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Monday, November 19, 2012

19 NOV 12

The holidays approach ...
and while I hate to sound anti-business ...
commerce is perverting the hell out of the season.
Just heard a lovely "religious" carol converted to
a sale's jingle on TV. While I'm not religious, I
find this type of sale's activity disheartening ...
and actually un-American.
While I'm not a lone voice "crying in the wilderness"
about this issue, most folks are just looking for low
prices and good deals and won't care or pay attention
to my opinion.


I owe a lot to many people in my life.
To my ex-wife, Elizabeth, I owe the
introduction to all things classical music.
She was a friend to Friedlind Wagner,
granddaughter of Richard Wagner.
Through Elizabeth, I learned to appreciate
the beauty of operatic works. I met Friedlind
and was privileged to be a guest of the Wagner
family for a performance of "Tristan und Isolde"
at the Festspielhaus Bayreuth.
The pinnacle of the Wagnerian soprano art was seen
in the performances of Sweden's Birgit Nilsson.
(In my own humble opinion.)
Here, she sings the "Liebestod" aria from
"Tristan und Isolde."

Nobody did it better.

Isolde's Liebestod (the text)

Mild und leise
wie er lächelt,
wie das Auge
hold er öffnet ---
seht ihr's Freunde?
Seht ihr's nicht?
Immer lichter
wie er leuchtet,
hoch sich hebt?
Seht ihr's nicht?
Wie das Herz ihm
mutig schwillt,
voll und hehr
im Busen ihm quillt?
Wie den Lippen,
wonnig mild,
süßer Atem
sanft entweht ---
Freunde! Seht!
Fühlt und seht ihr's nicht?
Hör ich nur
diese Weise,
die so wunder-
voll und leise,
Wonne klagend,
alles sagend,
mild versöhnend
aus ihm tönend,
in mich dringet,
auf sich schwinget,
hold erhallend
um mich klinget?
Heller schallend,
mich umwallend,
sind es Wellen
sanfter Lüfte?
Sind es Wogen
wonniger Düfte?
Wie sie schwellen,
mich umrauschen,
soll ich atmen,
soll ich lauschen?
Soll ich schlürfen,
Süß in Düften
mich verhauchen?
In dem wogenden Schwall,
in dem tönenden Schall,
in des Welt-Atems
wehendem All ---
versinken ---
unbewußt ---
höchste Lust!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

20 OCT 12

As I say ...
As I do ...

Which carries the most weight?

People of a certain religious bent speak often
and, to my ear, much too loudly ... "As I say."

Action, however, always proves to be
the more eloquent persuader ... "As I do."

"You are what you do when it counts."
These words encapsulate a truth,
define a measure of worth.

The question to consider here,
"When does it count?"

The answer,
(especially when dealing with children)


Monday, October 15, 2012

15 OCT 12

Is it "rustle" or "ruffle" ...
... the sound a breeze makes as it passes through the trees?

Just an idle thought.

It's been a couple weeks since I've written anything.
I've been over-involved in my newest pasttime ...
Witness ...


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

26 SEP 12

Avengers assemble ...
Watched "The Avengers" on Pay-Per-View
last night. It was a pretty good flic ...
I can see why the grandchildren were all agog
when it premiered.
My opinion ... it could've just as well been called
"Iron Man 3: With a Little Help From My Friends."
For all the hyped "super powers" of the others in the
group, seemed to me that it was Tony Stark's fancy
exo-suit that saved the day rather than the efforts of
any of the others ... with the probable exception of
The Hulk.

Just sayin'.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

19 SEP 12

Nice day ...
Today was beautiful, after the storms of yesterday.
High was 68 ... blue skies with scattered, fair-weather clouds.
Were it not for the leaves and branches strewn everywhere,
one would never know there'd been a storm.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

18 SEP 12

Bad news ...
A child lays dying.
This child is the son of a friend ...
a friend of my daughter's.

The impending death of a child
is always hard to take ...
promise lost ... all that is loved
soon to be gone.

His mother's words can be read here :
(She's a strong woman ... stronger than I.)


I have nothing more to add.


PS: 17 OCT 12 - The child, Ty Campbell, died this day.
       RIP ... RIP, little one.

Monday, September 17, 2012

17 SEP 12

Another week, a new start ...
Am yet playing around in Photoshop.
Don't really know what I'm doing
but am having fun.

I'm still finding subjects to photograph
out in the yard and adjacent wood lot.

I've expanded my subjects of interest
to include my drum equipment.
A trap set can make for a fine still-life.

(Before the music world adopted the British
terminology of, "drum kit," a set of drums
was known as a "trap set"
... and I'm old school.)

Check these out:

                                         Yellow Begonia - from the rear deck

                                        Vintage Rogers trap set with Zildjian ride

                                   Strawberry Geraniums - from the front yard

                               Flat ride with Vintage Rogers ... on stage, ready to play

                                Bandito Orange Sunrise - from the rear deck


Friday, September 7, 2012

07 SEP 12

Notes to myself ...
and to my facebook friend, Kanani.

On veterans returning home ...

there's this:


... a point of view that I still hold to.

Further thoughts as to the "Why" of my opinion:
  • The returning vet went.
  • The other remained behind.
  • The returning vet dared.
  • The other kept safe.
  • Except for family and friends, the other forgot that the vet had ever been.
  • The stay-behinds feathered their own soft nests.

This is perfectly portrayed in the film,
"The Best Years of Our Lives."
Dana Andrews' character, Captain Fred Derry,
had been a bombardier on a B-17. He had flown all
of those gut-twisting missions, hanging on to his
sanity by his fingernails ...
(with a lot of help from the whiskey bottle.)
Post war and the stay-behind 4-F drug store manager
can now lord it over Derry and offers him the job of
soda-jerk at the store's fountain. He then proceeds to
monitor, and criticize, Derry's every move, explaining
that things have changed ... Derry was no longer a big
shot Air Corps bombardier ... and so on.
(Watching this movie years ago, I wanted to take this
snotty pencil-neck out back and kick his ass royally.)

