Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Down Another Rabbit Hole

I checked back through some posts of my recent past. It seems I have actually been somewhat successful in staying away from writing about politics, religion, healthcare; you know, all the fun stuff to rant, rave and get my panties in a twist over.

Recent posts have found me writing about dreams, my union experience, Anarchy, my wife, a historical fiction piece about a friend in college who was gay; the angry political hyperbole is almost nonexistent these past few weeks.

That I have been able to bring my righteous indignation down from the roar it was to a more subdued seething anger is a victory for me. I am grateful. There is so much more to living than just being publicly pissed off all the time. 

For instance - The Semicolon, that much maligned and misunderstood grammatical red haired stepchild of the Grammar Kingdom. I recently began adding them into my writing. I had an idea of their connecting qualities from my days in the classrooms of my youth. Today I thought I might want to double check what I thought a semicolon was and what the Internet says it is. As it turns out, I have been mostly using them correctly. That's fine with me because "mostly" means I am adhering to the rigid rules of grammar better than I usually do.

While I am on this grammar kick, I thought I'd run through some of the other bedrock grammar celebrities to see if I still understood their purpose and how to actually incorporate them into my writing. Again, "mostly" is the high bar here but I'll settle for "sometimes" most days. When I am in a drunken stupor, or high on cannabis in one of its many manifestations, I will often settle for "barely legible". I was born a loose dog and that is one habit I won't bother trying to fix at this late date.

When I was a kid in class, I had some trouble with certain grammar definitions. One of the ones I had memorable trouble with was understanding and retaining the purpose of an "Adverb". I missed many questions about adverbs on the many pop quizzes, real tests, and stand in front of the class and embarrass myself moments in fifth grade. The teacher knew they were a weakness of mine. We definitely hated each other. Whenever she could, she would call me out about adverbs. I just could not, did not get it.

It was in sixth grade in a new school that Mrs. Savage identified my blind spot regarding adverbs. She caught me after class one day and asked me to stay late. I was suspicious. Staying after class meant I was in trouble. Not that day however. That day she opened my eyes to what an adverb was and how not to forget it. The secret she said was in its name. "Ad-Verb" - a word that is "added" before or behind a verb to beef up the image of that verb. 

Think, "He got drunk"; now help it out with just how drunk he got by adding one word, "He got stupid drunk". Okay, okay ,using "stupid" as an adverb, well, there must be a rule somewhere I have broken using it in such a way. But I did make my point. 

I never forgot Mrs Savage and the many lessons I learned from her. Best teacher I ever had. 

Over the years I have been filling notebooks or wasting bandwidth with my writing, I have evolved as a writer.  As a child, I was a loose dog stream of consciousness writer who used punctuation and capital letters only by accident or when forced into it by assigned essays. I eventually became a better loose dog writer who is still capable and willing to break the hard and fast rules of grammar if he likes.

I am under no delusions that I am a great writer. Not even close. Adequate might be an honest assessment. But that is not a worry. I picked up writing again in the 1990s with the intention of becoming a better writer. And I have done that. The bottom line here is I have never enjoyed writing more than I do now.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .................................

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Musicchoice for today? Hmm. Sometimes creating new habits can be a pain the ass. But I need some order and consistency in my life and this regular new feature is one small effort at accomplishing that. So what's a theme from the post I can find music for? ..... Hmm ....

No problem. Easiest call in awhile. "White Rabbit", by Jefferson Airplane. I had this tune on a forty five when I was a young. It was not until I played an LP that had it I understood what it was all about. I was tripping on LSD that time and I was sure this song had all the answers we needed - "Feed Your Head".


Saturday, August 27, 2022

Rainbow Night at Club Venus

James always looked sharp. His bell-bottoms always wore a sharp crease and his platform shoes never went out in public sporting scuff marks or cigarette butts stuck to their heels.

One day James convinced me to accompany him to Club Venus over at Perring Plaza to pick up women who were amenable to dancing under the big glass ball.

"But”, said James, “we gotta take you shopping for some new threads.  I have seen your wardrobe man and frankly it sucks. Might work for those big Mother Earth, Ms Natural types I see dragging you around, but the women over to the Venus need you to step up your game. They have some class.  They actually shave their armpits and use lipstick.”

He could tell I was a tad miffed.  He turned me to face the big glass doors on the front of the Towson State University library.  “Look at yourself fool.  You’re a schlub, what with all that tye dyed hippie shit cut off jeans flip flop look you are sporting. Really Bro, time to pick up your game.  No sulking, we are hoofing uptown to Hutzler’s. Besides, what are you going to spend that paycheck on anyway, more weed?” 

So we began the hike up York Road.  James strutting in his everyday best and me flip flopping beside him in my everyday worst.  After a short stop at the bank to cash my check, we crossed the street and entered the department store.

Forty five minutes later we strode out of Hutzlers looking like twin brothers of different mothers.  I had transformed from an ugly duckling into an imagined swan. Tucked into a pair of baby blue bell bottoms was the classic “Fever” shirt with the big collar and puffy sleeves opened of course to show off the authentic fake gold chain. Toss in those outrageous 3” platform Disco shoes and Jack, I was ready to kill me some ladies.  Least ways, James said I was gonna knock em dead.

Thursday night came.
  James called me.  Said something about being jammed up and he would meet me at Club Venus around eight - eight thirty.   Left to get there on my own, I bummed a ride with some other folks from the dorm and walked in the club.  A banner over the entrance to the ball room claimed in three foot letters, that this night was the first annual “Rainbow Night”. 

Not placing any special importance to the notion of “Rainbow Night”, I walked onto the massive dance floor.  Disco Jacks and Disco Jills were getting their grooves on.  I was maybe halfway across the floor when it dawned on me that I was seeing mostly bucks dancing with bucks and does dancing with does.

“That goddamned James, …..I’ll kill the bastard", I thought. I smiled instead.  James thought he had been safely living in the closet.  He had no clue most of his friends knew he was gay and didn’t care.  …… “But yeah where is that little bastard?”  I finished crossing the dance floor and found the 50 foot bar.  I ordered a shot and a beer and settled on a bar stool and watched the light in the loafer folks do their thing.

