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Occasionally, I post something as a point of personal privilege. This is one of those times.

Looking back, it seems a lifetime ago. Yet, the time seems to have zipped by before I really had a chance to take it all in.

Because Louisiana Tech is on the quarter system (the only school in the state that is), quarter break just happens to coincide with the Thanksgiving holidays. It was one evening during Thanksgiving/quarter break in 1967 that I was working part time as a bag boy at Safeway Grocery in Ruston while awaiting my grades—with some trepidation, I might add.

That evening was like every other boring day at the store (how exciting can bagging groceries be?) until I looked up and saw the three people approaching a register with their cart. One of those was a young lady who bore a striking resemblance to Mary Tyler Moore. She was, it turned out, with her sister and her brother-in-law and they were picking up a few items after visiting the women’s father who was a patient at Lincoln General Hospital.

As the other bag boys began approaching the register, I elbowed my way to the front. “I got this,” I said.

God, she was beautiful, but how to break the ice? Suddenly it came to me: ask about her grades. If she responded in a way that confirmed she was a student, chances were good that she was single. Brilliant. (It was a wonder I didn’t have women hanging all over me,)

But it worked. “Got your grades yet?” I asked as I carried her groceries to the car. Yeah, that was smooth. (Her sister Carolyn and brother-in-law Steve, seeing through my clever ploy, were hanging back, giving us a little privacy, most likely laughing at my glibness.)

“Not yet,” was her only response. Pushing my luck, I asked her name. “Betty Gray,” she said.

So far, so good. “Can I call you?”

“I guess so. I live in Simsboro. I’m listed under my dad’s name, T.R. Gray.”

Of course, being the doofus that I am, I promptly forgot her name (I’m still awful at remembering names) but my best friend, Gene Smith, had gone to school with her in Simsboro and he remembered her. I finally worked up the courage to call her in January and we went to see a simply awful movie called Fantastic Voyage at Ruston’s Dixie Theater.

Two dates later I proposed (she was simply that wonderful). She laughed at me. Two more dates and I proposed again. She accepted.

We were married on her 20th birthday, August 23, 1968. Today is our 50th anniversary and I can state unequivocally that they have been 50 years of a lot of highs and very few lows. For one, we have a rule to never yell or scream at each other. We can disagree without resorting to saying things we can’t take back. I like to say that Betty raised four kids: three daughters and me—and that I’m a work in progress. And I’m not too far off on that assessment. But the point is, we knew each other a grand total of nine months before we got married—and it took. I guess it demonstrates that real love is not defined by time.

I also say, jokingly, of course, that a lot of people lost money after the first year and that I even lost $20 because there was just no way she’d put up with me for that long. Somebody even had some variety of win, place and show going with odds taken on one, two or three years. I suppose bettors understand how that works.

To be perfectly honest, I spent a lot of time playing and coaching baseball, playing softball and tennis, and chasing news stories while she remained home taking care of Amy, Leah, and Jennifer. And make no mistake, the credit for their successes (Amy is a school principal, Leah a nurse supervisor and Jennifer a teacher) goes to Betty. She is their rock and to complete the picture of my perfect world, all three daughters and our seven grandchildren live within 10 miles of our house.

It don’t get no better than that.

There have been some memories that stand out more than others, to be sure. Like the time doctors thought Leah, when she was a child, might have cystic fibrosis. It turned out to be asthma, which was bad enough but at least it wasn’t cystic fibrosis.

And when Jennifer, our youngest, went into labor in Denham Springs while we were on Christmas vacation at Betty’s mom’s in Simsboro in Lincoln Parish—a mere 220 miles away. I drove like a bat out of hell to get to Woman’s Hospital in Baton Rouge for the birth of my first grandchild—on Christmas Day! We made it by a couple of hours.

When I was doing stand up comedy, I did a Christmas show for a Baton Rouge company at a local restaurant. We were in a private dining room and after my set, we sat down to eat. The company owner/president had the bright idea of going around the table (there were about 40 of us) and have each man tell how he proposed to his wife. Being one of the last ones to speak, I had time to think about it. When it was my turn, I said, “We were having dinner in a restaurant and I looked across the table at her and said…..”You’re what?

