Sunday, March 26, 2017

We're Not in Capistrano Any More, and Those Aren't Swallows

Last week, I mentioned how I was concerned about not seeing any ladybugs, fake or real, in person or on TV or a billboard, on our recent trip to Oklahoma to visit The Pony. To us, ladybugs remind us of my mom, since she had a drop-ceiling full of them in her family room, and we teased her about refusing to exterminate them, choosing instead to vacuum them and turn them loose outside. Shortly after Mom died two years ago, at the beginning of February, we had a string of coincidences with ladybugs in our house and car.

I ALWAYS see a ladybug, or multiple ladybugs, when we go visit The Pony. But not this time. I got to hear my Mom-song on the radio, though, right after I dialed The Pony, and was waiting for him to pick up. That was the next best thing. I still haven't seen any ladybugs. I guess I'm not the one who needs them.

On Tuesday, The Pony saw a ladybug in a study lounge at the Student Union. "I didn't notice it. Another kid pointed it out to me. It was on the back of a couch. He told me to look, because he was afraid of it. I told him they're nothing to be afraid of. We were going to catch it and let it go outside, but before we could, the ladybug flew over to the wall, and crawled under it."

I guess Mom is moving in at the OU Student Union, to keep her eye on The Pony as the semester winds down. Actually, she must be pretty busy, trying to be in multiple places this week.

Hick went to the BARn Friday to put away some Goodwill items he bought. He was headed up to the loft area, where he has his Coca Cola collection, and his bar full of memoraBEERia, when he saw THIS on the landing, where the steps turn back on themselves. It's a little gathering of ladybugs. Perhaps (for security purposes) I have not advertised the fact that Hick was leaving Saturday on a spy mission work trip to Sweden.

Looks like Mom was telling Hick "Bon voyage!" Or wishing him a safe return.

Or maybe...she was drinking a toast to Hick's trip, saying, "Good riddance!"

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Follow-Up Report on Hick's Wrong-Again-ness

I do believe this VALidates Val's concerns over A-Cad's tire pressure. It's our monthly OnStar report that popped up in my inbox on Saturday, March 18th. I was too busy with Casinopalooza to let you in on this development back then. Looks like OnStar never heard of tires heating up to the proper pressure, but rather expects them to be inflated to the proper pressure, and then heat up to whatever tires heat up to.


Val high-fives herself in vindication.

Notice that OnStar makes no mention of the ambient temperature. Let the record show that temps were in the 50s/60s/70s when Hick's argument was in effect. And that we do not routinely get these OnStar tire warnings every month for December/January/February/March, when temperatures sometimes drop into the teens at night, and tires suck in their breath.

Maintenance Due

Remaining Oil Life: 17%
Mileage: 11,095
Based on oil life and mileage readings, next required maintenance will be due soon.

Please see dealer section below to schedule a service visit soon.

  View maintenance summary

Odometer-Based Maintenance Items

Based on your current mileage, no items on the additional maintenance list are due at this time.
Tire Pressure: Low (Add Air)
One or more tires are low and need air. Inflate them to the recommended tire pressure listed below as soon as possible.
Properly inflated tires can improve your fuel economy, vehicle performance, and tire life.
Recommended tire pressure - Front: 35 psi,
Rear: 35 psi
Left Front:
Low, 29 psi
Left Rear:
Low, 30 psi
Right Front:
Low, 29 psi
Right Rear:
Low, 27 psi

Friday, March 24, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #53 " 'Ho-Girl's Vegas Vacation"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. This week, I bring you the tale of a country bumpkin who hits the road to Vegas to seek her fortune. Will she fry her liver with free drinks, bet the farm she doesn't own, become the headliner of a musical revue, or turn into a do-gooder who sews blouses for those poor girls who've lost their shirts? I wager you'll want to try your odds on this week's fake book. Can't read if you don't pay! Fake-order your fake copy today.

'Ho-Girl's Vegas Vacation

Nevada Georgia Virginia Idaho is ready to make a new start. She leaves Beaver Toe, Arkansas, to the taunts of her former high school classmates, sprawled across the park bench in front of Woolworth's Five and Dime. "I da HO! I da HO! Make sure you tell them high rollers your name when you get there, gal!"

Nevada thumbs several rides without difficulty. A Kenworth pullin' logs, a cab-over Pete with a reefer on, a Jimmy haulin' hogs, and 11 long-haired Friends of Jesus in a chartreuse microbus. She's as happy as a pig in crap when she sees that the town of Las Vegas has erected (hee hee, that makes her giggle) a special sign to welcome her.

Will Nevada realize her dream of becoming a showgirl like she saw in Showgirls? Or will she become an actress to rival the talents of Elizabeth Berkley? (146 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Cher..."This fake book gave me a headache! I need a bottle of Dr. Good. I know gypsies, tramps, and thieves, Thevictorian. And let me tell you, none of 'em are gonna lay their money down for THIS fake book!" 

Tom Jones..."She's got no style, she's got no grace, she's no lady! Talkin' about Thevictorian. And Thevictorian is no author! Whoa whoa whoa, she's no author!"

Phyllis Diller..."I love this fake book. I keep it on my nightstand. Just the other night, I used it to knock Fang unconscious."

Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford..."Thevictorian, you big dummy! You ain't no writer! This fake book is a real piece of junk. Yet surprisingly, it's worth NOTHING! You hear that, Elizabeth? This ain't the big one, honey!"

Totie Fields..."I've been fake-reading this fake book for two hours, and all I've gained is the knowledge that I lost two hours. Thevictorian, as a fake author, doesn't have a fake leg to stand on."

Milton Berle..."Thevictorian will never be as big as me. She just can't measure up. I'm known as HUGE in the business, and she's not even known. I'm pretty sure it's going to stay that way."

