Madame Madeline

"The Magnificently Marvelous Madame Madeline. 100% accurate. That's every percent. 100 of them. Never wrong! Read the future for ONLY $5!"

 

Thom read the sign in disbelief. That seemed to be a pretty strong guarantee. 'But seriously, how? How could anyone be so certain of anything?' To Thom, Madame Madeline already seemed like a vegan or a religious zealot preaching her mind cult - and this was just the sign.

But, then again, just $5? That seemed an acceptable expense to exchange for insight into claims of such certainty. Alright!

Thom rummaged through his wallet and found a $5 bill. Thom always imagined that carnivals aimed at entertaining the young, not 30 year olds. But, in this circumstance, Madame Madeline had hooked a slightly more mature trophy from the stream.

Madame Madeline's questionable advertisement sat ahead of a tent. It resembled a medieval troop tent from the outside. The tent was sandwiched between a ring toss over bottles game and a 3 card monty booth. Presumably the experience within Madame Madeline's fell somewhere in that line.

Thom entered the tent. Pushing aside the canvas flap gave way to a totally different world. Once he entered, the literal carnival of sounds from outside entirely disappeared. The noises were replaced with the sound of some soothing instrument Thom had never heard before. 'A harp mixed with a soft horn mixed with light rain fall?' Directly in front of Thom stood a tall mirror. Above it an arrow pointed left. Left was the only direction to go so it didn't disrupt anything for Thom.

After a turn to the left, under / through some jingly beads, and into another area, Thom encountered a tiny woman sitting behind a table, dressed in flowing robes. Her arms were outstretched and her eyes were closed. Thom's best guess placed her somewhere between 300 and 500 years roughly. In general she was just really really old. Without opening her eyes she beckoned him, "Thomas. Come in. Please sit."

This gave Thom pause. 'She may have heard him enter or might have been peeking or even had a hidden surveillance camera, but how on earth did she know his name?'

Thom, now off balance, moved toward her slowly.  He lowered himself into the single wooden chair stationed across the table.

"Hello Thomas," Madame Madeline greeted as she simultaneously opened her eyes. Her gaze pierced Thom and added to his mounting discomfort.

"Hi...Mam...Miss...I don't know what to call you?" Thom stammered as he placed a $5 bill on the table.

"Thank you!," responded Madame Madeline and she deftly removed the cash from sight with a pass of her hand like a magician. "Please, call me Madeline. Nothing else is necessary. So do you, Thomas, have a question about your future?"

"Kind of, sure. See I saw your sign outside. It seemed kind of preposterous to me I guess. That amount of certainty. I dunno. It'd be very difficult to be that confident about anything in your own life, I think, so how could you even come close to that about some stranger?"

"Because the cards never lie," she assured. "I will show you. Here, shuffle these. However you want." She pushed an extra large card deck, with about half as many cards as a deck of playing cards, across the table over to Thom.

Thom cut the deck in half, pushed the two halves back together, and returned the pile to Madame Madeline. She picked up the pile, closed her eyes, then raised the deck to her "third eye." Thom reacted by rolling his actual eyes.

Madeline opened her eyes and began flipping cards over in front of her. After the revelation of each card in her strange game of solitaire she released a soft sigh but otherwise maintained a straight face. Each card displayed a different arcane image that looked like a facsimile from some ancient religious text older than human civilization.

After a line of cards lay before her, Madeline surveyed the continuum. Then she covered her mouth, and commented aloud, "Ah yes. I see! Yes," she nodded understandingly. "Thomas, the cards reveal, and the cards are NEVER mistaken, the cards reveal that you will meet your end! Your demise is definite!"

Suddenly the skeptical Thom engrossed with interest. "How? Tell me what happens? Tell me how!?"

"That's not for me to say Thomas."

Stunned, Thomas protested. His boiling exasperation presented with louder and louder exclamations. "What? No, that's exactly for you to say! I engaged you on a lark after you enticed me in with your 'guarantees.' Then you drop this tidbit and I'm just supposed to accept it ho hum? Now you have to tell me what else you read! I, I demand it!!" Thom had lost his cool. 

