Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Being Dog Worthy

Throughout my youth, I would hike the dense swampland behind our farm, intentionally getting myself lost, knowing that sooner or later I would hit a road. One sweltering summer day when I was about eight years old, I escaped into the cool shade of the woods. I was exploring, finding discarded refuse among the trees. I climbed up a hill, and found a pit. A small car could have easily fit into this dusty pit, but instead it was filled with dead dogs. The pit was behind the dog officer’s house, who was also the town sheriff. What stood out to me, besides the blank eyes and contorted corpses, was the fact that many of the dogs had collars with tags. My first thought as a naïve boy was, why have these dogs been killed and dumped here when they have dog tags?

I don’t remember the long walk home, where I then told my parents what I had seen. They assured me that the pit would be filled, as if that would stop my nightmares. This dog horror story is just one from my youth.  Being on a farm, animals came and went. There were a string of dogs, including collies, beagles and various mutts. Some got sick and walked into the woods never to return. There were a few hit-by-cars, a runaway Beagle and one suicide (unintentional, I’m sure.)

One of our family dogs, named Hobo, was with us quite a while and sometimes I would bring him along on my walks; but Hobo was always more interested in chasing my sheep and devouring rabbits. There no was chance of wildlife sightings with him around, unless he was about to ingest it. There was a Weimaraner named Loki, but he was my mom’s dog; to the point that he would sulk and get teary-eyed when she left for work. Sometimes the dogs would warn my father off when he started to tickle me, thinking he was hurting me.

Shorty after I joined the air force at age seventeen, my father bought my brother a pure breed Springer Spaniel. They named him Hank and had high hopes of turning him into a hunting dog. I had failed my father as budding outdoorsman, so he was having another go at it with my brother. Unfortunately, the dog was hit by a car and had to have his leg amputated. This was not a not a death sentence, but, according to my dad, he would never be a hunting dog, so it was better to put him down.

I’ve never had a dog to call my own and these morbid experiences have made me a little hesitant to adopt one. Maybe I’m not dog worthy and worthiness is something I’ve always striven for in my life. I'm at the age where I feel the need for a dog by my side. You know . . . man's best friend. Dogs specialize in unconditional love. Spouses are wonderful and stick with us through some tough times, but a canine friend is different. With a dog there are no judgments or conditions. I could complain about anything and he would never say, "Mark, you’re full of shit." If anything he would say, "I hear ya bro. Tell me about it." And then he would go piss on a tree.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bonus Video

Times Like These (Foo Fighters) - Ryan Adams - Sydney Opera House 21-7-2015

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TV or Not TV

Edward Abbey
Lately I've been trying to watch more television, but I’ve been failing miserably.  In fact, recently I sat down with the intention of working my way through The Walking Dead. I cried during the first episode, when the guy is trying to kill his zombified wife, who is now wandering about the neighborhood and freaking her son out. The next episode had the Sheriff and his new posse, rubbing zombie body parts all over themselves to disguise their own odor. ("Careful not to get it in your eyes".) Naturally, they dragged the scene out and concentrated on the grisly hamburger-like body parts, as they were hacked from the torso by the brave Sheriff with a fire axe. I had to shut it off. It didn't help that I was snacking. Needless to say, I lost my appetite pretty quick.

I love to turn on Netflix while I'm snacking (also known as the midnight munchies.) I've got nearly 500 movies and television shows in my Netflix queue, as if I have all the time in the world. Most times I finish my snack before deciding on anything to watch. I'm more likely to put the remote controls aside and pick up a book. If I had cable I’d be watching too many Mariners’games. There was a time when folks watched so little television that they would hide it with a decorative cover between shows. Watching TV shows was a family event in the beginning. Now, with smart phones, watching entertainment is often a solitary activity. A one-handed solitary activity.

