December 28, 2008

Three more days until New Years Eve. It will not be an occasion for me as I will certainly be fast asleep when the big ball in New York's time square gets to its destination. I do remember back in my day that Guy Lombardo was the New Years Eve regular. By the way, when I picked up this Gasoline Alley strip, it said Walt is 100 years old now. Make you feel your age a little?
I have always liked CARMINA BURANA by Carl Orff, but after reading the piece I've included about his days as a nazi, right, one of those German Hitler Nazi's, I will at least think differently about any inspirations he may have had while writing it. He was a little scary. Here's a little of his Carmina Burana, followed by the history of his nazi past. Carl Orff.

December 27, 2008

Today's New York Times has this story about a family that was as famous as you could possibly get. You mentioned the name Von Trapp and one of many songs came immediately to mind and you might start humming or whistling a tune come unbidden but familiar as a Christmas carol you've known since birth. This column will bring you up to date somewhat and if nothing else will reassure some sentimentalists among us that the Von Trapps will remain in American culture for the foreseeable future.

December 26, 2008

Well who'd a thunk it. From the Newser comes this news which I'm personally glad to see. You don't think that the child's book he is reading to the little ones is included in the list of 95 do you? Whatever, good for him.

December 24, 2008

A repeat of something I wrote two years ago. This year we have two of our grandchildren with us for the big holiday. I got some comments on the remembrance, so I thought I would repeat it. I hope you enjoy it.

I wish to make a confession. A confession designed to be read by grandchildren I have and those yet to be born who will not know me other than the grandpa who lives in Ohio.

I would like them at least to know that I too was a child once and the excitement of this season now upon us was almost too much for me to bear. I was an only child, I had no brothers or sisters. I guess my mother decided after having me that she could do no better or, and this is more likely, she said, Oh no I'll have no part in bringing another one like him into the world.

I liked it. If I ever thought about it, it didn't take me long to decide that I was absolutely happy being an only. The one thing it allowed me to do was let my imagination soar free. With a brother or sister I would have been criticized for being stupid, or a dreamer.

So I could let my imagination fly, and around Christmas time, I sure did. I loved the holidays from Thanksgiving through Christmas. I would get so excited on Thanksgiving that for years I would get sick on the big eating holiday. But I quickly recovered and started carefully preparing my gift list for Santa Claus. Advantage for the only child. Unless you asked for something really dumb, like a real airplane, or a horse, you get the idea, I had a pretty good chance of hitting the jackpot.

Now here we get into some sticky territory. I was a true believer when it came to the legend of Santa Claus. But just in case I had gotten some faulty information I tried to cut my losses and would tell my mom what I had asked Santa for.

Now I am going to tell you a secret. A secret that only Grandma Hazel knows. On a Christmas eve night, I was trying very hard to fall asleep so the morning would arrive, and I could get to the serious business of gift receiving. Kids at the age I was had not yet learned that the idea of the season was to foster the exchange of gifts which originated with the Magi's bringing gifts to the newborn Jesus. But like most all the children in the world I was not into that part of the season yet. That came later in life, but at least it came.

It was late and it was a Christmas card night, it had snowed, but the night was clear with the moon and stars bright against a black December sky, as I got out of bed once again. I was not allowed to leave my room on Christmas eve after I was sent to bed, so I got up to get a book when I glanced out of the window and couldn't believe what I saw. I saw in the distant sky the familiar scene emblazoned upon millions of children's minds, Santa Claus and his reindeers high in the black star bright night flying away toward the full moon. I don't remember what I thought or did, except I never told anyone before except Grandma Hazel and now you our grandchildren.

I never knew why I was allowed to see this magical person, most kids don't you know. Perhaps it was because children and grandparents share a common experience, the experience of discovery. The discovery that there are things out there that we don't exactly understand and maybe never were meant to. Some things just have to be taken on faith. So enjoy the discoveries and have a wonderful and happy life. It will make grandma and grandpa very happy if you do.

December 23, 2008

Christmas certainly is getting political, isn't it.

Merry Christmas.

December 22, 2008

Best Friend

A marriage if it's blessed with luck,
a lot of luck
will last until the end of our time on God's good green earth.

A journey not without trials and tribulations.
In some cases
In my case we started out so young and
so ill-prepared and quite frankly dumber than
Ohio riverbed rocks
Unsure of and unschooled in much of anything.

