Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Perfect Lanky Man


Photos: Story board for my second mystery novel — in the works, more or less;  My “perfect lanky man,” photo snapped in 1937 in Central California.
There’s been some conversation this week on the DorothyL mystery list about romantic shenanigans in mystery novels, and the sexiness of “lanky” men.

It reminded me that somebody posted a review on Amazon saying she didn’t like the perfect man in my mystery novel, ABSINTHE OF MALICE. Too perfect.

Ha. There’s no such thing as a too-perfect man.

I’ve known two perfect men in my life. I was married to one of them and I invented the other one. As long as I was making him up I decided he should be every girl’s dream — rich, handsome and sexy. What’s not to like? I hope that negative review won’t deter a potential reader.

Besides, it’s not as if my fictional perfect man never made a mistake. He let my protagonist get away, spent more than 20 years married to the wrong woman, lived long enough to regret it, backed up and started over. A perfect man is not afraid to admit his mistakes.

It was only after my husband died that I realized he was the role model for my fictional perfect man. In going through Ed “Curly” Browning’s files I came across a snapshot I had never seen before. Taken in 1937 when he was a strapping youth, it was like a slap upside the head. There was the guy I had been writing about without even knowing it.

Physically there’s not much resemblance between the fictional man and the real one. What they have in common is attitude, a mind like a steel trap and a sense of humor. My fictional perfect man has a solution for every problem. Ed understood how things work.

Twenty-five years ago he was the only person I knew who had a computer. Sears was the only store in town selling them and Sears had only one for sale — a Commodore 64 — so that’s what Ed bought. I came home from work one day and he had broken some kind of code and printed out reams of that machine’s programs.

Probably not a big job in those early days but even today’s computers are basically a box with a set of programmed commands. I miss his expertise every day of my life.

The memories are bittersweet. The men we choose to grow old with sometimes leave us too soon. As the author in charge of her characters, I assure you that will not happen to my fictional protagonist and her too-perfect man.

Their further adventures are still in the works—a book getting its umpteenth revision. Thank goodness for my story board. I only have to rearrange the sticky notes stuck on each chapter square. The story board leans against wall and the pictures have stared back at me for months going on years. I cut them out of old Vanity Fair magazines, and they fit my characters perfectly.

If the pictures could sing, they would be singing Jelly Roll Morton’s song, Hesitation Blues – “How long … how long do I have to wait?” In fact, I use the song in my sequel-in-progress, working title METAPHOR FOR MURDER.

And if my perfect man were still around, the book would have been finished because he would have asked me every day, “Are you working on your book?”

Stay tuned ….


Turn up the AC!

Whew! Temperature about 104 today. Supposed to hover around 100 through the July 4th holiday.

Winds from the south about 10-20 miles per hour.
Heck. In Oklahoma that’s practically no wind at all.

But we are lucky. The wildfires in the West and the floods in Florida are terrifying to watch on TV news. By comparison, Oklahoma is a regular Garden of Eden in these first days of summer.

Counting my blessings —

Oklahoma and the Booze Beat

Photo taken in an Oklahoma City nightclub, 1950, during bring-your-own-bottle days.
For the third time in 58 years Oklahomans are considering a constitutional amendment involving drinkable spirits. In 1959 Prohibition was repealed. In 1984 selling liquor by the drink was voted in. This time the proposed amendment addresses wine sales in grocery stores.

If the ballot language is approved by the state Supreme Court, a group called Oklahomans for Modern Laws will have to collect 155,216 signatures and must have them submitted 60 days before November’s general election.

For those who haven’t been weirded out by something else this weekend — I’m passing along a joke sent to me earlier by my Cuzzin John Mac. Just don’t tell anyone where you read it. My apologies to WalMart. It’s the 900-pound gorilla and makes an easy target. Personally, I love it. Don’t know what us poor folks would do without it.
Here’s the joke, probably making the rounds of the Internet as we speak.

