Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A thousand-year kiss & see you in a while

Until a few days ago, I never had noticed how closely I resemble the young man in "The Kiss," the statue by Auguste Rodin, shown on the left. It is almost as though I modeled for him. Remarkably, the same is true with the statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha, which stands in a park in Minneapolis. The model who posed as Hiawatha could be me. See the resemblance?

Imagine yourself one of the artist's models ....

I look like him. Do you look like her? How long will that kiss last -- a thousand years? Longer? Think about it, anyway. Spring is hiding just around the corner ....

It is time for a break in writing, but not in thinking ....

This marks No. 70 in a row for me. My goal had been 30 days in a row, and it seems silly now, but it still also seems a good way to stomp down winter.

I will be taking the rest of the week off in terms of writing. I will, however, be doing what I originally came here doing -- floating on the sea of blogs and reading and, maybe, writing comments.

Those who regularly favor me with a comment still will be receiving them regularly. Those who never leave a comment, why in the world are you here? The purpose of this place is communication, isn't it? Talk to me, or ignore me. Just don't stand there smiling at me.

Communication is the most difficult task between any two human beings, I think. Especially in the form of the written word. No eye contact. No speech inflection. How does an individual know how another will interpret his or her comment? Whatever. (Is whatever really a feminine-style notation? If so, I will stop using it.)

Whatever the hell? How is that for being masculine? (Note the puffed up chest and the strut in the walk.)

Anyway, I need a few days to think about this and to wander a while. I need some time to evaluate what I have been doing (what have I been doing?) and to see what direction to take this blog for the next 70 days. I am questioning my original intent, in a way. There might be a few idiots wandering the earth who think they can be 20 forever. But, how does a person maintain equilibrium between experience and maturity with a sense of youthful curiosity and excitement? Man or woman? I am not certain it is possible.

My own "thing" is not only to find a lover, but to find a companion, each to feed the ego of the other. It is not idle wandering I want, but two people each with some manner of goal or accomplishment they search for, each who can assist (and are willing to assist) the other in finding or achieving the missing piece of their lives. With winter over and my head clear, I want to consider more if such a partnership is even possible.

I hope some will think about this and leave comments for me. I will be back by the weekend if not before and, in between, will be visiting anyone who writes regularly.

I should have been born a wild-eyed Southern boy. Life would have been so much simpler.

I almost forgot. Take another look at the statues at the top of the page. If you resemble the young lady, leave me a note. This is open to any young lady, not just to those named Helen. I know which statue I prefer, which do you?

Music Note: Listening to Steppenwolf ....
Specifically, "Move Over" ....
Some lines from: "Ride With Me:"

How ya gonna make it baby?
That's the question to be asked
Life goes on around you
In so many different ways

I know my share of history
How hard it is to be free
From wearing masks that turn to skin
Hiding what you could have been?

And I, I, I'm so confused
Which way, which way to choose?
Ride with me baby
'Til the end of the day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

When the gunfire sounds, it is just me

This is Fram’s custom-built .45 caliber, 1911-style, semi-automatic pistol. This was made for competitive shooting in pistol matches, and has seen a fair amount of activity in that arena.

It was not exactly summer, but it still was hot ....

Bang, bang.

I never have been able to understand why anyone is afraid of firearms other than because they have a tendency to watch too much television news or live in areas which are exposed to a great deal of random, violent crime.

Sorry, I don't mean to be nasty, but taking firearms away from law-abiding citizens will not reduce crime, only increase it. Taking guns away from the citizenry will only enlarge the chance of abuse by government. Pity the people who do not grasp that. To risk over use of an old cliché, freedom is not free.

Enough politicizing. Today, I cleared my mind of dust and cobwebs. I fired a few guns indoors and outdoors. Firing a rifle or a handgun gives me renewed self-confidence, a sense of freedom, a knowledge that no man has more power than I do (unless, of course, he is flying at 3,000 feet with a heat-seeking missile), a feeling of actually possessing what might be the most important of all personal rights -- the ability to protect one's self, and others.

There is not much that can surpass the sound of gunfire to me, the feel of a pistol kick in the hand, the smell of cordite, the sight of a dead-on shot. Nothing mean about it, nothing sinister about it, nothing evil about it. It is you, only you, knowing you can fire straight and true if you ever have to do it. Maybe having had neighbors murdered makes it easier for me than it might for some to others comprehend that, but, no matter.

Today, I ran a combat course at a private range with a custom-made, 1911, semi-automatic, .45 caliber pistol that cost a tidy sum. This event is pretty much like you might see in the movies. Moving as fast as you are able, firing at both stationary and moving targets, not shooting "good” guys, scoring the best hits. How did I do? Well, I am not Dirty Harry Calahan, but I did ok, especially considering it has been a couple of years since last doing this type of thing.

Before that, I had popped off 60 rounds at stationary targets with my favorite concealed-carry 1911. It is a Colt Gold Cup, and is pure beauty to shoot. I tried three others I own, as well: A Browning 9 mm that I keep trying to fully master, but never can; a Colt Mustang that is like magic in my hand. Some people say that it is too small for a self-defense weapon (.380 caliber / 9 mm Kurtz), but I think those who say that would change their minds if they could see me shoot with it; and, finally, my Fabrique Nationale that I bought last Thanksgiving, but had not fired yet. It’s .25 caliber / 6.35 mm).

Allow me to interrupt for a moment with one of my favorite quotes when I happen to think of it. This line is in a letter from firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd to Ian Fleming:

"I like everything about your James Bond character except his deplorable taste in weapons, a .25 caliber Beretta is utterly useless as well as being a lady's gun ... and not a very nice lady at that."

Firearms experts, especially those appearing on television news programs, usually are like political experts; lots of technical data and education, but little real world experience. Such is life, and who cares about them? Listen to the pros, which does not mean a person is required to follow their advice. Do not waste your time at all listening to television analysts about firearms.

Finally, I borrowed a Ruger Mini-14 (rifle) and played with it for 40 rounds so I might experience a bit of rifle time. I traded away my Mini-14, which was my one-time "truck rifle," some years back. Sometimes I think of buying another. The only thing I missed out on today was firing a revolver. My preference is for semi-autos, and those who shoot must also clean when the fun is done. With five pistols already in the lineup, plus a rifle, I opted out of taking a revolver.

It all added up to a good , fine time on a pretty nice March day for Minnesota. Lots of fun. No matter what anyone thinks or where anyone else is opinion-wise about firearms, I am more in tune with myself after today. More relaxed. More at peace. More comfortable with the world. More aware of me. More like the Viking who a thousand years ago said, "I believe in the strength of my own right arm." (As long as I am free to hold a .45 auto in the hand of that arm.) Isn't self-confidence and personal freedom what we all want for ourselves?

Music Note: Content (again and again) to listen to a classic rock station on the radio .... and very happy I am because ....
Currently playing: "With or Without You" by U2 ....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Working out, swimming & girl watching

We were scheduled to have photographs of Fram working out today, but somehow the camera was dropped into a swimming pool. Someone reported that Fram walked right into the pool when he turned his head to look at a young lady strolling past. Under the circumstances, these representations will have to do to illustrate Saturday in the life of Fram the Actual.

Splish-splash: Washing winter from my body ....

My winter, my personal calendar for winter, runs from November 1 through March 31. As I have noted before on these pages, I once attended a Labor Day picnic during which snow flurries were among the afternoon guests. I have seen three or four inches of snow accumulate the week of Memorial Day. The most violent blizzard I ever have been caught in took place on April 14. Never-the-less, those five months of "Fram Winter" are all I am willing to tolerate, no matter what comes out of the blue during the other seven months of the year.

This means we are in the midst of the last weekend of winter, at least according to my calendar. Time to begin the festival of spring.

I rolled into bed about 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning. At 9:45 a.m., I opened my eyes. I felt wide awake and refreshed, so much so my first thought was that I had slept round the clock. (I have done that two or three times during my life; maybe more, who keeps count?) But that was not the case. Four hours of sleep again, but with clarity and clearness to accompany them.

(Big time-out. "Stay [just a little bit longer]" came on the radio. The Jackson Browne version. That song kills me. Lot of memories .... ok .... back to here again.)

After coffee, toast and a bit of television news, I replenished food shelves and liquor cabinet. Then I went to a Y (as in MCA). It was my first visit there in at least two years. I went through about 90 minutes of leisurely working out. I had resumed a few almost-daily push-ups and sit-ups and what-nots toward the end of February, so it was not exactly a shock to the system.