It suddenly got very quiet at the table—until I said I was joking. But for a moment, the company president was convinced he’d had a very bad idea.

But the funniest—and most embarrassing for me—was the birth of Amy, my oldest, in 1972. We were living in Ruston at the time and when she was born, Gene Smith and I were admiring her through the nursery window. Gene, who doesn’t have the best vision, asked what I named the baby.

“Amy Michelle,” I said.

“That’s not what’s on the bassinet,” he said.

“What does it say?” I asked, moving closer to the window.

“Ruby Gail Aswell,” he said.

Unbeknownst to me, my own vision was beginning to weaken and the power of suggestion took over, especially since one of my stepmothers (I had three of them, which goes a long way in explaining why I was raised by two of the most wonderful people on earth, my grandparents) was named Ruby and I absolutely despised her.

I peered in and could barely make out the name but sure enough, there it was: “Ruby Gail Aswell.” I exploded. I went tearing through the hospital until I found Dr. Hall who had performed the delivery. Pinning him against the wall, I began screaming invectives at him and demanding to know why he took the liberty of hanging such an offensive (to me) name on my baby. He started laughing as he removed his glasses and handed them to me. “Take another look,” he said.

I have to admit the eyeglasses did help as I was able to make out “Baby Girl, Aswell” on the bassinet.

Dr. Hall was a pretty good sport about it all. He laughed about that little episode for the rest of his life. Of course, Gene did, too—and does. And he was the one who caused the whole dad-blamed misunderstanding in the first place. (But isn’t that what best friends are for?)

There are so many other memories. My daughters’ first dates, all the teenage crises, the drama (oh, the drama), the time Amy and Leah flipped our car into a ditch (they were unhurt because I’d drilled the use of seat belts into their brain but the chilling feeling you get from that call from the state trooper is something you never forget) their weddings, the births of their own children and right there with me, all the way, has been the most beautiful, most caring, most patient, most wonderful woman I have ever known or will ever have the privilege of knowing.

It’s been a terrific 50 years with the love of my life. My only regret is that we don’t have another 50 years to spend together. We just aren’t given that much time on this rock we call call earth.

But then she probably would run me off with a mean, biting dog if she thought I was going to hang around that much longer.


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Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight
But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite.

                                                            (The Snake, by Al Wilson)

 “I do listen to people. I hire experts. I hire top, top people. And I do listen.” (Donald Trump, Greenville, South Carolina, February 13, 2016).

I’ll readily jump out in front of the parade on this one: Omarosa Nanigault Newman is an opportunist. After taking full advantage of her close association with Donald Trump to score a top-paying ($179,700) job, she is now trying to sell her tell-all book about his ugly side that was already in full view for anyone with any degree of objectivity to see.

So, am I saying there are no good guys in this little dust-up?


You see, no one really knows what her job duties were in pulling down almost $180,000 per year and Trump’s justification for hiring her? Try this tweet on for size:

Donald J. Trump


Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will. She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard….

8:27 AM – Aug 13, 2018

Donald J. Trump


…really bad things. Nasty to people & would constantly miss meetings & work. When Gen. Kelly came on board he told me she was a loser & nothing but problems. I told him to try working it out, if possible, because she only said GREAT things about me – until she got fired!

8:50 AM – Aug 13, 2018

Half-an-hour later, unable to resist his addiction to Twitter, he again tweeted:

Donald J. Trump


While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!

9:21 AM – Aug 13, 2018

So, he paid her 179,700 U.S. taxpayer dollars per year “because she only said GREAT things about me,” only to end up calling her “a lowlife” and “wacky.”

Good God.

I’ve heard more intelligent taunts on an elementary school playground.

People, this is the so-called leader of the most powerful nation with the biggest and baddest military might on the planet reduced to exchanging insults on social media with a subordinate he hired for no other reason than she said nice things about him—and he let you pay her salary.

It just doesn’t get any more embarrassing than this.

Or does it? He has brought on board the weirdest assortment of amateurs to ever grace the West Wing, appointees whose job it is to always tell him how brilliant he is and to never tell him he’s wrong or that he should cancel his twitter account. I know this is sacrilege to those who voted for Trump, but Bill Clinton has co-authored a pretty good book with James Patterson called The President is Missing. A single sentence on page 192 caught my eye, a sentence most likely written by Clinton: “Surrounding yourself with sycophants and bootlickers is the surest route to failure.”

