Monday, September 30, 2013

Television



That little box with a glass front has been my friend since I can remember. It kept me company through war movies and cowboys and Indians and mystery movies and even late night black and white shows that were live in the local television station. Television would come on in the morning and shut down at night. There were only a few channels so we watched whatever was available. There were no remotes so you stayed on the same channel rather than get up and go over to the tube and turn the knob. A giant metal pyramid tower that sent a signal was a landmark in the city.
The television presented Howdy Doody dancing on strings, Roy Rogers riding Trigger, and Walter Cronkite announcing the death of a president. In it’s blurry visuals television showed the English invasion and the civil rights movement. The boomers were introduced to classical music through silly animated cartoons.
In ’79 I moved from the little box to a 29” color with a remote control. That was a big time splurge for me. Then, I decided to try out this new cable television thing. Another remote wired to a box and a hole in the wall.
Movies and lots of channels and most important MTV, but soon I found out I was wasting more time searching the increasingly variety of selections and being unsatisfied with the results. When I started watching bad movies in the darkness of the morning only to see how it would end, I decided cut the cord.
So today as television is nothing but background noise until the news comes on or watching a variety of cooking and travel shows but not really hungry or feeling the urge to wander, even it’s constant motion and babble become boring. The latest season of new programs present…
* 2 Broke Girls * 30 Rock * America's Next Top Model * American Horror Story * Aqua Teen Hunger Force * Arrested Development * Arrow * Big Bang Theory, The * Blue Bloods * Bones * Criminal Minds * CSI: Crime Scene Investigation * CSI: Miami * CSI: NY * Desperate Housewives * Dexter * Downton Abbey * Dr. Phil * Frontline * Friday Night Lights * Family Guy * Girlfriends * Glee * Gossip Girl * Hawaii Five-0 * Hell's Kitchen * How I Met Your Mother * Law & Order * Law & Order: Criminal Intent * Law & Order: Special Victims Unit * Law & Order: UK * Modern Family * NCIS * NCIS: Los Angeles * NYPD Blue * Once Upon a Time * Parks and Recreation * Revolution * Saturday Night Live * Two and a Half Men

From what I see there are insulting comedies, bland animations, stress competition shows, bloody court and police shows, and unbelievable fantasy adventures. Then there are sports. It is simple and the gabber-gabber can be turned down so the only action is the ball, whatever size it is. Play a little music over it and it is eye candy.
So I check out the Emmys to see what was the best-of-the-best in television and this is what I found.

DRAMA SERIES: Breaking Bad, AMC
(AMC? I don’t get that channel. Why would I want to watch breaking wind anyway?)
COMEDY SERIES: Modern Family, ABC
(I do get this program, but it is too late for me to watch and it looks formulated)
MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Behind the Candelabra, HBO
(HBO, not getting it, so whoever stars on this series is not in my friends list)
LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES: Claire Danes, Homeland, Showtime
(Showtime? What is showtime?)
LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom, HBO
(I know Jeff Daniels, but have never seen the show)
LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory, CBS
(Cute show, but I don’t relate to the 20 set so…)
LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep, HBO
(Another HBO that I don’t watch. She is a clever actress as I remember from Seinfeld)
LEAD ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Michael Douglas, Behind The Candelabra, HBO
(Liberace with Mike Douglas? I wouldn’t have watched it anyway.. )
LEAD ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Laura Linney, The Big C: Hereafter, Showtime
(What about the Big D? or the Big Z? Or the Big 9????)
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES: Bobby Cannavale, Boardwalk Empire, HBO
(Broadwalk empire? Would I want to watch that? I don’t think so.)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES: Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad, AMC
(More praise for a drug dealer? The times they are a changing??)
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES: Tony Hale, Veep, HBO
(Another show making fun of the Vice President of America. As if the news media didn’t do that enough)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES: Merritt Wever, Nurse Jackie, Showtime
(We seem to like nurses. They are caregivers. They are supposed to take the gap between the doctor coming in quickly and giving the shot and the family who don’t know what is going on. I’ve always like nurses.)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Ellen Burstyn, Political Animals, USA
(Can’t watch animal shows)
SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: James Cromwell, American Horror Story: Asylum, FX
(Why do we watch shows that scare us? There is enough things in reality to scare us without the extra adrenaline rush.)
REALITY-COMPETITION PROGRAM: The Voice, NBC
(Hey back to antennae television, but I wouldn’t watch this chatter unless strapped down to a chair)
VARIETY SERIES: The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
(Political comedy? It is funny if you believe what they present or you can watch FOX news)
VARIETY SPECIAL: Louis C.K.: Oh My God, HBO
(Have absolutely no idea what this is or about)
DIRECTING FOR A DRAMA SERIES: House of Cards, Netflix
(My flush beats your two pair)
DIRECTING FOR A COMEDY SERIES: Modern Family, ABC
(Back to a show I could watch. I’ve seen clips and snips of it. It reminds me of the old “All in the Family”)
DIRECTING FOR A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: Behind the Candelabra, HBO
(I’m sure this was very interesting, but again, not within my reach)
WRITING FOR A MINISERIES OR MOVIE: The Hour, BBC America
(Now this is getting ridiculous. An English channel dedicated to showing an hour? An hour of what?)
DIRECTING FOR A VARIETY SERIES: Saturday Night Live, NBC
(From what I remember back in the day, this show was fresh and a bit edgy. Today I find it just a formula)
WRITING FOR A VARIETY SERIES: The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
(And yet another formula)
WRITING FOR A DRAMA SERIES: Homeland, Showtime
(Don’t get Showtime so I don’t get Homeland)
WRITING FOR COMEDY SERIES: 30 Rock, NBC
(Understand it is good acting and good writing but it comes on too late for me)

