Random Writings and Photos

Random thoughts and/or photos

A NOVEL VIRUS

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on March 22, 2020

Virus-World

New
terror inspiring
I keep wondering when this will be over.
Like endless wars and terrorism.
When do they end?
When will we be safe?
I want the world
to stop hating
to stop fighting
to come out
to rejoice
in our common humanity.
How novel.

Posted in 2020s, current events, eremiticism, Life, madness, misanthropy, poem, poetry, Random Thoughts, World | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Transgressive Spoken Words

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on March 20, 2020

LOVE POEM

Sometimes love
is unrequited.
Painful.

Sometimes love
just ends.
Painful.

Sometimes you wish
it would end.
Painful.

I want to tell you
about a love that
is always always
there for me.

Bacon.

O, bacon, bāācon,
wrapped around my…………..tongue
how I love you
hot and juicy.

O, bacon, tit–illating bāācon
Let my tongue probe you
taste you, devour you.

O, bacon, flirty bāācon
tempt me
satisfy me
stay with me.

O, bacon, bāācon
in my heart forever.
Oooooh, bacon.

Bacon Star

Posted in food, love, madness, My Life, poem, poetry | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

She Was a Queen, book review

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on February 7, 2020

Sometimes I mention books in passing, books which set me thinking, or oddly seemed to reflect events in my life. However, this was not the case with this historical novel, She Was a Queen, written in 1936, by Maurice Collis, who lived in Burma for 20 years.

Queen 1

This a really fascinating story. Although it is ostensibly about the last Queen of Burma, it is also a history of Burma in novel form. I learned a great deal about courtly customs and intrigues, religion, cobras, elephants, and their place in that society. About farming, pagodas, and palaces, and ornamentation, and jewels, and royal ostentation.
The most interesting person was Ma Saw, the Queen, a woman far more intelligent and logical than the Kings she lived with, despite her humble non-royal beginnings, or more likely, because of them. With her abilities, she could have been as cunning as any palace courtier, weaving her way through court intrigues and using politics to dominate the court. However, she was not like that, and wished only to protect and nourish her country. A very well-loved royal, but encumbered by foolish kings who lost the kingdom, through their stupidity, arrogance, preening vanity, and a bit of madness. One would hope we have learned from such examples, but I fear we have not. However, this book is a great read for all of that, with drama, dangers, elaborate executions, outside threats, and miracles.

The novel is based on a Burmese history called the Hmannan Yazawin, or Glass Palace Chronicle. The Chronicle dates form 1829, when King Bagyidaw of Burma appointed a committee of scholars to draw up a definitive history of what had happened in Burma from the earliest times to that present day. The scholars produced a book of several volumes, and it is considered to be the official history of Burma, at least as far as what all concerned believed to be the historical truth. The fifth volume concerns the fall of the Pagān (Burmese: ပုဂံခေတ်, pronounced [bəɡàɴ kʰɪʔ]) dynasty. It was translated into English in 1923, and is the basis upon which Maurice Collis – who tapped other people and resources as well while he lived in Burma – created this novel. With a few minor exceptions, the characters, the structure, and the story come straight from the Glass Palace Chronicle.

 

Posted in Life, madness, Writing | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The One and Only Terry, Not Complaining

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on January 27, 2020

Ivan

I just finished a book, called THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. It’s a children’s story, but I wanted to see what it was about. As I got near the end, my eyes began to feel funny, and as I finished the last line, and turned the page, a tear rolled down my cheek.

Sounds corny, and I know you might not believe me, but if you don’t I might just tear your head off. Ivan wouldn’t do that — he’s a silverback gorilla — but I might. My name’s Terry. I’m a human.

I have a cage too, like Ivan. I can leave it anytime I want, but often I don’t. There are other humans outside my cage. Sometimes, like Ivan, I long to be with others of my kind. Sometimes I do, mostly I don’t. Sometimes I think I’m not like the other humans, especially if I am in my cage too long, as Ivan was. Sometimes I really do enjoy being around other humans, and I act just like them. And I smile, even though I still feel lonely.

Sometimes, in my zoo-cage, I read a book like this one, or watch a movie that makes my eyes tear up, and sometimes tears drip off into my beard. It’s then that I remember what it’s like to be human.

And I remember what it was like to work every day, to live with someone every day, to wake up with them, to eat with them, to watch movies and plays with them, or drink with them, or dance, or travel, or sleep together.

Once in a great while, after two divorces, I found someone to have sex with, and I liked that a lot. And doing things to each other that made ourselves feel fantastic. And I liked the sleeping together the most, the warm body next to me, the feel of skin against skin. Me, making breakfast for us. Eating together. Watching TV, or going out to a movie, or eating in a restaurant together. Or sex in the big overstuffed chair, or in the kitchen, or in the car in a parking lot. But mostly I liked the touchings, the sittings next to each other, or the cuddlings in bed before the most restful sleeps I can have, luxuriating in the warmth and skin of another.

It seems all that is over now. Age creeps in. Habits overtake. The mind slips sometimes — it’s so much harder to write now. Misspelling things a lot, switching letters around, leaving letters out, forgetting words I used to know, having to use a machine to look up spellings and meanings, and not noticing my mistakes sometimes until the second or third read. But I majored in English, and I read every day. Sometimes, no matter how much I liked a book, I forget what it was about. I used to be able to remember whole paragraphs from a book, and where in the book to find a sentence or scene.

And the body is slipping away slowly too. The erratic peeing, sometimes strong and steady, sometimes painfully urgent, sometimes in fits and drips. The heart that almost failed me once. The pills I take. THE ANKLE. The ankle I turned sideways stepping off a curb in August! I hike in the mountains, climbing hills, and stepping on and over large rocks, and running downhill without falling on the loose scree. But for some reason I stretched out and twisted the fuck out of my ankle, months ago, stepping off a curb. It’s much better now, but not entirely healed, which makes me feel less whole. And weaker. And I don’t like that feeling. The pain of the fall was unlike anything I’d ever felt:

— worse then the time I rounded a curve too fast on my motorcycle, and fell in the gravel on the side of the road with my right arm out. That didn’t hurt till later, but it took a year to heal, and I was in my early thirties then.

— worse than the time a car ran into me while I was crossing a street at night, and it pushed me half a block down the street while I was still standing, until the driver noticed me and slammed on the brakes, which slammed me against the asphalt.

— worse than the time a car hit me on my bicycle, sending me flying and crumpling the bike frame under its wheels, or the time a car knocked me off my bicycle, tearing the left pedal completely off, and leaving me with a huge multicolored bruise on my hips and ass.

— worse than the two times I totaled my motorcycles running into vehicles, or the time a car rounded a corner directly into my car head on, and my brain bounced badly off my skull.

No, stepping off that curb did something to my ankle I’d never felt before, sent shooting pain up my leg directly to my brain, and my mouth opened as it went by, and I screamed out loud — something I’d never done before — and when I fell, I pulled on the same nerves, tendons, muscles and ligaments, and I screamed again. But that sharp pain went away immediately after each of those. But there was pain still. Five months ago. But even after wearing a stabilizing boot for two months, and then an ankle wrap, I still feel the changes in my ankle, the not rightness of it. X-rays show a tiny bone chip fracture, but can’t show soft tissue damage. Can’t have an MRI unless I see a physical therapist eight days from now. But I don’t know how much of that the insurance will cover.

See what I mean? Yeah, sure, I have all of my limbs and digits and both eyes and ears, but I don’t like this feeling of gradual decay. I really liked the bicycling, the running through streams over wet, slippery rocks, hiking up a mountain until my lungs felt empty, hiking twenty six miles along the crest of a mountain. I still hike, sure, but there’s a bit of insecurity creeping in. Can I jump off this rock? Can I leap across that sliver of a stream? Or step off that curb? Can I still bicycle a hundred miles?

NOW, DON’T GET ME WRONG – I’M NOT COMPLAINING. It’s good to feel pain, to know I’m alive. It’s good to be alive, to feel the sun, wind, rain and snow on my skin. It’s good to taste food, good coffee, or a glass of good wine. To listen to music, to hang out with people at a play or on a movie set. I still enjoy reading and writing.

It’s very, very good to feel real love for another person, and I do. Love is love.

There are friends I see. Pool games to play. Poetry to listen to or recite. People that I meet. People to talk with. But, sometimes, I still wish for sex, or for just that gentle touch of lips on mine, or the feeling of skin on my skin, or just a touch to my face or a hand in my hand.

But, it’s unlikely. I have a cage around me. Not just the house, but the one in my mind. I don’t trust people any more. I say odd things sometimes. I scare people. I’m leery of strangers I don’t love. But I know I have to spend lots of time with people to get to know them, or love them. And yet, I stay in my cages, and wish I wasn’t so alone in them.

Sometimes.

Posted in eremiticism, health, Life, love, madness, misanthropy, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, sex, Writing | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Isla in a Sea of Sand (part 2)

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on January 22, 2020

Part Two: Guilt, Consequences and Separation

Isla drove me back to the sag wagon later on. The rest of the bicycle group was off doing other things. Our fearless leader 1976 image_ on this cross-country bicycle trip, Nancy, saw this trip’s purpose primarily as networking. She wanted to help connect with all sorts of active people around the country, trading information and distributing contact information. So any chance she had she was talking to people, interviewing them, picking up more books and literature. Peaceful change was her goal, and not far from what I had worked for myself. Beside my participation in antiwar marches, lobbying, and organizing, I had spent years volunteering with a free medical clinic in Baltimore, Maryland, the city of my birth. The Clinic had been started by anti-war activists, a local chapter of the Black Panthers, and free-school teachers, among others, including some doctors.

Nancy herself had not actually been involved in all those kind of activities in the late 60s and early 70s. She was an exchange student in Italy for a year (1961-62), graduated from Brown University in 1966, and then spent two years in the Peace Corps in Colombia, SA. Then she spent four years in Japan (1971-75). The trip was actually a way for her to find out what was going on in the U.S. in 1976. And she was writing a book about the trip. I never read it, but it was published, in Japan, and I don’t read Japanese. At any rate, at the time, we were nearing the end of our stay in Albuquerque, heading north to Los Alamos, and Taos, Cimarron, and Raton, before angling east towards Kansas. And there was Isla to consider. We were standing there, next to the MG, trying to say goodnight, when a pickup screeched to a halt just a few feet away. Isla had already made me promise not to say anything to Carl, to leave that up to her, when there he was. He jumped out of the truck, stepped right up to me and roared into my face, “Are you screwing my wife?” Well, how to answer that? Isla had just told me not to tell him anything, that she needed to have that conversation with him. I was torn between a guilty expectation that I was about to get a beating that I deserved, and doing as Isla had asked. I said, “I had wanted to,” meaning nothing, but hopefully implying that I’d only thought about it. He yelled back, “What the hell does that mean?” I had no answer. Isla intervened, took him aside, and they both drove away together. That left me free to help prepare a meal for the group and then get caught up on what everyone had been doing. Some had been getting clothes washed, and getting food for the road. We would be leaving next day. Nancy left me alone, which was good, because I didn’t want to try to explain what I’d gotten myself into.

In the morning, there was Isla again. She’d brought my bedroll with her. She told me she had told Carl what had happened, and he would be leaving. She took me with her. I thought we might be going back to that same house where we’d had our tryst, but we went somewhere else. Another friend of Isla’s had told her she could use it. He was the owner of the local art house movie theater. We looked through his record collection, and the only thing I remember listening to was Jerry Jeff Walker, something Isla liked a lot. I don’t remember if we sat on a chair or a sofa, but we were kissing, and taking clothes off, and, something was wrong. That urgency was gone, that overpowering desire had evaporated. Guilt. I felt bad about Carl. I didn’t want to come between a married couple again. Isla have been married to Carl for six years. They’d served in the Peace Corps together. We were ashamed. Our Catholic brainwashing had kicked in. It was as if we’d sinned, but neither of us was religious anymore. We talked for so long I lost track of time. We said goodbye there. I gave her our itinerary, and told her she could send me mail via General Delivery. I really never expected to see her again.

I rode over to the sag wagon, but it was gone. Holy crap! Well, I knew where they were going, so I hit the road. I knew I could catch up to them. On the way, I overtook Darla, a woman who had just joined our group in Socorro, NM two weeks earlier. We had stopped there for a couple days. She had also left late, so we rode together. She was very happy to see me, as she hadn’t really wanted to travel alone. We were desperate to reconnect with the group, although it wasn’t unusual for any of us to travel at our own pace. After a couple hours of riding, we were well away from Albuquerque, heading north, when it suddenly clouded up, and sure enough the sky opened up. We saw what looked like an old farm and ran for a low shed. It had probably been used for chickens at one point, but it was ours now. We were wet, and well, once we got our wet clothes off we put our bedrolls together. Huddling together for warmth seemed like a good idea, but it didn’t take us long to start fucking. In this little low-roofed shed, while the storm thundered above, lightning flashed, and the rain poured. We slept there till daybreak. The rain hadn’t lasted long, but we hadn’t really noticed. We had slept curled up around each other.

Caught up with the group later on and had dinner with them in Santa Fe. We’d be on our way to Los Alamos the next day. Slept with Darla that night. This was looking like it would work out great to have a bed partner in the group. We took the standard tour of the visitor center at Los Alamos, saw replicas of the atomic bombs Little Boy and Fat Man that the U.S. had dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Listened to a talk given there, and watched a short film about the making of the bombs, and the testing at Trinity Site. Of course, Darla and I shared our bedrolls again. In the morning, we all headed to Taos to visit the New Buffalo Commune.

New Buffalo New Buffalo, one of the largest and well-known communes, was an interesting place. Farming, and self sufficiency were the norm there. There was music, and basic, plain food. We actually found ourselves criticized for not living a lifestyle like theirs. We had two writers with us, Nancy, and also Rick from San Francisco, which is where the bike group had left from. The folks at New Buffalo felt they were committed to a lifestyle that would change the world, whereas we were just tourists, getting paid to write. I thought that was a bit unfair, and personally, I felt that the people at New Buffalo were just dropouts, too far removed from society to change it. In the Easy Rider film, Peter Fonda’s character had said he thought they could make it. Dennis Hopper’s character didn’t think so. Hopper himself hung out in Taos. New Buffalo’s lifestyle was very laid back, but people had been leaving it for some time. The remainder were a bit fanatic. I wanted to see our culture change too, to see us go from a country that always seemed to be fighting somewhere around the globe, threatening to destroy the entire planet with our nuclear weapons, and polluting not only rivers and streams, but oceans and the very air we breathed. You couldn’t escape that by living out of the way and off the grid. Nice for them, but wouldn’t change a thing. It was strange to argue with people whom I’d thought were much like me, but they were too fanatical to think there was any other way but theirs. Although the commune had been founded 9 years earlier, we had to use corn cobs to wipe our butts in the outhouse. They weren’t just trying to reduce paper waste; they wanted to use the outhouse sludge on their crops. I was trying to survive too, but looking for actual ways to restructure society to benefit all. I had a more political bent, from my anti-war activities, and my experiences helping to provide community health care with the goal of universal health care. I didn’t enjoy my time at  New Buffalo, so I was happy to get on up the road the next day.

We didn’t have far to go. Only 17 miles north of Taos is the Lama Foundation, a spiritual community, oddly patterned very closely on the lifestyles outlined in the books and literature we carried with us. Lama Foundation Dome It was one of the most well known communes in the area at the time, and one of the few left now. New Buffalo is now a B&B. This was the first time I’d ever seen an outhouse designed for two people to use at the same time, but that wasn’t the oddest thing. The shit holes had been designed low to the ground with painted shoe prints on either side of the holes. Apparently it is considered better for people to shit crouched down like that. At the time, I had no idea this was common in other countries. I liked this place much better than New Buffalo. The people seemed almost beatifically happy. They had small cottage industries going, and reached out to people in Taos, Santa Fe, and native communities as well. Such a difference from the grungy drop-outs at New Buffalo! There was a lot to see around the Lama commune, and we were welcome guests. Nancy was in heaven, interviewing people. People there were not critical of others, and did their best to demonstrate a better way of life. The food was much better there too, but I didn’t stay long. A green MG drove up. It was Isla, from Albuquerque. She’d come to see me, but really she wanted me to go back to Albuquerque with her. She asked me to just come back for two weeks, so we could get to know each other. I agreed. I told Darla I was leaving for a couple weeks. She didn’t seem entirely happy about that, but we barely knew each other either. On the drive back to Albuquerque, with my bicycle strapped across the back of the little car, Isla told me she and Carl had never wanted to have children, or rather that she hadn’t wanted to have children. I think Carl was the type to want children. He really was a nice guy. Guilt. Guilt.

But then, Isla laid the bombshell on me. She said she wanted to have a child with me! I didn’t know what to say. I had read The Population Bomb in high school, and had resolved never to add any more kids to the world, especially in a country that used more resources per person than anywhere else on the planet. But, with Isla smiling at me, waiting for my response, I felt loved, wanted, and it made me happy. We would build a house together, maybe renovate an old adobe, and we would have a child. Actually we’d have to have two, because I could not see having a child grow up without a sibling. I’d grown up with six. We smiled all the way back to Albuquerque, happy as we could possibly be. Carl had left town. I stayed with Isla in their house. A curious neighbor asked me who I was. I said I was a friend of theirs. I wouldn’t find out who he was until much later. I was clueless.

It was a joyful time. We were in love. We cuddled all the time. She showed me how to make chile rellenos. We talked a lot, made plans for the future. But, although we would be together, I wanted to finish the bicycle tour. It was the adventure of a lifetime, and I knew I’d come back. Isla asked me to move to Albuquerque for a year. If I did that, she would go with me anywhere I wanted , if I didn’t want to stay.  I promised. She knew I’d come back. After two weeks, we said our good-byes, and she packed some food for me for the road. Burritos, sandwiches, and a few chile rellenos. Relleno

It was a good thing she did, because I had a long ride ahead of me and the group was already in Kansas.

Posted in 1970s, Bicycling, Life, My Life, relationships, sex, Travel | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

LEARNING LESSONS, 50 Years Ago

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on January 16, 2020

Yearbook photo 1969

May, 1969

After he burst into my room
Sue jumped up, split that scene
down the fire escape out back
– back to her car.

It was Thanksgiving, 1969.

Earlier
We’d gone to her parents’ home
rich suburban house
ate turkey on fine china
drank champagne from crystal.
Got asked about my career plans.

After pie, we left
Sue said, “We’re going to a play,”
but drove me home
in her Plymouth Valiant.

We sat on the bed in my room
Door closed.
We wanted privacy
never knew if the roommate
would
interrupt us.

Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan
“To Be Alone With You”
on the portable stereo –
suitcase style record player.

Kissing, touching –
asking ourselves
“Should we?”
Sideways on the bed
bodies welded together
18-year-old virgins.

So cozy, so happy
hormones pumping
tickling tongues
warming each others’ bodies
in our own little world.

The door burst open
roommate says, “Hi guys.
“What’s happening?”
— Asshole.

Sue jumped up
buttoned her blouse
and she was gone –
She. was. gone!

I was pissed –
not at her
at him –
Mr. Annoying.

“What happened,” he said
melodrama leaking out of his face
inches from mine
“Did I scare cutie-pie away? I’m sorry.”
“You know you did, and you’re not.”
“She leave you all horny?
“I can fix that.”
I said, “Fuck you, asshole.”
“Ooh, I’d like that,” he said,
“I like assholes, don’t you?
“Does your little girl like it in the ass?”
“Huh, huh, huh?”

I said, “SHUT UP.
“Stay the hell out of my life,”
and
“ Don’t come in my room again.”

“No,” he said.
“This is my place.
“I found it, I paid the deposit.
“I invited you to share it.
“I’ll come in anytime I want
“In fact, I think I’ll come in now.”

He jumped towards me
grabbed me.
I pushed him off, hit him.
Violence is rarely the answer.
But, sometimes –

Like the day my dad hit me
one last time, years ago
slapping my head
back and forth
back and forth
back and forth.

I pushed Dad
with all my strength
knocked him down
wanted to kill him
fortunately,
he was stronger.

Dad smiled at me
he’d always told me
to stand up to my bullies
he never hit me again.

Lesson learned.

Instinctive reaction later
punching my roommate.
For a big man
he went down fast.

Crouched in a ball
whimpering:
“Mommy Mommy.”
I backed off, shocked.
I remembered then how

years earlier
he’d been raped in the shower
by high school bullies
rapists are cowards.

Lesson learned.

In the aftermath, he left.
Said he was going for the cops
– to charge me with assault.
Came back much later – no cops.
“Changed my mind,” he said.

Said he just drove around
picked somebody up,
“I like those young boys
“That long blond hair.
“We had a great time.”

“Where?” I said, a little shocked.
“In my car. Why do you think I have a big car?”
“Your parents bought it for you.” I said.
Grinning like a maniac, he said
“O, but I picked it out.”

He stuck his face in mine
“Why didn’t your parents give you one?”
“Because they don’t have any money.”
“You need money? I got money.” he said.
“I’ll give you what I gave him –
“More, if you want.”
Shocked again, I sputtered:
“You – you paid him?”
“Of course,” he said,
ugly leer on his round face
skinny mustache twitching.

I found my own place
Minimum-wage room: no kitchen.
Ate sandwiches
and fruit in jars.

Lesson learned.

