31 May 2006

Happy Birthday Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
1819 - 1892

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
~Song of Myself

26 May 2006

Memorial Day

As Americans begin to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, and talk of record numbers of travelers even with the high cost of gasoline, while gulping down hot dogs and exposing too-white skin to the sun for the first time in months. Let us remember that war we're fighting for the sake of oil.

And right or wrong, remember those who've given greatly for the freedoms they held dear. May they rest in peace.

And right or left, may we remember to give peace a chance.

On a personal note, my beloved grandfather was inspector general of construction in 1958 as two symbolic Unknowns representing the unidentified dead of World War II and Korea were brought home to Arlington National Cemetery and entombed with solemn ceremonies near the Unknown Soldier of World War I, as shown in this family photo of Papaw at the Tomb.

For this I am very proud.

Dear Papaw who enlisted in the Army at the age of 18 too late to fight in that Great War. And too old to fight in the next. May we always remember.

Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

25 May 2006

Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar is the Energizer Bunny of the sitar and the Godfather of World Music. I had the honour of seeing Ravi recently at the University of California, Berkeley, Zellerbach Hall. Ravi's primary legacy is bringing Indian music to the West. And he has continued to do so for seven decades! However, is greatest legacy is his daughter and protégé, Anoushka. Anoushka is continuing the family tradition in a lovely and distinguished way.

The performance, on Sunday evening the 7th of May, opened with Anoushka conducting an ensemble of Indian musicians and singers by offering an invocation to Lord Ganesha, the deity who removes all obstacles and brings good luck; to Saraswati, the goddess of music and all arts; to the Guru and to all forms of yoga and finally to the awakening of the kundalini. The vandana was composed in 1974.

Following that was a tarana composed in 1987. Taranas are a form of singing with sound syllables that carry no specific meaning. Very moving and meditative.

The next piece was an instrumental, that focused on each and every member of the orchestra offering a brilliant solo.

The final work of the first portion was composed in September 2005 called Viraha Milan. Performed in a semi-classical folk style the composition denotes Radha experiences pangs of separation from her beloved Krishna. As Krishna arrives their union creates joy and ecstasy. This feeling was quite evident in the music.

After a brief intermission, the second half of the programme featured the Maestro himself, with Anoushka on the sitar and Tanmoy Bose on the tabla. While Anoushka has a command of the instrument with flair and dexterity, Ravi offers a depth of experience which is nothing less than transcendent. A joyful bliss emenated from both their faces and auras.

At 86 years of age, Ravi moves about assiduously, lovingly tended to by his daughter. But he is a spry and elfish man with a distinct twinkle in his eye and a flair for humour.

After the perfomance I had the great honour of meeting Anoushka briefly and was able to tell her that I had the privilege of seeing her American debut in San Francisco in 1995. Ravi was not greeting well-wishers but we were told he is doing great. A kind person took my copy of Anoushka's latest CD "Rise" and my autobiography of Ravi to their dressing room to have them signed. Ravi signed my book and drew and "Om" symbol above his autograph. What a treasure that is for me to have.

All in all the night was unforgettable. Having my son there with us made it even more special.

24 May 2006

Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine

Hummingbird Pauses at the Trumpet Vine
by Mary Oliver

Who doesn’t love
roses, and who
doesn’t love the lilies
of the black ponds

floating like flocks
of tiny swans,
and of course, the flaming
trumpet vine

where the hummingbird comes
like a small green angel, to soak
his dark tongue
in happiness -

and who doesn’t want
to live with the brisk
motor of his heart

like a Schubert
and his eyes
working and working like those days of rapture,
by Van Gogh in Arles?

Look! for most of the world
is waiting
or remembering -
most of the world is time

when we’re not here,
not born yet, or died -
a slow fire
under the earth with all
our dumb wild blind cousins
who also
can’t even remember anymore
their own happiness -

Look! and then we will be
like the pale cool
stones, that last almost

23 May 2006


My inconsistancy is showing. Pardon me. I consider my lack of consistancy to be one of my worst faults. I just haven't felt like blogging lately. I get bored with it and if I'm bored then you sure as hell must be bored.

I started a My Space because my brother suggested I do it. But I rarely do anything he suggests, so that's weird. But I get the My Space thing even less than I do the whole Blogger thing. So, whatcha gonna do?