Next, I went to the pool and swam for about 30 minutes. Other than a pair of fast laps from sheer exuberance, I mostly just hung out: Closing my eyes and sinking, drifting, returning to the womb (sort of), seeing how long I could hold my breath, watching the young ladies, splish-splash.

Finally, I stood under a very hot shower for nearly 30 minutes, washing away the last remnants of this long, dreary winter from my body.

The weather report for tomorrow (later today, actually) is good. Saturday, the body was cleansed of winter. On Sunday, cleansing of the mind will begin in earnest. Monday, a few inches of snow are in the forecast, but who cares? Certainly not me. Winter ends for me on Wednesday, no matter what happens .... do you understand what I am saying?

Mother, I went to China this morning.
The trees were pagodas, the puddles were seas.
Dragons were hiding behind the begonias.
I was a mandarin.
Willows were blowing.
Lies, lies, said she.
And I hid from her frightening eyes.
who can say, who can say?

Children, the gardens belong now to goblins.
The willows spread legends, the waterfall plays.
Fairytales wind like a web round the window.
Goodnight to all birds now.
The night's wings are folding.
Lies, lies, said I.
But I hid from her wonderful eyes.
who can say, who can say?

"Who Can Say"
by Alastair Reid

Music Note: Content (again) to listen to a classic rock station on the radio ….
Currently playing: "Rebel Yell" by Billy Idol

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another haunting & he requires she

Could this be the ghost of the infamous Fram the First?

The search for Bridey’s boyfriend ....

I haven't wanted to mention this before, but I've been undergoing hypnotic regression therapy. You know, to learn if I'm me or if I'm someone else.

A couple of things right off the top. It turns out I might have been Bridey Murphy's boyfriend. She lived in Ireland back around 1825, and then was born again as Virginia Tighe in the 1920s in the U.S. That was the story that sort of popularized this reincarnation business. Scary stuff. Weird.

I also might be the reincarnated spirit of Fram the First. Since I'm also a direct descendant, I'm not sure if that would be considered incestuous or not. I don't know much about math or science, so we'll leave that question for the experts to decide. I'm more into reading books and studying history. I slept through most of my math and science classes in school. That's the only way I could keep up with reading books and looking at the pictures in Playboy all night long.

The reason this hypnotic regression therapy started is because Fram the First keeps coming to me in dreams, except it doesn't seem like I'm dreaming. It seems more like I'm over there talking while I'm over here listening. Anyway, he keeps talking to me about going over to Greece and digging up his gold and jewels. He's up to a 15 percent share for me if I agree to be his mule. I ask him why he doesn't do it himself, but he says they don't issue passports where he is hanging out these days.

Fram the First even claims he will get me a date with Helen of Troy if I do this for him. Yeh, I suppose. The face that launched 1,000 ships would spend a Saturday evening with me. Nice try, guy. But, who knows? I can only remember meeting one Helen. She was the mother of one of my college girlfriends. She owned a bar. I worked there one summer. She kept making passes at me after she'd had a few beers. It was sort of awkward, if you know what I mean. I sure was glad when school started again. Helen of Troy, hah? Maybe, there's something about me that girls named Helen just naturally like. Nothing to lose; a night in Troy to gain.

I'm working on Fram the First to give me some up-front cash. Spending money. Travel change. He seems reluctant, but I think I've got him worried. He's started talking about pulling a raid into Normandy to hijack a load of wine, and sell it to the Brits for cash to finance my excursion. I think we might be getting down to real possibilities here, but I told him no euros, only dollars for me. I'll let you know how things are going.

By the way, if you're reading this and your name happens to be Helen, leave me a note with your telephone number. Me or my ancestor-ego will give you a call next week. We're already busy this weekend. We've been booked as the opening band at a casino. If you come to the show, pay attention to where the fire exits are and keep one eye on the pyrotechnics. If you run into Bridey, please help her up and tell her not to wait for me. Rock on!

He Requires Only She *

Happy is she, who knows my love,
For I will hold her like a jewel,
More precious than my life,
More valuable than breath itself.

Happy is she, who knows my love,
For it is given without reservation,
Requiring only a smile, a kiss, a touch,
And will not fade till light leaves my eyes.

Happy is she, who knows my love,
For it has searched beyond the sea,
And knows too well the emptiness of lust,
Now understanding what rapture requires.

Happy is she, who knows my love,
For water cannot quench my thirsting soul,
Nor bread restore my hungering body,
For I am he, and he requires only she.

* (Another story in column form, as fled from my fingers in three minutes flat .... personally timed it.)

Music Note: Content with the radio on a classic rock station this evening ....
Currently playing: Journey is the band; not sure of the name of the song ....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hero worship & the end of mountains

The last runner sometimes is the best man ....

In a passing comment the other day, I mentioned that the British soldier, explorer and writer, Richard Burton, was one of my "heroes," which started me thinking: Does the male of the species ever outgrow hero worship?

Definitions and semantics play a role here, just as they do in every concept. In terms of admiring other men for various attributes, I know I still do, and the characteristics involved have remained fairly consistent since I was a boy -- but, with a few adjustments along the way.

There are a few athletes I admire. This does not so much involve talent at hitting a baseball or the ability to throw a football 60 yards accurately. Rightly or wrongly, I think such stuff is maybe 80 percent accident of birth and 20 percent hard work. For me, the admiration involves such people as those who do not whine about not being paid enough, those who do not cheat, those who keep getting up when they are exhausted or hurt.

The same is pretty much the case with men in any field, I think. God-given talents separate us all in degrees. Some are gifted with big muscles, some with big brains, while most of us just hang out watching -- looking for somewhere we might excel.

Sometime during the last week or two of high school, I happened to be walking with a school mate who was a year younger, and who I would term an acquaintance rather than a friend. During the conversation, he said he admired me and envied my athletic ability. I was genuinely surprised because I had always considered myself middle-of-the-road in that regard, and knew others with greater skills and who, in fact, I admired and envied.

This young man was always the last to finish running laps after football practice. He was the slowest on the team. Neither was he particularly strong. Although he was physically bigger than I was, I still had literally run over him more than once on the practice field. But, he never quit running until he had completed all his required laps and he always got up after being knocked down.

That was the last time I talked with him. High school ended for me, and I was forever on the road. Not too many years later, though, I saw a photograph of him in a national magazine. He was in the Army. He was in the Special Forces. He was standing among the toughest of the tough, the best of the best.

It was about that time I caught on to the fact that it should have been me admiring him back on the high school football field, for putting his entire being into accomplishing those goals he set his mind to, rather than being satisfied to live off his natural talents alone, like I had been back then.

Where have all the mountains gone?

Life is becoming more artificial by the day. Soon, there will be nothing unique, nothing individual left, or am I wrong about that?

I know a man who has been atop Mount Everest. He got himself into great physical shape, wrote out a check and off he went. Little more than six decades ago, the summit of Everest had yet to be conquered. Those who have stood there now number in the thousands.

One hundred years ago, men were dying trying to be the first to reach both the North Pole and the South Pole. For a few thousand dollars today, a person can fly to the North Pole, possibly land if conditions cooperate, or pay a few more dollars and tour the Antarctic in cruise ship comfort. Men and women cross the polar caps, re-supplied from the air, broadcasting their "adventure" to anyone who owns a computer and signs up for internet service.

Climb a plastic cliff with a rope around your waist in case you fall, and feel the thrill. Kill the Nazis on a computer game and feel flush with pride. Jump from a plane, be a temporary bird, and feel the rush. Stand on the stage at a karaoke bar and feel the adulation.

Personal accomplishment is nothing to make fun of or to belittle, and my point is not to do that. To run a greater distance tomorrow than today is real accomplishment; to obtain a college degree is real accomplishment. What I am saying is that true individuality is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and sameness reigns supreme. Why bother to climb Mount Everest now other than for the personal pleasure of it? There is nothing especially unique about it anymore. Not much more than a checkbook is required.

Myth and legend, true daring and challenge, are fading into history, being replaced by fantasy and games. Goodbye, Sir Edmund Hillary; hello, Harry Potter. Not only is the world shrinking geographically, but so seems to be the imagination of mankind. Sort of boring now.

