Sunday, July 31, 2011

31 JUL 11

I read that the comic, George Lopez, threatened to move to Canada if Sarah Palen were to be elected to the presidency. Have no fear... he won't leave. Such people are too addicted to the Hollywood teat to stray very far. (And comedy doesn't travel well.)
Back during the 2004 election the actor, Alec Baldwin, promised the very same thing if George W. Bush won. Well... Bush won and Alec never left us.
He's still here... more's the pity.
I do find it interesting that "Chicano" Lopez chose Canada, vice Mexico, as a safe retreat.

(By the way, George, you're free to leave NOW if you've a mind to. This isn't the DDR.)

More later -

 Went to see a grandson perform in a summer-camp production of Anything Goes.
It was enjoyable. The singing was great. The acting... wanted some.
Watching, I was again reminded of the difference between professional
and amateur performers... especially with the dance routines.
At least my grandson enjoys himself. He loves theater and will be attending
the CT Regional Center For The Arts this coming school year. 

Regional Center For The Arts


Monday, July 25, 2011

25 JUL 11

On Teufelsberg today:

"Harry Pohlabel." When I knew him, he was called "Tony" Pohlabel and was a SP5, engaged in a running feud with FSB brass. He once claimed to have converted to the Sikh religion just so he could grow a beard. Credit where credit due... he was a mechanical mastermind, always working on cars at the Auto Craft Shop. He manufactured, by hand, a set of the green USA issue plates for his unregistered car. He was caught only because he hadn't used reflective paint when he finished them and the MP's noticed this one night while driving behind him.

 I either forgot, or never knew, that he stayed in Germany after ETS.
Tony was a great guy... and I liked him immensely.
He was always ready with a helping hand.
He, also, was always looking for ways to scam authority.
He was a living, breathing "Archie"... could've played the roll without a script.
                       (Blog Entry - 21 APR 11)

My one outstanding memory of him was from an annual MWR Christmas-time play. This was in '74 or '75. The play was titled, "Father Ruffian" and had been written by one Lucien Agniel, who was in Berlin with RIAS. At the time, the theater was located on the Clay HQ compound, on the bottom floor of what was also the AFN enlisted billets.
Tony Pohlabel was in the production, playing the role of a WWII Major General at the Battle Of The Bulge. During the premier, with the CG Berlin Bde attending, somebody upstairs in the billeting area began blasting their stereo. Tony, in costume, was dispatched to ask that the music be turned down. To hear him tell it... he knocked on the door... was ignored... knocked again, louder... was ignored... banged on the door... the door opened and the occupant began to say, "What the F**K do you..." saw the two stars on Tony's uniform collar, snapped to attention (nearly breaking his back) while yelling, "Sorry Sir!"
Tony played it straight, told the guy to turn down the music... then departed quickly before anything else could be said... or realized. We all laughed about the incident for weeks after.

More on Lucien Agniel:


Saturday, July 23, 2011

23 JUL 11

I hold a deep and abiding contempt for Jane Fonda and her ilk.
News of her fit of pique over QVC's refusal to sell a product
that she's trying to shill on TV brought back all the distaste
I have for her... plus a little glee.

Taken from another web site, owned by David E. Koopman, Vietnam Vet.

Shame on Jane 
By Michael Benge

To whom it may concern:
I was a civilian economic development advisor in Viet Nam, and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Viet Nam in 1968, and held for over 5 years. I spent 27 months in solitary confinement, one year in a cage in Cambodia, and one year in a "black box" in Hanoi.
My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Ban me Thuot, South Vietnam, whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border.
At one time, I was weighing approximately 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs.). We were Jane Fonda’s "war criminals." When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi, I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with Jane Fonda. I said yes, for I would like to tell her about the real treatment we POWs were receiving, which was far different from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by Jane Fonda, as "humane and lenient."
Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees with outstretched arms with a piece of steel rebar placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane every time my arms dipped. Jane Fonda had the audacity to say that the POWs were lying about our torture and treatment.
Now ABC is allowing Barbara Walters to honor Jane Fonda in her Feature "100 Years of Great Women." Shame, shame on Jane Fonda! Shame, shame on Barbara Walters! Shame, shame on 20-20. Shame, shame on ABC. And, shame, shame on the Disney Company.
I had the opportunity to meet with Jane Fonda for a couple of hours after I was released [in 1973]. I asked her if she would be willing to debate me on TV. She did not answer me, her husband, Tom Hayden, answered for her. She was mind controlled by her husband.
This does not exemplify someone who should be honored as "100 Years of Great Women." After I was released, I was asked what I thought of Jane Fonda and the antiwar movement. I said that I held Joan Baez’s husband in very high regard, for he thought the war was wrong, burned his draft card and went to prison in protest.
If the other antiwar protesters took this same route, it would have brought our judicial system to a halt and ended the war much earlier, and there wouldn’t be as many on that somber black granite wall called the Vietnam Memorial. This is democracy. This is the American way.
Jane Fonda, on the other hand, chose to be a traitor, and went to Hanoi, wore their uniform, propagandized for the communists, and urged American soldiers to desert. As we were being tortured, and some of the POWs murdered, she called us liars.
After her heroes the North Vietnamese communists took over South Vietnam, they systematically murdered 80,000 South Vietnamese political prisoners. May their souls rest on her head forever. Shame! Shame!

Michael D. Benge

I second everything that Michael has written here.


More on Fonda and her trip to North Vietnam: 


                                       You are not forgotten, Jane.

                                     From the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh City:

                           Some impromptu veteran's "Jane Fonda" memorials

   Members of the 42nd Infantry Division, NY Army National Guard

Friday, July 22, 2011

22 JUL 11


You'd think that when engineers design an appliance they'd
test the design thoroughly before putting it on the market.
We bought a Kenmore Refrigerator/Freezer two years ago.
It was to replace a Maytag that had been burned out by a voltage surge.
It cost us over $1200.
The freezer is on the bottom, in a pull-out drawer configuration.
When the power goes out (and that happens 2 - 3 times per year)
the freezer begins to thaw. Moisture condenses onto, and into, the
drawer's slide mounts. When power returns and the freezer functions
again, this moisture becomes ice and jams each slide closed.
It takes four or five attempts to thaw and dry these slides before
the freezer can be used again.
As I said... an irritant... should have been taken into account during
the design phase.
(I think of Kenmore as a quality product, so I am surprised to
find this fault occurring.)

Hot today.
Just checked the thermometer on my back deck... 102 in the shade!
Glad I invested in central air... now, instead of being
confined to one room, I have the run of the whole house.
BUT... I'm still house-bound. With my bad heart,
I dare not go out in this weather.
The last time I had to contend with temps this high was when
I was with the National Guard during AT 91, at Fort A.P. Hill, VA.
I was twenty years younger... with my heart still healthy. 
The mid-day heat down there rose to 105 degrees.
Learned, again, the true value of a good supply sergeant.
Ours drove off post to a commercial ice house
and had the water trailer filled with ice blocks before adding the water.
Ice cold water... delicious.
Soaking bandanas in the cold water and tying them around our necks
helped avert many cases of heat-stroke, I'm sure.

Me, AT 91, Ft. A.P. Hill, VA - Wearing my cooling camo-bandana.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

21 JUL 11

I understand tattoos.
I don't like 'em much... but I understand them.
They're a statement... a branding, if you will.
Tattoos mark an individual as "belonging" ...
to a group, to a club, to a gang, to a mindset.

