Category Archives: Momentous Day

Achieving Geezerhood – Reid’s 2014 Year-End Review

BIRTLE 050

Reid Dickie

Geezerhood

Somehow life managed to transport me to age 65 this year placing me firmly in the category of senior citizen. Of course, I resist that as much as possible while still getting the geezer discounts and pensions that accrue to me. Turns out, for me, 65 is the new 45. I originally told friends 65 is the new 40 then I started comparing myself to some 40-year-olds I know and realized I needed to adjust my figures.

It’s become obvious from The Long View that there are at least two kinds of age: the number of years I’m around which is relevant to the system as my part of the herd, and age as a state of awareness which is relevant to me as an individual and the growth I accomplish in this life. Both need to be honoured.

The Distance

The Mighty Avenger accompanied/enabled me on my 14,000 kms of summer travel, alas, for the final time. Dodge has decided to discontinue making Avengers so my moving persona will be overhauled next year when it comes time for Mother Enterprise to birth me a new vehicle. I will miss the Avenger. Over the past five summers I’ve driven ten different Avengers, all basically the same. Sitting in the car was as familiar as sitting in my living room. The performance was consistent car to car, year to year, as was the service I received at Enterprise.

Personal Creative

My large video project The Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories wound up on YouTube afterSnapshot 1 (23-05-2013 5-59 PM) many unsuccessful attempts at getting it into film festivals. YouTube has the individual stories plus the entire work. Along with the sixteen short videos, I posted the script and the backstory for each story on my blog. This was the year I went after free wild samples big time, downloading hours of free images and sounds from sites like freesound.org and archive.org. This provided the basic content for a few dozen short videos which I call absurd found art.  One example I’m especially fond of is called The Curve. I downloaded a short black and white video clip of a curve in a road and added the muffled sound of people walking. I decribed ten spontaneous stories of events that happened at this curve. The parameters of the descriptions were easy: each had to contain a number. I combined  the stories with the video and an hour later had my piece. It needed an intro. The images of the red curtain rising and falling is perfectly absurd. Click the picture below to watch The Curve. It’s 3:45 long. Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 1-46 PM) Incorporating found material I created four short videos using my flash fiction stories as narratives. Click the pics to watch. Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 10-40 PM)        Itinerary Item  1:35     Snapshot 1 (29-03-2014 9-28 PM)    Grass of the Apocalypse   1:17     Snapshot 2 (22-05-2014 6-55 PM)    I Am Aspen Smoke  4:38     Snapshot 1 (22-12-2014 10-54 PM)    God is At Home/Atomic Prayer  4:53     Along with my found art and other video documentations this year, I have been compelled by The Muse to write my coming-of-age in a small town in the 1960s novel, now almost complete. The working title is Some Stuff. My hometown provides the physical layout for the town in the story. None of the characters, including mine, bears much resemblance to anyone in particular. Instead the characters are composites of aspects and traits I’ve noticed over my life. I’ve never embarked on a project this intense or complex. It requires me to spend five to eight hours a day writing. Backed up with a solid outline, the thing starts to write itself after awhile. Characters become overly familiar and take on a life of their own. I see them at the coffee shop or grocery store. A couple of characters have suggested their own destiny to me, some quibble about a line of dialogue I have written for them, other characters will join in the debate. It’s a long conversation that goes on in my head which I empty out daily, spattering it across the pages. No matter how good or bad a character is, I am responsible for every one of them; they live and die by my key strokes. Despite that, I find the characters sometimes use me as their conduit to get the words on the page. I just type what they tell me to.

Heritage

Criddle/Vane house

CRIDDLE HOUSE 001 Over the past five years I’ve devoted an enormous amount of energy and time studying the Criddle/Vane family and their incredible story of survival as pioneers on the Canadian plains. Their reasonably intact homestead has been a constant source of inspiration as I followed their story with the intent of it becoming a screenplay one day. Regular readers of this blog know the homestead is a favourite haunt of mine. FLOOD JULY 2 to 4 2014 pics 002I visited the homestead on Monday, June 23 with my cousin Vonda who had never been there before. The house had recently been boarded up (above) so no access inside was available. I’ve felt for some time this would be an excellent idea, at least to protect it somehow. Two days later on Wednesday June 25 arsonists burned the 120 year old Criddle/Vane house to the ground. The crime remains unsolved. The sign on the left is located about three miles south of the turn-off to the Criddle/Vane homestead. Although the house is gone, documentation of it exists in several ways. One of them is my 3:55 video tour of both floors of the interior of the house which I shot in 2013. I haven’t returned to the homestead this year. I can’t really bring myself to see it without the eight-bedroom house towering over the remains of the family’s history, the enormous amount of wood the place required and the glories and tragedies the house contained. It makes me angry that more protection wasn’t given to the place; the threats to it were real and obvious. Another effect of the loss has been a dulling of my interest in heritage. Over the years my endeavors have been quite scatter-gun all over the province, dabbling in this and that. Moving past that I decided to focus my heritage energies on one location and try to make a difference there.

Carberry

Deciding where to focus my energy and intent was quite easy. I just picked the place with the best heritage stuff outside of Winnipeg – Carberry. I’d helped promote the first Carberry Heritage Festival in 2013 by writing a media release for them and documenting the festival. In 2014 I was much more involved in the festival, attending planning meetings and promoting the event. A family emergency prevented me from attending the 2014 festival but it was deemed a success by organizers and the next festival is August 7 and 8, 2015. Check out the festival website. It wasn’t just the heritage buildings and unique history that attracted me to Carberry, it was and still is the people. I’ve met some of the nicest, most sincere people of my life in Carberry. When I go there I am reminded of growing up in Shoal Lake – the leisurely pace of life, the friendliness of people even to strangers, the lack of most of the crappy things about urban life and the sound and vibration of trains going through town. Carberry heritage people are very appreciative of my contributions. In addition to building the festival website, this year I also wrote and designed a walking tour book of Carberry that features 45 heritage places. I’m still working on some design features for the book but hope to have it available for the summer of 2015. Possibly the Carberry town council will help fund the book then the local heritage organizations can sell it as a fund raiser. I’ll keep you posted.

