light cotton evening dresses are fashionable, while pants are optional. “Bajan’s” prefer colorful light casual garments. TRAVEL ADVISORY: Badly-dressed people, like the ones above, have, on occasion, been shot.
  • Documents: U.S. citizens require a valid passport (but no one else does).
  • Accommodations: There are over 150 hotels, inns, self-catering apartments, guest houses, and a good selection of furnished villas and cottages. But if you can find an abandoned car to sleep in, it’s cheaper.
  • Topography: At 13.4 degrees north and 59.37 degrees west (bring your sextant), Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean Islands. Because of this, it is first to stand against the Atlantic Ocean swells that
  • crash dramatically against the northern and eastern coastlines. Just a short distance away in the “lee” of the island, the western and southern coasts host calm, gentle waters.
  • Beaches: Barbados offers over 70 square miles of beaches ranging from delicate pink sand to the purest white. Exhilarating waves on one side of the island, or quietly lapping waters on the other.
  • Sightseeing: See Beaches, above.
  • Diving: Excellent.
  • Duty Free Shopping: Liquor, bone china, crystal, watches, cameras, binoculars, jewelry, and perfumes are all good buys.

Wouldn’t it be great if … ?

  • … you could get any television station in the world so you could have a more realistic idea of what’s going on, and not be limited by what our national networks deem appropriate?
  • … there were a few stations in the world worth watching?
  • … more intelligent and honest reporting was done by this country’s national media, rather than simply regurgitating official White House press releases, as they do now?
  • … the media didn’t cow-tow to the government and take seriously its manufactured “crises” like “health care” and “assault weapons”?
  • … we didn’t have a socialist president (and her husband)?
  • … t.v. reporters didn’t use the same tone of voice most adults reserve for children?

How To Make You’re Own Soap


  • 1 lb. lard
  • 4 tbsp. Red Devil lye
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • Add Lye to cold water in a mason jar or Pyrex container (reaction is exothermic … will give off heat!) Set jar in water bath at approx. 95°F to cool. Melt lard in a glass container in an oven set to approx. 150°. Set this in same 95°F water bath to cool. Once lye and lard are at 95°F, slowly pour lye water into lard, stirring constantly. The mixture will remain liquid for some time. Stir at least 30 minutes to ensure a complete reaction. Once it starts to thicken slightly, pour into a saran-wrap lined mold (bread pan is fine.) Cover and place somewhere warm to set. In 24-48 hours remove the soap from the mold and cut into bars.
  • Stack bars loosely on a plate to cure for 2 weeks before using!

An excerpt from “Internet” …

Area # 20 alt.alien.vis 07-28-94 06:28 Message # 7708

Subj: Re: UFO detectors?????

… another possibility would be magnetic reed switches. They close a circuit when exposed to a magnetic field (say an alien craft landing nearby) and could be hooked up to a siren. There was a guy in Modesto, CA who bought some reed switches for this very purpose from the electronic shop I work at. (He also said he was building some kind of anti-gravity device, so that brought down his credibility a bit.)

Whatever happened to … Atlee Hammaker

(This one’s for Mike)

For those of you asking yourself “who is Atlee Hammaker?”: He was once a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. He even went to the All-Star Game early in his Major League career. It went downhill from there, and he eventually earned the reputation as a loser. Now he’s in Nashville pitching for the Sounds, a Chicago White Sox minor league farm team. According to a recent Tennessean news article, he “has hopes of being on the White Sox expanded roster in September,” just so long as there isn’t a strike.

So, there you have it: the first good argument anyone has yet come up with in favor of the baseball strike.

Tennessee Drivers

by Bill Holmes

Car and Driver magazine had it right when they said Nashville drivers were the worst in the country. They’re easily the worst drivers I’ve ever come across; and I’ve driven all over the country. Did you know driver training is not required in Tennessee? Really! It’s not required.

And, if you’ll pardon the expression, they use their cars as an extension of their manhood. (For the women, it’s a substitute.) They love to tailgate, which makes me think they’re all a bunch of closet homosexuals. They like to infringe on your “space” as much as possible. If you pull into one of those center turning lanes, invariably the first car coming from the opposite direction will move to the left-most side of their lane, just to make their presence felt.

When entering traffic from a side street, they like to pull out in front of you. They’re not reckless about this (most of the time). They know you’ll be able to stop in time (even if it means you and everyone and everything in your car will come flying toward your windshield). Most good drivers try and gauge the speed of oncoming cars before deciding it’s safe, and considerate, to pull out into traffic. Not the Tennessean. They have no concept of “right of way.” As far as they’re concerned, they always have the right of way.

And if they’re not pulling out in front of you, they still feel somehow obligated to get half a car-length past the line before stopping for a red light or stop sign. So if you’re on the cross street and about to go through the intersection, you wonder if the idiot is going to stop or just plow into you.

I’ve wondered why it is that they’re such jerks when behind the wheel, because they’re generally so pleasant in person. (You know, that old “Southern hospitality” thang.) And I’ve come to the conclusion that driving is the Southerner’s way of venting frustrations that have built up during the course of their non-driving day. Southerners uphold — with all their might — a polite public veneer until they can’t stand it any more. And that’s when they seek the anonymity and protection of their cars and they go out and terrorize the driving public. It’s cathartic for them.

Well, that’s enough ranting and raving … for now.

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 6 no 4

Fish Stories

Best when lightly buttered, with just a pinch of lemon.

Vol. 6 No. 4

[sometime between April and August 1994]

Tiffany wins awards

Tiffany and her horse, Rocky, of Tracy, CA, competed in a local horse show a couple of months ago. [See how current this newsletter is?] The duo ended up winning a couple of blue ribbons and a few other ribbons. Anyway, congratulations Tiffany!

This just in: Tiffany buys another horse! It’s a quarter-horse mare and its name is “Chu Ti,” or something like that. A Chinese horse, apparently. Or maybe its name is “QT,” as in “cutie.” We really don’t know, and we’re sure as heck not going to actually find out. That’s not our job. Our job is to report the news as we see fit. It’s incumbent upon our readers to figure out what it all means!

Bill Buys Topper

We asked Bill, “What is a topper, anyway?”

“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I just had to buy one, though.”

We did a little research and found out that a “topper” in Tennessee is what they call a “camper shell” out West.

“It’s great!” Bill added, once we told him what a topper was. “Now I’ll have a place to sleep when I lose my job and get kicked out of my apartment!”

“When you lose your job?”

“Oh, it’s inevitable, isn’t it? I wonder if this topper comes with electricity?”

Another recent purchase Bill made was a Huffy 10-speed mountain bike. “It only cost $100 at Target!” said Bill excitedly (but then, he’s easily excitable, as you know).

Doug Gives Speech

Doug flew to Salt Lake City in mid-May to speak in front of a mostly-live audience on the subject of genealogy. “It went fairly well,” said Doug, “but it wasn’t exactly standing-room-only. Still, I think my audience came out of that auditorium feeling better about themselves!”

Steve & Denise Buy Dog

Steve and Denise have bought a dog. Yes, a dog, believe it or not. “The only reason I agreed,” says Steve, “was that the idea came up to get a miniature dachshund like Kristen’s [their daughter] cousin’s. We thus got Freida, a reddish female.”

[So, was it because it was a Dachshund, or was it because his daughter wanted a dog just like her cousin’s? We just don’t understand his reasoning! Not that we ever understand our readers’ reasoning. After all, if they were sane, they wouldn’t be reading this newsletter in the first place.]

“Freida” was 8 weeks old when they bought her and was therefore old enough to get her shots. “To the vet’s surprise,” says Steve, “Freida didn’t yelp when she got her shot.” Steve did yelp, of course.

