Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ball

Baseball, to the uninitiated, is a peculiar game. It is really most of the childhood games merged into a gritty ballet, performed by highly paid and talented athletes. Run. Jump. Tag. Throw. Catch. Hit. Gesture. Count. Add. The rest of it is statistics. Yet it holds its own in the drama department. As a pantomime of ritual, it is only rivaled by its cousin, cricket; about half the world is into it, The West and parts of the Far East, with a smattering of interest elsewhere. My hometown team, the Minnesota Twins, has reached the playoffs with a cobbled-together team that, despite injuries and inexperience, has exceeded all expectations and reached the end of the season in first place. With so many stories of sports "stars" behaving badly, so far these Twins have been model citizens off the field. On the field, they have given the masses something to rejoice in, a way to forget the woes that beset us all in our daily lives. That is an accomplishment worthy of note.


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Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Pitch


"Thanks for letting me present my million-dollar idea at the novelties and promotions new products evaluations. I've got a concept for you that is a sure-fire winner in your marketplace, a group of products that will revolutionize how Americans view themselves and their culture. This product is small, with low tooling costs and a high profit margin. This product has the potential to be in every home, reaching every demographic and social strata. A fun thing, a happy thing, something everyone in the family will enjoy. What is this fabulous idea? What is this thing that will change the way you think about life?

In two words: Refrigerator Magnets!

What? I see looks of bewilderment? Someone in the back says "It's been done to death." Let me elaborate. In the past, these magnets have been used in mundane, petty ways. A calendar, a cute kitten, or a cartoon character. Even the "Instant Poetry" kits, while successful, only hinted at the potential of magnetic appliques. Let me say it again: Refrigerator Magnets. This time, think of the one image that has not been overused in this form, an idea that I've already mentioned TWICE and yet you fail to see- Magnets in the shape of, and with photo-realistic images of REFRIGERATORS imprinted on their surface! Think of it! That 1930's drum top Frigidaire™, the stoic Norge™ of the fifties, a gleaming, modern, Sub-Zero™, or a trio of '70's Whirlpools™- in Avocado Green, Harvest Gold and Poppy Red!

Everybody has good associations with the Fridge- the modern day larder, a veritable cornucopia, a dispenser of goodies for every one to enjoy. With the tabla rasa of that big front door crying out to be filled, what could be more appropo than the thing itself? I can see it now- a grid of vintage Coolerators™ arrayed on the front of your fridge- Andy Warhol himself couldn't have done any better. They're new! they're fun! They're POP ART! Ladies and Gentlemen, I am here not to sell you something, I am here to give you a chance to get in on the latest marketing craze, I present you with the future of home accessories: REFRIGERATOR MAGNETS!"


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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Site Meter

And then She was off again. Searching the world, for fun, for education, perhaps for love? By herself- nothing seems to daunt her. London, Eastern Europe, the glory of Vienna, then Poland. A few happy posts. One completely outrageous one. And on my site meter a hit now and then from various Eurolocations, leaving me with the impression: she's doing fine, not to worry. A silence for a few days. It's always hectic at the end of a trip- no time to read or write. And then a hit from her home IP. She's home, safe. Everything is all right. I don't really know her, we've never met, but somehow, because of what she's written and how I've come to appreciate her on-line personality, I think about her from time to time- about her safety, her well-being, about her search for happiness. I realize that this is living somewhat vicariously, but that's ok. Some people watch soaps. Some people read novels. I just hope for the best for someone who really deserves it.


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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Missing the point.

The trouble with missing the point is that it often ends up stabbing you and drawing blood and tears.

***

It's tempting to suggest that that's the happy ending. But you see, I know the father, and I'll place bets that happy endings never are. Not because he's going to be vicious about it, but because he's a cheerful man, a happy man, and he'll be having nightmares for years, and if anyone doesn't deserve that, it's him.

They say that having daughters is your punishment for being a man.

***

Who is more moral?
The one who acts in the belief that the straight and narrow will take him to eternal bliss, or the one who remains moral in the certain knowledge that nothing he does matters to his metaphorical eternal soul?

