Monday, December 19, 2016

IT AIN'T “THROWBACK THURSDAY”, BUT IT'S DAMNED APROPOS!

This popped up in my Facebook “Memories” feed this morning. One of the reasons I haven't posted as much is I've been busy with music and my better 2/3s and putting the final touches on getting ready for spending a month in Japan. I've also been working on “Homeless Chronicles in Tampa – The e-Book” and some of the Nebraska Creepers series, which is coming out in dribs and drabs as short stories.

But, I couldn't resist re-posting this, since there's been so much hoopla in the news about fake news and leaks and the Russians subverting the election, and all of this just sounds so damned familiar. We've gotten to the point where we really CAN'T tell reality from fiction, and people just do not know how to think critically, anymore. The ones I know who went through the Critical Thinking classes with me in HIGH SCHOOL for Chrissake, are still as sane as they ever were, but what in the HELL has happened to the rest of the Goddamned world?

And, why aren't the people in power doing anything about this travesty of a President and his bottom-feeders Cabinet – the least experienced, ever and just all standing there like a house by the side of the fucking road? This has really irked the shit out of me since the Legislative Branch told the Executive Branch that it – President Obama, as a lame-duck president, was not to nominate a Supreme Court Justice after the death of Antonin Scalia, because... “tradition” that had never, ever happened before. Fuck the GOP. So, The Legislative Branch essentially told the Executive Branch to take a hike AND hijacked the Judicial Branch of Government. ALL of this occurred BEFORE the election!

THEN, we had the James Comey, FBI farce which went on far too long and not one single jackleg up there in D. C. did a thing about it, except let the cat resign, I guess? No charges or malfeasance? A few decades ago, he'd at least have had to endure a few Watergate-like hearings, but nooo. The dude just resigned and skipped off, to his Skull-and-Bones Secret Society meet-up with the Bushes prolly.

I'm thinkin' that it wouldn't be such a bad idea if we had us a situation like “Designated Survivor” and just cleaned house. Preferably during the Inauguration, where we can get rid of a whole lot of dead wood and I will be out of the country. So there!

Original post: 12/19/2014

SONY, PARAMOUNT PICTURES, NORTH KOREA, “THE INTERVIEW” AND “TEAM AMERICA”

So, here it is December 19, 2014, the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century. Cool stuff is supposed to be happening, like we all ride around in personal-pan helio-copters that repel themselves away from the earth and (one hopes) each other, as we flit around and do Important Things, wearing our onesies that are made out of a combination of tin-foil and Queen Latifah's weave and that also self-repel dirt. We all wear Johnny Quest's friend's Race Bannon's style of sunglasses indoors and out, because, well, we're cool. This is all of the cool stuff I remember from about 1960, and what I thought the world would become. How'd I do?




I don't remember my vision of the future being this blah, or sepia-toned, but heck, I can't draw this well, so it'll have to do.

Apparently, not very well in the prognosticating department, since we still have jacklegs like Kim Il Jung running rogue Dictatorships AND sticking their noses in OUR cultural bidness, which is even worse in the whole “America is a place where you can say what you want, and depict what you wish in the movies, as satire, with the complete understanding that IT IS SATIRE!” Nope, can't even do that any more and no one, who ACTUALLY matters, (I'm looking at you Mr. Obama*, and you, people who run Sony and Paramount Pictures) are willing to take a stand and say “look here, you little worm! We are going to make fun of you, whether you like it or not! So what if we take your head off with a chainsaw? It's all in good, clean fun, and besides we're showing it in OUR country to OUR people. Take a hike, Kim!”

*As of 2:30 A.M. EDT on 12/20/2014, Huffpo published an article stating that Mr. Obama condemns Sony Pictures' Heads decision to bow down to the request of the Dictator of North Korea. All nice I guess, but shouldn't Mr. Obama have been out AHEAD of this and taking up for the "Freedom of Expression" crowd before now? Just a thought.


No doubt I'm on someone's shit list now; but, when am I not? I'll just hunt me up a chorus of "Team America, F*ck, Yeah!" and march bravely off to. . . whatever.

(note: That is also a team name of one of our better SETI@home teams and with whom we fight with on a regular basis for 64th or 72nd position; I forget which one, along with the “Get Off My Lawn” team.)


1st Lt. Glenn Wallace, U. S. Air Force

Granted, the man LOVED to fly, but he also served in WW II in Okinawa, as did both of my mom's brothers, my uncles, Stan and Nile. They were in the Navy in the South Pacific.

But, that didn't happen. I realize I've just jumped right here in the middle, with no explanation, not mention aforethought and no context, but this is really just unbelievable to me. I can just hear my father, who lived through all the shit of the Joseph P. McCarthy era, - with Stalin laughing, saying, “I don't have to do anything to weaken America, she does it to herself!" - in the early 50s, after he left the Air Force and I can remember him talking in hushed tones about professors of his who did lose their positions because people were afraid, and people talked, and cast aspersions, even if they weren't true. 

