Thursday, January 23, 2014

Parkinson's Humor: Apathy and Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson's Humor: Apathy and Parkinson's Disease: Definition of Apathy:     1. Lack of passion, emotion, excitement    2. Lack of interest, a state of indifference    3. Lack of motivatio...

Sunday, January 12, 2014


I woke up this mornin' and got mah self a gun. . . or so go the lyrics from the opening song, “The Chosen One” of one of my all time favorite Tee Vee shows “The Sopranos” that ran for 6 seasons on HBO. A highly-acclaimed depiction of life in the Mob and the toils and travails of Tony Soprano, an atypically tortured soul who found himself on the psychiatrist's couch, which is something no self-respecting mobster, like his Uncle Junior would ever cop to, much less showing any tenderness towards the women in their lives. Tony's mother, Livia (echoes of Livia, Tiberius Caesar's mother to be sure) alternately pushes and provokes her son and then, when he doesn't see things her way, she tries to have him killed, thereby creating more crises and situations. The show was ever-fascinating and the characters vivid and so humanly wrought that I found myself often rooting for Tony, even knowing that he was a killer.

So much of the human condition, good, bad and ugly was wrought beautifully in this show. The late James Gandolfini brought out the human side of Tony, as well as the absolute stone-cold killer side of him that was seamless and gloriously performed. I was so sad when he died.

So much in literature, and cinema, television and the arts deals with the darker side of who we really are. We do this in an attempt to familiarize ourselves with our inner beast, or beastess, as the case may be, but we also do this, because dark and twisted characters are ever so much more fun than plain vanilla good guys. This is why Superman holds zero interest for me, but I love Batman. Besides, what good is it, if the only thing you're vulnerable to is something that comes from another planet and a bunch of guys who are locked up in the Super Fortress or the Zone of Silence, or are one Lex Luthor have access to and that's it? There's not a whole lotta play for drama and exploring the envelope of darkness there, now, is there?

The best D. C. Comics had was Mr. Mxyzptlk and that was just some jumped-up leprechaun looking dude who ran around making Supe's life miserable and teasing Jimmy Olsen and just being a general asshat, until Superman could trick him into the one thing that would banish him from the planet earth, and now that I think about it, it's just as stupid as the whole concept of Mr. Mxyzptlk, Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Perry White, The Daily Planet, Metropolis and the whole Superman franchise. But, I'm starting to rant now, what Supey had to do was trick Mr. Mxyetc. into saying his name, are you ready for it? . . . Backwards! No Shit! So, one entire issue of Superman, .12 ½ cents were blown on this nonsense!

This was the original Mr. Mxyzptlk drawn in 1950, by cartoonist Wayne Boring

I don't remember him looking this evil in the D. C. universe, but everything gets a reboot, and maybe this was for the Marvel appearance or the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, which is far afield from where I started out, so investigate at your own peril.

Oddly enough, he appeared in the Marvel franchise as well, doing God knows what; pouring water on Johnny Storm, when he “flames on,” I suppose. All of this is funny and silly, but I've always been drawn to the darker characters of Batman. Batman cannot become shorn of all the fear and angst of the loss of his parents until he can stand and let himself be surrounded by the thing he fears the most physically; bats, and when he does so, he becomes the thing he feared and only then, can he become a weapon against the very thing that robbed him of his parents; his foes, the very best of which was his nemesis as portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, the Joker, and the trilogy of the Christopher Nolan's movies of Batman are superb, because of this very dark take. The Joker is about chaos, and about pitting his brand of crazy and his brains against the Batman.

It is powerful stuff, both visually and psychologically, but there is a reason Nolan hit a chord with his films, because we feel that viscerally. I don't know a soul alive who can look me straight in the eye and say, “Gee, it's okay for (fill in the blank) to take my, steal my, kill my (fill in the blank)” and then, provide me with some pablum about how okay they are with the aftermath. Bullshit. If they're honest, and tapped that well of horror and rage, that is barely recognizable as human, they will be nearly incoherent with the results. It's what causes PTSD and what every victim of trauma or a rotten childhood has had to deal with. There are NO words. . .  for a long, long time, and when they come, they are likely to be something that the listener would rather not hear.

Sadly enough, the release of the 3rd film here in the U.S. saw a massacre in Aurora Colorado, on July 20, 2012. As of this posting, the alleged shooter, James, Holmes, was at first, deemed mentally unfit to stand trial. Several pre-trial motions and filings on both sides were filed, as they each tried to gain the upper ground.