Then, there was the true story told by Vietnam vet
Lynda Van Devanter in her book, "Home Before Morning."
The one point that struck me, while reading, was her efforts
at trying to find a bit of romance and instead finding that all
the young men she met appeared to be two-dimensional
characters to her, now with her war-born perspectives on life.
Life does get lonely when one cannot find another of one's own

There's a chasm between the veteran and the non.
Time slowly narrows that chasm, drawing the two
back together. The key word, here, is "time." In today's
reality of multiple deployments, there seems no time for
the soldier to fully adjust to civilian thought patterns,
civilian expectations.
The civilian has absolutely no clue about what it is that
drives the veteran's feelings and thought processes.
Communication is possible only after much contact and
Post-return disagreements, generally, cause this chain of
thought in most vets ... "Dumb Fuck! Back in the 'Nam
I coulda capped your ass and finished this up real fuckin' quick."
(Insert "Back in the 'Stan ... " to bring this quote up to date.)
The poor civilian probably has no clue that this is going
on in the vet's head. The vet never plans on acting on this
feeling ... it's just an automatic reaction upon meeting up
with actual callous stupidity face-to-face.
(God's truth ... can't tell you how many dumb-fuck civilians
I encountered, and dearly wanted to butt-stroke, after I returned
home from Vietnam.)


PS: Checking family files back through WWI,
I've noted the following:
Family members in the military ...
  • U.S. Army - 5
  • U.S. Navy - 6
  • USMC - 2
  • U.S. Air Force - 0
  • U.S. Coast Guard - 1

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

05 SEP 12

Summer's over ...
Outside, we have intermittent rain and distant thunder ... the remnants of Isaac. There's been the diesel rattling of school buses going past the house all morning. Leaves have just begun to turn ... some falling to earth.

Change is afoot ...


Time passing ...

My stint with The Midnight Blues lasted from 2006 til 2009.
It was a good run. I enjoyed it ... was sorry to have quit the group.
A friend from the Rogers Owners Forum who lives here, in Mahopac,
took my place as drummer (Ed Heinzinger).

Have been going through photographs and found a bunch that I'd
forgotten about.

Top Photo:
2007 - My 1st gig with The Midnight Blues at the Town of New Fairfield, CT Quarterly Coffee House. From left - Jamie Ratzken, Joey Vee, Me, Mikalai Schmatok. This is before the band had a bass player. Mikalai eventually left the group to pursue his first love, Heavy Metal Rock. (He's doing well.)
Bottom Photo:
2009 - My last gig with The Midnight Blues at a Halloween Party held in the Proud Mary lounge at The Inn, Newtown, CT. From left - Jamie Ratzken, Joey Vee, Me, Rob LaSalle. Rob would faint halfway through the night, due to a vasovagel reaction. We ended the night early ... with Rob in the hospital for observation. Later on, in November, I was struck with a heart problem, ventricular tachycardia, that mandated a defibrillator being implanted in my left chest wall. I was too ill to play for over a year's time. I'm back playing now with a jazz group, Artsongjazz. (All brushwork, not very strenuous. Perfect for me.)


Saturday, August 25, 2012

25 AUG 12

Small things ...
Been playing with the camera and Photoshop ...
learning what I can about using both.
I'm liking what I've managed to do so far
but I'm sure there is more magic to be discovered
in the world of digital art.
If I'm up to it, I'd like to take some classes in either
photography or Photoshop. I think BOCES offers

One discovery is the beauty of small things living wild.
Here are photos of small plants growing on the property:

                                                                 Wild Daisies

                                                  Yellow Flower (species unknown)

                                                                    Fallen Leaf

                                 At wood's edge ... Flowering Shamrock (last light)



PS: There's also the captive beauty of a domesticated plant:

                                            Red Impatiens among White Wax-Begonias

                               Bandito Orange Sunrise ... last light



Thursday, August 23, 2012

23 AUG 12

A twice told tale ...
From 1989 - While working in my brother's inn, up in Maine, I got into a disagreement with a local tough guy and trouble maker. He outweighed me by about 80 pounds and was gonna come kick my ass. I was working as maitre d' for the restaurant. Some of our customers included veterans being treated at Togus VA Hospital. A couple were former marines. We got to talking and when I mentioned that I had been at the 8th RRFS back in '67 - '68, they all wanted to buy me a drink. Seems one veteran had been Force Recon on a mission where they'd run afoul of a sizable NVA unit. They were caught in a valley with poor com links. They couldn't talk to the choppers sent to extract them. They could talk with the 8th ... and the 8th could talk to the choppers. We steered the rescue birds in and the recon team was extracted with minimal casualties.
These guys told me of the rescue. When they heard about my run-in with the bully, they all showed up on the night and had a "talk" with him outside the inn, in the parking lot. Had no more trouble with him after that.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

22 AUG 12

The Rundown ...
What's going on around here:
  • A grandson is in the hospital, Luke Geocos. He's had surgery on the muscles in his legs to stretch them out. This is a necessary procedure. His Cerebral Palsy and subsequent confinement to a wheel-chair brings on muscular atrophy.
  • Another grandson, Thomas Keane, is going off to his freshman year at college next Sunday ... which happens to also be his 18th birthday.
Don't believe that I wrote anything here about my wedding anniversary this past July. It was our 8th ... and the 4th of July was chosen as our wedding day because we used to host a family get-together on that date and since the whole family would be here anyway ... why not have the ceremony then?
(Besides, it would make remembering the anniversary date that much easier.)

                          Small montage of Barbara and I on our wedding day.

There aren't many good photos from that day. We thought to buy a bunch of throw-away cameras, place them on all the tables ... then let the guests snap pictures when they wanted, from many different angles. Unfortunately, I purchased the extra cheap Chinese-made one-time cameras from the Dollar Store. They were a buck apiece. They took very poor photos ... dark and fuzzy. The few pics that were good enough were saved ... the rest were tossed.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

15 AUG 12

Musings ...
In the film, "The Teahouse of the August Moon," the main
character, Captain Fisby, complains loudly and longly
of the malevolence inherent in the workings of ordinary machines.
I've often had the same thoughts myself.
Any technician, with experience, will tell tales of encounters with
the intermittent problem ... where the operator swears that the
equipment wasn't working a minute ago ... "but it's working now."

