All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Report On The New Bay Bridge!

I began September's posts with a visit to San Francisco while the Bay Bridge was closed. It was closed for five of the two days we spent there so the new span could be aimed properly. We took the old Golden Gate Bridge instead, because it was built between 1933 and 1937, before modern bridge problems were invented, but this past weekend we decided to try the new one. We didn't know what the new bridge looked like exactly so we kept alert for the most futuristic sort of construction. We found it in Vallejo.

We figured it was just the sort of architecture we were after, rising and falling and looping as it did in the general direction of the sea. I am pleased to report there were many brightly uniformed young people (probably Starfleet Academy cadets from Fort Point/Presidio, although why their vests read, "Six Flags Discovery Kingdom", is a great enigma) waving and capering and welcoming us to the entrance. I couldn't quite hear the encouragements they screamed but appreciated them nonetheless. I took a determined grip on the steering wheel, confident I could press enough buttons on the steering column to be equal to the ascent, even though I haven't read the owners' manual yet.
We performed a series of convolutions based on unfamiliar 8-dimensional physical principles. I pressed all the buttons finding, among other wonders, the "inertial dampener activator" and "shield integrity reinforcer". If you are not in a new car, I suggest you reroute all emergency power to the main deflector dish --a trick I learned from former Sacramentan, Geordi LaForge. This was roughly our trajectory after negotiating two loop-de-loops and several progressively more vigorous launch-ramps in Vallejo:

The flight over San Pablo Bay, Crockett, Rodeo, Berkeley and Mount Sutro consumed .02 seconds at warp one. Braking thrusters engaged automatically and we touched down near Daly City, sometime in the early 21st century.

 We backtracked to Ocean Beach and were just in time for our youngest boy's 34th birthday party, which included friends and family...
...and an inferno-capped cake, of which we were all frightened except for one brave man!

I gave him a field promotion to Captain. Norma hugged everybody.

And, next morning, with sensors on visual --because no fog at all-- ...

...we took the Golden Gate home.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


It began with this. Suze, at Subliminal Coffee, asked for a handwriting sample and I wrote:

Suze's sister has a remarkable skill. I was given the following analysis:

"Next, we have Geo., whose single-word contribution my sister said was a lot of fun to analyze. From that one word, she guesses that he:

  • is just and adept at seeing all sides of an issue
  • is a lover of fine art
  • believes in a higher power but remains in 'search mode'
  • holds a deep respect for all humankind...he nurtures the capacity to take everyone and what they have to offer seriously
  • loyal
  • reverent
  • she also said she sees, 'a lot of happiness' in this person."
I don't know how she came up with these compliments, but I appreciate them. However, "loyal" and "reverent" immediately took me back to Boy Scout Law. Although I have not been a Scout for 49 years, I still remember those laws on page 404 of the Handbook, which means I have retained at least some of the virtues listed there. But why Ignatz?

An enigma!

I have a distant memory of  friend Lee Santos telling me, in 1969, "You and Norma should come by the club tonight --I got Roland Kirk." Roland Kirk could play sax and flute with his mouth while playing recorder with his nose. I thought the hommage de nez was to Ignatz Topolino, but now believe Roland came up with it on his own.

 So, the only direct-route to "Ignatz" I can think of is on this U.S postage stamp:

When I was a kid, I  really liked Krazy Kat and delved into his history, but was ambivalent about his co-star, Ignatz, the mean little mouse. Every episode turned upon Ignatz throwing a brick into the back of Krazy's head, which Krazy took as a sign of affection. Krazy loved Ignatz, and was never less than kind and considerate to the mouse. Ignatz was cute but inarticulate. I only felt sorry for him once. That's when Ignatz had no way of expressing himself  because the brickyard closed down.

It was a strange century to grow up in, kids.

There was great music, A Katnip Kantata in the Key of K.(Herriman, George -1991- Turtle Island/Eclipse Books), Rahsaan Roland Kirk of course, also the Fugs --who announced their songs sung "in the key of metaphysical distress"-- and Roy Orbison, whose dramatic lyrics described a sanity that does not exist anymore. But, except for the guy with the harmonica in his nose, none were Ignatz.

There was only one Ignatz, and he is still an enigma...

...still a mystery. Wherefore Ignatz? As Suze's sister has ably demonstrated, the accomplished graphologist can solve many questions of personality and character. But what is written (or expressed by brick) is more elusive. From tenure in another century, I learned the universe never disposes of a mystery, so it is in our best interest to remain one. Scout's honor!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How Tall Should I Be?