Per Wikipedia, “On March 27, 2013, Holmes' lawyers offered a guilty plea in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty. On April 1, the prosecution announced it had declined the offer. Arapahoe County district attorney George Brauchler said “It's my determination and my intention that in this case for James Eagan Holmes justice is death.”

Today was one of those brilliant days in Florida and a great day for a walk. I had walked to the Dollar Store and lugged home 19 pounds of kitty litter and V-8 juice yesterday and I needed to pick up a prescription from the grocery store and get some of my beloved rice cakes. A brisk mile walk up; chat it up with my buddies in the grocery store and a nice walk back in plenty of time before dark. A total of two miles.

When I go out in public, I don armor, in a sense. I wear heavy boots, braces up to nearly my elbows, and my usual dark glasses, with my white-and-red 4' 6'' cane. My hair is, long, so is always pinned back, to make it harder to grab. I typically carry my cane in my left hand, because I hit harder with my right. I am unarmed, so to speak. You cannot show weakness in a neighborhood such as this. I don't mince around with the crack hos and I don't high-five the drug-dealers. They stay on their side of the street, and I get a respectful nod. We do not fraternize. I do talk to some of my old shelter mates and the homeless around here who do need the help and they are here. They are unseen and they are unseen for a reason. This is a dangerous place. I was reminded of this today on my way home from the grocery store, and again, this is why even with a disability, you can show strength and balls and get away with your life intact.

They came at me from two sides, in a pincer movement, as if they may have studied Stonewall Jackson's cavalry movements during the Civil War, though I doubt it. I doubt they can read. The peripheral movement caught my weak, right eye first, and then I saw the 2nd guy on my left. They were both about 9 feet away from me. They came from a 6' high shrub that sits on the corner of a Church-Bail Bond-DayCare. I met them just as I was almost across the street, where the shrubbery was. I stopped, short of the corner and took one step back and stood there, with my feet about 2' apart, and looked at them, one first, then another. I did this several times, without saying a word. I had a bag of rice cakes in my right hand, and my cane in my left, and I struck the ground with it, then pointed it directly at the gentleman on the left. I moved my head to the right, and looked at homie 1, then back at homes 2. I made no sound and no other movements.

This is basically my golem mode, rather like “Gort” in “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” I continued to look at them, one first, then another; moving only my head. I was not scared. 2 black men. Maybe 5'8 or 9, skinny. The guy on the right had on a brown sweater and light green pants. He broke first. He backed up for several yards, and then went waaayyyy around me. I stepped towards him, now keeping my eye on guy number 2, who had on a jacket and one of those old-style pork-pie hats, a windbreaker, and git jeans, 'hood style. He stared at me intently. I stared back and slowly backed away to where his friend had been. Git number 2 started to follow his friend. He said “Sumpn' wrong?” I looked at him, and said roughly, “Homes, what the fuck? This a high crime area. You 2 gits come out, like that, what you think I think? Somethin' wrong? Fuck” He turned and walked a few steps and stopped and turned and looked back. I was still watching him. I stepped towards him, menacing. He turned and walked a few more steps. I was still watching. I finally turned and walked a few paces and looked, and caught him watching me. We were about a block apart, at this point. I watched him until he turned and left and I could no longer see him. It's a dangerous place, this street.

But they both knew too, that I would not have easily given in, my money, my little white ass, or my life. That I would have made it really hard on them and they don't have the guts or the heart to do that. I will have to call the Church-Bail Bond-DayCare place and tell them to lower their shrubbery, or actually, just not go by that corner anymore. I did NOT tell JC. I will tell Alex. The pair will most likely try to strong-arm some other helpless people, and end up arrested; stupid people like that usually do. The area is normally well-patrolled and we could have played The Alamo Stand Off until the TPD showed up, which would have happened, sooner rather than later in that part of the Nebraska corridor.

Something I noticed on the way home, other than the fact that I was never scared, but was just thinking how to out-maneuver them, which any bright 6-year old could do, was that some kind, kind soul had left their box of canned goods from Church at the bus stop for some homeless person near my house. They are the unseen, the ones that hide, because they have to. Because Nebraska Avenue, 33605 is a dangerous place. There was a shooting just across the street here last week. They are the ones who have no one to look out for them. I know that feeling well. I was once one of them. A part of me will always be with them and for them. 

Me, at home, without the armor. Just don't take away my rice cakes.