There were probably much more, but as you can see I’m bored with what comes over the airwaves. What is exciting to the visual eye is like what is exciting on the computer screen.
As a society we follow whatever the media trends lead us. A bigger screen must be purchased. A faster connection is a certainty. Connection to all the mobile devices is a necessary. The upgrades must be kept up with to insure the lead in the populace fantasy.
With the constant barrage of request to buy new phones and new cars and some pill that will (maybe) make you feel better than you do now; thank goodness for NPR and PBS. So I missed the end of “Breaking Bad” and even reading the reviews did not understand it. I don’t know what all the fuss is about “Game of Thrones” or even “Homeland” or “The Blacklist”?
Maybe I should just unplug and get a book.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

So I’m Not Your First Choice



There are a lot of compromises in life. There are the dreams and plans that somehow don’t work out exactly as drawn up on the life list.
Perhaps the team didn’t select you to be quarterback? Perhaps you didn’t make the cheerleading squad? Perhaps the school your parents wanted you to attend was not within your reach? Perhaps occupation dreamed about could not be attained and another settled for to provide monetary sustenance for living?
The real compromise in life is whom you choose to love. There is always the dream image of the perfect partner molded by movie stars and celebrity magazines. Then the adventure of dating destroys all the fantasies.
Perhaps the star quarterback or the head cheerleader turns you down for a date? Perhaps your friends start going steady and you can’t find a date for the weekend? Perhaps you find out too late that the girl you would have asked out but was afraid to ask would have gone out with you? Perhaps you hang out with the good-looking people hoping to get the leftovers?
A few may realize the first choice and live happily ever after, but for those who have loved and lost, there is compromise. Hearing about previous relationships doesn’t help bonding but it is a compromise.
Perhaps she isn’t as pretty as you would like, but she is fun to hang with. Perhaps he doesn’t make as much money as you would like, but he is steady. Perhaps she doesn’t get along with your previous friends, but is fun in the bedroom. Perhaps he doesn’t give the emotional connection needed, but supports your ever-increasing habits.
Teach your children. Life is about compromise. That includes love. This way they won’t be shattered when their dream partner doesn’t happen. This way when they look in the mirror years later, they won’t be disappointed they couldn’t have married the one who remains in the dreams.
Just be happy to be second best. Or maybe third.

