All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Monday, December 31, 2012

Thoughts On 2013 and Yearend Reflections

This being New Year's Eve, I thought I'd let my head take its lead and wander over subjects at its own direction. I will not interfere unreasonably. Jonathan Swift famously wrote, "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into". And so I permit myself to garrulate on a broad theme. At my age, I do not know where it will end but it will begin, I think, in Arizona Territory in 1891.

Photo over this essay was taken of the town of Tombstone, in the 1880s. Old American towns, as you can see, differ from modern ones; they were blurry.  But in this particular town the modern psychological bromide was born. A theory that would find popular publication a century later as I'm Ok You're Ok began here at an outdoor clinic called the OK Corral.

Under the medical direction of Doc Holliday (a dentist who minored in 20th century pop-psych, which hadn't happened yet and wouldn't for 90 years.),  famed therapists, Morgan, Virgil and Wyatt Earp conducted a mental health session with the brothers McLaury and Clanton and, by general account, greatly improved them. But it's New Year's Eve now and getting blurrier. Oooh here's something:
What you see is an ascending or descending orbital geometric plane equidistant or maybe of expanding distance from an X-Y axis. Ok, you try describing a spiral without using your hands. I mean it. Try, I dare you. And don't be discouraged if your early attempts go astray. You can say the word, spiral, which if you join me in another glass of wine you'll see, contains its shape in its sound: Spiiirrraaalll, see it? That's psychology! And there's this:

Spanish and Portuguese Conquistador/Psychologists and several new kinds of idiots used to try to circumnavigate the world with maps like this one. It reflects the wishful thinking of many centuries, but mainly this one and the one the cartographer lived in. My beloved California was thought to be, assumed and hoped to be, an island off Nevada's Pacific coast. The chief explorer, not that one with the unlikely name of Cabeza de Vaca who explored something else but Brazos Largos, discovered the non-existence of the Nevada Channel. He was named Brazos Largos because he could tie his shoes without bending over --much to the admiration of his crew. 

Also, to the admiration of his crew, Largos found an early surfer culture in California that celebrated fitness, suntans and beach parties.  They forgot about the Lost Cities Of Gold and the Fountains Of Youth in favor of their new discovery, which they named Curvas Buenas and called its natives Sirens. Contrary to envious historical records, these Sirens did not cause any shipwrecks. Brazos Largos and his crew dismantled their own ship deliberately to make surf boards.

I would continue this examination of the history of psychology but it is not yet midnight and I have further preparations to make for my own mental improvement. I resume treatment for the jumps this week. To all, I wish a safe and sane new year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

California Politics and Frozen Fog. Run!

On the map below there are three distinct features: the green Coastal Range, the snowy Sierras and, between them, a great fog that has come to symbolize the true Californian's view of the world. But here, we will discuss only frozen fog.

It was my brother, Frank, who first told me about frozen fog a long time ago. He moved out of state to escape it, but I remained to research the phenomenon, and have been much improved by this study. I have amassed a lot of data, but will confine this essay to one representative incident of local historical importance.

Sacramento is situated on an inland corridor, a river valley from the Sierras to the sea. Much of it is flat grassland under rain shadow. There, into the Coast Range, the river cut a cleft that gives onto San Francisco Bay, through which wind drives tule fog up the delta and into our city. On cold days, fog freezes.

Frozen fog is, in most regions, another name for rime or hoarfrost --ice crystals of supercooled fog. It resembles snow and doesn't last long under normal conditions, but conditions in this region are unusual. A freezing day here is often followed by intense and sudden sunshine. Fog has not time to disperse. It dehydrates and leaves a solid bank composed of 2% hydrocarbon lattice and 98% air. Styrofoam. Here is a deposit of historical significance:

You can see that municipal workers and volunteers had already got to sawing parts of it away but, as often happens in this state, they became bored and silly. I was there and think that describes the general feeling pretty well. We went at the thing with handsaws and pocket knives mainly, but some artisans from midtown arrived with power-sanders and those really good Heinkles and Marples chisels. Within hours, we had the middle done and vibes directing us toward a single goal.

Here is our final product. We were nearly deaf from all the squeaking and crackling but had hacked a dignified and beautiful state capitol out of Styrofoam --a renewable resource provided by nature from frozen fog banks. It is a building containing a half-million square feet of floor space while weighing only 22 pounds. We were justifiably proud.