Tattoo Primer

What I don't understand is the extremes that
some people will take this "branding" to.
Do they hate themselves as much as they appear to?
This, I don't understand.
Anybody care to educate me?




Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Poem : Now, And At The Hour

Now, And At The Hour . . .

At the core of self
Which we've christened
"The Soul!"
Do we cringe then
At the taste of dust and ashes
Alone and forlorn
Do we huddle and pray
"O Lord!"
All in fear
Of a darkness
 - J.M. Welsh

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Poem : Wine, Rocking Chair, Gray Cloudy Day

Wine - Rocking Chair - Gray, Cloudy Day

hold the thought
link arms with the ghost
and seize
that votive memory
then S q u e e e z e
'til the juices run
dripping onto your tongue
taste it
feel it drip-drip-drip
soak it in
let it flow
test your strength
Hold The Thought
if you can
if you can can
just grasp can just hold
can just please be allowed
to recall what
once was once
no..o..o... oh... oh
feel it slip, feel it slide
feel it slither
going, gone, Gone!
and you...
you thought you
could just touch
really reach back to touch
really taste, really smell
really feel
what once was once
to hold, yours to love
once, to hold and to love
long ago... Ha!
- J.M. Welsh

19 JUL 11

One's fate:

When I was a child, my mother almost married a fellow from Kansas.
He was a serviceman, stationed in the Philadelphia area, with
either the navy or the air force. (I tend to think of him as air force.)
This was back in the very early fifties.
His name was Butch.
He wanted to become a doctor. (That's what I've been told.)
He wanted my mother to marry him.
I was six at the time.
I didn't like him.

While watching me one day, he became enraged
because I wouldn't eat his strange form of spaghetti
(pasta with vinegar and oil). He slammed me into the kitchen wall
and stuffed spaghetti into my mouth, all the while screaming at me to eat!
He had a temper... that he did.
(And I don't think that I ever told my mother about this incident.)

My mother traveled with him to visit his parents in Kansas.
Things were becoming serious.
Then there was the car accident.
Mom was thrown through the windshield,
slicing open her left cheek, from just below her eye to corner of her mouth.
She was lucky, in that the surgeon who worked on her was progressive
and used Scotch Tape instead of sutures to close the wound.
There was no discernible scar.
I was given to understand that the accident was a result of Butch's temper.
Anyway... my mother stopped dating him.
He went away.
I was glad.

Somewhere down the NJ shore... from left, Butch, Mom, a friend.

So... I could've been from Kansas... could've had an abusive step-father.
Everything in my life would have been radically different.
Who would I be today?


PS: My experiences with Butch weren't entirely bad... he did introduce me to the wonder that is the chocolate-covered eclair.

Friday, July 15, 2011

21 APR 11

One of my favorite movies is, "The Last Time I Saw Archie."
It stars Robert Mitchum and Jack Webb. Mitchum plays Archie,
a born con-man, and Webb is his side-kick.
They are both draftees in the WWII U.S. Army.
Archie's con is to have them walk around carrying clip boards,
making cryptic notations and speaking softly to each other.
The regular army NCO's don't know what to make of this and
decide that Archie and his friend are general officers working undercover.
"I mean, a private wouldn't masquerade as a private, would he?"
The pair are given leave to wander wherever and whenever they want.
A jeep is provided. If you've ever been in the service, this film is
hilarious farce.

Jump to Vietnam, 1967:
Shortly after my arrival at the 8th RRFS, Phu Bai, I got word that my wife needed a power-of-attorney. The nearest JAG office was forty-some miles away, at Da Nang AFB. Was given leave to go down and conduct business and told to then hurry back. Hitched a ride on a Huey and found my way to the JAG office. . . quonset hut with air conditioning, little white picket fence, flower garden, lovely young Vietnamese secretary. I did all the necessary paperwork, grabbed lunch, returned to pick up the finished document, ran to catch a flight north but had missed the last flight out. Today, I don't know why I didn't request AF transient quarters but instead hitched a ride downtown on a passing deuce-and-a-half.
I was searching for "army" units to find a place to bed down. I came upon a large compound belonging to the First Logistical Command. Made my way to the orderly room and requested a bunk for the night.

(Because we performed a classified mission, I had been told to not disclose my specific unit. Since I was wearing a MACV patch, I told the 1SG that I was from MACV-J2. That was as high as one could go in the intel field in Vietnam.)

                                                The MACV Patch

Got my bunk. In fact, got an entire hooch to myself. . . and I was a mere PFC! The 1SG even sent the orderly room clerk (a SP4) over with a jeep to give me a tour of downtown Da Nang. I toured (saw the oldest tree in the country), ate, went to sleep. Next morning, the same clerk woke me and escorted me to breakfast then drove me back to the airfield. I caught a ride on a 123 and was back at the 8th in time for swings.
I've often wondered just who they thought I was. . . and what I was doing there.

UH-1 "Huey"

C-123 "Provider"

Where I was stationed:

What we did (partly):

Who we worked with:

What they flew: RU-6 in foreground, RU-8 in rear.

End result: Arc Light (B-52 Bombing Mission).


29 MAR 11

It's been a long while, I know. . .
but I'm tired, tired, tired.

Found this, thought to post it for any "writers" who drop by:

Keep on writing.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

08 MAR 11

Blogging less these days.
Feeling. . . not well.

Found this piece on the internet and it lifted my spirits considerably.
Hope it lifts yours too.

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.
It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.
What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.
Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep.
But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.
When I arrived at 2:30 a.m., the building was dark except for a single light in a ground floor window.
Under these circumstances, many drivers would just honk once or twice, wait a minute, then drive away.
But I had seen too many impoverished people who depended on taxis as their only means of transportation.
Unless a situation smelled of danger, I always went to the door. This passenger might be someone who needs my assistance, I reasoned to myself.
So I walked to the door and knocked. “Just a minute”, answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.
After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 80's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie. By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knick-knacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
“Would you carry my bag out to the car?” she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.
“It’s nothing”, I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”
“Oh, you’re such a good boy”, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?”
“It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.
“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”
I looked in the rear view mirror. Her eyes were glistening.
“I don’t have any family left,” she continued. “The doctor says I don’t have very long.”
I quietly reached over and shut off the meter. “What route would you like me to take?” I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl. Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”
We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.
“Nothing, ” I said.
“You have to make a living,” she answered.
“There are other passengers”.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.
“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”
I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.
I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly, lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life.
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware – beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

By Kent Nerburn
Adapted from “Make me an Instrument of Your Peace”



18 JAN 11

Something I don't understand. . .
driving to the VA hospital last Friday and
at about 48 minutes into the drive,
I checked the odometer to find that I'd only traveled 25 miles!

How was that possible?

I was moving at 40 - 50 MPH;
driving on major highways.

Why was it that I'd only traveled 25 miles in nearly an hour's time??

Must have been the 7 stop-lights I passed through. . .
though I only caught 3 red lights.

- Fini

05 JAN 11

And a Happy New Year to all.

Been awhile.

I once wrote a college term paper exploring the relationships expressed in the "Nature vs Nurture" arguments.

You decide.

