“I used to be Snow White. And then I drifted.”
Happy Birthday to my Daughter Jessica.
To those that celebrate the end of Ramadan, have an enjoyable Eid al Fitr.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Argh! This morning after I had written a substantial portion of this post, somehow I managed to erase it all. I spent much of the day trying various Apps and searching the net for help retrieving it. Eventually, I gave up and tried to recreate it from memory — with only partial success. Some things are gone forever from the computer and others just from my memory but gone nonetheless.
It seems that at my age, adventures are more medical than physical, more psychological than hazardous and more fantasy than reality. Nevertheless, they remain as idiosyncratic and as personal as ever. Unfortunately, for me and for anyone who chooses to read or listen to them they become more garrulous and tedious the older I get. Forgive me my trespasses O. Lord for I am rounding the far turn and on my way home.
The early summer heat has settled on the Great Valley. The breezes of springtime have begun to slow and the sun’s warmth lightly caresses the morning. It is a fine day.
Today, I received a message from Hayden insisting I pick him up at the skatepark after school. I was worried. He rarely demands my assistance. So, I drove off into the Golden Hills. I stopped for lunch at an upscale Italian restaurant near Town Center. I had wanted to try it out for some time now. Its interior reeked of suburban elegance. It’s menu limited but expensive. The wine list, however, was extensive but overpriced. I ordered gnocchi in a squash and butter cream sauce along with a glass of prosecco. The meal was tasty but too heavy for my liking.
After lunch, I picked up Hayden along with Jake and Caleb. As he was getting into the car, I asked him what was so urgent. He said, “I want to buy a hat for my trip this summer to Cozumel with Jake and his family. I picked one out at Tilly’s in Folsom.” So, off we drove to Tilly’s in Folsom to buy the hat following which I drove them back to Dick’s house where, after warning them not to get into too much trouble, I drove out of the foothills and back to the Enchanted Forest.
On Saturday morning, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. Winnie, the ex-model was there. She had not attended the Coffee for several months. She told me she is suffering from inoperable brain and lung cancer and is now on immunotherapy. Her prognosis is bleak and she began to cry as she told me this. She said she now spends her days walking her dog through the neighborhood enjoying the trees and flowers. She said that she had hoped to live into her nineties but now she would be fortunate to live until year’s end. After she left, I sat there for a while trying to asses how I felt after talking to her. Sad for her yes but in general puzzled about the lack of depth of my feelings as though a barrier had been thrown up to mask my own fear.
On Mothers’ Day we had Naida’s daughter, Sarah, and husband, Mark, and their son, Charlie over for lunch and had an enjoyable discussion about our respective travel adventures in Europe. We toasted all our moms. There were a lot of flowers also — mostly roses.
In the evening we watched the movie “I Remember Mama” on television. Although it all could be considered a pleasant Mother’s Day, still my mom wasn’t there. I miss her. Mother’s Day seems like just any other day without her around.
As a counterpoint to the day, that evening I watched Episode 5, Season 8 of The Game of Thrones in which the mother from hell, Cersei Lannister gets buried alive along with Jamie Lannister her lover, father of her children and twin brother (all one person) while Daenerys Storm-born of the house Targaryen, first of her name, the unburnt, queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the first men, queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the great grass sea, protector of the realm, lady regnant of the seven kingdoms, breaker of chains and mother of dragons from the back of her fire breathing dragon, Drogon, goes bat-shit crazy and destroys Kings Landing as well as burning to a crisp thousands of innocent woman and children who lived there. Sleep well tonight Pookie.
I did nothing the next day except sit in my chair, play on my computer and doze. That evening, Naida and I watched the Orson Wells directed movie, Mr. Arkadin. The movie featured Wells fondness for sometimes fascinating and at other times annoying camera angles and idiosyncratic plotting. In fact, when the movie was over, I realized I did not understand it at all, so the next morning I tried to find a synopsis of the plot. The first thing I discovered was that the critics understood what they saw as little as I did. Eventually, I found an adequate summary, but it still left me confused, not about what occurred on the screen but why and who cares. Wells never finished editing the film before the producers forced its release. Some critics have called it one of the greatest movies ever made. Wells considered it a “disaster.” Oh, before I forget, there were a lot of close-ups of Wells’ face all bearded and goggle-eyed.
