Sunday, May 13, 2012

More of a wandering mind

Blue Ridge Parkway tree: shot last week for my own use and pleasure.

More wondering and wandering

Memories crowd in, to the point where description is unlikely to be accurate, as the memories themselves are surely tainted by years of storage without use. Then, my mind makes the jump to many of the “What ifs” of life. I have a feeling this may be the course of many minds at a certain point in life, but that, too, is irrelevant. As long as I continue to realize those alternate lives are shadows, that they did not occur, and that current memories of those peopling the daydreams are figments of my imagination, or of my sleeplessness, there's no problem.

Some of the memories are wonderful, while others are less so, and some would be terrifying if I were still a child. As a rather elderly adult, I find terror less easy to come by than I did in the days when I delivered newspapers to all of the movie houses in New Rochelle, NY. One theater specialized in Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi films: Chaney, for those who are too young to know, was the original Wolfman of horror movies; Bela Lugosi, the most famous of the Count Draculas of that era. Special effects were laughable by today’s standards, but many was the late afternoon when I got chills traveling my spine as one or another of those characters metamorphosized into less, or more, than human title characters. The next time I was that terrified I was at Parris Island, with my first drill instructor looking at me while hollering, “Your ass is grass and I’m the lawn mower”. And he was for 13 very long weeks. Finally, on April 14, I joined most of the rest of my recruit platoon in boarding a bus heading north to Camp Geiger and our Infantry Training Regiment month of fun in the sun…when there was any sun. 

All I solidly recall is sweat, chiggers, Nissen huts, and shelter halves. The Nissen huts are variants of Quonset huts (or Quonset huts are variants of Nissen’s design, depending on who you ask). Major Peter Nissen, a Brit, designed the basic half tube huts during World War I.
Life in the hut was not pleasant. Fortunately, true cold isn’t much of a factor in North Carolina in April and early May, nor is true heat, but those metal half-tubes were cookers when the temperature rose above 70. I’d hate to have been there in January.
Replica of 1966 Cobra. I shot this some time ago for a magazine article...and my own pleasure.
 I can remember exactly one name from those of my hut-mates during that month: Shanahan. His first name is long gone from memory, yet his photo sits next to mine in the Parris Island, First Battalion, Platoon 105, book that was sent to my mother later.

Today, I have to wonder if I would have more friends from my Marine Corps years if I hadn’t been so socially inept (that is a condition that changed, though not an immense amount). The path never taken looms up, though without urgency. I’m not young enough to believe there is some magical way to go back and try again. I never was, at least after I quit believing in the tooth fairy.

I’ve always been a step to the side of the crowd, usually on the opposite side from those who work to be apart, who consciously work at being different. I just stumble along, at least if my memory is at all correct, always standing aside, often scratching my head in wonder.

As a writer and photographer with too many decades of experience, I also wonder just how different my life might have been if cameras had been my earliest interest, rather than words. My current photography skills have built up quickly with digital work, but I believe I’d have been at or close to this point 50 years ago if…

Friday, May 4, 2012

A New Day Dawns

One Has To Wonder   

In those tossing moments before sleep comes, many thoughts run through my mind. Whether or not they are of any value to anyone else is irrelevant: they may have value for me in determining the course of the remaining time I spend above ground.

Having spent an entire day attempting to get an electronic device working is a catalyst. Waiting on a so-called help line for actual assistance leaves the mind fully unoccupied, except for the hand movement needed to get through various games of electronic solitaire. My thoughts turned to an old song, as I recall, by Peggy Lee: “Is That All There Is?”Let's hope not.

I haven't posted here in a long time. Other things occupy my mind, but with an election year in progress, I'm beginning to find signs of stultification setting in. The Republican selection process was a real disaster for that party, but I think I'll move on to other items. Presidential election years always make me yearn for the British system. With a vote of "no confidence" the election cycle begins. It ends 90 days later. In the U.S., the Presidential cycle is now taking more than 18 months. Predicted cost is running at a billion bucks a candidate. It's hard to believe, but true, that a guy like Mitt Romney, worth on the upper side of a quarter-billion bucks, couldn't finance his own campaign these days. That's not just wrong, it's insane.

We may need a Supreme Court that can tell the difference between you, me and the people nearest each of us, and General Electric, Ford Motor Company, Monsanto, 3M, Chrysler, Apple, Intel and similar outfits. Anyone with a grain of sense must particularly realize that multinational companies, no matter where they are headquartered, do not necessarily have the best interests of my country at heart.

Vapidity On-Line

After being up for a short time and touring the Internet, I’m starting to wonder—again—about the vapidity of modern life as depicted on-line. So far, the major outlets, specifically Yahoo and AOL, haven’t learned how to separate news from celebrity-hood blather. The lack of respect for the average reader’s intelligence also seems lower than the 12 year old norm for television, which would have been hard to envision, never mind believe, as recently as a decade ago. TV was as stupid as it got in those good old days. Today, that award goes to the Internet.

Editorially, there is little to choose from for vapidity, though Arianna Huffington’s ode to riches comes close to award-winning status for inanity, “Becoming Fearless Goes Viral:…”. Money is the answer. Naturally enough, Ms Huffington requests reader input, with the usual lack of pay. She has become wealthy using the work of others, and continues to build her fortune in the same manner. Nothing, though, can alter the final, a tie between AOL and Yahoo.  According to Yahoo, J. Lo has given her new boyfriend a job, after also giving him a truck. Oh, whoopee. Prior to that was a bit on appropriate wearing of bikinis while pregnant. Important information for all. Whatever happened to maternity clothes?

We’re then notified that Newt Gingrich still believes Mitt Romney lied during their campaign. That deserves another “Oh, whoopee” award, I believe. There should also be some kind of world-class chutzpah award for people like Gingrich who have the audacity to accuse others of such actions. This is the guy who was getting blow jobs from his current wife well before he informed his second wife he wanted to dump her.
For real mindlessness AOL steals the cake. They let us know that Arnold Schwarzen-ego’s son had a marvelous prom date, that Mick Jagger is going to host an "iconic" TV show (sic: they probably mean “symbolic”). Oh, whoopee, once again. I couldn’t stand to look at the Mick 40 years ago. Today? Not a chance.

AOL pops up HuffPost Weddings’ headline article about showing up at a friend’s wedding in the wrong shoes. As my old mentor used to say, “Sufferin’ succotash!” Truly, Daffy Duck is right at home in this collection. The writer was berated for wearing a pair of six inch tall heels. I’m not sure whether writing an article on the subject is worse than the behavior the mother and sisters who did the berating or not. It doesn’t matter. Then there’s the article, “The 7 Worst Reasons To Tie The Knot”. Sorry, I didn’t read it. My gag reflex takes only so much before reacting.

Next up, a do-it-yourself piece: “Sparkly Wine Glasses Are Easy To Make”. I’ve spent more than 40 years writing do-it-yourself articles and books. I hope never to descend to the depth of describing how to add glitter to wine glass for entertaining. That's especially true for the rates that almost all on-line publications draw.

Should we wonder why so many responses on the Internet are mindless, or mindlessly rude. Much of what is published there deserves nothing else.