Friday, July 10, 2020

Blame it on the air in Dakota ....

"Dignity of Earth & Sky" is a sculpture on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota. It is a 50-foot high, stainless steel statue created by Dakota artist laureate Dale Claude Lamphere and depicts a Native American woman in Plains-style dress receiving a star quilt. Do not ask who the two individuals also shown in the photograph are .... their names slip my mind.
Battles of yesterday / sculptures of today
Allow me to begin with a disclosure statement .... not full disclosure, mind you, but sort of an admission. I do own property in South Dakota and I do have a son who lives there. I once lived there myself. Beyond those things, I have no affiliation with the state other than a few good memories. I periodically go there for odds and ends reasons, and did so recently, primary to see my son and for the two of us to pop off a few hundred rounds of ammunition in assorted calibers through a variety of rifles and handguns.
Once the ammo was dispensed (.... or should that be dispersed?), we decided to take sort of a sight-seeing jaunt. We both have been to Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, but decided to drive out there and take a look one more time. This we did on roads well to the south of the interstate. I have a habit of driving scenic routes whenever possible. This means I go on old highways and even country roads when time is not of essence, rather than travel on interstates. Doing this in regions like Dakota takes you to some interesting and beautiful places -- to state the obvious. We crossed the Missouri River on the Platte-Winner Bridge and went through the Rosebud Indian Reservation -- swinging down to Mission and St. Francis -- and then on to the Pine Ridge.
I will not mention the engagement that took place at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890, other than to say some of the participants on both sides had met at least once before -- at the Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory on June 25-26, 1876. That was when George Armstrong Custer and a few hundred troopers, scouts and civilian employees of the Seventh U.S. Calvary were unceremoniously dispatched to the "not-so-happy-hunting-grounds." There also was an occupation and stand-off at Wounded Knee during much of 1973, for history buffs to check out -- if there are any reading this whose curiosity requires a look see.
We stayed at and around Wounded Knee longer than we should have and swung north to catch the interstate for the return trip. We re-crossed the Missouri River near Chamberlain, where we stopped at the Akta Lakota Museum and at the site of this statue –- named Dignity -- which has become sort of a permanent resident. Well, that pretty much is it. From there it was "drop the kid off" and head back to Minnnneeesnota for me.
 A couple of side notes:
 "The Mammoth Book of Time Travel SF," edited by Michael Raymond Donald Ashley -- I ordered a copy and have received it. It probably should be embarrassing to admit that of the 25 stories in it I recognized the names of only three writers. Embarrassing because I have belonged to the Science Fiction Book Club in times past and have been a subscriber to at least three SF magazines, but it is not embarrassing because I readily admit I can jam only so much into my memory banks before they begin to push "old stuff" out to make room for recent acquisitions. That is another frustration of life. Perhaps, a melding of robotics with humans is not a bad idea. I think I would vote for it ....
"Learning to Speak God from Scratch," by Jonathan Merritt -- I began reading that book on page 106 with the segment on "Pain," and read through to the end. I have not returned to it, but I will (really/seriously/for sure) and almost certainly have more to say about it at that time.
Blame it on my Dakota excursion (I am), but I opened two books I have read in the past upon my homecoming -- "Indian Fights and Fighters," by Cyrus Townsend Brady, and, "My Story," by Anson Mills -- and have become bogged down in them.
Brady's book, originally published in 1904, begins with the Powder River Expedition in 1865-66 and goes through the 1870s. Mills, who published his autobiography in 1918, began his military career in the Civil War and took part in the Powder River scrap, on March 17, 1876, which initiated the Great Sioux War of 1876. He commanded cavalry troops at the 1876 Battle of Prairie Dog Creek, the Battle of Rosebud and the Battle of Slim Buttes, all in Montana Territory. Mills also fought Apache and Cheyenne in Arizona and Kansas, and rose through the ranks to become a brigadier general.
Books -- like those of Brady and Mills -- are second-best to actually having been there .... I think you get my drift ....