Good times, hard times, unsure times, exciting times,
sad times.

Times met head on, error, mistakes, folly, all met us on the road.

Years passed, we slowly began to learn, began to understand,
and anticipate life on its terms.

Always learning little lessons, some important, some not, some
lessons to pass on, some not.

Until one day we wake up and find our shared life has gone by and
we now stand alone and yet again we learn another lesson.

That somewhere in the journey we became friends. How important
is that? I could argue it is the most cherished of all.

Friends, best friends, know each others weaknesses and their strengths,
but would never try to capitalize upon either for gain. Best friends
are the most trusted, and the most comfortable to be with for as
long as God will allow.

My best friend has gotten better looking, smarter, braver, and the one
person I want to be with when our journey together ends.

Happy Anniversary Best Friend.
I don't generally post 'cute stuff', but what I generally do or don't do is mute when we are talking about puppies, at least this time. Be prepared to ooh and ahh. Arf.

December 19, 2008

Absolutely no reason to show this picture other than I liked it. Check out this book blog.
Pretty funny finding humor in a drop dead serious business. Today's news that President Bush is going to fund GM and Chrysler in the hope that they will remember how to turn the companies profitable is a move that has to be made. I agree fully with the move. I can't but believe that letting the companies close would put so many non-automobile related people in the unemployment line, and drop communities where plants will be lost into an economic morass compounding lost jobs. Maybe it's putting off the inevitable, but it's a move that has to be tried.

December 18, 2008

William Glackens-Christmas Shoppers at Madison Square 1912. Seven shopping days left. Times are getting hard, and each day something bad happens in almost every community, but try to explain any of that to little ones. They wouldn't understand how any of this bad stuff relates to the big guy in the red suit. Seven days left, get creative.

December 17, 2008

No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.

Judge Gideon J. Tucker

Peter Mark Roget, the full name of the creator of Roget's thesaurus was indeed anal retentive. He seemed to have reasons, to say the least, to view life in a different way. He started his 'lists' as a tool to some form of normality. This piece from PROSPECT, I thought was very interesting, and worth the time. If you are familiar with the thesaurus, you will probably be interested in reading about the guy who wrote it.
Where was the President's secret service protection?

December 16, 2008

Two great actors, Frederick March and Burt Lancaster in the movie Seven Days In May, getting their teeth into meaty roles. Americans want their government to be open and protective of each citizens rights which are protected by the constitution and the ballot box. When the government becomes convinced that they cannot trust the peoples judgements and must take the vote out of our hands under the guise of protecting us, bad things will follow.

December 14, 2008


GOVERNMENT-Chicago style, written in 1916 by Carl Sandburg. Rough it was, rough it is. Different you think from others? No excuses from me extended for the outrageous, overt activity of the governor, but is it surprising? No. Any person who watches politics at all knows what goes on or can guess. Big time pols deal with big money all the time, and how many poor politicians leave office still poor?


THE Government--I heard about the Government and
I went out to find it. I said I would look closely at
it when I saw it.
Then I saw a policeman dragging a drunken man to
the callaboose. It was the Government in action.
I saw a ward alderman slip into an office one morning
and talk with a judge. Later in the day the judge
dismissed a case against a pickpocket who was a
live ward worker for the alderman. Again I saw
this was the Government, doing things.
I saw militiamen level their rifles at a crowd of
workingmen who were trying to get other workingmen
to stay away from a shop where there was a strike
on. Government in action.

Everywhere I saw that Government is a thing made of
men, that Government has blood and bones, it is
many mouths whispering into many ears, sending
telegrams, aiming rifles, writing orders, saying
"yes" and "no."

Government dies as the men who form it die and are laid
away in their graves and the new Government that
comes after is human, made of heartbeats of blood,
ambitions, lusts, and money running through it all,
money paid and money taken, and money covered
up and spoken of with hushed voices.
A Government is just as secret and mysterious and sensitive
as any human sinner carrying a load of germs,
traditions and corpuscles handed down from
fathers and mothers away back.