Getting Drunk on Stage



Wasting another weekend afternoon with college football on the tube and watching music videos on YouTube, I came across a live show by “The Hold Steady” and it started me to flashback to a time in the day when it wasn’t that easy.
The band is a small band without a super hit other than being the tune for the credits on a popular television show I’ve never seen, so flipping through several videos; I appreciate their effort and enjoy the lyrics. Of course when I looked up the lyrics I couldn’t find the lines I like, so we will move on.
What I was thinking about was here are a group of guys who write lyrics and play music and travels all over and takes a few videos and makes some recordings and live as a band. I don’t know how you put that down on a resume? Guitar player from 1998 -?
Today, the bands can’t just write songs and get up on a stage and play until the sweat hits the audience only to be replied by spilled beer. They must book festivals, acquire massive amounts of equipment and transportation and people to take care of it, then practice and practice and practice so they don’t have to have the words on music stands, then leave their families and friends for months. Between sound checks, equipment repairs, and a quick nap; there is the washing of clothes and possible medical attention. These guys are too busy to watch Downton Abbey.
I appreciate what they go through knowing they will not be mentioned in the award shows with maybe a column in a music magazine but probably soon forgotten except in their own memories. Family will only recognize their names and their fans will grow out of them or move on to another band.
The reason I say all this mess is that I was there, except in a much more minor way. I enjoy and appreciate watching musicians on a stage performing their talents to appreciative fans, but I know what they have to go through.
The venues may be small and dark or even outdoor settings. Once arriving, the equipment needs to be unloaded and placed in position. The working area may be a small spot on a dance floor or a slight riser in a corner. Electricity need to be found and connected and tested to make sure there is enough not to blow a fuse. The drummer, while not having the most heavy of equipment, must set up a kit with all the screws, stands, cymbals and squeeze into a tiny space. Microphones and amplifiers are tested and guitars tuned.
If you are lucky, and I was never in a band that was that lucky, there were sound guys who balanced the volumes and light guys who set up spotlights. My bands were basic play it hard rock and roll. No monitors, no lighting systems and no computers. Most of the time the members couldn’t hear each other and just had to keep the beat with the drummer. If the drummer got excited, we all sped up. If the drummer lost the beat, we all had to adjust. The horn players did not have microphones so they just blew hard to try to get heard over the guitars. The really good bands had so much rhythm they had dance steps.
While the boys in the band were pounding out their adrenaline on stage, the folks who were being tortured by the sound was either listening or not. If it was a quiet coffee house setting, no one listened unless it was a Dylan song to sing along with. If it were a dance club, the patrons would gyrate to the noise building a smoky hot sweating loud atmosphere.
Each occasion had varying quantities of alcohol either being served or being brought in. Yes, boys and girls, there was a time when an adult beverage had to be BYOB. As the night went on the music sounded louder and perhaps better as the patrons drank more.
And the bands shared the party. Many a night the bar with 3.2 beers lubricated us, even without checking our age. As the crowd loosened up, beer was constantly refreshed on the stage. Maybe the music became better or maybe we just didn’t care and the frenzy built. The dancers and the band became one. Sometimes a little too close when one of the drunken participants wanted to get up on stage and join the band. Sometimes there was laughter and sometimes there were fights.
At the end of the day, all the equipment and guitars and microphones and drums had to be taken apart and packed into transportation by the same guys who were just on stage being rock stars. On a good night, there was some pay and a few ladies who lingered. On a bad night, there was a bad hangover, flat tires and no place to sleep.
As we read about the “big” stars who are high liners at massive concerts, try to appreciate those poor smucks, trudging through the ranks of dingy clubs and growing old without fame or fortune, but with the memories of living a dream for a brief moment. The write their dreams and play their hearts out for most who will forget. Perhaps the beer on stage was worth it.
Well, I found the lyrics I was looking for:
She was a really cool kisser and 
she wasn't all that strict of a Christian
She was a damn good dancer but 
she wasn't all that great of a girlfriend



Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hurt


For the past week I’ve been a sad patient. Bandage on my knee has given me yet another reason not to do what I should be doing. Maybe blood trickling down my leg does give me wonder.
This was the first boo-boo in some time and I am such a baby. Some skin came off and the leg would be sore to stretch or bend, but nothing like a real wound.
And to feed my tea and sympathy, I done nothing but eat cheesy Mexican food all week. The mind knows better but the body is weak. Actually the mind is weak.
So with a deadline and the food stores running out, there are only three more days of defecating debauchery. It is time for a change and there are no more excuses.
The weather has been perfect this week, cool temperatures, nice breezes, sunshine and no rain. The projects for trimming the yard have been made and the tools are ready. Even the neighborhood has been quiet.
But one little boo-boo has been my illogical excuse for not getting to it. One can always create some speed bump for not doing what you need to do. It can even build a wall for what you want to do. Excuses are good rationalization for the irrational behavior.
Like what the congress is doing, we all put off what we should do today until tomorrow.  The action can be done unless it is on fire or dripping through the roof. It can always be put off until tomorrow.
But the deadline will arrive and the decisions must be made and change will happen. The congress crisis will stir up emotions and wild comments on social media, but it may be kicked down the road.
Some hurts heal and some never go away. For those there are no bandages to cover the boo-boo. Certain sights and sounds and smells bring it all back again. Last night I was watching a YouTube flash mob and started weeping like a baby. Wasn’t anything special, but those things get to me this way? The night brought dreams of familiar faces and strangers struggling through some weird situation with remarkable detail. The little blond girl keeps wandering through without saying a word.
My personal stagnation has been kicked down the road for over a year and as said before,
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Shutting Down “Puppywoods”



It is getting quiet. The nights come early and are darker. The sun takes longer to wake up. The warm weather friends are going back home and the scooters are slowing down. They will soon be sleeping in their new homes on mounds of grub they stored up since spring. And thanks to a neighborhood feline the yard boss was buried yesterday.
So I’m shutting down “Puppywoods” for the winter. No more daily feedings of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and fruit. No more making sure the waterhole is full. No more of allowing the yard to grow in abundance giving a playground to the ones who should be living here anyway.
Tomorrow I will again enjoy this fall weather, but with a new mission. Giving a hair cut to a hippy yard. Allow nature to have the freedom of sun and rain and space, she knows how to grow. My neighbor has already complained about the outcrops of foliage. The city has already complain about the overgrowth, but I caught their message and avoided the clearance fee.
Now bamboo is an invasive plant. It is just really tall grass and if left alone with spread like wildfire. It has, but it is easy to trim back and it is green all year. English ivy will also spread quickly. I didn’t realize until this year when I just backed off and let it run. Again easy to trim the yard cover has been interesting to see where it would go. After the two cans are full, I’ll stop and wait for next week to continue.
Since the critters do not run anymore, I can explore sections of my yard I have left alone to nature for 10 months. Areas where I have seen critters run and play and relax in freedom and protection. It has been like walking next to a comfortable zoo everyday, except these critters are not caged. They have recognized their names and come up on the porch as I feed them. They realized I was the source of food and respected their space. They did not fear me.
So tomorrow, I will take my usual ride and make my human conversation at the grocery store, but when I return I will start on my chores. I have taken a year of sabbatical while the chores await my decisions to move or stay or hire someone to do what I have put off.
After the yard is tidied up, it is time to move inside to the warmth and start anew on my projects. My day-to-day schedule that has been on the wall for four years will be removed and a new schedule put up to follow.
It is time to get back to work.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

To Your Health



Today is the first of fall. Today is a sunny day glistening in yesterday’s rain. A cool breeze has the smell that summer is over. Hobbling out to stretch and get some air in my lungs instead of the mucus that comes visits every night, I hear the yard waking up and asking for their buffet to be provided.
  Walking up the alley I view the spot where I took a tumble. The rain has washed away any evidence except for my knee bandage. Unsure how the leg that has stiffened up overnight and the pinky now the size of a cigar will feel riding, but I move through the regular route and everything loosens up. The jogging eye candy also provides a distraction.
So carrying my new bandage and medicine back for an afternoon of football I reflect on a previous weekend. Then our crew of similar economic, educational, and political philosophies gathered for a celebration. After jolly conversations and libations we walked back to our temporary boarding. Perhaps the abundance of day or just age, we looked like the walking wounded.
Unfortunately, our bumps and bruises do not heel as fast as when were twenty. I don’t even coagulate like I used to. Maybe my adage of “shaking it off and rubbing some dirt in it” will have to change. Those little aches last much longer now.
We all know what to do, but will we do it? Eat right (but those nachos soaking in cheese and butter sautéed onions were sooooo gooood) and exercise (maybe that pushing buttons on the remote isn’t enough?) All those years of abuse cannot be washed away with good intensions.
I raise a glass and toast to good health to all. It is all we have left.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Was Born To Die




