We Traced the Skyline

There's a theory I have about having been tertiary to this event, this day in history. You got your primary experiencers who are part of a group and among that group they know what they know, either staying quiet or protesting something, depending, all the rest of their lives. They are part of a terrible invisible club no one should want to belong to. I can’t speak as one of them, and would never try to. I honor their forbearance toward the rest of us as we tried to figure out how we fit into the picture.

You got your secondaries, in this case, people like me who were external witnesses in some way, and it affected us immediately in a number of areas, but not quite painfully, and we wouldn't think of laying claim to more than our share, because we could see the pain in and for others, right there in front of us. We stood on the beach in little groups and stared across the harbor at the blackened skyline, looking for flames. We rode the train to the city for the first time afterwards in some trepidation, not sure what we'd find. We watched planes circle overhead for weeks, and we attended memorials for the dead in our townships; "bedroom communities" for people with Manhattan offices. But as I said, we did all this just as external witnesses, nothing more. All we experienced during that day and those months afterwards was sometimes scary, sometimes frustrating, sometimes touching. We have stories. Yet we could always go home and scrub it from our skin and move on with our typically mundane lives.

If you were tertiary, you read about it, bumped into aspects of it, and wanted to embrace it because it was really, really big, but you didn't know how to fully connect. You simply weren’t there. So you flew your little car flags til they were raggedy, played Six Degrees of Separation from Tragedy, and cried “Never Forget" ensuring you’d always have something to remember and nod your head over. You discussed it online, compared Degrees, theories, solutions. All of this is completely understandable. We didn’t know back then what might happen next, you didn’t know if it could happen to you. But of course, it didn’t. Instead of still trying to lay claim to part of a huge tragedy after all this time, you get to be glad you didn’t have to.

I miss New York. It literally (literally) throbs with life. Something I will never forget is the first time I walked up the steps out of Penn Station onto 7th Avenue, and felt the air breathe around me. It was palpable, and it has stayed with me for fifteen years. I catch my breath as I write about it. It’s chaotic and it smells bad at night when they put the garbage out, and the public restrooms, if you can find them, are really lousy. But it is a living, breathing city like no other, and I will always be glad for the time I have spent there, even if I am never to go back. It’s been four years since I was an 80 minute train ride away. Yet my time there helped shape who I am now. New York taught me to embrace texture, pattern, and the juxtaposition between, oh, just anything and everything. You should go, if ever you can. Not so you can touch a part of history, but so you can experience everywhere on the planet drawn together into one neat crowded rectangle of humanity. It’ll be something awe-inspiring for you to embrace.






Hot September Evening

Here, first, I know some of you become excited when you see this sort of thing.


This is how dogwoods do in fall.

And by the way, I don't care that some of you don't say fall. Like, whatever. We do. It's short for a very old expression, "fall of the leaves." It's nice.

It's thundering out, but we don't expect much rain. If we have some, it'll be all right because we're no longer continually overcome by it. True September weather is expected to begin around the 10th, and I'm so thankful for the reprieve. Last summer was kind of cold, and this one was mostly just wet and then not very hot until this past weekend. We are to have heat all week, and I am soaking it in.

Here are memories Facebook showed me for one year ago yesterday.

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No point in your trying to friend me there. You can find me easily and better at Google Plus or Twitter.

I haven't painted anything this summer, but learning to properly sew with the machine has been fun. Back when Mom knew me, I suppose she couldn't have imagined my favorite hobbies besides reading would be sewing, painting, and gardening. Cooking she might have guessed. But she didn't teach me everything she made in time, and I had to figure out some of it on my own. I was awkward as a young person, and as things came easily to her, I think she found me confusing. 

Yesterday when I was watering the pointless watermelon vines, and the peas and beans, I got to thinking about how it would be if I knew her all along up to now. It is a certainty I would not have my second child if my mother had not died when she did, and also I would not have endured some scary painful events. But I wouldn't trade second kid for the knowledge life would hurt less. It all came as sort of a weird package deal. Am I saying I wouldn't trade kid for Mom? That's too complex and silly to bother thinking through. What is, is.

I think Mom, still alive, would have passed through her very extreme religious era into something more...peaceable and open. It isn't wishful thinking; there'd be no point in that. It's just how she was, how many people are.

