Sunday, September 30, 2012

Red Hawk



I imagine myself a red hawk in the maelstrom
with ten crooked feathers and burrs in my tail
I’m coasting the highways of tornadic slipstream
just now and then bruised by a flurry of hail

I see myself traveling swiftly to nowhere
aware of each molecule set in my path
yet void of the power to stray from that given
I envy the blessings and swoop o’er the wrath

If only a branch would appear in the distance
one leafless, bedraggled and bent, I’ve no care
for one moment's perch would be all I’d be asking
that one moment's rest would be all that I’d dare

I’ve morsels to search for, those mice of the meadows,
the snippets of good in a world gone so wrong
and fealty to gods of the sky and their whispers
I must be a voice to their powerful song

There’s hope in the sunrise, though darkness keeps pressing
there’s hope in the reach of our soft spirit’s glide
I’ll wing to a place where the air breeds less anger
and give you directions once I am inside

There’s hope in the sunrise though darkness keeps pressing
 keep hope lest the storms might envelop us all
 fly with me if able, and bear for the heavens
 where peace is a creature, that comes when we call.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy; Like Rainbows


It was Rabbit Hole day, and I knew there was a lot I had to accomplish within 24 hours, so I got an early start. I woke at 8:40, rather then 8:55. It was a bitch, but some things are more important than, well, than other things.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Barrel of Happy Monkeys

I was once prompted by a friend to name my life's "five happiest moments" as a sort of meme. I'd have failed if not for my propensity to ignore rules. I instead chose five moments/events (and change) that made me extremely happy; a rare enough thing in my world without having to place them in some sort of order. I walked this way...

I'll avoid all the first kiss, first vagina fondle, first coke up the nose, first Dom Perignon crap cuz while they all made me happy, they were entirely of the moment and of very short lived mirth.

1. When I received my first awards, a pair of New York Film Festival medallions, I was pretty damn pleased with myself. I'd only been in the business 6 months, and while the competition may not have been all that tough, it still served notice that I was pretty good at something, good enough to be noticed by my peers for the first time in my life.

2. Much of my happiness has had to do with my career. I think it's mostly the surprise that comes with accomplishing something, in spite of the fact that everyone around me including myself believed I was absolutely incapable of accomplishing anything. With audio, even working the 21st day in a row made me happy, working the 30th hour straight, using the same piece of music for the 650th time. But there was one highlight that topped them all. I've written about it before so pass over this if you recognize it.

My hired musical gun and I sat down to write an unusual piece for a fortune 500 client, and as always the routine was entertaining in itself. I laid out the concept, he noodled on the piano, I chose chords and phrases and gave him the math, he plugged it together. This one though was a little more complex in that it needed to be quite long, and as it would be the score for a piece that would travel around North America, it would need to change "flavors" at various points. And, the majority of it would be orchestral. Once we'd finished outlining the mechanics and filling in the tune(s), we recorded a "scratch" version of the piece and looked for an arranger.

My boss at the time and I owned a single engine plane together, which was handy as it turned out we'd found an arranger in Canada; two actually, brothers who worked on television scores for the CBC. The gentlemen flew to us to listen to our tracks and talk about the production, but once they'd finished we needed to go to them as they'd contracted the players and studio. So I flew the three of us in my plane to Buttonville, a smallish town north of Toronto, and produced the Toronto Opera Company Orchestra playing a fully arranged version of a piece I'd co-written. There has not been a more amazing moment in my lifetime having to do with my "labors". It encompassed many firsts for me, and lasts lol.

3. I'd ridden through a cold mountain rain the night before, sleeping in a soggy tent all night, a little nervous about the rider I'd brought along, and whether the trip to that point had made her think knowing me was a torture and motorcycle touring was something she'd never want to do again. We'd been dating only 6 months. It was a miracle this gorgeous, brilliant woman had liked me enough to be with me anywhere, but even moreso that she'd agreed to go on this trip, never having biked or camped in her past. That morning she was wide eyed and excited, in contrast to what I would have expected. We had a fun breakfast and set off for Yellowstone. Neither of us had ever seen the Tetons, which were between Jackson Hole and the park. Once I was alongside Grand Teton I was so struck by its beauty I had to find a place to pull over and absorb the mountain. It was there that I discovered I was in love with the woman that had accompanied me, as in that moment we shared the same vision and reacted in exactly the same way. Of course at that same moment I "discovered" that she was in love with me as well, and THAT above everything else made me as happy as I've been in my life. I could skip that part really, but I can't let retrospection change the facts on the ground. That she didn't actually love me, and wouldn't for all it matters, is immaterial. I truly believed, and I was on cloud nine.