From another blog site:

Nature vs Nurture

Gillian McKeith is a British TV “health guru” advocating a holistic approach to nutrition and health, promoting exercise, a pescetarian diet high in organic fruits and vegetables. She recommends detox diets, colonic irrigation and supplements, also making statements that yeast is harmful, that the colour of food is nutritionally significant, and about the utility of lingual and faecal examination.
In this picture, she is 51 years old.

Nigella Lawson is a British TV cook, who eats nothing but meat, butter and desserts. So forget “join a gym and eat more celery”...remember "everything in moderation."
In this picture, she is 50 years old.


Good genes. . . wear 'em if you've got 'em.


22 OCT 10

Have become, lately, lost
in the site...
tracing the roots of my fractured family.
As of now, have drilled back as far as the 18th century.
Found that I may be a direct descendant,
through my paternal grandmother,
of a pre-Revolution revolutionary...
from Coxsackie, NY.
Never before had heard of
"The Coxsackie Declaration Of Independence."
The link is tenuous though...
He being of Dutch descent,
while my family all seem to hail from the British Isles...
specifically, Ireland.
(With a touch of German in the mix.)
I've discovered cousins I never knew existed.
We swap e-mails now.
Nice to know that my brother and I
are not alone...
at the end of our line.
(Our five estranged children know nothing
of the true family. Their loss.)
(Long story there.)

I found this bit of verse last night.
Thought to share it.


"Look, how those steep woods on the mountain's face
Burn, burn against the sunset; now the cold
Invades our very noon: the year's grown old,
Mornings are dark, and evenings come apace.
The vines below have lost their purple grace,
And in Forreze the white wrack backward rolled,
Hangs to the hills tempestuous, fold on fold,
And moaning gusts make desolate all the place.

Mine host the month, at thy good hostelry,
Tired limbs I'll stretch and steaming beast I'll tether;
Pile on great logs with Gascon hand and free,
And pour the Gascon stuff that laughs at weather;
Swell your tough lungs, north wind, no whit care we,
Singing old songs and drinking wine together."
—Hilaire Belloc

I found the poem, by accident, on the internet.
AND... since it is the tail end of October...
and since I was sitting here,
sipping wine...
after being stuffed with roasted chicken and potatoes,
it struck a chord.
It's not often one can find the exact words
that describe the living moment.


09 OCT 10

It's approaching a year's time since I've played the drums...
last time was October 31, 2009... Halloween night... at The Inn...
in Newtown, CT... where Rob passed out on us.

I'm still of two minds about this dillema.
Part of me sorely misses playing.
Another part of me gives a sigh of relief at not having to play anymore.
It's really a combination of physical condition and drug interaction.

I am seriously thinking about learning another instrument... cello, maybe.
I've always loved the mellow sound of that instrument...
AND, my grandson is studying the cello at school...
perhaps we could collaborate.
I only know that music is therapy to the aging... and I don't want to
give up on myself.


Wisdom from an unexpected source...
Phil Collins, in a short interview with The New York Times:

TIMES: "A couple of years ago, you suffered some
damage to your left arm and hand, because of a
neurological problem, and you're left handed."

COLLINS: "At my age, things start wearing out.
While I was doing the record, I had to tape the sticks
to my hand. Gaffer tape."

TIMES: "I wouldn't think you would have good control,
using taped-on sticks."

COLLINS: "I didn't. I can't play anything near like I used to,
and I was a hot drummer. It doesn't bother me, because,
frankly , if you get to that point where you can't hold a drumstick
properly, there are many other things in life which are far more
important, like cutting a loaf of bread or a piece of cheese.
When I do those things, I have to issue a warning -- stand back!
Everybody leaves the room. I don't care about the music as much."

25 SEP 10

It used to be called, "The Generation Gap". . .

In a local restaurant. . .
chatting with the twenty-something waiter
after the meal (and waiting for my wife
to return from the ladies room before departing.)
We were talking Yankee baseball. . .
I happened to mention the extrordinary discovery of a film
that captured the entire last game of the 1960 World Series.
When I spoke of this, he became very excited. . .
he asked me where it had come from
and I answered, "From Bing Crosby's basement.
He was a huge Pirates fan."
The young waiter looked at me, clearly puzzled, then asked,
"Who's that?"

Ah, Youth. . . (Sigh)


23 SEP 10

There are days when this makes eminent sense to me:

"Up above me,
Wayward angels,
A blur of wings and grace.
One for courage,
One for safety,
One for "just in case".
I thought a light went out, but now the candle shines.
I thought my tears wouldn't stop,
but then I dried my eyes.
And after all of this,
the truth that holds me here,
Is that this emptiness is something not to fear.
Yeah, I'll keep wondering
how we know where we belong,
After all the journeys made,
and the journeys yet to come.
When I feel like giving up instead of going on,
Somewhere in between?
Yeah, I'm just wondering how we know where we belong?
Is it in the arc of the moon, leaving shadows on the lawn?
In the path of fireflies
and a single bird at dawn,
Singing in between
here and gone."


20 SEP 10

"... summer's almost gone.
Yes, winter's comin' on."
from the song, "Gotta Travel On," by Dave Dudley

Great September day today... bright, clear, cool...
with a stiff breeze blowing.
It was the sort of day that we, here, all longed for
back in July.


29 AUG 10

You know you're getting old when you're watching a favorite movie on TV. . .
one that you saw when it was a new release. . .
and realize that most of the cast members are now dead.
(In this case it was, "In Harm's Way.")

Just sayin'.

Been lucky this year, regarding my flower boxes and the neighborhood squirrels. . .
until now.
Went out this morning to find that one box had been "investigated"
by a squirrel. . . potting soil all over the porch, plants lying shriveled on the ground.
And there isn't a thing I can do about it. . . except maybe camp out on my front porch with a BB gun.
Damn! but those plants are expensive. . . never mind the fact that it looks like shit when
this occurs.

The "Prime Time Emmys" are on right now. . . what a crock of shit.
This is the best example of the "Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone" that there is...
better than the "Academy Awards."
Emmy recipients are self-nominated.
At least the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Science
pretends to be disinterested judges.


26 AUG 10

Resolve weakens.

played in short riffs,
a la Joe Pass,
on a Fender guitar,
through a Fender amp,
in the local music store. . .
'Twas a soft voice calling.
A gentle, velvet tug at my heart,
at my soul. . .
"Come back."
"This, you can play.
. . . At least you can try."

So. . . I swapped stories and phone numbers
with the guitar player, then left the store
with a promise to look into forming a trio.

Who knows?


23 AUG 10

A gray and wet day today.
Not as bad as the 3 inches of rain that fell yesterday. . .
but uninspiring none the less.

I'm not playing.
And with each passing day, I feel the urge to play diminish.
I know that I just don't have the stamina anymore. . .
the mere thought of trying to plough through an up-tempo rock song
tires me out. . . so I'm letting it go. . . consciously.
Congestive heart failure. . . it does that to you.
I have even stopped looking at drums on e-Bay.

A haiku I found in the book, "The Me Nobody Knows," explains how I feel, exactly:

"The sailor watches
His lost boat -- quietly it
Slips from rock to sea."
- JB -

JB was listed as being 14 years old when the book was published in 1969.
JB would be mid-fifties today.
I hope he/she reacquired whatever it was that being lost back then.

As for me. . . I'll have to find another avenue for any artistic inclinations
I may have.


04 AUG 10

 I posted this on a talent promoting site.

