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Due to Technical Difficulties while Bobby was on a four-week Cruise to Europe, we were unable to Publish our May 1st DIGESTWORLD ISSUE. We have combined May and June into one issue hope you enjoy the photos of the Azores, Barcelona, Aix en Provence, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Herculean, Mykonos, Istanbul, Ephesus, Athens, and Venice, among other places.
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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Jack Parker (1940 — 2012) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Good Friend and Colleague ~~~~~
~~~~~~~~ To me Jack was like a rainbow:
~~~~~~~~ You can't collect rainbows, but you can remember them. ~~~~~
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WELCOME TO DOUBLE DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#125/126 May, 2012== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Months of May&June:
I will not should on myself today
— Jo Ann Woodward , American Actress (according to reports, she keeps these words in a sign over her bed)
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Editor: Bobby Matherne, Asst. Editor: Del Matherne
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents DOUBLE ISSUE#125/126 for May/June 2012
Table of Contents
1. May's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for May
3. On a Personal Note
Flowers of Shanidar Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Eggplant Medallions & Green Limas
6. Poem from "Yes, and Even More":"Stages"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for May:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Under Kilimanjaro by Ernest Heminway
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
4. PRINTER READY REVIEWS
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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1. May/June Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: http://www.doyletics.com/vjtoons.htm Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the doyletics.com website.
The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.
This month Violet and Joey learn more about Glommer Queens.
#1 "Glommer Queen" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/040912jv.gif
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2. HONORED READERS:
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Each month we choose to honor two Good Readers of our DIGESTWORLD from those all over the World. Here are two worthy Honored Readers for May/June, 2012:
Otis Brown in USA
Larry A. Chrispyn in California
Congratulations, Otie and Larry !
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
DOUBLE ISSUE EXPLANATION
Del and I went on a cruise to Europe, New Orleans to Istanbul, from April 15 to May 11, spanning the time during which DW#125 would be published. To prepare for its publication, we assembled all the parts of the Issue during the first half of April, trusting that we would add a review or two and lots of photos of the first two weeks of the cruise. We also spent several days installing software for scanning text, processing photos, and sending out the individual emails on May 1. All of which plans crashed and burned when, two days out of Miami, my LapTop refused to boot up, and only beeped continually instead, apparently attempting unsuccessfully to load the boot sector from Disk; either due to a corrupted Boot Sector or to some glitch in the CMOS setup data.
I was upset and Del was jubilant. Lacking a LT, she knew that I wouldn't have my head stuck in a computer for large segments of the trip. My upset period only last until I quickly determined that there was no one on board who could help me, the Internet Café guy knew less about how to solve the problem than I did, and could only offer me a laptop when we reached Barcelona. Till then the only word processor available to me was the neutered Internet terminals, containing no USB ports and providing no software other than a Browser, useless for anything but sending and receiving emails and browsing the Internet. Any typing I wished to save I would have to email to myself and doing it while I was on-line over the ship's expensive satellite connect to SkinnyBand (very, very slow broadband), running me $25 an hour. That's a lot to pay for a typewriter, don't you think? I did and awaited having a loaner when we reached Barcelona and the two of the people with loaner LT's finish their cruise, and I get one of them. The twit in the Internet Café neglected to mention that the LT is also a neutered Terminal, thereby keeping my hopes up for some relief, hopes quickly dashed the morning we reach Barcelona! What use would it be to me to have LT in my room taking up valuable desktop space and only useful for $25 an hour for typing? From that point on, I knew that sending out the May 1 Issue was not going to happen, and I did what any good Engineer does when the customer is asking for the impossible, I got the Customer (me) to reduce my specs! There would be no May 1 Issue of DIGESTWORLD, and somehow I would figure out to do when we arrived back home.
The solution was to combine May and June into a DOUBLE ISSUE, which is what you will be reading, viewing, and enjoying this month. This double issue is a one-time experiment necessitated by the hardware problem. We apologize for not having a way to announce to our Good Readers why there was no Issue for May, and thank those of you who emailed us out of your concern.
While we were out of town, three long-time friends died whom I wish to remember at this time.EARLY APRIL: A FEAST DE RESISTANCE
Jane Snee Bayhi (1935 - 2012) We met her back in 1980 when her son Stephen married our daughter Maureen. We were joint grandparents and great-grand parents together. We will always remember her fondly.
Inge Elsas (1915 - 2012) We met Inge about twenty years ago in a Rudolf Steiner study group. She studied nursing under Dr. Ita Wegman in Berlin at the age of 17. A gentle soul whose mind remained sharp until the end of her days on Earth.
Don Long (76) best known as Dandy Don who ran a daily LSU Sporting News website since 1996. When the Times-Picayune sports pages had little to say about LSU, I could always depend on Dandy Don to fill in the details. Will miss Don and know that his son Scott will carry on the great tradition his dad started.
There is no better time to be in New Orleans than April, always cool, dry, breezy, sunshine in abundance, and full of good things like the crawfish in our marshes which wend their way into boiling pots and onto the newspaper-covered tables where we eat them with relish. For me the first day of April started with my reading the Hemingway book, “Under Kilamanjara” outside under the pergola ferns, moving my chair slightly as the Sun passed to keep shade from ferns over my head. Fresh breezes, dry air, and bright Sun! Wonderful. Soon we dug into the 10 lbs of boiled crawfish from Rouse’s, our third choice after DiMartino’s Restaurant was closed on Sunday, as I told Del I thought it was, but she insisted anyway, then second choice Zydecho’s, but Plan B was also closed when we got there, not opening until 11:30 am, so we got the crawfish for $2.78 lb boiled, went home and ate them completely up, our first of the year. And this was only the first day of April.
Getting ready for our trip, I had bought two new trickle/float chargers for our two Maximas to keep our batteries fresh while we would be gone for a month. When we returned from our January cruise, only two weeks, the Maxima we left at Airport had lost enough battery charge to leave us stranded and I was bent on ensuring that would not happen again. Bought two digital timers to turn on chargers only a half hour a day and opened vent into garage to bring fresh air in. Both cars started right up when we returned, so the preparation work was worth it.
The third day of April was my annual visit to the Mass of the Chrism in St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter. Which did I like the most, the music during the ceremony, the three large silver urns carrying the olive oil to be blessed, or the café au lait and beignets at Café du Monde afterwards, I can’t say, but being part of the blessing of oils which will be used to anoint newborn babies, newly confirmed Catholics, newly ordained priests, people who are on the verge of dying, and the altars of new churches throughout the large archdiocese of New Orleans for the coming year seemed to be my own compelling reason for having attended the Mass of the Chrism for almost very year since the mid-1980s, often taking a precious vacation day to do so when I worked at the Nuclear Plant. I heard once that the new olive oil is poured into the containers holding whatever oil was unused from the previous year which means, if true, that the oils in the silver urns have molecules of olive oil which have been blessed over three hundred times which is about the number of years the Cathedral has been in continuous operation.
After the beignets in the French Quarter, the next feast was at Louie's Crab Trap in Frenier along the western shore of Lake Pontchartrain, cool breezes flowing past the open air dining area where we enjoyed boiled crawfish, boiled blue crabs, BBQ crabs, and other delicacies while we enjoyed each other's companionship. Burke Fountain was visiting from his home in eastern Massachusetts and joined Candace, Gus and Annie, and me and Del for a delightful evening together. Once a year is not often enough for a trip to the Crab Trap.
The next night we were invited to dinner with the same group at Guntis and Anne's home in Algiers Point. Del brought a huge salad which was a big hit. Anne had baked some frog legs and shrimp scampi. Anne's two Asian girls (Foreign exchange students) were looking much more confident and mature than when they first arrived about six months or so ago. After dinner, we had some Brocato's Spumoni ice cream that Candace brought, and Burke and I talked about New England, mostly my sharing my Foxboro experiences there in the 1970s. Then we watched a slide and music production of Burke's Mardi Gras photos, before calling it a night. And April was just beginning.
Easter Sunday was a quiet day for us, no kids, no company, just time to decompress from the flurry of activity of early April. In the beautiful weather I sat out on pergola enjoying the lion hunting safari under Kilimanjaro by Hemingway's wife, Mary. While I was reading "Under Kilimanjaro", a mother crow was feeding her young directly above me and they cried like a baby when she was in the tree feeding them, a mournful sound, not at all like what one thinks an animal wanting food would sound. Looking up at the crow's nest, it occurs to me that the nest is as high up in the Louisiana cypress tree as a crow's nest on a tall ship's mast would be, the same portion of crow's nest to tip of mast: thus, the crow arranges for its nests in a tall tree. Instead of Land Ho! I am hearing cat-like cries but louder about every fifteen minutes while I'm reading of leopard hunts in Africa with the great mountain natives call Kibo looming in the distance sending down coolness at night on breezes which Hemingway writes "are so slight as to reveal themselves only by a slight increase in the intensity of the campfire". Later Del and I took a one lap bike ride on the cart path in the afternoon while the golf course was deserted; all the golfers were home watching the Master's Open, won by a Bubba!
Some last minute planting before we started packing for our month-long cruise to Europe: Our gardener Neighbor Connie gave us a Chinaball Tree in a pot, three small Sugar Baby watermelon vines, and two eggplant plants. We planted the China Ball along the north edge of our property between the peach tree and Pampas Grass. Then we planted the small plants in the mulch bed garden where the broccoli had been. The Sugar Baby vines were planted on the outer edges of patch, and the eggplants were put where broccoli had been and we hoped the rain would keep them growing while we're gone. There were a couple of cucumber vines and a Washington Parish watermelon vine already growing. (When we got home a month later, the cucumbers and watermelons were huge already.)
We attended Christopher Tidmore's Bon Voyage party in Algiers before we left. Met Ben who works in Jackson Square at Louisiana State Museum's restored 18th Century apartment and runs the gift shop downstairs. Our host Bill proudly showed me his art collection before we left. Del told me that Chris revealed to her that he was actually boarding the RCL line ship for Barcelona not the NCL Spirit that we were to be on. We had looked forward to being on the same ship crossing the Atlantic, but instead we were to be on two ships crossing at the same time, as both the RCL and NCL were repositioning their Caribbean ships to Europe for the summer tropical season. Chris was beginning a ten-month journey by sea and land to Australia, getting off the ship in Barcelona and taking a bus the rest of the way. I told this to several people and invariably their mouths dropped open as they tried to calculate how one got from Spain to Australia by bus! As I understand it, the bus will travel through Azerbijan and other parts of Asia, down to the tip of the Malaya peninsula where it will board a ship to Australia. Chris is a journalist for Louisiana Weekly and on assignment during the trip. We expect to receive posts from him on a weekly basis, and I hope his laptop proves sturdier than did mine. See Chris' Itinerary in Letters Section below.
I took Del to a special celebration at my club for her birthday, and a few days later, our son Stoney and his wife Sue came for a visit which included a trip to DiMartino's Deli, another feast of April. The last feast of April in New Orleans was the French Quarter Fest and we and our friends Gail and Jim were invited to Carol's annual brunch in the Quarter, and they offered to drop us off at our cruise ship downtown after the brunch, which would be our last feast in April in New Orleans.
Luckily, all five of our bags nestled into Jim's trunk. We parked at our usual Rampart parking spot, and walked down to Dauphine, a few short edge-on blocks, and turned right to Carol's place. Her long patio was already jumping and full of energy, even the wind was dancing around the shade trees, and everyone was in high spirits. We really enjoyed Carol's Brunch with Gail and Jim: food was great, the energy high, and about 12:15 pm, we drove to board the Norwegian Spirit for Europe. After a few hassles getting through the X-Ray machine, things went smoothly and there was no long lines whatsoever to board the ship, just a labyrinthine passageway across the gangplank. Took photos of our Fair City's skyline and we examined our stateroom, 9128, which looked a bit smaller than our Crystal Cruise line one in January, only one sink in the bath, but at least it had a sitting chair and desk.
MY ORCHESTRA COMPLETION TRIP
At one point during our long cruise, I heard a woman talk about this trip being on her bucket list. I told her that this was my "Orchestra Completion Trip". Okay, what's the story, you're thinking. When I returned to New Orleans to live in 1976, I found a new orchestra had been formed, the New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, and it was playing for Tea Dances in the new Hyatt Regency Hotel next to the Superdome every Sunday afternoon. I had no idea what an "oriental foxtrot" was, but went to dances and fell in love with the orchestra. Over the years, I learned how the band got its name. Seems there was a cruise ship named the SS Leviathan which sailed regularly from New Orleans to Constantinople during the 1920s, a time when the oriental foxtrot was very popular, and so various oriental foxtrots were played on board frequently. A group of Tulane students, headed by Jack Stewart and George Schmidt founded a band devoted to playing music that was "composed before 1933" and the about 18-piece orchestra specialized in up tempo oriental foxtrots, among other pieces. Thus, our cruise to Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) would take us aboard a "New Leviathan", the Norwegian Spirit, from New Orleans to the Orient as the original Leviathan did, and become a completion of my favorite orchestra's name.
SMOOTH SAILING AND CLEAR SKIES ACROSS ATLANTIC OCEAN
A pleasant surprise to find the seas smooth and the skies clear for our trip across the Atlantic Ocean, not at all like portrayed in Hollywood movies where the skies always seem bleak and the waves are rough, perhaps due to northern crossings from New York to England, instead of the southern crossing we took. At times we forgot we were aboard ship, at least until we got the almost daily notice to set our clocks ahead one hour before going to bed. It did make for a gradual change of time, but required us changing two cell phones and two cameras, but mostly I let the cameras time alone until we arrived at the Azores Islands, our first stop after Miami. I should mention that the correct spelling of Azores is Açores, which I will only do one time for our Good Readers' enlightenment.