Winnipeg’s Grand Old Schools

One of my heritage interests has always been Winnipeg’s grand old schools, the ones built in the first half of the 20th century. Over a decade ago I did a freelance series for the Winnipeg Free Press on the schools, even writing and designing a book on the subject that no one wanted to publish. This year I updated the school features and posted them on my EARL GREY 1Schools page. Earl Grey School (left) was my alma mater for the series which I explain in the article. The other schools already posted are Isbister/Adult Education Centre, Ecole Provencher, Luxton, La Verendrye and Laura Secord. I am posting them in chronological order by the year they were built. I expect to post six to eight school features a year. In addition to the old schools that still stand, I feature ten schools that have been demolished with pictures and descriptions. Along with posts on Winnipeg schools, the Schools page has articles on many rural schools, architect J. B. Mitchell, spiral fire escapes, live-in custodian suites in schools, William Sisler, the first junior high school and much more. I had a teacher mom and I have posted her Grade 11 exams from 1930 along with the rules of conduct teachers of the era were expected to follow. Coming soon is a feature on some of the teaching materials Mom used in the 1930s when she taught in rural Manitoba.

Favourite Spots

Besides Carberry and the nearby Camp Hughes, two of my favourite spots this year have been Beaudry Park and Alexander Ridge Park. Beaudry is a small provincial park on the bend of the Assiniboine with some hiking trails and picnic areas. It sports a bit of original tall grass prairie. Situated just west of Headingley, the park is perfect for an afternoon’s relaxation to bask in the sun or sit in the shade and work on some details of my novel. alex 2Alexander Ridge Park (left) is halfway up the escarpment just west of Miami, Manitoba. The view of the vast lake bed below is spectacular making the 75 minute drive from Winnipeg well worth it. This year the park added a new lookout tower and a washroom. I spent many long hours working out details of the book at the park. I took a couple of old buddies to enjoy the view. Afterward a drive up onto the top of the escarpment wending my way back to the city.

Culturebound

Movies

I have a short list of artists of all stripes with whom I will gladly go wherever they want to take me. Musically Tom Waits is on my list, cinematically Federico Fellini and fully completely Dali. Obviously I have tendencies toward the surreal. I miss Fellini’s fantastic visions and not having a new Fellini film to look forward to. To remedy that I seek out filmmakers with similar artistic motives and motifs finding two this year. I have already posted about The Color of Pomegranates (1968), a surrealistic telling of thecolor pomogranates life of Armenian poet Sayat Nova by Russian director Sergei Parajanov. Released the year before Fellini’s Satyricon, the film creates similar trance-like imagery. The image on the right is from the film. This year I discovered a more recent film The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza, 2013) that celebrates Rome as enthusiastically and humourously as Fellini’s portrait of the great 3city in Roma (1972). Well-known and well-loved writer Jep Gambardella, handsomely portrayed by Toni Servillo (left), has just turned 65 and attends party after party in his honour between which he reminisces about his life in Rome and his love affairs while interviewing a parade of odd characters for a book. Director Paolo Sorrentino, who also wrote the screenplay, often goes full homage to Fellini as in the early scene with the nun on a ladder half obscured by a lemon tree followed by a murmuration of black birds across a chem trail. At the 37 minute point there is a scene in a hallway of two men grieving for the same dead woman that is breath-taking! Modern Rome and Old Rome mesh in delightful ways: Jep’s apartment looks out onto thegreat 1 Colosseum and a performance artist does her bizarre act at the ancient Roman aqueduct. Jep’s friend Stefano has a case that contains the keys to Rome’s most beautiful buildings so we accompany them on a long nighttime jaunt through empty museums, palaces, promenades and incredibly ornate rooms, filmed with a definite shout-out to Fellini’s brothel scene in Satyricon. The sources of humour in The Great Beauty are the same as Fellini’s: bureaucracy, politicians, sexuality, religion. Jep interviews a 104-year- great 4old saint (her feet don’t touch the floor) whose minder says the most outrageous things about her. At Jep’s dinner party in the saint’s honour, a flock of flamingos show up on his balcony (above) followed by the saint’s odd reaction. The Great Beauty won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 2014. If you like witnessing unlikely things you’ve never seen before, The Great Beauty provides two hours and twenty minutes of it, every moment striking and unusual. It’s not for everyone but it could be for you. Netflix has it in Italian with English subtitles. Watch the trailer. Other new movies I enjoyed included St. Vincent, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy (yes, I admit it!), Gone Girl, On the Road and The Hobbit. I’ve just come from seeing The Hobbit in 3-D D-Box. D-Box is where the seat moves and rumbles coordinated with the screen action. It added four bucks to my ticket price but nothing to the movie, immediately becoming more distracting than enhancing. The only time D-Box gave me a convincing sensation of the action was when people rode horses. The Hobbit was terrific fun. Martin Freeman has the perfect Hobbit face. birdmanTwo movies I especially enjoyed mastered very specific cinematic techniques to tell their well-written stories. Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) has Michael Keaton (left) as a washed-up movie superhero trying to make a credible comeback on Broadway. Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone and the rest of the cast are marvelous as is the script. The entire movie appears to be one long take, i.e. one uninterrupted shot with no editing. Credit and, hopefully, some awards should go to cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki for the seamlessness of the movie. The stylish technique created a floating sensation for me that lasted the whole film. If you missed its first run, see it during its Oscar run in theatres. Birdman trailer. Locke takes place entirely inside a car at night and the only actor we see is the driver. That might sound tedious but write a well-oiled script that uses modern telephone technology in a new and inventive fashion to tell the story then hire one of today’s best, thoughlocke 1 somewhat unknown, actors and the result is riveting entertainment. British writer/director Steven Knight (he created TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?) is responsible for the story and the vision and actor Tom Hardy (above) is the driver. The car never stops so the film unfolds virtually in real time. Hardy says near the beginning he’s ninety minutes away from London and he arrives almost exactly ninety minutes later. Considering he has only his chest and above to act with as he talks to various people on his hands-free car phone, Hardy easily overcomes the limitation and makes the role utterly convincing. During the shoot, Hardy caught a head cold which is incorporated into the drive as one more way his life is unraveling. Tom Hardy is under-appreciated even though he’s been in Inception, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Lawless (amazing role) and The Dark Knight Rises. Next summer he is Mad Max. Maybe then he’ll get the recognition his talent merits. Watch Locke trailer.

