All aboard. People I very much appreciate:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Year-End Chat

Dear readers, I have consulted the calendar and determined a temporal climacteric is at hand. In the words of the Immortal Bard --which I quote from memory-- the character of Crab in Two Gentlemen Of Verona exclaims:                  "I have studied Time and of needs maintain,
                                   A bygone year now circleth round the drain."

Crab is one of two dogs in the Shakespearean canon, and is still a welcome stage presence. Unfortunately, in Shakespeare's time --as it is now-- there were serious problems finding dogs who could bark in iambic pentameter.

Of course there were other dog-references, like in Julius Caesar: "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!" But they were references only and no dogs were harmed in these productions. Crab, on the other hand was a real dog-actor and reported what he had divined from reading the enigmatic vortex of his favorite drinking bowl. So passes a year, in winter.

You may notice from today's Normaphotos that winter morning has, upon my hair and backporch roof, a similar influence:
There are two reasons for that: we, yes we in California, are having frost today; also, I built the backporch myself 35 years ago and, in the absence of more sensible blueprints, the effort resulted in my head and backporch being oddities of identical construction.

So, as the year circles to closure, and because I can't think of much to write about just now, I will close this post with an enigma, which I invite any and all to solve. I still buy newspapers --mainly for the puzzles and funnies-- but have noticed something since childhood that amazed me. Big deals are covered on Page One. "Headlines" is a word that will long outlast the newspaper in this electronic age, but answer me this: why is the last page of every newspaper section an even numbered one?

Oh, that's too easy. Tell me this: why did Abraham Lincoln, a decided eccentric, never doff his hat or stand for the "Star Spangled Banner"? It is, after all, our national anthem. 

Looking forward to replies, and new enigmas in the coming year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Enigma of Time

The experience of time is in part subjective. There is a constant accrual of information --organization of fluid events-- in the mind. Time is also physical. Relativistic time is a product of tremendous operations in the universe, involving propagation of electromagnetic waves --most visibly, light-- and the motion of all matter that has ever existed in combination with all that will ever exist. Our thoughts themselves are part of a frenzy of matter and energy that extends from the irreducible to that which cannot be exaggerated.

Is there, in this endless ultimacy of motion, a point of rest? That is the question I address in this philosophical inquiry, this essay. My experiment begins with a Normaphoto:
It was taken a couple weeks ago of our seasonal decoration, a European Pine I bought and which Norma arranged threadbound balls around. She did this while stripping our reference books from the shelves and painting things. I was unmoved.

It did not stop there:

Some books disappeared into the pantry, others into Goodwill Industries. The shelves went from orange to white. A week is an interval of enigma, time. A week had passed. I was unmoved. According to experience and astrophysics, yet another week has passed and, except for refilling my wineglass...

...I am unmoved.

I have collated the data. There is only one possible conclusion, and it too is a question: Am I the one true fixed point in a chaotic universe? Not a chance, I only think I am (after enduring Norma's energetic paintbrush) and you should think you are too. After all, how long can the spirit of humankind ask itself, "What the hell am I doing in all these bodies?"

So, upon this astronomical and personal advent of winter solstice, so sacred to so many, I invite you and our upwards of 7 billion kindred --despite havoc others conduct around you-- to declare yourself a true fixed point in this chaotic universe as well...and to all, a good night.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sunday Sermon: Chance and a Favorite Song

Let's consider a song and a conversation. It was over 30 years ago. My kids liked the song, so did I. The song:

"Karma Chameleon", The Culture Club
We parsed it out:
"'...I'm a man without conviction,
I'm a man who doesn't know
How to sell a contradiction...
You come and go, you come and go.'

"In a biological sense there are tremendous odds against any individual getting born at all. Zygotes succeed under heavy competition, then undergo gestation, birth. Character begins. But what of preconception? Do we exist as certainty or possibility?"

"Maybe both?"

"Very good!  But let's not separate the idea of beginning from end."

"Perception of time?"

"Before getting born, we were at most only slightly inconvenienced by nonexistence. Then..."

"We get born and become ourselves, who we are. Then we die. That's awful."

"Not sure nonexistence would trouble us more after existing than before, but I get your point. We work hard on our whos."

"I'll say!"

"But what about, 'You come and go, you come and go.
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams:
Red, gold, and green, red, gold, and green.' Where does that come in?"

