Saturday, December 31, 2011

Even more poems by Robert H. Brague

I didn’t plan to end the year on a somber note, but these poems have been telling me for some time now that they desire a larger audience. I did put them on the blog back in 2007, but most of you weren’t coming here then. Although I wrote these poems in 1975 and 1976, I think they still resonate as we begin 2012.


..........Sonnets for the Space Age, circa 1976
.....................by Robert H. Brague


......................................I

.......Technology has shrunk our modern world;
.......No room today for the miraculous.
.......In space a big blue marble has been hurled,
.......And astronauts report the marble’s us.
.......Computers speed man’s progress on its way
.......Without regard to race or sex or creed;
.......The federal grant’s the order of the day
.......Without regard to truth or cost or need.
.......So equal opportunities abound
.......(Minorities don’t ever fall from grace);
.......And new solutions, almost daily found,
.......Are rushed to cure the ills of Adam's race.
.......But seldom now does prayer storm Heaven’s gates:
.......Inside, the Lord sits patiently and waits.


......................................II

.......There was a time when life was slower-paced
.......And one could get to know his neighbor well.
.......Today each moment’s precious, none to waste.
.......Man’s much too busy hurrying toward Hell.
.......And like a lemming, jostled by the crowd,
.......He thrashes wildly with the drowning men;
.......He downs his drink and laughs a bit too loud,
.......And dashes out into the night again.
.......So helter-skelter, racing madly on,
.......He wears a mask to try to hide the lies;
.......His painted smile denies that time is gone,
.......But something doth betray him ’round the eyes.
.......Exhausted, spent, he plunges past the goal
.......To gain the world and lose his sacred soul.


......................................III

.......Polaris is a missile and a star,
.......The one deployed on restless submarine,
.......The other keeping vigil from afar
.......While nebulae and comets roam between.
.......Much nearer Earth, the evanescent moon
.......Maintains her distance from our planet’s face.
.......Perhaps she senses conflict coming soon,
.......The Armageddon of the human race.
.......So warily she orbits overhead.
.......A quarter-million miles into the void,
.......She too keeps guard. We talk of peace instead,
.......Let our guard down. With warheads unemployed,
.......While newsmen speak of cabinets and kings,
.......Calamity is waiting in the wings.


......................................IV

.......Three heavens stretch above Earth’s little pond:,
.......The daylight blue; the midnight’s starry host;
.......Incalculable distances beyond
.......These two, the one that modern men fear most.
.......(For if there is a Heaven they should gain,
.......A Hell to shun the day they pause to die,
.......Then all their science simply can’t explain
.......How in the merest twinkling of an eye…)
.......So, flippantly declaring it absurd,
.......Men laugh until their laughter turns to tears;
.......But Saul of Tarsus visited that third
.......And dared not speak of it for fourteen years.
.......If not till set of sun come out the stars,
.......Why balk at glories waiting behind Mars?


......................................V

.......No sooner had the missiles disappeared
.......Than waves of bombers rose up in their stead.
.......When all debris and rubble had been cleared,
.......We found almost a hundred million dead.
.......And some who lived were maimed, and some were charred,
.......And some no longer see, or hear, or walk;
.......And many, although outwardly unmarred,
.......No longer smile, no longer even talk.
.......For laughter is a thing of bygone days
.......When children played at imitation war.
.......Today most people stare with hollow gaze
.......Rememb’ring times, once real, that are no more.
.......When men cried, “Peace and safety,” all was lost.
.......We were not ready for the holocaust.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Today does not exist in Samoa

See that little red circle on the globe?


That’s Samoa.

Today does not exist in Samoa.

I’m telling you the truth.

Well, yes, the sun will come up and all that, but even though yesterday was Thursday, December 29, 2011, today is not Friday, December 30, 2011, in Samoa. It is as though it never happened in Samoa.

You don’t believe me? Read this article from The Christian Science Monitor.

See? You should believe me when I tell you things.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Putz is back, if only temporarily!