Without even addressing his bizarre appointments (like Wilbur Ross, Scott Pruitt, Tom Price, Steve Bannon, Ajit Pai, et al), let’s examine the record.

  • Trump is opposed to CHAIN MIGRATION, yet his own mother and Melania’s parents took full advantage of chain migration to enter this country and to become citizens. This is no negative reflection on his mother, his wife, or her parents. No one can blame them for taking advantage of that law. But it does provide stark evidence of Trump’s double standard, or hypocrisy.
  • While he is quick to sing the praises of Vladimir Putin, Trump was unforgivably remiss in deliberately ignoring war hero JOHN McCAIN in announcing—to a military audience, no less—the signing of the Defense Authorization Bill named after the cancer-stricken Arizona senator. That in itself is inexcusable, an insult that matches—or even exceeds—the misdirected criticism of NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem for any perceived lack of respect. (A clue, Trump: the kneeling isn’t even about the anthem. Anyone with any perceptive skills knows it’s a silent protest of the profiling and shooting of blacks by police. Let’s at least try to stay on subject, Mr. Number-One-Putin-fan. You think you can do that? Never mind, foolish question.)
  • Trump hired PAUL MANAFORT as his campaign manager in June 2016 but after Manafort ran into legal problems, Trump tried to throw him under the bus as is his wont by claiming Manafort “came into the campaign very late and was with (them) for a short period of time.” I have only one answer to that: You hired him.
  • After praising personal attorney MICHAEL COHEN for his loyalty, Trump did a quick 180 and turned on his former legal counsel bigly when it was learned Cohen had taped evidence that revealed that Trump knew of the $130,000 payment to porn star STORMY DANIELS.
  • Two days after he was elected, Trump was cautioned by PRESIDENT OBAMA not to hire Michael Flynn. Did Trump listen? Hell, no. He knows more than Obama, he knows more than his generals, he knows more than the Department of Justice, he knows more than all the intelligence agencies combined, so why should he listen to anyone else? He hired Flynn. He even allegedly tried to get former FBI Director Michael Comey to go easy on Flynn. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates also tried to warn Trump. Of course, Trump would end up firing both Comey and Yates and, of course, ANDREW McCABE, just two days before he was eligible for retirement. But when things went south for Flynn, Trump tried his damnedest to SHIFT THE BLAME to Obama and Yates because, as everyone knows, Trump is never wrong.
  • GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS served as a foreign policy adviser and on a presidential international business advisory council but when he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian nationals on behalf of Trump during the presidential campaign, Trump couldn’t run fast enough or far enough, tweeting (of course) “Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar.” Well, someone knew him well enough to trust him and to try and use him to set up meetings with a Russian oligarch.
  • And then there’s Sen. Jeff Sessions who Trump was quick to recognize on election night. He was the first member of the Senate to endorse Trump and Trump made him his attorney general. But today (August 14) he had this to say about Sessions: “If we had a real attorney general,” there would be no Russia investigation. The man does not know the meaning of loyalty.
  • And as for that infamous TRUMP TOWER meeting with that Russian lawyer, Donald Trump, Jr., said the discussion was about Russian adoptions. Turns out Donald Trump, Sr., dictated that response himself and he only last week acknowledged that the meeting was about getting “information on an opponent,” which he said was “totally legal.” Except it’s not. Trump Sr. says he knew nothing of the meeting. Omarosa says he did. Place your bets.

Donald J. Trump


Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!

7:35 AM – Aug 5, 2018

Do you detect a trend here?

He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction,

Takin’ ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.

                                    (The Pilgrim, by Kris Kristofferson)

Donald Trump’s entire 19 months in office have been marked by one CONTRADICTION after another, a character flaw he has made no apparent effort to address. Yet, those who blindly follow him in the expectation that their lives will be better under his policies (which change daily, sometimes hourly), continue to blindly follow. They demand no explanation as to why Trump feels he has to suck up to Putin while disparaging our own intelligence agencies, why he thinks he can trust Kim Jong Un when he has violated ever agreement he’s ever signed, why massive tax breaks for the very rich are supposed to benefit the very poor, why divisiveness among whites and blacks is supposed to be healthy, why caging children is a good policy, why depriving millions of people of health care is wise, why removal of policies to protect the environment, consumers, borrowers, and the economy can possibly make sense, or why he constantly—CONSTANTLY—finds himself embroiled in controversy of the crudest, crassest sort.