"Well, you're studying for your DMV test so you can drive the car. At an intersection, what do red and green lights mean to you?"

"Stop and go. What about gold?"

"Meter of the lyric needed one syllable, not two. The color is yellow, which means...?"

"Proceed with caution!"

"Exactly! Now you tell me, how would that change the world according to the song?

"'Ev'ry day is like survival.
You're my lover, not my rival.'
It means we shouldn't fight over things but get along and share what's good in our lives and in the world."

"And this unified factor of sharing? What's that?"

"You say it's love. You say we shouldn't fight over dumb stuff. You say nobody's influence ever ends. The song says we shouldn't consider others our rivals, but our companions in existence. So what about the video?"

"Well kids, video says there are cheaters and thieves in the world, and it's up to us to beware of them. They don't accept that the odds favor the house. What do you learn in physics class?"

"That the law of averages sooner or later produces extraordinary events."

"Precisely, go thou and do likewise!"

And they did!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Matchbook Mystery

Let's begin with a favorite tune, performed by the incomparable impressionist, Guy Marks:

video:Guy Marks, "Loving You Has Made Me Bananas"

The central phrase of this moving song is absquatulated from the obverse of  matchbook covers:
Ok, they used to say "close cover before striking", but "strike gently" is good too, especially if someone uses matchbook literature in future song lyrics. Gentleness is a strength in this modern world and one hopes everybody, if stricken at all, will be stricken gently and emerge wiser, kinder. Or it could refer to some aspects of martial arts like Kung Fu and Feng Shui, but I am not sure. I am content to live with the mystery, but this I cannot understand:

I have been a father since 1970 and a grandfather for 10 years, so the caution under the reverse striking strip is impossible. Decidedly there are certain children one should keep away from: ones with crazy business in their eyes who head-butt when they hug; those that leap up onto your lap with one knee out. But on the gentler side, I spent many years walking back and forth at all hours with babies crying into my left ear and singing "Old Man River" to them.

Video: Robeson, "Old Man River"
Daughter says she still gets unaccountably sleepy hearing magnificent Paul Robeson recordings or any tunes from "Show Boat".  The crying is probably why my left ear failed first --left-handed parents probably have the right ear go. I mean, they're right there on your shoulder. But high frequency hearing loss and tinnitus eventually claim both ears, which is why I left a fortune at a hearing doctor's office this week. There's no economy in a cheap audiologist.

By no means should the new matchbook warning be taken as absolute. Yes, protect your hearing, but never deprive children the privilege to screech in your ear. They need that to grow good. If you want to raise them up to good ideas, better futures, you must make auditory sacrifices and, when they come round to thanking you for being a good parent, remember to smile, nod, twinkle at them and say, "Hah?"

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fabulous Creatures #4: The Prime Fabulist

Some time back, (four years ago, I think), Luis Augusto Garcia Rosado, minister of tourism for the Mexican state of Campeche, said new evidence had emerged "...of contact between the Mayans and extraterrestrials, supported by translations of certain codices, which the government has kept secure in underground vaults for some time."

Some time.

He also spoke of "landing pads in the jungle that are 3,000 years old." Being of somewhat sensitive nature, I became alert for fabulous beasts. I do not know if these codices acknowledge any. They might. Nor do I know what Sr. Rosado meant by "some time". His government must have secured these documents at some specific date, and I am told by mathematicians that one may subtract such a date from the current date and get a specific span. I have used this little-known trick to find out how old I am (you can too, amaze your friends!).

Either no one thought to date materials in these vaults, or no one has dreamed up a date yet. Of the two possibilities, the former is least certain. Underground vaults are dark and it's hard to see what one ought to be writing. The date could be illegible. If there was a lot of cataloguing, repetition may have run to carelessness, much as most people's signatures degenerate, by and by, into lines of L's or M's. My own has been described as an ampersand evolving into a squirrel. Second possibility puts us on firmer ground. It also directs us to our fabulous beast.