Saturday, July 4, 2020

"Spirit, that made those heroes dare to die"

Silversmith and printmaker Amos Doolittle and his company of New Haven,, Connecticut, volunteers were 10 days late for the battles at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, but he sought out eyewitnesses and participants to describe the encounters and had his friend, itinerant artist Ralph Earl, make sketches based on data from those interviews. Doolittle then created the only contemporary engravings of the battles from the drawings. Here are three variations of the same print of the engagement at Lexington.
Qui audet adipiscitur
I have to admit when I think of our Declaration of Independence, I envision men like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock and John Adams approving the document in various forms and on various dates during a session of the Second Continental Congress at the Pennsylvania State House in Philadelphia way back in 1776.
When I really think about it, I am more inclined to think of men like Paul Revere and William Dawes and Samuel Prescott riding to warn "revolutionaries" in Lexington and Concord about the impending arrival of British troops a year earlier, in 1775.
But, when I really/really/really think about it, my thoughts go to those daring individuals who picked up their weapons and went out to meet the British. About 700 British troops arrived at Lexington around dawn on April 19, 1775, and were met by 77 "militiamen." When the scrap ended, eight colonists were dead and nine wounded, while only a single Englishman was hurt.  I assume the names of those individuals are recorded somewhere, but for me and most others, they remain lost to the passage of time.
The British troops marched on to Concord and other nearby towns, along the way being met and harassed by ever-increasing numbers of "minutemen." It was a day filled with skirmishes and bloodshed and dead on both sides.
From that point forward, as some say, the rest is history. More importantly for many of us, it is our history and we all should feel an obligation to remember it and to live up to the standards and the ideals of those individuals who led the way to our freedom and independence. We would not be here now had they not done what they did way back then .... semper fidelis ....

Saturday, June 13, 2020

An ordinary pistol becomes a commemorative

Whether you realize it or not, this is a commemorative pistol. It is an old one which I obtained in two primary pieces a year apart from each other and put together to create a Model 1911 in .45 caliber. The slide is a Colt, which came with a Colt barrel and other internal parts. It dates to the 1960s and I obtained it in 2013. The frame is an Auto Ordnance. It came with who knows what for internal parts. It also dates to the 1960s and I obtained it in 2014. I swapped out the parts from the frame for some I prefer and think are of better quality. The beauty of the Model 1911 is that most parts are interchangeable, even those from one manufacturer to another.
The grips are the giveaway. I had Hogue rubber grips on it for shooting, but with the photographically documented appearance of a mountain lion at the "old homestead" back in February, I decided to buy this set of Altamont grips sporting the head of such a critter. The new grips most likely will not be as good for shooting, but they give it a great appearance. Since my son now is the primary resident of the "estate," the used handgun with its new grips will be his -- along with the old Hogue grips for trigger time. This matter serves a second purpose, as well. It provides an excellent opportunity to pass along another of my firearms to my son.
Two videos are here to usher in the creation of the commemorative pistol. While they do not offer something for everyone, they do present an opportunity to gain an appreciation and an understanding of differing musical styles.
One is old music. "Somewhere" is a song from the 1957 Broadway show West Side Story that was made into a film in 1961. The music was composed by Leonard Bernstein, with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and (from Wikipedia) "takes a phrase from the slow movement of Beethoven's 'Emperor' Piano Concerto, which forms the start of the melody and also a longer phrase from the main theme of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake." (Hmmmm .... sounds fine to me.) This performance comes from Broadway diva Cynthia Erivo, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra.
One is new music. Babymetal is a Japanese band created in 2010 with Yui Mizuno, Moa Kikuchi and Suzuka Nakamoto. The young ladies were between ages 10 and 11 at the time, and two of the original girls continue to perform to this day. The band was formed with the concept of fashioning a fusion of the heavy metal and Japanese idol genres. Kami Band provides the backing music for Babymetal. This is a compilation of the band's performances of "Catch Me if You Can."

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Life is good ....