The last time I saw Sue
her grandmother’s house
on the lawn
her drunken father
attacked me
grabbed my bushy hair
called me a hippie
dragged me to the ground
I wanted to hit him
but
he was Sue’s father
I couldn’t do that – to her.

Sue intervened
her father let me go
his mother pulled him away,
“Don’t make a scene.”
But, before he disappeared inside
he bellowed at me:
“Get off my property.”

Lesson learned.

Sue sent me a letter
Nude drawing of herself
in chains
”Look at me,” she wrote
“18, naive and vulnerable.”

There was a quote:
“All I want from living
is to have no chains on me.”
– lyrics, from Blood, Sweat & Tears,
My own vinyl, appropriately.

Lesson learned.

Sue’s words stuck in my head
“You are too serious,
“I don’t want to be tied down.
“It’s for the best.
and, “We are too different.”
No shit.
Me, working all day, school at night
Her, private school.

Lessons learned:
Live by yourself.
Avoid the bourgeoisie.
Stay celibate.
Trust no one.

 

Posted in 1970s, eremiticism, In front of the camera, Life, My Life, poem | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Photos 3: Another Day, Another Ditch

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 29, 2019

12/28/19. Rode my motorcycle to the village of Corrales. It was an amazingly cold day. There were Canadian Geese galore in the sky, and a few on the ground. Passed a few small flocks of Sandhill Cranes on my way to Corrales, but have enough photos of them already. Hiked along the ditches and the river in Corrales for three hours. I liked watching the geese circle. I did capture one solitary Sandhill Crane in flight. It’s rained a bit lately, and there was a bit of light snow falling, so there was much mud to slosh through. Saw a lot of saltcedar (Tamarisk) by the Rio Grande. It’s an invasive species from dry regions of Eurasia and Africa. The generic name originated in Latin and may refer to the Tamaris River in Hispania Tarraconensis (one of three Roman provinces in Hispania). It encompassed much of the Mediterranean coast of modern Spain along with the central plateau, but the beautiful orange/red is quite a contrast to the winter landscape. Afterwards, I ate at Hannah and Nate’s in Corrales. Good food, and I know I am dating myself, and it is wrong these days for men to comment on a woman’s looks, but the young wait staff were not only quick and competent, but all were also amazingly pretty. Really. Sorry, no photos.

But here are the photos I took of the birds and landscape and river. Click on one to view full sized, and use the arrows to scroll through them all at that size, if you’d like.

 

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Photos 2: the Pino Trail

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 29, 2019

Hiked up a trail in the Sandia Mountains on Christmas Eve. Very overcast day. Some snow flurries, and a soft rain after a few hours. Hiked to 9200 feet above seal level. Tired afterwards, but I had a potluck dinner to attend with friends, and I had a casserole to cook, and no time to waste on a nap my body craved. Watched the Star Wars movie Solo after dinner. A very good day overall.

 

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Photos 1: Ditch Walking

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 29, 2019

Went walking along the ditches north of my neighborhood recently (the Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque). It was December 22, so there were some festive sights. There were also huge, thick cottonwoods, and big expansive views of the mountain, and expensive homes mixed in with farms and horses, sheep and llamas. Throughout, there were migrating Canadian Geese and Sandhill Cranes. So, this post is one of three that is going to feature photos, some from this walk, some from a hike in the mountains, and some from another walk through ditches even further north of this area (Corrales).

The Mountain

Click on any photo below to view full size. Then use the arrows to scroll through.

One more:

Geese pan

Posted in Christmas, hiking, photography | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Dreams Excite Me

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 23, 2019

Dreamer
She said: “OK, but the nature of our relationship has to stay the same.” I asked her: “What is the nature of our relationship?” After a slight pause, she said: “Not a member of the public.” The slight pause meant she had not considered this before, but right now, she had. Her face was all smile, but with a hint of serious. That’s what happens when you begin a relationship with an intellectual. I liked her answer. I certainly wanted to be more than just a member of an adoring public with her. She meant that we could be closer, but at the same time private, and what we said or did would be: “not for publication”.

I was fine with that. She is an aphrodisiac, but more than that. She radiates self confidence, which is amatory in itself. As an educator, a writer, and a television host, she is clearly a woman of power, strong willed, and independent. She says what she thinks, even it is shocks people’s quaint notions of propriety. Her temperament is animated. With a radiant smile on her face, she can still confront, denounce, or impeach. With that same smile, she can also dynamize others, spur them into agreement with her, foment rebellion, and encourage.

She is all that. I am certainly enamored of her. Sometimes there is a hint of warmth in her voice when she speaks to me. That’s just the way she is, but I often imagined there could be more between us: an intimacy. Once, as we conversed in a public gathering, a friend of hers approached. She introduced her to me, but not me to her. So, her friend immediately asked, “And who is this?” meaning, perhaps, who is this man to you? I think she sensed that meaning, and she had to search her mind for a moment, before she told her friend my name, and added, “He’s a poet.” For after all, no one would question further why a poet would know another poet, so no more needed to be said.

But now, in this moment, as we touched, in fun, paused on the brink of some — thing, something else, something more? … Well — I was excited.

Posted in Dreams, fiction, friends, Life | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

On Impeachment

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 15, 2019

Impeachment It’s hard to steady my emotions, order my thoughts on this topic. I have great respect for the USA’s system of government, for free and fair elections, for equal rights under the law for every citizen. But I see that under attack in the USA. We have Republicans who wish the make the entire USA over into their own brand of idealistic political and economic purity. We have a President who leaped onto that ideological bandwagon, and used it as a bully pulpit to whip up – not support for his election campaign – but support for himself, for his own ego, for his own aggrandizement. Surprisingly, he won. He was able to tap into the movement of people dissatisfied with all government, any government, with male supremacists who believe women should not govern, with racial supremacists who hounded President Obama because it upset their view of the a society by, of and for white-skinned people, largely of European descent. He was able to tap into the mindset of Nazis who spew hatred of ethnic, racial and religious groups. He was able to tap into the mindset of paramilitary militia types who believe they, and only they know what is best for this country, and are stockpiling weapons for the ultimate fight against their enemies – other citizens of the USA who don’t look like them, speak like them or act like them. When the citizens of Virginia found themselves challenged by Unite the Right, a white supremacist, neo-Nazi rally that was conducted in Charlottesville, Virginia from August 11 to 12, 2017, they responded with a protest of their own. The participants in the Unite the Right rally were members of the far-right and included self-identified members of the alt-right, neo-Confederates, neo-fascists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and various right-wing militias. They chanted racist and anti-Semitic slogans, carried weapons, Nazi and neo-Nazi symbols, Confederate Battle Flags, as well as flags and other symbols of various past and present anti-Muslim and antisemitic groups. The organizers’ stated goals included unifying the American white nationalist movement. The violence that broke out was predictable. However, President Trump stated, “You also had some very fine people on both sides.”

Now, Trump attempted to backpedal from the statement, insisting that he only meant the people who were there to oppose the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. However, this was just a pretext for the far right to hold a rally. Unite the Right was explicitly organized and branded as a far-right, racist, and white supremacist event by far-right racist white supremacists. This was clear for months before the march actually occurred. In fact, the chair of the Charlottesville Republican Party released a statement in May, saying, “Whoever these people were, the intolerance and hatred they seek to promote is utterly disgusting and disturbing beyond words.” This is one of the posters used to promote the event:

Chalottsville

Here are some of those very fine people:

Police affidavit on the “Unite the Right” attendees:
• 150+ Alt Knights
• 250-500 Klu Klux Klan
• 500 “3% Risen”
• 200-300 Militia

Image  Image

So, Trump gets a pass on his remarks, because he claims he was only referring to the people who wanted to keep the statue of Robert E. Lee. There was no mistaking what the the rally was about, despite the pretext of keeping a statue. So this President was either supremely ignorant, self-blind to who both the police and the Republican Chair said they were, or simply unwilling to antagonize people who might be his supporters. He went on to say: “I am not putting anybody on a moral plane, what I’m saying is this: you had a group on one side and a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side. There was a group on this side, you can call them the left. You’ve just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.” So he blamed the violence on the left, which is one of the words he uses to describe Democrats in Congress.

And during that same press conference, Trump added this:

No, no. There were people in that rally, and I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly, the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call ’em. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest, because you know, I don’t know if you know, but they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this: there are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.

“…two sides to the country.” Really, Trump? And everyone is on one side or the other?

“The night before” is referring to the Friday night torch-lit rally of August 11, where more than 200 attendees held tiki torches on the campus of the University of Virginia and chanted “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and soil.” Whatever this event may have been, it was certainly not “people protesting very quietly.” Anti Semites are not very fine people.

 

In short, Unite the Right was organized not by individuals who, in Trump’s words, “felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee,” but by ardent white supremacists and white nationalists. On multiple occasions before Unite the Right, attendees stated that the Confederate memorial that was supposedly their purpose was actually the least of their concerns. We have their statements, their videos, their posters, and their words. We also have the transcript and video of how Trump responded. He did, indeed, refer to the people who attended Unite the Right, people who were well aware of and supportive of its messaging, as “very fine people,” and he downplayed the tiki torch parade as “people protesting very quietly.” Yeah, people shouting “Jews will not replace us”. Trumps has said that Jews are loyal to Israel. When he spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition he referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as “your prime minister.”

Trump’s executive order, saying that anti-Semitism is covered under civil rights laws that ban discrimination based on national origin, appears targeted at students protesting the actions of the Israeli government, not white supremacists. For example, anti-Semitism will now include criticism of Israel, so students could not compare contemporary Israeli policy with respect to Palestinians, to that of the Nazis with respect to Jews. Article.

Trump played into the hands of the organizers of this rally, not very fine people, but neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists, and everyone, except for Trump, seems to know that. But his cluelessness may not be enough reason to get rid of Trump. We have all heard the indictments of Trump for soliciting dirt on his political opponents in exchange for monetary aid. That violates our very Constitution, the supreme law of this land. Before that even came out, Trump openly called for Russia to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton. The Russian internet trolls, whether or not they were aided or supported by Putin, responded, giving him what he asked for, even though it was all fake news. Since when do we allow an officer of the United States government to do that?

As President, although Trump represents the United States to the world, he violates his oath of office, he tramples on the Constitution, saying in the past, for example, that its Emoluments clause is hurting him financially.

More recently, speaking to reporters in the White House Cabinet Room, Trump dismissed as “phony” a section of the Constitution that bars federal office holders from accepting profits, or accepting gifts from foreign governments.

“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause,” he said.

President Donald Trump rejected suggestions that hosting the G-7 summit of world leaders at his resort in Doral, Florida, would have run afoul of the U.S. Constitution. He finally pulled that property out of consideration, after bipartisan criticism of his plan.

 

The President works for us, and can be removed at any time: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” It doesn’t have to be treason. Trading aid money for dope on his political rivals is bribery. Whether or not any high crimes (violations of the oath of office) were committed by the President is not the only reason for impeachment. Misdemeanors could include minor things like nepotism, which Trump is obviously guilty of. Federal law (Title 5, section 3110) generally prohibits a federal official, including a Member of Congress, from appointing, promoting, or recommending for appointment or promotion any “relative” of the official to any agency or department over which the official exercises authority or control.

Not being able to remove a President from office takes away from the very idea of “Government of the people, by the people and for the people,” which is what this country is all about, so I’d be unhappy if we cannot do that. Trump’s removal wouldn’t make me happy, but it would satisfy me that power does indeed rest with the citizens of this country, not high officials like a President. If Presidents abuse their office, they are abusing us, so it is not prudent to allow such behavior until the next election.

I can envision a scenario in which Trump whips his supporters into such a frenzy, as he does at his “rallies” that people start wearing uniforms with red MAGA hats, and marching in formation to protect him, not the country, but him in particular. And we have seen this kind of behavior before. Adolph Hitler traveled around Germany, spewing propaganda, stirring up violence and racial hatred. His supporters attacked Jews, political opponents, German communists, gays, and gypsies. He didn’t have to do anything more than spread lies, and rumors, using it as propaganda in service of his plans for invasions of other countries. Hitler also promised to improve the economy of his country, but his war spending impoverished them, just a Trump will do if he tries to extend the pre-existing wall at the southern US border. What enemies will this Trump army attack? Not actual enemies of the United Sates of America, but other citizens, our own people, for, as Trump sees anyone who opposes him, they are the enemy. Trump is openly calling for civil war if he is impeached? Is that not reason enough to impeach him, now, before it is too late?

Because of Trump’s use of Mexicans as scapegoats, we hear that about 350,000 illegal immigrants voted in the last election, something no research can prove. It is a lie, along the very lines of the “Big Lies” that Hitler told, where you just keep repeating a lie over and over until so many people have heard it they take it as truth, and people are believing it.This fuels the various groups who believe Jews, Mexicans and anyone with brown skin wants to replace the “whites”.

I have also been asked, as a citizen of New Mexico, am I ashamed of having Mexico in the state’s name. Notwithstanding that New Mexico was so named about 250 years before there was a Mexico, this type of thinking comes directly from Trump’s denouncing Mexicans as rapists and murderers, which is like saying that mass shootings in the USA mean that we are all, all of us, mass murderers. I have been asked why we don’t change the name of our state, and it is even suggested that the Federal Government should require us to change the name of our state. This is Trump’s doing. He villainizes Mexicans – illegal or legal immigrants – in the exact same way as Hitler villainized Jews, which resulted in an attempt to exterminate all Jews.

Why is this traitor to the values and ethics of all that this country stands for still in office?

Posted in current events, Human rights, madness, opinion, politics, rants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Contemplating Death Again

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 27, 2019

skullOver six years ago I had a heart attack. Too much plaque in the heart artery that feeds the heart muscle itself. Problems for some time before that, something I attributed – as did my doctor – to a recurrence of my childhood asthma. Overtired on exertion, falling way behind on hikes up the mountain. Getting weaker instead of stronger. I’ve climbed up the Sandia-Manzano mountains. Sandia Crest is at 10,679 feet above sea level. Manzano Peak is at 10,098 feet. I’ve climbed in the San Mateo Mountains, specifically to the highest point, up Mt. Taylor, to 11,306 feet, and I’ve snowshoed Mt. Taylor several times. Also climbed to the nearby La Mosca lookout tower at 11,036 ft. I’ve climbed Mount Baldy, at 10,783 feet, in the Magdalena Mountains. I’ve hiked in the Jemez mountains, including snowshoeing in the Valles Caldera. At 11,253 feet in elevation, the volcanic caldera is 13-miles wide. I’ve hiked and snowshoed often in New Mexico’s mountains. 010716 SandiaCrest (8)  122211 (15)  122111 (16)

After the heart attack, not as much. I still hike, usually once a week, sometimes two times a week. Sometimes I hike a fair distance, sometimes I hike really fast for just 70 to 90 minutes, a cardio hike. I figure I’m in good enough shape for my age. My knees never bother me. Since I had the angioplasty and stent placement 6 years ago, I’ve been good. No sign of any heart problems, but you never know.

Of late, I’ve noticed myself falling behind the others I hike with, and being very winded at times, more than usual. I’m sleepy often throughout the day. I used to catnap for 15 or 20 minutes, and be completely refreshed. Often I try that now, and sleep for an hour or two. I have no trouble sleeping through the night.

But, but, but. Today, after I’d taken another short nap, I awoke to a small sharp pain in the chest, just right of center. I researched it, and it’s likely not a heart attack, but it could be leading up to one. Possibly it’s angina, a symptom of heart disease. or it could have been a spasm. Either of those can occur during sleep, and generally last 5 to 15 minutes. This one lasted two to three hours. Took some Advil and then some aspirin.

The more likely cause is a blood clot traveling to my lungs, as I had none of the heart attack symptoms I’d experienced before, nor any of the other classic symptoms. The reason for this could be that I badly sprained my right ankle a month ago. A lot of blood clotted around it, giving me bruises all around the ankle and even between my toes. I’ve been wearing a stabilizing boot since then. There is also a small (3mm) chip fracture on the talus bone of my ankle. I can walk fine with or without the boot, but the doc gave me two more weeks to keep wearing the boot. I hate it. But, it could be that the ankle injury is the source of a blood clot, if that’s what it was. Painful anyway. The pain is gone now, but it could come back. I don’t know what caused it.

I was supposed to have had a checkup with my cardiologist two weeks ago. Arrived 20 minutes early for a 3:45pm appointment. Checked in and waited. And waited. The few people there all got called in. I waited. More people showed up until there was quite a crowd. There are a lot of doctors there. At 3:45, a tall healthy-looking man checked in, saying he had a 4:00pm appointment with my doctor. He was called shortly. I waited. About 10 minutes later, I got called to the examining room, to have my vital signs read. I told the woman taking them about experiencing weakness, and sleepiness as before my heart attack six years ago. She left, said the doctor would be in shortly.

I sat there, unhappy. The reason I’d come early was hoping to get out by 4:15, as I had an important commitment at 5pm. As I sat, I could hear my doctor’s voice next door, with the man I’d seen come in 20 minutes after me. I waited. But, by 4:30, I had to leave, and I stopped at the reception desk to tell them I was leaving. Never heard back.

Now this sudden pain. I thought about making another appointment, but never got around to it. I could die any time, so I figured I’d get an online will started while I still could. Such a strange thing it is to contemplate a will!

I rent, so I have no property to leave behind. I have only the money in the bank that comes in and goes out every month. I save, but things always come up to spend it on, necessary things, like repairs to my aging car and much older motorcycle. Sometimes I have to travel to family events, and none of them live nearby. Anyway, I have little in the way of tangible assets. But, there are things I’d like to leave to family. I have way too many things, like music CDs and vinyl albums. Tons of books. Some paintings, but mostly prints. A few coins. Not really a whole lot, but I’ve been to enough estate sales to know what happens to all the stuff you think is worth something. It’s all junk, sold cheap. Some things can be worth a goodly amount, but no one knows, unless someone hires a professional appraiser. But few family ever do that, unless the deceased was extremely wealthy. As it happens, I am not. Wealthy. Or deceased, as yet.

But it sure got me thinking about who I could give my things away too. So much of it has little enough financial worth. I thought about who might enjoy this small sculpture, or that old painting, or the coins, or a keepsake from the winery I worked at for eight years before it closed. Some things I’d like to have go to family who would appreciate it. I have too much stuff, sure, and much of it can be sold off at an estate sale for whatever they can get; that’s fine. Sitting here for hours today while the pain subsided, deciding who should get what, and not wanting to slight anyone, but not having so much to give everyone something, even if they actually would want it. 1st world problems. And yet, I’d like family members I love to know I was thinking about them. I like to make people smile, especially those I love. My estate, what a joke. Cheap material goods.

What was my life? Flipping burgers. High school diploma. Working in a college physics lab, measuring x-ray wavelengths and spaces between atoms in silicon crystals, a useful thing to know later on for computer technology. But I left that lab before the computer chip revolution hit. Spent years traveling, working for a carnival, a bronze foundry. Settled down in another state 1,675 miles away as the crow flies, but I rode my bicycle there over countless miles. Poured concrete, laid concrete block, installed park benches and steel doors. Treasurer of my union local. Finally got a job back in the sciences, giving tumors to rats, and treating them with chemotherapy drugs and x-rays. I did continue in Cancer Research a bit, then worked Quality Control at a printed circuit board company for three years. Finally went back and got another job at a medical school working first with mice, and their immune system proteins, then with research machines.

I took night school classes for years until I finally got a Bachelors of Arts college degree, a dual major of English (Creative Writing) and Distributed Sciences. I had studied a lot of sciences over the years, but not enough in any one field to get a diploma in it, not even a Bachelors of Science. Never did much with the writing part of my education, but I ended up making synthetic proteins for medical research, and synthetic DNA and RNA as well later on. I could also sequence proteins, or DNA, or analyze the amino acid content of proteins, or purify proteins and DNA. I ran a lab, balanced my budget, kept database records, worked independently. Finally retired with a small pension. Then I made wine for eight years at a small winery until the vintner died, and we had to close the winery. Now I take acting lessons, hike in the mountains, work occasionally as a background actor on movies and TV shows. Still hoping to land a good speaking role, one that brings me recognition, something to show that my life had meaning.

Yeah, I had lovers as I traveled, and met someone I wanted to spend my life with, but all I got was a bit less than two years with her. Married sometime later to a great woman, but after seven years that was over too. Two stepkids I never got to spend time with again. Then I married again. Two more stepkids. That 14-year relationship was fun, but ran out of steam and died. However, I did realize that I loved my stepdaughter when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately we’ve been able to stay connected, even making wine together for those eight years at the winery. She survived after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and more chemo. How strange to find those chemicals and x-rays I used on rats used successfully on a human being I loved.

So perhaps I did accomplish something significant after all, Perhaps my work on x-rays in silicon and germanium crystals helped create the computers to run those fancy treatment machines. Perhaps the work I did on rats helped establish correct dosages of chemotherapy drugs and x-rays. Perhaps my work helping calibrate x-ray wavelengths helped doctors calculate just how much energy was necessary to kill a tumor and not the person. All the people that work in science, even those that just run the machines, and conduct the experimental protocols, contribute, each in our own small way, to a much greater good.

And, goddamnit, my step daughter is alive and healthy. And I love her. I finally learned that love is when you truly care about someone, about their happiness, and not just your own. Love is not about having another person. It’s about loving, without expecting anything in return. That’s what I think. If I’m still alive tomorrow morning, I’m going to call the doctor’s office, get in there as soon as possible, and do what it takes to stay alive. Because I love someone, and I like that feeling.

