Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sir, Please Step to the Side.....

So, here's #3 in the Passport Series, "Hey!  I'd arrest me too." (#1 is here while #2 is here)  Just to make sure that this photo can receive full credit for originality, it pre-dated this photo by a good decade or so....although there is a frightening similarity in demeanour.  Must've been the possibility we used the same photographer, Kinko's Al-Qaeda Photos, Copies, & Hashish Emporium.   This is the passport photo that has caused me the most troubles, i.e., delays at customs.  Don't know if it was the sleepy suspicious look or the "Go ahead, put me through the questioning ringer" pose.

When I travel with my Ever Loving Wife and there is a need to be packing a passport, it's quite amusing when we hand over our papers.   The looks and reactions we get are the same.  The ELW is quite the photogenic type; jeezzz!  even here driving license photo looks great.  Me?  Well, as you can see, the first reaction would be to have me face the wall and spread my legs, arms raised high with palms pressed on that same wall.

The first question the security folks ask, after seeing that we have the same last name is, "Are you travelling with him?".  Notice, how the question is always aimed at her, I being the suspicious half of the duo.  I've learned that it is best that I even more aggreeable and understanding with my ELW before a trip as not to allow her even a smidgen of an excuse to pause before answering that question.  Even the most minute of pauses has caused the suspicion meter to rise with these border guards and has resulted in my being detained for a bit longer while they ply their inquisitive trade.

Even when the ELW answers without a pause, we're sure to elicit a reaction, usually a shake of the head or a "tsk-tsk".  She truly travels with a dangerous crowd....and I provide fodder for her hilarious re-telling of just one more border-crossing incident.

I'm here to provide.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Early 1990's Hardly Leaving the Country

In hopes of overseas travel in the early '90's, #2 in my passport series, "Hey!  I'd arrest me too", was taken.  Perhaps it was a good thing that no such trip took place while my papers were headed by such a picture.  We did make it to Montreal for a fabulous week of Christmas with some more fabulous Canadian friends...but over the border does not count the same as over the seas.

The son was in the early throes of being a wise guy and commented that I had that "post office look" without the sideways portrait.  Joining in the paternal fun, the daughter opined that I had some semblance to a terrorist, albeit "a good terrorist, Tata".  Thanks, kiddies!

Those were days in the distant past when one can mouth "terrorist" and can usually expect an easy chuckle.  I'm not implying the world was more innocent; it's simply that we in the States were relatively unscathed (McVeigh & Oklahoma City were still a good 5 years away...).  Our national empathy for the troubles abroad was nil.   Our assuredness in safety at home was strong.  Unshakeable.

What a different time awaited us only a decade later.....


Hairy Bastard

#1 in the Passport Series, "Hey!  I'd arrest me too".  Late Eighties, hirsuteness (and lack of combs) still in full display.  The situation was a tad bumpy at this point as the idealism and pinata dreams were in the process of getting pummeled by post-college life.  Grinning and bearing it was a manageable code of living.

The Ever Loving Wife appeared on the scene and while career exploits were still running on the local track, the personal side boarded the express and we were off.  The kiddies soon appeared, much to our surprise and we had three and then four sets of footprints tromping around the neighborhood.  It was a time for big smiles in the house as the kids grew into quote machines, offering up their world observations from the perch of high-chairs and wheeling-about-the-wood-floors trikes.

The ELW started a side project of a kid's radio show in the spare timed eked from kinder/house care.  Our daughter, happily ensconced in a backpack from which she could carefully observe her parents' activity, was already devising methods to improve our daily regimen.  If she were capable of writing # 1 1/2, I'm sure her notes would have been prolific.  Our son, already in deep thought as to his future career as a fireman/trashman/baseball player, found our attempts to corral him into the confines of a daily grind truly insulting & uninspiring; we were already laying the groundwork for his high-tailing it to Montana when he was fully sentient.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Montreal, Florida, Europe