It is said our species are the only ones who know, with some rational logic, that we will die…someday. It is a morbid subject, but when you start getting old, mortality becomes a more constant thought.
When you are young, you are invincible. The thought never crosses your mind. Life insurance is just a family savings account and yearly checkups are normally missed. Life is too busy for that stuff.
But when the reports of births are your grandchildren, the topics of conversations start with health problems, and you attend more funerals than weddings, mortality creeps into your thoughts. Those little bumps and bruises that used to be just wiped off and forgotten have much more impact as I just found out taking out the trash.
For those of us who are good planners, we reserve a family plot, write a will, and inform your family members of your wishes, even though no one wants to talk about it. For those who don’t plan, a disease or an injury can catch you off guard.
When we are born, there is no certainty that we will grow to be tall or short, if we will marry, what school we will attend or how we will attain shelter, food, and entertainment. When we are born there is but one certainty. We will die.
Sometimes it comes quickly, sometimes it is accidental, sometimes it is lingering, but however it comes, we will all die. I’m not saying this as a gloom and doom grim reaper, but as I move into the official “old age”, I have to prepare for this inevitable event. A simple stumble like today could have been much worse. The only obituary would have been the stacked up junk mail and the arrival of the flies.
So as Medicare takes over, I will start to review assisted living facilities. I need to get some idea of requirements and cost. If I can’t make it, then I have to be resigned to live in this house until the end. As much as you cannot plan your life, you can arrange for some of it. Like saving up for that new car or house, I want to plan for what will come while I still can.

It’s the Little Things

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While life is a day-by-day adventure, there are those “little things” that make it memorable. Life is also about massive decisions like do I marry her or should I buy that house or now that that big branch fell on my car or why is the hot water heater leaking or does my daughter really want to marry that guy or what did the doctor just say; there are those little things that gives life the spice.
Now life is full of routine activities that fill our minds, but are they soon forgotten? In the long run, only the “little things” brings the smile or tear of memories. The “little things” define what are the special moments of your life and also characterize the people you remember.
That unexpected stolen kiss or the secret picnic or the walk in the moonlight to watch the meteor shower are all personal “little things” that no one else knows or could have experienced in the same way. That little wink or smile or whisper in your ear will last forever in your memories.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Boy and his Toys



Some guys go for fast shiny cars. Some guys are fancy dressers.  Some guys invest in vintage wines or big houses.  Some guys go into sports. Some guys join prestigious clubs. Some guys are just smart enough to impress the women on their own, but not me.
For me my toys are guitars.  I wasn’t rich or athletic or handsome and certainly not smart enough to get a girls attention, so I use a guitar.
Luckily I grew up at a time when music was changing from big bands to folk music and rock and roll. The guitar became a symbol of my generation.
When the Beatles played the Ed Sullivan show, I noticed their movement and clothing but was intensely interested in what guitars they were playing. George played this hollow body guitar similar to ones I’d seen on country music shows. John played a guitar with not one, not two, but three pickups. And Paul played a violin looking guitar backwards. I did the same observations with every other show that had guitar players on.
Then I would go to the local music stores and look at their selections. Most of the stores were selling pianos or orchestra instruments so the guitar variety was slim. The ones that did had only a few and most were put up and away from touching or actually trying it out. And when you did pick up a guitar the salesman would walk over and stand next to you so as to make sure you didn’t nick or scratch the finish. I don’t blame them. Us kids were picking up instruments we knew we couldn’t afford.
What were the other options? I ventured into the pawnshops and the walls were full of guitars. They didn’t look like anything I had seen on television, but the prices was right for a kid without much money.
Now remember guitars in pawnshops are not the best quality. They are usually leftover from bands passing through who cannot pay the bar bills. Some guitars are antiques from some family relative who didn’t know the value but they were not cool guitars that the kids wanted. If we had only known at the time of the treasures we were passing over?
So kids who wanted to play folk music or rock and roll picked up whatever they could afford. Strange brands and poor setup guitars were our training ground. Rusty strings, bad electronics, cracked bodies and did I say bad setups were how we learned to play the guitar.
Some kids had rich parents and bought the guitars that the stars were playing, but most of them couldn’t play very well. There were bands that had the cool equipment and clothing and then there were bands that could play the music.
Slowly different guitar models were tried. Some played and sounded good and some just were examples of what not to play. Continuously learning about manufacturers, designs, strings, and all the aspects of what makes a guitar sound good, not just look cool.
As I became more educated, so were my idols. Some models appeared again and again. Then I realized the manufacturers were making offers to groups hitting the top of the pops to show off their guitars. It was excellent marketing.
Fender, Gibson, Vox, Rickenbacker, Guild, and Martin were the most coveted brands before dozens of other guitar makers came on the market. Each manufacturer had a variety of styles and shapes. It would have taken years and hundreds of dollars to purchase them all.
Luckily, there was a music shop that rented guitars. Our band would go in Friday after school and choose the equipment needed for the weekend. The rent was cheap and we got to sample all sorts of instruments. I even bought a few, knowing they were well used.
Now guitars have several different value levels. Some you can buy at the big box stores as a starter kit and some are vintage models costing more than some homes. And just like the handling feel of a car or a taste of a fine wine or the scent of a good cigar, you find your own dancing partners.
My toy box may be filled, but there is always room for another. With all the advancements in the past decades, the sound can match any imaginable effect or model, but it is the feel that makes the difference. A guitar is a wooden teddy bear that you hug close to your body and caress like a woman.