It really does live in a vault, the cranial vault --very dark in there. I have included an artist's rendering of this beast (see above) --not because of any shortage of photographs but because artists' renderings of fabulous beasts are customarily more believable than photographs. This creature sits motionless, all huddled up with its parts tucked in. My guess is it's some kind of frog.
One might ask what it does in its cramped, unlit cell. Oh, it sometimes casually mentions 3000-year-old landing pads to stimulate tourism, but it does much more. It dreams, performs grand magic, loves, learns, calculates, plans and remembers. It transforms itself into whole worlds, travels the stars, makes wishes come true. One might also conclude, and rightly, that it is the prime fabulist from which all fabulous beasts spring --and has been for some time.

Some time.

There are those who will dismiss the prime fabulist as nonsense, who say there is no such creature. These people are called skeptics, and I can only suggest they get their heads examined. I'm a skeptic myself and that's how I found the thing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On Evil

In my great sense of urgency to write up this spiritual insurrection, I accidentally started it on another blogsite --"Gardening With Geo.-- an unsettling error which caused me to hit "publish" instead of whatever I should have hit. Excuse me. Here is the full text which I type while my mouth recovers.

What is evil? Is it the extra-conceptual opposite of good? Sure why not? Or is it? I have spent decades searching for a concise definition of extra-conceptual to no avail. Reason for that is the universe is a collective of all things, conceptual and extra-conceptual. Nobody knows what extra-conceptual is, so I will dismiss the term and get to the point. Point is, Norma handed me a chocolate and...

I read this on the label! 

Someone had infused my chocolate with CHILI !!! This is not only extra-conceptual, but extra-canonical  and extra-confusing as well. It was editorially excised from scripture by the Septuagint regarding Seth's first child, grandson of Adam and Eve. He lived a long life, over 900 years, and kept his mouth shut, however there remains one scrap of apocryphal record: "Mixeth thou not chili with chocolate, lest thy tongue cleave to thy palate and allow only utterance of 'Gna, gna, gna!'"

Understandably, the Septuagint was clearing out any evils that might compete with the snake in Eden, but they could have retained the chocolate-chili line as a cautionary measure. I am a modern man, who would probably NEVER --unless dared to by other snickering boys-- accept treats from a talking serpent, but willingly ingests things handed to me by my wife. Hmmmm, I have just had a revelation that demands I stop my sermon here and leave this weekend's service to some other substitute pastor. Go thou and do likewise.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How To Solve Unsolved Enigmas

1. Let us begin with the disappearance of Manners The Butler. As a child, I was fascinated by him --his politeness, poise and, for a man of his stature, surprising ability to comfort with paper products those to whom life had been discourteous. Observe:

YouTube, Manners
My more imaginative siblings opined Manners may have tried to demonstrate paper products for the kitchen or bathroom and disappeared down a drain. I, however, kept to the simplest explanation and believed the dog dragged him off. I did not trust the dog and would look closely at the screen to see if he had any business in his eye, but resolution was poor in the 1950s. Readers' theories on what transpired are welcome.

2. Our second example of unsolved enigma coincides with our first. I invite you to examine an illustration of a scene well over 200 years old. Why? Let me say simply that often, in investigation of an enigma, we find ourselves back where we started. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves back before we started and this is such a case. Observe:

Here we have a scene depicting the arrest of a franctireur, a sharpshooter, accused of being rather good with a musket during the Franco-Prussian War. Nonsense intrudes! As a young man I target-practiced with an antique flintlock from Napoleon's time and what with black powder igniting in the flashpan by my right eye and no rifling in the barrel, I was at a loss to hit anything I aimed at except by accident. Then between 10-15 minute muzzle-loads, I had to guesstimate charge, ramrod wadding, insert the ball, ram down more wadding to keep the ball from just rolling out and then adjust the flint-clamp until I got a spark out of it --followed by a report like two washtubs falling downstairs. This was no firearm for a sharpshooter. Ergo,  Johann Lasch's excellent tableau is somewhat romanticized. However, the dog is not.

I believe, after careful examination in good light, that the dog in Lasch's illustration is the same one found centuries later and suspected of carrying off Manners The Butler and throttling him --which gives onto our 3rd enigma.

3. Could this dog be an agent of household, domestic and international reform? Had Carl Johann Lasch or Kleenex followed the activities of this animal farther --perhaps to the savaging of obnoxious miniature butlers and arresting officers, might we not have a more accurate historical account? I welcome all help here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Minute Mystery With Lieutenant Fordney

As he questioned old Peacock, the butler, Lieutenant Fordney closely examined the foyer floor.

"These are the shoes your employer last wore?"