Unfortunately, naughty children became fond of carrying the building off and hiding it, leaving our appointed and elected officials no place other than nearby saloons to conduct the government. However, after each inconvenience, the capitol was found and returned to its mall. The governor himself finally solved the problem by gluing it to the lawn.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mayan Blowout?

My previous post (from 12-17-12) collected such intriguing comments that I thought the subject would reward closer inspection. As friend Willie knows, I am probably not the ideal person to do this. It was he who introduced me 7 or 8 years ago to the Mayan Long Count prophesies through a long-running discussion between his friend, Professor Hoopes, and  Daniel Pinchbeck. I became also slightly acquainted with Terrence McKenna's cosmological abstractions and with José Argüelles' artistic and philosophical efforts to devise a correct and biologically accurate calendar for the whole planet. 

I suppose it is unavoidable for researchers who freely share their findings to be appointed willing or unwilling pontifices of speculative subcultures. The calendric year is said to have started at some remote point in the past with the appearance of the Pleiades asterism in the east just before the dawn light, so there has been ample opportunity for this enthusiasm to assert itself. It  develops, after all, in response to mystery.

This collection of essays, Trainride Of The Enigmas, concerns itself with mysteries. Why? Because we need them. Voltaire said, of God, that if He did not exist we would have to invent Him. Indeed, as humans learn the language of the universe --Nature-- it follows we need to form some idea of its personality, what it expects of us and we of IT. This is invention and it is a very big deal. A Mysterium Tremendum --or some other skull-thumping thunderclap a phrase-- can round things off well enough but getting through life, quantum navigation, wants more detail than thunderation.

We need the little everyday mysteries by which we learn, learn to read, to do, to read the expressions of others. We need them for the next round of greater mysteries which, in solving, guide us into love, conscience, duty, and --as ALL diarists and bloggers discover-- an understanding of those forces that shape our lives. Then, and only then, can we examine tremendous mysteries to any useful depth.

These are the mysteries to which we apply our whole minds and give our minds meaning. And to those who are disappointed tomorrow, there's a spare in the trunk.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mayan Long Count, Duck and Cover vs. Four Horsepower Apocalypse

I have dealt with the end of the world before. In the first of a series of essays on fabulous beasts I described those singular events encountered on Patmos Island. They were noted by St. John,  a keen observer, and contributed to the overall Apocalyptic picture in the Book Of Revelations:

This painting, by Victor Vasnetsov, is typical. It shows four riders, two of whom don't look at all well, determined to lay waste to the world. They are listed as Famine, Pestilence, War, and Death, and are intended as allegorical forms, manageable forces, which makes sense. Even more sense is made if the student of prophesy consolidates them as avoidable, correctable evils humanity inflicts upon itself in the privatization of greed, conquest and insensitivity.

An increasingly industrialized populace realized four horsepower will run a small rototiller but falls far short of plowing a planet.

On the other hand, we have this:

It is a central detail of the Mayan Calendar. It is from Mesoamerica, a region extending from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. Like all ancient Mesoamerican calendars it relies upon pictographic guidelines, arithmetic and is really really heavy. Here is the Aztec version:

It is called, Piedra del Sol, Stone of The Sun. When somebody slams the kitchen door and makes them fall off the wall, ancient Mesoamerican calendars can level a house. Under increasing fear of the remote possibility of everybody slamming their kitchen doors at once, thereby destroying civilization, banks and other businesses down there quit handing them out free to customers every year.

There is an apocalyptic community, surrounding pre-Columbian Mesoamerican calendars, currently enjoying its cultic phase. Its followers are numerous and quite sincere in their efforts to accept universal cataclysm and  frighten children. But doubters point out there are very few of these things still in use; not nearly enough to end the world even if they do fall down. These doubters believe energies would be better spent avoiding unnecessary Famine, Pestilence, War, and Death --and I agree, but it couldn't hurt to close kitchen doors more gently too.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fabulous Beasts #6 Rodan

Rodan is a mutated pterosaur. His name was originally pronounced ラドン , or Radon --like the unfabulous, vaporous, beast that gets into some cellars and makes everybody sick-- and he worked for Toho Studios in Japan. His Japanese name, Radon, is a contraction of pteRAnoDON. But when his name is written in English in Japan, it is written as Rodan. In  America, where my brother, Frank, and I went to see him in a movie in 1957, his name was pronounced:
However, in French, although his name is pronounced Ro-dan, it is written "Rodin".