Some people took their lives. Were my dad alive today, he would say what I thought when I was reading the article; a quote by Joseph Welch that was televised, when Senator McCarthy began to insinuate a witness was a long, long-ago member of the American Communist Party, “Have you no shame? Have you no decency?” Where is that genuine outrage and righteousness now? When did we become so cowed by the liars in this world and let them just take over all that is right and decent and good?


B-29 Wing, over Korea, circa 1951

Have we no shame nor decency, that we can let the freedoms that were won so hard for us over the centuries and the decades go so easily? Are we really that willing to just brush it off? Or, are we that knavish and craven that we believe the North Koreans and the anonymous hackers are capable of 9/11-era attacks BECAUSE OF the showing of something like the previews for “The Interview” or a midnight showing of “Team America: World Police”, a movie that has been out for TEN years?


At least George Clooney had the gumption to stand up and attempt to do the right thing. He tried to get other actors and people of note to sign a petition backing the Sony Pictures, but was unsuccessful in his attempt. The media did little as per usual; their modus operandi of late has been to run around with their hair on fire making everything seem far worse than it is, and they do little to bring calm, reason, parity and a fair perspective to anything I've watched in many a year.

As far as I am concerned, we should NEVER bow down to dictators, never negotiate with terrorists. Once we start down that road, it is simply too easy to get us to give in on bigger things. It is the “slippery slope” that lawyers and lawmakers and diplomats worry about. Were it up to me? I'd be showing that bastard “Team America: World Police” for free in EVERY THEATER in the country! It's just a movie for crying out loud! (You can watch the damn thing on NETFLIX, which I intend on doing for the next week!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#IWSG – DECEMBER CHECK IN – TROTSKY FILLING IN THIS MONTH!


Sorry, Viola Fury couldn't make it! She all tied up in symphony rehearsals and many viola playing! Playing otlichno viola! Is korosho? You think for once in her life, she could post decent check in that let everyone know she care about writing? Bah! All she care about is stupid viola and music! Not give one damn about me and her kinda crappy about goals!


D'obro Vechir! Mena Zavut Trotsky!

They all play lovely Rachminov “Variations on a Theme of Paganini” in some alternate universe, when they should be playing Schumann's Symphony Number 1, in B flat Major in Tampa Bay Symphony. But... Nyet! They all run off and find some wizard of a pianist!

Play Rachminov!”, she said! “Stay home!”, I said!

Never! Off she goes with viola and leaves me alone to pine! “Sigh!” It is sad to be a Russian Blue... Maybe I go off and sing the Blues... Is that allowed here? In the USA? Now, that President Obama is not going to be in White House?

This Trump Turnip? He say he knows Putin? I think Putin will, how you say? Have his lunch... maybe eat him for lunch. More like it; Putin very, very wily and smart; this Trumpkin Turnip. He dumb, like bag of hammers, or napkins; he a goner. For sure, he no President; he think he smart? Ha!...

I wish my redhead would come back to me. She was my one and only; actually I left her. I came to her when she most needed me; left her when she most needed me, but I couldn't help it. I was so old; sick beyond sick. She know that; she still pine. Now, she doesn't really need me, but... I need her. How do I get her back? Does anyone know? Or am I with her always in her memories.


ViolaFury and stupid viola, "Wolf".
    I should be in lap, not piece of junk wood! >.<


Da, that is it... we are interwoven. Well that is #IWSG for now. She will not be here in January. She will be in another country, with her beloved. There is a saying in my country, in Rodina, da. “Your first love may be great, but your last love will be perfect.” I truly believe this, and as she has had tough times, she crafted her well-earned perfect life and along the way, was re-united with her perfect love. Spaciba and D'zvadanya! More drivel in февраль, 2017. Maybe she write some words, but she still be playing many viola in Tampa Bay Symphony. Bye Bye, as you say, for naow!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

WHY TO BE CONCERNED NOW AND NOT SIX MONTHS OR A YEAR FROM NOW

courtesy:deviantart.com    

Up until now, I've had little to say about the election of Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States. I suppose something like this has been a long time coming. We haven't exactly followed the credo of this great country and allowed any true free speech in a long time. I've been watching and waiting carefully and I've not been idle.

For years, I've written on my own blog about the abrogation of our personal freedoms as they are lined out in the Bill of Rights, under the Constitution of the United States. I've watched as Amendments III, IV, XIII IX and XIV have been repeatedly abrogated by local law enforcement, and time and time again, the officers have NOT been brought to justice, but have been let off with either minor sentences or fines, or just declared innocent, when countless video tapes tell us this is not so. Our Writ of Habeas Corpus has been violated and where is the outrage that the transgression of this most sacred of our rights should have spurred?

Despite the calls to justice to remedy the situation, there's always a lot of palaver and nothing is done. Then, more blood is shed, and it continues. I'm not just calling out the law enforcement agencies, although they do a shockingly bad job of following up on leads as was the case in Orlando, Florida, where the unholy massacre of so many innocents took place last summer.

This wasn't the first time the FBI had been warned of an individual who was a danger to society. But lest I get off the main track of this post, let me keep going.

With the election of Donald Trump and now, a Republican House and Senate, and the empty Supreme Court Justice seat, Trump has in his hands the power to do many of the things he said he would. So far, his actions, statements and choices for his cabinet are nothing short of hair-raising.

