Monday, November 26, 2012

Like A Tiger On Fresh Meat

Words on a page.
What are they but the fleeting thoughts of one human being capturing a moment in time for the eyes, and minds, of another? 
We are judged today, not so much by the way we treat others, but by the things we say.  And even more so by the words we put on a page.  They live on beyond us, and apart from us.  A writers words can be used against him, to indict him, to judge the entirety of his, or her, life by a few brief thoughts, whether they be well thought out conclusions, or meaningless frivolity inadvertently tossed about like scraps of bread to the birds.  It doesn’t matter.  They are given equal weight by the aberrant, and abhorrent, arbiters of righteousness; and by the pseudo-intellectual, infernal purveyors of social media, and other similar smut. 
Same difference I suppose.   

And those words on a page?  They are used against the writer as often as not.  That’s the way it is with some whose main objective is to satiate their own need for superiority.  They are quick to dismiss the thoughts of those who actually think them, those who have put time and reasoning into them, those who quite often have something of lasting value to say.  Ideas critics would not have even entertained, or had the courage to express had they ever had such profound, significant, or beautiful thoughts themselves.

It takes a certain courage to write.  The words are always written with indelible ink.  No getting around that.  Like spoken words, there is no taking them back.  But the written word is perpetual, eternal if you will.  They outlive the writer and the critic alike.  A writers primary intention will often be misunderstood, exaggerated, compromised, skewed and skewered by the reader.  But still he writes.  The writer stands naked, vulnerable to the slings and arrows, the nefarious intentions, of both the aggrieved and the egregious.  But still he writes.  The more passive-aggressive critics diminish the author with a snide and arrogant dismissal, as if his thoughts, even, were beneath their own bogus dignity. 
But still he writes,
while they are afraid to. 

Some critics don’t even bother to absorb and analyze the meaning of a piece any more.  They just scan until they can pick out what they believe to be a certain ideology of the writer.  They tailor their comments more to the perceived ideology than to the actual entirety of the authors expression.  They drool at the mouth when given the opportunity to judge a person by a snippet of their writing, something (anything really) that can be pounced on like a tiger on fresh meat.  But their assessment usually amounts to nothing more than the intellectual equivalent of spitting on the sidewalk.  It rarely adds to the discourse, or to the collective intelligence.

And I say to them, “If you have something to say, write something beyond your usual 140 characters, or less.  And if you have nothing of value to say, well then, continue to do like you do, and just criticize somebody who does.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

This Prehistoric Landscape

Moving through the valley of death.  Death Valley to those approaching the end of their lives, or who have been held in its grip, whether on their own internal journey, or a road trip they may have once been on. 
Death Valley, California, a place unlike any other place on earth; a depression in the land, as low as you or I have ever been, surrounded by mountains as high as we would ever hope to be. 
The earth’s own version of the manic depressive experience. 

Miles and miles of wide open space.  
Places some have forsaken,
afraid of their own freedom.

Mountains once moved by the faith of great men, now pass by my windows as I move across the land; as time, even, has passed before the eyes of others traveling these ancient roads well ahead of my arrival. 
Valleys long and promising stretch out beyond the imaginations of we who never took the time to envision them.  Taking time now, however, I am enlivened by their depth, by the enormity of their reach across the years.  I am enlightened by the infinite, immeasurable influence of their presence, and the nobility of their age.
Age that is valued, or so it seems, in all that is natural; all, that is, except for the men and women who have reached beyond the years of the young, years where they have finally come to understand that which would not be seen with youthful eyes; things that some fear knowing much earlier in life, terrified of not remaining young. 

Yes, we revere the age of the earth, but deride the wrinkled old men who may creak when they walk sometimes, or stutter when they talk.  We are afraid to be like them, and would not entertain a trade of the ignorance of our youth for the wisdom of age.

“Life,” some would say, “is a road trip.”
I would say it’s more like preparation for a road trip.

Nevertheless, we are but a moment in time, 
and a grain of sand on this prehistoric landscape.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Social Protocol

What is this etiquette that calls for one to listen to the interminable rambling of the unconscious?  What is this code of behavior that dictates that the most obnoxious person in the room should have the most floor time?  What is this misdirected show of politeness that allows someone to talk about them self as if they were actually interesting to the other people in the room?  What is this decorum that allows the biggest braggart to get the most attention?
What is this dynamic that causes everybody else to hold their own thoughts and wait for the boor to finish talking (which he/she never seems to do)?