For the past eight months or so, I have published my various blog posts on Facebook in order to increase the “hits” on my blogs — not because I cared who or if anyone read them but to “beat my yearly hits record,” a game on which I spent not a little of my time. Now I believe Facebook has completely cut off my postings of the blog articles. Perhaps, they think I am a Russian bot.
Last night, Naida described how that morning she marveled at the many odd angles I had contorted my limbs into while I slept. We agreed on a new nick-name for me, Pythagorean Pookie. I like it.
On Tuesday, Maryann and George arrived. Maryann had to attend a training session regarding Federal Economic Development regulations in preparation for an exam she was to take on Monday that would if she passes, authorize her to administer ED grants. George had recently had his hip replaced needed someone to keep him company — just another decrepit old man with a cane like me. After they arrived, we had dinner in a local Mexican restaurant. The next day, Mary trundled off to her conference and George and I headed out for breakfast. Following breakfast, we drove to EDH to pick up HRM from school and drive him home. In mid-afternoon, after finishing her review course, Mary picked up George at our house and drove off to far Mendocino.
The next day, Suzie arrived in Sacramento for a meeting with a State Agency. After her meeting, Naida and I picked her up and drove to a local Japanese sushi restaurant for lunch. It was great to see her again. It has been too long. Naida and Suzie discussed growing up in Carmel. And we all told mostly funny stories about our experiences in coastal protection and politics as well as a few always interesting and often amusing tales featuring Terry and his many imbroglios.
The weekend arrived not as a lion nor for that matter as a welcome respite from the boredom or irritations of the week but unobtrusively sliding in like an introvert slipping into to a raucous party. The weather was meh, neither warm nor cold, nor sunny or stormy. I had no expectations or plans but an abiding curiosity to see what if anything may meander past my window.
On Friday, I picked up HRM and as I dropped him off told him the following: “Let me know if you need transportation this weekend. I say this not because I am eager to be your chauffeur, but because seniors like me approaching decrepitude just like adolescents often find themselves bored and for similar reasons. We need each other.” He seemed to grunt an assent as he exited the car.
Saturday brought the Saturday Morning Coffee. Winnie was there. She seemed better this week. Back at the house, I watched, The Men from Laramie with Jimmie Stewart then took a nap. Followed that with The Manchurian Candidate, and Cabin in the Sky. Then I looked out the window to see if there were any meanderers passing by. It was raining, no meanderers out and about yet.
Waking up Sunday morning in Naida’s arms was delightful. The weather, however, was not. It broke grey and drizzly, The needles on the Deodar Cedars drooping by our window glistened with tiny droplets of water. But for the ashen skies, it might have added a sparkling beauty to the morning. Later, while standing before the mirror, I noticed my neck appeared a bit swollen in the area around my tumor. It felt so too. Naida also examined it and said, “I really feel no difference — but then my opinion may be affected by my not wanting to find any change and yours colored by your fear that there may be.” Perhaps next Saturday I can challenge Winnie to a race to the finish line. In any event, tomorrow is another day, a new week begins, additional adventures loom. As Rosanna Rosannadanna sagely observed, “It’s always something.”
Pookie says, “Be cool and stay well.”
Several Posts ago, in an effort to entertain myself, I wrote here in my commentary an admittedly somewhat garbled proposal for reforming the structure of the US Senate as it appears in the Constitution in order to make it more amenable to the election of each of its members by an equal number of voters. After, thinking it over and convincing myself that, in addition to the unlikely possibility of it being enacted, it was not all that much an improvement over what we have now.
Recently I came up with an alternative that while still unlikely to be enacted pleased me more. I thought that instead of changing how Senators are elected a change in the nature of their authority would be worth considering.
The reasons for assigning two Senators to each State in the Constitution appear to me have become obsolete over time, but at least one reason still has some validity. That is, there may be issues of State interest and not necessarily individual interest that is not detailed in the Constitution. So I thought the following might be appropriate:
The US Senate as currently elected would remain. It would retain its authority over things that appear to be of interest to the states including:
—Approval of treaties with foreign governments (including Trade agreements).
—Advice and consent of Presidential executive and judicial branch appointments.
—Oversight of the Executive and Judicial branch activities.
—Declaration of war
These authorizations would be exclusive to the Senate.
It would also be provided the opportunity to advise and comment on legislation approved by the House of Representative.
The House of Representatives would have the exclusive right to initiate and approve any legislation and the Federal budget as well as any other constitutional rights it may currently enjoy. It would retain its role to impeach members of the executive and Judicial branches.
