Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The house is too hot
My cheeks are flushed
The sink is full of dishes
And I feel fat and dull

But outside the stars are clear
The air is vast and cold
In the fresh beneath the moon
You can walk away
Along the roads
And frosty fields
Until you want again
For the comforts
Of an oven-warmed house.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I was so sorry to hear today that Edwards, my Mom's Chesapeak Bay retriever, died tragically after being hit by a car. I'm on record as saying that Edwards was the finest dog the Tate family has ever known. I'm sorry for your loss, Mom. It makes the heart a bigger target to be so emotionally invested in another creature, but that was an investment which reaped generous dividends for Edwards during his life. He was a lucky dog.

This too shall pass.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Stinker the Tinker is an elf whose job it is to slip down the chimney ahead of Santa on the night before Christmas and case the joint to make sure that no naughty boys or girls are still awake trying to catch a glimpse of the jolly old elf. He creeps through the house peeking into every bed and if everyone is asleep he gives the all clear to Santa.

But before Stinker the Tinker scurries back up the chimney he always drops a deuce in the toilet. Elves poop gumdrops. Did you know that? Well, now you do.

Stinker the Tinker,
That mischievous elf,
Left a gift in the toilet,
He made it himself!

I'm pretty proud of Stinker the Tinker. I hope this goes down as my contribution to Christmas lore. Perhaps years from now supermarkets will sell little bags of Elf poo at the end of their aisles.

"Honey, did you buy Stinker the Tinker's gumdrops?"

"No. I thought you got them! That's alright I think I have some jelly beans around here somewhere.."

"Jelly beans! What's wrong with you. Everyone knows that elves poop gumdrops! NOT JELLY BEANS!!! You'll just have to drive out to the store and get a bag."


"Yes, really, it wouldn't be Christmas without a visit from Stinker the Tinker."

And perhaps someday someone will research the obscure origins of Stinker the Tinker and will find this very post as the very first reference ever made to his existence. This is the birth of an exciting new tradition. Embrace it America! Embrace it!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Yesterday afternoon, Sarah and I left the kids behind in the capable hands of Nanny and drove down to Palm Springs to do some Christmas shopping.

Sarah and I absolutely adore our kids. We love them, and we love life with them, but there is something intoxicating about leaving the kids behind. We had told Nanny we would be back that night, but once we were down there, away from the kids and drunk on being alone together, it became a concrete plan. We got a room.


I know.

It was spontaneous. We hadn't planned to do it exactly. Sarah had been joking around about it earlier in the day, but I don't think either of us was sure the other was serious.

I had been saving money secretly for months- furtively depositing my "Walking Around Money" into a hidden envelope. After tithing and bills, we take ten percent of whatever is left and split it evenly between ourselves. That way we have a little in our pockets if we want to go get coffee with a friend or something. We call it "Walking Around Money." It's not usually much money, but I decided I would save mine up and take Sarah out on a date sometime. I had collected enough in my pocket for a room at a clean enough looking hotel and dinner at Chipotle. It was totally spontaneous. I have to give credit where credit is due. It was sarah's idea. Sarah is fun like that.

It was raining buckets and buckets in Palm Springs. (Southern California has been going through kind of a Seattle phase recently.) Fog hung around everything like the hazy edges of an old memory. Sheets of cold, fat raindrops fell through the mist, flowing off the roofs and across the parking lots. We left our room, room 145, and walked through the rain to the hotel's hot tub. She was barefoot. I wore my shoes.

It was an oversized, tear-shaped spa, which sat in a courtyard in the middle of the complex. Rain drops plipped and splashed across its steaming surface. It looked very inviting. It glowed blue and sent out trails of steam, but thanks to the rain it was totally abandoned.

It rained and rained, sometimes drizzling and sometimes torrential. The mountains above us were socked in. The mist was being driven through the palm trees. It was really pouring, but we just smiled, giggled, and soaked deeper into the hot tub- playing hooky.

Best Christmas tradition ever.

Christmas lights shine brighter when I am alone with you, Sarah.

(Special thanks to Nanny who instantly and graciously agreed to extend her babysitting responsibilities until the next morning.)


 Every year, sarah does this thing where she hangs Christmas balls from the ceiling clustered in front of the windows in our living room.
 It's kind of like a Christmas ball asteroid field.
 I love the effect. It's very festive, and colorful, and really very striking. It also makes me want to get my B.B. gun and shoot 'em out from the opposite side of the room.
It's beautiful. I love Christmas.


