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Monthly Archives: January 2019

The earthly remains of my brother Brian were cremated and put into a cardboard box. The family agrees that Brian’s final resting place might be best placed inside an urn of my creation. I hope by May I will have done something suitable; meanwhile, I’m getting my skill back, some at a time.

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I’m also doing birds and other miscellany. Practice, practice, practice–feels good to be back.

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First I watched FIRST MAN, which stars not Matthew McConaughey but Ryan Gosling. At the 2:07:33 point in the DVD Neil Armstrong is standing at the lip of a crater. Here is a drawing based on that shot, with grateful thanks to the filmmakers:

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Next I watched Season 1 of TRUE DETECTIVE. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson are partnered, and shown at two different times of their lives. So without freezing the DVD, I started imagining an older-yet McConaughey, and this quirky drawing came out:

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I feel proud that these two drawings seem to have been done by two different people. I worked harder on the first one–building up tone with the pastel pencil I was using was a tricky business–but the second drawing required a lot more than looking at something and recording and embellishing.

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In his famous novel 1984 George Orwell imagined the countries of the world reduced to three. They were named Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania. They were in perpetual conflict. Two of them would gang up against the third, and seemingly win, but then a different two would form an alliance against the new third country, ad infinitum. All conflict benefited the real movers and shakers of the world. Their machine turned misery into wealth and power. No one knew who these very powerful, very wealthy people were.

Part of the perpetual shame of being a citizen of the United States is that the United States benefits enormously from conflict. Huge corporations euphemistically named “Defense Contractors” work with the military to create more effective means of ending lives. Little research and development is devoted to defense; much is devoted to offense.

The current President, when a candidate for the office, when asked how he would handle a certain collective that has been described as a “Terrorist Group,” replied, and this is as exact a quotation as my memory provides, “I’d bomb the shit out of them.” As President, he has caused to happen a certain amount of bombing that has resulted in the deaths of noncombatants. These deaths are euphemistically called “Collateral Damage.”

In the movie VICE, based on the life of former Vice President Dick Cheney, there is a scene that occurs during the Nixon presidency. Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld are near a closed door to a room where Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger are discussing their plans to carpet-bomb Cambodia. Somehow Cheney and Rumsfeld knew this. Years later, Cheney would be instrumental in compelling the US to invade Iraq, while the “Defense Contractor” Halliburton, which formerly employed Cheney as Chief Executive Officer, benefited from enormous, no-bid, cost-plus contractual work. For further information please run an Internet search on “sailboat fuel.”

Part of human nature is a desperate need to feel like one of the “good guys.” “Good guys” cannot exist without “bad guys.” In my lifetime, according to my ever-evolving government, the “bad guys” have included ex-Nazis, organized crime, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Ku Klux Klan, Communists, North Vietnam, “Red” China, the U.S.S.R., the Palestinian Liberation Organization (“P.L.O.”), Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Iran, Iraq, Daniel Noriega, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, ISIS and/or ISOL, Saddam Hussein…Moammar Ghaddafi…Osama bin Laden…so many more. Ironically, many of these enemies were created by the zealous efforts of the US Government to effect regime change, ostensibly for the good of the world.

The way to avoid Pushback is for the initial Push not to have occurred in the first place.

The words to the acrostic:

Post this suspect’s APB
Unto dog comes tick & flea
Shave it burn it write it: Bic
Have a prospect take a pick

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Part of my morning routine is to work on unfinished poetry and drawings while having my first cup of coffee. Today I was picking at two Acrostics, ODD HIS SEA and TAPE PEST STRY, I’d started long ago. The lower third of the paper I had them on was blank, so I bookended it with PUSH BACK, which had been nagging at me for some weeks. (“Pushback” is a term used to describe a reaction of a political faction’s forces when their opposition has said, or accomplished, something that seems to have done some damage to their cause. Here and now, government shutdown, tweetstorms, and propaganda blizzards are Trump Administration’s pushback against opposition to the Trump Wall, the Mueller Russian investigation, and miscellaneous callings-to-account.)