Charo..."Cuchi, cuchi!"

David Copperfield..."Making the Statue of Liberty disappear was a snap compared to trying to make Thevictorian's fake book sell. The only way she's going to see any dividends is if we cut her in half with a laser."

Penn and Teller..."A review of Val Thevictorian's fake book? I'll let Teller speak for us on this one. Teller?"


Phil Hellmuth..."If this book was a poker hand, I would fold! No bluffing about it! I don't think Thevictorian is playing with a full deck."

Liberace..."Trying to read this fake book was like trying to play a piano with 87 keys. It can be done, but the result is less than satisfying. Thevictorian is a Plain Jane in the fake-writing world. She seems to be a bit unsophisticated, like her main character. I'm as sure about that as I am about the fact that I'm a confirmed bachelor."

The Rat Pack..."You're tellin' US! She thought WE were something for a lab critter to carry its college books in! We won't say she's unsophisticated, but this girl thinks a turn-down service is an agency that politely declines dates for her. Okay. We WILL say she's unsophisticated. And a terrible fake author."

Milton Berle..."Me again. Talk about embarrassing! Thevictorian asked ME if I was just glad to see her, or if I had a roll of quarters in my pocket. QUARTERS! Can you believe that? It's silver dollars, baby! More than you'll ever get peddling your fake book. And there's nothing fake about of silver dollars!" 

Siegfried and Roy..."We don't mean to rip on Thevictorian, but we ain't a-lion when we say this book tore us apart. She hasn't got a tiger by the tail, that's plain to see, nor one in her fake-writing tank. We are shocked that this fake author hasn't been mauled by the other reviewers. Oh, wait..."

Kenny Rogers..."You never read your fake book when it's written by Thevictorian! That gal really needs to learn when to fold 'em. As in, the pages she has written, and then stuff them in the paper shredder. This fake author is a loser, or my face isn't Kenny Rogers!"

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Perhaps I Am Really Val Thief-ictorian

We had a good time at the escape room in Norman. It’s called Cracked. They have a website. There are four different rooms. The Pony picked the one called Heist. I had thought of the one (can’t remember its name) about students trying to escape from detention. Anyhoo…this one was like an art museum, and you had to get codes off the backs of the paintings before your hour ran out. Well, we got royally cheated! Not just because we’re stupid. We know we’re stupid.

The first painting had a description on the wall next to it that it was an interactive painting, but people over the years had take parts off of it. Let the record show that when we went into the room, and the guy was giving us instructions about not destroying anything, or putting holes in the wall…I noticed a black duffel bag under a row of three chairs against the wall. I was pretty sure it was something to do with the challenge, but I didn’t mention it. The guy left, and we had 60 minutes to find the codes and put them into a tablet or notebook or some electronic happy sunshine garget (exact wording advertising a cell phone that Genius wanted me to buy him off the internet from China when he was in 6th grade) mounted on the wall. That right there would have been enough to keep me in the room for eternity. But The Pony knew how to work that newfangled contraption.

The first painting had two wooden knobs on it as the centers of flowers. They were the same shape as the plastic knobs Hick put two of on our microwave to replace the handle that broke off. Knobs. You know what to do with knobs. You pull on them. That’s what I did, but The Pony and Hick said not to break the painting. We’d been warned about that. So I tried to twist them. They didn’t. I saw that the painting was screwed into the frame, but the top right screw was missing. So I tried to pull that corner to see if the whole thing would pop out. “Don’t! You’ll break it!” Again, my minimum-wage-worker-fearing companions cautioned me not to pull on that painting. We tried all combinations of the petal numbers and flower numbers and how many colors and the date of the painting. Nothing. We did the one clue they gave us on the garget. It said everything we needed was in the room. Duh.

After a while, Hick said, “This is bull. I’m asking for another clue.” The guy had said we could, just open the door. He said everything we needed was in that black dufflel bag. So we got that out and there was a black box (locked) that said something about safety. Well! I pointed out that there was one of 20 small pictures on shelves on the wall that was titled Safety whatever-it-was, and Hick put in the date on that picture as the combination for the black box, and it worked! Inside were knobs for the other six flower centers. The Pony put them on. They were magnets. He could move them and hear something behind the painting. I thought maybe you could use those magnets to drag the code or something across the back of the painting to the open corner and take it out. We tried and tried. Hick started saying, “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen! We don’t have any time left, and we haven’t even got the first one done. Pony, go ask for another clue.” The Pony didn’t want to, but he did.

Here’s where we got cheated! The guy came in and asked how far we were, and what we thought, and we told him about trying to get what was behind that painting, and he said this is what you needed to do, and GRABBED THOSE TWO KNOBS AND PULLED ON THE PAINTING JUST LIKE I HAD DONE IN THE BEGINNING! Nothing happened. He shook it. He jiggled it. He twisted it. Finally, he yanked really hard, and that painting came off. SERIOUSLY! He had told us not to break things, and this didn’t even work unless you forced it. I call shenanigans! He could have at least given us some time back. There was nobody else there, and the room had not been booked after us.

Anyhoo…we moved on to the next painting. Now this one was really hard, and I don’t think we would have gotten it, even with our stolen time. There was a big painting with symbols on it. The clue said something about BLUE, and some symbols were in blue. Things like equations. Like n - @ , and p - *. The Pony turned those 20 small pictures around and saw that there were symbols written on the back of them with white-out. We tried to look at where they were on a keyboard, because that’s what the "Safety" picture was of. Of course that didn’t get us anything. I thought that we should use only the symbols that also had a corresponding number on a keyboard, and those would be our code number. Nope.