By contrast Madeline responded with quiet calm. "Thomas, I understand. If you desire an additional reading I would very happily oblige you. A second reading simply costs $500."

Explosion. "Seriously!? You're serious? It's 100 times more? That's...that's...that's extortion! You didn't even tell me something I didn't already know. The whole question is HOW, not IF? I already know it WILL happen. HOW will it happen? Tell me THAT!"

 

 

Getting your Phil 1/23/18

It seems like I'm being inundated with Phil Rosenthal recently. Everywhere I turn is Phil Rosenthal. Of course that may heavily depend on where I turn. So, despite his omnipresence in my world, I wouldn't be surprised if someone else had never even heard of Phil Rosenthal.

Phil Rosenthal helped create and produce and write a little show called, "Everybody Loves Raymond." That show did...alright. Phil's a funny guy and partially based "Everybody Loves Raymond" on his life and his parents. After the show's success satiated one hunger for Phil, he moved on to another hunger - his love of food. He hosted a food travel show, originally airing on PBS, called, "I'll Have What Phil's Having." The show was a wild success, at least with me. But obviously it was a little successful with some other people too because it led Netflix to secure him to host a food travel show called, "Somebody Feed Phil." The show's 1st season recently released and Phil has been in the process of promoting it (hence the aforementioned omnipresence).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5333712/ - I'll have what Phil's having IMDB

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt7752034/ - Somebody Feed Phil IMDB

None of that is my focus though. My focus is on a documentary Phil made that detailed bringing his sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond," to Russia. The documentary is called, "Exporting Raymond." Many of the same tools of storytelling Phil utilized in "Exporting Raymond" were also employed later in his food series. And the overall message is also the same: That traveling and expanding your world and meeting other people and learning about other lives is often worthwhile. He maintains that food culture provides a good route to the larger culture. So, his thesis is that wherever you go the people are just that, people. And all people eat. Eating often plays a special role (in a good way) in a person's life and their culture. So a good way to reach people is through their food. 

Any of Phil's outputs: "Exporting Raymond," "I'll Have What Phil's Having," or "Somebody Feed Phil," provide entertaining illustrations of a smiling Phil out of water, or more accurately a smiling Phil in a different pond. But, no matter where you find Phil, or Phil finds Phil, Phil knows the best way to get his bearings always starts in the stomach.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1356763/?ref_=nv_sr_1 - Exporting Raymond IMDB

Some food for thought 1/15/18

I guess this can somehow be connected to food and Taco Tuesday because it features Eddie Huang and Eddie Huang is a restauranteur. So "food" is kinda involved, I guess. But, more directly this involves feeding the mind! Ahha. 

Since this is a place for me to extricate some subjects that I've been ruminating on or concerned with, here is one. This is a podcast known as the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE). Yes, the Fear Factor and News Radio and UFC guy. That guy. But he's also a stand-up and hosts a podcast. He's generally pretty inquisitive and fairly open minded. He hosts a variety of guests and discusses a variety of topics. There's an audio feed but the podcast is shown through video on YouTube too if you want to see it instead, and sometimes it's worth seeing (though not really necessary for this one). I'll discuss helpful tips, like listening or watching on a higher speed, at some later point.

The topic of this particular podcast however, featuring Eddie Huang and an acquaintance from the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, is mostly Net Neutrality. It's a good basic primer on the situation and all that surrounds it. In case you would benefit from a primer(as most of us would), here you are:

A Couple more thoughts this Wednesday

In Episode 2 of "Couple Thinkers," (I previously introduced Episode 1) Craig and Megan interview acclaimed astrophysicist, author, host, planetarium director, science communicator, and curious dude, Neil deGrasse-Tyson. Mr. deGrasse-Tyson, my bud Neil, discusses many big picture issues - since space and human existence are fairly big picture issues. Craig summarizes why astrophysics and philosophy are so engaging and then become depressing. Then, my BFF, Neil advocates how changing perspective might enable changing the entire experience of living. Just a couple things to think about.

Turkey Tuesday Thanksgiving week

I like eating, which is a pretty good thing because I do it fairly regularly. Still, I can't claim to be as prolific an eater as the host of the podcast, "House of Carbs," Joe House. Joe House very much seems to enjoy eating (and eating, and eating...). So that's what this podcast is about - where to eat, what to eat, how to eat...the ins and outs of eats discussed in an approachable, fun, and inviting way. 