Here, today, in my own kitchen, the same game is being played out. I had installed a Coby undercounter television set back on Superbowl Sunday. It performed well up until last week when the picture began to fade. The screen became white and various geometric patterns began to appear at random ... then it would clear up. Weighing the difference between a repair and purchasing a new TV, I opted for new. The new television arrived last Friday via UPS ... since that day, the old TV has performed flawlessly. And I'm wondering, "Does it know, somehow, that if it's removed that it's then bound for the junk-yard?"
Wouldn't surprise me at all.


One of my favorite scenes from the film:

Friday, August 10, 2012

10 AUG 12

Weather ...
Again, the weather is the news.
Right now, it's raining cats & dogs ...
with severe storms moving through the area.
It's a daughter's birthday today and we're
going to her house for dinner ...
weather be damned!

Tornado warning ... New Jersey and Suffolk County, Long Island ...


Monday, August 6, 2012

06 AUG 12 (2)

Photoshop art ...

                           From my front yard - Iris Plant.

                   From the back deck - potted Wax Begonias

                  Another from the back deck - Yellow Begonia.

       From a hanging pot on rear deck, Bandito Orange Sunrise

                     From beside the house - Blue Hydrangia.

             From the front porch - Impatiens, a Mothers' Day gift.

(All these subjects to shoot and I never left the property.)


06 AUG 12

Begin anew?
And so it goes ...

"How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!"

-Tennyson (Ulysses)


Friday, August 3, 2012

03 AUG 12

"Umgawa ..."
So spake Tarzan of the Apes ...
at least the Johnny Weissmuller version.
I've been a Tarzan fan since childhood.
I read all of Burrough's books.
My very favorite movie-Tarzan was Gordon Scott.

There is an old saw about putting aside the things of
childhood when one is no longer a child.
So it was with Tarzan.
Attending college, in the '90s, I took a few psychology
classes. Doing the heavy reading, I found out that a "Tarzan"
could never come to be ... not in real life.
It's the biology.
If a child is not exposed to language by the age of three,
the necessary synapses in the brain do not develop and
the child will not ever learn to speak a language.

                                                        Gordon Scott as Tarzan


PS:  A question that puzzled me in later life ...
       Why is it that Tarzan never needs to shave??

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

25 JUL 12

A quick note ...
I'm reading the book, "The Long Walk," by Brian Castner.
The subject is duty with EOD in Iraq.
Came across this exchange a few chapters in:
"Come on Captain, lets go," said Ewbank. "There ain't shit here to find. And anyway, we got another call. They found a car bomb that didn't go off. Let's di di mau."

("di di mau"  - Vietnamese for "Let's go, quickly!"
Seems a small bit of vocabulary from my war has survived into modern usage.)

Good writing. Drew me in immediately.
He's good at relating all the mundane.
Remember, God lives in the details;
it's the ordinary that breathes life into
any tale being told."


Monday, July 23, 2012

23 JUL 12

Time for some Photoshop artwork ...

   Me and Shane ... (and a bit of Dov) ... at practice with Artsongjazz.

     Me, at the New Fairfield, CT Car Show, with The Midnight Blues

       At The Sherman Fest, Sherman, CT with The Midnight Blues

     At a Wappingers Falls Dance Social, with The Dukes & Dutchess


Friday, July 20, 2012

20 JUL 12

Bad day ...
A shooting in Colorado ...
12 dead, many wounded ...
asshole who did the shooting in custody.

Now there are talking heads on the TV.
We really don't need the politicians to tell
us how we should feel.

The shooter, one James Holmes, seems
to have been a brilliant, hard working grad
student. Some how, some when, his brain went
off kilter ... he became delusional ... wanted to be
The Joker.           

Here's a photo purporting to show Holmes being taken away
by police during the Occupy San Diego protest.

(Apparently he's not from the Tea Party side of town.)                 


On an entirely different note ...
there was a hummingbird flitting about on the rear deck
this afternoon. I do believe that this is the first time I've
ever seen one at this time of year. Normally, one will
visit in September, when the coleus plants finally bloom.
I may begin putting out feeders now ... see if I can
attract others to visit.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

14 JUL 12

Middle of July ...
and another 90 degree day ...
a start to another heat wave.
More inside-the-house chores to do.
Was out earlier ... plants all doing well.
To date, no squirrels in the flower boxes.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

11 JUL 12

From around here ...
Been out in the yard, looking at things.
The plants all seem to be doing well,
although there are many broken branches
high up in the surrounding trees (some of them
quite large) ... souvenirs of past storms and snow falls.
There seems to be a bumper-crop of squirrels
this summer ... there are even two black ones.
I'm surprised that they survived this long, given
the number of hawks living in the neighborhood.
The black squirrel has a silhouette that is easy to
pick out against the green background of a mown lawn.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

07 JUL 12

No sizzle ...
The promised life-threatening heat never made it here.
It reached 90 degrees at about 1:00 PM ... but after that
the clouds moved in and rain began to fall. Right now it's
80 degrees and muggy.
That's it.


Friday, July 6, 2012

06 JUL 12

Heat ...
Once again, the heat is in the news.
Tomorrow will find us sweltering in 100+ degree temps.
Once more I've got to say, "Thank God for central air."

Thought to write about some subject today.
Actually had some firm ideas ... began composing
sentences in my head. Became distracted for a
moment and the subject was completely forgotten.
Gone from my head!
Old age??
Or a natural happenstance?

I'm done for the day though.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

03 JUL 12

Time and tide ...

Grandchildren grow up.
          -while -
Grandparents grow old. 

          Granddaughters Gabi and Gracie Mei (center & right) with friend, Kaylie Schiltz
                                 (Charley's Angels?)


