August 31, 2008

During the great depression, that period when the country went south, and I don't mean to Florida, but went into an approximately ten year period of testing the endurance of the people and the institutions, song writers wrote some music that would not have helped much. Listen to these lyrics.

"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime," lyrics by Yip Harburg, music by Jay Gorney (1931)

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Why don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?
In my lifetime trains were an omnipresent part my everyday life. I left my home to go away to the Air Force by train. Trains were an alternative mode of transportation to get us where we had to go. Up to recently I awoke sometimes to the sounds of train activity from across our town. Through most of my life in our town and most other towns you could not go from one side to another without having to wait for a passing train. I miss them and wish they would make a comeback. In these troubled times of energy crisis springing up frequently it might be a good idea.

This poem written by W.H. Auden in the thirties brings back memories of the day of the train, and also in
stanza three another activity that has in fact disappeared into memory, and that is letter writing. The letters we used to write with pen and ink. I was never very good at it, and in fact much prefer email, but you have to admit getting a letter on paper, written in ink, and sent in a stamped envelope means something a whole lot different. You were receiving something personal, it felt that way, and in some romantic instances it even smelled nice. Email can't do that.

Anyways, I miss those days, I suppose because it is part of my past. You understand.


by W.H. Auden (1907 - 1973)

This is the Night Mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,

Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.

Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb:
The gradient's against her, but she's on time.

Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,

Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.

Birds turn their heads as she approaches,
Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches.

Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course;
They slumber on with paws across.

In the farm she passes no one wakes,
But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes.


Dawn freshens. Her climb is done.
Down towards Glasgow she descends
Towards the steam tugs yelping down the glade of cranes,
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen.
All Scotland waits for her:
In the dark glens, beside the pale-green sea lochs
Men long for news.


Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or visit relations,
And applications for situations
And timid lovers' declarations
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Notes from overseas to Hebrides
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.


Thousands are still asleep
Dreaming of terrifying monsters,
Or of friendly tea beside the band at Cranston's or Crawford's:
Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen,
They continue their dreams,
And shall wake soon and long for letters,
And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart,
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

August 30, 2008

My favorite team lost last night and snapped a ten game winning streak. It's only a game but you really can get caught up in the moment. At moments like this I sometimes think of this scene with Tom Hanks. It always conjures up a chuckle or two. You remember it don't you? Yes that is Sharona, Monk's original sidekick. She was played by Bitty Schram

August 27, 2008


My wife and I each have our own ipod, and it did not take long for my wife's artistic flair and feminine side to come out. As all ipod owners know, it takes about ten minutes for the back of the ipod case to start taking on scratches no matter how hard you might try to keep it looking good. It does not matter. Soon the back becomes a mass of scratches and most men I think go to the "oh well who cares" school of acceptance of same.

Women I think, do not. My submission of evidence is attached: My back. the guys ipod is on the right, in it's natural state, scratches and all. On the left is my wife's ipod back, covered with a piece of contact leaning a little on the feminine side. That's the way it is.

Where did the time go? Where did all my old friends, my old acquantices go? Like a moment in my mind a lifetime of moments fly by.

August 25, 2008

By Emily Dickenson

I like to see it lap the miles,
And lick the valleys up,
And stop to feed itself at tanks;
And then, prodigious, step

Around a pile of mountains,
And, supercilious, peer
In shanties by the sides of roads;
And then a quarry pare

To fit its sides, and crawl between,
Complaining all the while
In horrid, hooting stanza;
Then chase itself down hill

And neigh like Boanerges;
Then, punctual as a star,
Stop -- docile and omnipotent --
At its own stable door.

August 24, 2008

Halls of Ivy

I enjoy the internet, which is obvious from the many hours I devote to it. The vastness and the depth of the content amazes me. It is, of course, the latest in technology and ever expanding so it seems strange perhaps that one of its stars is old time radio. At least that is to its little older fans. It's a good reason for us old ducks to wallow in a little nostalgia. One of the programs that was a quality show with literate overtones, not too much of course, was the highly rated HALLS OF IVY, starring that most sophisticated of all our actors RONALD COLMAN, a very good actor of his day. Through the auspices, and generosity, TCM, a channel that gives us uninterrupted movies, full length, with a sometimes guide to explain little known facts about the feature and its actors came a very good movie starring the above Mr. Colman and Greer Garson, RANDOM HARVEST. If you've been put off by the age of the film or the title, don't be. It is a very good movie, but sorry there are no car chases or judo chops in the whole thing. Here is a large sampling of the radio show HALLS OF IVY:

