Monthly Archives: December 2011

Laugh? I Thought I’d Die!

Sitting here in Boquerón listening to the 4:8 Eagles whipping the 4:8 Mami Dolphins 24 – 10 late in the 3rd quarter on a streaming radio feed via the internet I needed something to lift my spirits so I clicked in to the book section of the Huffington Post and came across a post called, The Worst Book Ever!

While the book is out of print you can still go to the Amazon site, here, and read such great reviews as that by Benjamin L. Hamilton gave the book a rave 5-star review:

After the divorce my diet consisted primarily of uncooked ramen and whiskey. Occasionally I wondered aloud if I’d ever have another home cooked meal again.

Then I discovered “Microwave for One” and everything changed.

My favorite chapters were:

Chapter 1: Plugging in your Microwave and You

Chapter 4: How to Wait 3 Minutes

Chapter 11 [BONUS CHAPTER]: Eating with Cats

In closing, I give this book 2 thumbs up (and a paw!). Thanks Sonia Allison!


Texan J. Fischer didn’t think much of it and only gave the book a single star, writing:

I expected this to have the recepies that normal people eat, like Norway Roof Rat, robin, cardinal, and other backyard birds,or even kittens and puppies but I was disapointed because it was about things that rich people buy at the store like cow meat and chickens.


Michael Pemulis gave the book a lukewarm three-star review, writing:

It used to be that I got home from work and the only thing I’d want to put in my mouth was the cold barrel of my grandfather’s shotgun. Then I discovered Sonia Allison’s Chicken Tetrazzini, and now there are two things.

All together there are 36 other reviews all of which are worth reading.


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Another One Bites The Dust

I guess it’s one of those things that comes with age. Our friends start dying off leaving us to ponder our own mortality. My friend Frank Hilson passed on a week or so ago, and today I discovered this…

One of my all-time favorite radio stations is WWOZ in New Orleans. I listened to it faithfully when I was living there. Next to Radio Baie des Anges in Nice, France, it played the best music in the world. Since I don’t have a television here in Boquerón I have to look for other ways to amuse myself. I’m an inveterate reader, but you can only do that for so many hours a day.

Recently I’ve been streaming WIOD in Miami to listen to the Dolphins games on Sunday. Thirty four to fourteen over the Raiders yesterday to bring their season record up to four big wins! This evening I hooked into NPR to listen to “All Things Considered.” Of course the first thing I heard was one of the station’s endless “begathon” messages. Then, for some reason, I decided to check out WWOZ and I found this on the station’s site home page:

Hoodoo Bluesman Coco Robicheaux Passes

Coco collapsed on Friday, Nov. 25 at the Apple Barrel on Frenchmen Street and was taken away by ambulance. He was pronounced dead after arriving at Tulane Medical Center. He was 64.

He was not performing at the time he was stricken; he often held court outside the Apple Barrel on his off-nights.

Known for an especially gravelly voice, a swamp-blues guitar style and a fascination with subjects of a spiritual and/or mystical nature, Mr. Robicheaux lived an especially colorful life, even by the standards of a New Orleans musician.

He released several albums over the past two decades. He was a mainstay of the Frenchmen Street entertainment district, a familiar figure both on- and off-stage, even as he also performed around the globe.

Mr. Robicheaux made a memorable appearance during the opening scene of the second episode of the first-season of the HBO series “Treme”: He sacrificed a rooster in the studio of community radio station WWOZ-FM.

He was also a visual artist, sculptor and painter. He created the bronze bust of Professor Longhair that stands near the entrance of Tipitina’s.

True to the spirit of New Orleans Coco, whose real name was Curtis Arceneaux led a colorful life. You should take the time to read about it here:

Back in 1983/84 when I lived on First Street (between Baronne and Dryades) Coco was my upstairs neighbor. I remember when he cast the bronze bust of the Fess. For a long time before it found its current home it was simply the most amazing door stop the world has ever seen. Coco Robicheaux was one of my favorite local friends. Many a night when he was working the door at Tips (before the World’s Fair closed the place down for a couple of years) Coco would let me slip in to see the Fess, The Nevilles, James Booker, Marcia Ball and others.