[Editor’s note. The following comment appeared on one of my recent posts. It is from our old friend Putz, who has stopped blogging. I decided to promote it from comment to full post status. With ruffles and flourishes, and wiping a tear from my eye, I give you, in all his Utarn glory...Putz. --RWP]

i really shoud blog this,><>we were having a wonderful christmas and last night's pageant was fabulous<<>> i was the christmas star this year<><>no lines to read, most of them read by our 5 year old, and then on today, yes christmas day we were at mike our son{barlow buzz} in gunnison for christmas day dinner where we supplied the ham, wonderful when all of a sudden my daughter ran in with her hearing dog<><>now you have to understand that she is unmarried and this is her companion><><><><>rthe dog had been ferously kicked by a pony<><><>head was kicked backwards on his head and was out like a light<><>><><>now us mormons are probably kooky because my daughter wanted me to bless this dog with concecrated oil whic i did and blessd him to heal quickly, when my daugher in law says, he has a broken neck, he cannot live for much longer<><><>well when the vet looked at him, and you can go to the bank on the truth of this<><><>he said there is a little spot on his face by his nose that is bruised but other than that there is nothing wrong with this dog<>><<>what about the neck and he said terriers have very flexable necks and 2 days later he is running around<>><>the head did not swell and that was the only thign the doctor said to look for<>><>so a christmas miracle<>>><><>also what vet would leave his family for a dog on christmas???????

[Editor’s note. Now that’s the old Putz I remember! What a great story! Doctors always attempt to explain away miracles, you know, especially Christmas ones...terriers have flexible necks, that’s a good one! --RWP]

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fast away the old year passes, fa ra ra ra ra, etc.

As 2011 turns before our eyes into 2012, here, for your entertainment pleasure, is something really weird involving Vivian Leigh, Robert Taylor, World War II, and a Chinese soprano singing “Auld Lang Syne” (4:43).

Over and over and over.

This is probably politically incorrect, but shouldn’t she be saying “Auld RANG Syne”?

Which reminds me of a joke told to me by a 93-year-old woman who happened to be the mother of an eye surgeon who happens to be my son’s father-in-law:

After conducting a thorough eye exam on a Chinese gentleman, the ophthalmologist said, “Sir, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you have cataracts” to which the Chinese man replied, “No, doctor, I no have cataracts. I have Rincoln Continentals.”


Moving right along, the above photograph of a 1969 Cadillac in a corn field makes me think that the manufacturer has changed its motto from “Creating a Higher Standard” to “If you build it, they will come.”

It also makes me think of Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but that is an entirely different post.

So before I get carried away completely with silliness (I can hear some of you saying, “Too late”), let me just wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and peaceful year throughout 2012, the Mayan calendar ending next December being thought by some to indicate that the end of the world will occur next December notwithstanding.

Ring out the old, ring in the new! Or as that Chinese soprano would say....

Sunday, December 25, 2011

To all of my friends in Blogland, here’s...

...not mud in your eye,...

...not looking at you kid,...

...not even Johnny (with apologies to Ed McMahon),...

no, here’s the young Elvis (2:38) to help you make it through the season.

Though if you need the young Elvis (or any of those other people) to help you make it through the season, you’re (a) probably worse off than anybody thought and (b) definitely living in the past.

I’m just sayin’....

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear!

No, I’m not talking about this.

I’m talking about this (3:26).

Who needs the Lone Ranger, Tonto, or the strains of Rossini’s “The William Tell Overture” when you can have President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 Christmas address to the nation!

How times (and presidents) have changed since 1981.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Oy to the world!

Some things are just too funny to ignore!

You’ll plotz*! (4:43)


*A Yiddish word that according to dictionary.com means to collapse or faint, as from surprise, or excitement, but according to yiddishdictionaryonline.com it means to split, crack, burst, or explode (as with laughter, I hope).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The shortest day of the year

...or, conversely, the longest night of the year, has arrived.

The winter solstice occurred at 5:30 a.m. UTC today. That is, the axial tilt of our planet’s polar hemisphere is farthest away from the star that it orbits.