I don't remember much of the movie. It might have been about Rodan trying to get downtown for art supplies. He was larger than many cities, which made for difficulties in everyday activities, and caused much speculation in the arts community. They wondered how a gigantic flying reptile could do such fine work in bronze, like this:

But we must consider the evolution of this outdoor sculpture. It is heavily influenced by Michelangelo's statue of Lorenzo Di Medici,

which is recessed into a Florentine alcove, a kind of box.There is a compelling body of historical argument maintaining they were the same sculptor who, in later life and advanced mutation, expressed the importance of not only thinking but also thinking outside the box.

My research has just now raised another aspect of controversy. There was, it seems, a French sculptor named Rodin, who looked like this:

And, as I delve further into the enigma, I find this man, Rodin, and Rodan often got each others' mail.

This leaves the Medicis. They had a reputation for cleverness that long outlived them. Could  they have created a subterfuge of such duration? Clearly, any calculations conducted above Florentine radon have little relevance to modern politics. So I must conclude this essay with a cautionary moral: If you are tempted to affect the future specifically, remember, although the days of reward seem limitless, the days of the calendar are by definition numbered --an imbecility, I know, but it gives onto a future post about the Mayan Long Count, which I'm sure will encourage us to think outside the box as soon as I read up on what it is.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Apocalyptic Apology

Last December, I wrote a poem, Rewiring An Old Starship, which included this picture:
My friend, Willie, opined that my work was metaphorical --renewing contact that energized happiness and reliability. A favorite actor, Harry Goaz, wrote a comment saying I looked very brave. Apparently they thought I knew what I was doing. And I did, mainly.

I was trying to connect a 220 volt line to a different breaker to accommodate a new hot water heater, but there were a lot of wires in that box. There is a distinct difference between electrical service wired in parallel, in which each appliance operates on a discreet circuit, and series, in which they do not. I knew this, and completed all connections accordingly. But I didn't know the entire country had not yet complied. Edison and Tesla began the upgrade over a century ago on the east coast and I thought it was done.

Last week I flipped the breaker on and thought everything looked good. Then NASA posted this photo:

As you can see, everything east of the Mississippi is fine. City lights are bright, festive, Christmassy. But darkness in the west is broken only by about a hundred people with flashlights. All I can say is, I'm sorry. There were indications I ignored, like the streetlights dimming when I use my electric shaver. But I will put off shaving until daylight now and be carefuller in general.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

California Weather News #2

For the following report, I have relied upon photographic data downloaded from my PMCD, an instrument essential to local weather evaluation. These wonderful devices are quite dear and cannot be paid off in a single lifetime. The serious student of weather must gain its trust and banish all thoughts of ownership.

The current report from this state begins with the following readout:

It is dated two days ago and predicts wind. At this point of operation, the Portable Meteorological Computing Device assumes a fluid coordinate in space and time. Its range reaches beyond the moment into the past and future. How far, no one knows, but it extends itself as a kinetic force that causes one to make surprising decisions from young adulthood and throughout the future. I shall expatiate further on but for now, let's examine PMCD's record of current California weather emergencies:




This is, indeed, California weather at its worst.  But I also rely on my PMCD for information about interior conditions. I am cautioned emotionally, that a shirt that insists upon being inside out is no reason to believe the world is against me. There are surely several countries that have never heard of me and have no opinion at all. I am also reminded to be polite and eat my vegetables.

There are storms within as well as without. Nightmares are dispelled. This versatile instrument calms me from them and assures me I will never be attacked and eaten by puppies. But reality is not avoided or ignored. Here is a readout warning me not to attend outdoor picnics organized by my relatives:

But hark! The roar recedes. California's storm alert has been downgraded to "fragrant, with a chance of petrichor". I must go lie down.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

[Norma Photos] RAIN!

Norma's pluvial invocations earlier this week have brought weather, so much weather in fact that we are

becoming andromedous. I am reminded of life off Dana Point, in the fishing village of Cayucos, where my people were lobster lifters. As I may have mentioned elsewhere, lobsters love to be lifted and set down repeatedly and pay highly for this recreation, so most of my Portuguese relatives made good. A few did not; they couldn't progress from pilchard fishing, which brings only poverty and despair because there is no such fish. More recently I hear everybody has gone into boogie-boarding followed by luaus and pajama parties --for all of which I am now too old,  disproving my Dana Point relatives' advice, "Geo., you can't leave too soon."

