Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"Quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat"

The legend of Prometheus dates to a trilogy called the "Prometheia," originally attributed, but now disputed, to an ancient Greek named Aeschylus. It tells the story of a Titan, Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humankind. As punishment, Zeus had him bound to a rock atop a mountain where an eagle comes every day to feast on his liver. Eventually, Prometheus is freed by Hercules .... and, you can read the trilogy if your curiosity is sufficient to learn the rest of the tale. The painting here is an oil by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens. It was begun in 1611/1612 and completed in 1618 and is titled "Prometheus Bound." It is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art collection. The eagle was painted by Frans Snyders, a specialist animal painter.

Quotes to remember ....

It is said there is a quote for any and every occasion and, when one finds it, someone else will find another which contradicts it .... and, someone else will locate an earlier version of both.  (Or, should that be "of each?")

As a college boy, I encountered a number of quotes which struck my fancy. Among them was this one: "Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad."

The line was spoken by Prometheus in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "The Masque of Pandora."

I since have discovered a number of references using descriptive words other than the term, "mad," to illustrate the concept, and written examples demonstrating that the thought goes back to other "Old Greeks," ­such as Sophocles and Euripides, if not to even more "distant" times.

English poet and playwright, John Dryden, who lived about two centuries before Longfellow actually wrote this: "For those whom God to ruin has design'd, He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind." Sort of sounds the same, does it not?

No matter who, what, where, when or how, I still like the quote, occasionally use it and have seen indication it often is reasonably correct and accurate.

A fascinating side note of this (to me, anyway) is the possible connection between the Greek mythological woman Pandora and the Biblical woman Eve. There is a theory, which I will not elaborate on at this time, that they are based on the same individual. I sort of think it is a very plausible theory.

And, with that, here is another quote which I recently discovered and to which I am drawn:

Written on a t-shirt /
Worn by rock front man Doogie White /
While performing an on-stage concert /

I have no job
I have no money
I have no car
But, I'm in a band

I like that one, too ....

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The memory of a tree

Time to say goodbye to an ash tree

I adore trees. No ands, ifs or buts. I absolutely love them. In the midst of them is one of two places I feel most comfortable and most at home. The other place is in a canoe or a boat somewhere on "big water" .... Lake Superior is one such setting.

So, it really pained me to have a tree cut down, which is what is happening in the two photographs taken last week. The ash tree was diseased and would have to be taken down at some point. The point arrived, in my mind, a few weeks ago, so I made the necessary arrangements. The cutting crew blocked off the street and dropped it there, then cut it up and hauled it away. Such is the fate of life ....

There are two songs here this time. One is the Taliesin Orchestra rendition of, "The Memory of Trees," by Enya. It sort of goes along with the photographs. The second, "I Will Always Love You," sung by John Nommensen Duchac, also known as John Doe, is here because it came up in a recent conversation.

For those of you who watch films with a critical eye, often a few times, you may have become aware that a man is singing this song during the "saloon" dance scene with Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner in the film, "The Bodyguard." It took me almost forever to track down the singer, and it turned out he is one who has been around for just about that long -- but, his usual music is not on my listening list.

For three or four reasons, his is my favorite version of the piece .... mostly my favorite, I suppose, because John Doe sings it with a Western twang and because the cowboy embedded deeply within me is drawn to it ....


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Music does not age .... live forever

"The devil drives"

People and their priorities sometimes puzzle me. Perhaps, I should rephrase that: Individuals and their priorities often mystify me. Yes, that is better.

I recently watched the film, "The November Man." It was made in 2014 (very recent, by my standards) and is based on a 1987 novel (sort of recent, by my ....) written by Bill Granger, a newspaper man turned novelist. In the movie, there is an exchange of dialogue between Peter Devereaux (a sort of retired CIA operative whose code name was November, played by Pierce Brosnan) and Arkady Federov (the Russian president­-elect and a former Russian general, portrayed by Lazar Ristovski, a "famous" Serbian actor). Also in the scene is Olga Kurylenko (a Ukrainian-born actress who plays Mira Filipova impersonating Alice Fournier, and who shared the spotlight with Daniel Craig in the James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace").

While the dialogue is going on, Devereaux is holding a revolver with a single round in it (a single bullet, to interpret for the uninitiated) on Federov, spinning the cylinder, asking a question of Federov and, if he does receive an answer, pulling the trigger. The exercise is a variation of Russian Roulette. The end result is, almost always, a death. So then, here is the dialogue:

Devereaux: Nineteen ninety-nine. You supported an American operation to impersonate Chechen terrorists. Who was the American agent who ran it?