"Yes sir, he always removes them and places them side by side as he enters the house."

"And these gloves, lying two feet in front of them, they are also his?"

"Indeed, master generally crawls in and doffs them with a single masterly shrug."

"I see, and what caused you to fear something untoward had occurred?"

"Well sir," said Peacock,"as I opened the west windows that morning, I heard something in the garden next door."


"Thuds, sir."


"Indeed, a great many of them!"

There came a thudding knock at the door. Lieutenant Fordney opened it to find a portly politician panting upon the porch. "Good morning!" Bellowed the man,"I'm your candidate soliciting support on the Incendiary Anarchist Ticket. Please accept one of these very unsafe blazing oil-lanterns and remember me at the polls!"

"Thank you," said Lieutenant Fordney, "but just a moment. Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Thud, head of the large family of Thuds next door?"

"You do indeed, though how the devil you deduced it, I confess myself baffled!"

"My methods are my own, but I shan't detain you further. I perceive a plethora of porches you've yet to pant upon."

"Hah! Easy for you to say!" Thud shouted over his shoulder whilst thudding off down the street.

"And now, Peacock, tell me. In a house this large there must be many dangerously deep uncovered pits in dark hallways."

"Oh yes sir, ever so many!"

"In which of them does your master keep his luggage?"

"Why, in the deepest, darkest, least covered and most dangerous one. But how...?

"Quickly Peacock! Not a moment to be lost, and bring the lantern!"

They came upon the missing man precisely where Fordney reckoned him to be.

 "Aha," exclaimed Fordney. "The unfortunate fellow was trying to stuff his suit into a suitcase while he was still wearing it."

"Poor Master!" cried Peacock.

"Your concern is admirable, Peacock, but somewhat belated. You have been remiss in your duties!"


[Dear readers, this is traditionally where Minute Mysteries asks: why did Lieutenant Fordney suspect the butler of inefficiency? For the answer, read on.]

"Peacock, the illustration of our discovery is from a back number of  the Strand, dated May, 1893. Will you kindly read me the date over this blog post?"

"November, 2015, sir."

"Precisely, you were so preoccupied with local politics, eavesdropping on the Thud family next door, that you let 122 years slip by before consulting a criminologist, did you not?"

"Admittedly, I lost track of the time, sir, and concede it borders upon the inexcusable."

"There, there Peacock. Who's to say we could have helped had we only got here sooner? Incidentally, have you a ladder? I believe I hear your master asking for one."

"Oh, as do I! Thank you Lieutenant Fordney!"

" I'll see myself out. And Peacock, don't let it happen again!"

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Don Quixote

The Portuguese phrase, filho de algo, means "son of something". In Spanish, it is "hidalgo",  which means "gentleman". What did this title mean? It meant these sons of something didn't have to pay taxes. They were nobles. Miguel de Cervantes wrote a burlesque of nobility which, prior to its publication in 1605, was under serious popular discussion as a useless social stratum. It was entitled, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha. It was about an aging, delusional gentleman who resolved to become a knight errant and travel the world with horse and armor with the purpose of "redressing all manner of wrongs." Time for a Geodoodle:
My doodle is composed from castings and carvings from Spain. My mother was a teacher of languages and traveled extensively. She brought these back as gifts. But the doodle detail under this sentence addresses an ongoing enigma ---
---character.  Was Quixano a fool? Perhaps, but experience teaches that shielding people from all folly serves only to populate the world with fools. I do not think pursuit of chivalry --courtesy, valor, charity, skill at arms-- is foolish. Cervantes presented his Quixote as a fool, unhorsed, injured, caged, transported back to la Mancha (Sp., the Stain) and yet his character has captured imagination over 400 years. Observe and listen to a man of character who still performs his own compositions, even after illness and age have limited his voice --which I think is still more beautiful than most:

Gordon Lightfoot, "Don Quixote"

Admittedly, this performance three years ago in Reno, Nevada impressed me more than his earlier and more melodious renderings. Mainly because he resembles the character of Don Quixote more now. So do I. We age and understand more at the focal point of broader vistas. Certainly, it would not do to define character through too narrow an aperture. After all, how well could we describe the sky through a hole in the roof?