What is this social protocol that usually leaves the most interesting person in the room as invisible as the obnoxious boor is obvious?  What is this restraint that everybody seems to practice when they’ve been taken and held captive by such a rude and insecure narcissist?   

Well, I can only tell you that people become paralyzed by dominance.  People used to stand up, and against, dominance of any shape or form.  It is how, and why, we fought for our independence from England.  But no more.  No, not any more.  Now we cower at the intrusion internally while externally pretending to be interested.  Everyone has become much too afraid, afraid to be thought of as rude, or even worse, insensitive.  Political correctness has not only shaped the politics that are being imposed upon us, but is now also creating the kind of anemic numbness in us that allows governmental dominance over us.

How can we ever again expect to stand up to a repressive, and oppressive, government, or boss even,, when we can no longer even stand up to the interminable rambling of the unconscious and self-possessed blowhard at a dinner party?

Just asking.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Like Teenagers On Peyote

The following is an excerpt from my recently published novel, 'Wilderness'.

The South Fork of the American River, rushing down the mountain through the canyon like a freight train in places, and in other places, calm, collected in reflected pools, deep enough to jump from overhanging rocks, or float around in on a lazy summer day.  But it was just early spring, still cold, so we were not going to be getting wet, at least not intentionally.  About twenty minutes up out of Placerville, we parked off of Mosquito Rd., just the other side of an old suspension bridge that connects a population of rugged individualists living back in the hills to the conveniences of a moderate sized civilization in, and around, the Placerville region.  A lifeline kind of bridge on a dangerous curvy road that has always kept the out for a Sunday drive kind of folks away from the area.  It’s a pretty steep walk down to the river on a narrow trail, maintained only by the nightly procession of deer, raccoon, and other animals making the trek down the precarious hillside for a drink of cold, clear, refreshing mountain water.

This wasn’t Golden Gate Park, and Kevin was like a free man in paradise, if just for this one day.  After reaching the water we continued to explore upriver alongside the ever-changing landscape.  That’s the thing about these rugged mountain rivers, every fifty feet, or so, they’re a completely different environment, a different terrain, a different topography, a different setting.  The rocks change, the water changes, the current changes, the view changes, as does our relationship to it.

Like teen-agers on peyote at an amusement park, we were scanning the shallows for crayfish, salamanders, trying to catch fish in the shallow pools with our hands, turning over rocks to try and find garter snakes curled up, undisturbed, until our rude intrusion settled unsuspected, and unwelcome, upon them.  We watched dragonflies in aerial acrobatics, frivolously courting, what seemed like no fly in particular, and scanning the surface of the water for bugs to bring home to their main squeeze for supper. 
We watched a beaver intently gnawing logs on the shore upriver as if he had to get his shelter built by the end of the day or his partner might shack up with the old guy further upriver in the bigger house.  In the blue sky overhead turkey vultures circled a decaying carcass, floating lower to the ground with each pass around its lifeless body, eventually landing like a glider would, gently touching the ground, but then standing around waiting for the flock commander to sample the first hors-d’oeuvre of the morning meal.  A red-tail hawk watched from the highest branch of the tallest tree, content to do his hunting solo, and for game that still might have a fighting chance.

We spent the morning exploring, up and down the riverbank, both sides of the river, rock-jumping back and forth across the water like fresh cadets on a Boy Scout obstacle course, feeling more like fifteen than mature men in mid-life.  We joked about how you can make a man out of a boy, but you can’t necessarily ever take the boy out of a man.  Life gets pretty serious at times in the grind of the day-to-day, but when you get out on the river, or the mountains, or the lakes, there is a restoration that occurs inside, a re-coupling of the natural world with the nature of man, a returning to the simplicity of a less complicated life, a re-unification of one’s body with one’s perpetually dormant soul.  It is something I experience every time I get away.  Every time I get away.  And it is something I don’t ever take for granted. . . . . .