Federov: You are sit (sic) on my shirt.

Devereaux to Fournier, handing her a second handgun: Mira, take this. Shoot him if you have to.

Federov: You are not going to kill me.

Devereaux: That's for you to decide. We're gonna play a little game that I believe was invented in your country. I'll ask you once more. Who was the American agent?

(As he is speaking, Devereaux places a single round in the revolver and spins the cylinder. When he receives no response from Federov, Devereaux pulls the trigger. There is an audible click as the hammer falls on an empty chamber of the cylinder. Devereaux again spins the cylinder.)

Devereaux: I'll ask you again. Was it Weinstein? Hmm?

(Again, Federov does not respond and again Devereaux pulls the trigger. And again, there is an audible click as the hammer falls on an empty chamber of the cylinder. Devereaux again spins the cylinder.)

Devereaux: Come on! You piece of shit! Your odds are running out. Who was the American agent? Was it Weinstein?

Federov: Hanley.

Devereaux: John Hanley .... Hanley?

Federov: Yeah.

(Devereaux is disbelieving. He takes a photograph showing himself and two other men from his pocket and holds it in front of Federov's face.)

Devereaux: Was it this guy? The guy in the middle?

(Federov points to the Hanley. Fournier sees the photograph and confirms Federov's identification.)

Fournier: No. Peter. That's him. The bald guy.

Devereaux: Shh, shh ....

Now, what mystifies me is why someone would or how someone could be concerned with the condition of their shirt when confronted by a known CIA assassin, who in all probability will kill him within minutes? Is this the ultimate "ubermensch" or is it someone in dire need of psychiatric help?

More importantly, perhaps, is why this "incident" should amount to more than a random thought passing through my mind, rather than turning into a point of fascination. I suppose it is because, as I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, the priorities people have often mystify me.

And, as I frequently have written in previous posts, I am driven by an intense and an immense curiosity.

And, why is that? As William Shakespeare and a few others both before him and since him noted and have written, I suppose the answer is because "the devil drives."   

By the way (I love to write those three words), although it is made clear again and again in the film that he truly is an evil man, Federov does leave the room alive .... but, he does not escape eventual retribution. The final scene in the movie shows him on a multi­­­-million dollar yacht anchored a few hundred yards offshore in an unnamed sea. He is accompanied by a few beautiful women and he is drinking (presumably) vodka. Abruptly, a bullet rips through his head and his body falls over the rail of the yacht and disappears into the depths of (Homer's) wine-dark sea.

Whoever actually fired the shot is not shown, but there is a probable candidate and two distant possibles ....

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Still another reason to love classic rock

"Night into Morning"
This is the storyline of the 1951 film, "Night into Morning" ....

Berkley English professor Phillip Ainley (played by Ray Milland) has a wife and young son who are killed in a gas explosion in their home. Unable to cope with the situation, he begins to drink heavily and becomes suicidal. His friends, Tom Lawry (also an English professor, portrayed by John Hodiak) and Katherine Mead (Lawry's fiance, a war widow and the English department secretary, depicted by Nancy Davis, the future Mrs. Ronald Reagan) try to return Ainley to normalcy (whatever that might be ....). Karl Tunberg and Leonard Spigelgass wrote the original screen play, and Fletcher Markle directed the production.

The final scene of the film features Ainley making closing remarks to one of his classes. Here are his words, as best I could transcribe them while watching it and recalling them a few days ago:

This is our last hour together. I'm not going to keep you for it. But, I'll remember every one of your faces for the rest of my life, and I rather imagine you'll remember mine because we've gone on a journey together.
There were times when I lost my way and somewhere along the road you and others became the teacher and I, the student. You've taught me that as long as one man is without an answer, all men are without an answer. You've taught me that only he who chooses to be alone, is alone. And so, even though our small journey is over and we go our separate ways, we'll never really be apart. Til the end of time we'll carry in our hearts the things that we've shared together.

I'm sure someone somewhere said that better than I, probably Shakespeare, surely the Bible, but I think it's something a man should say at last to himself. As you know, I teach English, but there are some things very hard to say in it. Goodbye is one of them. So, if you don't mind, I'll use my first-year Spanish: Vaya con Dios. Go with God. Let's all go with God.