Joe House lives in Washington DC. I came to know of him (in case you were curious about my personal experience) through his various appearances in my regular listens to Bill Simmons' podcasts. I've been a casual devotee of Simmons' audio for years. Simmons formed a podcast network when he joined HBO after departing ESPN.

After some time, one of the many, many podcasts the Ringer (Simmons' website) produced was, "House of Carbs" - a podcast hosted by the ultimate hungry homie, the sultan of sushi, the king of korean BBQ, the colossus of the cookout.

If the Ringer had S.A.T.s, one analogy might read: Babe Ruth is to hitting home runs AS Joe House is to eating. You see, Joe House is not just known for his affinity for food, he's known for his ability to ingest massive quantities of food. For anyone else, the enormous caloric consumption might seem gluttonous. But Joe House is such an endearing persona that I generally find all his involvements entertaining. If you don't want to take my word for it, the proof is in the pudding (or the podcast linked in the image below as it were).

Couple your thinking this Wednesday

I don't know if you know who Craig Ferguson is? I actually don't know what you know at all. You may remember Ferguson as the boss on the Drew Carey Show. He's Scottish in origin but now he's an American citizen. He's a stand-up comic. He hosted the Late Late Show after David Letterman's Late Show on CBS for a number of years. Being sober is a definitive factor in his person. On the Late Late Show he shared the stage with a gay skeleton robot and a costumed horse in a faux stall. For awhile he used hand puppets during his monologue and he would often purposely jostle the main camera. Yeah, it was a weird show, but I think that his irreverence, amplified by the awareness that sobriety afforded him, contributed to his likability. He frequently tore-up the pre-show questionnaire at the desk when interviewing a guest, preferring instead to instigate a more genuine interaction.

An escalation of his popularity with me came after Britney Spears very publicly shaved her head. Most late night hosts were quick to mock, but Craig Ferguson responded differently. Understanding the burdens of fame and life and a chaotic youth, Craig Ferguson responded with compassion. I had enjoyed him before but that made me a fan. 

Ferguson left the Late Late Show around the time David Letterman departed Letterman's own earlier late show. Ferguson went on to host the syndicated game show, Celebrity Name Game. Ok, even if you don't really know anything about Craig Ferguson I guess that I kinda, sorta, do. BUT...I've never seen him in-person nor have I read either of his books. I don't go out of my way to see him generally, I'm not a fanatic. I just enjoy him. I'm a strong admirer.

Recently, on YouTube, for Gant (a clothing retailer I had before been unaware of but now am because of this), Ferguson returned to his Late Late Show roots by interviewing some interesting people for a show starring he and his wife called "Couple Thinkers." He's a natural at interviews it seems. 

In the first episode (of 6) the Fergusons speak to Kimbal Musk. Kimbal is the brother of Elon (Elon Musk is the Tesla and Space X and hyper loop etc guy). I didn't know that Elon even had a brother, but then I'm not very up to date on Musk family genealogy. This familial revelation was even more surprising to me than when I learned that Skip and Rick Bayless are brothers. (WHAT!?) While Elon seems to focus on technological, species sustainability and advancement, Kimbal Musk focuses his efforts on the agriculture. So, in essence, they are both in the business of keeping things going for humanity.

Craig Ferguson and his wife, appropriately as two humans belonging to humanity, highlighted Kimbal's work in Episode 1 of "Couple Thinkers:" 

9/19/17 Taco (or whatever you want really if you look here) Tuesday

I live in L.A. I eat food. I'm literate. Check, check, checkmate. 

To call this article a handy resource understates it. It's a vital resource. It's an unbelievable resource. It's possibly the ultimate resource in all of human history (OK, now maybe I'm overstating it, but it's very very useful).

I would already suggest (in fact I have) using Eater.com to everyone (if you care about where to eat and what to eat and such, that is).