Firstly, we have collectively been told by America that We (rhetorically speaking) hate women, Muslim, Jews, LGBTQ, people of color; basically anyone who is NOT a white male and in one stroke we have made White Supremacy legitimate. It's now called the alt-Right and has left the forests and the huntin' dogs behind and wears a pin-striped suit and a tie and speaks in more scholarly terms, but it's still a pig; it just wears lipstick now. Whatever it looks like, it's still the same old racism that just hid, when we all thought we were being progressive.

I read an article by Masha Gessen called "Autocracy: Rules for Survival" and I believe the woman knows what she is talking about and it's another reason I'm not one of these people who are saying "Give Donald Trump a chance, blah blah blah". No chances am I giving to someone who talked and acted the way he did. I'm a woman with a Movement Disorder. How out of my mind would I have to be do such a thing?

But back to Masha's article. I'll boil it down for you, and provide the link, as well. 

Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. We tend to rationalize his extreme statements because we're reasonable people, but he isn't. Several million Jews, Communists, Trade Unionists and others did the exact same thing in 1933 and look how that turned out.

Rule #2: Do not be taken in by small signs of normality. Hitler loved his dog and we saw plenty of pictures of him playing with her. Also, consider the fact that even though the markets tanked overnight, calming speeches from the Clintons and Obama smoothed things over considerably.

Rule #3: Institutions will not save you. Putin took over the Russian media within a year of his election and within 4 years, he dismantled the electoral system; their judiciary system fell apart without a whimper. Turkey's so-called Democratic President, who was celebrated for taking them into the EU, worked even faster in capturing the institutions that would safeguard the populace, and sadly, Poland has in less than half a year torn apart any democratic gains made within the last thirteen years.

Naturally, the United States has had a much longer history with the Democratic process than the aforementioned countries, but we also rely on not just the process but also the political culture to do the right thing. If all of the actors are not abiding by the law, then it means nothing. Reince Priebus' "Loyalty Oath" was supposed to put an end to Trump, but it backfired; Trump "became" GOP and then, anyone who couldn't endorse him, or agree with him, was being "disloyal to the oath". Trump isn't a stupid man; he's very Machiavellian in his political moves.

We also witnessed our three branches of government go completely off the rails, shortly before the election, At the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the GOP-led House informed our lame-duck President that it was "tradition" that a President in his final year of office wasn't "allowed" to nominate a Supreme Court Justice. This was just made up bullshit on the part of Mitch McConnell and the GOP and there is no such "tradition". So, basically, one branch of the government hijacked another branch of the government, and the third branch of the government stood there like the house by the side of the road! Our institutions are only as strong as the people who will defend them and uphold the laws.

Rule #4: Be outraged. If you follow Rule #1, and believe what the autocrat-elect is saying, you will not be surprised. But in the face of the urge to normalize, you will have lost the capacity to be shocked. It is essential to maintain this, although people will call you hysterical and/or unreasonable and accuse you of overreacting. I'm sure there were plenty of people in the 3rd Reich who had reason to wish they had been accused of overreacting, when they found themselves in the Camps. Certainly the Lutheran Reverend Martin Niemöller had huge cause for regret (initially for Hitler, he later had doubts; as Head of the Lutheran Church, he remained silent), and expressed it beautifully* when freed from Dachau in 1945 by the allies.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Rule #5: Don't make compromises. I'm already sick and damned tired of hearing "we have to give him a chance". No, I don't. You may think you have to, but I think he needs to go away. He is unfit for the office of President of the United States and he is dangerous, simply because he doesn't know when to shut his mouth. If it were only that, he could be outfitted with handlers, much like Boris Yeltsin, who would regularly have to have a total "oil change" before meeting heads of state, because his BAC was pushing 70% or something ridiculous. At least, Boris was courteous.

Lastly, Rule #6: Remember the future. Nothing lasts forever, certainly not Donald Trump. I hope his days in the Oval Office are in the single or double digits, maybe. He is not going to be good for this country; he's already bringing out the worst in people. I heard this story from my better 2/3s, who's a friend of a preacher man, who is also a singer/songwriter and is Afro-American; this involves a family in his congregation. 

A white couple went into a restaurant, where a black family were finishing their meal. The white couple went up to them, and said, "You need to hurry up and leave. You KNOW who OUR President is now!" This kind of divisiveness will only continue to spread; the hatred will fester and we will once again, become a weak, divided nation, as we were during the McCarthy era. We can all turn each other in for crimes imagined. I might be here, or more than likely I won't. I'm not sure this country is worth sticking around to try and save. 

I'm not even going to address the "Hamilton" mess or Pence's penchant for torture and waterboarding; I'd be here pounding on this keyboard all night. But, if this is what America wants, so be it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#IWSG – NOVEMBER CHECKIN – “THE I ALMOST FORGOT CHECK IN”


Coming on the heels of the Tampa Bay Symphony's fall concert series at the St. Petersburg Palladium of MacDowell, Richard Strauss and Anton Dvorak and winding up in a pub a few blocks away after a wonderful concert to watch the Cubbies, now helmed by the former Tampa Rays' Manager Joe Madden, beat the Indians, in a 9 to 3 drubbing, and slurping down some Guinness Ales, gobbling up pizza (thank you Paul for treating us all!) and being driven home by my friend Julie at 1 am, only to have her completely electric car run out of electricity, and then sitting rather alertly now, waiting for the “Supercharger” to “Supercharge”, so we could get the hell outta one of the worser places in Tampa, and flying into my house like a commando dropped in a war zone; locking all doors and then, collapsing for the evening, it wasn't until today that I realized, oops.


