Monday, December 12, 2011

Answer #182 - Somewhere under the welcome mat

Blessed are the Meek.

Complicated notion.

I have one dog that is meek and one dog that eats that dog's lunch when said non-meek dog is done with her lunch. The meek one is the boy, the non-meek one is the girl.

The non-meek one gooses everybody. EVERYBODY.

It's disconcerting.

She eats boxes the UPS man leaves. For no good reason. They don't, say, contain meat. Or anything perishable. Just sweaters. The meek dog would never do this.

The non-meek dog chews on the meek dog like he's a chew toy from Walmart. Not that I've ever owned a Walmart chew toy.

Where's the Blessing?  
The meek one asks with his eyes.

The non-meek dog gets all the food, the chew toys, the gooses, the Christmas sweaters, the warm spot to sleep, to lick the cat whenever she wants, and the attention of almost everybody because she's absolutely adorable on top of all that.

Gotta go, she's scratching on the door and if I don't let her in she might eat the welcome mat.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Answer #181 - A Thundershirt

“You’ve got to be kidding,” my dog said with his eyes.
“Another party, I’m expected to wag my tail at these
people whom I neither know nor like the smell of?  No.
I think I’ll be in the office, in the dark, under the desk.
In case you’re looking and happen to have a leftover
piece of meat.”

I’m reading Skymall Magazine, enroute from Stanford,
via Salt Lake City (holy mother of Mike but what a
beautiful place this time of year – covered in snow,
surrounded by a ring of mountains), and wondering

How am I going to get my dog to lighten
up already?

And there it is –
The Thundershirt.

Temple Grandin’s a genius, brilliant, evolutionarily-
leaping genius and there it is, among the retail fruits of
her mental acuity: The vest you put on your dog to make
him relax when

·        1) There is gunfire from somewhere in the woods, which
      is often, up here on Fulford Ridge

·         2) There are fireworks, firecrackers, or other small, nonspecific
     explosions, which is often, up here on Fulford Ridge 

·        3) You’re having yet another party and a ton of people your
     dog is unfamiliar with show up and attempt to pet him and/
     or get him to do stupid pet tricks, which is often, up here on
     Fulford Ridge

·         OR 4) you’re the owner of an inexplicably neurotic, but sweet
    laborador retriever, ala the sleek, black lovely my parents are
    enamored with, and a Thundershirt’s basically a good way to
    get through the day.
Thank God for Skymall. I had no idea what to get them for Xmas
this year.

But there’s still the matter of my dog.  He asked for a bark enhancer
for Christmas this year, because the girl dog we adopted from the
shelter is part Shepherd. She sounds distinctly German and scarier
than hell.  He’s having a hard time with this. However, fact is, she’s
just as traumatized by loud noises and strangers as he is.

I think the solution is to get her the Thundershirt and him the bark
enhancer. If such a thing can be found. Yeah, I know, I’m particip-
ating in the whole perpetuation of the patriarchy thing, but if you
heard him bark, well, you’d make the same decision. Woof. 

Maybe the big bark’ll make him braver and more willing to do
stupid pet tricks for my friends.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Answer #180 - After the first sip of Beer

It's Halloween. I'm baaaaacccckkkkkkkk.......

Today's Limerick is about a witch with a candy house:

A witch with sweet tooth once said,
"Yeah, I built my house of gingerbread.
The occasional pity -
have to cook up some kiddie.
Ah, well. Adds some crunch to the spread!"

As a child, this concept of gingerbread houses of course brought to mind numerous perils. Among them, ants, rain, the inevitable decay...

I was that kind of kid. Couldn't conceive of why a witch or anybody else would build a house out of cookies and candy. Pretty sure I asked this question of the tour guide at the Museum of Science & Industry on a field trip. No answer. He tried to divert me with some kinetic energy display. Or something that made bubbles. Regardless, the thought of eating gingerbread made me wretch. Actually wretch, with those wretching sounds and everything.

Further, I couldn't conceive, CONCEIVE, of why ANYONE would eat any other pastry, cake, doughnut, candy confection or anything ever other than one that was made out of CHOCOLATE. I truly, truly couldn't. And gingerbread was simply disgusting. Tasted like my grandma's house smelled. All spicy and musky and such. And historic.

So I decided, at 8, that something BAD happens to adult brains, in that they get bored with just chocolate, and so they convince their tastebuds that horrible things taste great. And then they call it 'an acquired taste.' 

Seriously, at what point do we acquire 'Acquired Tastes?'

