When you’re worried, frightened. When you’ve lost your way and have no idea what to do, what’s your game changer? Is it a hug from a loved one? Encouragement from peers or colleagues? A visit to the doctor where he or she assures you that all is well, not to worry?
Information empowers me. Knowledge. Facts. You can hug me, praise me, love me, talk to me, but if I don’t understand what’s going on, I’m lost and miserable. You cannot comfort me unless I have information with which to process current events. For me, the mind rules and always has. This is how I have survived and how I continue to live in a world full of danger.
This is a fundamental issue facing us today. If you are knowledge-based and depend on science, history, knowledge … how do you survive in a world where facts are rare and truth has become as elusive as … white rhinoceroses? As we assassinate our wild species, we are also assassinating our ability to think. Collectively, we seem to be growing ever dimmer.
“Decades” is a show on “MeTV.” It’s for people our age who like remembering things that really happened in a world we recognize as ours.
Last night, they were discussing cults. I have written about the Jonestown massacre and it’s probably my most popular post over the past five years. Last night’s show included, among other cults, “Heavens Gate.” That’s where several dozen people killed themselves so they could arise and be lifted into the UFO following in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet. Maybe it’s just as well that people this foolish never lived to create more children. I know it sounds cruel, but really? They believed that? Clearly these are not people for whom knowledge was the critical issue.
What makes you feel free? Secure?
Are you satisfied with “Everything looks great” as an answer? How about “It’ll be huge!” No details. No explanation of what it means, if it means anything. Our new, improved medical care will take care of everyone — except we’ll be lucky if it takes care of anyone.
It’s not that we aren’t asking questions. We ask and we ask again. We can keep asking until we are blue in the face. We aren’t getting answers and probably, never will. But don’t worry. Whatever comes, it will be huge. Magnificent. We’ll get tired of winning. Really! The future is all great stuff for everyone all the time.
If you are a believer, that is. For the rest of us, it looks pretty creepy.
Yet, we can look to the skies. Maybe we’ll see another comet coming our way with a UFO tied to its tail. One of its reclining seats has your name on it. Maybe mine, too. And then, we will have all the health care any of us will ever need.
What empowers me? Information. Knowledge. Facts. Truth.
The more I know, the stronger I feel.
The rest is gibberish.
Where To Next? by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog
Perhaps you have seen the commercials or print ads for a popular travel planning site that features a garden gnome. Yes, a garden gnome! If you have done any travel planning online, then they may have popped up on your computer too. The internet is smarter than we are and knows when to send us a picture of a garden gnome. For years I thought the ad campaign was silly. I could not imagine why a lifeless gnome was speaking to us from various locales from around the world.
Then a friend recommended the beloved 2001 French film Amelie to me (aka Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain) . Actually, he checked it out of the library, gave it to me and told me to watch it. Amelie was busy in her life solving the problems of others while neglecting her own. As the film progresses, one of the people Amelie turns her attention to is her father, a widower who rarely seems to make it past the garden and his beloved gnome. I will not explain the importance of the wooden figurine, but needless to say, Amelie has launched a great plan that includes the gnome. If you do not know French, watch it with subtitles. It is worth it.
Some years after discovering why the gnome is travelling the world, I had a conversation with musician Tom Joseph Law regarding his t-shirts and where they had been seen online. Perhaps it was just a casual conversation about the posting of a friend, I honestly don’t recall, but I do remember that I had a picture of myself at a local event in 2015 where I was wearing the shirt. So I posted it to Facebook.
In the picture, a stick figure Tom is falling off his surfboard while a large fish seems ready to greet him. It is based on a rather horrible surfing accident which Tom relayed to me one day in quite a bit of detail. Some of it is a bit amusing now that time has passed, but it was not pleasant. It affected Tom’s voice for a long time to follow. This is not good for a singer-songwriter.
The first time I went to Colombia, I took the shirt along and got several pictures throughout Medellin. I am not sure which one I posted at the time, so here is one with my friend and tour guide for the visit. Not only did John take a few pictures with my camera, but we also bothered his friends to get some pictures of us. It was the first time John and I met in person, after a year or more of conversation.
On the next trip to Colombia I may have forgotten this particular shirt, but I had another Tom Law shirt with me. It is the drawing that also appears on the cover of an album (EP, actually). I may have violated the true spirit of the gnome, but nothing says Colombia more than an American wearing the British guy’s t-shirt in front of the British store in a mall in Medellin. So here it is anyway.