There are many on this site who purport to be writers.
Sad to say, they're not.
They don't know the basic rules of this craft they claim as their own.
Spelling!  Punctuation!  Grammar!
Why do so many claim to be writers?
Dunno. . . maybe because it's an easy claim. There's no real "test" given. . .
except for the final product. Most of what I've read here fails. . . and I'm not
claiming to be a writer. . . nor am I an English teacher.
BUT grammar IS important!

"I cannot stress enough the importance of grammar: Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse."

If you cannot play the diatonic scale, you wouldn't pass yourself off as a musician.
If you're going to claim to be a mason, you'd best know how to butter a brick.
So. . . if you're going to say you're a writer. . . at the very least, spell-check your work.

There, you now have my opinion on this subject.
(For what it's worth.)


Hope I don't come across, here, as pompous.
I don't mean to be.
I read a lot. . . and I mean a lot.
I'll, sometimes, have three books going at the same time.
Consequently, I carry a sort of "sight picture" of the printed
word in my mind. When I encounter a misspelled or misused word,
I recognize it for what it is because that word's "picture" doesn't match the one
in my head. . . I'll then look it up. There's the key. . . look it up.
Never write without a dictionary at hand. . . a thesaurus too.
If you wish to be taken for a writer, these are traits to be developed.
Along with your imagination, these are the tools of the trade.
I don't always get it right. . . but mostly I do and my mistakes I use
as teaching aids.
Writing well is hard work. . . and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

The points I've touched on are BASIC writing skills.
Whether or not people actually read your work and enjoy it
depends on the content. . . and THAT depends on you alone.

It's now November 2010.
I came upon this on the internet...
thought I'd add it here.

"The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, “I have an idea but I can’t express it”; that man hasn’t an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit."
Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske -

23 JUL 10

Once upon a time. . .
I belonged to a band that played for thousands (or so it seemed). . .
No shit!
At the 1975 German/American Volksfest,
the band, "Arkenstone," played for a HUGE audience.
I remember the night. . .
walking onto the stage. . . gazing out. . .

Walked on stage and gulped. . .
an outdoor stage.
The entire open square in front of the stage was packed,
with the crowd backing up far into the carnival aisles on three sides.
I wore a "puffy shirt". . .
had filled my water bottle with JD & ice. . .
never had played for such a large crowd before,
but muddled through. . .
The female singer couldn't. . .
she had a case of near-terminal "stage fright."
She was reduced to just banging the tambourine.

In truth, there were three untried members playing on this night.
Myself, the rhythm guitar player and the female singer.
The original drummer broke his wrist the day before.
The original guitar player's unit went to the field and
took him along. The singer was added in order to
dress-up the band's look. She had an impeccable
music background but had never performed in public.

From the local military newspaper, The Berlin Observer:

Arkenstone recording: (Recorded on a 10 " reel-to-reel by a band member's friend.
This is one half of one song... and I have no idea where the rest of recording is.)

It's all just minor history now.

Ron Romano on Lead Guitar
Matt Kraut, Vocals


19 JUL 10

Often, truth can be found in a work of fiction.
For instance, there's this train of thought
from James Lee Burke in his novel, "Swan Peak."

"At a certain time in your life, you think about death in a serious
way, and you think about it often. You see your eyes and mouth
impacted by dirt, your clothes a moldy receptacle for water leaking
through the topsoil. You see a frozen mound backlit by a wintry sky,
a plain of brown grass with tumbleweeds bouncing across it. . .

. . . When you see these images in your sleep or experience them in
your waking day, you know they do not represent a negotiable fate.
The images are indeed your future, and no exception will be made
for you.

During these moments, when you try to push away these images
from the edge of your vision, you have one urge only, and that is to
somehow leave behind a gesture, a cipher carved on a rock, a good
deed, some visible scratch on history that will tell others you were here
and that you tried to make the world a better place."

I think these couple of sentences describe, exactly, a collective need
to blog... to be heard.

What think you??


15 JUL 10

I haven't been playing.
I think the band (The Midnight Blues) has come to
the end of it's being... at least in this iteration.
That's too bad.
I think there's still potential.
There are songs that Joey has written,
and that I haven't posted here, that could
have gone Top Forty... IMOHO.
Joey is now heavily involved with his business.
He owns a power-washing company.
He's working hard, chasing daylight.
He's a father now.
That salient fact makes a difference in his attitude.
Jamie is moving back to AZ, for keeps this time.
Johnny's gone... playing with other bands.
(He's a great guitar player but always considered
himself to be no more than a "hired gun.")
Rob now works at his day job earning a commission
vice being paid a salery, so he has to spend a lot
more time looking for income.
Me... I just flat have no energy.
I'm living with the beginnings of heart failure.
My one big question is, should I push myself
hard to make it through this lassitude
and hope the meds will help me make it
to the other side?


I found these recordings in my sound files and uploaded them.
The Midnight Blues, playing The Georgetown Saloon
and the New Fairfield Car Show a couple years back.
If they still made 45's I'd put "I Don't Cry" on the "A" side
and "Down The Track" on the "B" side.

I think it would be a hit... or am I full of it??

I think I was wrong about the band breaking up.
Here's The Midnight Blues (with Big Ed Heinzinger on drums,)
playing a new song from Joey, "A Man Like Me."
Good tune. . .

12 JUL 10

The world is as it is.
People are what they are.
True change (in attitude) is voluntary.
Long-held beliefs are difficult to put aside.
Truth is malleable.
How one views the world depends on where one stands.

None of these observations is new.

Why is it we continue to fight over which end of the egg is to be cracked opened??

- Fini

It's 10 PM and I've had a few glasses of wine.
Good Night Moon.

11 JUL 10

Another quiet Sunday.
Nothing much to write about...
Finally potted my annuals yesterday.
Been lazy about doing that this year... it's been too darned hot.
Now, if the squirrels will leave the flower boxes alone,
all will be fine.

One daughter and her family are on vacation.
We're minding her two dogs.
It's no problem... just takes getting used to having
four-legged alarms that tend to go off unexpectedly,
day or night.



I suppose it happens to everyone of a certain age...
memories, which have been collected and stored in the
haphazard way used by the brain, are involuntarily recalled via
random, serendipitous events.
So it is with this:
One of my daughter's dogs requires daily dosing with
rather large pills. The animal refuses to swallow them.
The method used to fool the dog is to wrap the pills
in a piece of bologna and administer same.
It works very well. The dog gulps them down, happily.
The memory string being plucked here is "bologna."
I don't normally have it in the house.
I don't like it much at all.
BUT... bologna does takes me way back to my time at
Sacred Heart Elementary School in Camden, NJ.
On days when I didn't bring my own lunch with me,
I was forced to eat the school-provided lunch served
in the church basement. This lunch was normally
bologna sandwiches and chicken-noodle soup and milk.
I had no problem with the soup and milk part...
but the bologna sandwiches...
the bologna was sliced, with a knife, into 1/4 inch thick slabs,
slathered in yellow mustard, then slapped between two
pieces of Wonder Bread.
(All this for a dime too.)

Other than these "lunchtime memories," I recall, fondly,
my time at Sacred Heart. I credit the Dominican nuns who
taught there with teaching me all I ever needed to know
to get on in life. When asked about my level of education,
I often reply with, "Eighth grade."