Diane Buys X-Ray Machine

Diane, Don and Bill drove from Nashville to Chicago last month to pick up an x-ray machine for Diane’s burgeoning chiropractic practice. The three left Nashville on a Friday evening and, after several hours of driving, spent the night somewhere near Indianapolis. By eleven the next morning, with Don doing all the driving, they arrived in the northern Chicago suburb of Northbrook.

“Chicago’s a disgusting town,” opined Don. “It’s like L.A. without the beach.”

Expecting to simply to pick up the x-ray machine, load it, and maybe take in a few of Chicago’s many sights before leaving town, they were all disgusted (well, Bill was disgusted, anyway) to find that the machine was “not quite ready” for loading. It had yet to be dismantled. It took five hours of intensive manual labor to rectify this minor discrepancy.

Before breaking it down for shipping, however, Diane wanted to run a couple of test x-rays on Bill. “Why me?” Bill cried (literally).

“Because you’re the biggest person here, and it’s best if we test it on as big a person as possible,” Diane explained. “Now shut up and hold perfectly still.”

After test x-rays of Bill’s lower back were taken, Bill complained, “Hey, we forgot to use the ‘gonad shield!’ [a lead plate designed to protect one’s privates from harmful radiation]”

“Oh, you never use yours, anyway,” said Diane. [Now you know how mean Diane can be sometimes!]

Anyway, after finally getting the machine loaded into the trailer, Don and Diane took turns driving all night and they arrived in Nashville by sunrise. As of this writing, the evil, cursed machine lies in pieces on the floor of the room Don built specially for it.

Winner: Most Culturally-Sensitive Math Question

  • If Rufus is pimping three hookers at $65 per trick, how many tricks must be turned each day to pay for Rufus’s $800-a-day coke habit?
    • Answer: Insufficient data, unless the hookers are giving Rufus the entire $65, which is unlikely.

We were going to do a story on “Attention Deficit Disorder” here, but we got distracted.

Cat News

Diane and Don’s cats have been getting into all kinds of trouble lately, and we would be remiss if we didn’t tell you all about it.

Conan (a.k.a. “Master of All He Surveys”), the top cat of the household — actually, the top cat in the entire world, as Conan sees it — regularly gets into fights with the neighborhood tomcat. You already know that from past stories here (assuming you actually read these stories, which is, admittedly, assuming a lot). There’s really no reason to mention Conan in this story, except that he would be insulted if we didn’t. So there. We mentioned him.

Onto the real story: Bart (a.k.a. “Barton Bartles Bartlett Bartholomew Bartell de Bartolo III, Prince of Many Realms, Idol of Millions” … or something like that) had a lump on his shoulder. Bill noticed it when he was still living there, and he mentioned it to Diane. But did she listen? Of course not. Diane’s the doctor. Bill knows nothing, especially when it comes to cats! Anyway, that lump kept getting bigger and bigger until Diane was forced to take Bart to the vet.

It turns out the lump was a malignant tumor and it had to be removed. They had to shave a two-square-inch clump of Bart’s world-renowned fur — which made Bart furious, image-conscious as he is, you know. Luckily, that was the worst of it. The vet removed the cancer successfully and Bart is free to live his normal, stupid cat existence. End of story. Happy endings are nice, aren’t they?

Then, just a few weeks later, DOS (a.k.a. “Dinko,” canned-food lover) came home with a sore hind foot. No big deal, right? Wrong! Don and Diane went to North Carolina the following weekend, and, upon returning found that DOS’s hind leg had swelled up immeasurably! (Well, not really “immeasurably,” since they could have measured it if they wanted to. But, well, you get the idea.)

Anyway, the next thing you know, they’re taking little DOS (a.k.a. “brainless one”) to the vet. The vet said that DOS had been in a fight, presumably with the neighborhood tomcat. (DOS has been hanging out with his older, tougher brother Conan too much, apparently.)

DOS is still limping around, but it appears that he will recover eventually. Physically, anyway. “He’s been moping around a lot lately,” says Diane; to which Don replied, “Well, you would be, too, if you were attacked and almost eaten by a tomcat!” Don and Diane then got into a huge argument over what it would be like to be eaten by a tomcat.

Conspiracy Corner

Excerpt from “EFFector Online” 07.08

Ever Feel Like You’re Being Watched? You Will …

  • Digital Media has learned that the Clinton administration is debating not if, but how, to create a card, a so-called “U.S. Card,” that every American will need in order to interact with any federal government agency. The card could open a window on every nuance of American personal and business life.
  • Clinton is also considering signing two executive orders that would greatly expand the government’s access to personal records, including an order that would allow the IRS to monitor individual bank accounts and automatically collect taxes based on the results, said sources close to the White House. The collection service will be presented as a “convenient” way to avoid filling out a tax return. The White House did not respond to requests for comments about this report.
  • In a slide presentation at a recent conference on the subject, U.S. Postal Service representative Chuck Chamberlain outlined how an individual’s U.S. Card would be automatically connected with the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Treasury, the IRS, the banking system, and a central database of digital signatures for use in authenticating electronic mail and transactions.
  • The U.S. Card is only a proposal, Chamberlain insists. Yet the Postal Service is prepared to put more than a hundred million of the cards in citizens’ pockets within months of administration approval, he said. Chamberlain added that the IRS, in particular, is pursuing plans for an identity card for taxpayers.
  • “There won’t be anything you do in business that won’t be collected and analyzed by the government,” said William Murray, an information system security consultant to Deloitte & Touche who saw Chamberlain’s presentation. “This [National Information Infrastructure] is a better surveillance mechanism than [1984 author George] Orwell or the government could have imagined. This thing is so pervasive and the propensity to connect to it is so great that it’s unstoppable.”

Steve Picks Nose, Fight!

Violence in our schools has apparently spread from the students to the teachers. Steve , a mild-mannered math teacher at Rio Linda Jr. High School in Sacramento, CA, recently had an altercation with a fellow teacher named Danny [redacted]. Mr. [redacted] runs Rio Linda’s “Opportunity School” (basically, a reform school on campus).

What happened was, Steve was trying to call a student’s parents from the school lounge when [redacted] interrupted him by shouting that the vice-principal said Steve had said something about him. [You follow?] Still yelling, [redacted] added that if Steve had anything to say, he should say it to his face.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Steve replied.

When [redacted] repeated the question twice, Steve gave the same answer each time. He then ignored the obnoxious jackass, er, [redacted], and tried again to make his phone call. Enraged by Steve’s brush-off, [redacted] shouted, “Did you hear me?”

Steve continued to ignore him, and [redacted] kicked Steve’s chair. “He was obviously trying to start a fight,” Steve said later. [Exciting, huh? To set the record straight, Steve had never said anything about [redacted], behind his back or otherwise.]

This was not the first time [redacted] had tried to start something with Steve. The prior incident occurred the previous October when [redacted] told Steve that one of Steve’s female students was going to Mexico for a relative’s funeral. [redacted], who claims to speak Spanish, said he would be accompanying the girl as an “interpreter.” [Yeah, right. More like he wanted a free trip to Mexico.]

[redacted] wanted to know what textbook the girl could take in order to keep up with her studies. Steve said he wasn’t using a textbook — the school didn’t have enough of the pre-algebra texts he planned to follow — but a book [redacted] could use was available in the library.

Soon thereafter, [redacted] had Steve called into the vice-principal’s office. (The vice-principal just happens to be a friend of [redacted].) The vice-principal was told that Steve was “insensitive” for not providing him with the student’s schoolwork as he had asked. The vice-principal said that [redacted] was a “hot personalitied” person, and he dismissed the whole thing. Steve followed up the meeting with a letter to [redacted] explaining the entire matter. [redacted] never replied.

