Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It is time now for autumn's song

It is not a castle and it is not by Lake Superior, but it is a very nice house and it is across a country lane from a very nice lake, and it will have to do for me for September and, probably, for October. As you can see, it was a bright, sunny day here.

Maybe, eyes shall see a path from the lake house

I lied. Not intentionally. But, I said there would be no house at a lake for me this autumn. That was Friday, after I had decided against one I had looked at in the afternoon. Saturday evening, I spotted another one for lease for the winter. I wrote an email: "Do you want to make some money during September and, maybe, October. If so, rent it to me, and you have two months to find a winter renter and guaranteed cash in the meanwhile." He went for it. Most people do, when a few dollars are at work.

As for me, at the risk of being labeled indecisive, Sunday afternoon I rented this house by a lake in southern Minnesota. I now have it leased through the end of October and, in all likelihood, will be there for the duration.

It is as I said a few days ago. Neither my heart nor my mind is in the mood for traveling right now. Four months ago, I had hopes and expectations that, by the end of August, I would have a plan. Now, I am hoping that this will be the case by the end of October.

This will be the fifth apartment, townhouse or house I have lived in this year, and since November and December will come around after my lease here expires, who can say how many will form the year-end total?

One negative feature about my new, temporary home is that neither cable television (it does have a dish antenna) nor cable, high-speed internet is available. Therefore, I am going to be aground and unable to sail upon the sea of blogs for at least a few days, which probably is a good thing for me.

Neither is there a landline telephone. I am thinking about having one installed for these two months and utilizing either the old-style landline modem or DSL. If anyone has any suggestions or comments or thoughts about these techniques, or some specific form of WiFi system, I would appreciate hearing them.

Add to this that I have not found the time to sit down with my recently-acquired Blackberry to learn how to utilize email with it. I suppose I should move that toward the top of my to-do list. It seems I am fated to revisit life and times as it existed in the stone age of communications -- a mere thirty years ago.

Finally, I suppose I might as well say it. Most importantly, the house will have no woman within it.

Anyway, sometime around 9:30 a.m. Central Daylight Time, USA, on Tuesday, August 31, 2010, I expect to become invisible for a day or two or more. Perhaps, all eyes shall see all things by the time September and October have come and gone.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

From you, I get the story

There awaits a castle on a hilltop, but a chasm between me and it appears to be ever widening -- more and more and more ....

I ain't gonna live forever

I am not certain how many times I said words to this effect during the Winter, Spring and Summer of 2009:

I am writing here because I want to communicate some of my thoughts and opinions anonymously, to say what I think and feel and believe from behind a curtain. If something more should develop or evolve from it (meaning something romantic, in case you did not get it), so much the better.

Well, something romantic did occur. Depending upon how one defines the word love, I think I fell in love with a dozen women last year. Mostly for different reasons. They all had physical beauty, but were different in other ways -- meaning different talents, different skills, different interests.

But, that said, a few women had so many things in common I would swear they must have been twin sisters separated at birth. I am not certain if this is mere coincidence, or reveals something about types of personalities who are drawn to the sea of blogs. Whatever ....

If those words anger anyone, I sort of apologize, but I feel a need to be open about this.

This has been you. Now, me.

Who is me? Will the real me please stand up? Me Tarzan, you Jane.

I have discovered there are two distinct mes. Neither rules, neither dominates. Each is out in front at times, and they take turns being in charge.

Fortunately, for both of us, neither me is evil or even bad. We simply are different, and really not even friends. We think we might originally have been twins, but never separated and born into a single body.

This should have been obvious to anyone who actually reads what I write. I also have learned that not everyone who comes here actually does read me. Some use their imagination more than their ability to read. So, therefore, what do you -- yes, you -- do when you come here? Read, or day dream?

Think about it. I want to be in the woodlands or in a canoe on the river. I want to explore old, fabulous cities with historical relevance and treasures of art. Who is this guy? Daniel Boone or the Count of Monte Cristo?

Do you see where I am going with this? Well, I do not, other than to say I am not going to be chasing any illusive dreams or climbing any hilltops in search of castles -- at least, not for a while.

No house by a lake just now

In my last post, I mentioned a house by a lake near here that I was thinking about renting for September and October rather than traveling. Well, I looked at it on Friday and decided to pass on it. It literally was next door to the house I had rented and lived in for two years when I first moved back to Minnesota. That is too close to my past. Memories of the past are one thing, but waking up every morning to look out the window at reminders of the past is quite another.