4. I wasn't thrilled to go on a canoe trip with a relative stranger. I had heard all along that she was a man hater. She hadn't exhibited that trait when she worked for me, that I could tell, but being around her had been very uncomfortable. She was obviously a goody two shoes, and I was an outlaw. She made it pretty clear in her standoffishness that she wasn't too fond of having to deal with me at all, but she did so dutifully as she is nothing if not a model employee. So with that in mind I couldn't imagine why she'd have agreed to do a four day, in the woods, all alone with a guy she didn't know (that secretly she thought might be an axe murderer) just to (as she explained) learn to canoe. I went with reservations, but I was hungry enough for the outdoors, and just arrogant enough to take some pleasure in the idea that I'd be teaching anyone anything; so I made the arrangements, set the course and led the expedition. I had a hell of a good time, and was quite happy it turned out as well as it did, for many reasons. I won't go on and on, but as is obvious we did pretty well together. Nothing sexual happened, (beyond her seeing me naked which was an accident) we didn't flirt per se. We were both enamored by the fact that the other was very capable of taking care of themselves, had interesting quirks, and was a hell of a lot more easy going than either of us had imagined. A year and change later, we were married.

5. The fact that I have flown an airplane, that I've captained a larger sailboat, that I've traveled to (nearby)  foreign countries on a whim, that I've ridden a half million miles on motorcycles, that I once had a career that amazed and thrilled me every day, that I can make people laugh and cry with my pen, sometimes both with the same piece, that I can rhyme, in perfect meter, until the cows come home. All these things make me happy, though you might not recognize happiness on my face. I am not a particularly "happy" guy as compared to those who smile their way through the day. And most of my happiest times are solo; my "walkabout" for example... nearly 3 weeks of bliss, driving through half of the continental US, alone, shooting pictures of things I found fascinating, pictures that would be seen by very few besides myself. I struggle with happiness. My brain demands I'm not, and most often I agree for reasons that elude me. I don't rise up from the ashes very well, and I've been party to enough misery to choke a horse. But a lot of things have made me happy in truth. And one final selection to admit...

Odd as it may seem to folks I know that have not been as computer "friendly" as I have, and even to me at times, I find much happiness in my "ether" relationships. I have been touched just as deeply, been understood just as profoundly here on the "imaginary" plane as I ever have on the plane of "reality". If there's one thing I can be grateful for beyond my wife and her belief in me, it's your belief in me, your kindness, your patience and your interest. Now if you're thinking "who's he talking to", it's probably not you this is aimed at... because "you" know who you are... and that you have learned that in what little time we've had together... makes me very happy.

In Your Name

Ronald Mtumbo could not stop thinking about it. Does taking the possessions of a dead man constitute a sin? Hell, he wasn’t even certain it was a crime, though what he was engaged in at this point certainly was. But having to witness what he had was both a crime and a sin, and something he would likely never wash from his eyes so long as they were attached to his brain.

The man was just trying to help. A visitor; a not so bright visitor considering the danger he’d put himself in so as to see his dying mother one last time, but what is a good son to do? When the gunfire started, Ronald knew to hide away. From experience he knew there was nothing one could do that wouldn’t get one killed. The world gave no mercy, even children offered no compassion.

The warlord who’d killed him was only a boy, thirteen at best. His army of a dozen lost souls, all his age or younger were already damned by their actions. Trained and equipped by some random militia, now apparently operating on their own, laying waste to everything they touched, they swept into Ronald’s village like locusts, aware of nothing but their infinite hunger for blood and money.

This stranger had run to help a small child in the street, one cut down by a lesser thug, but for his crime of Samaritanism, he was executed by the leader, like a goat on a sacrificial altar. Ronald had not been able to turn away as he could not move lest he risk discovery. He so wanted to cry out his misery and shame that he’d had to bite through his tongue to keep silent. These were his people. killing themselves, killing for nothing, becoming anything but human.

