Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Usually the sewer raccoon news editor adopts the third person in his dissertations, but this time I have to go with I have. Two daughters, and they're always on my mind. Sometimes, because they are so similar, though they have different mothers, I use their names interchangably. That shouldn't be, except that I am now 72 (AGE, yeah, that's the ticket!)and merely speak a name, while simultaneously focusing on one of them or the other, totally, in my wobbly mind.
They are of course individuals, and although they chuckle at my misnomers, I know they would prefer that I would call them by their right names, which I do very much of the time. Almost ALL the time.
Something happened in my luck of the progeny draw. I received two girls, thanks to their mothers and Providence, who are really very similar in disposition, temperament, likes, dislikes, looks and etceteras many.
Today I honor these girls very incompletely, by slicing cross-sections for raccoon news readers' microscope sliding, cross-sections, because as much as I love them, I regrettably cannot get my arms around them fully. It is not possible for me, especially Laurie, 20-some years a resident of Alaska:
[Just a cross-section]
She has lived with her husband Phil and their two girls Grace and Ruth, in Wasilla, Alaska. Her Facebook entry says:
"I'm really enjoying my job at Family Promise Mat-Su. Together with area churches we care for families in our Valley who have no home. Folks stay at the churches overnight and during the day receive case management to become self sufficient again. It's a blessing to be able to minister to the parents and children during this very difficult time in their lives. My own family is number one, though. Two terrific daughters in their teens and my husband is a hard working ex-Irondog snowmachine racer. We have a quirky husky-X dog, Tak, and a rather mature, feisty kitty (by that name). We live in the outskirts of a little town in Alaska, with our roots in the Midwest. Very thankful for email's invention for family contact 3,000 miles away. Family Promise shelters many homeless families using church buildings here in the Mat-Su Valley." Check out our website: http://www.familypromisematsu.org/
A recent newspaper article in Alaska mentioned Laurie's benevolent vocation, as follows:
From the Alaskan Frontiersman:
By J.J. HarrierPublished on Saturday, March 1, 2008 11:03 PM AKST FrontiersmanPALMER — Marija Spaic is a high school senior in the Interior Distance Education Program of Alaska (IDEA).In February, Spaic and hundreds of other Alaska home-schoolers signed up for Close Up, a school program that takes students on an annual trip to Juneau each year to observe how government and state officials do their jobs. While there, Spaic and fellow Mat-Su Valley IDEA students Caleb Hein and Alison Bilafer approached their legislators about a community project. The three Valley home-school students wanted to help the homeless. Spaic, Hein and Bilafer began by raising funds for transportation for Family Promise Mat-Su, a small church-based nonprofit organization in Wasilla (where Laurie works) with a mission to help low-income and homeless families become independent and self-sustaining. As part of the trio’s project, they’ve organized a coin drive at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Wasilla from 4 to 7 p.m. March 7 and again March 14.Family Promise Mat-Su, part of the First Presbyterian Church of Wasilla, is committed to helping low-income families achieve lasting independence. Since 2005, the small agency has provided safe shelter, meals and support for low-income and homeless families through programs designed to redress the underlying causes of homelessness.Spaic, 17, who lives with her family in Palmer, moved to Alaska from Chicago five years ago. She has been home-schooled since seventh grade.“Where we lived, it was nearly impossible to homeschool down there,” Spaic said. “It was my parents’ decision (to homeschool), but it’s not like they forced me. I really enjoy it. Personally, it allows me to go as far as I want with certain things and there are no boundaries or things holding you back.”As a student gleaning her education from various methods of self-teaching, Spaic excelled. She recently was named one of more than 2,600 candidates in the United States for the 2008 Presidential Scholars Program for her exceptional performance on SAT exam essays, self-assessments, school recommendations and impressive transcripts.Interested in aspects of government, Spaic and other distance-education students signed up for Alaska’s Close Up to meet and network with other students and teachers in Juneau for five days as they learned about the three branches of state government and how they work together to govern Alaska.Alaska’s Close Up is the nation’s largest civic education organization geared for middle and high school students. Participants are educated in the democratic process, equipping them to become active citizens, make responsible decisions about the civic affairs of their community and country, and gain an understanding of the way the system works.For the three Valley students, it was a trip of a lifetime and an opportunity to get ideas for their community project.“We get to see government close up,” Spaic said. “For me, it was interesting to see how decisions in our state are made.”Spaic was instructed to establish a community project that would better the lives of the people in the Mat-Su Valley. She was grouped with Hein and Nilafer and began examining options.At first, the three teens considered constructing a pathway between the Palmer Public Library and Mat-Su Borough buildings. Then they roundtabled starting up a food bank in the area, as well as adding a paved bike path along the Palmer-Wasilla Highway. The vision of their small group had big ideas.“We realized there was a lot of options involved in this project, so we tried to keep it simple,” Spaic said.Hein, 17, an IDEA school junior, met with Spaic earlier this year to map out a plan of action. At his family’s church, Hein stumbled across literature regarding Family Promise, a newly established local nonprofit organization that has been crusading this past year to help get low-income and homeless families back on their feet.Family Promise Mat-Su was having difficulty raising funds to help troubled residents get to and from work, school and other destinations, and was looking for help.That’s where the students and their coin drive come in.Money raised from the trio will go to bus and taxi services that will take homeless kids from the shelter churches to their schools of origin — the schools they attended before they became homeless. Parents looking for work are transported to and from job agencies as well. The Mat-Su Borough School District plays a large part in funding as well.“They’re human beings like we are and need things like we do,” Hein said. “So I said I’d like to help them out and brought the idea back to the group.”In January, Spaic and Hein joined with Palmer IDEA student Alison Bilafer, 15, and began researching. Family Promise provided the necessary tools to get the eager group started, including an informal meeting with some of the families they would be helping.For the past six weeks, the three have met to work on a plan of action, which involves setting up a coin donation booth at Sportsman Warehouse in Wasilla.