                          The oldest grandchild, Thomas Keane - HS Graduation picture

           Granddaughter Gabi Mei as Iron Man, friend Nicole Granata as Capt. America
                                    ( Avengers Lite? )


Monday, July 2, 2012

02 JUL 12

On reading ...
When I read a novel, I like to immerse myself in the story ... live the adventure being lived by the characters in the book. That's why I'm overly picky about what I read. Right now, I'm trying to get through a military techno-thriller. It's failing a basic requirement, however. If an author wants me to believe the fantastic scenarios being concocted in the story-line ... then the author had better get all the mundane actual and technical details down pat. The book I'm currently trying to read deals with some highly evolved science ... but the author writes the statement "The golf cart's electric engine made a whining noise.. " From what I remember from basic science lessons ... engines are combustion-powered, while motors are operated via electrical power ... either AC or DC.  Nit-picky, I know. But if you're gonna talk the talk ... you'd better have walked the walk (or, at least, looked it up!). It's the same (especially) with the military novels. I've come across many where the author seems to have gotten all his military knowledge at the Army-Navy surplus store. What's the old axiom ... "Write what you know."
Please do.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

01 JUL 12

Olive Street ...
I've been a member of Ancestry dot com for the past ...... maybe 2 years. I've managed to trace my various family lines back about 4 generations ... with the one exception being my estranged father's family. Ironically, through his line (the Coopers), I've gone as far back as the American Revolution (although that trace becomes questionable at about the time of the Revolution). I've, now, pretty much run out of family connections. To look back further in time would require spending several hundred dollars for expansion into European records. I'm just not that interested.

Enter Google ... through census records, I found out that my maternal grandmother grew up on Olive Street in Philadelphia. She was ten years old when the family moved there. I entered the address on Google Maps and found the location in central Philadelphia. I switched to the "Street View" and suddenly I'm moving up the block where my grandmother played. Row houses ... 3 stories, brick faced, narrow. Some structures now gone, giving the block a gap-toothed look. Where my grandmother's house had stood was one of those gaps. It's now a family garden plot, surrounded by chain-link.
Still ... it was something to see ... something that I never before knew of.

My grandmother married young ... to Clarence Meyers.
My mother was born in 1928, my grandmother was 18 years old. The marriage didn't last. There was a bitter divorce and my mother was not permitted to visit with her father again (although she did ... but that's a story for another day). That portion of their lives was never spoken of ... at least in front of me.

            Josephine and Clarence Meyers with daughter, Kathleen Meyers 
                           at the beach - Atlantic City, NJ - ca. 1930

                                        My mother, Kathleen Welsh (on left) with my 
                                           grandmother, Josephine Sabin - ca. 1958

                  ca. 1991 - Josephine Sabin (on right) with her sister, Catherine Grear.
                  My grandmother would die the following year, at age 82. My great-aunt
                  would follow her four years later, dying at age 97.


PS: My mother did some basic research and found out that her father, Clarence, had served in the U.S. Army during WWII and was buried in the Veterans Cemetery in Beverly, NJ. She also discovered that, like me, she had half-siblings that she'd never met.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

29 JUN 12

Hot ...
It's 12:30 and 92 degrees on my back deck.
The ballyhooed heat wave has begun.
Gonna concentrate on indoor chores this day.
Central air is going strong.
Thank the gods.

There's a lot of ranting on the web about the Supreme Court decision concerning the Stolen Valor Act.
It was struck down as not conforming with the First Amendment - Freedom of Speech.
Seems that being a poseur is a constitutional right. (???)

My voice was among the first shocked complainers.
I was pissed!
I've since cooled down some. The law is being looked at by congress again. They'll try to write a resolution that better defines the actual crime, one that can't be used to quash honest protest.

I've known but three poseurs in my lifetime.
I cannot adequately describe the contempt with which I view their deceptions.

The first was a businessman up in Concord, NH.
He claimed to have been a (What else?) Green Beret, operating in Vietnam's I Corps area.
This one day, I was sitting at the bar with two other (true) Vietnam vets ... one had been a draftee 11B20 grunt and the other had been an entomology specialist with a USAF Prime BEEF Team. The poseur walked over and sat with us ... coiffed hair, polished nails, a golf tan, thousand-dollar suit ... the other two knew him already. He started in telling war stories ... stories of blood, stories of courage ...  
Victor Charley's hot spilt blood ... and ... His Own indomitable courage.
                                    (Oh my!)
This was the first time I'd met the guy and he was already over the top. When he mentioned visiting the MACV compound at Hue, I casually asked if he knew a fellow who'd been stationed there during the same time frame. He suddenly became interested in the time of day ... (Was late, was late for a very important date.) ... he had to be somewhere. The poseur's sudden need to be elsewhere got us to thinking and talking ... finally (Duh!), we figured out that the blowhard was just that ... a lying blowhard.  When we compared notes, he had shown no concept of army procedures ... his was a comic-book understanding of things military. (Think Sergeant Rock.)

(By the way ... the entomologist, named Bobby, had been with a team trapped on a Central Highland hilltop; fogged in, they spent a week repelling the VC trying to overrun them. He saw more actual combat than many a grunt ... and he was just a Zoomie bug killer. Prime BEEF Teams were engineer units that were dropped into the jungle to clear and construct rough-terrain airfields or landing zones. Bobby didn't tell me of his combat experience until months later. We were sitting on his back deck, drinking beer, after having had dinner. His wife was putting his kids to bed and we were just smoking and shooting the bull. When he spoke of his little "adventure," he wasn't bragging, he was just speaking of something that occurred way back when ... in a land far away.
I've never doubted that he was telling me the truth.)

The next poseur had a bunch of us fooled for a very long time. He was an expert machinist and claimed to have been a USMC GySgt in Vietnam. He always wore the green USMC cover, with rank pinned to it. He knew his munitions and weapons. There was no obvious reason to doubt him. He helped a civilian couple run a small, highly respected, military museum in Ridgefield, CT. (Ridgefield Museum of Military Artifacts, Inc.) The museum was known to the Pentagon and had been awarded several small treasures ... one such was an actual 14" shell from the USS Arizona. On trips to Ft. Drum, NY, the poseur gave advice to Army Reserve Armor units. He was that good! The Marine Corps League approached the poseur at every parade and asked why he wasn't a member. After years of asking, somebody checked ... and found that the poseur had never been in the service. He was a mere wannabe ... kept out for a physical disqualifier. He was a nice enough guy. I liked him. But his lies hurt everyone and caused the museum to return every artifact in it's collection and close it's doors.

Third poseur ran a small business in this town. He claimed to have been a door gunner on a US Navy chopper. Here's the rub ... when I asked him where he'd been stationed in Vietnam, which unit he'd been with, he became vague ... said that he couldn't remember the unit's designation since he flew all over the place in that "God-damned country." Here's the thing ... nobody ever FORGETS which units they'd been assigned to in combat ... NEVER. Though I have no definitive proof, it's my opinion that the guy was just another wannabe vet.