The picture above is titled, "Figures Discoursing Among Roman Ruins". It was painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini in the 1730s. According to scholars, there are two features common to Roman ruins in general. They are all in bad need of repair and their owners have trouble keeping them insured. But we will address a scholarly question instead: What with insurers being so particular and Spackle being hard to come by before it was invented in the 1940s, why build ruins in the first place?

The answer is in a detail of Panini's painting.

 Just in front and to the right of a statue meant to demonstrate the evils of slouching --it makes one's arms fall off-- is a stone lion. On its base, we see the words, "O, CLAUDI !"  Claudi translates from Latin into "lame" or "shut up" and, like many Latin words of multiple meanings, was often used by Romans who didn't much care if anybody knew what they were talking about. This inscription strongly suggests the ruin was used by a lesser-known religious sect called The Church Of Oh Shut up. This furnishes a valuable clue about what the "Figures" are "Discoursing" in Panini's painting.
For this purpose, I have provided a personal translation of the church's traditional litany:

"Leader (central figure): Yea, though I am tallest among you, maybe five-eleven, I cannot poke my head out the head-holes in the ceiling. Are we condemned to worship the heavens through some holes in the roof?

Congregation: Oh shut up!

Leader: No, you shut up! And some of you are slouching! You're afraid of being tallest. Look at my arms, which I hold out gracefully like a dancer. That's why your arms'll fall off. What think you of my reasoning?

Congregation: Oh lame!

Leader: Look thou, beloved congregants! Guy over there's actually kneeling, kneeling AND slouching. What's the deal --you think the tallest among us must fix the roof? You think I won't? You think (hold my beer)...Ok, someday, when we invent ladders and they're cheap enough for everybody, I'll make you guys climb up there and nail new stone on the doth the faithful nail stone anyway?
Congregation: Oh shut up!"

I suppose the impetus for this essay comes from the rain, glorious and long-awaited rain, we've enjoyed in this valley today. I've mainly stayed in but often take outdoor frolic-breaks. Hope everybody is enjoying a similarly happy end-day of summer.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Return To Aisle 15!

Had to shop again today. Had qualms about it after our previous visit. I feared, after finding canned dog for sale, some new outrage might present itself. But it is a mystery, and when one dedicates oneself to solving enigmas there is only one course. One sets one's features into a passable semblance of Calvinistic dourness and returns to aisle 15.

I was resolute. Then, as I investigated further and found CANNED CAT (!), resolve eroded into panic. How many other animals would I find tinned and vacuum-packed in the pet section? Such questions are classic ingredients of the permanent jumps and I decided to escape them. I dashed out to the parking lot, roared down the highway. Oblivious to honking motorists, I ignored speed limits and zig-zagged past them, but was seized by better judgement, rationalism. I pulled over to a skidding stop and decided to go back and at least get my car.

Rationalism is a philosophic approach emphasizing reason as the primary source of knowledge. That is, rationalists often find themselves trudging back to supermarkets wondering if they lend themselves to any purposeful study.  I love sushi. I considered the sushi chef in the deli department. He doesn't know much English but responds well to compliments to his artistry and my offers to adopt him. He is only 60 years old and would make a fine son, but prefers to work at the supermarket. It would be irrational to attack his place of employment.

Then there's barn cats, yard cats, the analytic truths attached to cats. They assume the shapes of their containers --often very small ones-- and fall asleep. Cats, therefore, do not quite qualify as solids. I welcome cats to our yard, encourage them to hunt and trespass freely, tell them they are pretty kitties. They look at me with heavily lidded eyes and say, "Who cares?"--a rousing battle-cry suitable for any group intent on reforming aisle 15.

I wish them well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Canned Dog!

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Imagine how awful a lot of knowledge is! I'm an old man on a fixed income so I know plenty and it scares the beejeebies out of me. Beejeebies are quantum units of vitality that geezers secrete in preparation for emergency enigma overloads. So when I go into our local supermarket and see a sign like the one above in the pet supply aisle, I have Norma take a photo of it while I run away and hide in the wine and beer aisles where there are other old men hiding and conserving their beejeebies.

"Canned Dog!" I announce, "They got canned dog on aisle 15."

"We know," says another geezer. "That's why we're all in the booze section. We gotta figure this out."

"My stunt double's down there now taking pictures."

"Post them!" Say the geezers, "World needs to know what's going on!"

"What IS going on?"

"Well, it's this hyper-driven, too-fast society. Folks aren't happy with fresh dogs that wander up to the house and ask to live there. They don't want to save untrained, unpedigreed, unprincipled pound dogs either. They want preprogrammed, prepackaged, pre-groomed, canned dogs right off the shelf. By the way, I believe that's your stunt double pushing her cart toward us now."