TV Series

sherlock-holmes-450794Thanks to Netflix I watched the British TV series Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character and Martin Freeman as Watson (left). This is Sherlock for the 21st century and it’s a hoot with three seasons done and a fourth on the way. Its fun trailer. A fascinating series called Rectify with Aden Young as a newly released prisoner returning to his hometown has two seasons under its belt and returns in the spring. Netflix also has Lie To Me, one of the last series Linda and I watched together. Tim Roth reads facial expressions and body language to determine who’s lying and who isn’t. Educational and fun.

Podcast

National Public Radio in the U.S. produced a 12-part podcast called Serial that revisits a real 15 year old murder by interviewing all the principals and seeking out new information on the case. Beautifully written and voiced by Sarah Koenig with very high production values I highly recommend it. Serial is available here.baseballs 2

Music

Late in the year I discovered a German throwback band called the Baseballs (right) who capture the genre’s brash fun. Their original songs are often pastiches of numerous hits from the 1950s and 60s. They also rockabilly up some modern songs. On the player below hear the Baseballs jumped up versions of Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love, Alicia Keys’ No One and Robbie Williams’ Angels.

Blog Life

2014 at readreidread.com was a very good year with almost 80,000 views from 160 countries. I created 132 posts during the year and uploaded 679 pictures to my blog. This year-end review will be my 1010th post. Here’s how my blogging life went month by month.

January

EARL GREY 1I started the old schools series with Earl Grey School (left) in all its glory. I posted an article from elsewhere on ways to rebel in the Matrix and added an absurd cut-up video called What He Rebels Against.

February

Though I eliminated my Fiction page because WordPress is a crappy forum for almost everything now, I posted a short fiction called Bad Men Who Love Jesus. I profiled Isbister School now the Adult Education Centre and offered a feature on the 1948 Reavis Report on the future of schools and education in Winnipeg.

March

Ecole Provencher was the next old school feature. This month my large video work The Snapshot 9 (06-02-2012 1-55 PM)Lonesomes: 16 Prairie Stories (right) was posted on my blog and also on my YouTube channel. You can read the scripts and backstory here and watch the video here. I posted on movies about the Beats made in the 21st century.

April

We had spring flooding in Manitoba this year that caused Spruce Woods Park to be closed for a while. I did three on-site reports. The next old school is Luxton in Winnipeg’s North End. I documented the ten years of my radio career with pictures and charts in a post called Read Reid Radio.

May

I reported on my first Spirit Sands hike of the year, my train trip to Dauphin and the awakening of the garter snakes at Narcisse in a post called Snakes Without Ladders. I re-reported on Kevin Richardson and the lions shot with a GoPro camera. An amazing story!

June

I reported on my visit to the Criddle/Vane homestead discovering the house had been sealed off (left). Two daysCRIDDLE HOUSE 001 later the house was burned to the ground by arsonists. I posted a short fiction piece called Watching the River Flow, a life-changing conversation between a husband and wife

July

More flooding at Spruce Woods Park with on-the-spot video and pictures. The Cooks Creek Medieval Festival was held this year and I have a full report plus video. I helped promote the Carberry Heritage Festival this year and posted often about it.

August

A major attraction at the Medieval Festival was the Prairie Caravan Tribal Belly Dancers. ISnapshot 4 (17-08-2014 12-46 PM) offer some background on the troupe and video (right) of one of their festival dances. The heritage festival in Carberry was a success prompting a third year. Check out the Carberry Heritage Festival website for the latest information. More short fiction What Ever Happened To the Squareaway ChildrenGrindel, Cheyenne, Colloquia.

September

An offshoot of my rooting around for found footage online I created a daily short video series called The Good Old Days which started last month and accounted for the rest of my posts this month. See two samples: Five-horse, one man swather and stooker :55 and Cigarettes, Oh Boy 1:18

October

I celebrated John Cleese’s birthday, offered a new short video called Tesla As a Boy. I did a CKY JUNE 64scan0002feature on a 1960s radio contest where CKY (left) tried to get a town to change its name to Seekaywye. I report on Marshall McLuhan’s 1977 visit to Brandon. La Verendrye School is next in the schools series and a new found video Guitar Concerto.

November

I posted the feature on Birtle Indian Residential School which I shot in June when my  friend Mark and I went for a drive in western Manitoba. I created two more found videos – Just This and Oasis in Space which uses the sound poetry of Kurt Schwitters as its audio. I found some TV commercials Federico Fellini produced in the late 1960s including one for Campari. Five versions of one song – The Chokin’ Kind – rounded out the month.

December

I kicked off the month with a feature on Winnipeg 1910 to 1919 which tied into Laura Secord School. I found some lovely old calendar art from the 1920s which got me curious about calendar art in general. On the 124th anniversary of his death I posted two shortFAM MOM TEACH0009 fictions about Sitting Bull with an added bit of film this year. Then I started the 12 Days of Christmas – a daily look at one of Carberry’s wonderful heritage buildings. The series was very popular. Party hats (right) from the 1930s was a timely post. Over the Christmas holidays, due to hundreds of Facebook links, my post on the Vickers Viscount airplane in Garland from 2013 generated thousands of views giving my blog its best day ever and second best month ever.