To steal the man’s wallet and papers; was that a sin? Ronald knew it was. Yet shortly after he'd rifled through the man's pockets and come up with a handful of materials, the stranger was dragged to the town’s garbage dump and thrown on a pile of flesh, and then soaked in gasoline and burned. There would be no identification, no information sent to relatives, no headstone in commemoration. This man was gone, vanished, never to be seen again. Yet, was he really.

It took virtually every penny saved over the course of Ronald’s 43 years to have the passport altered and to purchase airfare. He’d never wanted to leave his Somalia. He’d had hopes that he could somehow make a difference, until his wife and child were killed in a spurious firefight between two passing factions. But now, there was nothing to eat, nowhere to go, nothing to live for. His only choice was to begin again, as an entirely different person, in an entirely different life.

“Mister Sengbow? Sir? Have you anything to declare?”

By the time he heard the man addressing him Ronald realized he’d said his name 4 times already. Not HIS name really, but his name.

“Cheng-bot’” he said accenting the last syllable. “In our tongue the TS sounds like your CH, and the W is a click sound much like your T.” It was true, though he had no idea if Thomas Tsengbow had pronounced his name tribally, or favoring his new language.

“You seem a little preoccupied sir” the customs agent asked while lifting an eyebrow. “Are you sure you have nothing to declare?”

Ronald, err, Thomas smiled. “I am truly sorry” he said. “I was trying to recall if I’d turned the stove in my hotel off this morning when I left for America.”

The agent laughed. “Been there, done that sir. Might I ask why you were in Somalia?”

“To attend a funeral” Thomas stated calmly. “To say goodby to an old friend.”

The officer nodded. “I see. It’s a hard thing to put a loved one to rest” he said.

“I believe at every death there is born a new life” Thomas offered. “And as to Ronald’s death, I believe this is exactly so.”

“Good attitude” the agent said as he stamped Thomas’ passport; "I wish it were mine. Well, welcome back to America Mister Tsengbow. Welcome home.”

“To the land of the free” Thomas said smiling. “Thank you so much” he added.

As he stood on the walk waiting for a taxi, Thomas embraced his future with a promise. “I owe you my life and I shall make you proud Thomas Tsengbow” he said to himself; “you will be known as a good man, a kind man, a generous man. I will atone for my sin, in your good name. ”

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Gracious Decline

So what would one do with a snark if one found one
a-swimming along in a pool of bombast
Would one wait ‘till the paper fish surfaces truly
or trust in one’s lessons learned deep in the past

Why is it that snarks prefer traveling sideways
you’d think a spurt foreword would be a relief
It must be some pleasure derived from the poking
from handing out needles and cross purpose grief

“Do snarks make good pets?” I once heard a man asking
“They seem rather harmless in spite of their claws.”
“I’d rather avoid them” I answered covertly
“as any attention appears as applause.”

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Power of Agnosticisation

A woman I know once asked me...

So what did you do to get thrown out of the Norse Pantheon?

I wasn't sure where she'd gotten her information; obviously someone had talked and I was guessing that someone's name starts with an L and ends with an I and is four letters long and equates to "asshat" (in case you like crossword puzzles), but it doesn't matter really because she had gotten the facts wrong.

I wasn't exactly thrown out. You see...

Friday, September 21, 2012

From Buddy to Bubba

Long long ago while I was still attached to my second ex wife to be, I started a teddy bear collection. You wouldn't think of a big scary testosterony man to like teddies, but the fact is I love almost everything in miniature.

It began with an antique, more a rag doll than a fuzz bucket. He looked sad sitting on the serpentine armoire, as if he knew he was out of his class atop cherrywood and polished brass, and just wanted to be any ordinary place but there. I empathized. I could relate. I named him Buddy. I'd needed one at that moment. He approved, and consented to leave the facility under my care.

Of course it wasn't long before living at my house wasn't enough for him either. He became lonely and sullen. He needed a partner; a chick I figured, though I wasn't entirely sure he was a he to begin with. But then by the 80s, that hardly mattered anymore.

I found Hilda in a northwoods craft shop. She wore a gingham dress, but she had a cute face so I couldn't hold her bad taste in clothing against her. Her little arm was just barely long enough to get around half of Buddy's back, but once I'd positioned her there, I swear I saw Buddy grin. Later that day I overheard them talking "A little to the left" Buddy said. "Hey, I'm not your personal back scratcher" Hilda replied. They sounded like my parents. I knew they'd be ok.