After asking for a clue from the guy, because all the tablet told us was something about symbols, he said the order was important. Well. We’d moved them from their original positions. But I don’t think it mattered, because Hick and The Pony put them in order by the year on them.

And then our time ran out!

The guy came in and showed us that once in year order, we only had to look at the LETTER from the equations, not the symbols, and they would spell out in words our code number. Like seven twenty-three nine. Yeah. We’re pretty stupid. Maybe Genius being there could have helped us. Or maybe there would have been an actual murder in that room for a real crime. Hick was getting hot under the collar and The Pony was giving up. I was just glad I had a chair to sit in, even though Hick kept grunting at me indignantly when he was trying to put the pictures in date order. Even though there was plenty of room for him to reach over my head and put them on the shelf.

Now here’s where IRONY comes in. I am really learning what that means now, I think. We went to Golden Corral and ate lupper (late lunch, early supper) and then went back to our hotel and talked to The Pony for a while. As we were leaving to go by his apartments where he’ll live next year, and take him back to his dorm…he reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys.

“Oh. These are from that duffel bag at the Escape Room. They’ll probably want these back.”

Yep. The Pony had stolen the props from the Heist escape room! It’s on Campus Corner, so as we went past, Hick pulled into the parking lot and told The Pony to run them in while he turned around. The Pony got back in the car with a funny look.

“The door was locked. I guess he’s gone, even though their website says they’re open until 8:00. So I put the keys on top of the mailbox by the door.”

I guess that guy found them Monday morning. Or else I’ll be getting a bill. It’s not like they can’t solve that crime. We were the only ones in there that day.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fourth Time's a Charm?

On Sunday, Hick and I left Casinopalooza to head for Norman to visit The Pony. As usual on such a trip, I was excited to be heading toward him, forgetting that we would be leaving him behind in less than 24 hours.

Let the record show that I saw nary a ladybug on this trip. I ALWAYS see a ladybug when we go visit The Pony. But not this time. Not flying around me, not on a TV show, not on a picture texted me by The Pony when one lands on him, not on the big billboard going toward Norman. I don't know if I didn't look out at the right time, or if that billboard has been taken down or papered over. I saw not a single ladybug.


After we got A-Cad back on the highway after our final rest stop at a McDonald's about 45 minutes from Norman...Hick asked what we were going to do first after picking up The Pony. He had mentioned that he would like to go to an Escape Room. He's quirky like that, The Pony. Fun for him is being confined for an hour to see if he's smart enough to get loose. I picked up my phone to text him. He was probably just getting out of bed. Our ETA was 1:25 p.m. The Pony needs his beauty sleep.

"I'm just going to call him. I hate to text. It's even harder with your driving."

"I can't help the roads, Val. We're not on the turnpike. That's where all the money goes."

"Be quiet. I'm calling."

As I waited for the phone to start ringing, a new song came on the radio. Yep. A song I've heard before. "Holes in the Floor of Heaven." By Steve Wariner. The last 3 times I heard this 1998 golden oldie, there were circumstances involving my mom.


"Pony! Do you hear that song?"

"No...the radio isn't coming through very well."

"It's Holes in the Floor of Heaven. It just came on."

"Aww..." The Pony started singing it from memory.

I'd like to think that Mom was along for that part of the ride.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

You Might Want to Take Some of Those Little Alcohol Wipes with You if You Stay at The Sis-Approved Hotel

This story will wrap up our series on Casinopalooza. There, there. No need to weep. Turn that frown upside down! You still have two tales coming from our visit with The Pony.

On Saturday night at The Sis-Approved Hotel, Val lay on her side of the bed, counting out her money. Hick slipped into something more comfortable (can't get much more comfortable than stripping down to're welcome, Sioux, for that image) while packing up his suitcase over on the couch across the room from the foot of the bed.

"It's cold in here. I can't hardly feel my hands to count this money. I'm freezing."

"I'm not."

"I was cold last night, UNDER THE COVERS!"

"I was hot."

"Duh. All you had to do was uncover if you were hot."

"It's only cool when the air is blowing."

"I guess I'll get up and check that thermostat for myself. You're not getting the hint." (Hick rarely picks up what I'm layin' down.)

Hick stumped over to the thermostat, on the wall at the end of the couch. "The thermostat is fine. It's 74."

"I'm awfully cold for 74."

"I don't know what you want me to do, Val."

"I don't want you to do anything. Keep scratching your butt and touching the thermostat."

"There. The heat is on now."


"It wasn't on. The air conditioning was on."

"What's the REAL temperature in here?"


"NO WONDER I'M COLD! We don't keep it THAT low at home! So I guess it really WAS cold in here, huh? Not just crazy ol' Val making things up again."

Funny how Hick had no response. If I didn't know better, I'd think he is finally learning, after 27 years of being married to Val.

Monday, March 20, 2017

I Swear, It Was Like Mothra vs Godzilla

As you might infer, my sister the ex-mayor's wife does not suffer fools gladly. She would much rather make the fools suffer for daring to be fools.

Hick has been known to be a fool. Consequently, Hick must suffer.

Perhaps I've let it slip, though trying valiantly to conceal Hick's little peccadillo...that he is sometimes not telling the whole truth when he passes on his wisdom. If he thinks you can't prove him wrong, he sometimes goes too far.

We were all eating our free breakfast at The Sis-Approved Hotel on the second morning of Casinopalooza, going over our casino route, when the battle royale began.

"Hey, Sis...have you seen them signs on the highway? About the prison?"

"No. What signs? What prison?"

"Oh. I guess it's past where you go for the casinos. It's somewhere around Miami. I guess on the other side, where you don't go that far. There's a prison there. They even have a sign about picking up hitchhikers: People Walking Along the Road Might Have Escaped From Prison So Don't Pick Them Up."

"No way that was on a sign!"