Ezra

I’ll give the last picture and the last word to my namesake Ezra Reid Scholl who’s just turned two. The little guy enriches my life beyond measure. I revel in watching him grow and change and learn. Among the many things Ezra has taught me so far is there is no better reason to make a silly fool of yourself if it makes a two-year-old laugh. This picture is Ezra at 17 months. Below that is a one-minute video mash-up I did of Ezra being extra cute. Click the pic. Happy New Year!

March 2014 v

Snapshot 1 (02-10-2014 9-53 PM)

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Blog Life, Carberry, Education, Flood, Heritage Buildings, Heritage Festival, Momentous Day, Museum, Music, Schools, The Lonesomes, Year-End Review 2014

Thanks A Quarter Million!!

reid's place

Reid Dickie

Today my blog reached a milestone – 250,000 views! I am grateful and humbled by this number. People from 172 countries have found readreidread. Thank you to each and every person who checked out my blog since December 11, 2010!

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Filed under Blog Life, Momentous Day

Victoria, My Father and All of His Tobacco, They Loved You

Reid Dickie

Today is Victoria Day in Canada, a national holiday celebrating the life of Queen Victoria and her huge contribution to Canada! Okay…ummm.

To celebrate the occasion, in my heading I slightly reword Leonard Cohen for dramatic flare. Treason, you say? Now do you see the extremes we will go to celebrate Queen Vickie’s influence on our country? For the record the first line of Cohen’s Queen Victoria from his album Live Songs, released on April Fool’s Day, 1973,  is “Queen Victoria, My father and all his tobacco loved you.”

And here’s the rest of the lyrics:

“I love you too in all your forms, the slim and lovely virgin floating among German beer, the mean governess of the huge pink maps, the solitary mourner of a prince.
“Queen Victoria, I am cold and rainy, I am dirty as a glass roof in a train station, I feel like an empty cast iron exhibition, I want ornaments on everything, because my love, she gone with other boys.
“Queen Victoria, do you have a punishment under the white lace, will you be short with her, will you make her read those little Bibles, will you spank her with a mechanical corset. I want her pure as power, I want her skin slightly musty with petticoats will you wash the easy bidet out of her head?
“Queen Victoria, I’m not much nourished by modern love, will you come into my life with your sorrow and your black carriages, And your perfect memories.
“Queen Victoria, the Twentieth Century belongs to you and me. Let us be two severe giants not less lonely for our partnership, who discolour test tubes in the halls of Science, who turn up unwelcome at every World’s Fair, heavy with proverbs and corrections, confusing the star-dazed tourists with our incomparable sense of loss.” Hear Cohen sing his dirge. Sing along.

That’s the view of our dear Queen Vickie from a straight Montreal Jew. Now let’s check in with a young British bisexual from North London, Ray Davies of the Kinks, for his take on Queen-Vic-Wah with the lead-off track from the Kinks 1969 concept album, the very brackety Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), called Victoria, a much less sombre ditty:

“Long ago life was clean. Sex was bad and obscene. And the rich were so mean. Stately homes for the Lords Croquet lawns, village greens Victoria was my queen Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria
I was born, lucky me. In a land that I love. Though I am poor, I am free. When I grow I shall fight For this land I shall die Let her sun never set Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, toria
Land of hope and gloria Land of my Victoria Land of hope and gloria Land of my Victoria Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria
Canada to India Australia to Cornwall Singapore to Hong Kong From the West to the East From the rich to the poor Victoria loved them all Victoria, Victoria, Victoria, ‘toria Victoria, Victoria, Victoria” Hear the Kinks sing it.

Rather than singing tributes to Miss Vickie, Canadians usually celebrate the first long weekend of the summer with beer, fireworks, the previously-mentioned mechanical corsets (available every summer weekend at the flea market in Watrous, SK) and blood rituals at sunset and sunrise.

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Filed under Humour, Idiots, Momentous Day, Music

Nothing Virtual About It

Reid Dickie

Six weeks after I had double bypass heart surgery in 2002, I wrote this piece about healing and prayer circles.

Before we got our home desktop, whenever my computer-literate friends would talk about virtual reality, virtual communities, virtual museums, virtual anything, I would smile, nod and appear to know exactly what they meant. I didn’t, of course.

I understood the word ‘virtual’ and the concept they were using it to support but I was not adequate to their meaning of the term. It was the context I was missing. I didn’t have the necessary tool to create the possibility of something/anything being ‘virtual’ in my life. That changed the day I unpacked the computer. Soon I’d be keenly aware of the new meaning of this word ‘virtual’.

It was Valentine’s Day 2002 when I found out I needed double-bypass heart surgery. The stress test, angiogram and nuclear heart scan all pointed to the same conclusion: two of my coronary arteries were almost completely blocked. Surgery was recommended though not urgent since I could function with medication and moderation.

Ten years before, at age forty-two, I’d had a heart attack shoveling snow on another February day. It was my wake-up call! I paid attention. Changing my diet, habits and attitude, and walking twenty miles a week for a year at a rehabilitation-fitness centre saved my life. I had ten good years before my “genetic predisposition” caught up with me. The cousin who minds the family tree mentioned how many of my male predecessors had heart problems and attacks. The surgeon who performed the bypasses commented on how I’d gotten a bit of a raw deal genetically since I was slim, otherwise healthy and “young.”

There is a limit to the amount of responsibility for one’s situation you can attribute to “genetic predisposition.” The guilty food pleasures, the walks I should have taken but didn’t, the negative thoughts and aggression that always work against the heart; this is where my responsibility lay, how I started to jam up my own arteries. And now the consequence, the feedback was making itself known. Heart surgery!

Nothing virtual about it. This was a problem at the level of matter and meat. It was something we could fix, do fix everyday, almost routinely, with modern medical tools and skills. A re-arranging of arteries and veins, the right drugs for the various stages of the procedure and afterwards, the pump to take over from the heart and lungs, the drainage pathways required, the restricted movements to allow proper healing of bone and flesh – all this we are very accomplished at doing.

