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Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I am pleased to have again been tagged by Lady Austan because she can make up 11 really good questions. Terms of Bloggertag are that one invites people to answer, then make up new questions and tag others. I have always liked tag.

I went to college on a tag scholarship. Actually, it was a combined tag and pillowfighting scholarship. I was well-trained in both. The two sports demand comparable proficiency in organization, strategy and skill. More about that later. Right now, let's attend to Austan's questions:

1. What was the last movie you watched?

"Mr. Baseball", starring Tom Selleck and Aya Takanashi

2. Did you go to a theatre or watch a dvd?

I watched it on streaming Netflix. It was made in 1992 but I hadn't seen it before last night.

3. What's the new movie you want to see?

They make new movies?

4. Always buy munchies at the theatre or smuggle them in?

I buy them. It helps keep all the workers employed.

5. Pay full price, hit the matinee, rent or buy?


6. What movie actor/actress do you make a point to always catch?

Harry Goaz /Anitra Ford

7. What's your favorite movie of all time?

"Stairway To Heaven", with David Niven and Kim Hunter. Here is the opening scene. Visual gets better after a few seconds. Do yourself a favor and watch the whole 6+ minutes:

 8. Do you have a special movie memory (a first date, e.g.)?

 Yes,  a movie date in 1966. I believe we saw "Georgy Girl".

9. What's the worst movie you ever saw?

"Frankenstein Island" was so bad it was fascinating. But as far as totally pretentious pieces of nonsense go, "Barbarella".

10. Do you watch the credits?

Yes, on the first or second viewing. They go by so fast though!

11. What movie have you seen the most times and how many times have you watched it?

I've probably seen "The Wizard Of Oz" 10 times by myself, 10 times with company, 20 times with the kids and 40 times I've forgotten about.

Because tag was so difficult to referee and pillow fights required special equipment --pillows-- these two popular college sports gradually, over a considerable span of 10 or 15 minutes during my freshman year, dissolved into the philosophy department and lost their league standing. This is reflected in my choice of 11 questions which, according to my education, are sports-related.

1. If our memories are only long enough to remember themselves, do we pre-exist them?

2. Is living as if there is no tomorrow enviable yesterday?

3.There's a word for hypochondriacs but what do we call people with delusions of wellness?

4. When a child asks, "If I'm four years old, how old is that?", what is the correct answer?

5. Can you do nothing if you've already done it?

6. Nothing and anything are so dissimilar they are practically two different things. Would they be if they weren't already?

7. If, every time something happens, the universe is redefined, how is it affected when nothing happens?

8. When our costumes come off, are we sometimes just laundry?

9. Is it possible, perhaps by some advance in electrolysis or politics, to gold-plate a fart?

10. Even a perfect universe depends upon entropy for the progress of time. Does this mean perfection includes imperfection?

11. How tall should I be?

As to the last bit of this process, inviting others to answer my questions, I have decided to follow my conscience. The decline and absorption of college pillowfighting alarms me. Rather than lose its venerable athletic traditions entirely to philosophy, I will employ its central rule of propagation here. Instead of tagging individual targets, consider this a general pillow-bopping. I invite all to answer these questions. Remember the team motto: Sometimes one must be masterful and not nervous about details. Let detail feathers fly!

Monday, May 28, 2012

14 Of 10 Things

The excellent and kindly chronicler, Lily Tequila, has awarded me a corrected version of Kreativ Blogger, to which I've added the above multiplier, x2. Reason is, I thought it called for 10 self-expository items when I dealt with it earlier this month, but it only wants seven. Seven twice-applied makes 14, which left me 4 short. The four items in this post may seem like foreshortened compliance but, on closer inspection, will be seen to settle things.

1. I don't usually care for music videos but I like Bonnie Tyler and I like old scuttled ships. Sometimes you get a ship and a voice rusted to perfection simultaneously. Less often, you get Bonnie Tyler singing half of "Louise" in French. This collection of rarities is combined here:

2. My other favorite video defines the harmonic possibilities of an Old Testament disaster. Americans sound funny. We know we sound funny but can't help it. Not our fault, it's God's. When the Tower Of Babel fell, and language got confounded, Welsh got all consonants, Hawaiians just got vowels and mainland Americans got flat, nasal inflections. Nobody demonstrates American intonation and diction better than Adriano Celentano in "Prisencolinensinainciusol" --I find the words very moving:

3. I like oddities. Friend Wendy sent an old picture yesterday on her 34th wedding anniversary. Norma and I were on the left with our oldest boys. Group represents a century's immigrants --Portuguese, Italian etc., all of whom recall the childhood shock of meeting little schoolfriends' grandparents and hearing them speak perfect English. Gallimaufry of occupations: gardener, nuclear medicine technologist, grocery clerk, x-ray technician, deli-chef, police detective etc. in karass. But the greatest oddity is all three of these couples are still together. Long time. How long? If you subtract Wendy's 34th (anniversary) from this year, 2012,you get uh...78. Wow, 78 years!

