musing

I’m not in control of my muse . My muse does all the work . — Ray Bradbury

 

I’ve been paying way too much attention to politics lately . All the nonsense sort of saps my energy to think about other things . Sometimes it’s overwhelming . I’d like to enjoy life a little more and I could do that if I didn’t have to worry about all that Washington stuff . I’m pretty sure that those political manipulators and their flunkies can do their thing without me , so it’s basically a waste of my time to follow the day -by-day political shenanigans anyhow . And , on top of that , I’ve developed a nasty case of writer’s block , I think .

You can’t think yourself out of a writing block ; you have to write yourself out of a thinking  block. — John Rogers

 

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It suddenly occurred to me yesterday that I should  have a muse . A muse might put a deluge of wonderful  ideas into my brain so that my pen might write brilliantly and with a joyful ease . Well , I don’t write with a pen very often , if you want to be strictly correct . In fact , when I do write with a pen ( or pencil )  I find it more and more difficult to decipher my own script . And that’s me the writer of the stuff  speaking . Imagine outsiders trying to break the code of that scribbling !

But , that’s neither here nor there . Let’s move along.

I will say , in my own defense , though , that those Catholic school nuns , although they tried , didn’t learn me that cursive skill all that  very good  . I’m not blaming them , though . They tried their best . It was their mission in life , after all , among other things , to get us kids to be able to write smoothly curling , flowingly beautiful cursive letters . I remember those teal-colored cards on the classroom walls with the dotted lines and the solid lines and the capital letter and  the  small letter —- and didn’t they have a half-drawn letter to prompt us not-so- eager young scholars to form our letters correctly  ?handwriting-letters-aa-printable

I tap tap tap tap on a keyboard of course nowadays instead of scratching well-crafted cursive letters  . If some of those nuns are still around I’m pretty sure that they are doing  the same thing on their  keyboards somewhere . Times change .

Inkwells are mostly gone , too , I hear .

They were Irish nuns who tried to teach me cursive . That’s what worries me a bit as I consider somehow acquiring a muse . It’s the Irish thing .  With my luck , the muse that shows up , even if I could figure out the acquisition process , stands a fifty-fifty chance of being woven tightly somehow into the fabric of an Irish essence . That could be good , yes it could  ; but that on the other hand could also be not so good.Female IRA fighters in 1970s (5).jpg

I don’t know what I would do if my muse showed up as a banshee , for example . That could be a tricky situation . The screaming would be distracting .  Sometimes it may not be so great to get what you ask for . I’m thinking now that I’m thinking about this whole thing  that maybe it’s better just to rely on me myself alone and forget the muse idea altogether .

Unless, alternatively ,  there’s a patron saint of writing . The nuns told us about patron saints.  Probably there is a patron saint of writing. I could drop some hints to my guardian angel to get in touch with that saint with the hope that s/he could help my writing out a bit . Yeah ?  Now that I’m thinking about this , there might even be a patron saint of computers too . There’s got to be . I might check that out . Every little bit helps.

Of course the fallback patron saint is Saint Anthony , the patron saint of lost things . I’d contact him , perhaps , about this muse idea of mine  , stretch the truth a little bit and tell him that I lost my muse ;  but I think that he’s much too busy to help me out because of all that’s being lost in the world even if I were to persuade him that my cause is one worth pursuing. .

Still , I wonder  what my muse options might be . One takes one’s chances I suspect .

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I wonder if there’s an interview process for muses . Maybe I could arrange a trial period , you know , just in case it’s not a good match right from the start.

Oh , hell , who needs a muse when I’ve got Ada . She may not be my muse , exactly , but she is amusing for sure .

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guns , knives , etc.