If someone were to ask me why I decided to post Ainley's "sort of soliloquy" here, I might begin rambling on and on with thoughts such as these: Movies in the 1940s and 1950s frequently told stories and were, in a manner of speaking, morality plays worthy of reflection; the words struck me as eloquent and profound as I heard them and later remembered them; the words coincide with my own recent thoughts and questions about life and living; I am a romantic and a fool, and I constantly am looking for my own meaning and purpose; and, and, and ....

Well, those things, yes .... but, in truth, I am pretty much of a lost soul stumbling in a seemingly never-ending maze and keep looking for some manner of absolute, universal truth.

As Ainley's concluding dialogue would seem to indicate, he has begun to travel on the road toward learning how to live "normally" once again despite the loss of his wife and son, just as Mead had adjusted to the loss of her husband during World War II. Sort of a "happy ending."

Films of the 1940s and 1950s generally had happy endings -- which is what I require of all stories in my life and which is another reason why I put together a post about the movie. The title of the post is in reference to the music, but "with you or without you" certainly ties in nicely to the substance of the film. Scala, incidentally, is a Belgian women's choir whose musical selections frequently are covers of rock pieces. The final video is there just for the fun of it, baby .... and, as a reminder of the brevity of life ....

Anyway and whatever .... go with god .... or whomever your inner voice listens to ....

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

One more reason to love classic rock

 "You know, I hope we never die ...."

There are times I feel like I have been (always am) asleep at the switch; blind in one eye and cannot see out of the other; a complete fool, idiot, buffoon; a man walking through life aimlessly, without purpose or intent.

I can see a number of you are nodding in agreement with that assessment.

More than a few years ago, I began watching a film never-before seen by me on television. It had been running for some time, so I had not seen the credits and I assumed the story was based on one of William Shakespeare's plays. It was an "older" movie, "The Lion in Winter," with Peter O’Toole playing Henry II; Katharine Hepburn portraying the banished and imprisoned one-time queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine; Anthony Hopkins as their eldest son, Richard the Lionhearted; one of the future James Bond actors, Timothy Dalton, here as King Philip II of France; and assorted other actors/characters.

I have written about this play/film in the past and I will not attempt to go into any details of the story other than to say the closing lines exchanged between Henry and Eleanor as the film ended really stunned me. I re-read the play recently -- those closing lines several times -- and, I have been thinking about them often -- pondering them -- in both a religious and a secular sense. The lines were:

 Henry: You know, I hope we never die.

 Eleanor: I hope so, too.

Henry: You think there's any chance of it?

 (Eleanor smiles, then starts to laugh. Henry joins her in the laughter. The music rises as we begin to pull back and we cannot hear her reply. We can, however, see them talking as Eleanor moves to the deck of the ship [which will return her to imprisonment] and takes up position at the rail.)

I later learned the play was the work not of Shakespeare, but of James Goldman, a contemporary in the sense he was born in 1927 and died in 1998. I later bought a copy of the play and read it. Since Goldman wrote both the stage play and the screenplay for the film, I was not surprised to discover the dialogue was the same in both. I noted that Goldman also wrote both the stage play and the screenplay for a drama about Sherlock Holmes, "They Might be Giants," and the original screenplay for, "Robin and Marian," two of my favorite productions, as well as a number of other works.

 My prior unawareness of a writer with the talent and the imagination of Goldman is the basis for my opening paragraph.

The closing words of Maid Marian to Robin Hood are equally eloquent and fascinating to those of Henry and Eleanor:

"I love you. More than all you know. I love you more than children. More than fields I've planted with my hands. I love you more than morning prayers or peace or food to eat. I love you more than sunlight, more than flesh or joy, or one more day. I love you .... more than God."

In the next life, maybe, I will write something equally profound or, maybe, encounter a woman who will say such words to me .... and mean them.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Saint Paul .... where the Jazz Age began

This is more on the order of an announcement than a post ….
 Although F. Scott Fitzgerald is not among my "favorite" writers, as a student of literature and an English major I truly would be derelict not to mention the week-long 14th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Society conference which opens this coming Sunday in Saint Paul. Lifting commentary directly from the local newspaper -- the Saint Paul Pioneer Press: "Scholars (more than two hundred) are coming from all over the United States, as well as England, Holland, Germany, Iran, Sweden, Scotland, Japan, Australia, India and Macedonia."