"I kid you not. That's what it says."

"How could people read it before they were past it?" Sis gave Hick her best teacher stare. Chuck Norris himself would have withered in her gaze.

"Well...yeah...but that's what it meant!"

Let the record show that after Casinopalooza gasped its last breath on Sunday morning, Hick and I hit the road for Norman to visit The Pony. Along the way we saw that sign:


I sent Sis a text with the actual wordage.

"I can see that fitting on a sign easier than the quote Hick said was on there."

"Maybe you've can't believe everything he says."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gotta Feed the Beast

Val cannot live on slot machines alone. She needs sustenance. Something to stick to her ribs. And hopefully not to her ample hips. Let the record show that Val does not partake of casino buffets. It's not the price so much as the time it takes away from GAMBLING! Oh, and her "wise choices" eating plan, too. Let the record further show that in the week we have been back from Casinopalooza, Val has lost 4 pounds!

I don't mean lost 4 pounds from the day we got back until now. I mean I'm 4 pounds down from the day we left here to start Casinopalooza. I know it's impossible to lose 4 pounds of actual fat in a week. I'm not exactly training for a triathlon ("THANK YOU!" say Val's knees). It must be something about changing my routine, all the walking from slot machine to slot machine, and the lack of gas station chicken. Anyhoo...I'm not complaining. About the 4 pounds.

The Sis-Approved Hotel had a free breakfast buffet. I made a wise choice to stay away from the biscuits and gravy, waffles and syrup, muffins, toast, orange juice, hot chocolate, and sugared cereal. My breakfast of wise choice was a generous dollop of whatever eggs were on the steam table, bacon one day, sausage links the next, and shredded hash browns the day they appeared. Oh, and I brought my own packet of Great Value Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal.

Let the record show that the Sis-Approved Hotel had individual packets and cups of brand-name oatmeal. But I'd tried them at the Holiday Inn Express in Norman, and they were always tasteless. So I took my own packet downstairs in my pocket, poured it in a bowl, and used the hot water provided for the hotel oatmeal, or hot chocolate. There must be something in the water. Because even my own favorite oatmeal came out tasteless, with an odd consistency. Hick says it's the chlorine in their water. I am not aware of fracking in the Joplin area, so that's one soap box I don't have to climb up on today. Anyhoo...something robbed me of my tasty breakfast treat.

The first night, for supper, we grabbed a McDonald's burger between casinos. The second night, we used our $10 food comp at Downstream Casino. We went to the little cafe right off the casino, with some weird name. I should have known better. But it WAS free food. I chose the Steak Strips. Huh. You don't want to choose the steak strips at a casino cafe. When I got it, it was four one-inch-wide strips of what looked like chuckwagon patties.

You know what chuckwagon patties are, right? It's not just a Missouri thing? It's like a flat generic chicken-fried steak patty that's some kind of pressed meat that may or may not be a distant relative of steak. What a gyp! (As my non-PC mom might have said.) It made me wish I had ordered the Chicken Strip Basket that Sis had. Even though it looked exactly like the Walmart Deli fried chicken strips, mostly breading. Sis had FIVE of those monsters, because the guy who waited on her told her that the three-piece basket she ordered was the same price as the five-piece, and she could use her food voucher. Sis DID give me a piece of chicken, and Hick too. He said his burger was nowhere near as good as the one he had at Wyandotte Casino for lunch. The Ex-Mayor had a Turkey Panini, which looked better than all the rest of our free meals put together.

Anyhoo...all that's just filler. Here's the real story. I would have separated them, all (perhaps a bit of an exaggeration) clamored for no more here we go with the meat and potatoes of today's story.

Our lunch on Saturday came around 2:30. I was feeling a mite peckish, not having consumed quite as much free breakfast as the others in my Casinopalooza party. Sis called the shots, though. So when we entered Wyandotte Casino, she put her nose in the air in search of food. "I smell something! I know they have a snack bar here. Let's go find it as soon as we get our player's cards." So we did, after taking a roundabout way counterclockwise through the casino floor.

We found a deli in the back left corner of that casino. Nobody was waiting in line. Only two people were sitting at a table eating. Sis didn't know what she wanted. We all stepped up to read the menu on the wall. Sis couldn't decide. She thought she wanted a hamburger and chili. What tripped her up was the chili. Thus commenced a game of 121 Questions with the minimum-wage late-teenager working the counter.

"Is your chili spicy?"

"I don't know. I've never tried it."

"Do people tell you it's spicy?"

"No. They usually just eat it. They don't talk to me about it."

"How do you make it? What do you put in it?"

"Well...our chili comes out of a can."

"You mean like Hormel?"

"Um...more like chili dog sauce."

"But is it spicy? I don't want anything too spicy."

"Do you want me to get you a sample?"

"Yes! That would be great. Thanks." So the minimum-wage late-teenager left the counter, and returned with an opaque plastic container like you might get salsa in at a taco stand, with a spoon sticking up out of it. That chili dog sauce was pretty firm. Sis took a bite. "Well...I guess it's okay. Tell you what. I'll just have a chili dog."

By this time, there were about ten people lined up behind us. Hick ordered his hamburger and my boneless wings, and we joined The Ex-Mayor, who had given up and sat down at the front table, separated from the gambling floor by only a waist-high wrought-iron rail fence, leaving Sis to pay for their order.

"What'd you get?"

"Well, I got the chili dog. Do you think it'll be okay? Try this chili." Sis pushed the little cup over to The Ex-Mayor. He took about half a spoonful for a bite. Then he made a face and grabbed a couple of napkins and used them to wipe off his tongue.

"That's TERRIBLE! You might like it..."

Hick had to get in on the drama. "I'm just glad she finally picked something."

