Snow in Maui!

Any more doubts about climate change?

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Coming Home

It had been months since he had seen his parents and home. The city skyline gradually came into sight after a long flat prairie drive. Suddenly he was passing the familiar landmarks as he entered the outlying district where he used to live. There was the drugstore where he had worked briefly, riding his bike in the deep snow delivering prescriptions. There was the bus stop where his girlfriend had tripped as they once ran for the bus. There was the hospital where his mother had worked and walked blocks to in winter in order to save busfare. There was the little hall where a September Saturday dance had once been and he had been introduced to all his friend’s grade 9 classmates from another school–opening up an entirely new world of amazing possibilities for him.

There were the two streets where he had delivered papers for several years, the building his parents had found him in upstairs when at 5 he wandered off with some strange kids and they showed him how to box, complete with boxing gloves. There was the old store which had a giant cartoon tramp painted on its side, which punned it was a long tramp to the next town. There was the bend in the road where the bowling alley he and his parents had had once bowled in, and the six-storey apartment block they had once lived in–the school a long cold walk across the open sports field in winter.

There was another newer apartment block where a student in a band he used to go see had lived in; a handsome, funny teen who had once charged the Beatles’ plane when it stopped to refuel at the airport–a few years before the student had joined one of the country’s most famous bands (later being fired) and finally being killed as an innocent hiking-passenger in a wild car ride on the same city street late one wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time-night.

There was where the bakery had been before it exploded, killing the baker and others, taking out the rest of the block’s buildings–the bakery he and his new grade 9 friends used to stop at, to eat and comically tear apart loaves of bread on their way home from school–the clothing store where his father had, on credit, bought him dark green leather loafers which never fit right and which finally fell apart–and the barber’s where he had once sat and envied the annual Export A NHL calendars of the Canadiens and Leafs on a facing wall.

Beside the deathly-still vacant lot was the street where, a few houses down, he had gone to in grade 8 with an older teen to see his friend’s uncles’ two Corvettes parked on a driveway–a consummation of his private Route 66 tv show fantasies. And there, further down the main avenue, was the restaurant he had never been in, but which he would finally go into after his 40th school reunion with those same, aged grade 9 friends. And there was the supermarket where his musical friend–now a married, computer expert for another city, had once worked as a bagboy.

He parked the car in the same store’s lot and went in to buy some better quality hamburger. Then he drove across the avenue to the parking lot beside the walk-up near the river where his parents still lived. The same building the big planes passed on their low descents to the airport. His folks were both well and happy to see him, much like the old Corgi cross who slowly got up from her bed. She was obviously very tired and quite ill–‘on her way out’.

After supper, he went to the stove, took out a red saucepan and cooked up some of the hamburger. The dog lay motionless beside him on the floor, her head up, patiently waiting. When the meat was cooked, he put some in her yellow bowl and she limped over and tried to eat. It was the least that he could do, after all this time between, for his close childhood companion.

Later that evening the dog passed away quietly and the family all said goodbye to her peaceful body on the living-room floor. In the long silence that followed that evening, he thought to himself: Everything changes. Everything passes. But inside, he was still glad that he had come home, in time at last, to do one nice, last special thing for his old, never-forgotten friend.

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A Significant Prescient Non-Fiction Book (from 1970)

Way-Way Beyond Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock

Life and lifestyles today–how fast-changing everything is everywhere, all the time. ‘Give us this day our multitudinous daily changes’. The present shocks these are creating are more numbing, distracting, and confuting than anything Toffler predicted. Westerners now walk around in a perpetual haze, barely conscious of their immediate surroundings and physical realities. Nothing lasts, nothing can be trusted, no more authorities; there is no more permanence; truths are tougher to find; meanings and purpose gone out the window. No more history, no more memory, no more context; just flux and subjective floating through the chaos and absurdity of daze. We are, literally and figuratively, adrift Nowhere.

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Memories of “The Mikado”

(excellent recording with Trial by Jury bonus)

(an indelible memory)

(two of the school leads)

(I and some of the male chorus dressing in Home Ec room)

even if it would now be considered cultural appropriation for what my school did in 1964-65 in staging the famous Gilbert and Sullivan musical. The first other language I learned some of in any depth was Japanese, not French: “Miya sama, miya sama, o n’mma no maye ni” .

Hard to believe I was once 15 in the male chorus back at Silver Heights Collegiate, Winnipeg, singing fun songs such as “If you want to know who we are”, “A wandering minstrel”, “Behold the Lord High Executioner”, “As some day it may happen that a victim must be found”, “With aspect stern and gloomy stride”, “For he’s gone to marry Yum-Yum”, ” et al.

There we were dressed in colorful costumes made by female teachers, the guys wearing the bald wigs, learning Japanese and singing songs written some 80 years before our time. The show ran in early February in the dead of winter for about 4 nights and there would have been a matinee for the school, too.

Funny thing is that I only remember us being played a short excerpt from a live recording to give us some sense of what the original sounded like–somewhat fast, choppy, and garbled. I liked our enunciated version much better.

That was the first time I had makeup put on me and my third time on stage, the first time musically. In grade 11 (’65-’66), Barry Anderson, our fantastic music director, one of the greats of Winnipeg music history, had us do Lerner and Lowe’s Brigadoon and I, again, appeared in the male chorus as Jock McVeigh, notably as a serving tray carried across the stage (my suggestion, which Barry liked and approved). In grade 12 (”66-’67), I finally got a lead part as The Usher in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, simultaneously playing The Mayor in the play The Red Velvet Goat.

Last evening as I went off to sleep, I finally (with my CD player and headphones by my bed 55 years later) heard the entire Mikado done by pros and many of the songs came back including the “Miya sama” words. It’s actually a fine musical and still fun to hear and imagine the staging of.