This sounds like it has the makings for an actual "Parisian" or "Pamplonian-style" party to me.
Fitzgerald, you may or may not know, was born on September 24, 1896, in a house only a few miles from my current residence. (I hope it is obvious this was a few decades before my arrival.) He lived there until he was fifteen, when he was shipped off to boarding school in New Jersey. He returned to Saint Paul after being dismissed from Princeton due to failing grades. Again, lifting directly from the Pioneer Press: "With nothing to lose, he re-wrote 'This Side of Paradise' and became the inventor -- and chronicler -- of the Jazz Age. After their marriage (in 1920), Scott and Zelda (Sayre) returned to Saint Paul for the birth of their daughter, (Frances Scott) Scottie. Fitzgerald never came back to Saint Paul after 1922 (despite urban legends that place him at various places in town over the years)."
Rather than attempt to list the events and activities and programs associated with the conference, I will instead suggest an internet search which will provide anyone and everyone with more information than an individual is able to digest. Since I will be out of town, I will be unable to attend any presentations .... but/but/but, I will be able to visit the primary photographic exhibit, "Sight Unseen: Rarely viewed Photographs of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his Family and Friends," at the George Latimer Central Library in Saint Paul .... see you there ?? .... maybe ?? And, since this is not an actual post, there is no need for actual comments ....
As a footnote, it is worth mentioning that this conference alternates between the United States and Europe. It was held in Saint Paul in 2002, and this will be the first time the international event has ever gathered in the same city twice.
The photograph here, incidentally, is of F. Scott and Zelda about the time of their marriage. The songs are two of my favorites sung by two of my favorites .... hmmmm .... later, baby ....

Monday, May 29, 2017

So it is ....

Today is Memorial Day ....

It began as an event to honor and to remember the Union dead from the American Civil War. After World War I, it was extended to include all the men and the women who died while serving in any war or military action. It initially was called Decoration Day, becoming Memorial Day after World War II and officially named as such, by act of Congress, in 1967. Over the ensuing years, it has become more and more a day in which people recall and honor family members and friends who came before them. The affiliation with the poppy, incidentally, began in 1918 and the poppy became the American Legion official symbol of remembrance in 1920.

Enough with the history ....

To maintain my Semper Fidelis attachments, included here are three videos (sort of) related to the U.S. Marine Corps. And, in keeping with one of the traditions of the Corps, the photograph was "liberated" from the internet where it was attributed to Getty Images.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Welcome, to the Merry Month of May

No, this is not a photograph taken from the deck of Fridtjof Nansen's ship, "Fram," to illustrate what happens to a sailing vessel frozen into the Arctic ice cap or one taken recently to demonstrate the ferocity of Minnesota winters. This is a sidewalk on Main Street in Cottonwood. Best guess is that the photograph was taken around 1910 .... Cottonwood is the small, rural, Minnesota town in which I spent the first eighteen years of my life.
While the town did not even exist until 1888 when a post office was established and the railroad arrived, the first homesteaders had appeared in 1871. Although I was not present in 1888 or even in 1910, this is the way I remember Cottonwood during winter months and the way I remember the depth of the snow: One did not shovel the sidewalk; rather, one shoveled a one-way path along the sidewalk.

The small sign in the foreground reads: "J V Mathews Lawyer"
Behind it, the sign proclaims: "Meat Market"
Further down the street, the sign says: "Restaurant"

There is a photograph of Mathews, incidentally, in, "An Illustrated History of Lyon County Minnesota," published in 1912. He was born on his parents' homestead on March 30, 1879, moved to Cottonwood on March 12, 1907, and had his office on the second floor of the Grieve & Laingen Building. Although the "snow shoveler" is not identified, he very well might be Lawyer Mathews.

By the way, welcome to the Merry Month of May. I shoveled snow both yesterday and today ....

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Farthest north .... for a brief moment ....

