Thursday, July 29, 2010


Why must every generation think their folks are square?
And no matter where their heads are they know minds ain't there?
Well I swore when I was small that I'd remember when
I knew what's wrong with them, but I was smaller then...

Well I know now that all I´ve learned my kid assumes
And all my deepest worries must be his cartoons
And still I´ll try to tell him all the things I´ve done
Relating to what he can do when he becomes a man
And still he´ll stick his fingers in the fan

Courtesy of John Sebastian, with minor liberties.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Bridge Too Far

Invest in your relationships. Reach out to a friend from days gone by - it's like no time has passed. But much has happened in between. Cultivate the relationships you have today - one day you will reach back, and you'll want it to be like no time has passed.

Across the gorge, distances more often grow with time. But like continental drift, you hardly notice until it's an ocean apart. And suddenly, there's not enough time to build the bridge. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Swarm Ball vs. The Beautiful Game

In my brief tenure as youth soccer coach, I no doubt had the opportunity to observe the great players of the future. Second only to the many hours of quality time was the pleasure of watching their game grow with them. On the youngest team I ever coached was a player whose inseam was slightly less than the ball diameter. Hardly the time to teach the "Stanley Matthews".

Yet they all loved the game. At first all they knew was a phenomenon known as "Swarm Ball". Where the ball went, so went the team. The only real game changer was the "Breakaway", which at that age was more like hitting fly balls to yourself. As they got a little older, the often-practiced passes would appear. Whether by accident or fear, there were results. And in those players who paid attention, you could see the filament begin to glow.

And suddenly it would burn brightly. A few members would learn that to win, you needed to "create space". A novel concept when you think about it. Move without the ball, and away from the ball. Draw your opponent out. Dilute the defense. Exploit the space created by your teammates. And perhaps most importantly, trust your teammates to play their positions.

Life imitates soccer. Create your own space. But in doing so, you don't need to be alone in your space. You define it. And you need teammates.

And don't get me started about "The Tornado". Seen on the field of valor only twice that I recall. You saw it coming, kind of. You got anxious thinking "here it comes". And then it happened. A jockstrap left on the field a meter or so behind the broken player, and a breakaway leading to an in-tournament goal. The peasants rejoiced. And so did the "coach".

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Phantom

There were always certain super-heroes that were not actually that super, but they were peculiar enough to warrant their own comic despite their lack of typical qualifications. These were guys like Zorro or the Lone Ranger, Mandrake the Magician or even...The Phantom.

What made them peculiar? Well, they had sidekicks. Or a "posse". Maybe a cool car. They might have lived in a cool place like Skull Mountain or chose to run around in spandex (granted, kind of questionable). At least the Lone Ranger and The Phantom had enough sense not to have a cape, unlike Synchro.

Anyway, today's fable is not so much about these guys but about what they stood for, which is generally speaking, doing the right thing. And the Phantom Leaf Effect.

When you choose to work on your character defects, sometimes you might be lucky enough to leave some behind. How far behind you are they really? Like the Phantom Leaf, most of the structure is still probably there. But as bad as the defect might have been to you, in the kirlian lens it has beauty. For one never knows when a shared experience can help another person tortured by the same defect. So today I'll remain grateful for my experiences - the wheat and the chaff. I ask for the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Heading North Double Feature

It is said that if you look at a cloud long enough, it will eventually look like... something. 
Recently the evening sky has been angry my friend. But given a dry vantage point I find myself able to appreciate the structure of the clouds, the turbulence in the atmosphere and the interaction of the sunset. Sometimes I'm caught in the storm, but I can still look for silver linings and rainbows. There is great majesty in nature. And if you look long enough you'll see the...clouds.

As I ride to the west beneath the power lines and between the hedges, I think of one of my favorite passages (from E.B. White's Stuart Little). Stuart is lovesick for the lost bird Margalo, and describes her to the Lineman in case he should run across her:
"She comes from fields once tall with wheat, from pastures deep in fern and thistle; she comes from vales of meadowsweet, and she loves to whistle."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What Me Worry

Back in the days when there was no internet, the world was in black and white. Contrary to popular belief, discouraging words were sometimes heard on the range. Frequently when one was trying to get homework done. And some of the most discouraging words were "go look it up". There's two expressions I grew up with.

In the back room of our house, made bizarre for a long time because my grandmother died in her sleep there, was a wall of books from floor to ceiling. It seemed one could always go back in there when bored, expecting to find something of exceptional value, lost in the sea of time and knowledge, only to be rediscovered. Or just start climbing the shelves.

Rarely would one be disappointed with anything except the weird way the book would smell. Books on nature, the sciences, how-to books on drawing, building or whatever, great and not-so-great literature (all of the Harvard Classics were there, saved from the Great Cleansing by my son), books in foreign languages, and of course the World Book. Yes, the mother of all encyclopedias. There was even another, more crusty encyclopedia and several ridiculously heavy dictionaries because you can't believe everything you read, and maybe because my father in particular seemed to stockpile just about everything.