***

Love your enemies.
I do.
The taste of their frustration is the scent of perfume; the knowledge of their defeat is the finest wine. Besides, the knowledge that there are petty fools who hate me kind of validates my existence.

***

In case you were wondering. Yes, this entry has been tongue-in-cheek. But you should know me well enough to realise that tongue-in-cheek or not, my entries don't usually lie straight out.


~RS
May, 2005
Used With Permission


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Monday, September 25, 2006

Being The Pope...

...means never having to say you're sorry...

...it was more comforting when he was infallible...


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Saturday, September 23, 2006

On Bolstaðarhlið

   Returning from an evening swim 'n soak in the pool at Laugardalur, my footsteps led me into Bolstaðarhlið, the street of my guesthouse. It was only a few degrees Centigrade, but the nearly constant wind of the day had finally died down; it was really quite pleasant. I was toasty inside, of course- the hot pots did their work well, and I was probably a bit over-dressed. The apartments around me had balconies, from one such svalir came the sound of conversation. It was a man and a woman, in an argument. It was loud enough to echo back from the buildings across the street, the Icelandic they spoke made even more indecipherable with the confusion from the multiple reflections of their voices. As I neared their flat I couldn't help but glance up at the source of the commotion. An attractive couple, in evening wear, in heated discussion. The patio doors were wide open. I was by now accustomed to the fresh air habits of the natives (my first morning in the guesthouse I took breakfast in a dining room with a patio door open to a fresh snowfall.) The woman looked down and saw me on the sidewalk below and with a terse comment to her adversary they went inside, still leaving the door open.

   Cultural immersion of a different sort, I suppose. Feeling as if I was watching a Ingmar Bergman movie without subtitles, I continued down the street, reaching #8 and returning to my room. I was the stranger- an interloper- passing through a scene not intended for my eyes or ears, grasping only the visceral sense of it, the details lost to me in my ignorance.


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Friday, September 22, 2006

Caption Needed #1

two fer


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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Infinity Blues

The musical idioms that can be loosely designated as "The Blues" are staples of the modern musical scene. Many of the early rock 'n roll pioneers were bluesmen, playing variations on that theme.

While working with bar bands in the seventies and eighties, this sound man's lot was a curious one. Blues music demands adherence to a formula. There are a few hundred blues "standards", many more variations on these tunes, and after a while it can all blend into an audio blur. I would get the impression during the 30th or 40th iteration of Messin' With The Kid or You'd Better Think that the band was trapped into playing these chestnuts as part of some grand design to perform every possible version of these songs- or perhaps the musicians had to continue playing the same songs again and again until they got it right? Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against these songs, or this style of music. It's just that I've heard them enough.

The best part of being a sound mixer (a person who actively listens and responds to the arrangements- sort of like being a conductor- at least as far as dynamics and balance goes) is working up an arrangement with multiple instruments and voices, integrating the sound with the environment and audience to create a fantastic musical experience. The worst part of being a sound mixer is the fact that one has to actually listen to the music, good, bad or repetitive. If you love it, you risk being over-exposed to it. If you are indifferent to it, you will become numb. If you hate it, you will want to die.

Not exactly the best set of options.


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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hope Never Dies

First frost imminent

Summer's grace leaving

Poor potted plants

New flowers opening

Hoping for pollination

A final fruition

Metaphor for existence

Optimism pervades life

These flowers bloom

On withered stalks

Until the end


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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

just. call me.

messages clog my phone
reminders that I'm
feeling too much,
feeling too much.

i say
come find me on your cigarette break
we'll talk later
maybe.
baby.

you say
come find me when you've got some time
we have to hang out soon
call me
baby.
maybe.

i say
save me from this place
I hate it here.
I hate it here.

you say
what's new with you?
found someone yet?
we're still screwing.
right?

i say
gotta go,
I'll call you
call you later,
baby,
maybe.


~RS
November, 2005
Used With Permission


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Monday, September 18, 2006

Blogger's Creed

This we know:

The earth does not belong to man;

man belongs to the earth.

This we know.

All things are connected like the blood which unites one family.