What you are seeing in the photograph (if your eyes are open) is a Smith & Wesson Military & Police pre-Model 10 in .38 Special caliber wearing Altamont grips with two sets of Hogue grips and the original S&W grips alongside it. My opinion, based on internal and external wear of the revolver, is that it has been carried a lot in a holster by a right-handed shooter and fired very little. This means it probably spent much of its life prior to Fram as a weapon carried by civilian or military police or by private security personnel.
Included here are three videos, the first is Hickok45 talking about and firing a S&W Model 10 .38 Special. Hickok45 is Greg Kinman, a retired middle-school English teacher and former law enforcement auxiliary officer, who resides in Tennessee. The second features Katelyn "Katie" Francis, a 16-year-old young lady from Missouri who participates in three-gun (handgun/rifle/shotgun) shooting competitions around the country. It is my opinion she can outshoot me and anybody I know. Also included -- ironically -- is John Lennon performing his Instant Karma. It is here because I like Lennon and adore the song. Besides, the lyrics are appropriate for our times. The more I listen to Lennon's music and watch videos featuring him, the more I appreciate what a gifted person and talented music man he was. He was instantly likeable and innately funny (from my point of view) and, evidently, he found a means to secure perpetual happiness.
Yeh, I remember what was going on 76 years ago today .... ok, not remember per se, but know from story and study about World War II. Military units from 12 or 13 countries (so much for the absoluteness of history) took part in the invasion of Europe with landings at Normandy in France. I have relatives who were a bit late for that party, not arriving in France until September. They survived the war, but one was killed in an unsolved murder in Holland after it was over. Actually, war never is over. It only changes in alliances and in enemies and in locations .... qué será, será ....
Barrel lengths & grips & uffff ....
Sometime in late 2016 it occurred to me that I never have fired, much less owned, a revolver with a five-inch barrel. The remedy? Buy one and shoot it, of course, preferably one which would not cost me an arm and a leg because curiosity would be my only reason for obtaining it.
Here you see the results of that realization and curiosity. I will not tell you what I paid for it, but I will mention that I purchased it on January 3, 2017, more-or-less locally. I also will mention that according to the third edition of the "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson," by Jim Supica and Richard Nahas it was made in 1947, give or take a year in either direction. Without going into detail, I will say S&W firearms often are very difficult to date.
I cannot hit with it nearly as well as I am able with a traditional Colt Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol in .45 caliber and its five-inch barrel, for instance, but that is no surprise because ever since I bought my first handgun I have significantly favored semis over revolvers and shot them almost exclusively.
Presumably, simply looking at the original grips should be reason enough to understand why I will not use them. They are "tiny." I cannot understand how law enforcement people put up with such unremarkable, barely useable grips on an otherwise outstanding revolver .... booooooo .... hisssssss ....
The black Hogue grips are a set I have had for some time. They are ideal in every possible way other than visual appearance. They are rubber, fit my hand perfectly and I use similar sets on most of my handguns for actual shooting. The other set of Hogues is wood, much more attractive and also fit my hand perfectly. However, wood is not "squeezeable," so I could not shoot as well with them if I could get them on the handgun. Somewhere between the revolver and the grips there is a design problem and this one-piece set does not fit the firearm.
All is well with the grips now actually on the S&W. They are attractive; they fit my hand perfectly; they fit the firearm perfectly .... what more could a resident of Neverland ask? I cannot hit as well with them as I can with the rubber Hogues, but since this "baby" never will be a regular "carry gun" for me, so what?
As for shooting a revolver with a five-inch barrel -- which was the root of my curiosity and the source of this experiment -- my opinion is that there is no significant difference in terms of my accuracy with it than there is hitting home with revolvers with a four-inch or a six-inch barrel. The only actual difference for me, perhaps, and perhaps for most people, is in the matter of concealability, and that is a moot point for a "semi guy."

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Once upon a time never comes again

Describe this scene to yourself in your own words ....

