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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/blog/littleplanet
Rated: 13+ · Book · Personal · #1581746
Someone told me real men don't blog. That's a double-dawg dare, Bub.
Seems to me there are too damned many things going on that I don't write about.
Seems I need to get my writin' chops up.
These are similar to but not exactly the same as pork chops.
(seems to me I said that somewhere else, one time).
Anyway, I wasn't exactly intending to go vegetarian - so chops of any sort
or description sound mighty tasty at this point.

Is writing a substitute for food? (I might be on to something here...)

I have no idea what this will turn into, if anything.
I think I'll just relax, and enjoy the ride.
If my hair turns white overnight I'll know who to blame....

- this is your captain speaking
have a safe flight.

Captain Midnight

just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry


June 15, 2020 at 9:05am
June 15, 2020 at 9:05am
#985690
Well now, I figure it's about time maybe, that I tell this little story. It's a long way back now. Back in the days when I was so young I was positively ancient.

I was 21, and gently drifting my way through the higher halls of academia. Smarter than I looked, but only just barely. I was a dude, but I was clean. No followers, and no leaders either. Busy negotiating my way through what was then, a kinder, gentler time in our modern history. It was 1973. Yeah, weird hair (mine was just long) weird clothes (mine were standard and conventional) weird music (but for me the 1970s were the age of the songwriter, which as a musician myself, was what I paid attention to.) The Fab bands of the 1960s were setting like a tired old sun. The 70s were the age of the solitary hero, male or female, it didn't matter.

So I landed myself a job in this bookstore, you see. Downtown on lower Yonge Street. Along the strip. Which was a rinky-dink little collection of 3 or 4 short blocks with radical ideas, putting on airs, thinking of itself as our little heavenly hell, a walk on the wild side, a bit of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street.
Even the bookstore's name was Times Square. Up over the door with no shame, and no apologies.

So being the bookworm I already was, I showed up believing myself to qualify for the vocation, and fit in almost instantly. Now, that store certainly was a product of its era. We all smoked and scattered ashtrays throughout the place. (I didn't.) But we were a fun bunch. Some of us brought our kids to work. (I didn't have any at the time.) Some of us brought our dogs to work. (I didn't have any of those, either.) All of us brought our music to work. Vinyl records. We had a record player up on a shelf halfway down the store. And through the business day, which started at 10 o'clock in the morning, and went on to 2am...it was a constant soundtrack backdrop to the ambience of the place.

Now this store was not large, and not exactly small either. As I recall, it was just about the right size. The walls were painted in a kind of retro purple. There were posters (Hendrix, Guevera, Dylan) typical for the time. And a whole lot of books of every description. There were magazine racks that offered just about every kind of magazine going. And then there were the girlie mags. Pretty brutal - but completely tame, really, I would imagine, by today's standards.

There was even a movie room in the back. Beyond a doorway with a sort of curtain pulled across, and beneath a ridiculous sign that said "Art Films" there extended a corridor with little closets on both sides, about ten or twenty of them, as I recall. Inside each closet was a bench, a hole in the back wall through which poked the lens of an 8mm film projector, and a white screen on the back of the door. A quarter bought about 2 minutes of movie, apparently. Again, ridiculously tame by today's standards.

Now, all us bunch of young misfits who worked in this store, understood pretty well that it was the movies and the mags that paid the bills. We just sort of accepted that. It was a financial little fact of life. We went on working the books, looking after the babies and toddlers and dogs, racking the record player tunes, serving the customers, and earning our daily bread.

But the cute thing - was how earnestly we pushed real books. We were all readers. All around the same age. All busy discovering the classics. And to us, classics became a list a thousand authors long, if not more. It was just endless. I won't even start naming that list, or listing those names, as the case may be. If you read classics, use your wild imagination.
But on top of this list, were the art books. And photography. This was when I discovered the great black and white photographers of the 20th century, the great illustrators of the 19th (and early 20th.) Poetry. Tons of it.

So there we were, just pickled in literary and artistic culture. Good music, good books, bad porn.
I sometimes wonder if there still is a bookstore that could be found, anything like our Times Square. For about a year and a half of my life, it became my way of life. A time in which, slowly but surely, great gangs of university students discovered us, spread the news by way of mouth, and haunted our store looking for things they couldn't find elsewhere, or could, but those places just didn't have the same panache. For that era, we were the hip.

We occupied this rare little world of our own design, while the larger world raged by out on the street. We served the street. The Zanzibar dance girls come in to buy our Harlequin romances, nurse novels, the occasional bestseller. The sporting dudes came in for the racing forms. Kids came in for comics (and the earliest forms of graphic novels) and once in awhile we'd finding them inching their way toward the movie room, and hustle them back toward the front.

Intellectuals perused our New Directions and City Lights collections, rustled like nesting squirrels through our pamphlets, periodicals, radical newspapers, and poetry. College kids ravaged our English lit classics. And every once in awhile some damned fool would re-shelve Lady Chatterly's Lover into the porn novel section. Even the Marquis de Sade didn't belong there. Or Henry Miller, either. Okay, I'm starting to name names now. I'll stop. Because it will never end.

Times Square bookstore played a significant role in my life. It gave me a place to be that made sense at the time. It opened me up to many more things than just a mere college education ever could. It had its own little radical focus on the world, and provided me and my fellow compatriots with a meaning that stepped outside of convention. We became sort of a family, motley, a little rough and ragged around the edges, devotional to all things found between covers, and truly thankful for literacy. All this and more, in an outrageously social setting. All of us characters in our own literary play.





May 18, 2017 at 7:17pm
May 18, 2017 at 7:17pm
#911361
Well it's been a good long while.
I'd like to say that I'd been up to no good, but apparently this is not the case.
An adventure here and there can keep you young, or turn hair gray - depending on the genre of adventure.
My hair stays stubbornly brown, I'm happy to report.
And since the last time I've haunted these parts, I've had the most marvelous romantic adventure of my life.
In fact, It's a darn shame that I don't write romance. But there it is.

I would have thought a while back - that I was entirely too old for romance. But apparently not.
It's a wee bit of a shock to the system - to discover that romance is built right into the personal DNA (no matter how stubbornly smart we like to think we are) ...or is that smartly stubborn? They could wind up being the same thing, but then again, I have my doubts.

Like finding yourself saving two memberships here - just to preserve evidence.
As if I don't wake up to that same evidence each and every morning!
Life is good.

And I'm only really darkening this page, just to limber up my lazy fingers on the keys - and nice to know they still remember the alphabet!