Perhaps the most glorious discovery was a 1955ish paperback book called "Utterly Mad". Alone amidst the tattered tomes, it was unlike anything I had ever seen! An actual book full of parody and satire, with graphics nothing like all of the comics I read "religiously". It was read and re-read a hundred times. For the next 7 years the majority of my hard-earned cash went to my MAD magazine subscription and collection of as many of the publications I could afford. Perhaps a sleeping giant was awakened that day. I had discovered my calling. I am a smart-ass.

In general this provided me with a cheery outlook on life. I was even convinced for some time the only real purpose of an education was so one could "get" more jokes. But I recognized my audience early when I learned the more high-brow the joke, the more fallow the field it would land in. Unfortunately a lot of the more appreciated jokes seem to be at the expense of others, even when no harm is intended. One can easily lose sight of this while being a smart-ass, and feelings have undoubtedly been stepped on. As Jacob Marley said, "These are the Chains I Forged in Life".

So if I get the chance, I'll try to make amends. I can't very well escape being a smart-ass at this point, and I pretty much refuse to stop looking for the comic relief in life. But I'm trying to be more sensitive of other's feelings, make sure there are no judgments embedded in the jokes, and to remember there's a lot more to laugh at if I just look at myself more often.

Oh and there was one other glorious thing that happened in that room: my brother and I watched the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. In black and white, of course.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Three Hour Tour

Yesterday was charter fishing trip day. Although there were not too many fish biting the boat ride was good, the company great, and the diversity of creatures was exceptional. Flounders, Skates, Croakers, a small sand shark and a starfish were all brought aboard to delight the intrepid fishermen. We cast our lines behind the boat with great hope and a reasonable amount of patience. The weighted hooks dragged along the bottom structure and occasionally teased out a nibble or two. We would float and bob along with the waves and test the line to be sure we were still in the game.

We were adrift in the Sea of Time. A vast membrane without boundary, rippling with peaks and valleys yet continuous even when disturbed. Sometimes anchored, sometimes leaving a broad wake, but always moving even when one seems to be relatively stationary. Garbage and treasure are both afloat and below. One must navigate carefully to find safe harbor.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Karaoke Night

Hell-o? Is this thing turned on?
Fireworks on the beach rules.
Especially when they explode right over your head.
It's a good thing there is an ocean breeze so the ashes don't fall on you, as I have had the misfortune of experiencing.
Stefani's camera has a 'Fireworks Mode' that does a pretty good long-shutter speed and no flash exposure.
Pam likes taking pictures.
She has a pretty good 'Fireworks Mode' herself, as I learned when I mentioned that Stefani's camera had a special setting for fireworks, and she should just use her pictures.
Yes, the spark is still there.
That's why I can't do 2 shows a night any more folks.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beast of Burden

Is time your Avenger?
Or a beast of burden?
I do know one thing...It waits for no one.
And it won't...wait for me.

And now, just for fun:
Look, there's a signpost up ahead...
Egad, it's another Bermashave commercial?
No wait...
What kind of a crummy secret decoder is this?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Time the Avenger

Recently I watched a couple of PBS shows - "Parallel Universes" and an episode of "Through the Wormhole". Afterward, I thought of time as a force we are all being exposed to. Driving in this morning, I listened to the Pretenders' song - Time the Avenger. I note that nothing really parlayzes the "tick, tick, tick",  that Chrissie may have some underlying issues and in the words of another sage prophet, "rust never sleeps". Treat yourself to a listen of this most excellent tune if you get the chance because it's got bounce, and in the meantime, enjoy the lyrics. (Copyright by EMI Music Publishing, written by Chrissie Hinde):

Nobody’s perfect
Not even a perfect stranger
But oh what a gal
She was such a perfect stranger
And you’re the best in your field
In your office with your girls
And desk and leather chair
Thought that time was on your side
But now it’s time the avenger

Nobody’s permanent
Everything’s on loan here
Even your wife and kids
Could be gone next year
And with what you have left
You’ll be forever under pressure
To support her
And a lover who looks strangely
Like time the avenger

Time, time hear the bells chime
Over the harbor and the city
Time, one more vodka and lime
To help paralyze that tiny little tick, tick, tick, tick

Nobody’s perfect
Not even a perfect gent
When your property took the a train
I wonder where your manners went
You were standing in the station
In your briefcase
Was your aftershave and underwear
Can you hear the whistle blow?
Sounds like time the avenger

Time, time hear the bells chime
Over the harbor and the city
Time to kill another bottle of wine
To help paralyze that tiny little tick, tick, tick, tick