Monthly Archives: December 2010

Laugh: I thought I’d never start

Rather than attempt Comedy Central, let me explain that I have absolutely no talent when it comes to telling those long, drawn-out, elaborate situational anecdotes that require a series of repetitive remarks (“and then the genie asked the third man …) followed by a punchless line.

In fact, where there’s laughter in my environment, it’s usually the result of some slip of the tongue, a one-liner, or something serendipitous, in which people are laughing at me rather than with me. And that’s all right too.

Almost exactly 10 years after I first attempted a joke, I heard it again. Somehow, nobody laughed when I told it, but this time, when told by another, it was hilarious. Or so the laughers indicated. But that also could be the result of the boss-to-supplicant syndrome in which every joke the boss tell is hilarious.

But let’s move on (or, as politicians under indictment are wont to say, “I wish to move forward, put this behind me and admit that mistakes were made.” Or they might make statements to the press, saying Diane Denish’s loss to Susana Martinez “had nothing to do with the Richardson factor”). Continue reading

I didn’t say it was windy

Many people talked as if they’d never seen or felt anything like it. “This is the worst wind we’ve had,” was oft-repeated.

Remember, this is Las Vegas, where nobody remains unhappy about the weather, because it changes so often.

Where else can we have five consecutive days of dry, freezing cold, followed by two summer-like days, followed by winds up to 74 mph, and then a foot of snow? Winds between 74 and 95 mph constitute a Category 1 hurricane.

In one case, high winds deposited a house roof on to Seventh Street.

Did I mention it was windy Wednesday, so windy that several areas in and around town became powerless? And when did it happen that a power outage also cuts off the water?

Well, not one to exaggerate, I won’t say it was windy last week.
 It wasn’t really windy, but when I stepped on to my front porch for my copy of the Albuquerque Journal, there was a copy of the Los Angeles Times instead. Continue reading

A friend of Elizabeth Edwards

The world lost a bright, dedicated, articulate woman last week when Elizabeth Ed-wards died of breast cancer. She was the estranged wife of John Edwards, who appeared in Las Vegas in 2004, as the Democratic running mate of John Kerry.

John Edwards sought the presidential nomination in 2008 but lost to Barack Obama. One person who knew the late Mrs. Edwards well is Kate Lockwood, a nurse and massage therapist from Las Vegas.

In 2004, her photo appeared in the Optic, with her arm around Elizabeth Edwards. The two had known each other for years.

Here’s how:

In 1968 and 1969, Kate was a classmate of Elizabeth’s at Zuma, a small high school in Japan. Kate and Elizabeth were children of military families, and the school educated such students, as well as those whose parents worked for American corporations doing business in Japan. Continue reading

How did we survive our childhood?

Martha Johnsen’s morning program on local radio often has quite interesting topics. One morning she discussed childhood games of the past. She invited KFUN listeners to phone in to provide input on what used to occupy them in their youth.

Johnsen re-called that girls used to play jacks, boys marbles. People called in with accounts of having played Red Rover, Tag, Hide-and-Seek, Hopscotch (without Scotch), and Jump Rope.

We denizens of the Railroad Avenue barrio played stickball. And we loved bombarding girls on bikes with water balloons. We needed no encouragement to get out and play. The alternative — being put to work inside — made the great outdoors seem quite appealing. And the time and weather didn’t matter. We’d toss footballs or ride bikes until the curfew siren sounded, or until a by-then-invisible football whacked one of us — whichever came first.

One radio listener mentioned making shoes out of tomato juice cans. In those days, we’d stomp hard on a can (my brother, Severino, should have been thoughtful enough to remind me that the can of juice first ought to be empty) to create a shoe.

Properly stomped, the can cradled our regular shoes, gave us a couple of inches of elevation, and annoyed the girls, as we dragged our new footwear across the sidewalk, where they played jacks. Continue reading

What exactly is a “jefito”?

Well, I wish I’d had the pleasure. In Thursday’s Journal, I read a detailed obituary for Ruben Cobos, the author of “A Dictionary of New Mexico and Southern Colorado Spanish.”

For years, we’ve had a copy of the latest revised edition in our house and at work. Cobos, who died last week at age 99, provided quite a service, especially helpful to people like me, who grew up with Spanglish and who as a youngster, just knew that we often speak a different slanguage.

That’s where the volume by Cobos, an esteemed educator, was helpful. He earned a Ph.D. degree from Stanford University and taught at numerous institutions, including Stanford, UNM, Highlands and even in the pin-dot community of Wagon Mound. I wish I could have met him.

At the Optic, we have Cobos’ volume as a reference. People often provide us information that we in the newsroom aren’t familiar with.
One obituary, for example, referred to the deceased as “El Jefito,” (pronounced “heff-ito”), a slang term for boss. Where did we go for clarification? Cobos’ dictionary, of course, where it states the term is an affectionate application for a parent. Continue reading