Sacred Heart Church, Camden, NJ

 Again... Fini

Another thought:
It was here, at the annual talent show, that I first became interested in drums.
A student in my class, Walter Church, played the field snare.
He'd learned by playing with a local drum and bugle corps.
What he was able to do with the sticks fascinated me.

07 JUL 10

Another 98+ degree day.
Another day spent inside.

Today is Ringo Starr's 70th birthday.
I never much cared for him as a drummer.
When the Beatles first appeared on the American stage,
me and a thousand other drummers were instantly
jealous... and put out. We were all better drummers,
doncha know.
We learned... talent, often, has nothing much to do with pop music.

The first time I heard of the Beatles was in 1962.
It was on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar.
I was dating a girl named Linda.
This one Friday night we came home, to her house, from the movies
and found her parents awake, watching TV... The Tonight Show.
Paar liked to sometimes show his home-movies on the air.
That night he was showing movies of his recent family vacation in England.
One segment shown was of this one POPULAR band called, "The Beatles."
Comments were made about the length of their shaggy hair,
their "Mod" clothes and their music.
After watching awhile, I opined (with my 15 years of life experience) that
they could NEVER make it here, in this country.
Oh, well...


04 JUL 10

Independence Day!
... Wedding anniversary too.
Spent the day inside, in the air conditioning.
The temperature, on my back deck at 2 P.M., was 98 degrees.
Can't handle that kinda heat anymore.

A Pet Peeve:
There's a new action movie coming out in a few days... "Predators."
The story line has several "most dangerous humans" transported to
the alien "Predator" planet to be hunted as game.
They are equipped with the Earth's latest weapons.
One fellow humps around a six-barreled Vulcan type gun.
Do the dipshits in Hollywood ever pay attention to "FACTS??"
This gun fires at around 4000 rounds per minute.
Four thousand 7.62mm rounds would weigh in at 90 pounds.
What sane soldier is gonna hump 90 pounds for 1 minute of fire power??
(If the thing fires 5.56mm ammo then the weight would be reduced... but still prohibitive.)
Also, belt-fed weapons are normally crew-served... extra hands to keep the ammo feeding the weapon correctly. Maintaining a high rate of fire is what's important with these weapons.
It's the only reason they exist.

06 MAR 10

I'm tired.

My step-son died on Tueday, the 2nd.
Warming up for his black-belt test at the dojo,
he fell to the floor, dead.
He was 46 years old, married and the father of three.
The autopsy revealed cardiac arrest as the cause.
His own father died of a heart attack at the age of 45 and
my step-son worked hard to avoid the same fate.
He never smoked, he watched his diet, he exercised,
drank alcohol in moderation...
and yet, a heart attack felled him at age 46.

Seems that we cannot escape the will of fate.

Damn ...
just Damn.

R.I.P. Tommy.

           Tom Geocos holding son, Travis, at a family gathering ... Tammy Mei to right.


In Memoriam:

October 14th

I remember that day when the telephone rang
A woman’s voice announced there was an accident
You were not breathing
I jumped into the station wagon, praying
it can’t be, it can’t be
Two miles seemed like an eternity
Someone told me what happened
That morning the monstrous machine fell on you
piercing your brain
But I knew that you’d be alright

Everyone rushed to the hospital
But I stayed
wandering aimlessly
trying to understand

I love the cornucopia fields
the trees that huddled your home
the brook that rippled sinuously

I walked past the milkhouse
where you poured warm milk from the cows each morning and night
sometimes spilling the white liquid
multitudes of cats and kittens would lap with soft pink tongues

Each cow had a name
and knew which stall was hers
At Christmas
you and your wife exchanged gifts that said “From: Bessie” or “Goldie”
You loved your farm
the animals
the crops
your family

The detective stopped by to investigate your accident
I asked him if he knew what your condition was
With a kind voice he replied, “Didn’t you hear? He was killed.”
It can’t be
He has four children
a wife
a farm
God can’t do this
but He did

The birds stopped singing
The breeze stopped blowing
The brook stopped rippling
Everything stopped.
Realization of death filled my heart
overpowering every sense I had

Days passed into months
months into years
I walk aimlessly
brushing cobwebs from empty stall where
cows once stood hungry
Cats prowl
searching for warm spilt milk
A homemade birdfeeder sways in the breeze
the gentle brook whispers your name

- Paulette West

08 FEB 10

Been awhile.
My health is slowly improving.
My new defibrillator is also "pacing" my heart and the setting
for the time-span between upper and lower chamber squeeze was too long.
This allowed fluid to accumulate in my lungs... which would
wake me at 3 AM, or so... I'd be short of breath and panting.
Sitting upright for 15 minutes would correct the problem but
I'd have to spend the rest of the night sleeping in my recliner.
When I told the cardiologist about this, he had me come in for
a "tune-up."
He set up a laptop computer, then waved a wand over the implant until
the thing was "talking" to the computer, wirelessly.
Then he proceded to fine-tune the interval between chamber squeezes,
shortening the interval. I felt nothing... at the time.
On the way home I became ill... tingling in my left arm, weakness, a "zinging"
sensation throughout my left chest area and faintness.
It passed... and I've not been bothered since.

I'm getting stronger and looking forward to playing drums again.
As of now, all my instruments are packed away in cases or sitting
on shelves downstairs. The big deterrent to me playing is only the
process of unpacking and setting up.

Watched the Super Bowl yesterday.
The "right" team won... although my money was on the Colts.
(My money was on the Colts back in '69 too!)
Half-Time... "The Who" should've stayed home. I've heard better
renditions in the local bars. Can't believe they were paid big bucks
for that performance. (Should've been the other way around... them
paying to be heard again on TV.)

Oh well... guess I'm turning into a real curmudgeon.


23 DEC 09

It's been awhile since the last blog posting. . . and much has transpired.
In my last posting, Rob had been in the ER of Danbury Hospital.
He was admitted and spent two days there. The diagnosis was a Vasovagal

At discharge, he was admonished to take it easy whilst playing music. . .
Yeah, right. . . they've never seen Rob play. He cannot keep still while playing.
Even sitting, as he does with The Dukes And Dutchess, he is moving
to the beat. Watch him here (with The Midnight Blues):

Joey Vee became a proud father.
An eight pound boy named Joey IV.

I haven't seen the baby yet.
I've had medical problems that are keeping me housebound.
Back in '93, I had a heart attack (MI) which left my heart scarred.
Well, on the 15th of last month, as I was watching a football game on TV,
the scar tissue interrupted the electrical impulses of my heart, causing it to jump
into ventricular tachycardia. It began to run at 206 beats per minute. . . nearly fainted,
almost died. The EMT could not find a pulse nor get a blood-pressure reading. He wondered why I was still conscience. In the ER, the doctors stopped, then restarted, my heart.
I've, since, had a defibrillator implanted in my left chest wall. It's to prevent this
happening again. Meanwhile. . . I'm prohibited from driving a car until the middle
of February next year.

During the surgery the doc must have manipulated the hell out of my shoulder. . .
I couldn't move it for three weeks. Even sitting at the computer hurt.
That's why I've been absent for so long. That pain is nearly gone now. All that
remains is for me to heal and become accustomed to my new medicines.