 One hundred twenty-two years ago at this very moment, a wooden ship which had been deliberately frozen into the polar ice cap was adrift within it and captive to it. Each man aboard among the all-Norwegian crew was harboring the hope -- the dream -- of drifting over the North Pole and, by that means, being the first to reach it. The name of the ship was, "Fram," which in the Norwegian language means "forward." It had been designed and constructed for this specific purpose.
The leader of the expedition, Fridtjof Nansen, and a companion, Hjalmar Johansen, had left the vessel earlier and were on the ice retreating for Franz Josef Land after an unsuccessful attempt to reach the North Pole by sledges and skis. On April 7 in the year 1895, they had reached a point farther north than anyone before them. It was at that location Nansen decided if he and Johansen did not turn around then and there, death on the ice cap would undoubtedly overtake them. Farthest north, for a moment -- then, the moment is gone and the trek is over and the dream is forever vanished ....
As it was, Nansen and Johansen did spend eight months living in a stone/moss/ice hut at Cape Felder on the western edge of Franz Josef Land, living off polar bear/seal/walrus meat obtained by hunting. Their journey had begun in 1893 and did not conclude until 1896. Nansen, incidentally, had been the first to cross the Greenland ice cap on skis. This dash toward the North Pole venture was his last on the ice. He became a professor of oceanography, and he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for his work with refugees. Johansen went on to explore Antarctic regions, but his luck was bad and his taste for liquor was unquenchable. He committed suicide at age forty-five.
When I was a boy, I idolized Nansen and had dreams of leading a similar life. This took me to books and to hunting and to winter camping on frozen Minnesota lakes in the midst of blizzards and sub-zero temperatures. I named my first canoe Fram, but cruising among January "ice bergs" on Lake Superior was the extent of its "far north" exploits. Hmmmm .... I wonder who the boys of today idolize and what dreams they might have ....
This has been sort of a post .... the photograph, incidentally, was taken of the ice-bound Fram by one of the crew in 1896. The ship and the crew did make it safely back to Norway, and the vessel later spent four years in the Canadian arctic and went on a south polar expedition. It is now on display in the Fram Museum near Oslo.
I will be back sooner or later .... probably later ....

Thursday, March 16, 2017

You looking at me ??!!

There seems to be a bit of "the grouch" revealed in the eyes of Buddy as he tries to catch up on his sleep, but is awakened by me stalking him with my camera .... click, flash .... click, flash .... click, flash. This is not an actual post, but, rather, a facsimile created to substitute for the real thing. Today, March 16, is my birthday, and I felt the need to mark it one way or another. What better way than by a photograph of Buddy ?? I doubt I will be back this way again until mid-April .... I feel a sort of strong urgency to pack up and move on, and time is becoming precious to me .... but, who can say ?? Certainty about anything or anyone is a scare commodity in these times.

Monday, January 16, 2017

One more time for now .... and, then ....

You may have noticed me mention in a place or two that I did break down and buy still Another Smith & Wesson revolver -- and, this time, another .38 Special, this one seventy years old and looking every day of it. I usually search out "old guns" which look like new. Obviously, they are the most valuable. This time what attracted me is a revolver which looks like it has been carried and used every day for seven decades. Actually, it is clear it has been a "working gun" in terms of being carried as evident through holster wear. Usually, I comment how reflection on the photograph of a gun is light glare; in this instance, however, it actually includes areas where outer blue finish has been rubbed off from holster wear. Close examination shows, though, it has not been fired a great deal. My guess is that this pre-Model 10 S&W has been a police gun where it was carried almost daily, but fired only once or twice a year for officer handgun qualification. The holster, incidentally, did not come with it. It is a George Lawrence Company holster. It dates at least to the 1950s and, very possibly, much earlier -- the firm has been around in initial form since 1857. Anyway, this will be my woodland-carry revolver in non-bear country. Next, I guess, is an illustration of a "split personality." If I want a good time and just plain have fun, I will head for a working man's saloon or a concert venue where a band like .38 Special or Lynyrd Skynyrd is performing. If you never have tried it, I would recommend going with a group rather than alone, because you never know what might happen. Come to think of it, I would recommend that for any saloon or concert hall. If I were looking for inspiration or the possibility of discovering Neverland, I would pick a performance by someone like Sarah Brightman or Andrea Bocelli. I assume no additional explanation is required, and I will end the list there for now. I also will include a song from .38 Special and from Sarah below. I almost feel like apologizing for including, "A Whiter Shade of Pale," as the Sarah-song, so often do I place it with my posts: It is haunting to me.

See you in February ....
(Continued from January 11 ....

I need to clear my mind (if that is possible) and decide if I want to continue playing the games of contemporary life styles or if I want to shed gadgets and gadgetry, kiss off political and social ideologues, change my persona to emulate Henry David Thoreau and wander off into a different neck of the woods to discover my own version of Walden Pond and put a fence around it. You might recall I tried that once, and called it my Sanctuary/Refuge .... well, I have two strikes left to accomplish that goal ....