I almost did it again. Missed a check in. So, here's what I did over the past month. Fought with insurance and dental companies and Medicaid; summation. They're all on the take, or complete idiots, or both. I wrote another short story for #StoryTime BlogHop, called “9-1-1”. I'd had the idea for a long time; I just didn't know how to get it started. Many, many thanks to Juneta Key for that! And I practiced. Practiced, practiced, practiced the viola. And wrote; I have some ideas I've been jotting down (a very creepy incident got me going on my 3rd short story) and made some headway on “Nebraska Creepers”, but it's not coming together the way I'd like it to. I'm just going to keep on it. Lots to do between now and January and Japan as well! Anyway, happy #IWSG'ing! 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

#STORYTIME – BLOGHOP – “911”


It's time for another round of #Storytime Blog Hop fiction! Please be sure and check out these other terrific short stories, by these superb writers!

PARTICIPANTS
C. Lee McKenzie Beautiful
 Erica Damon Penance J. Q. Rose Sorry
 Elise VanCise Lady In The Woods Barbara Lund Spooky Space
Angela Wooldridge Quiet Neighbours Katharina Gerlach Australian Dream 
Karen Lynn The Waves at Midnight Sherri Conway Ants
 Elizabeth McCleary Over James Henry Wilcox Dead Body Canis Lupus The Picture
 Peg Fisher All In the Fall, a Fractured Fairytale Bill Bush Trapped
 Benjamin Thomas Autumn Cascade Crystal Collier Emily’s Ghost Juneta Key (placeholder)

9-1-1, What is your emergency, please?” The woman on the on the other end of the phone sounded anxious, but not particularly scared, she may even have been said to have even sounded a bit sheepish, and , well, no small wonder later on, when everything got sorted out and stories were compared and various parties interviewed, for what seemed to have been a sorceress, or a “temptress”, or mayhap a delightful devil-may-care companion up for some Samhain, Halloween, or All Hallow's Eve shenanigans with her talking familiar, an alarmingly large soot-gray panther with glowing green eyes, who answered to the name of “Trotsky” and conversed with his mistress in Russian, it all sounded rather like, well, mass hypnosis, or as if several folks had tarried too long at the Cider Barrel at one particular high-rise, during the annual Halloween party. Except for the fact that this high-rise didn't have annual Halloween parties and the tenants weren't particularly prone to this kind of delusional thinking.

courtesy:furtech.dreamwidth.org                                 

Some called in saying they had seen a woman in a black ninja outfit with katanas, having sport with a giant cat-like, well, leopard up on the roof garden, and wasn't that just illegal to have a leopard out in the open, in public, like that?

An older woman called, saying that her next-door neighbor had visited for tea, a wonderful tea and brought cookies, along with her cat, and the cat had yowled a wonderful rendition of “Old Man River”, while the younger woman played piano, and now the old lady felt silly calling about it, but she was a bit dubious about a house-cat the size of a house, practically, because, when last she had seen Trotsky, he had seemed much, much smaller. The woman kind of petered out on the whole "send a prowl car" thing, when asked what she wanted to do; she felt rather sheepish about it all. The 911 operator sighed; it was obviously going to be a very long night. 

courtesy:pinterest                                        

A man called in flustered, because he claimed a temptress had tried to seduce him in the Laundry room in the basement and as they were about to embrace, he felt a cat winding itself around his legs, only he was afraid to look down, because the cat's tail felt HUGE, like a ship's docking rope and when he did look, OHOLYMARYMOTHEROFGOD!, he nearly fainted! He glimpsed feet the size of dinner plates! The temptress and familiar let out evil cackles and then. . . poofed away! In a puff of smoke. 

One of the many doctors who lived in the building called in, put out because he had gotten an on-call for an emergency to the nearby teaching hospital, and when he pushed the button to the elevator, the door opened, and a woman and a huge cat, or two little people in a leopard-costume, like a horse-costume only smaller, dressed in surgeon's whites jumped out. They both shouted “SURPRISE!!!” and then, they ran gleefully off down the hall. The doctor surmised from this that the leopard was real, as he didn't believe that two little people could run quite that fast, encumbered as they were by the leopard-suit clad in surgeon's whites.

The doctor said, “I know my residency has kept me pretty cloistered, but when did leopards evolve to the point that they could talk?”

The poor 911 operator, who by this time had had her fill of all of these calls answered him, “Sir, I'm not the National Geographic hot-line, nor a biologist, so I'm not up on that myself. I'll have a prowl car sent.”

The doctor, now in a huff, said, “Don't say the word “prowl”. It makes me feel like I'm “prey”.”

