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Archive for July, 2010

Today’s additions are again from my youth.  The first is from the musical (and film) “Paint Your Wagon”.  The lyrics are to “Wand’rin’ Star“, although I’ve always know it as “I Was Born Under A Wandering Star“.  The lyric I love in this is: “Do you know where Hell is? Hell is in hello. Heaven’s in good-bye forever, It’s time for me to go…
I guess the line meant a lot to me because I always felt friends and places come and go, and, when I start to get comfortable, I start looking for change.  I believe that’s why I ultimately have found the information technology field so interesting as a career – because it’s constant change.
What makes the musical really interesting (to me) though was the message it placed on the value of women in the Old West.  The film shows two men coming to an “understanding” on marrying a single woman.  In the end, one moves away because he feels the other two belong together.  It always struck me as a story of love and friendship.  He “loves” her as well as his friend, but he knows in his own heart of hearts that she will be happier with his friend.  He also realizes the town they are living in is becoming settled and he needs to move on to someplace “less”.
It has always struck me this was a very un-PC (politically correct) movie and I’ve wondered why it was just viewed as entertainment.  It seemed to say something about the power of women in the west.  As it happens (I believe), the West was NOT really the first place for women to gain the right to vote.  I understand, the earliest place in the US to allow women voting was actually New Jersey back in the 1770’s.  Of course, there was a qualification – they had to be propertied and worth at least $250 – a fairly princely sum back in those days.  Women subsequently lost the right when the state laws were changed to stop blacks from voting – the law was changed to allow only white males to vote.
Another interesting bit of trivia is that Wyoming is generally considered the first state to allow women to vote and hold elected office.  I’m not really sure if this is true because I understand this was passed while Wyoming was a territory and not a state.  Anyway, maybe some good reader will look this up and let me know…
The second lyrics are another shout out against the darkness: “I Am, I Said“.  I always felt this song made Neil Diamond the petulant counter to Bob Dylan (“Like A Rolling Stone“) or a similar story to Paul Simon (“I Am A Rock“).  My favorite phrase is: “Did you ever read about a frog, who dreamed of becoming a king – and then became one“.  It’s almost like a song referring to a fairy tale to create its imagery.
Enjoy…
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When I was very young, I loved country music.  As I grew older, I discovered R&B and Rock.  My tastes grew to include most of the music we generally remember from the 60’s thru to today – ballads, show-tunes (musicals), Pop, Disco, and folk music.  Some artists transcend the trends of today and become – for me, anyway – kind of living legends.  Part of that comes from individual songs or albums being great and part of it comes from longevity and the sheer magnitude and volume of work they have created…
To me, one of the greatest song writers of all time is Willie Nelson.  Yes, he’s been writing (and performing) since the 50’s.  Yes, he’s put out a Godzillion number of albums.  Yes, he’s managed to crossover (on occasion) to mainstream and not so mainstream.  Yes, he’s had more million seller singles than I have fingers and toes.  But, he also means something more…
I’m not sure how to define what “more” is, but I  see it in more than 20 years of “FarmAid” concerts, I see it in the hole in the front of Willie’s guitar, I see it (and hear it) in the lyrics of his songs.  One of my favorites is “Hello Walls“.   If you can measure “true” poetry – whatever that is – by how it plays on your ears as well as your heart, consider the lines: “Is that a teardrop in the corner of your pane? Don’t try to tell me that it’s rain.” as the singer talks to a window.  I imagine the window thinks: “Is that a raindrop in the center of your pain?  Don’t try to tell me that it’s not.”  (Yes, I know my rhyme isn’t as good as his!  He’s Willie Nelson, not me.)
Anyway, the play on sounds (pane vs. pain) has always seemed brilliant to me and I would love the lyrics if for nothing else than this one verse.
My second addition to the poetry page is not a poem at all.  It’s actually a speech.  The Gettysburg Address is probably one of, if not the most famous speech in American history.  I’ve taken some liberties with Mr. Lincoln’s prose and reformatted it as if it were a poem.  When I read the Gettysburg Address, this is the way I imagine it being said.
The more I read about American history and the Civil War, the more I read about Lincoln and think about true leadership, the more I come to understand the meaning of giving “the last full measure of devotion” in order “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  I pray for those in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan and throughout the world.
I pray our President will see the folly of continuing pointless wars and that he will bring our sons and daughters home!
In the meantime, we all need to agree to disagree.  We need to remember you can disagree with someone without hating them for their views. We need to work hard for the side we honestly support as being the best for all Americans (not just us as individuals), and we need to VOTE and encourage others to vote!  Vote in November and vote in 2012!!
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Ok, so today I’ve moved a couple of photos off of my cell phone, over to my PC and now I’ve uploaded them into my Blog…
The photos are me in my “Change Can Happen” T-Shirt and my new Vibram FiveFingers – KSOs (Keep Stuff Out) shoes. They feel like you’re wearing expensive driving gloves on your feet. Sooooo Cool!!!