(Editor's Note: Stephen Crane, who had never been in the military, much less participated in a battle, wrote "The Red Badge of Courage" in 1894. It soon became recognized as a classic novel about the American Civil War, noted for its realism and naturalism. It is a story about a young private in the Union Army, Henry Fleming -- "the youth," who flees the field during his first skirmish. Overcome with shame for running, he wishes for a wound, a "red badge of courage," to counteract his cowardice. He later carries a flag into battle and, by the end of the tale, has found redemption. What happens between the two events is available to anyone who chooses to pick up the novel and to read it. I wish you a meaningful Actual Memorial Day ....)

The closing lines
of "The Red Badge of Courage"
by Stephen Crane
For a time this pursuing recollection of the tattered man took all elation from the youth's veins. He saw his vivid error, and he was afraid that it would stand before him all his life. He took no share in the chatter of his comrades, nor did he look at them or know them, save when he felt sudden suspicion that they were seeing his thoughts and scrutinizing each detail of the scene with the tattered soldier.
Yet gradually he mustered force to put the sin at a distance. And at last his eyes seemed to open to some new ways. He found that he could look back upon the brass and bombast of his earlier gospels and see them truly. He was gleeful when he discovered that he now despised them.
With this conviction came a store of assurance. He felt a quiet manhood, nonassertive but of sturdy and strong blood. He knew that he would no more quail before his guides wherever they should point. He had been to touch the great death, and found that, after all, it was but the great death. He was a man.
So it came to pass that as he trudged from the place of blood and wrath his soul changed. He came from hot plowshares to prospects of clover tranquilly, and it was as if hot plowshares were not. Scars faded as flowers.
It rained. The procession of weary soldiers became a bedraggled train, despondent and muttering, marching with churning effort in a trough of liquid brown mud under a low, wretched sky. Yet the youth smiled, for he saw that the world was a world for him, though many discovered it to be made of oaths and walking sticks. He had rid himself of the red sickness of battle. The sultry nightmare was in the past. He had been an animal blistered and sweating in the heat and pain of war. He turned now with a lover's thirst to images of tranquil skies, fresh meadows, cool brooks -- an existence of soft and eternal peace.
Over the river a golden ray of sun came through the hosts of leaden rain clouds.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Waiting for an old-fashioned Memorial Day

Fort Snelling -- known in its original incarnation as Fort Saint Anthony -- has been a major fixture and landmark atop the bluffs near the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers since the 1820s. Soldiers of the 5th Infantry Regiment commanded by Colonel Josiah Snelling constructed the fort between 1820 and 1824. Upon the completion in 1825, the Army renamed it Fort Snelling in honor of its commander and architect. The historic segment, shown in the lower photograph, is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. My first visit there was part of a class trip when I was twelve years old, and I can vividly remember being in the "round tower." Generations of military personnel have passed through Fort Snelling during its 200 years in existence, and many are buried in the national cemetery, a portion of which is shown in the upper photograph.
Sort of a genetics & environment mix -- I guess
I grew up in a small town in a house next to an American Legion hall. Memorial Day and Veterans Day were special times there, with church services and ceremonies conducted by the Legion. After arriving in the United States in the 1850s, my ancestors participated in "every war" including and since the Civil War. One, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army 2nd Calvary, was killed by Sioux during the Plains Indian Wars. His younger brother moved on and became an Arizona Ranger. In those respects, it seems like I was predestined to take the oath of enlistment at some point in time.
Memorial Day began informally. Decorating soldiers' graves with flowers is a tradition as old as time immemorial, and by 1865 some southern states had precedents for Memorial Day. A formal "Decoration Day" was held May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery. By the close of the 19th Century, traditions were merging and Decoration Day / Memorial Day was becoming the day to honor all Americans who died while in the U.S. military service.
Memorial Day was observed on May 30 until 1968 when members of Congress in their infinite zeal to curry favor passed a three-day holiday act which moved the day to the third Monday of May and designated it a federal holiday beginning in 1971. Nothing like faux patriotism and a pledge for a chicken in every pot to muster votes .... in my opinion.
The day gradually has evolved into an occasion to remember any and all family members who came before us. This, I recall from my childhood, driving to various cemeteries to place flowers on graves.
I will do a few things today -- Monday, May 25 -- since most everyone else is .... but, being sort of an old-fashioned traditionalist, I will wait until May 30 to pay homage to those who came before me and to put things in more of a military perspective .... see you then ....
In the meanwhile, here are three songs for you. Listen to one or to two or to all, but I hope you will listen to them in the context of Memorial Day and -- especially -- listen closely to the lyrics ....
Yiruma / River Flows in You ....
John Lennon  / Imagine ....
Queen  / Under Pressure (written by David Bowie) ....