There is no shame in being an ordinary, honest, solid citizen.

Be what you are!


PS: There, actually, is one more poseur that I forgot about. I knew him while in Berlin ... but he was so ridiculous that I'm not even gonna relate any of his tales.
(Apparently, he'd learned his soldiering by watching episodes of M*A*S*H on AFN TV.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

28 JUN 12

Finally ...
We finished potting all the annuals!
Only took us 4 weeks.
I blame it all on fatigue and hot weather.

Another heat wave starts tomorrow ...
three more days of being house-bound.
Thank God for central air.


Monday, June 25, 2012

25 JUN 12

Rainy day ...
Woke to booming thunder and
falling rain.
A storm line passing through ...
after a very pleasant

The eldest grandchild has graduated
high school.
He now awaits the start of
For him ...
a new world's comin'.

(Just where has the time flown?)

" I was born tomorrow
            today I live
    yesterday killed me."
              -Parviz Owsia

18 years ago - Barbara and I with the eldest grandchild
(Thomas Keane), at his Christening.


Friday, June 22, 2012

22 JUN 12

Approaching noon ...
and 94 degrees outside.
Officially a heat wave.

A daughter and her family are down visiting Coney Island.
We are watching their two dogs for the day.
Weather reports show storms moving through the
area with heavy, heavy rain and hail ... especially on
Long Island and parts of Jersey.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

20 JUN 12

Outside ...
I'm avoiding going out today.
On the back deck the temp. is 94, in the shade.
In the house, with central air, it's a cool 72 ...
I'm going to remain cocooned inside today.
(One of the advantages of being retired.)

Early evening ... 97 on the deck.
Stayin' inside ... still 72.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

19 JUN 12

And seldom is heard ...
a disparaging word ... concerning religion.
Though I am a non-believer, I harbor no
ill will towards religion ... unless it teaches
it's followers to kill or subjugate others in the
name of a particular God or gods.

My own personal view:
Humans and religion... this pairing goes back in
time to when our ancestors huddled in trees at
night, watching thunderstorms sweep the savannah.
Surely SOMETHING BIG was responsible for the
light show, all the ground-shaking noise.
An evolving intelligence, the evolving brain, sought
answers ... and the concept of a Supreme Being
was born.
I hold that all religions are evolved from the norms
of the societies that created them. A society developed
it's way of living before religion came along ... guided by
climate, geography, relationships with other tribes.
Once belief systems were conceived and brought into being,
they were enacted in such a way that validated the norms of
that particular society. The, self-proclaimed, decoders of the god's
will became the priests and shamans who laid down the rules that
everyone, even kings, were forced to live by. Thus was power
attained ... and wielded, from behind closed doors.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

17 JUN 12

Sunday ...
and Father's Day
Dawned gray ... but the promise is for sun

A poem that I love:


Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house.

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

-Robert Hayden

There is no day set aside for "Steps" ...
pity, that.

There yet lives a man who agreed to
become step-father to two young boys in
need. His name is Tom Welsh.
We took his name, my brother and I.
Even though he and my mother divorced,
he never stopped being our "Dad."
All these years later, even though he has
another family, to include four children of his own,
I still consider him to be my Dad.

Happy Father's Day ... Dad.

                                  Tom Welsh with his daughter, Karen - ca. 2012


Thursday, June 14, 2012

14 JUN 12

Flag Day ...
and the birthday of the United States Army.


Little things make me happy.
Yesterday we had a new dish washer installed.
The old one just wasn't cleaning the dishware properly anymore.
It was an 8-year old Bosch ... a good brand but worn out.
For the past several weeks we noticed that there were tea stains
left in the cups that had to be hand scrubbed to remove ... tea
stains on the spoons also.
Enter the new Frigidaire ... used it last night and it cleaned everything
down to the shine. No more hand scrubbing! Hooray!!

Artsongjazz ...
Allen won't be playing with us.
His wife is gravely ill (Cancer (?)) and he can't devote the necessary time for practice. I sent my condolences and offered any help I could provide.

Naomi is back on Craigslist, looking for another bass.



Sunday, June 10, 2012

10 JUN 12

"I have dreamed ..."
Normally, I don't remember my dreams.
Once in a while, I do.
Last night, I dreamt of my dead family members.
They were all there, gathered in one place ... my
mother, grandparents, great-grandparents, step-father,
aunts and uncles. We were all together in some large
banquet-hall. My Great-Aunt Catherine took me by the
arm and led me to the doorway, explaining as we went,
that there was a surprise waiting for me.
Just outside the door stood my biological father, Herschel Cooper.
He reached out, took my hand and shook it, saying that we had
much to talk about. (For some reason, he was dressed as a 1940's
Highway Patrol motorcycle cop ... dark blue jodhpurs, black boots,
blue shirt, dark blue tie, black leather jacket, black gun-belt with
a .38 revolver in the holster.)
I've not seen him, in the flesh, for ..... 60 years. In my dream,
he was much older than in his photographs ... gray-haired with
a face that was creased, becoming jowly.
(His eyes were blue!)
We walked away, together, and he began to speak
... that's when I woke up.

                        Herschel E. Cooper - ca. 1945, Philadelphia, PA

Are dreams prescient?
When my mother was going in for her first major surgery in
1960, she dreamt that her long-dead grandmother came to
her in the night. She came to tell her that everything would be
all right ... that she would survive the surgery. My mother said
that she believed because when her grandmother bent to kiss
her forehead, my mother felt the long braid of hair that her
grandmother used to wear, brush across her face.
My mom survived that surgery ... and one more in 1973.

I've always maintained that dreams were concoctions of our brain,
trying to make sense of the day's happenings.
Dunno ... as I get older, I do wonder.


Or maybe it was that chicken salad sandwich I ate as a late-night snack.

Related postings:


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

05 JUN 12

Woodstock and other things ...
Posted a YouTube video to facebook the other day.
It was of Santana, playing the signature piece, "Soul Sacrifice."
Heady stuff. The Woodstock Festival is considered to be the nexus
of American music and American youth.
That's not the only story to be told, it's just the more popular one.

