Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Elusive Search For Truth

Watching a weekend morning talk show on MSNBC, "UP, with Chris Hayes" where they discuss many things but mostly political they came up with a notion while having a discussion on Global Warming with a panel that had a couple of Atheists on it as well as an Agnostic, also a couple of believers, but not fundamentalists, that much of what we believe is not from conclusions that we arrive at after careful consideration but rather trusting in certain sources, like renowned scientists or maybe religious leaders. I guess I already knew this instinctively but it was not up front in my consciousness. The notion makes a lot of sense but it sort of shakes the faith one has in oneself. I don't know about you but I like to think that I come to the serious conclusions about serious things on my own path of discovery.

When I think about all my mind has thought about enabling me to arrive at concepts and conclusions there is a relatively small percentage that I own outright, while there are more beliefs I have based on the acceptance of conclusions reached by others whom I consider experts in their field. Thinking about this phenomenon it seems perfectly rational for who has the time, energy or background to personally investigate all the important event that capture our imagination and intelligence.

I believe in evolution and global warming, climate change but I guess I hang my hat on the conclusions on what others have said about it all and it makes sense. There seems to be enough well known scientists who have investigated the subjects and come to the conclusion that the evidence points to the fact that carbon emissions are escalating climate change and the earth and its inhabitants are much older and more complex than religious writings might suggest. One of the panelists on the program "UP" was a noted Atheist proponent of evolution and was outspoken on the subject but when asked his position on climate change he would only say he believed in the scientific community's conclusion but relied on other experts in the field since he couldn't speak of his own research. I found this very interesting. He had plenty of arguments pushing evolution refuting the religious stance that the earth was only some 5000 years old but once out side of his field of expertise he would state his position based on findings by other experts whom he trusted.

Many of our beliefs are the result of the accident of birth. I was born into a Catholic family and before I had any chance or ability to think about it I was knee deep in the religion. As I grew up much of what I believed was what my Mom, Grandmother and religious leaders, Priests, Nuns told me or rather rammed down my throat. Another individual born thousands of miles away would have an all together different view of the universe and its origins based on what he or she was told. Both that far away person and I would hold views perhaps very dis-similar yet we would hold them as truths based on the authority and force of the people and experts in our environment.

Once we have to go to work we spend most of our time expanding knowledge in our field of endeavor picking up bits and pieces of information about subjects which interest us for entertainment or knowledge sake. The peculiar part to all this is once we get the chance to investigate some of what has been told we, I, usually find everything is not as it was explained to us, there are nuances which greatly affect the conclusions foisted upon us, not all the time but in many cases.

This little bit of knowledge I have picked up from "UP" will make me be a little less certain about arguments when presented to me. The arguments I will present will be tempered by the very fact that I know a lot less that I thought I knew and the same can be said for my antagonist.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I Remember You

He was struggling  to get some sleep tossing around in a bed that seemed so empty since she left him. The argument that started out more like kidding about what? He didn't remember. All he knew was that their voices started to rise and words were coming out of their mouths in reckless abandon. Before they realized it things that were said opened wounds that cut to the bone and caused a bleeding deep within their spirits. The next morning he woke to find that she left leaving a short curt note that said she would never forgive him for the wounds he perpetrated upon her that night. A few weeks passed and his life seemed to be a deep dark chasm into which he was bound feeling the void that only she could fulfill.

He sat up in bed and groped for his cigarettes. He lit a Lucky and took a deep drag letting the warm smoke find its way into his lungs. He thought "I've got to give these things up before they kill me.", but he needed them now. His life without her was as empty as his bed and quite frankly he didn't care if he died because living without her was a living hell. He got up and went to the liqueur cabinet figuring a shot of Vodka might help him get to sleep. He poured himself a shot and drank it as deeply as he had inhaled his cigarette.  He snuffed out his Lucky and returned to bed. The Vodka did help and he found himself drowsing into the land of  nod. But this was not a peaceful sleep rather it was one which had his life with her fly though his mind at such a fast rate that it left him breathless in his dreams. He was reliving his happiest times, the times they laughed, sat through the most boring plays only to laugh about it as they drank their cocktails while they just enjoyed being together. He relived the times they had made love with such soaring spirits of love and lust. Then suddenly, she was gone and he was left alone in what seemed a wasteland. He found himself in the middle of crowds of people, eating and drinking yet among them all he was alone because he no longer had her. Then suddenly he was completely alone in darkness when he heard these words coming from inside of himself:

