Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Update on the Live Update Guy

January 8, 2023

Remember this guy? Well, it’s Tip Jar time again.

Our old buddy Charles Pelkey, the Live Update Guy famed in song and story, is in a tight spot.

The big LUG could use some
spare change, man.

Regulars here know the story. Charles fought breast cancer to a draw, then got back to living his life as a lawyer, legislator, and family man.

But he’s since had a few setbacks, the kind that dollar up on the hoof awful fast, and another friend has set up a GoFundMe site to help Chazbo stay one long step ahead of the bill collectors.

That’s right, folks — it’s Tip Jar time again! Doesn’t matter if it’s dimes or dollars, every little bit helps.

And if you can spread the word on your various social-media accounts, that would be swell, too. Thanks in advance.

Truckin’

October 5, 2022

The Road goes ever on and on. Photo: Hal Walter

• Editor’s note: It’s your lucky day, folks. We have a guest post by my old pal Hal Walter, who invested a portion of his increasingly rare downtime in telling us a tale of that long and winding road.

By Hal Walter

I do a lot of driving these days. Between coaching a rural 2A cross-country team at Custer County School, and overseeing my autistic son Harrison’s transition to college life this fall, I am becoming more intimate with the Central Colorado highways than I really care to be.

Our cross-country team is traveling to nine different meets this fall, from one to three hours away, by bus. Sometimes I am the bus driver too.

My son is attending Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, where he also runs on the cross-country team — which means even more mountain driving to see his competitions. Because of issues surrounding his being on the autism spectrum I spend some nights and partial days in Leadville and also bring him home for weekends.

Recently on a Sunday evening, I conned my wife into joining Harrison and me for dinner on our way to Leadville. After an excellent meal at the new Thai restaurant in Westcliffe, Mary headed back to the ranch while Harrison and I pressed on to the Timberline Campus as the sun sank behind the Sangre de Cristo range.

About 12 curvy miles north, nearing the small settlement of Hillside, I saw something cross the highway in the dim light ahead. It seemed fairly tall so I immediately thought it might be an elk and slowed down. I don’t want to hit anything after some road debris tore a hole in my gas tank on an earlier trip, but I especially do not wish to hit an elk in my 10-year-old Suzuki SX4.

I also encounter a fair number of Amish travelers in this area, on horses, in carriages and more recently, riding e-bikes, which I reckon to be their version of motorcycles.

I hit my brights but they were useless in the twilight. Slower, slower. I finally rolled up to the place where I was expecting to see elk, but instead spied an odd-shaped object on the left-hand side of the highway where there is basically no shoulder. I’m thinking, “What the heck is that?”

It was initially a tallish Thing, segmented and rectangular. Then I realized it was a hand truck stacked with white boxes. It seemed at once to be moving yet standing still. That’s when I saw the smallish guy behind it, head barely above the load, pushing it along.

I coasted forward and looked to my left as I passed but could not get a good read on what sort of person this was. As I drove on I saw in the rearview mirror the hand truck crossing the highway right after I passed. Was that a homeless dude or an Amish person? It almost seemed like an apparition, yet I knew it was real.

At the next curve I slowed down again for a big Amish carriage in the oncoming lane with clomping horse, headlights and flashing taillights. A mile or so later at a ranch driveway I made out the silhouette of an Amish man astride a horse. After I passed he spurred the horse out onto the highway and in the fading red glow of my taillights disappeared south into the darkness. I drove on, still puzzled by the guy with the hand truck.

It’s about 105 miles from Westcliffe to Leadville. After a short stop at the Salida Safeway to stock up on some necessities for Harrison’s week ahead, we arrived at the CMC residence hall after 9 p.m. We schlepped the clothes, electronics, groceries, running shoes, and other items into the room. We straightened up a little, got the coffee ready for the morning, and went to sleep.

The next morning Harrison wandered off for breakfast in the cafe. I did some more organizing of his things, then headed off to the nearby trail system for a hike-jog. I then accompanied Harrison to meet one of his instructors before his first class. I spoke with the assistant dean. I talked with Harrison’s counselor. I went back to the room and did some cleaning, got a shower, packed up, and left Leadville right after noon, bound for cross-country practice back in Westcliffe.