Just realized I was writing my own obituary. Hmph. Got things to do yet.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

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UPDATE: Cardiologist says the pain in my chest is just a pulled muscle. (I thought the heart was a muscle?).  Saw a gastroenterologist. Been coughing for 7 or 8 months. Having trouble swallowing, and things seem to get stuck easily. Sometimes a mouthful of water won’t go down, and when I swallow it’s mildly painful. So, I had an endoscopy – that’s where they shove a small HDTV camera down your throat, way down there. Nothing serious. Some inflammation, but mostly two constricted areas, caused by acid reflux. So they sent another device down to stretch those areas out wider. Caused a slight tear in the esophagus, but no big deal. Meanwhile my lower jaw had been sore that day, but I wasn’t allowed to take anything for pain. Went to a dentist afterwards. Pain was so bad by then I had a death grip on the dental chair. Lots of x-rays -18. Looked like a root canal infection, among other things. Regular dentists don’t do those anymore – you have to go to a root canal dentist. In the meantime, Yeah, you guessed it – bigger fees. Prescription for amoxicillin. Told me to alternate high does of Advil and Tylenol until that antibiotic kicked in, 24 to 48 hours. Took longer. But no pain now. Regular dental appointment in two days. Root canal appointment in two weeks. Expensive. This getting old is really pricey, even with insurance. But, I’m feeling better psychologically. Enjoying some reading. Digging on some good music. 

Posted in family, health, hiking, Life, My Life, Random Thoughts | Leave a Comment »

Isla in a Sea of Sand (part 1)

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 19, 2019

Part 1: Suddenly, Albuquerque

She came into my life accidentally, like a storm on a sunny day. I say accidentally, but I had been looking for someone like her for a long time. I’d been moving from place to place randomly, working odd jobs, making molds from wet sand/clay mixtures and filling them with molten bronze for windchimes,  KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA or working as a carnival electrician, hooking up all the rides, joints and food stands. I was on the road a lot, bicycling my way back and forth across the United States when I met her.

Although I had initially traveled alone, after my last job I had joined a group of bicyclists touring the country in the year of the Bicentennial. We made many stops along the way, staying at community centers or in people’s homes. I’d met a lot of interesting people that way. When I first arrived in the city of Albuquerque, we’d been interviewed by a couple of radio stations, and I’d met Andrea, a pretty lawyer who worked for the ACLU. We talked about S.1, the Criminal Justice Reform Act being debated in Congress to reform federal rules of criminal codes. This had application to those of us who’d been arrested protesting the Vietnam war, and so many others who‘d been arrested for possession of marijuana, a crime created by the nearly defunct FBI in the 1930s to shift the agency from policing bootlegging to policing other drugs. She offered her place as a homestay, but only for one night. I had been hoping to share her bed, horny dog that I was, but she actually left for her boyfriend’s place. I slept in a real bed for the first time in months, and conked out the second my head hit the pillow.

In the morning I had breakfast with Frank and Gladys, a friendly couple who taught at the University. Then my bicycle group had literature tables to work, to set up on campus. We were more than bicyclists. Our library was full of information on alternative lifestyles like communes, composting toilets, solar energy devices, anti-war tracts, such as Give Me Water, a Japanese booklet on the after-effects of Hiroshima, as well as other books with advice for living off grid, and ideas for creating new, peaceful, environmentally friendly ways of living. There were workshops too. My job was showing films, about nutrition, the dangers of refined sugar, the pitfalls of nuclear energy, energy alternatives, and space exploration using stable points in Earth orbit. The movie on nuclear energy problems, like transportation, leakage and waste disposal drew a crowd from the American Nuclear Society, who were all too happy to let us know how clean and safe nuclear energy really was.

The next day is when I met Isla, Isla a former journalist, Peace Corps volunteer, and currently director of a public advocacy group, who had offered her home to any of us that needed a space to crash while we visited her city. I don’t know if she’d cleared that with her husband before making that offer. He was a nice guy, a jewelry maker, but she was her own woman. There had been a list of these prearranged homestays (crash houses, I called ‘em), and I picked her place, not yet knowing whose place it was. I had dialed a number. A woman’s voice had answered. She had seemed quite happy that someone had called, and told me to come by that evening. The bicycle group had a sag wagon, an old school bus, powered by propane, and painted white. 1976  It sported a library, a folded-down wind generator, and a cook stove, but it had no bathroom or shower, and oh boy! did I need a shower. When I arrived, dinner was ready. This friendly couple welcomed me into their very small home near the zoo. I had been expecting an elderly couple, because in my experience staying in the homes of church people, years earlier, who had supported us anti-war protesters when we were far from home, they’d always been wrinkly old couples.

Isla surprised me. She was young and beautiful with dark eyes and dark hair, native to the city. Carl was tall, blond, and imposing, but very friendly. The hot meal was quite welcome, as well as the warm talk we’d shared. I’d be in town for a few more days, so this was a welcome surprise, and I felt extremely lucky, unless there was a hidden motive for having me there. It had happened before.

As it neared bedtime, Isla grabbed her stash, while Carl went off to bed. He started work in the early mornings. So Isla and I got stoned. The weed was excellent. Back then, marijuana was tamer, and simply relaxed you, putting you into a pleasant mood. These days I never touch the stuff. I lost interest, for one thing, needing every bit of my brain alert and active for work, and because the newer stuff has been hybridized, crossbred to maximize the yield of psychoactive cannabinoids. Way too potent and stupefying.

But, at the time, sitting there in Isla’s living room, talking about revolution, and politics – both sexual and liberation – I was hypnotized by this woman. Of course, I was horny; I was twenty five. But this woman had a college education, had traveled the world, worked in New York City for one of the big national news agencies, and had a laugh that warmed my soul. However, as she was married, I put those thoughts aside, and simply enjoyed her company. I was, after all, a guest of Isla and Carl, and they were openhearted and warm people, despite my having seen, while in the bathroom, a bumper sticker on the toilet, under the seat, that said “Castrate Rapists.” A bit unnerving when you’ve just lifted the seat to pee, but I understood the sentiment. Rape was a serious problem, and I’d come near to having it happen to me as well. Isla and I discussed her sticker. She was angry, incensed really, about the amount of rape in the world.

One morning, a Saturday, Carl had driven off to his shop. I found myself without any of the bicycle group events to attend, so Isla offered to take me around the city. That made me happy. I was surprised that she drove a sports car, a little green British MGB. mgb roadster Isla was a real joy, full of delightful conversation and a fountain of information about the city. She drove north through a valley full of large rich homes with huge lawns, surrounded by imposing trees – cottonwoods – which I had never seen before. I was so surprised to see such greenery in an area I’d thought of as a desert. This city seemed like an oasis. We stopped by Carl’s workplace, as there was a great local restaurant nearby where we could all have lunch together. Carl was pretty busy, and didn’t have time to join us. And it turned out the restaurant was in the middle of renovations anyway, so we drove off.

We found an old landmark restaurant not far away. It was my first introduction to enchiladas, refried beans, tortillas, and real chile. However, Isla was very disappointed by the quality of the food, especially the beans. She told me the food was too dry, and badly seasoned. She’d grown up with the real thing, and this touristy food was crap, she said. So, she suggested we leave without paying. Seeing as how I was a stranger in town, without much money, and allergic to jail, I was appalled at the very idea. I’d never even considered doing such a thing. However, Isla was a very forceful woman, with strong opinions, and very sure of herself, so we left. I felt guilty, but whenever I’d bring it up, she simply smiled, such a big warm, friendly smile, that I just had to let it go.

I didn’t see much of Isla most days, as she worked, and the bicycle group kept me busy. Besides the workshops and films, we visited a solar energy factory, met the owners, and spent hours learning about the work they did, passive versus active solar, heat sinks, and homes designed to take advantage of the sun’s position in the sky for maximum efficiency. There was plenty to do and see.

One night I invited Isla and Carl to a potluck dinner near campus, and they brought strawberry shortcake. I was loving all this: good food, friendly people, traveling with a group of supportive people, thinking we were making a difference in the world. After dinner, Isla and Carl invited me to a party. A party! All that time bicycling, pushing and pulling those pedals hour after hour, day after day, camping in the mountains, never staying more than a couple days in any one place. Of course I wanted to party.

The music was mostly reggae, extremely popular among people our age in 1976, especially after a movie called The Harder They Come had come out in 1973, featuring Jamaica and the music of Jimmy Cliff. Since I’d been mostly on the road since then, I’d not seen it. It was my first time dancing to that reggae beat, and I loved it. I didn’t know anyone there, and the women seemed to be all paired off already, so I danced with Isla. Carl was not interested in dancing, and he didn’t mind that Isla danced with me. I drank some wine, something else I rarely did. And Isla and I danced. We started flirting, or maybe continued to flirt; I don’t know, but it was fun to dance with her. Our late-night talks and pot smoking had conspired to make me feel close to her. After one long, energetic song had ended, we stepped away from the dancers. I don’t know why I did it – I’m not usually so bold – I kissed her. It was just a quick peck. I’d spent some time with her, and she’d been so nice to me. I really hadn’t expected anything more from her. She smiled so sweetly. I knew her husband was in the house somewhere, and I was thirsty after all that dancing. I thanked her for the dances, and turned to get something to drink.

She grabbed my hand, and pulled me. I followed her into the bathroom. She locked the door.

Déjà vu. Once, in high school, just after I’d gone to a couple of dances with my fourth-cousin Emily, I’d stopped to visit her one day on my way home. Her mother was busy with the other three kids, her father at work, and Emily and I had just decided it was already past time to be making out. She had motioned up stairs. I had innocently suggested the bedroom, thinking we wouldn’t be seen there, but Emily had immediately reacted with a look of horror, grabbed my hand and locked us in the bathroom. I was very nervous, worried that someone would try the door, find us there. Emily’s father was a strict no-nonsense guy. I tentatively put my arms around her, and kissed her lightly, but I couldn’t stop thinking about being caught. And, of course, I missed my chance. There was a knock on the door. It was one of her twin sisters. She yelled through the door: “Mom wants you!” Emily had the same kind of parents I did so she knew she had to go immediately. I heard her sister say she’d been waiting for the bathroom. I hid behind the shower curtain, not knowing what to do and not wanting to be seen. But the sister came in and I knew I couldn’t be in there then either, so I jumped out, said: “Boo,” and snuck down the stairs.

So, here I was again. This time, with Isla, I didn’t hesitate. We kissed, and kissed, and our hands were everywhere. I hadn’t any idea this could happen, but suddenly it was unstoppable. In the back of my mind was this complication, this image of her husband kicking the door in, big trouble, but I was too excited and happy to really care. She was so supple and warm and her lips so mmmm. Then, of course, there was the loud knock on the door, the doorknob being wiggled, and Carl asking, “Isla, are you in there?” Shit! Not again. No shower curtain, and really, that would not have helped. Isla turned off the light, which made no sense. The door was locked. The light was obvious spilling out from under the door, and through the old fashioned key hole. I turned the light back on, and opened the door, expecting hell. Carl was a big dude. He stared at me with a look of surprise, then incomprehension, which morphed into hurt, and finally anger, in the space of a second. He turned towards Isla, then spun on his heel and marched away, like a soldier ordered to about face. Isla turned to me, said, “I’ll go talk to him,” and ran after him. Not knowing what else to do, I wandered back into the living room and found someone to dance with. When the music ended, I simply leaned against a wall, wondering what I should do. I didn’t know where I was exactly, I had no money, no ride, no other place I could go to. I didn’t even know the people who owned the house.

Isla came back. She told me they were leaving, going home. It was obvious I couldn’t go with them, and she said I’d have to find a ride. I heard the car doors slam, and the car roar away. I asked around, finally found someone who would give me a ride to the University area where our support bus was. Found it, but when I got there, there was no one around. I slept on the bus floor. In the morning the trip organizer, and owner of the bus, wondered what I was doing there. I made some excuse about being at a party, having to suddenly find a place to sleep. She obviously had more questions, but she didn’t press me. The bus was parked in front of a house, and she told me I could shower in there. I put on some clean clothes after, and found something to eat on the bus. I was hanging out, quietly, thinking I should leave town early, when Isla drove up. She came right over and hugged me. She was so happy to see me. She said she wasn’t sure she’d find me. “What happened?” I blurted out. She said they’d argued all night, then decided to separate. She asked me to come with her. I went. She was driving me back to the house we’d partied at the night before. She said no one would be home, and her friends there told her we could use it. I almost said, “Use it. For…?” but the look in Isla’s eyes was enough. We’d sparked something, and a fire was smouldering.

She had a key, and opened the door. There was a small room opposite the bathroom where our spark had ignited the night before. We were kissing so much it was hard to get our clothes off. After a bit of fumbling, they were gone. O, she was so gorgeous, and she felt so good against my body. Kissing. Touching. Melting into each other. Did we fuck? Of course we fucked, the fucking where time slips away, and there is nothing else, no one, no husband, no bicyclists, nothing at all but purest pleasure.

Later, though….

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SAMHAIN in ÉIRINN

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 31, 2019

Samhain

1st published in The Daily Lobo, October, 2008

A black-faced Colm and a red-skinned Seamus met in front of the Church of Adam and Eve, a half-mile from their Dublin homes. When religion had been outlawed in Ireland in 1698, people went through a pub, called the Adam and Eve, into the back room, where they heard Mass. A church had been built on the site of the pub after the Penal Laws had been repealed in 1829. Tonight it was just a rendezvous.

Have you seen Mary yet?” Colm asked, and hastily added, “And the others?” “No, but I can hear her,” Seamus answered. “Ah, yes, that’s Mary’s voice,” Colm sighed. “I surely do love her singing.” Colm could not disguise the giddiness in his voice. He’d gotten a ring in his portion of bairin breac that very evening. A ring in your fruitcake foretold marriage. Brambrack He’d been hoping for a coin to foretell wealth, but the ring made him think of Mary. He planned to give it to her this very night.

Seamus giggled, and would have teased Colm about Mary, but he’d already received enough teasing about his bad luck at snap-apple. In snap-apple, a pair of crossed sticks were hung from the ceiling. One stick held an apple, and the other a burning candle, and the sticks were spun. Seamus had singed his eyebrows trying to bite the apple, and had ended up with black streaks across his face. He’d decided to complete the effect by blackening his face with soot, and now wore all black from toe to cap. Next year he resolved to stick with bobbing for apples. That way he’d only get wet, at the worst. Snap Apple

Colm had painted his face and arms red and wore a red cape made from an old tablecloth over his bright red shirt. Around the corner swung Mary, singing, followed by Casey and her younger brother Gerry. Casey wore her father’s rough farm clothes, and Gerry wore his sister’s white Communion dress and even her white shoes. Mary was dressed all in green – bright green socks, and dark green dress, covered by a green and white shawl that reminded Colm of a field of clover.

“Are ye ready, my fine Guisers?,” asked Mary of the group. On Halloween in Dublin, young people, known as Guisers, dressed up and painted or masked their faces. They roamed the countryside, pretending to be the returning dead or creatures of the Otherworld.   Seamus said solemnly, “Yes, Eriu Goddess of the Land. The Lord of the Dead is ready.” “We’re ready,” laughed Colm and the others.

And they had a fine time of it that night too. Colm and Seamus moved grouchy old McCann’s privy from his backyard to his front door. Mary and Casey let Mrs. McDermott’s prize bull out, and he was now with Father O’Malley’s cows. Gerry had poured water down his uncle’s chimney, and they all knocked on every door they came across, then ran away as fast as they could before the cowed inhabitants could answer.
On Samhain, summer’s end and the eve of winter, the time-stream was interrupted, allowing communications between this world and the Otherworld. The dead could return to the places where they had lived.

Food for the dead was put out ceremonially, indoors or out-of-doors. Gates and windows were left unlocked to give the dead free passage. Besides the spirits of dead humans, swarms of sidh, or fairy beings, came into the world on November Eve, but not all of these creatures were friendly. Most doors that these Dublin Guisers knocked on that night had Jack-o’-lanterns carved out of turnips next to them. turnip jackolantern These simulated spirit guardians, and were placed at doorways to keep out unwelcome visitors from the Otherworld. “I’m hungry,” Colm announced. Mary grabbed Colm’s hand and together they all left their pranks and began parading through the central part of town, asking for apples and hazelnuts, as was the custom there. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Apples are the sacred fruit, which, eaten by the dead, bestow a blissful mortality upon them this night. Hazelnuts are symbols of wisdom, and are freely given to all who ask. hazelnuts

Pockets bulging with their loot, the group gathered around one of the great bonfires, lit for this occasion, and warmed their hands while stuffing their mouths with hazelnuts. Colm slipped the ring onto Mary’s finger. Their faces glowed in the light.

The competition between the winter-god and the summer-god (or winter and summer aspects of the same god) is almost over. On November 1st, the winter-god, who is, among other things, the Lord of the Dead, comes back into his own, and the dark cycle of the Celtic New Year begins.

Cernunnos

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Doc Silver’s Monologue

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 23, 2019

October 23, 2019

Doc Silver 3

Recently, I applied to audition for a movie. I use a site called Actor’s Access. One pays a yearly fee, or per submission. I’ve had an account there for at least two years, and I keep it updated. I receive emails notifying me of acting jobs in my area. I have never gotten a reply to any of my submissions until recently. It was an out-of-state job, and for the first time, I applied. I never had done so before, because it’s a huge waste of time and money to travel long distances for an audition. I applied, with no expectations. But, of course, this time, the production contacted me. I would have to submit a video audition.

When you are going to audition, there are two things that usually happen. Either you receive the “sides” ahead of time in order to audition with the lines memorized, or you are handed the sides when you show up at the audition – which is called a cold read.  (“Sides” are bits of the script containing your character’s lines – a whole scene or part of a scene.) In a cold read, you might have a few minutes to look it over and think about how you want to want to play it, with an optional way to play it as well. There’s no time to memorize it, and you are not expected to. However, you cannot audition looking down at a piece of paper, nor can you hold it up, as it becomes a huge distraction on camera. So you try to hold it horizontal, within range of your vision when you look down. You also cannot audition looking up and down while you’re doing the lines. Black Moth table read (3)

The trick is to know the very first line. Then you look down, get the next line in your head, and look at the reader or at a point very near the camera lens. You cannot look directly at the lens, unless they ask you to, or it’s for a commercial. Once an acting teacher told the class to look down at your lines while the other actor, in a dialogue, is speaking. No, you cannot do that. I wasted a lot of time in auditions because I did that. One thing the casting director or agent is looking for is the reaction on your face to what the other person in saying. If you’re looking for your next line, while the other person is speaking, you’ve blown your chance. Thank you for coming in today. Next!

So, what one has to do is look down just before the other person speaks or just after. You must be looking at the person while they speak, even if it’s “just a reader”. Readers in auditions speak in soft monotones. There are too close to the microphone to speak loudly. But you have to look at them. Sometimes you’ll forget the line or part of it. What I’ve learned is 1.) never apologize. 2.) Don’t stop. 3.) Look at your lines, and start the sentence over that you choked on. In movies and TV, it doesn’t matter. It takes little time to redo the line, and the blown line can be edited out. They may ask you to start over, but that can be a waste of time for busy casting directors.

All this has just been to prepare you for what happened when I was asked to prepare a video audition and submit it. No sides! They gave me nothing to work on, no lines at all. This was a first for me. I was asked to write my own scene. No preference as to monologue or dialogue. What I was given where a list of things my character was like, the things he believed in, his quirkiness, and references to similar characters we’ve all seen before. Doc Brwon

My video was to be at least two minutes, but less than three.

I got it done, after a surprising number or takes. I had one I liked best, so I uploaded it. That was a bit scary, because the submission deadline was fast approaching, and video uploads are deadly slow. However, it finished uploading in time for me to submit it, with five minutes to spare. Yeah, I should have submitted it much sooner. However, the monologue scene I wrote was too long when I was actually performing it. I had to keep modifying the lines, shortening them, cutting, doing the whole thing faster, without  rushing it. Tricky. And then I wasn’t happy with my performance, so I did it over and over until it felt right, and funny. I’m not that good at being funny. But, it made me laugh. Then again, since I wrote it, I was biased.

I never heard a thing back – par for the course. So, I can’t upload the video here, because I’d have to sign up for a pro account for a whole year to do that. And, they might object to a video that gave away something about the movie before its debut.

Doc Silver 2 However, since the writing is mine, and I created the character, I’m going to at least show you what I wrote, after a whole lot of editing to pare it to three minutes:

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Doc Silver’s lecture to his physics class, © October 10, 2019

     What do you mean you can’t find love? Our destiny is love. Listen…. Love begins as attraction. All cosmic bodies are attracted to each other. It’s not just gravity. We know a lot about the effects of gravity, but the actual force is a mystery. Why can’t we call it love?

     Look at molecular attractions. Negatively charged electrons are attracted to positively charged protons. This attraction is what holds atoms together. There are many protons in a nucleus which should repel each other because of their negative charges. But they are held together by a stronger attractive force. Why not call that force, love?

Doc Silver 1     We are made of stardust forged in the intense heat of stars. That means many things. Light travels the universe, and so can we. It’s within us, in the atoms and subatomic particles of every cell in our bodies.

