Monday, August 18, 2014

Richard Cory

With the recent passing of Robin Williams, I was reminded of the poem "Richard Cory," and of a young man I knew forty or so years ago.

First the poem:

“Richard Cory” by Edward Arlington Robinson

Whenever Richard Cory went down town, 
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown, 
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king, 
And admirably schooled in every grace: 
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread:

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, 
Went home and put a bullet through his head. 

The young man I knew–call him Lawrence–was from the days when I taught martial arts at a school back down home. He was a college student, twenty-one, as I recall, showed up for class one day in a new Porsche.

He was tall, fit, blond, blue-eyed, a good-looking kid; and, I found out later, rich. His parents had died in an accident a few years earlier, and left him several million dollars.

He was enthusiastic as a student for the first month or so. Very likable guy. Funny. Smart.

One day, he showed up in a new, Tweety-bird-colored Corvette. 

So, what happened to the Porsche?

Got rid of it.  'Cause, you know, the 'vette gets more women, dude.

You serious?


I just stared at him. Handsome, funny, bright millionaire college kid, and he felt as if he needed a Corvette to get women? I shook my head. Jeez.

A few months later, he stopped coming to class, White-Belt Syndrome, and that was that.

Except a couple months past that, I picked up the newspaper and saw that Lawrence had died in a tragic accident, involving a shotgun. At home.

The story was, he was cleaning it and it went off. That didn't sound right to me–it's kind of hard to accidentally kill yourself with a shotgun.

So I contacted a guy I knew on the local police force and asked him what the deal was.

Suicide. Lawrence put the muzzle under his chin, thumbed the trigger. Messy. One of his relatives had words with the local law, and the story got spun. Better an accident, hey?

When somebody who seems as if he or she has it all takes that route, there's always that wonder: Why would they do that? But depression knows no class, nor does it care about wealth, nor popularity. I was stunned when Richard Jeni killed himself, and again when Robin Williams did. But, you never know. What you see isn't all there is.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Review

So this one is easy: It's a hoot. Go see it.

My son and grandson and I opted for the 2D version, because, save for Avatar, I haven't seen a movie since that 3D benefitted particularly, but we had a fine ole time. 

Funny, silly, whole lot of action, snappy dialog, lovable charters, nasty villains, a giant-tub-of-popcorn experience, about as good a time as you can have at a summer movie. Gonna set a high bar for the rest of the season, this year's Men in Black.

Although I imagine Vin Diesel is going to get a lot of razzing about his voicing of the character Groot. I won't spoil it for you, but you'll know what I'm talking about once you see it. I bet he laughs all the way to the bank ...

I do so hope the the folks doing Star Wars for Disney are paying attention. This is what you need to be doing. Seriously. And not seriously, too ...

Monday, August 04, 2014

Lighter Pockets

Back in the day, we all carried combs. You were a guy, you had one tucked into your hip pocket, at least a basic model, and for a while when grease was really thick, a rattail model, that would let you do some of that sissy-styling, and which could also double as a weapon ...

Pre-hippies, men's hair tended to be full of gunk. There was the greasy kids' stuff, like Wildroot Cream Oil or Brylcreem; the dry-look, like Vitalis, and all manner of other waxy pomades. Go look at a movie made in the thirties, forties, or fifties.

We are talking slicked-down.

Men didn't use hairspray, not Real Men™, but you needed that comb for when you messed it up in a fight, or when the wind blew at Category-5 hurricane force, or when some girl who didn't mind coating her hand in grease ran her fingers through it. 

Then, long hair, which still could stand a combing now and then, came along, and what the hairdressers call "product" mostly went away. Wash it, comb it, you were good for the day, and the pocket comb faded ...

I still have a comb in the bathroom, and I'll use it now and again, but mostly it is just towel-dry and go these days, or, if I'm in a hurry, my wife's hairbrush and her dryer. 

Real Men™ didn't use hair dryers, either, but they do now. If they have any hair left ...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ooh, Shiny!

Some years ago–how many I don't recall, but more than twenty-five and less than thirty-five, my lovely wife bought for me a green fire agate ring at Saturday market. Picked out a stone, and the jeweler lost-waxed it, and came out with a ring I've worn since.

But, in my dotage, I didn't recall that he actually made two rings for me, a second fire agate that was multicolored flashes in a brown matrix. When I got my boulder opal wedding ring, I replaced the fire agate multi and put it away.

Completely forgot about it. Somehow, it wound up in the spare jewelry boxes which migrate dto the gun safe, and today, whilst digging around for something, I came across it. I think maybe I'll wear it for a while ...

It's subtle, you don't see the flashes save under bright light, but I have a thing for fire in stones ...

Broken Eyed Perry

I have been wearing corrective lenses since I was fifteen. Mostly glasses, but I started out wearing those saucer-sized hard contact lenses, then gas perms, then soft ones, fifty years ago. 