Laurie (Dix) Kari, a Family Promise Mat-Su coordinator, said she is surprised and grateful the IDEA students have taken the lead to help the agency’s cause.“Transportation is our main cost and what we usually need the most help with,” Kari said. “I think it’s really neat they’re helping, and especially that they are doing this incognito. I’m really blessed.”“Family Promise had found that this year they had little money for transportation funds for families in need,” Spaic said. “Things like gas vouchers, taxi money, bus fare and basic transportation to get to their schools and jobs. So we wanted to donate what we raised to that part of Family Promise.”Kari said Family Promise Mat-Su allocated roughly $5,000 for transportation costs alone in 2008, up $1,000 from last year’s expenditures.“It is something we’ve seen become a reality in helping families get through the day,” Kari said.In Juneau last week, state representatives were offering the three students advice on ways to get the word out about their fundraising project.“Rep. [Carl] Gatto and Sen. Lyda Green said we should have signs along the highway or attractions inside, like a candy bowl,” Hein said. “They also mentioned we should have someone sitting inside of a cardboard box for a visual. They gave us good ideas.”With a week to plan their big fundraising effort, the three students said there’s more to be learned from their school project and there are people in the community who could use a friendly and helping hand. For them, humility comes first.“I’ve never done anything like this before, so it’s a great learning experience,” Spaic said. “It feels good to know I’d contributed back to my community. Since I’ve lived here I definitely see a need to help the people living without homes. I’m learning a lot and we haven’t even raised the money yet.”Contact J.J. Harrier at email@example.com or 352-2269.
[Just a cross-section]
Erin just graduated from Lawrence University with a bachelor's degree in history with a music minor. She is home for a month before going to grad school at UW Madison. She will pursue her goal of library science, archival.
Erin is a gifted musician on clarinet and piano. She played with the Lawrence Conservatory wind ensemble and symphonic orchestra, and before that played with the Waukesha South HS symphony and robust Jazz I band.
When the accompanying photo was taken, last night, she had just returned from playing a fund-raiser concert for China earthquake victims. Her Waukesha South HS music friend, Tina Liu, graduate of Harvard and still rising, asked Erin a week ago if she would be willing to accompany a 14 year old cello prodigy with symphonic credentials at a concert benefit to gather funds for Chinese earthquake victims.
Raccoon editor's late mother as a young and beautiful woman.
The old snapshot, taken from her 1920'-30's photo album - one of those small pictures with the jagged edges and held down by black corner brackets - was probably taken with a Brownie.
This picture cropping emerged from a photo Emailed to a friend this morning & reminded me of a church window here in Waukesha I once photographed and likewise cropped, for emphasis on the upturned eyes of the woman. This stained glass window with the anchor (bottom photo) was later determined to be a Christian symbol of hope.
The neck-tied picture of the beautiful young woman was certainly unposed, while she leaned against a jitney. Snapped by a box camera - and years later transferred by today's technology to a washable iron-on image and now worn by her son in his later years.............
There must be something poetic in that, but Idon't see it.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
A girl, former typewriter operator now authoring on the silent keyboard, writes that she remembers back to the early days of our mutual residency in the Waukesha sewer raccoon district - we're still here - when she could hear our clacking, mechanical, be-ribboned typewriter pounding out the YIBAWEAN newsletter, a forerunner of today's blogs.
Hearing that foggy, from-the-mists-of-history recollection corroborates that it really happened. Unconsigned to the internet, the hairless hoarse voice was manually typed and archived, in the basement, below grade, just like the sewer raccoons themselves, who sometimes, like YIBAWE!, come up for air.
Incidentally, speaking of air:
The raccoons I've talked to lately say they would willingly plumb the fetid arteries of the San Francisco sewage system; would send a group of young coons on a cross-country mission trip to stand at the side of the dark flowing Styxian streams armed with furious-working paddles, to urgently help move "things" toward their ultimate conclusion; their END, at the newly renamed George W. Bush sewage plant.
daughter of SR News editor, Erin Kate Dix, was capable of rendering a decent raccoon. She was to go on to greater artistic feats, posted about the News headquarters even now.
Erin cleaned out her bedroom closet the other day, having graduated from college, and she came across, in the seething Fibber McGee enclosure, this drawing of a raccoon she did in 6th Grade. It hasn't been seen since then, but now,.... NOW, this early drawing of racoonery takes on larger meaning.
The token of Erin's awareness of raccoons when skipping to and from elementary school - the same one, Hadfield, that her father attended - is a compliment to her present incarnation, a harmonious liver (albeit temporary) in the midst of Waukesha sewer raccoonteurs.