Music Note: Listening to .38 Special ....
Specifically, "Live at Sturgis" ....
Some lines from: "Fantasy Girl:"

Lately I'm learnin

That so many yearnings are never to be
The childhood illusions are merely delusions of a girl that I see
In my minds eye
I see clearly a vision of how it could be
Me and my fantasy girl
Hold on to me
Be my fantasy girl
Don't set me free

Now I've had my share
Sometimes I swear that I've had enough
You end up in sorrow
Broken tomorrows, love can be tough
But my minds eye sees a vision of true love and how it should be
Me and my fantasy girl
Hold on to me

(Neat song, and the band has the greatest name of any band.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Empathy creates frustration

Rest well, fallen members of the Oakland, California, Police Department: Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, Officer John Hege, 41, SWAT Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35, and Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43. Half a lifetime stolen from each man.

Heads high, Diva and friends ....

When I read Diva's post today, at first I felt badly for the officers and their families, then for Diva and her friends. A few minutes later, I felt like yelling and punching a hole in the wall. Frustration over the inability to pull back the curtain of time and make things right again is a nasty thing, for me at least. Empathy and personal knowledge can create such frustration no matter if an event occurs next door or 2,000 miles away from home.

No one wants his life cut short, but these guys went out doing what they wanted to be doing, being where they wanted to be, and in the company of friends, and as members of an actual brotherhood. Under the circumstances, this is meaningful and is not a little thing. Believe me, I know, that is true.

I felt like reading about cops for a few minutes after learning of this incident. I looked for a book I know I once had, "The Blue Knight," by Joseph Wambaugh, and could not find it. Damn movers, how many boxes did they lose? More frustration. No book, nothing to read. Forced to think, instead.

Wambaugh, a 17-year-old kid in the Marine Corps who later became a Los Angeles copper, wrote a series of novels about life in a blue uniform, beginning while he was still on the force. He ran into all sorts of official flack for portraying the human side of police officers and for being honest about the toll their work often took from them, which too often emerged in the form of alcoholism, divorce, wrecked careers and suicides. One of his books, "The Onion Field," has been compared to Truman Capote's, "In Cold Blood." Some have been made into motion pictures.

Life goes on. It just slows down for a while some days. Usually on the days you do not want it to.

Music Note: Listening to Neil Young ....
Specifically, "Rust Never Sleeps" ....
Some lines from the song: "Hey Hey, My My:"

It's better to burn out 'cause rust never sleeps
The king is gone but he's not forgotten.
Hey hey, my my
Rock and roll can never die
There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Collecting veils & thinking about ..... about .... about ....

Attention, young ladies age 21 and over: Applications sought from bright, attractive young ladies seeking to expand their horizons. Earn college credits while studying the history of motion pictures abroad. Scholarships available; also loans with very low interest rates and easy repayment plan. Must be single and unattached. Must bring your own personal veils.

This is sort of a "state of the blog speech"

As I have mentioned about a thousand times before, when January snow and cold hits, sometimes, I might go south for a couple of weeks; sometimes, I might go on a reading binge; sometimes, well, I won't tell you everything. This year, I went abloggin' (however a word of that approximation might be spelled) and roamed the sea of blogs.

I am not certain if doing this has served any purpose or not. I am no less restless today than I was a bit more than two months ago when I began to write. While it might not remain winter, neither is it July, which certainly explains some of my restlessness. A few questions I came here with have been answered, I think, but the heavy duty ones persist. If I'm lucky, those, too, will be resolved six months or a year from now.

Being here in "blogland" has been mostly enjoyable. I've only had one troll, and sure cannot cry about having had it rough in that respect. I have been surprised and pleased by the degree of good manners and consideration I have encountered. I've been involved in a few misunderstandings, but we all engage in them every day.

The few bloggers I have followed, I have done so by intent and for specific reason. I liked what you wrote or your topics or your guts or your enthusiasm or your effort to help people or the place you were traveling. There probably are a few other reasons, but there was a definite reason or two or three for each.

Nothing has changed my tentative jump off from sometime in July. Nothing has changed my initial jump location as being into Greece for a few weeks. After that? Unless something does change in his regard, I am thinking southern France near the Mediterranean, if not actually on it (ok, beside it, on the beach). From there, another map will have to be drawn. The world certainly has gotten geographically smaller in the past decade or two, hasn't it? A hop, skip and a jump, here we go and there we are.

Despite my "advertisement" above, I decided some time back that I am not looking for anyone to actually accompany me. Selfish me, I want to experience Greece without distraction. My more recent thought has been about the possibilities if I actually do settle in for a year or two. Then, I will want a "magic girl" to visit me, or maybe to hang out with me a while and see if anything develops.

I do have three or four other things on my mind, but they seem determined to stay there. I'm out of sync today. My fingers frequently replace my brain, and they are not doing so right now. I have said in the past that my fingers do my thinking for me. (Imagine my difficulties the two times I've had an arm and hand in a cast.)

Also, winter is moving away, and my mind and body reverse themselves between winter and summer. My body is coming out of hibernation for use during the warm weather months, and my mind is going toward its stagnant period to get some rest while I collect wind, water and sun on my face.

Music Note: Listening to Jimi Hendrix ....
Specifically, "Electric Ladyland" ....
Some lines from: "All Along the Watchtower," written by Bob Dylan:

There are many here among us
who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that
and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants, too

Outside in the cold distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fram, as an artist of trigger work

It is difficult to be a cowboy these days ....

It has been noted by those with greater expertise than we here at the Fram Institute and Repository of Knowledge and Similar Useless Facts that much can be learned about a man by examining the way he squeezes a trigger. It is a reflection of the inner man, it sings the song of his soul and recites the poetry of his heart, among other things.

Having been in the U.S. Marine Corps, our Fram has a considerable amount of "trigger time," as the guys fondly call it. Possibly, we will be able to persuade Fram to sometime tell his story about how he became lost leaving Reno, ended up snowed in at Donner Pass and, more-or-less, was shanghaied into the Corps. Although somewhat reluctant, when he found out there was free room and board and as much ammo has a young man could ever wish to shoot, he decided to hang out there for a while. But, that story is for another day.

If we look to the top left of our illustration, we see James Bond the First and James Bond the Last. The First is holding a Walther PPK, in exact specification of the second weapon carried by Bond in Ian Fleming's series of novels. Fram likes that. The Last is carrying what appears to be an indistinguishable piece, to which a silencer is attached. Although Fleming's Bond may have used such a weapon (Fram merely read the books; he did not memorize them), it was not his norm. Fram does not like that. The First looks suave, debonair, ready to mingle with the "beautiful people." The Last looks mean, angry, brooding, ready to kick butt. Beginning to know him as you do, which do you suppose Fram would choose to emulate? (That question actually might be difficult to answer and, maybe, the answer is neither.)

Next we see Lee Marvin, a genuine gunman among actor gunmen. He knew which end of the weapon to point downrange. He knew how to be the gangster, the lawman, the soldier, the cowboy, the comic of all comics. Yes, Lee certainly had the potential to be a very good role model for Fram.

Then we have Slick and Slim, two pretty boys who did ok for themselves. No, this is not Fram's usual style. No pretty boy stuff for him. (Good looking? Most certainly, just not "pretty.") On the other hand, these two did do a fine job in whatever role they undertook in life or the movies, and Fram does enjoy watching them perform. It certainly is possible he would squeeze the trigger in a manner similar to either gentleman.

Back to the left, we are, and at the bottom rung. There is Clint the Younger and Clint the Elder. How did Clint the Younger keep a straight face while posing for that photograph? Fram just pointed out to me that the Younger carries a Smith & Wesson .44 magnum, the old style, and that the Elder carries a pair of Colt's Navy revolvers, plus what appears to be a Colt 1849 Sheriff's Model. What does this symbolize? One revolver for the Younger; three revolvers for the Elder. Fram does not care to speculate. He wishes to move on. Keep the faith, Clint. See you around.

We have arrived at the end of this evening's illustrations, where there are two guys, one with straight black hair and the other with curly black hair. No matter what their differences might be, they both hold near identical selections in handguns: Each grasping a 1911-style, .45 semi-automatic pistol. These guys are the actual Blues Brothers, Soul Brothers and Brothers Grimm rolled into one, no matter what anyone else might tell you. On some days, Fram thinks that these boys have so much in common with him, they actually must be emulating him rather than he them. Make sense? No difference. Maybe neither. (Love a good mystery?)

Well, no reason to make the call right now. Squeezing the trigger requires contemplation and art, as well as skill and steady nerve, so it makes sense that time also is required to discern the individual Fram most emulates. In fact, Fram says this might be a question best left unanswered.

