Back Where They Belong

Tonight I watched the first of a six-part series, Monty Python’s Personal Best, that’s being aired on PBS stations nationwide. Usually, Nettl and I watch The Runway Project, but, bless her heart, she understands the love affair I’ve had with the Pythons for the past 30 years and she gave up the telly for me tonight. I remember watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus back when it was current. I was a single parent of two boys, and after they were in bed on Sunday night, I’d plop onto the couch and turn on channel 28 (L.A.’s KCET) and watch Dr. Who, then Python. It was my connection to England, a country I had determined to visit. Within the year I was in England. Welcome back, lads! We’re all older now, we’ve all sprouted a few wrinkles and a few gray hairs, but your humor is as timely and relevant as ever and my devotion is still unflagging.


Spirit Empire

Feeling a little sluggish today, I read the first volume of the Bob Dylan Chronicles. I’ve always been a huge Dylan fan, certainly of the musician, but mostly the poet. He did not let me down. His prose and imagery are stunningly beautiful, although a couple of areas of the book seem a little drawn out. I’m sure that if he read this, Dylan would chide me on my Attention Span Disorder, as he calls it. I mean, this is man who has written songs with sixteen or more verses and who memorized Byron.
To escape the “Voice of His Generation” title that was thrust on him by the media, Dylan, always a chameleon, created a number of tantalizing identities through the years, smoke screening his fans, but also adding to his mystique, a consequence he didn’t foresee. All he really wanted was to develop his craft as a songwriter, go out and sing his songs, then return home and raise his family.
The most beautiful part of this book is a three-page description of New Orleans, in which he paints an impressionist image that we can not only see, but also touch, hear and smell. I’ll buy this book just to read that section over and over.

“In New Orleans you could almost see other dimensions. There’s only one day at a time here, then it’s tonight and then tomorrow will be today again. Chronic melancholia hanging from the trees. You never get tired of it. After a while you start to feel like a ghost from one of the tombs, like you’re in a wax museum below crimson clouds. Spirit empire… The devil comes here and sighs…” *
Dylan’s characterizations of the legendary folksingers who lived and worked in Greenwich Village during the early Sixties are also excellent. I’ve often regretted that I was born about ten years too late and 3,500 miles too west to have been a part of that scene. Instead, I was a pale, skinny, red-haired, bookish folksinger feeling out of place in the land of the Beach Boys and tan, leggy blonds who read nothing but Glamor magazine.
Fortunately, I found creatures like myself in places like Isla Vista (UCSB) and Haight-Ashbury. And of course, I had my friend JP Deni, sharing conversations about folk music, philosophy, politics, eastern thought, and smoking the occasional doob. But back to Dylan…
I know he’d hate this, but this autobiography reminds me, in a funny way, of Harpo Marx’s, Harpo Speaks! Through the years we have listened to Dylan’s words and have tried to find hints of the man inside the prose. Now, he tells us about himself in an honest and clear style, yet still retaining the intangible imagery that is pure Dylan. He demands that you visit his life at his pace and in his time. To some, it might seems as if he’s rambling, but I think he’s telling us his story much the same way that he might if we were sitting with him over a bottle of wine. More than anything, what is revealed in this book is that Dylan, the “eccentric poet”, was more like us than we thought. He probably still is.
I’ve said it for years: Bob Dylan will be remembered as one of our country’s great poets.

*Copyright © 2004 by Bob Dylan


Review: Singing Lessons by Judy Collins

Tonight, after dinner, Joel and I went to the public library, one of the things we’ve always enjoyed doing together. I brought home four books: Singing Lessons by Judy Collins, Chronicles, Vol. 1 by Bob Dylan, Tourjours Provence and Encore Provence by Peter Mayle.

After everyone went to bed, I poured a glass of wine, lit some candles, cozied myself into my wingback chair that sits by the fireplace, put the faux mink throw over my lap, and sank into the all-encompassing pleasure of reading, a pleasure I have denied myself of for too long...


She Loves a Parade!

Madge loves a parade. They always remind her of Bob.