 I found this jolly old elf standing all by himself outside of the Idyllwild Water District building. Standing alone, as he was, way back in a dark unlit corner, poor old Santa looked more to me like a confused alzheimers patient who had wandered off than the merry Master of the North Pole. I asked him if he was alright, but he just stood there as silent as a mouse clutching that stocking full of toys and knick-knacks.

Friday, December 17, 2010

There's something about a road
That curls away from view
That lures the weary on
By promising something new
"Come just a little further.
Just another mile or two."
But when you 'round the bend
You find yourself anew
faced by a stretch of road
That curls away from view.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Josh Tate has entered into serious talks with Facebook about coming in and surrendering.

I am borg!!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


All last night I dreamed of lions. I dreamed of their terrible yellow eyes, set in  broad merciless faces. Their manes, faces and eyes all strikingly similar in coloration- freaky.

I dreamed of wheeling bodies, dust, horns, and flailing hooves.

I dreamed of animals dragged heavily down into the grass, wheezing, burbling and giving up.

I dreamed of stomachs ripped open before the spark left the eye.

I dreamed of a flat plain and a desire to run, run, run, but there were claws catching at my feet, my legs, my flanks, and climbing my back.

It was desperate feeling.

My heart burned with a single minded desire to run, to get away, but the claws would not let go and the weight of the lions bore me down. I tried to fight. It was feeble. My legs kicked out from under the covers. My arms flailed.

I woke up. I was sweaty and my heart was racing. Wide-eyed and crazy I sat up and looked around the room. The dream melted away. I fell back on the pillow reassuring myself that it was only a dream.

I had never felt so soft.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010


We're gonna go get a Christmas tree!
We're gonna go get a Christmas tree!
We're gonna go get a Christmas tree!
And bring it home tonight!
There is something magical about a Christmas tree lot, isn't there? The spacious aisles, the neat rows of trees, the lights, the festive atmosphere. My kids were amped up like chimps on cocaine as the van's tires bit into the gravel parking lot and came to a stop. No sooner were we parked then Bowden and Lucy were out of their seat belts and screaming to be freed from the confines of their Astro Van prison. With so many "Stay close to us's," and "Don't go where we can't see you's" dropped on their deaf ears we finally slid the door and watched as they ran scatter shot into the miniature forest. Pretty soon calls of "Daddy, over here, this one!" and "Mommy, check this one out" could be heard from one corner of the lot to the other.

Miles was watched like a hawk, and, unlike his slippery siblings, failed to elude our supervision. He was completely non-plussed by the Christmas trees though and fell to work eating the wood chips.
Sarah and I did our annual groaning over the price of Christmas trees, which was followed by our annual shrugging of the shoulders. What can you do?

We hadn't been inside the lot more than 10 minutes when Jack began conspicuously grabbing his wee little manhood, which is a red flag Sarah and I have learned not to ignore. So as soon as Sarah alerted me to the impending disaster I snatched him up and escorted him to the most evil looking porta-potty you have ever seen (or smelled) out by the parking lot. Jack would have none of it. So I took him behind the porta-potty and down an embankment where we found some bushes, but Jack claimed that his need to pee had mysteriously disappeared. My stubborn attempts to convince him that he did indeed still need to pee produced tears but no urine. So I pulled his pants up and we went back to the Christmas tree lot where he miraculously kept his pants dry. It was a Christmas miracle!

Finally, the decision was made and this fine speciment of a Noble Fir was netted, payed for and lashed to the top of our van.

"Miles, with a big fistful of wood chips.

Bowden is such a stud. He clambered up onto the van to help the lady tie it down. He was actually very helpful. The boy has good instincts.

Then we changed the kids into their pajamas and set a course for home. The kids fell right to sleep.

It's pretty, no?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Follow this link to watch the worst fight scene ever. I absolutely adore how Captain Kirk gets loose from the reptilian creature's grasp at :57 and it makes me laugh that the alien could not squeeze the life out of Ol' Jimmy Boy but apparently possesses sufficient strength to hurl boulders the size of a small auto. Simply put, this video represents the best couple of minutes I have ever spent on youtube. Enjoy!

OVERHEARD with special BFZ correspondent Joel Tate

My brother, Joel, recently came out to CA with his whole family and on the return flight I tasked him with eavesdropping on his fellow travelers for the purposes of a special installment of OVERHEARD. Thanks, Joel. Great job!

"So afterwards the stewardess walks up to me and says 'You know, I think you're quite rude,' and I turn and say to her, "Yeah, well I think you're quite rude."
Middle aged man regaling his weary seat mate with a travel anecdote.