Later that year I found Larry, Moe and Curly at a toy store, Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice in a Goodwill shop. I purchased non branded bears in the main, but I did add a dozen or so Steiffs. I only knew of them because for a few years I'd bought my sister Royal Doulton figurines for Christmas, and once you're within range of the upper crust, they infect you with the names of all their overpriced pleasures.

By the end of my tenure as King's Ursikeeper I had near 50 in all, the largest about 20 inches tall, and the smallest sized to fit on the eraser of a pencil, whose name of course was Thumbearlina. They all shared a space atop an antique washtable in my foyer. And then as always, I lost them all.

My ex wife to be, finally was, and chose as a portion of her parting gifts, the entire collection of bears. I'm not sure which collection I lost grated me more, the bears, the china, the hunting lithographs, the crystal... but I do know once the bears had fled, I could no longer enjoy a chat with myself (as me and a bear) in the foyer, I no longer had a reason to smile at inanimate objects and wave hello, I no longer had a Buddy.

I'd show you a picture of the gang, but in my zeal to peck my own eyes out, I stuffed all the photographs taken over the five years together with the wife who never was into a box or six that I knew were about to exit the house. A foolish thing for certain, but on a scale of one to ten, ten being the suicide I'd contemplated, it seemed a one or two, so I long ago forgave myself.

For better than a decade I had no association with bears; nor pillow snakes nor little lambs nor wind up barking stuffed dogs. I did have a six foot creature named Oiseau, but he was more a scary op-artwork than a stuffed toy and was given me by a girlfriend who told my parents in casual conversation she was dealing cocaine at the time, so he doesn't count.

A few years ago my current wife who's possibly everlasting bought me a bear. He's a biker bear, like me. I tied him to the rack atop my motorcycle trunk and we go everywhere together. He watches my back you see; and I protect his, as it should be. His name's Bubba. Closer to when I die, I'm thinking of sending him to live with the ex wife who never was, so he can meet his many brothers and sisters; presuming they weren't only taken for spite and dumped in a garbage bin somewhere. I'll have to hope they weren't, and I swear, I'll never tel Bubba of that possibility. He's so excited he may one day have a giant family, I don't want to burst his balloon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Repentant Transparency

When I was asked to accept management duties within a corporation, my acceptance meant something beyond the obvious responsibility; I would have to play the game. Oh not for my own boss as he was not only comfortable with my slovenly, pony-tailed appearance but thought it made me look as if someone who knew his craft, but for his superiors, so as to keep his reflection as crisp and clean as possible.

It was a great deal of money I was given to step into the hot box, so I spent it on the appropriate accoutrement. Of course my size was an issue as I have never been “average” and have always struggled to find wearable wrappings. So against my deep set hippy grain I procured the services of a suit tailor and a custom shirt maker.

Now there were things I wouldn’t do, such as whack my longish hair into a crew, and wear wing tip shoes; but I did begin to circle my rear locks with various bands, and I bought a few new pair of damned expensive cowboy boots, so I might stay in Dude mode yet sport a shine-able foundation.

My wife of the moment was all in favor of the change, being a newly christened social climber married to a common slug, and I was happy to allow her smugness as when momma aint happy, aint nobody happy, and since I was forced to do it anyway, why not intimate it was all for her.

I was actually quite pleased with the outcome for a time, thinking myself moderately dapper and a peer to the hogs at the trough of commerce. In fact I nearly came to enjoy it, the jewelry and Egyptian cotton, the deerskin leathers and dinners by candlelight. And then the inevitable happened.

During a presentation to an “uplander”, I was in the midst of explaining the possibly enormous return anticipated from my suggested infinitesimal purchase when the manager we were speaking to saw right through all the gold and Italian silks and saw me for the no class, reluctantly compromising ex-biker I am. Yes, he zinged me, a few times in fact, intimating his belief that I surely was a penitentiary inmate in my recent past. Why? For fun I have to guess, to simply call me out, to assure me that he wasn’t fooled and to make certain that I understood that I was not and never would be his peer, or anything of the sort.