Never Underestimate the Power of Kindness

We live in a time when kindness is viewed as a rather quaint, old-fashioned act, like standing up when a lady enters the room or taking a plate of cookies to the people who just moved in next door. Most people seem to think that kindness is an admirable trait, but completely irrelevant and impractical in today’s cut-throat society. And when we are unexpectedly confronted by a “random act of kindness”, we tend to step back from it and wonder what it is the perpetrator wants. Let’s face it, we’ve become a paranoid, cynical race, and not without good reason. Everywhere one turns there are people who are all too quick to judge without giving a thought to what has led up to a given situation.

I remember at the time of my mother’s sudden, unexpected death last year, I was out for some reason and in my state of shock and grief, and distressed over the financial burden and all of the details that surround a family death, I inadvertently drifted toward the lane next to me on Perkins Road. I caught and corrected myself, but when the fellow in that lane (some yards back, I might add) drew up next to me, he flipped me off, with an expression on his face that I can only liken to the face of a Tolkien Orc.

Then there was one of my detractors (read "turncoat fans") who, after having read my blog entry about Mom’s death, left a hateful comment about how I abused and neglected her and was glad that she was dead. While our relationship had its troubled times, my mother and I also loved each other very much and I’d taken very tender care of her those years she lived with us preceding her death. Reading this person’s comment was so hurtful, and it came at a time when I was completely vulnerable to attack, that I responded only with, “Your ugliness has hit its mark. I hope you’ve gained some happiness for it.”

What makes a person act so unkindly? It has been my experience that, usually, even the nastiest people follow an unspoken code of calling a truce in certain extreme situations, like honoring an emotional DMZ.

Conversely, I remember back in the early 80s after I’d come home from the hospital following major surgery. I could hardly walk without help. I lived alone in those days and while recovering, I lay on the couch in the den, where the telly was situated. It was a long hall that led to the living room, a trek I made only if absolutely necessary. The day after I came home, the doorbell rang, so I shuffled down that endlessly long hall and through the living room to the front door. It was a woman whose car had died and she wanted to know if she could use my phone. I let her in, explained my situation and excused myself to return to the den. After she made her call, she called out a thank you to me and quietly let herself out. The next morning the doorbell rang again and when I got to the door, I found sitting on my front step a potted plant and an anonymous thank you/get well card from the woman, who was nowhere to be seen. She didn’t have to do that, but her act of kindness is something I’ve never forgotten.

The thing is, kindness takes a lot less exertion than meanness. It requires less work and less energy, but it pays itself back extravagantly. “What goes around comes around,” as they say. I’m a firm believer in the threefold law that states that whatever we put out comes back to us three times over. I’ve seen this law at work throughout my life and I generally try to live by it. No one’s perfect though, and I sometimes have to check myself and consider that the egg-brain who just cut me off might be going through something that has made them temporarily absentminded. And even if that’s not the case and they’re just driving badly, the knowing smile I give them almost always elicits a sheepish smile in return, and they begin driving better. How easy is that?

Of course, there are dicks out there who just don’t give a crap about anyone, but I think it’s important to keep our focus on ourselves and be self-accountable for our own actions and reactions. Their lack of niceness doesn’t make us respond in like manner, we choose to do so, and I’ve learned that people who are unkind are people who have been hurt. Unkindness is a defense mechanism, one that I enjoy disarming. It’s not always easy.


Questions We'd Like to See

I’ve been in blogsville long enough to have seen nearly every question meme that’s out there. I’ve even answered most of them. Most appear to be written by teen-aged girls for teen-aged girls, however. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of being asked what my favorite boy band is and what my favorite subject in school is. I’ve decided to come up with a question meme for the rest of us, those of us, especially those of us who are over the age of 50...


Heavy Equipment

I must have some bad karma with John Deere. For the past ten years, any move I make into a new house or apartment is followed by the early morning churning, growling, and backup beeping of construction equipment.The City is widening the road outside our development and for the past two days I’ve been wakened by these lovely early morning noises. The road is only about 100 feet from our bedroom window. Ugh...


I Need a Geor3ge Fix

It’s one of those Geor3ge nights. He should be here drinking this bottle of red wine with me. We should be talking about music, and women, and the simplicity of life as viewed through the bottom of a wine glass between pals.

I’d even let him use our good stemware.

