Author Gordon Winter, Garry, and pet chickens

Do you think chickens worry whether they or their egg came first? Do chickens look worried? They certainly are easily ruffled and they do a lot of clucking around the chicken yard.

Do they wonder if they hatch an egg, if it is out of order, it will be a motherless chick? Or they will be a chickless mother hen? That seems a lot of thoughts for one chicken.

It’s right up there with hoping my dogs would notice that it was the end of Daylight Savings Time today, so they could sleep later. Because the Two-leggers had done something with clocks. Would you be surprised that the dogs were completely oblivious to the change in time? Lord knows how they will deal with dinner being an hour late!



DUKE THE DOGGE: What’s a clock?

MOM THE NOT-DOGGE: It’s a measurement of time, Duke.



DUKE THE DOGGE: What’s a time?

MOM THE NOT-DOGGE: It’s the not-happening between this thing happening and the next thing happening.



DUKE THE DOGGE: What thing? Am I a thing?

MOM THE NOT-DOGGE: You’re a dog. I suppose that’s sort of a sort-of thing.

DUKE THE DOGGE: Am I happening?

MOM THE NOT-DOGGE: Constantly, Duke. All the time. You are the most happening thing in our world.

I’m going to make eggs for dinner. Cheese omelets with a side of home fries. Maybe I’ll throw in a few onions too. Do mother chicks mourn their eggs? That’s another philosophical debate for a different Sunday morning.


My Top Ten Half Hour Westerns, By Rich Paschall

Previously on Top Ten Lists, the half-hour dramas were pursued and captured by our list makers after a mighty struggle with the internet.  The hero of our saga had to hunt down the short dramas of yesteryear because the present day folks had completely abandoned the idea of getting to the point quickly.  These stories were rounded up one by one and displayed in Too Much Drama, an episode from a couple of weeks ago.  Now the tale of the half-hour drama resumes with the Western division.  Our hero will ride off into the sunset looking for horse dramas that actually had a plot and moved right along.  Saddle up and follow us down the trail.

In the early days of television, the western was a staple of programming.  Many shows were radio broadcasts that became a television series.  With an abundance of radio scripts that could be filmed, it was a natural progression of the media.  While you may remember the famous one-hour westerns of the 1960s and 1970s, they were preceded by a short western with a somewhat simple plot where the bad guy was always caught.  “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver!” The half hour western rides again!

Johnny Crawford as Mark McCain

10.  Rifleman starring Chuck Connors.  Lucas McCain brings law and order to North Fork with a modified rifle.  Johnny Crawford played his son and by the end of the series in 1963 he was a true teenage heart-throb.  This added to my interest, I suppose.

09. Trackdown starring Robert Culp.  The series attempted to tone down the violence prevalent in other westerns.  Steve McQueen appeared as Josh Randall in the series and Wanted Dead or Alive became a spin-off in 1958.

08.  Cisco Kid starring Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo.  It was the story of an American hero, the Cisco Kid, and his slow-witted sidekick, Poncho.  Renaldo was arrested in 1934 for illegal entry into the US (before DACA) and ultimately pardoned by the President.  Carrillo was of Spanish descent.  

07.  Wanted Dead or Alive starring Steve McQueen.   McQueen plays bounty hunter Josh Randall for three seasons.  His character didn’t seem to be in it for the money, however, as he gave much of the earnings away.  It could be said this series launched a huge movie career for McQueen.

06.  The Roy Rogers Show starring Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  The show started in 1951 and ran for 100 episodes over the next six years.  It was heavily marketed to children with a glut of Roy Rogers, “King of the Cowboys” toys.  Dale Evans penned the popular closing song, Happy Trails.

05.  Zorro starring Guy Williams.  “Zorro, the fox so cunning and free,” ran for just 78 episodes, but seemed to us like it was on forever due to syndication.  It also had 4 one hour shows on the Walt Disney series.

04.  The Lone Ranger starring Clayton Moore and John Hart.  Although everyone thinks of Moore as the Lone Ranger, Hart covered the role for 52 episodes from 1952 to 1954.  The series overall output was 221 episodes and reruns featuring Hart were shelved for decades after Moore returned following a contract dispute (or creative differences, depending on where you hear it).  Like other short-form Westerns of the era,  the program was heavily merchandised to children.

03.  The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O’Brien. The highly fictionalized version of the real-life western legend ran for 229 episodes over 6 seasons, yes they made a lot of episodes for a season in those years.  O’Brien held a slight resemblance to Earp which allegedly was an influence in the casting.  The series started in Kansas but naturally ended in Tombstone, Arizona years later.

02.  Bat Masterson starring Gene Barry.   This TV series is another highly fictionalized version of a legendary figure.  The real Masterson may have worn a derby hat in the Wild West days as Barry did in the series, but he may not have been as likely to deal with you by knocking you on the head with his cane rather than using his gun.  In any case, the series was very entertaining and Gene Barry was much better dressed than Masterson in any of the surviving photos.  An interesting side note is that the real-life Earp and Masterson were deputies together in Dodge City and met again later in Tombstone.

01.  Have Gun, Will Travel starring Richard Boone.  Although Paladin might prefer to avoid fighting and bloodshed, he would not hesitate to shoot you if necessary.  The San Francisco based hired gun had a strong sense of justice in 225 episodes.  As a kid, I had a holster and plastic gun like the one in the opening sequence as well as the business cards announcing “Have Gun – Will Travel.”  At that young age, however, I didn’t travel very far.