Thus concludes the "Get to Know Fram Better" series.

Incidental of the evening:

There is light rain, and the temperature is warm: 50 degrees, which is warm after winter in Minnesota. The wind has been ripping for about two days, 30-plus miles-per-hour with gusts topping 50. I stood out in it, face into it, for a few minutes just minutes ago. Very refreshing, very nice, very soothing. Made me think of canoeing into the wind, into the waves. Meanwhile, snow predicted for Wednesday.

Now I am tired of being Japanese,
The daimyo said, after a certain war.
Let there be a kempt jungle in a valley
And from it rise
So that you look through horizontal blossoms
A tall, unmoated fortress where the dolphins
On the gables, tails in the sky,
Swim from the separate quarters of the kingdom
Without thinking;
And with a balcony to every hour
Facing the hills, apart,
Where a sweet particular girl will say the truth
Over and over until I take it in.

"Picture of a Castle"
by William Meredith

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fram, the man at home & at rest

Sorry about the "tiny" photos; "punch it" to make it big.

This guy has many forms of recreation ....

We hope at least some of the rumors have been dispelled and a more accurate foundation has been put in place for understanding the nature of Fram following yesterday's presentation of his love for young ladies throughout the world. Incidentally, we are trying to establish whether another of his ancestors might actually have been Casanova the First, who was last seen a couple of hundred years ago leading an archaeological survey along the North Dakota-Canadian border in search of Viking artifacts.

For tonight's examination, we will look at some of Fram's favorite leisure time activities. His interests are vast, his love life unreal and his accomplishments many, so it follows that Fram must occasionally indulge himself with a bit of rest, relaxation and recreation.

Glancing left to right across the top row of photographs, we learn that Fram actually is an accomplished guitar player, and frequently spends an evening at home practicing his love songs. He is shown here rehearsing for his next appearance with the Flying Elvises. Fram is an adept student who frequently attends night classes in his never-ending quest for knowledge. Here we see him wearing the sweatshirt of his alma mater while treading his way across the campus searching for his car. Fram grew up in pool halls. (Not actually, but he spent a lot of time in them.) On Saturday nights, he often can be found at the corner bar, hustling pool games with people who think country boys are hicks.

Returning to the left side of the array, on the second tier, we see Fram practicing his bedroom eyes stare. Just uncanny, isn't it? How can any young lady resist? In the middle, we see Fram practicing his dance steps. Some have said his moves are bit old-fashioned and unconventional, but none would deny that all eyes focus on him when he steps onto the ballroom floor. Moving along, Fram is great with children. It is not unusual for him to be found playing football or just simply hanging out with the kid next door. Below that, we see an old photo of Fram, back during the days when he smoked. He absolutely loved Cuban cigars, and still has revolutionary dreams even today.

To the left again. Fram likes fast cars, but he also indulges himself with leading the motorcycle pack down the highway at breakneck speeds searching for Nirvana -- or for Barbara Allan, or for Betty Lou, or .... ah, yes, born to be wild, that is our boy, Fram. And, yes, Dennis and Jane's brother often ride with him. Fram does have his serious side. In the photo immediately below that, he is shown supervising landscape improvement projects in his backyard. No project too large to tackle; that is Fram’s motto. In the center, we see one of Fram's neighbors doing her daily exercise routine. Being the considerate fellow he is, Fram goes to great pains to make himself available to advise her and to be her spotter while she pumps iron. Most people do not know this, but Fram once was a roadie for David Bowie. He sometimes reminisces about their nights of heavy duty partying after a concert. By the way, Fram did all Bowie's stunt work and, from backstage, sang harmony on the high notes.

Returning to the left in the bottom row, it is possible to encounter Fram cruising his neighborhood in his best shorts, on the lookout for Bridgette Bardot look-alikes. In the center we see a miniature Fram, walking the city's streets in the rain, still searching, searching, searching, for his car, but getting valuable exercise at the same time. Last but not least, we see Fram's three closest and dearest friends and co-workers. Newsmen extraordinaire, are these three musketeers when working in concert with Fram.

We, here behind the scenes, have been debating if we should end the production of this mountain of information about Fram. Maybe one more tomorrow. Too much data about Fram to digest in a short amount of time might short circuit the system even of those with the hard-core souls and most impact-resistant hearts. Best to absorb Fram gradually, sort of like chocolate or banana cream pie.

Pity the men whose vast desire
was both the fuel and the fire,
who could not, though we can, divide
the plucking finger from the lyre,
but set their souls and died.

Between the poles of love and death
they too were torn and spent their breath
in vain endeavors to decide
between the garden and the wreath,
and still endeavored when they died.

Pity those men who from the start
defied the desert of the heart,
the victims of some crazy pride
in love, in armies or in art,
who won or lost their game and died.

Some lines from a poem
by Michael Hamburger

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fram, as exposed through photos & words

So you think Fram is harmless, do you?

Today, friends, students, fellow citizens and wandering vagabonds, we begin a formal study of Fram, president of the Last of the Real Men's Boys' Club. The specific subject of this investigation will center on Fram the Lover, with special emphasis on his chameleon-like talents. From whom has Fram modeled in style, substance (or lack thereof) and pickup lines? We have gone to great time and trouble (ho-hum) to accumulate some vivid examples of Fram, the man he thinks himself to be.

Here begins the lesson: Moving clockwise from the top left, I am very certain we all have heard stories that Fram frequently emulates Humphrey Bogart, a cool, mature type; a model of composure and self-control. Unfortunately, both for Humphrey and for Fram, this type has a very roving eye, and cannot help but to stare unabashedly at whatever falls into view, usually leaving his date valiantly trying to ignore his lack of decorum.

There also have been rumors Fram has been seen modeling himself as the new James Dean, the quiet, brooding type of younger man, carefree but troubled, who likes fast cars, who prefers blondes watching his back, literally, while he contemplates the fate of the free world and deliberates about who to ask to the junior-senior prom. Looks like Marilyn fell asleep during her watch; so much for her.

There is at least one report that Fram sometimes tries to seduce young ladies by putting on airs as a suave, sophisticated, serious English gentleman, the likes of which have not been seen since the era of Cary Grant. In this role, Fram likes to get the young lady alone, where he then is able to sweep her off her feet by reciting poetry from Shakespeare and using his rich, deep voice and charming English accent to the fullest advantage.

Fram also is said to like them young, naïve and with curly hair. This type, he tries to convince that he is not only a vampire, but a direct descendant of Count Dracula the First, the greatest vampire of them all, who was lost to history when he traveled with Vikings to North Dakota searching for the Northwest Passage. How much these young ladies believe and how much they put up with his antics simply because he resembles Brad Pitt is uncertain. (Yeh, sure.)

Fram likes legs, both the ZZ Top song and the real thing. In this respect, he will play any role in order to get close enough to catch a glimpse of a young lady's legs. In this particular setting, like Dustin Hoffman, Fram sometimes attempts to play a dumb college kid. Notice how well Dustin performs this role. (Fram can do it better.) Dustin is absolutely hypnotized by that leg. Let us pause here for a few moments while we study the curves of this lovely leg ...................... hah? All right, that's enough.

Proceeding on to the final example in this session, it has been said Fram will swim any river, fight man or beast, swing from tree to tree, and even swing on a dance floor, just to convince a young lady he is the real thing. Like Johnny Weissmuller, Fram particularly likes to take them swimming so they are wearing a minimum of clothing.

What we have seen here is but a small sample of the roles Fram has been known to play and some of the assorted real men he admires and attempts to emulate in his constant search for attention and kisses from young ladies. This is not to say Fram is insincere or in any manner less than a complete sort of gentleman. It is to say Fram would much rather go canoeing with a girl than to a sports bar with a bunch of guys, and he is not afraid to say so.

Music Note: Listening to Queensryche
Specifically, "Rage for Order"
Some lines from: "Walk in the Shadows:"

You need attention, what's good is only mine
I can cure the hunger that burns in your heart
Just come to me
I'll take you home
We'll walk in the shadows
By day we'll live in a dream
We'll walk in the shadows

Our secret's safe for one more night
But when the morning comes remember
I'll be with you

We'll walk in the shadows
By day we'll live in a dream
We'll walk in the shadows
One day you'll be with me

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Myth, tree tops & my little Amazon girl

Four myths or four truths about the Marine Corps? I had these logos left over from the other day, and decided to throw them into the mix now in order to avoid actually thinking about anything more complicated -- and, sort of, to illustrate a point. Incidentally, the guy on the bottom right, Private Gomer Pyle, taught me everything I know, while the T-shirt slogan above him, hopefully, represents me today. I never have figured out why no one ever is playing a guitar on any T-shirt representing the Marine Corps.

