Thursday, December 29, 2005

Boxing Day Correspondence...

> > Hello, George... > > Sitting in a cyber-cafe in AMSterdam... > > This is one of those moments where you take the > time > to tell someone in your life that you appreciate > them > and the impact that they've had in your life...and > George, you defininitely have an impact. You > realize, > of course, that one of the reasons why I volunteer > my > time for you is to enjoy the pleasure of your > company. > And it's basically the easiest way to hang out with > you as your work schedule is off the scale...So, > what > better way to spend time with a friend than to help > him out a bit? > > I've learned a lot in your office just by observing > between filing and scrapbooks. The wheeling and > dealing, the warm maintenance of professional > contacts and friendships, how the civilized word of > law (and it's interpretation) can actually work and > reflect the more salient aspects of humanity, and > basically how to be a gentleman. (One can always > learn a bit of that polish to balance out the > ageing > teenager slacker vibe...but not supersede it, of > course...) > > In short, George, thanks for being a positive > influence...and thanks for making me feel as I have > a > purpose and showing some appreciation for that > purpose. > > Merry Christmas to you, Rona, Liza, and you > Mom...not > to mention to any number of the colorful and > remarkable colleagues, clients, and associations > that > have illuminated my path while in your > apprenticeship...Ed comes to mind. Professor > H is another. Let's not forget Mr. W > All > of them got a taste of THE MATRIX with the > now-pseudo > famous Christmas card. > > By the way, I take it that your Christmas present > is > going to come with a bit of instruction, I hope? > We P---s may have get off to a slow start...but we > are > fast learners. And can you imagine? One day, I'll > wear a bowtie and suit to the office. Won't THAT > be > scary? All The Best, My friend...GaP --------------------------------------------------------------------------> Dear G-- Thank you for your generous and > undeserved words. I apologize > for being such a workaholic, but want you to know > that I admire your many fine > qualities, appreciate your assistance, and enjoy > your friendship. > > Looking forward to your return; and yes, the can > opener does come with > instructions. > > Merry Christmas. George --------------------------------------------------------------------- > > George... Just came in from a flight with some code 6 turbulence...Imagine running for I-90's and customs forms, the smell of airsickness, fumbling for extra discomfort bags...These are the unglamorous rip-out-your-hair-chaos moments that I really LOATHE...but I'm safe, home, and dry... No need to apologize for your work. You have much that you want to accomplish in this world and you are driven. I think you would go insane if you had it any other way. My sales teacher once told me that there are people out there who absolutely CANNOT LIVE without that constant rush and drive. I imagine that would be YOU, my friend. And that's why I'm happy to do the stuff that would keep you at the office even later at night. When you're making the world a better place, you need all the help you can get...Through you and your associations, you have indeed shown me and taught me a lot. Hell, it was fun hearing General Clark's army tales in the YMCA locker room. Damn, he would have made a fine president... See you in the very near future, my good friend...GaP -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dear G, not sure what Code 6 is but I can imagine it is not good. I am not fond of the slightest turbulance, and so admire your ability to tolerate it on a regular basis. Glad you are safe and look forward to seeing you soon. George