Into my second shot and second beer, I noticed a woman heading in my general direction.  She was taking disco to an ultimate height, fashion wise.  She was wearing a one piece silver hot pants outfit, thigh high silver platform boots, and topped off with an brilliantly white afro two and a half feet across.  Woah, she wanted everyone’s attention.  She would not be ignored.  She smiled at me and………..  Damned, if it wasn’t James, doing his best tranny act and pulling it off to boot.  He looked perfect.  But then James always looked sharp. 

All I could do was grin and head out to meet him on the dance floor for his first coming out dance.  I had a blast that night with him and all the friends he used to keep in his closet.
________________________________
 660 words -more or less
  • First written in Fall of 2018 for a writing class I was in.
  • Cross Published in the original "Lost in the Bozone ll"
  • Added a smidgen and a half of fictional bling just to gussy it up some.
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Music for this tune has to be the infamous, one of the first of its kind, a song from back in the day that tied Anita Bryant's panties in a knot, the one and only  - "Lola" - The Kinks Live


Friday, August 26, 2022

The Future is a Hoax

 


I didn't feel very good yesterday. It wasn't anything specific, I just felt out of sorts I guess.

Age related? Nah. The same old aches and growing infirmities were the same ole, same ole's of recent years. I just did not feel right; or maybe I just did not feel right in my own skin for a time. Call it a moment of readjustment and I just needed a day to work out some wrinkles that pop up from time to time.

Yeah, it felt like wrinkle time; a feeling I have dealt with on an erratic, yet recurring cycle throughout my life. It was a familiar kind of out of sorts, one I recognized too late to fight. But then did I even want to fight it? After all, I had been here in this frame of mind before and I always came out of it fine....... next day fine usually.

And here it is the next day. The planet is still spinning, the humans are still insane, and I am back safely ensconced in  what I consider my normal frame of mind. And normal is just fine.

I have recently stepped up my blog writing. I have done it not so much to reach any specific audience, nor even reach myself for that matter. I am writing more because it soothes me, calms me down, and sharpens my focus. The time I spend taking a blog post from one end of the creation process to the final product, I am in my own world, free of the overwhelming Bullshit and pettiness of the Reality I exist in along with everyone else on the planet. 

When I write, either fiction or just commentary, I am in a safe place like when I read a book. The outside world is stripped away leaving a blank canvas for me or my chosen author to create a new imagination or momentary delusion for me. All that matters in that moment, that instant, is how what I am doing makes me feel. Self aggrandizement maybe? If so, so what?

Which brings me to another Facebook meme I came across yesterday. It is about living Life, not for the future, but for the now, this instant, not tomorrow. 

I had probably heard of Alan Watts back in my psychoactive drugging days. He was a 20th Century philosopher who was a force behind moving Zen and Buddhism in from the fringes of Mainstream and giving them some everyman cred in Western thought.

The little research I have done on him makes me want to check out some of his writings and also some of his lectures as he was a regular on some California Dreaming station in Berkeley back in the 1960s. He experimented with LSD in 1958 and spent some time smoking Pot. What he said of his psychoactive experience and why he stopped was:

"If you get the message, hang up the phone. For psychedelic drugs are simply instruments, like microscopes, telescopes, and telephones. The biologist does not sit with eye permanently glued to the microscope, he goes away and works on what he has seen."

There are hundreds of his lectures and radio broadcasts available online. He wrote over twenty books. The man was a prolific communicator. And now after listening to one of his short lectures, "The World is an Illusion", he definitely has an ability to explain stuff in ways I would never have thought of. 

Yes, I will hopefully check into more about Mr. Alan Watts. But maybe not. After all, according to Alan,

 ".... the future is a hoax."

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..........................................

___________________________

I had another tune picked for this post. Then I found a personally up until recently unknown Van Morrison tune, "Madame George". I have always admired his music, his musicianship, his lyrical composition. Yes, he will always be in the top tier of my musical quiver. "Madame George" is now maybe my new all time favorite of his. It came out in 1968, which begs the question how did I miss it? .... Hmm... I started missing a lot back then I guess.

Anyway, please enjoy the song. And if you like I have attached a link to the lyrics....... they are awesome and you can find them HERE.



Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Working to Rule


The term "Quiet Quitting" has crossed my FB page a few times now. I looked it up and was amused that it is a term used to describe worker bees who only perform at the levels they are expected to. Once off the clock, they close the door on their workplace. No overtime, no work texts, no work emails, nothing. Do what you contracted for and that is it. In the needlessly contentious world of labor relations in the US, we are supposed to look on employees who only do their job and nothing more as somehow not living up to the work ethic browbeaten into us for the last 150 years. 

But this post is not about our work ethic or imagined lack thereof.

Today a fellow pointed out that there is actually an older definition for "Quiet Quitting". It was created back in the hey days of the union movements. It is known as "Working to Rule". Follow the rules of your workplace but nothing else. Nothing. When your shift is up, go home, crack a PBR and relax.

Immediately I was reminded of my time as a Teamster working out of Baltimore in the late 1970's.

Lever Brothers (now called Uni-Lever) had a soap plant on Holabird Avenue in Southeast Baltimore. At the time I was jockeying between driving jobs when I answered an ad for drivers needed at their plant. Little did I know I was stepping into a shit storm battle between two union shops, the Chemical Workers Union and a brand new Teamster local just trying to get off the ground. All I knew was the pay was fantastic. I mean fantastic. It was 1978 and I was going to make over $50K a year. Hello new pick up truck.

The new division was to be a team operation ( two drivers per truck). A team could make the coast to coast run to the Lever plant in Los Angeles and back to Charm City in a week. That was the plan. I made that run that first month solo. Ran two logs, gobbled go fast pills and looked for a way to hook up an intravenous tube for coffee infusions. Eventually they gave me a co-driver and we turned the run faster than any other team. Yeah, we broke rules. but we were the fastest turn in the operation.