 

I do happen to care about those things so I find content like this exceptionally helpful. Of course one can, and should, explore beyond what is mentioned, but often it is necessary and useful to default to some default. And, if you're like me, which I am, this article provides some excellent defaults. So it may benefit you, i.e. me, to internalize this information, or at least some of it. Especially if you also live in L.A., check out this article. If you don't also live in L.A., and never come, but you're still interested in the L.A. food scene, here is the article as well. Or, if you're me..., well I already know about the article, but,... in a meta, multi-layered way, here is the article again me. 

7/29/17 I'm Ready

I've been anticipating this for awhile - and obviously this site has been around for awhile if I can reference previous posts to this blog. But finally, FINALLY, there is a trailer for "Ready Player One." And it looks great. That doesn't speak to the quality of the plot or the acting or anything else, but the look of it, which is what interested me on a base level, is great, I think.

The film is bound to divide. All films and all properties based around books are bound to divide. That's ok (I think). People always have different opinions about everything. It's why we live in such a varied world. But, I think differing opinions are ok because the book already exists. The movie, any movie, cannot remove that book from existence. The book and the movie may appeal to different crowds. Hopefully for the crowd that gravitates toward the book, the movie entices more people to read the book.

I don't remember the details and the ins and outs of the book anyway. I roughly remember a fun overall story. I plan on using that vague familiarity to further my enjoyment. If an event happens in the film that didn't in the book, that's ok with me because I understand that the book and the movie have to appeal to different audiences and also, like I said, I don't remember exactly what happened in the book. As long as it's a quality film, I'll enjoy it. And, so far, it looks like a quality film.

Speaking on a more logistical level, the film had to move from it's original release date this December to March 30, 2018. That stinks, ahhhh! But, it moved for Star Wars, The Last Jedi. I guess that's ok. I mean, I would have watched them both in December but I understand that they want to make more money and appeal to more people and blah blah blah. Fine. I'll wait anxiously a little longer.

More than a Game 7/18/17

It seems fitting to discuss this on a day not normally designated for this topic. It's because this topic supersedes compartmentalization. It applies to everyone from the Red Keep to the Wall. This theory posits that the larger narrative of Game of Thrones is really an allegory for climate change. And I have to say it’s a fairly good theory. I also have to say, it doesn’t really matter what the show-runners or the author conceived when imagining it, because it still applies. It still disects the dichotomy between the strategy and politicking necessary on one front, all the while, on a different front, an all-encompassing larger threat looms. A threat that threatens every land and every kingdom alike, from Dorn to King’s Landing. 

“Vox” distributed this video that details the idea. Watching the video persuaded me. It’s short. If you watch Game of Thrones you might want to watch this video too. And, since the overall point is an all-encompassing threat, even if you don't watch Game of Thrones you should probably still consider what this video posits.

Eat it Raw 6/13/17

Usually if I put something up here on a Tuesday it relates to food. This actually does relate to food but only in so much as Anthony Bourdain relates to food. He relates to food because Chef Anthony Bourdain professionally prepared food for a living, television host Anthony Bourdain now eats some extraordinary public and private meals on his TV shows, and judge Anthony Bourdain occasionally weighs in on food competitions. (And author Anthony Bourdain also writes about the subject too...) But I'm not highlighting any of those particularly food-centric roles. I want to point out his participation in an internet series called, "Raw Craft."

If you've perhaps seen any of his other hosted work "Raw Craft" resembles segments in other shows he's done. In "Raw Craft" he takes one producer of something unique and extraordinary and details the process of making said product. It's usually a process foreign to any viewer, it's often a process foreign to Bourdain himself, and sometimes it's even a process foreign to the industry.

"Raw Craft" selects very unique products - not mass-produced. They're often very expensive too, because of their rarity. Producing something so exclusive, so unusual, requires an extreme input of time. Time for every living person is a limited resource. An unpredictably limited resource to a point. Certainly it's not infinite for anyone. And monetary value is one way to represent such an investment. So each craftsman inputs their particular special focus and effort encompassed by an investment of time into the object of their creation. That investment imbues the object itself with an incredible amount of worth.

