Monday, January 29, 2007


Fiction 101

A short work of fiction in 4 parts.

Chapter - 1, Pelicans

Chapter - 2, Pirates

Chapter - 3, Sentinals

Chapter - 4, Cubes

Fran downed the frozen shot of tequila. She knew it wasn't a good idea, but she didn't see how it was going to matter.

Mexico was always oppressively hot in August. That was why they had never come down during this time of year.

She watched from the balcony window as a flock of pelicans flew low in formation over the sandy beach. As she looked at the Sea of Cortez she could feel the tequila’s warming affects. She went flush for moment as the weight of her thoughts raced through her mind.

"It won't work, Gary", she said in a firm but quivering voice.

"Aren't you curious about what we created? How can you look at this just from the logical point of view?” he responded.

"Been there, done that. I have no desire to go through it again. This was supposed to be fun and exciting. Our problem wasn't something we had planned on."

"Is that all it is to you? A problem? Nothing more?"

"Grow up Gary!” she snapped.

“You’re looking at this through rose colored glasses. You really expect me to convince Rick it’s his? What are you going to do, swing by the park once a week to catch a glimpse while we save for another college fund? It may be easy from your point of view, but the choice is pretty clear from mine."

"I'm sorry.” he said. “I never had the opportunity in my first marriage. I was just hoping....."

He paused and stood behind her at the window. He placed his hands on her shoulders and gazed out the window with her. A pelican broke formation, tucked in its wings, and dove headfirst into the surf.

"Do you love me?” he asked.

Fran's head dropped and he heard her sigh.

"Yes…” she said in a whisper, "...but we can't. That's why we're here."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Frustration is Good

The Committee Will Come To Order

The older I become, the less of a fan I am about doing things by consensus. Having meetings, democracy, letting everyone have a voice is usually not the best way to go. It gives the illusion that everyone has a say in what happens but the end result is usually something that no one really wants.

These are pictures of the Arizona 9/11 memorial that was constructed near the state capital last year. Needless to say, it has caused and uproar due to it's content. Also needless to say, it was designed by a committee.

When we think of war memorials, we tend to look at Pearl Harbor, or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or the Iwo Jima Monument in Washington. Monuments to the spirit, determination and valor of those that sacrificed their lives so we could all be safe and secure from enemies either real or imagined.

However, as a society, we have been tempered by the media and the legal system and told that we have to have a broader view. We need to look at how anything we do effects everybody.

The end result is a monument that makes us question our acts and not glorify our deeds. Needless to say, those that lost loved ones in New York or Afghanistan are not very pleased. They don't want others second guessing their sons or daughters death.

When we form a committee, we all lose something. The painful truth is, putting all your eggs in one basket is sometimes a better idea. Sometimes it is better to speak with one voice. We need to remember that it is better to find a competent individual and trust that they will do what is best for us. When we compromise by committee, no one is going to be happy.

Friday, January 19, 2007

iPod Experiment

The World's Soundtrack

This is from a concept presented by Mrs. Cyndi Foley. She is one of the writers on my MySpace friends list. She recently got married and I still can't get used to the Mrs. part.

The Goal: Take your iPod (or reasonable facsimile), hit shuffle, listen to the first 10 songs and write down what they mean to you.

Here is a little preface to this experiment. I have a lot on my iPod. It is 40 a gigabyte model and I have about 39 gigs of stuff on it. Most of this music was downloaded from Usenet back in the days when I had enough time to do this sort of thing. With over 42 days of music downloaded on my iMac, I spend most of my time just cataloging and weeding out the stuff that sucks. The stuff that isn't substandard is what is on my iPod. There are only three genres of music on the 'pod'. Rock, Soundtracks and Classical. Sorry all you Hip-Hop and Country fans. You won't find my 'pod' very entertaining.

Today I walked to work and put my ipod on shuffle across all the genres. The results are as follows:

1. Crossroads, (Cream - Live)

Probably one of the first 'rock' albums (Disraili Gears) I recall ever wanting to have as a child back in the mid 1960s, this live version is even better. It is hard to believe that this is just 3 guys playing on this song. Bands don't tend to sound this good anymore, especially live.