So, my countdown has resumed. It will be interesting (for me, anyway) to discover what I actually will do and where I actually will go on Tuesday.

Music to match thoughts & moods

In the meantime, here are four very different songs to listen to and to think about -- if you are in the mood for music and for thinking. The first one has been playing in (or with?) my mind for a few days; the second one is for the inner and the outer beauty of women; the third one is the other part of me, which now seems to be rapidly retreating and apparently heading for hibernation; the fourth one is a piece of history, no less significant than the signing of the Magna Carta, as it was a centerpiece of an era in which the world began to turn upside down ....

Friday, August 27, 2010

What would Sherlock have done?

"I observe that there is a good deal of German music on the programme, which is rather more to my taste than Italian or French. It is introspective, and I want to introspect."

Sherlock Holmes in "The Red Headed League"
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes has been in and on my mind the past few days. Periodically, I will read a half-dozen or so short stories regaling the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's premiere private investigator. This, I have been doing once again. They seem to clear my mind. In the photograph are David Burke, portraying Dr. John Watson, Jeremy Brett, playing Sherlock Holmes, and Jeremy Kemp, in the role of Dr. Grimesby Roylett, as they appear in the Granada Television production of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." For those who appreciate authenticity and period material in films, note the sketch of "Chinese Gordon" on the wall behind the actors. General Charles George Gordon was the General David Petraeus of his era, and a national hero in Britain during the time of Holmes. Incidentally, he was killed in a 19th Century version of a holy war conducted by the Islamic Muslims against the West. Some things never seem to change.

Personally, I do not believe in "bliss"

Do peace of mind, happiness, contentment and even -- in the words of philosopher Joseph Campbell -- "bliss" exist deeply within each of us, or are these things to be found through external elements as in a place or through another person? (A discussion of Campbell's concept of "bliss" would make for an interesting post someday, I think.)

It has been my opinion that most people (perhaps, all people) who claim to have found peace of mind, happiness, contentment and their "bliss" either are liars or self-delusional. I could be wrong, but this is what I think. (Incidentally, Holmes more-or-less agrees with that.)

For myself, I know that something is missing in my life and, almost certainly, that ingredient is something within myself that I have lost or, possibly, has always been entirely missing from me. But, that is only part of the equation, I think, because I believe I must find the "right place" and the "right person" to bring out and to nurture that missing, internal element.

Yet, in the same breath, the longer I live, the less I believe there is such a place as the "right place." Maybe, not even the "right person."

I think that I could live in Warsaw or Firenze or Minneapolis or you name the metropolitan place for part of the year, but, maybe, then drift for a portion of the year and then, for sure, be near the woodlands of America for some of the year. I cannot understand why that is so difficult for anyone to accept or to believe.

Although if there were no such thing as the legend of the Holy Grail and an innate, insatiable desire among some men and women to find it, what fun would life be for them? Still, I do not believe in either a Holy Grail or in bliss. I suppose that is a paradox and self-defeating, and makes all pursuit trivial.

Ah, well …. the show must go on, just as I sometimes ramble on and on and on and on ....

The days dwindle rapidly now

On Monday or Tuesday, I will be gone from this townhouse, never to return. I am certain I will have a few memories of my nearly four months here, but no memorable memories.

When I rented this townhouse, I actually had hope I might be joined here for the summer while I sorted through my personal possessions, took care of unfinished business, got my affairs in order (that line sounds like something out of Sherlock Holmes, does it not?) and, together, plotted a course for the future. Obviously, that did not happen. Wishful thinking, but what is life other than a story of victories and defeats. So, here I am, three or four days away from going somewhere and still undecided where that somewhere will be.

There is a lake about twenty-five miles away where I have lived twice in the past, for about two years on each occasion. I looked at a house for rent at the lake a few weeks ago, but decided against it because I would have been locked into a lease through the end of next May. Too, too long, for me. I will be looking at another house at the lake in a day or two for which the owner said she would be willing to negotiate the length of a lease. We shall see.

I really would prefer to perch for another two or three months than to be on the road traveling with no goal or objective in mind. That would be like firing a rifle into the air and hoping the bullet hits something. I want to have specific targets in mind when I fire off my rounds.

