Male Call: Don’t Bury Your ‘Lead’

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Click to read more about James Roberts.

 By James Roberts –

Ready to impress? Put your best, hopefully realistic but flattering photo up front in your dating profile. This may sound obvious but there’s a story here.

Let’s backtrack a bit. There’s an old newspaper maxim for journalists: Don’t bury the lead. (OK, OK, it’s really spelled “lede,” but we didn’t want to confuse you with crazy technical jargon.)

What this time-honored advice means is basically this: Get to your big news right off the bat…don’t hide or bury the most important info down in the murky middle paragraphs. Such a strategy can work great for a murder mystery or Marvel movie where you’ve got a captive audience (or did before COVID), but consumers of news can drop out very quickly if you don’t pay off on your headline right away.

Same with dating profiles.

For our purposes here, your lede is your picture and opening line. It’s the part meant to entice the viewer into reading the whole story.

Let’s look at three examples of how a lot of ladies bury their lede:

  1. Grumplestilskin. Much as you hate it when a guy comes up to you and says “Hey, you should smile more!” — this is the one instance where you can’t afford to come off looking grumpy, mean or unhappy. This doesn’t mean you have to go all bare-teeth on us. You can be “mysterious,” or “surprised” or “mystifying”; just don’t lead with your cheesed-off look. (Ironically, guys can sometimes get away with a “serious” look but that’s probably because we never learned to smile without looking like a Goofus.)
  2. Groupies. Never lead with a group shot. It may be perfectly obvious to you which one you are but considering how often women change their hair style and color you’d be surprised how it just leaves us wondering. This includes twofer shots with babies and men. Yeah, we figure it’s your grandniece or brother but why make us guess? (Oh, and you probably never need a groupie at all unless it’s your dog, cat or horse.)
  3. Sideways. Great movie, terrible photo goof. Since even your 7-year-old niece knows how to turn and crop a selfie, there’s no excuse for not making sure your pic is right side up. And while you’re at it, how about cropping out those black borders with all the camera data?
  4. See, you may only get one shot at being swiped right or left so lead off with your best shot — but not necessarily your most glamorous. 

Now, let’s talk about leading lines:

  1. We’ll probably get banned by the ad copywriters’ association for this but don’t worry too much about your headline — frankly, all we guys see is the first pic. But do pay attention to the first line of your profile. It might even be helpful to read it.
  2. Don’t need no negatives — at least at the front. That is, don’t start with things like “No gameplayers” or “No scammers” or things you don’t want. (Tip: the scammers aren’t going to run away just because you shoo them off.)
  3. Write in first person. Some profiles read like your sister or BFF scribed them: “Loves to laugh/cook/travel,” “Appreciates good manners.”
  4. Guys mostly don’t care where you were born and raised. It’s not necessarily bad to mention somewhere that you’re originally from the Midwest or transplanted from Georgia but really, is that the most important thing we need to know? (And, by the way, we have no idea what you mean by “midwestern values.” We know you think it means something, but it’s a bit like “serial dater” — some kind of gal-code.)
  5. You don’t get to call yourself “classy,” especially in your lede.
  6. Don’t lead with your dog-like qualities — friendly, loyal, eager, obedient…well maybe that last one would be OK!
  7. Of course, we know that there’s probably very little actual meeting going on in these COVID days but at least we can get the lead out of our ledes.

Need a guy’s perspective? Jot a note to Male Call at jrobertpenn@aol.com. For more words, ideas and whimsy, visit jveeds.wordpress.com.


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

COMMUNITY VOICES: Do You Need Your Soul Restored?

— By Pastor Paul Witkop —

The 23rd Psalm is, perhaps, the most well-known scripture passage. My second-grade teacher, in a public school, even had us memorize it as classical poetry. I have been with people who suffer from advanced dementia, who do not know even their own adult kids — and yet, when I begin reading Psalm 23, they join with me. There is something very personal and comforting about the shepherd psalm. It is calming promise when our soul is troubled. It is a reminder of God’s goodness even in the midst of this time of a pandemic. The psalm reminds us we can trust God, no matter what.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside still waters,
He restores my soul.
(Psalm 23:1–3a)

Shepherds were everywhere in King David’s day when he wrote it. Shepherds live to protect the sheep. The sheep do not have to fear because they trust the shepherd.

Where is your soul today? Does it need restoring? We are living in crazy and fearful times. The fear of catching the virus, the loss of a job, the loneliness caused by social distancing can all drain us. We worry. Sometimes, just the chaos of a busy schedule drains our soul. So, we ask, “Is the Lord really our shepherd or it is just a cute idea for a painting or a poem?”