A result of this new setup at the Baltimore plant was hard feelings from the workers in the plant. They felt the new transport division should have been theirs. But since Lever brothers was saving I think around $8 an hour by using Teamsters, the Chemical Workers were left out. 

In retaliation, the local Chemical Worker shop negotiated some very strict rules about where, how, and when we Teamsters could go, work and use the toilet. For use outside of the truck, we now had only one picnic table set up near the stairs to the Dispatch office. Our movements were restricted to a twelve foot wide strip that ran the length of the loading docks. We had one bathroom we could use. And we could not engage any Chemical Worker in job interfering jocularity. All this happened while I was out on the road the previous week.

Back now from LA, I backed my trailer into the dock, got out and went in the only door I was allowed to use and went upstairs to dispatch. I did not notice the new red lines painted on the floors in front of the docks. Dispatch mentioned nothing about them. I turned in my paperwork for the last run and picked up my papers for the one coming up on Sunday evening. I left dispatch and headed to the dock my trailer was backed into.

I had not gone twenty feet towards my trailer when the blast from the plant whistle sounded. It made me jump. Blue lights started flashing and before I knew it,  the plant had gone quiet. Not thinking it was because of anything I had done, I continued to the back of my trailer. I looked down the line of dock doors and noticed all the fork lifts were sitting idle with no drivers on them. They were all headed for their break room. 

Just then my dispatcher came running towards me,"What have you done? Did you cross the line? Jeezus Christ, the whole plant shut down. I didn't think they would do it."

I don't know how I looked, but I am guessing I had a blank look on my face.

He stopped in front of me. "Seriously, did you cross the line?"

"What line",  was my response. And then I saw the freshly painted line that had not been there when I left for California a week earlier. 'You mean that line?"

"Yeah dumass, that line."

Still not understanding the seriousness of my mistake, I remember trying to shrug it off by saying, "Uh yeah, probably. Why?"

"You shut the whole plant down by crossing that line." ........... I will always remember how upset this guy was, and then he said, "It is going to be an hour now before the plant gets back up to speed."

And still I had no clue how deep my mistake ran. I said something to the effect, "Sorry guy. Maybe you should have warned me. If I didn't know, how is it my fault? Looks to me this is on you."

That was the first write up I received of the three I would get that would allow them to fire me. The other two were also bogus write ups for things we drivers all did on the road to make our turns faster. I ended up losing my job for not "working to rule". 

My year as a Teamster did not sour me on unions though. On the contrary, my year as a union driver consolidated my feelings about the need for unions. And then the last 45 years watching management destroy the healthy labor market sealed the deal. 

The US business model is based on an antagonistic relationship between managers and labor. Union people understand this and use their collective power to fight it. It is too bad too. Working conditions in this country could be so much better, productivity could be so much higher and relationships between the worker bees and their queens could be so much friendlier.

This American "Us against Them" workplace mentality does no one any good.

Later ...............................................

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Along with a musical selection, today's post is also offering up a blast from my past, a commercial for the laundry detergent made from the raw materials I picked up and delivered all over the US. I also picked up the Cannon towels millions of lucky women found inside their boxes of Breeze detergent; Their slogan was, "A towel in every box!"

For music that might be appropriate, well, um, not sure. Well, I decided to tip my hat to one of the best fans of unions in American history. A quote from a discography site says this about his most famous song:

“This Land Is Your Land” was recorded by (Woody) Guthrie in 1944 and was his response to “God Bless America.” The song is pro-American from every background. He saw “God Bless America” as too sappy and didn’t do it for those Americans facing the rough edges of the Great Depression.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022

It is Safer to be Dumb as a Rock than Smarter than One

Another "Big Think" digital article on Facebook caught my eye yesterday morning. I am slowly becoming a fan, an addict, and gasp; even a follower of the "Big Think" world.

I blame all the bad news out there bombarding me from every direction 24/7 for my new found interest in shit I haven't considered in such quantities since back in military school. Rather than take the bait of a media determined to make me feel bad, feel fear, or feel angry, I am looking for internet pleasures elsewhere that don't prefix with the warning, "X-rated".

Yesterday's "Big Think" article was about really intelligent people suffering a higher incidence of mental and emotional problems in a world overrun by average intellects. It points up the rocky road many of the genius level minds have navigating and dealing with the madness of mediocrity that rules our planet. 

With high intelligence comes great risk. Though the article does not say it, I conveniently inferred, assumed, jumped to the conclusion that:

"It is Safer to be Dumb as a Rock than Smarter than One" 

What I like about "Big Think" articles are their "everyman" treatments of ideas and concepts much more complicated than many of us can understand.  The articles hit the high notes of topics a schlub like me might be able to get my mind around. And though I may not understand all of them completely, they do offer me a shot at looking inside of someone else's box for a moment or two. The articles often humble me and point out that for all I think I know, there is so much out there to know, I will run out of time to learn even a small infinitesimal amount of it. 

Instead of making me feel small and insignificant, all the knowledge that I cannot know makes me all warm and fuzzy. No matter what I think, where I go, or what door I might open, there will always be something new for me to find, experience, or deal with as long as I am looking for it. The New does not always slap us in the face. We often have to seek it out.

So being one of the "average intelligent", I appreciate what "Big Think" is doing. They are on a quest to renew interest in subjects many of us hated in school. They are trying to bring ideas and notions back into our lives many of us have not considered since childhood. For me, "Big Think" is bringing some wonder back into my life.  Check them out. Good stuff.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...............................

____________________________

Music today is provided by IZ, a Hawaiian artist who died before his time. It's a medley of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" and "Wonderful World" . No matter how often I hear this tune, the hairs on my neck rush to stand at attention. 


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** The image at the top, "The Scream" is a rare black and white print found at the British Museum. The article is three years old but interesting nonetheless.