I am laughing, though. This episode has a great deal of comic relief to it. Some few of you might know that I received my bachelor's and master's degrees here in Mankato. Several years ago, after being absent from "here" four months, I returned to resume by classes. I came into town cold (figuratively speaking, although it could have been literally as well) in January, with the temperature well below zero and no place to stay. I was preparing to spend the night in my car when I ran into a friend, who took me to his home (his parents' home, actually) and they put me up until I was able to rent an apartment.

Now, history sort of is repeating itself, except it is hot and humid and I am on my way out of town rather than arriving. The next few days will be like putting the proverbial monkey at the keyboard and waiting to see what sort of story emerges.

Yes, we most certainly shall see.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Where can you find puppy bear cubs?

American Eskimo puppies .... like Cloudy & Frosty once were ....
-- Photographer unknown

Black Bear cubs .... like the pair in my dream ....
-- National Geographic photograph

Sometimes a dream is very worthwhile

Now, there is Benny the Maltese.

Before, there were Cloudy and Frosty, the American Eskimos.

These two were brothers. Cloudy reached about thirty pounds, while Frosty had a difficult time reaching ten pounds. Imagine that. Cloudy did not bark once the first four or five years I had him. It might have been even longer, now that I think about it. I could only speculate why he was this way. Frosty, on the other hand, liked to talk, and would yap, yap, yap, yap at the slightest sound or comment to him.

I never have had much luck with longevity among dogs. Frosty only made it to about age ten, while Cloudy was approaching fourteen.

I had a dream about them a few nights ago, which is unusual in the sense that if I have been dreaming during recent weeks, I have not been recalling them in the morning. The fascinating part about this particular dream is that in it, Cloudy and Frosty were not white American Eskimos any longer. They were Black Bear cubs. And, they could speak.

The details of the conversation we had are not germane to this post, but I will mention that the dream began with them rollicking around and bumping into me and waking me while I was napping alongside a fast-moving river in a thick, primitive forest. It concluded with them telling me they were happy and content and safe living as Black Bears in a hidden forest, and that someday we would be together again. With that, they said goodbye to me, and went trotting off into the woodlands, laughing and
chasing after each other. I sat on the ground, speechless, watching them disappear into the trees.

A very strange dream, in my mind. I never have had anything like it before.

The last time I wrote about my dreams, I asked if anyone "out there in the real world" was a dream interpreter and, if so, to offer an analysis. Not a single, solitary soul replied . So, I know better now, and will not ask a second time. I will not be fooled again, to paraphrase the lyrics from an old song. If you have any thoughts about this dream, please, keep them to yourself or tell it to your pillow.

In conclusion, a random thought: First there was ice, then there was fire, then there was the Earth. After that, things began to go wrong. You may quote me .....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Advice, suggestions, thoughts sought

Charles Schreyvogel -- "My Bunkie" / 1899

May I have your attention, please

A couple of announcements, as some might say.

The concert was just dandy. Not only was Cheap Trick there to perform live on stage, but, so to, was Blondie. I had seen neither group before, and ended the evening a proverbial happy camper. And, I learned that Cheap Trick, along with the Guess Who, Grand Funk Railroad and three or four more bands will be performing at a rather small venue in Norfolk, Nebraska, on Labor Day weekend. Only a hop, skip and a jump away. I am thinking about it.

The episode I have spoken of regarding my return flight from Poland to America will have to wait. If only three people are interested enough in the edition about the airport search to leave a (English language) comment, I can see no reason to write the final chapter at this time. Lame as it might sound, that is my excuse. Also, I am lazy at the moment. But, allow me to say this much: The concluding segment involves sitting next to an "air marshal" on the flight from Warsaw to Chicago, and again on the flight from Chicago to Minneapolis, and again on the flight from Minneapolis to .... whoops ....

Next on the list is this. Speaking of guns, I am debating on how many will accompany me on my September trip. I am considering at least two handguns, possibly four, and at least one rifle, and possibly two. I am not a shotgun man, so none will accompany me. In fact, I gave my last one away while I still was in Poland.

Anyway, I plan to spend occasional nights in motels, but otherwise sleep in the Suburban or outside it on the ground. My playmates might well be coyotes and rattlesnakes because I have a tendency to shun actual campgrounds and head off the trail and into the sticks.