OVERVIEW OF OUR CRUISE EXPERIENCE ON NCL
Having to stumble over a European keyboard in our hotel lobby in Venice, I can tell you that those special characters (like the c in Açores) were all on the HP keyboard and they nonchalantly pushed more commonly used characters out of sight, almost! Tried to open and close a quote and it took me several minutes to locate them. The worst of it was typing an email address like this firstname.lastname@example.org because there was no @-sign to be found anywhere! Atop the 2 where the @ universally rests, everywhere but Europe, was a "-sign! But where did they hide the @-sign? Scrambling around the special keys, I found the @-sign sitting on a key with two other special characters, but after trying the CTL-, ALT-, SHIFT-, and Windows- keys, to no avail, I was ready to give up, when I noticed that to the right edge of the Space Bar was a key marked ALT-CTL and when held down and the triple key was pressed, out popped the @-sign! Seemed awkward at first, but I quickly noticed that my left thumb and little finger could create the @-sign with a bit of practice.
Special characters and special vowel sounds added to the strangeness of our entire trip. Every day on shore brought a new Tour Guide who spoke English with a different set of vowel sounds: Portuguese in San Miguel of Azores, Spanish in Barcelona, French in Toulon, different Italian flavors of vowels in Florence, Rome, Naples, and Venice, Greek flavors in Mykonos and Athens, and Turkish flavors in Istanbul and Ephesus! It amazed me to hear English spoken so differently and still quite understandably, if the guides spoke loud enough (which they did) and slow enough (which they rarely did). No wonder English has become the lingua franca of the civilized world. I noticed that people who I had previously heard speaking their native language aboard ship, French to French people, or German to Germans, quickly and seamlessly switched to English when the French, e.g., spoke to Germans. After a month of being bombarded by foreign languages from all sides both aboard ship and ashore, it has been a healing balm to my ears to return home to a steady diet of English with a good ole American twang to it.
While I'm summing up the trip, let me add that we spent a month filling up our plates on ship and filling up our credit cards on shore! By the end of the trip, I think we had one working credit card among the six we brought with us. Our cell phones were non-functional and calls from the banks to them were not answered. It didn't keep my intrepid spouse from buying anything she really wanted, just took a little longer to compete the transaction.
Freestyle Dining in NCL terminology means you are free to get stuck with quirky passengers at every meal, if you wish. Like one night we had two helicopter pilots at dinner. Fred was in the Marine Corps and Harry in the Army (he served in Vietnam). They were both school teachers, as were their wives. Harry's wife made a big deal about being lactose intolerant and tried to convert everyone else into being it as well. She was so delighted, it seems, to discover this medical condition of hers which allows her to feel special and create a big drama whenever she goes out to dine. The NCL Windows dining room catered to her needs, but I stayed away from her from then on. I doubt she recognizes the need for attention dynamic, but her eyes lit up whenever she got to talk about it, which was in fact about the only thing she had to talk about. In spite of her shenanigans, it was great food and great fun talking to the rest of our table of six.
Each time we came to Windows, we were faced with a choice: choose to SHARE (Russian Roulette) or get a Table for two. Not until the penultimate dinner in Windows did we have a waiter we wanted to serve us from then on, a wonderful young man named Kailai from India and his assistant, Elace (pronounced as Elise). Elace we knew as the "Washy-Washy" gal from Raffles and elsewhere. The entrance to each restaurant has some staff member standing with a Windex type spray bottle of disinfectant offering to spray one's hands. Elise became our favorite and on the last week of cruise we discovered that she had been promoted to wait staff and when we found her with Kailai in Windows, we asked for them the next time we ate there, our last night dining aboard ship in Venice. We had several waiters we liked, Salvatore, an Italian-American from Las Vegas, Sylvan from West Indies, among several others, but none we requested again until Kailai and Elise. There you have my critique of the waiters aboard NCL Spirit after a month of two and three meals a day. The rest could never get a job aboard any Crystal Cruise line ship.
One opinionated know-it-all gal who graced our table in a small café in Rome explained to us that to be a waiter on a Crystal ship, one had to have served well for several years on NCL, RCL, etc, and in addition be trained and qualified to serve in a Five Star Restaurant. I asked if she had ever sailed on Crystal and she said, No. But she thought she knew everything about Crystal from reading about it.
Our steward, Arvin, was the best steward we have had aboard any cruise line we've sailed, even Crystal. Part of it was his fluency in English and the rest was his ability to satisfy our every request quickly and easily. Plus he was a joy to see in the morning when leaving on an excursion and always wanted to know how our day had been when we returned. Arvin helped make 9128 seem like home to us, a tiny cabin on a very large lake which was spotless every time we walked into it, our ice bucket always filled, our stateroom often graced by one of his many towel sculptures: an elephant, a hippo, a swan, a hanging monkey from the ceiling, among many others, and even one night a tiny mouse in a coffee mug we almost missed seeing.
Great weather, great stateroom service, and beautiful interiors made up for mostly mediocre food and service aboard ship. Windows' meals varied only a little, but the Caesar Salad and Spaghetti entree was dependable and the salmon was always Norwegian. The big Chocolate Buffet Night, of which we had two, one for the cruise to Barcelona and the other for the rest of the cruise to Venice, was so dimly lit that we decided to pass on the extravagant desserts, especially after the gal welcomed us into the late night feast calling us "Chocoholics" which I deemed to be an insult and a projection of her own addictive tendencies.Yes, it was a signal that NCL caterers to X-holics of all kinds: gamble-holics, alcoholics, shopper-holics, loud music-holics, dance-holics, tobacco-holics, etc. Every day in the Centrum was filled with K-Mart Blue Light Specials, and WalMart displays of trinkets bought onshore at previous day's port of call for $2 and offered for sale for $10, spread out over multiple tables like a Church rummage sale, making walking across the Centrum an adventure. The Mezzanine above the Centrum had loud, noisy lectures, language classes, or piano player blaring away so loud, normal conversations were difficult. Finding a quiet public place to sit and read was difficult. We found that the Deck 12 Raffles Restaurant opened into the Aft-deck which stretched out on Port and Starboard and was filled with tables for four which could be used to play Scrabble and card games. That, with easy access to drinks and food from Raffles, made this deck our favorite spot for breakfast and lunch as well as our Pay Me! afternoon card games with our new friends Gust and Janet.
The first week or so, we called Raffles the Trauma Zone, due to the chaotic dining experience it provided. Trying to eat breakfast there was, well, trying. If you got a bowl of oatmeal, say, and put it down on a table by itself, it would be gone by the time you arrived back with butter, milk, and a spoon to eat it with. Soon we discovered that the only way to keep your food from being removed by over-zealous wait staff was for me or Del to stay at the table to protect it while the other of us went to procure the rest of the meal. Why not put all the things on one tray before sitting down? What a great idea! Only Raffles provided no trays! Why not? Who knows? Certainly the shelf was designed for sliding trays from one food item to the next over parallel stainless steel tubes, but try to set the oatmeal bowl down on that shelf and it will tip over! Getting through breakfast required scouting through traffic for the items you need and taking each item over to the table guarded by your spouse, and then the spouse could begin the process all over again. Del and I never ate much of our breakfast together in the Trauma Zone because while one was eating the other was procuring.After two weeks, we got better at handling the logistics of breakfast, but by then the ship had stopped in Barcelona and filled itself up with new passengers and the Trauma Zone got even more difficult to maneuver through. Luckily we had discovered the Raffles outdoor seating areas and had learned to carry our meals out there, putting everything on one or two plates.
In the equivalent space on the Crystal Cruise liners, the same wait staff would actually bring to your table what you asked for, coffee, fresh squeezed juices, oatmeal with all the fixings, omelets, etc, and we would simply sit down and enjoy our breakfasts together. What a difference: Trauma Zone on Norwegian versus Elegance on Crystal. These comments will give you an overview of our trip as I go into some comments about specific destinations and excursions.
With no ports of call from Miami to Azores, Islands, we enjoyed life aboard the Spirit. Breakfast in Windows dining room with Salmon Benedict, Omelets, and various kinds of pancakes and other treats was always good. Usually we managed a table for two by a window or across the eponymous wall of windows aft. This worked well until we began having an excursion trip ashore everyday and then it was a rush through the lines on the Raffles deck.
One of the delights was the two comedians who entertained us in the evening, Jeff Harms and Noodles. Jeff went through a memorable routine of having audience members calling out their State's name (since most of audience on cruise to Barcelona were Americans) and challenging Jeff to name the state's motto. He got the Beehive State, the Pelican State for Louisiana, and so on, but was stumped by Oregon until a guy in the audience kept flapping his arms. Jeff asked what he was doing and the guy said he was a Duck. Jeff called him the Duck Man, and trucked laughs off that one several times. Then a woman yelled out "Elvis" and Jeff had a ball with that idea, "A State called Elvis" — "What would be its motto?" he asked, "Don't Be Cruel"? Turned out she was actually saying, "Melbourne" but it sounded like Elvis to Jeff and most of the audience. What is the motto for Melbourne, I wonder? The next day or so Del and I went into the jacuzzi on deck 12 and asked the guy in it already where he was from. When he said "Oregon", we both said, "The Duck Man!" Later we met the lady from Elvis (Melbourne) on the elevator. We also met eventually the gal whose diamond ring was pulverized during the Magic Act one night (later restored, of course). Most of the other stage shows were too loud and under-performed. Oh, Noodles was a fun comedian. Short guy wearing a bright yellow checkerboarded sweater, looking like Dustin Hoffman, veteran of the Catskills' night club circuit, no doubt. We caught him once on the big stage and later in the Galaxy Lounge where he seemed to have more fun with the intimate audience.
TYPICAL DAYS AT SEA
DAY ONE Here was a typical day at sea, at least early in the cruise when we were still trying to find something good to eat and to do. Breakfast in Garden Room in morning. Eggs and grits were runny and tasteless, no salt at all. Forget that! Coffee was okay. Got my Laptop Computer hooked up to Internet and did my statistics. Easier than Crystal Cruise ships and I didn't have to go down to talk to anyone to set it up. Lunch with Del — we had to go to Garden Room, Windows closed. Omelet with wild mushrooms tasteless. Fried calamari was good tasting, if a bit rubbery. Finished reading Hemingway book and ready to begin review. Del and I sat out by the pool in afternoon and went into the hot tub. As mentioned the guy already there turned out to be the Duck man from the comedy show the guy waved his arms at us like he was flying. "That's Mr. Duck to you," he said with a big grin on his face. Really nice guy. What a coincidence to meet him in the hot tub.We went to Windows at 6 pm for dinner and got a forgettable table, except for Amin, from Curaçol, who was son-in-law of the elderly couple from Britain. The woman was snidely anti-American in everything she said. The other man was a veteran of the Army, Air Force, and Navy, having gone into the service three times, first Army at 18, then Navy at 38, and then entered the Air Force from which he later retired. He gets to stand during all the hymns on Memorial Day! I asked if he considered doing the Coast Guard just to touch all the bases, and he said no, definitely not. Del wanted to go to see the Hypnotist and I didn't. The 7 pm show was canceled due to lack of attendance, but the 9 pm show was 3/4s full. We left during the second skit where he turned his line of subjects into American Idol judges and had his assistant Miss Melanie turn into Miss Smelly, looking bad and singing bad.
DAY TWO Went to breakfast at Raffles and it was a real bummer. Here's why we called it the Trauma Center. We had ice cold bananas with cup- and silverware-thieves. This morning I made myself a cup of coffee but did not dare put it down or else it would be picked up and discarded. Finally found Del and she watched my cup while I got some hot oatmeal and added the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup and warm milk. No cups available for coffee so I had to retrieve one from the other end of the food bar. Del left and I went to fix myself a second cup, sat down pulled the spoon from Del's plate over to the side of my cup to add the sugar and stir it, and one of the waiters came to clear the table and removed the spoon from under my hand which was poised a few inches above it ready to pick it up to stir my coffee. I grabbed it out of her hand and gave her the glare.
Came back to room, turned on Internet and retrieved our emails, turned off Internet, then let Del read her emails, turned Internet on again to get my statistics after first setting up all the websites I needed on the Favorites bar for quick access while Internet is on. Was able to get my work done online as quickly as possible, in 6 minutes to be exact. At 10 minutes a day, I will use up my $100 purchase of 250 minutes by end of cruise. Not bad, but I wish it were 24/7 access for the same price so I could stay connected and just get charged for what I use. Still, if the thing logs on/off quickly, I can handle the minor hassle. The coffee shop in the Centrum charges for lattes and cappuccinos and makes truly awful lattes — it uses some Italian coffee beans which from reading the packaging in Italian I couldn't even tell if it was Arabica beans. They wouldn't even let me use a proper cup for the free coffee up front. But it's not only the specialty coffees which cost a few bucks, but any juices or non-alcoholic cocktails and sodas cost, and it's not the cost that so aggravating, but having to give up your room key until after the meal and the $3 bill is paid, complete with mandatory 18% tip whether the service was miserable or great! This was so arrogant that we never tipped above the minimum.Big news of the day was that Dick Clark died at age 82, the perpetual teenager I remember from 1950s American Bandstand on our earliest TV Set at home. Tonight was Dress Up or Not — an idiotic way of encouraging people to wear nice clothes while not upsetting the WalMart Shopper Set. Gust & Janet Valantasis dined with us — from Orlando, very nice couple, took me several weeks to finally get the spelling on his Greek surname. We met them at breakfast the next morning, and Del left to attend a lecture on Columbus as I sat in our Stateroom typing these words. After dinner, we came back to 9128 and watched the second half of latest "Three Musketeers" movie — what an idiotic farce! The idea that a hot air balloon could lift a frigate with ten cannons into the air and be steered to where they wanted to go is so ludicrous that it will give a generation of kids the wrong idea about hot air balloons. Heard a long fog horn at night, so we must have had some fog. We entered the deep Atlantic and even though the sea was calm, there were some deep rollers, which worked to rock one to sleep if you rolled with them.