And there’d be tortilla strips and guacamole on the coffee table and Dylan on the stereo and I’d tell him how much frickin’ work it is to type his name every time I have to mention him...


I Must Be Fine... or Not

I went to bed just before five in the morning, cuddled up behind Nettl, and fell asleep F-A-S-T. I’d worked all night on her website and also did a little fine-tuning on her weblog, mostly because, since the sinus infection-slash-conjunctivitis hit me, I haven’t been able to sleep enough. Every time I lay down for a short little nap, I end up sleeping like it’s night time. Fortunately, that seems to have passed now and I feel great. I’m finally getting to all the things that have been piling up around here. So I’m sleeping, right? Nettl, Joel, and the kids leave without a bit of it registering in my kipped out brain...



I have no choice. There is no food in the house, laundry is piling up, I need a shower. In the morning I will feel better and I will get this stuff done. I’m tired of laying about, tired of not having hot meals, tried of dirty hair. At least I changed the bed linens today. Gack! Enough is enough. Besides, I want to go to the library and get something to read. Meanwhile…


Good News to Report

Yesterday was a rough one for me health-wise, but I’m happy to report that I’m feeling very well now and my eyes aren’t bothering me a bit, outside of being just a little swollen and sore. Nettl was my angel of mercy all day and it is because of her tender care that I’m feeling practically back to my usual self while she enjoys some well-deserved sleep. The kids are with their dad for the weekend; they come home tomorrow afternoon...

Farktake on Verbosity

During a recent web trek during which I looked for words we don’t hear much anymore, I kept slamming into the concrete wall of our dumbed-down society. There’s a lot of reverse snobbery out there. Site after site warned me that if I have a healthy vocabulary, and I’m not too intimidated to use it, I’ll be judged as trying to sound clever, or impressive, or of trying to insult others with my “Ten-dollar words”. Folks, these words of wisdom came from sites that give pointers to people who want to write...


Happy Saturday

Here’s a Saturday morning topic:
  1. Does your home have a junk drawer?
  2. What is the last thing you put in there?
  3. Does anyone ever clean or organize it?


TNIF! (Thank Nettl It's Friday)

Thank Nettl it’s Friday. When she started getting Friday afternoons off a few weeks ago, we decided we’d take that time to be together without the demands of family. We like simple, practical things really. Lunch at Leo’s Chinese, coffee at Hastings’ Hard Back Cafe while perusing books, taking leftover bread heels to Theta Pond on campus to feed the ducks and swans, a trip to the public library, that sort of thing.

Because I’m unwell, I didn’t feel like going out today (although I wanted too very badly), and when Nettl came home, she found me lost in dreams while on the telly the characters of Star Trek TNG struggled to survive an ongoing lack of REM sleep.

What did my darling Wanze do? She placed a delivery order from Leo’s. We enjoyed Pu-Pu trays and she’d ordered a hot and sour soup for me. Brava süsse Weibchen! And now, I’m going to use my eye drops and digest my lunch while trying to get lost in sleep for as long as this misery continues.


Yo-Ho, Me Maties!

It was one of those days. Not really bad, just not great. But I got through it and am hoping to feel better when I get up. If not, I think She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is going to make me to go see Dr. English.

We now think I may have conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pinkeye. Does that mean I’ll get to wear an eye patch and look like a pirate? ARR!


The Joy Of People

I love people. I’ve always been a people person. People give me a kick and make life worth all the trouble, even though it’s often people who cause the trouble. I don’t care who they are, what they think of me, or what they do or say, I just plain love ‘em. Mostly though, people make me laugh. I love our sense of humor; what a gift! I love our resilience and our adaptability, the way our brains tick and the way we need each other...

6 Questions

1. Why did you get out of bed this morning? The phone rang.

2. What was your first thought?
“G__ d__ phone!”

3. What were the first five things you did? 1) Told the telemarketer, “No thanks.”
2) Went to the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee.
3) Went to the bathroom.
4) Took allergy meds.
5) Checked email.

4. If you could choose anything to do with your day, what would it be? Get on a non-stop flight to Vienna.

5. If you could choose anything to be today, what would you be? Allergy-free.

6. What did you do today for someone else? I didn’t bitch out the telemarketer.