I looked into some fancy templates for my blog, thinking that a new look might inspire me to write more. There are some "free blogger templates" out there but it's all greek to me. I'm trying to learn HTML and some other blogging techniques just to try to jazz things up a bit. But my work and personal life keep impinging on my efforts. I even enlisted my little brother the one with the Master's Degree in Graphic Arts to help me out a bit. But that still remains to be seen. So keep watching for up and coming changes to this blog.

I got a new car. That's the really big news. A 2006 Toyota Corolla LE. Super white. What a racist sounding name for a car color. But that's what it is. I just had to have a manual transmission and that was the only one we could find in a 50 mile radius. It's somewhat nostalic for me as my very first car was a Corolla. A little red one kinda like this.

I just love it. We just got to find a new and better name for it other than "Super White". I'm thinking "Shadowfax".

08 May 2006

Taking It Back

Moussaoui Asks to Withdraw Guilty Plea

Convicted Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui says he lied on the witness stand about being involved in the plot and wants to withdraw his guilty plea because he now believes he can get a fair trial from an American jury.

Yes, I am back. After having been off work recuperating for the past week and watching too much bad tv, I am back with a bad-ass attitude. I believed that the jury having spared the life of Moussaoui was the correct thing to do. To do otherwise would have been a vengeful misuse of the death penalty. Afterall, he did not hold a gun to anyone's head. I always questioned the extent of his actual involvement. I believe that he wanted to be a martyr and to make a name for himself, if even infamously.

But now he wants to recant? No can do. You can't take it back. You can't go over the top as he did, mocking the court and the bereaved relatives, and then try to take it all back. No do-overs in real life, Bucko.

Similarly, I can't take back what I said today to the members of a Yahoo music discussion group that I have belonged to for nearly seven years. Not that Id' want to. I finally got a few things off my chest. Not being one who likes to stir the pot, I usually let these infights and slurs go by me without much notice and response to an even lesser degree. But after going several days without reading anything from this group due to my recuperation and recovery from surgery last week, I finally got around to reading the most recent digest. Along about the fourth message in the digest one "U" makes what he considers a most supremely generous offer of a bootlegged concert from the recent Jeff Beck tour. The time-stamp of this message is 6:08 PM PST. Along about the seventh message, less than three hours later, "U" is ranting and raving about no one is responding to his offer. I quote "Okay...maybe I'm a little cranky here, but since this place appears to be on drugs, as in barbituates, I'm gonna change the deal here. Al sent this to me without comment, so he gets one, period. He didn't say
anything about making copies for anyone, that was my idea. I figured the standard reweed deal would be cool. But, I'm getting sick of this, and I'm gonna put a limitation on this one. 24 hours is the period of time that this deal is good for. If after 6:08 Pacific time tomorrow night I have not gotten any interest, or commitments to reweed on this one, the offer is rescinded, period. Perhaps this one's already made the rounds...if so, enjoy. If not, I'm offering it to anyone who wants
it...but since virtually 3 hours has gone by with only one QUESTION about this, not one YES I WANT IT...then screw it, deals over tomorrow at supper time tomorrow.

I don't need this crap. I've already made all the discs for three people, and it's friggin' cricket-ville here. The wind is gonna blow through the tumbleweeds till 6:08 tomorrow night, then go find your own copy, or talk to Al.

I need some sleep. I'll check to see if anyone showed even the tiniest bit of interest in the morning. I won't be surprised if the answer is no...after all, this is CRICKET-VILLE, LAND OF THE TUMBLING TUMBLEWEEDS, now isn't it?"

Is that too much? Me thinks it is he that is on drugs. Or maybe he needs some. Who knows? All I do know is that this is not the type of person I want to know. Much less do I nor would I accept his slimy offer disquised as some kind of benevolent benefaction.

Well, I made a terse reply, which is totally unlike my character to do so. I will refrain from quoting same here because it is just not becoming of a lady such a myself. But believe me, it was completely in context with this band of pseudo-guitar player wannabees. Even the queen-bee of the group has the trashy mouth of a druken sailor and I'd just had it. I'll probably get kicked out of the group. Which will be a shame of sorts because of feelings of sentimentality, for I met my beloved, Love of My Life in this group, through a trade of recorded live music such as was the subject of this discussion. But all things must pass. And I have no regrets. I will hold my head high and be happy. Maybe, even after seven years I just haven't got the proper hand greasing technique that's required of internet discussion groups like this. Where one gets chastised for voicing a differing opinion, or showing anything less than following of the herd. I never did make it into the inner-circle, or the upper-echelon. And there's no doubt in my mind that I never will now. But that's ok by me.