I had the surgery in mid-June. With at least six weeks of recovery after the operation, some financial planning had to be arranged and I needed to research the surgery and the alternatives. I spent many hours online reading about the heart, bypass surgery – often in full colour graphic detail – and the other resources available.

After weighing the alternatives, Linda and I decided the surgery would be my best option at this stage of life. I was strong and healthy enough to survive it intact, we were confident about the skills of the surgeon and the surgical staff.

One idea I came up with during this time was to create a prayer circle of family and friends online and elsewhere when the day of my operation neared; a ‘virtual’ prayer circle as one of my friends dubbed it.

As resilient and resourceful as the human body is, it necessarily houses a spirit that requires expression in the world and thrives on love exchanged between beings. That was what I wanted to tap into with the prayer circle.

I was on the cardiac surgery waiting list four weeks. On a Friday, I got my date. It would be in one week. Linda and I kept the date to ourselves during the weekend giving us a chance to mull it over and feel more settled about the whole procedure. It weighed heavy on my mind.

When we live more intensely, as in a pre-operative state, life begins to manifest itself in ways that are necessary and appropriate. As we began to inform family and friends about the surgery date, something wonderful happened! When we shared the burden of knowing, an increasing lightness started to grow in both Linda and me. The simple act of sharing the burden relieved the weightiness of the immediate future. With each successive person we informed, anxiety melted away. An unexpected confidence started to build in me, complete certainty that this was the right thing to do.

Two days before surgery I emailed the prayer circle request to about 25 family and friends. It was straightforward with date and time of surgery, approximate hospital recovery time and a simple sincere request:

“Please join together in a circle of love during and after my surgery with your prayers and positive energy. Your loving help means so much to us at this time and will aid in my full and speedy recovery. Thank you for sharing in my healing. Now that you have read this, the healing has already begun!”

Several people emailed me right back with their messages of hope and loving support. The rest I felt in my heart. On surgery eve, I was awash in the positive energies and expressions of love generated by the prayer circle; bliss in full measure took over my being. It was palpable. Linda felt it too. I had invoked the healing interplay between body, mind and spirit and wept at the sheer perfection of its unfolding. I was ready for the repairs!

 There was nothing virtual about it. The reality of love and friendship, expressed with singular intent across many miles from many sources, converged in me. This aura of love carried me through the surgery, the immediate recovery and onto the ward where I spent four days. I basked in the afterglow of this healing intent, aware of how it was fueling my recovery, abetting the natural regenerative abilities of my body and lifting me when I felt some post-operative depression.

This outpouring of loving support manifested in other ways. It helped me sustain a positive attitude during my hospital stay. The people who noticed this immediately were those angels of mercy, the nurses. They’d seen people deal with this same situation in all manner of ways, some more successful than others.  Maybe it was my spiritual preparedness or the intangible support that I brought with me; whatever it was, the nurses and staff recognized something extra was happening.

Looking back on this I now realize what was happening: the ‘virtual’ was being made real in the world. The prayers and loving intent that I asked for ‘virtually’ online became my reality. While the computer tool made the virtual prayer circle possible, it was the spirit and expression of our loving first nature that made it real in the world. I was living those special conditions.

And what was my responsibility? The answer came to me with such brash certainty I could not ignore it. It made perfect sense. The only way I could repay my family and friends for their limitless sharing of love was to recover fully, completely. It would answer their prayers. It was the exchange the special conditions demanded.

In the six weeks after the surgery, my recovery was nothing short of remarkable. My heart, with its new stamina, allowed me the increasing exercise I needed, the flesh and bone healed with little scarring and no infection. An unexpected benefit of the procedure was increased creativity. Suddenly I had all this extra blood flowing to my brain causing fresh new ideas to spew out of me. For a writer that’s almost a miracle! One of the risks of heart bypass surgery is cognitive decline. For the exact opposite to happen is an unexpected bonus.

The fact is, love lives large in the world and, when focused, produces amazing results! The love shared by my family and friends merged with Linda’s unconditional love and devotion resulting in a perfect healing environment for body, mind and spirit. Nothing virtual about it.

Read an earlier post about my heart surgery.

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Filed under BEAUTY, Family, Hope, Linda, Love, Momentous Day, Spirit

The Faces of War

Reid Dickie

Eleven years ago today my dad, Bruce Dickie, died. He was 83. I miss him every day. I wrote about Dad last year on this day, too.

Recently I came across an article about how the ravages of war become etched on the faces of young soldiers. They show close-up pictures of dozens of Scottish soldiers before, during and after serving in Afghanistan along with their comments. If you ever needed further testimonial to the insanity, destructiveness and uselessness of war, look into the eyes of these men. In every case, the innocence, hope and clarity of the first photograph transmogrifies by the third photograph into reflected horror, soul death and hopelessness. Instead of innocence, their faces convey only fear, instead of hope there is loss and despair, instead of clarity, they are haunted by memories of unspeakable horrors.

http://refreshingnews9.blogspot.com/2012/01/soldiers-faces-before-during-and-after.html

Similar changes were wrought upon the face of another Scotsman, my father Bruce Dickie, before, during and after he saw combat as a lance bombardier in WWII from 1942 to 1945. In a series of pictures he sent Mom while he was overseas, the transformation of my father’s face is obvious and frightening.

This first picture was taken in London just after he arrived overseas in 1942. He was a fresh-faced farm boy from the Canadian prairies.

 The next picture was taken in Aberdeen, Scotland in late 1943 after Dad had seen combat. Experience and sadness lurk in his eyes and his serious expression.

The third picture was taken in Amsterdam near the end of the war in 1945. Innocence is gone, replaced with aggression, his eyes are wild and his teeth are bared. No other image ever taken of my father is more heartbreaking for me than this one.