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Hey Hey My My

I like to think and sometimes say my life style has to be among those least affected by the coronavirus pandemic. I have no worry or fear about myself and am able to view much of life in a sort of a detached fashion as an "objective" observer. My only concern is the safety and well-being of family members and friends, which is always present with or without a pandemic. Among the things I often do is pick up a canoe and a paddle and look for open water. Here are two photographs from such a recent venture. They were taken at Lewis and Clark Lake on the Missouri River in South Dakota. Actually, the far-side of the lake is Nebraska. My canoe, incidentally, is larger than most. It is an 18-footer meant for two people and lots/lots/lots of gear for extended journeys -- and, it has been on a few.
May you stay forever young
The bluffs along the Missouri River have been described as "fossil rich." All manner of "wildlife" from the Mesozoic and Cenozic eras, including not only raptors and tyrannosaurs, but prehistoric turtles and megafauna mammals have been found in states along or near the Missouri River.
Numerous specimens of Tyrannosaurus Rex  and Triceratops have been discovered in the region. The Ceratopsian, or horned-frilled dinosaur, which possessed one of the largest heads of any creature in the history of life on earth, has been found. South Dakota land also has yielded scattered remains of the armored dinosaur Edmontonia, the duck-billed dinosaur Edmontosaurus, the Ornithopod dinosaur Osmakasaurus and the head-butting Pachycephalosaurus.
Well, you get my drift ….
Beyond that, shifting to much/much/much more recent times, it may seem incredulous to think of encountering explorers and fur traders coming along the Missouri River toward you or to wonder if Native Americans mounted on painted ponies are watching your every movement from the shoreline, but it is not at all difficult to imagine people from centuries past camped just around the next bend.
All right .... enough words about dinosaurs and fur traders. This started out to be a few paragraphs about one approach to spend some time in the midst of Nature during the coronavirus pandemic or, anytime, for that matter. Just to make certain I did not fall asleep at night and awaken in the morning with guys in buckskins standing around staring at me, I ended my evenings with a bit of contemporary music blowing in the wind along the river. Here are some pieces of it ....
Hmmmm .... I wonder if Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark could hear the echoing refrains .... or John Colter, the first known person of European descent to enter the region which later became Yellowstone National Park and to see the Teton Mountain Range ....
 Yep, I wonder .... for an incurable romantic it is nice to hope some part of them still lingers within the river ....

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Bobcat in search of Xanadu .... or wherever

As April slowly drifts off to meld within the mist of memory ....
.... not too long ago, photographs of a mountain lion feasting on a dead buck in the middle of the night were featured here. Today, we have a photograph of a bobcat on a mid-afternoon stroll taken by the same inexpensive trail camera about ten feet from where the mountain lion posed with the deer.
From Wikipedia: Bobcats range from Canada to Mexico. They prefer rabbits and hares, but will hunt insects, chickens, geese and other birds, small rodents and deer. Prey selection depends on location and habitat, season and abundance. Like most cats, the bobcat is territorial and largely solitary. An adult stands about 12 to 24 inches at the shoulders. Adult males range in weight from 14 to 40 pounds, with an average of 21 pounds. There are unverified reports of them reaching 60 pounds. Females average around 15 pounds.
One dictionary definition of a neighbor is a person, place or thing located near another. I guess that makes Lonnie Lion and Bobby Bobcat (or should that be Lori Lion and Bonnie Bobcat) sort of my neighbors. Both photographs were taken about forty yards away from the house in which I formerly was a fulltime resident and one in which my son now lives and I am a periodic accomplice.
For obvious reasons, we shall hope that the paths of these two "kitty kats" never cross ....
Just for fun, we have three videos here. The first is Piano Concerto No 1, B Flat Minor, Op 23, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The second is "Alone at Last," a song written by Johnny Lehmann and performed by Jackie Wilson. Notice any similarity? I think it falls under the category of imitation being the sincerest form of flattery -- or something like that. For those unfamiliar with the players in this game, Tchaikovsky's piece came nearly a century before "alone."
The third is the Rolling Stones performing "Love in Vain," in 1972 somewhere in Texas. The guitar solo work is by Mick Taylor, whose face first appears about 2:51 and who many would argue is among the best -- if not the actual best -- guitar player ever to set foot on a stage. To each, his/her own ....