Magic Girl as the ultimate Amazon ....

The subject of friends and buddies came up in a sort of conversation. I am not certain when or where or why the word "buddy" came into being, and not curious enough to do any research. Its primary use seems to be in a military context, i.e., the "buddy system," and essentially is just another way of saying "friend." Or is it? Here is a thought and a story from sort of a conservative, male point of view.

I was in a situation once upon a time (love those words) where I had to pick my No. 2. There were six names on the list, five men and one woman. I had known and worked with all of them for a while. I selected the woman. I was asked why, and my reply was to the effect: "All other qualifications being more-or-less equal, she is the only one on the list I would trust to stand back-to-back with if the shit hit the fan."

In other words, under a worst case scenario, in which we both either would make it or we both would go down, it would be back-to-back, to the end. There was not one man on that list I would have trusted to watch my back. Each one of those five men, I believed from having gotten to know them rather well, potentially was a runner should the proverbial "shit hit the fan."

This might be another category under which to define a "magic girl." The particular "magic girl" in my story was, unfortunately for me, happily married and the mother of two children. The circumstances of this story would make a fascinating debate, I think, between "real worlders" such as myself and ivory tower dispensers of opinion regarding human priorities and motivations. I am speaking of those who have little actual experience in the real world, but years of "book study" and theoretical political and social activism. (I am not anti-intellectual and obviously, I hope it is clear, am not anti-book or anti-education, but simply a person who puts more value on knowledge gained from personal experience than from cloistered consultant clustering.)

Believe it or not (and, I am sure most women will), I had to threaten blood on the floor (figuratively, figuratively, figuratively) in order to have her approved for the slot. A few men in this circle, but not all, later admitted to me that I had made the right decision. I had to tell her that, because none of them had the courage to face her and to admit to her that she might be the best of all of us.

But, I also wonder how many women would find it comfortable to be in the company of another woman who is at once a feminine creature at the height of her allure, while also a warrior who possesses primitive survival skills that equal those of any man. I suspect the average woman might be frightened of or, at least, wary of, this Amazon more so than she would be of a man carrying the same set of credentials.

Come to think of it, the Greek immortal Athena was a warrior as well as a goddess and a magic girl. She aided the mere mortal, Odysseus, more than once and covered his back at times. Ah, yes, the blue waters of the Mediterranean have so much to offer. It must be in the water.

Maybe I should have said, "no" ....

I was reading another's blog in which the writer said that when he had been younger and more agile, he enjoyed sitting in a tree while reading a book. It reminded me that there were a few times when I was younger when I would take a bottle of wine and climb into a tree with it when I had a difficult decision to make. It took more time and more wine to arrive at some decisions than it did others.

Do you suppose such an action is from a lingering, genetic memory? Probably not. Seriously now, the first time it happened was by the circumstance of having to decide whether I would rather sit on the ground or on a tree branch.

I had been offered a promotion at work and was not certain I wanted it. I drove out to a friend's home to talk about it with him. He was in his driveway, rotating the tires on his car. Rather than sit down on the ground, I took my wine and climbed into an adjacent tree. Then, I proceeded to drink my wine, talk with him and stare at the woodlands and blue waters of a lake beyond.

I took the job. Money won out, although I am sure ambition and ego were contributing factors. That was one of the pivotal moments in my past in which I now question whether or not I made the best (right? / correct?) decision. I can never know with absolute certainty, of course, but my hunch is that three or four people, including myself, would be happier (more content? / better off?) today had I continued doing what I was doing and said no thanks to the promotion.

Birthday wishes to the tardy one ....

Happy birthday, Diva, wherever you've run off to. Here is a poem, "To Helen," written by Edgar Allan Poe. The Helen he is referring to is Helen of Troy. I think he might have been visualizing The Diva when he wrote it.

Helen, thy beauty is to me
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
To his own native shore.

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
To the glory that was Greece
And the grandeur that was Rome.

Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
How statue-like I see thee stand,
The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
Are Holy Land!

Music Note: Nearly 2:00 a.m. here & Guns N' Roses just came on the radio ....
"November Rain," but it's March ....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Appearing for Fram is William Blake

When the brain ceases to work ....

My brain has not been working for several hours now. Was that a snicker I just heard?

My head cold of yesterday has evolved into a bit more, including a sore throat. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion throughout Thursday. At least, it made for a relaxing day. A bite to eat here, a nap there, a few minutes on the computer after that, then check the mail, read a magazine article, head back to the computer and more napping.

Did you figure out what I am doing? Yes, stalling. You are right.

Since my brain is not cooperating, my string of consecutive days for posting is in jeopardy. Now, I can post these few words and my streak remains intact. Hopefully, within a few more hours, I will be better and return to "normal." Now, I am certain I heard snickering!

In the meanwhile, I will leave you with someone else's words:

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity's sun rise.

William Blake
From: "Eternity"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Glory for the Corps & the wolves cometh

As long as I brought up the subject, I thought I would continue it. Here presented, for your education, edification and enjoyment, is a small sample of T-shirts reflecting Marine Corps sentiment. As usual, the technical quality of the photograph is rather dismal but, if you pop it up to full size, most of the slogans should at least be readable. If they are not, let me know and we will hire an attorney and see if we cannot find three or four people to sue. I would think the T-shirt manufacturer alone would pay us a tidy sum just to have us get lost.

Two hunters exchange thoughts ....
Part two of two

The trail is ancient, while the day dawns new.
It skirts the shoreline of a deep, blue lake
which nips at sand and rocks 15 feet below.
There walks a wolf below, big, gray, prowling,
hunting, driving on a search for game
while I watch, admiring its stealth and grace.

While I watch, I am watched. I know it.
I sense it. I feel another presence, near.
I turn my head and see the hunter's mate,
behind me, six feet distant, no more.
Our eyes blend, lock, focus, one upon the other
in a penetrating stare, each the other to know.

His approach I had not heard, so silent was he,
as the pair hunt the lake shore, one high,
one low, he on the upper deer trail
while she stalks the shoreline below.
My eyes record his outer being, long legs,
thick fur, expressionless face but for his eyes.

We probe each other's eyes, even beyond.
A minute it lasts, maybe two before
the wolf seems to shrug his shoulder,
lower his gaze from me to the trail ahead,
step forward, all this in a single motion
does the wolf move past me, continuing
his march along the ancient deer trail.

He passes so closely I can reach my hand
to touch, but do not, for he merely
is offering passage, not a welcome
to his woodland, to his home, to his path.
It is his trail, not mine; it is his mate below
on the lakeshore, not mine; I am his guest.

We might be brothers should we hunt alone,
but he is wary and protects his mate,
who patrols the sandy, rocky shoreline below.
There are times when brothers do not trust
even brothers, and this we both have learned.
I watch them until they disappear, together.

Incidentals ….

I do have a few other elements I want to toss into the wolf mix, part 2, but this is where I am right now and I feel lazy -- like I am on vacation or something like it. Besides that, I woke up today with a bit of a head cold, and it has been catching up to me more and more as the day progresses.

On a more positive note, I learned last night that I can separate the work of artists from the political viewpoints of the artists. That sort of snuck up on me without warning. Small victory, but major good feeling.

The Marine Corps enters my mind every January as I approach my anniversary date. It usually has been washed from my system a few days after the date (January 24) has passed, but this year it keeps coming back. Something must be stirring the blood. I wonder what.

Maybe I will add to this later, maybe I will write an email or two, maybe I will watch a movie, maybe I will pour a brandy and sit outside a while .... it is my time, at least for the moment.

Music Note: Listening to Def Leppard ....
Specifically, "Pyromania" ....
Some lines from: "Foolin':"

Is anybody out there, anybody there

Does anybody wonder, anybody care
Oh, I just gotta know

If you're really there and you really care
Cause baby

I'm not F-f-f-foolin, ah f-f-foolin
F-f-f-foolin, ah f-f-foolin

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My time, best days, caring & football

I own time, for the moment, anyway ....

This week is mine. No work. No concerns.

Some might say that is a very typical week for me. Some might be right in the sense that if it were not for having to be in a specific location performing tasks under the direction of others who pay me for that service, the work is nothing to get excited about. It long ago became something more like routine activity rather than work -- rather than actual toil and labor.