I frequently write in my posts, but have not for a long while, that I call the varying stages of my life my "incarnations." That is to say, my college days were one incarnation; my Marine Corps time was another incarnation; my journalism trek was still another incarnation, although that one was not continuous and existed in segments.

During these times, my persona often changes to fit the situation. (Here we have another description I sometimes utilize -- the chameleon affect.) In other words, my hair style (and facial hair) will change; my manner and habit of dress will change, for instance, from suits and tie to jeans; my type of vehicle will change, for instance, from Audi to Suburban .... and on and on and on ....

It seems to me another new incarnation began last January/February and took a significant leap last mid-June. I think it will be moving into another stage soon. This blog has been part of my current incarnation; I do not think it will be part of the next.

Ain't life strange and weird and sort of .... ???? .... !!!!

In terms of the sea of blogs, I am not going "cold turkey" with it. For now, I plan to post on the the sixteenth of February and the sixteenth of March, and, we shall see after that ....

There are a few on the blogs I also will continue to visit. I think you know who you are ....

Send me smiles and stay safe and wish me luck .... barring the unforeseen .... see you in mid-February ....

Odds & ends ....

This post is going up late. I meant to publish this piece on January 13, but it actually is going up on January 16. (Superstitious guy, am I.) I fell ill (almost literally) during the night of January 11-12, and could do little more than crawl around for the next forty-four hours or so. (I call such "episodes" a reoccurring "jungle bug," which likes to remind me I am human -- all too human –- as Friedrich insists on repeatedly telling me; I have been "delving into" his book a bit during recent weeks.)

I spent about twenty-two hours of January 12 sleeping on my living room floor .... my poor, puppy-boy, companion, Buddy, only got outside to do his business three times; he did get his food, but it was late coming and he survived the test and stayed near me to show his understanding and sympathy. Since the last sighting of a coyote, I do not dare to allow him outside alone.

I was improved, but still slept most of January 13/14/15. Such is life ....

January 13 -- Happy Birthday, Mother.

January 16 -- It makes no difference to me which religion, calendar or ecological reckoning of weather patterns might be considered the to be the mid-point of winter -- January 16 is the marker for mid-FramWinter. If you lived somewhere like Minnesota, the Dakotas, Michigan or Montana, for instance, I think you might agree with me.

January 17 -- Happy Birthday, Rory.

January 21 -- My first blog was born on January 15, 2009, and I began this blog on January 21. I kept them both for a few weeks, then eliminated the original one. Anyway, this is the timetable I am working on with my plans.

January 24 -- Happy Anniversary, Me & the U.S. Marine Corps

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Places you might not ever expect to be, or .... the heat of the moment

Here we have "looking left" to discover "Volume II" of "Still Life of Dust." I hope you know I am making fun of you -- teasing, sort of, for the most part. "Looking right" made its appearance on January 9. If you are puzzled, ask questions. Beyond that, what we have here are some odds and ends, again, left over, for the most part, from 2016. The dialogue quoted is from the 1962 rendition of a film entitled, "The Manchurian Candidate." Figure it out, why it is here, if you are able. I may as well mention the music which is here now, too. Music comes and music goes .... as do we. I learned a while ago through a post on another blog -- that of Daliana -- that Greg Lake had died. Most would associate him with the bands Emerson, Lake & Palmer or King Crimson, but Asia enters my mind when I hear his name. Cancer caught him on December 7. A self-inflicted bullet caught Keith Emerson of ELP last March 11. The first offering of music is a concert by Asia with Lake as the front man at the Budokan in 1983. I rolled through the Kodokan once upon a time, but never rocked through the Budokan. Get it? Never mind. I watch Lake perform here, and I see the physical image of a thousand "frat" boys I knew in college .... but, this guy had real talent and I appreciate having moved through life at the same time he was on stage. The second piece of music is, "Drive," performed by the Cars. When you read the post (or, should I say, if you read the post ??) you might understand why that song is here.

Just wrapping up a few loose ends

A bit of dialogue between
Colonel Milt and Major Ben Marco
in the 1962 film version
of "The Manchurian Candidate"
from a novel by Richard Condon

Major Ben Marco: Colonel!

Colonel Milt: Ben. May I come in for a minute?

Major Marco: Oh, please do. Of course. Come on in. May I ask the Colonel: (a) is this an official visit? And (b) may I mix you a drink?

