Thursday, December 7, 2017

Coming up for a breath of air

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose ...

Two days of infamy distant in time

Where were you on the morning of September 11, 2001?
 
I was asleep in a motel room when the telephone rang to awaken me.

"Are you watching television?" the voice on the other end asked?

"No, I am sort of asleep," I replied. "At least I was before you woke me up."

"Turn it on .... a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center."

The conversation went on for a while longer and I did turn on the television and I watched the screen in rapt fascination for the next few hours.

Where were you on the morning of December 7, 1941?

Unless reincarnation is real and I was in another body, I have no idea where I was because it was well before my arrival on planet earth.

I was an adult man, alive and well, in 2001. It is easy to remember where I was and what I was doing when Islamic terrorists hijacked four passenger jetliners and used them as weapons of mass destruction. The attacks killed 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000 others.

Since I was not yet here in 1941, I have to rely on history books and the memories of others to know what happened when Japan attacked United States military bases in the Hawaiian Islands and elsewhere.
 
Today, the anniversary of that attack, is recognized as Pearl Harbor Day. According to statistical data, 1,998 U.S. Navy personnel, 109 Marines, 233 Army personnel and 48 civilians were killed when Japanese military forces attacked a number of U.S. military bases at and near Pearl Harbor. On the other side of the international dateline, Japan also struck American bases in the Philippine Islands. Many deaths .... many, many, many ....

I hope you will spend a few moments reflecting on life and death today and thinking of those who died both on December 7 in 1941 and on September 11 in 2001 .... as William Shakespeare said through the voice of Macbeth:

"Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow ....

The best laid plans of mice and men ....

Some excursions go exactly as planned; some do not. Mine did not this time. I am not home yet, and I really am not certain when I will be .... hopefully, before Christmas. I guess I am what might be called "coming up for a breath of air" with this post.

Now, I will fade away into the shadows for a while once more .... take care and stay safe until our paths cross again ....
 

 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving, road time, religion & music

Jennie A. Brownscombe completed this oil on canvas painting entitled, "The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth," in 1914. Working during the "Colonial Revival Period," Brownscombe chose to include some details that are inconsistent with history, such as the log cabin and the Sioux feather headdress, to symbolize early America. With its elements of religious solemnity, feasting and community, the painting never-the-less had strong emotional appeal to the Americans of one hundred years ago. I wonder if it does today?

Thoughts on religion

I have been attempting to come up with the best word with which to describe myself regarding a certain matter: Excellent .... superb .... preeminent ....

Actually, I suppose any of them or of a dozen others would be sufficient.

Jean-Paul Sarte, in a 1964 autobiography entitled, The Words, wrote this about his grandmother: "She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist."

Those words sort of describe me, as well.

As I occasionally mention, I was raised Lutheran. Sometime around age eleven I began to have doubts. In other words, I began to turn into a skeptic about many things, most notably, I suppose, about religion.
 
At age thirteen and one year into the Lutheran confirmation process, I wanted to stop going to church. My mother and I made a bargain -- if I completed the confirmation process, which would be in another year, I would be free to make my own decision. I did complete the process and I did make a decision: I never have been inside a church during a religious service since then other than for weddings and funerals.

Back on point: I believe I am a prince among skeptics and have been searching for the best adjective to use in this regard: An excellent skeptic .... a superb skeptic .... a preeminent skeptic.

The question is, how does one describe a person who does not always believe his own eyes or his own ears, much less the words/thoughts/beliefs of others?

Do not misinterpret my position. I admire and respect and envy individuals who have genuine religious faith. I suppose "faith" is the key word here. Devotion to any religion requires faith, and something within me blocks my ability to have faith in anything and, possibly, faith in anyone. Time will tell in both those regards, I assume ....

The ownership of music

I listen to a lot of music. Mostly classic rock. I usually enjoy "covers" of songs in which other singers and/or bands stage a song originally performed and sometimes composed by another singer/band. There are times, though, when I feel/think/believe no one can do a particular song as well as the original version. A few examples:

The Rolling Stones, it seems to me, "own" the song, Gimme Shelter.
Heart, more specifically, Mary Wilson, "owns" the composition, Alone.
Led Zeppelin, I absolutely know, "owns" the masterpiece, Stairway to Heaven.

Why did I write this ???? I have absolutely no idea other than thinking it might go on for a while. Obviously, it has not and will not .... finis ....

Fram, as a character in a novel

I sometimes think of myself as a fictional character in a novel. That might explain why I write about myself often  -- my thoughts, my beliefs, my experiences. The problem with this habit is that I cannot foresee my ending and, short of a miracle, I will not be able to write about it from the grave. Well, one can always hope for a miracle ....

The voice of Ian Gillan

The music here today begins with a solo by Ian Gillan, the "off-and-on" front man with the "very hard rock" band Deep Purple. The occasion was a 1969 joint appearance of Deep Purple and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra entitled, "Concerto for Group and Orchestra."

I noted in a previous post that Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the 1970 rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, for Ian Gillan's voice and that Gillan was the first to perform the role of Jesus Christ on the audio album. He does have a marvelous voice. I hope you will agree after listening to this.

Just for the "fun" of it, there is another video included here of Gillan and Deep Purple in the band's usual "heavy, heavy, (heavy, baby)" rock venue. This rendition of Highway Star was performed in 1972. Sort of hard to believe it is the same singer, hah ????

Later, baby ….