Internet Archive: Details: The Halls of Ivy

August 23, 2008

This card came in a pack of cigarettes in by-gone days. I like the poster/card, but I'm sure I wouldn't have liked the cigarette. I smoked like most of the population did, starting when I entered the service. Why? I suppose because everyone did, in the movies, my contemporaries and more. I continued until around 1977. It was a nasty habit. I don't remember being offered any enticements to buy, except I think maybe a brand named Raleigh offered little certificates in each package that you could redeem for 'valuable' gifts. offers up a different poster every couple of days. It's great for decorating your desktop.

August 21, 2008

First let me get this out of the way. My party affiliation is no ones business, and actually who cares who I vote for or don't vote for. What attracts me to this piece by Glenn Beck, a loyal conservative, at least on the radio since that is where his bread and butter comes from so what else could he be. It is also not that I am particularly in agreement with what he says either. Although he makes one statement I have to believe. That is if something does not work for a hundred years, maybe it's time to make a change, Duh. He makes the statement that he is first an american, above all else. I doubt that. I think Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity and the rest of the conservatives who make a fabulous income being firstly a conservative with a huge C might find it impossible to line up on the opposite side of the conservative wing, yeah I think so. Anyway Beck I believe makes a couple hard to fault him on statements about going from republican to democrat after a hundred years of non success, but I wonder could he or would he vote if the party at fault were republicans and not the democrats? Enough, here is the Beck piece.
From the collaboration of Jeff Scher (filmmaker) and Shay Lynch (music) comes this hypnotic view of Grand Central Station. It was reminiscent to me of a scene from Metropolis of men marching to work, but reading the approx. 80 remarks of his film suggests what other people thought of when they viewed it.

August 18, 2008

In The Know: The U.S. Moat


August 16, 2008

The little guy has it all, a lovely loving and obviously understanding mate. All's well that ends well, said a well know poet that starts with S and ends with and E, and has 11 characters.

August 15, 2008

SUO GAN, a lullaby featured in the movie EMPIRE OF THE SUN.

August 14, 2008

I watched a portion (22 minutes) of a God awful movie tonight. It was called Astronaut Farmer starring Billy Bob Thorton. It was the most inane, stupid waste of film and my time that I ashamedly admit I invested 22 minutes into. I can't even begin to describe what went on; I won't. It must have stayed in the theaters for a day. I wasn't expecting a great movie, just maybe a small comedy which might be pleasant. Billy Bob is someone I enjoy from time to time, but he must have been on a different planet when he got into this. Miss it.

August 13, 2008

August 12, 2008

I watched the movie THE BUCKET LIST last evening, and I am struck again by the resemblance between Jack Nicholson and Jimmy Hoffa who he portrayed some time ago.

August 9, 2008

While looking at the newspaper this morning over my second or third cup of coffee, I happened upon Nat Hentoff's column entitled: Presidential candidates on you tube is a good thing. After the third paragraph I decided he was really on to something.

I tried to find the column somewhere on the net so I could at this juncture insert a hyperlink to the column, but had no luck finding it, so I will summarize the first three paragraphs that caught my eye.

He first cites a C-SPAN program, which if you haven't run across it and watched it, you should, called PRIME MINISTER'S QUESTIONS. The program where the Prime Minister of England stands up before the whole House of Commons and answers questions and faces criticism of his governments policies. Before which according to National Public Radio in England, "they have to devote several hours to preparing for all sorts of questions, and they go in there and they know that it's to be live on television" while many citizens are watching, and remembering.

Former conservative party leader Howard emphasizes that this weekly breakthrough of government transparency-when the house of commons is sitting- "ensures that, first of all, the prime minister knows what's going on".

Hentoff goes on to say that not only in the Bush administration, but in some previous administrations, it has been far from certain that our president does know all that's going on in his government's most controversial practices.

He further suggests that if we had a regular 'Meet the President' on C-SPAN once a week, at least the President would have to bone up on what's actually going on in his administration. We the people would certainly benefit, as well. The column goes on, but I won't.

This proposition makes so much sense on two fronts that I am sure it would not, or could not be agreed to by any administration, but it would be great wouldn't it.