SEA DAYS Another REALLY BIG SHOW, as Ed Sullivan used to say, only for NCL, substitute BAD for BIG: We went to the "Show" and were greeted by a barrage of Karaoke singers, who had trouble getting their lyrics above the volume of the music, and who had trouble trying to dance and bring to life Broadway shows only two of which we barely recognized, "Jersey Boys" and "Wicked", the rest were some trash we'd never heard of nor wanted to hear again. We left before they butchered "Mama Mia" and ABBA's musical legacy. The music was canned and overwhelmed the weak voices on stage, so that even the two familiar lyrics were indecipherable. Very unpleasant, so we left. As we passed through the curtain, a guy was motioning to us to get aside while a bunch of female dancers were running past us down the ramp as if they had to vomit. Not surprising, given the poor, the abominable quality of the show they were performing in. Okay, maybe they had a quick costume change or re-entrance, but they did get out of the show faster than we did.
We met some lovely people at lunch and dinner, Leah and Jan, Ginnie and Bob and were settling in to enjoy our cruise in spite of its shortcomings, after all, we knew what NCL was like from our Alaskan cruise in 2006 and had decided after it that we wouldn"t cruise again if we couldn't afford to take Crystal Cruise lines. This repositioning cruise crossing the Atlantic was too tempting to miss, so we did our best to enjoy it to the fullest, and the longer we were aboard, the more fun we made for ourselves as we learned to avoid the pitfalls, such as the lugubrious German class I went to. Rose did the German class in the very noisy Mezzanine over looking the Centrum, and she was awful. Never once did she pronounce an omlaut, so schön became schon, etc. She was obviously Hispanic, not German, and she said "U" like American (you instead of oo), and so forth. Schade. I could have taught the class better, even using her same materials.
One night we went to hear the Glen Miller tribute — it was played by a great Polish band. They ended with a rendition of "In the Mood" and we danced the entire song, stretching muscles I hadn't used in a long time, and it was a lot of fun. Then we walked back down and had a late dinner about 9 pm. Sunset then was 9:58 pm. Met up with Gust and Judy Valatasis, obviously he is Greek as he said Gust is a common name derived from Constantine misheard at Ellis Island. Had a great conversation with the two of them, Gust & I, and Del and Janet in the Centrum coffeeshop area. Got to bed finally about 12:15 (with the one hour pushed forward again).
The next day we found people all around the pool, a warm and sunny day. Laptop still working at this point and I'd finished writing my review. I worked on publishing the underkil.htm review. I was able to edit the copy of the review that I printed out for $.50 in computer room. It cost me more for online Internet time to print it than for the print charge. Plus this little SNAFU: I started it printing, and once I saw it had spooled, I disconnected from the net and walked over the printer where a big sign said, "YOU MUST WAIT TILL PRINTING IS OVER BEFORE LOGGING OFF!" Great trick: get twice as much money by telling customer what to do after it's too late. Since I was using the local neutered Internet terminal, which could not save anything that I had to set up to print, I had to relog on and do it all over again. $.80 for the first time and another $.80 for the second time, but I learned something and got my ten page review printed, and automatically charged to the room. I was beginning to wonder if all my plans to complete my DIGESTWORLD MAY ISSUE would ever work or be worth all the trouble and expense. I didn't have long to wait to discover that it would be impossible!
DISASTER STRIKES: MY TOSHIBA LAPTOP CRATERED! It was working one minute and I got up to check something on Del's Cell phone and when I returned the Start up screen was on and the LT was making a series of buzzing noises like it was attempting to access the disk to boot up.
I had just moved the review file into DIGESTWORLD #125 Issue and sent it to the remote. Everything was working the way I had designed it to and the next thing I know, nothing was working. I was without a laptop for the rest of the trip. PLAN B: Began ENFORCED VACATION from computer work. I began writing in my pad, a Penway 3X5" Memo Book with yellow cover, from which these notes were derived. I did not go gently into that long night, Mr. Dylan. Luckily I had backed up all my writing and changes to website before my Laptop went tits up (a technical phrase we used in the nuclear power industry).
I knew immediately that chances were slim that DW#125 would ever see the light of day and reach my Good Readers by May 1. And thus it came to be that DW#125 and DW#126 are merged into one issue. There are two clickable links for May and June, but they display the same .shtml file.
To ease things, I got my first massage of the trip that afternoon, from a dark-eyed Portuguese gal named Raquel Santos. She asked what I wanted from my massage, and I said for it to make me forget about losing my laptop. Excellent massage — she woke me up with too much pressure on one leg after I'd turned over, so I know I was enjoying the massage, because bad massages keep me awake wishing I were somewhere else. Did it work to make be forget my broken Laptop? Better than a gallon of Gentleman Jack whiskey and without alcohol's side affects.
AZORES, APRIL 24
San Miguel (Michael the Archangel) Island in the Azores. It's an hour-glass shaped island, a bit like Maui with several large volcanoes, one which hasn't cratered and one that did so and left a large double lake, Blue Lake and Green Lake, which we visited by bus. In the small city, we could rent a B&B there for $25 a night and a scooter to take us around the island. Del loved the quiet town and the scenery. We went on the tour with Gust and Janet to Lagos Azul and Lagos Verde and did a lot of walking. Especially in the Antonio Borges park, beautiful trees and flowers in a park designed by the eponymous man whose bust graced the south end of island.
We ate when we got back about 2 pm and then napped and took dinner with Gust & Janet. At our table we shared the meal with two neat people, a married couple named Michelle and John Connor who worked for Habitat for Humanity (HFH). They have 11 kids, four from present marriage, 3 girls and finally a boy. Their story will be made into a movie one day, I told Michelle, and she smiled and said, you can have the movie rights.
Here's the story: divorced single mom whose husband left her with seven kids in a house that burned and was unfit to live in. She partnered with HFH to acquire her own home and then went to work for them when they discovered how good she was. First, she was very grateful for them providing a home and she was very resourceful in helping other people. At one point she submitted a grant for $200,000 to build homes, and her supervisor told her, "No one submits a request that large; you'll never get it." Well, she did, and soon she was hired and later promoted to director.
She met a veteran who was living in a van in front of a family's home, buying electricity from them for $75 a month. He didn't want welfare or Medicaid, just to get by on his own. Michelle helped him to partner with HFH and soon he was in a home, but the whole process made her aware that Vets are the largest demographic block of the homeless population and are likely suicides. She spent two years designing a triplex housing design for a vet apartment on either side of a family home (3 BR). The vets could move in for about $175 a month and they didn't have any lawn care but a support group living next to them, all of which worked well for them and kept their expenses down to fit their budget. These have been so successful that she has got the Vets Adm talking to HUD about how to help fund these unique projects.
Another blustery day with ocean rollers deep enough to open and close our closet doors. Closets should open and close fore-aft directions to prevent this. Spooky feeling the first few times the closets moved by themselves. I heard the noise lying in bed, so I got up and closed the door shut into magnetic catch, and that stopped it, but the next day it happened as I had the closet open to dress and that was disconcerting.
Day cleared up to Sunny by noon & the four of us played Pay Me! On outer Raffles Deck (which was to become our favorite spot to play cards and Scrabble) until both Europe and Africa loomed into view and that created its own form of excitement in everyone on the ship! We had many fun games with Janet and Gust, of which this was the first, cooling breezes wafting around us, great views of the Atlas and Gibraltar mountains filling our views. Also, no obnoxious music filled our ears, as so often happened and caused us to move from public spaces, sometimes to our stateroom.
Took lots of photos and had food and drinks only a few steps away. Loved the whole afternoon.
Supper at night in Windows with Gust & Janet and then on to the show. Talked with Gust about dolphins: he wanted to know how I proposed to communicate to/from dolphins. I should write a commentary on what I explained to Gust, how the eye receives light, not as the upside-down image that Grade School posters show on the back of the eyeball, but instead as points of light which the visual portion of our cerebral cortex resolves into 3-D images which it then aligns with the real world, all without our being aware of it. Similarly dolphins receive ultrasonic reflected sound waves from their surrounding and their enormous auditory cortex (Equal in size to our Visual Cortex, same portion of their brain) resolves these auditory inputs into 3-D images which it then aligns with the real world around them. Since the images received are in the same form (Ultrasonic waves) as the ones they transmit in order to see, they can speak the images they receive by simply repeating what they heard!
The show was late starting and it began with a boisterously loud sales pitch by the Lottery Momma for tickets for people to WIN money, which is a code word for LOSING money. So I left and went to the Centrum to read Professor Brooks Landon's book on Building Great Sentences for and hour or so.
Later on that night the really dark room of the Chocolate Buffet lured us into it, but I refused to play Hide and Go Seek with chocolate desserts. Darkness and chocolate only goes together if the darkness is in the chocolate, not surrounding the chocolate, so we skipped the Buffet. We stopped at entrance to hear the Polish Big Band orchestra, and then went to bed to get as far away as possible from addicts of any kind. Another blustery Sea Day and we'll be pulling into Barcelona.
On the next day, the last Sea Day before port, Del and I agreed to go to Le Bistro, the French-theme specialty restaurant. We had avoided the many specialty restaurants, opting to enjoy the fare at Windows and Raffles instead, but Gust and Janet invited us to go along with them, and we enjoyed their company, so we joined them in Le Bistro. Le Bistro promised more than it delivered. It was rather cramped and we were seated next to the open kitchen's noises and activity. Most of dishes were meat; the escargots I ordered were just okay; the lobster and artichoke hearts seem promising on the menu, but were bland and tasteless. A waste of good provender, I thought. The best part of the evening was our tablemates' company which we greatly enjoyed; however, I was repeatedly interrupted by our waitress while I was in mid-sentence, even after I gave her the glare. She and the Maitre d' both acted as if we were in Le Bistro solely to tell them how magnificent they were! Quelle damage? Maudits quelque choses!
BIG BAD BARCELONA, APRIL 28
Yep, it all goes together. Weather was rough as we came into port. Something in the air, pollen perhaps, clogged our sinuses and aggravated Del's sinus congestion and coughing. Hated the city, both Del and I. It was jam-packed with tourists and buses everywhere we went.Our Tour Guide spoke loudly and clearly enough, but was constantly on the go, taking off full speed with this epithet, "Ve continue!" Gaudi cathedral was great, but I could barely take a photo without 37 people in the photo. Cathedral has been under construction since 1882 and still is several decades away from completion. We walked around in a gift shop for a half hour or so, our only break from the Ve Continue guy, and managed to find a small glass with an artistic Gaudi design on it. He took us to another part of the city, talked to us, and then made an important announcement that he was leaving us here in the city and we had to walk through a crowded jam-packed avenue full of pickpockets, for about an hour to where we could catch a shuttle to the port. Del and I were already exhausted and we began walking and the further we walked, the more uncomfortable it was, so we hailed a Taxi and had him take us to the NCL Spirit at its dock. Barcelona may be a great place to live, but we sure didn't enjoy visiting there.
TOULON, FRANCE — AIX IN PROVENCE, APRIL 29
Early morning in port and Del went to exercise. My eyes were still puffy from Barcelona, but not red. I went up to Deck 12 by the swimming pool and jumped into the Hot Tub at 7 am and decided to stay in it until my legs felt back to normal. My bathing suit went from dark green to light brown as the chlorine bleached away the color. Later Del spilled a bit of tap water on a new blouse and its color changed. Too soon to know if the change is permanent or not. Felt great after hot tub and took a quick shower and shaved.
Up to Raffles for quick oatmeal, grits, and coffee for breakfast to be ready for our excursion into France. Monique, our tour guide, led us on bus to Aix in Provence, a much larger city than I imagined, having been a capitol city at one time. She led us through the city, explaining architecture ad infinitum, much more than I wanted. Then she abandoned us near a cathedral, exactly as the "VE CONTINUE" guide did in Barcelona, just when we were exhausted from the walking and didn't want to become our own tour guide!We were not happy, but had to watch as our tour guide got on a bus and we had to walk back to the meeting point. Luckily it never happened again on any other tour.
Walking along the ancient city streets, we met a local French couple who allowed me to take their photograph. Later we found Leah and Jan, two friends we met aboard ship, and we navigated ourselves together to Colombus Square, where we got a coffee so Del could use a rest room. One waiter was running the entire outdoor table set and one guy was handling the cash register. We had earlier bought a baguette in a Pitisseria, and it was good and warm and delicious. We each ate a piece and then I broke off a piece and gave it to a woman beggar who was clearly hungry. We had been warned about these gypsy beggars, but how quickly she chomped into the piece of bread allayed any fears we had that she was not a genuine beggar. I had also put a small coin in her bowl, but not enough to buy a piece of bread. I blessed the bread in the name of Jesus Christ as I gave it to her with a prayer that it would begin a period of prosperity and abundance in her life.