And by “our planet” I mean Earth. Terra firma. Any inhabitants of other planets who happen to be reading this, I refer you to Emily Latella.

And if you are a Neo-Druid -- I’m not, by the way -- this might be of interest to you as well:

(Photo of sunrise at Stonehenge taken by Mark Grant on Dec. 22, 1985. Released under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hanukkah thoughts

(Photo by Roland Scheicher, 1 August 2006)

This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown today -- Tuesday, December 20th -- and ends on December 28th. Next year, Hanukkah will begin on December 8th and end on December 16th. The year after that, Hanukkah will begin on November 27th and end on December 5th. Therefore, Christians and others, please do not wish your Jewish friends a “Happy Hanukkah” long after it is past. They will appreciate the thought but they may look at you strangely.

My wish for you at Hanukkah (and always) is simple:

May your dreidels always land on gimel.*


*My thanks go out to my friend Elizabeth Stanforth-Sharpe in the U.K. for this good wish.


Also, a little gelt wouldn’t hurt.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A matter of great national importance

I want to set the record straight.

The rumor (or rumour, if you’re in a British Commonwealth country) is untrue.

Contrary to popular and even unpopular opinion, I am not moonlighting over at dictionary.com, which thought may have crossed your mind if you happen to have read the article “Why are people from the Netherlands called Dutch?” there. Now you know, Carolina.

But that is not the matter of great national importance, except, perhaps, to the Dutch.

An even more important question than “Why are people from the Netherlands called Dutch?” (sorry, Carolina) is this one from the motion picture My Fair Lady in which Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins asks “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man?” (4:54).

The music is by Frederick Loewe and the lyrics are by Alan Jay Lerner. For those of you who never click on video links, here is a transcript:


PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
Why can’t a woman be more like a man?
Men are so honest, so thoroughly square;
Eternally noble, historically fair.
Who, when you win, will always give your back a pat.
Why can’t a woman be like that?

Why does every one do what the others do?
Can’t a woman learn to use her head?
Why do they do everything their mothers do?
Why don’t they grow up, well, like their father instead?

Why can’t a woman take after a man?
Men are so pleasant, so easy to please.
Whenever you're with them, you’re always at ease.

Would you be slighted if I didn’'t speak for hours?

COLONEL PICKERING:
Of course not.

PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
Would you be livid if I had a drink or two?

COLONEL PICKERING:
Nonsense.

PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
Would you be wounded if I never sent you flowers?

COLONEL PICKERING:
Never.

PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
Well, why can’t a woman be like you?

One man in a million may shout a bit.
Now and then, there’s one with slight defects.
One perhaps whose truthfulness you doubt a bit,
But by and large we are a marvelous sex!

Why can’t a woman take after a man?
’Cause men are so friendly, good-natured and kind.
A better companion you never will find.

If I were hours late for dinner would you bellow?

COLONEL PICKERING:
Of course not.

PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
If I forgot your silly birthday, would you fuss?

COLONEL PICKERING:
Nonsense.

PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
Would you complain if I took out another fellow?

COLONEL PICKERING:
Never.

PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
Why can’t a woman be like us?

[dialog]

PROFESSOR HIGGINS:
Why can’t a woman be more like a man?
Men are so decent, such regular chaps;
Ready to help you through any mishaps;
Ready to buck you up whenever you’re glum.
Why can’t a woman be a chum?

Why is thinking something women never do?
And why is logic never even tried?
Straightening up their hair is all they ever do.
Why don't they straighten up the mess that’s inside?

Why can’t a woman behave like a man?
If I was a woman who’d been to a ball,
Been hailed as a princess by one and by all;
Would I start weeping like a bathtub overflowing,
Or carry on as if my home were in a tree?
Would I run off and never tell me where I’m going?
Why can’t a woman be like me?

[end of transcript]

Poor old Professor Higgins.

He’s clueless.

I say “Vive la différence!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Roll over, Beethoven

Ludwig Van Beethoven (1770-1827) Composing His "Missa Solemnis", 1820, Josef Karl Stieler

...and tell Tchaikovsky the news. (3:36)

My, how times have changed.