To be frank, I have a propensity to search out old battlefields from the Plains Indian Wars and to sleep upon them in hopes of teleportation back in time or running into ghosts or at least having a decent nightmare. All right, I am kidding .... sort of .... but, perhaps, this is why I cannot keep a woman with me (??) .... whatever, but, maybe, you understand why I prefer to have a few guns with me?

Incidental to the point, I actually have slept in a ravine where an indirect ancestor of mine was killed by Sioux and (probably) a few Cheyenne in 1867. He was a member of a cavalry patrol in Kansas. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry discovered and buried the bodies. Top that for unique experiences. I had no memory of any dreams when I awoke after the night I slept in that ravine, but I did not feel comfortable enough to stay a second night.

So, any suggestions about how many firearms I should carry with me? Also, destinations. I do (sort of) plan to go to South Dakota and/or the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Basically, I am thinking of driving east, and then continue on in that direction, or going westerly and continuing in that direction. It is a bit too warm yet to head South. Any thoughts?
For instance, where would you go, in America, to spend a few days or a few weeks, if you could right now at this moment?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Yes, I have one, too. It is a fine pistol.

Thomas Cole
-- "Daniel Boone Sitting at the Door of His Cabin" / 1826

Some people idolize film stars, some idolize politicians, some idolize musicians, some people idolize trash. Daniel Boone is one of the few men I idolize. I think he is one of the more important men in the history of 18th and 19th Century America, but few have any concept of what he actually accomplished as an individual, free man. History is lost on the typical American today, but that is just fine because the seed of history is the story of Lemmings (excuse me, civilizations) rushing headlong toward a cliff. It always has been that way and, I believe, always will be that way. Whatever, the bottom line is that I would wager hard cash Daniel had plenty of explosive residue in the form of spent gunpowder on his jacket. Read on, if you are curious ....

Gun! .... No, no, no -- no gun ....

Part 2 of 2 (or, maybe, 3)

This episode will be brief (comparatively speaking), and (hopefully) without any lecture regarding the fall of the United States as we know it (although, I actually believe we are on the eve of it).

When I was departing Frederic Chopin Airport in Warsaw, I crossed over from the land of milk and honey into the "forbidden zone" and exchanged waves and blown kisses with the beautiful one. I then proceeded to the first checkpoint, which includes placing coats, computers, etc., etc., etc. in baskets and walking through a metal detector. But, the big difference here from American airports -- the shoes (in my case, cowboy boots) stayed on the feet.

Mind you, this was in the Spring, just a few days after more stringent rules, searches and other "feel good" procedures had gone into place for anyone and everyone flying into America from foreign land.

So, I proceeded to the passport check. There, a young lady skidded to a visible stop when she noticed that I had overstayed the ninety-day time limit specified for anyone without a visa. I could see her mind was turning, deliberating, as she stared at the page, mentally counting up the days. Several long seconds later, she stamped the exit marker and pushed the passport back without a word.

Finally cleared to head on out, I thought, I proceed to the boarding area. Thirty minutes later, those of us there were chased out and had to proceed through another checkout point. Again, I emptied my pockets and had my carry-on items physically searched by a pair of men in black uniforms and carrying Glock pistols at their sides.

I was asked to enter what looked like an old-fashioned telephone booth. I was hit by a gust of air. A few minutes later, I learned that I had tested positive for residue from explosive materials.

One guard was very young. He looked like a teenager but, obviously, was older. He knew a bit of English, was very friendly, and not shy about talking and laughing. The other was about four inches taller and thirty pounds heavier than I am, and knew less English than I know Polish -- which is next to none. He appeared to be approaching age forty, looked and acted like a bouncer at a bar, and avoided all eye contact.

After some discussion, they me put into into a second booth. Again, I was hit by a gust of air, again made my silly, surprised expression at it and enjoyed the big smile and friendly laugh of the younger guard. The results were the same from this machine. The "explosive sniffer device" had tested me as positive for explosive residue.

While the older guard was comparing the test results from the two machines, the younger was more forthcoming. He asked me if I had been handling explosives recently.

I was wearing a black, leather jacket, which is ancient and has the appearance of a blend between a military jacket and a biker jacket. I probably have fired several thousand rounds of rifle and handgun ammunition while wearing that jacket, and said to the guard: "This is my shooting jacket. I have fired a pistol hundreds of times wearing this jacket. Could that cause the positive result?"