I stopped about halfway home, in Salida, and got lunch to go and the necessary coffee. I also went to the running shop, tried on, test-ran, and bought new shoes. I ate while driving, then stopped to change into my coaching/running gear just before Hillside. I drove on. Just as I arrived at Westcliffe I saw up ahead something curious on the road.

As I drew near in the bright daylight I realized it was indeed a homeless guy still pushing his hand truck of white boxes, like something right out of “The Road.” He was moving so slowly the motion was barely discernible. In the time I had driven more than 200 miles and done countless other tasks that I viewed as necessary, this man had pushed his hand cart of boxes about 12 miles.

The testament to human endurance notwithstanding, a flood of thought coursed through my road-weary brain about the pace of our lives and the pace of others, what we view as necessary and how little others have. The spectrum of my own First World problems as compared to someone living at a snail’s pace. The craziness of our lives, and of our times.

Hal Walter hangs his hat outside Weirdcliffe, Colo., whenever he’s home long enough to take it off.

‘Are you employed, sir?’

August 26, 2022

The late, great David Huddleston as The Big Lebowski.

Employed, sir? No, I was not, despite my prestigious cowtown B.A. in journalism with a minor in political science.

And had my parents been foolish enough to borrow money to put me through college(s) — funds that were largely pounded down a noisome rathole of booze, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, cartooning, and Communism — they would’ve rejoiced to see any amount of the hellish debt forgiven and immediately invested a portion of the windfall on having me quietly killed.

Especially after they saw the homemade “colors” my bro’ Mike “Mombo” Brangoccio and I were sporting on the back of our graduation gowns:

“Mombo Club: Born To Pump Gas.”

Ay, Chihuahua. These kids today. Yesterday. Whatevs.

Your Humble Narrator, circa 1977.

Our mob flew two banners. The Mombo Club mostly free-ranged around Greeley, where we infested the University of Northern Colorado like hairy roaches. El Rancho Delux was rooted in a ramshackle house with an overloaded septic system on what must’ve been the last surviving chunk of rural land in Glendale, a stoner’s throw from the Bull & Bush, Shotgun Willie’s, and the Riviera Lounge, whose “credit manager,” Adolf Scarf, was a piranha sulking in a tank behind the bar.

But the less said about our fraternal organizations the better. I don’t know how (or if) my co-conspirators paid for their educations, but several of our Little Urban Achievers have become respectable members of their communities, and certain statutes of limitations may have yet to run their course.

A tad unfocused, not unlike the graduates.

As for me, my long-suffering parents paid for my schooling, such as it was. When I transferred to UNC they even bought me a used singlewide trailer to live in, no doubt thinking I’d need to get used to such accommodations.

I did have to raise funds for incidentals. Thus I sold drugs, drew cartoons for my college papers, delivered appliances with “Star Trek” addict Ed the Beard in a Step van dubbed “The Hawkwind,” and (with Mombo) did odd jobs for a posh trouser stain who motored around town in a right-hand-drive Bentley.

All I invested in my degree was time and a few jillion brain cells. Not even the president can get those back for me.

School’s never really out

May 28, 2022

What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Right. Time for some good news from the school front.

Today, Harrison Jake Walter will graduate from the Custer County Schools. He’s bound for Colorado Mountain College, with a couple of scholarships in hand.

Some scoff at the proverb that “it takes a village” to raise a child, but I think it was provably true in this instance. Custer County had Harrison’s back for 18 years, and his parents, Hal and Mary, will be the first to tell you that this was not always easy.

So, gassho to Harrison, Hal, and Mary. And also to the school, its students, and their community.

College is the next journey. There will be bumps in the road. But this is the nature of roads. The Great Way for Harrison and the rest of us is one step after another.

Born to run

November 13, 2021

Harrison Walter (center) signs a letter of intent to run for Colorado Mountain College. His dad and coach, Hal, is third from the right.
Photo: Joy Parrish

My man Hal Walter recently arranged a small signing ceremony for his son, Harrison, who will be running cross country and track for Colorado Mountain College next year.

Harrison is on the autism spectrum, and so making the leap from high school to college may involve more gymnastics than it did for thee or me. Writes Hal in his Substack newsletter:

It’s been a long run for Harrison, who began his scholastic running career in middle school cross-country and track at Custer County, and then continued into high school. Seven years in all. In the first few years we didn’t know what direction he’d run when the gun went off — or if he’d actually run or melt down. We’re still working out the transition to college. He may be splitting his time in Leadville between online and in-person classes, and doing some workouts next fall with his old team — and coach — here in Westcliffe.