. . . . . . We took it kind of easy in the afternoon, content that we had already lived the best part of a pretty remarkable day.  I did some writing.  We sat around and rested, reflected, listened, and observed the amazing display of natural motion around us. The light and shadow changing shape on the water, the rainbow spray of mini-falls tumbling over boulders, the sound of water finding its path, winding its way down river around rocks and logs, fighting cross-currents even to establish its own direction.  The sound of unknown animals moving around, and through, the brush up the hillside behind us; the continuing sight of that one lone red-tail hawk, unmoved, and undisturbed, by all the unusual activity on this remote, but emotionally accessible river.
     Kevin and I drove home in relative silence, content to let the day speak for itself.  We had some pretty incredible visual images to dance around with, but none more captivating than the diminishing sky we were driving into as we made our way back down the mountain. 
     The tranquil sky, stretching wide across a lingering horizon, painted with the loving hand, and expertise, of one who knows what stimulates and invigorates the souls of men such as ourselves.  I do not suppose the artist chose to paint it for our pleasure alone, although I’d like to think that, but for others as well.  I can only hope that everyone else on the planet is finding a moment to embrace it.  The expanse that unfolds so dramatically before us creates, and enables, a similar expanse inside of me, from deep within the hidden recesses of my faith, and of my sometimes pain, extending outward now, opening my arms to the possibility of the unforeseen, the unexpected, and the mostly undeserved.   

          The tranquil sky.  It is an expanse that moves me to move beyond myself, beyond that which is hidden even, that which is broken, in disrepair, or disarray.  It is a provocation to rise above the weakness that is my own tired body, and the bitterness that is too often buried in my heart; above that which is frail, that which is decayed, and decaying, that which lays dormant collecting the insincere accolades of its own apathy, and that which seeks to extract the divine from its partnership with my quietly emerging soul.

     It is not every evening that the sky offers itself so willingly to me.  But when it does it announces itself like a trumpet call from across the great divide.  The sky, I believe, seeks to interweave its nature with my own.  A man would be a fool not to pay attention . . . . . .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Open Letter To A Clever (but anonymous) Poet

Words cannot be taken back as if they were never spoken. 
They were.
Mouths (and fingertips) speak things into existence. 
What exists in that realm cannot be made to not exist. 
It stands where it was formed.  It is one of the principles that adults come to understand about life, and relationships.
“I take it back” is a very poor substitute for an apology.
Forgive me for the analogy, but that is the common domain of adolescent girls who attack each other, take it back, and then go on together as if nothing had ever transpired.  Shallow at best, but when proceeded by an announcement of your medical condition, self-serving, to say the least.

I was not surprised by the fact that you could not accept a little honesty, even though solicited of me by you.  And I was not hurt by the adolescent tongue-lashing you felt it necessary to deliver (Did you really expect me to fight with you?).  I figured we were just at the point of relationship where you (historically) must have gotten used to pushing away whoever dared to care about you.  No big surprise.  I recognize fear when I see it.  As has been said, ‘This is not my first rodeo’. 

We live with our regrets.  Olive branches do not mitigate them for us.  It is part of what prompts us to seek to live lives that do not cause us regret.  Take that dynamic away and we live with nothing but regret. 

Re: your sarcasm; “Confessions Of A Lonely Drunkard (How I beat the bottle and became better than you’ll ever be)”, “My Disastrous Relapse”, etc. 
Please!  Don’t waste my time with your drivel, ego, promises of success, failure, or threats of failure. 
If you want to show the world how smart you are then show the world with your life.  Everything else is just masturbation. 

I’m as real as its ever going to be for you, my friend, and if you can’t handle it I understand.  Maybe you can find reinforcement in somebody who requires only that you be clever.

I will not indulge your anger, your hostility, or your drunken tantrums.  Theoretically, I have less time left on this earth than you do, and I do not intend to waste any of it.  So if you’d like to be honest with yourself, grow up, be a man, with a measure of self-respect to accompany such a commitment, I’d be happy to walk that path with you for a while, until you have the strength, determination, and fortitude to stand alone. 

And if not, well, my time is better spent elsewhere.
I am certainly not required to care about you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Monte Poole, a San Francisco Bay Area sportswriter offered up the following definition of meekness, and because it is so rarely demonstrated in our present day culture, I thought it warranted some attention.

He wrote, “Meekness is strength brought under control for the benefit of others. It’s being in the right but making sure not to use it to make others feel bad. It’s having power, but being concerned enough about those beneath you to alter your behavior for their sake. It’s being cognizant of how your superiority, your upper hand, your favor, impacts those not in such a position.”

I think of modesty when I think of meekness, and I think of sensitivity.  I also think of acquiescence; not to the power of another, but to their diffidence.  It is not necessarily a badge of courage, or accomplishment, to dominate another individual, to ‘one-up’ them, or to diminish them in the eyes of others.  It is more an indication of arrogant insecurity than anything else.  Any physical, psychological, or intellectual bully can do that to the less powerful.  It takes a more fully realized individual to make a less powerful person an equal.  

Meekness is not only a character trait to be cultivated in ones self, but it has a clear, and very practical application as well.  It has long been said about the treatment of others, “Be careful whom you step on on your way up because you’re probably going to see them again on your way back down.”  The truly meek among us do not have to concern themselves with such eventualities. 