The 911 operator shot back, “Well fine! Why don't you just wait until I have Scully and Mulder sent out; this sounds like their bailiwick, anyway!”

courtesy:youtube.com                                        

  
To which the doctor riposted, “At least they don't prowl! So there!” The 911 operator rolled her eyes; people used to at least TRY to be witty.

It was turning into that kind of night, for everyone involved and it was just one high-rise building near one teaching hospital in one state. It just all seemed to devolve into one of those half-waking, half-sleeping states, where everyone seems either confused or delusional or both.

Nevertheless, all of this DID happen, on one certain H'ween eve, and no one is ever sure why it did happen, and as the Ann Arbor police would later say, “no harm, no foul, and the “alleged perp” ain't talkin'. As if a cat could talk.” The policeman then snorted and patted the gorgeous Russian Blue on his head and left the nice lady's apartment.

courtesy:me                                                                           

As soon as the door was closed, the nice lady turned and hissed at Trotsky in Russian, “What were you thinking? I told you we could NOT do this anymore! How could I let you talk me into this!”

The cat looked at her obdurately and yawned, and then as all spoiled rotten cats do, jumped up, grabbed her around the neck, nestled in and said, “Da.” Then switched to his patently horrid English. “Is okay. I have many fun; you too! No one hurt!”

She rolled her eyes and hugged him tighter. “You've been in this country HOW LONG? Would it kill you to learn a pronoun or three? What if someone doesn't think this is so funny and they catch you “changed” and you get killed? That will kill me! Yeah, yeah, I know it was all fun and games during the Russian Revolution, but folks're different here. They're scared of their own shadows. 'Sides they might miss you and shoot me, or some stupid thing.”

Trotsky pushed back from her throat and looked her square in the eyes; this was how she knew she had something “other” than just a cat, when she found him at three weeks old tottering up a dirt road; that striking intelligence. She had long ago learned to just go with whatever was tossed her way; there were far more many things unseen than seen and she'd quit asking questions at around age 25.

He looked at her searchingly for several minutes, huffed, and said, “You think you found me by accident? It was I found you. I knew you have heart of lion; take anything that come at you. Not wrong about that. You should not worry about me. It is I who worry about you; you take too many chances.”

She was aghast. “That is what life is; taking chances. Surely you know that and lived your life accordingly. We can have fun; always must have fun, but life is to be lived and if it means taking chances, we do.” She started to laugh; “Maybe we're just arguing the same point, here, but really, if you're going to shape-shift, choose something less alarming. Next time, chihuahua.”

Trotsky's eyes twinkled. “Bah! Decent sorceress no has chihuahua. Next time; Tiger!” He laid his head on her shoulder and fell asleep, purring.

courtesy:pinterest.com                                        



        


                                 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

#AMWRITING #BLOGGING – THROWBACK THURSDAY (ON A SATURDAY!) – BACK IN THE DAY


GALLLLGHNN!!!
(Made ya look)

Note: This week's installment of "Throwback Thursday" is on Saturday due to circumstances that were pretty much out of my control; kinda like my life. I do try and keep my posts on schedule, but this was just one crazy-ass week.

This is another of my older blog posts that Facebook burped up today was first posted on October 13, 2013. It's amusing and has a few facts, but like many of my posts written during that time, it is also some attempt at some sort of observation and possible understanding of human nature. I'm not too sure that I'm always successful. I barely understand myself from moment to moment.

JC, Alex and I were feasting on taco salad this afternoon and watching football; a “fambly tradition”, when JC got a brainstorm. These are always terrific fun; today it was “hey! let's check into one of those Swifter-Bristle Steamboat things.” One of the reasons I really enjoy him, is he is one the best word and name-manglers I know. It only makes the confusion richer in my life. James Thurber (in a short New Yorker article, published under the name “What Do You Mean it Was Brillig?”*) once had a maid who was like that, and he used to regularly joust with her, along with his dictionary.
*The entire essay can be read at this Google link in one sitting for free. It's funny and about as astute a piece of human analysis as anything I've ever read.

                                                                                                                                          courtesy: www.donmarquis.org


Today, this would pass for random; back then, it was called "whimsy." Whatever it is, I still cackle like a hyena every time I read any of James Thurber's writings or see his cartoons. 

(Also, the uproar over the use of the term "pussy" by Donald Trump this past week besmirched a term that was originally meant to be used in quite another way. A "pussy cat" could be a very cuddly, and warm female, as it could also, as seen here, be used to mean a bunch of catty females. Whatever way it was used, it was never really meant to be used in the manner Donald Trump used it; lowering it to the status of "cunt". There, I've said the "c" word, but that is the big, fat elephant in the room everyone is avoiding. I don't want to get into a thesis of why assigning names to genitalia or to genders themselves is an issue here; but as James Thurber brought it up, I thought I'd better address it. I'll write about it soon, though, rest assured.)

