Friday, November 21, 2008

Holy smoke, I just noted a big disconnect...

My last post included what I thought was an accurate story about my parents' early years, but something happened that made me realize I have a gap about which I know nothing. Turns out in this case at least, my knowledge of my family history may be a series of anecdotes that in a final analysis, don't agree with each other. Here's my story:
Yesterday I took Sheila to her neurologist, and encountered one of those occasional situations you find at a doctor's office, the chatty older person. I happened to make eye contact with a woman a little older than me, maybe 65ish, when she stretched in her chair. I kind of knew what was coming, she asked me if I was a local. I said no, I grew up in the Washington DC area, and she said she had too. I thought it would be nice to compare stories so I asked what part of Washington and sure enough, it was the last thing I said for the next 10-15 minutes while she told me about her childhood in Washington. Seriously, I heard how her parents met, how strict they were, how their technique worked for her kids, and then she started on how nice her dad was and literally was giving me a chronology of his activities starting immediately post WW I. When the doctor finally called for Sheila, the lady was getting to WII. I started to get up and the lady would not stop talking--awkward! I had to just leave, with a hasty "nice talking with you," and I felt bad, but you don't keep the doc waiting. Something she said about her family moving to DC made me realize something I knew but did not connect with what I had recently put in my blog.
I know I was born in Queens, New York, and that my family moved from there to the Georgetown address I mentioned in the last blog when I was 6 months old, according to my mother. So it follows my folks met in New York City, and my dad's business must have been there and not DC, and my mom could not have been working in the Pentagon yet. Even though I always knew I was born in queens, I always thought everything I knew about mom and dad started in DC! Big disconnect. So, I'm thinking hard, and I believe my mom told me dad's flooring business was in DC--he must have started it after he left New York, and I don't know and probably never will what the heck either of them did in New York. Worse, mom was a WAVE, a Naval officer in WWII, and I always thought she worked in the DC area and there was contiguous service in the Pentagon until she left when I was an older kid. Obviously, wrong.
The only one left of my parents relatives is my dad's sister, who must be 85 now, and we haven't been in touch in a long time. I have to give some thought to calling the cousins and connecting with them, maybe there is still some knowledge to be gained...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Brush with History

My daughter asked why she didn't know I had met Hubert H. Humphrey (the original Triple H!) so I included that in the comments on the previous blog. I think though, that all my kids know this story:
In 1952, my dad was doing well as a flooring contractor in Washington DC, where he met my mom, who worked in the Pentagon. The first place they lived together was a row house in Georgetown, apparently in a nice area where congressmen and women had second homes while congress was in session. Though mom didn't drive, once she had a taxi drive my sister and me by it so we could see where it was. She told me she used to see a young Senator John Kennedy and his wife Jackie stroll Caroline around in a baby carriage occasionally, since they lived just around the corner from us. Neat, I know, but I always found it more interesting that our next door neighbor was Senator Everett Dirkson. He was a very important and visible member of Congress when I was young, but I remembered him most because he had ridiculous messy (along the lines of Albert Einstein), shocking white hair. He was in the news all the time.
My mom, as did many women of her generation, practically worshipped Jackie O, so I heard about her a lot. When JFK was assassinated, all 4 TV channels in Washington (yes, there were only 4 in '63, and they signed off the air around midnight) did 3 solid days of non-stop coverage, and my mom cried continuously. It is one of my strongest memories.

Friday, November 14, 2008

To know them is to love them

A post-election article in today's local paper prompts this entry. It was titled "No Truce Between Miller and Kelso." I don't know why it's news that after the election the candidates don't always bury the hatchet.
Due to being in the military and, quite frankly, never feeling like I really belonged anywhere I've lived, I don't usually get into local politics. This last election was an exception, partly because it was"so important." I made an effort to learn about our South Carolina US Congressional seat, and ended up voting for the one who distorted his/her opponent's positions the least (unfortunately, we lost).
I also went so far as to look into the local state congressional seat, the contest between Jill Kelso (R) and Vida Miller (D), the incumbent. I really could not find out much about them, there was no detaled background online. So I decided to vote for Kelso for no other reason than that I was registered Republican and in general, agree with what Republicans are SUPPOSED to be doing--weak, I know, but a fallback position nontheless.
Anyway, something unexpected happened. While I was in the 2 hour line to vote, I met Vida Miller. She just happened to vote in the exact same precinct as me. That precinct includes all of Charleston, so you can see what the chances were she voted at the local Library. She came down the line, shook our hands and said thanks for voting. I was careful to see if she did anything to win our vote, which is of course illegal, but she did not. Now while I was waiting in line, I got to thinking, she's not so bad. She is one of 3 politicians I've actually met, the other 2 being Hubert Humphrey and George H.W. Bush. I have to say, just to meet these people in person is incredibly persuasive--I guess you get a little star struck. I bet if you are around these people all the time you become inured to that effect. It's a shame, really, that we all can't meet all the candidates for races we vote in. Maybe we could compare that charisma presence thing and then dismiss it.
BTW, I'm not telling who I voted for in the local race. Suffice to say, Miller won though it was close.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What am I doing here?