What if we as a culture practiced the principle of humbling ones self that another might be exalted?  If you believe in the principal of ‘what goes around comes around’, the concept of ‘karma’, you would be determined to allow meekness a position of prominence in your own life.  It makes no sense to conduct one’s life and relationships with aggressive disregard for others. 

One dictionary defines ‘meek’ as ‘showing submissiveness and lack of initiative or will’.  But the contributor has it wrong, failing to understand the greater principle, and deeper meaning, of the word.  It takes great strength of character and personal confidence, to conduct oneself with a measure of meekness that enables another rather than reducing them.

That sportswriter has it right.  I have been quite aware of the dynamic he has so eloquently described.
But it never hurts to be reminded.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Matt. 5:4-6

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourteen Suggestions For A Satisfying Life

1.     Be honest with others.
2.     Be honest with yourself.
3.     Do not think more highly of yourself than you do of another.
4.     Do not think less of yourself than you do of someone else.
5.     Learn to compromise with others.
6.     Do not compromise yourself in order to fit in, otherwise you’ll find yourself fitting in with people you have no respect for.
7.     Treat others with respect whether you have respect for them or not.  
8.     Do not demand respect from others, but require it.  Have self-respect, otherwise that respect will be elusive. 
9.     Memorize, and learn to say and mean these five simple words.  ”Y’know, you may be right.”
10.  Do not expect others to live up to your standards, but require it of yourself.
11.  Do not lower your standards in order to live up to them.
12.  Do something with your life that you love.
13.  Give of your time, your talent, and your resources when and where you can.
14.  Embrace faith in God, but do not suffocate yourself in its company.

This is not a difficult list to embrace.  The honesty part is the hardest if you are not used to being honest.  It took a lifetime for deceit and disingenuousness to become so thoroughly rooted in your life, but once you decide to actually be honest it becomes second nature.  Like breathing, you won’t need to even think about it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

You Play Brass, And I Play Wood

Waiting for time to pass, for time to end, for time to consume itself as it always has.  Waiting for the sky to fall, for the horizon to fold in on itself, or to fail in pursuit of its own grandiose ambition.  But, waiting to begin again as well, to renew the magic of the eternal, and infernal, mystery.  It can always go either way, or so they say.

Life holds a fragrant bouquet of esoteric belief for all of us to move through (like a bee in the garden), to ascend to, to attempt to understand. Like branches on the trunk of a tree, I cling to what I grew from.  I come from where I came from, and I stay where I belong.  My song is really no different from yours, a different voice, but the same refrain.  The same sound, but a different source; you play brass, and I play wood, arranging notes in patterns heard, but not yet really understood. 

We swim in the same swamp, and in pristine mountain water.  We live in the same world, and carefully cultivate our own shrinking, or expanding, sphere of influence.  We own the same things, but to varying degrees.  We loathe a common indignity, and love the same flattery.  We serve the same master, and suffer the same remorse.  In the course of our lives we stand and fall, we succeed and fail, and we reject the standards of unwelcome imposition, no matter the puppeteer, no matter the color of his once very luminous hair.  We get too near the heat at times and run screaming from the kitchen to hide in the basement beneath a rumpled bed.  Nothing’s ever really left unsaid these days, except the diminishing truth of our own disheveled lives.     


Monday, April 23, 2012

A Convergence Of Sound

This morning, early, the dawn was alive with a convergence of sound, from the ground to the sky, and from every other discernable direction.  It began with a whisper before the light had even settled in upon the land, but soon came with its full strength, a resounding chorus, just as the sun began to peek inquisitively over the eastern ridge.    

A woodpecker knocking on a tree kept a heartbeat like a solitary drummer on a single block of wood.  The Meadowlark joined in with its flutelike whistles.  Mourning doves and their low, sad, whoo-oo, hoo, hoo, hoo.  Robins calling cheerily, cheerily, cheer-up, cheer-up.  Finch, and their canary-like warble.  Quail even, with a loud ca-ca-cow, or ca-caah-co, and their clucking whit-whit.  Wrens with that distinctive bubbling chatter; the Sparrows chimed in with whistles and trills, and their sweet, high tseep’s.  They all contributed to the surreal, and the profound.  The Bluebird’s soft warble, it’s phew, and somewhat harsher chuck.  The Blackbird’s kseeee or ksheek.  The Western Tanager’s pit-err-ick, pit-err-ick, like the soft, illusory sound of a lone percussive woodwind.