So, Jerry Garcia was still alive and the Dead were touring during those summers in the late 1970's and early 1980's when work was plentiful and jobs were always interesting. Bruce was still just a local hero and he played large in Philly, NYC, and at the Stone Pony in Asbury.   The (Vietnam) War was over and attitudes began mellowing; it was just too hard on the senses to keep the emotions going full tilt boogie.  Computers were still huge blobs of steel and wire and portability was limited to Porta Johns.  Cassettes were starting to outsell LP's and Sony was making a killing with Walkmans and their Big Ass Brother, the boom box.  The Talking Heads were combining wit with vigor and Tina Weymouth was topping Bonnie Raitt in young men's hearts.  Bob Marley was hitting his stride and the white boy bands were doing their best to copy him. Someone suggested Peter DeVries to me and the life-long obsession with his novels began.   The Olympics were in Montreal in '76, putting the nail in Montreal & Quebec's financial coffin for decades to come.  Oh, the price of hubris.   In the summer of 1977, I was walking from the beach to one of the limestone outcrops parked off the shore of Sidari, Corfu singing "Sugar Magnolia".    Life was limitless and bursting with possibilities.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mid 1970's Wary Look

Looking at back of some of my folks' photos brought me to that time when, on at least an annual basis, people would go to a photographer and have their pictures taken professionally.  Usually the background curtains or decor were the same; sometimes a chair would be placed for one to lean on or place both hands on either side of the back.    These set shots gave you a nice comparative year to year as to how one has grown, aged, gone decrepit.

The only set of photos that I can compare those ones are one's passport photos.  We were told to pose in a certain way, usually without smiles.  The official pose, I suppose.  Dating myself, my first passport photo, i.e., one where I wasn't standing in with one of my parents, was back when passport photos were black & white.  B &W on purpose, kiddies, not due to some cool Photoshopping thing.

So,  here I be, Slavic unibrow well on its way to giving me that pondering look.  Last shot before facial hair came to fuzzy up the scene.  Think I'd just bought Hendrix's "Axis Bold as Love" the week this photo was taken from a guy at high school specializing in hot (off the back of a truck) deals.  Deep into Vonnegut and Heller's great anti-war novel.  The US was still in Vietnam and my buddies and I were deeply interested in that barrel of numbers being rolled around like a pig on a pit by the Selective Service.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Tigers & Lions & Bears

Oh My!

While I'm on the Tiger jag, let me note that aside from the plethora of things called/labeled/titled "Tiger", there seems to be an overabundance of bands that have "Wolf" or "Bear" in their moniker.  Has no one learned anything from the humiliation that is the Roughriders, version 1 and version 2?  (Aside:  WP, please don't make the fine point that the names are different as it's the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Ottawa Rough Riders..i.e., ONE word v. TWO words!  I'm still perplexed about how Toronto gets away with their hocky team mis-spelling  Maple Leafs!
There are many, many, mnay other animals out there that would love to be included in a band's name.  What of the Hedgehog?  there must be some R & R music that is simultaneously sweet and prickly?

Jim Allen over @ limewire has saved me the trouble of research and linking.  This topic has been getting his goat since March of last year.
Mr. Allen was kind.  Over at podington bear the list goes on and on.

It was alleviating to know bears were not driving only me batty.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cooking Tiger Stew

Another call last night.  Seems I've been recalcitrant in my check-writing and had snubbed the alma mater of the bucks I'd annually been giving them.  Like most dottering alumni, I have an affection for the old campus that seems to increase with age as my senses are decreasing.  My specific "love" is for a specific building, McLennan Library.  It was a building I spent many a night and weekend allegedly studying.

More so than usual, as evidenced by my grades in my major, I tended to go through the stacks and pick out books I'd drag back to my carrel and proceed to devour rather than having my eyes stare at textbooks.  I completed a self-directed major in Russian literature while in the McLennan; unfortunately my McGill degree did not acknowledge my "independent" studies.