01 NOV 09

We had a gig Halloween night... The Midnight Blues, I mean.
The place was a tony restaurant in Newtown, CT... The Inn.
We were in the downstairs bar, called Proud Mary's.
All was well until near the end of the third set.
Then the bass man, Rob, sat down in the middle of a song.
While seated on his amp, he attempted to keep playing but he ended up staring at the floor, doing nothing. I caught the eye of the waitress, who was dressed as a nurse, and since the "costume" seemed real, I asked if she was, indeed, a nurse who was moonlighting as a waitress. She was that. She looked Rob over and advised us to call an ambulance. We did. The last I saw of Rob, he was joking with the nurses in the ER while his brother filled out some paperwork.

30 OCT 09

If anybody comes here regularly, they must be wondering, "What's up? Where is this guy?"
It's been a long while, I know, since I've last blogged.
I just haven't had the mental "juice" to put down in words what's going on in my head.
Believe it or not... writing takes energy.
And, if you don't have it, the writing suffers.
Grammar, spelling, punctuation... all become sloppy.
AND since I subscribe to the philosophy that a writer is generally known only through
the writing... I want whatever I commit to this blog to be the best I have to offer.
I do tend to deviate a bit from what I learned in school about proper English grammar.
Most all of my teachers would give me a failing grade here.
BUT... I try to convey my thoughts as if I'm speaking to someone, not writing them down.
When we speak, we use a different set of rules than when we write... speech is fluid,
and is usually accompanied by facial expressions and voice intonations that help convey the true meaning of what we're saying. It's hard to do that on paper... or, in
this case, on the screen.
I try.
Hope I'm successful.


15 SEP 09

A beautiful day, today.
According to the TV, it's to be the last day of summer weather this year.


The way things were:

There once was an airline... Eastern.
They were innovators. They began a shuttle run that flew
from Boston to Philadelphia to Washington, DC.
Then back around again. It ran several times a day.
(Somewhat like a bus company.)
Seating was on a first-come-first-served basis and the
fares were low.
That's what I want to remember here... the fares.
This was 1966/67. All airlines offered a "Military-Standby Fare" at the time. It
was half the price of the normal fare... if the service member travelled
in uniform.
My very first-ever flight was on that Eastern shuttle, from Boston
to Philadelphia... on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving in '66.
My standby cost... $15.00. This was a BIG DEAL for me.
My take-home pay was $91.00 a month and even though room and
board were taken care of, there were always other expenses and
small costs to budget for. I used the Eastern Shuttle two or three more times
before I departed Fort Devens in June of 1967. Never did need to fly it again.

Eastern is gone now... along with Trans World, Braniff and Pan American.
I spent a lot of time flying here and there while in the army and the sight
of aircraft in these familiar company liveries, while in foreign lands, was always a quiet comfort to me.
I flew Braniff on the first leg of my journey to Viet Nam.
The equipment was a Boeing 707... painted a bright yellow... it came with a full
complement of stewardesses, who managed to do the "Braniff Strip" during the
long, long haul across the Pacific to the Phillipines. The Braniff Strip was a
marketing ploy, where the stews would greet the boarding passengers dressed
in a colorful, multi-layered uniform... and then remove layers as the flight progressed.
I seem to recall that by the time we reached Clark AFB, they were down to a beret,
a mini-skirted shift and horizontal-striped stockings... reminding me, very much, of characters from a Dr. Seuss story.

Braniff International Airlines 707 at Clark AFB, The Philippines - JUN 67

Flew TWA once only... out of Viet Nam. It, too, was a 707. As the plane rolled down the runway on the take-off run, the Fifth Dimension song, "Up Up And Away," began to play. It was happenstance... the song was one of hundreds on a continuous-loop tape.
This flight stopped at Wake Island... to pick up a couple of transfering military personnell. It was night. The runway was short. Upon leaving, the plane taxied to the end of the tarmac and the throttles were firewalled even as we made the turn onto the active runway. We were carrying a full load of fuel and a full load of passengers. We used the entire length of the runway and seemed to just fly off the end... out, over the ocean where we began a slow climb to altitude.
Flew Pan-Am often. They were the American-owned airline of choice in cold-war Berlin.
There were only three airlines permitted access, per treaty, to the West Berlin air space: Pan American, British Airways, Air France.

I don't fly anymore.
No need...
Besides, the security procedures have made it an unattractive mode of travel nowadays.
My very last flight was on a USAF C-9, Nightingale (Douglas DC-9) in the summer of '94. I was traveling from West Point, NY to Andrews AFB in VA.
I was to be seen by a Medical Evaluation Board at Walter Reed Army Hospital in DC, following my heart attack. A medic from the Keller Army Hospital, at West Point, dropped me off on the tarmac at the deserted military terminal of Stewart Airport... I was all alone. I stood there with my bag for approximately 20 minutes... then, I watched as a C-9 finally landed and taxied all the way back to where I was standing.
It stopped not ten feet from me. With the engines still running, a door near the front of the aircraft opened, a staircase was lowered and a crew member descended, asked me my name, picked up my bag and asked me to board. It was the nicest that I'd ever been treated while flying military.

USAF C-9 Nightingale

Inside were stretcher racks (with maybe six non-ambulatory patients), and quite a few comfortable, backward-facing seats... mostly filled. I was seated next to a marine who was on his way home on leave... seems that this Nightingale flew a twice-weekly circuit, ferrying patients between the two DC-area medical complexes (Walter Reed and Bethesda) and the various home units located in the eastern half of the country. Empty seats were allotted to Active Duty personnell, free, on a space-available basis. This marine was on his way home from Charlston Navy Base in South Carolina... he just had to put up with a six or seven hour tour of the eastern US first. The stop before mine had been in Ohio... after picking me up, we then landed in Philadelphia... and from there, it was on to Andrews. (Gotta tell you though, the in-flight meal was superb... steak and potatoes and green beans.)

- Fini

About that landing on Wake... been thinking on that... and cannot swear on which flight I was on. I did land on Wake Island once... just cannot remember exactly when.
I made several trans-Pacific flights in the late '60s / early '70s time frame.

1. Travis AFB, CA to Clark AFB, Manila (via Ancorage, AK) Chartered Braniff
    Boeing 707.
2. Clark AFB, Manila to Pleiku AFB, RVN. Chartered Air America Boeing 727.
3. Bien Hoa AFB, RVN to Travis AFB (via Hickam AFB, Honolulu) Chartered TWA
    Boeing 707.
4. San Francisco Int'l Airport to Tokyo Int'l (via Ancorage, AK) Pan American
    Boeing 747.
5. Tachikawa AFB, Tokyo to Hickam AFB, Honolulu. Chartered civilian DC-8.
6. Hickam AFB to Tachikawa AFB. USAF C-141.
7. Tachikawa AFB to Travis AFB, CA. Chartered civilian DC-8. ( I think that this
    flight may be the one that landed at Wake.)
8. San Francisco Int'l Airport to Honolulu Int'l Airport. Western Boeing 737.
9. Honolulu Int'l Airport to Tokyo Int'l Airport. Northwest Orient DC-8.
10. Tachikawa AFB to Travis AFB. Chartered United Boeing 707.
(Don't remember much about this last flight. I was sick... a combination of a nasty,
nasty sunburn and several inoculations required by international law. I slept all the way home. Don't know if we stopped anywhere along the way. The plane was about half full. (It had been an unscheduled departure and only the people actually in the waiting room were boarded.) The stewardess was nice enought to remove the arm rests and give me three seats across to myself.
Strange thing... I left Japan at 11:00 AM, 6 July, 1971.
I arrived in California at 10:00 AM, 6 July, 1971.)