Gone is the Romance so divine
Tis broken and cannot be mended
You must go your way and I must go mine
But now that our love dreams have ended

What'll I do
When you are far away
And I am blue
What'll I do

What'll I do
When I am wondering who
Is kissing you
What'll I do

What'll I do with just a photograph
To tell my troubles to

When I'm alone with only dreams of you
That won't come true
What'll I do

What'll I do with just a photograph
To tell my troubles to

When I'm alone with only dreams of you
That won't come true

Then the words stopped and there was nothing but darkness. The next day his neighbors came by and found him in his bed, expired.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Thoughts About This & That

In this age of social contact we find ourselves communicating via Twitter, Facebook and of course just plain Email. The art of letter writing just seems to be gone forever. Snail mail no more. In many ways this is too bad because so much can be poured out in a written communication that is just between two parties. All the rest of this Internet stuff somehow finds it way into a more than communication between two individuals. I can't blame the computer for this lost art though because before the computer became popular I found that in general people just didn't want to spend that quiet time with pen in hand pouring out ideas and feelings to be shared with someone who was far enough away not to be called or visited but always close enough to keep in contact with via the US Post Office. I guess the advent of the cell phone and texting with all it's shorthand has contributed to the lost art of letter writing. I do find the texting shorthand contributing to this generation's loss of using well written and spoken English. Se la vie!

Speaking about communicating, I wonder when it becomes evident that the one you are communicating with no longer wants to continue the relationship but doesn't know how to come right out and tell you so. I have been contacted at various times through AARP, some social sites etc. and have had some nice contacts and all of a sudden the emails become shorter, or don't come as regularly. At times I might inquire as to how everything was going and then all of a sudden there is no mail at all. This makes me wonder, did the person suddenly get ill, or die, or just get tired of the conversation? A few times I just didn't initiate any response to the non-response and suddenly I received a nasty correspondence kissing me off for being unfeeling. Ah what's one to do? I shall leave this question up in the air.

Sometimes people assume too much and we all know what happens when we assume as put by Felix Unger, "We make an Ass out of you and me!". One time this lady from Pennsylvania stuck up a Email correspondence with me for a few months before Thanksgiving. About a month before Thanksgiving she asked what I would be doing on the holiday to which I informed her I'd be with my children and their family to which she managed to tell me she'd like to come . Now I thought this was a bit unusual since she had to travel about 150 miles one way and of course my kids would think I was crazy inviting some from that distance whom I really didn't know. I tried to evade the real reason why this wasn't going to happen until about a week before she became adamant and I became truthful and told her she was loco for the reasons I mentioned above. She responded with a scathing Email calling me all kinds of names which I shall not repeat here. I responded with  a terse rejoinder,"I guess this means we aren't friends anymore?". I won't bother to tell you her response but needless to say we do not correspond anymore.

Modern day athletes are really something and the New York Knicks have a bunch of them led by Carmelo Anthony who are mega millionaires and mega liars with gigantic egos. The Knicks were a terrible Basketball team for so long that when they were starting to become good the owner decided he had to have Carmelo Anthony. Anthony joined the team and it retrogressed. This year Anthony got hurt and this let a bunch of no-names led by Jeremy Lin to some exciting play and a winning record that is until Anthony returned and then they became awful again. The coach resigned. Anthony said he didn't have anything to do with it but of course he was lying since he refused to play in the offensive system the coach wanted and Anthony played very little defense. Now with the coach gone Anthony has played two hustling games, and the Knicks are exciting again. I guess you can't fire the team these days so the coach has to go so the guys will play up to the level they are getting paid to play. In the old days the players were never more important than the Manger or Coaches and they had to play or they'd be shipped out no matter how big they were. Of course the owners took advantage of the situation which has led to the current situation where the player, the STAR, rules. All this is no good for the sport or the fans especially for the children who look up to these guys as heroes. They are not good examples, in general, to be followed. Some are, most AIN'T.