More on all this later.
Perhaps it's time to go haunt a good forum....

jp
January 10, 2016 at 2:18pm
January 10, 2016 at 2:18pm
#870450
A word that has shown up in the academic neighborhood, and keeps following people around, like the bad odor of a good skunk: microagression. Interesting word.
Micro, as in small. Very small. Microscopic. Hard to see without visual aids.
Agression. As in aggressive behavior.....on the attack.

Could it be that some of those raising the issue of microagression, are more agressive than the would-be microagressors?
We have problems with subtle implications here. Insidious insinuations are not far behind.
And perhaps waiting in the wings, are thought-police who will pick the brains of society apart, leaving it incapable of original thought.

It is my mission to write this without giving one single blessed example of what a "microagression" actually is.
A statement can always be made, revealing intent that is blatantly racist, sexist, ageist, religiously intolerant, or perhaps four dozen other intolerances that are frowned upon in progressively knowledgeable society.

But what is it exactly that proves intent? A facial expression, a tone of voice, a particular word or phrase....

What will our zero-tolerance society end up doing to the glory of free speech, open debate, endless discussion, the comparing of notes, ideas, opinions, expressions?
If language itself, and human expression in particular, become owned and controlled in languages of oppression, opposition, ownership and control........
then many free-thinking intelligent people just wind up deciding to stop talking with one another.

When I was young and still growing up, with a lot to learn...one of the most important things I learned was tolerance of others. This became a standard social staple of looming maturity.

Analysis - invites an attitude toward engaging understanding. You work hard enough at it, and after awhile you begin to feel that you understand a thing. But do you, really? Perhaps the only way to know for sure, is to engage with many others, in many different camps - to compare notes. Is a concept capable of having the shine of universal acceptance, a general agreement? Or does one discover that many disagree, and often for good reasons....reasons that can be explained in such a manner as to be clearly understood?

I am not very good at "academic-speak." Not because I didn't plod through the endlessly excruciating processes of academia....but because I rejected at an early age...the absence of common language, and plain speaking.
My goal, then, as now, was to learn how to express ideas in a manner that invited understanding with a majority.
I've often pondered that: a dumbing down but to what purpose? I have often discussed all kinds of important things with children.....sometimes young children. Of course, I don't use the same vocabulary I would employ with university colleagues. The purpose is to find a common ground of expression - not show off higher learning.

I have often heard commentary on language used as a weapon - whether this is intellectual bullying (a sort of "thinkist" violence) or with other agendas in mind.

We struggle to understand, and to be understood. We weave our way through the social fabics and webworks of cultural pluralities....and many do their best to not only think with their minds, but also feel with their hearts.

If microagressions turn out to be a matter of hurt feelings, then one may ask how thick the skin should be?
If on the other hand, it becomes a matter of jousting through the great parade of social encampments, with action and reaction governed by the perceived entitlements, or lack thereof.....then quick judgments often settle too many issues (which remain not settled at all) and so it goes.

One can always live a life apologizing for their existence (or constantly feeling the need to) but common humanity possesses far too many common denominators to fall silent into the great defeat of perfection and correctness.

Occasionally, one just may find an imperfect and incorrect expression to have merit, too.




Captain Midnight
Just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry
October 10, 2010 at 10:37am
October 10, 2010 at 10:37am
#708124
Because I work in the higher education "industry" occasionaly I get a little obsessive on the topic of student debt. It seems that this is the next big bubble of muck looming on the horizon.
Now that we've become acclimatized to the real estate adventures and all their attendent consequences, bailouts...and the fact that the glory days of asset appreciation are probably not coming back anytime soon.

Reading case histories at studentloanjustice has me pondering curious future outcomes.
I know that an awful lot of people out there owe money they are likely to never repay. I know that recent grads are probably adding to this number and that their numbers are likely to grow.

How long before the wheels fall off?
Education = jobs. That is the mantra still in favor...obviously, as enrolements still grow. Even unemployed people return to higher education, often. It's seen as a more positive step which can improve one's chances of further employment - down the line.


Educational debt is an awful debt. Can you imagine if all those foreclosed houses claimed full repayment of their original purchased value? Or if all those skyrocketing consumer bankruptcies demanded full repayment instead?
Try to imagine an underwater mortgage growing exponentially as defaulted monthly payments produced penalty fees and compounded interest, forever growing until a $500,000 mortgage doubled, and then doubled again.

That's what happens to defaulted student loans.
It's comfortabley easy to imagine that many defaults belong to grads who don't want to work, don't know how to work (in the real world) are lousy at job interviews..........
That's probably true for some.

I've been noticing a pattern though, lately - reading case histories (especially of people who earned their higher education some years ago, and who have bounced around the job market for some time.)
Because their debt has grown, or has never decreased in amount no matter what they pay on it - and because their employment has been so random and unpredictable, or results in jobs that just doen't pay very much.......
they wind up paying minimums.

$30 a month on a $50,000 loan.
This of course, could go on for the rest of their natural lifetime.
It's quite a handy thing. It is (probably) affordable.
It precludes garnishment, threatening phone calls, further legal action.

Now, if every unemployed indebted (and unemployed!) graduate did this - pretty soon the wheels would fall off.
I think the key word there is "unemployed". (or underemployed, for that matter.)

I wonder how many graduates out there are still living at home, sleeping in their childhood beds, and will do so for some years to come, as whatever work they can find goes to one thing: paying off a student loan.

Strange - how a higher education can "arrest" the process of growing up, becoming an adult, and actually living like one...







Captain Midnight
Just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry
September 23, 2010 at 4:25pm
September 23, 2010 at 4:25pm
#706825
It's been awhile.....
(not that life hasn't been interesting and busy - too busy, at times)

Adventures of divers' kinds - but this one of a most peculiar variety:

'Twas a typical Friday afternoon, and as usual I found myself in the local grocery store,
adding items to the shopping cart to fill up the bleak and dreary 'fridge at home -
and had proceeded, up and down aisles and then on to the checkout without mishap, or
bankrupting myself.....
Lined up and prepared to pay the shot and make off like a bandit, whereupon when it came
my turn to disgorge the contents of my cart, halfway through the exercise I recalled that there was one small item I'd forgot - one little can of tomato paste.....
glancing along the row of aisle ends, percieved the desired item was right.....over......there!
but a 5-second jog away.
I departed in haste, grabbed the prize and was back in a wink.

Which was when I discovered a pair of young redheads lurking about the counter, two small girls perhaps two-ish and four-ish, both obviously sisters, and with cascades of the lovliest red hair spilling down.
The older of the two was attempting to commandeer the counter top with some item she'd no doubt clutched onto all the way through the store....I eased around them both, and proceeded to continue emptying my cart, all the while remarking about what an awful lot of bright red hair had shown up recently on the premises....


