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Tuesday, December 4, 2007     The Agony of Defeat
(10:25 am)

13 -9

My disappointment at the results of the game Saturday was utter. Expectations were high. The spread was four touchdowns, and there weren't four touchdowns scored by both teams. It was like watching a car wreck in slow motion. I think I knew, deep in my heart, early on that we were doomed, but I kept hoping that the team would ignite and burn up the field. I guess it was just too cold. The Fiesta Bowl isn't a bad consolation prize, but still -- the second National Championship shot EVER and perhaps a better than even chance of winning it, down the tubes. I may never see the WVU team reach these heights again. I really wanted to see them on top of the heap at least once before I die. Looks like, similar to many other things and situations in my life, hope reigns, not eternal but persistently and only gives up when the sand gets kicked in my face by the muscle-bound bully-on-the-beach, fate and shattered expectations.

Let that me a lesson to me!

Quote of the Day: "We cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain. "

-- Alan Watts

Flame Fractal, detail
"The opposite of truth is a lie. The opposite of a universal truth is often another universal truth."

No, I'm not trying to be inscrutable -- that's just how my mind works. I realize I can impart no wisdom, nor can I instruct anyone in anything. I can just be. If that causes ripples that reach another's shore, so be it. If the waves go off into the distance and fade into a glassy surface only to reflect the sun, that's equally good. Usually I don't 'think' in terms of metaphor and concepts. I left those behind, save for prose and poetry, years back. I've recently begun correspondence with someone who's on the path of Zen, or so it appears, and that has me thinking back to when I tried to put such things into concrete form. Art explains reality better than words, and art is a pathetic attempt at the impossible.


Friday, December 7, 2007     Remember Pearl Harbor
(11:23 am)

That's what the brooch my great-grandmother wore every day of her life said, and she was buried wearing it. She hated those 'sneaky Japs' with every ounce of venom in her frail, old body. She even refused to speak to her grand-nephew's Japanese wife, Kayota. She wasn't too keen on the rest of the people around either, all of us being 'white-eyes' to one extent or the other. My great-granny Elizabeth was, I think, half-Cherokee. She grew up in Arkansas or somewhere out there. How she got to this part of the country, I couldn't tell you, and most of those, if not all, who could are dead and gone. It's a shame we never had much interest in things genalogical in our earlier years. I think my Uncle John dug up some information on the Mollohan side of the family, including the McClellands and Holsteins. On the Friend/Hoffman side I know very little. More's the pity.

We should not forget Pearl Harbor, nor 9-11, but I don't think we should take it to the extreme that granny Elizabeth did. Shouldn't forgiveness and compassion be somewhere in our repertoire? I'm not saying we should forgive and forget, just forgive. We should not let down our guard either. As long as there are people of faith who are so certain in their belief as to take the lives of others in the name of god or religion in general, we must we aware, alert, and compassionate toward such misguided beliefs.

Quote of the Day: "Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory. "

-- Leonardo Da Vinci

I watched the PBS Readers Digest condensed version of the 2007 Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival yesterday. Jeff Beck, was sloppy and amazing as usual. He had a young gal playing bass with him, who looked to be about 14 or 15 -- beautiful, and damn! can that girl play! Her name is Tal Wilkenfeld. She's acutally 21, but looks younger. She's an Australian high-school dropout who's only been playing bass for four years. She picked it up after immigrating to this country five years ago as a guitar player. She's astonishing. Her MySpace Page has a couple songs from her first CD and a video or two of her playing. While nice to listen to and look at, they don't really serve up the full extent of her talent. Besides being pretty and animated, she's a delight to watch merely for the raw talent she exudes and her obvious joy in playing. I'm in love!


Tuesday, December 11, 2007     If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
(10:24 am)

That has to be one of the best film titles ever. It was a 1969 film about a group of travelers from the US racing through seven countries in 18 days. It was an attempt, in my estimation, to cash in on the unexpected runaway success of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, the 1963 film that started it all. This genre has degenerated and culminated in the pitiful degradation fest called "The Amazing Race," the quintessential pseudo-reality show that does its best to draw the absolute worst qualities from all participants. I hate so-called "reality" television. That's what happens when writers go on strike. . .