I've always been more of a movie watcher than a faithful follower of series television. The last show I watched every season of was Battlestar  Galactica. I got through three seasons of Breaking Bad, but I haven't taken the time to finish it. I've heard how great Mad Men is, and people swear by Parks and Recreation; just not the first two seasons. There's Justified, Rectify, and a little project called Game of Thrones. I loved BBC’s The Detectorists, but there were only six 30 minute episodes, so I cannot really claim that as much of an accomplishment.

The All in the Family installation at the Smithsonian Institution
I grew up with some great television: All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, The Rockford Files, M*A*S*H, and my all time favorite, The Andy Griffith Show. I’ve lived through VHF and UHF television, wiggling the rabbit ears in an attempt to get better reception. If you wanted to stay up all night, watching TV, you were out of luck, because channels went off the air around one o’clock in the morning. Soon the middle of the night was filled with infomercials. I’ve seen the rise and fall of Betamax and VHS, Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. The movie rental shops are now the Maytag repairmen of their day. Now we’re all streaming our entertainment directly into our homes and hence our brains.
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I guess I would label the above essay a fluff piece. I have lots of serious and heavy stuff on my mind, but it's going to take some time to sift through the detritus and attempt to make something creative out of it. Until then, I'll be selling books, reading books and spending lots of time on my deck stargazing or cloud-watching, depending on the sky.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Bonus Video with Fishnets

Hey look at you! Just for tuning in, you get to watch this funky video by a band I'm very fond of, The Greenhornes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Backseat Driver

I’ve always been a reluctant driver. I hadn't even gotten my driver's permit before I joined the air force at age seventeen. Once in the service, and stationed in North Dakota with the prospect of driving parts out to missile sites at midnight in subzero temperatures, I chose to wait until my return to Massachusetts before getting my driver’s license. So, all those hours on the byways of North Dakota, I sat in the backseat, listening to my Sony Walkman and watching the fields of sunflowers passing by. To me, driving is like golf in the respect that it would be a lot more fun if there was nobody else out there.
"Take a right up here."
"How do you know what's right?"
I've never been an effective backseat driver. I'm too willing to keep my mouth shut and go along for the ride, not complaining until we get to the destination. Whether intentional or not, the backseat driver can often be left behind, seemingly forgotten at the Seven-Eleven, as the driver pulls back onto the highway. Miles can go by. Maybe the title of this post is a misnomer. I'm more like the guy in the trunk, waiting for Samuel L. Jackson to find a vacant lot, where he can dispose of my body. I'd rather be stuck in the trunk with Jennifer Lopez, as in the film "Out of Sight," but I guess the producers lost my number, so they had to settle for George Clooney.

Trunk Music
I usually take the backseat in my relationships too. Always wanting someone else, preferably a strong female, to do the driving. I’ve always been attracted to strong intelligent women, like Marie Curie and Pam Grier. Periodically, some fool on Facebook asks which celebrity the reader would most like to spend the night with. I used to always say Elizabeth Warren, but she just endorsed Hillary, so she’s been demoted from my fantasy list. She’s easily replaced by a plethora of smart women like Carolyn Porco, or Mary Roach. I’m immediately turned on by their intelligence. Pillow talk would be subjects like dark matter and the gravitational pull of love. I’m a mind-f*cker for sure.

Smart and sexy Carolyn Porco, please whisper sweet mathematical forumulas into my ear.
Maybe we're all backseat drivers when you consider that we are 90% microbial and only 10% human. We have over 100 trillion microbes in and on our bodies. Where are they driving us? Talk about a lack of freewill. We are not in as much control as we thought. Not only are we stuck in the backseat without a map, but we don't even recognize the driver. Some say let Jesus take the wheel, but if I were going to give up control I think I'd want a more talented driver, like say Dale Earnhardt, Jr..
 Let's go for a drive OK? Well I'll go for a drive; you'll go for a ride. The person who drives the car they go for a drive, the other people they go for a ride. People don't know that, tell them when they're in your car. Say "you assholes are goin' for a ride!"
– George Carlin
Right now, I'm going to settle for walking....