What is funny about this whole thing [Yes, there is something funny about this.] is that Steve’s wife, Denise, used to date [redacted] in high school, and she says he used to get into trouble back then, too. But that’s not all. It just so happens that the last teacher who wanted to fight Steve [Yes, these are teachers! And yes, Steve is apparently always getting into fights.] was a man named Dan [redacted], whom Denise had also dated before she met Steve.

* * *

You decide. Is it some sort of conspiracy by Denise’s old boyfriends to get Steve? Or is it just a talent Steve has for seeking out guys named Dan and irritating them? We think it’s probably a combination of the two. Our advice to Steve is that, for the sake of prolonging this situation and, thus, providing this newsletter with a continuing soap opera, he should sic a couple of his old girlfriends on Denise, and let the fur fly! That’s our humble advice.

Birthdays, etc.

  • John, July 2
  • Andy, July 3
  • Fourth of July, July 4

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 6 no 3

The Obtuse Moose

Vol. 6, No. 3, April 21, 1994

Jeannie finds dog

Jeannie and John have a ranch in Tracy, California. To help pay the bills, they board a few horses. One of those horses, a fat old gray Arabian mare, had been particularly irritable recently. She would swish her tale in agitation whenever someone tried to saddle her, for instance, and was just being “bitchy,” in general. Like a lot of fat old gray mares.

“Maybe she’s pregnant,” said John, noticing her large belly.

“No,” said Jeannie. “She’s just getting fat. We probably don’t ride her enough.”

Feeding the horses one morning, Jeannie was surprised to find a Great Dane in the stall with the old mare. What the … ? Jeannie wondered.

Moving closer, Jeannie realized it was not a Great Dane, but a newborn filly! Some time before breakfast, the old gray mare had given birth!

“I told you she was pregnant,” said John upon hearing the news.

They called the vet, who came by and declared both mare and filly perfectly healthy. The mare was fifty pounds underweight, he said, but otherwise just fine. Who would have thought natural birth could occur without the aid of modern medicine?

“So, if you know anyone who wants a newborn Arabian filly,” says Jeannie, “have them call me.”

The moral of the story? This story has no moral. What do you think this is, a children’s story?

Doug delays trip

Doug has had to delay his trip to Portugal for mysterious reasons. Remember, in the last newsletter we said he was going to Portugal? Well, he never went. Once he does go, however, the following is a brief itinerary:

“I will fly to Lisbon and meet our cousins there, and I plan to see the northern part where there are snow-capped mountains where it borders Spain. That’ll be for about one week. Then I go to Terçeira Island for about 10 days and then Pico Island for a week. I will then go to Madeira Island (not

part of the Azores) a couple days, which is off the coast of Africa. We have cousins there, too, who are from Terçeira originally. My plan at this time is to leave … and return … . But I haven’t purchased tickets yet and the flights may be filled, so the dates are not set.”

[The above use of ellipses (those three dots in a row) was done to illustrate a point. We wanted to show how ellipses can be used to make the person being quoted look foolish. The point being, never trust the news media. Of course, we here at The Obtuse Moose would never stoop so low — further proof that this is probably the only semi-regular publication you can trust. Scary, isn’t it?]

Bill moves, takes second job

Bill has his own place now. His new address is White Bridge Road, Nashville, TN 37209. The phone number is (615) xxx-xxxx. It’s a one-bedroom apartment in between the ritzy Belle Meade and the dumpy West Nashville neighborhoods.

The second job mentioned above is in the capacity of “desktop publishing operator” at a service bureau or “pre-press” on Nashville’s Music Row. He is hanging onto his temporary desktop publisher position at Third National Bank, as well. “I’ll be putting in some 12-hour days here and there,” said Bill. “But that’s all right. I have nothing else to do.”

This came at a time when Bill was discouraged enough by the Nashville job market (or, more accurately, anyone’s willingness to hire him) that he was thinking of moving back out West somewhere to look for work. Luckily for Bill and the entire Western United States, he will be staying in Nashville.

[This just in: Bill has apparently quit that second job. Will he be moving again? See “Interview with Bill,” page 4.]

Dad turns 75!

Lionel Holmes of Sacramento, CA, reached the three-quarters of a century mark on April 2. “I don’t feel 75,” he says, “but I guess I am.”

Congratulations, Dad!

Greg Holmes of Santa Ana, CA, Dad’s #1 son, turned 46 on April 20. “I don’t feel 46,” says Greg, “but I guess I am.”

You can tell they’re related, huh?

Interview with Leonard Specht

  • LS: Is this the newsletter editor?
  • Moose: Who wants to know?
  • LS: This is your Uncle Leonard.
  • Moose: Oh, hey! How ya doin’?
  • LS: Fine, thanks. I’m just calling to get your current address.
  • Moose: Why? You’re not a skip tracer, are you?
  • LS: No! Can’t a guy just call his nephew?
  • Moose: Sorry.
  • [A few pleasantries were then exchanged before the real interview began.]
  • LS: I just wanted you to know I think your newsletter is great. Keep up the good work.
  • Moose: Thanks! Of course, we think it’s probably the best newsletter in existence. But it’s always nice to hear someone else say it.
  • LS: I never said it was the best newsletter in existence.
  • Moose: Oh, well, I’m sure that’s what you meant.
  • LS: Actually, no. I was just being kind. It’s really not all that great, to be honest.
  • Moose: Oh, well …
  • [A long pause ensued before anyone spoke (which is normal for long pauses, isn’t it?).]
  • LS: So, how do you like your new place?
  • Moose: Well, I’m staying with my brother Don right now …
  • [This interview was conducted about a month before Bill moved into his own apartment.]
  • LS: Do you know what your mother used to call Don?
  • Moose: Well, yeah. But we try not to use words like that in the newsletter.
  • LS: Huh? Well, I don’t know about that. But I do know she used to call him “Donika” when he was a little boy.
  • Moose: Really? I didn’t know that.
  • LS: I’m not surprised.
  • Moose: So, what have you been up to?
  • LS: Well, in May my wife, Betty, and I took Amtrak from San Antonio to New York City, then the L.I.R.R. to Woodbury, Long Island, where we stayed with relatives. Then, we attended my grandson Cory’s graduation from Syracuse University.
  • Moose: Syracuse … What sort of name is that, originally? Greek? Indian?
  • LS: Who cares? Anyway, this coming May we’re going to Europe.
  • Moose: Taking Amtrak again?
  • LS: No. We’ll by flying to Austria. From there, we’ll go to Germany and Switzerland, and maybe, if we have time, Hungary.
  • Moose: Oh yeah? Doug’s been to Hungary, and he’s going to Portugal soon. Maybe you’ll run into him.
  • LS: I hope not!
  • Moose: That Doug’s a real Hungarofile, isn’t he?
  • LS: A what?
  • Moose: A Hungarofile. You know, someone who’s into all things Hungarian.
  • LS: If you say so.
  • Moose: So, when’s your next video coming out? Your “Baking With Lenny” was a classic.
  • LS: I haven’t done any videos since that one. It’s a hard act to follow, you know? But I still bake bread.
  • Moose: Do you? Can you maybe send us a loaf or two? It’s been weeks since anyone here at the newsletter has had a square meal.
  • LS: No. Look, I’ve gotta go.
  • Moose: Well, hey, call any time!
  • LS: Why?

Right here was supposed to be a beautiful depiction of that cable tv show “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” One of our more artistically inclined readers sent it to us. We scanned it into a computer and threw away the original. A couple of days later we accidentally deleted the computer-scanned picture. So, instead of a great work of art, all you see here is this stupid explanation.