The Mikado, Nanki-Poo, Ko-Ko Pooh-Bah, Pish-Tush, Yum-Yum, Pitti-Sing, Peep-Bo, Katisha–all the old character names and featured songs came back in a rush. The operetta began its performance decline around 1990 and ran into controversies after that even though G & S were actually spoofing British culture and pretensions beneath the ‘fantasy’ Asian surface. Productions were increasingly cancelled, though in 2016, a modified version debuted.

I can only remember this school memory as being incredibly formative and my introduction to Japanese culture, including the lyrics memory work. If you’ve never heard this operetta, I’ve included an image of the CD I was listening to. Because it’s an 1880s operetta written at the height of the Victorian British Empire, it is quite uniquely different from any other music you’ve ever heard most likely.

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If ever there were metaphors

for Don Iveson and the last three Edmonton city councils, it would be the recurringly-closed LRT over by the Royall Alex/NAIT and the funicular as well as the polluted accidental ‘beach’, the permanent ripped-up roads, and the calcium chloride decomposing cars, roads, sidewalks, pets, and pedestrians.

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Uh, Just a Reminder

Doh! Ain’t no apps for:

-common sense

-intelligence

-sense of humor and wit

-decency

-sensibility

-personal depth

-natural capacity to respond to beauty

-creative consciousness

-empathy and sympathy

-civility and courtesy

-gentleness, kindness and caring

-natural innocence, awe, and wonder

-natural curiosity

-appreciation

-institutions that truly serve the public and not merely politicians, parties, or government

-permanence

-real intimacy, open-heartedness, love, and touch

-live in-person presence

-actual traditional works of art

-nature and pets

-genius and vision

-civilization

-personal freedom

-true individuality

-unconventional consciousness

-moments of being

-unagenda-ed possibilities

-un-e-mediated spirit and soul experience

-un-e-mediated magic moments

And never will be. All those many things that are rapidly vanishing, quickly forgotten, or gone largely missing in our ‘wonderful’ brave new d-world.

“Technology dominates us all, diminishing our freedom.”–Dorothy McCall, quoted, 14 March 1974″

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Once upon a Child…

Old eyes and an unending view of cynical frost not recalling the newborn simpler days.
A story of spring before the long, cold suppression and firm denial of flowers.
Listening to distant children play before they sounded like parents or commanded others–their little shows of egoic control.
To have lived long and mostly forgotten how anyone lived in a pretty how town.

Yet sometimes the fact of glory asserts itself and remains despite the screens, machine-souls, and agendas.
‘Preserve, preserve’ sayeth the memory of an echoing green. ‘Slow–slow.
It is laughter and love that still matters beyond the self-induced harness-trap of work and the recurring mad hunt for gold before old eyes go blind forever.’

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The Dog Gimmick

The tv advertisers of meds with dire side effects often resort to one gimmick now, simple-mindedly using dogs or puppies as props to sell their wares and offset the innumerable small print and voiceover warnings.

update: Subaru has done a commercial which just features dogs.

A non-smoking aid found its own animal–the turkey–to advertise with entirely. That is, a cute animated (goin’ cold) turkey.

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The Great Albert Finney, Obit, 82

I will remember him for his excellent roles in The Gathering Storm, The Dresser, Under the Volcano, Tom Jones, and Murder on the Orient Express (unrecognizable!). very few olde school actors left now: Kirk Douglas, Angela Lansbury, Sidney Poitier, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Joanne Woodward, Michael Caine among the oldest.

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V-Day Quotables

“I think women need kindness more than love. When one human being is kind to another, it’s a very deep matter.”
–Alice Childress, Interviews with Contemporary Women Playwrights

“Love between women is seen as a paradigm in love between equals, and that is perhaps its greatest attraction.”
–Elizabeth Janeway, Between Myth and Meaning

“”Love interferes with the fidelities.”
–Sylvia Ashton-Warner, Teacher

“Love in itself she felt should be like the creation of a succession of works of art.”
–Hayashi Fumiko, “Lady Chrysanthemum”

“Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”
–Dorothy Parker, quoted in While Rome Burns

“Marriage: a souvenir of love.”
–Helen Rowland, Reflections of a Bachelor Girl

“If a man is worth loving at all, he is worth loving generously, even recklessly.”
–Marie Dressler, My Own Story

“There is nothing ridiculous in love.”
–Olive Schreiner, “The Buddhist Priest’s Wife”

“When my self is not with you, it is nowhere.”
–Heloise, Letter to Peter Abelard

“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.”
–Jean Anouilh

“For if a man should dream of heaven and, waking, find within his hand a flower as token that he had really been there–what then, what then?”
–Thomas Wolfe

“Touch is the meaning of being human.”
–Andrea Dworkin

“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.”
–George Orwell, 1984

“If you loved someone, you loved him, and when you had nothing else to give, you still gave him love.”
–George Orwell, 1984

“The smell of her hair, the taste of her mouth, the feeling of her skin seemed to have got inside him, or into the air round him. She had become a physical necessity.”
–George Orwell, 1984

“Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind.”
–William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?”
–William Shakespeare, As You Like It

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
–William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Love sought is good, but given unsought better.”
–William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds.”
–William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 116”

“We have to realize that we are as deeply afraid to live and love as we are to die.”
–R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience

“Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.”
–Oscar Wilde

“To refuse the call means stagnation.”
–Joseph Campbell

“Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.”
–Denis Diderot

“Tenderness is greater proof of love than the most passionate of vows.”
–Marlene Dietrich

“Touch is the landscape of what is possible.”
–Kate Green

“Love seeketh not itself to please.”
–William Blake, “The Clod and the Pebble”

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