Thursday, April 23, 2020

What is and where is reality?

Texas welder and Vietnam War veteran Llewelyn Moss (played by Josh Brolin) stumbles across the proverbial "drug deal gone bad" in the West Texas desert. He grabs a suitcase containing two million cash and the chase begins in the 2007 film, "No Country for Old Men."

Ready / Set / Go

The Coen brothers -- Joel and Ethan -- many are aware are "products" of Minnesota -- the metropolitan suburb of St. Louis Park, to be more precise. They also are the "makers" of many (shall we say) unique films: "Fargo," staring Joel's wife, Frances McDormand, and "No Country for Old Men," to select just two.

I recently watched a video titled, "Ending Explained: No Country for Old Men," and have included it here. The purpose of this post, however, is not to specifically center on the brothers or on the film, but sort of on a state of mind in terms of what is real and what is not in the film. Here for examination is a conversation between "no country" Sheriff Ed Tom Bell and his wife, Loretta, in which Bell is telling her about two of his dreams:
Second one, it was like we was both back in older times.
And I was a-horseback, going through the mountains of a night.
Going through this pass in the mountains.
It was cold, and there was snow on the ground.
And he rode past me and kept on going......never said nothing going by, just rode on past.
He had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down.
When he rode past, I seen he was carrying fire in a horn......the way people used to do, and I......I could see the horn from the light inside of it......'bout the color of the moon.
And, in the dream, I knew that he was......going on ahead.
He was fixin' to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and cold.
And then I woke up.
The dream scene video also is included here, with Tommy Lee Jones portraying Ed Tom Bell and Tess Harper playing Loretta.
My immediate question was whether the dream is a creation of the imagination or one that actually occurred to the author of the novel, Charles "Cormac" McCarthy, or to one of his acquaintances. I have not read any of McCarthy’s works so really have no idea of the who, what, when, where, why and how of his books or his writing habits / styles / characteristics.
On the surface, the scene seems to illustrate a belief in an afterlife and to demonstrate great love and confidence on the part of Ed Tom Bell toward his father. I suppose it could be as simple as that, but in our complex world I generally am thinking nothing is plain and clear-cut .... rather, that anything and everything must be part of a puzzle and a mystery.
I have seen the film twice in its entirety and portions of it a few times. I have a copy of the film script, which is where I obtained the quote. I have a copy of the novel on order and, theoretically, will read it and possibly find a few answers to that scene and other questions I have about the story.
Actually, I cannot recall being aware of McCarthy before the appearance of the film based on his novel .... so much out there to read and never enough time. I can identify with him in the sense that he was raised and educated in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I have personal linkage to the city and to the university and have spent a number of weeks there. From the little I have read about him, he seems to be sort of weird .... hmmmm, like who is not ....
If this post seems somewhat dazed and confused, it probably is because I am pretty much thinking / wondering / speculating with my fingers on the keyboard .... in the meanwhile, any thoughts / comments / opinions?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