I thought I'd just scribble down a few words here before I go to bed for my Sunday check in. You see, it's 5:00 a.m. on the east coast of the United States, and here I am, the infernal bat, unable to sleep. I haven't written much about my Parkinsonism, or my e.t. or essential tremor or “Parkinson's Lite” as I call it, because the disease doesn't have me, I have it, and by the throat if you will. It does not define me. It does however, have its moments of just pure meanness. It won't kill me, although before Primodone, there were times when I wished it would and in haste.

What it doesn't do is let me sleep well. I have never been a restful sleeper and I have never been a cheerful morning day-type person. My mother was. 5:30 in the goddamned A of M, she'd be up, perking coffee and singing with the birds and I wanted to go out and practice my non-existent skill of skeet-shooting on her and her little feathered friends. So, we differed in that particular behavior.

I've always been a night owl and as I grew to adulthood, music, besides being the love of my life, was a great career, seeing as how the industry, such as it is, had the decency to never start a rehearsal before 10 a.m. Concerts were always in the evenings, or afternoons in the Opera, and when I worked in IT, I usually worked late afternoon shifts. It's been decades since I've had to live by an alarm clock, and thank the Christ, the few times I've actually had to get up for something, it was usually an operation or some medical test, that was going to render me comatose, so I wouldn't care how miserable I felt until 3:00 p.m.

I like to tell people, “Yeah, I get up at the crack o' noon,” but sometimes, it's as late as 3:00 or 4:00. When I first started taking Primodone for my Parkinsonism, I was sleeping almost around the clock. I thought, “Gee, this is terrific! No more tremors, but then how would I know? I'm not awake enough to figure out if they're there or not.”

As my body adjusted to the drug, I began to sleep more like a normal person, or at least I was hibernating less. I'm not sure what it was. But, I found that as I did more and more, I still needed that 8 to 10 hours of sleep; that helps tremendously in keeping the tremors at bay. The “inner core” tremor is the most horrible feeling in the world, and when I'm tired or anxious, it comes back. Sleeping, and eating, walking and exercising help all of that. I still have no sense of smell, which on Nebraska Avenue, may be a good thing, when we have one of our ferocious rains and the sewers back up. I really didn't miss that lovely aroma over the summer.

As I walk and continue to get stronger, I amaze myself. I am not supposed to be able to walk briskly for three blocks carrying 19 pounds of crap from the Dollar Store, but I did just that very thing today. Because I have COPD, and have had the lung function tests and was told that I had a lung capacity of 43%, I thought, well, shit, some day I am going to be on oxygen, but now, I wonder.

I stopped smoking over 3 years ago, and I take Spiriva religiously. Because of our stupid health care system in Florida and the United States, even though the State of Florida and Hillsborough County spent upwards of 500,000.00 dollars getting me back on my feet and walking in 2010, when I was awarded my SSDI, I had to wait 2 years to get anything resembling health care coverage, and I was unable to have anything done about my COPD, so left untreated, it worsened. Thank you, Rick Scott, you prick.

Well, now, I find, that after nearly a year of treatment for my COPD, my lung capacity has increased to the point where I run out of my Spiriva inhalant before I run out of lung capacity, which means my lung capacity has INCREASED, which I do not think is supposed to happen. But, there are lots of things that have happened to me, that were not supposed to have happened; per my physical therapist at TGH, it was unlikely that I would walk again. I'm all over the place now and stronger than I have been in decades. I think it's reverse psychology. DON'T tell me I cannot do something, because I will prove you wrong every goddamned time. I'm not a quitter; I have the capacity to think strategically and think about things and stick with something for the long haul. It's the persistence of persevering over time.

I find it to be the same thing with writing. Crappy passage? Go back to it later. If something is not working, I think for me, I need to leave it alone and go to another well for inspiration and come back to whatever my particular roadblock is later. If I continue to frustrate myself, it just gets worse and I lose my voice. With that in mind, I've found that it makes the editing process a little easier, but messier, as I am not the most organized person in the world.

So, that's my check in. It wasn't the best week, but I got something done. I hope everyone had a good week. It was freezing cold here in Tampa, and astonishingly enough, it made me yearn for the frozen tundra of Michigan and Lake Superior with my Daddy. Ah, he was something else.

Friday, January 10, 2014


I come from a family of folks that hail from somewhere just south of the Arctic Circle and for many years, we stomped and tromped our way around the frozen parts of Michigan – at least within my memory; my folks remembered something a bit harsher – and we spent weekends in unheated cottages up near Lake Superior. Early mornings, crisp, bright and absolutely still, my father would rustle me out of bed and we would clamber into several layers of wool things; socks, underwear, undershirts, and more layers of wool would follow. Coats, scarves, mittens and then boots. My mother preferred to stay behind and cook breakfast; she didn't care for the cold weather much, but would play in the snow with me occasionally.