4. I'm no good at math. I do, however, have a favorite math problem, one solved by syllogism in Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary: If 60 men with 60 shovels can dig 60 fencepost holes in 60 seconds, how long would it take them to dig one hole?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Atom Brain Or Is Psychology Science Or Science, Psychology, hah?

Psychology presumes the existence of a brain, and presumption is a very unscientific thing to predicate a science on, isn't it? Puzzling development. It forces us to consider two important questions. First, where does science come from? Short answer is it comes from the brain. The brain composes science. There is no long answer.

Second question: how does a thing that composes science compose a science of itself? To answer this, we must determine what science is. Here is a detailed chart:

The above is derived from the philosophy of Empiricists, an impressive list of thinkers that begins with Aristotle and winds up around John Stuart Mill. I believe Hume did the lettering and Berkeley added the pretty colors. It took them 2000 years to produce this chart, so be careful with it.

The Scientific Method is a logical sequence of six procedures: identification of a problem, research, hypothesis (educated guess), experiment (fun part because it can include explosions), analysis (seeing what blew up) and conclusion. I shall discuss this Method because one can streamline the process with minimal sacrifice of empirical protocol. It is done semantically and one needn't trouble with technical knowledge of the universe beyond basic grammar. So I can do it.

Here's how. You take the first empirical step, Purpose, and figure out that it means stating a problem. In language, that's called a question. Example: Do I have a brain? Then you skip down to the sixth and last step, drop interrogative punctuation and transpose the subject and verb. You get the following declarative sentence: I do have a brain. That's known as a Conclusion.

Now that we've scientifically proven the existence of the brain, we could use the same method to pursue the logical second question, a question --I might add-- asked by every inquisitive kid in the 1950s: Can I have an ATOMIC BRAIN please? We could use empiricism but this works too:
Ok, it's movie poster. Me and my brother, Frankie, went to see this film in 1956 or 7 and haven't seen it since but it left an impression. I remember it was about a mad scientist and some guys. Mad scientist used mad science to stick atomic brains in the guys. Then the guys would lumber around crashing through walls and doors to get victims who'd fall on the floor and yell. It was a great film!

Frankie and I went home and drew big stitches on our foreheads. We lumbered around the yard and crashed into things. We'd go, "sshhkkkrrrrssshhh!!! That's a wall! We got ATOMIC BRAINS!" The cats and chickens were afraid of us. They ran like hell.

Now I hear psychologists and physicists have reached theoretical confluence. It is possible the human brain exploits some form of quantum coherence. This is promising, not only in redefining memory as a sensory perception of subjective pasts --real time travel-- but in more deliberate investigation of various types of telepathy. This is not merely progress; it's a new possibility of existence.

My brother and I, however, would recommend stitch marks more erasable than ballpoint pen ones.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Having recently found a rare whole map (above) of the Ponderosa Ranch I decided it's time to write about Bonanza. It was a cowboy show that aired Sunday nights. It was very popular and well-done except for a stubborn technical problem shown in the following clip:

The show ran 14 years and every week the map caught fire. After several years, by 1962 or 3, it was noticeable. No reason was ever given for it. And because Bonanza dealt with issues neglected by other oaters, no one investigated these regular mapfires. They became an unexamined enigma, until now, but before I proceed let's briefly discuss the show.

The Ponderosa Ranch, as we can now see from a whole map, began at Lake Tahoe and stretched upward over a region now known as Nevada, Idaho, Canada and the North Pole. It was occupied and run by the Cartwright family, consisting of four men. No women. This was because people were less complicated then and used to reproduce by binary fission. Pa Cartwright would simply pinch another Cartwright off himself as needed.

Due to the size and location of the ranch, travelers frequently crossed it. Each week a stranger would arrive at the ranch house in a covered wagon, on foot, horseback, or by buckboard behind a stocky cob. They all had problems. Bonanza was a western that turned upon human problems: inferiority complexes, abusive relationships, racial prejudice, post-Civil War trauma, women's independence and families in need. Even age discrimination-- I remember one episode where they helped old Sheriff Coffee catch bank robbers by making the Virginia City Bank escape proof.

I recall Bonanza discussions on my Monday morning school bus ride. The show encouraged thoughtfulness and tolerance. But one grows up and gets to thinking about burning maps, don't one? Over the years I have dismissed many theories and settled upon the most promising line of cartographic research.