Monday, September 16, 2013

September


It is a transitional month. Summer is not over but it is starting to feel like fall. Today is cloudy and has the smell of showers in the air. The yard has little activity unlike the hustle and bustle of summer. Soon the little scooters will be sleeping on their mounds of stored peanuts. Even the yard boss must be settling in to her nest.
After good nights sleep in my own bed, I reflect on the weekend’s conversations. The day begins with the “Moment in Time” talking about the same thing. I was going to put the link here but when I checked it all that was written was: “Dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Pellentesque ultrices facilisis risus. Aenean sollicitudin imperdiet justo. Nam sed nulla sed metus blandit pretium”. Maybe I wasn’t really awake when I heard Dan Roberts talking about times before telephones, televisions, and texting. People would assemble in one spot to talk. Just talk. These events sometimes held in parlors after dinner or on special occasions held in meeting halls where people would share news, discuss politics, optimize opinions and stories bringing jolly laughter.
That was pretty much what this weekend’s gathering was. Pretty much a leftover from the old coffeehouse days where discussions of politics, religion, music, and books were lively and sometimes volatile. Everyone brought their opinions to the table and felt free to give and take from others.
As the television is filled with news loops of police sirens and little facts blocking my soap operas, I reflect on the transition of these people who shared just a brief moment with me. None of the conversations that I heard offered deep thoughts or unknown facts but more a neighborly “Hi! How are you?” Perhaps the participants were more familiar with each other or maybe I wasn’t listening the first time round. Even with the excuse of alcohol the friendly conversation was about family and travels.
Now I don’t bring much to the plate but gibberish, but I am a good listener. I don’t have any political ideologies or factorial wonders but I absorb what others talk about. I don’t retain whose kids are playing soccer or how the baby is walking. It goes in one ear and out the other. I do pay attention to what the question was and who made it.
I also notice a strange habit we have when we get together. I classify these people as “friends” because of shared experiences more than agreement on emotional bonding. We have a follow up to some of our comments to what I would call “bullying”. Maybe other groups do the same, but it stood out in my mind this weekend. We make a comment and the reply indicated physical harm. It is all taken in good fun, but I wonder why we do that? As I recall we have always done that. Is it a guy thing? Of course we never do harm to each other but it is a sort of teasing that is acceptable to all.
After hours of watching police cars race up and down the streets with flashing lights, I wonder when they will run out of gas or the battery will go dead? Are all those firemen and policemen standing around getting tired? Maybe I should get back on social media and read what people are saying? Maybe I should turn off all the electronics and retire to the parlor for a quiet conversation with myself?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