A good life to her !
The picture is going to get a frame.
Friday, June 27, 2008
by Shay Harris
There is a particular country road that I love to travel, especially in the spring. The views are spectacular in all seasons, but in the spring, I meet Persephone there and feel the surety that growth and fertility will prevail after the tedious long days of winter. Highway 138 is quirky: from one day to the next it doesn’t seem like the same road, because the surrounding land continually transforms. The rolling road and ever-changing horizon keep me riveted, aware that I should be watchful for change in every aspect of my life. The faces of the fields, pastures, and farmlands teach fluidity and responsiveness to the elements and the progression of the seasons. Rigidity is softened in the presence of earthy simplicity. The metaphor is plain to me and I delight in Nature's persistent coaching, which reliably instills hope and strength.
Every time I travel that way, I witness simple wonders that sometimes bring me to tears: the uncountable shades of green; the eyes’ pleasure center responding to certain greens in the spring fields; the morning horizon, with a robin’s egg blue sky and new sunlight saturating every particle of life, including me.
Early in June, translucent green tips of new corn erupt in elaborate rows that submit to the earth's curves. Precise whorls, zigzags, and labyrinthine patterns on beautiful Black women’s heads are miniatures of the vast fields of corn rows along this particular road. Persephone adorns herself in the most elaborate ways. Aphrodite and Oshun have begun their seductions. The beauty takes my breath away and calls libido and inspiration to action.
Late in July when the fields have gathered height, the energy of Corn Beings rolls along with my car as I pass through their territory. Sometimes the corn presence puts me into a sort of time warp and I have a hard time driving. Cornfields — not only plants — have consciousness and a sense of purpose. Corn recognizes kindred spirits and calls to us like a siren to a seafarer. Be careful. Corn knows nothing about steering tons of steel at 50 mph on a hill-bound curve. Corn only knows sprouting, growth, life, and transformation. If I give in to the windswept whispers of the Corn Beings, well, let's just say that my destiny will be altered. I want to be able to pull over and just watch and breathe, but my purpose on this highway is driven by my work schedule, and people will be upset if I dawdle and arrive late.
The road is hilly, curvy, and elevated so that lush verdant farmlands lie across the earth looking like a colorful quilt that's been tossed across a grand bed. I do not really think of this part of Wisconsin as having so many elevations, but on these rises, I can see 35 miles in each direction. Near the crest of a hill, the road seems to end in midair — like the steep hills in San Francisco or Seattle. I keep driving forward knowing the road will reappear and keep me moving on. The road is a lot like life with a big L. Sometimes it's impossible to see what's ahead. Sometimes what looks like a dead end is an illusion. You just have to keep moving forward because the next bend in the road could produce spectacular life events.
A friend once told me that to spend time and energy considering all the bad things that could happen, I must commit the same amount of time and energy considering all the wonderful things that want to happen. Traveling 138 is true to that exhortation. Just when the road seems about to end, it always offers another breathtaking scene. For as long as I have traveled this particular road, I've never memorized it — and I've never had to turn around or stop. I guess the secret is that the road is less important than the territory it bifurcates.
There is comfort in knowing that when I am traveling Highway 138, the fields — the very soil, the tree lines and habitats, the red tail hawks and cumulus clouds, all of it — feel like a part of me. And I savor the sensory language that makes me a part of it, too. Early in the mornings, sunrise on my left, haze still clinging earthwards, I am energized and prepared by the numinous land for a day of uncertain ends. On my way home, sunset on my left, my mind and my body are eased by the flow of green and deep earth browns, the fecund smells, and the softening light, and I know the soybeans and wheat and corn have grown since my last transit. A holy sense of appreciation for life with a big L rises through my body — just like the holy sense of growth and fecundity that remains constant in the terrain surrounding this particular road.
landscape, courtesy of George M. Bosela.
corn field, courtesy of Kenn Kiser.
Shay, courtesy of Boye Nagle
"The fog creeps in
Little cat feet:
She has a bigger foot in
the 17 year old cat’s
but said cat will eventually
Not today, not tonight,
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The SR News plans to obtain multiple copies of the $11.95 paperback version as gifts for friends. Also obtainable through Amazon.
Watch for more writing from Terry,
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Backed by a Dutch millionaire named Stanley August Miesegaes, vocalist, pianist and ex-drummer Rick Davies (born Richard Davies, July 22, 1944 in Swindon, Wiltshire, England) used newspaper advertising in Melody Maker to recruit an early version of the band in August 1969, an effort which recruited vocalist/guitarist and keyboardist Roger Hodgson (born Charles Roger Pomfret Hodgson, March 21, 1950 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England). Other members of this proto-Supertramp included Richard Palmer (guitar, balalaika, vocals) (born Richard Jeffrey Charles Palmer-James, 11 June 1947, in Bournemouth, Dorset) and Robert Millar (percussion, harmonica) (born 2 February 1950). Initially, Roger Hodgson sang and played bass guitar (and, on the side, guitar, cello and flageolet). The band was called Daddy from August 1969 to January 1970, at which time this was changed to Supertramp, a name taken from W.H. Davies' book, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, published in 1908.