And I couldn't resist. "Yeah. See all those people waiting? They weren't there before we ordered. I think a baby was conceived and born at the back of the line while you were making up your mind."

The buzzer-disc thingy activated, letting Sis know that her food was ready. She came back with a giant 1/4 pound hot dog covered with chili sauce. After the first bite, she let us know that it was, in fact, delicious.

Right then, a man I'd never seen before came up on the other side of the metal fence. He leaned over to get Sis's attention. "Hi. I'm Bill. This is my wife Judy. Come on over, honey. She just wanted to see what you got. And know if it's any good."

The weirdos in Oklahoma are pretty friendly, as long as you're not monopolizing their slot machine with two monkeys and a fake husband.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


I hope you're enjoying the tales of Casinopalooza! Because there is still a plethora of them left. Okay. Plenty more where those came from. Actually...three more. After this one. And then one concerning our visit with The Pony. Let's get right to today's story.

Val Thevictorian has a problem. Stop laughing. We all know she has 99 problems, and Hick is one. But for now, we'll narrow it down to Val's problem of resisting peer pressure. She's not very good at it. Take her early years of teaching, for example. In a town not Backroads, where she had two really, really good friends she hung out with every weekend.

It just so happens that both of Val's friends taught in the elementary section of the campus, while Val herself was in the high school end. That's okay. I accepted them as if they were real teachers, heh, heh! Every weekend, we would spend Friday night at one of each other's apartment or house, playing cards or getting into mischief, and Saturday night attending the the weekly teachers' party held at various locations. It was a heavenly place to work, with a rich social life, and I loved it. Too bad they fired my a$$ over my coaching record.

Anyhoo...these two friends were smokers. Smoking was not allowed on campus. It was a new rule that fall, and it almost killed my buddies. Anyhoo...whenever we got together, the air was thick with smoke. One reason we rarely met at my rented house. They were not good influences on Val, these two, back in the days when Val may or may not have imbibed fermented spirits on a regular basis. That part was not their fault. cohorts Jim and Karen persuaded me one night, in the midst of a heated game of Indian Poker, to smoke a cigarette. Yeah. I'm not proud. But I'm a people-pleaser! I gave it a try. The fact that they laughed their drunken rumpuses off did nothing to dissuade me. I even bought a pack of menthol something-or-others and gave them a try over the next week, on my way to night class at Fort Leonard Wood, working on my Master's Degree. I failed miserably at smoking. It felt awkward. I got not the slightest buzz, nor any tingle of pleasure from that nicotine. I think I must be immune to it. I didn't see what all the fuss was about. After my pack was empty, I quit smoking. Cold turkey!

"But Val," you ask, "what does that have to do with Casinopalooza?"

I'll tell you what that has to do with Casinopalooza! I am still a people-pleaser, and my will is still weak! When The Ex-Mayor who married my sister (and went to my high school where, let's not forget, I was VALEDICTORIAN) told me I should try a certain slot machine that he'd had luck on...I listened. Yep. Walked right over to where he was motioning, and put a $20 bill in it. You can probably guess the result.

"Oh. Sorry, Val. It really paid off for me."

Since The Ex-Mayor was being so nice to me (while Sis was fending off that crazed slot-stealer who accused her of having two monkeys, and being married to Hick), I decided to be nice right back. I had sat down at one of those desktop kind of slots, which I normally don't like, to play a $1 Mr. Moneybags game. That thing went crazy with the red screens. In about ten minutes, I'd won over $400. I cashed that ticket out so as not to play it back. I figured the machine would go cool for a while, so I wandered around playing some quarter machines. The Ex-Mayor found me, and asked how I was doing.

"You won't believe it!" I showed him my winning ticket.

"Wow! That's great! What were you playing?" I should have recognized his line of questioning early-on.

"That dollar Mr. Moneybags over there. I got a bunch of red screens."

"That's great! Good for you."

We went our separate ways. I went to check on Sis and Hick. Then I started back to my Mr. Moneybags. There sat The Ex-Mayor, playing away. He saw me, and it was like that time Jerry was pretending to smother George with a pillow in the hospital bed, and Elaine walked in, and Jerry said fakely, "Elaine! What are YOU doing here?" The Ex-Mayor looked like a deer in the headlights. Like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. Like Hick discovered eating a Casey's donut.

"Oh, you're trying my machine?"

"Well...I thought I'd give it a try... LOOK! I'VE WON OVER TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!"

So much for my lucky machine.

The next day, we had all split up in a different casino. I think The Ex-Mayor was off playing his $14 birthday comps at the gaming tables. I was losing money, switching from one machine to another, trying to find a good one. I sat down at a dime machine. I never play dimes. But this one had the red-screen feature for bonuses. And it was a three-reel nine-line Lucky Ducky. Sis had brought me a Diet Pepsi/Lemonade so I didn't have to walk my sore knees to the soda fountain. I set it down and plopped my butt on the stool, and fed this machine a ten-dollar ticket. That dime machine gave me lots of bonus play, and I hit about 5 red-screen spins to accumulate $105. Wow! On DIMES! I cashed that out.

Here came The Ex-Mayor. "Hey, Val. How ya doin'?"

"This dime machine just paid me a hundred and five dollars!"

"Which one? This one?"

"Yeah. Try it."

Of course you know what happened. The Ex-Mayor won $109 on it.

"Val, see that Emerald Fire machine behind you? That's the one I was playing last night at The Stables. Remember?"

"Yeah. I lost twenty dollars on one. That's AFTER I lost a twenty on the Emerald Fire you told me was good at High Winds."

"Well...this is a really good game. Lots of bonuses. And this one here is only fifty cents."

Of course you know what happened. I sat down and played it, and lost $20. Then The Ex-Mayor said he'd give it a try. Sat down on the same machine I just got up from. I went back to my dimes, but it was played out. Not paying. I guess we wore out the luck on it.

