Tag Archives: Arts

Magic and Other Illusions

The Amazing Mumford The Muppets Thanks, Jim Henson

The Amazing Mumford
The Muppets
Thanks, Jim Henson

Magic is wondrous fun – it’s kind of like telling a joke. You lead the audience down a path and at the last moment you make a hairpin left turn.

“That was no lady, that was my wife.”

“Where did that rabbit come from?”

Puppets are great, too, whether the puppeteer is visible (think Jeff Dunham) or not (think Muppets). The puppet can tell someone something off-the wall, like “Did you know you have hair growing out of your ears?” and everybody laughs. If the same guy, the puppeteer said that WITHOUT the puppet, he would run the risk of being punched.

Besides, you get to make up a funny voice and a funny personality for the puppet. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I’ve studied both magic and puppetry; with each, like music, my talent is limited although my appreciation is not. A maestro is a maestro whether it is with strings, woodwind, wand or puppet. You have to appreciate artists and more importantly, their art.

It’s a wonderful world.

Goodbye, Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy (with hat) Source: www.cnn.com

Tom Clancy (with hat)
Source: http://www.cnn.com

As you probably know, Tom Clancy the author who invented the techno thriller died yesterday. I always enjoyed his books – simultaneously wanting to know how the story ends and wanting the story to continue.

Clancy was supposed to speak at a Navy Supply Corps Workshop back in the 1980s. He was working on a book, and the story went 300+ pages longer than he had anticipated, so he sent a videotape instead. The book was “Clear and Present Danger.”

In the videotape, he commented how people asked his advice, so “as a best-selling author,” he advised this, and “as a best-selling author” he recommended that. I was a bit put off.

He then pointed out how he kept referring to himself as a “best-selling author.” He related how in the past he had sold insurance and people would cross the street so they wouldn’t have to talk with him. Now, everybody liked to talk with him.

“In other words,” he said, “the cure for leprosy is to write a book.”

Just one more story from a great storyteller.

Another Windows 8 Frustration


Windows 8 has another little fluke that drives me crazy.

You see, I never, EVER use the “Tap” function on the touchpad. Ever.

Widows 8 periodically turns it on, and even though I go to the appropriate applications, and it says that “Tap” is deactivated, it isn’t.

So when I type something, the cursor bounces around and I have to keep correcting things.

Or else my typing looks

Things ome this


(It should read, “Something like this.”)

Voices Are Funny

www.opry.com (Of course.)

“Little” Jimmy Dickens
(Of course.)

When you hear a voice on the radio or the telephone, it’s natural to try and imagine what the person who has that voice would look like. When you eventually meet the person, it’s usually quite a shock to see that they look very different from what you expected. (Don’t believe me? Think about the first time you heard “Never Gonna Give You Up” and compare that to seeing Rick Astley in the video.)

When my wife and I were dating, she said I had a “Radio voice.” Fortunately she’s never accused me of having a “Radio face.”

Years later, when I had surgery on my cervical spine, they operated from the front, kind of pushing my voice box and everything else out of the way to get to the spine itself. This mushing of my larynx resulted in my voice becoming a bit raspy, but that has its own benefits.

I can do a better Don Corleone. “Michael, now that I’m older, I like my wine better. Well maybe not better, but I drink more of it.”

I also can do a better Burgess Meredith; not in his Batman days as the Penguin, but when he was the boxing coach working with Rocky Balboa. “You know what your problem is, Rock? You ain’t got no management!”

Today, a co-worker told me that my voice reminds him of “Little Jimmy Dickens.” Not being a country and western music fan (Sorry, Barb – I meant “country music”) I didn’t know how to respond, until he said, “Your voice sounds like it has a little fun in it.”

I can live with that.

Biblical Quotations Updated



I firmly believe that God has a sense of humor, and laughter is one of His gifts.

In that frame of mind, I find that occasionally I desire to update familiar scriptural sayings.

Genesis 2:24

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

21st century addendum –

And then children shall arrive. And the man and his wife shall see each other  only in passing as they take the children to school events, soccer, doctors’ appointments and all manner of things. And they shall wave to one another from their car windows as they pass one another on the highway, and though they share a single bed, they shall each fall into it exhausted each night.

It Ain’t as Bad as They Say

I’ve been struggling the past week to write.

There’s been a lot going on. Today is my mother’s birthday – the first since she died.

My father was recently diagnosed with leukemia, although at his age, it’s kind of a wheel of misfortune. Something was bound to come up.

I had a referral to yet one more specialist, and I’ll be undergoing yet another procedure on Monday.

All this is distracting.

However, I’m neither complaining nor asking for sympathy.

I love my family and any time I get to spend with them. I love my job and the people with whom I work. I enjoy music and being able to play a little. I can go upstairs to my office and turn on the ham radio and talk to people all over the world.