The young guard's eyes widened like proverbial saucers. "Gun!" he exclaimed, in a voice loud enough to attract the attention of the older guard. "Gun! Gun?"

"No, no, no, no gun!" I exclaimed. "This is shooting jacket. I wear it when I am shooting pistols. Maybe there is gunpowder residue on it."

He understood what I said, and his broad smile returned in an instant. "I like the Glock," he said, patting his holstered sidearm.

"Yes, I have one, too. It is a fine pistol," I said. His eyes began to widen again. "At home. At home, in America," I quickly added.

To bring this to a happy resolution, I was asked to enter a room not much bigger than a large closet. My jacket pockets were emptied for a second time (third, actually, counting the initial checkpoint examination earlier). I had to take my money belts off. The older guard squeezed them affectionately. I had not even emptied all my pockets completely -- nor had I taken my boots off this time, either -- before the older guard mumbled something and left. The younger guard waited and we chatted while I put myself back together.

He said he was twenty-four, married and had two children. I asked him if he liked his work. He said it would do for how, but he did not think of it as a career.

We eventually boarded an aircraft nearly filled to capacity. I am not certain how many passengers this type carries, and I am too lazy right now to check out its capacity, but there must have been a couple of hundred or more people aboard it on the return flight. Among them, I only noticed one other man besides myself who was run through the "explosive sniffer." He had the look of a moonshiner from Appalachian hill country.

I am curious still why I was selected to be "sniffed." As an ex-Marine, I like to think it was because I had the look of being the "meanest son-of-a-bitch in the valley." I hope it was not because I look like a moonshiner from Minnesota. I do not look like that, do I?

I also like to think that the younger of the two guards went home that night with a big smile and a laugh and a story to tell his wife about the close call and dangerous encounter he had experienced at work at the airport that day. Maybe, he said something like this to her: "You would have been proud of me, honey, the way I handled a situation that could have been explosive."

I guess this post did not turn out to be very brief. Maybe, I will do a third piece. Ain't life a laugh and a half ????

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We're all all right .... but this is our last chance

N.C. Wyeth -- "Robinson Crusoe" / 1920

My disdain for America resurfaces
Part 1 of 2 (or 3 or whatever)

This idea has been going through my head seriously for a month or two now, although the seed was planted more than a few years ago, and perhaps even a couple of decades ago.

Way back: I once knew a man who somehow had wrangled himself a job at two newspapers, one in Michigan and one in Florida. You probably can guess where this is going: Warm-weather months in Michigan and cold-weather months in Florida.

Last year: The idea of having a home in Europe and another in America was on my mind -- for more than one reason. The primary questions that never were resolved satisfactorily (to me) were exactly where -- in which European (yes, European, none other) country and city, and in which American state and ....

I awakened smiling this morning. One or two or, possibly, three of you reading this might know exactly what I mean with those words. In essence, it means I am happy, content and sort of pleased at this moment. Besides that, I have a couple of stories I want to write. Here is one:

I have told a few people this, but the more I think about it, the more unusual it seems. When I arrived in Poland last December, I went through customs at Frederic Chopin Airport in Warsaw and had my passport stamped. That was the only time my passport was out of my pocket until I departed Frederic Chopin Airport in Warsaw in April.

During this time span, I stayed in an apartment complex which made arrangements for me to arrive on a day there were no other guests present and the entire staff was on holiday. A manager met my companion and I at the front door, showed us around, handed us keys not only to our room, but to the front door, and left. We had the place, which included a couple of buildings with three or four restaurants, to ourselves if we chose to go roaming. No identification requested, no payment necessary. Simply, welcome to Warsaw. Enjoy your stay.

I initially was scheduled to stay there for a week, but kept modifying my plans. And, until I decided to leave after two weeks for a private apartment elsewhere, no one even asked me to pay a penny for the suite I had been occupying. By the way, no passport or any form of identification was requested to rent the second, private apartment, either.

Then, there was the bank incident. Somewhere on a path between ignorance and incompetence, a major American bank with a nationwide system froze one of my accounts. A small-town bank in America and a major Polish bank in Warsaw got me through that mess, which lasted about a week. No identification was required at the Polish bank during this dilemma, either.