This is resumption of an old theme of mine. How can anyone possibly work at the same job for 30 or 40 years without going crazy? I suppose safety and security and feeling comfortable with one's own skill level at performing a specific task is part of it. But why people trade a lifetime of potential exploration for a guaranteed wage (maybe not even that) and mundane routine escapes me. It would be like living in perpetual winter, to me.

Certainly, some work is going to be fulfilling, as in the instance of a nurse caring for people who need assistance, but how about cooking in a restaurant or delivering mail or assembling toys in a factory? How does anyone do it for years without end? If someone can explain it, I would like to hear it.

Doom and gloom enter the room ....

What days are among those you might consider to be the "best days" of your life?

One candidate for me would be the days of sitting around outside on campus lawns or in the student union, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and arguing about religion or politics or you name it.

Going out after work for a few drinks usually results in talk about work (or sports). I foster it as much as anyone, but whatever happened (among adults) to the great debates of youth and solving every problem there is to solve in the world?

Maybe we became "too mature" to care, or realized nothing we did anyway would make much difference. Call it a fatalistic attitude if you wish but, with few exceptions, I do not believe anything anyone here can do will make a difference much beyond the range of their own neighborhood.

I am not talking about volunteering at a hospital or a nursing home, or being a scout leader. Doing things like that obviously can be meaningful to life, survival and sanity in a rather nasty world.

What I am talking about is accepting the word of political demigods and following the zealots of political ideology which preach promises impossible to keep and spread rumors to frighten the weak and the timid into blind obedience. Some of those things are exciting and colorful, others offer security, but all are more dangerous than most would realize.

My step-dad told me more than once that I should enjoy my high school days because they would be the best days of my life. He was off only by a couple of years. Maybe not exactly the best days, but arguably some of the most enjoyable days for me, were those sitting on the campus grounds smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee and arguing about which of us was destined for hell. I am close to believing that we all are, at least we in the United States of America, with hell encircling us a bit more every day. The fascists are in the process of taking over, and half the citizenry in the country either do not care or actually wish for it to happen.

Who? Me?

A number of years ago, in college, a good friend of mine and a drinking buddy told me he was disappointed in me. He said he had admired me because I had the guts to do anything and did not give a damn about anyone or anything. Now, he said, he had seen me fail to live up to one of his expectations.

I told him he was close in his evaluation of me, but that he had somewhat misinterpreted me. I told him I might have the guts (or the arrogance) to do anything, but that I actually gave a damn about everyone and everything. Can you understand the resemblance in style and action of these two types in terms of behavior, and the confusion that might result among onlookers?

We stayed friends, but not as close. He had disappointed me, too.

Spring football practice has arrived .....

Spring football practice has officially opened in my neighborhood. The two boys next door, along with two of their friends, held a backyard scrimmage. Their yard was clear of snow, but I keep my deck shoveled and, subsequently, my snow was in piles and has been slower to melt and, subsequently, my yard was wet, slushy and muddy in spots.

Of course, "young boys" engaged in demonstrating their athletic prowess cannot be confined to one yard, and their game spilled over onto mine. It has been a while since I have seen boys get so absolutely covered with mud. It also has been a while since I last passed a football. No broken windows, I am pleased to report, and my jeans washed out almost completely clean.

Music Note: Listening to Bon Jovi ....
Specifically, "The Left Feels Right" ....
Some lines from: "Born to Be My Baby:"

If we stand side by side (all night)
There's a chance we'll get by (and it's alright)
And I'll know that you'll be live
In my heart till the day that I die

Cause you were born to be my baby
And baby, I was made to be your man
We got something to believe in
Even if we don't know where we stand
Only God would know the reason
But I bet he must have had a plan
Cause you were born to be my baby

And baby, I was made to be your man

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Mysterious photographs & Fram's treasure

Ever have your camera go off accidentally? That happens to me a lot. I feel so clumsy. For instance, that's what happened in the case of this photograph. You know, you're walking around carrying your camera in sort of an awkward position. You sneeze or trip over your untied shoe lace. As an involuntary reaction, your hand squeezes your camera and the shutter clicks. At least, that's the way I remember it happening. Sure is embarrassing. By the way, this photo is available for loan to anyone whose visit to Rome took place while carrying a 35 mm camera.

And it wasn't even a dark and stormy night ....

Have you ever been witness to a supernatural event?

I believe it happened to me last night. As I mentioned previously, I only slept about four hours Friday night and not at all Saturday night until about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. I then captured about five hours more sleep. Needless to say, I was a bit drowsy as Sunday evening rolled into Monday morning. I put my head down on my computer table and sort of drifted off.

I began dreaming. At first, I saw nothing, only heard a voice. The voice spoke in a language I did not understand. When I complained about that, the voice abruptly began to speak in heavily accented English.

"Fram," spoke the voice. "You are the one they call Fram?"

"When they are in a generous mood, yes," I replied.

"Hear me then," spoke the voice. "I am your ancestor, Fram the First, and I bring you a message from Valhalla."

"Go for it," I replied.

"You are to go to the land of the Greeks and retrieve the hoard of gold and jewels I left buried there," spoke the voice.

"But, I don't have an archaeologist's license to go digging around in Greece," I replied.

"I'll leave you a couple of phone numbers to call when you get there," spoke the voice. "Tell them the King of the Tsamiko sent you."

"Fine," I replied. "I sort of have been planning to hide out there for a while next summer anyway."

"You shall bring my hoard of gold and jewels to me, on the banks of the wide Missouri River," spoke the voice.

"Now wait a minute," I began to reply, but the voice cut me off.

"Oh Shenandoah, I love your daughter
Far away, you rollin river
It was for her, I crossed the water
Away, I'm bound away
Across the wide Missouri
Well its fair the well,
I'm bound to leave you
Far away, you rollin river
Oh Shenandoah, I will not deceive you
Away, I'm bound away
Across the wide Missouri
With notions, his canoe was laiden
Away, I'm bound away
Across the wide Missouri," the voice continued, while the sound of a guitar being softly strummed could be heard in the background.

"What do I get out of this," I interrupted.

"Ten percent," spoke the voice.

"Deal," I concluded.

Suddenly, the room was filled by a brilliant light, and I was fully awake. When I looked at my computer screen, there was sort of a photographic image present. Although technically dismal, the background of this sort of photograph clearly showed it to be my computer room. I understand some will be skeptical, but I am convinced the image can be none other than that of the ghost of Fram the First.

Whatever, I think I'll go to Greece and look around for his buried hoard of gold and jewels. Nothing to lose; ten percent to gain.

Who other than Fram the First could this ghostly image be?

Music Note: Listening to Lita Ford ....
Specfically: "The Best of Lita Ford" ....
("Kiss Me Deadly" .... ok)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Good reporters, lovers & earning your way

Do you know what a good reporter is?

I have said this before. I occasionally (often?) have been accused of being overly serious. And, I have said this before. So what? So, here we go with sort of a continuation of last night's conversation.

Do you know what a good reporter is?

A good reporter is a chameleon.

One day, he is able to walk into the office of a bank president, sit down, and within a matter of minutes make himself appear to be like he is the next-door-neighbor to the bank president, that he is the bank president's best friend and his personal confidant. The reporter wants information, details, so he must instill trust.

The next day, he is able to walk into the home of a drug dealer, sit down, and within a matter of minutes make himself appear to be like he is the next-door-neighbor to the drug dealer, that he is the drug dealer's best friend and his personal confidant. The reporter wants information, details, so he must instill trust.

You get the drift? It is not as easy as I tried to make it sound, but that sort of covers the basics.

I am a good reporter. My object with this piece of prose is not to have you distrust me. It is to stir you to think, to study and to learn about the world and people around you.

The important thing here is not what makes a good reporter, but is for you to learn how to tell the difference between someone who is potentially a good reporter and someone who has genuine affection for you and who wants to learn more about you and who wants to try to learn if there might be an "us" in the future.

I know some of you understand this and could have skipped reading what I have written here; I also know some of you do not understand, but I hope you will come to.

Are you still reading, or did you doze off?

Personally, I have been fooled once. Professionally, once, also, and I am speaking in terms of not recognizing when I was being lied to, but I crucified the liar when the lie was discovered because it was my job at the time and I always attempt to be fully professional at my work.

It is evident most of us hanging around here have been dumped, dropped or at least lied to along the way. It is the same for all of us, I think. A great line, a great face, a great bank account, any or all of those things and more might enter the picture, plus our own vulnerabilities at the time. Maybe, the old "rebound" complex.