Letters to the Editor

“I’ve been reading your newsletter over the years, and I’m confused about something. This guy Doug has been traveling to Portugal on a fairly regular basis. I thought he was President of the Hungarian-American Friendship Society. What the heck’s he doing going to Portugal to see “cousins”? Is he Hungarian or is he Portuguese?! I want to know, and I want to know now!” — Joe Dimbulbsky, Muskeegee, Indiana

Joe: All we really know about Doug is that he’s always up to something, and with this newsletter being hard-up for news most of the time, we’ve always got room for a story about him. By the way, who the heck are you, anyway? You’re not on our mailing list.

“Just wanted you to know I really liked your last newsletter. I liked both of the stories, especially ‘Dinko Goes Shopping.’ You’re a genius!” — Lucy, Livingston, CA

[Okay, so we added that last sentence. But Lucy’s actual comments were similar to those coming from several of our readers after that last issue. And for that, we’re very grateful.]

“We feel very privileged to be included on the mailing list of your very informative newsletter. Although we are not part of the family, I think it should be noted that Bill (a.k.a. ‘Editor’) moved to Tennessee without giving one lousy passing thought to leaving us here in L.A. without a friend. Now, that so-called family cannot be all that important when you keep in mind that when we placed our very first phone call and asked for Bill, his ‘brother’ responded by saying, ‘Bill who?’ (Quote not taken out of context).

“But we are trying to muddle through and the newsletter manages to still keep us somewhat joined at the hip. Thanks. — Jinx and Jan, Westchester, CA (a.k.a. The Gumball Machine and the Jai Alai Guy)

Jinx and Jan: “The Gumball Machine and the Jai Alai Guy”? We believe their names are “Tom Servo” and “Crow,” respectively; or maybe vice versa, we’re not sure. And you say we “left you without a friend”? Ha! [You readers out there should know that Jinx and Jan have about 3,000 friends, so they’re hardly “without friends.”]

That aside, we appreciate the “musical instruments” you sent along with your letter. How did you know we were forming a newsletter band? But then, I guess when you live in Nashville you pretty much have to start a band, eh? As soon as we’ve mastered all the instruments [kazoo, nose flute, slide whistle, and ocarina], we’ll be recording an album.

People Actually Said This?

Personnel expert Robert Half calls it “resumania” — a name for the funny, perplexing and bizarre bloopers that appear on job candidates’ résumés. Half has been compiling a list of goofy résumé notations for more than 40 years. Some of his favorites include:

  • “Extensive background in public accounting. I can also stand on my head.”
  • “Thank you for your consideration. Hope to hear from you shorty.”
  • “I am a rabid typist.”
  • “Here are my qualifications for you to overlook.”
  • “Please disregard the attached resume; it’s terribly out of date.”
  • “Reverences supplied upon bequest.”
  • “My experience packing sausage uniquely qualifies me as a product taster.”
  • “Willing to do anything to get this job.”
  • “Only applying so I can tell the Unemployment people I’m looking for work. Please don’t call me.”
  • “Used to work for the Post Office. If you hire me, I’ll kill you.”

Interview with Bill

  • Obtuse: So, how do you like your new job?
  • Bill: Oh, I quit that job.
  • Moose: You quit?! But you just started!
  • Bill: Well, actually, I was there a month.
  • Obtuse: A whole month? Oh, well that’s different then. That’s almost like a career.
  • Bill: That’s how I feel about it.
  • Moose: So, why’d you quit?
  • Bill: The job was not what I thought it would be. It was no fun, the boss was a jerk, the hours were long, and the pay was nothing special.
  • Obtuse: Sounds like 99% of the jobs out there.
  • Bill: Yeah, but this was a second job, you see. And I decided that I really didn’t need a second job, you know? I mean, I’m not supporting a wife and kids or anything.
  • Moose: So, you’ve still got that job at the bank?
  • Bill: Yeah, for now.


Slide Whistle

Don’t hum, just blow, and fantasize … . Can be habit forming.


Requires some humming ability.

Humanatone (Nose Flute)

Hold it firmly between the thumb and forefinger of either hand. Press firmly against nose and mouth. Keep the mouth well open, and always press the humanatone against the nose and mouth so that — this is important — there will be no opening at the corner of the mouth or any other point of contact between the nose, mouth, and humanatone. Failure to follow these directions to the letter may have embarrassing results. Blow through the nostrils only.


The name comes from the Italian diminutive for “goose,” sliding down from the Latin roots for bird and aviary. Hard to play, too. It requires some talent and coordination.

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 6 no 2

Falling Down a Manhole
(can be quite painful and should be avoided)
Vol. 6, No. 2, March 1, 1994

Michael moves!

Michael has moved out of his mother, Lucy’s, house. “It’s the first time I’ve been able to afford it,” he says. “Believe me, it would’ve happened sooner if it could have been helped.”

Sharing a house with three friends now, Michael’s new address and phone number are Turlock, CA 95380, (209) ???????. He gave us this information reluctantly.

“I’m only giving you this,” he explained, “because I owe you one for that time you saved my life. Otherwise, you’d be the last person I’d ever let have my phone number, let alone my address.”

Lucy had this to say about her son’s departure: “I’m so happy. Now I can sing and dance and walk around the house in silly hats if I want to; not that I would ever do that sort of thing, of course.”

Ice storm hits Tennessee!

An ice storm hit Tennessee February 9 and 10. The accumulation of ice uprooted hundreds — possibly thousands — of trees and snapped — oh, I don’t know — maybe millions of branches. These, in turn, landed on power lines and knocked out power all over the middle portion of the state (which is Tennessee, in case you skipped the headline). Electricity was out (meaning no heat!) for 2½ days and three bone-chilling nights at the Holmes residence in Nashville.

“It was awful,” said Diane.

“It was worse than awful,” said Don. “It was terrible! No, it was horrific! No, dire. No … apocalyptic! Yeah, that’s what it was. It was apocalyptic!”

“I don’t know,” said Bill with a shrug. “I kinda liked not having any electricity, roughing it, living off the land. It was quite exhilarating.”

For those of you wondering what an ice storm is, it’s basically normal rain, but it freezes once it lands on whatever it’s going to land on, making for the worst possible driving conditions, not to mention (even though we just did) the other problems it causes.

Doug off to Portugal again

Doug’s going to Portugal in mid-March “for about one month.” This makes it his fifth trip to Europe in as many years! Must be nice to be young and rich.

How did he get so rich? Well, he’s not, really, but his business, Doug’s Mugs, brings in a steady income. He’s been in Sacramento’s Arden Fair Mall for a couple of years now, and is looking into expanding to Yuba City (north of Sacramento) and Modesto (south of Sacramento) — two really “happening” towns. About the Modesto mall, he says, “We’ll do it for May and June, at least, and then see if it’s worth it for Christmas.”

Michael written up

Michael (yes, the same guy as the one in our top story) had an article written about him and a fellow disc jockey in that fine newspaper, The Turlock Journal. We’ve reprinted it below (without permission, of course). The article came out in December, and we’re just now receiving it through our “crack” news sources.

And now for something really different …

By Darla Welles

The Turlock Journal

Getting a little tired of the traditional Christmas tunes? Heard just about enough about chestnuts roasting and silver bells ringing and figgy pudding? [figgy pudding?] Well, twist that tuner to 91.9 on the FM dial Friday and lend an ear to some very nontraditional sounds of Christmas. That’s when a pair of zany [bet you didn’t know Michael was — zany’] disc jockeys on Cal State-Stanislaus’ radio station, KCSS, put out their own slightly twisted version of musical holiday cheer.

There’s Michael , who in his respectable daytime persona is a graphic designer, but who emerges on the airwaves as “Mr. Happy.” When he talks radio station business, he becomes that alter ego. And there’s his sidekick from Sacramento, who broaDCasts as “The Dry Heaver,” and won’t allow his real name to be revealed.

