Monday, January 31, 2011

Better luck next time

What'cha think? Too big? Too small? The boat, I mean. I could not decide which photograph best served my purpose for illustration, so I am running both of them. I checked out this baby on Sunday afternoon. It is larger than I have been considering, mainly because I want to be able to transport whatever boat I buy (if I buy) from here to there and back again, rather than keep it docked at one marina. By transport, I mean pull it behind my Suburban, which is parked next to the boat. You can judge for yourself if this plan would be feasible. Time will tell, as it always does ....

To love him or to hate him

My mind is whirling with a million thoughts tonight.

One is that I finally realized I never have understood women. Among all the acquaintances, friends, lovers and wives who have been part of my life -- I do not believe I knew a single one of them. Of course, I am aware of the many similarities they cannot escape because of unadorned biology, and I recognized the "men are from Mars and women are from Venus" concept long before anyone wrote a book about it -- but, women remain an enigma.

I suppose I might say the same of men, because I have met very few I truly can identify with in terms of viewing the fundamentals of life. Sure, there are those men who enjoy the same books, films and music that I do; others who seek out the same manner of work; many who can and do hunt like I once did; some with the same hobbies I pursue; but I have found very few who I could love as a brother. This does not have as much to do with similar interests as it does to indefinable instincts about the purpose of life and the goals mankind should have in common.

Perhaps, that is why after a work grievance filed against me some years ago by someone I supervised, the investigator made this comment as her closing remark: "Everyone either loves him or hates him; there is no in between."

My response was this: "Do you think I care?"

Actually, I do/did care, but only in the sense of understanding why. I want to learn and learn and learn. I am mostly an observer, which is neither good nor bad, but merely means I possess the capacity to remain neutral and independent. I want to know everything, and it frustrates me that I cannot. This trait of mine sometimes also frustrates others around me in both professional and personal life.

Circling back to women, all I need in life is one woman who smiles for me and to me and at me and walks side by side with me -- and, watches my back if I might need cover. This, I often think, is an unattainable objective.

Not to sidetrack too much (although I did warn you that my mind is whirling, bouncing, meandering all over the place this evening), but there was a fascinating book which sort of revolves around this characteristic of non-committal impartiality. It is, "The Hunter," by Donald Westlake, published in 1962. There have been three film versions of it, of which I will mention only two: "Point Blank," in 1967, with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson, and "Payback," in 1999, with Mel Gibson and Maria Bello.

It is one of those strange instances where the novel and each film version vary considerably and yet remain absolutely excellent. It also is a story of a man who, after having been betrayed by a woman, finds another who is uniquely fitted for his lifestyle and personality.

Expand your horizons. Go to a movie tonight. Teasing .... sort of .... and, if you did not understand a word I was writing, better luck next time.

A couple of announcements

I am moving again. It is like it was at the Lake House. I tried to hold out until the last minute before deciding whether I would go or stay in this townhouse another month, and someone else stepped in and volunteered to sign a long-term lease. So, I will leave here at the end of February. And, since I am not ready to entirely commit to a Spring/Summer plan yet, this will be still another temporary situation. Almost laughable. Oh, well .... such is life.

Next, one more attempt: I have been writing since shortly after arriving here at this townhouse, and just rolled over 100,000 words on a novel. Who knows? I have tried and failed before, but you never can be certain if you are not persistent and keep on trying -- once, or twice or three times or ....

Finally, endless variables: I might have found a boat, but I am not sure yet. There are a lot of variables to this deal. I also think I might have found a house, but there, once again, I am not sure yet because there are many variables in this deal, too.

And, I also think the cornerstone for a summer plan has been set, although it is too soon to finalize the details. This makes me smile and smile and smile. The ever-present variables are, of course, in play here, as well. Variables never are in short supply, it would seem, and I have a tendency to wait until the last minute when it comes to commitments.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Another moment to absorb .... or not

I love it ....

Almost as a follow-up ( that is a newspaper term, for those who are unaware, for a story or stories published a day or two or three after the original story) to my post from a few days ago, here is a rendition of George Harrison's song, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

This is from a tribute medley to him at his second induction (all the Beatles were selected as a group in 1987) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Harrison died from cancer in 2001 at the age of fifty-eight.

The two singing this near-perfect song are Tom Petty (the Heartbreakers) and Jeff Lynne (ELO), who, once upon a time, along with Harrison, were members of the Traveling Wilburys. Replacing Harrison in the group on this night was his son, Danny. Also absent was Roy Orbison, who had a good excuse. He was dead, too, back in 1988 at the age of fifty-two from a heart attack.

Another from the Wilburys, Bob Dylan, did not participate, and should be whipped for his absence. (Yes, I mean that. I am as hard core as they come, but there are such things as honor, duty, respect, friendship and love in this world.) Dylan probably as off somewhere trying to spawn another child or two. (He is from Minnesota, so it hurts a bit to write that, although while some of his music was great, he really was/is a lousy singer.)

For those who are (again) unaware or who have short memories, one of my previous incarnations included playing the role of a newspaper arts critic, which (while I did it) centered on books, stage plays and films, but also included all manner of music, operas, paintings/prints, photography and you name it.

I love rock and roll and the Beatles (where real modern music began, in my mind), and the Rolling Stones, and Boston, and the Scorpions, and The Who, and Derek and the Dominos, and Metallica, and Styx, and Dokken, and Heart, and a hundred others.

This song is truly wondrous, to my way of thinking. I love the way a couple of the Traveling Wilbury's, Petty and Lynne, sing it. I love the way Harrison's son loses it during the performance. I love it even though Prince, another guy from Minnesota (You never knew so much talent came from Minnesota, did you?), hams it up as he plays sort of a guitar solo toward the end. Harrison's son obviously loves it, too, which is the most important element here.

I love the way Prince throws his guitar away as the song comes to its close. Never again will he play it. The moment has come and gone -- forever. What is life other than a series of moments, come and gone -- forever? Never mind. I do not really care any longer. Too many moments -- or whatever.

Mainly, I love this song and this performance, I think, because when I was about the age of Harrison's son I was carrying a rifle instead of a guitar. Luck of the draw, I guess. I love it because, although I envy George and Danny Harrison, I am happy for them for living life as they wanted it.

We all have to be someplace doing something, and I never have been sorry about where I was at any given point in time or what I was doing then because it was where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing at that particular stage. Sometimes, like right now for me, there is a bridge that seems to be taking a long, long time to cross, but it is part of the road which has been mapped out in advance of the journey. Hindsight is for the weak ....

Some years ago, I read a line: "Where there is beauty, so shall I be."

I cannot recall where or when or what this line was from, but I remember the moment it was on paper before my eyes and I was reading it.

What the hell. It could be I did not read it; possibly, I wrote it.

Time to run .... there is music to enjoy and another moment to absorb .... or not.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Good luck, bad luck, no luck

Once upon a time in the chronicles of the Marine Corps while aboard a Navy vessel .... the young and the restless and the "fast boats" .... this photograph was one of two originally titled, "The morning after" .... yes, really it was ....

A month is a month is (only) a month

A few months ago, in October to be exact, after noting the poet T.S. Eliot had proclaimed in his masterpiece, "The Wasteland," that "April is the cruelest month," I wrote these words:

"But, just for the sake of argument, I vote for October or January as the cruelest month …. Both these months have foreshadowed sledge-hammer hard blows to my psyche. Each year, I hold my breath waiting for each October to pass. Some years, they are (thankfully) uneventful. Some years, they slam me in their opening moments. Other years, they ambush me at the last possible second.

"So, you ask me, how can a month (October for now; we will wait on January) with such beautiful colors and such stunning sunsets be cruel?"

Well, October came and went with a touch of bad luck for me, but nothing catastrophic, and now we are in the midst of January. My designation for these two months is a numbers game in a sense. October has struck me many times, while January has struck me only one time, but with the hardest and the cruelest of any blow in my life.

There are only three people, possibly four, still around today who are aware of that blow, and I think it is best to be kept that way. The only day I fear in January (so far, anyway) is the seventeenth. And, it passed by me quietly this year. If I could, I would prefer to have someone nearby to hold my hand for a while when that date comes around on the calendar each year.

The other major event of January in my life happened on this day -- the twenty-fourth -- when I joined the Marine Corps. Probably no one who has not been in the Corps recognizes or realizes the significance of the enlistment anniversary date to those who have been there. It is a bond and a commitment and a pledge in blood -- actually -- and, something earned, not given.

In my case, I consider this day neither a good day nor a bad day, but still one of the most relevant ones in my life.

The only other "unique" month in my life is July. I have been married twice -- both weddings in July -- and, in each case, the divorce also was finalized in July. I am not certain these events have anything to do with luck, but it does seem a bit strange. Do you not think so? Whether or not July marriages and weddings are written in the stars for me, if you propose to me, I want a July wedding. Some things are meant to be.

I wish there were a month that was super beneficial to/for me and would bring me to the pinnacle of good luck again and again -- but, so far, no such luck.

Baby, you're adorable (you know I mean it)

No cowboy songs tonight. A couple of thoughts about this music:

The first piece is one of the last songs recorded by Roy Orbison before he went bye-bye. While that comment might sound a bit irreverent, I will add that I believe Roy Boy had the greatest voice in the original era of rock music. This, by the way, in the parlance of FramHistory, existed from about 1955 to approximately 1990, when, for all practical purposes, rock began to go to hell (i.e., the path of political correctness).

Whatever .... by luck of the draw (meaning the god-given gift of a voice like no other), Orbison was the best of the best, and everyone doing music at the time knew it.

The visuals in both these videos are technically of very poor quality, but, perhaps, that will encourage some to concentrate on the music itself and to think about the lyrics. By the way (again), the Orbison song once had special meaning for me. Live and learn. What is that saying? Fool me once ....

The second piece is by the Traveling Wilburys, of which Roy Boy was a member. If you do not recognize the other members, shame on you. I will say this much, however, which should offer you a clue: I did not realize what a neat voice George Harrison had until he hooked up with the Wilburys.

Anyway, such is the way of music around these parts tonight. If you like it -- or not -- tell me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Song of MidWinter

The good times are coming

It is a time to rejoice.

It is January 16.

Midwinter has arrived.

It is all downhill from here.

Somewhere along the line a number of years ago, I began to think of November 1 as the first day of "FramWinter" and March 31 as the final day. Around here, way up North, those dates coincide with actual winter weather much closer than do the dates on the calendar.

While it is true that I have witnessed snow on Labor Day and blizzards in October, by-in-large November 1 is around the time of the year cold and snow begin to set in for keeps. The same is true in the springtime. I have experienced horrendous blizzards in April and measurable snowfall even during the last week of May, but warm air and green fields are on the way by the time March draws to its conclusion.

Therefore, while it is not mathematically precise in terms of days, hours and minutes, January 16 is two and one-half months into Winter and two and one-half months remain for it to exist.

So, be of good cheer, Spring is near and this "FramWinter" soon will be history and we can all go outside again and play.

Speaking of playing & incidental notes

Item 1: Remember my December 31 post? These were among the words in context of three things that were possibilities for my future: "Move to Florida, buy a boat and hang out for a year or two diving and diving."

I spent a few hours on Saturday at the 41st Annual Sportsmen's Boat, Camping and Vacation Show in St. Paul. I was not looking at sleeping bags, either. Next weekend is the Minneapolis Boat Show, which I also plan to attend. There also is a smaller, local boat show going on almost next door to me. That is on my mid-week agenda.

I probably will be elaborating on this in the weeks ahead.

Incidental to the point, I have an old friend who is diving beneath the ice on Lake Superior this weekend. I taught him how to dive, but now he surpasses anything I have done. Now, he could be the teacher and I the student. This makes me smile.

As if fate were keeping one eye on me at all times, I also have made a new acquaintance who was with the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) in the U.S. Navy. In other words, he was a professional diver, both hard-helmet and scuba. Constant readers here might recall that I went through the three-week Navy scuba school myself at approximately the dawn of time. He and I are talking about trying some dives next Summer if things would work out.

Item 2: I began reading Raymond Khoury's 2005 best-selling novel, "The Last Templar." I like it -- so far -- and might mention it in the future -- another book review that is not a book review, or whatever.

I am curious. Has anyone read it?

Another cowboy song breaks free

It must the desolation of the landscape, covered with snow blown by a bitterly cold wind, but I am in the mood for cowboy music and cowboy films.

Mama Cass Elliot sang, "The Good Times are Coming," the theme song from the original motion picture version of "Monte Walsh." The cast was led Lee Marvin and Jack Palance -- two men born to portray cowboys on the silver screen -- and Jeanne Moreau -- beauty incarnate. The story centers about the end of the Western Frontier and the demise of open range cowboys whose lives flourished in a mixture of reality and myth.

Many, including myself, consider this movie to be a Western Classic and as tragic a tale as any written by William Shakespeare. What happens to the cowboy when the Old West vanishes into the mists of time?

A television remake of the 1970 film was done in 2003 with Tom Selleck and Isabella Rossellini playing the lead roles. While the original version is archetypal, the television version is sort of routine, bland entertainment. And, while Selleck manages to handle parts as a private detective or a police officer relatively well, in my opinion he comes off as a cartoon caricature when he dons the duds of a cowboy.

Anyway, the song was absolutely perfect for the original film and was sung absolutely beautifully by Mama Cass -- and, that is why it is here tonight.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Mood of Winter

Time for a cowboy song

There is no news to report.

I have no thoughts of relevance.

My opinions are well known.

Therefore, there is nothing for me to write.

So, I simply will post two versions of a cowboy song I like, "Four Strong Winds."

The first version is performed by Neil Young and "friends." The only two "friends" I recognize are Young's wife, Pegi, on his right, and singer Emmylou Harris, on his left.

The second version is by the writer of the song, Ian Tyson, and his once-upon-a-time wife, Sylvia. (I sort of like both their first names for some reason.) Late in the rendition, they are joined by some fellow I do not recognize, by Judy Collins, Gordon Lightfoot and, once again, Emmylou Harris. She gets around, it seems.

Anyway, as you probably suspect, this song fits my Winter Mood.

Something special ....