I also believed that other bad things happened to adult brains which made them talk about insurance, stories about old people in ancient history, and sit around all the time drinking rum and coke and smoking cigarettes. Even though they laughed alot while they did it. I determined that, somewhere, along the way, adults lose their ability to think clearly, and therefore shouldn't be allowed to run the world, what with all that insurance and smelly history and rum rolling around in their heads. No, kids should definitely rule the world. I knew it clearly at 8.

Pretty sure I was right about that.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Answer #179 - Kite Builders

There, through the window, what characters wake up?

Robert dreamed of mercury.

     The bedroom below was full of kites; kites in boxes, in repair on the workbench, on the floor and hanging from the ceiling. Blue cement was the unfinished sky, as were the walls,

painted with kindergartenish, puffy clouds and V-birds with no bodies or feet. In the bedroom sometimes Robert dreamed of liquid mercury oozing from the twin bed posts and floating above him in silvery blobs in and around the black V-birds; beautiful poison bubble kites with no strings, just floating silver and cold.
     There were signs of a great flood in the years before Robert lived in the small house; high water markers here and there in the main floor rooms. None upstairs. None in the basement. Robert made notes and did the calculations. He read old newspapers on microfilm at the library and gathered stories from neighbors as to how very nearly the hand of God had swept all of the houses away.  Robert wondered if the house could somehow be anchored to the live oak in the yard, should God reach down again. The tree had been there centuries, surely and could maybe hold a small house? He'd drawn a sketch of the mechanism but frustrated by the mathematics of maximum potential force that the watery hand of God might exert (because who could know just how angry God might become?), he'd wandered away from it years before and it lay in a stack of aviator articles, meteorology journals and colored paper.
    Robert finished the dishes and glided to the back porch in search of clouds. He did this every night. The illusive dark clouds were his current fascination, and the wind had come in off the ocean, bringing them with it. Not the cumulus clouds, but the low stratus, filled with rain, like dark blankets - they were what he was after and he was patient. The most patient man he knew.
    Bits of colored paper blew through the field beyond the porch - bits of discarded kite making their escape, tumbling, occasionally catching air. Some windless nights, he saw something at the horizon; what must be the light of a train back behind the trees, though there were no tracks. It always moved at steady speed with a discernible doppler blue as it approached.  It never arrived, though. Not even the night he heard the train whistle pleading. He'd jumped off the porch, he knew he had, though he was a rational man and therefore there could be no train heading for him to smash the house to bits on its way through the tangle of old houses and sheds in the borough. But the light and the violent, pleading whistle said otherwise, so Robert jumped.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Answer #178 - Caught between a Folk and a Hard Place

I watched Devil last night. Shyamalan's Devil, that is.

I can't help it. I like the guy. I like the way he's hit and miss. I like the way the critics skewer him and he still says, 'blow this. I'm still making a movie about other-worldy interlopers, loosely wrapped around a morality play... neener, neener...'

Beyond that, I just like him. So whatever he does, I'll watch it. And hopefully his financial backers bank on that fact.

The movie's about an elevator full of morally-questionable folk - none of whom deserve, necessarily, the grisly gutting that awaits most of them by the presence of Satan among them, the actual Devil, come to take their souls to the nether-regions.  And yet, it calls into question our relationship with the divine and (its) nemesis, and where in the world we actually find ourselves - at the end of the day, when it's only us and the leering conscience. And that big sky and all those stars.

Where do I stand, there in the dark, when I'm the only one to Answer for the Choices I've Made?

I honestly don't know.  I tumbled down the stairs the other day, but no one showed up to collect my soul, so possibly I'm doing okay, and maybe still have a few more tick marks in the column that Santa Claus takes note of, than the column that Beelezebub does.

But I'd rather listen to a jazz combo than Kum-By-Ya any day of the week.

Damn! I think we all know where that compass points..

Ah well... for now, I'm still buying Girl Scout cookies. That should count for something.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Answer #177 - Start the story

Out of focus. What do I do?

    Robert set the box of clouds next to the stove pipe. Small white puffs hung, silent, bumping gently against the lid. Robert's feet nearly slid across the worn carpet; years of mildew and fuel oil left slick trails where he walked - and in this way, he looked more like an ice-skater than a handyman. It was 7:00. Soon the larger clouds would gather, and with them, the winds.
   Poison comes in many forms. He knew this from childhood and secret places. And sometimes poison came accidentally and you swept it away, down the drains and from the surfaces. Pretty petals were sometimes poisonous and all manner of insects. Tethered to poison, he thought to himself. We're always so close to it. We can never entirely get away. "Best to be careful," he said to himself, as he put on the rubber gloves he kept next to the sink and squirted dish soap into the warm water.
    Robert dreamed valleys of clouds. Robert dreamed wings. Robert scaled the sides of buildings on occasion, with neither wings nor puffy cumulus to break a fall. His heart beat faster in the descent, while his fingers carefully held the rigging. He imagined the free-fall, imagined one day to jump out of an airplane and see, for certain, if the chute would catch air.
 Robert dreamed of mercury.

who knows what comes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Answer #176 - Himmelhochjauchsend oder zum Tode betrübt

Goethe made the reference to the artistic temperment in Das Leiden des Jungen Werthers. The translation from my Dutch friend, Ben, is 'cheering from sky high or deadly sad.'