The worth is also attributed partially to the fact that the creators make the product itself by hand. It's not automated. It's not the equivalent of a phrase going through multiple translations before reaching you. Copies and reproductions always produce some flaw that may or may not be detrimental to the final use. This product can ensure that the craftsman actually looked at it and felt it. This product is pure. This is not a translation or a replication. This is not a facsimile or a photocopy. This is the craftsman speaking directly to the consumer through the product. It's unadulterated and unobfuscated. This is just a skilled and practiced individual exercising that skill. Producing their raw craft.

6/9/17 Minhaj (not menage)

It’s a unique moment in time for Hasan Minhaj. Actually every moment in time is a unique moment in time for anyone. That’s how time works. One moment is different than the previous moment or the next moment. That constant change makes staying in the present challenging to say the least. So, to put things another way, the present is presently special for Hasan Minhaj.

Who is Hasan Minhaj one might ask? And one would be forgiven for asking. You have my permission not to know. In fact, the discovery of him may even be somewhat illustrative.

Hasan Minhaj is a comedian. He’s a correspondent on the Daily Show. He hosted the most recent White House Correspondent’s Dinner, an annual celebration of free speech and the First Amendment usually, but not necessarily always (as demonstrated this year), attended by the present administration in the White House. I heard Minhaj discuss the experience of the dinner on Bill Simmons’ podcast. He also discussed his upcoming (at the time; now available) Netflix comedy special entitled, “Homecoming King.” It’s really more of a comedic one man play than a traditional stand-up special.

What makes this particular special special is that it details some of the experiences of immigrants and the children of immigrants. Experiences I cannot summon to my own memory because they do not exist for me. Luckily, “Homecoming King,” assists by laying out the unique Minhaj experience complete with visual aids to help. Images that support and emphasize, making everything more visceral.

The benefit of watching this special is that it describes a foreign experience foreign to many who might see it. The special helps cure some of the deficit a viewer may personally posses. But it does so by relating experiences and real life and real people. As a result it feels real. Funny and real. Expansive and enlightening and real. To make your own human experience presently more full you can use, “Homecoming King,” to introduce yourself (if necessary) to Hasan Minhaj. It might also help make the entire immigrant experience more real for you too. 

 

Theatre Thursday 5/4/17 - May the Fourth be with you!

Here are some of my thoughts about the new Disney Star Wars Cinematic Universe. The DSWCU? What makes me entitled to an opinion on this particular subject, you might ask. I have only read a few of the current Star Wars books. But I’ve repeatedly seen Episodes I-VII and Rogue One. I watch the Star Wars Rebels cartoon (Disney XD). I binged Clone Wars (Netflix). I watch Jedi Council (Youtube) and sometimes other Star Wars shows on the interwebs. I don’t read the comics, although eventually I might. I don’t play any of games, and eventually I probably won’t. So I possess more knowledge than most and a lot less than some on these particular topics. That, plus I’m a person, with an opinion. And it is also an opinion that is formulated and structured. Being a person alone entitles the having of an opinion and I think that formatting and structuring of the opinion entitles me to share it. Whether you ultimately agree or disagree is up to you, that’s how opinions work. But, either way, this is my opinion:

People say that someone can still enjoy the Star Wars films without the knowledge of the books. I know that it seems impossible that people might say something that’s not true, but I don’t think that’s true. Ok, I guess one could “enjoy” them, but that doesn’t mean those films couldn’t be better. Anyone can “enjoy” anything subjectively depending on how they choose to frame things. But when a sports team wins a championship in a given sport they don’t retire from competition all together after. They still try to improve for the next season. I think that the current desire to avoid politics theatrically in Star Wars actually confuses the theatrical audience. That’s right, I think Star Wars is missing more politics! What sort of lunatic, heretic, other -tic, would say such a thing? Me. I would. Read Bloodline and Catalyst and then contemplate whether they contain information that could have benefited The Force Awakens and Rogue One. 

While both films accomplished one goal - large box office returns (ok, and the goal to return a general feel of Star Wars, that too) - they fell short in another main goal which is to explain why. Not major cliffhangers, in the case of The Force Awakens particularly, that pave the path to the next film in ticket stubs. I understand the strategy of keeping those things out. Intentional designs to encourage future debate and continued relevance. However, there was other information. Information that I only discovered in the books that I did find extremely useful. I read Bloodline after I watched the Force Awakens and I read Catalyst before I saw Rogue One.