A tip of the Mad Dog mortarboard to Harrison and Hal for a job well done.

And speaking of jobs well done, Hal recently announced that he would be stepping down from MetaFaceButt to spend more time with his Substack newsletter. You can subscribe to that here.

Masks and margaritas

May 17, 2021

I didn’t have a mask to keep bugs out of my teefers
on the descent of Tramway Road.

Firsts:

Hey, Spike, you missed a few flowers.

• Riding the bike without a mask. That was fun. I’ve been half-stepping it, draping a Buff around my neck, but yesterday I left it at home. I’m still all buffed up; I’m just not Buffed up. Ho, ho.

• Having people over for drinks. Yup. Couple friends from the ’hood who are likewise all shot up came by for strawberry margaritas and a bit of guacamole. We hung out on the patio, shooting the breeze and enjoying what little foliage Spike the Terrorist Deer found unpalatable.

Two little things, to be sure. But satisfying nonetheless after a very long year indeed. Next up: Dancing on Sundays!

A rare prayer for a friend

December 5, 2020

“Mons” spreading the good news at WLPO FM.
Photo provided to (and liberated from) The Catholic Post.

• Editor’s note: This is a guest post from my old comrade Charles Pelkey, first published on Facebook. One of the people who helped make his Live Update Guy operation so much fun has fallen victim to The Bug® and is in a bad way. Msgr. Richard Soseman’s essays were a highlight of our coverage of the grand tours, which often leaned more toward low comedy than high art. “Mons,” as he came to be known, put a high gloss on our rattly old jalopy. I wish him a speedy return to health and his ministry, and I hope you will too.

By Charles Pelkey

My friend, Richard “Mons” Soseman, is currently under sedation and on a ventilator because of a COVID-19 infection. We first met while his ministry brought him to the Holy City in Rome.  The Monsignor (hence the moniker “Mons”) has since returned to the U.S., now serving as pastor at Saint Joseph’s in Peru, Illinois.

Mons is an avid cycling fan, which is how we got to know each other. He often wrote beautiful and detailed essays to be included in daily coverage on LiveUpdateGuy.com. He twice hosted my son at the Vatican in Rome over the course of several years.

The monsignor on the job in Rome, hosting visitor Philip Pelkey.

Mons would light candles in Saint Peter’s Basilica for me when I was taking finals in law school, during the bar exam, and when I developed breast cancer. I finally told him, “You know, Padre, I have a confession: I am not a man of faith.”

Not missing a beat, he quickly said: “Oh, Charles, I already knew that. It’s okay. I am,” and he went on lighting candles just as before.

Now it’s our turn. Please keep this sweet, sweet man in your thoughts — or prayers — as he fights the biggest challenge of his life. Pray, light candles, send good vibes, but above all, keep Mons in your thoughts.

Mons took the risks of COVID seriously and took as many precautions as possible. Nonetheless, he caught the virus and is now quite ill. Please be careful out there.

Godspeed, Padre. A lot of us out here love you.

And now for something completely different

June 1, 2020

“If you want anything done in this yard you’ve got to meow
until you’re blue in the mouth,” says Miss Mia Sopaipilla.

We’ve been cocooning a bit, I suppose.

It’s not easy to watch America doggedly screwing its head even further up its own arse, especially while striving to make some novel observation about the practice. The bon mot proves elusive. So we’ve turned our gaze elsewhere.

The back yard has needed work for a while now, and it’s been getting some. Weeds pulled, vines excised, lilacs pruned, pond rock and red mulch laid down, balky gate repaired, etc., et al., and so on and so forth.

In the process we discovered a few new aches and pains along with an old faucet and four sprinkler-system heads we didn’t know we had. They could be part of some prehistoric irrigation network; for sure there are a couple real anachronisms on the other side of the yard, metal jobbers buried in the pine duff like the plungers on land mines.

We’re not great with roses, but occasionally we get lucky.

The apple tree by the kitchen window has had the schnitz. All the neighbors say it’s never been worth a damn, and we’re starting to agree, though Spike the Terrorist Deer, that notorious outside agitator, seems fond of its bitter, undersized fruit.

So that will probably come down directly, along with a Siberian elm that is more than a match for my skills with a shovel and bad language. Probably have to take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

The neighbors with the little girls have partnered with another couple up the street to form a collective of sorts. Between them they have five munchkins to educate and entertain, and they share other interests as well, so it seems a great leap forward.