Both of my parents flew airplanes. For fun. I have no other words for this particular mania on their behalf.

He and I would tramp off into the great outdoors and head over to the eastern edge of Lake Superior. This lake is one of the deepest fresh-water lakes in the world, surpassed only by Lake Baikal in Siberia. The Superior is a force of nature unsurpassed for her beauty and for her deadly intent. For here is where, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald went down, on November 10, 1975. We could not know it at the time, for this was in 1959, just a year after her launch, but even at the age of 4, I was blessed with a father, with patience for my questions and who was fascinated with meteorology, and the great outdoors. To him, Lake Superior, was a living, breathing entity, and one not to be taken lightly.

This is a gorgeous picture, but it is also a reminder of how brutal the elements can be. The ice is thick, and this is a lighthouse on one of the Michigan Lakes. My guess would be Superior, but it could be any of them. The current cold snap is something I have experienced. In 1981, we saw temperatures as low as -51° F in the lower peninsula. Then, as now, it was warmer in Alaska.

We would visit her off and on several times before we moved to California, when I was seven, where I would grow up, only to return to Michigan at the age of 21 for school. But as a child, and a very curious one, I had a million questions, and a (mostly) patient father who would answer everything to the best of his ability. If he didn't know, he simply said he did not, and then he would make up some outrageous lie to make me giggle.

My father took on a patina of either heroic proportions or monumental stupidity, but he actually flew B-29s up MIG alley with fighter escorts during the Korean Police Action and allowed himself to be shot at. I would have been back at the pilots' shack nursing a hangover for 2 years. Just kidding. I'm physically brave, but only on the ground.

Daddys are the biggest, strongest, most powerful guys in the universe. We all know that and they are there to protect us from the Boogey Man. My Daddy was particularly good at it, but he also was not above giving me a good scare, when the opportunity presented itself. When we came upon the Lake one early, frozen January morning, she was keening. Like a woman mourning. The ice was being pushed from the west and it was piling up on the eastern shoreline. There was a slight wind, and the gentle motion of the water caused the ice shards to rub against one another. It was eery.

Lake Superior in February

As I stood a bit behind him, he said, “It's okay, Mare, you can come closer. They won't hurt you.” Feeling a bit concerned about who “they” were, I said, “Um, okay, but who are “they”?” He grinned, “Just the lost souls and their families who are mourning the ones lost on the Lake over the years.”

My little four-year old brain went into overdrive with this bit of new information. “Are you SURE they can't come out and bite us, or something?” I was becoming more concerned, and all of this high-pitched keening wasn't helping. He looked out over the lake; it's vastness made it seem more ocean than lake; the ice in front moved, in time with the gentle rise and dip of the water.

He looked back at me. “I'm pretty sure, but they might eat little girls for breakfast.” I went from zero to 60, as fast as my legs could carry me, but he caught me, mid-stride and swooped me up, laughing. “You don't think I'm going to let them eat you, do you?” And he tickled me. I laughed, fear forgotten. He carried me to the edge and explained to me what made the keening sound.

Look, the piled up ice rubs against itself and it squeaks, because it's so dry. It's just the ice. Nothing to be afraid of.” I was fascinated. We watched it for a while, and he put me down. We walked around parts of the ice and the lake, and he talked about how deep and ass-numbingly cold the lake is all year long, even in the summer. He had grown up not far from the lake as a boy and was so taken with it, that long after he and his sisters had moved away, he continued to come and visit it. But, he respected it, for as he put it “she's a killer”.

When the SS Edmund Fitzgerald went down on November 10, 1975, she had been plying taconite iron ore from mines near Duluth, Minnesota to Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio, where the iron works were located. She had done so for 17 years, and was considered a workhorse, as she set seasonal haul records 6 times, often beating her own records. She also managed to entertain folks while passing through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, and while passing through Lakes Huron and Superior and the Soo Locks, with music and a running commentary about the ship, provided by the intercom system and her “DJ captain”. She endeared herself to many boat watchers. My father and I used to go to the Soo Locks and watch the boats make passage. It's an acquired taste, as the water runs in and out of the locks, and the giant boats go up or down slowly, then move from lock to lock. But they're huge, and mechanical. Did I mention I was a crappy girl-child?

courtesy: Hour Stories, Mariner's Church of Detroit

The Launching of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald in 1958

When she made her final run, she had a full cargo of iron pellets, and had left from Superior Wisconsin, on November 9,1975. She was en route to a steel mill in Detroit and joined up with a second freighter the SS Arthur M. Anderson, but by around noon the next day, both ships were caught up in a ferocious winter storm on Lake Superior, with near hurricane-force winds and waves up to 35 feet high. Shortly after 7:10 pm, Fitzgerald suddenly sank in Canadian waters 530 feet deep and about 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay, near the cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. Fitzgerald never reported any difficulty and no distress signals were sent before she sank. All 29 souls aboard perished and none recovered.