"So we just absolutely loaded up on almonds."
mid-western couple explaining to fellow travelers their reaction to the discovery that certain kinds of produce cost less in Southern California.

"I mean, it's a political satire! Why would they put Jack Black in it?"
Pretentious man complaining to his girlfriend about a billboard for "Gulliver's Travels" before he went back to his kindle where he was reading some book in Latin.

"That's Rush Limbaugh politics."
Traveler filing onto plane

Sunday, December 5, 2010


December 19th at Idylliwld Bible Church, services at 9:00 am and 10:45am.


I have found in the woods a white fir of perfect heighth and form. If ever there was a tree that begged to be cut down and hauled home for Christmas this is it. Most wild trees are scraggly and unfit, but this one stands in the center of a sun-drenched, uncluttered clearing like the belle of a yuletide ball. Beautiful thick boughs with waxy green needles taper to a sharp point like a church steeple, and its branches sweep out over the snow in such a way that it does not require much imagination to picture brightly wrapped presents underneath.

But alas it is just a pebble's throw outside the camp's property on land belonging to the County Park where cutting down trees is strictly prohibited. Satan has tempted me with it. Oh, the siren song of a free Christmas tree. Sin always costs more than the advertised price. It never costs nothing. "A tree like that might cost you $50.00 at a lot," Satan whispers.  "La Noblesse Oblige," he reasons. "Just say it was on the camp's property. Nobody will know."  Like my ancestors, Adam and Eve, I am tempted by the tree. Am I not made of dust? I have returned to the tree often enough in my thoughts, that I felt it necessary to post about it here for the purposes of accountability. I feel weak like gollum in the presence of this tree. I'm afraid that one of these days I might just find myself, with saw in hand, a pebble's throw outside of the camp's property, and justifying the unjustifiable with a hardened heart.


A cold wind flows over the tops of the bare hills like water over a dam, blasting the exposed slopes and flooding the valleys with storm. It howls across fields and over the tops of chimneys. Snow hisses and settles in the black forest as animals huddle underground among the roots.

In the town, it's blowing wind and snow all through the empty streets. Each home is an enclave of warmth and comfort. Their merry windows cast an orange glow on the drifting snow. Winter tests the defenses. It curls under the eaves, and tries the seals around doors and windows, but inside everything is snug and secure. The fire crackles and children explore under the blankets with their toes. Winter's rage is impotent. The cheer within is equal to the chill without. Do your worst, winter, do your worst.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Sometimes I get the unsettling feeling that someday this blog is going to be used against me. In the next couple of days I intend to offer up more fodder for the prosecution by resuming posting. Hooray!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010


For those of you who follow the BFZ regularly (all three of you) I want you to know that posting is going to be kind of spotty over the next couple of weeks. My brother, John, is getting married TOMORROW to my good friend, Lisa Richard, and the whole family has flown in from the eastern seaboard. So, to make a long story short, I am apologizing in advance for the lack of posting during the next couple of weeks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


"I found a wild woman and took her as my wife.
She'd been living in the woods, a wild sort of life.
She was straight and brown just like the pines-
Her hair a wild tangle of vines.
I bought my wild wife a bed,
But she preferred the ground instead,
And the clothes I bought her at the store-
She threw about and never wore.
She walked the streets like a hunted thing,
Or maybe she was a-hunting-
With girls like her it's hard to say
If they are predator or prey,
But to be safe I thought it wise
To tell the guys, "Avert your eyes."


If November were a color it would be brown. Perhaps, it is not quite so brown as March or early April, but it follows October like an ugly Sister, and looks all the browner for it. By comparison it cannot help but appear dreary, monochromatic and glum. The naked trees, the blackened leaves, and the cold, metallic water speak of an in-between place. November is in limbo between falling leaves and falling snow. Falling snow is preferable.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The BFZ would like to extend a heartfelt "thank you" to our nation's veterans for their service to the country.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


so I will create this as a separate post, which will allow you to comment on the poll. Here is the comment thread up to this point;

The Fredericksons commented thusly-

I was greatly intrigued by your poll. However, I found it very hard to vote. Why did you not specify who was hurt? Me or the groom? It matters significantly. This is quite the loaded scenario. I will be closely following to see how the BFZ followers vote.

Steve commented thusly-
If I understand this hypothetical correctly, several of your readers would abandon a beloved fiancée if a tragic accident rendered conventional sex impossible. This is a repulsive moral choice.