Contact lenses in this part of the world in the spring turn yellow from pollen, and working at a computer, they also tend to wear blisters on your eyeballs, so I went back to specs. More trouble than they were worth, contacts.

And no, the Lasix surgery isn't an option, because once presbyopia sets in, you still have to wear glasses for close work anyhow, and what's the point? And there are some side-effects of laying a cutter onto your eye ...

Couple weeks ago, I dropped my current pair of cheaters onto the floor. Onto the carpet, mind you, but even so, the little support bar across the top must have taken the impact and transmitted it to the lenses, and the result you can see if you blow up the image: a pair of tiny cracks radiating from the juncture of frame and support.

For years, I wore eyewear with glass lenses, for fear I would scratch the plastic. First pair of those I tried, I scratched on the way home from collecting them. Seriously.

Eventually, the anti-scratch coatings got better, and I went to the lighter, thinner super-dense plastic, and my nose has been thankful. They weigh about a third as much as glass.

So, cracks, that, like a windshield, were apt to craze and get worse. It was time for my eye exam anyway, and I made an appointment. 

In the good-news-bad-news department, Costco was willing to replace the cracked lenses for free. Thing was, my prescription, which had been stable for five years and essentially the same, had this time, decided to change, so I now needed a stronger one. Which meant that replacing the old glasses was useless. Unless I wanted another back-up pair, of which I already have three.


And while the old glasses were covered, a new prescription would not be. Had to start over.

Ah, well. It's a first-world problem, isn't it? I found a new frame I like, got all the bells and whistles in the Transistion™blended/non-reflective/hard-coated/stops UV lenses, and ordered a second pair of spiffy sunglasses for driving. (The Transition™ lenses, which now go Stevie Wonder-dark a few seconds after you walk outside into the sunshine, are pretty good sunglasses; however, the window glass in your car stops UV light, and that's what makes the transition work, so they don't work in the car unless you put the top down, or stick your head out the window. Plus they don't polarize and take out the glare.)

Went with gold wire-rims this time. In keeping with my policy of shaking such things up every ten or twelve years ...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Excellence ...

Two of the world's best ukulele players together onstage, backed by a majorly-good cellist ...

Neighbors and Dogs

I did a post a year and a half or so ago about a neighbor who has more dog than he can handle. The problem has gotten worse; the old couple who owns the dog,  Zeus, can't collect him when he escapes, and he has become more menacing to passersby when he gets loose.

He fear-barks at people when they try to catch him and get him home, gets snappish, and sooner or later, he is going to bite somebody.

I don't know how often it happens, but it does so often enough that the closer neighbors are all aware of it. My wife and I notice mostly when we are walking our own critters and Zeus comes to harass them. 

Happened yesterday, and it is going to happen again. One of the closer neighbors and I managed to spook Zeus back into the house. 

The elderly woman is, according to the neighbors to whom I've talked, fairly far along in Alzheimer's. She will open the front door and Zeus will streak past her, and if somebody notices, they will try to shoo him home.

The old fellow is gimpy, and on top of trying to care for his ailing spouse, the dog is just too much. The man stands there calling him, yelling "Bad dog!" and berating his wife for opening the door, none of which help. 

What can we do about it? Apparently, nothing. The next door neighbors have called senior services and animal control, and legally, there's not much either can do. Several of us have offered to walk the dog to tire him out, but the old boy isn't having any of that. There aren't any grounds to have the dog removed because he hasn't bitten anybody. 


Eventually, Zeus will chomp on somebody's hand when they try to corral him, or get hit by a car when he darts into the street without looking. Animal control can step in if he bites, but it seems as if there should be something else we can do. I feel for the old couple. And the dog, who isn't living a very happy life, either ...

Monday, July 21, 2014

La Musica!

At the acoustic jam Saturday last, which, because the usual show runner had a gig elsewhere, I wound up leading, one of the players brought a nifty little recorder and captured some of our songs. Here's a SoundCloud link to "Woke Up Dead Blues," written by Yours Truly, and led by same.

Given that we were in a big pub and only the lead singer's voice and instrument were amplified–well, save for the bass player and one kid who brought an electric guitar and the keyboard players–the little mikes picked up the solos pretty well.

How the session works is, a leader gets up, writes the chords on a white board, then starts it off. S/he sings a verse or two, then anybody who wants to take a lead does a solo, then it goes back to the singer. 

We had a pretty good group of singers this time, though my version of "Little Egypt" was flat in a couple of spots when I lost my chord and had to scramble to find it ...

The songs are a little rough in places, it's a bunch of folks who only play together twice a month, if that, and different songs, but there are places where it doesn't sound too bad ...

Here's a partial list of what we did and a link to 'em, various singers, whose names I still don't know. (Michael did the recording, and led several of the songs, and posts on SoundCloud under SgtKashim:

Monday, July 14, 2014

July Set List

Just because ....

July Set List:

Here Comes the Sun - instrumental
Dock of the Bay
Stand By Me
In My Life
Hey, Jude
Brown-eyed Girl
Little Egypt
Let It Be