USAF C-141 Starlifter (The A and B models)

Memories become dimmer with the passage of time... the Wake Island story's true... just not sure of exactly when it happened.

08 SEP 09

Just a few short years ago, the following string of words and letters would have been unintelligble to all but the ubergeeks among us:

"LG has the only LCD TV to be THX certified."

Lord help me... I know what it means.
(At least in general terms)


New Topic

From another blog:

A man has died a natural death after a long illness.
His widow is sitting with her nephew, reminiscing.
In the course of the conversation, she says this:

"you know...... in this life there are those who love us....... and there are those who know us........ and there are those who want to know us, and those who want to love us...... but I will forever wonder exactly which combination of all of those factors is to be most sought after........."

I'm forever amazed by the depth of perception in ordinary people.


'Nother Topic

Been watching "America's Got Talent."
Watched the "Recycled Percussion" (?) group perform.
Don't know...
My belief is that drums are to be played in rhythmic repetition.
Drums augment the music, define the beat. Drums accent musical changes.
Drums are not an end in themselves... they should be played in concert with
other musicians.
Don't think I would vote for this percussion group.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

07 SEP 09

Had a dream last night.
I'm sure that I have dreams every night but I usually don't remember them.
Last night's dream stayed with me upon awakening, however.

I was on a train... going where (?) I don't know.
(It seemed I was traveling in some foreign land.)
The train was crowded... aisles full... I was getting cramped in my seat.
The train pulled into a station and stopped.
We were in a large city.
I decided to stretch my legs on the platform.
Exited the railcar and walked about some... the train pulled out without me.
I found myself stranded...
in a place unknown...
not speaking the language.
(Have had this actually happen to me a time or two.)
Left the station and began looking for help.
After some time futilely asking, I rounded a corner...
to find myself amid a crowd of people...
all of whom were applauding President Obama...
who was giving a speech.
I approached his entourage and tapped some man on the shoulder,
he turned and growled, "What do YOU want?"
"Directions," said I.
"Just looking for some direction from the president."
"Go away." he replied.
"There's no help for you here."

Then I woke up.

If dreams truly are the brain's method of codifying and sorting the day's lessons,
then this would be my Libertarian Self at work, reinforcing my core beliefs...
that minimal government interference is the best option in a free society.



Later in the day:

"There's a disturbance in the Force..."

Went downstairs to take out the trash... passing through the family room, I noticed a bad odor coming from the downstairs toilet. It was overflowing! The half-bath was awash in toilet water and (gunk). Called the plumber, who had the temerity to ask if it was an emergency!

Lesson learned:
The "ordinary" often has more power to direct the course of one's day than the "extraordinary" might ever have.

04 SEP 09

From a song by former "Transom" band mate, Mike Smith:

"Imagination and invention
Are the girders of the mind... "


While aircraft "nose art" was officially disallowed by the Pentagon,
these marines managed a work-around solution.
Gotta love them Jarheads.

Hooahh !!


In Shadowed Castles

02 SEP 09

"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood..."
It is that... cool and sunny... blue skies and promise.
The "promise" part... that's what I have to remember.
Just because I'm growing older doesn't mean that "promise" is gone from life.
"Promise" lives on... in the lives of children and grandchildren.
I sometimes forget that salient fact.

And, speaking of grandchildren...
I have two granddaughters just entering their teen years...
they're wearing bikinis to the pool...
they have SHAPES!!
(Sheesh !)
Trouble is... I keep seeing them (in my mind's eye) as adorable 10-year-old girls.
Time just won't be denied, will it?


21 AUG 09

There are times when all I long for
 is some Jack Daniels over ice,
a pack of Camels
and some live jazz on a stage somewhere cool
and dark.
(Remembered pleasures . . . the way it used to be . . .
don't drink the hard stuff anymore . . .
don't smoke either . . .
there's still the jazz, thank God.)

                                                 "Satin Doll" - Oscar Peterson


(Thank You, Duke Ellington !!)

18 AUG 09

A normal day, today was.
Had appointments for most of the afternoon at the VA hospital.
There was a typical "big organization" SNAFU.
Was scheduled for a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) at 1:00 PM.
Showed up early (at the Pulmonary Clinic) at 12:30.
Check-In Office was closed for lunch... 'til 1:00.
Sat in waiting room 'til then.
Actually checked in at 1:05.
Returned to waiting room... which was two doors down the hall.
Sat, reading and watching TV 'til 2:00 PM.
Went back to Check-In and asked why I was still waiting for a 1:00 appointment.
Was told that my appointment (with the pulmonary doctor) wasn't until 2:30.
"No," says I... "I had a one o'clock!"
The nurse checked the computer... Viola!
I did have a 1:00 PM appointment for a Pulmonary Function Test.
BUT... PFT's were not given in the Pulmonary Clinic!
No... they were administered in the CARDIOLOGY Department.
And, I had missed mine!
Well, shame on me. Who'da thunk it?
LUNG tests given by the HEART people...
who's offices were located three floors down.
(Lots of mumbled cursing at this point.)
I'd driven just over an hour to be there and now would have to reschedule.

Life in the slow lane.


16 AUG 09

The room was
air conditioned.
Under the covers
was warm.
Enjoyed the feeling.
Rolled over...
bladder full,
wouldn't be ignored.
Out of the bed...
Feet hurt.
Shuffled down the hallway
to the bathroom,
then on to the kitchen
for my morning meds,
which includes Lasix.
(For the edema)
Still sleepy.
Into the living room,
to lie down on sofa...
drifted off.
Slept again.
Opened my eyes.
9:00 AM.
The toilet first!
(The Lasix does work.)
... then into the kitchen.
This time
for morning tea.
Another day begun.
Growing old
sometimes sucks
but the alternative
... y 'know,
sucks even more.


Often, when I begin to feel old
I'll play something like this:

Ella, at 66, swinging in Japan. [1983]

After watching her, who can feel bad.



06 AUG 09

August... the "dog days" of Summer.
Not around here... not yet.
We seem to have jacked Seattle's weather this year.
Been cool and wet here all summer long.

Why am I blogging??
I suppose that I'm like a lot of old men... garrulous.
BUT.. . with no real audience at hand.
And old men, growing older, with no one to heed their words or
accept, as gospel, their pearls of wisdom grow slightly mad... IMOHO.
(There! Take that, you young wippersnappers!)
The grandchildren all live an hour from here... in three of the four
cardinal compass points so we only get together every two or three

I wrote that I also do some playing with a small swing group that entertains in nursing homes and hospitals,
'The Dukes And Dutchess Swing Ensemble.'"
Well, lately, I've played five times as many gigs with the Dukes than I have with my other band, The Midnight Blues.
The old "Standards"... everybody who hears them loves them still.
And... I seem to have some small talent for playing them well.
We're planning on producing a demo CD in the near future, so I'll
be able to post a song, or two, soon.
Right now, we're trying to choose just three songs from out of a three-hundred-song book to play for the demo. Just try getting seven people to agree on which songs to use (herding cats).


20 JUL 09

"The Eagle has landed." - Neil Armstrong

Simple words, spoken 40 years ago; now etched forever into history.