When it came abruptly to my attention that the um, mother of these two tots (who had not a strand of red hair upon her person) was eyeing me askance - rather like something the dog might have dragged in from a back-alley romp - and proceeded to grate upon my hearing some such observation along to lines of addressing your author as being most unkind, rude, villainous, evil, threatening to children - a bogeyman all 'round, entirely.

To which my eyes grew wide, my mood shifts 180 degrees upon the horizon and, while making sure to maintain my four square feet of personal space amongst rollicking youngsters, addressed their matron: words to the effect that she should bloody well wait her turn and that I was there first.
I thought that was the end of the matter (all the while feeling just a tad sorry for the kids, and slightly embarrassed about the whole stupid thing.)
I was mistaken.

Back at me (as I was waiting for the woman in front of me to finish paying for her groceries, so that I could make my escape...) came more judgements, retributions and various comments on my child-unfriendly character -

You see, what was really going on, was that this woman was using her kids (as weapons) to "shame" me.
I'd been warned about parents like her.


I love kids. Kids knock me out. There isn't an awful lot about kids I don't like. I never have had trouble with kids - even after raising my own.

And so I just had to do it. Leveling my best Bob Dylan Don't Look Back scowl at her, and with a counterside manner resembling a slightly disturbed Bengal tiger, rumbled something to the effect that if she loved her own kids that much, she wouldn't be so spry about messing about with innocent strangers......(ya never know just who you're gonna tangle with.)
- or words to that effect.
Finally, she desisted, grew quiet, and pulsated in the manner of wounded perfection........
I left her in that state -
paid for the grub,
grabbed my stuff,
and threw two harmless winks backward over my left shoulder
directed (one each) at those two kids.
I wish them well.








Captain Midnight
Just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry



March 28, 2010 at 12:10am
March 28, 2010 at 12:10am
#691533
I recall a strange time in my life, when I hit a snag that had me so worried, I took to warming milk up in a saucepan late in the evening to ensure that I'd be able to sleep...
Seems (as I recall) that sleep felt, at the time, like the only vacation possible from the dilemma of living sober, alert, and wide, wide awake.
Whatever it was, existential dread, or premature midlife crisis - it threw me for enough of a loop that it dried my mouth out (shock symptom) stole my appetite, and ate away at the innards like a sort of tapeworm of the soul.

I remember what brought me out of it. I was driving my cab down a rainy midnight street one night, while pondering life's miseries, when I blurted out loud (I was alone in the cab at the time) "What does it matter, when you just die anyway?"

That made me laugh. Long, loud, and very, very sane.
It didn't cure anything, change anything, solve anything - it just made me laugh. As if at the tender age of 38, I'd never wrestled with mortality before. But I guess there was that little piece of the puzzle left to fill in the hole.

I heard an author talking on the radio the other week...about her book. Seems she'd come to the conclusion that what a lot of people refer to as depression, is really just glorified lonliness. Now, that made me think a bit.
I'd always suspected that chronic solitude was perhaps a rather unhealthy thing. People can sure be socially busy, and desperately lonely at the same time.

I've always been fascinated by the comparison of two words.........lonely, and alone.
I think a lot of people tend to equate them as equals....meaning more or less the same thing.
I don't.

Let's take the word, alone, first. Alone. Inside your own skin. Your own thoughts...your own life. You can't get out of it. Sort of like a maximum security prison. The personna you are, the life you inhabit....is rather a life sentence, really.
Wrestles with mortality can make that picture quite dire, especially if you feel like you're losing the wrestling match. In fact, there's no way you can win it. Like taxes, there is always that reckoning, in the end. Just when the end comes....is important information we're not privy to (for good reason.) Normally.
I recall bad dreams I used to have as a kid - waking up alone in my town, no-one around but me. That strange little thrill of terror at the emptyness of eternity. Like finding oneself in the middle of the ocean on a rubber raft...or at the top of a sheer cliff with no way down. Nasty stuff.

But then there's the other word. The antidote to all that awful stuff. Lonely.
Seems to me that first word....there isn't really anything we can do about that one. Not unless we invent eternal life (without the hamburger helpers of religiosity.)

But lonliness? Ah.....there's the beauty in the design! There are as many things one can do about that one....as there are flights of imagination, invention, ambition.
Sometimes it takes nerve, courage, trust....
Sometimes it takes style - or well learned tricks.
Sometimes it takes a good sense of humor.
Often it takes a well-honed humanity.

But the best thing of all is that when you solve that one word, however you do it - it can make you forget all about the unsolved other one.

I like that.

February 26, 2010 at 10:16am
February 26, 2010 at 10:16am
#688720
Ah well. That's some party going on out there on the west coast. Lots of glory, and a little bit of gain, too.
I overheard some yakkers on the radio today, mumbling on about 1200 dollar scalped tickets, 6-dollar hot dogs selling in the tens of thousands, street scavengers cleaning up with returned aluminum cans....it's a party.
Meanwhile back here in the real world, I'm pondering something I heard regarding the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. All the usual stuff.
Then someone mentioned a survey that had been done with a group of high school students. They were asked, if they had the opportunity to take an illegal performance enhancing drug which won them a gold medal, but that would kill them within 5-10 years, would they still do it? The overwhelming response was - yes.

One is tempted to just pass that off as youthful stupidity, and assume that when push comes to shove, they'd cave, and wind up doing the right thing. I'm sure many would.
But I just wonder...how many would take the bait?
And the other interesting question to me is - why?

For the gold and the glory? Well, often these days gold can be translated into big bucks. Endorsements and all that. The glory - is sort of self-evident. Even though it is counterfeit, false....illusion.

It struck me, in olympic competitions - an athlete wins for the glory of themselves, their team perhaps - but ultimately, for the glory of their country. Their nation is their sponsor.
When they win, their entire nation wins with them. The celebration is there for every single compatriot. As it should be. To invite just such a thing under false pretences - is a sad and desperate mistake.

So why do these young people think that's okay? I have a theory. When we live in a world of corporate and political superstars - especially people who are famous for one thing, really - their wealth...this sends a powerful message. When no-one really cares how they actually got wealthy...but just about the reality of that power, lifestyle, privilege -then the means are seen to justify the ends.

That message has been churned out there for young folks to soak up for a long time, now. When I was that age, I didn't really have a clue about the monetary accomplishments of the people I idolized. What they did - was the main thing. The money it earned was a side-issue entirely. It seems that now, the money has become the main deal.
And along with that....the endless examples of bad behavior associated with big money, big business, big politics, and all the rest of the corporate malfeasance going on out there. I suspect that how kids absorb that stuff has something to do with their attitude toward fraud.
The success is to get away with it. To get caught, is the failure.