All these creatures, conspiring together in a magnanimous and harmonious effort to teach the world to sing, to lead the way in song, and we were fittingly hypnotized.  You might say we were mesmerized, not only by the effort, but by the very nature of the melodious composition itself.  A Mormon Tabernacle Choir of feathered friends, a congregate of winged songsters in an outdoor aviary perched on risers at least a thousand rows deep into the trees. 
It was the sound of pleasant smiles on a million euphoric faces.    

Two geese flew by just overhead honking like geese will do, as if stuck in early morning traffic on the way to get their coffee.

Coyotes off in the distance barked in arousing recognition of the exceptional aural presentation, rare as the sun is bright.  They hooted, howled, yipped, and yapped, like puppies on a new mowed lawn.

The sweet sound of nature was joined unapologetically by the mechanical grinding of one solitary logging truck off in the distance winding its way slowly down the mountain; it’s motor somehow complimenting the arrangement, rather than diminishing it, like the rumbling of a kettledrum behind the clarinets, flutes, and strings.  Harmonizing, blending, as it were, the sacred with the profane.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Rise from the ashes.
Rise from the past, from broken lives and shattered dreams.
Rise from the unfairness of life, and the bitter disappointment.
Rise up and live.

Rise from the impediment of negative thinking, and the obscurity of defeat.
Rise from the trap of your encompassing dilemma, from the belief that you have been predestined to fail. Rise from unhappiness, from sorrow, from misery, and grief. Rise from the winter of your discontent, from the gloom of your remembrance, from the darkness of your depression, and the shadow of despair.

Rise from your distress, from the pain of consciousness, and the crippling shade of regret. Rise from the burden of a troubled past, and from the obstructive grip of bitterness and anger. Rise from the disease of envy, and the desperation of greed.

Rise from indulgence, from bad habits, and addiction. Rise from pedestrian effort, from sickness to health, from despondency to hope, from can’t to can, from won’t to will. Rise from anguish, and from the desolation of your spiritual void. Rise from the confinement of circumstance, and the entanglement of deceit.

Rise from your weakness, from moral compromise, and ethical concession. Rise from the relativity of shifting beliefs. Rise from the superficial to the genuine, to the very heart of the matter, from the mundane to the sublime, and from skepticism to the fullness of faith.

Rise to accountability, to honesty, to integrity, and to passion. Rise, as spring rises out of winter, or water from the sea to the sky. Rise like the sun reaches to the heavens with the breaking of the day, or Christ from the grave, or as the grace of God lifts a man from the encumbrance of his own sorrow.

But rise, as we each have been enabled.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Give Us Our Independence

From the entitlement conditioning that makes men weak,
Give us our Independence.
From the media that clouds our ability to think,
Give us our Independence.
From the consumption that feeds our bourgeoning greed,
Give us our Independence.
From hypocritical standards of the cultural elite,
Give us our Independence.

From social engineering that demands our compliance,
Give us our Independence.
From a welfare state that seeks our reliance,
Give us our Independence.
From political collusion that shuns our defiance,
Give us our Independence.
From the bogus claims of environmental science,
Give us our Independence.

From building our nation on the proverbial sand,
Give us our Independence.
From enslavement to the International plan,
Give us our Independence.
From engineering our own economic collapse
Give us our Independence.
From the folly of vain intellectual traps,
Give us our Independence.

From elections that corporate bandits can buy
Give us our Independence.
From the intrusion of government in our private lives,
Give us our Independence.
From political correctness, and truth adorned lies
Give us our Independence.
From two-faced politicians and their weak alibis,
Give us our god damned Independence.

‘Give us’ is merely poetic license for the sake of the poem. There is nobody we should be asking for our Independence back from. They did not give it to us in the first place. And they are not our friends. They are puppet masters.

Although I’m talking about the U.S., I’m also talking to you, my readers in Eastern and Western Europe, Central and South America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa, India, Israel, and the rest of the Middle East; to take your own Independence in hand, as best you can, and in whatever way that you're able. Independence from corporate control, from opressive regimes, and from repressive religions.

Here, in the U.S., we must reclaim our Independence. We must do it ourselves, we must not relinquish any more of our freedom, and we must take back the freedoms we have already lost. We must do it individually, in our own lives, by the simple choices we make; and we must do it collectively with protests, boycotts, rejections of policies at the ballot box, and by refusing to be pushed around, spied on, taxed to the max, and herded like sheep in a field.