But I digress. Norma's immediate response to sustained pluie was alarm for crushed chrysanthemums, which she dashed out and harvested for display in a surrealistic section of our kitchen.

The wall mural is Norma's work. The red, much-foxed, oft-repaired French/English dictionary is crucial to our relationship. The bluish volume of Great letters is mine and rests upon The Monk And The Philosopher, which is jointly owned. These books reflect differences in our backgrounds. She studied truth, translation and everything nice, while I majored in flummery,  tarradiddle and puppydog tails. In my defense, I thought I had entered a cooking school and should have suspected its motto: "You're only as good as the last person you fooled." But I digress.

Norma's picture returns us to our subject. She said nothing but her expression conveyed intense concern and alarm. I knew what she was thinking, WET THERMOMETER! Something about it reminded me of medical equipment.

"Colonoscopy find anything, Doctor?"

"Some plaque on the back of your teeth but your dentist can fix that."

"Well, I bet it left a big hole in my wallet."

"No chance, we took your pants off."

But I digress. Patterned objects resting upon surfaces of echoing patterns fascinate Norma. She remained in the rain to arrange this:

Wet pine cones collected on a wet table on a rainy day --an irreducible pattern from which I find it impossible to digress. To all, a pleasant December!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

False Start Friday (Wednesday)

It feels a bit previous writing a False Start Friday here on Wednesday but there are three reasons for doing so. I wanted to take advantage of Suze's project before her December hiatus, so she can see it and perhaps respond before 2013 when we may expect the pleasure of her renewed company. Secondly, it's a very rainy Wednesday and my indoor fun has included perusing back-pages and old photos. Lastly, it is not always fun for me to find old photos. So many precious people I knew then are no longer with us and that makes me blue. Not the case with this pic. I googled everybody and they're still in the game.

This photo was taken maybe 1977-78. I remember riding my motorcycle (our family's second car then) downtown from work, about 9:30 p.m., to Barbara Crockett's Sacramento Ballet School, found her stowing tutus in trunks and indulging in a cigarette. Last I heard --April of last year-- she was still involved part-time with the studio at age 90. Barbara isn't detectable in the photo because she was bustling around in the background faster than the speed of light. Also found Evan Nossoff, photographer and performance artist, with his camera and lights set up. Beside Evan was Victoria Dalkey, poet, artist, journalist. Beside her was Jim Leitzell, artist and musician.

We were there to take promo shots for a performance in which we all figured. As I recall, it took place at the YWCA and my notes were sketchy.  I found some pieces I used that night that were neither polished nor final, qualifying as "False Starts", but they allowed great volume and emphasis on humor so I included them then and here:


Not to be outdone, she purchased a Renoir.
"Yes," I said from vista points in her gown. "Restoration can be tiresome."

And she fluttered and bossomed, remembering those frequent visits to the studio. I told her Renoirs need regular tune-ups.

"Every time I get mine back, something else goes wrong with it!" said the pillow man in tights.

El Presidente arrived in a three-year-old Picasso. "It's lemons in the still-lifes." He declared, "Traded mine in on this little number. Not a lick of trouble yet!"

I grabbed another drink and waited for the assassination, but wondered, is this about beauty or truth? Is that all I need know? Something voluptuated out of her gown. I sat a little closer.

"I grew my fingernails out just to scrape the crud off your teeth," she said breathily. Like a fool, I fell for it.

El Presidente stepped on my hand. "That's an old line, kid. Shouldna fell for it."

Or is truth beauty? I still can't tell. But I didn't notice El Presidente sticking pins in the map until his face appeared in the sky over California. I'm not sure what Renoir would say but suspect the composition suggested tragedy.

"He's right!" said an odd bulge in the carpet. It moved.

"Assassin!" we all cried and pillow man led us outside where we tied up El Presidente safely in the path of a glacier.

                                      CHAPTER XXVI, A NARROW ESCAPE!

           The ancient and cavernous sunset thawed from its frozen station.
           The young couple, motoring gravely on a slant of unfallen rain,
           heard the horizon begin to fry.
          "Must be Summer," said the young man as he lifted the young
          lady out of the auto just before it fell out of the sky.