Sunday, October 18, 2015


It rained last night!
Normaphotos from this morning have taught me two things: sometimes even drought-dwellers must be patient for rain; although the clouds evaporated in morning light, 

it is time to think about bucking firewood again --which makes two things I know and that is a great mental burden right now. Yet, it is time to post, nothing strictly scheduled --I am retired-- but a feeling left by recent enigmatic disturbances to my innards, to which an old essay called out and imposed itself upon the present. Considering the tenor of my previous post, I thought it apposite to trot out this entry from 2011:

There is an ancient therapeutic art that predates Yoga, Tai Chi and certainly the medical philosophy of Galen. Its origin is shrouded in prehistory but is rediscovered by every generation. It may not even be a human invention because animals and insects practice it as a general thing. Even plants organize seasonal frenzies of it. It is called waiting.

Consider the specimen pictured above. In the background we can barely make out an orange extension cord where he has been running a saw. There is evidence also that he has been splitting logs with sledge and wedge. There is a battered yellow wheelbarrow with nothing in it. This means he's in the middle of a chore. Why is he sitting down? He is waiting.

Notice the traditional posture --gloves in hand, sitting forward, marginally alert expression. Notice also the official, all-weather waiting machine he sits on, and over which he demonstrates such mastery. Obviously a skilled practitioner. He is waiting until he feels like going back to work. That could take a while, so let us examine the history of this discipline.

When we don't feel well, we get medicine. Medical science, as we know it, has advanced to quite a complicated thing, commensurate with the increasing complexity of disease. But there was a time when the only communicable distemper was fleas. The treatment was waiting, waiting until they went away or until one got used to them. And there was, we can be historically certain, even a time before that.

It was during that remote golden age that waiting-therapy was practiced and perfected for its own sake. One withdrew from the challenges of primordial life by sitting down and waiting until one's spouse came out taking snapshots and asking where the firewood is. Careful attention to this essay provides a reply of unimpeachable authority: "wait a while".

The therapy discussed here has existed longer and adapted itself more universally to modern medicine than any other. You will not find clinical space devoted to later methods of mental and physical therapy in every medical establishment, but by golly you'll always find a waiting room.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Darwin Doorbooger Returns!

Some of you may recall an old post about Darwin Doorbooger, a little treefrog who explained the cognitive nuances of OBE (Out of Body Experience). I am pleased to report he has returned, perched upon a stalk of Dallisgrass and available for photographs.
"Hello, Darwin."

"Hello Geo.!"

"Did you hop onto that tightrope or are you in the middle of crawling on it?"

"I'm just sitting here, waiting."

"Waiting for bugs, I bet."

"Bugs would be good, perhaps a nice ant-trail. How have you been?"

"Not bad for a human my age. I've had tinnitus for four months."

"I know. I can hear it."

"Yes, I remember, you hear the brains of others in the absence of your own. But why have you quit the pumphouse door for this precarious perch?"

"Just showing off. Can Norma take a photo of me here?"

"Of course. But Darwin, why there?"

"Consider it a test of balance. I wanted to see if I could do it. Let me explore your memory. Hmmm, interesting. 40 years ago you were in an alley..."

"Yes, a studio that gave onto an alley. I restored artwork there. I don't do that now."

"Don't you? Consider this photo from a recent poem illustration:"
"Okay. explain."

"Easier, Geo., if we just compare it to the original:"
"Oh my. Yes, well there were lots of street signs..."

"One of which was growing out of your collar and into your right ear. That can't have helped your tinnitus."

"It is often an ailment of unknown etiology, Darwin. Its symptoms constitute an enigma."

"Best addressed by...?"

"So far, by maintaining a policy of inquiry --like a detective story-- and..."

"Balance, Geo.? Balance?"


"And, Geo., if you can paint out streetlights and signs..."

"...I can perhaps mask this dialtone in my head?"

"You said it, gong-boy, not me. Why, I believe I saw an ant! Bye. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Then, Then It Will Be Autumn

To the California gardener, autumn means topiary lasts longer because shrubs begin to behave. To the retired gardener, it means excellent Cabernet from Lodi --25 miles from here-- to be opened in the afternoon as October fills the kitchen window. The photo below shows a specimen doing just that. It is a bit blurry because he doesn't have his glasses on. 

Our specimen will take his glass of wine and repair to the back porch.