Jesus, who called himself the good shepherd, said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus wants to restore your soul…to give you hope, to rejuvenate your spirit and to revive your God given potential. You are his unique creation and he has a plan for you that fits you perfectly. He wants you to know the security of unfailing and unconditional love. “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation” (Psalm 100:5).

For the stresses of each day, take some time to read Psalm 23 — one verse a day. As you do, you will be drawn closer to the Lord who wants to shepherd you toward real solutions and real peace. More than anything, Jesus wants to restore your soul.


Teaser: Photo by Felix Mittermeier

WestWorld of Scottsdale to Host Blake Shelton Drive-in Concert Experience July 25

Blake Shelton, with special guests Gwen Stefani and Trace Adkins, will headline a drive-in concert experience slated for Saturday, July 25, at WestWorld of Scottsdale’s Polo Fields. The concert will appear at 300 select drive-in screens across the U.S. and Canada, produced exclusively for this summer event. Gates open at 6pm for this 7:30pm concert.

The Polo Fields of WestWorld, located at 16601 N. Pima Road in Scottsdale, offer plenty of room for concert-goers to spread out, not to mention permanent restroom facilities. Concessions will be available for purchase.

The show will adhere to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control as well all state and local health mandates. This includes maintaining at least six feet of space between vehicles (this event will observe 20 x 20 feet of space between vehicles), the use of personal protective equipment by staff, leveraging contactless payment and ticketing systems and limiting capacity in restrooms. All patrons must wear masks when outside of their vehicles. Guidelines around concessions will also be enforced to abide by Arizona guidelines.

Tickets go on sale July 14 at noon. The general admission cost is $114.99 per carload. The event is rain or shine and is produced by Encore Live and presented in Scottsdale by R Entertainment and M Culinary.

Summertime Dining Made Easy: Postino Offers Family To-Go Menu & Wine ‘Spritz Kitz’

As we roll into the ‘dog days of summer,’ Postino is inviting Valley residents to stay in and stay cool with all-new to-go options. Whether a light no-cook weeknight dinner or a weekend spread made easy for the crew, Postino says its new Food for the Crew “is perfectly portioned to satisfy your Postino cravings when you’re rolling with a small crew” (4–6 people).

Featuring small platters of favorite Postino menu items, including table snacks, salads, panini and bruschetta, the Food for the Crew menu sounds like an easy option when it’s just too hot to think about that age-old question: “What’s for dinner?”

In addition to the new Food for the Crew menu, Postino is also launching its Spritz Kitz — a DIY to-go wine kit that includes all the ingredients necessary to make spritz cocktails at home, including a recipe card and a canvas tote to carry it in. Spritz Kits are $45 and are available for purchase online.

Postino’s Food for the Crew and Spritz Kitz packages are available at all Valley Postino locations.  For more information or to place an order, visit postinowinecafe.com.


Photos courtesy of Postino

Paycheck Protection Program Has Reopened — Application deadline is Aug. 8

The Paycheck Protection Program resumed accepting applications July 6, in response to the Paycheck Protection Program Extension Act. The new deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan is Aug. 8, 2020.

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses. Read more about PPP loan forgiveness here.

Businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. Businesses should consult with their local lender as to whether it is participating in the program. View a list of lenders participating in the Paycheck Protection Program by state.

To begin preparing an application, download a copy of the PPP borrower application form (revised June 24, 2020) to see the information that will be requested when applying with a lender.

For additional information, visit sba.gov.

Save the Date: Annual Urban Fruit Tree Program Kicks Off Sept. 12

Urban farmer Greg Peterson, founder of The Urban Farm, has been growing fruit trees for over 40 years in the Valley and offers education on the best techniques for successfully growing fruit trees in the desert.

“Education is at the core of all that we do,” says Peterson. “Each year we begin the fall season with a kick-off event that teaches people how to successfully purchase and grow fruit trees that are climate appropriate for the low desert.”

Recent food system challenges have shown how essential a reliable local food supply is for individuals as well as for our communities.

The Urban Farm Fruit Tree Education Program aims to provide a support system for beginning backyard farmers and fruit growers. Peterson makes full use of his contacts and resources to obtain a selection of seasonally and climate appropriate fruit trees, bushes and vines. The key to success for any fruit grower

is experience — and The Urban Farm has plenty of that to share.

The 2020 challenge facing The Urban Farm is hosting classes while maintaining appropriate social distancing. Instead of holding a live in-person Kick-off event, this year it will be a live online event consisting of a full course of learning opportunities, several Q&A sessions and the event’s traditional giveaways.