Lightfoot captures the bleak, gray and cold and openness of the upper Great Lakes and the environs. It's probably the best depiction of a song that describes time and place that I've ever heard and it's haunting as well; you can almost hear the keening of the ice.

I just cannot imagine being on a ship in seas like that. I've been on boats in deep water, sailing, in swells of 10 feet or more, and that is fun, but this must have been terrifying. Did the men have any time to know that they were about to founder? Many were young; they must have had time to think of their young families and children, or were they taken that swiftly, with little time for thoughts of anyone, because of the brutally cold and fierce storm. Was it just one huge wave that took them all to their deaths? Were they locked in such a fierce battle for survival, that they were unable to call for help? It is still heartbreaking, almost 40 years later and for their families, not knowing, I wonder how they've managed all these years.

Theories abound, studies, and expeditions have examined the cause of the sinking. She may have fallen victim to high waves, suffered a mortal injury, or been swamped with water. Perhaps she shoaled in a shallow part of the Lake. Her sinking is one of the best-known disasters in the history of Great Lakes shipping, due to Gordon Lightfoot's song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.

Every November 10, throughout the day, on East Jefferson, at Mariner's Church, in Detroit, Michigan, the sinking is commemorated with the ringing of the church's bell 29 times for each soul lost on that voyage. Although I didn't live in Michigan during the sinking, I returned to my home state shortly afterward. And, although Michigan is a land-locked state, it is surrounded by the Great Lakes and in that sense, Michigan is a sea-faring state; depending on which website you look at, Michigan ranks as high as number 1, or as low as number 9 for registered boats. Almost everyone is aware and respectful of the huge power of those lakes. When I was able, I would go and sit in my car, before a concert, or after a concert, or rehearsal, and listen to the tolling of that bell, 29 times for the 29 lives lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Tonight, while running around on Runescape, which has been a tremendous amount of fun, since the release of Runescape 3 and the EOC, or Evolution of Combat, I’ve re-discovered that part of the contemporary music landscape that was so spectacular in the early Eighties. From about 1982 to about 1988 or 1989, there was a rich variety of popular styles that were cutting edge and fun. It was an eye-opener for me, because once I began college and started playing the viola in earnest, I pretty much had turned off every other form of music, except what would be termed Classical, i.e., music written from the late 1600s to the 20th century, but for symphonies, or chamber music, or smaller groups, and also, solo work for the viola.


So, it was fun to discover and hear music from such talent as Talking Heads, U2, and The Police. Over the course of my working life, I’ve played just about every genre there is, including hip-hop, so I am fully aware and appreciative of the talent and the art form as it has developed, apart from the mainstream, and it is formidable in the way musical groups have developed tonal, harmonic, and rhythmic works that are organic and sonically pure; thus, they have pushed the envelope forward and the melding with more conventional instruments gives them the ability to express themselves with more depth.

I think I began to realize this when I first played with the Moody Blues and of course, this was a dream come true, as I had listened to “Days of Future Passed,” as a kid growing up in Los Angeles, California. When I toured with them in the summer of 1993, in between semesters of school when I discovered that my second husband really didn’t want to be married to another violist and that I needed another career, I also discovered that I was exploring for the first time a whole new realm of musical expression. “Knights in White Satin” aside, it was a bigger sonic high to rock ‘n’ roll my way through “Ride My See Saw,” orchestrated by the awesome conductor/orchestrator Larry Greene then I could ever imagine. That was a hell of a summer and I found I enjoyed road work. I would play for Larry Greene off and on for over 3 decades.