Happy birthday, Ludwig.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another poem by Robert H. Brague


..........................December, 1972

............Peace on earth, good will toward men.
............They’re bombing North Vietnam again --
............B-52’s lost this week total ten --
............Peace on earth, good will toward men.

............It came upon a midnight clear,
............That glorious song of old,
............Yellow-skinned children huddle in fear
............Against the wind and the cold
............And wonder what new horror
............Will the midnight blackness bring,
............And the whole earth gives back the song
............Which now the angels sing.

............Has Johnny talked to Santa Claus?
............They’re talking about a bombing pause.
............Inaugural plans are proceeding well;
............Pat will wear yellow. War is hell.
............Do you think man has an immortal soul?
............Do you think they’ll blackout the Super Bowl?

............Silent night, holy night,
............Napalm gives a lovely light;
............Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
............How does it feel to destroy a child?

............Peace on earth, good will toward men.
............They’re bombing North Vietnam again --
............B-52’s lost this week total ten --
............Peace on earth, good will toward men.


[Editor’s note. The impetus for this poem was an evening newscast on television. The reader -- I can’t remember whether it was Harry Reasoner or Howard K. Smith -- was just finishing a story about the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping with the words, “Peace on earth, good will to men.” He paused ever so briefly to indicate he was done, then launched (a little too nonchalantly, it seemed to me) into his next item with the words, “They’re bombing North Vietnam again.” I noticed the strange juxtaposition of topics, as well as the end rhyme, and his next sentence just compounded the effect: “B’52s lost this week total ten,” or something similar. The poem just kind of took off on its own after that. Pat Nixon did indeed wear yellow in January to the inauguration of her husband’s second term as President. Originally I wrote, “Pat will wear pink” because I liked the alliteration better, but I was struck by the horrifying coincidence of the interest in the color of Mrs. Nixon's dress and the color of the skin of the children waiting for the bombs to fall, and I changed it. --RWP]

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thirteen shopping days until Christmas

...and I think we’re finished with our shopping except to obtain more wrapping paper and ribbon. The merchants are reporting flat sales this year as people deal with this depression recession unexpected economic situation in which we find ourselves.

But let’s keep the main thing the main thing. Christmas is not about the merchants, it’s about the birth of Christ.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is called “Bethlehem Morning” and here is a young Sandi Patty singing it in 1988 (4:17).

That song bears listening to again, but it isn’t 1988 any more. Here is a more recent rendition of the same song by the same singer, a bit heavier now, parenting with her second husband a blended family of eight children, and apparently singing more slowly now also as this clip is nearly a whole minute longer (5:10).

Here are the lyrics:

Lift up your heads
No need to mourn
His hand is stretched out still
For unto us a child is born
His promise to fulfill
Jerusalem! He cried for you
He did not come to us in vain
His loving arms are open wide for you
And he will come again

Bethlehem morning
Is more than just a memory
For the Child that was born there
Has come to set us free
Bethlehem sunrise
I can see Him in your eyes
For the Child that was born there
His spirit never dies
His star will never grow dim
And it's a brand-new dawn
A new Jerusalem
And we will reign
We will reign with him

Bethlehem morning
Is more than just a memory
For the Child that was born there
Has come to set us free
Bethlehem sunrise
I can see it in your eyes
For the Child that was born there
Is the King of kings
And the Lord of lords
And He will come again

Sandi Patty is known for being able to hit high notes. She has said, “To be honest, my range has changed a bit over the years but my mom says it’s about four octaves (F below middle C to high F above double high C). Really, singing high is just like screaming on pitch.”

Years ago, Mrs. RWP and I used to listen to Atlanta radio station WPCH (Peach Radio, of course, it’s Georgia) in the car on the way to church back in the days when Peach still aired Christian music for two hours on Sunday mornings. On one particularly memorable Easter Sunday, we heard the following song for the very first time. Recounting the experience of Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb, it has remained my very favorite Sandi Patty song:

“I’ve Just Seen Jesus” sung by Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris (6:30).