A day’s worth of education translates into a wealth of fruit growing empowerment for the beginning and semi-novice fruit grower. The event will feature expert advice from grower Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson Nursery along with Peterson hosting interviews sharing multiple real-life examples of success from here in the Valley.

With the advantage of current online technology, participants will be able to join classes and access course work from the comfort of their own home. Fruit tree education continues throughout September, October, November and early December with free webinars and potentially some in person classes around the city.

The Urban Farm accepts preorders for its selection of deciduous (apples, peaches, apricots, plums, figs, grapes and berries) and citrus trees (lemons, limes, oranges, etc.). The program offers special Early Bird pricing and bundling deals through Nov. 7. Pick up of trees will begin in October for citrus trees, and in January for deciduous trees.

The 21st annual Urban Farm Fruit Tree Education Program will take place Sept. 12, kicking off at 9am. For more information on The Urban Farm, visit urbanfarm.org or follow them on Facebook: facebook.com/theurbanfarm.

FOREVER FAMILIES: Meet Damone — A teen needing someone on the sideline for him

By Clint Williams, Aid to Adoption of Special Kids

Damone is a teen for all seasons — football season, basketball season, track season.

Damone, 14, is a multi-sport athlete who thrives in the world of competition, says John Hicks, a child specific adoption recruiter with Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK).

“He enjoys the routine and structure that sports gives him,” says Hicks, adding that sports give Damone the motivation to do well in school.

Damone runs track, specializing in sprints, and plays football, but his favorite sport is basketball.

“What I like about basketball is jumping and moving around,” the soft-spoken Damone says. “I’m really good at dribbling.”

But, he knows he can get better and is willing to work hard at it.

“I like people coaching me,” Damone says. “I like getting coached.”

When he isn’t playing sports, Damone says he likes to get lost in a book.

“I like reading books, especially the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books,” he says.

The perfect forever family for Damone would include a mother and a father to serve as a strong male role model.

“Like any athlete,” Hicks says. “Damone needs a good coach and a good cheerleader.”


For more information on children eligible for adoption, call Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) at 602.930.4900 or visit aask-az.org.

Southwest Wildlife Discovery Series: The Tiny Kit Fox — A True Desert Fox

By Marcia Sawyer, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center docent

Maybe you have seen this little fox running through the desert at dusk — if so, consider yourself lucky indeed. Although the kit fox is not strictly nocturnal, it usually comes out of its den at dusk to hunt for food and therefore isn’t seen very often.

The relatively shy but curious kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) is the second smallest canid in the world (the Fennec fox from Africa being the smallest), weighing only 4–5 pounds as an adult and growing to 12 inches in height. These foxes can be found in desert areas from southern Oregon south into Mexico, preferring mostly flat, sparsely vegetated areas for their homes.

With its long bushy, black-tipped tail and large ears, the kit fox is well-adapted to the low desert areas it inhabits. Those large ears, which allow them to hear prey that is underground, serve another useful purpose as well. Their ears help the kit fox dissipate heat to keep it cool. Its mottled gray, white and tan color helps it blend in with its surroundings. Kit foxes even have extra fur on their paws and between their toes — yet another dual-purpose characteristic. That extra fur protects their paws from the hot desert ground and helps muffle the sound of their footsteps while they are hunting. Amazingly, the kit fox does not need water to survive. Although it will occasionally drink water if available, the kit fox gets most of its hydration from the food that it eats! What a perfect desert specimen!

So, what does a kit fox like best when it is dining? Leaving its cool den to hunt in the evening, its favorite food is the kangaroo rat, but it also eats rabbits, pack rats and other mice, lizards, small birds and even plants and seeds.

The kit fox has a range of a few miles. Not content with a single home however, it will have several dens within that range. The entrances are narrow (to keep coyotes out) and there are multiple entrances and exits to each den. Tunnels within their dens can be 9–18 feet long! The kit fox rotates between its dens, both to get away from fleas and to keep coyotes from finding them easily.

Kit foxes are solitary except during mating and while raising their families. Babies are born in April and May, with dad bringing food for mom in the den while she nurses the newborns. By 5 months of age, the babies are ready to go out on their own, find their own areas and dig their own dens and start the life cycle all over.

While it may be pure luck to see a kit fox in the wild, Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale has some resident kit foxes who would love it if you came to visit. Make your plans by registering for a tour at southwestwildlife.org.