"VAL! Look at that!" The Ex-Mayor was up $200 on that Emerald Fire machine. Figures.

Oh, that's not all. At Wyandotte, waiting for Sis to find us by the front door, The Ex-Mayor recommended a game for me. "That one there, Val! It has really good bonuses. I always win on it."


"Well, you'll get four spins for a twenty. It'll hit on one of those."

Of course you know what happened. It made another of Val's twenties disappear.

"Oh. Sorry. But this one here, this Quick Hits, it ALWAYS hits. See? I'm playing this one now. Try that one there."

Of course you know what happened. That machine did nothing for me except take ANTHER twenty and spit back nothing.

Back at High Winds on Saturday, The Ex-Mayor found me wandering around again. "Val! Look over here. I saw this machine that I've never played before. Look. It has that orange flame. I don't know what it does. What kind of bonus it is. It's only a nickel machine."

"You want ME to try it, don't you?"

"No...I'm thinking about it. I might play it. Just to see what it does."

"Okay. I'll try it for a minute. This one right here on the end. I don't understand how it pays. It has that square and says it locks in. I guess the flame? It locks in the flame? So it must be a bonus?"

"I don't know. It doesn't say."

"Okay. I'm putting in a twenty."

"Hey! That one is a penny machine!"

"Yeah. But I'm playing ninety cents a spin! I might as well play dollars and have a better chance of winning!"

"I'll try this nickel one."

There was an old man at the machine between us. HIS machine was winning. Ours was not. He explained a bit to The Ex-Mayor.

"Okay! I'm done! I'm cashing out ten dollars and going somewhere else."

"All right, Val. Sorry you didn't win."

You might think that was the end of me succumbing to The Ex-Mayor's suggestions of which games to play. But it was not! At our final destination, he roped me into playing a dollar video game with buffaloes on three reels. It stopped on three lines. So you had to pretty much bet at least three dollars to have the best chance of winning something and getting a red screen spin.

"See here, Val? I've got over six hundred dollars on mine! When I built it up a little bit with bonuses, I played max, and hit more bonuses! You sister, on this one next to me, has won over two hundred on her seven dollars of comp play. Try this one here!"

Of course you know what happened. Another of Val's twenties evaporated. So right there, on those specific games I remember, The Ex-Mayor peer-pressured me into losing $130. Not to mention my rightful winnings that he stole every time he took over the machine I thought I was done with.

Val really needs to learn how to say, "NOT-HEAVEN NO!"

Friday, March 17, 2017

Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday #52 "Run That Way: The Biography of ArrowJones"

Blog buddy Sioux is hosting Back-of-the-Book-Blurb Friday. I have 150 words to convince you to fake-buy my fake book. Do you like a rags-to-riches story? One that details how simple people from humble beginnings make it big in the entertainment industry? Sure you do! So this week's fake book is for you! Better get your copy now, so as not to get crushed when the release date rolls around. Festival standing is not a picnic. BookMaster, BlurbHub, DialBlurbs, MetroBooks, and BooksNow all have Val's latest fake book available for order. Get it now, and flick your Bic lighter in appreciation if you'd like Val to write a sequel.

Run That Way: The Biography of ArrowJones

Steven Smith and Joe Jones are lifelong friends, though their lives aren't very long yet. Steven has a scheme to get girls. "Let's start a band, Joe! I'll be the lead singer." Joe is okay with that. As long as he gets to pick the name. He suggests ArrowJones. Steven says he'll think it over. In the meantime, he gets to writing some songs. Raggedy Ann Doll, Nuts, Making Out on an Escalator, Boy (Looks Like a Girl), Run That Way, Weepin', Joey's Got a Bow & Arrow, and Can't Stop Liking You.

Will the boys switch instruments, grow out their hair, and hit the big time? Read "Run That Way: The Biography of ArrowJones," to find out. Unless you're already familiar with their band, of course. Then read it for the sordid backstage tales. You won't be disappointed.
(139 words)


Fake Reviews for Val’s Fake Book

Lucy and Ethel..."Thevictorian is not a biographer. Sometimes, it seems like she couldn't keep up. If she worked in a candy factory, she'd be fired in no time. She writes like she needs a shot of Vitameatavegamin."

Tina Turner..."This author never does anything nice and easy. I hope Thevictorian didn't leave a good job on the river, working for the man every night and day, to fake-write these fake books full time. We don't need another zero. "

Ike Turner..."Thevictorian will stop fake-writing if she knows what's good for her!" 

Simon and Garfunkel..."This fake book left us feelin' woozy. Slow down, Thevictorian, you move too fast! Val, we're down on our knees, begging you please to stop writing."

The Carpenters..."Rainy days and Mondays and the release of a new Thevictorian fake book always get us down. We've only just begun to wish it was yesterday once more, before this author started fake publishing. Please, Mr. Postman, Thevictorian is no superstar, so stop delivering her fake books."

Captain and Tenille..."Don't ever do that to us one more time, Thevictorian! We write the songs that make the whole world sing, and you fake-write the fake books that make the whole world wish they were in a coma. "

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young..."Teach your children well not to read this fake book. If you can't read the one you love, don't, under any circumstances, read this one that's with you. We think the author was wasted on the way to fake-write this fake book."

Doobie Brothers..."What a fool believes is that takin' it to the streets minute by minute will persuade anybody to read this fake book. Listen to the music, Thevictorian! Your fake writing is like black water! It keeps you runnin' to the bathroom to try and purge yourself of its poison."

The Who..."Who are you, Thevictorian? We have never seen a more disgraceful treatment of a squeeze box! We won't get fooled again into buying one of your fake books!"