Kevin supporting "Change Can Happen"

Kevin supporting “Change Can Happen”

My VFF-KSOs

Vibram FiveFingers-Keep Stuff Out (KSO)

Next are some photos of the great meals Hil has been making for us since we started on our Fat-Smash diet. Very vegan, but still delicious and surprisingly filling.

Tonight's dinner: Baked Bell Peppers stuffed with rice pilaf and salad

Tonight’s dinner: Baked Bell Peppers stuffed with rice pilaf and salad

Avacado, Pinto Beans, Peas and Bok Choy

Avacado, Pinto Beans, Peas and Bok Choy

And finally, a photo of Mom, my sister (Carm), Sarah, Hil and my nephew (Sean Jr.)

Mom, Carm, Sarah, Hil and Sean Jr.

Mom, Carm, Sarah, Hil and Sean Jr.

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Tonight I’m playing with linking my blog to my Facebook account.  Theoretically, I’ll finally start to post something on my Facebook Wall without any extra work.
If anyone is out there – let me know if this works.
Ok.  So, I checked it myself and this is now going to my FB wall.
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Today I’ve added a bunch of lyrics and two poems.  One of the poems, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was actually a poem before it was converted to a song.  The other poem (“Fire And Ice“)  is another of the one’s I learned while a child.  I memorized it because it was meaningful – but mostly because it was short.

 

Next, I’ve added two more patriotic lyrics: “America, The Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner“.  My favorite line from America is “crown thy good, in brotherhood, thy liberty, in law”.

 

The next two are martial (as well as nationalistic), but they represent a very strong side of my personality: “The Ballad of the Green Berets” and “The Marine’s Hymn“.  I always thought I’d grow up to be a Marine, but then I found out they were actually part of the Navy and were mostly based on ships.  Since I didn’t know how to swim and was terrified of the water for most of my life – that was out!  My poor vision kept me out of consideration for a lot of occupations in my life.  I definitely would have considered being Airborne, Ranger and Special Forces.  I guess God had other plans…

 

The final two additions today are both about thinking back.  The first is by Billy Joel, who – for a brief period – was one of my favorite pop stars: “Keeping the Faith“.  The second, is another by Jim Croce: “Operator“.  Sometimes you want sooo bad to make that call — then, never mind!

 

 