And there, he will listen to one of his favorite vocalists, a polyglot who sings to a world, she who does not hold back while light rusts and tide rushes in. She is the voice of autumn who sings from the heart (and who, despite rumor, does not gargle with Dutch Cleanser). And yes, mais oui, in the back porch he will doodle!

YouTube,Bonnie Tyler "Louise"

He will doodle the waking of the dinosaurs, which always happens in the fall.
Then, then it will be autumn!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Sermon Driven Coastal By Asynchronicity

Events begin and continue in a sea of meaningful groupings of acausal events. This is called synchronicity by quantum physicists. Let us examine this phenomenon and its neglected attendant, asynchronicity --which nobody knows what it is yet and neither do I because I'm not even done with the topic paragraph. Pretty sure it began Thursday night.

Thursday night, I couldn't connect to the internet. Picked up the landline phone --no dial tone. Went out to the junction box to bypass any house-snafus and got no tone out there either. I called our phone company, Frontier Communications. Frontier is a Scandinavian outfit but I was able to get an American dispatcher. She was in Indiana. I told her my problem and was assured someone would be over in the morning. I opened the front gate at 7 a.m.

At 8 a.m. a white truck drove in. Guy got out, said "Morning! I'm Jay." We shook hands.

"I'm Geo."

He said, "I know." and followed me indoors. He told us he'd found a problem with the relay station down by the bridge and jury-rigged it before coming over --but also found our modem and router outdated and replaced them with a new device with wi-fi built-in. Then told us he didn't work weekends but would return to the relay station Monday to make adjustments. He handed me his card and said "Call me if anything else goes haywire."
He drove off. I went in and asked Norma to photograph Jay's card:

"Impressive name."

"That much is certain.  I never dreamed Frontier had that kind of pull!

Monday, we drove into San Francisco by this bridge:
We booked our favorite room at The Great Highway Inn. As E.M. Forster would say, it has a "view":
It is also within strolling distance of our son's place, where he and his mother speculated on the activities of helicopters over the area, followed by fire engine sirens. I assisted in these observations whenever my sight-seeing pursuits permitted:
Next morning, Tuesday --today, Norma and he took a hike up to Lands End and saw evidence of recent crisis --a 36-foot sailboat ruining in the surf:
Helicopters, Fire Department, and Rangers managed to rescue both men from the boat, and their dog. Miracles sometimes take a lot of concerted effort. When we drove out of San Francisco, Norma took a photo as we emerged from a tunnel ahead of the Golden Gate. I have added a few stars to make it look like we were en route  to a lovely blue planet.
My thoughts were on the internet and whether or not Jay had been able to fix the problem down by the little bridge on our road. Norma thought he would. I was pretty certain. As evidenced by this post appearing at all, it would seem our faith was justified.

I'd like to thank anybody in the congregation for remaining in their pews since Sunday. Your regular pastor will return after dealing with possible boat-theft charges.Until then, go thou and do likewise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumn Equinox

Once again, I looked into the bathroom mirror this morning and found some new kind of idiot.
So I proceeded  to our back porch and admired the new washing machine, delivered two days ago. We indulge this craving for new appliances --whether we need them or not-- every 20 years or so. I was understandably surprised when the machine said gangster-like from the corner of its mouth , "You're no idiot, seee? You just can't think of anything to write."

"I could write about you, call you Edward G. Washingmachine and put a cigar in your mouth, right there where that gap is in the corner."

"But you won't, because..."

"It would be disrespectful. Robinson was an admirable man. He collected art but always said art collected him. He was extremely talented, spoke seven languages.  He felt every role he assumed professionally was a big responsibility..."

"And don't forget."

"Don't forget what?"

"That old story..."

"Oh (how could I?), the kid in the 1950's who had to take an a plane trip back to his family. He boarded the plane and the only seat available was next to Edward G. Robinson, who calmed the kid down, was kind to him and, after the plane landed, waited with the kid until his family showed up to collect him."

"Yeah n'yeah, now you're talkin'"

"Just one other thing. You don't have to answer..."

"Kid, In two days I've seen enough of your dirty laundry to know you're on the up and up. Ask."

"That last film in '73, Soylent Green, about global warming --You did a death scene. Did you know?"

"Know that I'd do a real one two weeks later? Don't be an idiot. Important thing is you turned out alright. Now go on outside and see what Norma arranged for the equinox. I may not be around any more but I still know what art is. Get!"