Saturday, November 24, 2012


In the illustration above, I am at a gathering in the beautiful home of people close to me. It is spacious and likable. I like my house too but, from certain angles, it looks like it crawled out of a hole and is up to no good.  My home is small by comparison and sometimes out of whack, so I am happy and refreshed by this gathering. I post myself beside an open window and utter imbecilities.

Newly emerged from a protracted state of maladjustment (during which I saw specialists! Had procedures!) I resolved not to talk about it. I would not permit myself! I say instead:

"Basmati? Yes, I love all sports cars."
"There is a theory that hummingbirds drink espresso all night."
"Until television, I had no idea cats had two ears."
"From Barbie Dolls children learn to wiggle their heads until they fall off."
"After much thought, I voted for him because he's cute as a button."

Then I am alone, beside a window, pondering the origin of whack. Whack goes back, way back, before Miami Vice (in which Don Johnson played Jed Clampett), before fashion and confection fused, back to when our leaders shambled up to our holes, full of strange enthusiasms, and demanded marksmanship.

"You can't make us do anything," we grunted. "We're out of whack!"

Then we'd wag our hairy heads at them until they fell off.  At this point, I realize I have garrulated and a still, small voice from there or here taunts: "Oh great, what if everybody else was like you?"

To which I can only reply, there is nobody else like me --even I can't always do it.

You have to be in whack.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Word List 16

                                                   [Norma photo]

From the Latin, pluvia, pertaining to the action of rain. In this case, it is less a prediction than a demand  made by Norma with her garden slate, a pluvial demand. Her garden must have pluie, no later than noon! Her demands are always reasonable. I recognize this. The universe recognizes this. By late morning, her slate turned into an example of our next word.

A pluviometer is an instrument indicating the presence and intensity of rain. The slate will be cleared. Will she respond by dashing out to write "merci" upon it? No. This would entail a sweater, a coat, a hat, and she would complain of feeling "bunchy", so I think not. It is, after all, as much her universe as she is its, so no further niceties are required. We, all of us, are expressions in the the language of the universe: Nature. We say only what is needed --Bon, pluie-- or if we are ducks who speak Latin, "Qua qua!" (English translation...oh never mind).

Quaquaversal means dipping down from the center in all directions. Locally, one considers time passing through the universe in a linear pageant of one damn thing after another, but this is not generally true.  Things appear from a fog of virtuality by combination of observation and encounter. We navigate our ways through the plenum by interacting with clouds of massless virtual particles called photons. We receive no information about the universe smaller than a photon. The light from the campfire you sang "Kumbayah" around is now helping alien plants grow around Alpha Centauri and beyond. So,

Assume we move through time 
In all directions, like ducks
Sliding quaquaversally 
Down a sloppy knoll,
Each self-contained,
Abdominous and barely 
Brained, but together
Comprising a whole--
Who knows what for?-- 
But a whole, and a
Whole bunch more.




Thursday, November 15, 2012

False Start Friday

Suze at Subliminal Coffee has organized a project called False Start Friday. She says, "It's so writers can haul out their shelved stash." Image above is one I abstracted from her site. I use it to signal my back page, and I like the idea of bookstores with cats in them. Time was, finding a book was a regional experience. You can identify people from that era by their frequent use of the phrase, "time was."

Time was, I used to do readings in bookstores, and bars, art galleries --poems and humor for small presses. I remember writing a first version of this in '72, delivering another version at Los Olmecas Gallery in '74, a final version for a tv show in '77, so I guess it qualifies as a "False Start" that never emerged from a state of flux. I am happy to retire it to this blog. It's called Gideon and I no longer have any idea what it means.


It was morning and I searched for Gideon. Called his house and his wife answered.

"He's been up all night." She said, "studying for a hearing test."

It was time to track him down. Gideon once wrote his address on the backs of my eyelids but it was morning and the light was bad in there.

Knocked at the first door I came to: "Gideon home?"

"He is not here," cried Quasimodo from the bell tower. "He has risen."

Wrong house. I caught a bus headed south. When I arrived in Bakersfield I looked up his brother, Don.

"Don," I said. "Have you seen Gideon?"

"No but he called last night, allowed he was headed for Mexico to drink tequila for ten years today."

"Any idea why?"

"Said Catechism."

"Catechism? For what? In what city? The jungle? Border town? A fishing village? Where, Don, where?

"Not his keeper. Need a cage, cheap?"