Bonanza was set in the late 1860s, a primitive era during which trees were still built entirely of wood. To give them weight and substance, many frontier varieties --especially pine, which figure abundantly in the map-- were filled with oil and resin. Unlike their more bombacaceous counterparts in the south and east, they were not water-filled and suffered greater flammability. Hence the piney high Sierras --and the Ponderosa too-- were horrendous fire-traps. Mapmakers of the time marked this danger by adding phosphorous to their iron and oak-gall inks to indicate the danger. Unfold a map and those parts catch fire.

In closing, I cannot fault the technical staff of that dear old show for simply adhering to authenticity. One might suggest a bit of explanation on their part would've helped, but the sheer stunning insightfulness of their work renders all further commentary inadequate.

Monday, May 14, 2012

1st Half Of 10 Things

One of my favorite writers, Susan Flett Swiderski, has invited me via the symbol above to share 10 personal things. I accepted without thinking what I might share, but accepted, so there it is. More I thought about it, the more "weary, flat, stale and unprofitable" I became to myself and more determined not to inflict these echoes of Hamlet's soliloquy upon others. But the solution was obvious(or should be to any guy): stop thinking; do it two installments. So here is a list derived not from thought but from a succession of irritable mental gestures --much like some presidential administrations.

1. It has been well-established that I like westerns. Less established is whether or not I like theme-music to westerns. That is because most scores go "duh-whoop-a-doopity-clippity-clop and are not very likable. Or they are products of multiple orchestras reved to full tilt and volume promising impossible widescreen vistas including Texas, Arizona, Wyoming and Pluto in every range war.

2. Theme music I DO like must contain two elements, excitement and kindness. These are the essential qualities of heroic action. No opening theme ever did it better than this:
You can hear kindness, excitement and gentle humor in every note.

3. I like Amazons. Even though Amazons of myth were considered very dangerous, I believe they had their reasons. Their empire was regularly invaded by armies of men who dashed through and left all the toilet seats up. There were Greek love stories about Amazons, Heracles and Theseus, but there's also historical reference to Amazons helping Trojans in their war against Greece. So I don't know if they were entirely mythical.

4. I do know television brought Amazons into the heroic archetype of humor and kindness with the show, Wonder Woman, starring Lynda Carter: Despite being formidable, well-armed and more athletic than the badguys, Lynda Carter has one of the kindest faces I've ever seen.

5. A nation of one gender, even a mythical one, suggests need for an enlightened definition of marriage. I have been to weddings. Almost invariably, they begin with an officiator who says marriage is an institution of divine appointment, is commended as honorable and is very very serious stuff, then asks, "Do you solemnly swear that you accept this person as etc." Then the other person is charged to "solemnly swear" in return. What this builds up into is well-dressed, nervous but otherwise lovely people in front of everybody solemnly swearing at each other. So I'm at least with the president in support of more gaiety at these functions. I think true love, in all its forms, is a force we deny at our collective peril.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Rose

[Norma photo]
The rose is a very dramatic flower.

There, I've said it! And I am still a man.

I am a typical American of my time, who grew up watching oaters on UHF (ultra high fructose) TV stations full of strong, silent role models. Drama was left to the female lead, whose difficult job it was to elicit heartfelt responses from Gary-Cooper-quiet heroes who often really were Gary Cooper. It went like this:

Rose: Don't go, Tex, oh don't go.

Tex: Gots to go, Rosie.

Rose: But the Driscoll gang'll get you.

Tex: Mehbee...

I should mention here that bad-guys were pretty much always Driscolls in old westerns, and the most repeated line was,"C'mon out, Driscoll!" Then you'd get 15 minutes of bullets ricocheting off a big rock in the dusty yard of a clapboard cabin. My theory is these scenes have historical root in a real Driscoll family that conducted a similar argument in Ogle County, Illinois, in the 1840s. It is a cautionary tale, like the Bible's story of Rebekah's contentious twins, of what can happen when family counseling is delayed.

Tex:....mehbee not.

Rose: But Tex, I...I love you, you big galoot.

Tex: Aw, Rosie.

Rose: Just come back to me.

Tex: Aw Rosie. Yuh give me the goldurned emotions!

Tex rides away, of course. Rose clasps her little fists under her quivering chin and walks back to the one-room school house --Rose is always the schoolmarm. We follow Tex into a chaotic universe, but Goethe and Rollo May have assured us nature throws its assisting forces behind the individual who begins a constructive cycle. Tex enters the fray, same fray I saw in most every western that raised me, and brings himself back. We're not so sure his methods were suitable for a general American, or global, rosy future, but he won and he's a hero. I'm a little male kid and think, "Wow, we're not so different: he puts his hat on one leg at a time, just like me!"

