Monday, April 29, 2013

I'm on a roll...

Usually, my luck isn't very lucky. I almost never win anything. Ever.

So do you remember back at the end of February when I won the three-day passes to the NASCAR race here in Vegas? I loved every minute of it, and figured surely, this is as good as it gets.

[edited to add: I also won those tickets to hear Michael Franzese speak at the Mob Museum!]

Well, a few weeks back I found out that I also won... <drum roll please>

Sheriff Lamb's hat!

I even got an autographed thank you note from Dennis Quaid, hand-written on Sheriff's Office letterhead.

I'm a big fan of the show "Vegas". Partly because I live here. Partly because I'm old enough to remember Dan Tanna and his Thunderbird. Partly because I'm a Dennis Quaid fan.

Most of all, I love anything set in or around ranches, ranchers, horses, cowboys... you get the picture. This show has it all.

So here's a couple of (not so good) shots of the hat - first on my son:

...and then me.
The hat will now stay in the display case (as pictured above)
with the framed autograph on the wall above it.
Now if only Dennis Quaid had come with the hat...     ;-)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Meeting the Mafia... sort of

(This is a picture of me with Michael Franzese, taken by my son, using my Surface tablet.)

So a little over a week ago I won tickets to the Mob Museum here in Vegas. It's downtown, very close to Fremont Street. The building is the former federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office. It's also one of the few historic sites left here, registered and all.

The museum itself is three floors tall and absolutely chock full of Mafia history. Some of it is a bit graphic, like pictures of gangsters after they were shot to death, lying in a pool of blood. Some of it is almost quaint, like the old-fashioned listening devices and switch boards and recording equipment the FBI used to bring down men like Al Capone. Some of it is fascinating, like the actual guns they used, and other antiques.

By far the most interesting part, though, was listening to former mob capo Michael Franzese speak. I was lucky to be there that night, it was the only talk he gave all weekend. He was going to do book signings on Saturday and Sunday, but ran out of books on Saturday, they sold so well. I'm glad I got mine Friday night!

Mr. Franzese was honest and upfront about his connection to the mob and what it was like being a "made man" in the mafia. He talked about his father, an underboss for the Colombo crime family, who is now 96 years old - the oldest "made man" still alive. He described the initiation ceremony and how intense it was. He also talked about his various money making schemes, from gasoline taxes to movie making. At one point he was listed as one of the 50 richest mob bosses, at #18; just five behind John Gotti, whom they listed at #13 at the time. Most importantly, he described his struggles to get out of that life and start a new life with his wife, Camille.

He was fascinating to listen to. He even joked about taking his wife to see "Good Fellas"; she asked if his life had really been like that, and he said nah, it's just a movie... until the bar scene when he was one of the mobsters introduced when the new guy (Ray Liotta's character) was being shown around. That's when he said okay, time to go...

The Mob Museum has an interview with Michael here: It's not long, so go ahead and read it. I'll wait.

There's also a Facebook page for the museum, here: Lots of info on events, new pieces acquired for display, who to contact for what... did you know you could even get married there?

Michael was also featured in a recent History 2 special, “The Definitive Guide to the Mob.” I haven't seen it yet, but I'm sure it'll be on again, and my DVR is always on standby.

If you're interested in learning more about Michael, he has a web page at where you can find everything from his biography to his books to his blog to... well, you get the picture.

It was really quite an evening. I hope to go back again when I have more time to just look around. I had my younger son with me and not a lot of time before the talk started, so we had a quick look at the third and second floors (you start and the top and work you way down), went to the talk with Michael in the second floor court room, and then quickly checked out the first floor on our way out.

I have an autographed copy of Michael's book, Blood Covenant: The Michael Franzese story, that I intend to read as soon as I have the time to devote to it that it deserves. I'm sure I won't be able to put it down so I'll have to wait until I have a large chunk of down time. I'll be sure to post a review once that's done, though. I'm so looking forward to it!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

...and now for something completely different...

So one of the best things in the world is to sit in my comfy chair,
with a warm comfy kitty in my lap, taking her nap.

Sadly, I do eventually have to get up. When I told Luna that she needed to move, she did -

- into a comfier position.

Finally she deigned to wake up enough that I could get out of the chair
without having to dump her on the floor. She wasn't happy about it, though.

Meanwhile, Homer the turtle sneaks up on unsuspecting JarJar the pleco.

Yes, Homer. I see what you're doing there. Please leave the poor fish alone, will you?

Why did we name him JarJar, you ask?

Meesa see da resemblance. (sorry, couldn't resist)

And yes, even Homer takes naps. Weird positions, but naps nonetheless. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Daisy 11/2000-4/2013

This has always been my favorite picture of Daisy. It sums up her temperament beautifully.

Daisy came to us by way of the Noah's Ark pet adoption folks. A little over 10 years ago we saw them set up in front of a PetSmart with several dogs waiting for new homes. My younger son, who is autistic, and Daisy hit it off right away. She came home with us that day and I credit her with helping Sean go from nonverbal to very verbal in a very short time.
"It's not the wrong decision," the veterinarian said. "Believe me, if it were, I would tell you from the bottom of my heart."
Daisy was 12 years old and, like many larger dogs, had terrible arthritis in her hips. She plodded along on her front legs, barely using the back legs at all. She could still climb the stairs, but it took her a long time. She would put her front paws up on the next step, and then hop to pull her hind legs up behind her. Sure, she still had a good appetite - but honestly? That was about it. She spent most of her time sleeping. Watching her walk and climb the stairs was almost as painful for me as it was for her. Sometimes it was so bad that she would just lie on the rug, panting from the pain.
Maybe I waited longer than I should have. It was so hard to let her go. Even in pain, she was a sweetheart. Lots of older dogs, especially females, tend to get "bitchy" when they're old and in pain. Not Daisy. She had those big brown eyes always begging for one more biscuit, one more flip chip, one more scratch behind the ear - and she never cried, or whined, or snapped at anyone. She was still giving baths to our oldest cat, Tigger, as if he were her puppy. She'd even wag her tail and bark at the neighborhood cats as they strolled along the top of the brick wall surrounding our back yard.
Still, she was obviously hurting. A lot. And I started to feel bad about asking her to keep living that way. She was happy to do it, bless her heart, but it wasn't fair of me to be so selfish.
So yesterday we took her in to the vet and let her go. She's the third dog I've had to do this for, and trust me, it never gets any easier. It still hurts and it's still hard to say good-bye to someone who's been such a loving family member for so long.
Be well, Daisy. I'm glad you're out of pain, and I hope you've found Chok'lit and Cookie to run and play with again. Love you.