There are only a few of you seeing this because I'm embarrased at the silliness that sometimes comes through--I am, after all, late middle-aged, or is it early-old?
I am asked if I'm borrowing stuff, telling personal stories, etc. Maybe I should label the stuff? So far I've complained, joked, complained some more, wrote stream of consciousness, tried poetry, short story, and odes to things like Halloween and Veteran's Day. Also tried embedding a picture, which if you click on it becomes huge on my computer and pretty cool. That picture BTW was taken from the Hypermarket parking lot in Muscat, Capital of Oman. There are very rarely clouds in Oman so this was special, I took a bunch, this one was typical.
Anyway, all this is stuff in my head, I am just experimenting, and I am pleased to get your feedback if you like. I set this thing to send an e-mail when I post something, if you want I can stop that. I don't know what I will do next, still thinking on it.

Take care!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Flanders Fields

Veteran's Day is nearly over, and many events marked its passing this year. It is personally gratifying that people are thankful for those who served and are serving, even in unpopular wars. "Unpopular wars" is a funny term--did you know there were antiwar activists even after Pearl Harbor? Many didn't think it should have caused us to go to war with Germany and Italy. There will always be those who think there is a peaceful solution to any conflict, but I say history is proof positive we can't always turn the other cheek. The American Fighting Man and Woman elects to serve the country, it is up to our civilian leadership to correctly use the precious resource of our youth.
Movies and TV news have proven powerful at bringing the horror of war into the living room, but then, you can turn it off and reflect on what it all means in peace and quiet. The soldier in the foxhole can only pray for it to be over, it doesn't turn off when he's had enough. You can't rewind and do it over when you charge up a hill in flying-metal hell.
In my 30 years of service, I was never really in immediate danger of death, never in a running battle or fire-fight. I don't really know how I'd do in those circumstances. Yet, something in me boils over and connects me with all who served when I read a simple poem, written after an unimaginable carnage by someone who somehow survived.
I invite you to read it at this URL:

This never fails to wrench my heart and bring on the tears, even though I've only seen the fields in pictures. I wonder if it can have the same effect on someone who has never served?
If we lost these things, who would we be?

Monday, November 10, 2008


Catalogs, bills, magazines and a small package addressed to Mr. Bill Pearson; crammed unconveniently into the Monday morning mail.
With coffee in hand, I dismissed the detritus of suburban home ownership and concentrated on the plain brown box. Inside, a tube of some substance, and a card that read:
"Congratulations, Mr Pearson, you have been chosen to receive a test sample of this miraculous new product that guarantees a life-changing experience. All you have to do is rub a small amount on the back of your neck each morning, and you will be perceived very differently by the people around you. After you try the product, send us back this feedback card with your comments." It had a return address, it read simply: "Depeshit, Oregon."
On the tube, the only word: Depeshit.
"What are you reading?" barked the wife, adorned in housecoat, cucumber facemask, and evil.
"Uh...well... this stuff is Depeshit," I answered.
"Oh. OK. Like I wouldn't understand, huh? You can't bother to tell me because it's 'deep'. You're an ass Bill."
True, I did not bother. Instead I excused myself to the bathroom and rubbed some of the tube contents on my neck.
From downstairs: "What are you doing now, asshole?"
"I'm up to my neck in Depeshit," I called down.
No answer.
Out the door to work, I am greeted by Fred "Froggy" Warner, the bohemian lawncare guy.
"Huh, huh, huh...hey Mr P."
"Froggy, the bushes are starting to take over."
"Just growing plants to block off the neighbors like you asked, Mr P," croaked Froggy.
My neighbors are the Hitlers, or the Mortons...I can't keep it straight. "Oh, right. Good work Froggy. Good fences, good neighbors, etcetera."
"Huh huh huh, that's a good one Mr P, real deep."
I swear as I walked off, I heard him say "that's some deep shit."
At the office cooler, I found myself all the rage. "Yadda yadda, something about the weather..." The minions were enraptured, hanging on every word. Murmers of "cool, deep, that's some deep shit" could be heard from all corners. The office is getting better all the time.
Stopping off at the local bar, my best hope of a late arrival at home unless there's a mass extinction event, I am the most popular patron. "You know, there's lots of fecal bacteria in those bar snack bowls," I offered.
More murmers of "Damn!" "He's smart!" "That's deep!" "That's some deep shit!"
I am on a roll, and enjoying free drinks as the barkeep grudgingly changes out the munchy plates.
At the house, I dodge Lucifer's maidservant and head straight to the bathroom for more Depeshit.
I can get used to this, I think, as I dab on more 'shit to the neck.
Then I hear the doorbell.
Outside, a disparate contingent awaits.
"Who are you guys?" I ask.
"Well Mr Pearson, I'm with the IRS--I'm here about your last 3 tax returns, which to say the least, are way the government's favor. These two gents behind me are with the DEA, something about the 12 marijuana plants on the border of your property. Oh, and those last guys are with the Police K-9 patrol. Apparently, their corpse dog has alerted on something in your back yard. You sir, are in some (wait for it...) deep shit."
Yup. Where the hell is that feedback card...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I gotta sell this to somebody

I have these great ideas for movies and TV, but no outlet.
My favorite is Death on the Bruise Cruise, a concept movie based on the Love Boat and Clue, but with a twist. On this cruise, infomercial Gurus and their successful (but not typical) clients are enjoying a mid-pacific journey to cross the International Dateline on New Years Eve, thereby getting two midnights. Between the two, someone gets murdered! But what great subplots that could lead to murder! Tony Little (Gazelle) and Tony Horton (Power 90X) supercompetitive at shuffleboard and at each other's throats; Susan Powter and Denise Austin, haggling over whose videos are teenage boy's favorite late night entertainment; nutcase Mathew Lesko playing nasty pranks on stuffed shirt real estate baron Carlton Sheets; Billy Blanks alternately amused and horrified at Richard get the idea.
So who gets murdered? Here are five popular jerks:
-Skin crawlin' Vince from Shamwow--ick!
-King Paranoid and convcted felon Kevin Trudeau of "things they don't want you to know" fame.
-Never-met-a-product-he-didn't-like Billy Mays--is he yelling or what?
-That creep that interviews "Doctors" about male enhancement and colon cleansing products.
-My personal favorite, "Hanoi Jane" Fonda--a little long in the tooth for those exercise videos anyway.
So who solves the murder? Absolutely: Klee Irwin of Dual-Action Cleanse fame--if he won't play himself, line up Steve Buschemi--it's a lock!!!
I don't know what's sadder--this idea or the fact that I/we know who all these people are...

Some new Reality TV ideas based on misleading titles:
The Bowler: Yeah, he rolls a line at the lanes on occasion, but his main mission is going town to town and making public speeches to bring back men's hats--you know, the bowler, fedora, pork pie, stovepipe, etc. His nemeses are baseball caps and Stetsons. Makes at least as much sense as plumbers hunting for ghosts.
The Key Grip: Not a logistician on a film set--this guy goes from bar to bar challenging only extremely drunk guys to arm wrestle. Vomiting isn't edited out. Awesome!
The Make-up artist: Sure, does carry around some cosmetics, but real mission is to visit quarreling couples and get them to "make up." In the Playboy Channel version, he stays around for the "make-up" sex.
Dude, where the @!#$ is my car?: A crack team of repo men follow Ashton Kutcher everywhere and keep stealing his ride. Extra points if Demi is inconvenienced. Punked!

Well, if you know anybody in "the business," feel free to pitch my ideas; but if anything develops don't forget, I get a percentage!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This time

Seek me darkness,
draw breathe from the West and
collide with blooming shadows.
Chase hot flickerings,
binge on dying embers.
Find me in moonlight
if you can;
you can always pretend.
I will not call to you
but if I'm there
I am balanced,
I promise.
Lightly touch and you will see
four corners that are me.
Walk backwards quickly, with or without your prize.
This time.