I didn’t hit him. Not really. In my mind I did, over and over and over and over. But again, the guy who’d given me the opportunity to play in big-dogsville didn’t deserve the fallout that would come if I’d broken every bone of his immediate superior's face.

I did the next best thing. I hung up the suits, stowed the shirts and ties and boxed up the accessories. Then I reacquainted myself with myself, and emblazoned a platitude across my forehead that read, “Warning, Leopard Spots Unchangeable. Do not Attempt Modification”. The wife of the moment was not pleased, but had she been, she wouldn’t have been the wife of the moment, now would she?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shattered Peaches

Naiveté can be benign, and it can be dangerous; bundled with mob mentality, it can be deadly. But how would I have known that. I’d never have considered myself naive.

It was supposed to be simple, and that was most of the reason I’d gone along on the adventure. The girl had recently escaped from a juvenile detention center, found her way to our clubhouse and begged us to drive her 200 miles north so she could collect her clothing and personals. Of course that would have gotten her nowhere if she hadn’t sweetened the pot. Her foster family was in Vegas on vacation she’d said, and so we could take whatever we pleased as booty, including a large gun collection.

Had this been a few decades later I might see the purpose in our stealing guns; but we still lived in an age where punks used fists to make their points. Granted there was an occasional tire iron thrown in, but rarely did anyone fell a rival with a piece of lead smaller than a window bar. I suppose I was titillated with the concept of participating in “big time crime”, even though it was presumed to be effortless and nearly devoid of risk to boot. Yet as always when staring serious sin in the face, I felt a certain amount of dread; the dread that comes from knowing you’re about to cross a line from which there may be no return.

The naiveté came in right at the start of the story. I’d imagined the event to be a calm and relatively clean affair, in spite of the obvious. The guys I was grouped with were not bad people per se, just a band of misunderstood, unloved youth like damn near any other collection of similar creatures. Sure, they (we) had a tendency to think of thuggish types of entertainment, as opposed to let’s say, playing strip scrabble. But none of them to my knowledge had actually drawn blood or broken bones. We were too young for all that really. We were more delinquents than bikers, though we certainly saw ourselves as the latter. Still, while I might have envisioned a little spray paint art, I never would have guessed the actual outcome.

Once there, I was lost in the shadiness of it all, and fascinated by the fact that I was actually there, in a broken into house, as a common burglar, in spite of the invitation given by a “member” of the family. I was less a bad guy even than my friends. Drugs were my thing, self immolation, suicide risk, walking on the edge of every cliff I could scramble atop. I was not into violence, though I’d given that vibe since I’d been a youngster and made a target for others’ abuse. Neither was I into vandalism, or petty theft or anything else that required me to hurt another person. Hell, I’d even turned down freely offered sex with a beautiful stranger because I was condomless and so sure that my seed would buy my would be partner and I a lifetime of financial obligation that I risked the ruination of my reputation. I was a thug in name only. Yet, here I was, in a strange kitchen, eying portable appliances and trying to justify my stealing a toaster I didn’t want for the sake of criminal enterprise and the all important layering of street credibility.

An explosion took me from my daydream; incredibly loud and mingled with other sound effects. Glass was smashing, liquid was splashing. My stomach immediately slip knotted itself and I leapt up and threw myself through the basement door and down the stairs.

Getty had found the guns alright. “Just testing” he said as I entered the large cellar pantry and stared at the sticky blanched quarts of fruit that had recently found themselves propelled onto the walls, floor, shelving and furnishings of the concrete room, once relieved of their glass enclosures.

"Boom!" This time I saw the smoke, smelled the powder as another buckshot round flew from the 12 gauge muzzle and into the paneled facade sporting jars of peaches and pitted bing cherries.

“Jesus man, what the hell is wrong with you" I shouted as I stepped toward the fructose ninja and reached for the gun. “Isn’t it enough we’re going to take the stuff? Do you have to destroy the place too?”

“What’s wrong with you” he said, spitting out the last word as if removing a bad taste from between his teeth. “Pussy” he added with a grin.

I stepped closer and reached deeper. He turned toward me and pointed the barrel at my chest.

“It’s just fruit man, get out of my face.”

He was right. But he wasn’t.