We must not be afraid of what our family, friends and neighbors may think. It is for them as well, even though they might not have the understanding to appreciate it until they wake up and realize that the government controls just about every aspect of their own lives.

Don’t confuse my admonition with the hypocrisy of the Occupy movement. I’m talking about fundamental individual life-change, something that each of us is capable of making. I’m talking about an awakening. I’m talking about looking at things differently, and participating in life differently than we do now. We have gone along to get along, and where has it gotten us?

Do not follow leaders who would not join with you. They do not respect you, and yet they demand respect from you. Respect must be earned. Respect those who respect you, and reject those who insult you.

Do this for yourselves, and for your children.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Little Levity

Because of the acceleration of government control in our lives I was going to re-post my blog entitled "Everybody Feeling The Pressure", from April 22, 2009. It was posted two years ago, and describes and defines the state of affairs in our country today. It was a wake-up call that is all the more relevant today. Although I've decided not to re-post it here, I would encourage you to find it in my blog archive and re-read it.

It seems to me however, that with the supposed culture war on women, the continuing attacks both by, and on, religion, we could all use a little levity for a change. For that reason I have re-posted below, a blog from April 30, 2009, entitled, "I Saw The Virgin Mary In A Cracker". I hope you can enjoy it.

I Saw The Virgin Mary In A Cracker

It was not the first time I saw the Virgin Mary. But it was the first time I saw her in a cracker. I understand she’s been seen in Dorritos, tortillas, on toast, and even in a biscuit. Partial to snacks, I guess. I’m not going to say anything here about women and food. Maybe the Virgin Mary figures appearing in snacks is the best way to communicate with Americans. I understand that in England she appears in tea bags. She’s also been seen periodically on walls, and in trees. I can understand why she might be in a tree, but can’t quite figure why she’d want to appear on a wall, unless maybe to speak to graffiti artists, or spread-eagled crime suspects waiting to be frisked.

I think I remember seeing her in a video, but, oh wait, that was Madonna. Sorry. Easy to confuse them, y’know, with the veil and all. Similar names, unblemished reputations, and complexion.

The question I have is “Why would the Virgin Mary want to appear to anyone anyway?” It’s not like she’s wanting to be popular, or anything like that. If that were the case she could open a MySpace or FaceBook account like the rest of us. No, I think maybe she just likes the notoriety of popping up for a few minutes here and there, get people talking about miracles again, keep herself in the news just enough to not be forgotten, then she’s gone. You know, kinda like Michael Jackson.

Or maybe it’s not about her at all, maybe it’s really about getting people to remember that, even though she’s a virgin, she’s got a pretty cool son. Maybe she’s curious if anybody cares about him anymore, or even remembers him. You know how mothers are about their kids, always looking out for them.

And I understand he takes after his mother.
I remember reading that he showed up not too long ago
in a grilled cheese sandwich.

Yeah, like mother, like son.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seeking William Wallace

William Wallace, where have you gone?
We could use a bit of your chutzpah right about now.

I watched the movie, ‘Braveheart’, last night. I had a particular interest in, and identification with, the film because I am of Scottish ancestry. If you haven’t seen the movie, or if you have seen it, but not for a very long time, I would encourage you to Netflix it again. It is, in my opinion, one of the best movies ever produced. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and won five, including Best Picture, Best Director, Cinematography, and Sound Editing.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story, by any means. Braveheart is not about Academy Awards; it is about courage. It is about freedom, and it is about an indomitable will, a will that will not allow tyrannical rule, in ones life, or in ones country; something we know very little about today. Now, whether the movie is entirely historically accurate, or not, is almost irrelevant. Very few movies are. But the point is that it is an inspirational look at the human spirit, a spirit which, when summoned to defend its inalienable right to be free, refuses to be conquered, to be subjugated to authority, or even controlled by ones own weakness. It is a triumph of substance over style, truth over shallow ideology, soul over the status quo, right over wrong, and courage over fear.

Our culture today presents us every opportunity to just go along to get along. We offer incentives and rewards for weakness, for personal compromise, and for behavior that tears down our very stature, rather than reinforcing it. It is the world we have created for ourselves, and it is the world we have come to willingly embrace.

Braveheart illuminated Scotland’s courageous stand against the tyrannical occupation by the British, but it also revealed the men’s commitment to the defense of the lives, and the honor, of their women. When their wives were seized, raped, and, in the case of William Wallace’s wife, ultimately killed by the British, it enflamed a furor within the men that was unmatched even by their commitment to defend their homeland.