In addition, the Senate could be granted an enhanced role in supervising foreign affairs and foreign military activities and intelligence.
Appointments to the Supreme Court would require a majority vote of both houses of Congress except that the Senate will initiate the process and the House would be limited to only and up or down vote of the nominee approved by the Senate.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
While looking unsuccessfully for my deleted version of this T&T, I came across the following. It records my musings while riding the train from Sacramento to San Francisco several years ago.
I took the train from Sacramento to San Francisco. The tracks ran through Susuin Marsh. I recall a time in my life when I would have moved Heaven and Hell to prevent even one acre of a wetland from falling beneath the blade of a bulldozer. Of course, I fully understand and agree with the intellectual, economic and ethical reasons for their preservation. At times when great flocks of birds fly screeching above the vegetation or mucking about in the shallows or at certain times of the year when they are bathed in the colors of spring or autumn, one can almost breathe in the tendrils of poetic inspiration rising from their fetid depths.
On the other hand at times like this, when the skies are overcast and grey, the vegetation a sickly yellow-brown and the waters a dingy black, I can understand a man coming upon them and thinking, “What a waste.” He would, I suspect, be likely to aspire to kill it in order to create something that would profit him more than basking in the glow someone else’s idea of aesthetic pleasure.
I would like to think most women coming upon the same marsh would dream instead about how the marsh itself could benefit them and their families without killing it first.
Being male, today those same marshes look like shit to me. I would not mind seeing them disappear beneath the antiseptic familiarity of a few Starbucks or MacDonald’s or the like. By the time we left the marshes behind and chugged into Richmond, however, I changed my mind and decided that, if I were not the one making the money from the deal, I would prefer leaving the wetlands pretty much as they are.
At night at my sister’s house in Berkeley, I began reading Sheldon’s newest novel “The Terrorist Next Door.” Its main character is a cop who, I suspect, to the disappointment of his Jewish parents, failed to become a doctor, lawyer or famous writer of mystery novels and ended up a Chicago homicide detective. He is teamed up with a black partner in a relationship reminiscent of that between Danny Glover and that famous anti-semite Mel Gibson in the “Lethal Weapon” series of movies.
There are three things I noticed and appreciated about the novel. First, it is an incomparable travelogue about Chicago (one should read the book with a map of the city nearby). Second is what one learns about Michelle Obama, a girl from the neighborhood. Third, Sheldon, in his own good-hearted and upbeat way, puts his finger upon the essential flaw in the American character and gives you a glimpse of how good things can be without it and how truly and horribly destructive it really is.
For those of you familiar with and aficionados of the Siegel cannon, he began his writing career trying to write a novel about a young Jewish attorney wrongfully accused of the murder of one of his partners, a fictional stand-in for a partner of ours at the time whose removal both Sheldon and I agreed probably would immeasurably benefit humanity. Alas, in his writing of the initial drafts, this character was overwhelmed by a fast-talking Irish criminal lawyer and his estranged Chicana attorney wife. This resulted in the beloved character’s prominence being eclipsed. He disappeared entirely by the third novel in the series; even his name is now lost to memory.
My experience is similar to Sheldon’s. I attempted to write a mystery (“Dominium”) here in T&T. The main character, a stand-in for yours truly, managed to come across as a boring jerk. He was ultimately replaced in interest and importance by a musclebound bisexual female deputy sheriff from San Mateo County.
Detective David Gold is made of stronger stuff. I see and hope for Gold’s career to be at least as long and as distinguished as Kaminsky’s Abe Lieberman, also a Chicago detective and also a disappointment to his parents.
I suspect Sheldon always wanted to write a novel with Chicago, the city he grew up in, as a setting.
I have visited Chicago only a few times. Nevertheless, for me given my ethnic heritage, it has always been one of the sacred places; like Umberto’s Clam House in New York’s Little Italy. For over a decade the stain remained on the sidewalk where, having staggered out of the restaurant after being shot, Joey Gallo fell down and bled to death. Every year, I would make an annual pilgrimage there until time and the City’s acid-laced rains erased every vestige of the epic event.
Chicago was the home of the sainted Scarface Al. Alas, I have never visited any of the pilgrimage sites there; such as Murphy’s Garage. I sometimes wonder whatever happened to the relics of my legendary ethnic heroes. Are they in a museum somewhere? Where now, for example, are the artifacts such as Anastasia’s barber chair, Mo Green’s massage table, St. Frank’s used condoms, Deano’s shot glass, and Mario Puzo’s typewriter? And, while I am at it, where have you really gone Joe DiMaggio? And, why did Tony Benedetto, (nee Bennet), a New Yorker who chose to live in LA, decide to leave his heart in SF?