I think the failure happens far earlier than that.
But that was a hell of a hockey game...........................................

February 21, 2010 at 7:38pm
February 21, 2010 at 7:38pm
#688241
Welcome to the fright flights of the future. I have no fear of flying, actually...always sort of enjoyed the thrill of that first little hop into the air.
What I hate, is airports (except for the small regional ones - the ones that resemble a town fire hall set up next to a high school football field.)

Recently, I stumbled across an assortment of reports about the regional plane that crashed in Buffalo last February. Although the background to that story requires a few healthy grains of salt...obviously, if such stuff were growing to epidemic proportions, regional and local flights would be falling out of the sky like passenger pigeons.
However, there was one little item that grabbed my attention - apparently, the co-pilot on the flight earned wages low enough to qualify for food stamps. hmmm.
This wave of the future raises some interesting questions. How comfortable should a frequent flyer feel, knowing that the flight crew up front might possibly be run ragged by serious debt issues, resulting from trying to live a life financed by sub-McDonald's wages? Would that same passenger not wish their friendly pilots to be well-paid, happy and content, blissful even? I would think so.

I guess there's a pecking order of sorts. You leave flight school, sign up for duty, and earn your stripes flying a few years in short hop trips between Newark and Buffalo....Pittsburgh and Columbus...."commuter" hops.
I'm amazed that within that mighty struggle to climb the ladder, to one day fly intercontinental jumbo flights, earning real money.....that such an obviously high standard of performance is managed to be maintained. Pilots are not ditching in the Mississippi on a regular basis, don't you know.

Apparently the lousy pay and the horrific working conditions down there on the bottom rungs of the ladder, are due to large carriers contracting out the work for regional short hop flights (all on much smaller planes.)
Yet - safety is safety, regardless of plane size. It hurts just as much to fall out of the sky and bounce, whether you're on a 50-seater and only a few thousand feet up, or on a jumbo 6 miles high.

Perhaps it is a sign of the times, that the general flying public has such savoir faire about the working conditions of the pilots they are trusting their lives with. Contractors of short-hop commuter flights are always finding new exotic ways to lower prices, thereby attracting customers. I'm beginning to realize how they come up with such low prices (much the same way WalMart does) by cutting the cost of labor.

I wonder if this will become a universal trend. Soon, we could have $7/hr rent-a-cops (tasers just five bucks extra!) Or bargain rate $6/hr paramedics.
They would still, no doubt, perform their jobs with pride, and offer full service to the public. (We could only hope that whatever financial debacles were making mincemeat out of their private lives...were kept entirely outside of their professional duties.)

Apparently the two people in that cockpit were discussing their working conditions, when the plane went down. When one considers that little bit of information, it invites serious consideration of the fact that pilot error is not the only important part of the story.

January 27, 2010 at 11:32am
January 27, 2010 at 11:32am
#685525
Well now.
Almost four weeks into the new year, and there's something going on in my little town that I need to get off my chest. Fourteen pedestrians killed on our roads over a span of fourteen days. That's a helluva way to start a new year. Obviously the resolutions made on New Year's Eve did not include greater attention to road safety.

What has me fried about this issue - is that the media, courting various city officials, have begun to pass judgement on the festivities - and are calling this debacle, this holocaust as they see it: They're blaming the victims.
I'm sure pedestrians are doing what pedestrians here have always done - darting out, ignoring crosswalks, jaywalking like good things. That's what happens in busy cities.
Thing is - in times gone by they didn't used to get hit - not in these numbers.
So what's different today?
I'm here to speak (what should be) the obvious.

What's different today is the way people drive. They're all bombing around in sharp, sassy, sexy high-performance cars, and they're so damned proud of what those cars are capable of...zip and zing, good vibrations in the little buzzcocks that they are.

Put simply, they drive too damned fast. Everywhere - not just on the highways and parkways, but on every damned road and city street. They're proud of themselves, no doubt. Of the time they save (time is money.) Of the, um, "multitasking" that motoring has become. They're so busy in their stretched little lives, that their driving styles have become the new normal.

Apparently, one or two of these fatalities were of the unavoidable variety. One other involved a pedestrian distracted by their cellphone.....(let's ban walking and talking now?)
It's just not that tall an order to operate a vehicle in such a manner as to make sure you don't hit anybody. Period.
Not only have the driving habits become sloppy (and dangerous) but the reaction to the results has descended into a carnival of ineptitude.
We yap about security, safety issues - yet run society in such a manner as to have changed our public domain into a battle zone.

An easy fix? Not so fast. Stiffer penalties - we'd need a traffic police force the size of the Chinese army, in a town this size...to ever bring the driving styles back to reality. By then of course, there'd be almost no-one left on the road. Most people would wind up with a suspended licence.
I beleive that an issue like this one needs to be examined critically - why do people drive the way they do? And why is that getting worse? Societal breakdown? Anarchy?
Hardly.
The business model of the day, the flavor du jour - is to rush the (working) population off its feet, and to keep it so damned busy that it has no time to stop and reflect upon what it's doing. (or what the supreme overlords are up to in their hallowed halls.)

I used to be a cab driver. Time was money (big time.) Work was a 12-hour frenzied rush. The hacker's hustle. Thus it ever was. I never hit anybody. That's why I was a professional driver.
Am I that good? Hardly................
But because I have that perspective, I know in my little doggie heart just what's going on out there on the city streets. Those lovely little lapses of attention, pushing endlessly the reaction times, the gathered clouds of resentment toward anything that slows down, delays forward momentum.
Turn up the pressure a notch or two, add the stresses of time-challenged people with far too much to do in too little time, distracted by (whatever it is they happen to be worried about) and you have a perfect recipe for traffic disaster.

So - blaming the victims? Cowardly bullying of auto-loving terrorists, in the worst part. Otherwise, lazy, weak-minded stupidity. There are far too many elderly citizens, children, stroller-pushing mothers all over our city streets to ever provide the "perfect" suburban-style speedways and drag strips for all the hot rodders who think it's their entitlement to drive the way they do.
For the best of them, I say shame - their sense of social responsibility has jumped in the back seat, instead of right up there behind the wheel, adjusting to whatever the road conditions dictate. No other attitude is ever appropriate.

By the way - I remember driving a taxi in New York City. It was a hoot. Pedestrian crowds? Ha! Along the busiest avenues, attempting to access cross streets, you had to "plow" through the masses, gently nudging at approximately a half a mile an hour.
Lots of front hood thumping, fender-kicking and threats of bodily harm and vehicular homicide...

Good brakes are wonderful.
They will never replace good brains.