The other narrative ... and one I readily embrace ...
tells a different tale ...
shines a light on another gathering of American youth:

40th anniversary: Woodstock and I
(From Vietnam vet, Terry Garlock)
If you were at Woodstock 40 years ago, you might remember the music, peace and love from that monumental event as if it were yesterday.

I know what it is to have clear and dear memories from 1969, too, but while you were in Woodstock, I was in Vietnam, a reminder of the deep division in our generation.

I don’t mind that so many of my peers opposed war and promoted peace; that’s an instinctive choice any child can make. But I do mind that so many evaded their responsibilities to the nation which gave them the freedom to dance with flowers in their hair.

Many of us were dubious about the war, too, but when our country called we raised our right hand, swore an oath and stuck to it. It didn’t seem right that while we were fighting to stop the spread of communism, anti-war protesters maligned us and encouraged our enemy. Maybe college students actually were motivated by the moral opposition they professed, never mind the self-preservation that surely swirled in their head. But that’s not what bothers me most.

Of the 3 million Americans who served in the Vietnam war zone, two-thirds were volunteers while one-third had to be drafted.

Over 16 million draft age males did not serve, though some would have if called, but for others dodging the draft became an art form. Some became perpetual students to take advantage of student draft deferments. Some used dirty tricks to fail the draft physical and score the coveted status of 4F — “not acceptable for military service.” Some scurried like bugs to the shadows of Canada or other hidey holes. Odious, yes, but other things bother me more.

Each semester I guest-lecture a couple hours at Newnan High School on the truths and myths of the Vietnam War, and it does bother me that the truth about that war remains tangled up in myths, half-truths and political agendas.

I am troubled that schoolbooks contain the politically-scrubbed sound bite version, which is too bad because the truth is complex, and no matter which side of the argument you favor, the truth about the war is not all that pretty. We’re getting closer to what really bothers me.

I was an Army Cobra helicopter gunship pilot with the 334th Attack Helicopter Company at Bien Hoa north of Saigon. Most of the pilots were about 21 years old like me, and I learned by watching them the true meaning of courage and loyalty and trust.

One of our pilots was still 19 when, on a mission near the Cambodian border, his front seat copilot was hit in the neck, and he flew as fast as that Cobra would go to the Tay Ninh hospital, but it was too far and his copilot bled to death on the way. The crew patched the holes, washed out the blood and found him another copilot because he had to go back where he was needed.

While the flower children were protesting and frolicking back in the world, my fellow pilots routinely put their lives on the line trying to protect each other and our grunt brothers on the ground. In my eyes they stood tall.

When I was shot down in a firefight, we went down hard and I was trapped in the wreckage with a broken back and paralyzed legs. Two fellow pilots, John Synowski of Ft. Worth, Texas, and Graham Stevens of Williamsburg, Va., landed their Cobra in the battlefield, got out, dragged me out of the wreckage and stood guard with their puny pistols until medevac arrived to take me to a hospital.

Later, when I thanked John and Graham for risking their neck to rescue me, they brushed it off, saying, “Any of the other guys would have done the same thing.” They were right. That’s how we were in Vietnam, proud Americans serving our country and struggling to bring each other home alive.

John and Graham were awarded the Soldier’s Medal for heroism saving lives, mine, but all the other guys were just like them. Here’s how John earned his Silver Star for gallantry.

In early 1970 an American unit was in contact with a superior enemy force in the jungle of northern III Corps and about to be overrun. John’s fire team of two Cobras was scrambled to help, and when he attacked the enemy position John was caught in a helicopter trap. The enemy placed anti-aircraft .51 caliber guns at the three points of a triangle, and when the Cobra pulled up out of a rocket run one of the guns would have an easy broadside shot. John took 51s through the cockpit, a pilot’s worst nightmare, and one round penetrated his chest protector wounding him in the chest.

He was lucky it bounced around first because it didn’t go through him and that it was hot enough to cauterize the wound and slow the bleeding. His copilot was hit, too, but the aircraft held together, they kept attacking the enemy and forced them to withdraw.

The families of those American men on the ground never knew their loved ones lived that day only because John was determined to stay with the job to defend them.

That’s the kind of young men I was privileged to fly with while our peers back home indulged themselves in sex and drugs and rock-n-roll. Woodstock was just the most visible part of the endless party.

In the 1960s counter-culture world turned upside down, those who refused to serve their country won accolades for their virtue while those in uniform were thought of as saps too dim to find a way out of it.

When these fine young Americans came home from serving their country in Vietnam, hippies routinely gathered at California airports to shout “Baby-killers!” or “Murderers!” or other insults, sometimes spitting or throwing unmentionables, while otherwise good people always seemed to be looking the other way.

For decades Vietnam vets were vilified in many ways, like distorted Hollywood movies, fueling the myth we were dysfunctional misfits. As a group, Vietnam vets earned my admiration; that their own country disparaged them bothers me most.

I always wished my peers, like the 400,000 gathered at Woodstock, had the good sense to decide for themselves what they thought of the war and at the same time to honor the service of those America sent to fight it.

But that didn’t happen. The anti-war side did their job well painting us as villains. Even today some expect us to regret our service, and nothing could be more wrong.

Just like WWII, Korea, Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan vets, we are proud of our service and we don’t take a back seat to anybody when it comes to loving our country. Many, like me, would do it all over again even knowing the outcome.

I am reminded of Vietnam by back pain every day, but I wouldn’t trade for anything the experience of flying into combat with the finest bunch of cowboys I ever knew, learning much about life and about myself.

I did miss the memory of Woodstock, but I have something more dear. When I meet with other Vietnam vets, I am among family who served their country with honor and skill and courage, even while our own government tied one hand behind our back with crazy rules and micromanagement. We never lost a significant battle until the U.S. Congress gave away the war and betrayed our South Vietnam ally.

You might think we like to gather to talk about the war, but that isn’t the attraction. I think when we’re among our vet family is the only time we’re surrounded by people who truly understand us, people who earned our respect and know that we earned theirs, and maybe we see in each other what we like most about ourselves. I wouldn’t trade that for a hundred Woodstocks.

                                 AH-1 (Snake) ... ca. 1968

[Terry Garlock lives in Peachtree City. He writes about the Vietnam War frequently because, in his own words, “Common knowledge about the war and those who fought it is so wrong.” His email is tgarlock@mindspring.com.]