Shit…. Where was I going? Yeaaah….

     Oh yeah! Soulmates. You want to find a soulmate. Yes, you do. Everything and everyone is connected. Just as atoms pair up with compatible atoms, so do we have soul connections.

     There’s electricity in our bodies, energy in our atoms. Electrons zooming this way and that. Did you know that as soon as you train an electron microscope on a structure, it changes? The energy of the ‘scope alters the energy level of the electrons, so you can never know what the structure is at any given moment.

Possibilities.

So, what’s the lesson here…? Ah, I know…. Yes. Here it is: don’t look so hard. You’ll never find love that way. Just let it be. Let it be, let it be…. Where was I? Exist! Bounce around like an electron. Change energy states. You’ll meet the ones who resonate with you.

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P.S. OK, OK, I can hear you think: I want to see the video. OK. I’ve Youtubed it:

Doc Silver’s Monologue  © October 10, 2019

 

 

 

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A Place to Come Home To

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 21, 2019

divorce     Divorce is never a good thing, at the time. It may have been necessary. It may have been your choice, or not. It may have been something you cannot accept. But it is a lonely time nevertheless. You will probably stare out the windows a lot. In winter, you will see the death-like trees swaying in the wind. It can be a time of despair, sitting alone in a still house, realizing just how much you miss the marriage, the warm body in your bed, the company, the other person there when you come home from work. It is never easy to accept what has happened, or where you find yourself.

barran    After marriage, divorce feels like death, barren, and desolate. Death is, of course, worse, but divorce hits you hard personally, like a punch in the gut, or running your head smack dab into a pole. That first night you sleep alone, when you know it’s over, and you’re on your own again – in an empty house – you notice the quiet alienness of the place where you are. Perhaps you live in the same place, and they are gone. Perhaps there are other people there, or children too, but it is just not the same. Your closest connection, your lover, your partner – gone.

There is a feeling of prison. confinement The walls confine you. You want to get out, but outside is like winter, dark and cold, and you avoid it. Inside is not much better. You can distract yourself with family, friends, TV, music, books, food. There are poems to write, full of angst and despair and self pity. You write, hoping to find some acceptance, some understanding.

You can’t go to that special person any more. Maybe you’ll hear about them, or see them around, or have to exchange kids or other pleasantries. But that connection is gone. They are like a stranger you once knew, family you don’t get along with. You ask why? But, there is no answer to that question. It’s what it is, but you keep going round and round and asking: Why, why, why? You don’t come home anymore. Home is family, and that has changed. There’s a chill cold you can’t shake, even in summer. Sharing your life for years, maybe decades, and no more.

In summer, I felt that chill through the heat, sweating in the sun, or the night, keeping the cooler on until I fell asleep. But there was no comfort in an empty bed in an empty house that made me feel like I was barely alive. At times there was an overwhelming sense of despair. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Who cares? I went over all the events that led me here, analyzing everything said or done. I thought of prior relationships, what happened then, what happened now. Over and over, and over until I just wanted to stop those thoughts forever.

That first winter alone, certainly a winter of discontent, was an adjustment. Cats are nice, but a poor substitute for actual human touch, for conversation, for making plans, and going places together. I touched base with the few people I know well, but they have lives of their own, and my life did not feel like a life. Always, in my head, I was alone. A piece of myself had been cut out and discarded. After a while, I couldn’t take it anymore. Christmas was coming. High suicide rate around holidays. Tempting, but not an option, just yet.

I decided I was going to get a tree, a nice aromatic evergreen. I decided to make a Christmas for myself, not one I could share, but just for myself anyway. I had no lights to decorate with, no ornaments for the tree. eBay. Problem solved. I found ornaments and lights, like my parents had for me, three bothers and three sisters. There are a few bad memories from back then, but so many joyful ones, like finding a bright and fragrant tree, twinkling and radiant, as we all came down the creaking stairs, holding on to the banister, so we didn’t have to worry about forgetting to take one stair at a time, or tripping over each other. Presents under the tree. Stockings full of fruit and nuts and candy hanging on the fake fireplace mantle, over fake electric logs.

On eBay, the old, thin, glass ornaments have indentations. They are known as indents, double indents, triple indents. There are glass ornaments in the shape of teardrops, small and large. There are miniature Santas, stars, pine cones, tiny little glass balls, or baseball-sized ones, and fragile, every last one. When I was young, sometimes I would press my thumb into an indent, testing it, and sure enough they broke easily. Once, my parents could forgive. But every year I was tempted all over again. Every time I broke one, I marveled at their fragility.

I couldn’t understand why things were made that could so easily be broken.

And I was terrified. But I discovered that I could drop the pieces on the floor, blame it on the dog, or cat. My parents seemed to accept that. Eventually I learned to appreciate the ornaments for what they were, for their fragility, and their beauty.

Done. After months of loneliness, despair, and longing for someone, or something, for peace, anything different from that bleak existence, walking the Bosque in winter, those lifeless trees so deathlike in their slumber, and then, months of shopping, I had dozens of ornaments from people on eBay who no longer wanted them. I wanted them. I even found some in antique shops and second-hand stores. I also found bubble lights, those fascinating multi-colored, liquid-filled tubes heated by small bulbs, bubbling away for hours on end. I bought a tall bushy green tree for them from a Christmas tree lot.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA     I tapped into memories. Music filled the house – not that Christmas schmaltz, but jazz, blues and classic rock. All was bright and colorful. I built a real fire in the fireplace. The house felt warm, over and above the heat. I felt an acceptance of where I am. This lonely space with prison walls was not so quiet. The music made me smile, and the fire popped, spit and crackled. Home. This house feels like a home now, for one person, but less fragile.

Posted in Christmas, depression, family, Life, love, madness, marriage, My Life | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Oh, Donald Boy, Karma, Karma is Calling

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 19, 2019

     A man on a beach. He appears to be sleeping. Could be dead. The wind blows his hair back from his forehead. He stirs. His eyes are closed, his face contorted. Perhaps he is dreaming.
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33491595 - evening light at the beach in naples, florida.     I am damned uncomfortable. Damn, it’s hot! I’m stiff, sore in parts of my body. I must be asleep, but I can’t wake up. I want this dream to end. Still, I feel a breeze, a hot breeze, as though the air conditioning is off and someone has left a window open. Enough of this. Things aren’t right. Someone will pay for this. I open my eyes to blinding light. A spotlight? Is there a TV crew in my bedroom? I can’t see anything. “Turn that damn light off,” I yell. No one answers. Impossible.

     I close my eyes, then crack them open just a little. Squinting, I know something is wrong. I yell, scream at the top of my lungs, the sound coming from deep inside of me, maybe. No one answers, no one comes. Impossible.
     I am not in my bed. I don’t know where I am. Shapes moving, wind, far away sounds. I close my eyes again. Maybe I’m still dreaming. I relax. I’ll wait a bit. My hands. There’s something in my hands, or under them? It’s dirt, or maybe sand, I don’t know. Now I feel it under my back, the ground, hard and scratchy. There might be sticks, rocks under me.
I sit up. I raise my hand to my eyes, shielding them from the light. I open my eyes slowly. Yes. That’s the sun. I must be outside. I am sitting on the ground, on dirt.
     I’m awake. My eyes are adjusting to the hot, burning sunlight. The shapes I saw are big trees, big leaves moved by wind. The wind is very hot. This is not a park, not a golf course, not the West Lawn. Looks like some piece of undeveloped land, maybe some lazy ass’s property not taken care of. There are dead trees too, with no leaves. Dead leaves on the ground. Not cleaned up. Damn lazy people! I stand up. I am barefoot. I look down. I have no pants. I feel my magnificent chest. It’s bare. I have no shirt. No clothes. I scream obscenities. I yell, “Who has done this to me? Why me! Of all people, why me?”
     Where the hell is my wife? How could she let this happen to me? Where are my security people? I’ll call…. I don’t have a phone. That’s right. No pockets. I look around, there is no sign of my clothes or my phone. It’s a nightmare; a walking nightmare. Things like this don’t happen. Not to me. A hat. I really need a hat. My head is so hot. I wipe sweat off my forehead, and I feel my hair. It feels like straw, dry, stiff. Where is my assistant. I need a comb. I need a shower. O god o god o god! What has happened to me? This is impossible. Everyone loves me. God loves me. Then why? Why why why why why. I scream again for security, for my assistant, for my damn absent wife. No answers. How can this be? I scream and scream. Nothing.
     My throat is dry now, raw, almost hoarse. I need a drink. Water, Yes. No. A beer. “Someone bring me a beer,” I shout. “Now!” I’m just rambling. There really is no one. No one to answer me, no one to call, no tweets to send. This is torture. Thirst. So damned thirsty. I have to find water, at least. I walk. I pass endless trees, but there’s no fountain, no pool, no stream. Not anything but these damn swaying trees. Am I dead? Am I in heaven? In hell? What could this be? No people. Just me. Funny, sometimes I wished for that, a world free of people, my world just for me.
     Well, maybe a few people. Smart people like me. Like me. People like me. I need to see another person, a few people, a rally. Yeah, the feeling I get when people yell my name, when they worship me, tell me they pray for me, love me. But there’s no one. No one to talk at. No one to cheer me. No one to blame. It’s not my fault. Not my fault. Not my fault. Of course it’s not. How could it be my fault?
     Enemies. They’ve kidnapped me! Dumped me some godforsaken place, in some shithole of a country. Democrats! Liberals! Even traitors in my own party! They think they can get rid of me this way? Just like them to do something this sneaky. No one points a finger at them. No one except me. How dare they? I know how to handle people. I’ll destroy them, humiliate them, destroy them all. They’ll pay! And pay and pay and pay.
     God! I am so thirsty. Water, water, waa-ter, waaa-ter, waaaa-ter. My tongue hurts. Someone bring me water, damn it! I’ll die! Look, I’ll pay anything. Anything! Name your price. That’s how it works. Yes. Name your price. I’ll dicker. We can haggle. Everyone has a price. Everyone wants money, even when they don’t deserve it.
     O god, what if it wasn’t the Liberals? What if it was terrorists? O, what’s the difference? What if I’m being held for ransom? No, no, I would have been rescued by now. I’ve been abandoned. I knew it! Everyone has turned on me.
     Water. So dry, so tired. My skin is burning. My head is so hot. I can’t take any more of this. It’s impossible. This can’t be happening. Not to me. To me, no, not never. No. Not to me, to me, not to me, to me, to me, me, me, meeeeeeee!

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A beach. Several boats landing. Military personnel jump out, walk slowly up the beach. A body lies above the sloped sand, among the trees. They advance, cautiously. They from a circle around the body, half of them look outwards, continuing to scan the area. Half look at the body. Male. Bloated or obese; it’s hard to tell. Pale, sunburned skin. Could it be? Two marines roll the body over. It is! It is. Yes. It’s the President. He’s dead. They call it in. Someone is sent to the boats for a blanket. The rest fan out, searching the island’s golf course, for something, anything to explain this. Guns are cocked. Eyes peer though filtered lenses, looking for suspects, someone, someone to explain, someone to blame.

Later, talking heads discussed his death endlessly on every news channel. A mystery. No obvious cause of death. He had only gone missing, from his bed, four days ago. Dead for two of those. Toxicology tests showed no sign of poisons or other toxins. No fluid in his lungs; he hadn’t drowned. His heart had obviously stopped beating, but no reason was found. There was no evidence of stoke. No bruising. No fingerprints on the body. Why did he have no clothes?

Speculations. There were plenty of those. Expert opinions given and endlessly debated. Accusations made. Mystery. How was it that no one knew where he was? Was he dumped here, in this spot? How was he killed? Somebody did something to him. It had to be murder. Assassination. There would be hell to pay. Maybe war. He didn’t just die, of that everyone was perfectly sure. That couldn’t happen.

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     A fiddle plays softly, mournfully at first, and then faster, louder, full of energy, becoming a jig, and feet are heard dancing. There is joyful singing.

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69 at Ten-3

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 16, 2019

It became time to write again. Happy Birthday to me. I turned 69 on October 8th. Went to the reunion of my high school class of 1969 earlier this year. In my senior year we all had orange and blue buttons that said simply: “69”. We loved it.

My step-daughter Maya’s birthday is September 26. Ever since her mother and I divorced, Maya and I have continued to celebrate holidays and birthdays together, and sometimes just do some wine tasting.

We really like blind wine tastings. I used to be pretty good at it while we were both working for a winery. Now I drink less wine, and not much grape wine, so I have a hard time identifying one dark complex red from another. But it doesn’t matter. We always have fun at those.

For some years now, we get together on a mutually-agreed-upon date somewhere in between our birthdays, or perhaps after mine, to exchange small gifts and have a good dinner with some good wine. She was pretty busy around her birthday, and also picked up a nasty cold, so she actually stayed home on her birthday. Her dad sent her a video of himself and her nephew singing happy Birthday and blowing out some candles.

Finally we got together. We rode the tram up the mountain to the new restaurant here. The tramway itself opened in 1966.

Tram

One of two new tram cars approaching Sandia Crest.

The restaurant is called Ten-3, because it’s situated on the crest of the mountain ridge at 10,300 feet above sea level.

Wonderful place. The original High Finance Restaurant had been there since 1979, and had to be replaced. It closed in 2016. It was completely demolished and a new foundation put in, but weather up there is unpredictable. Forest fires, high winds and snow hampered the work. At times workers could not even get there.  It took over two years to build the new one, and I’ve been not patiently waiting for it to open all that time. I used to hike up the mountain some early mornings and have lunch up there. A good cup of coffee, when it was chilly, or a nice beer after a long hike in the summer heat just could not be beat. Over the last two years, I watched the building slowly, slowly take shape.

It opened mid-September, instead of Spring, but hey, it’s open now! There are two sections: the bar area, and the fine dining area. Different menus for each, but the food is good no matter where you sit. We opted for dinner, so Maya and I split a smoked pork belly appetizer, and the New Mexican Paella entree. It was plenty of food for us. There are other menu items, and some are very pricey, so if you’re looking to splurge, this is the place. When you add in the cost of a bottle of wine, and taking the Tramway up, it costs quite a bit. I wanted to experience eating high above the city again, but it was really worth the cost to treat Maya. She has been my absolute joy since she recovered from four years of brain surgery, chemo and radiation to treat the tumor they discovered in 2004.

I celebrate every day that she is alive. Her tumor is gone. She fully recovered, graduated from college, and even though she has a full-time job, a daily grind like most of us, she studied and received her Master’s Degree as well. She is doing well. Even while doing all that, she and I worked for a winery for ten years until it closed after the vintner’s death.  Winery & Maya

Since then we see each other less often, so it’s always a treat for me to see her smile and enjoy life. Although the experience of ascending the mountain, and experiencing those magnificent views east and west is exhilarating, there is nothing like spending time with Maya. She is intelligent but witty, hardworking but fun, runs to relieve stress, and enjoys her life and friends. She does not worry about a recurrence of cancer, or dying. She lives life now, and travels often. I am so incredibly lucky that she exists in my universe. There are times in my life when I am tired, lonely, and depressed, but just thinking about Maya always make my life worth living. I’m glad she has time for me.

I have many interests in my life, and I am sometimes busy as fuck, but a little time with Maya here and there, and I am happy. I love her. Her happiness succors me, calms me, and makes life bearable.

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In desperation did I re-assemble my electric waffle maker

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 14, 2019

Waffle Maker 1  090819 (2)
It is old and had never been properly cleaned. The latch broke years ago. The handle is falling apart. But, it works. The heating coils are built into the waffle plates. The waffle plates are screwed into the covers. The two halves are connected to each other, so even after I was able to remove the covers, I had to disconnect many of the power wires in order to separate the two and remove them. The main power lines run from inside one of the plates to a space on the outside where the power cord comes in, but that has a cover plate held in place by five screws. All of that was last week. I don’t make waffles every day, and I had to leave my house shortly after the disassembly.

Today, after I had coffee, I noticed I was hungry, and running through several options, I decided on waffles. I measured out and mixed all the ingredients from scratch, because only one restaurant in town makes buckwheat waffles, and they just don’t measure up. I like *buckwheat waffles made only from buckwheat flour, without having to add any wheat flour. If I’m lucky I find buckwheat honey for the batter: oil, vanilla, milk, honey, an egg, baking powder, and a little salt.  Buckwheat batter

I reached for the waffle maker from inside my stove and it wasn’t there. After a quick search, and questioning my intelligence, I remembered that I had placed it on the fireplace banco for reassembly “later”. So, what to do? The batter was ready. I was hungry. Could I reassemble it? How long would that take? I looked all the parts over, and decided yes, damn it, I want waffles now, and I’m putting this sucker back together. No wiring or parts diagram available.

I had to see if I could remember enough to reason my way through it. Got it done. Waffle maker 3

It has no on/off switch; it powers on by plugging it in. So the acid test: plug it in. No pussyfooting around, I grabbed the power cord and inserted it into the socket. Nothing exploded, no fires broke out, no breaker blew. The heating and cooking lights came on. Unplugged it and greased up the plates. After letting it heat through a cook cycle, I was ready for batter. Poured the dark, speckled batter on the waffle plate and closed it up. The cook light went on.

Kept my eyes on it. I still didn’t trust my intuitive reassembly. The cook light went out. Yes. Perfectly cooked, with a nice toastiness and beautiful color. Success!

Irish butter. Check. Pure maple syrup. Check.

And damn these are good. Eat your heart out pancake houses and chain restaurants with your refined wheat flour library paste: stripped of fiber, nutrients and taste. These rock.

But maybe I should get an old-fashioned stove-top waffle iron, just in case.

 

My waffle recipe:

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla (more or less)
  • 2 tbsp oil (or melted butter)
  • 1 tbsp honey (or raw sugar or molasses)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup *buckwheat flour

*Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds and as a cover crop. It is not a cereal grain. Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, as it is not a grass. Grown in North America, it is used to make Japanese soba noodles. In Canada, it’s used for pancakes, or made into groats (also known as kasha). A related and bitterer species, Fagopyrum tataricum, is a domesticated food plant raised in Asia.

buckwheat  Buckwheat-Groats

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Labor Day Pool Party

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 8, 2019

Here are my photos from a party full of fun people: models, actors, photographers, artists, and at least one musician. It was also a birthday party for three of the attendees.

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Contemplating Death Again, With Photos

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 3, 2019

09/03/19
Well, six years ago I had a heart attack. Too much plaque in the heart artery that feeds the heart muscle itself. Problems for some time before that, something I attributed – as did my doctor – to a recurrence of my childhood asthma. Overtired on exertion, falling way behind on hikes up the mountain. Getting weaker instead of stronger. I’ve climbed up the Sandia-Manzano mountains. Sandia Crest is at 10,679 feet above sea level. Manzano Peak is at 10,098 feet. I’ve climbed in the San Mateo Mountains, specifically to the highest point, up Mt. Taylor, to 11,306 feet, and I’ve snowshoed Mt. Taylor several times. Also climbed to the nearby La Mosca lookout tower at 11,036 ft. I’ve climbed Mount Baldy, at 10,783 feet, in the Magdalena Mountains. I’ve hiked in the Jemez mountains, including snowshoeing in the Valles Caldera. At 11,253 feet in elevation,  the volcanic caldera is 13-miles wide. I’ve hiked and snowshoed often in New Mexico’s mountains.

After the heart attack, not as much. I still hike, usually once a week, sometimes two times a week. Sometimes I hike a fair distance, sometimes I hike really fast for just 70 to 90 minutes, a cardio hike. I figure I’m in good enough shape for my age. My knees never bother me. Since I had the angioplasty and stent placement 6 years ago, I’ve been good. No sign of any heart problems, but you never know.

Of late, I’ve noticed myself falling behind the others I hike with, and being very winded at times, more than usual. I’m sleepy often throughout the day. I used to catnap for 15 or 20 minutes, and be completely refreshed. Often I try that now, and sleep for an hour or two. I have no trouble sleeping through the night.

But, but, but. Today, after I’d taken another short nap, I awoke to a small sharp pain in the chest, just right of center. I researched it, and it’s likely not a heart attack, but it could be leading up to one. Possibly it’s angina, a symptom of heart disease. or it could have been a spasm. Either of those can occur during sleep, and generally last 5 to 15 minutes. This one lasted  two to three hours. Took some Advil and then some aspirin.

The more likely cause is a blood clot traveling to my lungs, as I had none of the heart attack symptoms I’d experienced before, nor any of the other classic symptoms. The reason for this could be that I badly sprained my right ankle a month ago. A lot of blood clotted around it, giving me bruises all around the ankle and even between my toes. I’ve been wearing a stabilizing boot since then. There is also a small (3mm) chip fracture on the talus bone of my ankle. I can walk fine with or without the boot, but the doc gave me two more weeks to keep wearing the boot. I hate it. But, it could be that the ankle injury is the source of a blood clot, if that’s what it was. Painful anyway. The pain is gone now, but it could come back. I don’t know what caused it.

I was supposed to have had a checkup with my cardiologist two weeks ago. Arrived 20 minutes early for a 3:45pm appointment. Checked in and waited. And waited. The few people there all got called in. I waited. More people showed up until there was quite a crowd. There are a lot of doctors there. At 3:45, a tall healthy-looking man checked in, saying he had a 4:00pm appointment with my doctor. He was called shortly. I waited. About 10 minutes later, I got called to the examining room, to have my vital signs read. I told the woman taking them about experiencing weakness, and sleepiness as before my heart attack six years ago. She left, said the doctor would be in shortly.