By some estimates, there are more than 50 billion planets in our galaxy alone (there are 100 to 200 billion galaxies in the universe). With all these planets potentially capable of supporting life, Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radio, famously remarked, “Well, where are they.” Where he questioned, are the inevitable alien civilizations that must exist, given this vast number of planets capable of supporting life. For the past 50 years, scientists have been vigorously looking for evidence of life somewhere else in our galaxy, to no avail.
Many options have been proposed for why these efforts evidence of life or contacts with alien civilization have not succeeded including we are unique (highly improbable); Star Trek’s First Law of Contact, “Do nothing” (perhaps); and, advanced cultures kill themselves off before contact (possible).
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
As some of you may know, I have a fondness for rummaging through the internet for blogs that feature obsessions with odd and arcane history. Several years ago I saved to my bookmarks a blog entitled Realm of History (https://www.realmofhistory.com/) that featured unusual articles like 10 Facial Reconstructions from History You Should Know About, or Anubis: History and Mythology of the Ancient Egyptian Jackal God. Recently, I returned to peruse the site and discovered a newly published article entitled 8 Of The Oldest Known Songs, You Should Listen To (https://www.realmofhistory.com/2019/04/25/oldest-songs-in-history/). It contains recordings of musicians playing these songs of replicas of the instruments of the time. The songs range from The Oldest Known Song In The World-Hurrian Song to Nikkal (circa 1450 – 1200 BC) through to Earliest Surviving Secular English Song –
Mirie it is while sumer ilast (circa 1225 AD).
Since I cannot reproduce the actual recordings her, I recommend that one go to the site to hear them. I have however included here the background text accompanying the article about an ancient Greek tune entitled Oldest Known Complete Song – Song of Seikilos, from the Seikilos epitaph (circa 1st century AD):
From the historical perspective, many scholars believe that music played an integral role in the lives of ordinary ancient Greeks, given its role in most social occasions — ranging from religious rites, funerals to the theater and public recitation of ballads and epic-poetry. Both archaeological and literary pieces of evidence rather bolster such a theory that points to the crucial nature of music in ancient Greece.
In fact, the Greeks attributed the ‘creativity’ of musical compositions to divine entities, and as such etymologically the very word ‘music’ is derived from ‘Muses‘, the personifications of knowledge and art who were the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Interestingly, Mnemosyne herself was the personification of memory and was also one of the Titans, the children of Uranus the Sky and Gaia the Earth.
As for the historical side of affairs, scholars came across the world’s oldest (known) complete song — and this musical piece (in its entirety) was etched on the Seikilos epitaph. Judging by the ancient Greek characters on the inscription, the song is Hellenistic Ionic in origin, and the etching was probably made sometime in the 1st century AD. The vocalized recreation presented above was made by the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble (SAVAE). And in case one is interested, the lyrics roughly translated to English, excluding the musical notation, goes like this –
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands its toll.
The discovery of the epitaph was made way back in 1883 by Sir W. M. Ramsay in Tralleis, a small town near Aydin (Turkey). The epitaph, according to some stories, was lost again, to finally reemerge after the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922, due to its rediscovery in Smyrna in 1923. And interestingly, the region of Aydin has had a long tryst with human civilization in its flowering form, so much so that Aydin in itself translates to ‘lettered, educated, intellectual’. Consequently, the archaeological site in Tralleis boasts many cultural artifacts from human history, including theatrical masks that were symbolically arrayed alongside human burials.
Furthermore, when it came to the ancient Greek musical instruments, the musicians had a penchant for lyres (and kithara), aulos pipes and syrinx, and even the hydraulis — a setup that was the precursor to the modern organ. And with the aid of the flurry of archaeological and literary pieces of evidence of vocal notations and musical ratios, combined with the identification of these instruments, researchers have been able to recreate precise renditions of ancient Greek music.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“Humans are simply bipolar apes.”
C. Today’s Poem:
While rummaging through the internet one day, I found a site produced by my old university, Fordham, intended for use by historian’s and students (https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/india/indiasbook.asp). In the site, I found the following poem, a portion of the Rig Vedas. Along with the poem, an interesting introduction was written by someone identified only as Mountain Man Graphics, Australia in the Southern Autumn of 1996. Enjoy.