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-Fini     (Nothing more needs saying.) 

Friday, June 1, 2012

01 JUN 12

Was stung by a wasp yesterday. Seems they are taking up nest-building inside the small garden cabinet on the back deck. I reached in to get a basket hook and ... wham! Caught me on the little finger, left hand. Soaked it in ice water for 30 min, then washed it with white vinegar. There was no significant swelling.
Only the second time in my life to be stung ... hope it's the last.
While not debilitating, it certainly was painful.


Had a poem published here:

The poetry section is toward the middle of the page.


Monday, May 28, 2012

28 MAY 12

Lest we forget ...
It's Memorial Day ... and memory can be a fickle thing. What runs through my mind, today, are transient thoughts of the funny things that happened throughout my ASA days. Back at Phu Bai ... this one time, there was a SP5 TA guy getting ready to DEROS. I can't remember his name but I remember that he was tall, slightly plump and balding w/brown hair. The closer he got to his port-call date, the more nervous he became. The morning that he actually was to board a 130, he was a basket case ... sure that the VC were gonna get him, or the plane, before he left the country. We got him through breakfast, into a jeep, and on board the plane without too much trouble. He was, finally, stateside bound with orders for VHFS.

Seems that some things don't change much ... From the book, "The Long Walk," by Brian Castner:
(A tale of his time in Iraq with EOD.)
"It was bad luck to die at all, but getting schwacked with three weeks left, two weeks left, one week, would be the height of tragedy." 

That ol' "short-timer's" attitude is still around.

 Seems most all the TA people from the 8th were going to VHFS.

I ended up there in July of '68 ... Det "A," doing the Wide Band shuffle ... along with all the others. ( It was like Old Home week.) When I walked into the shop and looked around, I finally asked where (?) was working. Everybody started laughing ... then told me that he'd just been sent for 6 months TDY back to Saigon. He'd not been a happy camper about that. 
I laughed 'till tears came from my eyes. 
(Dear (?), if you are here and reading this, you have my apologies for laughing at your discomfort ... though, at the time, it was very funny to us all.)

 The humor here is in the irony ... this one guy being sent back to a place he feared and hated ... when there were plenty of others willing to take his place ... but the army wasn't listening. It happened lots of times ... there once was an 05D who was scheduled to transfer to The Bahamas. He didn't want to go, had found a new girl friend and planned to marry. Another fellow, an 05D, was willing to re-enlist just for the Bahama assignment ... the army wouldn't let them swap. We could never figure out the whim of the assignment gods.

Just finished watching Channel 19, MeTV. They're having a Memorial Day military-show marathon.
Was watching "Combat." Good show ... for the 1960's ... though still full of Hollywood bullshit. Germans and Americans, a fire-fight at night. They can still see each other across a field ... Huh?  It's night, it's raining. There are no lights. It should be pitch black. It's not. If I step out onto my back deck right now, turn out the lights, I'll  not see a thing past the railing. All else is gone ... black night. Hollywood ... dipshits. 
(Another thing ... why is it that veteran German machine gunners cannot hit what they aim at, while an American GI private, firing a semi-auto M-1 Garand, kills entire squads of the enemy?)

Finished reading the novelized version of the movie, "Battleship." More Hollywood bullshit. It's clear that the author never spent time with anybody in the navy. He continuously refers to the inflatable boats as "ship." He has the ad hoc crew of the USS Missouri manhandle a 16" shell through the narrow passageways, up into a turret and place it into the breach, ramming it home! Never occurs to him that a 16" shell has NO handholds and weighs 2000 pounds. Hollywood dipshit.  



Saturday, May 26, 2012

26 MAY 12

The day dawned warm and sunny.
It quickly grew warmer ... the thermometer
on my back deck rose to read 90 degrees
in the shade.

Clouds have moved in ... gray skies and
distant thunder. Looks like it's gonna rain.

Veterans in the area are manning "Watch Fires"
at the county Veterans Memorial Park.
There's been vandalism in the past and the vets
want no more of that. If I feel okay, I'm going
to join in tonight ... for awhile, at least.

Didn't make it ... was feeling poorly.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

22 MAY 12

Auld Lang Syne ...

The United States Army Security Agency

HQ, USASA - Arlington, VA, USA 
(Arlington Hall Station)

USASA Training Center & School - Fort Devens, MA, USA

 1st USASA Field Station - Warrenton, VA, USA
 (Vint Hill Farm Station)

 2nd USASA Field Station -Petaluma, CA, USA
 (Two-Rock Ranch Station)

 3rd USASA Field Station - Sobe, Okinawa
 (Torii Station)

 4th USASA Field Station - Asmara, Ethiopia
 (Kagnew Station)

 5th USASA Field Station - Helemano, HI, USA
 (Helemano Station)

 6th USASA Field Station - Holmstead AFB, FL, USA
 (Seminole Station)

 7th Radio Research Field Station - Udorn, Thailand
 (Ramasun Station)

 8th Radio Research Field Station - Phu Bai, Vietnam
 (Trai Bac Station)

 9th USASA Field Station - Clark AFB, The Philippines
 (Stotsenberg Station)

10th USASA Field Station - Kyoto, Japan
(Kyoto Station)

11th USASA Field Station - Berlin, Germany
 (Field Station Berlin)

12th USASA Field Station - Chitose, Japan
 (Kuma Station)

13th USASA Field Station - Harrogate, England
 (Menwith Hill Station)

14th USASA Field Station - Hakata, Japan
 (Hakata Station)

15th USASA Field Station - Sinop, Turkey
 (Diogenes Station)

16th USASA Field Station - Hersogenaurach, Germany
 (Herso Base)

17th USASA Field Station - Rothwesten, Germany

18th USASA Field Station - Bad Aibling, Germany
 (Bad Aibling)

USASA Field Station Augsburg - Augsburg, Germany

USASA Field Station Shemya - Shemya, AK, USA

Plus, there were detachments in places like Pakistan,
Panama, Taiwan, The Bahamas, South Korea and/or
other exotic locales ...
not to forget, the Radio Research/ASA Companies attached
to each US Army combat division.

 To paraphrase a Sherwin Williams paint company commercial:
                "We covered the world."
Unlike most other US Army units, wherever we went we had an
active mission. Combat zone or not, we were always live.