October 26, 2009 at 11:32am
October 26, 2009 at 11:32am
#673331
Well now,
today is the first day of the Government's new 12-step program, beginning with the outlawing of driving while phone-impaired. I think that's just rich. I'm all in favor.
No doubt millions of incorporated power-talkers will bristle, and I won't be surprised a bit.
Although mom doesn't really need to call dad on the road to remind him to pick up junior and drop off the dry cleaning (and please get the order right!)....I don't suppose that's the real issue at all.
Those with issues will be those who drive and do business. I can't imagine how much of that goes on, but I'm sure it's a statistic that has been rising exponentially.

Now, in my young and foolish years, I drove a taxi, the old fashioned way. No cell phones back then. Just a CB radio, with microphone.
Let me tell you how I used to drive (and do other things.) At any given time, on the road while driving, these are the things I would do:
Listen to the cb, talk on the cb, write down information coming from the cb, entertain customers with witty chat, make change, look up streets in street guides and mapbooks, look for fares, look for addresses, ward off unsteady drunks who chose to sit in the front seat............you get the picture.
It was the ultimate experience of multi-tasking driving style.

I suppose some people cannot drive and chew gum at the same time.
Well.

Yet I applaud this legislation. We have lost a step or two, I believe, as the decades have zoomed by. Long have I watched bozos impersonating vehicular operators, do the damnedest things, pull the most hair-raising stunts, while under the influence of cellular communication. They literally do forget, I think - that they're actually driving, and choose to focus a little too sharply on the conversation they're having.
Some - are quite "animated" (marital spats, business deals of a lifetime.) Their lingustic gymnastics may be impeccable.
Their timing stinks.

Ultimately, I believe, it comes down to this:
was a time, when operating a vehicle was sort of reminiscent of the old Polo caravan - a bumpy camel ride at three and a half miles per hour. And there were far fewer camels about.
Or a lazy balloon ride, across a blue sky specked with marshmallow clouds..............
Now - well, we all know what highway driving conditions have become - and that's just it.
The reaction time of a sky pilot while operating a 1910 Wright Brothers' speedo-deluxe model would have startled a three-toed tree sloth wide awake. That was then.
Consider the reaction time needed while piloting something of a Mark 4 speed. Blink and you hit something.
Entirely my point.
On modernity's freeway, response time is everything.
Which is why this requires (you guessed it) focus!

And if anyone has ever spent a fascinating moment watching someone on a phone, in that glazed-eyed inner gaze - completely blank out astonishingly volatile things happening all around them.....("I have to go! Junior just smeared poop on my laptop screen. EEEuuuuwww!")
Well.

It's a sad life, isn't it? When the mere driving of a car, and all that this entails.....is not enough "sport", hardly worth the effort of acknowledging - without endless crutches of media-induced entertainment value (cells, blackberries, Ipods, laptops, mobile video players)
toys - every one of them.
Yet, driving is not a video game.
It's real and three-dimensional enough,
when you hit the wall.










Captain Midnight
Just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry
October 8, 2009 at 10:58am
October 8, 2009 at 10:58am
#670928
I'm addicted to public radio.
Rumor has it there's a tv set somewhere about the place....and every now and then I can actually make a movie date with it - but most of the time it remains sadly neglected, ignored. I'm awful fond of those "entertainment" commodes with the big swinging doors that enclose the screen. Poof. Gone.

But then there's radio....
Audio.
I have a radio in every room, including the garage...and yes, the bathroom. (Some people think that's just so weird...) but to me it makes perfect sense. What else am I supposed to do while I shave? Anyway it is a wonderful distraction from having to look at my own face.

Public radio often delivers great stuff to ponder. This morning I heard an interview with three young college grads about their experiences - interning.
I always thought young doctors did that - and then moved on into lucractive careers. I imagine that still happens.

These - interns - were all journalists.
It appears in modern times, that internships are being increasingly used by large and rather wealthy corporations in order to get work out of people without having to pay them.
The carrot on the stick seems to be the valuable work experience this provides - something that will look good on a resume.
I smiled when the interviewer ( a much older journalist) remarked that her career started quite nicely without ever having to intern at all. She just graduated, and then went to work, starting in an entry-level position, and then working her way up.

And there it is. That was then. This is now.
Internships? Living on credit. Living on daddy's money. (or sometimes, living on whatever part-time work one can scramble.)
But the credit, and the money from home - strongly suggests a bit of privilege at work behind the scenes.
I recall a while back, casting an eye upon certain research results that uncovered a remarkable trend - many who are lucky enough to have a job these days, are employed doing something that has nothing whatsoever to do with their formal education or training. In some cases, not requiring higher education at all.
Thirty years ago, I might have been inclined to believe these were real deadbeats.
I know better now.

Internment. What a weird term, when one considers all the different uses of the word. (rather morgue-ish and macabre)

Something slides silently in and darkens this page.
The corporate world does this to people - because it can. Because the media has informed us well, we are all aware now of the sheer amount of wealth being siphoned upward...(as much as they can possibly grab before some blown whistle freezes them in the spotlight, like a common bank robber.)
And yet - we are led to believe that this is now the way of the world and a sad reality, *yawp*..............
that graduated and qualified young people cannot qualify for even as much as a pathetic minimum wage?
Oh please...I really wish I were that broke!

September 9, 2009 at 9:58am
September 9, 2009 at 9:58am
#666982
I blew up this morning after discovering that apparently there is a restriction in my local school neighborhood that kids cannot walk to school and home again independently on their own, until the age of 12.
I did a bit of quick math.
The age of 11 is the average age of kids starting grade 7.
That's junior high...or middle school.
Most public schools seem to end at grade six, these days.
That means many kids starting middle school still require being "escorted" to school.
That means no-one....will ever experience going to grade school (jrk-6) independently, on their own.

And there it is. For all the ones that roll their eyes and express concern that I'm just cool with the criminals lurking behind every tree waiting to pounce on kids on their way to school.....(granny, what big teeth you have!)
Lil' Red Riding Hood run amok..................................
Is it just me? Am I missing something here?
To be a "senior" in public school....grade 6.....old enough to boss all those little guys around.......and still not be old enough to walk 2 or 3 or a half-dozen residential blocks through about as safe a neighborhood as we can manage to produce in my fair city............

We've lost an awful lot since I was a kid. I'm pissed off about that. Why do we accept this so easily? Are we just too damned busy scrambling through our daily lives to sit up and notice?
The sad thing is - the kids seem hardly to notice...why would they? They've never known different. They literally don't know what they're missing.
And that's the most frustrating part. You can spin endless stories..........but until a kid experiences that particular little bit of freedom themselves, they'll have no idea of its value.