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It’s another hot day here in Concord, CA.  Sooooo,…  I went to the movies again!
This time I went with my oldest daughter (Rebecca) and my son (James).  We went to see “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice“.  It’s a Disney flick, so it’s kids appropriate (both of mine are in their 20’s), but we still really enjoyed it.  If you’ve ever seen the classic Disney film, “Fantasia“, you already have a good idea what the film is about.  As a matter of fact, one main scene is lifted right from Fantasia.  But in the end, who cares?!  It’s a light, summer, good-time movie.  It’s got decent special effects, a decent plot (it’s a kids summer movie – don’t think about it too hard!), the acting is ok, I found myself rooting for the new apprentice, it has a formulaic happy ending (again, so what – it’s Disney!), and it IS entertaining.
The ONLY bad thing about the movie was seeing it the day after viewing “adult-fare” “Inception“, “Apprentice” doesn’t compare well with “Inception” at any level except the special effects.   Still, I would definitely recommend both for the big screen and I will be buying both when they come out on DVD.
Hil and I went out for a very nice Thai dinner after I dropped the kids off.  All in all, a pretty good weekend!
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Today, I went to see the new “DiCaprio” movie: “Inception” with my son, James.  We both really enjoyed it!  This is definitely a movie to see at a theater.  A small screen, even a 50+ inch TV will not do it justice.  The acting is terrific (and I’ve never been a DiCaprio fan) and the special effects are “Matrix” like in so much as they are integral to the movie and not just there to sell a summer action flic/movie.  This is a MUST SEE movie!!
As for the “concept” of inception, I find it amusing there is now a movie about planting ideas in people’s heads.  I always thought that is what entertainment AND education were all about…
I’ve added quite a few items to my poems / lyrics page today.  Two of them, “If” and “Invictus” are (to me) classics of the English language.  The first, (“If”) is obviously about some of the things you (any male or female) has to be able to do to consider themself a “adult”.  I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted to be “grown-up”, let alone “old”, but I have always wanted to be (in my own opinion of myself) the person this poem describes.
The second, “Invictus” is similar in theme, but also subtly different.  I like it because it is not about “hope” (there are many songs and poems about hope) or rising to a new level, it is instead a cry of defiance: “I thank whatever gods may be, for my unconquerable soul.”  It is a refusal to be beaten down.  (Anyone living a life of quiet desperation??)
The third addition, “Affirmation“, is another of the songs I first heard in Saudi and came to love.  Probably half the lines mean something to me personally.  That says something when a single song can touch you at so many different points.  The CD (the group is “Savage Garden”) actually has several GREAT songs on it and is well worth purchasing if you get the chance.
Gimme Three Steps” is one of those simple, likeable songs that “seeps” into your consciousness and keeps repeating until it’s almost in your genetic code.  …And it’s such a “Southern” song.  I want to visit “The Jug”.  It’s a shame the accident killed so much of the original Lynard Skynard group.  I have to wonder how much more great Southern Rock they might have produced.
Have Gun Will Travel” was a black and white TV show from my childhood.  Every episode was about right and wrong, good and evil, and “men” facing up to whatever is required to make things right.  It was also my first exposure (that I recall) to the concept of the Renaissance Man.  The multi-lingual, classically educated and cultured, well-read, martial artist who at one moment is dressed as a “dandy” and the next becomes the “Man In Black”.  You can find the episodes on Country channels and Old TV channels.  I highly recommend watching them if you ever get the chance.  The theme song is only on at the closing credits – when the hero cowboy rides away into the distance (naturally).   I never said the show’s message was subtle!!  I have the first three seasons on DVD.  Unfortunately, the owners of the series have decided to screw their public and broken up the fourth season in to two sets so they can try to squeeze a few extra dollars out of the show’s fan base.  I’m waiting for a consolidated set of discs before I buy the latest season (four).
In MyRoom” is one of many hits from the Beach Boys.  I’m continually amazed at how many hits they had, and yet, they never won a major award (Grammy, are you listening?)  Anyway, this is just one of many of their songs which I love.  This one, in contrast to most of their fun, uplifting songs is a slower, more melancholy song.  But anyone who has spent more than a few moments alone can appreciate the haunting lyrics.  Again, with this song, read the lyrics – then go listen to the song.  The music compliments the words as it always does in great songs.
Finally, there is “Just My Imagination“.  I have so many favorite R&B songs and groups – it’s hard to start saying I really like one more than another.  No, it really isn’t THAT hard – the Temptations ROCK and are my favorite R&B group of all time!!  Anyone who has ever sat at window and seen “the girl next door” stroll by and day-dream about what might be will know exactly how it feels to be in this song.
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I remember reading a poster on a bus when I was riding to school one morning:
“For love is such a mystery,
I cannot find it out;
And when I think it’s best resolved,
I then am most in doubt”.
I’m not sure who wrote it, or even if I’m remembering it correctly, but it’s been a ditty which has stuck with me throughout my life.
And so I offer two “real” love poems, both by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:  “If thou must love me… (Sonnet 14)” and “How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43)“.  Even as a fairly poorly cultured American male, I can recognize some of the most famous lines in poetry.  Some day I’ll have to look up exactly what a “Sonnet” is…  ‘Til then…
Back in the Gym…