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sailing the wilshire sea

” A ship in port is safe ; but that is not what ships are built for . Sail out and do great things . ” —–Rear Admiral Grace HopperPorts of Call San Pedro 014

It wasn’t Beverly Hills .  Beverly Hills was , what ,  a full block over . The ship-shaped apartment house sailed  close but then stopped and anchored . When ? 1941 ? Maybe the architect or the builder were Navy men . Who knows ? I don’t .Battleship Iowa 019

Holmby Hills was nearby . Within walking distance if you’re a good walker . Lew Archer lived in Holmby Hills in a big house along with Lt. Commander Phil Queeg . No , no , it wasn’t Lew Archer . He was the partner who’d been knocked off . It was  Sam  Spade . Queeg liked strawberries . Was obsessed with strawberries . I’m not sure about Spade  . Spade said , ” You’re a good man , sister .” Probably said it to the tough guy Duke Mantee  or  to Charlie Alnut .  Those characters both lived in the same house , too , with a guy named Rick who ran a high class nightclub and gambling joint  in Casablanca. He might have liked strawberries too for all I know . They all lived with a girl named Lauren Bacall and an actor named Bogart .

The Maltese Falcon was made in 1941 . Casablanca was made in 1942 but  the action was set in 1941 .  The  house I live in now was built in 1941 . Bogart had been  in the Navy.   He sailed for fun . He’d  bought a sailboat from Dick Powell . The apartment house I lived in then on Wilshire Boulevard ,  the early 1970’s , was built like a ship . It had decks and  portholes . My apartment was on the quarterdeck ,  I think . I climbed up the starboard gangway to get to it . Also in 1941 the U.S.  launched the Liberty Ship program .  Well ?  You don’t get it ? All coincidence you think ?Battleship Iowa 079

The old building was crumbling . I got a very  good deal on rent for a large apartment . But this was part of the deal : The corporation that owned it wasn’t going to put any money into it to fix anything because they’d bought it to tear it down and build something new .  That might happen next week or next year or never . I had to agree to go when the time came , be ready to clear out , to abandon ship on short notice and not to expect anyone , in the meantime , to do any repairs around the place .

While I was there a hair salon owner lived downstairs —- sorry —– belowdecks with his sleek girlfriend . He stayed to himself ; worked long hours at his elegant shop in Westwood . He would slip back home  evenings in a gleaming white Rolls . He probably paid the same meager rent that I did . I’d see his mail sometimes as it came to the building , addressed to So-and-S0 , such-and-such number Wilshire Blvd. , Beverly Hills . Beverly Hills my foot !  He must live in the crumbling ship to save money, because it was close to his hair salon , and  to pretend to have a Beverly Hills address . It was always a funny sight to see him roll up to the old wreck of a building in that shining white Rolls with the elegant girlfriend, both of them too aloof to converse with the rest of the crew .

The Playboy mansion was , sort of , in the neighborhood  too . It was over on Sunset , farther away than the Bogarts’ house . It’s hidden behind gates and hedges and lush landscaping , though . There’s no point walking that far to stand outside the gates .

I would walk down the other direction , toward Santa Monica Blvd . , to do my shopping at the Santa Glen Market , located on the corner of Santa Monica and Beverly Glen . Once in awhile I’d see movie stars shopping there . Everyone has to eat .  They bought the same cheap cans of peas that I bought .

One day I was walking along Wilshire behind an elegantly dressed old man . He suddenly turned to the boulevard ; it was around noon , I think ; he unzipped and  took a piss on a plant . I was a little shocked and mentioned the incident later to a friend of mine . He said matter-of-factly that sometimes  when you gotta go you gotta go  and your bank balance has nothing to do with it .

I lived there  in that old leaky apartment  for two years and then I jumped ship . It was torn down several years later . I used to check on it every few months . There’s a tall and typical high rise there now . It  has none of the character , in my mind , that the old structure exuded as it waited to be  finally scrapped . But I guess sometimes when you gotta go you gotta go .

Early one Sunday morning  the water heater burst . I could hear Max , the manager, and his brother outside my place chattering . I stepped off the bed into six inches of water . I was contemplating this sudden surprise when Max knocked on the door . I opened it and a river rushed out onto the two decrepit old men . ” If I’d wanted Venice , Max , I would’ve gone there , ” I said . They weren’t laughing . They were probably thinking that it might be about  time to abandon ship .

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As the fat man Gutman says to Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon : ” These are facts , historical facts , not schoolbook history , not Mr. Wells’ history , but history nevertheless . ”   Such as it is and so it goes .Sczcecin 2 2012 106

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coffee

I recently re-posted a story of mine about coffee cups and piggy barns . My friend AVT thought it was funny how I talked coffee but switched to piggy barns and back to coffee . What was it that AVT , my old friend and colleague of forty years or more ,  said about my sense of humor ? Squiggly ?  No , no : “rattled”  . That was it .