Big fat raindrops are drumming along the skylight now.

I think I'll make the olives tomorrow. I finally have it down pretty well after all these years.

Season's changing in the front, but in the back it's still summer for a little while longer.


Chatter about childhood and anti-heroes

The other day I was watching The Wild Bunch while coloring my hair. It isn't a favorite movie; a lot of violence and shouting, and the marginally likeable people all die. But it's a great film in many ways, and showed people the reality of mayhem in undeclared war, which previous westerns had either avoided or just touched on.

One concept that wasn't new but was just taking firm hold was the idea that sometimes the bad guys are more moral than the good guys. Sometime let's start to take up the difference between ethics and morality, and then change the subject for more shallow territory. Anyway. Holden's bunch certainly didn't have ethics on their side, but the groups of people working against them were largely immoral.

Oh, dear, please don't tell me in a Google Plus reply about how I did not perfectly state this because of some math that you know or something. I just couldn't bear it this week. Take my meaning, instead. In fact, always do that. I'm fingerpainting here; it's what I do.

The "anti-hero" was my hero from the moment I discovered him. Yes, him. They were all male, and at the time, it made sense that they were. They were mostly late 19th-early 20th century mavericks who bucked increasingly systemized thought and the people who used those systems to take advantage of weakness in others.

So many people relate to those characters and (often sheepishly) look up to them, yet in everyday life, and in what passes for the democratic process, they remain lazy or contented to let the hand-rubbing money barons run things for them. I've never understood that. It upsets me greatly, so I'm going to change the subject, only slightly.


I loved playing sheriff and also holding up the bank that was also my tree where later I talked to Jesus after I had First Communion and felt like a direct line should be established. When I was sheriff, I wore a denim vest with a tin star pinned to it that my mother made from layers of aluminum foil. But a neighbor complained there was nothing under the vest, and though I was five, this was apparently terrible.

Let's pause for a moment and reflect on a (very) large rural yard in 1970. If you are part of the always online generation, you can't begin to understand about that, and I want you to pay attention. It was a sweet wholesome life for a little kid. There were probably about as many nutballs per 100 as ever there have been, but they very rarely counted in our lives, because we did not have the world wide web telling us they were everyone except ourselves. What could you see beneath my vest in 1970? A narrow bit of skin between the two sides. And arms. Far, far less than any typical bathing suit of the time would display. But this person perceived something more. And what I want you to understand is that the person with the perception was the one I needed protection against. People who think five year-olds in play vests are on sexual display are akin to fundamentalists who never let siblings see a baby undressed. They have creepy attitudes about humanity and you should never pander to them.

But Mom didn't let me wear the vest alone anymore, and I've always hated layers, feeling trapped by sleeves and fabric clinging to my neck except during a brief Annie Hall fashion obsession a few years later, so I became a full time bank robber for awhile. I had money bags with fake bills in them of tremendous denominations, and six shooters with caps to stop anyone who tried to catch me. People who interfere with other people's happiness and dignity easily stood in for the bad good guys, and I tended to picture them like Jackie Gleason, which is nicely prescient toward Smokey and the Bandit, I do think. Or like Hamilton Burger, the D.A. in Perry Mason. He wasn't bad, but he was totally annoying, always assuming rotten motivations based on superficialities.

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I'd build escalating stories in my head about someone who was in trouble for being misunderstood, and being taken advantage of because of it, and I'd rescue them between bank jobs, and give them some of the money.

There's no point to any of this, in case you've been looking for one. I just wanted you to know I haven't really ever changed much. When I was younger, I was usually filled with some sort of moral outrage toward people who behaved either from selfish motivations, or from lazy assessments of something without regard for the bigger picture, and whatever lies beneath their first glance. People who thought how they felt about something mattered more than whatever was actually there. Now, I'm just weary of it all.