I am working on a thrift store telescope because I love the skies.

My dog thinks I’m the greatest thing in the world. My parrot thinks I’m his entire flock.

Best of all, my wife is my best friend, and everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

I’m blessed with everything anyone could want.

However, recent events have prevented me from writing any brilliant insights, major philosophical revelations or earth-shattering thoughts.

But, then again, I’ve never done that before.

Go figure.

Where Are the Elves?

Free Advertising for Keebler (I prefer chocolate and peanut butter if you feel compelled to respond)

Free Advertising for Keebler
(Any thing chocolate and peanut butter if you feel compelled to respond)

I recall a story from my childhood in which the elves came at night to help a cobbler make shoes. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard that Keebler uses an elf as their mascot since “Keebler” sounds like cobbler.

I want to know where MY elves are.

I don’t expect them to go to work for me, but elves who made coffee, fixed broken things, etc. would be mighty helpful. So far, none have shown up, so I have to do those things myself.

Oddly, when I do, my wife has this funny Mona Lisa smile.



With the death of James Gandolfini and the latest attempt to find Jimmy Hoffa, CNN had an article examining why we like gangsters [link]. There’s the Godfather and the Sopranos on one hand and “Gangsta” on the other. (Curiously, Word 2013’s spell checker accepted “gangsta” as written.)

I wonder what the world would be like if we were fascinated instead by people who demonstrated strong moral character and positive values.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions


Decisions, those forks in the road that determine the future are always interesting. Some decisions are individual, while others are a group process. Whole books have been written about how to make good decisions, but what I find interesting is how people behave after they reach a decision. There are basically three choices.

Once a decision is made, you are committed to making it work.

You wonder what would have happened if you had made a different choice.

(Usually after a group decision) You can be unhappy with the outcome and spend the next four years listening to talk radio.


It’s never enough.



People who strive to be rich rarely reach the point where they decide that they’ve succeeded. They seem to need to own one more income property or make one more stock killing.

Then there are faces of women on the magazine covers by the checkout counter at the supermarket. Different magazines have the same supermodel/superstar on the cover. Seeing multiple versions of the same face staring at me give me the creepy feeling that I’m at a clone convention.

They go from the “It Girl” to yesterday’s news to the Paparazzi special with no makeup, workout clothes and the expression that precedes a sneeze.

On the other hand, the ordinary people who live paycheck to paycheck and are happy that they look better than their driver’s license photo know that a home and a family is quite enough.

Bloggers’ Block

writerReal writers claim that they’re successful if they write a predetermined number of words per day before they quit. This is often split between whatever book or other project they are working on, and the cash cow writing. Cash cow writing includes the brochures, instruction booklets, magazine articles, or whatever that they’ve been able to attract; this type of writing provides a baseline income and makes the more creative writing possible without the need to starve.

Of course, if someone commissions a writer to produce a document extolling the virtues of Acme Tire Tread Enhancer (patent pending), there are usually some fairly explicit expectations as to what the writing will include. The creative works, on the other hand, are far more nebulous. It’s a sad fact that most writers have started a project, invested substantial time and effort only to realize that it either needs to be completely redone or abandoned altogether.


On the other hand, bloggers, or this blogger at least, can sit down and decide to write about nothing (as in not writing that day) or to write about nothing (as in some meaningless extemporania) or, on occasion to write something meaningful, pithy and inspiring.

Today is obviously a day of extemporaneousness.

Post D

That’s “D” as in the Roman numeral for 500 This is my 500th blog and I’ve been thinking something special to write. Coincidentally, I also now have more than 100 followers – not impressive to “REAL” bloggers, but for me a milestone nevertheless.

I thought about writing something funny. Maybe based on the line that John Wayne spoke in one of his movies. “Life’s hard. It’s harder if you’re stupid.” Nope.

Maybe the start of another multi-part science fiction tale? Couldn’t think up a good story to tell.

So instead I offer you something to think about.

Imagine you were in a terrible accident and spent a month in a coma. You wake up and find that your body is in casts, traction and all sorts of therapeutic (and uncomfortable) contraptions. What goes through your mind?

“I’m glad to be alive!”

Now imagine that you’re healthy, everything is going pretty much in your favor and as you open a letter you get a paper cut from the envelope.

It drives you crazy all day long.

Sometimes it’s the little things that capture our attention. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

You may never win the Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer or the lottery. That’s okay because those aren’t the things that we really need.

Pay attention to the little things in your life that are good. Dinner with your spouse. Your son taking on an extra chore without being asked. Your daughter telling you why her day was good. A warm shower. Fresh sheets on the bed. The smell of fresh baked bread.