All things are connected.

Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.

Man did not weave the web of life:

he is merely a strand in it.

Whatever he does to the web,

he does to himself.


-Attributed to Chief Seattle, 1854


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Sunday, September 17, 2006

My Home Town #3

Anoka Water Tower

Anoka Water Tower

Water Is Drawn From Deep Wells

One Of Four



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Saturday, September 16, 2006

You May Already Be a Weiner!

Scratch-offs

For some unfathomable reason, I was in a panic today about some scratch-off lottery tickets that I had received last summer for my birthday. I searched the usual litter dumps in the house (kitchen counter, magazine basket, beneath the couch, etc.,) and finally found it on top of the piano (where I had left it.) I never buy these things, to tell the truth, I don't really understand how they work. I mean, you pay one or two or three dollars for a chance to win one or two or three dollars? Give me the Powerball, a dollar ticket could bring you a hundred million dollars! Not very likely, but then the chance of me winnning anything on these things just about as good. I scrutinized them carefully, but then realized there was a code number written on the card that said how much, if anything, you won. I won a few bucks on twenty-five dollars worth of tickets. The gift that keeps on giving. I was already a weiner, this episode definitely proves it.


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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Too Many Brains

Left brain, Right brain, Reptilian brain, even the good old Vagus Nerve or the Solar plexus can be tought of as a brain of some sort. With all these brains fighting it out inside a person there is also that new comer "emotional intelligence". Flannery O' Connor wrote of "Wise Blood", and we here in the US of A have a president that judges complex international relations with his "gut feeling". "Why there's more brains in my little finger than in that man's whole head" or so the saying goes. Pink Floyd was "Comfortably Numb"... that's sounding more appealing every day, certainly more so than "staying the course", what ever course that may be...


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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reality burst open, and I tumbled out.

"But there is another aspect to all of this. Think about it this way. It is your own personality that draws such people to you. Maybe it's not you who goes out and consciously seeks them out, maybe they flock to you because you attract them."

"You're right you know. Normal, gentle, humane people just bore me to death."

***
Sometimes I think we need sleep because consciousness is poisonous.



~RS
May, 2005
Used With Permission


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Monday, September 11, 2006

The Gig-Cutters

A horn section is a peculiar animal. In a small band, they often have "head" arrangments, sort of winging it, but sort of not. They have their own language, a group of idioms and shortcuts that enable them to play together, in harmony, and sound good with minimal rehearsal. We use to call that "Cutting the Gig". When you bring together guys that grew up together, even though they have been apart for years, it can still click. Today was a day like that, a CD release party, with guys coming in from NY and Wisconsin. Playing as if they had never been apart. A lot of the old crowd was there, and they are truly an old crowd now. But the music- certainly the horn section- was as young as ever. Thanks, Max, Paul and Rochelle. You cut the gig.

Horns


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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Song On The Radio

The organ pedal notes and the nervous snare come over the car radio, I'm returning from an errand, It only takes a second for me to identify the song, and when the singer comes in it all comes flooding back...

we live on a mountain right at the top

...the lyric describes a fairy tale, an idyll...

there's a beautiful view from the top of the mountain

...but if I had grown up seeing Esja every morning it would seem normal...

every morning i walk towards the edge and throw little things off

...she describes the imp of the perverse that lives in all of us...

like: car-parts, bottles and cutlery or whatever i find lying around

...never has littering sounded so romantic...

it's become a habit a way to start the day

...and the raw passion of a woman toward her lover...

i go through this before you wake up

...ambivalent, confused feelings...

so i can feel happier to be safe up here with you

...when I first went to Iceland, I knew little about the singer...

it's real early morning no-one is awake

...and then, when I returned home, I discovered her, a bit at a time...

i'm back at my cliff still throwing things off

...her triumphs and tragedies...

i listen to the sounds they make on their way down

...I became enchanted...

i follow with my eyes 'til they crash

...infatuated...

i imagine what my body would sound like

...the beauty of her poetry and its severity overwhelmed me...

slamming against those rocks

...I returned to Iceland, with my eyes opened this time...

and when it lands will my eyes be closed or open?