Then, too, feelings change, do they not? Love can diminish as surely as it can grow when new truths are discovered or when old lies are uncovered or when betrayals occur.

Call it whatever you want, but I would prefer some people dislike me for what I do say rather than for what I do not say. Another one of Ernest Hemingway's thoughts was this: "Men and women cannot be friends without also becoming lovers." I know that to be incorrect because I have experienced it. I would imagine some of you have, as well. (If not, pick your friends better.)

Wherever this page leads, my foremost hope is that it will leave those of us who are "talking" a bit wiser (I know reading you has taught me) and with feelings of affection toward and concern about each other.

Anything beyond that will be a bonus.

Sometimes coincidence is beyond belief ....

One day I make these statements: "Most were high school teachers looking for credits to use to jump up their salaries. One or two were grad teaching assistants (probably career grad assistants). One among the group was the village idiot, me, who thought the class might be more beneficial to me than an evening bowling or sitting in a bar. It is entirely possible I was the only person there because I actually wanted to be there."

Barely a day later, this falls out of the sky: "As a former teacher who was required to take inane classes for earning a raise, I am sorry I missed your literature class. I surely would have disputed you boat interpretation favoring the notion of a allegorical stock market interpretation."

Required to take "inane classes for earning a raise"?

Never in my life have I encountered anyone, most particularly a retired, career school teacher such as "troutbirder," who would label a class in which the subject matter consists of novels, written by acknowledged masters of the form, to be an "inane" class. The particular novelist I referenced in my commentary, Lawrence Durrell, came within a whisker-width of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

There are good teachers and poor ones, with most probably somewhere between. I can understand providing teachers with monetary incentives to increase their knowledge base. What I have never been able to understand is why so many teachers seem to believe their own personal education ends the day the degree is slapped into their hands; why so many whine about being forced to take "inane classes for earning a raise."

The concept of teaching begins with the teacher learning through personal education and experience, not with an evening of bowling or sitting in a bar waiting for the school year to begin.

I repeat: "It is entirely possible I was the only person there because I actually wanted to be there." Very sad, but true. A few days ago, I wrote that ignorance is not bliss. Evidently, for some, it is.

More fun and games ....

The blogger named "troutbirder" seemed to think I am among the "pretentious, arrogant, pseudo-intellectual political Luddites."

Pretentious? No, I do not think so. How could "the" direct descendant of Fram the First, conqueror of the Mediterranean, ever be pretentious?

Arrogant? Oh, yes, guilty as charged. That began with high school sports and was greatly encouraged by the Marine Corps. (I think their motto should have been, "Second to None," since that is the cornerstone of their training.) I often have a hard time distinguishing the line between self-confidence and arrogance. At least, I recognize arrogance as a flaw within me, and generally try to keep a lid on it.

Pseudo-intellectual political Luddites? I am not certain how that might be associated with literature, teaching, liberals or conservatives in this context, and really do not care. I suppose that is because I am only a "pseudo." Whoops, here comes old arrogance creeping up on me again, so I will finish with it.

I do have a bachelor of arts degree with a double major in English and history, which I completed in three years instead of the usual four. Had I wanted to attend another summer session, my credits were so abundant that I could have had a bachelor of science degree thrown in, as well. I also do have a master of arts in literature, which I completed by taking classes here and there over a few years, and being a full-time student for the final semester.

I do not consider these degrees to be as important as the fact that I did it all on my own time with my own money, and with neither expectation nor promise of a salary raise. I did it for me as an attempt to become a better, more well-rounded person. Whether or not I am, so what? So, learning is fun.

Music Note: Still listening to classic rock on the radio ....
Getting my money's worth from this machine ....
Playing this instant: "Photograph" by Def Leppard ....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wait! I'm not ready yet! I'm still thinking!

Real friends? Why not?

Let me put it this way. I have had friends, girlfriends, drinking buddies, best friends, Marine Corps buddies, casual friends and any other manner of friends describable.

It makes no difference what bar a guy walks into, or what job he takes, or what organization he belongs to, or what girl he meets, the chance of developing lasting friendships is sort of rare. Golf buddies? (Bad example, since I do not golf and shoot me if I ever want to.) Friends to go to Minnesota Twins or Vikings games together with? Easy to find, but usually pretty shallow types for anything beyond rah, rah. (Maybe it is different between women.)

I have casual friends coming out of my ears; no current girlfriends (do not want one in that simple sense) and I am beyond the bar buddy stage for more than two or three drinks after work. (He says as he stands and shouts, "Valhalla!" and is pushed back into the corner of the booth by his bar buddies.)

Among my best friends "ever," two out of three are dead, one cancer and one suicide. The cancer victim was a woman about 20 years older than me, not beautiful, but wise and intelligent beyond belief. (That means smarter than me.) The suicide was a man six months older than me. (My boss, but I was his crutch. He had the charm; I had the backbone.) That leaves me with a photographer, and you know how they are, sort of weird. Besides, he lives a bit from here.

Among Marine Corps friends, only one who was really close who is still alive. He lives a bit from here, too, mostly fishes and has his disability check, which keeps him happy. (I am not certain he even ever has read a book, but he sure can fish, and there is more to explain here than can be simply done.)

What I am saying is that there is magic in more ways than one. (And, you might not ever hear me say it again.) Possibly, the internet actually will be a road to friendships not otherwise achievable in the past. I have seen others write much the same sentiment here, people who are thinking the same thing. I am not saying, do not take care. Never completely trust until the eyes meet (and maybe not even then), but never fear to explore or to dance. Am I wrong here?

By the way, I really am cheating. I wrote this about 20 hours ago, but I am just now putting it on my page because I am not sure if I am finished or if I want to say more. Oh, well, there always is tomorrow ....

One more run at turning left instead of right ....

When I joined the Marine Corps, I already literally had been within minutes of joining the Air Force. Had not a holiday delayed a flight to "haul me away," I would have gone USAF instead of USMC. But, the delay happened and, during the intervening few days, I decided on the Marines. I could do only one. If possible, I would have liked to have had the experience of being an 18-year-old in both services. I would have liked to have done this not to find out if one experience would have been better than the other, but simply to gain knowledge from the experience of having done both. To know.

If it were possible to do both experiences, one almost certainly would have proven to be better or worse than (preferable to) the other, but that is not the object of my thought, and does not even matter at all. The only purpose would be to have had the experiences.

Of course, in reality, unless there is another me in a parallel universe doing exactly the opposite of what I am doing and we are able to meet up and to compare notes, the exercise is one of futility for anything other than stirring the imagination. Stir, mix, bubble, boil, toil and trouble ....

More things & more, more things ....

Have you ever looked down and noticed both your shoe laces were untied? I do not know about you, but that is when I went to cowboy boots pretty much full time.

At least twice a week, I do not want to sleep. It is not insomnia; it is not wanting to sleep. I am so anxious for summer that I want to be awake until it comes. I suppose it would be wiser to stay awake after it comes rather than now.

Someone asked me some time ago why I quit hunting, and I never answered. I do know why. I know when, almost to the minute. I just am not certain how I want to explain it or if I want to explain it. Sooner or later, I suppose it will come.

Someone recently said she was looking forward to watching my Plan A as it evolves. Actually, I think Part 2 might already be written, but I cannot be absolutely certain, so it is premature to publish it. And, Part 3 definitely remains a mystery because the future cannot be known -- or can it?

Did anyone who read yesterday's commentary about Lawrence Durrell notice that "the course of his career changed" when he moved to Corfu, Greece? Hint, hint. Maybe travel Greece, maybe settle (for a while) between there and Valencia. Follow the example of your elders should you wish to .... wish to what? Sure would have liked to have been able to interview Lawrence Durrell and his brethren.

Almost forgot. Beware the Ides of March ....

Music Note: Listening to classic rock on the radio ....
Heard me say that before?
Playing this instant: ZZ Top and "Legs"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Riding sea swells in Alexandria & more things

"Mountolive" is the third book of "The Alexandria Quartet"

Literature turns me into a Republican ....

Maybe more of this story will come back to me as I write it, but probably not. So what?

A few years ago, I was taking a graduate level course in literature. I cannot recall the name of the course, but it concerned novels and was British and European in nature. It was an evening class, in the summer, and there were about 25 students in attendance. Most were high school teachers looking for credits to use to jump up their salaries. One or two were grad teaching assistants (probably career grad assistants). One among the group was the village idiot, me, who thought the class might be more beneficial to me than an evening bowling or sitting in a bar. It is entirely possible I was the only person there because I actually wanted to be there. (Well, I never claimed to be perfect.)