The world will be a sadder, drearier place without Coco in it. RIP Cher Ami.

I’m beginning not to like this getting older business.

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I Wish I Could!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I hate Facebook. More than that, I abhor it. Loathe it with a passion. Despise it almost beyond description. The ONLY reason I have a Facebook page is because one of my brothers sent me a request a couple of years ago wanting to be one of my “friends.” What are you going to do? Tell a brother, “No, I don’t want to be your “friend?” “I never liked you when we were kids, why would I want to be your friend now?” Of course not. I DO like my brother. Always have. I think he’s a great guy and I’m very proud of him and ALL my brothers. So I signed up, of course.

Just a few minutes ago I got a “notification” from Facebook that said:

Hi Richard,
You have 1 friend with a birthday in the next week. Help him celebrate!
Gerry GlombeckiGerry Glombecki
65 years old · Write on his wall.
There’s a problem with this notice…Gerry died in May 2010. I wrote about him when I found out.
Help him celebrate? I only wish I could!


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Pride of Chiriqui

Yesterday morning my next door neighbor, the one who has 30 (that’s right, count ‘em, THIRTY) fighting cocks, was out in his front yard letting some of his roosters have a sparring session.

There were three or four other men who were not from the neighborhood standing around watching. I ambled on over. I’ve had a bit of an interest in cockfighting since my paternal grandfather used to raise and fight the birds in and around Woburn, Mass. back at least into the early 1950s. It was, of course, highly illegal.

Anyway, I asked when he was going to fight them for real the next time and he said, “Tomorrow night at Las Brisas.” Las Brisas is a “Jardin (a combination bar and dance hall often with a cockfighting pit) in David, right on the bus route into the city. I said I’d really like to see him fight his birds but transportation was a problem since I don’t have a car. A young, solidly built young man in the crowd said, in English, “you really want to go?” I said I did and explained about my grandfather and his birds. “I’ll take you,” the young man said.

I stuck out my hand and introduced myself. “I’m Carlos,” he said. We talked for a little bit, me using a combination of English and Spanish since I honestly feel it’s impolite to speak to Panamanians in English and try my best to talk with them in Spanish. All of my neighbors only speak Spanish so I stretch myself all the time. But Carlos spoke to me only in English.

I asked where he learned his English. “In the States,” he said.

“Where in the States?”


“Really. What do you do there?” I asked.

“I play for the Phillies,” he said.

Now, I’m not a big baseball fan. Oh, I like it well enough but I don’t follow it and I think Ted Williams and Don Drysdale are the most recent players I could name. Back in the mid 70s when I spent two summers running a 300-passenger sightseeing boat in Chicago I lived just a few blocks from Wrigley Field and I’d go catch a couple of games. Not so much that I liked baseball, but it was a nice way to spend an afternoon. Those were the days before Wrigley put in lights so naturally all of the games were played during the day as God meant the game to be played, and it only cost $3 for a general-admission grandstand seat. I could sit in the shade and watch pretty girls walking around and people would bring beer, hotdogs and peanuts to my seat. Sometimes I’d even watch the action on the field.

So, being totally ignorant of who I was talking, to we watched the birds spar for a while and I wandered back to the house. “I’ll be here at seven tomorrow,” Carlos said, “if you want to go.”

“See you then,” I said.

Back home I went on line, checked out the Phillies roster and found out the young man’s name is Carlos Ruiz, and he’s quite a guy. He’s the team’s starting catcher.

(Photo from Wikipedia)

A champion, in fact since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, and Carlos had a big hand in doing it.