Photos courtesy of Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

Mix It Up at Home This Summer with Iconic

Summer is here, and with many of us still staying at home, it is the perfect time to hone our home mixologist skills. So, we turned to the experts at Iconic Cocktail Co. for some inspiration.

Led by owners Matt Farrow and Kaylee (soon to be Farrow) Nedley, Iconic creates handcrafted cocktail mixers. The company produces its mixers seasonally in small batches and says that its focus is fully on flavor.

“At Iconic Cocktail Co., every bottle starts with real ingredients,” the team says, “like fresh citrus, local prickly pears, or honey sourced from the Valley (just to name a few!) We’re focused on the flavor of these real ingredients, so we cut back on sugar and leave out the fake stuff. This results in a product that is low in natural pure cane sugar with a clean label. We never use high fructose corn syrup, artificial ingredients, or preservatives. Every ounce is packed with flavor so all you have to do is, just add spirit.”

The company also teams up with local winemakers, distillers, bartenders and baristas for inspiration, and Iconic was kind enough to share some of that inspiration with some summertime favorites to try at home.

To learn more about this Arizona-grown company, purchase mixers or for additional inspiration, visit iconiccocktail.com. |CST

Melo Rosé Sangria

Iconic says, “This sangria calls for our summer seasonal, Iconic Watermelon Rose Tonic. This mixer is made with fresh melons and fragrant roses, all balanced out with the right amount of quinine. To complement the rose flavor, we are using a Rosé instead of white wine. Garnished with slices of cucumber and melon balls from watermelon and Korean melon, this will be your new favorite summer sipper.”

Makes about 8 servings

1 bottle of Rosé
1 cup Iconic Watermelon Rose Tonic
¼ cup lime juice
1 12oz can sparkling water

Garnish with cucumber, melon balls, and lime wheels
Combine all in a pitcher
Garnish your glasses and serve with ice

Tiki Mule

“A new take on a Moscow Mule made with rum and a little Spiced Honey. This tropical mule is perfect for summer!”

2oz rum
1/2oz Iconic Ginga Syrup
1/2oz Iconic Spiced Honey
1/2oz lime juice
2-4 pieces of pineapple
Splash of sparkling water

Muddle pineapple and lime juice in a shaker
Add Ginga Syrup, Spiced Honey, lime, and rum. Shake all with ice
Double strain into a stainless steel or mule mug over fresh ice
Garnish with a pineapple wedge and leaf

A Walk in Oaxaca

“Sharing one of the three recipes we created with our friends at Provision Coffee!”

1.5oz Corazon Tequila
.5oz Yuu Baal Mezcal
1oz Iconic Prickly Pear Sour
.25oz Creme De Violet
.5oz Lemon juice

Shake with ice
Strain into a chilled coupe
Garnish with a lemon twist


Photos courtesy of Iconic Cocktail Co.

Take a Virtual Adventure on the Arizona National Scenic Trail 

Passage 39, Grand Canyon — North Rim; Photo: Larry Simkins

Residents looking for a big goal to keep them healthy and motivated during a time of social distancing are invited to sign up for the Arizona Trail Virtual Adventure.

Passage 34, San Francisco Peaks; Photo: Larry Simkins

This do-it-yourself event encourages participants to hike, run or ride anywhere and accumulate miles toward completing all or a portion of the 800-mile Arizona Trail. There are great rewards for various miles completed, and all proceeds benefit the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) to help supplement revenue the ATA has lost through cancellation of its trail running events, Arizona Trail Day and other community events that are an important source of financial support for ATA programs and operations.
Choose from the 25-, 50-, 100-, 200-, 400-, 600- or 800-mile challenge. Participants can walk around their neighborhood, ride trails close to home, run on a treadmill or any form of non-motorized locomotion anywhere. Those who complete an average of 4 miles per day between now and the end of the year, will reach the 800-mile finish line. Shorter distances have a completion date of Sept. 30.

Passage 31 – Marshall Lake Trailhead, Walnut Canyon

Every mile achievement has Arizona Trail rewards to keep folks motivated, including a hat, bandana, Buff, coaster, coupons, socks, custom 3-D wooden map of Arizona and more.

Coconino National Forest; Photo: Daniel Snyder

Learn more about the event by visiting the Arizona Trail Virtual Adventure website. Visit raceroster.com to sign up.

The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a complete non-motorized path, stretching 800 diverse miles across Arizona from Mexico to Utah. It links deserts, mountains, canyons, forests, communities and people. The ATA’s mission is to protect, maintain, enhance, promote and sustain the Arizona Trail as a unique encounter with the land. Learn more at aztrail.org.


All photos Courtesy of Arizona Trail Association

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