One of the books we were reading was, "Mountolive," written by Lawrence Durrell. I mentioned him back when I listed my choices for the 100 best novels ever written. That seems so long ago, but I have not been writing on the blog even for two months yet so, I guess, it really was not that long ago.

Durrell, who may or may not have been an actual British citizen, was born in India and died in France. His works include, "The Alexandria Quartet," of which "Mountolive" was third in the series. Briefly, it tells the story of David Mountolive, a junior member of the British legation to Egypt, his love affairs, his work, his observations, his recollections.

I still have the book. I looked for it so I might refresh my memory, but could not find it. I do not have enough room for all my hardback books on my shelves, much less any paperbacks. Most of my books live in boxes where, although absent from me, are in the company of many other fine books and know that I do love them, still.

Back to topic. Our instructor, an elderly man whose body language indicated boredom and resignation, often read a few pages from the novel we were engaged with at the moment. Then, like good instructors everywhere, he asked we, his students, for interpretations. Again, without the ability to re-read the pages, I cannot recall the details precisely, but one evening he read about a boat -- maybe a punt, maybe a gondola, certainly not a canoe -- riding the waves on a lake or a river or whatever at sunset or sunrise or at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time or whatever.

One of the high school teachers seeking a raise (pay, that is) volunteered that it was a perfect description of the sights and sounds one would experience if riding in or watching a boat moving across open water under a beautiful sky. I seem to recall another volunteering a similar opinion, differing mostly in the exact shade of color of the sky. Then, he who has an opinion about everything raised his hand. "I think Durrell is making a very detailed allusion to a man and a woman making love," said he. (Note the absence of crude language in his commentary.) He, who sat next to one of the career grad assistants, felt heads turn to look his way. (Some of the more subtle in the group only turning eye balls.)

He, who sees strange things when upon the water, went on to describe how he thought Durrell's description of a boat (whatever kind it was) rising and falling upon the water, with the movement of the currents and the spray of the water, etc., etc., etc., to be an allegorical description of love-making. (I really wish I could dig the book out of the pile to do justice to this commentary.)

After a few minutes of hemming and hawing and commenting about what an interesting interpretation "he," meaning me, had arrived at, we had an early dismissal, and each of us adjourned to our favorite establishments of liquid refreshment. No matter if my interpretation had any validity or not, it still fascinates me that the depth of some readers' perception goes no deeper than debating the shade of color an author has just described, especially when dealing with writers such as Durrell, who himself had said the quartet was his continuing investigation of modern love.

It was then, for the first time among the many conversions in my life, that I registered as a Republican, hoping that they, at least, knew the difference between a love scene and watching a boat bobbing in the water. Whether or not this conversion was a success is a story for another day. Canoes are magical things, are they not?

More things about more things ....

I almost bought a 40-foot sailboat to live on when I sold Sanctuary/Refuge, but decided, no, it would be far too premature. Besides, I had too many books and guns to fit within her -- and, if she went down with my guns and books, I think I would go with her, too.

Early on, by design, I turned into a newspaper jack-of-all-trades. I can do it all, none of it especially well, but run any desk or handle any job or write satisfactorily enough to cover any story in the joint. The words generally used to describe me are "sort of indispensable." Hard to beat that, unless the newspaper itself actually folds, and which is why it never has been difficult for me to find work.

It is a strange feeling, trying to decide which t-shirt fits a given occasion, when you open a drawer and see one from the Sierra Club and another from the Audubon Society, and next to them is another that reads: "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because I am the meanest SOB in the valley." It is an even stranger feeling to know they all accurately represent a part of you or, at least, a part of you that you have been and could be again, should circumstances call for it in protection of loved ones or castle or any innocent's life. Who says the male of the species is not a complex creature?

Music Note: Listening to Lee Ann Womack ....
Specifically, "I Hope You Dance" ....
Some lines from: "I Hope You Dance:"

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted

God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance

I hope you dance

Friday, March 13, 2009

The patience of readers; winners$ & losers$

A homemade illustration just for the fun of it: I turned around, and what did I see, but these things on a bookshelf waiting to remind me that summer approaches, nothing can stop it, and only I can prevent me from making this summer forever a part of my life. Keep the sights on the target and squeeze the trigger.

Thank you, for your patience, those who read ....

A few people are being very patient with me. Sometimes what I write is overly serious, more-or-less brooding. Sometime what I write is more-or-less goofy. Long live Fram the First. Right now, I am eating crackers, salsa dip, Swiss cheese and dill pickles, drinking apple juice and trying to type. Pretty interesting material to read. Right?

What I am saying is that a few people actually are being nice and putting up with me. Fewer still, but some, actually are taking time to write comments about my stuff. It amazes me. Thank you.

When working for a newspaper, a reporter knows the circulation numbers but, most of the time, never knows how many people actually read the articles he writes. I remember an occasion when a man came up to me, said he knew the editor was out ill, and asked me who was writing the editorials. Immediately going into defensive mode, I braced myself and said, "I am." He looked at me with genuine amazement and said. "My god, I've met a philosopher. You're a philosopher. You know that, don't you?" He made my day. On another occasion, a man simply told me he enjoyed reading my book reviews; on another, a county bought some land to turn into a public park, initiated because of articles I had written about canoeing and camping there. Another time, a state agency that cost the taxpayers about a million a year was shut down due to articles I had written about waste and corruption. Sometimes you know you had an effect.

Having completed this circle, I want to return to Day 1. What I really am hoping for here is that the right person is reading what I write, or that I will drift onto a site where I encounter the right person producing her own page.

Ernest Hemingway once was my favorite writer. He probably remains among the top five on my list. Hemingway said, "Things either happen or they don't." Whatever impressions of Hemingway remain in me, those words have become an absolute part of me. It is sort of like U2, and "with or without you," and most of us learn to accept that.

I think I am growing. In the least, I know I am changing. I think I am becoming more a citizen of the world and less of a nationalist -- although I curse anyone who tries to take my guns or my books away. I believe there are principles that override daily life and comforts. I think, with the exception of some medieval cathedrals, nothing man-made surpasses the beauty of nature. The call of a wolf is majestic; the sound of a motorcycle is junk noise. I envy people who have religion, and abhor those who would try to do away with it, which is one reason I am disgusted with the current state of affairs in the U.S.

There I go, drifting again. What this amounts to is to say that I think life is an experiment, whether created by a universal god or by accident, I have never known and probably never will. I have reached a point in my life where it is more important to know rivers and ruins than it is to know mayors and their cronies. Thieves have more to fear from me than I have from them; all they have to do is to stay on their own side of the street and they will be safe from me.

Those interested, please continue reading in days to come. As I said long ago (well, a few weeks ago, anyway), I am here to learn, which requires you to be writing, whether in reaction to me or to express your own thoughts. If anything further comes of it, so much the better. If not, the essence of old Ernie and I will drift along to another time and place, maybe on to Harry's Bar, while on the road to Greece.

Some make it, some lose it ....

It is fascinating how economic times hurt some and benefit others. I might be a beneficiary. My house is a 40-year old ranch style rambler (? I was informed ?). After talking with a pair of realtors, the suggestion is to ask a somewhat premium price for it based on its location, and to put it on a 60-day, first-of-the-month-notice, rental basis until there is a sale.

The house is a block away from an elementary school, around three or four blocks from a high school, a mile away from a major mall, two miles away from a hospital and on a quiet street. Someone with a bit of money is bound to come along. And, if not, this is a house that certainly would rent to a young family. The rental income would pay the taxes, pay the insurance and provide me with a few dollars. I could play it by ear whether or not to actually sell, should the opportunity arise.

When I had to depart Sanctuary/Refuge, the housing market was booming and I was able to make money. This was a couple of years ago, before the advent of socialism in America. Even with a more-or-less split of the money from the sale of Sanctuary/Refuge, I gained enough to pay cash for this house and to have money left over for play-time or save-time or whatever. I could say more, but not right now.

This is turning into Part 1 of Plan A.

Music Note: Listening to and sort of watching the Rolling Stones ....
Specifically, "Bridges to Babylon Tour '97-98" ....
The relevant lines from: "Gimme Shelter:"

I tell you love, sister, it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away
Kiss away, kiss away

Something special ....