Tuesday, November 25, 2008

From Across the Pond

"Thanksgiving ??? Is that some sort of pagan ritual practiced in the colonies ?"

I received the above message this morning in an email from Chris Ellison, a Scottish friend living near Manchester, England. He sent it in reply to a story and message I had emailed to a group of friends earlier.

I first met Chris in New Hampshire in 1985, and we became friends at a Guy Fawkes Day party that November, an English holiday celebrating the discovery and prevention of a plot to blow up Parliament in 1605. During that period, I became friends with many of the British consultants employed at the company I worked for, AIG.

Those were good a fruitful years.

The link below takes you to a story that celebrates those people and that time in my life.

Cheers and Slainte


Friday, November 21, 2008

Killing prejudice and fostering humor

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. -George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

Two Thoughts from Henry Miller

And what is the potential man, after all? Is he not the sum of all that is human? Divine, in other words?

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.

-Henry Miller, writer (1891-1980)

Prayer for Sarah Palin

Early in the Presidential election campaign, a person of strong religious beliefs asked my wife to say a prayer for Sarah Palin.

My wife deferred, yet I decided to give it an earnest go.

Today, anyway, it seems to have been answered. Sarah Palin has disappeared from view, at least for now.

Thank you, God.

Bailout for the credit crisis

The money that was earmarked for easing the credit crisis, where is it? Where the hell is it?

Monday, November 17, 2008

On Hot Dogs and Mountains

If there is one thing that has been slow in coming to the states of the West, it is an appreciation for a great hot dog. When I lived in Connecticut and New Hampshire, there was always a deli counter close by where I could choose between several styles of natural casing dogs from different makers, each spiced a little different and with varying degrees of ‘pop’ from the natural casing, a lining found in the intestines (usually from pigs or sheep). My father was always fond of a good hot dog and he liked to boil them until the casing split, and I imagine that my love for a good dog began with him. In the days of my youth back in New England, I enjoyed wonderful natural casing dogs with names like Schultz, Mucke’s, and Grote & Weigel.

Sixteen years ago, I enjoyed a New England hot dog on the flank of Garnet Peak in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego. To read the story of that memorable afternoon, and to see a natural casing dog, follow the link below.

Dog Day Afternoon in the Laguna Mountains


Friday, November 14, 2008

Two thoughts for our times....

Since when do we have to agree with people to defend them from injustice? -Lillian Hellman, playwright (1905-1984)

Having been unable to strengthen justice, we have justified strength. -Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)


Thursday, November 13, 2008

This just in from the financial bailout.........

With everything we know about the current state of General Motors, and of their losses, I wonder, can it be true?

Is Tiger Woods really going to bailout Buick?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Off the Shoulder of Orion, a Personal Lament

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

These lines, from a scene in the classic sci-fi film, ‘Blade Runner’, were spoken slowly and eloquently by the replicant Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer) just before he died. Revisiting moments that humans could not hope to imagine, he lamented his death, and the incredible memories and experiences that would die with him. These words have taken on a new poignancy with me lately, as I find myself dealing with two bad knees and the resulting loss of mobility. I haven’t been dealing with thoughts of death as such, but rather with the feelings of sadness and regret that arise over the many things I will never see or experience again.

To read the rest of this story, a personal lament on aging, follow the link below.

Off the Shoulder of Orion


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Pink vs Faith Hill on NFL Sunday Night, and More

I miss the artist Pink singing the NFL Sunday Night song, she brought more energy and soul to that anthem than Faith Hill could ever wish to. I guess that Pink was to edgy for the staid league, Faith is safe for kiddies, pretty and blond (and white), and from a country-western background as well. Yet for me, her act seems bland and hollow, though not as hollow as the commercials that show her hanging around with the black athletes. Right.

There is one moment during the NFL song where Faith faces the camera and bends forward a bit at the waist with her arms down along her sides; the classic pose that a cheerleader assumes before she is going to "shake the twins". But nothing happens, she never does it. What an awkward moment. Maybe in her dreams.

As for the NFL Monday Night Football song, the NFL persists with Hank Williams Jr who is making a living on his schtick of 'Rowdy Friends' fame. But I don't think that many of his rowdy friends are particularly fond of blacks. I wonder how his anti-American slurs against Obama, remarks made during his many appearances in support of McCain during the 2008 Presidential election, are playing now among the African-American players in the league?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

In the Mind of the Artist

Richard Jaworowski, a friend and sculptor from Connecticut, called me the other day in a state of great excitement; he wanted to share with me a dream he had experienced the night before. In that dream, Shirley and I were visiting his studio in Willimantic, Connecticut. There, we joined Richard and his wife, and the four of us milled about the place drinking wine and talking, discussing the virtues of his various marble sculptures and woodcarvings, laughing and enjoying ourselves. We caressed the sensuous stone pieces with our hands, enjoying both the rough and polished surfaces, taking pleasure from both the look and the feel of the marble stone before us.