January 2011
By Mike Bigelow
INSCOM History Office
The 337th Radio Research Company

From 1965-1972, the U.S. Army Security Agency attached a series of companies and detachments to maneuver divisions and brigades in Vietnam.

These attached ASA units provided direct communications intelligence and communication security support to tactical units. Their primary mission was to respond to the desires and needs of the tactical commander with a secondary mission to support the theater and national communications intelligence efforts.

To provide this support, ASA needed to adapt its direct support units to the supported divisions and brigades and to Southeast Asia�s signal environment. Prior to 1965, the direct support units were organized and designed for a large-scale war in Europe. Generally these units were smaller and stripped of their electronic warfare and very high frequency (VHF) intercept capabilities.

To support the airborne brigades, ASA developed a small 50-man detachment that could provide manual Morse and low level voice interception as well as conduct limited communication security monitoring.

For the unit that would become the 371st Radio Research Company, which supported the airmobile 1st Cavalry Division, ASA cut its regular direct support unit company in half and provided three voice intercept teams to be employed with the front-line brigades.

Perhaps the most typical direct support unit organization was that of the 1st Infantry Division's 337th Radio Research Company. It consisted of 168 men and supported the division by conducting voice intercept, receiving and processing Left Bank results, and manning manual Morse positions as well as communication security monitoring.

By early 1966, ASA had deployed five of these tailored units: three companies to support divisions and two detachments to support airborne brigades. Eighteen months later, seven direct support unit companies and nine direct support unit detachments were in Vietnam. Although tactically controlled by their supported commands, for administration and technical support, the direct support units fell under the command of either the 303th and 313th Radio Research Battalions.

A measure of how important these units were to their tactical commanders is the number of unit citations they earned during the war. Between 1965 and 1972, the ASA tactical units earned an amazing five Presidential Unit Citations, five Valorous Unit Awards, 54 Meritorious Unit Commendations, and 33 Republic of Vietnam Crosses of Gallantry with Palm.


           Field Station Augsburg, Germany - AN/FLR-9 Antenna Array (Elephant Cage)


                             HQ USASA - Arlington Hall Station, Arlington, VA

A few links to other blog posts concerning my ASA days.








PS: With the constant transfer of personnel between units,
there was always an interesting mixture assigned to any one
organization ... this had a cross-pollination effect which
contributed to new and different ways of accomplishing
the mission. Plus, there were organizations within the other
services performing their variation of the same mission ...
The USAF Security Service
The US Navy Security Group

PPS: The power behind the throne:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

20 MAY 12

Another one bites the dust ...
Robin Gibb died today ...
it was cancer.
Leaving brother, Barry, as
the only surviving BeeGee.

R.I.P. Robin.


Friday, May 18, 2012

18 MAY 12

Artsongjazz ...
The band appears to have acquired a new bass player.
Shane is out ... guess he and Naomi had a talk and decided 
it best for him to drop out, since he could no longer make 
Thursday practice nights.
Naomi then advertised on Craigslist for another player.

Last night we met Allen.
He plays a miced double bass.

He's good.
He's age-appropriate. (In his 50's)
Been playing in a jazz duet w/piano for the past 12 years.

Something seemed to click in each of us last night ... we had
a great practice! Since her family financial crisis, Naomi has
been half-steppin' when she sang. Tonight, she sounded
like a jazz singer. We all picked up on that and our play
was near perfect.
Just fun!

Here's hoping for a repeat. 

Did some chores today ... one was painting the flower boxes.
As I painted, the song "Ragtime Cowboy Joe" kept running through
my head. I really do like one string of lyrics from the song:

"He always sings 
raggy music to the cattle
As he swings 
back and forth in the saddle
on a horse 
that is syncopated gaited ... " 

When I was five, I had no idea what "syncopated" meant
but I did know what a "gate" was. 
How you "gated" a horse ... I didn't know but that was okay. 
I liked the song anyway.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

17 MAY 12

Donna Summer is gone ...
The 63 year old disco-diva died today,
a victim of cancer.

Never realized how much I liked her music ...
until lately.

R.I.P. Donna.
You'll, surely, be missed.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

15 MAY 12

Quiet night ...
A rainy night ... a suitable end
to a wet and dreary day.
Am sipping wine and watching TV.
"Rosemary And Thyme" ... a British
murder-mystery show. It concerns two
women who are traveling gardeners;
partners who always seem to become
involved in solving murders wherever
they go. Seems to me that the crew from
"Criminal Minds" should be investigating
the two of them. I would think that the law
of averages would be against anyone, but
police officers, becoming involved in so
many murders by chance.


Monday, May 14, 2012

14 MAY 12

Again, yesterday ...
Yesterday was Mothers' Day.
Barbara's two daughters and their families
came to celebrate. They brought the makings
for waffles with berries 'n cream ... plus bacon
and sausages. It all made for a great meal.

One thing about having teenage grandchildren ...
they're big enough to haul the deck furniture up from
below and gather all the cushions from out the shed.
Saves wear 'n tear on my old back.

Later on, in the evening, the daughter-in-law called
to wish Barbara a Happy Mothers' Day.

The world is as well as it can be.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

12 MAY 12

After the ball ...
Yesterday saw my granddaughter, Grace Mei, getting ready for,
and attending, her school's yearly semi-formal dance.
Ashleigh Siriotis, Uncle Rino's girl-friend, drove up to do Gracie's hair
and make-up. It seemed to be an all-day affair ... but the results were
worth the effort. (Ashleigh is a make-up artist by profession.)

                       The results - Gracie, just before leaving, with Grandma and me.

                      My favorite photo from yesterday: Gracie Mei - Ready To Dance!

                                                         Grace - 11 May 2012


Was, again today, up in Wappingers Falls to see the new car my daughter and her husband just bought. It's a Dodge Journey, a used SUV. White w/beige interior. All the bells and whistles. Nice ride. Stopped for dinner at a restaurant that we hadn't patronized for awhile ... Greenbaum & Gilhooley's Steak House.
I had the sirloin with baked potato, my wife ordered the deep-fried filet of sole. Don't know how good her's was ... but my steak was superb. Of course, it may just be that I hadn't had a steak for a long, long time.