I got:
And I too know what art is.

To all, a pleasant autumn.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Field Theory Enigma

The picture above is in part a tribute to my favorite brew which, according to the label has come from St. James's Gate in Dublin since 1759.This brings us to the clip below, and to the mystery that follows it.
Clip is also about corned beef and cabbage, but this essay will be confined to musical theory, pubs and the act of skipping. Strife flees a jolly polka and polkas involve lots of skipping. This is one from "John Field Suite" --arranged by Hamilton Harty. It may not originally have been composed for Guinness. It is about skipping from pub to pub. Upon opening a second stout, it is obvious the piece is further reducible.

It is just about skipping.

One cannot listen to Harty's "John Field Suite" without wanting to skip. Even those who question the logic of skipping, who have not skipped since childhood, must at least imagine skipping to the music. It contains a message from outside time and space. We all do. One is assembled around them. One is born into the world with eternal truths at one's core. If you play the whole piece, you'll find an accelerating tempo near the end that will cause you to skip around in circles and fall down. This too is an eternal truth.

I posted the clip several years back, along with some other cheerful tunes by various artists, but I checked and YouTube now responds with a message: "Sorry, this video no longer exists." Existence can be unreliable, but it's prudent to make sure. I will use still photos. One video involved the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra tuning up for 16 seconds --long enough to perceive an enigma.

Here is a photo of their home venue in New York, Kleinhans Music Hall. The problem is obvious in it too. A conspicuous absence suggests the orchestra has misrepresented itself.

No Buffaloes! 

One dreams of the conductor hiking out to the paddock and herding these talented creatures onto the stage to perform on their instruments. One travels clear to New York, filled with admiration for musical buffaloes, and sadly finds no sign of them, only human musicians . An examination of the photo shows the surrounding grass devoid of hoof-prints.
There is, however, a field --a continuity. Indeed, clues come from within, and should the reader wish to pursue this one further, to unlock the enigmatic importance of  Fields,  I would suggest a study of  Sir Neville Marriner. Fields are so important to him, he has never consented to conduct The Academy Of St. Martin anywhere else.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What Is Summer Anyway?

I like dragonflies, even if one of them is really plastic and I don't know which. This why I don't do self-portraits. I also blame hot weather, which has a strange effect on any enterprise that distracts one from it.
 It is September, yet the pumphouse thermometer looks like this:
I tapped on it, tried to believe it is in error. After all, weather news predicted only 108F for today. Should I blame meteorologists? Even as my brains evaporate I know I can't expect people who study meteors to reliably predict Earth-weather. So I doodled a dragonfly and stuck it up top because I like dragonflies and they are even more confused by protracted summer than I. What is summer anyway?

I will try to find some answers indoors.

Summer is Normagardenart, which I do like. Here is what she calls, "Mikhail Baryshnibeet":
She also set an old jug on a ladder: 

She painted our front fence. I like our front fence.

And she Normaphotoed the August sky--some of the clouds are on fire:
So I guess there are some things to like about summer --especially staying indoors and writing about it.
So what is summer anyway? My theory --which meteorologists would doubtless verify if I went and asked them in this heat-- is the Perseid Meteor Shower (every August) impacts the Sun, diverts it and causes it to pass between Earth and the Moon. Sometimes, however, there are so many rocks up there, the whole operation gets stuck until they grind and melt away, which is why it's still 110 degrees in September. This is a sound theory, unencumbered by awkward logic and, as I intimated to Pearl, earlier this evening, after cryotherapy my cranial remains are quite satisfied with it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Enigma of Favorite Things

It is September and I don't know what to write. I like this month --some favorite people were born in it-- but the heat is lingering and leaves still cling green to trees. When all sensible topics are exhausted, I usually go straight for the gub'ment --but believe I've done that elsewhere, so I will write about, eh, my socks. Ok, maybe my hat too. And perhaps close with a lyric I heard decades ago that has not lost its novelty. Surely that's enough for a scholarly essay and enough said.

We are emerging from a very hot summer. But yes, we triumph! And I come away from it with something to wear, something that shouts all the pent-up sounds my poor sun-grilled emotions would like to inflict upon this season while my beloved California is still a drought --a drought that is on fire!
True, they are cartoon noises, not actual violence, but latently --with trousers and shoes-- and overtly with tucked-in pajamabottoms, they give me great pleasure, printed with such  onomonopoetic words as Kapow, Splat, Whack and Zaaap. They are an excellent product of the Sock it to me company, which also makes Cockadodoodledoo socks...
...and moustache socks (oh gosh have you ever tried to type in this position?)...