I think, for the Christian, every day is Christmas and every day is Easter.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Speaking truth to power

We interrupt your Advent observance to bring you an important message.

Here is Nigel Farage speaking truth to power on November 16, 2011 (2:39).

Here he is again on November 26 (3:11).

Here he is back in February speaking in the European Parliament (1:24).

Nick Farage may not be a polite man, but he says things that need to be said.

Such frankness and forthrightness is heard here in the U.S. too, with one stark difference. The Democrats say terrible things about the Republicans, and the Republicans say terrible things about the Democrats. But they speak only to representatives of the media, and only on occasions when those with whom they differ are not present. Here in the former colonies, our politicians never seem to speak to one another, face to face, except perhaps once every four years after the new candidate of the David party and the new candidate of the Goliath party have been chosen. Then they participate in what we quaintly refer to as a quadrennial presidential debate.

On the floor of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, the unwritten rule all too often is one from our kindergarten days: “If you can’t say something nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all.” And so very little of substance gets accomplished. The members of the British House of Commons may start their harangues with the words, “The right honourable gentleman,” but they are not polite. Nigel Farage is lacking in certain social graces, but he speaks truth to power.

Good for them and good for him. If the emperor is not wearing any clothes, someone needs to inform the people who came to watch the parade. In the land of the blind, as you know, the one-eyed man is king.

There is hope here in the former colonies. The message that something is rotten in the state of Denmark (figuratively speaking) is slowly being heard. Even the most politically comatose among our citizenry are beginning to realize that something has gone awry. Even what one radio talk-show host calls “the mooching class,” by whom he means many of the people who were mesmerized by Barack Obama in 2008 and voted for Hope and Change, are beginning to realize that something is off-kilter. The fact that a Marxist is leading the pack does not resonate with them, however.

Here is, in my opinion, America’s equivalent of Nick Farage, only more polite, in a speech from 2009 (9:46).

And here he is again, speaking in 2010 (3:36).

If we pay more attention to him, maybe David will actually bring down Goliath in our 2012 elections.

Because Newt Gingrich is also speaking truth to power. In America, the power resides in the hands of the people who vote in elections.

(Photo by Matthew Gargano, 2011)

Friday, December 9, 2011

My 869th post


The number 869 has special meaning to me. During World War II, my dad was a machinist's mate on the U.S. Navy vessel PCE-869. The letters PCE stand for Patrol Craft Escort, which type of ship escorted patrol craft (duh!) and hobnobbed with sub (for submarine) chasers. In later years my dad had nightmares in which human body parts floated to the surface of the sea after he and his shipmates set off depth charges. (From Wikipedia:
“A depth charge is an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) weapon intended to destroy or cripple a target submarine by the shock of exploding near it. Most use explosives and a fuse set to go off at a preselected depth in the ocean. Depth charges can be dropped by either surface ships, patrol aircraft, or from helicopters. The depth charge has now largely been replaced by anti-submarine homing torpedoes.”)


Dad joined the Navy in 1942 and was on the PCE-869 from 1943 to 1945. His last months before receiving an honorable discharge were spent at Quonset Point Naval Station in Rhode Island. He was 36 years old when he enlisted, older even than the captain of his ship. Everybody on board called him “Pop” because most of them were young whippersnappers not yet dry behind the ears, too big for their britches, all of 18 or 20 years old. He didn’t mind; in fact, he rather liked it.

When I found the photo of Dad’s ship, the site also had a place for a list of the crew. There was only one name listed, Father Frank Toste. I googled his name only to learn that he died in July of this year at the age of 86. (World War II did end 66 years ago, after all, and my Dad would be 105 if he were still alive.)