While the three of us are not nearly so entertaining as James and Della in the story, we did manage to work up a good laugh about shared and non-shared things and went right off the tracks, tangential-wise. A phrase my father and Edwin Newman would just cringe over; but the fact remains the Swifter-Bristle thingy is just another white elephant that will sit around here and collect dust and we already have plenty of that. I guess that's what the Swifter-Bristle takes care of, but Jesus Christ on a, well, a bicycle, JC had purchased and was going to work on: 6 bicycles, 4 or 5 separate bicycle tires, several tubes that “fixed” themselves (then why did he need to fix them?) and, a bunch of rusty tools that he bought for a dollar or two, here and there, from “Angel,” one of the neighborhood “entrepreneurs,” who kind of speaks English, and apparently has the super power of magnetic fingers. He's disappeared and has either been deported or is in the Orient Road Jail; it all depends on which branch of the Nebraska Avenue Grape Vine you choose to believe.

So, as we ate and jabbered away - talking over one another, getting up for sodas, more taco salad, more napkins, hot sauce, and general yelling at the Bucs to “throw the ball” and “kick the ball”, or armchair coaching at it's best, certainly, a Sunday afternoon at it's best - I started in on, why we needed this Swifter-Bristle thing and reminded JC of the bike pump. Not to mention the 3, not 1, but 3 bug sprayers with pumps that lay unused while the roaches have parties and conga lines in the kitchen after-hours. Plus, I recently found another mini-pump under the kitchen sink. This I can understand; apparently, we're still not over the trauma of “Bedbug Apocalypse.”

After the bicycles sat in the back of the apartment, taking up very valuable real estate, he finally conceded, that no, he was not the next Orville, nor Wilbur Wright and sold the whole kit-and-kaboodle for I-can't-even-remember-how much money. He may have paid someone to get them gone. Hell, I may have paid someone to get them gone. It was clutter at it's finest and it was threatening to overtake the house, much like kudzu vine does, in the deep south, in the hot muggy summers of the United States. If you stand still long enough; it will overtake you and you're history. Your corpse will only appear as so much dry vine-y deadness in the shape of a screaming person, in mid-screech, the following winter. But I digress.


This isn't the worst I've ever seen, but it grows at some phenomenal rate, like 60 feet per season, or in 3 months. Kudzu vine is EVERYWHERE in Florida and is a non-native species. It has also been found in Canada, eh?

After we got through laughing about the bicycle pump, because it survived the Great Bicycle Pogrom of 2012, we started laughing about leaving things around and getting them stolen, because that happens around here, a lot. It's not just Nebraska Avenue, it's the fact that this is a poor area and lots of people are inherently dishonest. But, for every dishonest person, there are just as many giving and caring people.

I truly believe that; last week as I was sitting in the Bus Transfer Station waiting to go to my Neurologist appointment, a young man, almost a kid, who had just been released from prison, or jail was sitting on a bench, holding his belongings. He didn't have much and looked miserable and lost; he had just a bag with a few items and I knew he'd been incarcerated because he had on the shoes all prisoners in Florida wear upon release; blue canvas, with white rubber rims. An older homeless man, a type of “Veteran” who knows the ropes and there are lots of them in Tampa and I'm sure every where, walked up to the kid. The older man was holding a big, fluffy blanket. He held it out to the kid and said something. I couldn't hear, but it was probably something like, “Here, kid, you look like you could use this blanket.” The kid's eyes lit up. The two spoke for a few minutes and the older man got on my bus and off we went. I guess there are angels every where. That guy is one of Tampa's. There are a few of them here.

Anyway, when we lived at FSJ, you had to put your name on EVERYTHING edible that went into the fridge, even in your room. People didn't just put their names on stuff, they put warnings on their items. “THIS IS BUBBA'S DO NOT EAT! ILL KILL YOO!!!! Or, "This is Shanequa's YoGurt + Will Poisen U B 4 U finish!!!!" Of course, the challenge being too great, the whatever it was disappeared and was consumed.

I had all my “fun” food stolen. Stuff like Hot Pockets, and Geno's Pizza Rolls. I bought healthy stuff for salads; that went bye-bye. Names and warnings meant nothing. We had one girl who stuffed everybody's stuff in her back back and would eat it frozen in her room. Just crazy. One guy purchased two beautiful NY strips with his food stamps and just stuck them in the fridge in the “men's” house. He just went to take a pee and came back to find Crazy George, pan-frying one of them and eating the other one raw. A huge brawl broke out in this tiny kitchen with iron skillets and fists flying and people hammering on one another with meat tenderizers, because when two people fight, it's as if auditions for West Side Story dancers were being held, only the dancers were really bad; the fighters pretty much sucked, too. Oooh! Fights at FSJ were always glorious!

Then, the TPD would come and the music would stop. Anyway, once I bought some American Cheese Slices for the rock-bottom price of .69 cents a pack. They were a color and texture not found on this planet; like some kind of hybrid;
 orange-red-chartreuse-dayglo-yellow and they hurt my eyes to look at them. So, I put just the teeny, tiny, tip of my tongue to one of the slices. It still hasn't grown back yet. Just kidding.



I think we're no more than a few degrees from Radioactive with this cheese. Actually, the cheese I put in the fridge provided its own light.