I sat there, unhappy. The reason I’d come early was hoping to get out by 4:15, as I had an important commitment at 5pm. As I sat, I could hear my doctor’s voice next door, with the man I’d seen come in 20 minutes after me. I waited. But, by 4:30, I had to leave, and I stopped at the reception desk to tell them I was leaving. Never heard back.

Now this sudden pain. I thought about making another appointment, but never got around to it. I could die any time, so I figured I’d get an online will started while I still could. Such a strange thing it is to contemplate a will!

I rent, so I have no property to leave behind. I have only the money in the bank that comes in and goes out every month. I save, but things always come up to spend it on, necessary things, like repairs to my aging car and much older motorcycle. Sometimes I have to travel to family events, and none of them live nearby. Anyway, I have little in the way of tangible assets. But, there are things I’d like to leave to family. I have way too many things, like music CDs and vinyl albums. Tons of books. Some paintings, but mostly prints. A few coins. Not really a whole lot, but I’ve been to enough estate sales to know what happens to all the stuff you think is worth something. It’s all junk, sold cheap. Some things can be worth a goodly amount, but no one knows, unless someone hires a professional appraiser. But few family ever do that, unless the deceased was extremely wealthy. As it happens, I am not. Wealthy. Or deceased, as yet.

But it sure got me thinking about who I could give my things away too. So much of it has little enough financial worth. I thought about who might enjoy this small sculpture, or that old painting, or the coins, or a keepsake from the winery I worked at for eight years before it closed. Some things I’d like to have go to family who would appreciate it. I have too much stuff, sure, and much of it can be sold off at an estate sale for whatever they can get; that’s fine. Sitting here for hours today while the pain subsided, deciding who should get what, and not wanting to slight anyone, but not having so much to give everyone something, even if they actually would want it. 1st world problems. And yet, I’d like family members I love to know I was thinking about them. I like to make people smile, especially those I love. My estate, what a joke. Cheap material goods.

What was my life? Flipping burgers. High school diploma. Working in a college physics lab, measuring x-ray wavelengths and spaces between atoms in silicon crystals, a useful thing to know later on for computer technology. But I left that lab before the computer chip revolution hit. Spent years traveling, working for a carnival, a bronze foundry. Settled down in another state 1,675 miles miles away as the crow flies, but I rode my bicycle there over countless miles. Poured concrete, laid concrete block, installed park benches and steel doors. Treasurer of my union local. Finally got a job back in the sciences, giving tumors to rats, and treating them with chemotherapy drugs and x-rays. I did continue in Cancer Research a bit, then worked Quality Control at a printed circuit board company for three years. Finally went back and got another job at a medical school working first with mice, and their immune system proteins, then with research machines.

I took night school classes for years until I finally got a Bachelors of Arts college degree, a dual major of English (Creative Writing) and Distributed Sciences. I had studied a lot of sciences over the years, but not enough in any one field to get a diploma in it, not even a Bachelors of Science. Never did much with the writing part of my education, but I ended up making synthetic proteins for medical research, and synthetic DNA and RNA as well later on. I could also sequence proteins, or DNA, or analyze the amino acid content of proteins, or purify proteins and DNA. I ran a lab, balanced my budget, kept database records, worked independently. Finally retired with a small pension. Then I made wine for eight years at a small winery until the vintner died, and we had to close the winery. Now I take acting lessons, hike in the mountains, work occasionally as a background actor on movies and TV shows. Still hoping to land a good speaking role, one that brings me recognition, something to show that my life had meaning.

Yeah, I had lovers as I traveled, and met someone I wanted to spend my life with, but all I got was a bit less than two years with her. Married sometime later to a great woman, but after seven years that was over too. Two stepkids I never got to spend time with again. Then I married again. Two more stepkids. That 14-year relationship was fun, but ran out of steam and died. However, I did realize that I loved my stepdaughter when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately we’ve been able to stay connected, even making wine together for those eight years at the winery. She survived after surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and more chemo. How strange to find those chemicals and x-rays I used on rats used successfully on a human being I loved.

So perhaps I did accomplish something significant after all, Perhaps my work on x-rays in silicon and germanium crystals helped create the computers to run those fancy treatment machines. Perhaps the work I did on rats helped establish correct dosages of chemotherapy drugs and x-rays. Perhaps my work helping calibrate x-ray wavelengths helped doctors calculate just how much energy was necessary to kill a tumor and not the person. All the people that work in science, even those that just run the machines, and conduct the experimental protocols contribute, each in our own small way, to a much greater good.

And, goddamnit, my step daughter is alive and healthy. And I love her. I finally learned that love is when you truly care about someone, about their happiness, and not just your own. Love is not about having another person. It’s about loving, without expecting anything in return. That’s what I think. If I’m still alive tomorrow morning, I’m going to call the doctor’s office, get in there as soon as possible, and do what it takes to stay alive. Because I love someone, and I like that feeling.

Just realized I was writing my own obituary. Hmph. Got things to do yet.

(09/05/19 UPDATE: The cardiologist says the pain in my chest is likely muscular, because of the lingering pain, and like a blood clot or angina. Blood pressure, however is high, so I need to monitor it twice a day for two weeks, report back).

Posted in Bicycling, death, family, health, hiking, Life, love, medical, movies, music, My Life, photography, Random Thoughts, rants, wine | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CLIMATE CHANGES* I DON’T RECALL

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on August 19, 2019

Forget
icebergs melting
rising seas
or
more hurricanes
terrible tornadoes
flooding
drought
forest fires
crop failures
and economic disasters.

It gets worse
some like it hot –

bacteria:
Vibrio vulnificus
the flesh eater

amoeba:
Naegleria fowleri
the brain eater.

While food is scarce
or unaffordable
coastlines under water
storms apocalyptic
I sit in the rubble
of a water-logged house
surrounded by smoke
and funnel clouds.

Fortunately
my Naegleria
trumps
my Vibrio.

 

* ( https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-08-climate-florida-brain-eating-amoeba-flesh-eating.html )

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The One

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on August 17, 2019

Maya 071419 (1)

The One Albuquerque Housing Fund enables the public to contribute directly to housing vouchers for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. “This is about us literally taking one person at a time off the streets,” said Albuquerque’s Mayor. This 17,800 pound moveable steel sculpture, a visual point of reference for the work that is going on, was funded partially by a $14,000 gift from the Senior Games organizing committee. Another $34,000 came from the lodgers tax. Each time it is moved the cost is about $5000.

It’s a fun sculpture. The city sells t-shirts with the logo based on the sculpture, and has has so far funded housing for two people. A popular slang term for the city is ‘Burque, so you can see that it is highlighted in red, and offset to make it really stand out.

I stopped by the sculpture, taking photos with Albuquerque native Maya Trujillo, who told me about it.

Here are some more photos: (including Maya)

Also, here is one that Maya took of me:

071419 (2)

 

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Breaking Down Carnivals, Ekphrastically

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on August 1, 2019

Ekphrastic Writing – created by the Greeks

(The goal of this literary form is to make the reader envision the thing described as if it were physically present. In many cases, however, the subject never actually existed, making the ekphrastic description a demonstration of both the creative imagination and the skill of the writer. For most readers of famous Greek and Latin texts, it did not matter whether the subject was actual or imagined.)

Oil & canvas by Kyn Thurman

IN THE BETWEEN

In the Between

[Prompts: vibrance (in the air), blush (candy apple), circus (cacophony), swirly cones (vanilla & choc)]

Breaking Down Carnivals

Sometimes you immerse yourself in something and you may not understand what it is until you back up and look at it from a distant perspective. And, yes, that’s my lead-in to a story, a story about a carnival.

Now, first off, a carnival is not a circus. No live animals, no rings, no ringmaster or clowns. But, both a circus and a carnival have a vibrance in the air, a cacophony of sound, bright lights and garish colors. Both have children. Each child has a candy-apple blush on their cheeks and a dripping swirly cone. But a circus is a static experience. People tend to sit on their asses, watching, laughing and generally being entertained entirely stationary, just as one watches television. There are staged animals acts, professional acrobats, and clowns. Except for the smells, the experience is a lot like TV.
I joined a carnival when I was 23 years old. At first, I was only looking to make a few bucks by helping take everything down, in preparation for the move to the next town. I helped disassemble a Ferris wheel.

The first “Ferris” wheel, was actually called Ferris’ wheel, after George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., an engineer, part of a group charged with inspecting all the steel to be used in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Fair was officially called: The World’s Columbian Exposition, in honor of the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Back then, that original Ferris wheel consisted of over 100,000 parts, including an 89,320-pound axle that had to be hoisted up 140 feet onto the two support towers. Launched on June 21, 1893, it was a success. Over the next 19 weeks, more than 1.4 million people paid 50 cents for a 20-minute ride. 20 minutes! Can you imagine any carnival ride lasting twenty minutes today?

Three years later, Ferris was bankrupt and died of typhoid fever. His wheel was sold, and later dynamited for scrap metal. However, the Ferris wheel lives on, and not only because of George Ferris’ design. At the time, a carpenter named William Somers had been building 50-foot wooden wheels at Asbury Park, Atlantic City and Coney Island. He called them roundabouts, and his design was patented, long before Ferris’ wheel.
Ever since then, people have gotten used to giant spinning mechanical rides, climbing and falling, twirling, zipping, and bobbing up and down (are you getting nauseous yet?). People love the sensation of “…revolving through such a vast orbit in a bird cage,” as the reporter Robert Graves wrote in 1893.

In modern times, all those rides have pneumatic cylinders to raise the ride up off of the flatbed trucks that haul them all over the countryside. First the lights have to be disconnected, and some removed for transport. All of the “cars” people ride in have to be removed and transported in another huge trailer. More importantly though, is all of this pneumatic lifting and lowering, all those lights, and the motors driving the ride need power. Since the carnival is often set up on empty land outside of town, the carnivals provide their own electricity, in the form of generators the size of a truck trailer, or two half-sized ones per trailer. After I had finished with the Ferris wheel, I was put to work for the carnival’s electrician.

Spreading out from each generator is a vast network of power cables, connected every hundred feet to a junction box, from where another set of cables continues on from the opposite side, on to the next junction box, and so on. Each junction box has outlets for standard power outlets, for lights and small appliances. The rides, however, have to be hooked directly up to the tall terminal bolts that the power cables are already attached to via 1″ diameter crimped terminators (LUGS) held in place by a screw-on nut. In order to attach the wires from the rides, that nut must be removed from the upright bolts, the crimped ends of those wires must be placed over the power cable lugs, and the nut replaced, tightly.

My job, at the time, was to disconnect the power cables while the carnival was shutting down. Note that I said, while, not, after. For what the electrician needed were lights for everyone to see at night, which is when the carnival shuts down, as soon as the last towny leaves. There are bright towers on top of each generator truck, lighting the miniature city that is a carnival. So, I could not turn each generator off before starting to disconnect the power cables. As soon as all the rides, joints (game booths) and poppers (popcorn, corn dogs, cotton candy, etc) had been removed from the last junction box in the line, and then the next, and the next, all the way to the generator, those now useless lines had to be pulled off their terminals, hauled off and stored in yet another large truck trailer.

So, like I said, disconnect the powers cables, which, mind you, are still hot, through the metal sides of the junction box. There were holes in the sides for this purpose, each hole protected by a plastic over-ring, so that a hot cable lug would not touch the bare metal. In theory. However, as I was successfully performing this somewhat delicate operation, I unscrewed the locking nut on a terminal, removed the power cable lug, and stated pulling it slowly through the hole. It wasn’t until the lug approached the hole that I noticed the hole had no plastic ring protecting it. I tried to back the cable up before it could make contact, but it was too late. The power running through the cables was such that it could easily bridge a small gap, and that one did. Hoo boy, did it. BANG, a blinding flash, a shower of burning sparks, and the generator whined loudly before it shut down. Darkness. Pure darkness. Not only because the lights were off everywhere near me, but my eyes needed time to recover from that flash. Couldn’t see a thing.

Shortly, because something like that really attracts attention, the electrician showed up. He asked me if I was alright. I said I was, and explained that the plastic ring was missing and the cable had been torn right from my grip as it welded itself to the box, as my eyes slowly calmed down. Since there was no power yet, he reached down and yanked hard on the cable, breaking the impromptu weld. He said, “Don’t do that again,” and walked off. I got the other four cables out just before he restarted the generator. I had expected to be fired or something, but with power restored and everyone working, I just went back to work. It took me the rest of the night to remove all of the cables, and then carry them and the junction boxes to the electrical truck.

By daylight, I was exhausted, as were the carnies. I couldn’t think of myself as a carny yet. You had to spend a whole season wrapping yourself in your job, and then come back to do it all over again for another season. Would I? I didn’t know yet. I saw some people sprawled across car hoods, feet sticking out car windows, people propped against trailers. Many people had already pulled out. There were overflowing trash barrels, and scattered pieces of trash and junk everywhere. It looked like a bomb had gone off. Soon enough though, I had been paid for my work, and prepared to head off myself into the morning, happy that I had money for food. The electrician found me and asked me if I would stay on. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting that. Seeing as I had no other means of support, and no clear idea where I was going, I agreed. Much later, I found out that I had been recruited because I hadn’t died. Rumor was the last guy had. After that way-too-short rest, we were all on the road again. Sleep wouldn’t come for us until we arrived at the next location.

Once there, after a good long nap, we reversed everything we’d done the night before to get the carnival up and running again. I had to haul all of the heavy, insulated copper cables out of the truck, and get them hooked up to junction boxes. Rides, poppers and joints had to be plugged in. There was always some troubleshooting until everyone had power. All the rides had to be tested, run forwards and backwards while being inspected. Every nut and bolt had to be tightened, and every ride car checked. I still had lots to do. The generators needed oil and water. Since they were in open view, placed in the center of the midway, they also had to be cleaned, and occasionally painted as well. That was my job. Sometimes the cables needed new terminators. Sometimes the junction boxes needed new protecting rings over the access holes. Yes they did.

Once I finished all of that, after breaks for meals, it was time to shut everything down for the night. I had to wait until the townspeople were long gone, and everyone cleaned up and shuttered their equipment. Once all was done, I could shut the generators off. In the morning, I had to be up before everyone else to get the power back on. Ten days. Then we’d be off again, crisscrossing the country, selling dreams while the rides turned under bright rainbow lights, surrounded by the smells of cotton candy, corn dogs and popcorn. The marks would gamble, buying cheap toys for the price of many chances to spin a wheel, shoot out the stars, pop some balloons, or knock over some bottles.

At night there were circus-like tents full of illegal card games and crazy peep shows. Some real money changed hands there. There had to be a balance between cleaning out the marks for every dollar, and letting them win sometimes, or the cops and sheriffs could shut the whole carnival down, forcing us to move on sooner than expected. The vulgarity of the peep shows was extraordinary, and sometimes they could get raided, but most often not.

There are dreams and then there are other dreams.

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Photos: ♪ The Lusty Month of May ♫

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 11, 2019

051919 (297)

It’s been a while since I posted any photos. Had a photo shoot May 19, 2019 with models and other photographers. We ambled along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. I took 372 photos. I won’t post them all. Some were crap; I deleted them. Others may be useful for the models’ portfolios or such. I found at least 21 that I liked.

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Restlessness, Vanishing, and Sidney Hall

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on February 3, 2019

rest·less·ness

Dictionary result for restlessness

/ˈres(t)ləsnəs/
noun: restlessness
  1. the inability to rest or relax as a result of anxiety or boredom.

Well, happening now, yes. A weird day. Spent 11 hours on a movie set in Santa Fe as a background actor, aka an “extra”, starting from 5:00pm yesterday evening until 4:00am today. Boring as all hell. Got home at 5:00am, fell into bed. The casting call had asked for people who had not been on the set as yet. I was interested in seeing what the movie was about. Love being on TV and movie sets. Waited all day to be used. holding Finally those of us still sitting around, about 15 people, were told they needed just five people for the next scene.
Question was who. I volunteered, as I had not been seen, which is what they had posted for. It was unclear if I would be one of the five, as five other people had volunteered. My “new” status might get me on set.

Nothing happened for a while. Finally it was time. My name was called. I was asked to bring my coat. I didn’t have one handy. The wardrobe people hadn’t had a coat to fit me, and took all of our production photos without one. When I found a coat, and actually I had one outside in my car I could have gotten, I was told that since they already had photographed me without a coat, I shouldn’t wear one. So, instead I had no coat with me, thus, they took another guy who had a coat, for a bar scene. Like it matters.

Anyway, that was the last scene they shot this morning, and we were all “wrapped” and sent home. Eleven hours. Santa Fe minimum wages: $92 for 8 hours, plus, 3 hours of overtime. All for sitting on my ass mostly. That’s the life of a background actor sometimes.
Finally dragged myself out of bed around 10:45. Fed the cats. Drank a cup of coffee. Played Microsoft’s solitaire Daily Challenges. Read email. Browsed Facebook for casting notices.  Checked my actor’s page. Ate a fried egg sandwich for brunch. Poured myself a glass of brandy (Calvados Morin Extra, from France); it’s something I picked up with an auction lot of “pantry items”, including: vegetable juice, reposado tequila, scotch whiskey, and other things like paper napkins, plastic bags, etc. The bottles had all been previously opened, but the whiskey was just less than full, so, at $5.00 for the lot, it was good deal.
Napped. Got up and made a cup of Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey is tasty black tea. It is interesting because it contains oil of bergamot, useful for kicking statin side effects. Statins, a widely used family of cholesterol-lowering drugs, can have side effects:
  • Headache.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Flushing of the skin.
  • Muscle aches, tenderness, or weakness (myalgia)
  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Abdominal cramping or pain.

All of which I have experienced since I have been taking a statin drug after my heart attack 5 1/2 years ago. My bad cholesterol is half of what it used to be. So, I’m back to drinking Earl Grey again – something I had forgone for just daily coffee.

Anyway, I used two teabags for a 10-oz mug. It’s probably what has me restless. I had sat down to watch a movie I rented: The Vanishing of Sidney Hall.

Sydney Hall

It is a fascinating movie, and I’m really enjoying watching it. Sidney Hall becomes a writer after an odd childhood, but experiences angst, depression, and regret after people take his novel about life a bit too seriously. He goes on a walkabout basically, which is what I did at his age, but I used a bicycle to crisscross the USA, trying to find myself. 1976(That’s a whole other story.) Anyway, partway through I began experiencing this restlessness. So, I wrote what you just read. I’m going to go finish watching the movie now.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

It is a good story, moving along, but now I’m taking another break. I think that’s a good way to watch this movie, in sections. Instead of an intermission, there should be two intermissions. I find that this is the way I watch most movies now, like reading a book. Sometimes you can read a good short novel in one sitting, if you don’t count bathroom breaks and getting food and water. But, long novels require a couple days or three, not due to boredom, but just to have a chance to digest it in parts. Although my general restlessness – perhaps generated by depression – makes it hard for me to sit still through a two-hour movie, I like to think it’s my way of really appreciating a good story.

———————————————————————————————————————————-

Finished it. WOW. That was so good. Intense. Complex. Sad. Fun. Well done. Holy, holy crap, it’s good.

I am going to watch it again. Not tonight. I’ve sleep to catch up on. But Wednesday night, my friend Ramona and I will watch it. I was planning to return the DVD to Netflix, and since I wouldn’t be able to get another one by Wednesday, we were going to watch something else on her Netflix stream. But, I am going to have her watch this. She’ll like it a lot. Her life is changing significantly right now. She has met the love of her life, just spent a lot of time with him in Germany, returned, but is now packing, getting rid of things, saying goodbyes, as she prepares to move to Germany permanently. She is so happy. I wonder if her reaction to this movie will be way different from mine? I’ll miss the little bit of time I’ve been able to spend watching movies with her. She’s just finished up graduate school now, and she’s off. It’s been a struggle for her. Strange boyfriends, cancer, and a bat-shit crazy mother (whom I knew 40 years ago).

From the way I built this blog entry, I suppose it won’t matter if I add some more to it next week. I’ll add Ramona’s reaction to the movie. It occurs to me that I could be adding new blog entries with updates from time to time on her new life in Germany, if I hear much from her. This last bit of time she spent in Germany was different. Previously she had sent lots of Facebook updates and photos. This time, a much longer time, she was quite busy, and having the time of her life, and I had to wait until she got back to hear about most of the trip. Instead of watching this movie as we’d planned, we had just talked. It was good to catch up on our lives. Catching up, but also, beginning to say good-bye. Cementing memories of who each other is, before the moment vanishes.

 

Posted in friends, Life, movies, My Life | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Before Walmart, We Got Five and Dimed – Pennsylvania Owned Retail.

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on December 24, 2018

Well, getting back to the “random writings” part of this blog, I remembered a dream from early this morning. I was in, what I later figured out to be, an empty classroom. There was a blackboard somewhere far to my left. In front of me was a bookcase. The books were all paperbacks, of a fairly uniform mass market size. The case was made of cardboard or something similar, and flexible. There were pockets for the books strung along in rows. Each pocket had multiple books in it, lying haphazardly in the pockets. One book was on the floor, and I picked it up, just to replace it in the bookshelf/pocket thing.