PISA, APRIL 30
I didn't want to go to Pisa, Lord knows I've seen and read enough about the Leaning Tower of Pisa in my lifetime that I didn't need or want to see it in person. But Del wanted to go. I found a tour which promised a trip to Florence followed by a stop by Pisa to take photos. How bad could that be? I could just stay in the bus while Del walked over to see the Tower, right? Who knew? The Italian Tour Guide, Daniele, unilaterally decided to go to Pisa first, and wore us out with a "5 minute walk" from the Bus to the Tower which lasted nearly 40 minutes and when we arrived, everyone had to use the rest room, especially me and Del, having been locked in a bus for over an hour already! No problem, he said, two places with rest room available. We took the one away from the one everyone went into, and found a bar selling drinks, coffee, and water and a line down a narrow hall wide enough for one person which led into the Men's Room and further down the Ladies Room and naturally the queue was filled mostly with women and about 3 or 4 men visible ahead of me, and I had no idea how long a wait I was looking at, given that after 5 minutes, no men had yet exited. At the entrance to this hall was a wide door marked handicapped bathroom, and my bladder felt very handicapped at that moment. I began to open the door and a lady who had already opened said, "It's filled with tables." No problem, I thought, me and my mostly empty water bottle won't take up much room. So I went inside and, yep, tables up to the door with just barely enough space for me to stand and close the door. I closed the door and got a shock, the room was pitch dark! So in the dark I managed to half-fill my empty Evian water bottle and find blessed relief. This was the second time we have been stung by an Italian tour company. On our previous trip to Rome, the bus actually had a restroom on board, but it was padlocked, and the bus driver kept us on the bus for two solid hours! Finally dropping us near a piazza in the rain for us to run for shelter and attempt to locate a rest room in a strange city whose language we don't speak. Now it had happened again to us in Pisa.
Want to torture tourists so they don't visit your country again? Take lessons from the Italians: put a twenty-something in charge of 30 tourists of retirement age and instruct them to walk at full speed ahead! Daniele was constantly driving us to walk twice as fast as we usually do just not to lose sight of him around a corner.
FLORENCE, APRIL 30
Same Tour Guide, Same Day, Different City. Beaten up after an hour of high speed walking in Pisa, we drove to Florence and were told it's at least two hours wait just to get into a museum, any museum. ITALY SUCKS BIG TIME as a tourist destination: all the places worth visiting have been overloaded with Cruise Ship tourists. Rightly understood, the Cruise industry is pissing in its soup — makes for more soup, but doesn't necessarily improve the taste. The taste of Italy was bitter in my mouth after the Pisa and Florence experience. No more wasted excursions to Florence aka Firenza — it can go set Fire to itself, so far as I'm concerned! Once more we ran as fast as we could to keep up with Daniel and I couldn't stop to take photos without him losing us.
We stopped in Santa Croce piazza and had lunch and a couple of hours to stop running and find something to do. It was still raining, a light drizzle mostly, and the line to get into Santa Croce church was over an hour's wait. Del decided to wait in line and I decided to join her. The church was rather gray and bleak inside, but when we wandered into adjacent rooms, we hit the jackpot with spectacular paintings, bright colors and huge sizes, well-lit with comfortable chairs to sit and observe them.The Cathedral comprises a complex of a half-dozen or more church-sized buildings with a large open courtyard in the middle. We found a convenient restroom and enjoyed exploring the buildings, stumbling upon an artist retouching a bronze statue inside one smaller room.
When we left the room, we wandered along the Arno River to the large bridge and beyond, stopping at a Gelato stand for a couple of ice cream cones and a photo op. It's easy to find willing photographers among tourists, and it's a great way to meet strangers: ask them to take your photograph. Usually they'll ask you to shoot a photo of them as well. We walked back to Santa Croce and found Daniele waiting at the Leather Shop. We bought an umbrella and a poncho from the horde of spontaneous vendors who bugged us constantly.
It's illegal to sell objects this way and illegal to buy them, but few Carbineri were around in the rain to hassle anyone. Earlier we did notice one purveyor of fake paintings suddenly pick up his wares as a couple of Carbineri came by. Daniele said if you're buying from someone and they suddenly start running, you should start running also to avoid being fined for illegal purchases. Other than the required rain gear, we weren't tempted by the illegal vendors.
ROME, MAY 1 (LABOR DAY)
For the third time the gods conspired to keep me out of the Vatican Museum, once by St. Joseph's Day, once by lack of time, and this time by the Italian Labor Day. The second time, we went on foot and subway, raining everywhere, and we had very little time, having wasted an hour running in the rain to find a rest room, buy coffee, etc, right after we were dropped off because the bus driver never stopped for the two hour ride to the drop off at Piazza di Popolo. Again, the Italian Tour Guides do what's comfortable for them and too bad for the tourists.
We got the tour numbers confused and our planned day in Rome on a tour together with our friends Gust and Janet went down in flames. Instead we drew two young female tour guides who walked at top speed, no matter how much the over-60 crowd protested. "You should be glad to be in Rome!" was the process message we got from them, and oh, by the way, time is short and we're going to rush you from one place to another, so we can all stand in the rain for two hours to get into St. Peter's Basilica. "Hurry up and Wait!" — the motto of the US Army just might have originated in Italy or from short Italian drill sergeants.
For the second time in Rome for Del, it rained! Last time she and I missed the Pantheon by one long steep, steep block, but we could probably have walked right in I did in 2001 as part of Battle and Garth's guided tour group. No way, Jose, this time. Crowds everywhere, and both the Vatican and the Pantheon were closed for May Day; Mayday! Mayday! SOS!! Help! ! !! Doesn't Italy have non-holidays? Mais, Bon Dieu! Maudit chelque choses!
We finally got a break for lunch and ate in small restaurant off Navona Piazza, whose owner was known by a Tour Guide. He quickly found seats for about twenty of us, took our orders, gave us a prix fixee deal, fed us, and collected from us, all in about 25 minutes. We sat with a couple from Tahoe and another from Oregon. I had the Spaghetti Bolognese, red wine, and started off with Bruschetti (Brew-SKET-ee), a kind of pizza on toasted bread which was good. We learned to pronounce the word with a "K" sound to avoid mentioning the name of a prominent gangster.
Our runners, er, Tour Guides, up ahead, finally succeeded in losing us just as we were closing in on whatever their unspoken prey was in St. Peter's square, so Del and I moved to the big Obelisk which one air-head runner-guide had announced would be our gathering point; of course, we didn't know till we got back on bus later that she had changed the meeting spot after she lost us! Move to another house while the kids are at Summer Camp strategy, eh? Ciao, Bambino.
But we lucked out and met two other lost campers from our tour, a couple from Baton Rouge. Jack Parker, retired as Dean of Arts & Sciences Dept. at LSU after 35 years, was with his wife, Mary Ann, a concert pianist. He and I had a lot to talk about, remembering together events over the past 50 years, Billy Cannon's run, etc. He is a neighbor of Jimmy Taylor now and says that Jimmy is still looking great. His knee problem which forced him to retire has been solved apparently. Jack and Mary Ann remembered trick or treating in their neighborhood at the home of my mother's childhood friend, John Hunter, former LSU President. We shared memories about the year the LSU Lakes froze over and I told them how I went ice skating on them the day before my first child was born.
Jack was very interested in how dolphins communicate by speaking pictures and said he would buy my book, The Spizznet File. Also very interested in how doyletics could offer help to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) sufferers, some of whom he has deal with on suicide issues. With the Vatican Museum and the Pantheon closed for a holiday, there went two of our three Rome Highlights. We couldn't even get close enough to the Trevi Fountain to toss a coin into it, much less three coins with the school kids on their day off crowding into the Trevi Square.
Later Jack and Maryann and I had coffee in Pietro Café while the rain fell on our tour group in the two hour line to get into St. Peter's Basilica. We returned to St. Peter's and waited at the right time by the Obelisk and Del kept her tour radio on listening and Jack his eyes peeled for our wandering group. Suddenly Del heard a familiar voice saying, "Ve cross street here!" and looked over to the edge of the piazza and spotted our two runners, speeding away from us to the bus, quickly disappearing into the crowd. But we had found them and we ran to keep up and tracked them down to our bus, about the 17th bus situated waiting to pick up tourists from St. Peter's. Had we missed the bus it would have required a $300 taxi ride to the port city of Civitivecchi in order to board our ship.
We enjoyed the tour of Rome, especially Del, as the bus took us to many places that she hadn't seen during our previous walking tour alone in the rain and through the subways. Back on board, we had dinner with Gust and Janet, and Gust told us this story, which held us captivated, about an Italian friend of his. Don't recall the friend's name, so I'll use Duca.
At the beginning of the second world war, Duca was a young boy in Italy and gathered with his family at the shoreline of a small port to watch his older brother leave to go to war. The entire town was bunched together, the men shouting encouragement and the women waving white handkerchiefs. A band was playing martial music and everyone was cheering and tearing as the boat left the tiny pier and headed straight out into the ocean. About a hundred yards offshore, with the band still playing, the women still waving, the guys cheering, a British submarine torpedoed the boat and it blew up in a fiery explosion. Duca said he stood there in disbelief as the band kept playing, the cheering and waving continued, and suddenly he spied a man diving into the water from the flaming boat and swimming as fast as he could to the shore. It was his brother!
The four of us laughed and laughed, taken in completely by the pathos and bathos of the scene, especially for Duca who said goodbye to his brother thinking he might never see him because he would be killed in the War, then seeing his boat explode apparently killing him right there a few seconds later, and then seeing him returning home from the War safe another few seconds later.
HERCULEAN, MAY 2
For our day in Naples, we decided on an excursion to Herculean and its ruins from the Vesuvius eruption which also devastated the city of Pompeii. No holiday today, but the construction department of the city decided to block off the major access road through the city for repairs. Our large bus could not negotiate the right turn because of a small black sedan parked on the side of the street, so the guide had to locate the driver and get the gal to move her arse and her car from blocking a public detour. The bus had to back up several times and finally, squeezing within a paper dollar's thickness of another car on the inside corner, he made it and we applauded and continued on our way.
Jose was our guide, darkish skinned, but very competent, to Ercolea (Italian spelling) and its ruins. We walked into the excavated city and he gave us a guided tour of a city which was suddenly wiped off the face of the earth and out of people's minds after the Pompeii explosion. Until one a day in the 20th Century, when a foreign excavator came and discovered the city.Since then excavation has continued, made difficult by the hardness of the volcanic mud which filled the city, completely covering it and rending it as if encased in a black Lucite material, only much harder. Excavation of wall must be done with a brush to prevent the murals from being destroyed, as happened so often in the early days of its excavation. A large suburban complex of houses is stacked up over the edge of Ercolea which will be ripe for excavation if another Pompeii eruption were to force them to move.
The city was a summer resort for wealthy Romans who would arrive in their large ships at high tide and float them into waiting dry docks to be worked on while their owners enjoyed the baths and white column-lined promenades of Ercolea. One can still see the lead pipes which carried running water to the apartments, many of which were decorated with elaborate artworks and murals.
A pleasantly short tour and a very informative tour guide. Once more, we were unsure if our bus could make it back to the ship in time. One important factor to consider when doing a self-guided tour is that the ship will not wait for you if your taxi has a flat and can't return you to the ship, but if you're on a NCL excursion, the ship will wait for you.
MYKONOS, MAY 4
I'm including dates for this segment of our cruise because you can see how we were on walking tours almost every day for a week with barely a Sea Day squeezed in. Easy morning for us as we left for the island of Mykonos about 2 pm. Breakfast on Raffles Deck 12, followed by a Scrabble game, a hard-scrabble game: Del blasted out in front at the gate, and led over me into the final stretch where I began to gain on her, passing her at the finish line. On one game, Del led me by 2 points and I was able to lay down my final tiles and she had to give me 3 points to slide me into the lead. Of course, sometimes she beat by twenty or thirty points. We ate lunch at 12 joined later by Gust & Janet. We finished the first game of 3 hands of Pay Me! Janet won the first, I think, then on the second game Gust beat me 72 to 75 for the quarter jackpot. Then we left for our tour of Mykonos, mostly by bus with very little walking. Stopped at an overlook of the harbor with a prominent windmill with a thatched roof right below us. Then we motored inland to a Monastery and ate at a small open-air café. The food was strange-looking and tasting, but definitely local delicacies like marinated octopus tentacles, feta cheese, and such. Nice clean and spacious restrooms, quite a refreshing change from the lugubrious Italian ones.
The Monastery was filled with golden edged frames and relics covered by glass. Altar was intricate lacework and there was a large wooden openwork case the size of a deep freezer whose purpose was not obvious, but was on display for some festival apparently. A rotund, white-bearded Greek priest sat outside on a bench in the shade and observed us as we observed him. A beautiful rose garden abutted the church building and the gate had been unlocked so I was able to grab a few photos.
Everywhere on Mykonos there were white buildings, all whitewashed stucco, stacked on each other like white cubes, and only up close could you see the blue shutters, doors, and other blue trim, always the same tint of blue. Businesses were white with blue trim and small signs. No homes or businesses over two stories, maybe three occasionally. Rocky terrain everywhere, and water came from underground cisterns which caught the rainwater. Hillsides were often terraced with rock fences partitioning off areas. We saw a few vineyards and gardens, but mostly the land looked like a coastal desert.
We stopped at the famous Shirley Valentine beach where a drab housewife escaped from a dreary London winter and came to sit on the beach in the Sun alone, a beach where she met a Greek fisherman and went skinny dipping in the waters, diving from his boat out in the sea. The famous Mykonos Nude Beach was completely nude: denuded of people, that is, but one could see workers raking the beach into shape for the coming onslaught of bathers for the summer. The grass-topped tents would soon have people lounging under them in various states of deshabille. There was a photo shoot going on of a bride in her white gown under one of the grass tents. Each trip I take, invariably I stumble upon a wedding or a bride getting her photo taken, so it has become obligatory that I endeavor to get as good a shot as possible. Thanks to my Canon SX30 with its 35X telephoto, I got an acceptable shot from a long distance. See bottom of this Issue.
At night we were back on board in plenty time to get ready for dinner in Windows, and while we waited for Gust &Janet, we met Jack Parker and Mary Ann and invited them to join our table, quickly finding a table for six. Turned out to be a great table for dinner. Wonderful food and great conversation all around. I already knew Jack and Gust to be good conversationalists, so I mostly sat back and listened.