Father Frank Toste, from what I gather, was a fascinating fellow. He was born March 20, 1925, in Providence, Rhode Island, and died July 6, 2011, in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He entered the priesthood in 1960, was teacher of Drama and Drama Department Head at Notre Dame High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut (1960 - 1965); Assistant Headmaster and Department Head of the Theatre Department at Saint Peter's High School in Gloucester, Massachusetts (1965 - 1970); and Founder and Department Head of the Drama/Communication Arts Department Teacher in all areas of Theatre within the Department including Film and Television at Peabody Veterans Memorial High School in Peabody, Massachusetts (1970 - 1990). He then retired to Cocoa, Florida, but returned to the north in 2010. He had done graduate work in Theatre at Ohio University (1983) and graduate work in Filmmaking at UCLA (1983), received a Master of Arts in Drama from Harvard (1991), and was a doctoral candidate in Filmmaking at the Union Institute in Cincinnati (2000). To me, the most interesting paragraph in his obituary was:

“Always an avid stage and screen participant, Father Toste received certificates in Cinema from the School of Cinema/Television at the University of Southern California and the Feagin School of Drama and Radio in New York City. He was most proud of his affiliation with the film, ”Love Story,” in which he had a speaking role and met the co-stars of the film, Ryan O’Neil and Ali MacGraw. Fr. Toste was also an Equity Actor and a technical advisor for the long-standing television series M.A.S.H. and appeared in “Oliver’s Story,” and was on stage at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly. He was a long-term member of the Screen Actors Guild.”

I read in another place that he was Technical Advisor on M.A.S.H. for the character of Lt./Capt. Father Francis J. Mulcahy as played by William Christopher.

Ever the ’net surfer, I then discovered that some of Father Toste’s former drama students from Peabody had posted comments on Facebook about their favorite teacher. One of the threads asked people to relate, if they remembered, some of the funny things he was always saying. Lots of people responded. What blew me away (UK readers: American for “astonished me”) was that one of the quips they remembered was something I heard my Dad say many times:

“I see,” said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and saw.

I know. Groan. Lame joke. But it must have been considered hilarious back in the day, and I could just picture my Dad and his shipmates interacting daily in the confined passageways of the PCE-869. I don’t know who said it first, my Dad or the young man who became Father Frank Toste or somebody else, but for a moment, I was a kid again and my Dad was close.



Some of us who are living and breathing can still remember the service of our fellow countrymen so many years ago and we are grateful. Father Frank Toste, the only one of Dad’s shipmates whose name I know, I honor you and the entire crew of the PCE-869 today.

[Editor’s note. A few hours after finishing this post, I suddenly realized that I know the name of one other sailor from the PCE-869 as well: Leroy Behrens of Round Rock, Texas, in whose living room I sat in September 1958 with my Dad and new stepmother on a trip from Coppell, Texas, that deposited me in the dormitory at Southwestern University at Georgetown, Texas. It had been 13 years since Dad and Leroy had seen each other, and they talked much about their days in the Navy. They never saw each other again. --RWP]

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How green was my Libya

The current total number of those little flag-thingies I have saved from the visitors list is 141, the latest one being the flag of the Cayman Islands:



That’s one you don’t see every day.


It’s amazing how similar some flags are.

For example, the flag of the United States:



and the flag of Malaysia:



are very similar.


Or compare Poland’s flag:

_____



with Indonesia’s:
............................................._____ (This dadblamed line should be one line higher to indicate the bottom of the flag -- white on white is hard to see -- but how to make it go there must remain one of life’s unsolved mysteries)


Then there’s Ireland and Italy...



and Yemen and the Netherlands...



and Belgium and Romania...



and Serbia and the Netherlands...




and Australia and New Zealand...



I wouldn’t say the confusion caused by all these similarities is insurmountable, but it certainly puts the vex in vexillologist.

