Tone Poem Tuesday

You know the drill: When I’ve not really had time to listen to anything specific and write insightful commentary about it, I turn to Franz Von Suppe’s operetta overtures.

Here’s a very good performance of Suppe’s Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna overture.

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“First offense, BAM! Into the colon you go!”

Mr. Carlin on germs and disease (play through headphones if you’re at work and you share a desk with some easily-offended Karen-type):

Obviously I’m not in total agreement here, but it’s fun watching an artist at the top of his game. Carlin’s language had such music, such rhythm to it. He’s an icon of comedy, but I don’t think he gets his due as a prose-poet.

As for me this morning? Feeling better! As I’ve said, this cold has been proceeding in exactly the same fashion that my colds normally go, and if not for COVID I’d never have thought much about this particular cold beyond its annoyance level. I’ve now reached the point where I’m sneezing a lot less and my throat is significantly less sore. I’m still waiting for the stuffiness upstairs to abate to the point where I can smell things*, but I imagine that’s in the offing soon. Whereas my sleep the night before last was interrupted frequently by sneezing and coughing, my sleep last night was much more fitful, and it was only interrupted a couple times, and those were by a dog making his “Excuse me, I need to go outside and pee now” noises. (The Dee-oh-gee had a rough day yesterday, but more on that another time. He’s doing OK, though, for a doggo who is about to turn ten years old.)

So, to sum up: Feeling better, not a hundred percent, but definitely on the mend. I suspect that by Thursday I’ll be feeling quite normal. Meanwhile, I’m going to keep on imagining my vaxxed-and-boosted immune system working its way through my bloodstream and escorting freshly-dead COVID virus molecules directly into my colon.

(And a promise to you, readers: barring something significant happening down there at some point in the future, this is the last time I shall ever mention my colon in this space. A writer has limits.)

*On my sense of smell: I know that loss of scent and taste were major symptoms of COVID’s original variants, but that is apparently much less the case with the current versions of this damned thing. Also, when I get colds I always lose my sense of smell for a day or two, pretty much because I’m pretty stuffed up. I can still taste food and beverages, though with the scent component out of play, eating is a lot less enjoyable.

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Ginger root and citrus peel

The dialogue opening this scene from The West Wing (season one) has been on my mind today:

I haven’t resorted yet to a strong shot of whiskey, but I’m not ruling it out, either. I have an unopened bottle of Scotch around here somewhere….


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The mood of the day…

…is this.

And why is that the mood of the day?

Because of this:

I started feeling a bit of scratchiness in the back of my throat the other night, after we got home from the County Fair, but I didn’t think much of it. It was a dry and dusty day, I didn’t drink nearly as much water as I usually drink, and I do occasionally grapple with mild hay-fever this time of year. But yesterday it started feeling suspiciously like an actual cold, and this morning I got up and thought, “Yup. This is a thing. I’d better take a test.”

And, to no surprise at all, there it is.

I’m not terribly worried at this point. So far this just feels like every other mild head-cold I’ve had, though I’m irritated because I’ve enjoyed not having had a cold in at least three years. I’m vaccinated with all boosters available (second booster came a couple months ago), and I’m in decent health for a fellow my age (the weight could be less, yeah yeah, whatevs, I’m working on it slowly). I’ve also maintained my habit of masking, though maybe not quite as religiously as I was. I’ve no idea where I got this from, but I’m happy that it’s taken me this long, and that my hard work to not get it does seem to have paid off. Dating from the day the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, I’ve made it 886 days without getting this damned thing. I know folks who have had it more than once in that same period.

I continue to be vexed by resistance to simple measures like vaccines and masking. My commitment to “personal freedom” does not outweigh my awareness that I am a part of what I still hope is at least a partially-functioning society, and on a more mundane note, I genuinely don’t understand why we’ve all just accepted “getting sick two to four times a year” as just…something we do. Like it’s the cost of doing business. What is that about?

So anyway, that’s the latest. Sigh…but if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a virus to curb-stomp. I ain’t got time for your shit, COVID!


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A learned hatred in service of a small god

I, like many others, am disturbed and horrified by the attack on author Salman Rushdie that took place at the Chautauqua Institution, a place I’ve been to a few times, which is just an hour’s drive away on the lovely shores of Lake Chautauqua. Hatred and religious extremism no know boundaries and can flourish anywhere, though this wasn’t a local hatred; from what I can tell, some guy checked where Rushdie was going to be, went there, and attacked.

I haven’t read any of Rushdie’s novels, but I’ve read a few of his essays and other pieces over the years. He has always struck me as a nuanced thinker and a fine writer, and that he could be attacked in this way is appalling…as is, quite frankly, the entire “fatwa” placed on him in the first place. The whole concept of blasphemy has always struck me as deeply, deeply weird. I have never been able to wrap my head around the idea of God–a being so vast and powerful as to be able to create the entire Universe–nevertheless being apparently so thin-skinned as to be offendable by anything some being says, thinks, writes, or does down here on Earth. It just doesn’t make sense to me, and I can’t understand why anybody would even want to believe in a God like that in the first place. It seems to me we should ask more of our supreme beings.

There’s a cartoon online that sums up this point in pithy fashion. I tend to agree. If you think blasphemy is even possible, and that it’s something that needs to be enforced in God’s name here on earth, something is wrong with both your religion, for its small and limiting view of God, and with you, for having chosen that religion.

One final thing strikes me about this whole affair: the fatwa against Rushdie was pronounced by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, 43 years ago. The man who drove a few hundred miles to execute the fatwa yesterday is 24 years old. He was taught this hatred. He was taught it, and he took it into his heart willingly.