My acrostic-composing reverie was interrupted when my gaze fell on a corner of paper. I recognized it as the printed material that was given to mourners at my Uncle Paul’s funeral last February 23rd. It was wildly improbable that it should be on my dining room table, buried under a pile of stuff, but there it was. And on it was a photo of Paul with humor, grumpiness, and a defiant gleam in his eye. “Draw me NOW, Nephew,” he seemed to be saying.

So I did, and I did a better Paul in ten minutes than I’d done in hours a few years ago.

“Sign it, but don’t date it.” I did.

“You’re done.”

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Decades ago, Ronald Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev–TEAR DOWN THAT WALL.” Many cheered, and behold, some time after the Wall came down.

Decades later, a candidate for President of the United States said, over and over again, in many different ways, “We’re gonna build a big, beautiful Wall–and WE’RE GONNA GET MEXICO TO PAY FOR IT.” Many cheered, and helped elect him. I was not one of them.

Here is something I published on Facebook on January 20.

It has occurred to me, as I am sure it has occurred to the enemies of America, that the Wall if built will make the US more, not less, vulnerable. Because anyone with enough money to buy some cheap explosives, and a radio-controlled airplane ( cheaper than a drone), will be able to make the Wall much more expensive, with a return on the terrorist dollar of at least 100 to 1. Blow a little hole in The Wall and it will cost US many, many more times to repair it than the peanuts it costs for the stuff the bad guys can use. It doesn’t have to be a big hole, either. Just something to get the party started.

Wall supporters, PLEASE tell me I’m wrong, and prove it. If you succeed, we will all sleep better at night. If you don’t, or more likely cannot, then please a) stop supportIng this useless Wall; and b) stop supporting this useless Administration.

Look how vulnerable the Towers were. Do we really want to set ourselves up for more tragedy?

Our fine and fancy US Government has been shut down by a despot who, for reasons of his own, or perhaps those of the ones pulling his puppet strings, wants to throw billions of dollars at a hideous, idiotic project. I am protesting with the non-violent means available to me here. I hope my voice is heard.

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What with the total eclipse of the Moon coming in scant hours, and my recent acquisition of black paper and white chalk, it seemed time to draw with light.

Here are the words to the double acrostic:

Night Light

Now we were wombed in waters warm and still
In peaceful amniotic near-lanai
Go down where water gives you Zero G
Henceforth let velvet DIMNESS see us through
To be by loving Darknesses enwrapt

This is a non-rhyming poem, so I didn’t begin composing it with the end-words. Instead, and since I wanted to wrap my spot illustration of mother and child with a sort of uterus of words, I wrote the last line, “To be by loving Darknesses enwrapt,” first. And so, curiously, the poem also makes sense from the last line up, if we just change one word on the new last line:

To be by loving Darknesses enwrapt
Henceforth let velvet DIMNESS see us through
Go down where water gives you Zero G
In peaceful amniotic near-Lanai
Now we are wombed in waters warm and still

Writing poetry last-line-first is just like the way Mickey Spillane wrote his Mike Hammer mysteries. He claimed he always started with the ending, then figured out how to get there. Poets, if you ever find yourself running dry, you might do worse than to give the Spillane method a whirl!

Long ago my dear deceased friend Karen W gave me a book. I think it was called Owning Your Shadow but I don’t know for sure.  The book was about facing down your dark side and making of it a tool for your betterment.

So, Karen, if you’re still interacting with the living, and checking in on your friends from time to time, this one is for you. The aspect of my dark side I wrestle with today is Arrogance. Arrogance manifests itself in being parental and dismissive of people who don’t meet up with my sometimes-arbitrary standards.

I do this today by taking one of the worst things I ever wrote, a mansplaining essay on how to be a better poet, and overlaying it with a self-portrait. (Arrogant artists do lots of self-portraits. Picasso did dozens and dozens.)

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I also stuck a feather in there, a feather long discarded, as a reminder that even miracles of Nature get discarded for obsolescence.

The cure for arrogance is humbling experiences. The older we get, the more they occur.

I feel another Mansplanation coming on, so I will close with best wishes and humble thanks to you who read this.