They were one of the last groups to be signed to the UK branch of A&M Records. The first album, Supertramp, was released in July 1970 in the UK only (it was first issued in the US in 1977). Although it was very interesting, it proved to be a "piece of crap" as Richard Palmer described it. However, they were able to earn a slot on the bill of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, which was headlined by the likes of The Doors, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix. Richard Palmer abruptly quit six months after the album's release. Robert Millar suffered a nervous breakdown shortly afterwards. For the next album, Indelibly Stamped, released in June 1971 (in both UK and US), Frank Farrell (bass) (born in 1947 in Birmingham, West Midlands), Kevin Currie (percussion) (born in Liverpool, Merseyside) and Dave Winthrop (flute and saxophone) (born 27 November 1948, in New Jersey, USA) replaced Millar and Palmer, while Roger Hodgson switched to guitar. "Indelibly Stamped" featured rocking Beatlesque tunes, with vocal harmonies similar to Simon and Garfunkel songs (Davies now serving as the band's second lead singer, alongside Hodgson, who suggested that the band should have two lead vocalists), a more commercial approach and eye-catching cover artwork. Supertramp had established themselves as a "cult" band. Sales, however, failed to improve and sold even less than their debut. In early 1972, Miesegaes withdrew his support from the band after paying off debts. All members gradually quit except Hodgson and Davies.
(These two first albums were later reissued during Supertramp's popularity peak and have maintained a certain appeal with die-hard fans. The first album is melancholic and quieter and the songs are spread out more than they would be later on. Roger Hodgson once called it his favourite Supertramp album (which later became Crime of the Century). The second album is their most traditionally rock album, and certainly their heaviest sound.)
Initial success and breakthrough
In late 1972, after being persuaded to carry on, Davies and Hodgson went on an extensive search for replacements, which first brought aboard Dougie Thomson (born Douglas Campbell Thomson, March 24, 1951 in Rutherglen, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Scotland) (bass), who played with the band almost a year before auditions resumed to complete the line-up. In 1973, auditions restarted and brought in Bob Siebenberg (born Robert Layne Siebenberg, October 31, 1949 in Glendale, California, USA, drums, and credited for several years as Bob C. Benberg, the story goes, to stay under the radar of British Immigration), and John Helliwell (born John Anthony Helliwell, February 15, 1945 in Todmorden, Yorkshire, England) (saxophone, other woodwinds, occasional keyboards, backing vocals), joining original members Davies and Hodgson and the newly brought in Thomson, completing the line-up that would create the group's defining albums. Hodgson would also begin playing keyboards in the band in addition to guitar, usually acoustic and electric pianos on his own compositions. His inspirational piano method would become a staple in the band, as heard on "Dreamer," "The Logical Song," "Take the Long Way Home," and many others, and would earn him the nickname "hammerheads" in the band. The classic Supertramp keyboard is a Wurlitzer electric piano (model 200A) with its unmistakable bright sound and biting distortion when played hard.
Crime of the Century, released in September 1974, began the group's run of critical and commercial successes, hitting number four in Britain, supported by the iconic countercultural opening track "School", and the top-10 single "Dreamer". Its B-side "Bloody Well Right" hit the US Top 40 in May 1975. Siebenberg would later opine that he thought the band hit its artistic peak on this, their third album, though their greatest commercial success would come later.
The band continued with Crisis? What Crisis? released in November 1975. It achieved good though not overwhelming commercial success. The following album, Even in the Quietest Moments, released in April 1977 spawned their hit single Give a Little Bit, and the FM radio staple Fool's Overture. During this period, the band eventually relocated to the United States and moved steadily from the progressive styles of their early albums towards a more song-oriented pop sound.
This trend reached its zenith on their most popular album, Breakfast in America in March 1979, which reached Number 3 in the UK and Number 1 in the United States and spawned four successful singles, "The Logical Song", "Take the Long Way Home", "Goodbye Stranger" and "Breakfast in America". The album has since sold over 18 million copies worldwide.
The run of successes was capped with 1980s Paris, a 2-LP live album, in which the band stated its goal of improving on the studio versions of their songs. Instead of focusing on songs from the hugely successful Breakfast in America, it included nearly every song from Crime of the Century, another testament to the importance of that album in the group's development.
Though Supertramp's songs later in the band's career were credited to both Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies, each wrote separately. Hodgson and Davies' differing singing and songwriting styles provided these albums with an interesting counterpoint, contrasting Davies' determined blues-rockers and songs of broken relationships ("Another Man's Woman", "From Now On", "Goodbye Stranger") with Hodgson's wistful introspection ("Dreamer", "School", "Fool's Overture", "The Logical Song"), but Hodgson felt constrained by the arrangement and left the band after the tour for their next album, ...Famous Last Words... (1982) which contained the Top 20 hit "It's Raining Again" and the Top 40 hit "My Kind of Lady". There was much speculation behind the reasons why Roger Hodgson left Supertramp. In an interview in the 90's Hodgson stated that family was the main reason he left the band. He also went on to say that his wife at the time and Rick Davies' wife did not get along very well and it became a big conflict for the group. He said there were never any real personal or professional problems between him and Rick Davies as some people thought.
Having left the band in 1983, Hodgson began a solo career, his biggest hit "Had A Dream (Sleeping With the Enemy)" coming from his first solo album In the Eye of the Storm, in 1984.