Together they’ve scrounged up a collection of some of the most peculiar bits of music and comedy routines ever to hit the holiday entertainment market. “We scour the record bins all year long to get ready for this show,” says Mr. Happy. “We look for the bizarre. We don’t get into the well-known things like the barking dogs’ — Jingle Bells.’ We try to go for the things that you won’t hear anywhere else.”

Giving a quick listen to excerpts from last Christmas Eve’s show, which the pair call the “Unusual Christmas Show,” demonstrates their success in ferreting out the little-known and off-beat. Oh, some of the tunes may be familiar. But their renditions are definitely oddball.

Consider “The Little Drummer Boy” pounded out to a heavy-metal beat or played on instruments that might be used in India. And the Madonna to be found on this show bears no relation to the one that sat by the side of a manger in a stable those many years ago. [What?]

The original cast members of the western TV series “Bonanza” can be heard harmonizing on a tune called “Merry Christmas, Neighbors.” There are tunes from such diverse entertainers as The Monkees, The Osmonds, popular [unlike the Monkees and Osmonds] rock groups, rappers, singer-comedian Danny Thomas, and even a number by actor Cary Grant.

One song reports that “Santa’s gonna leave the White House a lump of coal.” [he-he, that’s a good one (not)] Also on the play list are such titles as “Praying For A Cheaper Christmas,” “There Ain’t No Sanity Claus,” “Burn Down The Malls” and “Buy War Toys for Christmas.” It’s the kind of quirky collection that makes a tune like “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” seem like a classic example of logic and good taste. [What, are you saying it isn’t?]

By way of explanation, Mr. Happy says, “The Dry Heaver has been doing the show for five years and I’ve been with it for three. It started in response to all the big Christmas specials on TV: the Bob Hope Christmas Special, the Bing Crosby Christmas Special. We were just fed up with that bland approach to the holiday celebrations. So we pulled together a generous dose of satire and cynicism and started our own collection. We’re always on the lookout for little nuggets to add to the show. And each year we add a few of the highlights — or maybe I should say lowlights — that we find during the year. We go for the most depraved, nonconformist stuff we can find, and instead of just playing it at home in our living rooms, we share it with our listeners.”

A Little Bit of History

This week’s subject is Folsom, California …

[For those of you saying to yourself, “Who cares about the history of Folsom?” maybe we should explain that our illustrious editor and his somewhat less illustrious siblings were raised in Folsom. For those of you still saying to yourself, “Who cares about the history of Folsom?” all we can say is give us something better to write about!]

In 1852, the Sacramento Valley Railroad, which was the first chartered railroad west of the Rockies, was incorporated. Theodore Judah from New York was hired to lay out a rail route between Negro Bar (on the American River) and Marysville. [“Theodore Judah,” by the way, was the name of the grade school Doug and Bill Holmes attended for 1st and 2nd grade, if that helps to make this more interesting.] In 1855, Captain Joseph Libby Folsom assumed the presidency of the SVRR, but died just three weeks before construction of the railroad began. In February 1856, the first train from Sacramento pulled into Folsom. Eventually, the railroad became the oldest link in the western line of Southern Pacific.

Pony Express mail was carried for one year [only one year?] from July 1, 1860 to June 30, 1861 between St. Joseph, Missouri and the Wells Fargo building in Folsom. By 1861, freight and mail stages from St. Joseph were coming to Folsom to connect with the railroad.

Mormon Island [probably settled by Mormons, eh?] was the earliest settlement in the Folsom area. This mining camp had a population of more than 2,500 by 1855. Mormon Island was located north of present-day Folsom, near the old stage route along Green Valley Road.

After the Sacramento Valley Railroad came to Negro Bar [politically incorrect terminology], Mormon Island began to decline. The town was all but gone by 1880. The area then was home to many ranchers and farmers until 1955. That year, the cemetery was relocated to higher ground, and the rising waters of the new Folsom Lake buried Mormon Island.

How to size clothing

CHEST: Men’s—Take measurement up under the arms and around chest. Women’s—Measure at the fullest part of the bust.

SLEEVES: Measure from the base of the neck, across shoulder, down arm to slightly bent elbow and up to wrist.

WAIST: Measure at the narrowest part. [Assuming there is one.]

HIPS: Measure at fullest point, standing with feet together.

INSEAM: Measure from the crotch to bottom of cuff along inside pant seam. [It’s more fun if you have someone of the opposite sex do this for you.]

Dog News

[Warning: For those of you completely sick of hearing about dogs in this newsletter, we recommend that you skip this article, if you haven’t already done so.]

Lucy sells puppies

“Three down, one to go,” says Lucy. Two puppies were sent to Texas (Lubbock and Amarillo), and the other one was sent to Elk Grove, CA, just south of Sacramento.

The names of the two remaining puppies are: Feisty (the one Lucy’s keeping), Faraway Thunder (just “Thunder,” for short). the one sent to Elk Grove was name Firestorm. Says Lucy, “I love the name — Firestorm,’ but I’ve already got a dog named Stormy, so I had to sell her. Her nickname could have been — Fire,’ I suppose, but that would have caused problems whenever I called her, you see.”

Puppies get tattoos

Lucy and the two puppies remaining at home got drunk one night and went down to the local tattoo parlor. “It was totally up to the puppies as to what sort of tattoo they got,” Lucy explained. “Thunder got one of a battleship and Feisty got one that said — Born To Kill.'” We asked what sort of tattoo Lucy got, but she said it was none of our “damn business.”

Lucy to judge Vegas dog “match”

Lucy will be traveling to Las Vegas soon (probably will already have gone and come back by the time this newsletter goes out) to judge a dog “match.” We say, “match” as opposed to “dog show” because … well, because Lucy told us to. “There is a difference,” she stated emphatically, though she refused to explain what that difference is. And since she is the Western Regional Director of the U.S. Rottweiler Club (pretty fancy title, huh?), we’ll just have to take her word for it.

Coyotes can’t jump

Remember the movie “White Men Can’t Jump”? Well, the sequel is now out and it’s called “Coyotes Can’t Jump.”

Actually, it’s Lucy’s dog “Coyote” that we’re talking about. And the sad truth is that she’s just getting too old and can no longer jump fences like she used to. Neither can Coyote.

“I found her one day crying at the foot of the fence,” Lucy explains. “It was truly sad. She wanted to jump the fence so bad. She just couldn’t. So I picked her up and threw her over the fence.”

Current weights of two dogs

Feisty: 15 lbs.

Thunder: 15 lbs.

Actual classified ad (found in recent Nashville Tennessean)

FREE—Persian, to good home. 4 yr. old female Himalayan or 36 yr. old husband. House not big enough for both. Cat loves children and is litter trained. Kids give my husband a headache, but he’s basically housebroken. Cat is registered, husband is Heinz 57.

This Dream I Had

by Bill Holmes

I was wandering around this huge maze-like nightclub looking for my date, a beautiful girl named Kim — a girl I knew in L.A. When I found her, she was carrying what alternated between being a little girl, then a puppy. I refused to be held responsible for either one. She just laughed at me and disappeared again.

I went outside to get some fresh air and soon realized I was in France. I presumed this because everyone around me and the guy on the radio were speaking French. My brother Doug and friend Eric were there, speaking English. Eric and I had our cars with us. Eric had just bought a shiny cherry red Firebird. I had one of my old pickup trucks.

Eric and I both needed to have our cars smog-checked. There were several bays of smog-check stations, and all the smog-check personnel wore bright yellow (pimp-style) business suits & ties. As Doug, Eric and I waited for our cars to be checked, a song played over the radio extolling Burl Ives as the reason the Cheese Council was having such a good year. THE END. [Go figure.]