Friday, August 19, 2022

If the Pox Don't Kill You, Something Else Surely Will

I ran across this "Big Think" article about what was the final blow to the Aztec civilization. I always thought it was Small Pox that traveled with the Spanish Conquistadors to the New World in the 1500s. As it turns out, infestation by Small Pox did weaken an otherwise very prosperous and productive society, but the pox only killed five million or so Aztecs. Apparently what finished them off was a type of enteric fever, a category of diseases that include salmonella and typhoid. That epidemic killed up to an estimated fifteen million Aztecs. The Conquistadors did indeed bring Small Pox with them. Now some experts are wondering if they also brought this "super salmonella" to the New World. ......Or not.

As I read the article, I considered what it might have to tell me regarding our current pandemic experiences over the last two plus years.

A natural ethnic, racial, arbitrary cleansing by disease is rare and takes longer than folks think it does. Some from our past lasted decades, yet they failed to eradicate everyone in the path of the pathogens. Humans are more rugged and resilient than they look.

As a matter of my research, paltry as it was, I could find no epidemic other than the Aztecs that is credited with killing off an entire ethnic group or at least decimating their populations so badly, their civilization ceased to exist. I am guessing it has happened, but I would need to dig deeper to verify. 

Even the great killer of Europe, the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) did not kill off enough people that a civilization died solely because of it. It raged off and on for hundreds of years. The various pandemics of the previous 5000 years may have been a factor to the many political downfall's that occurred back then. But no one other than the Aztecs seemed to have been completely wiped off the face of the planet as the result of a disease.

So what do I draw from this?

 From my previous couple of hours dicking around with the idea of pandemics and population kill offs, I came up with a few kernels I thought might be worth sharing .............. Hmm ...... A take away or maybe even a few.

  • Don't worry so much about the disease of a pandemic. Follow rational directives and hope for the best. Of more importance in my opinion would be to be concerned about the countries, groups and assholes who would take advantage of such weak moments.
  • Go ahead and resist help in the form of vaccinations, hospitalization, etc - your death, no doubt, will be a silver lining somewhere.
  • Pandemics and epidemics are and have been part of the human experience before we even became human. And is it possible that some outbreak in our past created a mutation in the brains of a certain group of pre-humans that gave us the path to the high intelligence of our species versus the rest of the animal world?
  • Uh, I, in no way mean to infer we are as intelligent as the imagined Alien Einsteins circling our planet as I write this and who are anxiously waiting for the go ahead to turn us into herds of food on two legs.. On the contrary, lately I have decided that we are dumber than dirt. But we are, at the moment, masters of our the planet. Damned if I can figure that out. Dumb luck I guess.
So anyway, this was my feeble attempt to stop mixing it up with the other FB trolls exchanging "yo momma" posts that pass for civil discussion on the Internet.

Keep it 'tween the ditches .....................................

___________________________

Music today is "Conquistador" played live with full orchestration, Procol Harum.



Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Bad Ass Woman

NOTICE - Facebook would not allow me to post this on BA's page. Said it might be insulting or some such nonsense. I am guessing it was because of the title. So I changed it. We'll see if that does it.

Changing the title did not work, so its back to the original.
_________________________

My ability to remember exact dates like an old calendar can has taken a hit over the last fifty years. Sometimes even pinning down an exact year can be a challenge. It does not depend on how far back I have to go. It's more about prodding my brain to get off its lazy butt and root out relevant information.

BA and I had been dating since at least February,1980.  And I am pretty sure we had first met in late 1979 when I went with mutual friends to a party at her apartment in the Mt. Washington neighborhood in Baltimore. I made a wonderful impression that night or so I was told the next morning when I woke up on her living room floor. 

But Valentine's Day, 1980 was the day I knew we were a couple. I showed up on her stoop wearing my red long johns with the butt flap up, holding a card and I think a box of chocolates or flowers tucked under my arm. I was a real charmer alright. 

I was smitten, but not yet in love. I had no inclinations of long term commitment. I had just fallen in Lust at that point. It was at a baseball game later in the summer, when I knew this relationship was more than just a casual fling.

It was a weekend O's game in Baltimore in the summer of 1980. I remember my future wife and I were part of a tight group of Balti-moron buds who enjoyed sitting in Section 34, upper decks, Memorial Stadium. We would root for the Birds, drink our smuggled beer and cheer along with Wild Bill Hagy  as he led the cheers.

The Orioles were playing the hated New York Yankees. That meant we were going to pay more attention and not just get sloppy drunk on the flat beer in that huge jug we smuggled in. The damn thing could hold twenty one beers. I have always wondered what happened to that jug. It was awesome.

The game I think was in the early innings when a drunk and rowdy Oriole fan began harassing an elderly couple five or six rows down. I am sure it was only because they were quietly watching the game and proudly wearing their NY Yankee swag. Easy, low risk targets for a loudmouth drunk. As the innings came and went, his verbal attacks became more hateful and more personal. He was definitely over the top. His performance made every O's fan in our area uncomfortable. Yet, nobody did anything or said anything. We all just squirmed in our seats and allowed it to go on. In the meantime, the elderly couple were obviously not happy either.

I noticed BA was not watching the game as much as she was staring at this drunk who was demeaning folks who did not deserve it.  My spidey sense tingled, but I still sat silent. Then she stood up and shouted at the drunk.

"Why don't you sit down and shut up!"

If ever there could be a hush in a crowd at a American League baseball game, there came a hush that fell over part of Section 34 that day. 

The drunk was maybe thirty feet to our left, one row up. He turned towards our row and found BA standing there glaring at him. Me, well I was hunkered down next to her hoping this situation did not escalate. The drunk was with a group probably just as drunk as he was. Of course he shifted his nasty verbal onslaught, aiming his slurring vitriol at my future wife. She was not cowed, swayed, or even seemed to notice his threat of coming over there and taking her out. BA stood firm and said,

"Bring it on asshole." ........ Okay, she may have not said it exactly like that, but what she did say meant that. 

I was really concerned now a fist fight might break out. BA looked at the drunk's group and said something to the effect, 

"Hey, you better get your friend under control." 