Beyond that, the nationwide American bank went so far as to ignore contact not only from me and my so-called "personal banker," but from my attorney in America. Only after five or six days and I finally had said I would be on my way to the American consulate in Warsaw the next day, did the issue mysteriously resolve itself.

Here is a country, Poland, that not even twenty years ago had the Soviet Army still occupying it -- and, I was, feeling free as a bird. Back in my so-called homeland, in America, a nation which supposedly set everyone free during 18th and 19th century processes, I have to prove my identification, fill out an application emphasizing very personal information and often provide references to rent a car or to begin visits to a dentist or to rent an apartment or to board an aircraft. Only a nation of idiots, I believe, would submit to this sort of treatment.

As you can see, my old disdain toward life in 21st Century America is returning. This place has ceased to be a republic. No doubt about it. The power mongers rule. Time for a change for me again, even if only temporary. Yes-s-s-s, it is pretty obvious that I am working myself up to getting the hell out of Dodge again.

So then, after this mini-tirade, I think I might write about my mini-adventure on the return flight from Poland to America. Some few individuals have heard part of this story, but no one other than Benny and White Bear has heard it all and, as usual, White Bear took a nap while I was telling it so he is rather uninformed, too.

A clue: The word, "guns," came up .... twice .... once at the Warsaw airport, and again on the flight.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Life beyond the blog: Interlude No. 07

Just some songs from long ago. Do you remember long ago?

Are the last two songs live at the Budokan? Yes!
Well, I sort of made it to the Kodokan .... Hai!
Whatever .... gonna see Cheap Trick Saturday ....
(Warning: Happy hard rock on the last two songs)

I have always known
That at last I would
Take this road, but yesterday
I did not know that it would be today.

An untitled poem
by Ariwara no Narihira
9th Century Japanese poet
(Reminiscent of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken")

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August flies, and soon will I

One Maltese, one television, two computers ….
The books and the guns already are in a storage unit ….
White Bear was taking a nap on the bed (poor bed that it is) ....

Meanwhile, preparations for our departure continue ....

The travels of Benny the Maltese

A few days ago, a certain young lady said in a comment in a reply to one my comments (that has sort of a silly sound to it, does it not?) that she did not really believe I had a Maltese. Well, although Benny has appeared in a post once or twice in the past, he decided that he should make another appearance. So, here he is, and Benny and I have an interesting story to tell to you.

A few years ago, Benny embarked from Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport aboard an aircraft destined for Seattle, Washington. He was traveling from a breeder in Minnesota on his way to a pet shop in Seattle. This was on Monday.

I met Benny in the Seattle pet shop on Tuesday. I returned to the shop and bought him on Wednesday, not knowing until I was actually in the process of making the purchase that he had arrived from Minnesota just two days before. On Thursday, the two of us flew back to Minneapolis/St. Paul from Seattle. On Friday, the two of us drove from Minnesota to South Dakota and spent a long weekend there before returning to Minnesota. Whether a person or a canine, life seems to be a bit weird at times, does it not?

By the way, notice that Benny's coffee cup is larger than my coffee cup. That should tell you who the boss is around here.

So, pick your musical poison

Music always is on my mind, sometimes simply for the enjoyment of it, sometimes for memories it sparks of a time now gone forever or of a person or of a place.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred years ago, I saw Uriah Heep in concert. It was a wonderful night; a beautiful, momentary few hours of happiness and exuberance and boundless energy. I heard one of the band's songs on the radio today, and wanted to share it. So, here is one of Uriah Heep's songs -- heavy-duty rock, but listen to the words, if you believe in yourself.

Not quite so far back in the distant past, I was introduced to a musical production entitled "Notre Dame de Paris." It is fascinating (to me, anyway) to listen to these songs sung in French and then in English. Someday, I swear, I will see this performance on stage. Here is a song from that French-Canadian masterpiece, one in particular that will always haunt me.

Strange bed-fellows, these two songs. So, pick your poison and, if you like them both, no doubt, Benny and I would like you ....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Life beyond the blog: Interlude No. 06

This is a photograph taken from the window of The Apartment.
Do you recognize anyone? Look toward the center and magnify ....

Monday, August 9, 2010

The tale of two men -- truth, lies & who cares?

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo -- Time Unveiling Truth / 1743

Just who do you trust for the truth?

I met two men during the past few days.

One was from Sierra Leone, who was about my age, had three children between ages three and eight by a wife here in America, but who also once was married to a woman still in Africa and who has six adult children there.