When I finally got to travel to England and visit the area where Tom is from, he had already left the country. I am pretty sure that had nothing to do with our arrival. So we found our own travel guide and went on to Bath while Tom was hiding in an eastern European country. I guess it was his own personal Brexit. Anyway, I got my travel companion to take pictures of my gnome t-shirt with my phone. If you wish to see pictures of our tour of Salisbury, Stonehenge and a Roman Bath, you can find them here.
Last month I visited my closest friend in France. This brought the opportunity to get another picture of the traveling t-shirt with the gnome falling off the surfboard. On a sunny day in a week that was filled with clouds, we made it to Strasbourg where I coaxed the French guy into taking pictures of yours truly in the British t-shirt. Since the guy in the foreground is not much to look at, it is fortunate we were on the street that leads up to the magnificent cathedral in Strasbourg.
This historic building was started over a thousand years ago. It is awesome in its intricate details and is always a site to behold. At one time, it was the tallest structure in Europe. Now the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg should be on the tour of anyone passing through the Alsace region, whether you are carrying a garden gnome or not.
When considering all of the countries where this shirt has been, whether there was a postcard home from the gnome or not, Tom thinks it may have made it to more countries than he has. That’s not too bad, actually.
In the course of events, I dove back into my Arizona folders and realized there are maybe a thousand more pictures ready for processing. So today, we are back in the desert … the gritty paths in the great Southwest.
From Nancy Merrill:
Looking back through past challenges, I found that I have never done a dedicated black and white challenge. It really surprised me. I love editing in black and white. When I was still shooting with film, I loved using black and white dedicated film, especially for slides. There’s something amazing about black and white images. They are instantly nostalgic and artistic.
IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A BLACK AND WHITE PHOTO OR TWO (OR MORE)
From Arizona, three landscapes and a portrait.
One of my pieces was posted on a highly political board elsewhere. You can look it up at INTELLIGENCE FOR THE UNINTELLIGENT – AND BANNON.
I gave permission and up it went. Before its time in the sun was complete, it had gotten dozens of responses. Being me, I tried to keep up with all the comments, but by the third day it was obvious the commenters had abandoned me and were arguing with each other. I drifted home to Serendipity.
Exhausting! While overall it was a better experience than (for example) Facebook, with fewer people ranting mindlessly, there were still more than a few of them. As an American, I’m proud to say the craziness was reasonably well-distributed between left and right-wing crazies, although in my opinion, right-wingers spew more bad language than left-wingers. This may be due to a weakness in their vocabulary. I encourage them to work on their language skills so when they spew hate, they can do it with more class and fewer references to fecal matter.
What it did remind me of, in full measure, was how hard it is to have a conversation about anything that matters. It isn’t just politics. It’s everything. The entire population of these fifty United States has hit some kind of edge. We’re all ready to pop. Whether it’s the slow driver blocking the left lane, someone stealing a parking space, or putting down too many items in the “quick” lane at the supermarket, we’re ready to blow up. That is unhealthy and sometimes, dangerous.
Personally, I need to take a breath, step back, and rethink how I deal with this.
I’m terribly unhappy with the political situation at home and almost equally upset at the way the rest of the world is drifting. We seem to be collectively heading for another world war, whether we do it nuclear or just kill each other in more traditional ways. Given what’s on the table here and abroad, it will get worse. Can I live in a state of fraught, hysterical insanity long-term? I don’t think I can. I know I don’t want to.
I’ve disliked a fair number of presidents and other heads of state in multiple countries. Locally, from Nixon, and Reagan (who I mostly missed by being overseas), and then through three terms of two Bushes, that’s a fair number of American presidents I would have happily lived without. Trump is the last and hopefully, the worst. He has raised our national temperature to such a point we are going to need a collective ice bath to just calm the fuck down.
There are people with whom I will never have a civil conversation. The things they say are so far removed from anything in which I believe, there’s no way to have a conversation. People who won’t believe in facts, science, or history, or even English spoken as a language, are not people with whom I’m going to chat pleasantly. Men who think they know what women should do with their bodies? Never going to be a pal of mine. The remainder of people who hold to something resembling rationality, with them, perhaps I can talk. If they don’t directly insult me, maybe I can avoid ranting at them.
Then, there’s the more cultured approach, which I strongly favor. Before we blow up, rage, rant, and foam at the mouth, think about British comedy. That’s where everyone skewers and guts one another without murmuring a single foul word. If they can do it, surely we can too. It’s time we upped the ante on insults. Time to get out of the gutter and move into the parlor. More wit, less raving.
There are so many delicious, witty, and sometimes charming ways to insult each other. Let’s see if we can find some.
I discovered Forever Knight when it was in reruns on the Sci Fi channel. It was showing around 2 in the morning. Garry was working the dawn patrol and had already left for work by the time the show came on. I was working from home, allowing me to sometimes see my husband before he was off to work … and indulge my taste for weird TV shows you can only see in the middle of the night.