The rose is a beautiful, dramatic flower. But beauty and drama can cover the secret, injurious nature of reality. The hero is quiet, strong, possessed of an uncomplicated mind, a mind in which secrets are safe. But what can be more dangerous than what we withhold from each other --perhaps secrets the mind keeps from itself? Ooh ooh! He's riding back up to the school house. Rosie runs out. They share a long mindless period of eye-contact.

Tex: Aw, I reckon I love you too.

Now what was I thinking about drama, vigilantism, morality and the mind? I forget.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Personal '60s #2

[Norma photo]
One internalizes eras. Back in my 59th year I realized my personal 60s weren't far off and it struck a chord deep within me, so I retired and haven't done a lick of work in three years. I feel better already.

There is a picture in my previous post of me in an oak in the 1960s --an era, a time internalized. The picture in this post shows it is also a time externalized. I now resemble the tree more than the young man in the old photo. So I let people climb me and sit on me, but only nearly weightless people like my grandson, Noah. We watched him today while his brother won a spelling bee. Looks like the Time Ghost (or Zeitgeist, thanks Austan) is correcting my genetic inability to spell a word the same way once.

Noah sat on the 60s in our old back porch. The 60s read him the funnies, with special attention to Mark Trail by Jack Elrod. Andy, the Saint Bernard, jumps on the bad guy even though all the guys, good and bad, in Mark Trail look like Mark Trail with different hairdos --sometimes very subtle differences-- but Andy always knows. When he jumps on them, the bad guys always say, "What th'...oof!"

Noah said, "Oof !"

We looked out at roses, iris, lavender, lamb's ear and an airborne speck enlarging from the woody end. A mockingbird arrived at the bird bath. Noah watched it splash and drink. He watched it flutter onto the pumphouse roof and go "TWEET". Noah pointed at it. He said, "Weet?"

Bird launched into his song, his catalogue of imitations. And I told Noah what they are and what it means to all sorts of birds that visit the yard and listen to the mockingbird's report: dove-coo means lazy cats that leave low nests alone; tree frog means good bugs in abundance and few snakes; owl-hoot means minimal egg-mouse disasters; percolating quail announces no dog. So maybe this is a good place to live.

I tell little Noah about the mockingbird much as the oak tree once tried to tell me about the infinite divisibility of time.


Hello Futurepeople!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Personal 60s #1

[Carli photo of young Steeley and Geo.; Geo. poem 1969]
Now that I am firmly entrenched in my own personal 60s, I suppose it's inevitable I go somewhat archival. Picture above was taken near the close of the general '60s, the 1960s, the poem written shortly after. It was taken somewhere along California's American River, where I would escape to from cities where much had to be done that left one unsettled. I see I have riding boots on and had grown my own cowboy hat.

Understand, it's been more than twice the number of years since this was taken than I was old at the time. Still, I credit young Geo. with enough sense to address the future, even though he overestimated its interest. The '60s are as remote to the current generation as Edwardian times were to his. My father was born the year Edward VII (and Mark Twain, whose journey-work coursed a greater American river) died. And yet, and yet, the suffragist movement was at its height in 1910. In the words of one of its most articulate proponents, Wm. Lloyd Garrison: "I am in earnest--I will not equivocate--I will not excuse--I will not retreat a single inch--and I will be heard."

No expiration date on those words.

I don't often indulge in '60s memories. There were too many disappointments, tragedies, disillusionments --too many sell-outs and way too many casualties. But the following clip kept me reamazed enough to escape the negative associations that usually attend '60s reverie. Certainly, "Sunny Goodge Street" was recorded by some wonderful artists, not the least of whom was Donovan Leitch, its composer. But nobody captured the surreal intensity of its lyrics like Canadian singer, Tom Northcott :

I was refreshed by it and glad to have been in that confluence of sound economy and positive vibes. There was a lot to do and we made it look like a lot more fun than it really was. We dressed funny. We grew hair. We made a nationwide clown that danced and capered and showed how ridiculous a war was. Then, thanks in part to Nixon of all people --who was brought along by Ike, so maybe not so strange-- that war ended.

And because of the '60s: Some of it was was wonderful. Some of it was horrible. I was in San Francisco, Chicago, Berkeley. How I ended up a hick again escapes me, but this little production reminded me of personal decisions and commitments that still reverberate --some fine things that got to happen and lovely people who got to live because of what we did.

Question is, now that there's need of it, can we build a clown that big again?