He initially described his American wife as beautiful. When I met her later, I thought she was sort of average and, obviously, the boss of the family. He told me he had a brother who was in the Sierra Leonean army, and who killed rebel insurgents and was killed by rebel insurgents in the wars surrounding the notorious "blood diamonds." He said his brother, his brother's wife and their six children were locked in a house which was then torched.

He mentioned that his mother also lives with him, and that she requires a lock on her bedroom door at night to prevent her from "going wandering."

I cannot help but wonder how much of his story is fabricated. On the other side of the coin, he most certainly has been places and done things I have not done, so who cares where the lies end and the truth begins? To talk to him is an experience onto itself.

As an aside: Thunder and lightning rule the sky here at the moment.

The other man was a real estate agent. God, could that man talk. And, I do not mean trying to sell me anything. Within about thirty minutes, I knew his entire life story. I knew how much he loved his wife and, in the same instant, how much he hated her; loved, because they had been married nearly twenty years and had two children ages thirteen and eleven; hated, because, in this failing American economy, she kept putting pressure on him to bring home more and more money.

He told me how a friend of his since childhood had recently died from pancreatic cancer, how this man had been his buddy and his confidant and his confessor.

Once more, I cannot help but wonder how much of his story is invented. On the other side, he most certainly has been places and done things I have not done, so who cares where the lies end and the truth begins? To talk to him is an experience onto itself.

Yeh, I know I said the same words about the Sierra Leonean, but is it not wonderful to hear the stories people tell you about their lives -- here, there and everywhere?

It is absolutely amazing how, in the span of twenty minutes or so, it is possible to learn all the relevant details in an individual's life. Maybe, this is because I worked as a newspaper reporter, and learned interviewing skills. Maybe, it is because I have interrogated literally dozens of criminals, trying to break them down and to confess to "high crimes and misdemeanors." It probably is more simple than that. It probably is because some people need to talk to someone, to anyone who will listen, and I happened to be there, in the right place at the right time.

It takes an expert to tell when lies end and when the truth begins. But, hope and dreams and just plain stupidity sometimes overrule even the experience of an expert. Remember, the bottom line is that no one can lie to you unless you wish it to be so and allow it to happen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Life beyond the blog: Interlude No. 05

William Powell Frith -- "Claude Duval, The Highwayman" / 1860

"The Highwayman"

"I had a black cape and pistols, and I was definitely a bandit. A highwayman, as it were. I was being chased within an inch of my life by these grenadiers on horseback, and I knew for a fact that if they caught me, they were going to kill me." -- Jimmy Webb, who wrote the song, "The Highwayman," after experiencing this dream.

I was a highwayman. Along the coach roads I did ride
With sword and pistol by my side
Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade
Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade
The bastards hung me in the spring of twenty-five
But I am still alive.

I was a sailor. I was born upon the tide
And with the sea I did abide.
I sailed a schooner round the Horn to Mexico
I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow
And when the yards broke off they said that I got killed
But I am living still.

I was a dam builder across the river deep and wide
Where steel and water did collide
A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado
I slipped and fell into the wet concrete below
They buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound
But I am still around .... I'll always be around ....
and around and around and around and around

I fly a starship across the Universe divide
And when I reach the other side
I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain

And I'll be back again, and again and again and again and again
And when I reach the other side
I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain
But I will remain
And I'll be back again, and again and again and again and again

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Life beyond the blog: Interlude No. 04

Edward W. Rainford -- "Hotspur and the Courtier" / 1852

This Summer has been long, tedious, boring:
"Fie upon this quiet life! I want ...."

Some lines from "Henry IV" (I, 1)
by William Shakespeare

Prince Henry:

That ever this fellow should have fewer words than a
parrot, and yet the son of a woman! His industry is
upstairs and downstairs; his eloquence the parcel of
a reckoning. I am not yet of Percy's mind, the
Hotspur of the north; he that kills me some six or
seven dozen of Scots at a breakfast, washes his
hands, and says to his wife 'Fie upon this quiet
life! I want work.' 'O my sweet Harry,' says she,
'how many hast thou killed to-day?' 'Give my roan
horse a drench,' says he; and answers 'Some
fourteen,' an hour after; 'a trifle, a trifle.'

Something special ....