And that's the point. I remember. It DID have value.
But there it is. A kid at play, in small groups or especially alone - in the public realm - is a kid at risk. Period.
We must make damned sure to smother them in enough bs along the way, that they'll never question the order of things.
That is - until the big post-adolescent explosion of rebellion and acting out. Comes with a whoosh. Pow.
No gradual shifting upward anymore.

So I sit in the parking lot beside the school every morning.....and watch the endless parade of cars spilling out kids of all ages, remembering that when I was their age - we all walked to school. All the way down to kindergarden. I remember that. That was such a big deal.....the big day when mommy figured you knew the way there and home again well enough to give you a crack at it on your own. And you accomplished the feat, of course, and had your little moment of personal pride....and went on with life.

Oh yes, the world has changed. For the better? You'll never convince me of that. No combination of teckie toys, shopping opportunities, consciousness-raising, infotainment or however else it is we think we've improved our lot - can replace the value of the simple independent freedom that young people once had, and which we took completely for granted - back then.
One can quote all the horror stories they want - the ones we seem to somehow be unable to eliminate from the lives of children no matter what we do, anyway. And at what price?

Why not get creative? Why not encourage a public service opportunity for local middle and high school students to earn big brownie points, and earn themselves a little bit of community goodwill. Let them "sponsor" the wee tykes (I'm talkin' 10 and 11 year-olds here) by walking them to and from?

.................or will all those older ones just - corrupt - the younger? How pathetic is that?
We need to get a grip.
(I need to get a grip!!!)
Sometimes the thing that makes me the maddest...is the feeling that I'm the only one who is.
I don't really believe that - but from responses I get to this issue, it feels that way most days.





Captain Midnight
Just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry
August 30, 2009 at 9:54pm
August 30, 2009 at 9:54pm
#665818
I came to the seaside to renew myself.........sand between my toes and salty wind in my hair.
This place draws a lot of people looking for the same things....and soon we'll all wander back to our landlocked lives and leave this peace and solitude to the people who make a living here, fishing the shorline and farming the red-stained soil.
They tolerate us - we add a little to their economy, and remind them sometimes of what they're not likey to forget anyhow - unless they're foolish enough to ever leave.
The entire population of this salty little island hardly adds up to the local neighborhood of my big ugly city.

I've been wandering around the rocky shorelines asking myself the same question, while surveying beachgrass dunes, the breakers sliding shorward, the stark scrubbed sky...could I live here?
The most obvious response to that question is astonishment at the very idea of arriving at any easy conclusion - as if based on some perpetual condition of impending infatuation..........

It's the solitude that attracts with such deadly enchantment. Here, there are endless choices of places to prowl, all of them possessed of such a heartbreaking beauty, and magnificent melancholy, as if the grand design here was to create an endless vista of stage prop sets for Shakespearian tragedy.

Picture a quaint setting - a long winding lonely battered and bruised little highway, ending in a nondescript parking lot, nestled up against dunes that tower up just high enough to hide what's on the other side.
A moment's quick climb, breaching the crest, and there it is.
A beach stretching miles in both directions.
And the best (and worst) part - nobody on it.
Just sand, sea and sky. That's all.
August 24, 2009 at 10:42pm
August 24, 2009 at 10:42pm
#665036
Last night, round about midnight, I took a little side - stroll around my father's university campus.
I had to travel about 800 miles from home to do it - but it was an important thing to get done. My father passed away last April, and it was time.

The campus of the university he attended (and graduated from in 1944) is built on a hill, overlooking the downtown and the river that runs through a small city.
On a clear night you can see the lights twinkle for quite a way.

I started my exploration at the top of the hill, and just meandered through the quiet grounds, past the buildings, feeling like I was searching for something that I'd just know by the feeling, when I found it.
Here and there, in the distance, echoing through courtyards and quadrangles, were the hollers and howls of early student arrivals, busy carousing and building up a good head of steam for the coming school year, no doubt.

I was looking for an engineering building I just couldn't find. Couple of close calls, but no cigar.
I was just about to call it quits, having thought to myself that just being on that campus, for the first time ever, was significant enough...........when rolling down one last thoroughfare at the bottom of the campus, I came upon a building that was in fact, connected to the engineering faculty.
I walked up its steps and peered in the door, even though the sign outside declared it to have been constructed in 1967, and of course it was too new....
when I happened to spy inside a security guard's cubbyhole, with a guard himself in there....so I tapped on the glass.

He waved me inside - the door was still open though it was long past midnight.
What followed was a unique little trip down memory lane.
Seems the two original engineering buildings were just next door to that one - unmarked, except for the token steel sculpture of something that was supposed to have required some small feat of engineering..........

But inside - the halls were the same. The lecture halls the same (they were tiny.) The woodwork.....the stairwells, the porticos - all intact.
I was left by myself to wander around, which I did - until something compelled me to go outside.
I came out the door and surveyed the steps.....wooden, worn - and two pillers, also wooden, on either side of the door.

Something compelled me at that exact moment to lean up against the left-hand one, and survey the green in front of me, climbing the hill.
I don't know why exactly - but that particular pillar felt like it very much had a familiar imprint of another shoulder, long ago.

It was at that precise moment, that I realized, in the quiet, in the dead of night, that the comfort that came with that moment reminded me of why it was important to be able to touch something my father had touched - perhaps in the same exact way.

Just this:
It keeps him around.........
for as long as I need him.




Captain Midnight
Just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry
August 14, 2009 at 9:37am
August 14, 2009 at 9:37am
#663581
Spirit Fever was the name of an album I never finished....the name of the title song that got added in as an afterthought. Spirit Fever...which doctor to consult? What medicine to take?
Back in the days when all I could afford were crappy discount guitars, I wore them out with playing.
Now I have a real high-class lady, a top of the line Gibson...that sits in my writing room closet and never comes out from one end of the year to the other.

Yesterday I went to visit my oldest musical friend - the one from senior year high school. She has guitars all over her house. Everywhere you look, there's guitars...crowding your elbows, clamoring for attention. So it's only natural to give in and play one - or two.
Every year, in late August, she and her husband build a stage in their backyard, and throw a party, which always turns into a bit of Woodstock revisited. This year, I 'll be on the road that day (and that's the day the Gibson usually comes out to play.)

Yesterday, the songs we sang were the songs of a young man's dreams - birthed long ago. I was surprised to discover how true they still rolled off the tongue. Sometimes - you can re-discover important things about your own past, by conjuring up the memories that old songs invoke. That's what happened yesterday.
(warning: make sure you have a few dozen hankies and kleenex boxes on hand!)

Spirit Fever

Times I have been like a motherless child
in this life, is a time that it's true
Now I look at you all of you gentlefolk here
something's gone, something's born again, new.
And we gather us all for this glad celebration
in the name of the one we loved well
Who am I to speak boldly of all that I feel
there are some things that no tongue can tell.