The Davies-led Supertramp soldiered on, releasing Brother Where You Bound the same year. This included a Top 30 hit single, "Cannonball", along with the title track, a 16-minute exposition on Cold War themes highlighted by guitar solos from Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. The album reached #21 on the US charts. 1987's Free as a Bird included more straightforward Davies rockers, including "I'm Beggin' You", which reached Number 1 on the US dance charts, a curious accomplishment for an "art rock" band.
After 1987's tour, Thomson left the band due to a disagreement with Davies about the use of Hodgson-penned songs during live performances. One of the conditions of allowing Davies to continue with the name Supertramp was that no Hodgson songs would be performed. Hodgson was dismayed to attend a concert and find that the band was performing his songs such as "Take the Long Way Home" and "The Logical Song." These songs were usually sung by Crowded House's Mark Hart (Hodgson's replacement on stage), and the Scottish bass player was against this move. When Supertramp reunited in 1997, Thomson declined an invitation to return and eventually quit playing for good.
In 1993, Davies approached Hodgson in a failed attempt to bring him back into the band. In interviews published on his and other fan forums, Hodgson later claimed he had been more than willing to rejoin Supertramp, but only if Davies' wife, Susan, abstained from interfering in band affairs (an issue before Hodgson left). Sue Davies was in Artist Relations at A&M (welcoming the band and helping them settle) when Supertramp moved to Los Angeles in the mid-70s and, as the romance between Davies and her blossomed, she quit A&M and started managing the band. Having to deal with two Davieses instead of one increased Hodgson's frustrations and prompted his departure. Davies declined to exclude his wife from his professional affairs, and Hodgson never heard from him again.
In 1997, Davies re-formed Supertramp with former members Helliwell, Siebenberg and Hart, plus several new musicians. The result was Some Things Never Change, a polished effort which echoed the earlier Supertramp sound. Ironically, that same year saw the release of Rites of Passage, Roger Hodgson's first solo album since Hai Hai in 1987. Rites of Passage was a live album featuring both new works from Roger as well as three Supertramp songs ("Take the Long Way Home", "The Logical Song" and "Give a Little Bit").
In an ironic reversal two years later, the re-formed Supertramp released a live album, It Was The Best Of Times while Roger released a studio album. Open The Door. Another live album, Is Everybody Listening?, a recording of Supertramp at the Royal Albert Hall in 1975, was released in 2001.
Early 2002 saw the release of another album by Davies and Supertramp, Slow Motion (sold direct in North America). Another attempt to reunite the band, including Hodgson, fell apart in 2005.
Rick Davies has since left California and resides in Long Island (East Hampton).
In the past few years, Roger Hodgson has donated Give A Little Bit to raise funds for Tsunami Relief efforts and other causes. It's been used by the Red Cross, United Way, the Make a Wish Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey show requested the use of Give A Little Bit as part of their ”Gift of Giving Back Program“. In the UK it was used during the "ITV Telethon".
2006 was a busy year for Roger Hodgson. Throughout the summer of 2006, he has been touring Europe (France, Belgium, Portugal, Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany), as well as the US (St. Paul, MN) and Canada (fall 2006) and his DVD "Take The Long Way Home – Live In Montreal" has gone Platinum and to the #1 spot in Canada, in its first 7 weeks of release.
He has also been asked to mentor Canadian Idol’s Top 7 contestants, alongside Dennis DeYoung (a founding member of the group Styx).
In March 2006, Roger Hodgson was honoured for his song Give A Little Bit at the 23rd Annual ASCAP awards in Los Angeles. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers gave the award in acknowledgment of the song being one of the 50 most played songs of 2005.
Roger Hodgson appeared solo at the Diana Memorial Concert at Wembley Stadium on 1st July 2007. The band were one of the late Princess of Wales' favourites.
In 2008, Supertramp's music will be featured in the film movie adaptation of Irvine Welsh's best-selling novel Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance.
He has a wonderful way of cropping his photos down to bring in remote details. In this instance, he has caught the simple design of a pick 'em yourself berry farm's carrying racks. These racks are utterly but beautifully rudimentary, and we can picture stacks and stacks of them at the ready when the pickers show up to take their hayrides out into the fields.
The pickers ride out with their own racks, and the take-home cardboard boxes rest within the carriers. Bent metal verticals, and two nails hold the wooden handle securely on.
The berry season is now at hand, we are told in the paper. The objects of the harvesters' delight are juicy and red. They are ready! They can be practically be eaten alive, so ripe are they!
Watch for Jeffrey Phelps' by-line in the J-S. Pictures and close-ups to remember!
Seeing people glued to cell phones while walking - or driving - everywhere;
seeing people lugging their ubiquitous plastic water bottles?
That is a difficult question, for we hate both almost equally. It just makes you wonder how folks got along with only payphones on the corner, or their telephone back home on the foyer table.
As to the omnipresent plastic water bottle, taken also everywhere, even into church to stave off dehydration during sermons - tucked into purses, computer lap-top backpacks, on the car seat............
what the hell is going on?
Don't people realize how ridulous they look?