Baseball News

Major League Baseball has decided (finally!) to re-align its divisions. They’re also considering changing the names of all the teams, as given below. Starting with this season, the divisions will consist of:

    NL East

  • Atlanta Chokers
  • Florida Tunafish
  • Montreal Exposers
  • New York Mutts
  • Philadelphia Follies
    NL Central

  • Cincinnati Commies
  • Chicago Dogs
  • Houston Shopping Mallers
  • Pittsburgh Aspirators
  • St. Louis Woodpeckers
    NL West

  • Colorado Outcroppings
  • Los Angeles Yuppies
  • San Diego Child Molesters
  • San Francisco Tall Persons
    AL Least

  • Baltimore Orios
  • Boston Half-Baked Beans
  • Detroit Alleycats
  • New York Yankers
  • Toronto Bluebirds
    AL Central

  • Chicago Wasps
  • Cleveland Native Americans
  • Kansas City Prairie Dogs
  • Milwaukee Alcoholics
  • Minnesota Triplets
    AL West

  • California earthquakes
  • Oakland Jockstraps
  • Seattle Men-Overboard
  • Texas Cowpies

Entertainment News

Well, I just got back from a show (2/20/94) by a group called “October Project” at the Ace of Clubs. All I can say is: Wow! These guys are great! They’re definitely one of my favorite groups now. Their lead vocalist is a woman with the most emotional, perfect-pitch voice I have ever heard. In fact, I must admit, if it wasn’t for this woman’s vocal talents, the band would be just another experimental jazz/rock band. But, like I said, they’re more than just another band. This band reminds me a lot of that old ’70s group “Renaissance,” only the vocals are better and they’re more up to date. Also in the band are two keyboardists (one male, one female), an electric guitar (complete with guitar player), and a drummer/bongo player.

The headliner of the show was a group called “Crash Test Dummies.” A great name, and I like their hit (“Coffee Spoons,” recently performed on “Saturday Night Live”). But I didn’t stick around to hear them. The club was just too crowded (I was forced to stand the whole time), and I couldn’t get service at the bar. So I checked out early. Besides, October Project was the reason I went, anyway.

Two weeks ago I saw “Dreaming in English” and “Fugitive Popes” at Blue Sky Court. The “Popes” can only be described as “grunge metal.” They were pretty good, actually, with a charismatic lead singer/guitarist. But by the time they were done playing, I was half deaf.

“Dreaming in English” were pretty good, too. They played what I guess could be called “progressive rock.” (It’s so hard to categorize these things!) They claimed to be missing a key band member that night, but I couldn’t tell what was missing.

The following week, I saw the blues group, “The Mark Holt Band” at a club called “Third & Lindsley” (which is also its street location). Holt was an excellent blues guitarist (the bartender informed me that Holt once played with Buddy Rich or Buddy Guy, which did not impress me since isn’t Buddy Guy/Rich about 100 years old now?).

The funny thing about the Mark Holt Band was that the same three backup guys from “Dreaming in English” were Mark Holt’s backup band, and the two bands play completely divergent music.

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 6 no 1

Itchy Trigger Finger

Vol. 6, No. 1, February 6, 1994

earthquake in Southern California!

We’re sure you’ve heard all about it on the news, but we just wanted to mention it in case you’ve just recently emerged from a cave. It happened at 4:31 a.m. PST, January 17, 1994. Centered in the northern San Fernando Valley city of Northridge, 15 or 20 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, the quake measured 6.6 on the Richter Scale. [Leave out the decimal point, add another six, and its the mark of the beast! Think about it; but not too long or you might start believing in crap like that.]

Among other things, a portion of the Santa Monica Freeway (the I-10) collapsed between the La Cienega and Fairfax exits in West L.A., less than a mile from where Bill used to live! Just think, this newsletter could have been obliterated! [Don’t think about this too long, either, or you might start wishing it had happened.]

Jan Elms and Jinx Clark, sharing an apartment in the L.A. suburb of Westchester, spoke of the rude awakening they got that morning. “Neither of us has had that much excitement in bed in a long time!” they said simultaneously. They’ve been speaking simultaneously ever since the earthquake.

Greg Kann, having moved from sleepy little Fillmore in Ventura County to Northridge in the San Fernando Valley just a few months before the big quake, stated, “I defy anyone to prove its epicenter wasn’t directly under my bed!” Fortunately, Greg, his wife Andrea, and their 2-year-old daughter all escaped injury. Their rental house, however, was “pretty much wiped out,” though still standing.

Renée Uribe of the eastern L.A. suburb of Montebello says, “I’m getting worried about the coming ‘Big One.'”

Eric McGovern of the San Bernardino County town of Fontana says, “earthquake? What earthquake?”

According to the January 31 issue of U.S. News & World Report, “When the `Big One’ finally comes, it may well hit someplace other than California.” (Just this week, there was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake along the Idaho-Montana border.) They explain that “three of the nation’s largest earthquakes ever have occurred not on the West Coast but in the center of the country. In December of 1811 and January and February of 1812, an area near the town of New Madrid in southeastern Missouri was rocked with successive earthquakes estimated to range from 8.4 to 8.8 on the Richter scale.” That’s nearly 100 times more powerful than the quake that hit Los Angeles last week! It caused the Mississippi River to flow backward and change course; bells rang in Boston church towers; and chandeliers shook in Washington, D.C.

earthquake activity map

The darker the area, the more active it is. A few of the more notable earthquakes are noted.


Letters to the Editor

“We joined the local tennis club which has volleyball three nights a week. That’s about all the exercise I get now, but it’s good fun.” — Steve, Sacramento

[A tennis club that plays volleyball?]

“The big news for me was a recent trip to Chicago. I’ve been involved in a sort of “anti-stress” mental health group for a long time and was recently asked to be Area Leader of the Sacramento and outlying areas. One of the outcomes of that was a trip to Chicago (actually, I’ll go at least twice a year). It was my first time in the Windy City and I found it pretty exciting. I went during the American Airlines strike, so there was quite a bit of juggling of tickets before takeoff. I ended up on United and “volunteered” to stay back a flight because of overbooking. Well, because of my “generosity” I was given a first-class tick to Chicago plus $200 worth of airline credit.

“If you’ve never flown first-class, try it. What a difference. The stewardess couldn’t do enough for me. She took my coat and hung it up. We had drinks immediately and fancy nuts (not peanuts in a pack). When the dinner came, we were given a tablecloth and a meal with “courses”: salad, steak, etc. Excellent food. For dessert, we had “warmed” Mrs. Fields’ cookies, Haagen Daas yogurt bars and cappuccino. The seats alone made it pure luxury.” — Denise, Sacramento

“I really enjoy your newsletter. We got the last one on Christmas Eve. The kids got lots of neat stuff from Santa and are very happy with their haul. John thought he was going to get a tractor for Christmas, but we got him a cordless drill instead. He’ll get over it someday.

“My dog Dutch got his first title on December 3. Lucy took him to a B.A.R.K. [Bay Area Retarded K-9s] trial and he passed his ZpT test (breeder’s suitability test based on looks and temperament).

“I’m happy to hear that Cedar has been located. Last I heard, Greg got her a dogloo (dog house).” — Jeannie, Tracy, CA

“I surely enjoy your newsletters. I save them all, and when I get depressed I read them and they perk me up. Doctor Holmes to the rescue! — Jeanne, Cameron Park, CA

[We’re always glad to hear good things from our readers — it’s such a rare occurrence. Thanks. Now take two aspirin and call me in the morning.]

“Please put me on your mailing list. My name is John ——-. My cousin Aileen down in Santa Ana, CA told me about and showed me your newsletter. Thanks. — John, Tacoma, WA

[What? You mean you read the newsletter and you still want to be on our mailing list? Well, okay. But it’s only fair to warn you, don’t expect to get your money’s worth, even if it is free.]