Look around, look around into all of the faces
hold on to the memories past
and to all the good people, and all of the places
that will live in our hearts, to the last
and look to the children, the light of this world
the flame that they burn, carries on
In the deepest dark night, as the world rolls us over
to rise, and to greet a new dawn.

Times I have been like a motherless child
to wander this world unconsoled
Is there peace for my spirit? At times I can hear it -
I can't wait 'til the story is told
And when I am gone, I am back on the land
where the wild wind is known to blow fair
on an old granite boulder, tears on my shoulder
You will find me, come visit me there,

If you need to find me,
come visit me there.....


For me, some things in life still have no better description than what happens inside a song. Perhaps it just takes too long to write it out any other way - perhaps it requires the sound of a sung note to unlock the meaning of the word...I'm not sure. It's nice to be reminded once in awhile just why they were so damned important in the first place.

August 4, 2009 at 11:32am
August 4, 2009 at 11:32am
#662161
Returning after a 27-year absence. Montreal. Old-world charm - attractions too magnetic to ignore...the entire northeast ponders those delights. Something New Yorky...tired, old, worn...but unapologietic, unperplexed, oblivious to outside analysis. Montreal is too busy - being itself.
An island of French culture, mixed and blended with any amount of otherworld immigrants, who come, and stay, and eventually find a way to blend into the fabric.
Twenty-seven years ago I made that attempt, and failed miserably. That was never Montreal's fault. It just shrugs its shoulders. C'est la vie....

Montreal became a large city a long time ago, back when old-world architecture was a given. And long ago, after it's moment in the sun, it subsequently became much too poor to re-invent itself. And this is the amazing thing.
It learned to live with itself in a way that was both stubborn and smart. No massive renewals and renovations.
No sweeping the slate clean and replacing with commodified, conventional ugly boxes (as most other North American cities have succumbed to.)
The consequence of this - is a city startlingly time worn, and at the same time hauntingly beautiful. One can walk its streets and feel the passions of ancestry - the poetry of another time.

The city is eternally French - although one can survive there quite nicely outside the language, or the culture.
Montrealers are entirely self-composed and secure enough within their own sensibilites, to allow it. They simply don't care - why would they? They have fought other fights, long ago, and won all the ones that were important.
Being French, it is achingly cool. Cool. What a strange condition, for a North American.
And yet, there it is.
It is a cool impossible to define, exactly. You can feel it, if you don't try to understand it too closely. Better to just simply relax (if you can) and let it seep into your bones.
Romance. Hardly the Hollywood kind. It pulsates from the pavement, wafts down back alleys, echoes through the sound of French expressed a thousand different ways...with a unique twist all its own.

Ah - and my own history with this place? Chaos. Like coming up against a vain, proud lover who will accept the proffered rose, but not the sentiment behind it. She will never trust that deeply.
My experience there was entirely as an outsider. Other cities would forgive me my imperfections.
Montreal? Never!
And there it is.

Just as the sound of sandaled footsteps can echo down the damp cobblestone, kissed and mixed in with the hunger and desire of life immitating all that's best in art....when penciled eybrows arch in adorable question marks, questions never needing straight answers - the play's the thing - the tune is sublime, the wine banishes into forgetfulness what is too vulgar for memory....................................................
Montreal is just an urban ballet, watched from a million balconies, up beyond the spiral staircases - carefree and frivolous enough in summertime, free of all the frost that defines its unforgiveness and endurance.

Salute!

July 26, 2009 at 1:33am
July 26, 2009 at 1:33am
#660863
....I'm hardly a man of wealth, and taste (as Mick Jagger sang so long ago.) - and being wise enough to be aware that no-one will ever read these words unless they're curious enough to have made it this far, I'm free enough here to speak my mind.
We all dress up a little in here, in words and symbols. Perhaps that levels the playing field.
My first crack at WDC (back in the early Stories days) I did a lot more writing in here than reading. When I wandered back in....I was shocked at how few reviews I'd given out.
Now, I like to balance it about half and half. I find myself a lot more curious...wandering around finding out what people are up to.
I'm not a joiner - in just about anything. I haven't joined a damned thing in this life, since I was a boy scout, and graduated from that by the end of my 14th year. I like to keep that distance primarily to keep my points of view out of trouble. It always made sense to me.

Other changes in the Return of Midnight:
No more erotica. I'm not sure if that's just something I've outgrown or not...I think it's probably that "practice" versus "theory" is a better way to go about it. Beyond that - I think this just comes from a sense of preferring to do - rather than talk about it. Makes sense to me.
A whole lot less poetry. I weeded out my portfolio (it's rather skinny now) because only the stuff I thought really should survive the test of time, remains.
Poetry still turns me cross-eyed too many times, to trust it a whole lot.
The trouble for me, mainly, is that I can't completely leave it alone....I'm a songwriter, and the tyranny of rules surrounding that activity - still leave me fascinated with the freedoms of blank verse. Incidentally, I always chuckle when I find people who insist that blank verse has to have rules. It never will, for me.

I find WDC similar, but somewhat changed, since the old days. Maybe it's just me, but things feel a bit more cliquish in here now. One thing that surprises me a little - is evidence that a lot more people are paying to be read. (sponsorship or auto-reward). Not sure just exactly how I feel about that. I'm not one to point fingers......
(unless you're filthy rich and globally messed up the world by sucking the wealth upward) - but I hardly think any of those are busy rattling around WDC.

It's become a strange world - with all it's techno-affectations. In the interim, I've discovered the joys of a well-stocked library of contemporary non fiction....decidedly NON-fiction. Just a bunch of rather intelligent authors who write really well about all the nonsense going on around us. It helps to work in North America's third largest university library. Book access is easier than a Happy Meal, a package of Kents and a gallon of high octane - no cash, no credit, no debt and no doubt.

Has all that made me more open minded...free thinking....tolerant.....balanced?
I don't know that I really look at it that way. It's just that this obsessive curiosity takes over, and pretty much follows its own nose. That's what I love, though. Being hounded by a curiosity that somehow was never beaten out of me at a young age. The desire to just find out....so ya know. For its own sake.

Well now, my life in a stolen moment will hardly become an open book here and now. [wink]
It just felt like a reasonable addition to the pile.
The skunks are still gone.

July 22, 2009 at 11:46am
July 22, 2009 at 11:46am
#660356
The other day a wonderful thing happened.
But before I get to that, I need to set up the story, a little...

You see, I'm a songwriter, and I just happened (recently) to have finished an album I've been working on - for 5 years! (No - it didn't really need to take that long...and I do have a pretty good work ethic when it comes to recording studio work - and the reason it took so long is a story for another time!)