As I attempted to do so, I disturbed the other books, and, in trying to straighten them all up I upset the whole bookcase. It fell towards me, but only the top half came forward. It was folded over in half, so I pushed it back up to the full upright position. Most of the books were still in their pockets; just a few had fallen out. But, as I bent over to pick the fallen soldiers-of-the-printed-word up, I knocked something off the edge of the table next to the bookcase. It turned out to be an old manual pencil sharpener, with a metal frame, and a red plastic holder for the pencil shavings. Sharpener

I had a similar pencil sharpener in my attic room as a child, having shoplifted it from a Five & Dime store (Kresge’s, I think). In my dream I thought about that sharpener, trying to remember whether it had a base that screwed onto a desk, or the rubber base with a lever that caused the base to stick to a flat smooth surface. And I wasn’t sure of the actual store. In thinking about all that, however, everything began to dissolve, and realized I was waking up, and couldn’t keep the dream alive. As always, I over think everything, even in my dreams.

So I looked up Kresge’s, founded by Pennsylvanian native S.S. Kresge, who, after clerking in a hardware store, and working as a traveling salesman, had then worked for a five & dime himself, for McCrory’s. They were all actually called five-and-ten-cent stores, because that’s what everything cost. I believe that’s where the phrase to “nickel and dime” something came from, meaning to sell things very cheaply, even to sell everything off to rid oneself of excess merchandise. The stores had huge signs with the numbers: 5¢ and 10¢, aka a nickel and a dime. McCrorys 2

Later, Kresge started his own two stores with an $8000 investment. SS Kresge Over the years, Kresge, after bumping the price of goods to $1, made a fortune. In fact, he established a foundation, in 1924, The Kresge Foundation, a non-profit organization whose income he specified “to promote the well-being of mankind”. By the time of his death, Kresge had given the foundation over $60,000,000! He was also a prohibitionist, and organized the National Vigilance Committee for Prohibition Enforcement and also heavily supported the Anti-Saloon League. The S.S. Kresge chain (Kresge and Jupiter stores) later became K-Mart. I had often wondered what happened to K-Mart. More on that in a minute.

Now, I believe we had both a Kresge’s and a McCrory’s in the city I grew up in, so I’m not certain which one I purloined the sharpener from. McCrory’s was owned by another Pennsylvanian native, J.M McCrorey, who famously dropped the “e” from his last name to save money on signage for his initial five stores. At its height, McCrory’s had 1300 stores. Interestingly, S.S. Kresge had invested in the McCrory stores before opening his own.

Now, the McCrory stores are quite interesting in themselves, for the way they became involved with or swallowed up other more modern brands. Of the 1300 stores operated by the McCrory company, many were TG&Y, McLellan, H. L. Green, Silvers, G.C. Murphy, J.J. Newberry and Otasco. I’m sure you’ve shopped at some of those. McCrory’s also controlled Best & Co., Lerner Shops, and S. Klein.

On January 1, 1980, McCrory purchased the S.H. Kress & Co. chain from Genesco. You may remember the S.H. Kress & Co. when its exclusion of African-Americans from its lunch counters made Kress a target for civil rights protests during the 1960 sit-ins, along with Woolworth’s, Rexall and other national chains. S.H. Kress & Co. was established by Samuel Henry Kress, another Pennsylvanian. Kress started his first five and dime store in 1887, which became the chain known as S.H. Kress & Co. in 1896, and were called 5-10-25 Cent Stores. Kress SC Building The Kress chain was known for the architecture of its buildings. Kress envisioned his stores as works of public art that would contribute to the cityscape. A number of former Kress stores are recognized as architectural landmarks and many are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the 1913 building on Canal Street in New Orleans (now the New Orleans Ritz-Carlton) and the 1929 neoclassical store in Asheville, North Carolina.

As the economic expansion of the 1980’s progressed, so did the successes of McCrory.

McCrory purchased the Oklahoma based TG&Y Discount store chain in 1985. TG&Y stores were not profitable and drained McCrory of valuable assets. Many of the TG&Y stores were converted to the Bargain Time banner that McCrory operated, which closed as the 1980’s ended.

In 1987, McCrory Stores purchased the 76 remaining Kresge and Jupiter stores from the K Mart Corporation which had long given up on the variety stores division, reuniting the companies. All stores were converted to the McCrory banner.

S. S. Kresge Corporation – remember them? – had been renamed to Kmart Corporation in 1977. Kmart_original_logo (The first store with the Kmart name had opened in 1962.) At its peak in 2001, Kmart operated 2,171 stores including 105 Super Kmart Center locations. After declaring bankruptcy in 2002 and emerging the following year, the chain’s management purchased Sears for $11 billion in 2004, forming a new corporation under the name Sears Holdings Corporation. Sears Holdings declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy on October 15, 2018.

In 1989, 1300 stores were operated by the McCrory company. However, as the decade turned, its fortunes decreased, and by 1992 it filed for bankruptcy. Several rounds of store closures followed, with one of the biggest coming in 1997 when McCrory’s shuttered 300 of its last 460 stores. The company also converted some stores to the Dollar Zone format of Dollar Store, but these closed in early 2002. In December 2001, McCrory Stores announced the remaining McCrory’s, TG&Y, G. C. Murphy and J.J. Newberry stores it was operating would begin liquidating and in February 2002 the company ceased operation.

Now, we have Walmart. Surprise, surprise, surprise – it wasn’t started in Pennsylvania, but in Arkansas, as another five and dime store. Walton's_Five_and_Dime

In 1945, businessman and former J. C. Penney employee Sam Walton bought a branch of the Ben Franklin stores from the Butler Brothers. Ben Franklin His primary focus was selling products at low prices to get higher-volume sales at a lower profit margin, portraying it as a crusade for the consumer. As of October 31, 2018, Walmart has 11,277 stores and clubs in 27 countries, operating under 55 different names, including Sams’ Club, Asda in the United Kingdom, as the Seiyu Group in Japan, and as Best Price in India. Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue—over US$500 billion, according to Fortune Global 500 list in 2018. For those of you watching videos online: Walmart owns video streaming company Vudu.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the world with 2.3 million employees. Walmart  faced a torrent of lawsuits and issues with regards to its workforce, involving low wages, poor working conditions, inadequate health care, and issues involving the company’s strong anti-union policies. In November 2013, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that it had found that in 13 U.S. states Wal-Mart had pressured employees not to engage in strikes on Black Friday, and had illegally disciplined workers who had engaged in strikes. Critics point to Walmart’s high turnover rate as evidence of an unhappy workforce, although other factors may be involved. Approximately 70 percent of its employees leave within the first year. Welcome to Walmart.

In 2009, Walmart announced that it was paying a combined US$933.6 million in bonuses to every full and part-time hourly worker. This was in addition to $788.8 million in profit sharing, 401(k) pension contributions, hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise discounts, and contributions to the employees’ stock purchase plan. While the economy at large was in an ongoing recession, Walmart reported solid financial figures for the most recent fiscal year (ending January 31, 2009), with $401.2 billion in net sales, a gain of 7.2 percent from the prior year. Income from continuing operations increased 3 percent to $13.3 billion, and earnings per share rose 6 percent to $3.35.

Walmart has been subject to criticism from various groups and individuals, including labor unions, community groups, grassroots organizations, religious organizations, environmental groups, and the company’s own customers and employees. They have protested against the company’s policies and business practices, including charges of racial and gender discrimination. Other areas of criticism include internal corruption, the company’s foreign product sourcing, treatment of suppliers, employee compensation and working conditions, environmental practices, the use of public subsidies, the company’s security policies, slavery, and violations of U.S. and Mexican laws. Through years of strikes, boycotts and lawsuits, the company appears to be modifying its practices, including environmental impacts, labor practices, discrimination, nutritional quality of its food products, and other areas of criticism.

We’ve come a long way from the five and dime. Jimmy Dean

Posted in Dreams, history, rambling | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

2 Days of Poetry & Music & a Quandary

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on November 26, 2018

Good Poetry

I crossed the Rio Grande this past Saturday, not the river, but the street (Rio Grande Blvd, in Albuquerque, NM). There is a bookstore located in a small shopping center here, near my rental house. It’s a great local independent bookstore, featuring book signings by authors I like, music, poetry, and activities for kids, and even visits by comic strip artists like Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine fame. By Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine

Saturday’s event included poetry by a new poetry slam group, Burque Revolt. “Burque” is local slang for Albuquerque. The group performed hard-hitting poetry stories about race and sexism, and actually represented people of color in their lineup. They see themselves as activists and poets. Now, perhaps you’re thinking that poetry should make you feel good. Sometimes it does, sometimes it makes you listen, and think. That was the case. All of the poets, Mercedez Holtry, Dnessa McDonald, Reina Davis and Sophia Nuanez blasted us with heartfelt stories in slam poetry style. They had memorized every bit, since slam poetry is really a performance art. The poems were designed to shock, to challenge and to educate. And I think they succeeded. One of the poets, Sophia Nuanez, included references to the double helix of DNA, so I really liked that. Science and poetry should go together. I spoke with Dnessa about one of her poems. She is fairly new to this slam poetry thing, but has managed to have a poem published.

poetry slam

Despite the fact that some of the poetry slammed men in general and (a category I find myself in) white people, white men in particular, for a pattern of racism and sexism that continues to this day, I was smitten with one of the poets. Even the other poets were impressed by her beauty. As soon as I walked into the store and looked at the people waiting for the event to start, my eyes riveted on her. At my age, I’m not all that impressed by beauty of itself. I really need to know a woman to find myself interested. But once in a while I see a woman that pops the eyeballs out of my head. It’s a quandary. I guess it’s a reflex action borne of a society that prizes physical appearance more than intellectual accomplishment, and a sexist society to boot. I found a photo of her, but a two-dimensional photo doesn’t really do justice to the beauty of this woman in person, and her voice, her poetry and smile.

Reina Davis

I had a chance to meet her, confused a poem of one of the other poets with hers, and couldn’t remember what I had meant to say to her if I ever spoke to her. At one point, I had come up with a line of poetry to describe her effect on my eyeballs, but I forgot it completely when she was standing directly in front of me and listening. I couldn’t even remember her poems at that moment. Women still do that to me sometimes.

There was music then. D. B. Gomez & Felix Peralta a.k.a. Gato Malo, of Dos Gatos, performed some ranchera-inspired new music, and I felt like dancing. Years of dancing to salsa and merengue, cha-cha and rancheras inspires me to dance as soon as I hear it, Unfortunately, Reina, the queen was gone.

Well, Sunday morning came around and I went to Chatter Sunday, a regular Sunday morning venue for music of a more classical nature, and poetry, including slam poets sometimes, and Sophia Nuanez Sophia Nuanez has performed there before. It takes place at Las Puertas, meaning doors, because there are lots of them there from when the space was used to sell antique doors. There is also an espresso bar, which is such a fine way to start a Sunday (not to mention the home-made treats). The program began with the entire ensemble performing a 1986 piece: Airs from Another Planet – wind quintet and piano – reels, airs and jigs, by Judith Weir. One of the numbers from the four-part piece was called Strathspey and reel, so I had to look up strathspey: Strathspey is the area around the strath of the River Spey in Scotland. Uhh, OK. It also has some connection to shields and coats-of-arms, but that wasn’t very helpful either. What it is, is a type of dance tune, a reel played at a slightly slower tempo, with more emphasis on certain beats. Glad I cleared that up.

In the space between music sets, Rowie Shaundlin Shebala, (Diné), told the story of her Arizona grandfather seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, among other poems that gave us insight into her life as the youngest daughter of a Navajo family. She has a wonderful voice and her poetry is well represented in print and at slam competitions. Rowie

Then we went back to the music, this time from 1796, by Ludwig van Beethoven: Ludwig von Beethoven a quintet for piano and winds (op. 16). This was a much more spirited piece than the earlier airs, and the musicians really threw themselves into it this time, even standing throughout, probably to give themselves room to move about, because the energy was frenetic.

Stopped for breakfast on the way home, wecks and had a bowl of hash browns, covered with bits of sausage, bacon, one egg, and lots of green chile as well as red chile sauce, along with two corn tortillas. I was not hungry again for nine hours, which was fortunate, because I went to another rare evening Chatter performance, this time, the Cabaret at the Albuquerque Museum, and a lot of pricy food is available. I did buy a glass of a California wine, a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon by Joel Gott Wines, which was very tasty (“clean, complex, and elegant”, according to their web page).

The music at the museum started off with a piece from 1720, by Johann Sebastian Bach: JS Bach facial reconstruction Sonata No. 2 in D Major for Viola de Gamba and Keyboard. Fascinating, and so well-played.

That was followed by music of Philip Glass, Glass so I cringed mentally when I saw that in the program. A fifth is the interval from the first to the last of five consecutive notes in a diatonic scale. As it was explained, fifths are never played consecutively, ever, not even two or three at a time. Well, that is, that used to be the case, but Philip Glass did whatever he wanted to do, so he composed a piece built entirely of nothing but fifths. Very unusual and interesting. Ten minutes of it. I sipped my wine throughout.

After intermission we were treated to the 1921 music of Erich Wolfgang KorngoldErich_Wolfgang_Korngold, a composer of operas, and a contemporary of Richard Strauss. He is one of the founders of film music, and you’ve all heard his music. Some of the sixteen films he scored were The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, The Sea Wolf, Deception, Kings Row, and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex. (As a purely irrelevant aside, my sister Mary Elizabeth is married to Sara Essex.)

Anyway, the Piano Quintet (op. 15), was delightful, and played with intense passion by the seven Chatter musicians, some local, some visiting: James Shields on clarinet, Nathan Ukens on horn, David Felberg & Ruxandra Marquardt on violins, Keith Hamm on viola, Dana Winograd on cello, and Judith Gordon on piano.

Two days of fun and music. Much to think about, much to research, and music to seek out. And fresh-roasted green chile to eat. Green chile

 

Posted in coffee, comics, food, music, My Life, poetry, race, rambling, wine | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Chatter, a Soprano, a Guitar & 2 Beers

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on October 10, 2018

photo inside Dialogue Brewing by Martin Ly, 10/09/2018Martin Ly photo

So, in the past I’ve written about the wonderful music I listen to on Sunday mornings, put on by ChatterABQ.org in Albuquerque. Then I drink americanos made by the espresso baristas there. Tonight, the concert was at Dialogue Brewing. They have beer. Really good beer. I had two P-Funk Porters while I listened to the music.

Such music. The guitar work by Martin Ly Martin Ly was truly exceptional. He performed El arpa y la sombra (for guitar) by Leo Brouwer, who is an award-winning Cuban composer, conductor, and classical guitarist. I felt the piece was performed by a master, but Leo Brouwer is the real master. Quite a musician. And so really also is Martin Ly. I found a YouTube video of him playing Mallorca on an acoustic guitar, but he played an electric one for the concert tonight. There were other performers as well, such as David Felberg, who makes Chatter happen every week. He played a complicated John Zorn avant-garde piece called Passagen. Quite strange to my ears, but Mr. Felberg plays the hell out of violin or viola, so he was up to the task. After that, Luke Gullickson played a piece called Nothing is Real, by Alvin Lucier, on keyboard and amplified teapot. Yes, I said teapot. He then played another piece on keyboard called Julia, by Bunita Marcus.

If I had gone and only heard the guitar work of Martin Ly, I’d have considered it a well-spent evening. The real treasure came in the second part of the program. All of the musicians performed, and were joined by Jennifer Perez, soprano. The piece they performed was Death Speaks (five parts), by David Lang. Extraordinary. I loved it, even though I try to avoid opera and musicals and such, but not anymore. Jennifer just blew me away with that incredible voice of hers. I was mesmerized by her depth and her emotion. I could listen to her powerful voice anytime, and never get enough. Really, it was like a spiritual experience. Perhaps it was enhanced by the beers, or I was influenced by her striking beauty, but I was carried away. Jennifer Perez

I hope to hear her sing again. I’d love to photograph her.

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One thing to accomplish

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 29, 2018

Carrot Seed

Most of us would like to end our lives without regret. I think one way to do that is, of course, to accomplish something. To that end, I think I’d most want to have passed along some tidbit of knowledge, something that has made someone think. It’s not that I need to be remembered, because, as I’ve looked at that, I realize I’ll be gone, dead, without any way of knowing or caring about that.

Statues mean nothing to the dead. Moving tributes mean nothing to the dead. Our dead ancestors don’t hear us, except in our heads. We carry memories of people: how they lived, what they said to us, what we said to them, how we interacted, and all of who we think they were. We can interact with those memories; they can drive our behavior in the present. We may derive some satisfaction from following in someone’s footsteps, or following their advice, or perhaps doing something for ourselves that would have shocked that person, or disappointed them or even made them angry.

So, in a real sense, they are with us, not as a physical manifestation (a visible spirit), but as a memory, which is after all, the real ghost of that person. We all carry ghosts with us, and, perhaps not just of the dead, but the living we no longer see or interact with.

What I’m attempting to get at here, is that I thought of something, something I’d like to know someone I love would remember, something that changed them, or gave them something to pass on. But, in the time I spent preparing my breakfast until sitting down to write, I’ve forgotten what it was. I can come up with many things, but can’t recall what was on my mind an hour ago. Live a full, active life? Live for today? Love for today? All seem trite, but, then again, it may just be a very small thing, but small things can make a difference.

For instance, a carrot seed. (The Carrot Seed). I read and passed along Dihedral‘s interpretation of that short wonderful story. He noticed that other people interpreted it in wholly different ways than he thought possible. Is it a story about gardening? about carrots? about a young boy? or the pointlessness of planting one seed? It is none of those things. I agree with the author on this one. Read it (linked above) and see if you do too.

So, what is that little carrot seed I could plant in the head of someone I love? I wish I knew. I’d want them to know that love is real, and real love is not about sexual attraction. So many people confuse sex with love. Notwithstanding that one can love the object of one’s sexual couplings, sex is not love, love is not sex. Leaving aside the Freudians, we do not usually desire sex with one’s parents, siblings, coworkers and friends because we love them. We do not (generally) try to have sex with every person we love. Some people feel that we should love someone before we have sex with them, but that presupposes that love is the object of the relationship. Sometimes, and often when we’re young, it is not. Hormones, loneliness, and sexual objectification can overwhelm us and actually blind us to who a person actually is. Sex is great, but it is hardly the be-all, end-all goal of life, although procreation is certainly a driving force.

I once read that love is when you care about someone without ANY anticipation of reciprocation or reward; that is real love. Infatuation? – no, you want that person, or at least sex with that person. Unrequited love (limerence)? – no, same thing, but you hope that person will feel the same way about you, and sometimes you believe it to be true, and you are hoping for your dream of being together to come true. You want your own satisfaction, you need something, and without that, you are miserable.

No, love is given freely, as trite as that idea sounds. I believe, when you love someone, you want what is best for that person, you want them to be happy, to have a full and loving life. You want that person’s success and happiness, even if you can’t be with them. Their successes make you happy, their happiness makes you smile. Their joy alone satisfies you. That is love, even if you never see that person again for the rest of your life or theirs. Many parents feel that way. Yeah, they love us, but they aren’t really expecting anything in return, in general. Some can demand your time or shows of affection. Or use their love for you as a means of control. I don’t think that is really love. Sometimes it is loneliness, and you’re handy.

But, I don’t care. By which I mean, I have discovered that I can love someone with all I’ve got to love them. I desire their happiness, their success, their joy, their zest for life, and their resilience to setbacks and hardship. And while I certainly enjoy seeing them, I can see only a photo of them smiling at an event posted on Facebook, or hugging a friend, or being on vacation somewhere in the world, or sending out a broadside message to all and every, and that gladdens me. I need nothing from them. Even if I knew nothing of their life anymore, even if they wanted nothing more to do with me, unfriended me,  ignored me, disappeared entirely – I would still love them. I know who they are, and why I love them, and well, that is not going to go away.

Friendships can be fleeting. Sexual attraction fades over time if you never see that person again, and know you never will. There’s a plenitude of people to know, and love, or have sex with, or all three. But when you discover that you love someone truly, you realize you will always love that person and that it simply cannot fade. It is not a wish or a hope, or a desire, but a reality. Something you know. You know. I cannot convince people of that, I’m sure, but, if I could convince that special person I know that: that is all they need, to love someone else, unconditionally, I will have done that one thing, passed along that one tidbit, that one carrot seed. That person they love does not need to be me, and I do not need to know it.

It certainly took me long enough in this rant to get around to it, but yeah, I’m pretty sure what went though my mind earlier was this desire to accomplish that: to leave this world having convinced someone that I love: to love, just love, and realize how wonderful that is, alone and of itself. Maybe I’m just full of myself, but I believe it.

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Autumn in Albuquerque, Make a Right

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 24, 2018

bugsbunnyquote

If Bugs Bunny was coming east from Los Angeles and the Warner Brothers Studios located therein, a left turn at Albuquerque would first take him to Santa Fe, where Chuck Jones lived for many years and was a major contributor to the Opera. But in August, going left, or north, leads to colder and colder climes. Quite cold in the northern mountains of New Mexico, very cold in Colorado, colder still in Wyoming and Montana, and then you enter the Great White North. Not only is it a very cold place to visit in winter, but you’d have to put up with Bob and Doug McKenzie 🙂 So it would likely be a better idea, near winter, to go right into Mexico, Central, and South America.