I became an addict. I needed my knightly fix. They were showing season two when I found the show. I didn’t see the first season until I bought the DVDs (used) on Amazon. We watched them last winter when the ice and snow locked us into the house. It proved a good antidote to cabin fever.
How cool can a cop show be? This one is extremely cool. A vampire, repenting of his formerly evil ways, joins the Toronto police department. How does he get around the whole “vampires can’t be in the sun” business? Not to mention they “only drink blood” thing?
He has this big old American car with a huge trunk in which he can hide in a “sun” emergency. Drinks cow’s blood. Works the night shift. Invents a massive allergy to the sun to explain his inability to work days.
Nick Knight is more than 800 years old. A vampire working homicide. He is trying (with the help of Natalie, a lovely young coroner) to regain his humanity. Knight is not his name, of course. He was an actual knight in the 13th century when he became a vampire.
The show ran from 1992 to 1996, though the pilot ran in 1989. The DVDs divide into three seasons and no, I don’t understand how they count seasons. There are 22 shows in the first season, 26 in the second, 22 in the third for a total of 70 episodes.
The original broadcast channel in North America was CBS — May 5,1992 to May 17, 1996. The show also ran in Germany, England and Australia (I don’t know if it was ever shown in Canada). It has been rerun in several places since including the Sci Fi channel here. The DVD sets originated in the US and Germany. The sets are different in length, and how they were edited. The German versions are longer and sexier. Mine came in boxes that say made in USA, but the DVDs were pressed in Germany. This link (in Wikipedia) gives a full list of episodes.
A cop show with a vampire as the lead detective? It isn’t just a guilty pleasure. It’s a good show and ahead of its time. And last, but not least, it’s witty and clever.
Geraint Wyn Davies plays Detective Nick Knight. He also co-wrote and directed many of the shows. Nigel Bennett is Lucien LaCroix, Knight’s maker and the weirdest overnight DJ in radio history. Deborah Duchêne plays Janette DuCharme, Nick’s sexy vampire “sister” and sometimes lover. Catherine Disher is Natalie Lambert, the police coroner and Nick’s sort-of love interest.
The acting is good. The scripts are coherent, thematic, often with a moral twist and some interesting philosophical speculations. And who would have guessed Toronto was crawling with vampires? Fortunately most of the show’s undead are surprisingly circumspect showing far more restraint than they have shown in their pasts, which are seen in flashback.
During the show’s final season, when the producers, director and cast knew they were not being renewed, they methodically kill off the entire cast. That third season is memorable. Fascinating. Also, unavailable.
Forever Knight Season 1 and Forever Knight Season 2 can be purchased via Amazon Instant Video. Season 3 is not — for the moment — available anywhere I know of. Netflix has some part of it on DVD, but I don’t have a DVD plan and they won’t let me search to find out which seasons they’ve got. I’m betting they rent it DVD by DVD. There are 5 or 6 DVDs per season with 5 or 6 episodes on each disc. I suspect they don’t have all three seasons.
They may have to call me to get the final season because I own all three seasons, having bought the last known copy of season three. It was used and I’d been looking for it for years. I thought it was too expensive and was reluctant to pay the money but eventually realized it was now or never. When there’s only one of something, you don’t have a lot of bargaining power.
As Garry and I have been watching our way through the series, I think it may have been a bargain after all. It’s a lot of entertainment … a lot of bang for the bucks.
It’s fun. Well-written. Original, Unique. Sexy. Creative. It won’t gross you out with gallons of blood and gore but I love it when Nick’s eyes glow orange or green, depending on circumstance. I like the music and Toronto is a lovely city.
I recommend Forever Knight, though I’m not sure what you can do about season three. You might have to come to my house and watch it with us.
The Owl and the Pussycat
by Edward Lear
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!’
Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?’
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
‘Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon
I got an almost entire night’s sleep last night and rather than being wide awake and ready to run, I feel like going back to bed and doing it for another 10 or 12-hours.
Sleep deficit builds. I’ve been working on this sleep deficit since my son was born in 1969. Now that I’m beginning to occasionally get a whole night’s sleep — with interruptions for getting up, adjusting the bed, then drifting back to sleep — I asked Garry if he thought I would ever make up for my 47-year sleep deficit.
He looked at me, one eyebrow up. He looked thoughtful. Contemplative. Then, he spoke.
“No,” he said, and went back to his computer.
There you have it. Not a chance.