I panicked and went straight to the police: "You can't miss him, Sergeant. His eyes are initials carved in ancient oak. His body twists the firmament like a planet gone mad. His hair is thunder turning above battles and, when the moon rises, his hands are white curling fog."

"As a matter of fact," said the sergeant. "A man of that description was seen hitch-hiking in the Mojave just this morning."

I came upon Gideon in the desert. He was prostrate in the sand and I had thought him dead until he stirred and whispered, "I thirst."

So I gave him my canteen and said, "Why, Gideon, in heaven's name why?"

To which he struggled to his knees and answered, "You know I'm only looking for a contact lens."

Then I too kneeled and joined the search.


Now that I'm posting this, I remember Willie was at Los Olmecas that night. I was surprised because he'd been working in Spain, Southern California, then Santa Cruz and I hadn't seen him in years, which reminds me searches for meaning used up more shoe leather back then. Or maybe that's just my imagination. Then again, maybe that's what Gideon was about.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Interview With An Author

I don't ordinarily conduct interviews with authors but found this one in my pajamas this morning. I took it as a positive sign and invited him to coffee on the back porch. He declined a cup of his own and proceeded to drink out of mine, which prompted my first question.

Geo.: Why on earth are you doing that?

Ibid.:  Earth, you say. If we expect any sustained happiness on this planet we must learn to make do with a well-used minimum.

Geo.:  And your definition of happiness is?

Ibid.: Well, as my book says:
"Why I am laughing:
My hearing's gone,
My nerves are shot,
My bucket is empty
And I hate these sandals.
There are worse definitions
Of happiness."

Geo.: An appropriate excerpt.

Ibid.: Not an excerpt. That's the entire text of the book.

Geo.: Oh dear, you've caught me out. I haven't read it.

Ibid.: Now you don't have to. Terrible coffee. I love it.

Geo.:  I make it myself. But let's move on to your pseudonym.

Ibid.: What pseudonym?

Geo.: Ibid., an abbreviation of Ibidem, meaning "in the same place". I take it, then, your parents were Latin scholars.

Ibid.: No, auctioneers actually. They named me with their two favorite words, words that promised profit and commission. My grandfather, however, was quite old and Latin was his first language. He lived with us and imparted much in the way of sage advice.

Geo.: Such as?

Ibid.: "Canis reversus ad suum vomitum." After which he would barf and have a good cackle in the chimney corner.

Geo.: Let's talk about the cover photo, shall we?

Ibid.: Yes, the photo was taken in 1972 but my publisher thought I looked a bit young. It was left with a retouching artist who spent the next 40 years aging my image. During this time, I revised the manuscript according to guidelines set out by Henry David Thoreau: "Simplify, simplify, simplify". Of course this invites one to cross out the two superfluous simplifys and just get to it. As a result, my manuscript was pared down from ten volumes to 26 words.

Geo.: And where may we find this book, Ibid?

Ibid.: On the blog, Invalid's Workshop, May 23, 2012.

Geo.: But that's my blog!

Ibid.: Indeed, shall we brush each other's  teeth now?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I woke dreaming of Mary. It is election day. I thought of her pulling the plow while Grampa steered and I broke clods with my feet. It is 1955. I fall in front of her and hear my grandfather's voice.

"Whoa Mary! Ah cu  diabo!"

I see her giant hoof an inch from my face, stock-still, suspended.  She steps back and I see her concern. Time has stopped.

"Hello Geo."

I quote the title of the violin solo my eldest sister has been practicing incessantly for a month.

"Ave Maria."

"Your grampa is very frightened. When time starts again he will snatch you up and walk you back to the house. He will not say you fell, or that I nearly mashed you, only that you need a nap."

"Is Grampa mad at me, Mary?"

"No, Grandma will yodel 'mau menino!' as she always does but she really thinks of you as a monkey. Grampa never yodels, never gets mad. Grandma thinks he is a monkey too."

"I'm frightened, Mary."

At this point, Mary sang me a little song in her low voice that sounded just like Charles Trenet:

She said, "There are many worrisome things, Geo., but the world and the human heart can both go BOUM and send gremlins scattering. You'll see elections as parades of gremlins promising ends to mischief they've created or blaming others for not fixing it. That's when you try hardest to be happy and whole. That's what the song says. And, 60 years from now, you'll have had enough world and heart troubles to see the efficacy of this method."

"I don't know how to count that high, Mary."