So, dear reader, if you declared yourself to be a sovereign nation and wanted to design a flag for the new Republic of You, what would it look like? (Give colors, emblems, and so forth, and keep it clean, please!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Get ready for your 15 minutes of fame

Listed below are the names, gender (if known), and location on planet Earth (if known) of the select subset of the species homo sapiens who have become followers of this rhymeswithplague blog. You are:

1. Frances Garrood (female, United Kingdom)
2. Punk Chopsticks (female, Malaysia)
3. ica (female, Jakarta, Indonesia)
4. Bimbing Adj (male)
5. aku lupa namaku (female, Bali)
6. susan t (female)
7. PEÇAS INDIANAS EM GESSO OU PEDRA (Porto Alegre, Brazil)
8. talita (female, Brazil)
9. an.hoyt
10. Julianne Chatelain (female)
11. Grace Nelson (female)
12. Sharad Kishore (male)
13. Harfis (male, Medan, Indonesia)
14. ankita lal (female)
15. True Crime Story: "Fighting the Devil" (Jeannie Walker, female, New York, USA)
16. Brackers (male, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
17. Mas Huri (male)
18. Theanne and Baron (female, Florida, USA)
19. HarFi$ KouMan (male, Medan, Indonesia)
20. Émile Couture
21. Harfis
22. Glenda (female, Southeast USA)
23. Talli Roland (female, London, UK)
24. Achi (male, Chungli, Taiwan)
25. Kasakin Alexey (male)
26. Denix (male)
27. Kold_Kadavr_flatliner (male, Kansas, USA)
28. Nathanael Fields (male)
29. cakapbisa (male)
30. Liberty Forrest (female, Northamptonshire, UK)
31. John Gray (male, Trelawnyd, Wales, UK)
32. Jewels (female, Ontario, Canada)
33. Masia Mum (female, London, UK and Ibi, Spain)
34. Brian (male, Tortosa en Catalonia, Spain)
35. Snowbrush (male, Oregon, USA)
36. Marinela Reka (female, London, UK)
37. babyuser_88
38. Crazed Nitwit (female, Seattle, Washington, USA)
39. Harper
40. Katherine DeChevalle (female, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand)
41. Nedine Says (female, USA)
42. tony (male, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, UK)
43. shadows (female)
44. bARE-eYED sUN
45. SIMPHONY (female, Argentina)
46. Brad the Gorilla (male, Seattle, Washington, USA)
47. mahouny,pacoss (a.k.a mahmout cinan, male, Turkey)
48. ahmed ishtiaque (male)
49. Buford Pickleberry (male, Des Moines, Iowa, USA)
50. Loren Christie (female, New York, USA)
51. penny (a.k.a. Penelope Smith a.k.a Jinksy, female, UK)
52. Pat - Arkansas (female, Jacksonville, Arkansas, USA)
53. Egghead (a.k.a Vonda, female, Oregon, USA)
54. Lula's daughter (female)
55. Carolina (female, Netherlands)
56. Richie (male, Mena, Arkansas, USA)
57. jhull8 (female)
58. jesik contreras (female, Barranquilla, Atlantico, Colombia)
59. ВашаДаша (female, Саратов, Russia)
60. Mimi Foxmorton (female, Syracuse, New York, USA)
61. mukidmallick
62. Chris
63. leidy_a_h0313
64. prettycutiefab_sei
65. gavinboggitt (male?)
66. reneevizmanos (female?)
67. Hollie Thompson (female)
68. kiarasherwoood
69. eparfett-smith
70. anna martinez (female)
71. kapil4friend
72. alexislundgren (female)
73. Josimara lindinha
74. sswaroopa sanap
75. AmyLovesPandas
76. Ken (male)
77. Mirriam (female)
78. Angua.von.U
79. cathywicked (female)
80. A Lady's Life (female, British Columbia, Canada)
81. Jeannelle (female, Iowa, USA)
82. Pam (female, Georgia, USA)
83. (no identity whatsoever)

There are a few mysteries. If you are a sharp-eyed reader you will note that the sidebar says there are 86 of you, but I have been able to find only 83 of those little thumbnail photographs. Either Blogger is wrong or something is rotten in the state of Denmark-Blogstein. Some of you may have died (in which case, you are not reading this). Some of you who are still alive may have abandoned me long ago (in which case, you are not reading this). Some of you who are alive and who comment more or less regularly are conspicuous by your absence from the list. Some, like Buford Pickleberry and Brad the Gorilla, haven’t published a post of their own in two or three years.