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Nowhere Man

This week, NOWHERE MAN was released on DVD. It was a television show on Fox back in '95. It lasted for only one season. It was about a photographer who shot something that he shouldn't have. The Powers That Be want the photograph, the hero won't they set about erasing his life and identity. Everyone who knows him have been convinced, coerced, or bullied into not acknowledging or helping him. So he's on the run, without an identity, living on the fringes of society...pursued by a faceless enemy who want that photograph. And the thing is, you get the impression that they could get it anytime...but they WANT him to admit that he's broken, say "uncle". It was a product of the conspiracy-saturated X-FILES era of the mid-Nineties Then it occurs to me that this whole existential quest for identity, purpose, sanity, and integrity is a recurring theme in television. THE PRISONER is the most obvious early example. Spy(played by Patrick McGoohan) tries to quit THE BUSINESS, he is asked why, he refuses to answer, gets knocked out, and is relocated to a semi-paradise island prison-island where The Village is located. He is given a number instead of a name, he is monitored, harassed for the reason, and he continues his escape-attempts in the meantime. Not sure if he actually succeeds according to that bad-trip last episode. A western called LAZARUS MAN was out around the same time. A noir-nightmare Western about a man(Robert Urich) waking up without his memory trying to find clues to his former life...Was he a spy? A shootist? A government operative? Old flames kept appearing, people with grudges showed up with an aim to put a bullet-hole in him...sometimes both at the same time. Also a short-lived show. THE PRETENDER is about a government experiment called JARED who can adopt the skills and expertise of others but has no real identity nor life of his own outside the aims of his leash-holders. So he's escaped and leads them on a merry chase while he uses his genius-level skills to help the strangers he encounters on the way. He wants information about his mother and frequently contacts his pursuers offering them deals even as he stays two steps ahead of them. I was told about a short-lived series called JOHN DOE. An amnesiac idiot-savant who has an endless array of skills and expertise to help the police with their cold-cases all the while wishing he knew his OWN identity... To a lesser extent, these themes are touched upon in shows like QUANTUM LEAP where time-traveling scientist leaps into the lives of others to fix what once went wrong...he frequently has gaps in his memory especially in the early shows. THE FUGITIVE template repeats itself constantly as well...Dr. Richard Kimball wants to clear his name of his wife's murder. And he's on the run from police inspector Gerard as he interacts with and helps the lives of ordinary people...THE INCREDIBLE HULK where David Banner is on the run pretending to be dead while he searches for a cure for his monster-transformations...And then you have the government-chasing-innocent-extraterrestrials fugitive format...THE PHOENIX(Judson Scott) and STARMAN(Robert Hays...a sequel on the movie of the same name...) KUNG FU with David Carradine comes to mind. A peaceful man roaming the violent untamed west in search of some kind of answers within himself... I'm also reminded of THE TRUMAN SHOW...very PRISONER-esque in its attempt to keep Truman Burbank it his artificial televised environment for the entertainment of television viewers worldwide...A show that his "father" Christoff created for him to take care of the orphaned child...His stepping through that exit door is a HUGE decision for him. There's something in the human psyche that wants to frame these eternal questions into some sort of quest-narrative framework. And who knows? Sometimes these programs even provide an solid, tangible answer or ending...After all, Doctor Richard Kimble found his wife's killer and cleared his name. I'm not sure if the OTHERS were successful in their quest. (David Banner dies, for example, never finding the cure for his hulk-outs...or rather, his DEATH is the cure.) This drives home the fact that our quest for answers may never be completely answered... Let us keep searching...GaP

Christmas Card Mission Accomplished!

The last of my Christmas cards have been sent out yesterday and now I'm just sitting back and enjoying the chillout. Completing the whole project was a lengthy labor of love that I cut into manageable segments. I did that with everything...Creating the card, cutting, pasting...doing everything in increments...There was a period when I hit the limitations on my picture software and nearly threw my hands up in frustration and futility. After a couple days of mild self-pity, I went back to it. The act of creation was also a learning process this time: The ins and outs of certain computer software, working around logistical problems, incorporating the ideas of all led to an evolution. So when the final product emerges and your audience(the folks on your Christmas list)gives you feedback, it's such a rush. It feeds your spirit and it touches a life or two. So mission accomplished again for this year...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Am I A Sick Bastard?

I saw this piece on CNN about a Christmas display in HUNTER'S CREEK, Florida. It depicts Rudolph The Red-Nose Reindeer hanging gutted from a tree with the red lights dripping onto the snow representing his blood. Of course, it elicited the usual moral indignation in the neighborhood...but I thought it was hilarious, twisted as it was. Warped genius, actually...Guess the redneck dude and I would be having a few beers together in his deer-shack while the upstanding families in the neighborhood picketed, complained, or whatever it is that the morally self-righteous are wont to do. I remember several years back making a Christmas card which depicted Rudolph getting beaten up by Comet or one of the other reindeers while the others jeered off-camera. Stuff like, "What's the matter, Rudolph? Gonna CRRRRRyyyyyyyy?" and "Let's not let him play in any of our reindeer games!" On the inside I did this rant on how the Red Nosed Reindeer was a mutation and therefore ridiculed as a freak...UNTIL his freakishness could be put toward a useful lighting Santa's way at night as he piloted his sled across the world. Once Rudolph's gift or curse could be exploited by mainstream society...only THEN was he accepted. If I can scan it, I'll post it onto this entry... Wishing you all a relatively "normal" Christmas...GaP