Lets start with Catalyst. Catalyst is a book that explains some of the characters and their histories leading up to Rogue One. Rogue One just starts with Galen Erso and Lyra Erso and Orson Krennic heatedly disagreeing on the Orso’s moisture farm? Galen and Lyra’s daughter, Jyn, is hiding. How would anyone who hasn’t read Catalyst understand the dynamics of those relationships? They wouldn’t. Basically the entire Catalyst book explores that relationship. How Galen and Krennic were old friends. And how Lyra fit into their past. And how Krennic took advantage of Galen’s mental acuity for his own gain. And how Saw Gerrera gained relevance for them. Why is this supposed genius, Galen Erso, on a moisture farm to begin with? Basically everything that gets brushed over in the first third or earlier of the film is explained much more adequately in Catalyst. The political realities of real life and the meaning of family in the context of the Empire and the Rebellion. 

Oh, actually, speaking of family, in Rebels, they are exploring how the Rebel Alliance came to be. That’s an even better example of how these disparate ideas can meld together in real time. The Ghost is at the attack on Scariff, Chopper rolls through the rebel base, and they call for General Syndulla over the loud speaker. All the elements provide a small treat for the avid fan without detracting from the experience of the casual observer.

Now The Force Awakens. Rey’s parentage, who’s Snoke, where’s Luke? All legitimate tools designed to entice conversation. But what is this First Order thing? What is the Resistance? Why do we care beyond film making conventions telling us to? Just feeling how we’re told is a pretty First Order/Empire way to approach things. And now what’s the situation with Han and Leia? And then we briefly see some people on Hosnian Prime. But what is Hosnian Prime? We don’t know that. We’ve never seen that place before. And who are these people that we've never actually met? Why care about them at all? Upon first viewing I didn’t know about much of this. Unfortunately this lack of knowledge simply led me to apathy. Not necessarily an emotion you want to inspire in your audience. Or, what about Lor San Tekka? Or the Church of the Force? That sounds awesome. Who is that guy? What is the Church of the Force? Or what are the Knights of Ren…? There was some cool action, and hitting stuff, and flying around in The Force Awakens but more than nostalgia could have fed my hungry eyes. I read Bloodline and could not believe the deep and rich context provided. It doesn't answer the later questions but it touches on many of the former. I was blown away when reading. If even a modicum of similar service would have been paid to these missing story elements in The Force Awakens I would have had a much better, fuller, clearer, understanding of the entire context. 

These stories incorporate a political context. They just do! It’s a part of their DNA. Any far ranging tale does, and a galaxy is a fairly broad subject. Republics, senates, empire, rebellion, resistance. Maybe even more than something else, these subjects necessitate a political explanation. It’s not possible to adequately portray the events of the movies while avoiding political discourse.

The producers of these films understandably felt burned by the large negative reaction to the prequels. They associated that reaction, in my mind for worse, to the inordinate amount of politics present in those films. But instead of aiming for a middle ground, they aimed at purging politics from the new films. I see that purge as a detriment. In my mind, Catalyst should have been incorporated further into the earlier parts of Rogue One. And in my mind, the story of Bloodline should have comprised most of The Force Awakens. Gun-shy-ness, when it relates to political topics, hurts the films and in turn hurts the fans. The pendulum has swung too far back in the other direction. It’s not currently in danger to diminish my enthusiasm for these stories, because the intensity of my interest, but it is a pendulum.

Lost and Found

Lost.

Drifting.

Only a random scrap of the wreckage to hold.

A random scrap to help me stay afloat.

To help me breathe.

What the scrap is doesn't matter. All that matters is that it floats.

I don't swim well so I desperately need it.

I grip it tightly, literally for dear life. 

I'm floating aimlessly in the vast and broad expanse of the ocean.

What lurks below the surface? I can't tell.

Could be anything. I just don't know.

There could be a shark or a jellyfish or an eel. I mean there probably is... Or, however unlikely, I suppose there could be nothing.

But, in the end, whatever brings my end, will be what brings my end.

It could be the sharp rip of a shark bite tearing at my leg. Chomping and thrashing.