My mother would spend a good portion of our autumns canning fruit. Rhubarb compote was a favorite, though she jarred up whatever we could afford which was never enough to last the winter. I’d helped her now and then, though I have to admit I was probably as far from “the good son” as one can be without being a stranger. So I knew what was now oozing onto the cheap rug beneath us was not “just fruit” but hours and hours of preparation and labor. Besides, that leads into the other conversation; the one about this being a family who had taken it upon themselves to support wayward children rather than simply letting others do the more difficult yet relevant work of society, about how it was beyond the pale that we were at the address at all much less stealing from folks who fostered the disadvantaged, much less attacking their goddamn FRUIT!

“Just gimme the gun” I said as I leaned forward.

“Fuck you” he said as he stepped back and raised the barrel toward my throat.

I’d seen the look before, Getty’s “lost in space” look, the one he’d get before going nuts on someone or something. Would he shoot me for stopping his wild produce hunting expedition? He could, sure, but would he. I was his brother, or so we liked to call each other. He’d had my back, I’d had his, and all that what now amounts to claptrap. But it’s an interesting thing about naiveté and mob mentality; almost everyone is infected with it at the same rate, and almost everyone while under its spell is capable of acts which they’d never have imagined themselves committing.

Shame kept me rooted, shame demanded I risk whatever was necessary to stop the carbohydrate carnage, and then to force the group to make a hasty exit so as to minimize further incomprehensible damage. Raw meat had been tasted, the smoke still drifted throughout the house, the frenzy might be contagious. Someone needed to be the zookeeper and since I suddenly felt anything but animalistic, the chore fell to me.

It wasn’t courage that drove me to reach the last twelve inches in order to grab the heated steel and yank the stock from Getty’s hands. It was that same naiveté, like the idea that flying off a ski jump on a bicycle will not result in massive injuries but rather turn you into a chick magnet. I don’t imagine it was logical thinking that kept him from pulling the trigger. I think it was simply instinct, the laws of self preservation, his body refusing to do what his brain was entertaining.

It wasn’t the only time I’d been that close, and it wouldn’t be the last, but in all the dark experience I've walked through, it had to be the dumbest; nearly dead, for want of the destruction of a jar of peaches.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Swivel and Click



A winter’s just white, with an extra long night
though the hoarfrost can be quite dramatic
yet shooting a place while you’re blue in the face
makes a great picture non-automatic

The spring can be grand, a rebirth on command
save the floods and the mud and the thunder
if your scene goes awry when a truck floats on by
you might see it more blunder than wonder

The summer is sweet though mosquitoes and heat
can make photos a sweaty disaster
you can make great mistakes, like consorting with snakes
in a swamp where you’d heard there were asters

But fall is a time when the quilt is sublime
life’s a rainbow from top to the bottom
One can swivel and click, there is art in each stick
no you can’t take a bad shot in Autumn

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mama Sang Bass, Daddy Sang Tenor

I remember it as if it were yesterday; like the moment I first saw Regan in "The Exorcist" turn her head all the way around and shoot fake vomit across the room, or when I saw one of the "13 ghosts" glide across the stage in "Illusion-O!".

I was driving my mother to some event downtown when on the radio, the dj started talking about some survey noting the most unusual places people had experienced sex.

"Daddy and I did it in a rocking chair once."

I nearly screamed, then, choked back the vomit. The thought of my parents having sex organs at all, much less having sex, much less adventurous sex... it almost made me blind.

"Yea, like I wanted to know that" I said, my voice solid and deep despite my insides being disgruntled and quivery.

"I was talking to the radio" she said as if that were any better line than the one I'd use when caught shoplifting; "honest, I don't know how it got there!"

"You're going to hell you know" I said.

"Oh relax" she said; "parents are human too."

It had never ocurred to me. I still think she was exaggerating. Not about the sex I'm sorry to say. Just about parents being human...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You're the LSD in my Coffee, the Psilocybin in my Stew


We spent part of the late morning breakfasting on the veranda. I left a bit before she, retreating to the indoors as the temperature advanced toward my uncomfortable zone. Through the patio doors, past the carved desk and Carl Larsson exhibition, I moved into the music realm, the space wherein Linda practices her wind and percussion instruments. There rises a music stand, and upon it, a quarter ream of sheet music from various sources and of various genres. Atop the pile was an opened pamphlet, a hymn I must suppose, one that she might be rehearsing for a later Sunday worship date. I'd seen this particular page before, in fact a dozen times I'd guess. Yet I still find it speaking to me in some mysterious way, as if it was not simply happenstance that kept it within my periphery but some odd supernatural purpose, as if some magician's trick where Linda plays a multitude of other tunes and layers their transcriptions on top of this, but the moment she leaves the room, this one rises to the top, lying in wait for my next passing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Dragon Whisperer



Poor Jason had been left by the side of the road, in a basket the size of a hay wagon. While in some countries he might have been seen as a blessing, a gift of the gods, the “appointed one”, here in Tolkeinesque Englandish he was a freak, a curse, a mother’s worst nightmare.