A solider who is sent back for his fourth deployment in a war, Afghanistan, has lost part of his foot and had a brain injury in an earlier deployment in Iraq. He snaps and commits atrocities killing men, women and children. Terrible, and of course he will pay for this as someone should. BUT, isn't the system at fault. We keep sending our men back until they break. Where was the chain of command? How could those who oversee the troops miss this? What about the Doctors who cleared him for duty? AND what the hell are we doing there anyway? We've accomplished our mission. The Afghans don't want us there. So let's get the hell out. AND before we jump into the next war, God forbid, let's make sure we are prepared for a good exit  strategy as well as an entry strategy. I would suggest re-instituting a draft so every one can feel the horrors and burdens of any conflict and maybe if we all feel the onus the population will force our leaders NOT TO GO INTO ANY WAR!

April 8, 2012, Easter. Rejoice and be glad! Yes even with the horrors around us there is good reason to rejoice in Jesus' Resurrection because it bring hope, that there is a good and loving God who will make sure those who mistreated horribly will have comfort, joy and happiness as will all of us who try to better this world even if it is in the smallest way possible, bringing a smile to one who is crying or feeding multitudes it doesn't matter. A single act can cause a ripple effect that can be tsunami of good works alleviating many evils. This is the message of Easter.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Know I'm Getting Old When......

I know I'm getting old when:

I can say with impunity I really don't think it was necessary for Simpson to pose nude for Elle when she looks like she is ready to give birth to sextuplets. It just isn't pretty!

Rush Limbaugh can say that young, beautiful women are having sex, sex, sex all the time and I don't care.

I know I'm getting old when:

I can remember when Basketball was not a contact sport and the players were underpaid.

I can remember when the real revenue maker for baseball was the tickets bought at games not the merchandising generated by selling items that makes grown men who wear them or display them look like fools, and the players were underpaid.

I know I'm getting old when:

There is a big wind that causes that pretty young thing's dress to blow up in the air and I put my head down and grab my Yankee cap because the cap is more important than her legs and the color of her bloomers.

I use the term bloomers for panties, or thongs and everybody laughs except the members of my Senior club.

I know I'm getting old when:

I really am not frightened when I am threatened with fire and brimstone by the preacher for having impure thoughts since I have forgotten what they are.

I am really not frightened by the preacher who is telling me from the pulpit that unless I tithe I will go to hell because 10% of nothing is still nothing.

I know I am getting old when:

I try to run across the street and all parts of my body is in motion yet I seem to be standing still and yet the cars refuse to hit me.

I arrive at a door at the same time a big hulking guy arrives, he is going out and I am going in. I gird myself for a confrontation. I'm not going to get out of the way and he steps aside and says. "After you sir.". The bastard!

I know I am getting old when:

The only girls that I attract are older than me.

That when I ogle a pretty young thing she giggles and whispers to her friend "He's a cute old guy.".

I know I am getting old when:

Just the thought of having a glass of wine gets me sleepy.

Too much of anything to drink including water is too much for obvious reasons.

The guys I went to grammar school get together and I am the youngest one there. Boy have they gotten old.

I know I am getting old when:

I can't remember what I wanted to say after  I started to say it. But I shall stay forever young by knowing when to leave and that is what I am doing now, I think.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Guardian Angels Never Fail

I think it was circa 1963 or so. The world seemed right for his songs. A few years earlier Chanel 11, then owned by The Daily News, had a show called The Ted Steele Show and one of his songs was featured. He was interviewed with one of his partners and he met Skitch Henderson and his Actress wife and the song was published. A few years later he had a couple of his songs featured on a Jazz album which had solos by Zoot Sims, a Downbeat favorite. He figured it would only take some time before he would be featured on a hit album by some pop singer, Frank Sinatra would be nice. So when he saw that ASCAP was holding a week long seminar closing with a show of unpublished songs by up and coming composers he figured he would submit some of his songs to be included. Down deep he figured probably nothing would come of this but nothing ventured nothing gained. He mailed in copies of the music and lyrics and promptly forgot about it but lo and behold, he received an answer two weeks later that his songs were accepted requesting him to call a person for details.

He called ASCAP and asked what was required in the presentation, and of course the date and time. This was going to be a big thing. The event was to be held at a smaller hall around the street from Carnegie Hall in NYC which was expected to draw about 300 publishers and friends. He was assured that nothing special was needed in the presentation, only a singer and piano player would be needed. He thought this would be a great show case which could lead to his big break.