August 8, 2008


I confess at the outset that I don't know any answers to my question. I only have theories or hints at what the answers are.

I have watched the documentary AN INCONVINIENT TRUTH and have followed somewhat the disdain shown to it and its author. I credit some of the backlash to politics as the author and presenter is the former vice president Al Gore. Politicians and political parties have long memories of, and believe that anything written by even an ex-politician must be political.

Besides all that, I for the life of me cannot think why anyone would think there are some sinister underlying plots to a presentation that documents the warming up of our planet and its probable damage to it. I could understand that maybe the viewer does not believe the data presented or the conclusions made from that data, but all of which is easily, I presume, checkable in these days of computers and the Internet. But I cannot understand the animosity toward the whole enterprise.

My ignorance prevents me from making any judgements except to say when I look at what some others say on the subject, it seems they are debating whether Co2 is the reason. I certainly don't know, but whatever it is, global warming seems to be too real and I think it would gladden scientists that the subject is being discussed, and studied.

My conclusion is of course, it's money. Some peoples ox is being gored. (pardon the pun) That is the easy answer, are there others?

In a time past there was another whistle blower who warned us of a peril to our planet. That was Rachel Carson and her book SILENT SPRING. An expose of the over use of the chemical DDT. It too caused a fury from the chemical industry and they belittled her findings.

Like AN INCONVIENIENT TRUTH, SILENT SPRING was accusing big business of unconscionable practices and their profits were in jeopardy. When big money is at stake, politicians are readily available to champion the pursuit of the dollar.

Does anyone doubt this?

From National Geographic: GLOBAL WARMING 101

I was looking at some new movie previews this morning and ran across this clip of a new movie called BLINDNESS. My God I hope this has a happy ending or they will have to issue sedatives as you leave the theater.

August 6, 2008

Things I miss.

Each morning while dressing after a cool or warm shower, dependent upon the season which one is more enjoyable, I like to listen to some old CD's. The majority of which feature music from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. These songs were the music that accompanied my wife and I through our young, very busy years and act now as signposts of my life.

They almost all captured a moment of each of our lives with lyrics that from time to time were close to poetic. I don't wish to be argumentative and compare this music to the sounds of rock and roll, but I think that is what rock and roll is, sound, usually loud and demanding with a strong percussive beat throughout. Apples and oranges I believe is the proper definition. I just happen to, because of my age I am sure, still get emotionally caught up in one of those blasts from the past as some hot DJ used to quip.

Lyrics like this for example are close to poetic: I left my heart in San Francisco, where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars..etc. It goes on to tell a story, and even though most of us probably have never been to San Francisco, can substitute a city of our choice and it will work just fine. Consider the song written by a unique talent, Hoagy Carmichael, called September Song that tells a story that is so poignant and prophetically true for all of us, I wonder why I like it so...the days dwindle down to a precious gets me every time I hear it.

And then there is the great classic..Mares eat oats and Does eat oats, and little Lambs eat ivy...well maybe they weren't all keepers, but an awful lot were.
McMurtry, the author of Lonesome Dove, generates many nods of appreciation from the older generation for this scene of retaliation against the relentless debilitation of aging.

August 5, 2008


Is it just me or does this portion of the presidential campaign seem to be redundant and really of no value to the electorate.

I guess it all boils down to McCain and Obama saying just about anything to get elected. Well I guess that's what it's all about, but it leaves us, the voters, to wait until the election is over and one of the two is in office to find out what we got for our precious vote.

They adjust, then readjust their messages about the various subjects in answer to the others latest opinion of the same subject, and how it scored in the latest poll. So did they mean what they said initially or didn't we understand it exactly? Maybe we will like the latest press release of what they really believe deep down in their heart of hearts. We'll never know will we?

There is a very large amount of people who are not members of the far left, or the far right, who are somewhat open minded and who really do try to measure the candidate by what he says and what we sincerely think will be best for the good ole USA in these days of our lusterless image needing polished. But our candidates don't make it easy for us, or perhaps that is the idea. Keep us guessing so when election day comes we will vote for whichever one wears the tie we like best.

August 3, 2008

From the New Yorker, he probably went on that it was a dark and stormy night out. He got better.


Posted in Art, Trivia by Greg Ross on October 23rd, 2007 and I extracted it from the web page Futility Closet.

Picasso's full name was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Clito Ruiz y Picasso.