Do you have favorite half hour dramas?  Add them to the comments below.  For any opening hit the title above, or watch all the openings on the Playlist here.

Related:  Too Much Drama


Sleep is very important to me. I spend a good deal of my life not getting enough of it. During those times, it was a struggle to get through each exhausted day. I’m glad I don’t have to live that way any more.

My problem is that I need more sleep than most people in order to feel rested and energetic. In high school, I realized that I needed ten hours of sleep to function at 100%. That’s the amount I would sleep when I didn’t set an alarm and let my body tell me when to wake up. In reality, I was getting around five to six hours a night on school nights.

There was a Tonight Show interview with Johnny Carson that resonated with me. Johnny was interviewing a comedian, actor, producer and also physician, named Jonathan Miller. He was part of the British comedy troupe Beyond The Fringe with Dudley Moore in the 1960’s.

I was struck by the fact that he said that he needed to get twelve hours of sleep every day! I was thrilled to know that I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t get by on the proverbial eight hours sleep a night that was thought to be the optimum for adults. Jonathan Miller was very accomplished in many different fields, so I stopped worrying about my own ‘excessive’ sleep needs.

Jonathan Miller in 1986

As a young lawyer and then a young mother, I rarely got more than six hours sleep. I could catch up a little on weekends but not enough. I was perpetually depriving my brain and my body of the sleep they needed. I was usually running on fumes. I was always trying to find twenty minutes during the day when I could close my eyes and nap. I counted the number of hours left before I could go to sleep. As in “ You only have to get through five more hours before you can get some sleep.”

I’m amazed that I functioned as well as I did. I was very determined and highly motivated. I must also have had an ample supply of adrenalin. But I usually felt like I was hanging on by a thread. My body felt battered and my mind was struggling through the fog on most days. This didn’t help my anxiety and depression either.

When my kids went to high school, they had to be in class at 7:20 AM. I thought that was way too early. I’ve recently read articles that say that teenagers actually need more sleep than adults or younger children. Studies show that it would make a big difference if starting times for high schools were even one hour later. Grades would improve, behavioral problems would go down and kids would have a more positive attitude to school. I think that the major obstacle to pushing starting times forward, is that after school programs would run too late. If that is the case, then teens’ performance in school and enjoyment of school suffers because of the importance of sports in our schools. This makes no sense to me.

Teenagers need the extra sleep so their bodies and brains can grow properly. It’s not just ‘beauty sleep’ at their age. The teen years are difficult enough for most kids. It’s cruel to add to the emotional and physical issues of the teenage years by making them function through a haze of exhaustion.

I’m retired now so I can make sure that I get the amount of sleep my body needs. For me now, that’s closer to twelve hours than ten. But whatever it is, I plan my schedule around my sleep needs, not the other way around. I can’t get the most out of my days if I don’t. And at my age, it’s all about quality of life over quantity of time awake.


I’m listening to it again. Not the first, second, or third time. Maybe the fifth or sixth? When life gets too weird, I need a “Bellwether” fix. It’s novel — a short one — Connie Willis and along with several books by Douglas Adams, is one of the books that keeps me sane when all the world is going out of its way to drive me batshit.

It was the bellwether and sheep connection I never got. What do I know about sheep? And why would I care? It turns out, sheep and people have an unnerving amount in common.

A bellwether is the leader of a flock of sheep. She is — the bellwether is always female — an über ewe. She is the sheep who the flock always follows. There’s no specific reason why the bellwether leads and no reason why the flock follows. There is just something about that ewe.

What the bellwether does, other sheep do. They don’t have to think about it — not that sheep do a lot of serious thinking. Their following is automatic, instinctive. Every sheep in the fold will mindlessly, blindly follow, even over a cliff if that’s where she leads. The flock doesn’t know they are following a bellwether. They just do it.

We have bellwethers. One of them is president. His followers are akin to sheep. They don’t examine. They don’t think. They don’t care what “their bellwether” is doing because she is the sheep all of them follow. We no more recognize our bellwethers than do the sheep. An atavistic instinct, embedded in our DNA which says some are born to lead, others to follow. A few will walk their own way.

The book is laugh-out-loud funny. Erudite, witty, and replete with trivia guaranteed to upgrade your anecdotal skills.

Bellwether suggests answers to previously unanswerable questions. Why do people vote against their own self-interest? Why do we do so many stupid things? The answer? We’re following a bellwether. They are loose amongst us, invisible shakers and movers. Unaware of their effect on the people around them, they change the world. Bellwether explains a lot of events throughout history which have never made sense. Even after you know all the facts of what happened, most of history still doesn’t make sense. When you add in a few critical bellwethers, there is a hint of clarity. Human life, history and relationships are illogical. They happen. We can explain them only in retrospect. That’s what historians are for, after all. To make sense of the past because it won’t make sense by itself. Human society is chaotic. The only predictable thing is unpredictability.

I found Bellwether original, insightful, amusing and thought-provoking. Highly entertaining and funny. I can’t imagine what more anyone could want from a book. I recommend it both in print (Kindle or paper) and audio. It is a book you will read and remember.

Then read it again. It helps make the nonsensical almost sensible.