Hey, as a sort of aside, are you a fairly clever person, but kind of linear, (which is okay, but I mean, balance, and so forth,) and you make a sort of joke or half-serious statement perhaps to make a point, and someone like me replies in a way that takes you off balance and so your initial assumption because you took (me) literally is that (I) didn't understand what you meant, and so you explain the joke, kind of ruining the whole thing for both of "us?" I'm sorry I never really get that about you, and I'll try harder to match my communication style to yours sometimes, be less oblique, etc., but also, I think you should be aware that this makes it seem like you think you are smarter than everyone, and that simply cannot be true, especially on the internet, where everyone's IQ is either 132 or 146, and also, there's maybe a pinhole in your intellect where lateral thinking resides. Just food for thought. You could maybe just put your finger over it.


How I Bought My Movie

You might have worked out that I like James Bond films a whole lot. I like each of them in and for their own era. Roger Moore's James Bond inhabited the grown-up world I was partial witness to. Pierce Brosnan's Bond inhabited the grown-up world in which my view was expanded. Daniel Craig's Bond exists between all that and a somewhat better world we're all trying to say we belong in.

On Saturday, the ION channels had a marathon of Bond films from GoldenEye through Quantum of Solace. Four Pierce Brosnans and two Daniel Craigs. The Judy Dench Years. I had them on while I did stuff, because I was oddly and pleasantly alone for much of the day. I fell asleep during Casino Royale, but of course I've seen it a billion times. Yesterday evening I watched the recording of Quantum of Solace, and then went straight to Netflix for Skyfall. It was not there.

It wasn't there? Now I know why (more on that in a minute,) but yesterday that was annoying, because it was on there for a long time.

Why am I telling you all this? Because I miss my blog. I have some ideas for refreshing it all, going to get to that, but in the meantime I wanted to type things and tell people stuff.

Last night I looked on Amazon. Various configurations of Skyfall were between 13-16 dollars. I didn't really want just a digital copy, and it wasn't even available to rent for $2.99. (In a minute.)

Today we looked it up at the library and both blu-rays were checked out. One DVD was lost, the other damaged. I went up to Target, because I felt suddenly as though this was an imperative. No copies. No Bond at all, actually.

The phone doesn't work very well at Target, but I looked at meijer.com. No results. Desperate, I went to walmart.com. Their copies all said September 15 pre-order, except one for $23. But that wouldn't be available til Friday. Target.com also said September pre-order, so I decided they were repackaging it before Spectre, and now I know it's being re-released in special steel boxes. Pre-order at Best Buy, a place I didn't think to call. Meijer, Walmart, and Best Buy are all together in a dreadful area for traffic known as Eastgate; big nonsensical highway project been going on forever. But also in that area is the mall, and my son suggested we call a store there called FYE. And they had a used DVD for $9.99. So I seriously went to the mall to get it. The store is near an entrance, so no actual malling had to be done. Mission accomplished.


Netflix and others would be made to pull it before a new release so that people will, you know, buy it instead. I just had bad timing. But I don't buy much new or for full price (this is my heritage) unless it's extra special, so this is okay by me.

I'll be honest. A whole lot of why I'm into it lately is for the Tom Ford of it all, et all, and also etcetera. I'm shallow like that. But also, spies and stuff. I saw two spy movies at the theater this summer: Spy and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I love spy movies.

I'm gonna go watch my new used movie now. I have plans to do more with this page, that I hope will be enjoyable to others.


PS: No. I said I buy things used or at a discount. I don't pay nothing for something still easily available other ways. This is how we keep having nice things.

My cherished iPod Classic

This is what I'd save from a fire.

I can play nearly anything on command through my phone or Kindle Fire HD. But they don't mean as much to me as my carefully organized iPod collection. They never could.

This one is only a few months old, actually. The older one was starting, just starting, to not hold a charge for as long when Apple discontinued it. I emptied my piggy bank for another one.

I can plug it into many devices in or outside our house, because I like my music everywhere; that is, I like the option of it everywhere. I also take great pleasure in silence, of course. But there's a stereo system I put together from thrift store purchases—except for the speakers. There's a dock in the kitchen, a portable unit with an mp3 cord for gardening or hanging out on the porch, two sound bars, and of course, the car stereo.

It never needs wifi, and it doesn't even need electricity, except to charge every few days. Currently, it has about 6000 songs on it, about half of which have very high bit rates, and it will hold 9000 more if I want it to. It also serves as a backup hard drive for photos and other files.