It could be the sudden searing pain of a jellyfish sting. They look peaceful until they aren't.

It could be the abrupt, paralyzing electric jolt of an eel. That's what eels do...right? I'm not sure.

I am sure the ocean's an uncertain place though. I'm sure of that.

The ocean is scary.

The ocean could easily bring an end to my floating scrap, which would, in turn, bring an end to me.

Or I could slip from my float, or I could lose my grip on my float.

Or my float could just stop floating.

For me it would bring the same result as the shark or the jellyfish or the eel.

That a lot could go wrong is a constant.

Things could always go very wrong. 

Always.

Luckily, there's this one floating scrap.

This one bit to hold on to, to leverage my head above the water, so I can breathe.

Breathing a second longer brings a second more for the chance someone could find me.

Someone could see something.

Something that stands out. A small glint amidst the wide abyss. 

Something that merits a closer look through binoculars.

Something that prompts a large point toward a tiny spec in the water.

Excitedly, "There! He's there!"

For me a new floating contraption descends.

A new thing for me to latch on to.

A diver jumps in and wraps a band around me.

He gives the thumbs up signal to some hidden observer above and a wench starts to turn.

I start to rise up.

I start to separate from the unknown I have now come to know. 

Ascending gives me a new perspective. 

From above, the ocean looks less intimidating.

It looks less frightening without my legs treading in the void.

It looks less scary with the removal of some of the unknown.

Now the ocean looks peaceful and beautiful.

It's the same place that moments before instilled fear.

The exact same place. The same powerful, unpredictable place. It's hard to believe.

But, as I slowly rise up, I mostly think how happy I am for that floating scrap. 

That single piece that allowed me to keep breathing.

That allowed me to stay alive. 

In the end, that floating scrap enabled me to be found.

 

 

 

Taco Tuesday 4/4/17

Some people are engaging. They just have “it.” “It,” in this case, being the thing that makes a person shine in front of the camera. For me, Mario Batali has “it.” He could make me interested in shoe leather or tree bark. It just so happens that he is also a magnificent cook and business owner. He operates a multitude of restaurants (mostly in New York but also assists with a favorite in LA) and “Eatalys" (food markets). He travels between them, motivated by functionality, on his scooter in his crocs. He was an original American Iron Chef and a longtime fixture on the Food Network. In the mornings his children, while growing up, would receive a menu of breakfast options and get to choose which meal they wanted their renowned chef/father to prepare for them! It’s like the omelet station at a buffet except better and always. Now he can often be seen on the Chew, daily on ABC.

But that’s not my focus. ABC is too pervasive for me. Did you hear about this thing called network TV? Come on. No, I get my occasional Batali fix these days online watching episodes of “Moltissimo,” on Vice Munchies. With varying guests he dives into their backstory’s whilst preparing them a fantastic meal that he generally pairs with a fantastic wine. The viewer gets to eavesdrop on the entire event and we all win. Moltissimo bene.

Musical Monday 3/19/17

Un-demystifiable

A mist often makes something difficult to decipher. What is happening? Who? How? I can't tell. I recall playing the computer game, “Myst,” growing up. It stands out to me only in that it was entirely indecipherable. When I think of the 6th grade that is one of the many reasons I recall utter confusion.  Additionally, the word, “mist” relates to mystical. And I always connect the term, “mystical,” to the comic book character, “Dr. Strange.” I do so even though I haven’t read the comic, haven’t seen the movie (YET), and don’t know very much about that unique physician. I guess good movie marketing Marvel? So, to me, “mist” equates to “strange” and “indecipherable.” That’s why I think Father John Misty is such an appropriate name. 

Father John Misty is the pen name I guess, or stage name, of Joshua Tillman. Among other things he played in one of my favorite bands, Fleet Foxes.  I don’t really know much about him or who he is or anything. From bits and pieces I gather he just seems intent on being him. He is a singer that to me sounds a bit like Elton John, but then not. He’s like the modern day Sir Elton with out the piano. He sings a variety of songs that only seem to contain him as the common denominator. At least that was the case. Recently he released 3 songs from his latest album all named, “Generic Pop Song.” They are differentiated only by the track number. So, besides the singer, they all also have the titles as a common denominator. Maybe he intends on the titles serving as some sort of social commentary? Maybe he has no real intention with them at all? It’s a bit “misty” to me. But, I’m the one who makes my own determinations and, in the end, I determine that I like it.