A good idea is like a dream. Perhaps it is a dream, in waking form. It comes misty and bright. Beautiful, floating in your mind. Catch it before it flies away because it will fade to a mostly forgotten memory in minutes. No matter how certain you are that you won’t forget it, I bet you will.
You don’t need to fully develop every concept as it flashes across your consciousness. But, if you think it is worth turning into any kind of authoring, write it down. Where you write it doesn’t matter, as long as you remember where. Your phone, a piece of paper, the white board in the kitchen, a couple of lines in a post on your dashboard. The important part, is to do it quickly. Put at least a sentence or two somewhere and try to make sure it is something which will help you remember what you saw.
Ideas, flashes and thoughts are ephemeral. Reality will steal them, so catch those ideas. Those ideas you are absolutely sure you couldn’t possibly forget will be gone before you turn around twice. Catch them before they get away!
Haircuts can be a complex problem for a guy. Nay, you say?
Yay, I say — if you’re a man of color.
Not all barbers can cut “our kind” of hair. It’s one of America’s darker secrets. If one has curly, sometimes called “kinky” hair, barbers are befuddled and sometimes nervous. White barbers. Fellas used to the electric razor and scissors to trim the smooth hair of boys, teens, men, and even older gents with fair skin.
It’s a sensitive, ethnic thing.
Growing up, I always went to black-owned and operated barber shops in our diverse neighborhoods. No worries. You asked for a summer or winter haircut. Close or maybe moderate — to accommodate the weather. Awaiting my time in the barber chair, I’d peruse the men’s magazines with pictures that stimulated my growing body. The air was usually full of cigar smoke and raunchy conversation with much laughter. One of the barbers would caution there were kids in the shop. The laughter only got louder with someone slapping me on the shoulder. I remember those days with great affection.
Fast forward through the decades. It’s 1970 and I’m a newly arrived TV news reporter in Boston. Predominantly WHITE Boston. I was living IN Boston, five minutes away from downtown businesses and the TV station. There were several barber shops or men’s hair stylists in the area.
I tried one recommended by the star anchorman whose blonde, carefully layered coif was a thing of beauty.
I could feel the stares as I entered the ornate hair salon. I waited a few, very long moments until a gent who looked like the old time actor William Powell approached me. His white barber jacket had perfect creases. He offered a polite smile while informing me his shop could not properly “address” my kind of hair. I smiled and left, quietly seething inside.
I needed a trim before making my Boston television début. So it was that I instantly became a celebrity client at the local barber’s college. It wasn’t pretty.
Word spread quickly and I received a call from Boston Mayor Kevin White’s office. A day later, I had a personal barber. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that lasted more than 30 years.
GARRY’S PHOTOGRAPHS OF OUR TOWN AND THE BARBER SHOP
Fast forward again, maybe another 10 years. Now retired and living in small town New England, I had no real need for spiffy hair cuts. However, I still traveled a distance because I didn’t trust any of our local barbers who didn’t seem eager to get my business.
MARILYN’S PICTURES OF THE BARBER SHOP AND GARRY
We were now living on a fixed income. It seemed silly to travel that distance and pay $40 (plus tip) for a fancy hair salon clip with my receding hairline. I summoned up my old Marine Corps courage and decided to check out a local, corner barbershop. The classic barber’s pole beckoned me. I entered and surprise — smiles and friendly greetings. I walked over to the available barber and quietly, awkwardly asked if he could cut “my” hair. He smiled broadly and said, “No problem, Bro”. It was the beginning of another beautiful friendship.
Eddie knew his stuff. He smiled as I removed my hearing aids and told him I was in his hands. Ten minutes later and I was a new man with a crisply trimmed coif that managed to hide some of the growing shiny spots atop my head.
Eddie would tell me he prided himself with his work. It was his way of saying ethnicity was not an issue. His biggest issue? Smart-aleck kids with overbearing parents. Eddie soon opened his own shop. He branched to a second operation and is a well-respected fella in our small town. Yes, I’ve recommended him to other people of varying ethnicities.
There are no men’s magazines with adult photographs in Eddie’s place. He’s sensitive to the young people who come through the door. There are lots of interesting pictures on the wall, most guaranteed to make you smile.
If you’re in our town and need a haircut, stop in at Eddie’s place. You’ll like him.
You’ll love his prices.
We live in New England. It gets cold. Not West Coast cold. We get the real deal, including bitter days with the temperature below zero and piles of ice and snow through which only a snow plow (maybe) can pass.
We do have a heating system and good insulation, but we are always just a little bit cold, especially in the spring and fall when I’m not ready to start (or restart) the heat.
But the biggest, most determined blanket maven in the house is Bonnie. The crate in the corner is her house and in it are her blankets. Many blankets. Periodically, we pull all the blankets out and run them through the laundry. Garry lovingly folds them and puts them neatly in Bonnie’s house.