The horrors of battle that Dad witnessed become progressively more evident on his face in each photograph. Dad signed each picture he sent to Mom but it was only on the last one that he mentions love. Dad lived another 55 years after that last picture was taken. Quietly and peacefully he died of old age eleven years ago today. Luckily he never had to live in a post-911 world.                          

 

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Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Bronnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

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Happy Deathday John Lennon

“Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” John Lennon was assassinated on this day in 1980 by Dakota “doorman” Jose Perdomo, longtime CIA hitman and mind control agent. I miss John but we still have his music and his thoughts to challenge and comfort us. “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” “Everybody loves you when you’re six feet in the ground.” “I’m not claiming divinity. I’ve never claimed purity of soul. I’ve never claimed to have the answers to life. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can. But I still believe in peace, love and understanding.” “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” “My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.” “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.” “The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.” “We all shine on, like the moon, and the stars, and the sun.” Watch a video of Mind Games. What’s with happy deathday?

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Happy Birthday Tom Waits

“I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things.” The genius in the basement turns 62 years old today. Let’s celebrate with Tom’s thoughts!  “Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends.” “There ain’t no devil, only God when he’s drunk.” “We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness. We are monkeys with money and guns.” “A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn’t.” “The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.” “I’ve never been a fan of personality-conflict burgers and identity-crisis omelets with patchouli oil. I function very well on a diet that consists of Chicken Catastrophe and Eggs Overwhelming and a tall, cool Janitor-in-a-Drum. I like to walk out of a restaurant with enough gas to open a Mobil station.” “Apparently the highest compliment our culture grants artists nowadays is to be in an ad — ideally naked and purring on the hood of a new car. I have adamantly and repeatedly refused this dubious honor. While the court can’t make me active in radio, I am asking it to make me radioactive to advertisers.” “Commercials are an unnatural use of my work. It’s like having a cow’s udder sewn to the side of my face. Painful and humiliating.” “George Bush is a fan of mine, he came to see me in the Seventies. His coke dealer brought him.” “The world is a hellish place, and bad writing is destroying the quality of our suffering.” Watch Satisfied from Tom’s new CD Bad As Me.

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Happy Deathday Frank Zappa

“You can’t write a chord ugly enough to say what you want sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream.” I miss Frank. He died of prostate cancer on this day in 1993. He was 52. We can still tune in to some of Frank’s thoughts. “Take the Kama Sutra. How many people died from the Kama Sutra as opposed to the Bible? Who wins?” “A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.” “It isn’t necessary to imagine the world ending in fire or ice. There are two other possibilities: one is paperwork, and the other is nostalgia.” “Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.” “The computer can’t tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what’s missing is the eyebrows.” “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.” “Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.” “My best advice to anyone who wants to raise a happy, mentally healthy child is: Keep him or her as far away from a church as you can.” “Scientology, how about that? You hold on to the tin cans and then this guy asks you a bunch of questions and if you pay enough money you get to join the master race. How’s that for a religion?” “The United States is a nation of laws, badly written and randomly enforced.” “People make a lot of fuss about my kids having supposedly strange names, but the fact is that no matter what first names I might have given them, it is the last name that is going to get them in trouble.” At a Congressional hearing about parental advisory labels on records, Frank said to Tipper Gore, “May your shit come to life and kiss you on the face.” Read my post on Weasels Ripped My FleshWatch Frank’s version of Ravel’s Bolero. (My Sharona at 3:47)  What’s with happy deathday?

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Happy Deathday George Harrison

“I’d join a band with John Lennon anyday, but I wouldn’t join a band with Paul McCartney.” Good choice, George. On this day in 2001 Beatle George died of lung cancer. He was 58. His ashes were scattered in the Ganges River. George left a few thoughts behind for us today.  “After all we did for Britain, selling that corduroy and making it swing, all we got was a bit of tin on a piece of leather.” “It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”  “As far as I’m concerned, there won’t be a Beatles reunion as long as John Lennon remains dead.” “As long as you hate, there will be people to hate.” “The biggest break in my career was getting into the Beatles in 1962. The second biggest break since then is getting out of them.” “When you’ve seen beyond yourself, then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there.” “You’ve got as many lives as you like, and more, even ones you don’t want.” What’s with happy deathday?

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My First Shamanic Journey

Reid Dickie

Today I celebrate the 17th anniversary of my first shamanic journey on November 11, 1994. It was the day I became a warrior of a different kind. I’ll recount the events that led to that pivotal moment.

In 1992, at age 42, I had a heart attack after which I shed my sedentary lifestyle, regained my health and counted myself among the lucky. Mom died in spring of 1993 and that set me on a course of intense curiosity about life, death and the whole damn thing. My work allowed me to read for four hours a shift during which time I devoured over four hundred books on topics ranging from nanotechnology to philosophy to ecology to near death experiences to Way of The Shaman, a little book written by anthropologist Michael Harner that I read in October 1994. That was the book that changed everything.

I suddenly recognized a new and significant part of myself in the arcane information Way of the Shaman conveyed. It felt familiar, necessary, useful. I immediately saw myself as a modern man exploring the spirit world using a technique that’s probably 100,000 years old. I had found My Way.

At the time, Harner’s Foundation for Shamanic Studies offered a cassette tape of solid drumming at the right number of beats per minute to induce non-ordinary reality and give access to the spirit world. I found the cassette at Prairie Sky Books on Westminster. I would wear out this cassette and go back a year later for a new copy.

I kept a handwritten journal of all my early shamanic journeys, which was extremely useful in learning the new spiritual territories that had opened up to me. By journeying I gained experience in non-ordinary reality; the Upper and Lower Worlds became familiar to me; my power animals and spirit helpers appeared and offered their help. The journals are fascinating to read now since it is clear how accurately the spirits predicted my future, the people I would meet and lose, the way everything would proceed. My first two journals contain vivid accounts of over 150 journeys in the initial two years of my shamanic practice.