There was no record of any albino dragon having lived in the world, and the science of history was at least a thousand years old. Yet here was a baby albino dragon, abandoned and hungry, and slightly confused.

“Mommy?”

“No I’m not your mommy child” Brigitta replied as she and her sons Blinken and Nod hauled Jason into their wagon; “but I will love you as a son.”

As a founding member of the kingdom’s oldest and smallest society “The Dragon Whisperers”, Brigitta knew what would befall a dragon whelp left to the elements. Beyond the obvious, a rapid starvation, the hills were alive with predators. No, the animals would know not to approach a dragon, even a baby, even a “cursed” baby. It was the two legs, the human animals that endangered dragonkind, as they endangered the very planet they lived upon. The king would want the child’s head, the hunters would kill it for its hide, the butchers for its meat, the physicians for its organs, the religious for its horns and teeth and the illusionists for its poison sacs, which when ground into a fine power could be set aflame creating huge puffs of smoke and temporary paralysis for any within range; the perfect screen within which one might seem to maneuver time and space.

There were already too few dragons, and none so beautiful as this milky white specimen with its pink eyes and patterned scales.

The crone spoke softly to her charge as her wagon bucked through the moguls and ruts of King’s Road. “Do you have a name my darling one?”

“Jason” he replied; “Mommy named me Jason. Where is my mommy?”

“I’m afraid dear Jason that your mommy has decided to allow me the honor of teaching you of the sublime wonders and treacherous snares of the world at large. I am sure she will come for you one day, far in the future, when her many pressing obligations have been met and she has all her time to spend loving you.”

Jason seemed to be satisfied by Brigitta’s answer. He sat very still for the next few minutes, staring off into the distance as if searching for a retreating pair of wings. Finally he turned, looked into the old woman’s cobalt blue eyes and said…

“I’m hungry!”

Brigitta leaned toward the cart’s driver and tapper her son of the shoulder.
“Watch for a wayward cow” she said; “baby needs a bite.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

From the Library of Perforated Paperage

So I had to go to the bathroom and do some random pleasure reading, and as I'd already paged through all our current catalogs (C'mon Christmas!) I was stuck with a booklet given me by a shrink I've since ditched, called Ten Days to Better Self Esteem. I leafed through the first few pages until I ran across a lovely test (I knew there had to be one, to identify just how inefficiently I think) Before we work on the booboo, we have to find out just how icky it is.

I had to add my score in my head as I went along, the bathroom is usually pencil free so I couldn't do the checkmark thing the author doc asked for, but in the end I think I had my score correctly. Turning the page to see what it all meant I discovered I needed immediate hospitalization for my broken self worth depression... so I quickly went back through the questions and fudged a few answers so my score showed me to be less manic and I wouldn't have to drive anywhere. (the truck's almost out of gas so then I'd have to get gas and drive to the hospital and call Linda to take a cab and pick up my car and MAN, it just seemed like so much work)

Once I'd adjusted myself into the "moderately depressed" range, I felt well enough to continue, and before long I came across a drawing of a stick figure with a frown on his little face and a cartoon balloon over his head filled with phrases like nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I think I'll eat some worms. (I assume it was a male stick figure, though I might just be auto-identifying with a peer rather than risk being intimidated by a girl, I hate to show weakness in front of a girl, sticklike or no) That was followed by another sketch of a stick figure guy solving his problems proactively. In the text balloon were words like "I like myself" and "I rock" and "today is the first really cool day of the rest of my really cool life!"