Every device we buy these days has more and more functionality. But this device does only one thing, and it does that thing very, very well. It just works. As I grow older, this becomes more important to me than ever. I'm surrounded by a lifetime of possessions already; what do I need with a media player that also toasts bread and takes my temperature?

The Kindle is super because even though I love my books, there is only room for so many of those along the walls of a house, but many times that amount accessible to me online. Recently, I bought all seven Outlander volumes for $2.99. They take up no space, and if the Kindle died, I could still read them online some other way. A few years ago, many people I know were railing about the Amazon Cloud and lack of ownership. But in a very short period of time, all those same people have watched movies online, listened to music online, and have swiftly given up the notion of physical ownership of media, because they are always seeking more and more of it, like children looking out over fields and fields of candy.

I do those things, too, and am able, like others, to broaden my horizons because of it, but if life online ended, I wouldn't miss it much. I'd watch and listen to and read what I already own, having made an effort over the years to collect only what matters to me most. The best candy, rather than the biggest bag of it.

I'm changing the playlist names today. I do that every eight or nine months or so, but the basic themes of them remain mostly the same. I can then choose a mood or a genre or an album and just let it play; no ads, no interruptions, no fuss.

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In honor of Independence Day, take some road trips

If you can, this month and next.

Do you spend a lot of your leisure time online, talking with people, watching videos, and playing games? It might be that you're less in touch with the world around you than you once were, or than you ought to be. If you were to view, say, this country, purely from an online context, you'd have a real narrow vision of how things actually are. So get out and drive around. Spread out an actual paper map on your table or floor, draw a circle 200 or 300 miles around where you are, and see what you can get to in half a day's drive. If you can go farther, go farther. 16137701202_c8d8467626_oSure, sure, do this, too. But still look at it spread out in front of you on paper.

You need this, and so do the people you lob your opinions at, for some stress relief, and for waking up your vision.

You can take sandwiches, if you need to. Back in our relative youth, the man and I would occasionally pack some cheap snacks and drive across Missouri to see how things were on the other side. If you have money, though, you can eat at a place you wouldn't see in your own town. 16137700202_48db40a79c_oAsk the server what he or she thinks is the best thing about where you are. Play nice.

Make it a habit, if you can. Go to a new place on your circle another time, or broaden the perimeter. 12677938223_ea0bfbd3bc_o
People can travel to faraway places in the same amount of time if they take off their shoes and get on a plane. I'm telling you to drive across the actual landscape, instead. If you have any adventure in your soul, tell the phone GPS to take you off the highway (first ask it to save the info offline, though,) so you can see stuff. And bring the paper map as well, because those never need a signal.

One final tip. Take a lot of pictures! But do yourself a favor and don't even look at them until you get back home. You'll have more fun reliving it that way than you will if you spend all your time trying to capture a moment instead of just being in it. 15951394558_bf6672f4e2_o

PS: In a dreary "social media" environment, someone would feel compelled to point out not everyone has a car. Well, of course not. Taking road trips when you don't own a car requires significantly more planning. Doesn't mean it wouldn't be good to do.

Inundating Hunger

There are just seven posts here from this year, on a smattering of subjects. I haven't really been at peace for awhile, and have had little energy to expend on it, is the largest part of the truth. The rest is that the immediacy of places like Google Plus creates a need for less effort. But I like the effort, and of all the things I do on the web, this remains my favorite. I wish it could be more interactive, but other people prefer the immediate routes these days, and I certainly can't fault them for it.

This month, however, I plan to just blitz this space with all manner of sense and nonsense. Perhaps a few people will follow along. I'm also in a tricky spot; I pay for extras here, which I might probably need to let go. But if I do, I am not certain I will be given back the free plus a bonus version I had before. The bonus bit really mattered to me. We will see.

Here's some stuff I've collected in Ulysses; a neat writing and organizing application I use on this computer. It isn't actually very well organized, though. That takes mental energy, which is currently in short supply.

Stuff strangers said today that made me laugh:

"If you want actual black tea you'll have to use a British brand"

“fisher run you fat bastard hey you think Putin is paying obama clinton fisher back Italy did say terrorism will hit usa”

Stuff I wanted to say at various times, but didn't:

Here's the plain truth,
Mr. Monkey McBean,
what you do is what counts
and not what is seen.