In our present culture, however, we as men are reluctant even to stand between our own wives and the ravages of the world. Our women are being used and abused by the world on a daily basis, and yet we continue to send them out there to fight our battles for us. We permit the denigration, and subjugation, of women through the proliferation of images that portray them to be objects to be used only for sexual gratification, and the indulgence of ego. Unfortunately, many women, and girls, present themselves in the same, or in an even more, unfavorable light. And we let them. But the point here is that we as men no longer summon the valor to stand against this diminishing standard, or the courage to insist that it must change. We have become deathly afraid of being less than politically correct, and it has manifested itself in our culture to the uncompromising detriment of our women.

We, as a nation, are in the process of approving women for combat in the military. Need I say more? We are afraid to stand up to the powers, and the influences, that determine our course. We are afraid to stand up to our own wives and daughters as well. Are we going to continue to allow them not only to fight our battles for us, but to engage in the dangerous business of war as well? If so, what does that really say about us? We will have descended as a nation past the point of diminishing returns.
Our politicians have become cowards, our teachers and religious leaders are afraid to offend, and our standard bearers have vanished like a passing wind.

Men, give ‘Braveheart’ another viewing. Be inspired; embrace the capacity for courage within yourself, and the commitment to inspire that same courage within others. Make a commitment to be sober minded and clear thinking for, perhaps even, the first time in your life.

Where, I ask, is William Wallace?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Everybody has known pain, or will, of some kind or another, and at some time or another. Some have known physical pain, mental anguish, some emotional pain, or psychic trauma. And some have known it all. The pain of a body being broken or traumatized, diseased, or worn out; the pain of a lost love, splintered family, or a broken promise; the pain of shattered dreams, a broken spirit, or the loss of inspiration. Most of us have had loss. And loss is pain. If we have not, however, we will. It is inevitable, like the tide ebbs behind the flow.

My pain is not yours, nor yours mine, but we share the experience, nevertheless. It is part of what connects us as a human family. Maybe I cannot relate to your poverty, or to your wealth, your station in life, politics, religion, or lifestyle; but I can relate to your pain whether I know of it specifically or not. I can understand yours, not necessarily the circumstances, but the pain, and maybe even feel it, specifically because I’ve had my own. It is part of the way, and part of the reason, that people find healing. I can carry my own pain alone, and for a very long time if necessary. But when someone in my life, or a stranger even, shares even a small part of that pain, for no matter how brief of a moment, it can diminish its devastating impact in a very measurable way. We need each other like that.
We all do.

Pain might feel arbitrary, but it’s not. I may wonder why I have this kind of pain, and you have that kind. But I believe that our own particular pain chooses us for a purpose. I don’t know why I believe that, but I do. It is up to each of us to divine the intent of its presence in our lives. It is part of what will enable our learning, and our healing. We are sometimes able to come to a conclusion on our own, but, more often than not, it takes the company, the counsel, and the involvement of others.

Pain has a way of humbling us, and providing an opportunity for a deeper connection with the rest of the human race.
I hope you’re managing the worst of your own pain.
And, if not, I wish for you the comfort of others.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Give Me Dogs And Frisbees

I, like a hundred zillion other people watched the Super Bowl. Good game, I thought, although I didn’t really care who won.
But the halftime show? Well, it was Madonna: What would one expect besides the most pompous, self-aggrandizing, bloated tribute to self and excess that one could ever hope to produce.

And I just want to ask, “Is this really what our culture has become? Giving this kind of platform to this kind of person?
As I heard somebody say after enduring the torturous show, “PLEASE, GIVE ME DOGS AND FRISBEES.”
I cannot agree more.

In my humble opinion, how satisfying, and appropriate, was the very final second of the performance when Madonna flushed herself down the toilet, or whatever that apparatus was with the smoke and trap door. I don’t know about you, but I just wanted to stand up and cheer the symbolism of the moment. In any event, she was gone, disappearing suddenly, and hopefully for good.

Oh, and the Madonna and World peace display? Hey Madonna, how bout’ you start treating the people in, and around, your own life with a little dignity and respect, before you try to unite the rest of the world around your sleazy Kabbalah world peace act. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, getting people to love each other like you love others is more likely to lead to continued world conflict than it ever would to world peace.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Vulture Peak

'Wilderness', the novel, is in the final stage of being readied for the Publisher, and should be submitted by the end of the week. It will be available soon for purchase. In the meantime, here's a small excerpt for your enjoyment.