Many people tend to think that such religious extremism is bound to die out just by a kind of atrophy. And maybe it will, in some inevitable course. But it’s clear that this will be a very long process, and in the meantime, there are plenty of self-minted extremists rising to do evil in the name of their small-minded God who commands it.


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“Then you may take me to the Fair….” (but a different one!)

Our summers are partially dominated by two Fairs: the Sterling Renaissance Festival (or Faire), and the Erie County Fair. We’ve done the former already, and later today, we go to the latter! More to come on that…but for now, here’s my favorite of all the photos I’ve ever taken at the EC Fair. I took this eleven years ago, and I’m not sure which camera this was. But I like the energy here and the gentle hazing of the light….


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Something for Thursday

I saw Grease when it came out. I was no older than 7. I went with my sister. We were living in Elkins, WV at the time. That was the first time I saw Olivia Newton-John.

Now, Newton-John was never a celebrity crush of mine; I was slightly too young for that kind of thing. But come to that…Goldie Hawn and Foul Play were to come very soon thereafter, so…I dunno. Maybe I thrown off the scent by the fact that Newton-John was a teenager in the movie, and I wasn’t sophisticated enough to notice a bunch of people in their late-20s playing teenagers.

I also wasn’t sophisticated enough to get any of Grease‘s risque humor. Years later I would be dating The Girlfriend (now The Wife), and she would tell me that she wasn’t allowed to see Grease until she was in high school because of how dirty it was! Now, at that point I hadn’t watched Grease all the way through since grade school, so I honestly had no idea what she was talking about. We eventually did watch it–it’s become a favorite of ours–and yes, it’s loaded with some pretty risque (if still safely PG, as 1970s PG-material goes) stuff. But when I was seven? Lines like “I feel like a defective typewriter. I missed a period” went right over my head. All I saw was something that looked like kind of a Happy Days episode with songs in it.

But anyway, Olivia Newton-John…I always knew she had a killer voice which was an incredibly versatile instrument. She could do the “belter” thing, or she could be tender and plaintive…sometimes in the same song. And testimonials about Newton-John down through the years seem to have done nothing but bolster her image of being a genuinely nice person whom everyone loved.

I celebrate Olivia Newton-John, along with a few others, every year on September 26, because we share that as a birthday. I’m sad, though, that Olivia Newton-John is now gone, taken by the cancer she so ably battled.

Her movies and songs remain, though. We can return to them any time we wish. Maybe that makes us…hopefully devoted.

Here’s Olivia Newton-John.


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Oot ‘n a Boot

If I needed a visual summation of the last six months, this would be it.

Ayup. That’s an orthopedic boot.

I was not in the boot. The Wife was. She has had troublesome ankles her entire life, but this past winter it really started to flare up to the point where she needed medical attention. Medications and physical therapy were up first, as was this big honkin’ spaceman boot.

This did not work.

Enter…orthopedic surgery, six weeks of icing and elevating and not putting any weight on it, and now, finally, physical therapy. She just today got the OK to stop wearing the Big Honkin’ Boot all the time, so for the first time since, I dunno, February, she has two regular shoes on.

This whole ordeal has been a struggle, in a lot of ways, but it was a necessary struggle that will hopefully lead to better days ahead.

And yes, this post was also an excuse to use the fun phrase to make fun of Canadian accents, “oot ‘n a boot”.


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Tone Poem Tuesday

I heard this piece of joyously bombastic music on the radio last week, and as I wondered what it was, I found myself thinking, “This sounds like the kind of thing John Williams would write for the Olympics.” Now, I’m a firm believer that music can never depict anything specifically, but in this case…I was right! The work is not by John Williams, though Williams did record it on an album of such music. It is a piece called Javelin, by composer Michael Torke. It was commissioned for the 50th anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and for the 1996 Summer Games in that same city. Torke has apparently openly admitted the debt the work owes to John Williams.

Here is Javelin by Michael Torke.


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And now, Candy.

Here’s a product I’ve discovered lately:

Yes, it’s red licorice!

I’ve got an unconquerable sweet tooth, I must admit. I have to be really careful about indulging it, for obvious reasons, so I try to err on the side of small servings of high-quality sweets. I’ve recently found this stuff, Wiley Wallaby Licorice.

The Store recently started carrying this brand. It’s a bit on the pricy side (a bag of this costs around 2.5 times what a standard bag of Twizzlers does), but it is high quality in that just a few pieces satisfies the craving. A bag of this stuff (full disclosure: I’m on my fourth bag) lasts me a few weeks, when consumed at a rate of two or three pieces at a time, only once a day. I’m not likely to sit and plow through a bag of this like I would a bag of Twizzlers or Red Vines. (Red Vines are particularly dangerous because they, like Twizzlers, are hollow in the middle, and that cavity is wide enough in Red Vines that you can use them as a straw. Imagine sipping your cola through a piece of licorice. Evil, I say!)

Pieces of Wiley Wallaby are much, much shorter, being only about two inches long. But they’re much, much fatter, and what’s more, they’re solid. Behold:

These are a chewy-candy delight.

Now, in “the wild”–meaning, at The Store–I’ve only seen three flavors of this stuff. There’s the Classic Red, which is just about perfect as red licorice goes. And there are Green Apple and Watermelon, neither of which I have tried because I quite honestly don’t like either of those flavors in candy settings. Maybe they’re wonderful in the Wiley Wallaby universe, it’s possible, but I’m not spending that much to find out. Looking at their website, however, I am intrigued by a few other flavors: Blueberry Pomegranate? Huckleberry? Yes, I may well be trying those.

But for now, this stuff rocks.

This has been a non-commercial endorsement. Nobody at Wiley Wallaby has paid me for this. (But if they want to send some free licorice my way, I am not so churlish as to say No.)



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