Thanks , pal . Rattled ! I wrote him back : Takes one to know one , and sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me , and I’m rubber you’re glue , whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you . Or , something like that . I’ll let it go at that for now .

Ada had a few words for me too when she saw the post . Did I know that she no longer drinks coffee ? , she said , with that look which she sometimes gets that says —- what ? —that old guy must be rattled ( or something along those lines  ).

Yeah , I did know that she no longer drinks coffee .Only for the last several years or so .  It’s an old old post , I said  ;  that’s why in the  photo that I posted  the grand-kids are so small . I may be slipping , but I’m not completely gone yet .FRANKENSTEIN DRINKING TEA

But , of course as far as all of that goes , how would I know , anyway , if I have gone completely overboard ?  I’ll probably be the last to know . Food for thought , I suppose .

By the way , AVT , my old teacher friend , is a writer , too . A self-proclaimed “not a writer ” type of a writer , but a writer nonetheless ,  so I feel free to admonish him on his comment .  I’ve just been looking up the meanings of “rattled” , and I might suggest that he choose an alternate word to describe my previous post , or my sense of humor in it , or my style of writing , or whatever it was he was getting at . I get the sense of what he meant easily enough ; but  the denotation of that particular word doesn’t quite fit , it seems to me . Just saying . Yes , I get the comparison of my thought processes with the clutter of the piggy barn out back . True enough . Had I been in therapy for the last several decades , my therapist and I might have made some progress by now , I’m pretty sure , on understanding the ins and outs of all of that  . But no ; no such outcome ; no therapy . C’est la vie .

I think it might be the coffee that’s got me so rattled today . Maybe I shouldn’t’ve had that second cup on an empty stomach . Maybe I should go along with Ada and switch to tea . I used to drink more tea . Drinking tea involves its own set of rituals and mores , too ,  as does coffee . Nothing is ever easy . However  , as Lewis Black said , ” I like coffee . It gives me the illusion that I might be awake ” .

If this is coffee , bring me some tea . If this is tea , bring me some coffee .——Abraham Lincoln

Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks ?  —–Steven Wright

I don’t usually percolate my coffee these days , by the way . Now that Ada has long ago sworn off the stuff , I use a little Melitta filter and drip myself an individual cup of joe . Sometimes two . Once in awhile I take the second cup outside , and sometimes when I do that I walk back and check out the piggy barn . Someday I’m going to get around to cleaning it out .  I’ll take  naval jelly to that rusted old iron frying pan , for example , that’s  been waiting so patiently out there for all of these years for me to clean it up and  give it  new life . I must still have the naval jelly someplace.

All  in good time .George Bernard Shaw 1905

Speaking of piggies  :

I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty , and besides , the pig likes it . —George Bernard Shawweird man

 

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the coffee cup

So , I go out to the kitchen this morning to make coffee , right ? There are two cups already out on the counter . One’s a big white one with a stick figure and the word Grandmother on it . My wife Ada likes to drink her coffee from a big cup .  The other cup is a smaller black one . I’m surprised to see them already waiting there and I ask Ada if she got them out . It’s a stupid question because there are only the two of us in the house and I hadn’t gotten them out .  She seemed a little perplexed , like she hadn’t put them there either . Go ahead and use the big one for me , she says . Maybe one of us   put them out last night , she suggests .

I had to transfer  water and  grounds from one percolator to another , though , before I could make any coffee. The trusty percolator we had been using for several years was finally giving out . It had been a good bargain from a thrift store for five bucks . Ada finds good bargains . Lately , though , it wasn’t making the coffee hot enough for me . Ada seemed content with it . She hadn’t really noticed the difference .  But I had ;  I like my coffee sizzling hot . And the old tin soldier  was regurgitating the liquid every few minutes as it made a dying sound like a death rattle , as if it were about to give up the ghost . Ada said that’s  good,  isn’t it ? , because it re-heats the coffee . But it doesn’t .