2. Birthday (alternate track, mono) (Beatles)

This is one of the rarities I found on Usenet. There is a ton of unknown Beatle tracks out there that most folks have never heard. Most of their studio sessions were never published and these are now bootleg collectibles. In these sessions the lads from Liverpool just sit around joking and tossing back and forth song idea. It is fascinating musical history. This is an alternate take on "Birthday" recorded in mono. It sounds about the same as the one you have heard, with a few subtle variations. Again, amazing that this was done live in the studio with no overdubbing of after-song production.

3. The Poet Acts, from "The Hours" (Phillip Glass) [Soundtrack]

I never actually saw this movie, but I had a tendency to download anything by Phillip Glass after seeing the film "Koyanisqatsi" back in the 1980s. He is a pretty minimalist classical composer, but his film music is very haunting. It makes for a surreal walk to work through the quiet neighborhoods between my house and the office.

4. Prelude to Act III "Lohengrin" (Wagner)

This goes back to my days in college when I worked part-time at a classical radio station. Wagnerian Opera is pretty hard to sit through, since it is long, slow and in German, but the overtures are pretty powerful, especially, 'Tannhauser', 'The Flying Dutchman' and of course 'The Ride of the Valkyrie'. This one is no different.

5. Symphony #8 Allegro Vivace con Brio (Ludwig von Beethoven)

It is Beethoven, what else do I have to say? I have all 9 of his Symphonies. Anyone that can create music like this while in the midst of pain, depression and death, is someone that we need to be in awe of. Whenever I hear his work, I have to stop, listen and think about all the things that trouble me and make me worry....and then I realize how foolish and insignificant those things really are.

6. All the time in the world (Instrumental) "Her Majesty's Secret Service" (John Barry) [Soundtrack]

I have a soft spot for John Barry and his James Bond Soundtracks. He has done other memorable soundtracks as well (Out of Africa, Dances with Wolves). His use of strings and simple themes make a good soundtrack for what ever you might be doing at the time.

7. The Park from "The Twilight Zone" (Bernard Herrman) [Soundtrack]

This is another little soundtrack from a peice I have not seen. It is here because it was composed by Bernard Herrman. He is one of the great film composers. Along with, Franz Waxman, Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry and Thomas Newman, they are the classical composers of our day.

8. Meet Virginia (acoustic version) "Train"

I am not a huge fan of this band, but this song is well done. I got this track while reconfiguring a computer in my office that was used by a previous co-worker. I discovered that she had about 20 gigs worth of MP3s on the thing and I copied them and kept the ones I liked. This is one of them.

9. To the Edge of the Earth from "The Piano" (Michael Nyman) [Soundtrack]

I actually HAVE seen this film. A very good movie if you have not seen it. About a mute woman in the 1800s that is sold into marriage to a guy in the South Seas. She speaks only by playing her piano, which means where ever she goes; it goes (a rather bulky thing).

10. L'istesso Tempo - Vaughn Williams

Sort of like Beethoven, his works are so subtle, light and beautiful, that they captivate the listener. His "Lark Ascending" is one of the most beautiful works I have ever heard.

11. The Levitation - 3PO's Bedtime Story from Star Wars - Return of the Jedi (John Williams) [Soundtrack]

John Williams is basically the John Phillip Souza of our day. At first he was pretty cutting edge and is still very good, but his music tends to fall into a narrow genre of soundtracks these days. Still, there is no one better at envisioning far away exotic locations or love themes than he does.

12. Dr. Jimmy from "Quadraphina" (The Who)

I consider this the best 'Rock Opera' of all time. While not the best track from the album it is still good. Of the two things I recommend you do with your iPod, the first is listening to Beethoven's 9th Symphony (4th Movement) on a mountain top at sunset, and the second is listening to Quadraphina on a beach during a storm. Both are life changing and moving experiences.

(that was twelve tracks instead of 10, but that is how long it took me to walk to work this morning, so you get a bonus.)