Revel in the good things and savor every one of them.

Like hitting blog 500.

Or having 101 followers.

Thank you, everybody.


No, I’m not hearing voices in my head – at least not yet. Instead, I’m thinking about how our voice defines us in some ways and is totally befuddling in others.

First, for the befuddlement. Many of us have heard someone on the radio – a disk jockey or “personality” and we picture in our minds’ eye how they must look. Almost always, their physical appearance is a huge shock and we’re left with the overwhelming sense that somehow that voice and that person weren’t meant to be together.

Wayne’s World
The ultimate in singing in the car.

Of course the primary commercial use of a voice is for music. Inside most of us is a frustrated singer. Admit it – you try to sing along with your favorites on the radio when you’re alone in the car. Unfortunately, most of us just don’t have what it takes. For guys especially, it’s a challenge.

Pre-teen boys can’t wait for their voice to change, but the downside is that after it does, most can’t sing tenor, and tenors get everything that’s good. They sing lead – Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas is a classic example, as is Steve Perry the original lead singer for Journey.

Billy Joel once commented that he wished he hadn’t written so many high notes when he was young that he has to try to hit now that he’s older. Welcome to the world the rest of us inhabit, Billy.

Even in classical music, the tenors get an unfair share. They are always cast in the role of the heroes. To quote Frosch from Die Fliedermaus, “Does it make sense for the guy with the highest voice to be the one that gets the girl?”

Back when we first met, my wife commented that listening to me speak on the phone was nice because I had a “radio voice.” At least she didn’t say I had a “radio face.” However, my radio voice is severely limited to about a five note range when I try to sing.

But even with that, when I’m making a long drive home late at night and I’m trying to stay awake, I sing along with the radio.

Be happy that you don’t have to share those rides with me.

Communications Progress

In this day when we can instantaneously tweet in 140 characters or less (LOL) are we really communicating better?

First, I think we’ve forgotten how to use punctuation. I mean some “people” seem to “think” that quotation marks are some kind of “magic” sign whether on the page or in the “virtual” world.

Then, of course, you have those who think that comma’s must be used immediately before the final S in any word. “Please remove shoe’s” etc. I think example’s like these show people’s willingnes’s to rely on generalism’s.

In the interest of political correctness we use the plural pronoun “they” so that using the masculine singular pronoun “he” is not dis-inclusive. This leads to such sayings as:

“Them who hesitates is lost”

I guess it was inevitable. People probably bemoaned the loss of colonial speech when “thee” gave way to “you” and wives no longer referred to their husbands as “Mr. So-sand-so.”

We’ve successfully bid goodbye to the grape scissors and salad knife at the dinner table. In fact, we’ve pretty much said goodbye to the dinner table, except as a place to stack things. So too will we say goodbye in the not too distant future to current punctuation.

IMHO #thatsthewayitis

Decisions, Decisions…

Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.

     ~ General George S. Patton

In science fiction, which I love, sooner or later the author has to turn to the concept of a parallel universe.  In “Back to the FutureMarty McFly’s loser family becomes successful after Marty visits the past and encourages his future father.  It’s an interesting plot device based on the theory that each decision has multiple choices, each with its own outcome, and a parallel universe exists for every outcome of every decision.  In other words, if you didn’t ask Sally to the prom, there is a parallel universe that differs from the one in which you did.  There are also parallel universes (Philosophically is it possible for “universe” to have a plural?) for her accepting, her declining and her derisively declining, etc..  In order to cover every possible decision, the number of parallel universes would be infinite.

 Infinity makes my head hurt. 

 I prefer to live in only a single universe even if the others exist and I merely ignore them.  As I thought about this it dawned on me that whether or not we are aware of the science fiction writers’ concepts, we unconsciously choose to live our lives in one of those two styles.   The first is to make the decision, not look back and make the most of the decision that was made.  The other is to make the decision, and then think about what could have been .  When I began writing this, I felt that without a doubt my style was the former.  Once I make a decision I know that I can’t change the decision, so my present and future attention and efforts need to be based on that particular decision.

 However, as I was writing I realized that there is an important discriminator.  If I make a decision and there is a high likelihood that I will be faced with a similar situation in the future and be called upon to make a decision again, then I do evaluate the decision in terms of the alternate possibilities.  By the letter of the law that isn’t second guessing, but rather an attempt to learn from my experience.

However, is bringing up this subject like being told, “Don’t think of purple elephants,” only to find that purple elephants dominate your thoughts?  Will I spend the rest of the day wracked by doubts as to whether I should have posted this blog?  Maybe, I’ll believe that my decision was made, no sense thinking about it and I need to move on to tomorrow’s article.   

“Great Scott!”

     ~Dr. Emmett Brown (Back to the Future)


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