There was also another area at McLennan was honey to this bear.  The Periodicals Library.   Aside from a plethora of newspapers (the divine Times of London with its onion-skin paper) were racks of foreign magazines.  Punch was there.  I had to take the magazines and find a very secluded part of the Periodicals Library to read them.  It was impossible not to laugh out loud reading the magazine and I was asked to leave on a few occasions until the Periodicals Librarian finally realized that I was not demented, simply an undergraduate in need of a well-crafted joke.   One of the folks involved with putting Punch together was a fellow by the name of Alan Coren

Alan Coren, the last of the great editors at Punch magazine, had decided one year to write a book based on his thesis that the book-buying public will shell out shillings for any book that covers cats, golf, & Nazis.  He concocted  Golfing for Cats, a collection of short stories which was very eye-catching with its bold red cover emblazoned with a large..make that VERY LARGE swastika.  The book, really a large pamphlet @ 160 pages, barely discusses golf...or cats...or even Nazis.  Unfortunately, Mr. Coren's hopes for a small fortune from sales of "Golfing for Cats" stayed small and of no fortune.

Channeling Mr. Coren, I was pondering the possibility of writing a book in hopes of assuring that my retirement years will have minimal need for cat/dog food casseroles.  Hmmm.... so what topic(s) should be plastered on the cover?  I'd already fixed my price point @ $9.98, a penny under Amazon's Kindle average.  All I needed was a cover.   It's been documented that most readers buy and read only the first 5 -10 pages before clicking the "BUY NOW" button for another visit from the UPS man.  I mean, even I could come up with 5-10 pages of content to keep the pages turning for that type of reader.

Glancing at the deluge (caught myself there folks!  Almost typed that "tsu..." word!) of book titles recently unloaded on us, I think my title must have the noun Tiger somewhere.   Many trees have been sacrificed for the newsprint to publish reviews about the the book AND the authors oA Tiger’s Wife: A Novel (written by Tea Obreht) and Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (written by Amy Chua), Tiger, Tiger : A Memoir (written by Margaux Fragoso), Tiger: The Real Story,  The White Tiger (written by Aravind Adiga) & The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance & Survival (written by John Valliant).  So.."Tiger" seems to selling quite well these days.  For the record, I've only read Mr. Aduga's Book, "The White Tiger", a novel I recommend highly for its tightrope act of comedy and tragedy and invention.

I'd thought that, with apologies to Mr. Coren, "Golfing for Tigers" might be catchy but what with Tiger's issues, I would have been in truly bad taste along with being viewed as a blog-posting remora.

So, I'm going with "Cooking Tiger Stew", soon to be on your Cook book and Animal Studies shelves in your local brick & mortar venues or Internet Book coves.

Hmmmm...on the other hand, perhaps I'll re-think that title.

Addendum:  The Ever-Loving Wife, tired of my incessant commentating re. the hyper-apperance (don't believe me?  Here are some links just from the NYT. One.   Two.) of both "A Tiger's Wife", the book, and "A Tiger's Wife", the author, has decided to put a wet sock in my grousing by buying a copy and insisting I read it before I moan on.  A short review of the book will eventually pay a visit to these "pages".

Addendum #2:  It's Sunday morning, March the 20th and I'm reading the NYT Book Review.  New books to be reviewed this week?  Well, one would be Sarita Mandanna's "Tiger Hills".  So,  the tiger limbers on.


Thursday, March 03, 2011

"The Information"

by seemingly always-in-the-running for major awards (Pulitzer, National Book Award) science writer James Gleick may be the 2010 decade's version of Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid.  The book, coming in at a touch over 500 pages, is also available in a Kindle version, $14.99 vs hardcover version @ $16.47.  If reviews are be taken into consideration, then the book certainly deserves a place next to Hofstadter's classic.  Anyone familiar with Mr. Gleick's articles in the New York Times knows how lucid his style is with topics that are dense...and it sounds as if "The Information" can be dense.

Personally, I'll be putting "The Information" on my Amazon Wish List, holding off the Buying Click for now.  With shame, I'll pre-admit that the chances of my finishing reading Mr. Gleick's tome may be the same as those of my finishing Mr. Hofstadter's book...which has been in my possession for over 20 years.


But, like Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, the effort will be there.  Kindle or Hardcover?  I'd swing toward the hardcover version.  At times of frustration of comprehension (no matter how lucid Mr. Gleick may be), it is a better economic decision to chuck a book than a Kindle.
..and, yes, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Books has had me on their "to audit" list since way back in the last century when I first tackled Gödel 


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