I was properly curious about the sketches, they seemed out of place in an adult book, so I read the material that surrounded them. It told me to draw my own unhappy stick figure with a frown and cartoon balloon, and to write in the balloon why my stick figure is so sad. And then, draw a new stick figure that had taken charge of the situation and made life better for himself. In physically creating these drawings I might first identify my negative behavior, and then draw myself free of it, permanently changing my life for the better! So I took the challenge, as I always do as I'm told, after changing the rules a bit. I skipped the first drawing. Everyone knows why I'm sad. It's because other people suck! So I just moved on to the second phase... The Solution!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Moon Doth Drip its Humbling Ooze

From the book of Billy Shake, "Into Thy Care I Momentarily Entrust My Unstained Person Oh Goddess", Chapter 34, The Curse of Airborne Meadow's Muffins

And as, while seated on my own veranda I read of Lords and Ladies, of Gawain and Lancelet and Morgain and Gwenhwyfar, a great company of Canadian geese honked to life within my periphery. Into their tattered chevron they assembled and rose above the treetops, roaring overhead, two columns and stragglers. "They'd best not aim their droppings at my form" I thought aloud, "or I shall come unglued." And as they flew, all pomp and flutter, I heard the telltale sounds of their passing. Plop went one, then smook, thwap and shotsmoosh. A few more black parcels struck the earth beside me, and then they were gone, leaving my glue intact. I thanked the skies for my good fortune, and resolved the next time I might hear the gaggle's clatter to raise the round table umbrella in my defense, lest I taunt nature one too many times.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Life of a Reluctant Grammar Nazi

Any one will tell you, I'm no English language policeman. I'm far from perfect myself, I have no reason or right to judge anyone else; in fact a few I know would tell you I've been horrible at keeping my it's out of my its throughout my long and un-illustrious amateur career.

That said, I do on occasion correct someone if they're saying a word in hopes it means x, when in fact it means Q, or if their pronunciation of something is so wrong it would serve to embarrass them one day when a listener might not be as tactful as I am. My dad would come up with something now and then. He was not a post high school educated man but a well read one. The only problem is, books don't come in phonetics, so at times he would blurt out what he thought was a proper word or phrase that simply wasn't. Luckily, we all knew what he meant, and at the same time fearful enough of hurting his feelings that we'd let it slide without correction; until one day... He'd been saying it for years, and I'd always ignored it. But now that I co-owned a large sailboat, he had occasion to use it again and again, and upon the 3000th again, I could ignore it no longer.

"Sorry dad" I said as calmly and quietly as I could; "but the place where one keeps a boat is not "the marianna". That's a variation of the name used by a character on Gilligan's Island. It's Marina, like Mah ree nah."

He said nothing, only frowned and grunted. In fact he said nothing for a week or more. I debated apologizing, telling him that I'd looked it up and I was wrong, that marianna was a harbor with docks and gasoline and a potato chip vending machine... but I couldn't. He was my dad. I didn't want him out in public one day explaining to the guys at the bar how his son and him had pulled this big old sailboat into the marianna, and then suffer his rage when he said "why the f didn't you tell me!!! They laughed their asses off!!!" It didn't matter though. I'm pretty sure from then on he rarely spoke of the water at all, and never of a place where boats might be. Unless it was a dock; "dock" is kinda mistake proof.

My ex-boss is a good guy. Let's start there. But then, he's a character. He should have spent most of his childhood in jail. He did spend most of his service time either in the Navy Brig or in a southeast Asian holding cell. Then he spent the next 10 years as a serious alcoholic. He's been sober for 20 some years, but his time under the devil's thumb marked him. None of that is really pertinent here, but it lends a flavor to the story. He had a high school education, but only because in the 50s and 60s they would pass anyone that showed up on graduation day. So let's say though he's not dumb by any means, his language and geography skills are lacking. The other day I was counting mailboxes as is my wont, when the map I was following became indecipherable. I needed a little help with my directions, so I called the big cheese. "It says I have to turn at such and so and go to the cul de sac. Well the map runs out but the street keeps going for another mile before it ends. What the hell does it mean?"

He kept saying this word I couldn't understand. I had to drive down Da New Bee until the next street crossed and then u-turn. I looked for Da New Bee on the map, and for a moment I couldn't find it. But then, finally, there it was. Danube. "It's Dan youb, like the European river" I said. "He didn't answer. Then he said "Just take Da New Bee to the next street and turn around." 


Boss. Dad. Semantics. Sometimes, might makes right.