Sunday, January 17, 2021

"Reincarnating" a piece of 2009 .... No. 1

To glimpse Michelangelo's "Pieta" is reason enough to travel.

(Editor's Note: Being lazy and preferring many of my early posts over many of my recent posts, I have pulled two from 2009 and running them once again. This photograph is from 2004 when I was younger and taking my own advice seriously .... and which, if you continue to read, is the message I continue "to preach" verbatim to what it was when published in March 2009.)

Roam the earth & see the beauty ....

It seems to me that a primary advantage to residency on the European side of the Atlantic Ocean is being much nearer to centuries of art and architecture. So much is there to appreciate. Spending a few moments within St. Peter's Basilica standing before Michelangelo's 15th Century marble "Pieta" is a reminder that while years pass by, there is some beauty which may resist change until the end of time.

I sort of like this photograph, even though the technical quality is rather dismal. The photo might also be a reminder for us to roam the earth while there still is earth to roam, and while we are fully alive to enjoy it. Our days are numbered, and neither god nor man will keep us young or safe forever.

Monday, January 11, 2021

" .... there was in me an invincible summer"

Undoubtedly, there is no way to know how many photographs have been taken of Split Rock Lighthouse overlooking Lake Superior along the lake's north shore in Minnesota. This shot was taken on a winter day a few years ago for the Minnesota Historical Society. It seems appropriate to run it here as sort of an audacious welcome to 2021. I use the word audacious because at the time of the creation of the lighthouse, there were no roads to the area and all building materials and supplies arrived via ship on the lake and had to be lifted to the top of the 133-foot cliffs by crane. Quite a task -- worthy of a bit of bluster by those who planned the lighthouse and especially by those who constructed it. Tourists with their cameras have flocked to the light since it became operational in July 1910.

January has a history of being a rather significant month for me: A few years ago prior to the 11th -- today -- I would have described myself as an aficionado of Benedictine and brandy and Amaretto and a few other liquors and liqueurs, but I had an epiphany of sorts and now exist as a teetotaler. My mother's birthday is the 13th; a son was stillborn on the 17th; I signed on the dotted line with the Marine Corps exactly a week later on the 24th. July is another significant month for me. Two marriages both began and ended in July. Something about months beginning with the letter "J" and ending with the letter "Y," I guess, chuckles the sort-of-superstitious, silly me.

Hmmmm .... almost forgot .... January 21, 2009, is the date of my first post on this blog. I had started a blog a few weeks earlier centering on outdoor activities, but decided that was too narrow and I could include anything and everything which entered my mind with a non-specific setup. I deleted the outdoor pieces and have used them here. If my finger count is correct, with this post the difference between now and January 21, 2009, is approaching twelve full, complete years. Hmmmm .... wonder what to do about that? 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

There occasionally are giants among us

The figure in the photograph is clad in military fatigues, boots and helmet, lying on his back in peaceful repose, folded hands holding a military cap. Except for a thin trickle of blood from the corner of his mouth, he could be asleep. But he is not asleep; he is dead. This is not just another fallen trooper; it is Ernie Pyle, a celebrated war correspondent of World War II. The description is of the top photograph. The one below is Pyle, left center with a cigarette in his mouth, in life, while on a Marine Corps patrol.

War & Remembrance ....

"It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn't know they were in the water, for they were dead."

That was the way Ernest Taylor "Ernie" Pyle described the Normandy beachhead the day after Allied troops crossed the English Channel and invaded the European continent. It is said a photograph can portray a thousand words. Maybe it can, but those few words Pyle wrote certainly paint a vivid scene in my mind.

This is not a post per se about Pyle, but a few words and photographs to familiarize those who are not aware of him with him. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and probably the most celebrated journalist of World War II.

Pyle covered the North Africa campaign, the invasions of Sicily and Italy, and on June 7, 1944, the day after the landings, he went ashore at Normandy.  In the Pacific, Pyle covered the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He wrote about the experiences of enlisted men, rather than the battles they fought, until on April 18, 1945, he was killed by Japanese machine-gun fire on the island of Ie Shima off the northwest coast of Okinawa.

What popped Pyle into my head was recently watching the "Story of G.I. Joe," a 1945 film about Pyle and his coverage of the Italian campaign. Burgess Meredith played the role of Pyle admirably -- even sort of looked like Pyle. Every day, Pyle and guys like him are falling further and further behind us, so a reminder of their once-upon-a-time presence might keep memory of them alive .... at least for a while longer.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ....

New Year’s Eve revelers began to assemble as the sun was setting on the last day of the final month of the indescribable year 2020. It was a gathering of kindred spirits who seem to abide by the rules of Nature and to enjoy roaming free from birth to death.

Dare I be so cliché to say it?

Why not?

Willie Shakespeare through the voice of Macbeth:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

So long, 2020 .... it has been good to know you

This is the Christmas ornamentation which has adorned my dining room table throughout the holiday season. It is, to me, sort of an elegance reflected through simplicity. As Emily Dickinson wrote: "How happy is the little stone .... In casual simplicity ...."

Happy New Year ....

Given the negatives of 2020 when compared to the positives, on the surface the headline here might seem a bit out of place.

Allow me to explain.

Someone once said words to this effect. "Any year you have seen from start to finish is a good year in my book."

Well, I agree, it is. The year has been a good one in my book, too.

Incidentally, my gift to you is having blocked comments, so you are able to arrive and to depart without a second thought.

Four videos are offered today for you to pick and choose among -- or, if you wish, to ignore. Read whatever symbolism you will into that.

The first is Bon Jovi performing "New Year's Day." It is no secret I like the band and its music, and I like Jon-boy even better because his mama and his poppa met when they both were in the Marine Corps. I did use this video to greet the New Year once before, and probably will again. My body is landlocked in the middle of the North American continent, but the visuals reveal where my mind and spirit wish to be ....

The second is Diana Ross and the Supremes performing "I Hear a Symphony." There is a story about a man being asked back in the 1960s which girl group he liked most. His reply was: "The only girl group, the Supremes." Asked the same question in 2020, his reply was: "Still the only girl group, the Supremes." Some might argue that point .... I will not.

The third is Gabriella Quevedo performing a Kiss piece, "I Was Made for Lovin' You." The only other Kiss song I like is "Forever." It undoubtedly is the melody of both and probably is the concept of longevity expressed in the lyrics which appeal to me. I chose this version because Gabriella knows her way around a guitar.

Rounding out the selections is David Bowie and his crew performing "All The Young Dudes" 20 years ago at Glastonbury. I did see and was dazzled by his Glass Spider show way back when, and have never seen another anytime/anywhere/or with anyone to match it. No further explanation will be offered ....

As we move from 2020 to 2021, enjoy this final day of this strange and unique year .... I hope and trust the coming year will be and will have been a "good year" for you and for those you love when we bid it fare thee well 12 months from now ....

Something special ....