Just a few of the new cable channels that will be available in 1994:

  • Adam and Eve Channel (adult/shopping) [‘Adult shopping?’]
  • America’s Talking (talk) [Yeah, we need more talk shows.]
  • Advertising TV (infomercials) [What a concept!]
  • Baseball Network (sports)
  • Bill Holmes Network [just kidding]
  • Booknet (book news and films, author interviews)
  • Cable Health Club (health)
  • Catalog Channel (shopping)
  • ECO Channel (environmental)
  • ESPN 3 (sports) [What? Another one?]
  • Faith and Values Channel (religious) [We’ll be glued to the tv!]
  • Festival Network (international films)
  • Game Show Channel (game shows) [Wow!]
  • Game Channel (games shows and interactive games)
  • Gaming & Entertainment Network (international gaming/sports betting)
  • Global Village Network [Brought to you by the New World Order.]
  • Golden American Network [People over 50 will be forced to watch.]
  • Golf Channel (golf matches and related news)
  • Horizons Cable Network (cultural and intellectual)
  • International Channel Multiplex (international)
  • IT Network (interactive entertainment, shopping)
  • Jones Computer Network (instructional)
  • Kaleidoscope (for the disabled)
  • Lincoln Mint Network (shopping)
  • Military Channel (battle history, documentaries) [Like what A&E has already?]
  • Network One (games, shopping)
  • New Culture Network (independent films)
  • NewSport Television (sports)
  • Our World Television (gay and lesbian)
  • Ovation (performing arts)
  • Planet Central TV (environmental) [Will Al Gore host?]
  • Romance Classics (entertainment)
  • Sega Channel (games)
  • Single Vision (for singles)
  • Spice 2 (adult)
  • Talk Channel (talk)
  • Television Food Network [All about food!]
  • TRAX (motor sports)
  • Turner Classic Movies (classic films) [How many channels does this guy need?]
  • TV Car Showroom (auto shopping)

Actual News Stories *

SOS! I need cornmeal!

Owensboro (KY) residents have been coming up with interesting definitions of what constitutes an emergency during Kentucky’s record snowfall. One police dispatcher said a family preparing for dinner found they were out of cornmeal. With 14 inches of snow on the ground and the roads too treacherous to travel, they called the police and asked them to pick some up for them.

Police have also been getting serious phone calls from residents wanting them to feed their dogs and horses, clear their driveways, or run other nonessential errands. Several people have asked, “When is the city sending someone to shovel my driveway?”

One woman had snow piled outside both her doors and asked the police if they would come shovel it because her husband and dog needed to relieve themselves.

Robber leaves tracks

Footprints in the snow led to the arrest of a Springfield man who is accused of robbing the Dixie Maid restaurant here (Springfield, TN). Bobby Joe Jones, Jr., 27, was arrested after police traced his footprints in the snow from the restaurant to his house. Police took Jones to Dixie Maid where restaurant workers identified him as the robber. Jones had only made off with $10.

Missing clerk found safe

Murfreesboro (TN) police are investigating the brief disappearance of a convenience store clerk who was recently discovered safe and unharmed. The police became involved after a customer stopped at the store late one night for coffee, only to find the store open and abandoned.

The clerk was later found, unharmed, with another person in a car that also had been reported missing. “We’re still trying to figure out what happened,” said the police spokesperson. “All we know is that both individuals were completely naked and singing Christmas carols in the vehicle’s back seat.”

Birthdays, etc.

So. Cal. earthquake January 17

Michael January 18

Don February 16

Eleanor February 22

Letters to Welfare

Since our “Actual Insurance Statements” segment was so popular, we’ve reprinted the following excerpts from letters received by the Saint Lawrence County (NY) Welfare Department. Contributed by Diane. All rights reserved, not that she has any rights.

  • “I want my money as quick as I can get it. I have been in bed with the doctor for two weeks and he doesn’t do me any good. If things don’t improve, I will have to send for another doctor.”
  • “My husband got his project cut off two weeks ago and I haven’t had any relief since.”
  • “I am writing to the Welfare Department to say that my baby was born two years old. When do I get my money?”
  • “I am forwarding my marriage certificate and my three children, one of which is a mistake as you will see.”
  • “In answer to your letter, I have given birth to a boy weighing ten pounds. I hope this is satisfactory.”
  • “Unless I get my husband’s money pretty soon, I will be forced to lead an immortal life.”
  • “You have changed my little girl to a boy. Will it make any difference?”
  • “I have no children as yet as my husband is a bus driver and works days and nights.”
  • “This is my eighth child. What are you going to do about it?”
  • “In accordance with your instructions, I have given birth to twins in the enclosed envelope.”
  • “Please find out for certain if my husband is dead. The man I am living with can’t eat or do anything until he knows.”
  • “I am forwarding my marriage certificate and six children. I had seven but one died which was baptized on a half sheet of paper.”
  • “Mrs. Jones has not had any clothes for a year and has been visited regularly by the clergy.”
  • “I am very annoyed that you have branded my boy as illiterate as this is a dirty lie. I was married to his father a week before he was born.”
  • “I am glad to report that my husband who was reported missing is dead.”

Amazing, But True!

Jeannie of Tracy, CA., and her dog, Chance, donned parachutes and flagged down a passing crop-dusting airplane. The pilot landed on the street in front of Jeannie’s house and picked her up (which they’ll happily do, though it’s not widely known).

With the whole stretch of road as a runway, the bi-plane took off and was soon high in the air. They were going to do a bit of sightseeing first, but soon realized that in Tracy there really is not a whole lot to see. So, they circled around for a while in the general airspace above Jeannie’s ranch until Jeannie and Chance were ready to jump.

Chance went first, with Jeannie following a few frantic seconds behind after realizing Chance didn’t know how to pull the parachute’s rip cord. With Chance howling in sheer terror in front of her, Jeannie performed a nifty skydiving maneuver and caught up with the howling pooch and pulled its rip cord.

The two landed safely in Jeannie’s backyard as her husband and kids sat on the back porch and applauded. We asked Ms. [redacted] why she brought her dog with her, and she explained: “It’s part of dog training. These dogs are expected to do everything these days.”

Current Weights of Three Cats

[Due to popular demand, this is going to be a regular column from now on. We’re sure you’ll agree on its importance.]

  • Conan the Barbarian, O.H.* 16 lbs.
  • Bart 12 lbs.
  • DOS 8¼ lbs.

* “O.H.” is short for Our Hero.

And now, a word from our sponsor …

Cats are a lot like women. They don’t usually just come up to you and say “hi.” They’ll get your attention first in some unobtrusive manner, then keep hanging around until you decide to talk to them. Finally, if you work it right, they’ll let you pick them up and pet them.

[We’re sorry. We don’t know where that came from. We seem to be experiencing some technical difficulties.]

Holmes Family Newsletter vol 5 no 8

The Happy Hairball

(something we keep coughing up)

Volume 5, Number 8 December 20, 1993

Publisher: This guy —>>

Editor: Same guy

Distributor: Brave little delivery boys and girls worldwide

Address: Nashville, TN 37215

A Thanksgiving Feast

(an appropriate headline following the above title, eh?)

It was a huge gathering. Three generations of the [redacted] and [redacted] families showed up at the [redacted] Ranch in Tracy, California for a Thanksgiving dinner. According to Jeannie, the host, it was “probably the biggest group of people we’ve ever had for Thanksgiving in this house.”

Everyone got a chance to ride one of the three horses at the ranch. Not everyone took that chance. But, hey, at least the opportunity was there.

John barbecued a turkey—a live one, right there in front of everyone! “It was delicious,” said Lucy, who of course was the one who actually captured and skinned the bird as it attempted to cross the property. You know how she is.