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Did someone say 'high times?'

It's 55 degrees outside right now. I'm wearing shorts today. Crazy-ass weather we're having. Half the midwest is coated in ice and it's supposed to be in the 70's here later today. Hey, people, we've screwed the pooch somewhere.

Quote of the Day: "Be here now."

-- Baba Ram Das (Richard Alpert)

Ann's trying to quit smoking. It's been over a week now and I'm still breathing. Apparently she's doing well. None of her co-workers are dead either.


Monday, December 17, 2007     Open Letter to Rich Rodriguez
(9:41 pm)

Dear Coach,

Exactly how much money do you need? With the cost of living in Michigan undoubtedly much higher than it is in Morgantown, your pay increase will not be as much as you think right now. Oh yeah, and lose one game like this year's backyard brawl (i.e., the Ohio State game next season), and see how long you'll be head honcho for the maize and blue. Yeah, you're a great coach and all, but after last year when you told all of us that you would be the coach at West Virginia "for a very, very long time." A whole year? That's a very, very long time? Did you throw the Pitt game, Rich? Something really, really didn't seem right about that game. You had this in mind? You thought that it would be harder to leave if you earned that extra bonus and the accolades for playing and perhaps winning the National Championship game? You were afraid to get to the big dance and have to go up against Ohio State and let Michigan see that maybe you didn't have it in you to whomp the Buckeyes after all? See, people start to think terrible things about you when you do something that about 85% of the respondents in a local television station website poll call "Betrayal." Yeah, we feel betrayed. Seven years you spent climbing the polls and you were in a position to secure a spot for WVU at the pinnacle of college football, and now you leave for a slight step up from where you were, dragging assistants and recruits with you, damaging the program at your alma mater much more than if you'd just quit coaching or died or something other than bailing out for a salary increase and a perception of being a bigger deal that you already were. Oh, many will sing your praises as long as you keep winning. People here will treasure memories you gave us, but many of us will never forgive you for abandoning us just when we could see the summit that will probably take many more years to reach witout the continuity your continued presence would have guaranteed. Disappointment. Ire. Disgust. We feel it all, but money assuages a lot of disdain, don't it coach?

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Let's burn a couch in Rich Rod's (dis) honor.

Busy weekend. Friday night was the open stage for December. It was especially good. I enjoyed most, if not all, of the performers. I wasn't feeling real well by the end of the night so I left without hanging around and shmoozing as per usual. Dick Patton, you'll be happy to hear, is fine. He didn't suffer an ignominous end at hands of some rabid liberal. One of his minions (turns out there may possibly be more than one) was in a car wreck and was hurt pretty bad. Get well quickly, Mark. We miss you. There were a number of electric guitars and amps on the stage this month. Had I but known I'd have brought a Les Paul and borrowed a Marshall stack from John Bentley.

Speaking of John Bentley, Sunday I spend most of the afternoon hanging out at his space in the flea market, just shooting the shit and remembering the good old days. A fantastic thing happened, too. I saw John Bentley shake hands with. . . wait for it. . . John Bentley. A woman and her kids came in to look at banjos. She mentioned that her husband and father-in-law, who were wandering around somewhere in the building, were also both named John Bentley. When her husband came in a little while later, John reached out his hand and said, "John Bentley? I'm John Bentley. Pleased to meet you." It was grand!

Saturday, a fellow I met through MySpace stopped by. We were drawn together because of our interest in Zen, and Buddhism in general. We had a great conversation. It's rare to find anyone locally to discuss such things. I know a few Buddhists, but they're usually not interested in talking to me about it. I'm glad John is.


Sunday, December 23, 2007     Ho, ho, ho!
(11:03 am)

Note the date. December 23rd. This morning, shortly after nine when I got up and hobbled downstairs to collect the Sunday paper, it was 60 degrees outside, and a light. misty rain. Well, the temperature has dropped a degree since the deluge started. It's raining like it was June! So much for washing the van today.