ISTANBUL , MAY 5
Our tour didn't leave until 10 am; I had a bowl of hot oatmeal and drank some cranberry and orange juice. On excursions I avoid coffee because of the difficulty of predicting where and when we might have a rest stop. Coffee is a diuretic, I've been told. I asked the guy who told me that what does that mean? He said if you drink one cup of coffee, you pee a cup and a half. Think that's a perfect operational definition of diuretic. I went up to top deck to watch as we docked in Istanbul. There were many small boats in the water we moved through, one guy had to be awakened to start his motor and get out of our way. On our deck a guy showed me his Istanbul map and explained how easy it was to walk to all the tourist places in Istanbul. Yes, I remember being told that before I left home. By the end our day, I was convinced that we would never have made half of them on our own, not to mention waiting in the long lines to purchase the various tickets necessary, which our guide handled expeditiously, distributing the tickets to us as we approached Topkapi and Hagia Sophia.
Our first stop was the Topkapi Museum, formerly the palace of a great Sultan. Gold arabic inscriptions on the walls and beautiful tiles, but no images of people. The only images we saw was on the family tree of the Sultan, each branch terminated with a bust image of an ancestor. I heard one person ask a nearby Tour Guide why did all the faces look identical? His answer: because they were all related. Yes, she was a blonde, of course, but her question made sense because all of the guys had a long black beard covering most of their face and a tall hat on her head. Hard to tell any of them apart, even the names look alike.
Interesting thing about Topkapi Museum, the buildings are the museum itself for the most part. Yes, there are precious artifacts, diamonds, rubies, antiquities and such housed in the Museum, but we were shown only the museum itself and that took our entire tour time. When we entered the outer courtyard of Topkapi we found a nice souvenir shop. Inside Topkapi the highlight for me was the Gold Domed Gazebo overlooking the Bosphorus and Istanbul down below us. Also the Sultan's private room with the large lounging sofas arrayed around the perimeter of the octagonal-shaped room. One can imagine Scheherazade sitting next to the Sultan telling her marvelous tales for 1,001 nights.
Our excursion guide was 29 year old Sami — 7 years in the tour guide business — did a great job, but I had not eaten anything but oatmeal and juice and that only lasted me until 11 am, after which I was hungry, and we had left our trail mix and muffins back in the van. At this point, we didn't know how much time we would be away from the van. Whenever we asked a guide how much longer, we always got the standard answer, "A few more minutes". As we neared Hagia Sophia I noticed that sweat had formed on my forehead although I didn't feel like I was sweating. Then my legs felt cool from the evaporation of sweat on them. Del said my normally warm hands felt cold and clammy. Our water was also running out. Sami's battery ran out and his radio transmitter stopped working. I moved out of range of his voice in order to sit and rest and conserve what energy I had left in me. Gradually I felt stronger. When Sami started talking about the 5 Pillars of Islam and I felt like telling him to shove one of those pillars, and get me out of the Sophia.
Finally, we left the Sofia and I quickly bought a flat doughnut shaped bread and a large muffin at the nearest kiosk. The muffin was gingerbread flavored and after a mere three bites I revived and felt normal again. I ate all of the muffin and half the bread, and drank the whole bottle of water I bought. While we waited for the bus to come for us, I sat down, and a local Turk came by, sat down in front of me and began shining my brown shoes, saying as he did, the first brush was free. I let him finish both shoes as the first shoe looked great. This was the first white person to shine my shoes, in my memory. One Turkish Lire = $1.70, I had given the kiosk guy for rolls and water $10 and he gave me about 8 TL in change. Algebra problem: The shoe shiner took all but 1 TL of the change I had received from the kiosk, so how much did the food cost me and how much was the shoe shine? I calculated it was about the same as a shoe shine would cost me in Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans.
Our first stop after the museums was at a Turkish Rug factory for something we were told was to be a Cultural Arts discussion. Ferda Oguz, our presenter/salesman, showed us some beautiful silk rugs. At one point he flipped the carpets into air so we could say we saw some flying carpets in Istanbul. Del wanted a 4X6 rug for our doorway so we were quickly shown to a private viewing room. We selected a silk carpet with fifteen panels representing individual tales that Scheherazade told to the Sultan to extend her life. Within a few weeks it was delivered to our door in the States.
EPHESUS, MAY 6: IZMIR, EPHESUS & JOHN/MARY'S HOME
Another day, another Excursion, this time to the large industrial port city of Izmir, Turkey, our entrance into the home of John and Mary, and then into the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus.
Had breakfast on 12 (Raffles outside deck, lunch in Windows (our favorite lunch place), then got on our $250 per person exclusive tour which meant a small bus, closer attention to our needs, etc. — at least it was supposed to be that way. What we got instead was this:
THE TOUR GUIDE FROM HELL
Turkish-speaking female tour guide gave us a running monologue as we drove up the freeway to Ephesus. As she was talking on the microphone, we became aware of a man's voice in the background almost as loud as her voice, making it even more difficult to decipher her pronunciation of the English vowels, the fifth or sixth vowel variation we heard during our cruise, and only slowly did we become aware that it was the bus driver talking on his cell phone, clearly a personal call. I noticed it first and called loudly to be heard over their two voices and ask for some relief from the bus driver's voice, and soon the entire bus was in an uproar as ladies realized that their lives were in the hands of a bus driver talking on his cell phone.The tour guide eventually told the bus driver to get off the phone, yet he continued to talk on the phone and even argued with the Tour Guide! He finally finished the call and settled down making no more personal calls, but an even worse problem occurred when we approached a long tunnel through the hillside. We had passed the last off ramp, and suddenly the Guide began talking loudly to the bus driver in Turkish. Clearly, he had missed the last exit before the tunnel and on this limited access freeway, it would be some time before he could make a U-turn, if at all. To say she was talking loudly would be a euphemism for her shouting and cursing at him in Turkish.
Our tour didn't start until 2 pm and we needed to be back at the boat for 6 pm, so losing twenty minutes was a big deal. We made the first U-turn and the bus driver was going up the 1,000 foot high hillside, making hairpin turns on two-wheels to make up time. On the way down, he did the same thing, over-driving his governor so that it would beep-beep-beep, then he would brake, brake, brake, and then the process began over again. Del and I put on seat belts for the first and only time on all of the excursions we went on. The only port we didn't do an excursion was the last one, Venice, since we'd been there before and were staying for a couple of days to do our own thing.
It was a short walk, thankfully, up to Mary & John's home, a beautiful area on the side of a hill, flowering ice plants were painting the sides of the path, and the short, dozen-people-long-line went directly into the home. As we approached the home, I was amazed to find that a Catholic Mass was being held under carport type roof, likely in the place where several Popes have said Mass in recent decades, and when I looked at Del, I saw her eyes had teared up from some deep recognition of the spiritual energy residing in the area, a sign immediate and direct and more important than any archaeologist's estimations about the authenticity of the site as the home of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The original walls are darker and rise from the ground up 3 to five feet, the rest of the home having been reconstructed to its estimated original condition. In the vestibule was a photo of Sister Catherine Emmerich whose description of the last days of Mary led to the discovery of the ruins of this house exactly where she had described it being. The area around the house was shaded by various trees and it was pleasant just sitting outside and enjoying cooling breezes. Truly a spiritual site and well worth visiting.
From there we walked to the ruins of Ephesus, about a twenty minute walk, mostly slightly downhill. As I wrote in Occult History about the events surrounding the burning of the Temple of Diana in Ephesus:
Steiner reveals to us the epitome of the Man of personality who tried to destroy Diana's temple of Ephesus and we catch a glimpse of the reincarnation of the spirit of the individuality known previously as Gilgamish, re-appearing as Alexander the Great, with a most unexpected Enkidu (Eabani) by his side acting as his teacher, Aristotle.
[page 21] Herostratus flings the burning torch on the day when Alexander the Great is born — the man who is all personality! Alexander the Great stands there as the shadow-image of Gilgamish. A profound truth lies behind this. In the Greco-Latin epoch, Alexander the Great stands there as the shadow image of Gilgamish, as a projection of the spiritual an to the physical plane. And Eabani, projected on to the physical plane, is Aristotle, the teacher of Alexander the Great.
Here indeed is a strange circumstance: Alexander and Aristotle standing, like Gilgamish and Eabani, side by side.
It was the land upon which Diana's Temple was burned that we were walking, any one of the large buildings of which only rubble remained could have been her Temple. Tall columns and an entire frontal section of a great library, perhaps it had also been Diana's Temple, was still standing. The marble streets that used to flow down to the sea, now ended miles away from the water, the river having over time filled in the land with pebbles, turning it into dry land.
The entire walk was about 1.5 miles, every foot of it fascinating, well-worth the walking and a bit exhausting, tromping over ancient rocks and marble being no fun. We paused at the first place with some shade, a rise which overlooked the marble street where a canopy had been set up. Three trumpeteers came out from the opposite side of the street and heralded with their long horns the arrival of Roman dignitaries in period dress who appeared to the acclamation of the crowd and walked up and sat on the canopied stage. Five maidens danced in white togas, followed by a gladiator contest between two skilled swordsmen. A marvelous time warp into Roman times, recreating an event that could have happened in this very spot a couple of thousand years ago.
We felt that this was one of the best excursions we had been on, and if only we could survive the trip back to the ship, arriving in time in one piece, we would be happy. Our driver continued his speeding to get us to the ship in time, none of which would have been necessary if he and the guide had cooperated with each other instead of fighting. It was beep, beep, beep and brake, brake, brake all the way down to the ship, arriving before they pulled up the gangplank. Later the next day one of the survivors of the hellish drive with us said she had gotten a refund for the tour, so Del talked to the Excursions lady who balked on the refund until Del explained about the seat belts and how we came white-knuckled, beep, beep, beep all the way home!
A week or two earlier, we had signed up for a 9-hr excursion to Delphi — Legendary Oracle of Apollo, only to have it canceled for lack of interest. This gave us a chance to select another Athens tour. After having excperienced other exhausting tours which dropped us off in the midle of an unknown sity, we opted for an exclusive Athens tour which took us first to the Acropolis and then to the Archaeological Museum. I figured that if the walk up to the Propylea and Parthenon on the Acropolis wore us out, we could wait in the Museum café sipping coffee while the tour guide took the rest around to view the antiquities. This turned out to be a great move, as I awoke with a horrible head-in-a-vise sinus headache and would have canceled the Athens tour if the Excursion Desk had been manned. Instead I talked to a minimum wage night clerk who could not make a decision and told me the only way to cancel tour was for me to see their doctor, who might excuse me from the tour. That would cost me $105 for a might! So, the ship wins either way. Either I pay $250 and forfeit it or bet $105 that I might get my $250 refunded.
The whole episode got me so infuriated that I felt like going, so I returned to the Stateroom and Del found some Alka-Seltzer Cold Plus which I took and in an hour I felt better, not being able to tell if it was my anger at the cupidity of the Cruise Line or the medication which had revived me, likely it was both.That slight up-tick in well-being plus two reasons prompted me to go on the excursion anyway: 1) It was an Exclusive Small Group (and maybe a better tour guide) and 2) The tour went to Acropolis first and Archaeological Museum second (and maybe, just maybe, this tour guide will actually follow the promised route). I figured I had enough energy to make it up to the top of the Acropolis, through the Propylea, a huge marble gateway, to the Parthenon.
It turned out to be our best small tour yet, with a competent and caring guide, Dimitrius, who has led tours for about 25 years up the Acropolis. He found shady places walking up to talk to us about the Parthenon and the walk up through the Propylea to the Parthenon was pleasant and not at all tiring. Lots of people and uneven surfaces made for slow going, and once we made it to Parthenon, we decided to walk back down the short way with Dimitrius to the bus location where we got to wait in the shade next to kiosks offering water, food, and souvenirs.He then took us to a special square in Athens for our lunch and some shopping. I waited in a vine-shaded outdoor patio of the AKROPOL restaurant from which one could see the Acropolis hovering over the city, as its name implies, "edge of or top of the city". I found out that any Greek city worth its polis has an Acropolis or high point and Athens' is the most famous in all of Greece. I had some coffee while Del scurried back and forth with Demetrius on her shopping quest. There were lots of olive trees along Acropolis pathway that were full of pollen, and, as immune as I am to local pollen at home, this foreign pollen seemed to play hell with my sinuses, of course, it may have simply been the bad head cold, nevertheless, I took my second cold tablet about 1:30 and was glad to have it. I did another Speed Trace and felt better immediately, focused on the pollen portion of the sinuses. When the rest of our small group (Shirley, Rich, Peter, Michael and two others plus Del) joined me at the table, we had a delightful lunch. I ordered the dorado fish which came with eyes and bones. Hard to eat. Wish I'd gotten the souvlaki instead, lamb on a stick.Del had bought on her shopping trip a gold bracelet with the Greek Key on it, a design representing the Golden Mean as a repeating pattern, a bracelet like she and I had admired on Demetrius's wrist. We also saw the all-marble Olympic Stadium in which the first modern day Olympics were held. Seats, walls, everything marble. Greece has an abundance of marble, even to this day.
After a driving tour of Athens our next stop was the Archaeological Museum. I skipped the headphones, and instead did a whirlwind photographic shoot and tour and then found the Museum Café where I sat in comfort, cooling breezes flowing through the open glass doors from the outdoor patio seating area and garden. It was a lovely place to wait. I enjoyed an expresso and later a drumstick ice cream cone, and was walking to use the Rest Room when I bumped into Del who was looking for the same thing.
I loved the photography rules of the Museum: 1) Photos okay with NO flash 2) No Photos of real person next to an antiquity (Makes so much sense, as that kind of ubiquitous photo-taking clogs up traffic and blocks the viewing space of people who simply want to enjoy the antiquity!)