"Little boy, you'll forget this dream just as you forget Portuguese, just as you learn English, French and Gardening. You are a citizen of the universe. I have advised you and, in  the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, the horse is a symbol of the universe."

"You are the universe?"

"Yes, monkey, and be glad you're looking at my front end."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Scary Halloween Story!

Saturday morning I woke from a nightmare in which my brother Frank appeared to me and announced he'd been replaced by the Euro. Before evaporating, he remarked I looked feverish and ought to drink plenty of fluids. I rose to a weekend in the throes of a virus. After all the nostologic problems I have dealt with this summer and fall I was eager to undertake a normal illness, but this was a rhino-virus and I did not want a big horn growing on my nose --not again, anyway. It promised to be a virus from hell so, like most guys, I tried to ignore it. I coughed a little. I refrained from smoking my pipe. I drank beer.

Sunday I coughed a lot. I had chills. I got afraid of my bed. My brother reentered my delirium and said I had nose horns. I asked why he thought that was and he said, "This is a world that operates largely by coincidences, yet we must mistrust all of them." Then he rose through the ceiling, which is really just showing off. I got up and sat at the kitchen table all night long, reading Bertrand Russell and running out of beer. By 8:30 a.m. I was on the phone to Dr. Lee, my GP for 15 years who, for some supernatural reason, still looks 12-years old. He's 10 minutes down the road.

Dr. Lee prescribed a huge bottle of codeine cough syrup. It worked fine, suppresses the cough reflex.  I slept Monday night and had a healthy appetite the next day. What escaped me until later was codeine also suppresses other reflexes further down. So Tuesday I quit taking it. Now it is late Wednesday night and I have learned something no man is really meant to know: how full of poop I really am.

It has been a frightening Halloween. Norma cut this year's Jack-o-lantern out of construction paper and I drew a face that, despite the fact that my wife has begun coughing this evening, I hope expresses some cautious optimism. Best Halloween wishes to all.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Ayn Rand, Sally Rand, Dance And Fact-Checking

Earlier this year, my daughter and I were discussing the famous Rand sisters, Ayn and Sally, and she asked a rhetorical question: "So maybe if there had been more fan dancing in Atlas Shrugged, things would have been different?"

To which we chorused, "Yes!" Indeed, things would have been friendlier now because dance would be involved, not just because Sally Rand had a friendly face --she did-- but because, even though dancers are competitive, they cooperate with each other. Dancers depend upon each other to create psychic constructs onstage.

By her own account, Ginger Rogers could do everything Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards in high heels. This is the dancer's mindset. You don't disparage your partner's art for helping you  perfect your own. Likewise, rich people didn't used to fault the middle class for maintaining roads, emergency services and educational systems with their taxes and labor. After all, there wouldn't be many businesses of any kind without safe highways, law enforcement, skilled workers and firefighters.

I could expatiate with geometric logic. I could argue interminably in favor of horizontal egalitarianism but I could not fill space, or define it, so effectively as a dancer can. So I repost a clip of a solo artist who survived the chaos of decades in which dances could result in injury and pregnancy --even in men. It is the famous "16-second Gravel Dance".  Crank up the volume and listen to the choreographer's direction at the end.
  I use this performance to drive home my point, whatever it was, and show one may dance to good advantage in the daytime. Night time dancing tends to become adiaphorous. Neocons dance at night, like vampires --which are uncomfortably popular right now-- but the best ideas are always danced about in broad daylight. Western Civilization, which I've always thought was a good idea, can't be perfected in the dark. Leads to murky reasoning, and I like enough light to at least see my side of an argument.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Celebrating Willie

When I met Willie in 1965

one thing led to another and he invited me to his 75th birthday party. That was yesterday.

 Norma took pictures.

We drove to Sonoma, which is nestled in a little valley near the coast. It's a pleasant trip on puzzling roads that all seem to go dreaming, like where Highway 12 West has signs that say "West" in both directions, even though it runs north and south. Highway 12 West-West (North-South)  follows clouds among vineyards. There are few traffic challenges except where fog crawls inland between hilltops. Automobiles are expected to stop for fog where it crosses the road. Fog has right-of-way.

When we arrived, we found Will had rented Burlingame Hall and hired caterers and a musician. There was champagne! I found other people Will had invited to his 75th birthday party since 1965. There were scads of  us.