When I’m 64


It was decided about a year ago that the few that remain should do something to celebrate the release of the Beatles album that gave up the summer of love and the song “When I’m 64” since it corresponds with our age. The daughter of one was given the assignment to plan a soiree and we would all agreed to comply.
And time drifted by interrupted by major family events like deaths, operations, weddings, travel and births. Then 2^6 * 5 = A celebration of 5 young people was given a page site and the details began to be worked out. With multiple families and no designed leader most of the communication was more like high school. “I don’t know? What do you want to do?”
A destination was agreed upon and a date, so it was underway. Now these people rarely see each other and certainly not in such large numbers, so there were some fluctuations, but before long the date was written on the calendar as being etched in stone.
On the day of departure the weather was perfect. Checking my communication device there was some sort of encrypted message about “not bringing a cat” or “packing a rat in a sack” or “don’t wear a hat in Iraq”, but we on the road at the appropriate time and all seem to be going as scheduled. Upon arrival we were all to gather to attend a college town activity that included music and of course drinking. That is when the comedy commenced.
Even with all the iPads, emails, Facebooks, texting and phone calls, the assemblage of this band of geezers proved to be more complicated than I had ever imagined. I will clarify for I understand setting an agenda timeline, but that did not seem to work for this crowd. I also am fairly spontaneous since I do not have another family member to agree with or a time schedule to adjust to, but this group wanted some structure.
Upon arrival and checking in to the hotel with little problem, the phones started to connect. One group was already there and waiting, another group was still on the road, the young one who had the tickets was held up. As we started to assemble, more cell calls were made as we continued to move toward our planned activity. In a slow march our numbers grew. As we were directed to the winding line we made another connection and the party was on, but there was still the last remaining member. The one with the tickets was still missing in action.
As our samba line snaked toward the officials checking IDs and assigning Wristbands, faces started getting panic expressions. Would we have to get out of line losing our place that we had butted in and our connection with the rest of the group only a few feet away? I looked around and didn’t see any real tight security so I thought we could make a run for it. Then again we could just say we were with the band. One of our parties backtracked trying to trace his daughter. Time was running out.
As we stepped up to the examination station, the tickets arrived and the day was saved. Now the real fun was about to begin.
Two of our group had decided they would not participate in the Bacchus revelry so they found a shady spot with lots of water to watch the festivities. The rest of us dove into a sea of young bodies pressed together to “sample” different breweries wares, 2 ounces at a time. The movement of these young college types was to press in to the table to get a sample turn around and gather their friends take one step back and start to laugh and talk, leaving no room for movement. Too many people in a tight space for my liking, but having bought my ticket and was there, I joined the circus and followed the flow. The secret was to just squeeze into spots to ask for samples then squeeze through any available gap to the next location. That required the inappropriate rubbing and touching of young eye candy, but I didn’t mind.
After a turn through the variety of tables and overwhelming amounts of taste and flavors, some good, some bitter, some not so good; I decided to join the pair in the air and take a breath. One by one, other members would also come up for air before diving back into the mass of undulating bodies that were getting louder and louder.
The sun was warm, the music just far enough away to be heard above the din of the crowd, a vendor was close enough to offer larger samples from a flirty cute girl in a white t-shirt and shades, and the conversations were informative. 2^6 * 5 is about the people, not the adult beverages.
After a few hours our pack on the hill started to increase their numbers as only the hardcore were still suds diving. With the signs of intoxication showing, a hunger for substance was becoming the chant. Again the coordination of getting all bodies in place, clouded by numbers of samples and the heat of the day, became a prime example of confusion.
In an earlier communication, there was a discussion of finding a dining establishment and making a reservation. Of course no one could agree on the selections given and some did not take reservations. With this crew trying to get everyone in a single place at the designated time would have been a disaster anyway.
Our ever-present youthful coordinator went to one place and asked for a table for ten. A half an hour was the best offer; so one member took watch while the other stragglers were rounded up. Not satisfied, our guide went to another diner that offered us immediate entrance. Again we directed the wayward into the backroom and a table that snuggly fit all.
By now the affects of the consumption of mass amounts of sudsy yellow toxic potions were showing. After sitting down in hard wooden chairs after too many hours of standing, a very smart waitress asked if we had been at the beer fest, as if it didn’t show. Large cool glasses of water were distributed before the next round of alcohol could be ordered. We were in rapture of a total wooden environment and limited conversation to the person next to you.
As our meals were being prepared I acted on an idea. The night before I had wondered why we didn’t get hats or t-shirts that announced to the world we were celebrating “When I’m 64”? I had thought about it but not ever figuring out how many participants there would be or what sizes, I avoided the confusion.
Instead I came up with an idea. I called the waitress aside and ordered ten glasses of champagne. With some confused looks the assembled were asked to raise a glass. “To us who have reached 64, even though we may not have planned it, for those who went before us, for those who never made it; peace, good health, and happiness.”
The plates were delivered, again with some confusion, but all were served a meal to give us the strength to continue. Unfortunately, some could not continue. So we rejoiced in our ability to have aged together, then staggered out into the cool mountain air.
Inevitably our age, whether we admit is or not, is showing. Our pace has slowed, even with a walking stick; the inclines are steeper, and the ability to devour our youthful dreams are just foggy memories. In our dark stroll back to our barracks, the town still had that small town feel of kids trying to beat the stoplight and all travelers chuckling about it.
Back in a foreign room where I was to bunk for the night, it was still early. Notre Dame and Perdue were on the tube, the slow Wi-Fi caught me up to the baby pictures and strange events people participate in, a cup of water and then coffee washed away the dust of the day, and the rumble of the ventilation system created the background white noise. Not really tired but not ready to venture back out into the unknown streets, I decided to start this story.
The bed is huge. It is huge by my standards of a single bed supplying my repose. Lights out and pull up the covers. Sleeping in a stranger’s bed is like no other feeling. The covers are tucked in military folds, the pillows are too soft, the bed is too soft, and there is no music. A constant battle of toss and turn and get up and walk and drink a cup of water and struggle again went on for hours. At some point exhaustion set in and the body rested.
Awakening to sunlight streaming through the window, the clock said I had fifteen minutes to meet my ride downstairs. A quick pee that showed me my liver needed to be cleansed, there was no time for a shower, and so I packed up. A phone reminder got me downstairs in a flash. When you travel light there is not much to carry or pack.
Our morning plan, as best there was, to meet at a coffee/eatery for breakfast. One of our members had left before daybreak and another slept in. Of the group, half showed up for a more than ample but fairly bland breakfast while watching the youts prepare for a long hike in the surrounding wilderness. Our age was showing as the discussion turned to travel, fantasy novels, chores and napping once home.
Arriving back at the pad that was still standing, fond farewells to my traveling buddies and welcomed back by the voices of the yard. Everything was as I left it, so it was time for some exercise to get the body flowing again. Break out a pony and weave through the familiar. The air in the face refreshes, the legs pump blood throughout, the lungs clear up, and all is back to normal.
It was a good celebration of life with friends and their families.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Can I see your ID?