Next came the exciting part of his dream, the reason for the phone call. The four of us retired to his ‘private studio’, a studio that doesn’t exist in reality, only in this dream. Marble pieces filled the studio, new works of art as yet uncarved, new pieces with exciting shapes and an unimagined sensual tension.

When he awoke, the images of several of these new ‘dream’ pieces remained sharp in his mind. I listened as he related his excitement at this private glimpse into a realm of personal possibility that existed in the mind and soul of a dedicated artist.

What a joy it must be, I thought, to feel so excited about a new and unexplored image from the subconscious working its way to the surface and making itself known to the conscious mind of the artist, especially after all the years of sacrifice and dedication to the craft. I struggled to imagine what that actual process must feel like within the psyche of the artist.

Living a life dedicated to art and marble is a hard path to follow, and Richard has endured many challenges and disappointments over the years. Listening to him today, to hear the joy in his voice as he talked about carving the new images afloat in his mind, I felt envious of his gift.

Follow the link below to visit an online gallery of Richard's work

The Art of Richard Jaworowski


Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Apache Trail - Arizona

Shirley and I recently crossed the Apache Trail by car in Arizona. This 40+ mile ride began east of Phoenix in Apache Junction. It traveled east over a route that was rough at times, but passed through some beautiful country. It traversed an old stagecoach route through the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest, crossed over a rugged height of land, and ended at Roosevelt Dam. We spent about three hours on this road, as we stopped often to enjoy the vistas that changed dramatically throughout the trip

Follow the link below to view the images taken during this trip.

Apache Trail - Arizona


best image from election day.......

For me, the most pleasing and satisfying moment from election night was not seeing McCain give his gracious concession speech, nor was it the image of the stately and composed Obama as he spoke his first public words as President-elect. It was of the joyous assemblage in Grant Park, a crowd made up of people of every age, race, and description. It was heartwarming and emotional to watch as they sang and swayed together to the music coming over the loudspeakers, each person singing the words of the classic blues standard, "Sweet Home Chicago".

To me, that image spoke volumes about what much of America was feeling that night, and about us as a nation.

From the LA Times

a little humor from the Los Angeles Times, that appeared in a blog filled with suggestions of what Sarah Palin should do post-election....

"take your assault weapon back to the moose-blind and wait for Bullwinkle"

Saturday, November 1, 2008

On the Campaign Trail in the Heart of Darkness

There is nothing so mind numbing and desultory as the current spate of television reality shows. Facing questionable judges, one contestant or another survives the ordeal and goes on to grace the covers of the tabloid press. 'American Idol' irritates me the most, yet it also holds up a mirror to how shallow and base the American public has become.

In some wild and unbelievable competition held before addled judges who seem either fawning or abusive, the winner goes on to a recording contract and immediate stardom with appearances on all the late-night talk shows and the booking of concerts around the country. There is no art or experience to it, no creation of a body of work or building of a fan base gained over the years, it is ‘Instant Celebrity’ in its most vile form, of and for itself, propelled onward by a dim-witted and manipulated populace.

Can anyone imagine the Rolling Stones, U2, or Bruce Springsteen existing without the aura and glamour that each has accumulated during the many years that they have spent touring? Let alone the stories and history, and sometimes the tragedy, that go hand in hand with their dedication to the craft and sacrifice of all things personal on the altar of public fame.

Now this ‘Instant Celebrity’ has invaded the world of politics on a national level, here in the 2008 presidential election. Unseen and unknown manipulators have appointed the invisible judges that have selected and thrust Sarah Palin on to the national political stage as a running mate for John McCain. With nothing going for her but a ‘perky’ attitude and the ability to fit within the narrow cookie-cutter template required by the religious right, she has garnered a following of supporters as base and mindless as herself, fawning and servile followers more enamored with form than with substance.

The piece de resistance of this tawdry tale is the fact that Elizabeth Hasselbeck is traveling with Palin on the campaign trail, where she both introduces and speaks in support of the Alaskan governor for the vice presidency. Hasselbeck gained her celebrity status by appearing as a contestant on the CBS reality show ‘Survivor’. After parading out her shapely, sweaty, and scantily clad assets before the educated masses in support of the ‘Survivor’ franchise, she auditioned for a spot on the ABC daily talk show 'The View', and was selected. She has since become become somewhat of a media darling, and has been called “a rising conservative pundit.”

Rising conservative pundit?

These are frightening and dangerous times, indeed. Oh, the horror.