By JERRY SEINFELD
Published: June 24, 2008
THE honest truth is, for a comedian, even death is just a premise to make jokes about. I know this because I was on the phone with George Carlin nine days ago and we were making some death jokes. We were talking about Tim Russert and Bo Diddley and George said: “I feel safe for a while. There will probably be a break before they come after the next one. I always like to fly on an airline right after they’ve had a crash. It improves your odds.”
I called him to compliment him on his most recent special on HBO. Seventy years old and he cranks out another hour of great new stuff. He was in a hotel room in Las Vegas getting ready for his show. He was a monster.
You could certainly say that George downright invented modern American stand-up comedy in many ways. Every comedian does a little George. I couldn’t even count the number of times I’ve been standing around with some comedians and someone talks about some idea for a joke and another comedian would say, “Carlin does it.” I’ve heard it my whole career: “Carlin does it,” “Carlin already did it,” “Carlin did it eight years ago.”
And he didn’t just “do” it. He worked over an idea like a diamond cutter with facets and angles and refractions of light. He made you sorry you ever thought you wanted to be a comedian. He was like a train hobo with a chicken bone. When he was done there was nothing left for anybody.
But his brilliance fathered dozens of great comedians. I personally never cared about “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” or “FM & AM.” To me, everything he did just had this gleaming wonderful precision and originality.
I became obsessed with him in the ’60s. As a kid it seemed like the whole world was funny because of George Carlin. His performing voice, even laced with profanity, always sounded as if he were trying to amuse a child. It was like the naughtiest, most fun grown-up you ever met was reading you a bedtime story.
I know George didn’t believe in heaven or hell. Like death, they were just more comedy premises. And it just makes me even sadder to think that when I reach my own end, whatever tumbling cataclysmic vortex of existence I’m spinning through, in that moment I will still have to think, “Carlin already did it.”
(Jerry Seinfeld is a writer and a comedian.)
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This is one of those times. It's hard to keep on the subject of raccoons alone, But here's something not even a self-respecting raccoon would have said.
In the US News and World Report this morning:
All the Day's Political News From Newspapers, TV, Radio, and Magazines
MEMORANDUM FOR DAVID DIX SR.
SUBJECT: TODAY'S POLITICAL NEWS
DATE: TUESDAY, JUNE 24, 2008 - 8:00 AM
McCain Adviser: Terror Attack Would Benefit Candidate A top advisor for Sen. John McCain is causing him some media grief. The Washington Post reports this morning that Charlie Black, in an interview with Fortune, said "a fresh terrorist attack 'certainly would be a big advantage to him.'" Black also "said that the December assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, while 'unfortunate,' helped McCain win the Republican primary by focusing attention on national security." Black said, "His knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." The comment was noted on all three network news programs, with ABC World News saying, "And Charles Black, a senior adviser to John McCain, is quoted today as saying a terrorist attack on US soil would 'be a big advantage to his candidate.' McCain said he could not imagine why Black would say this, and he strenuously disagreed." The CBS Evening News also carried the quote, but showed McCain saying, "If he said that, and I do not know the context, I strenuously disagree." NBC Nightly News added that Black "said, tonight, that he regretted making the comments and that they were inappropriate." The Washington Times adds that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign "called the comment a 'big disgrace,' and Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said that by even thinking of an attack in political terms, Mr. Black was practicing 'the worst of the Rove-Bush fear playbook.'"
Monday, June 23, 2008
Yes, in high school in the 50's we used to wear our belts off-center. It was cool, we thought. Ever so often we'll don a belt at first off-center just because it turns out to be off (-center). Hey, we think, that looks sort of cool. Maybe we should leave it that way. Off-center.
Being off-center in those McCarthy era days was daring. We wore leather jackets and blue air force field jackets, and olive drab army field jackets. Our cars were lowered and with dual exhausts. At our coolest, we also wore angora sweaters (if we were girls), v-neck sweaters with T shirts underneath, white bucks and saddle shoes, and red, red lipstick + bobby socks (mostly the girls).
When the raccoon news saw the picture above in Sunday's Times it all came flooding back. That was the way to wear a belt. Jackie Gleason was hip. We think we should go back to that.
And, heaven forbid we should ever - in any age - be thought of as anything but off-center. And to the left................
As the 4th of July 2008 nears, this editor of a piss-ant electronic blog toy remembers his father and his three uncles. They served the United States in World War II, and they miraculously all came back. They were men on a certain track in the 1940’s of truly defending their country. No question about it.
How would they feel about George Bush’s murderous war-faring adventures? That is an open question among some of their descendents who are on oppposing sides. But the debate has a different hue now that it did, say, in 2003, when we invaded Iraq. (This editor strongly opposed the horrendous exercise then, and still, only more-so, does.)
Times change, and with them, their demands.
Ah, for the time when the red, white and blue flew proudly and was the envy of all. There is much re-building to be done around the world.
But this 4th, as always, the members of the far-flung Dix Clan, of which this editor, - as the oldest - is the current "grand patriarch," can and shall unite in paying due respect to our fore-fathers, the Four Fathers.
Published: June 22, 2008
THE Iraq war’s defenders like to bash the press for pushing the bad news and ignoring the good. Maybe they’ll be happy to hear that the bad news doesn’t rate anymore. When a bomb killed at least 51 Iraqis at a Baghdad market on Tuesday, ending an extended run of relative calm, only one of the three network newscasts (NBC’s) even bothered to mention it.