Looking at that color told me that the slices probably weren't fit for human consumption, so I put them in the house fridge with a sign that said “FREE!!!” That was in December of 2010, when I first got my Food Stamps. When JC, Opal and I left FSJ, after we all had received our SSDI and we found a suitable place to live in August of 2011, I believe those same “cheese slices” were still lurking around. They may still be over there across the street, because no one ever cleaned out the fridge. I shudder to think what that's like now; more than likely, the Haz-Mat people have hauled the whole mess off. There were several things not of this earth that appeared in that kitchen with “FREE!!” attached to them. Some of the inhabitants were not from this planet, either, including myself. Good times! Good times! But, I have wandered, once again, tangential-wise.

D'you remember the bicycle pump? We immediately started to scheme about how to put this to work. We'd already had our fun with why hadn't JC sold it. He says he's been trying. I give him the ol' fish eye and he says “That's because it has something to do with the fact that you haven't put it on eBay,” which this is the first time I'm learning about eBaying his white elephant, but JC says that's because “I sleep all the time.” As if, ha! So, I didn't ask if he tried to make an appointment with my secretary, because I already told him I fired her last week, because she screwed up all of his doctor's appointments. Ain't retirement a gas?


This is the latch-key car wash across Nebraska Ave., 33602 from where I live. Tis a real dive and all sorts of nefarious goings-on, do indeed, go on. But they charge .25 cents for air!

So, I have come up with the bright idea of returning to the old days, when competing gas stations would have GAS WARS. Seeing as how the government is shut down, or posturing or huffing and puffing, we, as Senior Citizens (Creeping Jeezus, that is so NOT right to say, let alone write - I mean the whole being called "Senior Citizens" thing; the government be damned!) that I must take a stand. I have decided that until the time comes that I can either, a) con someone into printing some of my ravings and paying actual money for them, or b) find someone who is willing to accept the incredibly high costs of personal injury insurance just to have me on a stage to play my viola, due to blindness (I am so pulling THAT ONE out of my ass) that I am Challenging the Car Wash to an AIR WAR!


That's right, folks! Just turn the corner and I'll fill up your tires. You can't see the meter (because I'm not a professional-type picture-taker, by any stretch of the imagination), but this is a professional-type air pump. You can tell by my awesome advertising that I am a pro!

So bitches, it's on!


Thursday, October 6, 2016

#AMWRITING #BLOGGING – THROWBACK THURSDAY – PLAYING THE VIOLIN AND HOW TO AVOID IT


GALLLNNNN

Note: This is the post that was famously "stolen" and was being sold online when I first began my blogging/writing, or whatever this phase of my life/career is. It was brought to my attention by Aaron Brinker, a good friend, who was running a Dad blog and posting about his son. In a show of solidarity, I went along and raised hell, although at the time, I wasn't living on my writing, as many of the people who had had their posts hijacked and sold online were, so it was important that I go along, as well. I'm glad I did. Intellectual property is the property of the person who thought it up, and stealing anything like that for profit, when these wonderful men and women were trying to eke out a living was awful. With the advent of different net security features and ways to track your own work, it's much, much harder for people to get away with things like that now. Yay!

Ring ring!

Me: "Hello!"

Manager: "Hey, Mary. Are you doing anything the week of November 20th to the 25th?"

Me: "Well, let me check my calendar." Sound of pages flapping in the breeze. "Hmm, nothing but the "Merry Parade of Turkeys" and "Turkeys, We Got Your Turkeys Right Here with The Skitch Henderson Sound-Alikes." At this time, I am living in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am also still playing in Tampa and pretty much driving all over the south. I am also exclusively playing the viola, because I loathe, despise and generally hate playing the violin (Note: This is called "foreshadowing" in Great Writing, which this isn't.)

Manager: "So, you have open time?"

Me: "Yes." To my everlasting regret, I said, "Yes."

Manager: "Great! I need a violinist for..."

I didn't hear the rest. I was in shock. I told people for years that I didn't play the violin. I never played the violin - well, except for those five years, when I first started out in the Los Angeles Public School District, but we didn't have violas, we had 3rd violin parts, which were TREMENDOUSLY boring, and even in my first all-district concert, I somehow weaseled my way into the 2nd violins, which I thought pretty much sucked too. If I hadn't found violas, I might have given up the whole upper string things altogether and taken up the cello, but my hands are way too small, and all I've ever been able to play on the cello is stuff in micro-tones that sounds like “Singapore's Greatest Hits”, so I'm so grateful Beethoven wrote boss viola parts and made my life forever happy, but I'm really rambling now and if I talk about Beethoven, Mr. Wells will haunt me and give me another “C-” on a paper that really deserved an “A”. But Bobby Lee knows all about that! Oh God, I'm doing it again! Stop DIGRESSING!

So, I'd rent these god-awful violins with tin strings and "play" in these violin sections, in the hopes that people would get the hint and quit hiring me to "play" the goddamned violin. I'd tell my managers shit like, "why the hell are you hiring me to play the violin? Did every other violinist in Tampa die/migrate/go into the Witless Protection Program, where they belonged, the idiots?" They still hired me. 