In the meantime, it seemed many of the eyes in our area of Section 34 had shifted to BA and the drunk. I quickly decided I had two choices, Chivalrous saving the day type action, or running away like a little bitch. I decided on Chivalry and stood up in a show of support. At that same moment, more than a few fans in Section 34 stood up. Several of them began shouting at the drunk to quiet down. He became mouthier until some of his good buddies finally made him sit down. The elderly New York fans smiled, tipped their hats and went back to watching the game.

I did not know it then, but that had to be the day I fell in love with my future wife. It took me some years of replaying that moment in my head before I caught on. She stood tall in all of her five foot-one, 100 pound  fearlessness and told that asshole to "Bring it on". Her parents definitely were prescient when they gave her a name with the initials BA. She was Bad Ass back then and she is now an even more impressive Bad Ass. 

That was a woman I had to marry. Remembering that day told me why.

So in lieu of flowers, chocolates, and expensive bling for your birthday today my darling dearest, I wrote this little PR piece. Not trying to curry favor. Not trying to smooth out any recent rough spots. Just wanted a story to go with this HAPPY BIRTHDAY Post.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ..............................................

______________________________

Music for this one ............... Hmm. Well, I found a couple of tunes that seemed appropriate. 

The first one was kinda poppy for my tastes, but after two run through's, I decided I liked it. An added plus is, I think BA will like it. 

Enjoy Meghan Trainor's "Badass Woman".

The second one is a John Prine tune, "In Spite of Ourselves" . The sentiment is spot on I think.

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Monday, August 15, 2022

Rock n Roll Star, Part ll

I had every intention to write about the underground city found in Derinkuyu, Turkey. They are not exactly sure how old it is, but it is ancient. Supposedly up to 20,000 people could have lived there. Yeah, I was going to write about that and how my lifetime has offered up regular reminders of how much I do not know about this rock we live on. With these regular reminders, I find wonderment again if only for a few moments before I , usually with some sadness, fall back into the reality of now and not then.

Sigh ...................... So instead of an ancient underground city ..............

Had another Rock n Roll dream last night. Not as graphic or memorable as my dream from last Saturday. But it was definitely a Rock n Roll dream. Not sure what this means. Am I just on a roll for Rock n Roll? Is it just coincidence? I don't care. Just remembering what I can is enough for me.

It seems in this dream I am restoring one of Neil Young's guitars. The guitar is a piece of shit. I piss and moan about its terrible condition as I take a piece of sandpaper to the neck and then fill dings and dents with some kind of epoxy designed to blend in with the original color.. Neil slaps me on the back and gives me a thumb's up. 

Apparently this is the guitar he needs for a small concert for a select few in someone's house. I finish my work and ask to get paid. The owner of the house tells me he owes me nothing, I owe him. I was invited to fix Neil's guitar. He charges for that. Meanwhile I look to Neil for some support and he just gives me another thumb's up.

I am about to leave in a huff, when a mysterious couple from previous dreams ask me to sit down on a couch and chill. This appearance of the recurring mysterious couple always means there will be Cannabis to be consumed. And now that I am used to them popping up in my dreams on a semi-regular basis, I just smile and try to guess what will be the delivery system this time. Hash Pipe, Bong, Joint, or maybe some edibles. I hoped it was not going to be edibles. Their edibles always turned me into a drooling senseless stoner who couldn't hold his Pot. Nothing more pitiful than that.

The dream kinda tapered off at this point. Maggie shoved her nose in my face and I woke up determined to go back to sleep for some kind of finale I guess. I was unsuccessful. Her insistence and wet tongue had their way and I am now begrudgingly among the living once again.

Good Morning, where's the coffee .............................

________________________________

Naturally, music from Neil Young would be my choice for this post. But then he did not help me in my dream, damn deadbeat; ............ Hmm. Nah. Neil it is. Here is "Old Man" .

I picked this tune because, yeah it reminded me of my old man. I made a tape for him when I was in my twenties. This tune is the only one he mentioned liking. That is memorable because my father did not have much time for music with vocals in them. He was about Classical, some 1940's Jazz, and Sound Effects. The man loved sound effects. Somewhere in his massive tape collection is a two hour reel to reel tape of trains, planes, guns, explosions, and opening doors.



Saturday, August 13, 2022

Rock n Roll Star

My eyes opened at 3:00 AM this morning. I was actually chilled for the first time since early July. I took note and forced my head back on the pillow and fell asleep. An hour later I think, I woke myself up singing. If not, I should have been. I was humming a blues tune with lyrics based on a song my old friends Tool and Bean contrived back in college. It was about Bean, his new shoes, and how he came to get shit on them.

Apparently I was a member of a nameless band and shared the lead singing role with another faceless rock star who was badgering me to "get my shit together" and find them another song; a song that would put us back in the limelight. 

"By the way asshole", my co-singer said, "Do it quick, we're on in twenty minutes and if possible, lose some weight too."

I was not sure why it was incumbent on me to do all the work, but it was my dream and as a rule I tended to be the star of my own dreams, good and bad. I got to work. I started humming a blues riff. When I was comfortable with that, I remembered Bean and Tool's Blues tune, "Shit on my new shoes Blues" from back in the day and began to insert a lyric here and there. 

I was standing in front of a mirror as I composed the song because well, I guessed all rock stars stand in front of mirrors before they face their audiences. As I primped and posed, my humming became a real song. 30 pounds of gut magically vanished from my body revealing the hardened abbed manly man beneath. My beard changed from white back to the brown it was in my youth. The door opened and...................... I fucking woke up. Dammit!

Anyway, that is how my day began. Hope yours will be as fun as mine has been so far.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ............................................

________________________

I actually picked my song before I even started the search. Please enjoy this blast from my, our, maybe your past. Here is the Byrds and their 1967 tune, "So you want to be a Rock n Roll star"


Tuesday, August 09, 2022

A Figment of Our Imaginations

It was probably a mistake, but I again read an article from "Big Think". Didn't I tell myself many times that I am retired, hoping to sit back, smoke dope and let others worry about the things that matter and for that matter, also worry about the things that don't matter. Sadly, it is one thing to tell others I am retired from the pain of dealing with reality, it is entirely another thing to successfully follow through.