...and began to really discover the place and its people...

i go through all this before you wake up

...a bit at a time...

so i can feel happier to be safe again with you


...the arrangement dissolves, the instrumentation becomes sparser, the snare disappears, then the bass, and when the percolating synths stop the string quartet is left to play alone, a wistful, descending pattern... The DJ is kind enough to let the song fade to silence... I reach home and the mood is broken, but the imagery remains... And I shall return...


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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Seasonal Equipoise

I went down to the river last night, camera and tripod in tow, intent on securing some time exposures of the Giddings Gazebo on the lower Rum River. This structure is all that remains of a group of stoneworks which were constructed on the river's edge, a place where our city's first cultural pioneer would practice his clarinet on warm summer days nearly a century ago.

Last night was still warm, summer had not skimped on the temperature this year- altogether a delightful evening. It was quite still, as if the season was at a tipping point, indeed, in twenty-four hours it would be twenty-four degrees cooler. I shot the roll (120 TMX) and went home, it was after 10 P.M. yet still balmy.

Morning came in with the north wind and the temps dropped all day. Tonight I searched through my closet and brought out the warmer clothes, putting my shorts and Hawaiian shirts to the rear; that Lopi sweater, the leather shirt and the Merino wool, all marched out to the fore. Summer is over for the year, we'll have a few more warm days, but no more warm nights...

Equipoise


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Thursday, September 07, 2006

"Simple Meals Are Best...

... and if that is indeed the case, this is the best meal yet. Two-fer-one breaded shrimp, fresh out of a box, precooked, just heat, eat, and pretend to enjoy...hmmm forgot to buy vegetables at the store...how's about some yummy corn, fresh out of a frost-covered box- this meal is turning out heavy on the yellow foods- and if that corn is great, then how about some corn chips- making it even better...and yellow as well...ok, ok, I found something green in the back of the fridge, but that 5 month old sour cream is going straight into the garbage- even I have some limits...here we are! dill pickles- what's that you say, you won't eat anything so obviously phallic? They're only baby dills- uncut- I suppose if we drank enough wine, this meal would start to taste pretty good; that's a new hobby that's best not started..."


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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

roller coaster

climb aboard the roller coaster, contact- it is like a gun cocking then bang you're off, a rocky start, chugging up and up, higher and higher and then the peak- a momentary stillness and then everything goes rushing by faster, faster, faster, bang around the bend and then another and another and then up and down bang bang bang and then you come to a stop, back where you started, but you aren't the same it's never the same afterwards but it is still good...

"again?"

"i'm not 18 anymore..."


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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

far away islands.

She had taken a moment to step away from herself.
She needed to observe the scenery. She needed to examine her coordinates. She had finally given herself a moment to soak it all in. And, indeed, she did. Closed her eyes and counted to ten.

Then opened her eyes and embraced the world she now had decided to live in. Her island. Her self-created paradise. It was worth fighting for. It was worth the tears and anger. It was worth losing friends for. It was worth everything. Because this was a beauty she had never seen before.
Here she stood. On a ledge. Past a new threshold. Sunsets and treetops. Glancing over and seeing the clear blue oceans. Begging her to plummet into the depths of its waters. How wonderfully beautiful. How wonderfully lucky of her. How odd that she fears diving head first into...what do the townspeople call it?
Oh, yeah, love.
Behind her is the past. Her past. Enslaving her mind. Telling her what love should be.
But is love supposed to be the exact same for every person? Should everyone have a carbon copy love? Is every situation and person so alike that there can't be different kinds of love?
Want to dive head first into love? No fear? No questions? No ifs, ands, or buts?
Then let it go.
She ran headfirst. Never looking back. With all her heart. Closing her eyes. Spreading her arms as she fell into the ocean waters below. She fell into love. She fell into no fairytale romances. She fell into no expectations. She fell into the promise that fear wouldn't stop her from loving. She fell into being the girl who loved and was loved in return.
And slinking away from the water onto the sandy shore, she feels the sun beat on her skin. The plants between her fingertips. Specks of sand embedded on her skin. Then her eyes fell onto a vision of beauty. She secretly smiles.
He wakes up and turns to her and says, "You have the sweetest smile."
She was (finally) ready to love him rotten.