It is an interesting thought that the only identification is your driver’s license. If you travel it is your passport that states who you are.
But if you don’t drive or travel, how do you identify yourself to any authority that ask some verification to prove you are who you say you are.  Trust me, I’ve been through this.
If when the request for a driver’s license is denied, the bartender will question if you are some kind of alien. Everyone has a driver’s license as an identification badge. This is America, home of the free and the automobile.
Luckily the Department of Motor Vehicles has a solution. Rather than using your Social Security card that doesn’t have a visual recognition to the holder, but has a number that is really your identification to the most important stuff, they have a Identification Card that has a photo for face recognition and potentate information like address, height, weight, date of birth, and some kind of weird photo that is suppose to look like you. They even get you to sign the card and give you the option to be an organ donor or not.
So the few of us that don’t drive would have to go down to the DMV place every so offend to update our Identification Card. It is like renewing your license without having a car.
I noticed my ID card was about to expire in November. I had planned to take the journey to the local office and fill out the forms and pay my fee and have my picture taken to have a new Identification Card when suddenly I get this weird letter in the mail.
The Department of Motor Vehicles, being so high tech, has decided to offer a deal for upgrading the ID card. Since you don’t have to bring your car in or drive around to prove you can still text and change lanes without wrecking, they have decided you can just send them a check and they will update your Identification Card. Cool!
And the incentive is that it saves your $5.00. What a deal. Allow 15 days for the return card to be sent to you with the updated expiration date and you are good to go.
Of course I took the bait and today I received my brand new official commonwealth Identification Card. Easy, quick, no muss, no fuss so it seems.
I have no problem with the technology and the appearance of the new card, but, and there is always but; the image that was captured in 2009 is not the same image that is 2013 much less the same image on the expiration date of 2018.
At my age I’m not carded very often. I carry it for some unknown reason because that is what you should carry in your wallet with your credit cards and condoms, but if the ID doesn’t look like you what good is it?
When you have to renew your driver’s license, I don’t know if they send you through TSA and pat you down, but I thought this is a pretty easy way to continue your identify; whoever your are.
So I have my new card, my new identity and I don’t look like that anymore. Or do I?