To give you a brief peek into a shaman’s journey, I am sharing you my journal entry written right after my first journey on November 11, 1994.

   First time shamanic journey to a non-ordinary reality. Traversing the tunnel was rapid and effortless arriving in a beautiful natural setting. When my eyes became accustomed to the light, I saw a small stream about a foot wide and a foot deep set at the bottom of a canyon. I followed the stream to a mound some distance upstream that appeared to be the source of the stream, perhaps an artesian well. When I arrived at the small mound I found it to be a huge eyeball, three feet across, that was crying and making the stream with its tears. This seemed perfectly normal.

What looked like a large house cat came walking toward me from some brush. It was a tiger cub and its mother was close behind. We greeted each other. The tiger said her name was Beba and the cub had no name this time but would the next time we meet.

I asked her if she was my power animal and if we could meet here. She said this was likely but I wouldn’t recognize her at first. As we talked I played with the cub which soon tired and began to suckle Beba who lay on her side. I sat next to this huge purring tiger, caressed her, smelled her wild scent and felt her trembling power just under the fur.  

The three of us sat in the hot sun and enjoyed the silence. I tasted salt, my tears. I cried because I felt, in my soul, for the first time the truth of unity, the oneness, the sighing insignificance of the world and all its amazing qualities and I wept there in non-ordinary reality next to a tiger and her sleeping cub.

Quickly I learned to remember most details of my journeys by intending to remember them. Of all the places I have visited on shamanic journeys, about half of them were at the same stream from my first journey. It became a familiar peaceful place to meet and get to know my new spirit friends.

Beba, though a tiger, was not my power animal but Tiger was, whom I formally acquired two or three journeys later. Tiger from that day on has given me the gift of joy, the gift of be happy. The eyeball: literal Cry Me a River? Never did unravel that one. The feeling of unity would grew stronger in me as my shamanic practice and connection to Nature mysticism deepened.

I no longer keep journals of my experiences because I have adapted to being in a world where spirits communicate and cavort with me. My journeys are very focused on specific intents now. I know the terrain. I am more relaxed about it, a better listener and get practical results and/or sound advice from almost every spirit source that I contact.

After 17 years of regular practice, I still feel shamanism found me and that I didn’t find it. It always feels like coming home. I am an incredibly lucky man for which I am grateful every day.

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Happy Birthday Joni Mitchell

“I learned a woman is never an old woman.” Joni Mitchell is 68 today. Her recent years have been plagued by Morgellons Disease, which she claims to have overcome. Joni has halted her career to spread the word about Morgellons. Since the medical establishment has gone to great lengths to deny the existence of Morgellons, its cause must be a great, common and vastly profitable evil, likely genetically-modified foods or a nanotechnology experiment gone awry. Here are some other things on Joni’s mind: “Everyone I know has attention deficit, and they say it with great pride. It’s a bad time to be right.”  “I assume there must be some kind of genetic thrust. My two grandmothers were very different, but both of them were frustrated musicians.” “I’ve got 50 different tunings in the guitar.” “The more decadent a culture gets, the more they have a need for what they don’t have at all, which is innocence, so you end up with kiddie porn and a perverse obsession with youth.” “There are things to confess that enrich the world, and things that need not be said.” “This is a nation that has lost the ability to be self-critical, and that makes a lie out of the freedoms.” “My favorite line in all of literature is Rudyard Kipling’s monkey: “My people are the wisest people in the jungle, my people have always said so.” “When the world becomes a massive mess with nobody at the helm, it’s time for artists to make their mark.” Pictures of Morgellons fibers.

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Happy Birthday k. d. lang

“You have to respect your audience.Without them, you’re essentially standing alone, singing to yourself.” One of the high points of my summer was seeing k. d. and her new band close the Saturday night show at the Regina Folk Festival. Her respect for us was enormous, obvious and loving. My report on the concert is here. k. d. lang turns 50 years old today. More wisdom from k. d. “Look. Art knows no prejudice, art knows no boundaries, art doesn’t really have judgement in its purest form. So just go, just go.” “A wound is just a highway to a new and enlightened kind of confidence. Damage is one of the things in emotional aesthetics that makes something great. Like all the scars on a tree or a banged up coffee cup or whatever. Everything you go through is marking your soul. And if you have the courage to face yourself, the whole package, you will receive an extraordinary amount of power you may have never realized was  there.” “Women send me their 8 by 10s and their measurements, but the last thing I want to do is sleep with a fan. Because k. d. lang the performer is much cooler than me. Not that there’s really a difference but as a lover I’m not as self-assured and cocky and invincible as she is.” “Elvis had total love in his eyes when he performed. He was the total androgynous beauty. I would practice Elvis in front of the mirror when I was 12 or 13 years old.” “Sometimes, music is unexplainable. You can try to control it but it ultimately follows its own pace and evolution.” “As a singer, when you have something to sink your teeth into, like a great song, it makes our job a lot easier.” “I’m also alternative because of Canada. There’s something romantic about being Canadian. We’re a relatively unpopulated, somewhat civilized, clean and resourceful country. I always push the fact that I’m Canadian.” Watch our national treasure sing “I Confess” the terrific lead-off track on her latest CD.

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Happy Deathday Federico Fellini

“Realism is a bad word. In a sense everything is realistic. I see no line between the imaginary and the real.” Not seeing a line between the imaginery and the real is probably a form of mental illness unless you happen to be Italian film director Federico Fellini, in which case, dream on baby! After living for 73 years and giving the world a unique body of work, Fellini died on this day in 1993 (as did River Phoenix who was 23). Some of Fellini’s thoughts on film and life bear acknowledging today. “A good opening and a good ending make for a good film providing they come close together.”  “All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.” “I think television has betrayed the meaning of democratic speech, adding visual chaos to the confusion of voices. What role does silence have in all this noise?” “The artist is the medium between his fantasies and the rest of the world.” “You exist only in what you do.” “There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.” You can find an earlier post about Fellini directing and watch an erotic scene from Fellini Satyricon  here. What’s with deathday?