Psycho Santa

Murderous Santa Display Draws Stares By DAVID B. CARUSO NEW YORK (AP) - It's usually easy to tell where a person stands in the culture wars, but whose side is someone on when his Christmas decor is a blood-spattered Santa Claus holding a severed head? Joel Krupnik and Mildred Castellanos decked the front of their Manhattan mansion this year with a scene that includes a knife-wielding 5-foot-tall St. Nick and a tree full of decapitated Barbie dolls. Hidden partly behind a tree, the merry old elf grasps a disembodied doll's head with fake blood streaming from its eye sockets. No one answered the family's door to explain on Tuesday, but Krupnik told the New York Post it was a statement about the commercialization and secularization of Christmas. ``Christmas has religious origins,'' he said. ``It's in the Bible. Santa is not in the Bible. He's not a religious symbol.'' The family is far from the only one making an editorial comment this year on how Americans celebrate Christmas, although it may be the only one doing it by depicting Santa Claus as a killer. Pope Benedict XVI complained this week that Christmas festivities have been ``subjected to a sort of commercial pollution.'' Christian conservatives have launched campaigns to reintroduce a religious component to Christmastime decor in schools and public squares, chiding even President Bush this year for sending out cards wishing supporters a happy ``holiday season.'' Fox News talk show host John Gibson wrote a book claiming there is a liberal plot to ban Christmas. Still, more than a few people passing by the Krupnik and Castellanos brownstone on Tuesday were a little puzzled about the message behind the massacre. Peter Nardoza, 81, of Manhattan, shook his head and chuckled. ``Sick, sick, sick,'' he said. ``What kind of a world is this that we live in?'' Ronnie Santiago, a deliveryman on his route, speculated that something bad must have happened once to the homeowner at Christmas. A few spectators wondered whether the campy gore would bother children. There were signs the macabre theme is a year-round thing. The facade of the building was covered with leering gargoyles. A statue of Death, hooded and grim-looking, stood outside. A few people got it. ``This is brilliant,'' said Bucky Turco, 31, of Manhattan. He said the display captured how he felt recently while watching someone costumed as SpongeBob SquarePants promote products at Rockefeller Center. Walter Garofalo, a musician from Brooklyn who wandered by wearing a black bandanna covered in skulls, was awe-struck. ``I wonder if these people would let me use this as our next album cover,'' he said. ``It's perfect!'' 12/13/05 18:46 © Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.

Christmas Card Musings

--- GB1 Wrote: > G--, It is cold in Bosnia but meetings here are > going well and people are uniformly friendly. I saw > your car before I left and it is very powerful. > Congratulations. George Hello, George... I meant it's freezing HERE, Ambassador. Cold snap. I now undertand why, when I was of a kid, some of the adults I came across wanted to keep the heat down to a bare minimum. You know, where the tip of your nose is COLD. Heating oil is EXPENSIVE...God help me. I'm becoming one of THEM. Glad that you like the card. I had that idea in my head since last year. As must as I liked LAST year's card, it was edging a bit too much into soccer-mom territory for me. Needed to do something DIFFERENT. So I plumbed the pop-culture ephemera in my head and came up with that. It almost didn't happen, I got so frustrated with it at one point. But I'm glad I soldiered on and worked around some of the logistical problems... And now in "the passing something onto the next generation department"---At the Y, I have an acquaintance with someone at the Y who has a four year old child...appropriately named Luke. Appropriate because he LOVES the original STAR WARS movies. He sees in them the same magic I did when I was ten. Anyway, since I have any number of them on VHS, I bequeathed the Special Editions onto Little Luke during the move...(These were the editions where George Lucas started to digitally alter some scenes to fit what he was seeing in his head. I kept the original versions...just so I could see them as I originally remembered...but I digress...) Anwyay, Little Luke has worn the tapes out. So his dad is going to have to buy them on DVD. Recently, the laddie was wondering if he could just hear the music to them. So Craig, his dad, asks me if there are soundtracks available. Not only are they available, they're in my friend's iTunes program...because I put them there. So we can burn the little guy a copy. I'm choosing THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK because I wore out the double-vinyl album when I was a kid myself. Film-composer JOHN WILLIAMS has one of the most recognizable soundtracks going. You know little Josiah. His dad is a HUGE Star Wars fan. So I look forward to the day when all three of us can sit down and just watch the entire six films together. The Force will definitely be with us... Whoa. Look at the time. Must get on with some physical fitness. George, thanks again for making the time to keep in touch. I know how ridiculously busy you are on any given day never MIND over there. So it IS appreciated, my friend... All the best...GaP

Friday, December 16, 2005

Merry Whatever

Hi G-- Regarding the whole controversy about use of the word "Christmas" you mentioned in the letter that arrived today; I think the whole damn country is missing the point, which is as follows. When I was growing up in Singapore, the population included large groups of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and many other religions. Each time one of the major religions had a holiday, festival or important religious observance, it was a national holiday for everyone, and the whole populace got the day off. On a Buddhist holiday, the Buddhists did their thing, and if you had Buddhist friends, you participated as much as their religion would allow (which usually meant visiting as many of them as possible in order to devour large quantities of their holiday food!) and generally celebrating with them. Two weeks later, there was a Hindu day, and everybody took the day off out of respect for their Hindu peers. More food! And so on. In other words, Christians in this country should be more aware of, and look forward to, the celebration of Hannukah, Ramadan etc. with their friends of different faiths. Everybody should be happy to say "Merry Christmas", but only if they can be equally happy and willing to say "Happy Hannukah" or "Happy Kwanzaa" or whatever. What's wrong with that? Of course, the prerequisite to this attitude is for Christians to stop thinking of their way as the only "right" way. What a concept! And probably not likely to happen soon. End of sermon! Regards, Allen