A SHORT TRIP FAR AWAY 

A SHORT TRIP FAR AWAY 

by Jason Decent    

    On some unknown whim from above the world changed. Not quickly. Slowly and steadily over hours. Fresh snow fell and continued to fall, and persisted, more, unrelenting. At night, I gazed out the house window, from the cozy vantage of warmth, the constant barrage of snowflakes reflecting the light of the street lamps as they drifted down, creating a real-life snow globe to stare at. Or did I peer out at the snow from within a warm globe? A matter of perspective I suppose. The day before gray, dreary cold had dominated. Then, the overnight addition of a significant layer of cotton made everything, the exact same setting otherwise, appear fantastical. 

    A park, just a few blocks from my childhood home consisted of two distinct areas. In the forefront, obvious and along the road, some of the normal dressings of recreation immediately apparent to any passerby: a tennis court, a half-basketball court, a playground, and large spans of well manicured grass. However, these playthings preceded an unexpected and untamed wilderness (sort of, a wood-chipped trail and bridges over the streams were obfuscated by the plethora of plants) behind them noticeable upon more intimate exploration. Wild juxtaposed with, and camouflaged by, order. The natural path that disappeared into the woods wrapped around a pond deep within the foliage. But, without knowledge of what lay beyond, the path mysteriously receded into nothingness?

    The path around the pond furnished an orbit. The pond: the sun or earth or some other central heavenly body. Me: a spaceship or the moon or some satellite circling the earth, or the earth around the sun... The cold beauty and the silence resembled space as well. Noise seemed out of place. The snow created natural sound proofing that sucked up ambient noise. White silence. My elaborate vestments specifically tailored for combating the snow the equivalent to, a likely much more elaborate, space suit that an astronaut might wear in response to outer space. 

    It seemed a shame, after a fresh snow fall, to tarnish the pristine beauty. Polluting the purity and cleanliness with travel and sound. An affront to nature by humanity. It looked like clouds had descended upon the park and now my voice, and crunching tracks, would ruin the heavenly perfection nature had created. 

    Trees and branches arched above the trail. They provided rustic ledges and shelves to suspend some of the fresh snow. In dense areas, entire tunnels of winter existed. My own fantastical passage to Narnia. Instead of pushing through an old, nondescript wardrobe, I walked down a mysterious path of possible nothingness and into another world.

    Despite the implications of my trespass, the park provided the perfect setting for my dog to run. It also provided me with the opportunity to slip into that beauty and avoid the chores and homework normal life required... for awhile. Instead of my usual, earthbound, routine existence, I could escape and explore. I could let my dog freely sprint through the woods. She could dart around and investigate. The white powder that stuck to her nose when she looked up resembled cocaine, amplifying her excitement over unencumbered roaming. Simultaneously, I could disappear with legitimate justification: providing the dog exercise! A strong argument in support of my infringement. Every time the opportunity presented itself I decided to heroically don the mantle, embarking into the harsh, apathetic nature to bear the burden of the presumed violation.

    I took my time there. Marveling. Walking slowly and deliberately. Internalizing the surroundings. A family of ducks gracefully floating in one of the few pockets of open water on the otherwise frozen pond. The solitary foot prints of a deer or rabbit crossing the trail to memorialize its passage at some earlier point in time. A song bird up above, perched in the sparse brambles, singing a sharp but beautiful song amplified by the desolation. Each instance wondrous, highlighting the awe the place could inspire, and each enhanced by the minimalism. But, eventually reality prevailed as I reached the end point of the circle. Back where the journey began I faced the choice of repeating and extending, or surrendering and returning. Awareness of the lingering responsibilities of life slowly began to seep in and permeate my mind as the cold began to permeate my outerwear. The new universe relented to the old. The demands of normal life harkened to recall me.

    Still, I knew the place would continue to exist. The next snowfall would transform it back into outer space, into Narnia. And then, I could again escape and explore. 

END