Anyhow, one of the little chores I had to do for post-production, was register the copyrights for the songs on the album...which I did. And while I did that, I also updated my address information with the agency.

A few days after I did that, an envelope showed up - from that same agency (Assiciation of authors, composers, arrangers...et al.)
I thought nothing of it...just figured it was a bit more paperwork, and advertisement of some sort - nothing important. So I left it sitting on the kitchen counter.
It stayed there for two days.
On the evening of the third day, right after dinner, while leaning back and stretching...I happened to glance back and notice the envelope - so I decided to open it up and see what was inside.
And what slid out was a check.
Not a huge fortune, mind you....
But not a small amount, either.

Imagine my surprise. My first thought was, "Wow. That was quick! I haven't even released the album yet, and they're already sending me money! Amazing....
And then I studied on it a bit - until I realized what it was really all about.
My first album. (released nine years ago.)
Royalties for the first album.

They'd lost track of where I was - didn't have my current address....so they just hung on to that money until I showed up again.

Now here's the thing. You can sell a bunch of albums and reap some profits. You can play gigs, engagements, jobs, performances, and earn some pay. All these things I've done (and proud to do it!)

But a royalty check is something you only earn one way. By writing. (in this case, songs.)
I'd never earned one of those, before.
It isn't easy to describe the feeling when that happens.
It wasn't, when I opened up that envelope.
So I just danced around the kitchen, a little bit.
Swung my partner and dote-see-doed, don'tcha know...

And then after all the festivities, decided that what I really wanted to do, was to frame that check and hang it on the wall in my writing room.
However, my sister, in her supreme practicality, persuaded me to cash the thing (in its own honorable bank account) and then frame the photocopy (which I did.)

By the way....for songwriters, royalties usually come from radio airplay (unless their songs happen to be covered by other performers....I should be so lucky.)
So thank you Belgium! Ireland and England, Costa Rica. Japan. California, Texas, Montana, New York State, Pennsylvania and Canada too.
- albums have a way of gettin' around, a bit.

The very best part?
Incoming cash is always nice...................
but that's not it.

It's the way a royalty check - professionalizes - what you do.
No matter how humble, it allows you to step into the lineup.

I like that.
July 17, 2009 at 10:24am
July 17, 2009 at 10:24am
#659518
Skunky boy came back two days later.
He was just as bewildered the second time around...no doubt a sudden invitation to a Roman bath coming out of nowhere is somewhat unsettling. He looked a tad nonplussed. Needed less encouragement to move on out the garden trail.
I wonder where the rest of the family went?
Maybe he's the only one of the bunch that actually likes talk radio.
The tomatoes are taking it well -


Captain Midnight
Just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry
July 15, 2009 at 6:10pm
July 15, 2009 at 6:10pm
#659257
This spring, I was so excited. For the first time ever, I was going to plant my very own garden.
Which I did. In exuberant profundity - a cornucopia of the vegetable kingdom.
Preparing the soil, hauling last decade's weeds, plowing, furrowing, sowing...
All went well. Things grew. And grew. Some died. Most lived.
Especially the tomatoes. (Once I learned my lesson and transplanted seedlings instead of
trying to grow them from scratch.)

Life was good. All was well. I had a garden to go and sit and gloat over, while sipping coffee
and listening to the neighborhood birdies singing morning and evening songs.
Paradise, peace, and tranquility. Ah me.

This was all too good to be true. There was a catch.
Imagine my shock and awe when one recent Sunday morning, while enjoying the aforementioned cup of
coffee, there came a rustling, a small apologetic and slightly furtive disturbance within the tomato plants.
I looked. Something black and white couldn't quite camouflage itself behind the green.
I kept looking. Then there it was. Undoubtably black with a famous white stripe.
Looking just like a Warner Brothers character (without the beret) - a skunk. Undeniably.

Well, I didn't waste much time. I beat a hasty retreat.
All the while amazed at what I'd found, but bewildered that such a shy, retireing and decidedly nocturnal animal
should be blinking back at me in the bright morning sun. What gives? I asked myself.
Needing an answer to that question, I went back to investigate.
What I found was a black and white tail disappearing into a hole under the toolshed. My toolshed.
Next to the tomato plants.

Time passed.
Turns out there was a rather prolific gathering underneath that shed - a whole family, matter of fact.
Ma and Pa and three kids, all loving their new digs to bits.
Hanging out the laundry became peewee's new adventure in short order.
We have three fruit trees back there. Beloved by the skunks. Seems they just adore the windfalls.
I was not happy. All that gardening, and now I had to garden while keeping a furtive eye out for white stripes.
This was not fun.

Finally I got fed up. I called the animal removal people. Their price wasn't bad. I was tempted.
All humane and efficient. But they let me in on a few skunky psychology tips - just a bunch of stuff that might
convince my skunk family to vacate and go elsewhere.
At first, I was reluctant. I felt bad for the neighbors. These were my skunks. How could I pawn them off on someone else,
in good conscience? I thought it over.

Where I live, there are small kids around all over the place. Encouraging a skunk menace seemed a tad negligent.
I made up my mind. I would take action.
This morning I took action.

Here's the campaign details:

First, running an extension cord from the back of the house to the toolshed, I plugged in an old boombox radio and left it
on medium-volume on a talk radio station. Loud enough for skunks to hear.
Then I retrieved the garden hose and watered the garden (lulling them into a false sense of security.)
At this point, I had no idea whether the skunk family was at home or not.
Turns out one was.

He came out the side door after about ten minutes of fullblast garden hosing in the front door.
He wasn't happy. But he wasn't in spraying mood, either. (lucky for me.)
With the hose, I sort of guided him on past the tomatoes, alongside the turnips, in around and behind the squash,
coming up the backstretch through the cucumbers and beans, and then on out in front of the sunflowers and behind the corn patch
(which offered good cover.)
I rather lost him once he moved into the cedars - but that way led right out of the back yard, and I was hoping he'd run off and tell
his ma and pa all about the terrible terrible trouble back at the old homestead.

I'm just wondering about that. I figure there was a pretty sizeable pond underneath the tool shed at that point, and I'm hoping that
a skunk mentality will equate this sogginess with radio noise. That way, if I just leave the radio on, I won't have to flood the burrow
anymore.
Although I felt rather righteous at the time of hosing - afterward I felt a tad sheepish - just a little heavy-handed.
However, I can live with that.
Can't see the kids (especially the little ones) mistakenly thinking that that's a white striped black kitty cat to pat.

Yeah, I'm a mean landlord.
But only when it comes to skunks.







Captain Midnight
Just let me laugh when it's funny
and when it's sad, let me cry

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