If anything, all of the things I have no control over have set up center stage now. Before, I was too damn busy with my reality of owning a business to consider just how disconnected from what is important myself and the swarming hordes of our planet seem to be. Regardless, I don't own a business anymore which leaves me nothing but the random musings that wander around in what I charitably call my mind.

"Big Think" offers up layman explanations for ideas that have geek speak beginnings. Complicated notions boiled down so hopefully a doofus like me can make hide or tails of it. This article starts with a question from science guy, Robert Lanza;

" Is the physical universe independent from us, or is it created by our minds?"

Without reading the article, I first tried to consider just the possibility of the premise. It only took maybe 30 seconds and I decided reading the article might help me past the initial idea.  I got 500 words into the article before my head started to ache. 

Quite awhile ago, I had read, heard or watched a show regarding the incompatibility of general relativity and the subsequent competitor on the block, Quantum theory. Einstein wasn't having any of it as an explanation of Reality. So the smart folk came up with String Theory to try to connect the other two in a logical way. 

That has not worked out yet. 

And now it seems another attempt is being made to explain it all. "Biocentric Design" seems at first a total delusion like Lanza ate too much LSD and was sure he had changed Realities, Universes, something was different. The more I thought about his idea, the more room I gave in my trove of impossibilities that cannot be tossed without more scrutiny.

e can and have made up whatever we wanted  as long as the intelligentsia at the time is in agreement with past interpretations. Which seems to open the door that if enough of us agree, we can/will/have changed what comprised the past, the future, and the present. I immediately extrapolated that Reality is always in a kind of flux depending on what Quantum Foam it finds itself in. Quantum Foam is defined as:

"Quantum foam (also known as spacetime foam or spacetime bubble) is a theoretical quantum fluctuation of spacetime on very small scales due to quantum mechanics"

Somewhat in agreement, kinda, maybe; Steven Hawkings said of the past and future:

"The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities."

Of course I am guessing it doesn't boil down to something so simple. But it sure seems like it. Since many of our great thinkers are now at least entertaining the notion we are to blame for this cluster fuck of a Reality we find ourselves in, I wonder if they are onto something "Real" or is it just another theory like String Theory which has not been wholly accepted since its creation 40 years ago.

Never mind the claimed subatomic underpinnings of Reality, what about the citizens of the planet and how they deal with Reality they /we/us have created for ourselves? Based on this new notion of Reality being born out of a group think cooperative made of generations of thinkers, it would appear to a large degree, humanity agrees on the physical reality within which we humans interact. Where our mutual perception of the nuts and bolts of Reality stop is how the various groups perceive and use that reality. I would call those our cultural, religious, and possibly linguistic differences. Reality in Vietnam is not the same reality in Calgary, Canada and so on and so on around a world that itself spins in a Reality made up of all of us, by all of us, for all of us. 

My original reason for writing this was to tie Religion in somehow. But I think that is a discussion for another day when I might even care. Instead, I find myself calming down and accepting one more impossible possibility in my Life. For if what and where we all exist is the result of an umpteen thousand years of generational group effort, then my hat is off to us. We sure created a beautiful planet upon which to exist. We just seem to be having problems agreeing how we should live here together. 

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...................................................
_____________________

I picked the group Lost Frequencies and their tune,  "Reality". Poppy, but the images are nice.


Monday, August 08, 2022

Blessing in Disguise

Yesterday I was counting my blessings. Well, I didn't actually count them, but I gave them some overdue consideration. I don't often count my blessings. I probably should count them more. I might find my good place more often.

So, The word "blessing" kept popping up after the fact. Only now I was not interested in them representing something I should be grateful for, but rather the physical texture and sound of the word as it rolled off my tongue. I was not interested in what it brings with it to any sentence. I was struck by the notion that some words either sound right or they sound wrong. And this can depend entirely on my frame of mind at the moment of word reflection.

Yesterday "blessing" sounded odd to me. It certainly rolled off my tongue just fine. It is relatively easy to understand what it means. Normally a word I never think about or struggle with in any way. But yesterday, "blessing" hit my odd track. 

I managed to get through the day just fine though. Any disruption or stress this sudden plummet into the "Odd Word Bucket" was handled with dispatch and efficiency as I worked my way through the day. But today, the word "blessing" is still holding it's hand up, frantically waving at me to pick up where I left off yesterday. I mulled over this pleasant word with Biblical overtones evoking the simple concept of being grateful.

I eventually settled on that classic old idiom - "Blessing in Disguise." That's it. I've done it now. Gone and dropped not just an odd word or two into that "Odd Word Bucket", I have now tossed in a complete phrase.

"Blessing in Disguise". Just what the Hell is that? Yeah I know what we like to think it means. Ranks right up there with "Every cloud has a silver lining". Feel good rationalizations for when we screwed up, they screwed up and we got screwed up.

"Oh I dropped that case of beer. Oh well, at least they all didn't break."

As I considered the many idioms out there that rely on contradictions to make their point, I remembered a situation that invaded a friend's life oh, I guess in the early 2000's. He was part of a crew of mountain bikers who showed up semi-regularly for the shop rides I ran out of my bike shop. Often they would also just park in the lot and go on rides by themselves. We have a nice set of trails here in the pucker brush of southern Maine.

I think it was three of them who parked and rode out that afternoon. They were still out there when I closed. I did not think anything about it. It was not until a couple of days later I think when I found out my friend had lost control on the Sanford side of the ridge that backs up to McDougal Orchards. It is a fun downhill but like any downhill, shit happens faster at speed than when poking along. My friend crashed and broke both of his wrists.

While in the emergency room, he had X-rays taken and other assorted medical things done to him. A doctor noticed something out of place in one of the X-rays.
My friend gets his casts on both hands and another friend drives him home. The Doc calls a day or two later after consulting other doctors . They want him to come in. They want to run some tests.