In game three he hit his first post-season home run and then in the ninth he recorded a walk-off single, sending Eric Bruntlett home from third, becoming the fourth National League player to hit a bases-loaded walk-off hit in World Series history, the first to deliver a walk-off infield hit, and the first walk-off of any kind by a Phillies player in the World Series. ( A walk off is a hit that ends the game. It must be a hit that gives the home team the lead, and consequently, the win, in the bottom of the final inning of the game—either the ninth inning, or any extra inning, or any other regularly scheduled final inning. It is called a “walk-off” because both teams walk off the field immediately afterward, rather than finishing the inning.)

In 2007, Carlos had one of the highest fielding percentages in baseball among catchers with a .997, with only 2 errors in 744 chances. On June 26, 2007, Ruiz stole home on the front end of a double steal in an 11–4 home win over the Cincinnati Reds, becoming the first Phillie to steal home in 10 years and the first Phillies catcher to steal home in 25 years.

In 2010, he became the only player of Panamanian descent to catch a perfect game, and raised his season batting average to a career-best .302.

Ruiz caught Roy Halladay’s perfect game on May 29, 2010 against the Florida Marlins and Halladay’s no-hitter against the Reds in the first game of the National League Divisional Series on October 6, 2010. In so doing, he became the first man since the Chicago Cubs’ Randy Hundley in 1972, to catch two no-hitters during the same season and the first since Yogi Berra in 1951 to catch two no-hitters by the same pitcher during the same season On August 12, 2010, when the Phillies were down 9–2 going into the 8th inning, they scored 8 runs in the 8th inning. The following inning, the bottom of the 9th, the Phillies were tied and Ruiz hit a walk off double to win the game, 10–9.

In 2010, Carlos received the Pride of Philadelphia Award from the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.

In 2011, he was rated the most underrated catcher in baseball by Jason Stark of ESPN. One scout in the MLB quoted, “I think he’s the best catcher in the game – other than [Joe] Mauer, who’s on a different planet.”

Born here in David, Chiricanos are rightfully proud of their native son as should all Panamanians. I’m honored to be riding to the cockfights with him this evening.


Filed under Boqueron Panama, Living Abroad, Retirement Abroad

I Felt THAT One!

Panama sits on the eastern edge of the “Ring of Fire.”

The “Ring of Fire” has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. Here in Chiriqui Province we sit in the shadow of Volcan Barú. One of the dormant ones. Shhhh. Don’t wake it up.

About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 89% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.

I’ve lived most of my life (so far) in the hurricane magnets of Cape Cod, southeast Florida and New Orleans. One of the few good things about hurricanes, besides providing shovel-ready jobs for construction workers in the areas they hit, is that you know about them days and sometimes weeks before they nail ya so you have a chance to run away and hide somewhere if you have any sense.

Earthquakes, on the other hand, just HAPPEN! No rhyme, reason or warning. BAM!

Since I’ve been living in Panama we’ve had several small quakes and they’ve all gone unnoticed by me. Well, I thought I’d felt one once a few months ago in Potrerillos Arriba, but there was no mention of it anywhere in the media.

This morning, around 2 a.m. (EST) as visions of sugar plums danced in my head the world started to tremble and shake. Dishes rattled in the cupboard and knives forks and spoons jingled in their holder. There was no doubt that THIS is what an earthquake feels like. It didn’t last all that long and if there were any after shocks I didn’t feel them and fell back to sleep almost immediately.

This morning I learned that we had a 5.0 quake with an epicenter according to the United States Geological Survey some 23 miles west of David. That’s about directly under my bed. In 2009 there was a 6.2 quake in this same area that, while not causing any injuries did result in some structural damage to buildings.

The cash cow of the country, the Panama Canal and Panama City itself, the home to slightly more than half of the country’s population isn’t immune from the threat of earthquakes. In fact, there are two fault lines in the area, one that transects the Canal itself. Quite a bit has been written about this and the impending quakes that must inevitably come.

(Anita Carter was Johnny Cash’s sister-in-law)

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