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Monkey Business at Casinopalooza

Val is not the only weirdo magnet in Thevictorian family.

My sister the ex-mayor's wife had a run-in with a gal at the second casino we stopped at on Friday night. The run-in actually came on Saturday, on our return visit. I'd had good luck there, and Sis gave me the choice of which one I wanted to return to. You don't turn down Sis when she gives you an option.

While I was busy having no luck on my previously high-paying Mr. Moneybags machine, and no luck on any other no-armed bandits in High Winds that day, Sis had sat herself down at a penny machine near the front. She was having a blast, getting a little bit of payback, and Hick decided to join her at the machine on her right. There were four machines in that grouping. The two that Sis and Hick were playing, and two on the other side of them, arranged back-to-back with their machines.

Sis was the first one to get her bonus Money Monkey. She and The Ex-Mayor were taking those stuffed monkeys back home to Babe, their 3-year-old granddaughter they babysit during the week. The Ex-Mayor followed shortly with his. I couldn't get the card-reader to give me a total on my play, but Sis persuaded me to go ask the player's club gals to scan it and see if I had earned my monkey yet. There was no line right then, so I did, and I had, and I took my Money Monkey back by to show them that I won $8 in free play. "So did The Ex-Mayor and I!" said Sis. "That must be what they are giving today."

I went on roaming through the quarter and the dollar machines. My Money Monkey was an albatross around my neck. So awkward. Normally, I don't take a purse when I go to the casino. But on this trip, I had too many different player's cards to stuff in my pockets. I had my small leather purse with a long strap that I put over my neck and under one arm like a tourist. I told Sis (who had a large, flat, over-the-neck-shoulder, soft-sided, brightly-colored purse that The Ex-Mayor gave her specifically for casino purposes) that I felt like that big ol' bear with the itty-bitty backpack in the kids' cartoon movie Open Season.

At least I didn't wear the purse on my back. I had to keep shoving it back into place so it didn't ride up to my armpit. Then I had to carry the Money Monkey. And when I wanted a free soda (Diet Pepsi w/a dash of lemonade), I had to stuff that Money Monkey kind of inside my little purse, but his head and shoulders and most everything above his waist stuck out.

I went back to find Hick. He was still sitting at the machine on Sis's right. "Are you going to be here a while?"

"Yeah. I'm winning now. I was down to my last few cents, and The Ex-Mayor put money in my machine for gas to get the lost keys last night. I told him no, but he walked over and stuck it in. I hit a bonus, and now I'm winning, and I'm going to play this machine a while. He said he was giving me lucky money. Looks like he was right. What are you doing?"

"Still looking for something that will pay. But this monkey is in my way. I hate carrying it around. Will you hold it for me?"

"Yeah. Give it here." And with that, Hick took my monkey and shoved it in the crack between his belly and his upper thigh. Head first. It looked a bit inappropriate, but who was I to question my monkeysitter? "Hey, sit down on your sister's stool for a minute."

"No. I don't want to play that machine."

"She's coming back. She doesn't want anyone to get it."

"There are two monkeys on her seat. They'll know it's taken. You can tell them."

"I'm trying."

I didn't care one whit about Hick's and Sis's problems. I was in a casino, by cracky, with a pocketful of money, and I was going to gamble. Not sit idly as a seat-saver. It wasn't until we all met up to leave, standing in the front vestibule waiting for The Ex-Mayor to cash out his tickets (this casino made you use a real live person, not a ticket machine), that Sis told me the whole story.

"See that lady sitting at the machine I was playing? [a hardened-looking 50-something gal with bleached-blond hair, thin as a rail] She is crazy! She was at the machine on the other side of mine, and I knew she was waiting for me to get up so she could have my machine. I could hear her playing, and she would press her button about once every four minutes. Then she came around and got all smart with me. 'Do you get a monkey for every 50 points of play?' I told her no. You only got one monkey a day. After playing 50 points. And she said, 'Why don't you go ask them if you get one every 50 points?' And I told her I didn't need to. It tells you on the sign as you come in. She just wanted me to leave so she could take my machine. Then she says, 'Well, YOU already have TWO monkeys.' And I told her, 'No, one is my husband's and one is mine.' Then she pointed at Hick and said, 'Your husband has two monkeys, too!' And I told her, 'THAT is NOT my husband!' So she went back to her other machine to wait. Now she's on mine. I hope she loses a lot."

I pity the weirdo who tries to separate my sister the ex-mayor's wife from her machine. She doesn't know who she's messing with.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Val: Portrait of a Slotaholic

Casinopalooza was a rousing success! Despite a few bumps in the road. ("Not my fault!" says Hick, "I don't control the roads! What do you want ME to do about it?")

Here was the plan, devised by my sister the ex-mayor's wife, who has been this route several times before. We would arrive in Joplin at check-in time at our hotel, then head out to hit four casinos that night. On Saturday, we'd eat at the hotel breakfast bar, and go to four different casinos, then loop back to a couple that we hit the night before. We ended up leaving off one, because Sis didn't like it the last time, saying it was a little sketchy. But we still went to SEVEN casinos. All within a 30-mile drive from Joplin.

I looked up the player's card comps at the various casinos online. The ones Sis gave me in her list of stops on Casinopalooza. In the previous times Sis and Co. have been to these casinos, they did not get a player's card. The Ex-Mayor uses his at the St. Louis casinos we go to, but Sis won't. She thinks it lessens her payout. Anyhoo...she decided that this trip, she and The Ex-Mayor were going to get player's cards.

Here's a collection of mine. It wasn't easy hiding my name on each one! There are seven we got on this trip, and three from the St. Louis area. I'm pretty sure two of them are obsolete now, since I tried one at Christmas and it didn't work, and the other casino has been under new management for many years now.