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Humbug Spray

Charles... I don't know...Humbugs have their place. Unyielding cheerfulness and optomism can also be used like a terrorist weapon. So that's why the good Lord(or whatever) saw fit to invent black comedy. To wit, I refer you to a company that I've handed over tons of my hard-earned dollars to over the years... >< I could go on and on about how cool they are...but I'll just let you browse their site and enjoy their smirking sense of snide... I actually have a pseudo-trademark that I've created for sending out my Christmas Cards...Humbug Notes. My perpetually optomistic laywer friend(sort of a kindly, politically astute version of Scrooge) always says the name with a slight distate. Without a sense of irony or sarcasm, I daresay I would have spilled some SEARING hot coffee on someone's lap years ago... OH. New tale of passenger arrogance. The route: Memphis to Detroit. This other passenger points out that someone WAY up there wants my attention. How do we know this? She's holding up her cup in an imperious manner between the thumb and forefinger. She's sending up the servant-signal. So I walk up to her with this disgusted, "who-do-you-think-you-ARE?" look on my face. She struck me as one of those bourgeois CONDE NAST TRAVELER-reading pseudo-sophisticates. So I get her line of vision...Seeing that I'm not too thrilled about this treatment, she and her friends try and chortle it off...(You know, like..."Oh, is this not acceptable behavior?") I snatched the cup out of her hands sending the napkin and peanut-wrapper flying. I primly apologized for the mess, picked it up and the retreated to the galley. Then I took an empty cup and held it up in the same way as I walked up to first class...Just to send out a silent little "fuck you". If they were paying attention, fine. If not, no bother. I'm developing a thicker skin but affronts to my dignity like THAT I can live without. I'll be happy when I can just IGNORE all the bullshit. A goal to shoot for:A day when all asshole behavior doesn't get acknowledged in any manner, way, shape, or form. Wow. Wrote out quite the missive there. Another annal in the gloriously glamorous world of air-travel customer service... GaP

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

God In The Mirror

(Excerpt from a friend's e-mail...and my reply...)------> For people who, for what ever reason, don't have God to pray to (and/or argue with), must be very unhappy, indeed. More to come, G--, I just had to fire this off. (It's been forwarded to several groups already.) Peace and Comfort to you. Regards. Lowell ----------------------------------------------------------- Many thanks for the note...I have to ask...How do you feel about people who just don't BELIEVE? For my own part, I know there's something/SOMEONE that links the whole pattern together, shows me enough to reject the concept of random happenstance...but what to call it? How to quantify it? I don't even try...I just cobble together the wisdom that I can...Your book THE RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL played a part in that. Other inspirations came from friends, movies, songs, and random meetings with strangers...All part of the pattern...a pattern that's too big to wrap my head around. But that's okay...I'm not required to. I've been banging out the Christmas cards with various permutations of Christmas music playing. Chillout electronica has even gotten into the act...(You know...when you don't want to hear stuff like Celine Dion or any graduate from AMERICAN IDOL...BLECH.) Favorite holiday tune this year...JUST LIKE CHRISTMAS from a band called LOW. Nice rockabilly shuffle, sleigh-bells in there, catchy guitar-hooks...makes me happy. A Christmas gift in itself... Hope you're well, Captain. I'm glad that you're out there, my friend...GaP

Friday, December 02, 2005

Let The Christmas Card Writing BEGIN!

A note in regarding the creation of my annual Christmas Card... George... I can see why you like dealing with Jim B---r. Very optomistic, very CAN-do. And I seem to be reaping the benefits of your association...which I'm very grateful for but don't want to rely on. He's cut me a pretty reasonable deal, it seems. You command much loyalty, Ambassador... Anyway, I took the other picture ot CopyMax and made a whole pile of postcards which I'll be using for my co-workers...I began banging them out last night while listening to a phalanx of newly acquired Christmas Music (NOT Holiday Music...CHRISTMAS Music)We're talking Mahalia Jackson, The Rat Pack(Sinatra, Martin, and SAMMY!), The Platters, a Christmas Remix album, and the rockabilly sounds of Reverend Horton Heat. A couple weeks ago, I was ready to give up on the card, now I'm FIRED up. Again, my association with you must be reaping dividends. All of that pesky can-do OPTOMISM! Grrrrrrrr.... Again, thanks for you help with this Christmas project, in hooking me up with the right people. It is truly appreciated, my friend...GaP