To which I replied thusly-

Explain yourself, Steve Maxon. As anyone who knows me well can attest, your opinion carries much weight with me and I will listen with receptive ears.

I do have to point out though that nothing was ever mentioned about abandoning anyone. Not going through with a marriage is not entirely the same thing as abandonment, especially in light of this scenario. What is a marriage without sex? (Please note-In the scenario I make no distinction between conventional intercourse or otherwise.) Visualize marriage without sex- Two close roommates with pooled resources. That is not the fullness of what that experience ought to be, and if no vows have been made I think I would make as gracious an exit as possible. After one has promised before God and witnesses "until death do us part," than you better man up and be the best darn spouse you can be for the duration. Doing so as enxpression of love to your spouse as well as to God, but no such vows or obligation fetters the decision of a single person. You should experience the fullness of what marriage can be. You should not march like a martyr into a life of unrequited passion and dutiful cohabitation.

I think the decision not to marry would be gut-wrenching and difficult, but ultimately morally defendible.

So there, now you're up to speed. Comment away my fellow citizens of the BFZ. Or don't. Whatever.


Who will win? My money is on JT.


At the corner of Alvarez and Sunset sat a shuttered and forgotten furniture store. At least that’s how it appeared to Steven Welcome who looked on from the air-conditioned comfort of his BMW. A poster with the name of a commercial real estate agent and a phone number were plastered prominently on the front door of the place. Steven produced a pad of paper and wrote down the name and number.

Floor to ceiling glass windows ran the length of the storefront facing Alvarez Street. They wrapped around the corner and continued along Sunset before coming to an asphalt parking lot in the rear of the store. Broken glass sparkled uniformly across the surface of the parking lot. Plastic bags, fast-food packaging, and such had been deposited by the wind and collected into its corners. A homeless man slept in the skinny shade next to the building. A heaped shopping cart stood nearby.

The furniture store was surrounded on all sides by night clubs, bars and restaurants. As Steven took in the scene, the corner looked competely deserted. Alvarez and Sunset was the sort of place that came alive after the sun went down. Memories of the corner were always bathed in a purple glow as if cast from a neon light. On most nights. music and revelers would spill out into the streets and cars filled every available parking space. Cruisers rolled slowly past as groups of people, smiling and dressed to impress, laughed and made their way from one establishment to the next. Others walked alone with shoulders hunched. Throngs of people, slightly warm around the edges and following after various appetites, were drawn to the scene by night, but by day the place was all but deserted. The old furniture store looked entirely out of place among its sexy neighbors.

“This must have been a different sort of neighborhood at one time,” thought Steven to himself. “I wonder what Aunty wants with this place.”

Friday, November 5, 2010

I sat with you once in my boat. Remember that? We sat in the middle of the lake, way, way out. It was well past midnight as I recall. There was no wind, and no moon to speak of either- just the dripping oars, and my shoes scuffing the aluminum.

The shore was a perfect field of black. Remember? And when the train rounded the bend, it was like a prick of light in the upper left-hand corner, which grew and grew until I sat in its flickering light and its rumble interrupted our talk.

After it passed I prayed the question.
You know the one.

It was the same question I asked that night behind the counter of the Econo Lodge- just me, you and the ticking clock. I prayed the question then too, and you answered me. Remember?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

BEARDS OF IDYLLWILD- Special Halloween Edition

This past Sunday night, Halloween, Sarah and I took the kids into town for the annual Halloween shindig in the middle of town. There were some amazing beards on display, which, of course, I photographed. I want you to know though that there is one beard here in the San Jacinto Mountains that has so far eluded my camera. It has become my Moby Dick, and I will not rest until I have posted his bearded visage like a trophy in the paneled halls of the BFZ. It is the longest, fullest, most hillbilly looking thing you have ever seen. It's wild. I think it must have taken this man decades to grow, but everytime I have encountered him I did not have my camera handy. I will be patient like a good hunter. I will frequent his haunts- smokey diners, parking lots, and the town dump. I will bide my time until the mighty stag wanders into the sights of my camera.  "Click!" Gotcha!!!

 Having said that, here are some of the more famous bearded personalities from Idyllwild. "The parrot guy."
 The "hang outside of the Kettle guy."

 I don't know this guy, but I love the pipe, and I also like that the beard is well kept. A lot of the beards up here look like their owners simply don't care about appearances, but this sort of beard looks respectable. It's a fine specimen, no?
Chris Fourroux, owner of the Higher Grounds Coffee shop in town and all around good guy.