Anyway, here are some photos I took at the Rail Yards market, located in the old blacksmith shop of the former Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Rail Yards complex in Albuquerque. You know it’s Fall in New mexico when chile’s a roasting.

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Almost Autumn on the Pino and Tree Spring Trails

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 23, 2018

First off is the Pino Trail, on September 6:

Followed by the Tree Spring Trail on Sept. 13:

And, well, that’s all the hiking I’ve managed to do this month, except for a quick cardio hike in the foothills on September 10, for the exercise, no camera.

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Anger Mining

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on September 20, 2018

So, as part of my acting class, I need to have emotions on speed dial. One of those is anger. I’ve been going into myself, mining deep, to touch those feelings, tag them with a keyword that I can use to retrieve them. There is, after all, a range of anger, from annoyance to rage. A lot of that is buried within us, and many of us actively work on remembering pleasant memories, creating, sometimes, a “happy place” to go to, or just trying to keep destructive emotions from boiling up and spilling over in situations that don’t call for that. Anger management is all the rage these days.

But, as an actor, I need those emotions. If I fake them, pretend to be angry, or pretend any other emotion, it’s going to look like that: pretense. I need emotion to come from within and express itself in my face and body language. So I have memories I can mine for that: my father, especially, and the irrational demands he’d make on me when he got pissed. I was married twice. My first seven-year marriage dissolved suddenly in anger, but the anger was short-lived. She said she wanted us to separate. Since I’d never heard of anyone who “separated” getting back together, I said we should just get divorced. We decided not to stay married, and eventually went back to being friends after the divorce. The second marriage had a long run, fourteen years, but the last few were full of intolerance, recrimination, and angry blow-ups that were ignored, passed over and buried. Great fuel for an actor.

I often tap these feelings in class, and have done so just before I do a monologue. The monologue becomes much more powerful, and real.

However, I had a dream early this morning. My father was raging at me for something. The dream had a lot of details, I could see him quite clearly. We were in the basement of the last house we had lived in as a family. I saw the concrete walls. Oddly, there was a shelf on the wall nearest us, and there was a stack of dinner plates on it. There hadn’t been any such shelf or stack of upside-down stacked plates, but the brain does what it wants sometimes. I was listening to my father, and getting angry. I was also tired of hearing all this crap from him. I grabbed a plate and threw it on the floor, shouting at my father to cut the crap as I did so.

The plate didn’t break on the concrete floor; it just landed there with a dull thud. That was not very satisfying. We both looked at it. I needed to get his attention back on me, on my anger. So I looked at that stack of plates and made him look at them. “You know,” I said, “I can start breaking all of these on your head.” My anger rose. I said something to the effect that I wasn’t going to take this anymore. I felt we could just go at it here right now, beat the crap out of each other, and have it all out. I could feel my chest tighten, I could feel the adrenaline in my body. I was pumped up and ready to fight, and the emotion was taking over my body. It felt overwhelming, like a terrible rage.

THAT woke me up. My heart was racing. My chest ached. I was shocked to be feeling such anger. My dad could do that to me. He did it one last time in real life. He was slapping my teenage head back and forth, and back and forth, and I snapped. Knocked him on his ass to the floor and tried with all my strength to stomp his head into bloody pulp; really wanted to see his head explode. Fortunately he was stronger them me, even in that state, and he was able to leverage his arms against my leg so I couldn’t bring it down. His anger had dissipated. In fact, I remember him smiling. He had always wanted to toughen me up, make me fight, not take crap from anyone. Guess what, Dad, it worked! And you were the one I wanted to take on the most.

I did love my father, but he died many years ago, in his fifties. I had moved away long before that, and never heard from him. He and my mother had divorced not too long after I’d left home at 18. After I got the early-morning call that he’d died, I was numb at first, and then sad, but by evening I was overcome by emotion and tears. I remembered all the good things, and regretted that I’d never see him again, never spend some time talking, never be able to ask him any questions. Still have those regrets sometimes.

But, I’ll say this: Thanks Dad. I think I’m going to find all that very useful.

Posted in 1960s, Dreams, family, madness, My Life, relationships | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Slam Poets and Charles Ives

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on July 29, 2018

Albuquerque’s slam team came to Chatter Sunday this morning. Gabe Reyes, Sophia Nuanez, Rene Mullens, and Bianca Sanchez added some spunk to the Sunday concert, material they are taking to Chicago, to the 2018 National Poetry Slam, Aug 13-18. The week-long festival is part championship tournament, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition. It is the largest team performance poetry event in the world.

Of course, U.S. composer Charles Ives needs no spunk. His music always takes one in different directions. We listened to his Concord Sonata from 1920. The sonata was divided into four parts: Emerson, Hawthorne, The Alcotts, and Thoreau. He is one of the first American composers of international renown, though his music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Sources of Ives’ tonal imagery are hymn tunes and traditional songs, the town band at holiday parade, the fiddlers at Saturday night dances, patriotic songs, sentimental parlor ballads, and the melodies of Stephen Foster. Charles Ives was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatory elements, and quarter tones, foreshadowing many musical innovations of the 20th century.

The music was performed by a brilliant pianist, Emanuele Arciuli. His repertoire ranges from Bach to contemporary music, leaning towards U.S. music.

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He was joined a few times by Jesse Tatum on flute,072918 (27a) startling us from the darkness behind the audience. It was a great concert. Mr. Arciuli has a passion for Ives’s music you’d have to hear to believe.

And of course, there was a woman in the audience I noticed. I saw her as she entered the building while I was getting my Americano from the espresso baristas. She has a gorgeous smile, and it was a pleasure just to admire her and her beautiful black hair and luscious form.

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Here she is on the far left, applauding the flutist, pianist, and slam team.

I love Sunday mornings.

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Sometimes, I’m Happy; Real Tired Too

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on July 4, 2018

May and June sure took their toll; hella busy. Didn’t get much hiking in. In June the fire danger in New Mexico closed the nearby trails I like to hike in the Sandia mountains. I got a hike in on May 3, on the Faulty Trail near the crest of the mountain range.

In addition to an acting class I take on Thursdays, I had also been taking an eight-week acting workshop on Tuesdays, starting in March. On May 7, I met with fellow classmate Teresa to rehearse a scene we would perform in class. In class on May 8, we did a scene from Harold Pinter’s play A Slight Ache. Teresa is an accomplished actor and pretty amazing. She was also in rehearsals for a production of The Full Monty here in town, and how she manages family, classes, auditions, and acting in plays and short movies is beyond me. She is highly intelligent, having done a lot of scientific research in her past as well. We once drove together all the way to Roswell, NM to audition (but neither of us got a job out of it). I did, however, thoroughly enjoy traveling with Teresa and filling our time with a bit of each other’s life stories, and dreams for the future. I hope to work with her again. Good pool player too, and beautiful.

Teresa - Back To Billy 2 Teresa Jones 3aTeresa - Pool shark (2a)

May 11, I met with an acting coach from the other class I had been attending. He videotaped my audition for the TV pilot of Back To Billy. May 16 was a meeting to begin planning a fundraiser for the New Mexico Film Foundation. The Foundation gives an aspiring local filmmaker a $5000 check every year.

I managed to watch two plays in two days, one I had auditioned for after learning a Dublin, Ireland dialect: a 1978 comedy play by Hugh Leonard: Da. Learned the basics of the dialect, but hadn’t gotten the part. I also watched Deathtrap, a play written by Ira Levin, also in 1978. I knew one of the actors, having worked together in a 48-hour movie competition. Met with my acting coach for prepare for a callback audition. We worked hard, but, as usual, I didn’t get the part. Saw another play on the 25th, The Full Monty that Teresa was in: acting, singing and dancing.

Full

Went to a BBQ out of town at the home of a fellow classmate in my Thursday acting class. Good food, good music, and great people. Unfortunately, her husband, in dealing with a severe case of PTSD, had drunk too much and went around accusing the actors of laughing at him, and thinking they were bettter than him (he’s not an actor). He was extremely agitated, and physically threatened people, saying he would beat the crap out of anyone, even the women there; saying he lived for that shit. When he ripped off his shirt and went at a friend there, I called him out for his behavior. He left the woman he was attacking alone, and came for me. After a bit of shouting at me, his wife stepped between us before he could attack me, but he did mange to kick at me from behind her. It was a very strange episode, and I suprised myself calling that guy out like that, but his behavior was way out of line.

Got one more hike in before the month of May ended (Pino Trail):

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Then I did a table read for a movie being developed. And that was just the merry lusty month of May.

June started off with another hike, on the eastern side of the Sandias. It was ten degress cooler up there near the crest of the mountains.

Watched a friend’s movie called A Bitter Reckoning, as part of a festival of award-winning shorts. Teresa, above, was also in that. Great movie. Click on the name to see a trailer from it.

Hiked the Pino Trail again on the 10th: Aspens, Ponderosas, approx. 6.7 miles total with 1800 feet of elevation gain. And then auditioned for another movie that afternoon. It’s an interesting Sci Fi shoot.  (I got the part. We started shooting on July 2nd, and my part will be shot on July 8th. It is mostly for the actors in it to have material for their acting reels, so we have something new to submit to major casting calls.)

On the 16th I went to a movie prop house in the afternoon to pick out props for the New Mexico Film Foundation fundraiser on July 14. We will decorate the Nativo Lodge in Albuquerque for what we are calling a soirée: films, music, finger food, silent auction, and a live auction conducted by master-of-dialects Steve Corona, who will auction off each item in a different dialect. In the evening I was a background actor on a new movie called Caged, a fascinating look at kickboxing.

Got another hike in on the 24th, going up in the foothills to the Eye of the Sandias. The foothills aren’t closed, it’s City of Albuquerque Open Space.

The rest of the month I spent at a coin show, a motorcycle breakfast meetup, acting class, a doctor’s appointment, an actor’s coffee meetup, and more work getting auction items ready for the July 14th soirée. For an old fart retiree, my calendar sure looks full.

July is in full swing. In another installment of this blog, I’ll recap my motorcycle trip to the old movie ranch near Santa Fe,

Bikes working hard. 070118

and my and my cousin’s small parts in a movie being shot there. The day after that, I helped with sound on the short movie I’ll act in on the 8th of July. I’ll be picking up the props on the 13th for the soirée, and then helping out at the event with the silent auction part of the soirée on the 14th, and then returning props to the prop house on the 16th. I’m booked already for background scenes on the 9th and the 17th. The actor’s coffee group will produce its own movie for the 48-Hour movie competition on the 27th and 28th, and I’ll be assisting the camera and editing people. I hope to have a break during the 48-Hour project to audition for a play nearby, but I may not be able to. But, that’s all I have going in July so far.

Posted in friends, hiking, In front of the camera, Life, motorcycles, My Life, photography, rambling | Leave a Comment »

Slowly I ….

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on June 17, 2018

Listening to Isao Tomita’s electronic version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition as I write. Tomita p at an exhibition It is far stranger than Mussorgsky ever imagined, of that I am sure. I like some of Tomita’s works very much. This one not so much. Lately I have acquired many CDs of his work. I love his live concert, done in 1984: The Mind Of The UniverseMind of the Universe and have enjoyed his version of Maurice Ravel‘s Bolero, as well as Tomita’s 1974 studio release: Snowflakes are DancingSnowflakes Debussy’s tone paintings. However, I disliked his version of Gustav Holst‘s The Planets so much that I posted it on the CD trading website SwapaCD immediately after listening to it. Someone had already requested it automatically, so I packaged it and bought postage to ship it out tomorrow. I’m a fan of electronic music, but not all of it.

Lazy, lazy day. I was up last night on a movie set until 3am this morning, crawling into bed as soon as I got home. I woke this morning early, but just turned over and went back to sleep until 8:30am. The movie is a local production here in Albuquerque. Seems like movies are being made here every day. I was not a character in this movie, but a background actor, sometimes punching a bag, sometimes watching and cheering a fight, sometimes doing my version of sit ups (touching my toes from a flat position). The movie scenes are for Caged, taking place in a gym. Caged “It is the story of TJ, a young man from a privileged family, who drops out of law school against his mother’s wishes to pursue his dream of becoming an MMA fighter.” I was fascinated by it, and the gym, as this was the first time I’d ever been in one.

I made coffee this morning and fed the two cats. Drank my coffee while playing Microsoft’s daily solitare challenges. Made breakfast. Decided to go back to bed. Slept until 4:30pm. Now, that’s a lazy day! Got up and read for a short while. I’ve been reading Khaled Hosseini’s And The Mountains EchoedMountains I’ve really enjoyed the first half, but could not get back into it today; perhaps I will later this evening. Hosseini wrote The Kite Runner,  but, although I thoroughly enjoyed the movie: Kite Runner, I did not read the book. Hosseini is a good writer, and writes real stories of real people caught up in circumstances of violence and social change beyond their control, sometimes beyond all comprehension.

I’ve switched my music to Tomita’s compilation called Different Dimensions, a CD subtitled “The Ultimate Collection of Future Sounds.” Different Dimensions Hopefully it is not, but it is a good introduction to Tomita’s work. Some are very good, some are fascinating, and some are just odd, which is pretty much how I feel today.

I have also thought about my dad today, on Father’s Day, and changed my Facebook profile photo to his photo, from the 1940s. Dad on skates He and my mom roller skated a lot growing up, and were partnered by their coach for competitions, which they won a lot of, being Tri-State champions at it. I’m told they did not like each other at first, Mom&Dad09031949 but they appear to have gotten over that. My dad died of lung cancer many years ago. I wish he was around. I’d love to pick his brain. Oddly, when I posted that photo of him, all my mom could think of to comment on was the fact that his skates had wooden wheels, as they all did back then. When she commented, I noticed that she had changed her profile picture to a photo of her in 1978. I was living in Albuquerque at the time, and had no money for plane tickets, so I never knew she had changed her hairstyle so dramatically – Mom in 1978 – 1970s big hair. My brother said it’s her Liz Taylor look. I swear I’d never have recognized her on the street in that hairdo. She and my father were divorced by then, and I probably didn’t see her for many years after I left town permanently in 1975. She must have added the flag banner via Facebook, perhaps for Memorial Day. She’s 87 years old now.

No word from my step-daughter Maya today. She has always given me step-dad cards on Father’s Day, but perhaps we’re growing apart now that we no longer make and sell wine together after the winery closed. I had hoped for a call, or a text, or a Facebook message perhaps. She posted photos of her and her dad, and her brother with his young son Zen.

I always enjoy any time I get to spend with her. She’s the one person in my lifetime that I have really loved with all my heart, and I wish I saw her more often. Her smile warms my heart. Me & Maya 2017

Posted in 1970s, In front of the camera, Life, music, My Life, Writing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Sunday: Cancer, Chatter, Sonatas and Interludes

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on April 29, 2018

Ran across a wonderful post by my step-daughter Maya this morning. Exactly nine years ago was her last round of dealing with cancer. A tumor had been removed from her brain in 2004, but it regrew and she had chemotherapy. When that didn’t work, she had a type of radiation treatment called a Gamma Knife: several low-energy tightly-focused beams of gamma radiation (think x-rays) are focused from varying angles simultaneously on a tumor. It was followed up with a light regimen of broad-beamed radiation coupled with chemo again. It worked. She has been cancer-free since the end of all those treatments. However, on April 29, 2009, she was in a hospital again. There was a new mass showing on the scan of her brain. Turns out it was nothing more than scar tissue from the radiation treatments. A big scare for all of us, but after relatively minor surgery, she was right back home. So, she likes to remember each of these low or high points in her life. This is what she said:

Choroid plexus carcinoma papilloma: It took me a long time to remember this term, even longer to understand it & even longer to appreciate the significance of it in my life!!!
Choroid plexus: a network of nerves or vessels in the body that produce the cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain.
 – Carcinoma: a cancer arising in the epithelial tissue of the skin or of the lining of the internal organs.
Papilloma: a small wart like growth on the skin (eww! ) or on a mucous membrane, derived from the epidermis, usually benign.

This is a brain tumor usually found in children, diagnosed in me at the age of 21 in the right ventricle of my brain with a part of it benign & another part cancerous…(Not even my brain tumor knew what it wanted ). Removed in 2004 and then revisited on April 29, 2009 to make sure that sucker was gone!

Never worried more or felt so much joy in my life. I’m so happy she’s still in this world.

On Sundays, however, my brain turns to Chatter Sunday again. Wonderful celebrations of music and poetry that brighten my Sundays. I almost did not go. Conor Hanick is a highly acclaimed musician: Conor Hanick

He has performed internationally to wide acclaim in repertoire ranging from the early Baroque to the recently written. In addition to the Kennedy Center, Mondavi Performing Arts Center, the Kultur und Kongresszentrum Luzern, Kyoto Concert Hall, the Dewan Pilharmonik Peronas in Malaysia, Hanick has performed in virtually every prominent arts venue in New York City, ranging from (le) Poisson Rouge and The Kitchen to Alice Tully Hall and all three halls of Carnegie Hall.”

However, what he played was Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano by John Cage. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to anything by John Cage, but his music is out there, as in weird, meticulous and arresting. It is not what I’d prefer from music. Wikipedia says he is: “A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments.” Uncertain and non-standard, to be sure. I wouldn’t have gone just for that. However, the reason I went was Jessica Helen Lopez, nationally recognized, award-winning slam poet, and former Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM. jessica-helen-lopez-head-shot  She is an exciting poet to listen to. Her eclectic, opinionated style fascinates me. She is full of passion, and she resonates with the intensity of a zealot, and the joyful ecstasy of living. I love listening to her. I sat with her and her husband. Meeting him made me wonder what it’s like living with someone like her. Never boring, I’m sure, but I didn’t say that out loud.

So, instead of the usual three-part program: music-poetry-music, Jessica went first. We had our regular two minutes of silence after she left the stage, and then John Cage, for over SEVENTY MINUTES! It was a very long seventy minutes, let me tell you. Twenty sections! 16 sonatas and 4 interludes. John Cage is an acquired taste. This particular piece involves a modified piano: strings cluttered with nuts and bolts, pieces of rubber and other dampening devices and even an eraser. The idea is to sort of calm the pianoness of the piano down, I think. The music is like having a stage full of instruments, like a xylophone, drums, cowbells, wind chimes, and other acoustical things. In that sense, it is fascinating. I’d never heard a piano sound like that before. It offended me, in the sense that I didn’t expect sounds like that from a piano. I am, sadly, rather conservative about some things. If there had been a multitude of acoustic things being struck, played and banged, I’d have liked it for the virtuosity in handling so many items and having them all part of a single composition. However, Cage’s work strikes me as more like a structured structurelessness. I’m thinking that he has a certain structure diagrammed out, and goes back and populates it with random notes. The result, to my way of thinking, is something intellectually striking, but lacking in passion.

John_Cage_(1988) What Cage’s music is, I think, is more immediate, as in, you are here listening now, and your mind is not free to wander. I can, and do often find my mind roaming while I am listening to and enjoying music. With something by John Cage, I cannot. It’s interesting and creative, yes, but not something that inspires me, to either an emotional state, or dreams. In short, I hope I never sit through such a concert again. I love many different types of music: Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, and newer styles of classical music, Cajun, outlaw Country, Country-rock, classic rock, blues, blues-rock, jazz, salsa, merengue, tango, and electronic. However, I only like a particular piece or a singer or musician if there is passion. Even electronic music can have passion – Morton Subotnick’s The Wild Bull, for example. Otherwise, I don’t care. Same for people. I’m not saying that I am an exciting person, but I feel passionate about politics, or the work I do or the people and things I love. I want to see, hear, feel, and touch passion.

Cage’s works? Once is enough. There will be other performances. And, next month there is a Chatter Cabaret, featuring works by Chopin and Messiaen. I’m going just to clear the Cage from my brain.

 

 

Posted in 2000s, family, health, Life, music, My Life, poetry | Leave a Comment »

Blind Red Wine Tasting and Maya

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on March 21, 2018

I had so much fun tonight I just had to write about it. For eight years my stepdaughter Maya Maya Masters Degree (2) and I used to work together selling wine, and also picking fruit for it, and bottling it, and labeling it. I also irrigated the orchard, weeded, pruned, planted, plugged gopher holes, hauled sugar (dextrose) and added it in increments to the fruit fermantation tanks, cleaned tanks, filtered the wines when necessary, and helped keep the inventory up to date. We both got to learn a lot about how to make fruit wines, and how to pair them with food, which is really the best way to appreciate it. So tonight we went to a (grape) wine tasting, and not just any wine tasting, but a blind wine tasting. I’ve been to these before, and it’s always fun. It might have a lot to do with the size of the tastings, and incredible food, but it’s a real joy for me to have my stepdaughter join me. We were in the wine loft at Slate Street Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Slate Street    wine-slate-loft

There are usually five wines to try to identify the varietal, and they gave us eight choices to pick from. After we loaded up on hors d’oeuvres like short ribs, and cheeses, and bread, crackers, vegetables, and such, we settled into tasting the wines. I usually try them with different foods to see how they pair.  The 2015 Reserve Merlot from Waterbrook in Walla Walla, Washington was good with the ribs, but fantastic with the cheeses there. It was so good I thought it might be a cab, but no, I missed my guess. My stepdaughter got this one correct. Next up was a similar wine, a 2015 Tempranillo from Manon (Aviva) in Castilla, Spain. We both got that wrong, but it’s a good wine, excellent with the short ribs.