Turns out the one of the X-rays had an out of place shadow in it. When they ran confirmation tests, he was diagnosed with Cancer. And dammit I think it was bone cancer, but I am not sure. The following treatment saved his life. We have lost touch since, but I assume he is well and still riding past his abilities on a mountain bike.

Voila! The blessing in disguise.
______________________

Music about 'blessings" that didn't make me gag or scowl made this search the toughest one yet. Been at it off and on now for over an hour. Shit. I found a Bing Crosby tune I tried to listen to and just like when I was a kid, I turned him off and left the room. Not into the old crooners.

So what to do?

I have not highlighted any music from a group I discovered awhile ago. They are from Japan and play, uh, well, some metal, some other music I figure is more traditionally based. Regardless, they are excellent, turn it up to wow musicians.

Here is the Wagakki Band with Amy Lee of Evanescence, "Bring me to life".


First try - 12/13/2009

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Finally, the Democrats Look to Be Getting Out of Their Own Way

The Democrats are on the verge of passing the "Inflation Reduction Act" which will devote $300 billion dollars to deficit reduction and another $369 billion to energy and climate change reform. 
Combine that with the $62 billion infrastructure bill passed last year and finally Congress is putting their money where their mouth has been for years. This will be a historic affirmation of our nation's resolve to try to address the self inflicted nasty nest we live in.

Some experts contend this bill could result in a 40% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2030. It is a small victory from the environmentalist bucket list and maybe an overly optimistic projection, but at least it is movement in the right direction. 

The bill also addresses an issue that is very much in the present. 

The cost of drugs in this country is out of control. Big Pharma has been able to rake in outrageous profits by incessant lobbying and supporting politicians to stack the deck against the citizens in need of medicine. The bill will open the doors to allow Medicare and Medicaid, the two largest buyers of drugs, the ability to negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma. Caps on out of pocket payments for medicine are included. The price of Insulin will be capped at $35 per month. It also includes a myriad of real benefits to citizens and not just corporations who want us to believe they too are citizens.

And finally what may tickle me the most; included in the bill is a 15% tax on corporations posting $1 billion or more in income. Combined with a 1% excise tax on stock buy backs and the coffers of the US treasury should enjoy many billions more in tax revenue. Finally a tax bill targeting the segment of our country who should be paying more. 

I won't call it "their fair share" as I feel that wording is loaded with too much emotion. I make no apologies for insisting corporations and the uber rich pay more in taxes. They cry unfair and I say so what. They enjoy the benefits of conducting business in a country with an infrastructure uniquely constructed for doing business. They enjoy the benefits of having one of the most dedicated working populations in the world. It is time for Corporate America to stop bleeding our country dry and pay reasonable taxes that will help our country regain the ground lost because of Corporate Greed. Turning a profit is not a great business strategy if it leaves its workforce behind.

Trickle down economics was proven a loser when it first was introduced back in the late 1800's. But for some reason the Right, at the behest of their owners, the big corporations, regularly champion it as a new radical idea. This bill begins to cut through the smoke and mirrors Big Business and the Billionaires have been able to hide behind. Anyone who is against this bill is nothing but a tool of the White Wingin Right and their owners, Corporate America.

The GOP was happy to spend roughly $2.3 Trillion dollars and 900,000 lives over 20 years for our failed military exploits in Afghanistan and Iraq.  That was money we pissed away with no possibility of any beneficial return down the road. Nothing, Nada, the money is just gone. And the 900,000 lives? Well, no one seems to even consider their loss as anything but the results of the fog of war. Oh well.

Yet now the mental giants of the Right are whining about a relatively paltry $725 or so billion being spent on policies and measures with possibly life changing benefits in the next decade. They talk about the "hidden costs". They talk about the hidden agendas of the Left being bolstered by money snuck into bill. Where were they when the costs of our failed Middle-East policies came due. Where was their outrage when  corporate buddies lined their pockets with lucrative private contracts doing what should have been done by the military in the first place. What a sleazy clown show the Right has become. 

The Inflation Reduction Act will result in :

  • 40% reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2030
  •  Result in over $700 billion dollars in revenue in the next decade because of a 15% tax on the richest corporations posting more than $1billion dollars in profits and a small excise tax of 1% on stock buy backs.
  • Result in a more favorable negotiating position with Big Pharma and save as much as $79 billion over the next decade.
  • Capping out of pocket expense for drugs and put more money back in the economy and not just continue to pad the already overflowing pockets of the legal drug trade.
  • Insulin costs will be capped at $35 per month and will help the 7.5 million diabetics who currently spend $334 to $1,000 per month on insulin now.
One fellow I know who is against anything the Democrats conjure up contends that this bill is just another Left Wing Progressive gonna turn us all into commies bill that hurts the country in the long run. The only people or entities affected by this bill are the ones who have been getting a free ride for far too long. If it hurts them, I can live with it because in the long run it helps more of us than they will ever amount to.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...............................................

______________________

Music for this post. Hmm ...........  Has to be "Money for Nothing" , by Dire Straits. I know the tune is about rock n Roll stars, but it has always reminded me of Corporate America in that they spend more time shifting their wealth from one rocket to another while not doing or creating anything. Hence,"Money for Nothing".

edited- 8/8/2022


Friday, August 05, 2022

It's a Dirty World

Like the character Charles Schultz highlighted in Peanuts, no matter where I lived, I held the title as the local Pig Pen. No one could find dirt, muck or mire as well or as fast as I could. If a group of us were out playing, I'm the one who found the mud hole to fall in. If we climbed trees, I climbed the tree covered in sap. Wearing anything new always ensured it would not be in an hour or so. My mom often did not dress me for those spiffier occasions until minutes before my entrance. And even then, I would find something to smear, spill, or rub onto that new Easter suit she had hidden until 5 minutes ago.

It always irritated me that my apparent magnetism for all that is dirt was beyond my control. I would consciously try to come home at least recognizable. But 4 out of 5 days, I couldn't. At some point, I just gave up. Destined to be a slob, I resigned myself to a life in slob-dom, I no longer worried about the mess I brought home after a day out there in the unforgiving world. I became used to stripping in the garage or out on the back porch before setting foot inside. 