These horrible bricks of wood that were rental violins also had tapes on them for the "Suzuki" method, were just terrible; my fingers would "trip" over the tape, thus un-enhancing my playing. That pussy Suzuki shit with tape is beyond horrible. How in the hell are you going to understand that when your hand shifts from From 1st to 2nd position, all of the intervals change from – for a D Major Scale – open D string, whole-step, whole-step, half-step, whole-step (or open A string), whole-step, whole-step, half-step in 1st position to - for 2nd position - (3rd finger on the G string, whole-step, whole-step (or high-position on the “D” string), half-step, whole-step, whole-step, whole-step, half-step. These configurations change for every mode (Major or minor, Aeolian – being natural minor, Mixolydian; there are seven in all) and for every scale. String players routinely shift to whatever position suits their playing style; I tend to jump all over the place; 1st, 4th 6th, 2nd, 3rd, whatever. For Shostakovich's Big Symphony Number 5, we're in about 11th position I think for the famous viola solo. We, and be we, I mean all string players are subject to this, are at the mercy of physical laws and the higher up the fingerboard we go, the more important are ears become. Some of the intervals are micrometers apart. That's where our “hand-framing” exercises come in, and that's the last of any kind of facts you'll read in THIS post. I truly digressed!

If you learn the "Suzuki" method you're hand is frozen in one position using the tape system, and if you can't use hand-framing and play by ear, and LEARN your goddamned fingerboard like the God, the Pedagogue Ivan Galamian intended, burn that hunk of wood! You don't deserve to call yourself a non-fretted string player.

I tried drinking my way through rehearsals and that didn't work. I started ending up in first violin sections. You know what really, really sucks? Playing Mozart on the violin. Yes sir, there is Hell in a barrel right there. The only two things that Mozart ever wrote that were worth a shit were “Don Giovanni” and his “Great Mass in C minor”; the latter left unfinished at his death. I have NEVER liked any other piece by Mozart; no passion, and he was too fussy, but he made up for it in spades with Don Giovanni and his Mass. Playing Mozart on the viola is a big enough pain in the ass; all precision and no payoff; playing him on the violin is just sheer torture. A lesson in pointillism to me, with all the fussy pretentiousness of that day and time. Ick.

Anyway, the other fun thing about the violin, is the climb. Lots of heights on the violin, especially in the 1st violin section. Since the dingbat managers were seating me in the 1st violin sections, bizarre things were happening around me. Sheesh. Eighteen ledger lines above the staff and I'm playing "guess the note." I can't even read that shit. It's in soprano clef. I normally read the viola clef. Okay, I read soprano clef just fine, but when you're up towards the direction of the sun weird shit starts to happen, physically. Colors aren't normal, and they begin to have an aroma. Sightings of the dead were not uncommon when I was in the 1st violins. I'm surprised the stage didn't melt or something, when I hit some of those harmonics. God knows my ears are still ringing.

After a while, I kind of resigned myself to this violin thing, but not really; I've taught it more than I've played it and I did end up buying a few of them and then sold them just as quickly as possible; they were taking over my house; I felt like the Pod People had invaded. I'm just not a fan of the instrument, as far as playing it goes. I certainly appreciate the artistry and love listening to them, but, I adore playing viola. Go figure.

I was laughing about it though, when I talking to a fellow "road warrior" about all the variations of different types of gigs and positions we've played. I played with Styx and I can't remember how this came up, but it was also the same with a Johnny Mathis tune about Brazil. "Sail Away" which is so lovely, is an absolute bitch to play. It consists of 64th notes, practically in its entirety. Everyone runs up and down the fingerboard in both tunes, and in all string sections. It almost reminded me of band music from Marching Band and then, I remembered that I didn't play in Marching Band, except that I did, for my last two years in high school. I played the glockenspiel. Badly.

Denis Deyoung's father was part of the OSS in WWII and was one of the first to reach Paris, with the Allies. You can hear the Chopin and Debussy in Styx's music. An interesting little bit of trivia along with the silly today. There, aren't you edified? And didn't I write myself out of that little digression neatly?

Styx's music is challenging and we had a lot of fun playing it. But, one of the things that does happen when playing that type of music, is you do lose the edge on your heftier musical "chops" as they're called. We were touring pretty extensively at the time with Styx and "Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto" -ing all over the place and having a hell of a lot of fun. In the midst of this tour, we had a layover and my trio picked up a gig. Myself, a violinist and cellist; none of us were exactly slouches. Being the, uh, "professionals" that we were supposed to be, we showed up for this luncheon or whatever the hell it was to provide "background" music and proceeded to play trios, for a couple of hours. I just grabbed a bunch of my trio music and off we went.

Now, it is axiomatic that the fewer instruments you have, the more difficult the music is going to be, especially if you are going to play, oh say, Beethoven. If we were going to play Mozart, or "Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries" (Pizzicatto all the way!), we might have had half a chance, but Beethoven? It was... interesting. I have played all of his String Quartets. They rock. His Trio in C minor rocks. It also requires lots and lots and lots of practice. Playing Styx's "Mr. Roboto" for 18 weeks straight does not constitute practicing Beethoven's trio. We all learned a valuable lesson that day. That lesson is this: Do not play the Beethoven C minor Trio, until you know the audience is drunker than a bunch of hoot owls. Thank God for alcohol that day!