December 13, 2008

Bing sings White Christmas
In a companion blog about the decade of the forties, A decade of change, I am mentioning some of my favorite films of that decade. I wanted also to mention a much later film here that I like for another reason. The film is titled, THE DEAD, written by James Joyce, a film that takes us back to a time when we were more mannerly and concerned with each others feelings. The reason is that it mesmerizes me and transports me to another time by their speech and manners. The content, although literate and wonderful as in a great poem is sometimes too intellectual for my understanding, but the feelings they emit sucks me in and I am with them until the end of the film. This film directed by John Huston (his last film before his death) has so many fine scenes from my perspective, fine because of the feeling it generates that carries me with them to the end of the film. This particular scene is a prime example of my lacking the intellect to completely understand each stanza, but emotionally it grabs me every time I look at it.

Funny Stuff From Shoebox. Check them out by clicking here.

Favorite holiday recipes

Grandma’s Nog

Cream (optional)
Sugar (optional)
Egg (optional)

Serve in festive cups and enjoy!

by Scott

I love walking for relaxation, certainly for exercise, maybe for time to think out a problem, or maybe just to enjoy the beauty of the passing scene, but I've never thought about it as deeply as the reviewer D.T. Max has, or certainly as much as the author Geoff Nicholson has. I enjoyed reading the review, enough so that I will look it up for more extensive reading. Read the whole review here.

If golf is a good walk spoiled, then walking is a great game made dull. How sluggish locomotion is, compared with the speed at which the mind absorbs new images and information. The brain strains at the body’s tether, seethes for new scenery, new stimulation, bridles at the slow feet below. Look at that tree with such lovely orange leaves, how pretty it is. . . . A minute later: the same tree, the same leaves, still good looking. Walking is adding with an abacus, it’s space travel on a donkey.

All the same, many people do it, and clearly Geoff Nicholson, the British author of “The Lost Art of Walking,” is among them. “I’ve strolled and wandered, pottered and tottered, dawdled and shuffled, mooched and sauntered and meandered,” he brags at the beginning of this pleasant tour of the literature and lore of ambulation. “I’ve certainly ambled and I could be said to have rambled. . . . I’ve also shambled, but I don’t think I’ve ever gamboled.”

December 12, 2008

I am amazed that those right wing ideologues such as Limbaugh and the other guy who shout at us over the airwaves daily, have such a huge audience. I understand the economics of negativity and its ability to draw crowds, but what a one trick pony they are. Do you think they can turn off their public scorn, their rant and raves at will, while displaying an absolute lack of any form of objectivity? Or is that their normal mindset, and they must they go through life ticked off at any divergence of their way of thinking? Or do you think that maybe its all an act and they turn it on and off each day at showtime?

Sometimes though I have more sympathy for the people in the peanut gallery who listen to every word they spout and believe it has come from the mount. The notion that he is already amassing sticks and stones against the new President-elect when he has not yet even spent a night at 1600 causes the bile to rise from my craw. Oh well to be a politician one of the prerequisites are to develop a thick skin and one deaf ear. Well I'm done now and I will wish the new guy in the White House very good luck and I'm sure Limbaugh etal does too, even though it will be bad for business.

December 11, 2008

December 9, 2008

This photo courtesy of Shorpy brings back good memories of the day the circus came to town. I don't remember seeing this circus advertising, but we did get visits in the Midwest from the Cole Brothers and the giant Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey circuses. I remember most poignantly going to see the circus setting up at our fairgrounds because my father who was not a great hands on kind of guy with me took me there. It was a great show in itself with the elephants helping in the heavy lifting

I'm just finishing up the latest Robert B. Parker 'Spenser' novel, ROUGH WEATHER. I like reading a Parker book, for several reasons besides the obvious, he tells a good story, and his books get printed on really heavy elegant paper. His chapters are short, and the story always moves along briskly and if you are of a mind to, you could finish the book in one or two sittings.

His publisher, G.P. Putnam must love the guy. He has three main characters who he writes about with regularity. The star of his stable is a tough private eye named Spenser, who morphed into a television series.

Another character is Jessie Stone, a savvy ex-cop who got canned in LA for drinking on duty and has moved to a small town in Massachusetts to become it's police chief. Another success that has also morphed in a television series starring, in it's irregular showings, Tom Selleck. Not a bad guy to have portraying your made up police chief.

Not to be accused of being anti woman he writes semi-regularly about Sunny Randall, of course another chief of police.

In between he writes about cowboys and other assorted guys and gals. He has written according to the fly leaf of his current book Rough Weather sixty (60) books and I don't know how long he's been doing it, but for the last several years two a year come out regular as clockwork.