In their book One Nation After Trump, writers E.J. Dionne, Jr., Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann note that Alexander Hamilton warned that “Disorienting the public by blurring the line between fact and falsehood is the trick of the despot whose ‘object is to throw things into confusion that he may ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’” (Emphasis mine)

That’s an apt description of Donald Trump if ever there was one. When it comes to disoriented the public by blurring the line between fact and fiction and throwing things into confusion, he owns franchise rights.

Oh, shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin
You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.

Take me in, oh tender woman 
Take me in, for heaven’s sake
Take me in oh tender woman, sighed the snake 

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I now have two E-books available for purchase for $5 each on Kindle, Barnes& Noble’s Nook, Sony, Apple, Kobo, and Diesel.

My first novel entitled The Mission has been joined by Macabre Vengeance in the Big Easy, a ghost story thriller set in New Orleans.

The Mission is about the election of a mentally unhinged tyrant as president of the United States who wins the most acrimonious, divisive election in American history and who, immediately upon his inauguration, sets about dividing the country—and the world—even further with his dictatorial actions. Even as he comes under investigation, he continues to insult our allies and to curry favor with our adversaries, creating a volatile atmosphere that threatens world peace and economic stability.

At the same time, NASA sends a seven-person crew on a first-of-its-kind mission into space. The crew of Sol Orbiter One, commanded by Col. Travis Whitten, discovers during its mission that the earth is doomed to nuclear annihilation and they are the only ones who can change the course of history

Upon their return to earth, they embark on The Mission that is shrouded in secrecy and if successful, they know they will save mankind but at the cost of their own lives.

It’s enough to get Alex Jones and the conspiracy-obsessed Q-Anon types to salivating over the possibilities of the black SUVs rolling up to my house in the middle of the night to whisk me away to parts unknown.

Macabre Vengeance in the Big Easy, on the other hand, is a bit more mundane. It’s only about a crooked lawyer who is in cahoots with a few corrupt judges in New Orleans as they work together in getting murderers and rapists acquitted and then, when they can’t pay their legal bills, employing them in their drug smuggling and prostitution enterprises. The scheme runs smoothly until the felonious co-conspirators begin turning up as corpses as they meet violent, unexplained fates and a law clerk named Matt Ramsey starts to get curious about it all. When he gets too close to the truth, his life is placed in danger and his discoveries leave him with legitimate questions about the probable existence of an otherworldly realm in a city where voodoo and the spirit world have a long tradition.


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I’ve just published a new book but it’s available only as an E book and as of today, it’s available on Barnes& Noble’s Nook, Sony, Apple, Kobo, and Diesel. It should be available on Amazon Kindle later today.

Unlike my previous books, this is a work of fiction. It’s a novel entitled The Mission. It’s about the election of a mentally unhinged tyrant as president of the United States who wins the most acrimonious, divisive election in American history and who, immediately upon his inauguration, sets about dividing the country—and the world—even further with his dictatorial actions. Even as he comes under investigation, he continues to insult our allies and to curry favor with our adversaries, creating a volatile atmosphere that threatens world peace and economic stability.

At the same time, NASA sends a seven-person crew on a first-of-its-kind mission into space. The crew of Sol Orbiter One, commanded by Col. Travis Whitten, discovers during its mission that the earth is doomed to nuclear annihilation and they are the only ones who can change the course of history

Upon their return to earth, they embark on The Mission that is shrouded in secrecy and if successful, they know they will save mankind but at the cost of their own lives.

Click HERE to download your $5 copy of The Mission.


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Apparently, this was on her Facebook page.

That appears to be the Russian spelling of her name

to the top right of this 2014 photo, taken at an NRA convention.

(Full disclosure: Butina approached Jindal to ask him to pose for a photo. He did not know her and had never met her, though he was informed she was Russian and supported the NRA which apparently had no problem with her support.)


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