Del got herself an ice cream cone and we walked back to the bus. Gave Dimetrius a $20 tip. I told him it had a "Photo of US's greatest president." "Harry Truman?" he asked. "No, Andrew Jackson", I said, but his answer reminded me of Truman's part in establishing the Marshall Plan post-WWII and that would have made his name memorable for the Greeks and other Europeans of the time.What I remember of Harry S. Truman was the catchphrase LSMFT which was a popular cigarette motto: "Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco" — but in the 1950 time period it was taken to mean, "Lord Save Me From Truman", spoken by working Americans who hated the man. Never figured out why, but I was only about 10 years old. Truman was mainly responsible for the groundswell of support for Dwight David Eisenhower which swept America with I LIKE IKE buttons everywhere. As a result, Truman didn't run for election to a second term, which he was entitled to by Constitution (as he became President by FDR's death for his partial first term).
SEA DAY TO VENICE
Woke up feeling great! My head no longer in the vise and my sinuses cleared up. Being away from all pollinating trees may have helped. Still had a bit of sneezing and with my massage coming up in the afternoon (my date with Raquel, pronounced Racquel), I took some Contact Cold medicine for relief about noon. Del and I played Scrabble in afternoon. There were on the first day of the Transatlantic portion of our cruise about 2 dozen Scrabble games, but they had quickly disappeared by the second day, so we found a newish one and kept it with us, also putting our Pay Me! money and double deck of cards in the same box, so we were ready for either game.
On this afternoon, I borrowed Gust's laptop and backed up all my trip photos, about 2,000 of them. If my cameras got lost on the trip home, I could still retrieve photos from his laptop. Plus it gave him access to the photos I took of him and Janet and also photos of me and Del.
Then I went over to the Spa for my date with Raquel for a massage. I didn't sneeze during massage, but after the post-massage sauna, I let out a sneezing barrage, about 30 times, and when it abated, I had little or no more sneezing, and the head cold became only an unpleasant memory.
We went up to join Gust & Janet for some Pay Me! games. Usually we play on the Raffles outdoor deck 12. It was covered on three sides so we got very little wind and we had access to food a few steps inside and drinks. But because of the breezy conditions and my tapering head cold we played in the Lifestyles or Card Room on 12. Had a great time until about 7:45 pm when we got a quick dinner in Raffles and my three friends wanted to go to Elements show. I didn't, but I went along with them. We met Jack and Mary Ann Parker on the way (who had just been to the earlier show and didn't like it a bit), but I decided to go anyway. Sure enough it was too loud, incoherent script, poor choreography, magic act clichés, all of which was followed by an orgy of blatant self-adulation pumped up by the Crudest Director Jill who continually blasted out Be Spontaneous Paradoxes such as, "Put your hands together!", over and over again, 117 times, but who was counting, forcing applause for everyone who worked on the ship from the food-stealing wait-staff in Raffles who took our dishes away before we had finished eating our food if we turned our heads away, to the joke-cracking Swedish Captain whose announcements went like this, "If our navigator boys don't get us lost, we'll make Venice in the morning"
If anyone from the audience might have spontaneously applauded, we never got a chance to find out, and unfortunately, neither the crew all assembled on the stage. I only applauded for the Captain, but no one noticed. This kind of forced adulation prevents the very kind of feedback that Norwegian Cruise Lines needs to evolve and improve, and absent such feedback, NCL will stay convinced they are already the best, after all, look at the standing ovation. I found the whole spectacle in bad taste — I felt that I had outgrown such spectacles. It reminded me of High School convocations and pep rallies with a cheerleader prompting cheers for the team (which never won a championship while I was there) and the principal and school teachers who nobody really liked, with few exceptions. YUCK! The few servers we liked, we let them know, such as Elace (Elise) and Kalai in Windows and our steward, Arvin, truly the best steward we had on any cruise, ever. With few exceptions, the rest were also rans, way out of the money.
VENICE, MAY 9: ABOARD SHIP
Got up at 5:30 AM and the only place for coffee was in the Blue Lagoon, and the coffee was surprisingly good, though I did doctor it with hot water like we did in Raffles. Coffee was freshly brewed in a small glass pot and tasted great. Had a banana and an apple turnover. Quickly became too noisy there, in fact, it was too noisy everywhere on the NCL ship the entire cruise.The music which was piped into the Centrum would have been fine if notched down several decibels. The Centrum would then be a pleasant public place to sit and read or converse, but there was always some game or Lecture going on in the open Mezzanine whose noises slammed on the ears of those sitting in the Centrum directly below. Add to that the WalMart shoppers milling around the trash someone bought on shore and sold with a huge mark-up, e. g., the Turkish cap we bought on shore that was too small by a bit for me, we bought for $2 and it cost $9 in the Centrum that same afternoon.
I was forced to go up to the Library to write down these notes that morning on my Penway Pad. Even the Library was not immune from the noise of the Galaxy Lounge which kept blasting out Salsa and Line Dancing music almost every day. I tried the Smoking lounge and even its double-sound-insulated walls couldn't stop the Meringue or Macareno from seeping into the otherwise quiet but stinky room.
Del & I had lunch in Raffles. The ship was about empty; everyone had gone ashore for a beautiful day in Venice. We decided to skip the expensive shore excursion and rest aboard. We will be in our hotel tomorrow and that will be soon and time enough to do what we wish in Venice. We played Scrabble and relaxed on our last day on the Spirit.
Gust and Janet were supposed to join us in Windows, but they had gone ashore and so we dressed and asked for Kalai and Elache's (Elise) table and were seated about 7:10 with no signs of our two friends. We waited to order about 7:30 and ate slowly, figuring they would eventually show up. About 8:15 we were nibbling slowly on our dessert when they came to our table. Gust ordered dessert and Janet some coffee. Earlier I had given Kalai a Toth silver doubloon and thrown some beads to Elise. She loved them, first putting them around her neck and later, for convenience, she wrapped them around her left wrist. Got the best service ever — Kalai fixed my Cranberry with a dash of OJ Cocktail in a large wine goblet which looked very elegant.
We talked and talked to Gust and Janet and went to the final show of the cruise with them. A blond British male vocalist did a great take on Buddy Holly, adding, if that's even possible, new verve and excitement to Peggy Sue and other classics. I wanted to get up and jitterbug to them. A great end to a great cruise. All things considered the NCL Spirit gave us what we wanted: A smooth sail across the Atlantic Ocean and a chance to visit many port cities we had never been to before. For the first half of 2012 we had been to and seen 5 continents and now we were going ashore to Venice to complete our 28-day holiday on the streets, canals, and islands around the famous city.
VENICE, MAY 10: HOTEL PAPDOPOLI
The next day we took the Water Taxi to Hotel Papadopoli (Pope of the People, perhaps) and arrived about 11 am. We checked in our luggage and were told to come back about 3 pm for our room. Concierge said we could get a free Water Taxi to Murano the next day with a drop off at San Marco plaza later, so we signed up for that. We got a map and decided to walk towards the Rialto Bridge. Had lunch, a Breschetti (piazzi on toasted bread, brew-sketty) and an iced coffee at a small shop. Asked us if we wanted milk in it, but wasn't sure what to say — we only wanted one like we had in Taormina, and after eating it, we suspected we should have said yes to milk as it was too dry. Otherwise it looked the same as in Taormina and tasted the same.
Then we walked towards Rialto Bridge and stumbled into the Tintaretto Museum of St. Roche. Visited the St. Roche church first. St. Roche, was left to starve, but a dog rescued him by bringing him some bread, so he is usually portrayed with a dog at his feet. Finding this Museum was one of our objectives: to view the place where Woody Allen and Julia Roberts visited to view the artworks in the movie "Everyone Says I Love You". Then we continued our trek, arriving at the Rialto bridge. Since we'd walked 2/3rds of the distance to San Marco Square, we decided to return to our hotel confident that we could walk the entire way back on the next day. Exhausted, we arrived at Room 145 and crashed. Room's AC didn't work very well. The air was always cooler outside than inside. At night left the casement windows open, but a mosquito got in. Gradually I found that if we let the sheer curtain closed, it acted as a mosquito net and we could be comfortable in the room, and I even propped open the door with a shoe for a while to get some cross-ventilation as I had noticed some other room on our floor doing.
We dined in the Cave Room, the dining room with a domed sunroof filled with vines, its walls thick slabs of cork looking like trees. Elegant dining room, only we ate so early we were the only patrons in the place when it opened. Prix fixe menu items were not worth mentioning or remembering, even the Tiramiso which could have been delicious had too much chocolate powder scattered on the top in its conical champagne glass. We watched a neat movie in English — by this time we wanted to watch anything in English, and then went to sleep.
VENICE, MAY 11: MURANO, BURANO, SAN MARCO'S, DOGE'S PALACE
First a little ditty I composed for the glass and lace isles:
There are islands in the Adriatic
Let me say this so emphatic,
Hand over your Money
Go home poorer than you came
And richer than you ever were!"
MURANO — THE GLASS ISLE
The Water Taxi showed up exactly at 9:30 am to take us to Murano, the Glass Isle where the glassworks of Venice were moved to prevent a fire from burning down Venice. We were met at the dock by Gianni who was our guide and salesman. The Glass Factory was at the end of the 20 foot dock. We were inside the glass blowing process with nothing separating us from the blowers. Gianni showed us the powdered silica which went into the glass making oven. We watched as a man pulled some glowing molten glass out of the oven with his pipe and began to blow a vase or goblet. He rolled it in some silver and placed it back in oven.Then he took it out. As he rolled it and shaped it, his assistant blew into the end of the pipe to make it a slight bit larger, sliding carefully to his right as the pipe moved, continually blowing into the pipe. A fugue in two with molten glass.
We wanted to look at glass pitchers and Gianni helped us, never once trying to show us something we didn't want. We saw several pitchers till we found one with a good solid base which won't tip over, and we decided to add matching water glasses, tall ones. Del got a price for 6 but decided that she wanted 8 at the same price. The negotiation was outside of Gianni's ability, so he called Christian the manager who mulled over the possibility and suggested he could include the two extra glasses at no charge if we could pay a small portion of the cost with cash, Euros or US, say $200. It was as if he had read my wallet as that was how much of our traveling money I had taken with me on the Murano trip. I gave it to him and a very good deal was set.
Then it was time to go to Burano, Gianni called a taxi for us and arranged to have a friend meet us at the taxi and show us around.
BURANO — THE LACE ISLE
We arrived at Burano and Angelina was there to meet us and take us to Martine's Lace Factory and Showroom, a family business for maybe a hundred years. The manicured green lawn was bordered with bright flowers and wonderful trees. There were two beautiful Japanese red maples. I enjoyed walking through it, sitting in the gazebo, and taking photos while Del looked through Martine's wares. Martine was short and thin, about 5' 2" and looked nothing like the executive of a large business. We got to see Martine's year-old twin boys asleep in their stroller.
Del chose a lace table cloth with a green undersheet that looks gorgeous, plus 8 matching napkins, all shipping, customs costs included. Will look great on our table with the new pitcher and glasses atop it and our Turkish Silk rug at the front door entrance, practical souvenirs from Europe.
Our sales gal called up and got us reservations for two at La Gatto Nero in Burano. Our table was next to a canal in a covered open air dining area, the air was cool, the sky deep blue, and the brightly colored houses of Burano framed us in beauty all around. Next to our table sat Gilles & Claudette, a couple from Paris. I asked if they might take a photo of me and Del and then I took a photo of them. They were an absolute delight. Gilles had sparkling eyes and knew only a few words of English and he and I became the translators for our wives. He works to promote or produce musical festivals. I promised to email him the photo I took of them which came out great. I had the spaghetti with tomato sauce and Del had the prawns, shrimp which were very well seasoned and delicious. After the lugubrious fish dish in Athens and the night before at the Hotel, I decided to be safe.
SAN MARCO'S SQUARE
The instructions for getting to San Marco's were complicated and required cash up front (which we no longer had) to pre-pay the private water taxi driver and to be later refunded by Hotel so we decided to take the public water taxi to San Marco's, about 7 Euros each. We left our guide and headed for the public water taxi.
Public water taxi took us from Burano to Punta Sabbioni where we had to switch to another water taxi. Then we stopped at Lido Isle and then to San Marco where we made it for 3 pm. We walked over to San Marco Church and got in within ten minutes. We walked through the church, its altar was in scaffolding, but you could see the beauty of the place. We knelt in prayer in the Mary Chapel and then we left for the Doge's Palace, having been told it was a must see by Gust and Janet. We paid the admission charge and walked through the magnificent rooms of the leader of Venice at the height the city's power.
Then we began our walk back to our hotel via the Rialto Bridge which we soon found and walked over. We looked for signs which said Per Ferrovia. Gradually an idea had formed in my mind that Ferro is Iron and Via is road, therefore Ferrovia must be railroad. Also Per like in 5 per dollar must mean "to" as in 5 to the dollar. So Per Ferrovia was the sign "To Railroad" or "To Railway Station" which was by our Hotel Papadopoli, right across the bridge by the park in back of our hotel!Del knew that if we followed it we'd get back to our Hotel and I figured out why that would be so! Just Googled it and translates from Italian as "Railroad". And that's why we never got to the place called Ferrovia — because we never went as far as the railway station, our Hotel was before it.
We got some water and each had a gelatto on the way back. Saw San Silvestro's, San Polo's, and St. Roche's churches on way back. Relaxed, took a nap, and went down to lobby to use the broadband, actual high-speed broad-band for 7 Euros for the length of our stay, no limit on minutes. Of course, the first time I got on, after maneuvering through all the tricks and loops to finally get connected a gal came up and asked if she could use the terminal. Asked me to let her know when I was off the terminal, which I did.