...but, best of all, like my Einstein socks (from Socksmith)...
...and Spock Socks (from Threadless)...
...they arrive each Fathers Day in June by post from my beautiful, intelligent Daughter who knows me so well. Another favorite thing is a hat from my Son. It is a very classy hat.
It has got a lot of use lately. Three days ago I visited my doctor about something alarming --recently revealed by my receding hairline. He got out his spray-can of liquid nitrogen and chased me around the room with it. He only caught me twice but it was enough cryotherapy to cause complaints of temperature plunges two buildings away. It left me with a frozen-head thing that panicked children and stampeded cattle. Yes, I live in the wild west --an enterprise full of strange history and outrageous misfortunes-- but a prescient son provided crainial coverage that spared this region further trauma.

As to "Favorite Things", a charming song from The Sound Of Music, I, like Audrey Forbes-Hamilton --a comedic character I enjoyed 35 years ago and can't find anymore-- invariably confuse the lyric with Berthold Brecht's. Threepenny Opera. My attempt: When the shark bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling down, I think of a few of my favorite things and Mackey's back in town.

A cooling, pleasant and happy September to all.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

What To And NOT To Name The Baby

It is a fact of modern life that each generation names its babies according to trends. First noticed it in the 1960s when toddlers were introduced as Cloud and Tree. Not so bad. Then, in the '70s, I saw babies with t-shirts that read "Little Monster" across the chest --seemed unkind, but a name's a name. There's no consistency to this trend. In the '80s and '90s I could walk into a crowded room, call a trendy name and everybody under 20 would turn around and say "What?"

Now it is 2015 and I see titles identical to the one over this essay trying to standardize the practice. They appear on news sites and doubtless offer good counsel, but it is not enough. By the principle of nomenclature, we must consider the future into which children carry these burdens...and then what of their  children? Oh, it's too much. I must retire to the Pumphouse and meditate. Excuse me.

Pumphouse offered numerous suggestions for future trendy names. So far I favor this one:
It has some dignity to it and echoes a great love story --even though I believe the picture is not of Queen Victoria's beloved Albert. But Albert is a fine name and should be considered by all future parents. Some were less romantic...
WD could be a ready-made name for a corporate head. Questions? Run them past good old WD, the only administrator who gives you a straight answer, takes responsibility and sticks to sound principles! And yet, and wonders what happened to the other 39 WDs. There's rumors running 'round the company you know. About what?

Why, about WD's cohorts and toadies like...
WD sends Gunk after blockages in the system and, next day, they're gone. Production doesn't always increase but management smiles and winks a lot. It's scary. Don't name your kid WD or Gunk!

Pumphouse then suggested...

But Roach Bait has been pretty much out of work since pot got at least partially legalized and would be a poor name choice. However, Max Attrax strikes me as ready-made for a modeling career.

Rid-X is Pumphouse's second-to-last suggestion, one I consider a stretch of speculative futurity. Say, someday we are invaded and overrun by some unknown interplanetary mischief called X --by scientists, astronomers and algebra teachers. A dual enzyme action hero arises, Rid-X! --scourge of chunks plugging the substrates of our world's systems. It could happen...and if some forward-thinking parents name their kid Rid-X, the future is at least half saved already. But I'm most impressed by Pumphouse's closing recommendation:
This is a device I've only replaced three times in the past 35 years. It attaches to the holding tank and to the 220volt line that dives far into the planet to actuate our submersible pump. When the tank achieves a pressure of 45 psi, it shuts everything off. When pressure falls to 20 psi, it turns everything on again. It is one of the most reliable devices on earth. I rank it right up with my Saint Jude Cardiac Pacemaker, which also must be replaced every ten years. So, pursuant to my Pumphouse meditations, I would encourage young parents to name their kids Square D --or Saint Jude.

Ok, maybe Albert.

Note: All the fine products in this scholarly essay were trotted out and photoed by my webcam. No disparagement is intended. They are kept on reserve in our pumphouse because they actually work and often exceed the promises of their advertisements.