Doug was attacked by one of Lucy’s professionally-trained attack dogs. Lucy said the dog was just playing. Witnesses, however, distinctly remember hearing Lucy say “Sic him!” (See interview, next page.) Greg and June stole Tiffany’s dog.

Jeannie telephoned Don, Diane and Bill in Tennessee, just so everyone could talk to them. “We were expecting you to call us,” Jeannie explained. “But, since you didn’t, we called you.”

“Yeah, I noticed,” said Bill. “And I really wish you’d stop calling. Who are you, anyway?”

The scent of Cedar

TRACY, CA — After a full day of stuffing their faces and riding horses, Greg, June and kids packed up their minivan for the long drive back to Santa Ana. About an hour south of the [redacted]’s, Aileen, Brian and Andy — the aforementioned “kids” — announced that there was a strange dog in the car. It was a young female German Shepherd, and her tag said her name was “Cedar.”

The kids had spotted Cedar as soon as they got in the car, of course. However, it wasn’t until after they had discussed it amongst themselves and exhausted all possible explanations as to how the dog got there that they decided to let their parents in on their little secret.

Upon being asked where he thought the dog might have come from, Greg said: “Dog? What dog?” June’s reply to the same question was: “I don’t know. Hasn’t she been in the car ever since we left Santa Ana?”

“I’m pretty sure she hasn’t,” said Greg.

“Well then what was all that howling on the way up here?”

“That was the kids.”

And so, since no one could figure out how or why Cedar was in the car, they decided to keep her. And they all lived happily ever after.

Credence has puppies

LIVINGSTON, CA — As predicted in our previous issue, Lucy’s dog Credence did have that litter of puppies. Three boys and two girls. And you know what that means. Now we have to name the little mugwumps.

This is Nightshadow Kennels’ sixth, or “F,” litter. You know the rules. All names have to start with the letter “F.” It will be difficult coming up with names that can be printed in a Family Newsletter, but we’ll try.

So far, Lucy’s only come up with one name: Freak of Nature. Here’s what we’ve come up with: Frank; Fontelroy; Fondaloolupdud; Foul-Mouthed Bastard [hey, we said it would be difficult]; Frequent Flyer; Freakazoid; Future Boy; Frankly-My-Dear-I-Don’t-Give-A-Flying-[censored]; and Fahrvergnügen. Fahrvergnügen, of course, will most likely not be used since that’s the nickname Lucy uses for her German Shepherds.

Jeannie Crashes Car!

TRACY, CA — In an obvious attempt to get herself in the newsletter, Jeannie has gone and crashed her car. Tiffany was in the passenger seat, and that’s the side of the car that was hit when an uninsured motorist running a red light broad-sided them. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Jeannie and Tiffany promptly checked in with the chiropractor, Dr. Calloway, Diane’s mentor, in Brentwood. Preliminary tests indicated of course that both Jeannie and Tiffany are certifiably insane. However, they are “just fine” physically. And that’s the important thing.

Bill wrestles alligator!

NASHVILLE, TN — Yeah, sure. They don’t even have alligators in Tennessee. If they did, of course, Bill would be wrestling them on a regular basis.

Don & Diane buy guns

NASHVILLE, TN — Don and Diane have resorted to guns to keep their cats in line. “Well, they kept scratching the furniture,” Diane explained. “So, naturally, we bought a couple of squirt guns.”


[A horrible thing happened this past Thanksgiving. Doug was attacked by a dog. That’s not the horrible thing, though. The horrible thing was that the party ran out of Colombian coffee and … Oh, excuse me. It seems the dog attack was the horrible thing. Let’s hear from an eye witness.]

  • Witness: Most of the Thanksgiving crowd at the [redacted] Ranch were outside with the horses; either riding them, falling off, or trying to catch them. Lucy’s dog Credence was going crazy over the horses. So, in an effort to keep the dog’s mind off the horses, Lucy started playing ball with her.
  • Hairball: Good thinking.
  • Witness: Thank … er, I mean, yes I suppose it was. Anyway, Lucy and her dog were having a wonderful time. It was a sunny day, birds were chirping, laughter was in the air. It was truly beautiful. If you listened carefully you could hear the world singing in perfect harmony.
  • Hairball: [blank stare]
  • Witness: But that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, Lucy was playing ball with Credence when, suddenly, Doug came out of nowhere!
  • Hairball: And he tried to take their picture?
  • Witness: Yes! How did you know?
  • Hairball: That’s what we pay him for.
  • Witness: Ah. Well, after Doug tried to take their picture, he tried to take their ball!
  • Hairball: Oh my god! That’s clearly against company policy.
  • Witness: You have a company policy?
  • Hairball: Sure. It’s around here somewhere. It’s an insurance policy, but still … . Want me to find it?
  • Witness: No. So, anyway, Credence had the ball between her paws and was chewing on it, right?, when Doug tried to steal it! He stood over her and tried to flick the ball away with his feet, soccer-style.
  • Hairball: Doug used to play soccer, you know. Was voted Most Offensive Player on his high school team one year, in fact.
  • Witness: Fascinating. Would you stop interrupting?
  • Hairball: Sorry.
  • Witness: Are you listening?
  • Hairball: Yes, I’m listening.
  • Witness: Are you sure you’re listening?
  • Hairball: I’m listening, I’m listening!
  • Witness: Okay. So, Doug tried to flick the ball away with his feet. Credence leaped up and barked in his face. Then she leaped up again and bit him on the arm — just nipped him, actually — like she does to Lucy all the time. She was just playing. Rough. But just playing.
  • Hairball: Sounds pretty scary to me. How do you know she was just playing?
  • Witness: Well, if she wasn’t she would’ve mangled Doug’s arm pretty good. She’s professionally trained, you know. As it was, she didn’t even draw blood.
  • Hairball: What?! No blood! You promised blood! Why are we interviewing you then?
  • Witness: Well, excuse me! I can go get Credence and have her bite you for real, if you want.
  • Hairball: You can go get Credence? Wait a minute! You’re no “witness.” You’re Lucy!
  • Witness: Am not!
  • Hairball: Are too!
  • Witness: Am not, am not!

[And so ends another newsletter interview. Doug, by the way, is fine. He has filed a lawsuit against this newsletter, however. According to the suit, the newsletter sent him out on a “dangerous assignment without proper protection.” He doesn’t stand a chance of winning the lawsuit, though. Everyone knows, or should know, that these days a man should always wear protection. It’s not up to us to tell him.]


  • Renee December 28
  • Jeannie December 31
  • Michael January 18

[Yes, we know we mentioned Jeannies’s birthday in the previous newsletter. It’s just that her birthday is so very important, you see, and we felt the need to mention it again. Yeah, that’s it. And for those of you wondering who “Renee” is, she’s a friend of the editor. And since we reprinted part of her letter in “Letters to the Editor,” we figured we should also mention her birthday.]

Letters to the Editor

“That was a good newsletter. Do people subscribe to it and you send it out to them, or what?” — Renee, Los Angeles

[I guess you could say people “subscribe” to it. They’re on our mailing list, anyway. But, you know how most people pay for the things they subscribe to? Well, the only money we’ve ever gotten was from people wanting to be taken off the mailing list.]

“Hey, it was a great newsletter! I can see you searched high and low for material — even to the point of reading insurance forms! Actually, that was one of the more newsworthy articles. Of course, the “Cat Missing” story was also good. I can see that you shrewdly set yourself up for a tabloid-style story about what the cat was doing that caused it to sleep for 36 hours straight. — Greg, Santa Ana

[Quite frankly, Greg (assuming that’s your real name), we’re insulted by your implication that we would stoop to ‘tabloid-style’ journalism! We like to think we employ only the finest journalism techniques. Sure, we could speculate, but we just don’t do that sort of thing here!]

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!