What you see here is me, Will, Gimi --who I hadn't seen since maybe 1971-- and Kepley, who I met only once when he was dancing at a pow-wow in Yolo County in 1968. The very tall man in the back might be God. Behind Him, as always, is some plumbing upon which the universe depends.

The pose broke up, as poses do, and Paul --who I hadn't seen in 5 years--  greeted us in front of Norma's camera with one of his famous one-liners.
Then I made the mistake of turning my head abruptly. If you do that at a really good party the whole room spins around and all you can do is laugh. How Norma was able to capture that with her camera is beyond me:

Fortunately, it was time for lunch so I just grabbed my table as it came around and sat.

Will's best friend Ed had uploaded a wonderful reenactment of Sonoma's Bear Flag Rebellion onto YouTube, conducted entirely on an unmade bed with a chihuahua and three chickens, just like the real Bear Flag Rebellion of 1846, which started at the home of General Vallejo just a few blocks away from where we were.

After a six-course lunch I went outdoors for postprandial nicotinic meditation. Norma followed at a distance.

"How," I said. "How shall I find my way out of this spacious and beautiful place?"

To which God, or a very tall man in the background, said, "This is Sonoma Valley, my poor confused child, just turn left at every firehouse and you'll reach Interstate 80.

And so it was.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Future Of Past-Life Regression

My brother and sister bloggers have begun posting Halloween thoughts and I decided to join them. October is time for such things. This haunted world is bound to share some secrets, some enigmas, but you mustn't be too scared. I will begin with a spooky picture!

It happened while I was driving. Old VW air-cooled aluminum-magnesium engines are noisy beasts at best and, after 40, 50 years of driving them, one learns to listen for anomalies, the enigmatic, the supernatural. There was a thin, high-pitched, hesitant voice coming from the back of my mind or number three piston was unscrewing its spark plug again. Both have happened before and I knew the drill. I marshalled as much mind-power as I could spare from traffic and thought in my best I-AM-OZ commanding mentation, "Who ARE you?" To which a startled voice replied:


Geo.: Well, that's a pretty flower and a pretty name. Where are you, and when are you?

Poppy: I'm at personnel, interviewing for my first job out of high school and it's October, 3014.

Geo.: And you're in my head because?

Poppy: Because that's how they select and place employees now, by examining past lives of applicants.

Geo.: And we share a soul.

Poppy: I guess. I don't know. I'm really nervous and scared. They're asking me stuff.

Geo.: Who?

Poppy: The panel from Human Resources, but mainly this lady from Psychic Administration. I'm all hypnotized and I don't like it one bit. Help?

Geo.: Hah! Funny old mess to get born and find yourself in. Of course I'll help. What's she asking?

Poppy: I told her I felt I was moving. She wants to know what I'm moving in.

Geo.: Tell her it's the Official Grand Oscar Meyer Popemobile of the Emperor Of Planet Earth. Can you show her the picture?

Poppy: Y..Yes, but she'll never believe...oh my gosh! She's clapping and jumping up and down!

Geo.: Good. She's weak in history. Now I'm going to pull into a little park and send another pic. Tell her I'm banishing the big bad old dinosaurs.

Poppy: Yikes! She's raising one eyebrow. Bad sign, Geo.

Geo.: You're catching on quick, Poppy. Tell her I'm still a half-mile away, wait a minute and show her THIS:

Poppy: Oh my gosh, she's buying it!

Geo.: Ok Poppy. Now tell her, as Emperor Of Earth I'm invoking a Multimillenial Paradigm Shift-Singularity Confluence Quantum New Age Coherence to insure universal supremacy of whatever dumbass company you're applying to.

Poppy: Got it! Oh no, she wants to know what regulative authority to consult! I'm frightened.

Geo.: You still fasten things with screws in 3014?

Poppy: (sniff) Uh huh.

Geo.: Then tell her to follow guidelines of the International Screw Thread Committee. They've kept things standardized throughout past history. Empires rise and fall but the world can't do without standardized screw threads.

Poppy: Screw threads, ok. Anything else?

Geo.: Yeah Poppy. Listen. Much as I like you, I don't want you regressing to this past life of yours again for the same reason I don't regress to mine. We all share a soul but each plenipotentiary is entitled to his or her privacy. Understand?

Poppy: Yes Geo., I...I think so. Goodbye... thanks for helping me.

Geo.: My privilege, my pleasure. Now get outta here, I gotta drive.