Quote of the Day:
"Santa Claus wears a Red Suit,
He must be a communist.
And a beard and long hair,
Must be a pacifist.
What's in that pipe that he's smoking?"

-- Arlo Guthrie, "The Pause of Mr. Claus"

I've been going around lately, wearing a Santa Hat. That, with my white beard, tends to get the attention of little kids. A child between the ages of one and three, crying loudly will get a glimpse of me and dry up and flash a smile in a matter of nanoseconds. A toddler throwing a tantrum will spy me contenance and snap out of it in mid-hissy. Slightly older kids, almost cynical enough to understand that mom and dad are really The Claus, still can't take their eyes off of me. I've had several mothers whisper "Thank you" for quelling an unruly offspring, as they passed. I've garnered some delightful moments as Santa. Some of the older girls, in the 14-20 year-old range also still seem to have a 'thing' for the jolly old elf, as they regularly wave and smile.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Yeah, right. . .

It's that time of year -- chaos unleashed. In one store yesterday, we could barely make it through the aisles, not because of shoppers, but for their aftermath -- broken goods flowing like lava off the shelves, detritus of all technicolors strewn about on the floor. In the clothing area, it looked like some of the racks had diarrhea and had shit hangers by the hundreds. It's bedlam, and it's nearly impossible to not get caught up in it to some degree or the other. Two more days and I still have things to do. I keep promising that one year I'll have arranged contingincies so that I'm immune to it, but no matter how carefully I plan it seems to catch up to me at some point and in some degree. This year has been better than most in recent memory, but like I said, there are two more days. . .


Friday, December 28, 2007     Onward to the New Year!
(11:00 am)

Christmas is over. The hectic pace of the commercial life should be cooling back to a simmer, for at least a while. I might feel more like getting out and about now that there's not a line (queue, as they say in England) everywhere, even on the highway. Traffic should taper off from disastrous to merely horrendous. Yesterday I managed to ship two packages at two different post offices waiting in line less than five minutes at either place, and with a cheerful demeanor on the part of both clerks, instead of the Christmastime stressed-out, curt and grumpy, "Next!" attitude. There were no able-bodied souls rushing to cut off the guy with the cane (me) so they could get in line sooner, no jostling in an effort to serve their own needs above all else. At one of the post office, a woman held the door for me. A week ago, that probably wouldn't have happened. Then, with me in my white beard and red Santa hat, it was the little kids holding the door and smiling while their parents grumbled and tensed a little more with each passing moment.

Quote of the Day: "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."

-- Lao Tzu

I was invited to come to an open mic in Hurricane tonight, but I don't know if I'll make it. Yesterday I wasn't paying close enough attention while slicing up some leftover turkey breast and sliced off a tiny bit of my index finger on my left hand. That's the fretting hand. It's not right on the tip of the finger but it's close enough that if I'm not real careful it gets painful in a hurry. Either way, if I'm being mindful of the injury or playing without thinking about what my fingers are doing and hit the wound I lose concentration. I don't want my debut at a new venue to be less than my best so I may just skip it until next month. Maybe not.

Today's Fortune, Cookie:

Letting go.  Leap of Faith.  Plunge into the Absolute.

The Rich Rodriquez saga continues. There were shirts in store windows at the mall reading Rich Fraudriquez. The University filed suit against him to make him pay his $4 Million buyout. There's still no word on a new coach. It seems to be down to fewer than a handful. The team is in Arizona working toward the Fiesta Bowl. I really hope they do well. I'd love to see them win decisively against Oklahoma, especially since OU tried to get out of the Fiesta Bowl to play Virginia Tech instead. It's like we're not good enough to play the likes of Oklahoma. Seems to me the last time we played them, they were nationally-ranked and we weren't and we won! Maybe they're afraid? I doubt it. They probably saw the Pitt game this year and figured we don't present much of a challenge. I'm still at a loss to figure out what happened in that game. We were obviously a much better team, being favored by three to five touchdowns, yet we lost in a low-scoring bloody nose. Was the coach distracted or apathetic, already knowing that he was leaving for greener pastures. I just don't get it.

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