I would have more opportunities for this when I made the move from Detroit to Florida; and another dream was realized as well. I worked for IBM, puzzling through problems and mazes in what eventually became a 3rd level IT position. I was bestowed the calls with cooties; the calls Tiers 1 and 2 could not fix, either OS/2 calls, or WORDPRO or Ami Pro calls. From the earliest of times, we had odd programs like, XYWrite and the ever-present Word Perfect 5.1, a hit with legal offices everywhere, and the most complicated text-oriented word-processing program I’ve ever run across. Corel finally bought the rights to that and it disappeared into obscurity, as did WORDPRO, a Lotus product that was built off of Ami Pro, which was purchased by IBM and added to its LOTUS Suite package as an answer to Microsoft Office.  Although still around, and still superior in my humble opinion, WORDPRO jumped the shark with its contextual-driven menus and features that would be much more at home in an old-style front-end type-setting business than part of a small home-office suite. Most of the Lotus products, such as Notes bear the same foibles.

 This is better and more reliable than anything Microsoft, JAVA or GOOGLE does. I'm going back to UBUNTU and Chromium. This post is being written in Fire Fox, because dumbass Chrome wants me to login to insert a picture from my "online storage". This is not the first time this idiot program has mistaken me for someone who cared enough about my pictures to save them in "online storage" or for anyone else. The last time we went round and round, none of their stupid fixes worked and I ended up with the Kluge From Hell. It worked and I will share it for millions of dollars, because Google sure as hell doesn't know how to fix "Your Profile Could Not Be Opened. . ." but I do, and YOU, Google, YOU don't! Get your shit together and fix your crap. So there!

Well, this started out as a blast from the past about music and ended up with a comparison of old software packages, maybe appropriately enough. At least it is timely; today is the day I want to post my goals, whatever they may be for this minute only, for #ROW80 and #IWSG. I’m actually writing this in Word 2010, and am not wild about the program. I like Open Office 4.0 and think I will continue to write in that. . . Today, was “errand” day, never a joy. Public transportation is a chore and even though we have Express buses, you have to wait and there are the usual, ahem, interesting denizens of Nebraska Avenue. They were fairly chill today, as it has been ass-numbingly cold here in Tampa.

People loom in the murk of the bus like so many badly-dressed yetis; wool scarves with “Go Beavers!” tied on heads, or some other equally inane phrase. “Be An Asset, Not An Ass!” is screaming on a lime-green scarf sported by one of the meth-heads, skinny as a rail, with ill-fitting, ratty jacket, scorching-yellow hospital footie-socks and purple clogs. The guy is 6’8” and looks to weigh 125 lbs. I can’t see any eyes, because the “Be An Asset. . .” scarf is met around eye-level by a hat with a pom-pom and earflaps in some kind of dung-brown color.

We all recognize this, because we’ve all gotten this crap from the same outfitters: Metropolitan Ministries, The Hillsborough County Jail, or Homeless Recovery and it’s all been swapped back and forth a billion times. Some of it is so threadbare, as to be nearly transparent. Or, if we’re getting checks, we sport Dollar Store apparel. A step up, but it’s all the same thing. This year, it’s leopard or cheetah print. Last year it was zebra. By 2016, we should have the whole Zoo collection of Dollar Store wear and accessories to match. Since I’m approaching crazy-old-bat-shit insane cat-collector age, it’s appropriate. I can pull off the Edith Prickley collection pretty well. All I lack is the leopard/cheetah turban, matching cat-eyed glasses, and bright-red lipstick.

I could totally pull this off; with my dark glasses, which are rather retro anyway. It'll give the 'bangers another reason to cross the street when they see me coming. They already know I'm shit-house insane!

No one would bat an eye anyway, out here on Nebraska Avenue. Here is a guy with spit-curls, only he has what looks to be aluminum foil wrapped tightly to his scalp. It’s stunning, all right. “A lightning waitin’ to happen,” as Alex says. There’s my friend from FSJ, going to Gasparilla in her. . . pajamas. Why the hell not? Pink flannel with footies and teddy bears on them. That’s okay, because the same friend gave me a glamorous black wrap-around thing with a belt. I proudly wore it all over town, until someone said, “Mary, why in the hell are you wearing your bathrobe?” I looked at the someone blankly and said, “I’m. . . cold?” At least it was a step up from the hospital blanket I had been wearing about town as a “cape” which I never thought to call it such, until a bus driver helpfully pointed out that it was laying in the bus aisle, as I was getting off the bus to go to the Mental Health Clinic, seeing as how I needed some. “Hey, lady! You dropped your. . . (slight hesitation) cape.” I grabbed my blanket and flung it Zorro-style around my neck and proclaimed, “I’ll. . . Be Back!” in my best Ahnold Schwarzenegger imitation, which is pretty lousey, especially for a musician.