This terminal had the hidden @ key along with " and ' keys as I mentioned earlier. It was located to immediate right of the space bar, which space bar on this beat up HP computer terminal would not work about half the time, a situation made worse by the Cox Webmail which did NOT show the cursor, so I had no way of knowing if I typed a space until I typed another visible character which by then was too late and required backspacing! Hoddy Sah! I finally gave up on perfect typing and let almost good enough go and avoided doing unnecessary emails.
When I came down, there was a pianist playing the grand piano in the lobby right below the three steps up to the open air Cave Room restaurant. At one point he played "Memories" from "Cats" and I called Del and asked her to come down. Asked him to play the song again when Del appeared and he did. We went to dinner and had a much better dinner tonight as we stuck to one item from the four part menu. I had the Prima Piatte and Del the Secund Piatte. A very romantic dinner with candle light, a full set of diners at the other tables and music wafting in from the pianist.
VENICE, MAY 12: LEAVING FOR HOME
First ever trip to an airport by water! We began our trip by Jim & Gail driving us to our ship the Spirit at the dock in New Orleans and ended it by a water taxi driving us to the mainland airport of Venice from Hotel Papadopoli. It dropped us off at a dock from which we could walk to the check in desk of US Airways. But we used the Porters which we found out after we agreed to use them would cost us 5 Euros a bag (about $30) to haul bags and us via a van across the street to the airport lobby entrance, well worth the extra and unexpected expense. Our guide had earlier told us to use a coin to get a cart, but we would have had to heft our bags up the stairs of the dock to the carts, not a pleasant thought. Typical Italian cluster-snafu in the airport, gal told us to walk to the other end of bldg, which we did, only to be told, when we arrived, to walk back from whence we had come! $140 for extra bags. We're taking only one bag each on River Cruise. These days you can buy clothes cheaper than carrying them with you.
On the way home, I slept most of the 9 hour flight to Philadelphia. There a luggage cart cost us $4 not refundable, as our coin would have been in Venice's cart. Going through Customs in Philly sucked, like everywhere else. After customs we had to switch Concourses, of course, and we went over 13 to 17 motorized walkways to get from Concourse A to C where our Gate was. Couldn't find a decent place to eat till we reached Charlotte, NC. There we found a place with a decent sandwich and a frozen yogurt cone and we waited for our New Orleans flight. In New Orleans, at Moisant airport, our cab driver Ismail picked us up in his taxi, a new van, and he clearly favored the new taxi regulations in New Orleans as he has been following them, updating his cab every four years. He visits his family in Egypt once a year and goes through Europe by train to get home. The taxi cost us $50 and was well worth it. We arrived home about 9:30 pm CST, but it felt like 5:30 in the morning, body time. Jet lag city for a about 10 days of getting up at 3 AM and feeling groggy a lot of the day.
HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN
First off, everything was fine at home. Spent several days going through daily Times-Picayune issues to catch up on any important stuff I might have missed. Wasn't much I missed, but I did save the Monday through Saturday crosswords. We just got a surprise announcement that our daily newspaper, which prides itself on having the largest percentage of readers in a large US city, is cutting back to three issues a week in a few months. Also heard that they are turning a profit of 11 percent already! Crossworders are puzzled about what this means to their daily bread of puzzle solving. Plus, imagine Saints fans after a huge win on Sunday this Fall having to wait until Wednesday to read about it in the Times-Picayune. I'm wondering myself about that last Monday issue: should I save it for posterity or use it to cover the table before dumping boiled crawfish over it? Easy decision; crawfish tastes better. I'm guessing that the bulk flyers and coupons take up 25 percent of current weight of the TP delivered to my door, and I have to heft that trash and dump it unread in the trash can. With the new three day delivery format, I imagine every paper will be filled with such trash and take up 50 percent of the weight delivered. Gee, why pay for having junk mail delivered, I'm thinking. We get enough already through the mail slot for free, don't we? Adios Times-Picayune! It's been nice knowing you for 65 years, ever since I first read you at Grandpa Matherne's home in Bourg, Louisiana when I stayed for a week one summer.
First day home, I returned the second broken GE Timer to Home Depot for a refund; 2 out of 3 of these identical timers were broken. Customer Service Clerk Christine helped me with the refund and asked how our cruise went; she was the same clerk who replaced the first broken one for me six weeks earlier. The previous one would work if I bent the case (indicating an open circuit which only closed under stress). This new one I had tested for two weeks and when I moved it from test stand to garage the morning we left on cruise to Europe, it failed, probably due to stress on the case again. Does this sound like a faulty design to you? Cheap plastic and circuits depending on a sturdy metal case do not go together. Before leaving I removed the defective timer and fell back to using just one timer to operate both chargers on the same cycle time, instead alternate days as I had originally set up the two timers. The timer setup was necessary to keep hydrogen gas from building up in the garage and worked just fine. Both batteries were at full charge when we returned.
I drove to Verizon to buy a new battery for BB Curve. Del's phone had been malfunctioning the last week of the cruise and I had guessed it was a battery problem. To check my hypothesis, I switched batteries between our phones and my phone began failing and hers working again. When I arrived in the store there were few customers waiting and yet they wanted me to enter my name in a vertical pad using its keyboard buttons. I typed in my full name and then discovered they wanted the last name in a separate box. No way to move the name down, so I would have to retype the whole thing! HEY! Give me a typewriter and I'll do it at 60 wpm, not a vertical pad for hunt and peck dummies!Manager named Chris came over and bailed me out, Bless him! While waiting for him to come free to assist me, a guy came over and asked me if I were Buster's son. Yes, I said and he pointed to his wife Anne saying she was Lydia's daughter, pronouncing Lydia rhyming with perfidia instead of needya as we always said, so I was puzzled for a second. Sure enough, as soon as I saw her resemblance to Uncle Richard, I knew she must be Aunt Lydia's daughter. Randall and Anne are living in Freeport, Bahamas while her husband works on a contract there, and are staying with Aunt Lydia in Westwego during their visit here. One of my many first cousins and always great to run into one.
Our Sub-Zero refrigerator had been running a little warm and leaving moisture droplets on the top edge of the inside compartment. I insisted we get AAA Wayne over to fix our Sub-Zero which has been hovering around 50 degrees for two days. Something about the door was not right and I knew he could fix it. Wayne came over right away about noon and fixed it. He lifted the right side of the fridge and lowered the other three sides (screw jacks). Then he heated up the gasket so that it would be flexible enough to stick to the door and keep all the cold air in, primarily the problem apparently, because by Saturday morning, the inside temp was 24 degrees. I moved the temp setting back to 5 and the door actually holds tight for the first time in the two years we've been living here. The suction holds it so tight the door can barely be opened for about 15 seconds, just like the freezer has always done — this is due to Sub-Zero's design, and something I'd never found on any other make of refrigerators. Pulling against the suction is good because it keeps the gasket flexible. That sticking is a sure sign that the gasket is working properly, and I'm glad to discover that. The moisture drops are gone now, and their presence is another sure sign that the gasket is not working properly: drops form when the room air is being sucked in and condenses on the inside top of door opening. We have had two warranty repairmen come to fix other problems with this fridge and never once did they notice the gasket problem. Note to people considering Home Warranty policies: they only fix what you call them to fix and won't touch anything else without another call. Basically you have to do your own troubleshooting and tell them what's broken or what's not working before they will fix it. AAA Wayne is not a Warranty repairman, but he is invaluable because he fixes anything and everything and shows me how to do minor things myself. He has resucitated my 1972 garage refrigerator from the brink of extinction several times using parts he had in his truck.
Our granddaughter Jennifer came over for a visit the Wednesday after her birthday and we took her to Tony Mandino's Restaurant near here. She enjoyed seeing our new home and garden and showing us the new car she had just gotten.
At this point in the month, I usually tell Del, "Don't let anything exciting happen before the end of the month." Meaning I'm finished writing the personal notes for the latest DIGESTWORLD Issue and don't want to add anything (though I sometimes do). To sum up our cruise experience in one sentence I've been telling friends, "We spent a month filling up our plates on board ship and filling up our credit cards on shore." By the time we finished the cruise, we had each gained about 10 lbs. and had only one working credit card! Once we got home, a few phone calls fixed the credit card problems and a few skipped meals and light ones is clearing out the extra weight. The last two weeks of May have been wonderful, cool and sunny, and we have enjoyed relaxing on our new covered Portico with the overhead fans adding to the delightful breezes blowing by as we sit and look at our green lawn edged by colorful arrays of flowers.
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO
A NEW BEGINNING, SO UNTIL NEXT MONTH
The past 61 days of April and May have been delightful Spring days, and we're both a tad sorry we missed so many of New Orleans' best weather by being at sea and on shore in Europe. We returned to find large cucumbers and watermelons in our mulch bed where small vines had only begun growing a month before. Looks like we'll be eating Washington Parish watermelons, the ones with the big black seeds we like so much, before June is over. Photos to follow. No hail storm like last year so our citrus and fruit trees are having a great year, and our loquat trees are finally thriving. Enjoy the upcoming warm weather and occasional afternoon showers in New Orleans, taking off as many clothes as possible to be comfortable outdoors — that's what we do. God Willing and the Weather favors our Fair City again this year, we will visit you again in July. Till then, Remember our slogan:
Take Care of Yourself in Twenty-Twelve ! ! !
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Five Flowers of Shanidar Poems, One from each Chapter:
These poems are from Bobby Matherne’s 1990 book of poetry, Flowers of Shanidar. and have never been published on the Internet before. For this DOUBLE ISSUE, this section will have five poems, one from each Chapter of the book. (Flowers drawn by Artist Maureen Grace Matherne)
1. Chapter: Hollyhocks
There is no better way to see
The flaws in us than in our friends.
We have them to achieve our ends,
Here's to them both eternally.
The beam and mote's a simile
For behavior interperson'ly.
I attract friends with motes to see,
That match the beams inside of me.
Motes are electric charged,
With one differentiation,
The likes attract, unlikes do shun,
The beam is just the mote enlarged.
The beam is like a colored filter
That lets you see hues out of kilter.
We're like human kaleidoscopes
With matching individual motes.
This is the desired condition,
To see the beam inside of you,
Forgive the motes in others, too,
In an act of shared contrition.
2. Chapter: Hyacinths
An Open Mind
On the stairs in open air,
Leaving the past behind,
With open skylights overhead
Peeking out of open mind.
An open book for all to see,
With shadowy winks of clarity,
Twinkling depths of truly wise
Sparkling out of open mind.
A sign of open for business
Hanging across the forehead;
The world an open book test
That either you pass or you're dead.
So walk in and open your collar,
Nothing opens a door like a dollar;
Open the windows, open the wine,
Nothing tastes better than an open mind.
3. Chapter: Rose Mallow
Crystal MiningThe earth has laid these Easter eggs
Beneath its virgin soil.
"Mist in decay" Kahlil Gibran called
these glassine structures
nestled in their umber Easter grass.
Out of sight of God and man
Since when the world began
Reflecting in the dark
the soundless melody of three billion years.
Until one day the light,
A dazzling sunburst of delight,
Resonates and vibrates,
spirals in and out
its labyrinthine chambers,
fills its hoard with rainbow chords,
the air with sparkling melodies.
Its huge patron plucks it from its bed
This silent witness of the ages
And with leviathan appendages,
Charging it with living energies.
4. Chapter: Shamrocks
KaleidoscopeA reflection of a reflection of a reflection
Creates a unity
A mandala wrapped around reality.
All the world's a kaleidoscope,
Come and take a peep.
Watch the players dancing to and fro,
They seem to disappear,
And in their place a flower blooms,
The petals flowing open.
The lotus opens in my heart
And in my family
And by reflection on reflection in the heart of
So turn the tube just as you learned
You are the turner and the turned.
5. Chapter: Violets
Any Intuitions?As Hazrat Inayat Khan has said,
"Science is a clear knowledge
based on reason and logic."
But what of reason and logic?
What are they based on?
If we begin without a shred of reason
And proceed without a shadow of logic
How can we create what does not exist
From something that does not exist.
If we want to load a program into our computer
We need a program loader program.
That's reasonable and logical.
But how does the program loader get loaded?
The answer to this paradox
Is that the program loader must be wired in,
Or fingered in, or created directly in some way
Which does not require a program loader.
The bootstrap loader,
as this initial program is called,
Can load a bigger loader
Which can load a bigger loader
Until the loading capability
The user sees is there.
How does this parallel the development
of Reason and Logic?
Intuition is our wired-in (or fingered in, by God)
which provides the direct knowledge
That can load new loading programs such as
Reason and Logic.
Thus at the base of scientific knowledge,
Which explains everything we see,
Lies a technology we cannot see in action
but only its results.
And when we do, we scientifically create
A reasonable and logical explanation.
Does this give us a complete answer?
New Stuff on the Internet:
- MODEL OF HUMAN HEART
Saying I had a long phone call with Bradford Riley is redundant, as there are no such things as short phone conversations with him. Plus he was a bit under the weather with a cold, so he had time available. We talked about the human heart at one point and he told me that I needed to watch the videos of Frank Chester. As I soon discovered, this architect had created the first ever heptagon, a seven-sided solid with equal-area sides. He shows in the videos how he created it and then demonstrates how it resembles the human heart. Each video leads into the next, so plan to spend about an hour once you get started. The link on YouTube is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FYo263X-LU&feature=relmfu
You may also want to watch Frank describing the vortex produced by his heptagon in the video which Kevin Dann later sent to me, after I told of my coversation with Bradford.