A person is a person. I’ve never thought otherwise, or readily assumed others thought otherwise; assumptions are dangerous tools in the hands of the self-righteous and paranoic extremists of the world, divisively soundbiting their way through life.

You might do well to remove the filter from your lens. I’m not the appurtenant focus of either your judgment or your concern.

Stuff other people said in a comment section about a really lame article trashing Alfred Hitchcock:

View the films with their cultural/ historical context in mind; realise they're thrillers, so extraordinary people and behaviour are to be expected, and marvel at their technical brilliance.

Don't insult our intelligence as an audience.
I don't watch his films to get a balanced picture of humanity. I watch them to see stories told by someone who understands guilt, jealousy, rage and who knows how to put them together cinematically.

Bits of thing I might turn into a poem sometime:

You felt it in waves
pulsing energy
hydronic force

Tip to tip
Our fingers shocked by vibration
Quivering, we pull apart
Distance regained
Sadly, safely, in silent relief.

Oppressive heat so thick you could see it
He applied and wore
like a suit
Or a glamour
drawing me to him like a blossom to sunshine

The steam from his pores
Clouded my vision
Blindly I followed his lead
Coaxed by the scent of fervid nectar
and a mouth that tasted sweet like sin

More than you want to know about how I feel these days:

Before this (past) autumn, I simply reacted to mold, cold, and ammonia, beginning after being laid up in bed for several weeks in 2002 above a very old leaky moldy basement. For the first couple of years, breathing trouble was intermittent, but year-round, in rain or old places. That was in Central New Jersey. After that, it became strictly a winter problem, unless I encountered cat urine, or mold. Late spring to mid-autumn, I feel good by comparison. Cold damp air bothers me most these days. For the past four years, I have been half laid up all winter; it's gotten worse since moving to Ohio in 2011. But instead of building up through late autumn, this (past) year it started all in an instant, at the end of September. I was out of breath on the stairs, exhausted at every turn, heart palpitating. Singulair and Flovent, which I began taking in November, one or both have helped with that, but I still become short of breath often, and cough several times a day. Finally, seemingly because of this problem, I have gained nearly 20 lbs over the past three winters.

I have had bronchitis half a dozen times since age eleven. And I cannot take penicillin, opiates, or narcotics. They all come back swiftly and violently. In 2009, I used Advair for several months, but it made my heart race.

Partial diagnosis:

(I want to point out I wrote the above several months ago. Circumstances leading to current understanding were somewhat changed and more clearly defined.) Severe Vitamins B12 and D deficiency. But the reason for that is still in question. I'm having B12 shots and sunshine, at least, I'm having the shots and if the sun comes back, I'll have some of that, too.

Quotation from the first Nero Wolfe book, Fer-De-Lance, 1934:

“You know, Mr. Townsend, it is our good fortune that the exigencies of birth and training furnish all of us with opportunities for snobbery. My ignorance of this special nomenclature provided yours; your innocence of the elementary mental processes provides mine.”

Cosi fan tutte, Act One, with Batman and Superman:

Batman and Superman are hanging out on the boardwalk having some sushi, when Vickie Vale and Lois Lane walk by on their way to…meet a crooked politician they plan to expose. Anyway. They all meet and are instantly in love and engaged to be married. Because it’s an opera. But then Batman and Superman have to go fight evil in…Shanghai, and so Vickie brings Lois back to her penthouse and they are bummed and drink Cosmos while Barbara Gordon, who lives in the other penthouse for no suitable reason says they should just live it up while those guys are gone.

Meanwhile, Batman and Superman are now chilling in the Batcave waiting for the Batplane to be serviced so they can leave, and Alfred’s all, “You guys. They’re totally not going to be faithful to you. And you can prove it by pretending you aren’t you and forcing them to be attracted to your alter egos instead.” Only how an old British man would say that. But Batman and Superman aren’t so into that, until Alfred Skypes with Barbara and talks her into helping him set up the fiancees. And then Batman and Superman skip saving Shanghai and go out as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent to seduce Vickie and Lois, who have each had three Cosmos by this time.