He had a month to prepare. He played Trumpet but his partner played piano. They needed a singer but to be quite truthful neither of them had enough money to hire anyone so they tried to put it together with his wife singing. His wife had a great voice but no musical training. They got together over the pianist house and tried to explain that he would play four bars as an intro and she'd come in on the fifth bar, with four beats to the measure all she had to do is come in on the 21st. beat. Try as the might she just couldn't get it right, she was either a half beat too early or too late. After an hour of trying she broke down in tears. The next hour was spent in trying to comfort her and trying to think of who they could get to perform for about 15 minutes for no money only the chance to be heard by some professionals who might open a few doors for them. They finally found a pretty good male singer who wanted to do this, so they spent a week rehearsing. He knew it would be a bare bones presentation and started to get cold feet so he called his ASCAP contact and was assured that "bare bones", a piano player and singer would be fine as all the other presenters weren't doing anything special. So everything was "go" and "Godspeed ahead", maybe this would be the break to propel them forward.

Finally the big day came, I should say the big night. They met at 7 PM at the hall around the corner from Carnegie with the contact from ASCAP and was told they had to fill the last 15 minutes of an hour and a half show. There would be four presenters before them and they'd close the show. Being the closing act only put more pressure on them because if those who preceded were terrific it could diminish what the closing act would present. The ASCAP contact assured them that it everything should run smoothly because everyone was probably at the same talent level and the audience was always very receptive in the past and he saw no reason why they would not be now.

The first presentation started and he stood at the rear of the orchestra with his buddies. The stage was already set up with sets. Apparently the first presenters were showing a scene from an original musical and had a group small group of musicians backing them up. When they concluded to a nice ovation they had to break down their set and the next one was setting up their scene which was from an original Opera with full costume and a larger group of musicians including strings. He was starting to sweat profusely. All he saw were costumes, a lot of musicians, very good operatic and Broadway Stage voices and one even had acrobats performing. He was sure he, they were going to look foolish and be laughed off the stage. When he talked of his presentation being bare bones he didn't realize that when compared to what had been put on before his closing act his bare bones would be full nudity and tomfoolery. They were led backstage as the penultimate act was setting up. He was sweating profusely and he wanted to run away somewhere to a bar and get ripping drunk but there was no where to run. He was near full panic as he noticed his partner and singer were getting ready to panic also. He gave them comforting words and said he had it all under control and would handle it in the introduction. After he told them that he was even more in a panic because he didn't know what to say since he only just found out that he was to introduce them. He was near wetting his pants or fainting but he knew he couldn't do either so he did the only thing he could do in this circumstance cried out in his mind to his Guardian Angel for help. He begged, pleaded and spiritually got down on his knees but his mind remained a blank. Suddenly he heard the person on stage introducing him. He was going out on the stage in front of 300 professionals in the music industry and he didn't have any idea what to say or how to rescue their presentation after such professional presentations came before their closing act.

He came out on the stage and couldn't see anything as the spotlights were blinding but he knew they were there, the audience, because they gave him a round of applause as his greeting. His last prayer to his Guardian Angel before he would attempt to say anything was that he was disappointed in him because he was hanging him out to dry. He stepped up to the mike and suddenly the words just started to flow out:

"Thank you for your warm reception. This has been a wonderful evening, hasn't it? There were four wonderful show time presentations with great music. (Applause) But to close I want to bring you back to a time in our business when things weren't so glitzy, when a songwriter would show up in a publishers office, or perhaps in a music store, to showcase his latest creations with only a piano and a singer. So I want you to close your eyes and dream of those good old days and listen to our songs which are sweet love songs, not rock and roll, but melodies with heart. Close your eyes, and listen and enjoy." My partners must have gotten the idea because as they rolled out the Steinway onto the stage my piano player was in shirtsleeves with them rolled up smoking a cigar and the singer had loosened his tie and opened his shirt button. They performed and when it was over they got a standing ovation. He did manage to ask his Guardian Angel to forgive him for doubting that he would help him out of this jam since he always came through when he asked him. But this time it was one for the books, something that will never be forgotten


Afterwards they mingled with the publishers in the lobby of the theater and were told that out of all the presentations they liked theirs the best BUT, while the songs were good they didn't have what was selling "Today" which was Rock and Roll. Most suggested that theirs were the songs that Ella (Fitzgerald) and Frank (Sinatra) would do and if they could get them interested then their songs would sell. I"d like to say that Frank and Ella loved the songs and they became big music stars, that's what I'd like to say but it didn't happen. What did happen was miracle enough, for that night God smiled on three guys who could've been losers but for that night, were winners and that is all that matters.