I still miss Dr. John Linna of Neenah, Wisconsin. R.I.P., Dr. John.

All in all, you are a varied and diverse lot. And if some of you feel like enlightening me further concerning your gender or your whereabouts, I am interested in learning.

There is one other thing.

I salute you.

Photo circa 1930 from from Hulton-Deutsch Collection / Corbis

Saturday, December 3, 2011

This evening’s program

...will begin shortly. First, though, a little housekeeping is necessary.

The management requests that you turn off all electronic devices and that you place your cell phone in vibrate mode. As always, and as a courtesy to our artists, flashbulbs are not permitted during the performance. Texting is strictly prohibited. If you persist, an usher will relieve you of your play-pretty and you will be able to retrieve it at the box office after the program after producing three forms of proper identification. Persons who insist on talking loudly during tonight’s performance will be taken to the lobby and spanked. Later, upon returning to their vehicles, they will discover that all the air has been let out of their tires.

One last reminder: Ladies, please remove your hats.

With that out of the way, please sit back and enjoy this evening’s program (4:17)....

Friday, December 2, 2011

If you’re happy and you know it, say “Honolulu”

According to an article in today’s online edition of the Daily Mail, Men’s Health magazine has named America’s ten happiest and ten saddest cities.

Men’s Health admits that the diagnosis is “more statistical than psychological.” The saddest and happiest Americans were determined by calculating suicide and unemployment rates in 100 cities across the country. Then the percentage of households that use antidepressants and the number of people who report feeling down all or most of the time were factored in.

Voila! Before you could say “Emmett Kelly” the results were in. Mesdames et messieurs, ze rezultz of ze research show zat ze ’appiest cities in America are:

1. Honolulu, Hawaii
2. Manchester, New Hampshire
3. Fargo, North Dakota
4. Omaha, Nebraska
5. Boston, Massachusetts
6. Madison, Wisconsin
7. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
8. St. Paul, Minnesota
9. Burlington, Vermont
10. Plano, Texas

and ze saddest ones are:

1. St. Petersburg, Florida
2. Detroit, Michigan
3. Memphis, Tennessee
4. Tampa, Florida
5. Louisville, Kentucky
6. St. Louis, Missouri
7. Birmingham, Alabama
8. Miami, Florida
9. Reno, Nevada
10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Poppycock! Balderdash! Your honor, I object. Zare There are at least two flies in the ointment. First, Men’s Health magazine may have used the wrong criteria for determining sadness and happiness. Second, Men’s Health magazine may have used the wrong 100 cities. There may be happier Americans and sadder Americans who weren’t even considered. There may be other flies in the ointment as well, but these sprang to mind.

Furthermore, “happy” and “sad” are determined by individual persons, not by panels of researchers in magazines. For example, two of my grandchildren were born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and another two were born in Birmingham, Alabama, and those were among my happiest days ever. On the other hand, I can think of many places I would rather be than North Dakota (or Nebraska or New Hampshire or Massachusetts or Wisconsin or South Dakota or Minnesota), especially with winter coming on.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A poem by Robert H. Brague

................................The Writer

....................With words alone, he paints
....................from the palette of his mind,
.........................mixing,
.........................blending,
.........................combining
.........................hues and tints
....................until he sees the exact shade
....................he wants.

....................With words alone, she chips away
....................rough edges of meaning,
.........................chiseling,
.........................hewing,
.........................gouging
..............................the solid rock
....................until the long-sought shape
....................emerges.

....................With words alone, she pins and drapes
....................original ideas
....................over the naked manikin page,
.........................tucking in a bit of material
.....................................................................................here,
....................snipping off
....................a dangling thread
there,
....................dropping thoughts
....................as easily as
....................hemlines.

....................With words alone, he composes
....................irresistible music,
.........................charming,
.........................seducing the ear,
.........................searching for a particular chord,
....................the one right sound his words must make
....................for echoes
.......................to linger.