I would like to  say at this point to you coffee connoisseurs out there before I continue with my tale : I already hear your criticism  , I get a sense of your disgust , I feel your pain . I know that you are repelled at the notion of boiling coffee in a percolator . And you should know that  1. this is my story not yours ,  and  2 . I don’t give a fiddler’s fart about your dressing down . Nothing personal . It’s just that I am , as yet , still ignorant of the science and the art of coffee finesse . I’m the stereotypical happy savage when it comes to coffee . So , get past your repulsion for the sake of this story , and let’s move on . Please .

So I transfer the coffee grounds from one percolator to the other…….. Oh , I forgot to explain why I’m doing that . I had another percolator in the garage . I assumed ( incorrectly , as it turned out )  that the garaged percolator  worked . But it didn’t . I was surprised but for some reason Ada wasn’t . I had to go back to the other one for today .

Throw them both out , Ada was saying . Don’t put them in the garage .  Don’t put them in the piggy barn. Just throw them out . I’ll buy another one .

Note on the piggy barn :

I built a little shed out behind the garage . Under it are my garden tools , flower pots , compost bin , plastic tarps , stuff that doesn’t seem to go anywhere else ,  old car tire , cans of paint , some lumber I might sometime need , a retired barbeque , very useful plastic buckets , etc. The shed area is fenced in . Ada’s mother was visiting years ago and was curious about what she referred to as  our piggy barn. Where’s the pig ? she wanted to know. She wasn’t joking .

From then on Ada calls my little shed area behind the garage the piggy barn . I know some guys don’t have piggy barns . Their lives are organized with everything they have splayed on a pegboard wall , nothing unneeded or unused , no dust , and absolutely no debris . Where is their drawer of odds and ends , of bits and pieces of items they might need some day ? They don’t have one . They don’t have a collection of old coffee makers in the garage , for example , that might one day be needed. At least for parts .

Most of the guys I know are not neat  like that , though . Instead of  sugarplums floating in their heads they have piggy barns tumbling around in there , or man cave ideas  in there , or bachelor pads , and they have cluttered workshops caked in sawdust and collected clumps of  leftover scraps of lumber and random-size drill bits piled on their workbenches while a lonely  shop-vac sits covered with dust in the corner . Women are afraid to set foot in such a mess .

But back to the coffee :

I finally got the coffee made and poured us a couple of cups before the percolator began its gurgling and rattling . Ada uses milk . Mine is black . We settled in our small sitting room , she with her laptop and me with a novel . What do you think of that ? she asked , after a while .  She was looking at my cup .

The plain black cup had sprouted brightly colored pictures of the grandchildren , Frankie and Ala . The little ones  were  smiling . They hadn’t been there before . There were words in Polish , too : Kochamy Cie Babciu . We Love You Grandma .

How did those smiling kids  get there ? On a plain white cup .

It’s a magic cup , Ada said . ( They show up with the hot liquid .)

Oh , so I’m not so out of it , not  so unobservant , that I didn’t notice them before . That’s a relief  !   I never saw a cup like that before . They showed up  to share a cup of coffee with us in the morning . Fantastic ! Magical !

Little Frankie and little Ala . We were surprised to see you this morning . We love you , too .

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homeowner discovers something fowl in backyard

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January 16, 2018 · 9:21 am

Smiley Lewis, Dave Edmunds & The Strypes : I Hear You Knocking

The Immortal Jukebox

A Commander of an intergalactic Starship looking at the map of our Solar System would probable observe that there was one major Planet – Jupiter – accompanied by 7 minor ones.

Jupiter is immense.

The Earth would fit into Jupiter some three hundred times.

And, while we delight in a single Moon to light our nights Jupiter holds over 60 Moons in thrall.

Now some of the Moons of Jupiter, though small in comparison to their parent Planet, are fascinating  worlds in their own right.

Galileo discovered the four major Moons of Jupiter in 1610 and ever since we have yearned to know more about Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

The satellites of a Planet as important as Jupiter merit close attention and analysis.

As in Astronomy so in Musicology!

In New Orleans in the 1950s there was one giant presence dominating the musical universe – Antoine Fats Domino!

Fats…

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