The gang performs a daily bicycle/scooter rodeo that relies heavily upon our steep driveway for a launching ramp, so we’re making our own small contribution. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

Elsewhere in the cul-de-sac, a four-legged neighbor went west. Daisy was a sweet old Lab who, with her cousin Gunner, served our little community as a combination of early warning system and welcome wagon.

Gunner is deaf, and a bit shy, but Daisy had been known to stride into homes like a Monty Python bobby, as if to enquire, “Wot’s all this then?” Their human has already arranged a new companion for Gunner, a black Lab pup tentatively named Henry.

Beyond our immediate ’hood, Herself the Elder’s assisted-living home has undergone a round of Bug® testing, and the all-clear has been sounded, though the lockdown remains in force.

Last Friday we delivered a load of Asian food for the joint. Pre-Bug®, Herself had been taking her mom out on Fridays for a bit of shrimp fried rice, and we decided to revive the practice as a take-out deal after Daisy and Gunnar’s person said he’d been doing something similar for his mom.

Then we thought, “Why not spread the wealth a bit?” From each according to his ability, etc. So everybody got some, including us, because I am a sucker for a six-pack of gyoza and pretty much anything else I don’t have to cook.

Speaking of wealth, when the light is right we can enjoy what the previous owner of El Rancho Pendejo called “the golden hour.” Once the day’s chores are finished we park ourselves on the back patio with frosty beverages in hand, admire our handiwork (such as it is), and hope to pan a little color from the dung as it all runs downhill.

The golden hour. “Well done, Yahweh,” as Doc Sarvis once said.

‘Better weird than not at all’

May 16, 2020

I settled for a snap of the balloons because old guys taking snaps of children unrelated to them is mega-creepy.

One of the kids next door celebrated her sixth birthday yesterday.

There was a party of sorts in the cul-de-sac. Instead of hugs and kisses, she got social distancing and masks; in lieu of cake and the slicing thereof, we noshed on individual cupcakes in either chocolate or vanilla.

From the vantage point of someone who turned 6 in 1960, it seemed a strange way to mark the Great Leap Forward from kindergarten to first grade. Or it did until I recalled that when I reached this milestone Elvis was being discharged from the Army, a few thousand of his countrymen were heading off to Vietnam, and Francis Gary Powers was enjoying an unscheduled layover in the Soviet Union.

So, then, as now, there was lots of weirdness going on, and not just in your friendly neighborhood cul-de-sac, either.

“It may be weird, but better weird than not at all,” as a neighbor and I agreed.

A hummingbird had a bird’s-eye view of the party from her nest in a pine just off our driveway. According to Audubon New Mexico, the hummers lay two eggs a half inch long in nests the size of a walnut shell, and this one has done a fine job of camouflaging her tiny nursery. Herself and I saw the little nipper zip to the limb yesterday as we were leaving for a bike ride; I took a closer squint and spotted the nest.

It takes a bit of squinting to find this hummer guarding the kids.

LUG rides again!

May 14, 2020

Remember this guy? He’s gonna be on Zoom and ESPN.
And here I always thought he had a radio face, too.

This time around, the acronym stands for “Legislative Update Guy,” and the live updates will include a video component.

No, not old “Monty Python” clips. Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person.

My old Live Update Guy comrade Charles Pelkey and his fellow Wyoming state legislators will be participating in a special session via Zoom beginning Friday. And yes, we can watch. And without having to drop any of our DonnyDollars® into the Tip Jar!

Bonus! Winning! So. Much. Winning.

Charles rang me up last night to wish us a belated happy wedding anniversary and we spent a few minutes catching up. In addition to attending virtual special sessions of the leg’, he’s continuing to practice law, and while he’s not exactly burning up Wyoming’s roads on the old two-wheeler these days, he is finding time to do a bit of walking.

He’s also appearing in the latest HWSNBN documentary, “Lance,” as you can see from the screen grab above, which I liberated from the trailer.

Filmmaker Marina Zenovich has directed works on Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, and Roman Polanski. I don’t believe I’ve seen any of them, and I don’t believe I’ll be seeing this one either, having exactly zero interest in the latest version of Ol’ Whatsisface’s “truth.”

But it was cool to get a live update from an old pal.