I watched the moon landing in the apartment I'd rented for my then-wife and daughter to live in until I could afford to have them join me in Japan.
(I left the next day to make my port-call.)
The apartment was located in Blackwood NJ (I think??). Can't remember why we didn't watch from my parent's house in Haddon Heights. They'd been heavily involved in the space program from it's inception. As I wrote in a previous entry, my step-father, Don, had led the engineering team that developed the ranging radar used on the Grumman-built Lunar Module. My mother was the secretary to Don's boss at RCA. They'd just returned from Cape Kennedy, having been invited to attend the launch of the Apollo 11 mission. I knew that the house was filled with RCA engineers and their wives... all waiting with bated breath.

I'd grown up listening to these same people, at dinner parties or barbeques, arguing about the validity of robotics or the origin of God. There was some very heavy brain power concentrated in the space program in those days. Don always said that the government was short-sighted in allowing all that knowlege to dissipate into society, at large, after congress cut funding for the space program. It would've been better used in solving energy or polution problems.

That was a year that was.


14 JUL 09

The 4th came... and went... quietly, this year.
There was no family get-together, as has been the norm in past years.
The wife and I watched, "A Capital Fourth" and Macy's fireworks display
on TV... then went, tiredly, to bed.
I did remember our anniversary though!
Surprised her with pearls.

Last week, I happened to be watching The History Channel this one particular day.
First, there was a program on the WWII battle for Okinawa.
This was followed by a program detailing Hitler's "Operation Barbarossa."
As it happens, I knew people who were participants in both.
My step-father, Don, was with the First Marine Division in 1945
and while in Berlin, I lived next door to a former Wehrmacht tank driver who was with the Panzer Divisions that invaded Russia in 1941.
My step-father survived the battle and returned home to continue his education
at Princeton University. He was to become a chief managing engineer at RCA and
lead the team which developed the ranging radar for the Lunar Module (Known, then, as the Lunar Excursion Module, or LEM.) on the Apollo Eleven (and susequent) missions.
My Berlin neighbor, Heinz, was less fortunate. He was captured by the Russians and spent seven years as a POW.
When I knew him, he worked as a security guard at the
Berlin airports (First, at Tempelhof... later, at Tegel).
Neither spoke much of their war experiences but would answer a specific question,
if asked. I never did pry though. They are both gone now... merged with history.
And I think it almost passing strange that I am a living link to both.

That's it for today.

'Til later, folks.

AND YET... some more musings...

Three of my grandchildren were here, with their mother, yesterday afternoon.
I always pay attention to their doings and whatever it is they say.
I find them ever interesting and almost always entertaining.

Why is that?

From the book, "The Kalahari Typing School For Men," by Alexander McCall Smith:
"They are all different," agreed Mma Potokwane. "Brother and sister - it makes no difference. The recipe for each child is just for that child, even if it is the same mother and father... Every child is different."

Based on close, personal, observation... truer words were never written.


30 JUN 09

The Midnight Blues played the 121 Restaurant gig on the 26th.
It went well. There were some minor problems but they were of no consequence.
The place was PACKED (!) when we arrived.
We had to double-park the cars, unload, then find parking somewhere down the road.
We weren't to go on 'til 9:00, so we piled the equipment under some stairs and had a drink. Our "stage" was a corner of the bar room and it was small. I used my Rogers Holiday set, as it actually had the smallest footprint of any set I owned. No ride stand, only one crash. I opted to play my Acrolite snare. It has a nice pop and the Powertone was too much in the small room. The Ludwig sounded great, especially when hit with the rods. We were under strict instructions to keep the volume down.

At first we were ignored.

Then there were some heads bobbing.

Then some chair dancing.

Finally... couples began dancing for real... begun, always, at the woman's insistance.

As I said, it went well for us. There was a guy there who is producing a "Homegrown Music Festival," in Portland ME. He liked us and took down our particulars, with a promise to call.

My small corner of the "stage."

The Midnight Blues... as a trio. We're soon to become a quartet.

Not sure but I think we're playing the song, "Johnny" here.
I just thump the bass on the "One" count for the first several bars.


25 JUN 09

Michael Jackson died today...
Farrah Fawcett too.
Along with Ed McMahon, that makes the three.
Seems to be that celebrities ALWAYS die in clusters of three.

Something I once read:
"It's better to be eaten by lions than nibbled to death by ducks."
Seems a lion took Jackson while Farrah fell prey to the ducks.
I think Jackson was the more fortunate of the two. For him, it was quick.
As for Ed McMahon... he was merely old.
It was his time.


Tomorrow night's a good gig.
The Midnight Blues is playing the 121 Restaurant in North Salem, NY.
This is a classy place. It's been written up in the NY Times.
We play the bar, not the big room.
I think we're an experiment by the owner. Just hope we don't eff it up.
It could develop into a steady gig. We have use of a small corner of the bar for our stage,
so I gotta bring the small kit and leave home a couple of cymbals and toms.
That's OK, as I like playing the small kit... I can reach everything without stretching.


23 JUN 09

This one night, over 30 years ago in Japan, my roommate and I were in the process of demolishing a fifth of vodka. He had just found out that he was a father ... of a three year old boy!
I was acting as his sounding board.
It got drunk out that night.
He was from Georgia and at one point along the way to morning he spoke of the South's current and undying disdain for all things "Yankee." He said that he liked me and that I was a fine fellow but ...
"We call it the War Of Northern Aggression and the South will never forget it. Don't you!"
I took it all with a grain of salt ... I'd never been to the South.
I figured it was the vodka talking.

Today I found this on the web:

"Three hundred thousand Yankees
Lie still in Southern dust
We got three hundred thousand
Before they conquered us.
They died of Southern fever
And Southern steel and shot.
I wish they were three millions
Instead of what we got."

Guess my roommate knew of what he spoke.


21 JUN 09

Fathers Day today.
A quiet Sunday in suburbia.
I spent the day trying to pot my annuals outside.
Was forced to plant between showers... a very wet day.

Nature... opened a new bag of potting soil. (Bought last Fall.)
There was a hole chewed through the plastic bag.
Inside was a mouse burrow made from lint and fuzz and fur... no mice.
Last year, I'd dumped a small bag of potting soil into a large pot, not seeing
the family of mice who'd been holed up in there. A short time later, I was
startled by the sight of six young, gray, mice scrabbling out of the pot I'd just filled.
I imagine that a burrow dug inside a bag of potting soil that is stored in a tool shed
makes a better home than a hole dug in the ground... fewer predators with access, anyway.


18 JUN 09

Could Brecht have seen the future???

Contemplating Hell by Bertolt Brecht

Contemplating Hell, as I once heard it,
My brother Shelley found it to be a place
Much like the city of London. I,
Who do not live in London, but in Los Angeles,
Find, contemplating Hell, that is
Must be even more like Los Angeles.
Also in Hell,
I do not doubt it, there exist these opulent gardens
With flowers as large as trees, wilting, of course,
Very quickly, if they are not watered with very expensive water. And fruit markets
With great leaps of fruit, which nonetheless
Possess neither scent nor taste. And endless trains of autos,
Lighter than their own shadows, swifter than
Foolish thoughts, shimmering vehicles, in which
Rosy people, coming from nowhere, go nowhere.
And houses, designed for happiness, standing empty,
Even when inhabited.
Even the houses in Hell are not all ugly.
But concern about being thrown into the street
Consumes the inhabitants of the villas no less
Than the inhabitants of the barracks.

Seems prescient to me.