So, my goals are the same; keep editing “Music of the Spheres” and adding to the “B” story, which is thin. Polish all the essays from my original posts in “Homeless Chronicles in Tampa” to set for an e-book publishing and write here for #ROW80 every day (as much as possible) and for #IWSG. As lots of questions when I really start to tear into the novel, because I have not clue one as to how I’m doing. Having no inclination to subject myself to anyone I do not know in person, without a prior introduction, I will be trying to participate in writing workshops and the like. My health has been good. I feel better than I have felt in decades and I’m ready to move on. So, I’m getting’ my show on the road.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Well, for once, I may have actually gotten a jump on something. Being a violist, we are proverbially late, clueless and short of the mark. We supposedly aren’t good enough to play violin, so we switched to viola and slithered into orchestras by nefarious means. Horse feathers. Unfortunately, I can play the violin, and apparently, well enough to fool stupid people into giving me money to play it, although my preference has always been for the viola, and who wouldn’t want to play viola when you own such a viola as I do. My violins were never nearly as good as my viola. The only kinship they shared is that they were all made of wood, and there the similarities stopped. The violins I owned were mere peons; my viola is a member of the Italian aristocracy, and is eager to let everyone know at every opportunity.

At one point, when I was hired for my first violin “gig” I didn’t own a violin, and rented one. A student model, as I recall with metal strings, tuners and tape on the fingerboard for the people unfortunate enough to have been trained in the “Suzuki” method, wherein everything is by rote, and you can have an ear made of the finest tin; intonation not required. Nor is interpretation, passion, or finding your own “voice”. Thus, we have armies of automatons on the violin, playing the same way, same out-of-tuneness, same vibrato, and just. . . gah!

My god, I can almost smell the pancake makeup from here. This must be "Elvis: The Staid Years"

I played that bastard loud and proud for some kind of Elvis tour, wherein all of Elvis’ old sidemen were present and Elvis was up on a screen. I played 1st violin and sat between the Concertmaster, an old colleague from Michigan and an old friend from the Concertgebouw who had a non-cordial hate for one another. I guess I was the de-militarized zone of the first violin section. All of the old muscle memory in place and it was as if reading in soprano clef had never left. Every time the two antagonists would seem to want to have a go at bows-at-20-paces during “Aint’ Nothin’ But a Hound Dog,” I took that as my cue to fling my hair around and emote wildly. There was a cameraman recording this whole hallucinatory event; the three of us were on-air more than Eblis was. Egad!

And then there were the “admirer-impersonators”, to be found at every stop we made; from whole families decked out in silver and gold lamé jumpsuits, with flared legs, Beatle boots, or “cockroach killer” shoes and pompadours, teased, combed and sprayed with what looked like flat black paint for outdoor metal furniture, alá Rustoleum, complete with black, eyebrow-pencil mutton-chop sideburns. They all seemed to think we were holding auditions, as we were regaled with everything from impressions of “Thaank yuu, vury mushhh…” to warbling out-of-tune a capella renditions of “Jailhouse Rock”. My personal favorite was the guy from Brazil, who came trotting up to me as I was getting into my car and leaving Sunrise, Florida for Jacksonville, for our next sold-out performance.

I guess everybody's gotta have a hobby. Most of the impersonators who traipsed after us were horrid, and they usually had embarrassed families in tow. Still, they were harmless enough, and picturesque to say the least!

He asked me if I was one of the “dancers”, which was a good one, as there were no dancers,  either in the 40-foot high hologram of Elvis or on stage. I turned around to get a look at this cat, as he had caught me putting my crappy rental violin in the back seat of my Cougar, and I almost started laughing. First off, he was my height, 5' 4" and I was wearing flats. He had the whole Eblis thing going on, but he was also wearing sunglasses at 11 pm and he had on a tiny red cape, like some junior Count Dracula, or Superman. His flared legs on his silver lamé jumpsuit were too short and I could see his white socks, peeking out over the tops of his Beatle boots. The suit was also too small for him and he had this little man-cameltoe-nutsack thing going on, although I had to sneak surreptitious glances, as I didn't want this guy to think I was interested. Well, I was, but not in THAT way. 

As best I could and keeping a straight face, I pointed to a bus in the very back of the parking lot, that had brought in a batch of Q-tipped old bats from the Old Folks' Home and said that was where the “dancers” were. Off he went. This was one of my more memorable tours, playing fiddle, or  violin, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

When word got out that I had a passing acquaintance with the violin, although when I picked up and played the rental fiddle, it had been over 30 years since I had played one, more idiots decided I should earn some money playing the violin. If there were no viola spots available, as in the case of “West Side Story,” or “Cats,” I played violin and ran gibbering and capering off into the night with my ill-earned lucre, until the next gig came along.