I gave up wearing anything that would be considered going out clothes. Any new clothes I would wear found me anxiously waiting for that inevitable moment of defilement. My favorite pieces of clothing became my ripped and stained jeans, overalls and Tees.

Even with overalls on, I still found ways to defile the duds underneath.  Once I floundered with a small detail paint brush while attempting to hit a spot above my head.  I dropped it.  It fell inside my overalls.  By the time I managed to extricate it, it had traveled down my belly into my left pant leg.  I had white paint all over the inside of the overalls and on the outside of the clothes under the overalls.  I ended that painting session with paint on all my clothes, on my hands, in my hair and I think I might even had some paint drop in my mouth as the paint brush passed my mouth on its way to the top of my boot.

And now that I am retired and not as vulnerable to the evils of the Dirty World, my pigpen tendencies continue unabated. Instead of paint on my pants, grease stains on my tee shirt, I now employ the many and varied ways food can pollute my finery. Spilled coffee, dripping cheeseburgers, and soup running down my chin are all co-conspirators in the campaign Dirt has waged on me in my past and will continue to til the end of my days on this planet.

It's a dirty world out there. I better get used to it.

_______________________________________
Music for this post became a case of  "settling" for a tune, any tune , that insinuated some kind of connection to dirty, sloppy, or anything in between. I picked "Dirty" by Grandson, another new group I found because of my policy of tagging music to my posts. Solid lyricist, good pounding music. What more could I ask for?

original post start -12/28/2010

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Forget the History You Were Taught


The one event in 1906 in America most remembered is probably the San Francisco earthquake that occurred in April of that year. Big, big news flashed around the globe. History books centered on it as the one event that made all other events in 1906 pale in comparison. What newspaper doesn't love a good catastrophe?

Fast forward to 2022 and even though I am someone who appreciates and tries to follow history, good and bad, I was faced with another event I knew nothing about until I read an article from AP this morning

In and around Atlanta, Georgia on September 24, 1906, White mobs killed at least 25 African Americans and gravely injured hundreds in a fit of evil racist anger that, at the time, was blamed on the Blacks. Black businesses were ransacked, burned and defaced throughout black communities.Yet, it was never given its due in the history books White editors controlled. Better to grieve for the mostly white victims in San Francisco and not the deaths of blacks who died horrifically in Atlanta?

White people and their interests are more important than anything held sacred by African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and maybe most egregiously of all, Native Americans. To say I am ashamed of my race would be an understatement.

I was going to again tear White people a new asshole. I realized though, that that is all I ever seem to do lately. My disrespect and anger at my own race will mean nothing until White America admits its past as racist jerkwads and promises to change their ways, especially by eliminating the covert racism that exists behind the facade and fool's paradise we have constructed for ourselves.

To the end of trying to understand just how awful we treated anyone who didn't look like us, think like us, or talk like us, I am going to hit the books. Hopefully I can share information on what we did in our past that we would love to forget, but never should forget. 

Forget the history you were taught and find the history you should know. We will all be better off if we all do this.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ...................................

_______________________________

I think my music choice this morning is my first conscious repeat of a tune to go with a post. I googled "music about lynching". The Billy Holiday tune, "Strange Fruit" was the top pick. I used the same song not too long ago. There is a reason it pops up first. The song, the singer, the music lend the notion of a lynching its proper accents. I would say "enjoy", but that would probably be disingenuous.


Monday, August 01, 2022

Sinking to Their Level

Back in the 1990's during the early days of the Internet, I could be found roaming around what were called "News Groups". These predecessors to Internet Forums were no holds barred chat rooms where folks discussed, argued and yes, cussed each other all the time. 

It seemed though, there were unspoken rules that as a noob, I sometimes learned the hard way and sometimes watched others learn the hard way. Among the many rules I learned back then was never call anyone a Nazi, never invoke Hitler, because when you did, the argument was over and you lost. You lost because invoking Nazis or Hitler showed you were too lazy or stupid to offer sound logic to defend your view. It was the News Group equivalent of saying, "Oh yeah, well, uh, so's YO Momma!"

Now almost 30 years later, the Internet has 5 billion or so users and any rules of Internet decorum on the various social media platforms has been thrown under the bus. People invoke the Nazis and Hitler all the time. I know better and even I have on occasion when I thought the situation warranted it. 

The other troubling aspect of 5 billion people using the Internet is facts and truth have no place here anymore. Oh, they have their place, but it appears no one cares much about them. Facts just get in the way.

I do not think there is anyone who can claim they hate Marjorie Taylor Greene more than I do. She's a despicable lowlife scum sucking bottom feeder who represents a very dangerous contingent of other low life Americans who want to turn this country into a theocracy. They call themselves Christian Nationalists and want to run my life, your life, everyone's lives. They will lie, cheat, and suck up to leaders like Trump to weasel their way into our lives.

Sadly, those who oppose Marjorie Taylor Greene seem to have fallen down that same well. It seems it is okay now to use the same tactics the lowlifes use to fight their movement. I am all for using the same intensity to fight them, but I stop at knowingly using false information to push forward my point.

I came across the split image on Twitter. Like many folks I am sure, I downloaded it and was ready to post on my Facebook page. But then I considered that Marjorie Taylor Greene may have the intellect of a toaster, but I don't think she would steal a quote attributed to Hitler. So I checked. And I checked. I actually spent some real time, not just minutes, trying to prove she did indeed steal this quote from Adolf. I found nothing but the Quote on the right. Snopes did confirm Hitler as the originator of the quote. He said it in a speech in the 1920s. But no where did I find even a hint of MTG plagiarizing his quote.

So anyway, I spent some time this morning looking for my center again. The place where I give more than token attention to getting my facts right. I will not willingly sink to the same level as the White Wingin Right's enthusiastic destruction of factual truth in order to fight them.

Keep it 'tween the ditches ........................

______________________

Music for this post  ............ Hmm. "Losing My Religion", REM