Vulture Peak

It was a spring afternoon with soft light coming to rest on the hood of Tim’s truck, bathing his windshield in promise, and an unapologetic radiance, the kind you might be used to seeing in the early morning, or even later in the day as the light lingered. There was a calm, ethereal, glow as he moved through the naked landscape of the High Desert. It reminded him of something in a dream sequence from one of those low-key indie movies that were always winning the awards at Sundance.

Colors danced on sand canvas, cactus planted inadvertently, scattered, as if by the wind, across a vast landscape, rising like the hairs on the back of your neck would at the thought of being stranded there. Rocks lying about like treasure strewn across the ocean floor around an old shipwreck, other rocks reaching, spire-like, towards the sun, content in the knowledge of their own ancestry, and in their dominance of the landscape.

As Tim pulled into the dirt parking area for the Vulture Peak trail, he noticed Lindy under a scrub-pine tree off to the side of the trailhead. She was wearing khaki walking shorts, a soft terra cotta cotton blouse, and tan hiking boots with red laces. She was leaning forward, rear knee low to the ground, with her front knee pointing forward, stretching out her upper thigh, and lower back muscles, in a kind of scissors position. She completed the exercise, and then, standing upright, reached back to grab her foot, pulled it up to her butt, held it for a few moments to further stretch the thigh, released it back to the ground, and then did the same with the other foot. She finished up with toe-touches, bending from the waist, with palms lying flat on the top of her hiking boots.

Tim was feeling nothing short of inspired by her beauty, and the natural elegance with which she moved. She blended with the landscape like a sunrise on an eastern peak. He was delightfully lost in the enchanting apparition for a moment.
As she was rising back to the upright position, Lindy caught Tim’s eye, and waved him over. Actually, I think she caught him staring, but had the presence of mind to not let on, the grace to let him off the hook, so to speak. It was, somehow, very enabling for Tim, just to see her. He felt himself kind of excited now for the walk.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Still They Come

There was a full moon tonight. Still is actually. Lighting the sky, and the way of all after-hours travelers to the planet. Not that they couldn’t find us without the moon, but you know what I mean. The darkness would inhibit some, but encourage nocturnal visitors, to be sure. Same as it’s always been.

The earth has forever been a beacon for anonymous vagabonds, mysterious drifters, vagrants, beggars, tramps and hobos. Not to mention the nameless, faceless eccentrics, unusual, peculiar, bizarre, and just plain outrageous strangers traveling the myways, the buyways, and the high ways. Some come seeking to exploit earths meandering clans, some come with cash spilling from deep pockets in fancy sharkskin suits, and some come as pied pipers bearing medicine for the masses, intoxicants to pacify, and appease, the minds of the weak.

But you’ve got to love them. You’ve got to love them all. Some for the insistence of their own benevolence, even though the evidence shows otherwise, and some for their self-delusion. Some for their alacrity, and some for their lack of pretension. Some for their innocence, and some for their savvy manipulation of the system. Still, they come, like the annual migration of holiday shoppers to the great mall of America.

The full moon will continue to light the sky for them, and the way, every 30 days, for all who wish to visit earth, as it has now become the number one vacation destination.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My New Years Revolutions 2012

1. I will not take anything for granted.
If, in fact, I ever figure out exactly what that means.

2. I will let the future take care of itself. And if it doesn’t,
I will continue to live in the past until I’m confident that it will.

3. I will let bygones be bygones, since they already are anyway.

4. I will no longer hope for the best.
I will hope for the second best because that will leave some room for improvement.

5. I will leave politics to the politicians and curb my inclination to expose them. They are doing a pretty damn good job of exposing themselves.

6. I will speak only of what I know. What I don’t know can wait until I do.
Or until it just becomes readily apparent to everyone.

7. I will only think good thoughts. All of the other thoughts can be thought by more qualified thinkers than myself, whoever they are.

8. I will be grateful for what I have. And for what I don’t have.

9. I will only criticize the critical. Or those deserving of criticism. Or those who criticize those undeserving of criticism. Well, in any event, I’ll find somebody to criticize. And somebody not to criticize.

10. I will apologize to everyone I can think of this year, including myself.
That should make up for all the people who have never apologized to me, or to anyone else. For anything. Ever.

11. I will do my best to be guided by faith.
So if your faith contradicts my faith, I’ll have faith that your faith will eventually guide you to my faith, or mine to yours, so that we don’t have to disagree about faith anymore.

12. I will try to be more generous with my opinions. Which means that you might get even more sick of me in 2012 than you did in 2011.

And Have A Happy New Year.