I should mention that in past blind tastings, I’ve gotten three out of five correct. In tonight’s tasting I got all five wrong! I actually thought the Malbec might have been a Syrah, and guessed Tempranillo for the Pinot Noir. The 2016 Malbec was from Bodini in Argentina, and the 2014 Pinot Noir from Brancott Estates in New Zealand. Both good wines, but I’m out of practice with grape wines.

Finally, we got to the best wine: a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Vigilance in Lake County, California. O yeah! this was good. I didn’t like cabs when I was younger: too astringent in my mouth. But, even though I’ve come to appreciate Cabernet Sauvignon much more, this one really wowed me. Complex, and tasty, and much smoother than I would have expected from a cab. We got to re-taste two of the wines after the big reveal, so we got to sample a previously untasted, but excellent Garnacha, (or Grenache), and of course had a bit more of the Shannon Ridge (Vigilance) Cabernet Sauvignon.

There were more foods brought out, like a delightful melted cheese/bread combo, and some coconut shrimp, but I didn’t see where the shrimp paired at all with any of the wines. Tasty though.

Maya had a good time, even though she had initially been tired from work, but she livened up as the evening went on. We talked about wine, and the closure of the winery we had worked at, Anasazi Fields*, and our sadness at the loss of the vintner, the winery itself, and the fantastic wines. We don’t see each other as often since the winery closure, so it was a good chance to catch each other up on things in our lives. She is done with school, she says, after getting her Master’s degree, but is now taking a class on beer: history, varietals, and tastings. Her homeowner association is taking action against the shoddy workmanship in the little complex she is in. Cracks in many of the walls, leaky roofs, and some substandard materials, but Maya’s place is in pretty good shape. I built her a concrete patio last year, and she’s enjoying it.

I continue my education in acting, and told her about a strange table read yesterday that turned into a movie trailer shoot. I hadn’t memorized my lines at all, since I had thirty pages of dialogue and little time to memorize it, and because I thought it was simply a read-through. Nope, the director/writer/producer wanted it on video as his class project, so we got it done by cutting and restarting almost line by line. Terrible miscommunication there. We only shot 6 or 7 pages out of the 111 total in the script, but that’s all he wanted. I wish I’d known that because I’d have nailed that part of the script in the time I had. Oh, well, that’s the movie culture around here. Some things happen, some don’t.

All in all, I had really been looking forward to my time with Maya, and this was a wonderful evening. I really love spending time with her.

 

        Sour Grapes

And, alas, the winery is nearly empty. 6000+ gallons of bulk wine had to be destroyed due to alcohol regulations. We had a huge 50%-off sale to dispose of the bottled wine, and in the end there were still a lot of the unusual wines like blueberry, and fig, and also some blackberry and old peach and prickly pear, and some small-batch varieties. The remaining bottles were given to the partners to haul away. The cellar is empty. The bottle room is empty. Most of the artworks have been removed from the walls. By tomorrow, the big workspace and community event room will be cleaned out of all items no one wanted. The dozens of stainless-steel storage tanks (from 6oo gallon, incremented by halves down to 37.5 gallon) will have been taken away for scrap. The new owners (who publish a local newspaper) will not be making wine. However, they will continue to allow the large space to be used for community events, like the November Holiday Show, in which artists and craftspeople throughout the Placitas area showcase their work. The show also includes the grade school’s gym & auditorium space, and a huge white tent set up by the local church.

On the weekend of Mother’s Day every year, the winery hosted a few booths for the artists and craftspeople of the Placitas Studio Tour, a two-day experience which is barely enough time to visit all the artists in their homes and studios throughout Placitas. The new owners say they want to continue to have the winery space used for this purpose. Other meetings and events that usually took place at the winery will likely continue, but without the generous tastings of dry fruit wines.

Posted in family, food, In front of the camera, Life, love, My Life, wine | 2 Comments »

In My Vivid Dreams Shit Happens

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on March 7, 2018

Sometimes I use blogs like this one to talk about my dreams, which are often an outlet for emotional stress in my life, in the same manner blogging became an outlet for me to try to communicate things I couldn’t otherwise talk about, like unrequited love, in another blog.

I had a dream a little while ago that woke me up (as they tend to do). It wasn’t a nightmare, as such, but, as my dreams tend to be, it was weird.

In this dream, I’m driving down a wide road, a dirt road. It is daytime. I see a huge muddy puddle on the left, which is spilling over to my side of the road. I decide to avoid it, and pull more to the right. However, that gets me stuck in sand. Nevermind what kind of road this is, I am familiar with it, but not sure exactly where I am. Part of my semi-conscious brain says this is a certain road I know, but that road is paved, and always has been in my experience. At any rate, I back up immediately, and the car is free. I continue backing up and back into a driveway on my right (which is oddly paved). I pull out of the driveway and start to head in the opposite direction, since the road appears to be impassable.

But, I don’t get far. I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening, but I found myself stopped on that road, mostly on the opposite side of the street, pointing in the right direction, but not moving. In fact, I am lying on my side on the seat. Seems like I fell over. I try to pull myself up, but I don’t have the strength. It is only a matter of grabbing the door to haul myself back up to a sitting position, and I try repeatedly. I almost make it, and I know I will, but something is not letting me complete the motion. As I write this, I think: seatbelt? Anyway, the little movie in my head continues. I notice it is getting dark. I reach up with my left hand and pull on the headlights. headlight pull The switch is an old-fashioned knob like cars in the 50s and 60s would have had, not the modern buttons or levers. With the lights on, I feel safer, and just then a car with its lights on passes me, going in the direction I left. I tap on the horn. Was I signaling the car hello, warning, or help? It would only have taken a long honk to get their attention, but I feel like I don’t need help. But, I was hoping they would stop.

I try getting up again, knowing I can, but I am sluggish. I seem to move in slow motion; my body is not responding to commands as it should. Then, of course, I am awake. I remember dreams like this where I can’t move, and it is because I’m asleep. As I realize I’m awake, I start to sit up, and sure enough, I can move. Whew! OK. What the hell was that all about?

Was I thinking about strokes or heart attacks? Was my body trying to tell me something again? No, I feel fine. I used to hate those dreams that ended like that. It usually happened with a nightmare, like being chased. I had to run, or yell, but my body wouldn’t respond. I’d struggle, and struggle, and sometimes get a little squeaky sound out of my mouth.

One time, when I was a still quite young, I dreamed that the wolves that lived in the shadows of my room every night had come over to my small bed and were biting my hand, which was draped over the side. I couldn’t pull my hand away. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t. I knew I had to call for help, but my throat seemed paralyzed, just like my body. I kept trying, and finally made little sounds, and then slightly bigger sounds, and then, in some kind of paradigm shift, (if you’ll pardon the scientific reference), I was suddenly fully in control of my body and screamed. Screamed bloody murder, as people used to say.

My parents showed up quickly, and turned on the lights. I told them a wolf was biting me. Seems the dog that we’d had for a short while was licking my hand while I was dreaming. Possibly I’d been waving my hand around, and he tried to help. Or, maybe he thought I was being attacked? Anyway, my hand was fine, and there were no tooth marks that I recall. Unfortunately, my parents decided to get rid of the dog. Actually, I’m betting it was my overprotective mother who told my dad to get rid of it. It was gone for a few days, and I missed it. One day it suddenly showed up again, and that made me very happy. My parents were quite surprised to see it. I hugged it and petted it. It was happy to see me. I remember thinking about the incident years later, and, based on things I’d heard, decided my dad had simply driven the dog far away and left it somewhere, as people use to do, or perhaps he left it with someone, and the dog found his way back. Anyway, the dog was there, but I remember very little about it after that. It was gone, and I can’t remember when. I think my parents just got rid of it while I was at school, which is always a sad thought, but I can’t remember. In their defense, my mom was probably pregnant again, and they feared the dog might go after the baby.

I was talking about the dream I had this morning. Once I was fully awake, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Started up my little coffee maker. Fed the cats, even though it wasn’t light yet. I thought about the dream, thought about the times I’d dreamt of cars when I was young. For some reason, in the 1950s, people felt they could leave children in the car while they ran into a store or something for a “few minutes.” It always seemed to me to take forever. I’d sit in the car, and scare myself by wondering what would happen if the car suddenly started moving. I was too young to drive, and couldn’t yet reach the pedals easily. I knew about turning the key, and pressing the gas pedal, but the driving part was a mystery. One time I scooted over into the driver’s place (front seats were all one piece back then, and kids sat in the front with a parent if no one else was in the car). I played around with the steering wheel, pretending to be driving along, imaging myself on the road. The parking brake was easily accessible, and I accidentally released it; the car started to drift backwards, as it was on a hill. I managed to get my foot on the brake by scooching down, and I stayed like that for a long time, what really seemed like forever, until my mom returned. I told her the car had started rolling, and I stopped it. She thanked me. I asked her what would happen if the car had rolled into the street. She told me that was why people turned the wheels at an angle when parking, so the tires would hit the curb if the car should roll. I always remembered to do that many years after.

In my dreams, after that incident, the car would start rolling, and the wheels were turned the wrong way. The car would pick up speed as I coasted forward down the street, an exhilarating feeling, but scary, because I wasn’t big enough to hold the steering wheel and press down on the brake at the same time. In some dreams, I could reach the brake, but it didn’t work. I became better and better, in my dreams, at navigating the car through traffic, because the car always kept moving. One day, I asked my mom about that, asked her how would she stop the car if the brake didn’t work. She told me she could use the emergency brake. “What if it didn’t work?” I asked her. I was like that, so full of questions. She told me she’d always both throw the emergency brake on and put the car into reverse gear. It would mess up the engine, but the car would stop. I never had those dreams anymore. Thanks Mom! But I do wish you hadn’t ever left me alone like that in the car. Or ever left me alone ever.

Of course, this whole train of though awakened more. I remember, hell, I never forgot, the time my parents drove to a relative’s house to do something, maybe attend a funeral. I don’t recall doing anything bad while I was there, but my father took me into a room and told me to sit there (on a wooden chair) and keep quiet. So I did. He’d closed the door behind him. I stared at the wallpaper covered walls. I remember hearing some noises, but since my dad had told me to sit and be quiet, that’s what I did. It turned out that my parents, the relative, and the other kids at the time all loaded into the car and went. I just sat. It was excruciating. I stared at the fleur de lis wallpaper. wallpaper                 I counted how many times the pattern on it repeated, up and down the walls. Double checked my counts.

Wall clock The wall clock chimed. It did that a lot, on the hour every hour, and I think on the half hours too. Analog wall clocks used to do that. Every time the clock struck it increased my loneliness. I began to panic. It was hard to sit still. I liked to explore, to look around, to examine things. There was a boring church calendar on the wall. I kept counting images in the wallpaper around it. I felt like I was in some kind of limbo. I hated it.

It felt a lot like when I woke up one night at a young age, and couldn’t see. All the lights were out, and there seemed to be a haze in the air. There was some very faint light coming in the window from far away, but not enough that I could see anything clearly. It had scared me the first time I’d done that; I’d felt acutely alone, as if I was trapped by myself. Maybe that’s what makes infants cry at night? I had also wondered if I was going blind. I hadn’t gone for my parents because, well, I’d already cried wolf once (literally), and I didn’t want to wake them again. Years later, I’d had an even stranger experience while accidentally overdosed on paregoric, and after experiencing bizarre visions while awake, I woke them up. You betcha believe it.

Eventually, that day in the strange house, my parents came back. My dad was upset, but not, oddly, angry. He wanted to know why I hadn’t come with them. I reminded him that he’d told me to sit and be quiet, and he hadn’t come back for me. He’d always made it clear I was to do as he said until he said otherwise. I thought he would give me a new command when it was time to go. He hadn’t. He’d forgotten me. My fault somehow. One time, years later, in anger, he called me a literal-minded idiot.

So my brain just kept on going this morning. I went to the kitchen, pulled my coffee cup out of the mini espresso maker. I make Americanos by filling the machine with enough water to fill my cup. It keeps flowing through the grounds until my cup is full, but I have to then shut the machine off. I didn’t forget to do that this morning! I sugared and creamed my coffee, and went back to the computer to finish writing this. But before I did that I went back to the kitchen for something. Once there I had no idea what. As I walked back to my computer, I realised it was my coffee I’d wanted to get, but I’d already gotten it, and it was on my desk. I’d been typing before I’d started the coffee, and kept telling myself to stop and go get it, so it seems my brain doesn’t always turn the messages off that I send myself after I do what I was thinking about. That idea made me think about my brain, and forgetfulness, and strokes and heart attacks again. Had a heart attack once; got fixed up. Strokes are a possibility for anyone, at any time, but mostly due to blood clots getting to the brain, I believe. Haven’t had any injuries recently, or had any problems with clots, but you never know.

You noticed I had visions as a child on paregoric, didn’t you? I mentioned it above. It’s a fine story. I know this whole post is getting longer than most, but my brain is spinning this morning after that odd dream earlier. So, anyway, I was a sickly kid, with pneumonia, swollen sinuses, fevers, coughs, a ruptured appendix with blood poisoning, and later, asthma, followed by severe pollen and dust allergies. Kind of clumsy too. Fell into an unfinished basement of a new building once, and cracked my head on a rock. Fell out of a tree in the rain once when I was older, while trying to fix the roof of the treehouse my brother John and I had built, and broke my arm. Always something.

So oh, once upon a time, I had a cough, a bad one that wouldn’t let me or my mother sleep, so she’d put me to bed with a large spoonful or two of paregoric. paregoric Now paregoric is a medicine consisting of opium or morphine, flavored with camphor, aniseed, and benzoic acid, formerly used to treat diarrhea and coughing in children. (To this day I love the smell and flavor of anise or licorice.) My mother used it on us often. I think she overdid it that night. I had been coughing long and hard, and she may have given me two spoonsful, or more. I woke up later, in that odd underlit time of night where I could only see a little. I was used to it by then. However, staring at the wall wasn’t very useful, because it was too dark to see anything clearly. I had played with toy soldiers, and even seen or played with toy civil war soldiers, and I must have seen a movie with knights in armor. Suddenly there were uniformed soldiers fighting on the wall, chasing each other with guns, up and down hills, and there were explosions too, but there was no sound. I was fascinated! I had sat up on the bed, and could make out the bedposts, pillow, and blanket. But then the soldiers morphed into men fighting with swords and guns, in blue or grey uniforms, but in the same place. Then the scene shifted again, and there were brightly colored knights in chain mail with huge swords and horses, charging each other, and having sword fights. I was enjoying it. I don’t know how long I watched. Well, technically, I guess I wasn’t really seeing anything, just imagining it, but it was so intensely vivid! It seemed to be playing within the wall, as what would later become known as three-dimensional imaging. The bedposts created a nice frame.

Again, the scene shifted, but became jumbled. An inverted cone appeared before my eyes. I was looking into it from the wide bottom, up to a point that seemed to be infinitely far away. It disturbed me, but I also felt the need to pee. Having peed in my bed in the past, I wasn’t going to repeat that experience, just because I might be dreaming. (I had once dreamed I’d gotten up, had gone into the bathroom, and had stood over the toilet trying to pee but couldn’t, until I’d finally let it all out, and suddenly my legs had been very warm, and I realized, very wet, and I’d woken all the way up, in bed. A terrible thing to have to wake your parents up for, or admit to anyone.) So, this time, I got up, before that could happen. I wasn’t sure if I was awake or not, but it seemed I was awake. Except, except there was still that inverted cone in front of my face, and it made walking difficult. When I looked down, it seemed like the cone was a hole in the floor. When I looked around, the cone was directly in front of me everywhere. But, I could see a little around the edges. I made it to the bathroom, and peed, hopefully into the toilet bowl, because when I looked down, there was still this cone that seemed to bore through the toilet and floor.

By this time, I knew had to tell my parents. I was at least ten years old at the time, but I was scared. “Mom! Dad!” I think I yelled. “Something’s wrong with me, with my eyes.” They turned the lights on. It got worse. Now the cone was still there, but its inner surface was coated with sawdust, or looked like sand, something like that. The weird thing was that I couldn’t see my parents’ faces; all I saw were arms, and legs, and hands, and an alarm clock, and the lamp, things like that. They kept popping into and out of the cone, which was rotating. It wouldn’t stop. My father was telling me to wake up. I kept telling him, “I am awake!” Once I thought I saw his face in the cone, another time, someone’s head. I could talk with them, hear them OK, but the vision wouldn’t stop, and it was scaring me. My mother called the doctor. He said to give me soup. She heated up some soup, hers or canned, I don’t recall, but she often gave me Campbell’s’ chicken noodle when I was sick. My father kept talking to me while she was gone. He could see I was awake. He stopped telling me to wake up. I could feel concern in his voice. It was comforting, but the cone kept spinning. “I just want it to stop,” I told him. Mom came back with the soup. I ate it while sitting on their bed. After a few large spoonsful the visions cleared, and I felt fine. The soup may have diluted the paregoric, or distracted my brain. I don’t know for sure what it did, but it worked. I was fine. I went back to bed. They never mentioned it again. And the spoonsful of paregoric stopped. End of story.

 

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New Mexico Film & TV Awards

Posted by Ó Maolchathaigh on February 21, 2018

So, New Mexico has it’s own “Red Carpet” now for those who make, work and play in the movies and television shows done here. New Mexico Film Week took place in Santa Fe from Tuesday, Feb. 6 through Monday, Feb. 12. It’s a collaborative effort between the Santa Fe Film Office, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employee, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE, local 480) and others. The New Mexico Film & TV Hall of Fame honored those who have helped build the New Mexico film and television industry, along with the industry’s rising stars, at its inaugural banquet and awards ceremony on February 11th.

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I went to the awards as a photographer. With a long film history, the New Mexico State Film Office (NMFO) has kept track of significant movies and television shows dating back to 1898 in an online filmography. New Mexico Film and TV shows have been nominated for and won multiple awards both nationally and Internationally. This event showcased the past and present of New Mexico film and TV history through awards, video clips and speeches. The very first inductees to the state’s Hall of Fame were announced at the banquet preceding the awards. Among the inaugural honorees: Thomas Edison (who shot the very first film in New Mexico 120 years ago), New Mexico author and icon George R.R. Martin (who penned Game of Thrones and owns the Jean Cocteau Cinema), and author John Nichols’ The Milagro Beanfield War (celebrating its 30th anniversary as a film by Robert Redford).

Also inducted was 93-year-old Max Evans, who helped create the New Mexico Film Commission 50 years ago. Max Evans’ work reflects his love of New Mexico. Max wrote 30 books, including The Rounders and The Hi Lo Country, which became movies. He also wrote The Wheel, which he directed in 1973. Max Evans served in the infantry in WWII, landing in Normandy on D-Day. After that, Max became an eminent figure in the Southwest, as cowboy, rancher, miner, movie producer, and artist (selling over 300 oils)

in-my-valley-max-evans such as this.

Also awarded: “Breaking Bad” on its 10th anniversary, with the cast and crew, including Stewart Lyons, the producer who worked on the entire series. Actor R.J. Mitte, who played Walter Jr., aka Flynn, on Breaking Bad, received the first New Mexico Film and Television Hall of Fame award.

New Mexico also has its RISING STARS. Honored were Conci Althouse, cinematographer and Santa Fe native. Her recent work includes the feature documentary Land of the Free, which had it’s North American premiere at the 2017 Telluride Film Festival and earned the CPH:DOX Jury Nordic Doc Award as well as a 2018 Danish Film Academy Award nomination.

MorningStar Angeline, an award-winning actor known for Drunktown’s Finest, also from Santa Fe, can be seen in Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming 2018 series Yellowstone as Samantha Long.

Hannah Macpherson, a filmmaker from Albuquerque, created and directed the edgy thriller series T@GGED for AwesomenessTV, which premiered on Verizon’s app go90 and is available on Hulu. She just finished production on season three in New Mexico. She also wrote and directed SICKHOUSE, the first-ever, made-for-mobile, vertically-shot feature film uploaded in real-time to Snapchat, which is available on Fullscreen and iTunes.

Another Santa Fe native is two-time Oscar nominee Joshua Oppenheimer. His debut feature film, The Act of Killing (2014 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary), was named Film of the Year in 2013 by “The Guardian” and the Sight and Sound Film Poll, and won 72 international awards.

At the awards ceremony I spotted tribal police chief Mathias from the television series Longmire, Zahn McClarnon, a Native American Lakota-Irish actor. He also played Hanzee Dent in the television series Fargo. You  may also have seen him on Into the West, Repo Chick, and The Red Road.

Seen and photographed: Imogene Hughes, of Bonanza Creek Film Locations, who was interviewed during the awards banquet. Bonanza Creek Ranch has been used as a backdrop for movies starting with The Man From Laramie in 1955 and Cowboy in 1958. Empire, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Easy Rider were filmed during the 1960s, while The Cheyenne Social Club, Powderkeg and The Cowboys were three of five movies filmed in the 1970s. Wild Times, The Legend of the Lone Ranger and Time Rider: The Adventures of Lyle Swan started off the 1980s which became even busier once Bonanza Creek owner Glenn Hughes partnered with wife Imogene. Her first dealings in the filming business were with Columbia Pictures and a project called Silverado. Together they worked with eight more projects, including the Lonesome Dove television series.

But, without further ado, here are some of my photos of honorees and attendees: