Tuesday, March 31, 2015

So long, March .... bye-bye, Winter .... unfinished original & four addendums

FramWinter begins November 1 and ends March 31. Snow and cold might yet torment us for a while longer, but they cannot last. I will also say happy birthday today to Benny and to Bud, who managed to arrive just before March departed. The music, I would think, is self-evident .... I might change it .... I could not decide with what "music to end March by" .... but, perhaps, the selection is an omen and may be appropriate since the Rolling Stones will be in town on June 3. (Yes, really. Can you believe it?) Actually, this is an unfinished post, but I put it up anyway because I like to note the end of my birth month and I ran out of time .... hmmmm .... out of time. I might add more to this post. I have thought of publishing something like this, and then just adding new thoughts to it periodically -- a never-ending post, so to speak.

Scene II, Act I / "A Wife for a Month" by John Fletcher 1624

"I would chuse March, for I would come in like a Lion ....
But you'd go out like a Lamb when you went to hanging."

Lassiter / "Riders of the Purple Sage" by Zane Grey 1912
"I reckon you will. An' I'll never ask you. I'm a man of strange beliefs an' ways of thinkin', an' I seem to see into the future an' feel things hard to explain. The trail I've been followin' for so many years was twisted en' tangled, but it's straightenin' out now ...."

Addendum No. 01 / April 4, 2015: Never an ending ??
I just might try this for a while .... a never-ending post, I mean.

It will be an interesting end of May / beginning of June for me. On May 26, I will be taking former wife No. 2 to the Mayo Clinic for a follow-up medical appointment; on May 28, I will be an observer at an event about twelve hours flight time from home; on June 3, I will be attending the Rolling Stones concert back home .... I just purchased four tickets .... rock 'n' roll, baby ....

I have decided to open this post up for comments, at least temporarily, since it is "temporarily never-ending." What is life without experimentation? Although I prefer the past in many ways, like it or not life is learning about the present ....

Addendum No. 02 / April 7, 2015: The story of books

Wolf Larsen / "The Sea-Wolf" by Jack London 1904
"Wolf Larsen answered with an indescribable air of sadness .... 'My mistake was in ever opening the books.'"

Among my earliest memories are of my mother reading to me. Then, she taught me to read. It was the only area in which I excelled when I entered school.

I was eleven when I approached the librarian to check out four or five books from the "adult section" of the local public library. There was nothing left in the "children's section" either unread by me or of interest to me. The librarian telephoned my mother, who said it was fine for me to have them, and I left the building on my way to an entirely new world of reading material.

It was just a few weeks later, my self-confidence at new heights, a clerk at a local bookstore asked me who was reading the books I was buying. I replied that I was reading them. She shook her head and rolled her eyes. The books were not salacious in any way, simply, rather, it would seem, unusual reading for boys: Biographies on men like Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin; studies on space and undersea exploration, and on archaeological discoveries; novels by prominent literary writers: James Joyce, Norman Mailer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Henry Miller; philosophy from Bertrand Russell.
That was the beginning. Having had a pair of dynamic English teachers in terms of reading throughout my six years of junior and senior high school fueled the fire and opened still broader vistas. Having had a professor in college who often read poetry in class with emotion and a Virginia accent and another who enjoyed reading passages in Old and Middle English sent me deeper into classic poetry and into understanding the evolution of language.
The pattern never changed, only the number of books I consumed any given year. During peak periods, I was reading up to about one-hundred-fifty a year. I no longer read voraciously, but I always am working on something.
I live alone, so I usually am reading a book while I am eating .... most of the food I eat is cold by the time I finish it.
I live alone, so I usually fall asleep at night with a book next to me.
I live alone, so I usually ....
Addendum No. 03 / April 10, 2015: Newspaper work
Ernest Hemingway / Letter to Charles Fenton 1952
"In newspaper work you have to learn to forget every day what happened the day before .... I was working on a newspaper and so I cannot remember as I should .... newspaper work is valuable up until a point that it forcibly begins to destroy your memory. A writer must leave it before that point. But he will always have scars from it."
Those who wander by here on occasion probably know that I have been an on-again / off-again journalist. The last time I actually was gainfully employed practicing it (regular hours / regular paycheck) was May 2009 .... although I still occasionally indulge, both formally and informally. Anyway .... I have been thinking about stories / interviews I wish I would have the opportunity to do. Here are a couple, in no particular order.
Hearing Patti Smith singing, "Be My Baby," in one of my recent posts brought back thoughts of Ronnie Specter. I would so love to be able to talk with her about her experiences in the world of music and her days with Phil Specter. She must be a walking encyclopedia regarding many of the key elements in the history of rock 'n' roll. After the interview, I would like to take her out to dinner.
I had a brief association with the rodeo circuit when I was young, and I would like to sit down with a few of these fellows -- the last of the real cowboys -- and hear them talk about the things they have done and seen. I have had one-on-one sessions with professional football and baseball players. I have not interviewed any "major league" athletes from other sports, but I think rodeo guys might be the realest of the real among any and all professional athletes.
War, contrary to the opinion of some, is not my obsession or something I idealize, but over time I have interviewed a number of extraordinary warriors. I would like to talk with more of them and compare notes and hear their individual stories. At the top of my list right now is Robert O'Neill, the SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden. In actuality, though, I would rather interview him twenty years from now when the event has entered the realm of history and he has had ample time to reflect upon it and to live with it in a personal sense.
Just to mention a male member of the rock 'n' roll ensemble from the past generation (or two), I would pick Ritchie Blackmore to interview because, in my opinion, he is the best of the guitar men, among the quietest publicly and, actually, comes off as being sort of weird.
I will keep this list to five individuals or types for now, and I suppose I am obligated to mention a politician. I have had some memorable moments with a few, some American and some not, including two sitting presidents and one sitting vice president -- none of whom are alive today. I cannot think of one American politician living today I really would especially care to sit in the same room with to interview -- but, to spread our wings and stretch our horizons, I would love to have a long talk with Vladimir Putin. In terms of politicians among us today, he probably is the realest of the real and, most certainly, the most interesting, the most dangerous, the most historically and nationalistically driven.
Pausing for a moment and thinking a bit more, I would love to reminisce with Fidel Castro, too. Yes, I might even prefer to talk with him even more than with Putin. Castro is history; Putin still is making it, so he can wait.
I suppose I should not mention this, but I will. The best interviews come when a bottle or two of liquor is part of the paraphernalia in the room. That is when words like trust, honor and simpatico become part of the process and the interview turns into a conversation and a true learning experience. I have had a couple of "adventures" such as that, and, selfish man that I am, getting to see inside someone is more important to me than a newspaper story few will ever read.
By the way, Fenton was a biographer, and I think Hemingway remembered everything about his newspaper days very well .... he just did not want to share those memories with Fenton.

Addendum No. 04 / April 13, 2015: Memory of a girl & a dance
Keith Reid & Gary Brooker / "A Whiter Shade of Pale" 1967
"That her face, at first just ghostly,
Turned a whiter shade of pale
She said, 'There is no reason
And the truth is plain to see.'"
I remember a girl and sometimes think of her.
I was working at my first job as a newspaper reporter. She was seventeen and, would you believe, I was interviewing her because she was a high school super star? She was the best woman athlete, the top scholar, active in many extra-curricular programs and very attractive. She was about to graduate as No. 1 in her class, had college plans and seemed to be on her way to a bright future.
I remember the same girl about a year later.

I noticed her at an after-hours bar on the outside of city limits. I was waiting for "my love" of the moment, a divorced mother of three who was twenty-five and said she had gotten pregnant the "first time" she "had done it." I will not go into the details of our romance, but I will mention her ex-husband had hit her one night in my presence at a bar, and, as the expression goes, I proceeded to "wipe up the floor" with him. The ex-husband's father, a local political figure and office holder, later threatened to "destroy" me. You might imagine how I reacted to that:
"Thank you, sir, but neither you nor your son matter to me in the slightest. I suggest you keep it that way," said I, with my best smirk on my lips. So ended that conversation and any problems with son or father.
Back on point: I was bored while waiting for my girlfriend, so I approached the former high school super star and her boyfriend. I knew him mostly by reputation. I had heard that she had gotten deeply involved with alcohol and drugs through her boyfriend, who openly abused her. I spoke with her for a few minutes while he was engaged in a game of pool, then asked her if she wanted to dance. She did.
She seemed distracted and disoriented while we were dancing, but when I asked her if she was going to a well-advertised party the next night she slipped out of her daze instantaneously. She stopped our dance, looked into my eyes with near-glaring intensity and replied, "Are you? I'll go if you will."
She knew me in the sense of who I was and what I did. Her eyes had gone from vacant to deeply penetrating. One of her hands was literally clutching my shirt like it was a lifeline to safety. It was clear what she was asking and what she was offering. She was desperate to leave the life she had fallen into -- the centerpiece of which revolved round drugs -- and was asking me to take her from her boyfriend, even offering herself for the chance to escape. Her boyfriend approached and tried to cut in on our dance. I told him to get himself a beer and tell the bartender to put it on my tab. He snickered and left.
I told her that my girlfriend had plans for us the next night, which did not include the party. She sighed, we danced through the same song a second and then a third time, and that was that. I never saw her again.
Cutting to the chase: My girlfriend and I broke up a few weeks later when I moved on to another job and another town. This girlfriend was one of three women other than my two former wives with whom I had a serious relationship. (Seem like too many / too few ??) To be honest, the fact that she had three children with two of them already in school frightened me more than a little, but I was very emotionally attached to her for a while.
When recalling that era in my life, the girl I remember most is not my divorcee girlfriend, but, rather, the one-time high school super star. I never have been able to get her out of my mind -- her face and her eyes and her voice. It makes me shudder thinking about it at times. I played the same song three times on a jukebox. That is all the longer we were together -- fifteen or twenty minutes -- dancing, but I remember how she wore her hair, what she was wearing, even her shoes. I see her listless at first, then her entire being awaken when I mentioned the party. She was a beautiful girl, absolutely, and very intelligent and very talented; I would have said yes to the party had I not been involved with another woman.
It is possible this young lady made it out of a dismal existence on her own. I never heard and I never will know, but I cannot help from wondering if I might have been able to assist her to escape from it if only I had gone to that party. I have been unable to forget that she sought my help and I did not give it.
Then, there is the song we danced to .... when I hear it now my mind drifts and I will close my eyes and I still am dancing with her. There are times I question if I walked away from something even more .... even, maybe, from the end of a rainbow. Why else does the memory linger so strongly, so distinctly? But, mostly, it bothers me and almost haunts me in a sense that I did not try to help her.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Just music 3 .... well, a few words, too ....

I am including here a few paragraphs I wrote in a comment at another post. I like what I wrote, I am lazy, I think a few who visit me here might like to read those words, but might not notice them in a comment at another post. See? I have invented three reasons for reprinting those words here and now. For a bit of music, we have a guitar solo from Ritchie Blackmore and a very stylized and (from my point of view) weird rendition of a 1960s classic,"Be My Baby," from John Lennon. I am not sure whether to laugh or to applaud, but it makes me smile. Off we go:

A couple of points, though. It is not only the Old Norse and Thor's Hammer and Snorri Sturluson and Gwyn Jones which/who charm me, it also is the emigrant/immigrant movement. In terms of the Norwegians, I have read the thirty-some volumes in the Norwegian-American Studies series published by the Norwegian-American Historical Association, not to mention (but I will anyway) an indeterminate number of other history books, studies, memoirs and novels about the same topic, plus countless other books which involve the exploration and settlement of the United States. History is the name of one of my primary games -- whether old or recent -- and philosophy, religion, mythology, psychology, sociology, etc., all are among the "vegetables" that are mixed into the "stew" named history which I consume with a passion.

Read a few of Ole Rolvaag's novels, for instance. He is among some of the authors whose books I have held in my hand while walking the streets of Minneapolis and the prairies of South Dakota retracing the footsteps he took and then wrote about more than one hundred years ago. This is using the past to understand the present.

As for the idealization of war, I think you confuse idealization with fascination. There are a few reasons why I have participated in military life. Here are two: One is to experience everything I am able in this life and, thereby, to explore my own being and, by extension, to see more deeply into the nature of man in general; another is because I do believe in good and evil / right and wrong, and I feel an obligation to be ready to fight and, possibly, to die for what I do believe.

(Read some books) by Victor Davis Hanson and, if you are at all interested in the Marine Corps, the books of Colonel Joseph Alexander.

As I said in a comment, "In terms of war, there obviously are necessary ones and others which should never have been fought." I would think that sentence alone would eliminate your interpretation of my interest in war as "idealization." Put most simply, I am a student, and a serious student attends classes as well as reads books.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just music 2 .... only a "channel" away ....

Just a couple more songs, for now .... a British band and a French band; how is that for being ecumenical ?? As long as I am stretching boundaries, next on the list: Happy birthday, former wife No. 1. I do not mention her often. This is because I rarely encounter her. Our lives went separate directions several years ago. She married real money the second time around, and has lived happily ever after .... at least, so I assume .... although, for sure, with not nearly so exciting and enrapturing a man as am I .... ok, teasing again, but I eventually have come to accept the fact that most women will opt for dinner parties, gold watches and security before rock 'n' roll concerts, a gun collection and a companion with a wandering spirit. (Baby, the rain must fall.)

Another last minute thought which might not seem to fit here, but is here anyway, so, maybe, the right person will recognize it as a carryover from another discussion -- and, it will not harm anyone else who might read it: Fiction, poetry, mythology are no less important than history, philosophy, psychology .... and, personal experience has the potential to trump the beliefs of anyone else. Novelists Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway are as relevant as philosophers Bertrand Russell and Arthur Schopenhauer. Poets Allen Ginsberg (who I interviewed once) and John Donne (I guess I have read a theologian) are as mind-altering as psychiatrist Carl Jung and the "father of psychoanalysis" himself, Sigmund Freud. There are many fish in the sea and many influences from which to form a persona without becoming a disciple or a devotee of any one of them or of any few of them. All an individual has to do is to get out of the house and onto the highway while not worrying about what is behind or fearing what is ahead.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just music 1 .... the "eyes" have it ....


A number of my posts in recent weeks have been nothing more than me thinking out loud or, as I sometimes say, thinking with my fingers = I start typing without thought or direction, and my fingers reveal what my consciousness often will not. I have been taking the components of my body, mind and spirit, separating them, rearranging them and reassembling them, in a manner of speaking, then looking over the proposed, revised product (or, potential new persona, if you prefer) -- then repeating the process over and over again. One of these times, I suppose, I will be satisfied and begin walking the walk in a new "incarnation." In the meanwhile, this is the first of a few silly, idle-time posts which I will publish here while the process goes on .... hmmmm .... I have done this before, post two performances of the same song by the same band/singer, but the performances were three or four or so decades apart in chronological time. I hope you enjoy this rendition of this song as much as I do .... so, listen, while I go back to separating/rearranging/reassembling myself in search of some form of rebirth.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March madness .... No. 3 .... just words

Woodlands and water at sundown, Friday the 13th, March 2015

There once was a ....
Religion and war seem to keep circling back into my mind.

I suppose this is the result of news and more news about Islamic fundamentalists killing everything and everyone they see who is something other than an Islamic fundamentalist. If that statement were not politically correct, do you think I care?
Men and women and societies are changing. I am not, and there are others like me.

Former wife No. 2 has told me I am a dinosaur. I have no doubt she is right/correct/accurate in her analysis. Some individuals believe they have an old soul; I am not so sure about that, but I think I am the same man as was one of my ancestors generations ago. I am more in tune to his times than I am to my own, if that makes sense.
I have a cousin who traced our paternal lineage back to the mid-1500s in Norway. We are proud of this, for whatever reason, and, probably, for no reason. Still, it is somehow reassuring to see the names of the people from whom you eventually emerged -- real people who actually lived and died five hundred years ago.

I have followed my lineage back to arrival in the United States, paternal and maternal, and have found at least one ancestor -- more often more -- who have fought in every war which involved the U.S. since our Civil War. This also makes me proud. I even have an ancestor who was killed by Sioux in 1866 during the Plains Indian Wars. He was an officer in the Second U.S. Cavalry, before that had seen action in the Civil War and had been among the Minnesota militia troopers who had pursued and pushed the Sioux into the Dakotas after the 1862 uprising.

(Most people probably do not associate Minnesota with the American Indian Wars, but more civilians were killed in the 1862 Minnesota conflict than in any other such hostilities.)

I have been around the block a couple of times myself, and I have a couple of scars to show off after enough drinks and when among members of the right crowd. Fraternities are fraternities, you know, and I learned from experience the meaning of the expression: To feel one's blood boil.

In terms of religion, I often have written I am an agnostic. But, for whatever reason, I have worn Thor's Hammer on a chain around my neck for a few decades. If you are not familiar with Thor's Hammer, I am certain you own a computer and have access to the internet and can learn about him and his hammer, if you are curious.

Why do I wear it? Why am I certain others wear it? Because it is in my genes, in my blood, in my psyche -- so, I know it is the same for at least a few others and, occasionally, I have encountered some of them.
Had I been alive a thousand years ago, I think I would have been an agnostic even then. But, I still believe I would have worn armor and a Christian cross on my chest and rode off to battle with the followers of Islam. I would have done so because while the question of god might be uncertain to me, I have no doubt about the answers to questions measuring good and evil on this earth.

There is nothing in this post I have not written on this blog before, although, possibly, in different ways. As I noted a few weeks ago, I have made a few decisions. As I wrote more recently, I have yet to make a few other decisions, but as the weather turns from winter to summer, from ice to fire, my vision lightens and brightens. I think some of you know where I am going with this .... tell me, so I know, too .... I am teasing you now ....

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

March madness .... No. 2 .... just words

Thoughts about women & other things

Hemingway (as in Ernest Miller Hemingway) once wrote somewhere, sometime that the most perfect and exquisite curve is that from a woman's waist over her hip and onto her thigh.

I tend to agree.

But, just to ensure you do not think I am becoming too risqué, I might note that while the curve of a rifle stock might not be quite so sensual, it is magical in its own way. It can be utilitarian, art/beauty and death -- and, actually, sensual, all in the same touch. And, I have known men who feel the same about the sweep of the hood or a fender of an automobile -- a 1969 Shelby GT 500 Mustang, for instance. I had one (not new) once upon a time, and damn-near killed myself in it (and, in a couple of other cars, he says with a laugh on his lips .... it even was sort of funny at the time). Some of you might recall that Mustang GTs were "my thing" for a while.

Well, enough about sexual imagery, cussing and cars-to-end-all cars.

Now, why did I write those words?

As frequently is the case, I really have no clue. I am thinking. Just thinking, simply thinking, trying to fall off the fence regarding a few overdue decisions. Rambling thoughts. Searching -- I am always searching -- to paraphrase the words from an old rock melody. Actually, cars, guns and Rolex watches are on my mind. Ridiculous, hah?

Other than concern about the health of former wife No. 2, women are not on my mind. Rather, I am reverting to thoughts about how (in a sense) to waste money: Trinkets .... the world revolves around trinkets .... and, of course, around the whims of religious nut-cases and political power-mongers .... grrrr ....

Actually, they pretty much are the same thing, are they not ?? .... trinkets, trifles, insignificant people looking for a cause in life rather than a purpose in life .... having to live in the midst of religious zealots and political fanatics, I mean. It is enough to turn a man into a nihilist or an anarchist .... hmmmm, that pretty much is saying the same thing twice, is it not ??

Well, there always is time to make a second run for Sanctuary/Refuge.

Summer is coming, and by autumn I hope to have disappeared .... in a manner of spending .... whoops .... I mean in a manner of speaking.

Then, there is March & (actual) art & music

March is the month of birthdays for me. Several among family and friends, and my own. I will not mention them in detail this year, but I will say I hope by the time my own birthday comes around in a few days, long absent weather-luck will have returned to me and I will be working on a tan under the March sun.

For an illustration, I have used "Venus and Adonis," by Paolo Veronese. It is an oil on canvas, completed in 1580 and may be found in the Prado Museum in Madrid -- should you care to venture there and see the real thing. I was relatively near to the painting once, but never actually saw it. Veronese did an earlier, but distinctly different, rendition of the scene in 1562. Anyway, its likeness is here today with this post. Make of that what you will, and do a bit of research if you are curious about the legends beyond the painting and about Venus and Adonis. Absolutely fascinating .... legends usually are ....

Since someone here mentioned legends, Buddy Holly is long gone, but his legend and his music linger on and will far beyond any of us. My son, who often seems to know me better than I know myself, gave me a copy of the "Rave On Buddy Holly" tribute album for my birthday, and I decided to pull a pair of songs on the album from YouTube to include with this post.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March madness .... No. 1 .... just words

Fairy tales vs. reality

She had a magic mirror. Every morning she stood before it, looked at herself, and said:

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall,"

"Who in this land is fairest of all?"

To this the mirror answered:

"You, my queen, are fairest of all."

Then she was satisfied, for she knew that the mirror spoke the truth.

So, you think this is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, do you? Where do you think the story "Snow White" came from; why do you think it was written?

The answer is obvious, should you look for it and think about it. It is based in a fundamental truth: There are such people.

We all feel that way to a degree, but some people really, actually, truly do more than merely think it .... some absolutely believe it .... and, there even are some who look in the mirror and see not just beauty, but a self beyond ordinary mankind. They see someone who is greater than special, someone who is uniquely unique, someone who surpasses a mere mortal. In reality, they are not special; they simply are pathological .... often dangerously so ....

Vladimir Putin is one.

Barack Obama is one.

Saddam Hussein of Iraq was one until the hangman ended his life. Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya was one until he received a bullet in the head. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was one until natural causes ended his life. The "Castro boys" of Cuba -- Fidel and Raul -- continue to be. Bashar al Assad of Syria continues to be one. I could name any number of others, including some in living memory much more notorious, such as one an Austrian/German and one a Georgian/Soviet, but I suppose a few people would object to identifying true heavy-weights with light-weights. These are men who would be dictators, tyrants and are, in fact, lawless psychopaths to one degree or another.

The bottom line is that these are (and there are many) individuals whose entire lives revolve around their narcissism. Some people are paranoid; some people are schizophrenic. This is true. But, less recognized (or, at least, less acknowledged) are people who are so absolutely and profoundly wrapped up in their own "mirror, mirror on the wall" mentality that they are incessantly obsessed with a "grand illusion" of themselves. And, if they have a certain amount of charisma and ambition, they have the ability to lead people like lemmings over the abysses into some sort of destructive oblivion.

The next time, for instance, you are being led down a path following someone proclaiming "global warming" as the "greatest threat" civilization faces today (Obama's words), pinch yourself, look in your own mirror, quit being a hero worshipper and examine the motives/psyche of the piped piper who is leading you in that direction. Frankly, I think it goes beyond that level, but enough for now.

Some people wonder why civilization advances so slowly. It really is fortunate it advances at all, given the fanatics who rise to power on occasion and interrupt order and stability with their grandiose self-indulgences -- and, by that means, disrupt (and sometimes end) the lives of ordinary people. Beyond that, there are times when civilization is at a standstill or, such as now, when it even retreats a bit simply because there are too many mirrors in the world.

To conclude with this thought from Lewis Carroll in "Alice in Wonderland:"

"Take some more tea," the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
"I've had nothing yet," Alice replied in an offended tone, "so I can't take more."
"You mean you can't take less," said the Mad Hatter: "It's very easy to take more than nothing."
 "Nobody asked your opinion," said Alice.

The moment is gone, but not the memory

As for the music, listen to it. It explains in itself why music from the 1970s and a few years on either side, give or take, surpasses more before it in a contemporary sense and absolutely anything since then. Actual art actually is not present for every generation that comes and goes on this Earth. Just about everything in life is hit or miss, which most of us figure out somewhere along the line.

Finally and most importantly .... happy birthday, kid .... the day you were born -- March 5 -- is locked into my memory .... in my mind, I am there once again in the blink of an eye .... happy shooting ....

Something special ....