The only problem is that no news from Iraq isn’t good news — it’s no news. The night of the Baghdad bombing the CBS war correspondent Lara Logan appeared as Jon Stewart’s guest on “The Daily Show” to lament the vanishing television coverage and the even steeper falloff in viewer interest. “Tell me the last time you saw the body of a dead American soldier,” she said. After pointing out that more soldiers died in Afghanistan than Iraq last month, she asked, “Who’s paying attention to that?”
Her question was rhetorical, but there is an answer: Virtually no one. If you follow the nation’s op-ed pages and the presidential campaign, Iraq seems as contentious an issue as Vietnam was in 1968. But in the country itself, Cindy vs. Michelle, not Shiites vs. Sunnis, is the hotter battle. This isn’t the press’s fault, and it isn’t the public’s fault. It’s merely the way things are.
In America, the war has been a settled issue since early 2007. No matter what has happened in Iraq since then, no matter what anyone on any side of the Iraq debate has had to say about it, polls have consistently found that a majority of Americans judge the war a mistake and want out. For that majority, the war is over except for finalizing the withdrawal details. They’ve moved on without waiting for the results of Election Day 2008 or sampling the latest hectoring ad from moveon.org.
Perhaps if Americans had been asked for shared sacrifice at the war’s inception, including a draft, they would be in 1968-ish turmoil now. But they weren’t, and they aren’t. In 2008, the Vietnam analogy doesn’t hold. The center does.
The good news for Democrats — and the big opportunity for Barack Obama — is that John McCain and the war’s last cheerleaders don’t recognize that immutable reality. They’re so barricaded in their own Vietnam bunker that they think the country is too. It’s their constant and often shrill refrain that if only those peacenik McGovern Democrats and the “liberal media” acknowledged that violence is down in Iraq — as indeed it is, substantially — voters will want to press on to “victory” and not “surrender.” And therefore go for Mr. McCain.
One neocon pundit, Charles Krauthammer, summed up this alternative-reality mind-set in a recent column piously commanding Mr. McCain to “make the election about Iraq” because “everything is changed,” and “we are winning on every front.” The war, he wrote, can be “the central winning plank of his campaign.” (Italics his.)
This hyperventilating wasn’t necessary, because this is what Mr. McCain is already trying to do. His first general election ad, boosted by a large media buy in swing states this month, was all about war. It invoked his Vietnam heroism and tried to have it both ways on Iraq by at once presenting Mr. McCain as a stay-the-course warrior and taking a (timid) swipe at President Bush. “Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war,” Mr. McCain said in his voice-over. That unnamed fool would be our cowboy president, who in March told American troops how he envied their “in some ways romantic” task of “confronting danger.”
But reminding voters of his identification with Iraq, no matter how he spins it, pays no political dividends to Mr. McCain. People just don’t want to hear about it. Last week, the first polls conducted in Pennsylvania and Ohio since the ad began running there found him well behind in both states.
The G.O.P.’s badgering of Mr. Obama about the war is also backfiring. In sync with Mr. McCain, the Republican National Committee unveiled an online clock — “Track How Long Since Obama Was in Iraq!” — only to have Mr. Obama call the bluff by announcing that he will go to both Afghanistan and Iraq before the election. Unless he takes along his own Lieberman-like Jiminy Cricket to whisper factual corrections into his ear, this trip is likely to enhance his stature as a potential commander in chief.
The other whiny line of G.O.P.-McCain attack is to demand incessantly that Mr. Obama stop refusing to recognize the decline in violence in Iraq, stop calling for a hasty troop withdrawal and stop ignoring commanders on the ground in assessing his exit strategy. Here, too, Mr. Obama is calling their bluff, though not nearly as loudly as he will, I suspect, in the debates.
The fact is that Mr. Obama frequently recognizes “the reduction of violence in Iraq” (his words) and has said he is “encouraged” by it. He has never said that he would refuse to consult with commanders on the ground, and he has never called for a precipitous withdrawal. His mantra on Iraq, to the point of tedium, has always been that “we must be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in.” His roughly 16-month timetable isn’t hasty and isn’t “retreat.” As The Economist, a supporter of the war, recently put it, a safer Iraq does not necessarily validate Mr. McCain’s “insistence on America staying indefinitely” and might make Mr. Obama’s 16-month framework “more feasible.”
After all, the point of the surge, as laid out by Mr. Bush, was to buy time for political reconciliation among the Iraqis. The results have been at best spotty, and even the crucial de-Baathification law celebrated by Mr. Bush and Mr. McCain in January remains inoperative. Mr. Obama’s timetable is at least an effort to use any remaining American leverage to concentrate the Iraqi leaders’ thinking. Mr. McCain offers only the status quo: a blank check holding America hostage to fate and ceding the president’s civilian authority over war policy to Gen. David Petraeus and his successors.
Should voters tune in, they’ll also discover that the McCain policy is nonsensical on its face. If “we are winning” and the surge is a “success,” then what is the rationale for keeping American forces bogged down there while the Taliban regroups ominously in Afghanistan? Why, if this is victory, does Mr. McCain keep threatening that “chaos and genocide” will follow our departure? And why should we take the word of a prophet who failed to anticipate the chaos and ethnic cleansing that would greet our occupation?