I ask Norma to show the photo on the little screen. Everybody gathers around it. Yep, it's canned dog all right. There's a general request for an enlarged image, a foreground detail.

"Oh my gosh!" Says one, "They didn't just freeze-dry, compact and package those poor creatures."

"No," says another. "They went and Samoyed 'em first!"


"It's an infernal process that bleaches and fluffs a regular dog until it looks like a white teddy bear."


"Samoying a dog involves changing their atomic structure to sustain a constant static charge that frizzes their fur and makes it repel all light wavelengths so they turn bright white!"

"They have to stay inside an ATOM SMASHER for days! Dog'll always feel awful and never reach its full potential after a thing like that."

Another geezer joins in: "Then getting granulated, canned and shelved before a new owner rehydrates...SAY, look at that price tag rail!"

"Goldang! 99 cents. Practically givin' 'em away! And you just add water, huh?"

There was a frenzied  sussurus of soft soles shuffling off toward aisle 15. Norma and I were suddenly alone.

"Cabernet with supper, you think? Lodi or Sonoma?"

"Both, that should replenish my beejeebies admirably!"  

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hoots Again

For those readers unfamiliar with Hoots, I suggest this short essay entitled, Man And Machine , which contains a description of his most recent incarnation and a short clip of him reciting a poem about being human.

"Hoot's! What's up?"
"I'm rehearsing, Geo."
"You're in a play?"
"Yeah, me and the other robots are doing a play about Luddites."
"Well, there's some irony."
"Not really, this isn't a for-real sledge hammer but a mallet. It's head is rolled leather, not iron."
"You got into my tool box again, didn't you?"
"I guess. VW Bus said you don't use it to install oil seals any more. Said you hire it done now."
"True, but you should ask first."
"Artistic license. No time for permission. I'm booked up!"
"Great, Hoots! Where?"
"Right here on the table. My audience is in that chair."

"Wow! Packed house. They look excited."
"They ARE ! That's because I play a great Ned Ludd."
"Excuse me, Hoots, but there's some doubt about Ned Ludd ever existing and...uh."
"And...uh what?"
"He was also supposed to wear a full-length dress."

"Exactly, Geo., I have personal experiences with both issues. Do you remember how I began?"
"You were my hand puppet when I was a little kid."

"Yes Geo., nearly 60 years ago, I was your hand puppet and we were working on a routine in front of the mirror. That was the day I decided to lift my gown --polkadotted, like Ned Ludd's-- and see what was in it. Can you imagine my consternation at seeing my naked body? It wasn't a body. It was a big hand with its middle finger up my head. I am no stranger to full-length dress, or non-existence. How would you feel if you found your head was just sewn onto your collar?"

"Upset, of course. But remember, every time you wore out or got lost, I'd rebuild you into some new incarnation."

"Inmechanization, more aptly. But please, I must deliver my character's closing line. You'll recognize it from our first routine, part of my original programming.

"Wouldn't miss it for anything, Hoots. Let me get into the other chair. Okay!"

Ned (Hoots):  ONWARD my beloveds! Let us lay this ghost of oppressive fear and make Earth the best planet in the WORLD!!!

The applause was deafening.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bridge Update Or I Decline A Trainride

It was Thursday when Willie called and asked if I was still intent upon driving to San Francisco on the weekend even though the Bay Bridge was closed. He said an alternative northern approach might consume hours over a clogged Golden Gate, that I should take the train to Richmond and BART under the bay, that anyone who did otherwise should have his head examined. Fortunately, I had my head examined in July and was pronounced an imbecile, which banished all doubt about which mode of transport I would choose. Still, I consulted an aerial view of the route.
Our aerial view is really a Normaphoto of clouds turned upside down, which makes it look like you're flying. You can do this at home. Here is the original:

So I packed a few items not usually furnished in guest bathrooms-- wire brush and claw hammer for subduing my hair-- then followed the clouds where they'd taken up residence on the car hood.

We got in and the hoodclouds directed us to San Rafael, where we turned south for the Golden Gate.  Bridge was clear, except where it attaches to the sky.

We arrived after suffering no great traffic challenges and got to dance with our offspring.

And wander off to beautiful, contemplative places.

This required walking, walking where I used to run. Oh, I could still run probably. There was a time when I could outrun boys twice my age --long ago. But now at age 63...well, those boys are 126...Gee! I could still outrun most of them. But wandering isn't running, is it?  Wandering is when one's sweater and hair approach the color of Pacific sand and fog rolls in on waves to blend with the fog in one's head. It was time to head inland.

That was Sunday, and traffic was heavier on 19th Street but they had brought in more fog to hold the bridge up and,
 to our delight and relief, it did not come down.