I was able to jog again today.  I got in my two miles and then lifted weights.  Some pain in my back – but bearable.  I’m hoping for no pain tomorrow as I’ve got a lot of yard work to plow thru (pun intended).
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A hundred years from now, (assuming humanity hasn’t poisoned itself into extinction) the two songs I’ve added lyrics for today will still be getting played somewhere on the planet (or whatever spaceship humanity is on).
As haunting as the lyrics are though, these are two songs which can best be appreciated only by hearing the original versions.  I offer for your reading pleasure: Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” and The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil“.
On other matters – I’m struggling, but I’m back down to 300 pounds!!  Today, I managed my second 5K this week.  I spent the day in agony (lower back and leg), but it didn’t hurt while I was actually jogging, so I’m grateful for that…
Out in the “real world”, it looks like BP may have finally got a cap on the leaking oil hole in the Gulf of Mexico.  Somehow, we’re supposed to be happy they’ve managed to do it (stop the flow) “ahead of time” — meaning less than 100 days since the well blew.
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Back in Germany, when I was in the Army, my roommate was a former college DJ from Texas.  He found out I enjoyed rhythm and blues music and he turned me on to a group he said was going to be a breakout group “someday”.  They did end up with a few top-40 hits, but they were never as big as I thought they might have been.
The group was Hall and Oates and my favorite song by them is “She’s Gone“.  It has two of my all-time favorite lines from any song in the lyrics.  The first is about getting up, looking in a mirror and looking as worn as a toothbrush hanging in the stand.  If you keep the same brushes as long as I have (DO!), you have a vivid image of how worn out he is.
The second great line is about going to the city to let the carbon and monoxide choke your thoughts away.  Summer nights!  Sometimes, it just beez that way!
As usual, enjoy the imagery and poetry of the lyrics, then go listen to Hall and Oates perform the song!
Gone…
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Imagine if you are the KING of Kings.  Imagine knowing your greatness is such that for a thousand years, no other king could hope to rise to your level of wisdom, generosity, courage, wealth or power…  Would you challenge the mighty with a mocking shout across the void of ages to despair because they can never rise to your level?  Would you pity those who would seek to rise to your fame?  Or would you, (in your wisdom,) issue a warning – couched in a mask of arrogance – that even the mighty are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Ask Ozymandias
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Good.  Then we will fight in the shade.
   —    Dienekes (a Spartan officer)
It is reported by Herodotus, in his Histories, 7.226, that Dienekes was told on the eve of battle (the Battle of Thermopylae) by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that, their arrows would block out the sun.  Dienekes, however, undaunted by this prospect, replied with a laugh: (above)
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Another thing I’ve always loved to do is dance!
It’s joy incarnate.  It’s hope.  It’s play.  When you can feel the music IN you and you’re finally realize that no one really is watching you OR cares how you do it – it is completely liberating.
Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” is a song expressing what every father wishes for their children (NOT just his daughters) and their children, too.  Enjoy reading the lyrics and then go listen to the song!
Today I was able to jog 5K with no pain!  It felt soooo good!  I was completely shattered, because I haven’t been able to go any speed or real time for almost six weeks.
If anyone reading this knows where I can buy or download a copy of “The Jericho Mile“, I’d really appreciate you letting me know.  It’s one of the best running movies ever made.  It was a made for TV movie from back in my childhood.
I’m hanging (inverting) again and it seems to be helping.
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Didn’t get near as much done this week as I’d hoped…
Still no real relief with my back or right calve pain.  I tried jogging on it twice this week.  I got two miles done each time and then it bothered me the rest of the day.  The drinking doesn’t seem to help.  The inversion does, but there a limit to how much I can do and I can’t do it during the day while I’m in the office.
Tomorrow is the finals for the World Cup.  It’s Spain vs Netherlands.  I hope the Dutch win, but I expect it will be Spain.  They really do have a very impressive side.  Germany defeated Uruguay for third place (3-2).
Today I added two more song lyrics pages.  The first is “I Am A Rock” written by Paul Simon.  This is one of the earliest songs I remember memorizing.  I remember being alone a lot and I guess memorizing a song about defensible aloneness made it seem like a choice.  All I really remember was being very shy as a child.  I’m not sure why.  My family “remember” me as a bookworm, but not as particularly shy.
The second song lyrics are from much later: “Like A Rock” written by Bob Seger.  This is a song about youth and strength.  I can remember both of those as well.  There’s a great line that goes, “Twenty years now, Where’d they go?”  I frequently ask myself that question these days.
Since I haven’t been able to jog, I’ve started lifting again at work (in the gym).  It feels good to tighten up and feel the start of getting big again.
Another full eight hours of OT at work.  I’m still behind from by being sick last week.  Slowly, slowly I’m catching up…
I tried to fix our leaky shower today when I got home.  No joy.  I ended up having to call a plumber ($220), but it’s worth it if it’s dripping money down the drain.  Easy come, easy go.  I watched him and learned a lot.  I think I’ll be able to do it correctly next time.
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Some songs you like because the lyrics are meaningful.  Some songs you like because they are just, plain fun to hear.  Every once in a while, there’s one which is both…  Stand!
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