WalMart announced that they will soon be offering customers a new discount item … WalMart’s own brand of wine. The world’s largest retail chain is teaming up with E & J Gallo Winery of California, to produce the spirits at an affordable price, in the $2-5 range.

Wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to throw a bottle of WalMart brand into their shopping carts, but “there is a market for cheap wine,” said Kathy Micken, professor of marketing. She added, “But the right name is important.”

Customer surveys were conducted to determine the most attractive name for the WalMart brand. The top surveyed names in order of popularity are:
10. Chateau Traileur Parc
09. White Trashfindel
08. Big Red Gulp
07. World Championship Riesling
06. NASCARbernet
05. Chef Boyardeaux
04. Peanut Noir
03. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Vinegar!
02. Grape Expectations
And the number 1 name for WalMart Wine:
01. Nasti Spumante

The beauty of Wal-Mart wine is that it can be served with either white meat (Possum) or red meat (Squirrel).

Weep No More

“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, But in battalions.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5.

Memorial Day came and went. June 6th was the 68th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy in World War II. The Internet was awash in reminiscences by surviving veterans. Still, I just couldn’t seem to write about the veteran who was on my mind.

A longtime friend, one I’ve known since we were a couple of skinny high school kids, died on January 9, just a few days after his 87th birthday. He was the last member of his B-29 crew to die. In an e-mail a year ago he wrote that the next to last survivor of his crew had died and he wept when he got the news.

I like to think he will weep no more, that he and his buddies are together in the next life – young again, fit and full of the old can-do spirit.

My high school friend, Le Triplett, was a radar-navigator on a B-29 stationed in the Pacific. Before he was old enough to vote he had flown on 33 bombing runs over Japan, many of them in a plane named The Gamecock.

He steadfastly refused to tell me about his experiences, except for one brief story about firebombing Tokyo. That air raid was said to be the single most destructive air raid of the war, and it was during that raid that American flyboys encountered something new to them – the jet stream.

Le’s recollections of the March 1945 raid over Tokyo:
On our first raid on an aircraft plant at OTA we hit the jet stream, something we had never heard of. We were on the bomb run for over 30 minutes, bucking head winds and practically standing still according to ground speed, and the sky was buzzing with Jap fighters. Who knows where our bombs landed.

Weather and the jet stream made our first missions a big waste. That’s when (Gen. Curtis) LeMay took command and sent us in on low level night raids with fire bombs.

The raid ovcr Tokyo on March 10 — I have never been so scared in my life. Our plane was tossed around like a leaf. We were caught in thermals, winds rushing up, downdrafts pulling you down at high speed. The pilot and co-pilot really bent the controls bringing us out of a dive. I thought we had bought the farm.
When Le came home his troop ship sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a sight he never forgot. He moved to Colorado and enrolled in college under the G.I. Bill of Rights. There he met and married a beautiful girl named Nancy, and they raised a family in Greeley, Colorado. Le enjoyed a long and productive career in the field of education. For years he attended the high school reunion at Moss Consolidated High School near Holdenville, Oklahoma, and contributed books to the school library. He also attended the annual reunions of his bomb group.
From the World Wide Web:
Firestorm over Tokyo
“The 334 B-29s that bombed Tokyo on March 9 – 10, 1945 did so with impunity releasing some 2,000 tons of bombs. The fires that raged joined and created a firestorm that burned out 16 square miles of the city – killing 83,000 people and injuring 41,000 more. 267,171 buildings and structures were destroyed leaving a million people homeless. It turned out to be the single most destructive air raid of the war.”
The photos:
1) Gamecock’s original crew
Front row: second from left, Le Triplett, radar-navigator.
Back row: second from left, Henry Berg, radio operator; second from right, Eric Gran, co-pilot, later Aircraft Commander on Gamecock’s fatal flight.
Gamecock photo courtesy of Dan Fay

2) Nancy and Le Triplett, Pat Browning and Carolyn Smith, Oklahoma City, June 23, 2005