Bonnie gives him That Look. After which she goes in her crate. Pulls the pile apart, drags each blanket out of the crate, then drags them back in. She then rearranges them until they form that perfect pile in which she will be completely at her ease. She also drags everything else in there, too. Biscuits, toys, pieces of old cardboard boxes and anything else she has found and decided to save.
She is very particular about the arrangement of her blankets. We may not be able to see the careful organization, but she knows. Don’t go messing with her blankets. She will have to start all over again, pulling them out, dragging them back in. It’s a busy life for a small, black Scottish Terrier.
For a woman raised in New York and living in Massachusetts, the desert is another world. The colors of the sky. The mountains jutting into the sky and giant cacti growing across the landscape. We have spent two vacations in Arizona and each has been glorious.
Today I saw a bird I didn’t recognize. At first I thought it was an immature Cardinal, but when I got a closer look, I saw that the beak was not rose or red, but white. There were two birds: a pale grey-beige female and a matching male with a red-head and a gray-beige body. Both have pale beaks and they can’t be Cardinals.
I went on line and couldn’t find any local birds resembling them. I dug out my books … and the only bird these two can be are a pair of red finches, birds that were introduced here as caged birds in the 1940s and 1950s. They appear to be building a nest in the tree in front of my picture window.
In any case, I can’t find anything else they could be. They are known to be occasional, accidental travelers to this region, but are rare. The good news? These are big time insect eaters. Maybe they heard about our massive attack of Gypsy caterpillars and moved here for the chow. Maybe we can get a whole flock of them? I’d like that!
They have been on the branch in front of my window on and off for the past four or five days. Today, they were in my view much of the day and I badly wanted pictures. The only way I could shoot them would be through my picture window. And the branch on which they have decided to perch is far off to the left side of the window. A difficult angle at best.
I shot more than 100 pictures of the birds and maybe a half-dozen were remotely acceptable. All of these have been cropped, some heavily. All the pictures were blurry. Streaked windows, too many branches, buds, and leaves. I can’t shoot them from the ground — they would be invisible in the tree. These are as good as I’ll get. More than a little frustrating.
If anyone has a better idea what these birds might be, I’d be happy to hear from you! They do look like red finches. If they are moving in here, that will be great for the birds and as far as I am concerned, every bug-eating bird and bat is welcome to settle down on my place.
Beautiful birds, your dinner is waiting. Come and get it!
I’m not thrilled with news. Any news. I can’t abide right-wing lies based on the exact opposite of what happened, especially when they are talking about things through which I lived and have seen. For shear blatant not-even-a-hint-of truth lying, they are the winners. But the left of the aisle crap is only nominally better. They may begin from a hint of truth, but then take some minor thing and blow it up to something gigantic. Put up a headline on it which sounds as if something astounding is about to (or just did) happen. So whatever it was, it ends up a total lie.
At the root was something real, but the result is nonsense.
I would have to be a fool to believe it.
At this point, I don’t believe anything.
My personal political allegiances are not news. I don’t need news organizations to approve or disapprove on my behalf. That’s not the point of news.
I want information, data, and facts based on a recognizable reality. I want the news to give me an informed, intelligent, and preferably neutral idea of what’s going on. I don’t want overblown headlines about how Trump is about to be impeached. Because he isn’t about to be impeached (yet) and anyone with half a brain knows that. I don’t want shouted headlines about stuff that isn’t happening and will never occur. Nor do I want distorted stories which only make the stuff in which I believe look stupid.
I don’t want right-wing “summaries” about news that never happened and will never occur. I don’t want left-wing fairy tales, either.
It’s hard to find believable news from any source. I don’t trust anything from any form of social media. Each has its own version of what they think I want to hear. I don’t want to hear what they think I want to hear. I want to know what happened. What was seen. What was written. Then I will decide what I believe.
In today’s world, is there room for reality?
We’ve been watching a PBS series about World War 1. It was a terrible time. It was also when many of the myths, fables, and lies with which we are now living, began. It was the time when we started thinking we were fighting for democracy, and that somehow, we were “the right country” to defend democracy everywhere. It wasn’t true then. It isn’t true now.
We have been believing those same lies since 1914, the beginning of the breach between our political halves. It was the start of what we see every day in 2017. A hundred years of lying. Wilson could have gotten everything he wanted from Congress including the League of Nations, but refused to accept it because (are you ready?) the “deal” was offered by the wrong party.
Bringing us to today. News agencies? Please get off your soap boxes. Give me facts. That might be a start to a better world. For everyone.