I like them all, except for this in his Jessie Stone series. He seems to be hung up on this plot line and won't let it go. The character Jessie is divorced, but he still loves his ex-wife and visa-versa. They spend too much time in each novel critiquing their relationship. It is monotonous and I wish he would move her to the west coast or otherwise dispense with her. The over indulgence and the whining the two do over each other is boring. Please get rid of her.

Otherwise his talent is still in place and I look forward to each new book that comes out, posh paper and all.

December 8, 2008

Fifty three years after the end of WWII and the war with Japan that ended in August 1945, I wondered what we thought of each other after our to the death struggle of more than fifty years ago.

I happened to find the show WIDE ANGLE, which answered more or less exactly what I was wondering. It is in 7 segments, Go here to watch an overview and to view parts 2 through 7. It is, if nothing else, a partial answer to one of my questions, are wars just worthless killing or can something good come out of one?

Will they do this again next year, after this tragedy? Of course.

December 7, 2008

I'm getting older and I know you can't hide from it, but I ran across this article from Foreign Policy magazine. Don't know what it has to do with foreign policy, but anyway it's called: The List: Ways We Will Die in 20 Years. I really prefer the head in the sand method of facing the inevitable, but curiosity sometimes gets the best of me and I kind of turn the page just a little so I can peek in (on the computer, of course we have to just pretend a little). Take a look it's not graphic or even very alarming.

Since I have this morbid streak going on in my brain for the moment, I might as well finish up with this review of a book I was checking on in the library. It is a book written by Julian Barnes who it turns out is totally spaced out worrying about dying. It's titled NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF. It's kind of a strange title since he is so obviously petrified of the whole notion. Here is the review.

George Dunlop Leslie
English painter 1835-1921
Titled: Her First Place was the first title, At The Hearth was added later.

She has had a very hard day, or is reconsidering her occupational choice.

December 6, 2008


The day the Japanese became the Japs.

The Japanese war lords were rampaging across Asia, making their intention to control the continent evident. The Americans knew what they were up to, but the country was divided into preparing for war and/or staying out of it and hoping it would go away. In December 1941 the politics of non-intervention still held sway, even though Roosevelt saw the inevitability of it all.

On December 6, Admiral Nogumo, the task force commander of the invading force, opened a top secret message that said 'climb mount niitaka', the coded message that set into motion the attack on December 7, 1941 upon Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian islands.

On December 7 the attack that decimated the American fleet of battle ships commenced at 7:55 in the morning and was completed 110 minutes later. It filled the American people with a hate that continued until August 1945 when President Truman authorized two atomic bombs to be dropped on Hiroshima first, and then Nagasaki, which ended the second world war.

It took arguably decades for the American people to revert to the more polite term of Japanese so deep was their hatred. But the war that started in violence against an unprepared country, ended with violence against the hostile Japanese from a previously unknown weapon. The age of the atom was born.

WWII deaths suffered by the nation of Japan-2,700,000
WWII deaths suffered by the nation of USA-418,500

War is an abomination, and a last resort for civilized peoples.


December 5, 2008

Shorpy is a gold mine of history past. This is dated 1943, a navy wife doing her shopping. Go to the site and you will see some early ads for milk in cartons. I was drawn to this picture for a more personal reason, my wife has, and still wears occasionally a pair of saddle shoes.

December 4, 2008

Be Nice To The Countries That Lend You Money.
A cautionary tale perhaps from one of our biggest lenders.

What would George Bailey do? An essay on our troubled financial times.

December 2, 2008

The wife and I were spending a quiet evening at home, having an intellectual exchange of views on the music of our lives, covering the forties, fifties, sixties and on and on. We were expressing the opinion that the forties, being the most stressful era of our youth, the music was varied and covered the comings and goings of people coping with war. Our musical education expanded from A to A, and one of our favorites was this lovely tune:

NEW RECIPE SITE. Hazel has been cooking for 53 years and has been accumulating recipes in boxes, drawers, filing cabinets, you get the idea. As I get them from her I will post them here. Sorry I don't have them sorted in any manner but that seems like too much of a job. So here they are as I get them. I'm only sorry you can't see the originals with thumb smudges and unknown ingredients attached to the original recipe, but you've all seen old recipes and you know what they look like. As I look at them I see some who, counter to what I've said, are not inexpensive to make, but most of them will be. It had to be when she was feeding three kids, 2 boys and a girl, who could finish off the victuals. Enjoy them as I enjoy looking at them and remembering.