I will be "heading out" for a few days on Wednesday morning and absent from the blogs until the following Tuesday. During that time, no posts, no comments, no replies to comments from me. I need a break from the blogs and from the world, and Thanksgiving seems to be a fine time to take one.

By the way, although there will be no religious services involved with this excursion, there will be religious solemnity, and I do intend on enjoying a Thanksgiving feast during my absence -- but, since this is the "Far North," I do not anticipate that it will be outdoors .... short of a miracle ....




Saturday, November 11, 2017

November 11, 2017 .... Veterans Day

I have included bits and pieces about the origin and the history of Veterans Day in years past. I will relinquish that this time around with the hope that anyone not familiar with the occasion and actually curious about it will take the time to do some research. Instead, I will include a poem by Alan Seeger.

Seeger was an American fighting with the French Foreign Legion and killed on July 4, 1916, at age twenty-six at Belloy-en-Santerre during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. Since Veterans Day began as Armistice Day following "the war to end all wars," it seems appropriate to have a poem here written by someone who fought and died during it. Seeger was a classmate of the British poet T.S. Eliot at Harvard, and this poem is said to have been a favorite of President John F. Kennedy.
"I Have a Rendezvous with Death"
by Alan Seeger

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

 It may be he shall take my hand
    And lead me into his dark land
    And close my eyes and quench my breath—
    It may be I shall pass him still.
    I have a rendezvous with Death
    On some scarred slope of battered hill,
    When Spring comes round again this year
    And the first meadow-flowers appear.

    God knows 'twere better to be deep
    Pillowed in silk and scented down,
    Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep,
    Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
    Where hushed awakenings are dear ...
    But I've a rendezvous with Death
    At midnight in some flaming town,
    When Spring trips north again this year,
    And I to my pledged word am true,
    I shall not fail that rendezvous.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Semper Fidelis .... to the end of time

"I would not characterize my Marine Corps time as difficult. I think of it as a learning experience which involved events and activities both good and bad. In many ways I thrived there, and much of my self-discipline and a major portion of my belief structure are the results of having been there. I am proud of that segment of my life."

Those are words I wrote recently in my reply to a comment on an earlier post. The Marine Corps, for me, was a learning experience, which is what I hope each and every experience I have during my life will have been since, from my point of view, the purpose of life is learning and, hopefully, applying what has been learned in a useful and a beneficial manner. Hmmmm .... that was sort of a convoluted batch of words leading up to this:
Semper Fidelis
Happy 242nd Birthday
November 10, 1775 -- 2017
United States Marine Corps ....




Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Buddy, autumn & martial affairs

What we have here is another photograph of Buddy -- my faithful companion through thick and thin, good and bad, fun and not-so-much fun. The photograph was taken last January by a friend who was watching him for me while I was otherwise occupied/indisposed/wandering.
 
October flees .... November rushes in ....
 
Buddy and I have been engaged in serious conversations the past few weeks. He is a bit younger than I am, so I have been attempting to pass on to him some of the wisdom I have gained through years of experience. (Yeh, sure ....)

He listens to everything I say, but I cannot gauge if he actually remembers what I tell him or if it goes in one ear and out the other. For instance, I have explained to him that I have a great deal of pride for having been in the Marine Corps, but that I am fortunate to have survived it both physically and mentally intact. Not everyone does .... and, I hope he never feels compelled to put on any manner of uniform.

I have told him October once was my favorite month, but now I dread its arrival because it became an unlucky month for me when I was in high school and remains so today. As an illustration, I was in a minor automobile accident on Monday. Nothing serious, but I decided to bypass insurance so my rates do not increase .... so-o-o-o-o, the mishap will cost me about $1,500 out-of-pocket for repair work. Let me see .... that adds up to a gun or two or three which will not find their way into my hands.

November is sort of a military month for me. The Marine Corps birthday is November 10 and Veterans Day (Armistice Day and Remembrance Day for other nations) is November 11. I have written posts specific to those days in past years, but I am really not thinking about doing it this year .... I suppose I might change my mind between now and then, but, just in case I do not, I am mentioning them now.

I accidentally watched a bit of news on television the other day and heard that President Donald Trump would like to have a Fourth of July -- Independence Day -- military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. (I say "accidentally" because I am trying to avoid most television these days, especially news programs.)

The idea, supposedly, is not to show off the military strength of the United States, but to serve as a way to honor and to say thank you to those who now serve and have served in the armed forces. I know many in the military who would and do endorse the idea.

As one who marched in two parades while in the Marine Corps -- once in July in oppressive heat and once in January in freezing cold -- I would be less than enthusiastic if I were personally among the marchers.

Both months often are "hell months" in a weather sense -- one because of heat and humidity and the other due to frigid temperatures driven by biting wind. And, being Marines, the Corps likes to show how tough its troopers are and we were not permitted to dress for the weather conditions in either parade.

Someone else suggested that announcing a pay raise on the Fourth of July for those in the armed forces would be a better way to say "thank you" than a parade. That idea I would entirely endorse.

As way of visual entertainment, I have two videos. Since I lived in Poland for a matter of months, one is of a military parade there. Since I think the other is a glorious display of national pride, I selected it.

But .... but .... but .... just to avoid potential embarrassment or an investigation by a special prosecutor (or whatever), I wish to stress/emphasize/point out that I have absolutely no connections with Russia other than a German ancestor who lived there before moving along to Canada and, eventually, to Wisconsin in the United States, and, finally, here to Minnesota ....

And, I am not involved in any form of collusion with any Russian anywhere .... now or ever .... got that, baby ....
 
 

 

Something special ....