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Happy Deathdiscoveryday – Richard Brautigan

American poet Richard Brautigan was found in front of a large picture window overlooking the Pacific Ocean, an empty bottle of whisky and a .44 Magnum next to him, on this day in 1984. He’d probably been dead for over a month before his badly decomposed body was discovered. His suicide note said, “Messy, isn’t it?”  Brautigan wrote contemporary poetry which either does or doesn’t stand the test of timeliness. I still find him amusing and wise. Here are some samples: “I didn’t know the full dimensions of forever, but I knew it was longer than waiting for Christmas to come.” “All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds.” “It’s strange how the simple things in life go on while we become more difficult.” “Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.” “Money is sad shit.” “Im haunted a little this evening by feelings that have no vocabulary and events that should be explained in dimensions of lint rather than words. Ive been examining half-scraps of my childhood. They are pieces of distant life that have no form or meaning. They are things that just happened like lint.” “I will be very careful the next time I fall in love, she told herself. Also, she had made a promise to herself that she intended on keeping. She was never going to go out with another writer: no matter how charming, sensitive, inventive or fun they could be. They weren’t worth it in the long run. They were emotionally too expensive and the upkeep was complicated. They were like having a vacuum cleaner around the house that broke all the time and only Einstein could fix it. She wanted her next lover to be a broom.” “The bookstore was a parking lot for used graveyards. Thousands of graveyards were parked in rows like cars. Most of the books were out of print, and no one wanted to read them any more and the people who had read the books had died or forgotten about them, but through the organic process of music the books had become virgins again.”

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Happy Deathday Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac successfully drank himself to death on this day in 1969. After years of alcohol abuse, his liver wouldn’t let his blood clot and he bled to death. He was 47. From On The Road:“[…] the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ What did they call such young people in Goethe’s Germany?” From The Dharma Bums: “Down on the lake rosy reflections of celestial vapor appeared, and I said, ‘God, I love you’ and looked to the sky and really meant it. ‘I have fallen in love with you, God. Take care of us all, one way or the other.’ To the children and the innocent it’s all the same.” and “Happy. Just in my swim shorts, barefooted, wild-haired, in the red fire dark, singing, swigging wine, spitting, jumping, running—that’s the way to live. All alone and free in the soft sands of the beach by the sigh of the sea out there, with the Ma-Wink fallopian virgin warm stars reflecting on the outer channel fluid belly waters. And if your cans are redhot and you can’t hold them in your hands, just use good old railroad gloves, that’s all.” A few other random thoughts from Jack’s fertile consciousness: “I’m going to marry my novels and have little short stories for children.” and “My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” and “My witness is the empty sky.” and “Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it. Use poetry.” Ultimately, “I’m writing this book because we’re all going to die.” Watch my short video homage to Jack. What’s with deathday?

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Happy Birthday e. e. cummings

Edward Estlin Cummings, born this day in 1894, spent most of his lower case life discovering precious stuff like “The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.” His wild affair with language – poetry, essays, novels, plays – gave us a new perspective on ourselves and our time. Getting into e. e.’s head: “Listen; there’s a hell of a good universe next door: let’s go.” and “A politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man.” and “A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.” and “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” and “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” and “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” Not dead/Dead since September 3, 1962. I’ll leave you with e. e.’s fitting thought to begin each day, “I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” Hear e. e. cummings read Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town.

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Happy Birthday Lenny Bruce

If Lenny Bruce had not been born on this day in 1925, today’s comedy would all be shtick and bullshit. Because of Lenny, today’s comedy is one of the few places you can hear the truth. Here’s more of Lenny’s truth: “Today’s comedian has a cross to bear that he built himself. A comedian of the older generation did an ”act” and he told the audience, ”This is my act.” Today’s comic is not doing an act. The audience assumes he’s telling the truth. What is truth today may be a damn lie next week.” and “Every day, people are straying away from the Church and going back to God.” and “I won’t say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: What I’m going to be if I grow up.” and “The only truly anonymous donor is the guy who knocks up your daughter.” Not Dead/Dead since August 3, 1966. One last thought from Lenny, “I’ll die young, but it’s like kissing God.” Watch Lenny on stage just before he died or listen to him riff on kids sniffing airplane glue.

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Happy Deathday Janis Joplin

Where have you gone, Janis? Morrison and Hendrix have nether careers but you seem to have fallen through the cracks in the rock and roll sidewalk. You were part of the heavy triumvirate of 1960s American  music and, like your two brothers, you had to die at age 27.Tell us some thoughts, dear Janis: “I’d rather have ten years of super-hypermost than live to be  seventy by sitting in some goddamn chair watching TV.” and “Onstage, I make love to 25,000 people – then I go home alone.” and “I’m one of those regular weird people.” and “Being an intellectual creates a lot of questions and no answers. You can fill your life up with ideas and still go home lonely. All you really have that really matters are feelings. That’s what music is to me.” and “Audiences like their blues singers to be miserable.” and “Texas is OK if you want to settle down and do your own thing quietly, but it’s not for outrageous people, and I was always outrageous.” Janis died this day in 1970. One final word from her: “It’s hard to be free but when it works, it’s worth it!” Watch Janis sing “Ball & Chain” at Woodstock. What’s with deathday?

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Happy Birthday Mahatma Gandhi

Reporter: “What do you think of Western Civilization?” Gandhi: “I think it would be a good idea.” This is just one of the thousands of wise thoughts that Mahatma Gandhi shared with the world during his lifetime which began on this day in 1869. Here are more of Gandhi’s thoughts: “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” and “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” and “Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive
possession of no one race or religion.” and “Nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it anyway.” and “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.” and “Those who know how to think need no teachers.” The truth that Gandhi lived and the inspiration that sprang from his life are encapsulated in one of his best known phrases: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Not dead/Dead since January 31, 1948.

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