~RS
January, 2005
Used With Permission


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Monday, September 04, 2006

Seventh Grade English

From day one, we all knew that this class would be different. The grade school teachers we had had before were all older women, women shaped by two world wars and the great depression, women living in a past that not only no longer existed, but a past that had been ruthlessly destroyed, Jazz Babies brought down to earth by grim reality. The sixties had only recently started, a new, youthful president had given the nation hope for a new world, one that looked forward, not backward. The new English teacher was definitely made from this newer mold- fresh out of college, very much into the present age, vivacious, witty and drop-dead gorgeous. Just what a thirteen-year-old boy needed.

Whenever a student needed to be in the halls during class-time, they needed a pink paper "pass" to show to any hall monitor. Her passes were perfumed. When discussing drama, most teachers would play a movie illustrate a point. She would act it out herself. With body language. She also directed the talent show, the lucky kids were those on the stage crew, not the stage, they got to be with her all the time (and went with her on a year-end picnic), and she knew her stagecraft.

By the time the end of seventh grade came around, she was sporting a big diamond ring- we all knew what that meant. She married a lawyer that summer, but she did come back for another year, and then was gone...

I ran into her about fifteen years later, at an outdoor art fair. She was still married, her husband was with her, she actually remembered me, and it was nice to see her again (still looking fabulous) but her husband didn't think it was such a good idea for her to be talking to a long-haired twenty-something.

Elaine is pushing 70 by now, I can't picture her retired in the usual sense of the word, of course to me she'll always be as she was- on that first day of seventh grade English.


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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Stale Pop

Galeno's Grocery

Another neighborhood grocery of my youth was the notorious "Galeno's", little more than a shack, a purveyor of pop and candy, with a few boxes of cereal and soap, toliet paper and little else lining the shelves. When I was quite young I would make the two-block trek there to buy baseball cards, cards that would be worth big money now. They were probably the only things of worth that were ever sold there, albeit taking thirty years to appreciate. When we were teens, the standing joke was that Galeno's sold stale pop. We always wondered how he managed to stay in business for forty years; the picture above was taken in the mid 1980's, not long before it was finally condemmed. Perhaps he sold numbers? He was always talking on the phone in the back room. For several years there was a trailer that his daughter lived in behind the store. We wondered about her also.


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Friday, September 01, 2006

Batty Does Best Buy

The Bard of Hibbing was calling, who was I to refuse? Pedaling over to the ill-designed Riverdale Commons shopping center my way led to Best Buy, a huge retail chain selling consumer electronics and appliances. I knew they'd have Bob's latest Modern Times, I surpressed my pride and went in. I checked out the digital cameras, just for fun I tried to figure out the operation of a couple. I pass on that for now, I really should get something before my upcoming trip, I can't stuff my luggage with all the gear I took last time, when I could carry it on. If I didn't have to print these images at work all day ("Why can't I make a 20x30 from a two megabyte file?") I would be a little more eager...

...Back to the task at hand, Bob's CD, $9.99, I won't find it cheaper than that, I suppose...although I just got last year's double CD No Direction Home for $2 yesterday... Made my way to the check out, a bored young woman slurred, "Ya wantchabestbuydiscontcrdferanaddnitnaldahler?" What did she say? Was she trying to sell a service package for the CD? I thought it over a bit but I've learned it is better to just say "No, Thanks, No." "That'll be 10-64." I handed her a twenty.

"Can I have yer phone number?" For a cash transation? Or was she coming on to me? Maybe she was going to invite me to a Dylan party? Oh wait...corporate wants information, that was it... My response this time was a bit more terse: "No."
I should have given her "634-5789" but I'm sure she would have missed the joke. Although if she did catch it, I might have gotten that party invite!

And what of Mr. Dylan's latest? Like an old worn sweater, a broken-in chair, comfortable but showing its age... Bob still has his way with words, though.


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