I admit, there's not much middle ground. I think, in this way, of Cohen, not unlike Beckett, and yet - plumbing the depths and the multitudinous winters of the soul for pearls or crystals. The difference - Beckett spent countless hours in dark spaces, at least too dark for me to stay in with him (heh. and that's saying something) - didn't seem to cheer from sky high - Cohen moved through the waters and up, like a dolphin, bursting into the air long enough to whisper Hallelujah.. so beautifully that the sound will carry across God knows how many bursts of solar radiation.. and diving back down again.

I'm neither of those people, and to little dispute. Cartoonish scenes and sensibilities dance in and around me half the time, and holding on to the shaky framework the world takes so for granted daily, washing its doggies and driving its buggies, whirling endless through color and sound.. it's challenging. Most of the time, I'd rather write the new world into play, rather than put on my gravity boots and trudge through the jello of repetition and cordialities in this one. But, hell, I'm a paying member of the human club and there are certain obligations that come with carrying the card. Sadly, the percentage of club members that can currently influence world legislation have embraced the notion that goo for brains in the exploitation of every possible resource is a card member privilege and the key to happiness, marching the rest of us like Lemmings to fiery, oily seas. Nice looking as we trot, though. Well, some of us. Occasionally. So lately I want out of the club some, but there's a nasty ritual that goes along with exiting. I think it involves paddles and swallowing goldfish.

As beautiful as the German phrase is, this is where things begin to go a little dark for me and Yankee philosophy comes in.

Himmelhochjauchsend oder zum Tode betrübt can be treated with any number of small pills. We're the pharmaceutical kings of the world (say it with me: S O M A). No worries, no issue, no moon boots through jello. We Yankees have lots of clinical names for such malaise and its associated symptomology because we like categories and specialities, and we really really like people in lab coats that charge us lots and lots of money to diminish humanity to microscopic misfires of glands, serotonin uptake and peptide receptors.

We're good at this.

We need, however, to be better at hearing whale song and interpreting the chitter of dolphins.

And there's no pill for that.

So. Which is the better longitude?

I'm going with Goethe today. Himmelhochjauchsend oder zum Tode betrübt. And leaning toward the longitude just nearer the sun. Boxes of clouds under each arm, heading to the memory of last year in the Kenai Peninsula, where the curious harbor seals followed us along the beach for an hour, just watching, just wondering, maybe even waiting for us to say something they understood.. somewhere between the sky and the water.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Answer #175 - Someone with a box full of clouds

It's a new year. It's actually February of a new year.

January blew by in a hail of hail, ice, snow and a short trip through Nebraska.

Nebraska? In January? Yep. Driving snow 6 hours there. Driving snow 12 hours back. We can never be accused of lack of dedication. Besides, we love Nebraska. The sky is huge, the people are an amazing combination of fierce independence and, despite their unquestionable ability to probably outlast all the rest of us in times of war, famine, or drought, unassuming humility.  Is this because the weather on the Great Plains is truly humbling? Maybe half the nation's problem is that half the nation doesn't get this idea? That, despite our red, white, and blueness, we really aren't the biggest, baddest entities on the planet. Ice storms are. And don't get me started on tornadoes...

I wanted a concise overview of the year. To try to draw the conclusions I'd hoped to draw at the end of touring a new album, spending days and weeks on end on the road, and, in general, making a living at music.

But I don't have them, really. The industry shifts every five minutes, not unlike my myspace and facebook pages, and I find myself charting a new course along with it. Daily. Sometimes hourly, as a friend once said.

This year, I'll finish the play, Jane. I've got a new album rolling, but it won't stick its head above the dark water for quite a while. Instead, I'll finally start the book. I've wanted to forever. It kicks at me, and tickles my ears sometimes.. it starts with Robert setting a box of clouds next to a stove pipe.

And I don't know why.
But who am I to ask?

The world in Indiana is iced today. I like the idea of a box of clouds by a warm stove pipe... anything could rise out of the mist.

Anything could rise out of 2011. I'll keep you posted.

It's good to be back.