Let me tell you...that player's card decision was a scathingly brilliant idea. Here's what we got from those seven Oklahoma casinos we visited this weekend:

The Outpost - $7 new member

High Winds - $10 new member / $10 for seniors / $5 Friday night Money Monkey /
$8 Saturday Money Monkey

This is my Friday night Money Monkey, his picture taken in the car. After earning 50 points playing, you could choose a stuffed monkey with a scratch-off tag on its ear that contained between $5 and $100 in free play. We all got $5 on our Money Monkey, except for Hick, who didn't earn one Friday. On Saturday, we all got $8, and Hick got $5. There's a story about those monkeys in a future post.

The Stables - $10 new member

Buffalo Run - $5 new member

Wyandotte - $5 new member / $5 for everybody between 2:00 and 4:00 Saturday

Grand Lake - $15 new member / up to $50 if your card shows you've lost at least $50 that day

Indigo Sky - $7 new member (but they are associated with The Outpost, and we got ours there)

Downstream - $7 new member / $10 food voucher

In case you don't have a calculator handy...that's $147 in FREE PLAY that we got on this trip! Can't beat that with a stick! Of course, we can only be a new member once. But they'll probably send us some comps in the mail. The Ex-Mayor raked in even more free play, because it is his birthday month.

Of course you have to play a little bit to get your free play to activate, but not all that much. I would have spent that money at Grand Lake, even if they weren't giving me $50 free play for losing. Oh, and when I played the free credits before we left, I won $109 with it. Sweet justice! At Downstream, Sis won over $200 on her $7 free play. Good thing, because she'd been losing for a while elsewhere. did it all shake out? Let the record show that Val left Casinopalooza with every penny that she took along to play with, PLUS $505.

I can't wait to go again.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

On the Road to Casinopalooza

I'm baaaaaack!

Of course you'll hear about the outcome of Val's gambling excursion. But not today! Tomorrow, perhaps. I want to take a picture, and I can't send it to myself until I go back to town and have cell reception good enough.

I have other pictures, though! From the trip. Some planned. One not. Let's start with that one, shall we?

That's Hick's belly. Let the record show that even Val will defend Hick on this one. His belly is not as big as it looks there. He jams that seat up as far as it will go, so his belly rubs against the steering wheel. He does that in every vehicle. Also appearing in this photo are Hick's phone holster on his belt, with the top flap flipped open. His leg in jeans. the earpiece of my sunglasses. The car charger cord for Hick's phone. And that's all I can make out. I did NOT take this photo surreptitiously to get back at Hick. I put my phone down in the center console, and it went crazy. I kept hearing clicking sounds. When I picked it up, Phony was taking video. I guess Genius put a spell on it before he gave it to me in exchange for a brand new phone for himself. Anyhoo...I had six identical pictures of Hick's belly. I deleted five.

On the outside of the car, we saw some big road-blockers again. This time after Casinopalooza, on the way to visit The Pony at OU. I think Hick is a road-blocker magnet. There was this thing.

We don't know what it was, but we passed it on an uphill on I-44 south of Rolla on our way to Joplin. It was movin' mighty slow, but there was that extra trucking lane for it to move over. This picture was two days later.

Our old friend had broken down in Pryor, Oklahoma. Pretty sure that's what happened. I doubt the crew was attending church, or having brunch. It was still there when we came home Monday. Any ideas what this is? I say it's part of a nuclear reactor. I could be wrong. Hick and The Ex-Mayor think it's a pipe. The Ex-Mayor said maybe it couldn't travel on weekends due to state regulations. Or that it was broken down and waiting for a new trailer. Hick said the trailer was special made, and would be repaired roadside, because it would cost too much to make a new one. I can't really prove either one of them right or wrong. So they'll say what they want and hope you believe it.

Not 30 minutes later, Hick and I came upon another giant road-blocker. Two.

Hick says they're crushers of some kind. Maybe rock crushers. I just know they slow down traffic, and might explain why the non-turnpike Oklahoma highways are like driving over a washboard in a hooptie with no shocks.

Anyhoo, now for the story of being trapped in a car riding with Hick for 18 hours, since you don't like two-parters...

Hick takes offense when all the air whooshes out of my lungs when he hits the only hole in the road, or drives over interstate land-jetsam.

"You know your noises aren't helping..."

"What did you just run over?"

"It was just a patch of dark pavement."

"That was a great big jolt for a patch of dark pavement."

"It's the road. I don't know what you think I can do about the road. You don't even have your glasses on, Val. It could have been a dog for all you know."

Leave it to Hick to lighten the mood, huh? Let's hope he could see an actual dog and avoid it. Maybe I left my glasses off because I didn't want to see what he was doing. Like sticking his finger in his ear and twisting it around and taking it out and looking at it, THEN PUTTING HIS HAND BACK ON A-CAD'S STEERING WHEEL!

"I wish you wouldn't do that. I don't want your earwax all over my steering wheel."

"What am I supposed to do? My ear itches."

"You don't have to put your waxy finger on my steering wheel."

"Then what do you want me to do."

"Wipe it on your pants or something."

Which is what Hick did. All the other times he dug around in his ear. With the same hand he used to dig into a mini bag of Lay's Beer n Bratwurst chips. I offered to hold the bag for him, since I did not want a repeat of him tilting his one-eyed head back to eat the crumbs while driving 85 mph.

"Do you have to root around like that? It's like at the movies. You grind your hand down in the popcorn and then crush it against your mouth to eat."

"I can't help it, Val. I can't get my hand in it." Hick said accusatorily. Like I made the bags, not Lay's.

I don't control the size of his hand OR the bag of chips. I didn't think it was a good time to tell him. Just in case a dog wandered across the road.