More than just another Wōdnesdæg

Ordinarily I do not "advertise" a particular event until the day it arrives. This means I assume most people know Memorial Day / Decoration Day is the last Monday in May and Veterans Day / Armistice Day / Remembrance Day  is November 11 and that no one much other than Marines and former Marines know or care that November 10 is the Marine Corps birthday.
But, in the instance of Earth Day, I am mentioning it early so no one has an excuse for not knowing Wednesday, April 22, is Earth Day and this year –- 2020 -- is the fiftieth anniversary of the event.
The idea of a global holiday called Earth Day was introduced in 1969 at a conference on the environment. It was to be celebrated on March 21 with the advent of spring, and it was in some places. A separate Earth Day focused on the United States was founded by then-Senator Gaylord Nelson on April 22, 1970. Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.
Any further background about Earth Day is there for you to research. It would be "nice" if more people did just that. We all need to be part of the Earth Day movement ....
One of the videos here is "Paradise" by Coldplay. It should be self-explanatory. The other might be mistaken for a celebration of the American Indian Movement, a militant civil rights organization founded in Minneapolis in 1968 by Dennis Banks, Clyde Bellecourt, Eddie Benton Banai and George Mitchell. Russell Means, who became a prominent film actor ("Last of the Mohicans," for instance) later was a major spokesman for the group. Some of those guys are in the video and the reason it is here is because Native Americans are primary among activists fighting for a clean environment. Think about it .... and, it is another chance to hear Joan Baez sing "Brothers in Arms" ....

Sunday, April 12, 2020

"Keep looking .... keep watching the skies"

"And now before giving you the details of the battle, I bring you a warning: Every one of you listening to my voice, tell the world, tell this to everybody wherever they are. Watch the skies. Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies."
Words spoken by reporter
Ned "Scotty" Scott
played by Douglas Spencer
in the science fiction film
"The Thing from Another World"
A cable television station was running a string of science fiction films a few days ago and I caught the last 30 minutes or so of "The Thing from Another World."  James Arness portrays "The Thing," which is discovered frozen in a spacecraft buried in the ice near an Arctic research station. When the creature is accidently thawed out, it terrorizes the scientists at the station. Never fear, the wise and brave earthlings eventually kill the creature and all ends well -- for now, anyway. That is when Scotty issues his warning.
It was sort of fun to watch the fearless and always honorable marshal of Dodge City acting like an evil monster from outer space. He performed his growls flawlessly.
With this film in my mind and the Earth in the grip of a coronavirus pandemic, my thoughts immediately went to Murphy’s Law: "If something can go wrong, it will .... and usually at the worst time."
What if the Romulans and the Borg and the Klingons decided to battle it out for control of the Earth while the planet is in the throes of the pandemic?
Too horrible even to think about .... right?
Lucky thing for us those guys are the fictional products of over-active imaginations .... right?

Then again, when Orson Welles and his Martians invaded Earth back in 1938, you might recall (or have heard stories) how the murderous invaders from Mars were wiped out by earth-borne bacteria, of which their immune systems could not cope due to having destroyed diseases on their home world. Those pesky "bugs" thereby saving us for yet more ruthless wars amongst ourselves in which we could / we did / we still do kill each other with impunity ad infinitum.

Sort of poetic justice, in more ways than one ....
I wish you a joyous Easter ....

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

What day did you say this is ....

Bobby Dylan wrote "All Along the Watchtower;" Jimi Hendrix made it famous; any number of bands and vocalists have performed it according to their style and talent; a few critics and armchair shrinks even have tried to analyze the song and the composer; here is the rendition performed by The Classic Rock Show live at Gateshead, England, on the 23rd of February 2018. It is as well done and enjoyable to listen to as any effort I have heard and I have listened to many/many/many variations .... actually, I think this is among the best ....

The sketch is by Paul Taylor, an illustrator and an Englander. The lyrics of the song are below. Read them, sing them, whatever them and try to figure out what they mean to you -- if anything -- as an individual.

[Verse 1]

"There must be some way out of here"
Said the joker to the thief
"There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth"

[Verse 2]

"No reason to get excited"
The thief, he kindly spoke
"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"

[Verse 3]

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants too
Outside, in the distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
The wind began to howl

Something special ....