So, what does all this blathering have to do with the first post of #ROW80, 2014. Well, for one thing, I have a, uh, “finished” manuscript of a novel that I pretty much created out of whole cloth as I went along during NaMoWriMo 2013, which I “won” by finishing, prior to the deadline of November 30th, 2013, with some 50,967 words. I’m used to writing rhetorical things and posing arguments and swiftly cutting people off at the knees when they are being 50 Shades of Ass in written form. This was a whole different arena and it was an enlightening one, as well as a confusing one. I shall not trot out the cliché of “humbling” because I didn’t feel that. What I mostly felt was a whole lot of confusion and at one point, panic, when I thought I had cut-and-pasted over some huge passage that was working, or seemed to at the time.

I had backups stashed everywhere and I had a format laid out that I immediately abandoned, because I naïvely thought that I would adhere to a strict schedule, as I did when I blogged every day. I quickly found that this is an entirely different process, at least for me. I know that different things work for different people and cannot even begin to guess at how people like Stephen King or Colin Falconer have managed the prodigious output in the span of their lifetimes. Admittedly, I came late to the rodeo, so maybe this will all become clearer later on. I have gone back and looked at just the stuff I’ve written for my various blogs, and for the span of time I have devoted to writing, it is in the sort-of small to medium range; nowhere near to prodigious.

I had fun with the computer systems at IBM, but the people at Verizon were much more random than the computers. Go figure. I can make Boolean logic look emo.

The old adage applies, perseverance over time. Practice, practice, practice, whether it’s the viola, or my other career; IT. I held a 4.0 GPA in Mathematics which was astonishing because I totally sucked at it in high school. As some of you may know, my 2nd husband, a violist, was very disappointed when the Zither Fairy did not appear after we were wed, although we met on a gig playing violas. I'm not sure which of us was the stupider one. Probably me, because I married the schnook. I won the gig with the Moody Blues and he did not, so he pouted. Jesus; men. So, I went back to school and picked a subject I thought radically different than music; computer science. Seeing as how I was so *meh* in math in high school, I really dug in, because studying higher maths become intense: calculus and trigonometry, differentials, matrices, and complex numbers were worked and re-worked. I used the same discipline that I used when I was in Music School. I don’t believe that I have a natural ability with numbers, but I studied 8 hours a day every day and I knew I was smart enough to “get it” if I applied myself.

Music is something I was born to do, and come hell or high water, I will again. Practicing, tremor-free, is a joy, but slow going. I expected this, but I feel better than I have felt in decades. Computers I will always have and with 4 in the house now – JC and Alex bought me a Quadcore to run alongside my Dualcore – I can build virtual machines and do more consulting work. When I worked from home for 3 years prior to losing my 2nd house because the Rent to Buy people went bankrupt and the banks would not turn the house over to me, I was ill and tired. I had to leave my job. But recently, my old boss has gotten wind of the fact that just maybe, I might be available to do some special projects for him. That would be awesome.

For another thing, I wrote this post a DAY early, which is also been unlike me of late; I need to get my groove back, so, my goals this round are to go back to what I did when I first joined #ROW80; I plan on posting something on this blog, every day, even if it is something I am using as a writing prompt, something humorous, or something that has outraged me and I am just venting. I am going to make sure that I join in on #IWSG, the first Wednesday of every month. I am also going to continue on my editing of the “hot mess” that is “Music of the Spheres,” with Commander Skip Bombardier and the “Alien Undead Underground Railroad,” or the “Undead Alien Underground Railroad,” which has a much better ring to it, I think. Will the Commander, along with the Captains of the Air Force, Glenn Miller and Glenn Wallace be able to save the day with the Lost Boys and Gurlz of SoulZ and the confused, meandering, albeit good-hearted aid of some very clueless violists who thought they were going to Comic-Con, but ended up at the Annual NSA Spy vs Spy convention and got more than they bargained for? We shall see.

In the meantime, I have a lot of heavy lifting to do. Write what you know and research the hell out of the rest. Better yet, run it through some folks who may have actually done whatever it is you’re asking your readers to buy into. I’ll give it a shot!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

List Of The Day: Horse Masks Of The Day

List Of The Day: Horse Masks Of The Day

We've all been sick and what not, but if you haven't seen these, you must check out my friend's LOTD blog, "Horse Masks Of The Day"