Colonel Milt: (a) Yes, it is, and (b) you certainly may.

Major Marco: Scotch all right?

Colonel Milt: Fine. My God, where'd ya get all the books?

Major Marco: I ... I got a guy picks 'em out for me at random. Water all right?
Colonel Milt: Fine.

Major Marco: He's in, uh ... San Francisco. A little bookstore out there. And, uh... he ships 'em to me, wherever I happen to be stationed.

Colonel Milt: Have you read them all?

Major Marco: Yeah. They'd also make great insulation against an enemy attack. But the truth of the matter is that I'm just interested, you know, in principles of modern banking ... and the history of piracy ... the paintings of Orozco ... modern French theatre ... the jurisprudential factor of the Mafia administration ... diseases of horses ... and the novels of Joyce Cary ... and ethnic choices of the Arabs. Things like that.

Colonel Milt: Ben.

Major Marco: Sir.

Colonel Milt: The army's got a lot of things wrong with it, but it does take care of its own people, which is why I'm here. As a public relations officer, you're a disaster.

Major Marco: I never wanted the job.

The Apocalypse .... or Ragnarok .... or ....

Me, either. I never wanted the job. Most of them. Some of them I did, I guess. But, mostly, I like to move around and hang out here and there. Life does catch up to you at times, though, and sometimes a bit of work is required for a bit of money (honey) or, more simply, a necessity to maintain self-discipline and to accomplish a goal or two or .... you know ....

Since I was a junior in high school -- sometime during the months when I moved from age sixteen to age seventeen -- the number seventeen became unlucky for me. Laugh if you wish. I am superstitious. Fine for you if you are not.

So, I assume you have noticed .... this year is 2017. You might imagine what is on my mind. One thing has been thinking back about how many times I could have been dead or should have been dead -- remembering the past and wondering if this year of 2017 will be like running a gauntlet.

I will not go into the litany of why it is the way it is about the number seventeen, suffice to say more than a few bad things have occurred in my life which I identify with the calendar date or some person, place or thing in which the number seventeen has had a role. No litany, but a few isolated examples without details of the dreaded number of seventeen:

When I was seventeen, I went through the ice on a lake three times in one week. Twice, I was near enough to the shoreline so that the water was only four or five feet deep. No big deal. The third time I was in the middle of the lake while taking a "short cut" home after hunting and where, I knew from having swum across the lake twice during past summer months and periodically diving to the bottom to learn the various depths, the water was about twelve feet deep.

Sometime, I might explain why I still am here and not at the bottom of that lake, but in the interest of brevity -- I am laughing again -- I will pass over that segment of the story for now, as well as any mention of other times in other years of feeling the ice collapse beneath me ....

I was sort of a wild one as a teenager and "liked" to tempt or to dare fate. (Please, do not tell my mother.) There was a "game" called a "chickie run" -- which, as you might guess, had nothing to do with "chicks." Two guys (I am not aware of any girls who did it) would separate by about a mile on an isolated road and drive their cars at each other as fast as the cars would run. Whoever would turn away at the last moment was a chicken.

Die or be a chicken. Crazy, hah? Yeh, so is life. We did it -- I did it twice as a driver and once as a passenger, all while I was seventeen -- even though seven who we knew in two cars had been killed doing it when neither driver swerved. They all were in high school (and, probably, mostly, if not all, age seventeen).

We will skip over the Marine Corps and its relationship to the number seventeen for this exercise, although I do have four good stories including an "Alamo" tale I could tell you if you had your own "bona fides" (no punks allowed) and got me drinking heavy some night -- or morning .... or afternoon ....

Well, anyway baby/honey/sweetie or whoever you think you are, I trust you follow my drift. (If you think you are all three -- baby/honey/sweetie -- wrapped up in one, give me a call !!)

Yes .... back on point .... we are about to enter 2017, and superstitious me is looking over my shoulder as I walk along through an entire year whose name is seventeen. Without more details about how the number seventeen factors into all these events, its "bad luck significance" is not sharply defined -- but, trust me, it is there, lurking in the background.

It seems everything I write these days is long, long, long, so I will try to begin to wrap this up: I plan on keeping a low profile for a while (laugh, if you must). My current existence, which includes the sea of blogs, does not hold my fascination any longer. Specifically regarding the blogs, they do not seem to serve a purpose for me as they once did.

 (To be continued .... at least, that is the plan ....)

Something special ....