There is a certain amount of controversy surrounding the exact history of the Veda, the most ancient of Hindu scripture, which was first translated into European languages in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At this time, it was the contention of the expanding scientific, philosophical and religious doctrines of western European culture, that these writings simply could not be more ancient than the classical roots of European civilization. Whereas this hypothesis was strongly held by the expanding western educational regime, in recent times there has been cause to re-examine its claims.
In any event, although further references to this controversy are presented at the conclusion of this document, there is no doubt that these ancient Hindu scriptures are older than 1000BC. The word “Veda” is a Sanskrit word which means “knowledge” or “wisdom”. There are in fact four Vedas: the Rig Veda” or “Veda of Hymns”, the Samah-Veda or the “Veda of Chants”, the Yajur-Veda or the “Veda of sacrifice” and the Atharva-Veda, which is later in date than the earlier three.
Although the Vedas are the earliest of the Hindu scriptures, they are by no means the only body of writings to have originated from the ancient sub-continent of India. The Katha Upanishad is part of a large set of literature known as the Upanishads, and in the presentation of this, you will find some interesting mappings between the science of the east and that of the west.
The reference work which I have used in the presentation of the following selection of verses from the Rig Veda is one from the “Everyman’s Library” and entitled “The Hindu Scriptures”. It is translated and edited by R.C. Zaehner as recently as 1966.
For a more in-depth research concerning the Rig Veda, I would recommend reviewing Hymns to the Mystic Fire, an extensive publication in 1946 by Sri Aurobindo – in particular, the introductory sections in which he outlines the Doctrine of the Mystics.
I wish all research students the optimum of courage and determination concerning the pursuance of their common goals and have pleasure in presenting the following texts from the Rig Veda.
The Sacrifice of Primal Man
 A thousand heads had [primal] Man,
A thousand eyes, a thousand feet:
Encompassing the earth on every side,
He exceeded it by ten fingers’ [breadth].
 [That] Man is this whole universe, –
What was and what is yet to be,
The Lord of immortality
Which he outgrows by [eating] food.
 This is the measure of his greatness,
But greater yet is [primal] Man:
All beings form a quarter of him,
Three-quarters are the immortal in heaven.
 With three-quarters Man rose up on high,
A quarter of him came to be again [down] here:
From this he spread in all directions,
Into all that eats and does not eat.
 From him was Viraj born,
From Viraj Man again:
Once born, — behind, before,
He reached beyond the earth.
 When with Man as their oblation
The gods performed their sacrifice,
Spring was the melted butter,
Summer the fuel, and the autumn the oblation.
 Him they besprinkled on the sacrificial strew, –
[Primeval] Man, born in the beginning:
With him [their victim], gods, Sadhyas, seers
Performed the sacrifice.
 From this sacrifice completely offered
The clotted ghee was gathered up:
From this he fashioned beasts and birds,
Creatures of the woods and creatures of the village.
 From this sacrifice completely offered
Were born the Rig- and Sama-Vedas;
From this were born the metres,
From this was the Yajur-Veda born.
 From this were horses born, all creatures
That have teeth in either jaw;
From this were cattle born,
From this sprang goats and sheep.
 When they divided [primal] Man,
Into how many parts did they divide him?
What was his mouth? What his arms?
What are his thighs called? What his feet?
 The Brahman was his moth,
The arms were made the Prince,
His thighs the common people,
And from his feet the serf was born.
 From his mind the moon was born,
And from his eye the sun,
And from his mouth Indra and the fire,
From his breath the wind was born.
 From his navel arose the atmosphere,
From his head the sky evolved,
From his feet the earth, and from his ear
The cardinal points of the compass:
So did they fashion forth these worlds.
 Seven were his enclosing sticks
Thrice seven were made his fuel sticks,
When the gods, performing sacrifice,
Bound Man, [their sacrificial] beast.
 With the sacrifice the gods
Made sacrifice to sacrifice:
These were the first religious rites (Dharma),
To the firmament these powers went up
Where dwelt the ancient Sadhya gods.
Wilt Chamberlin and Andre the Giant on the set of the movie Conan the Barbarian. Arnold Schwarzenegger stands in the middle. Arnold is a short man but here he looks Tyrion Lannister short. Arnold in real life is not as short as Tyrion, however, as an effective Governor, Arnold was no Tyrion Lannister.