And exactly how, as Mr. McCain keeps claiming, is an indefinite American occupation akin to our long-term military role in South Korea? The diminution of violence notwithstanding, Iraq is an active war zone. And unlike South Korea, it isn’t asking America to remain to protect it from a threatening neighbor. Iraq’s most malevolent neighbor, Iran, is arguably Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s closest ally. In the most recent survey, in February, only 27 percent of Iraqis said the American presence is improving their country’s security. Far from begging us to stay, some Iraqi politicians, including Mr. Maliki, have been pandering to their own election-year voters by threatening to throw the Yankees out.
Mr. McCain’s sorest Achilles’ heel, of course, is his role in facilitating the fiasco in the first place. Someone in his campaign has figured this out. Go to JohnMcCain.com and, hilariously enough, you’ll find a “McCain on Iraq Timeline” that conveniently begins in August 2003, months after “Mission Accomplished.” Vanished into the memory hole are such earlier examples of the McCain Iraq wisdom as “the end is very much in sight” (April 9, 2003) and “there’s not a history of clashes that are violent between Sunnis and Shiites” (later that same month).
To finesse this embarrassing record, Mr. McCain asks us to believe that the only judgment that matters is who was “right” about the surge, not who was right about our reckless plunge into war. That’s like saying he deserves credit for tossing life preservers to the survivors after encouraging the captain of the Titanic to plow full speed ahead into the iceberg.
But as Lara Logan asked, who’s paying attention to any of this Iraq stuff anyway? That Mr. McCain makes an unpopular and half-forgotten war the centerpiece of his campaign may simply be a default posture — the legacy of his Vietnam service and a recognition that any war, good or bad, is still a stronger suit for him than delving into the details of health care, education, tax policy or the mortgage crisis.
Even so, it leaves him trapped in a Catch-22. If violence continues to subside in Iraq — if, as Mr. McCain has it, we keep “winning” — it will only call more attention to the internal contradictions of a policy that says success in Iraq should be punished by forcing American troops to stay there indefinitely. And if Iraq reignites, well, so much for “winning.”
Not that the Obama policy is foolproof either. As everyone knows, there are no good options in Iraq. Our best hope for a bipartisan resolution of this disaster may be for a President Obama to appoint Mr. McCain as a special envoy to Baghdad, where he can stay for as long as he needs to administer our withdrawal or 100 years, whichever comes first.
There is a relique of a former day that crosses our desk monthly, The Church Mouse. It is the newsletter of the First Congregational UCC Church in Waukesha WI. You've got to belong to get it, but subscriptions may be had for a small consideration.
We say relique, but it is much more than that. The SR News editor is the relique. He has been reading "The Mouse" since the 1940's, and it's been going on even longer than that. In the early days, "The Mouse" was typed and mimeo-ed, and at its earliest it was typed and carboned.
Today The Mouse is run off on computers, by editors Malena and Druid Mike, and the logo has mutated from a real mouse to a computer mouse. It is easy to see how that happened as they both have tales to tell.
Many keep in touch with the Congo, as the church is affectionately known, via their monthly Mouse. Former members are scattered far and wide, but keep up their subscriptions faithfully.
And why not? Connecting the dots is what the Mouse is all about, and in fact, the wife of the SR Editor is at this very moment composing the "Mini-Mouse" which is a page for the children of the church. Connecting dots there takes on a more tangible form for younger minds.
In his lifetime, the SR editor has seen a succession of pastors marching through those pages with their meditations of pith and inspiration.
We won't spoil it for you by discussing the Mouse further. You can get on board through the church website:
Ever so often a REAL mouse, the furry kind, enters the premises, putting mechanical mice to some shame. There may be many real mice, colinies of them, residing in the church furtively, ready to run up pew-sitting women's legs at a moment's notice. The Sewer Raccoon News doesn't know much about them, for it is studying raccoons...........
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Not a seventh-inning stretch -
The First One Of The Day
that nearly overcomes you
When you simultaneously strain
For the unreachable behind you
And whatever may be beyond
Your un-toe-able feet;
As you awaken
After slumbering in one position
Too long, maybe;
Your old body
Into your frayed
but still working wings
For another -
NEW and blessed day
And as it happens,
This unplanned stretch
You, the fortunate one –
On the opposite of a torture rack –
In a comfortable bed
Have got to say
From the bottom of your heart and guts,
Beneath the twisted torpor
Of a still-draped sheet
As bones realign;
Thursday, June 19, 2008
By VERLYN KLINKENBORG
Published: June 19, 2008
And if I had to choose only one moment to remember Charisse by, it would be her silent duet with Astaire in “The Band Wagon.” The song is “Dancing in the Dark,” the setting is Central Park, and, as usual, the overlapping illusions are nearly confounding. There they are — two professional dancers, carefully choreographed and rehearsed, playing two professional dancers dancing spontaneously on a soundstage that is meant to be Central Park, and all the while they are feigning an almost reproachful, amorous awareness of each other that conceals the hard-working awareness of two pros on the job. It was Cyd Charisse’s remarkable gift to move through the hall of mirrors that is the American movie musical and never be caught glancing at herself. VERLYN KLINKENBORG