The vortex produced is the same as the vortex produced during a single heart beat and explains why the top of the heart chamber has a very narrow wall while the sides of the chamber is thick: there is no pressure on the heart's walls at the top of the vortex, only on the heart's sides. One cannot watch Frank Chester's demonstration and still hold to the irrational scientific and medical belief that the heart is a pump. The actual data proves that it is not a pump, that the blood is not forced out of the heart by the heart muscles (if so, the top of heart would explode), but rather the blood is sucked out of the heart chamber by the circulation. The walls of the heart chamber is designed to hold the vortex which mixes the oxygen-rich blood from lung with the nutrient-rich blook from the digestive organs before it is sent out to the cells of the body. That vortex is created and relaxed during a single heartbeat and creates the pulse we feel in the arteries of the body.
Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, no commercial interruptions, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases. With a plasma TV and Blu-Ray DVD's and a great sound system, you have theater experience without someone next to you talking on a cell phone during a movie plus a Pause button for rest room trips.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray DVD movies from NetFlix.“The Help” (2011) gives the back story of black servants during 1950s and 60s in Jackson, Mississippi, warts and all. No sympathy for Two Slice Lilly. Shows compassion, love, and toughness of servants who raised and cared for babies of the rich women who loved their clubs more than their own children. We have come a long way in sixty years. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Some Like It Hot” (1959) Marilyn Monroe in a steamy role as Candy Cane with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag playing with her in an all-girl band. This movie is non-stop fun from opening to end and never grows old. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“Everyone Says I Love You” (1996) Best movie Woody Allen made and starred in. Watched Marilyn Monroe sing “I’m Thru with Love” in “Some Like it Hot” recently. Compare her with Goldie Hawn singing it at end of this movie. Watching Woody & Julia Roberts looking at Tintorettas, we decided to find that Gallery in Venice during our stay there and we did, museum next to St. Roche Church.A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“Descendants” (2011) Clooney as Matthew King, descendant of great Hawaiian King’s daughter, who has to decide disposition of huge estate on Kauai and his wife who is a coma from a boating accident. Suddenly thrust in only-parent duties, he uncovers his wife’s life and draws closer to his daughters.
“Call Northside 777" (1948) Hitchcock, Jimmy Stewart mystery about newspaperman drawn into story of lifer cop-killer’s possible innocence and how it plays out.
“Alamar” (2009) a young man Nathan is born to a fisherman father and Italian cosmopolitan and we get to watch as he lives through a summer with his father and grandfather in a hut near a barrier reef offshore Carribean Mexico. Reminded me of my childhood fishing trips to my uncle’s fishing camp in Lake Barre.
“Hemingway: Wrestling with Life” (2005) Biography provides background to the life of Ernest from many of his contemporaries such as A. E. Hotchner (See Shameless Exploitation)
“Young Man with a Horn” (1949) Kirk Douglas stars in the life of Bix Beiderbecke, the Elvis Presley of trumpet players, learning his licks from a great black jazz trumpeter. Bix is never mentioned in movie, but the more I watched the movie, the more I kept thinking of Bix, till Robert Osborne on TCM revealed it was about Bix whose life ended tragically at age 28. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
“The Big Year” (2011) Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, and Jack Black as unlikely Birders trying for their Big Year of seeing more different species of birds than anyone else. A comic treat and a traveloque of fun. A DON’T MISS HIT !!
“The Rum Diary” (2011) Johnny Depp stars in Hunter S. Thompson story of 1960s journalist in rum-soaked Puerto Rico. Fun look at glory days of Union Carbide in the island.
“New Year’s Eve” (2011) in NYC is frantic, especially for those who are single or estranged from a loved one. The Ball gets stuck before midnight, two pregnant couples race to win first baby of 2012 prize, DeNiro is dying alone in hospital, Bon Jovi has upset his fiancee, and a year long assignation is at risk. Enjoyable chick flick with happy endings all around.
“Heartbreak Ridge” (1986) Clint Eastwood movie about his life’s script, fighting overwhelming odds in life, love, and war, always ending up climbing over the eponymous ridge. Battle scars, medals, and ex-wives his only reward, up until now. A DON’T MISS HIT! ! !
“War Horse” (2011) is a thoroughbred belonging to a young man whose father bet his farm on. Trained by the young man, Joey is sold to the war effort to save the farm, and the young man goes to the Great War where he gets to save the war-beaten horse from being shot. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“The Artist” (2011) A pleasant movie about the change from silent to talking movies, mirroring Fred Astaire’s experience who found that dancing to music was a great attraction to movie-goers in those early days, whereas just singing on screen was not. A turning point came when George Valentino’s shadow left him.
“The Iron Lady” (2011) with Meryl Streep playing MT to a T! Focused on Maggie Thatcher post-PM life with flashbacks through her political career, the Iron Lady who helped Reagan bring down the Iron Curtain and redecorated the world in the process. A DON’T MISS HIT ! !
“The Wild North” (1952) Stewart Granger kills in self-defense and bad French accent and is tracked down by RCMP Wendell Corey with English accent. French accent saves English accent’s life while being taken back to stand trial.
“Lone Star” (1952) Clark Gable reprises Rhett Butler and saves Texas for annexation and Ava Gardner for himself.
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.“Drive” (2011) starts out fast but soon goes into Neutral and ends up in Park, maybe Reverse. Bloody awful , as an American might say it.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life & other Strange Tales” (1994) Richard E. Grant stars in first short tale about how Kafka might have written “The Metamorphosis” followed by “7 Gates” two other unusual short stories.
“The Whistleblower” (2010) is a female police officer from Nebraska who takes a job as UN peace-keeper in Bosnia and is faced with rampant human trafficking by her peers. Should she keep her mouth shut or keep her promise to save the girls? Her whistle was heard all the way to the UN when she finally blew it.
“J. Edgar” (2011) A dark movie about the secret life of FBI Director and dedication to the Bureau he helped bring into prominence.
“Waste Land” (2010) documents Vik Muniz’s work converting trash into artworks, doing with junk from Rio what Eliot did with lines from his pen.
“Father of My Children” (2009) A French producer has sliced himself into too many productions at one time, running out of money and hope, his family the ultimate victims of his failure.
“Run Lola Run” (1998) Lola runs and starts over and starts over again, each time different things happen until she gets it right.
“Killer Elite” (2011) with Statham, DeNiro, and Clive Owen in this dark revenge movie.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Broussard Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
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Boudreaux and Broussard were talking about their parents. "You know, Boo, seems like twenty years ago when we got together at family crawfish boils, my cousins and me would talk about what our kids were doing, now when we get together we talk about what our parents are doing."
"Mais, oui, Broussard, Boudreaux replied, "Ah notice dat also. Seem all of us got parents going into old age homes or de hospital."
"You right, Boo! Take jest de udder day, mon Pere come home from a checkup, and said dat he told his doctor that he thought he was getting senile."
"Dah's bad. Wat de doctor tole him?"
"He say, 'How come you t'ink dat you senile, Mr. Boudreaux?' Wah, mon Pere told him, 'Lately after I pee, I forget to zip up my pants.'"
"Ooh, wat de doctor say bout dat?"
"He say, 'Dat's not senility. Senility is when you forget to zip down.'"
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5. RECIPE of the MONTH for May, 2012 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
(click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Eggplant Medallions & Green Limas
Background on Eggplant Medallions & Green Limas over Rice: Instructions for coooking green limas and rice are similar to butter beans and rice which can be found HERE. The sauteed eggplant medallions make a wonderful side to serve with green limas over wild & long grain rice. In this recipe, we will focus on preparation of the eggplant medallions while showing the full recipe in the photo with a baked yam. We usually baked several yams and save them in fridge for later: 30 to 45 seconds in microwave will heat them perfectly. Add a pat of butter after heating.
One Medium Eggplant, sliced as shown
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Season All and Tony Chachere's Seasoning
One could peel the entire eggplant, but if you wish to make medallions for a couple of meals, slice the eggplant as shown in the ingredients photo and cover the remaining eggplant tightly with Saran Wrap and save in fridge. Trim the peelings from the medallions like this.
1. Heat frying pan on Medium heat. 2. Place medallions in pan and spread thing layer of Extra Virgin Olive Oil like this, then sprinkle with Season All and Tony's liberally. Turn over and repeat. 3. Saute medallions on each side until both sides are slightly browned as shown here. Serve immediately.
Serve as Side Dish for any Rice and Beans combination such Green Limas or Butter Beans. The texture and taste is a marvelous accompaniment to any beans and rice dish.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from "Yes, and Even More":
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Stages — A Poemlet in Two PartsPart 1: The World’s A Stage
It’s just a stage
I’m going through.
It’s just a stage
I’m going through.
It’s just a stage
I’m going through.
Everything’s just a stage
I’m going through.
Physicist, Programmer, Writer:
It’s just a stage
I’m going through.
Son, Father, Grandfather, Great-grandfather:
It’s just a stage
I’m going through.
Body, Soul, Spirit:
It’s just a stage
I’m going through.
The world’s just a stage
I’m going through.
See you in the wings.Part 1 NOTES: The World’s A Stage
Written in Timberlane Screening Room on May 11, 1996 at 1:30 pm while watching a movie on Cox Cable. Saw a man who looked like my son-in-law when he was twenty, but he doesn’t look like that at thirty — it was just a stage he was going through, I thought. The title The World’s A Stage came from the following quote from William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth,"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more."
There is an old Sufi story that a king had a new ring fashioned of gold and asked his sage to suggest a saying that could be inscribed on the inside that, when he was suffering, would help him feel better, and when life was going well, would remind him to cherish every minute. This is the inscription the wise sage suggested:
This Too Shall Pass
In the evolution of humankind, our current physical body is a stage we’re going through, and the same is true of our current soul and spirit, as even these can be seen to evolve by those with supersensible sight.
Everything’s just a stage we’re going through. It helps us to be reminded of that, as the king found out.
Ambiguity: Wings. Does anyone need help to think of wings both as the side areas of a stage and the wings of angels?
Part 2: Kind of Strange
“This is another serial poem, isn’t it?”
It’s just a stage
I’m going through.
“Your poetry is
kind of strange.”
It’s just a stage
I’m going through.
“Your poetry is
kind of a stage.”
It’s just a strange
I’m going through.
Part 2: NOTES: Kind of Strange
Written in Timberlane Screening Room on May 11, 1996 about 1:35 pm right after finishing Part I. In this one, my Copy-editor is the interlocutor whose words are in quotes.
This poem gives me a chance to reflect on what my Copy-editor has said on more than one occasion about my "Yes, and Even More" poems. The epithet “strange” is one that is appropriate to any form of art, because it indicates that something new is happening, and newness always confronts us as if something “strange” is going on. See my poem and essay, Art Is the Process of Destruction, which explains that, rightly understood, Art is the process of destruction of the sameness of the current state of what is called art in the world, i. e., it creates something new, unexpected, and strange, which many people deem to be ugly for years or decades at times. Upon trying to read Part 2, "Kind of Strange" my Copy-editor said, “I can’t read this — it bends my mind.” This may be a new candidate for a title of this series of poems: Mind Benders. But unfortunately it sounds too much like a mathematical puzzle book. To which my intrepid Copy-Editor said, “Yes, and even more.”
Hmmm, I like the sound of that!
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for May:
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And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.
1.) ARJ2: Under Kilimanjaro by Ernest Heminway
This is the most complete edition of Hemingway's "The African Book" edited with a fine hand by Robert W. Lewis and Robert E. Fleming. He finished this book in 1956 and stored the 843 page manuscript in a trunk where it remained until some excepts were edited and run in Sports Illustrated in 1972, 73. Then an abridged version was published by Patrick Hemingway as True at First Light in 1999. What attracted me to this book was that Ernest himself was the character in the book who was living with his wife Mary under the shadow of Kilimanjaro in a permanent camp at the time. If you're ready for Hemingway writing about Hemingway, open the back flap of the tent allowing the snowy breezes flowing down the great mountain to cool you as you crack open this book, entering the world of everyday African life, sipping a Tusker beer newly pulled from the cooling canvas bag. Stretch your legs, for you'll soon be crouching and stalking a fat oryx or prized elan for the evening's dinner table, and after the long day's hunting you'll be lying in the cot in your tent listening to the night sounds of the raucous hyena or the cough of the female lion in the brush, deciphering from the sounds where they are and what they are about.
This book cannot be read without referring to the glossary of characters' names (each person has many names) and the Swahili and other foreign words which are sprinkled throughout the text liberally, often without being translated more than once. It is a small price to pay to enjoy the flavor of Hemingway's life in East Africa.
Hemingway was assigned the title of Honorary Game Warden by the Kenya Game Department, which required him or allowed him to dispose of various otherwise protected species (Royal Game) which were causing problems. He also provided medications and applied first aid to natives who were sick or injured. His camp was run by Keiti with the help of several other natives such as Charo, Mary's gunbearer, and Ngui, his gunbearer. Mary was known as Miss Mary, Memsahib, or Kittner, and Ernest as Pop, Papa, Big Kitten, and General. Some natives called him Bwana, but he discouraged that usage.
As the story opens, his white hunter friend is telling Papa how to run the camp he would be in complete control over, and Papa had said that he was afraid he'd "make a fool of himself with elephants".[page 4] "Know everybody knows more than you do but you have to make the decisions and make them stick. Leave the camp and all that to Keiti. Be as good as you can."
There are people who love command and in their eagerness to assume it they are impatient at the formalities of taking over from someone else. I love command since it is the ideal welding of freedom and slavery. You can be happy with your freedom and when it becomes too dangerous you take refuge in your duty. For several years I had exercised no command except over myself and I was bored with this since I knew myself and my defects and strengths too well and they permitted me little freedom and much duty.
Papa's tug of war between freedom and duty plays out through the pages of this book, as he is free to hunt most any animal he decides is a problem or whose meat is needed for the survival of his camp and his duty is a melding of Kenyan game rules and the mores of the natives who live in his area. Whenever he goes on a hunt, he ensures whenever possible that someone is along who can halal the kill according to Moslem law so the Muhammadans will be able to eat the meat. If possible he would hold off butchering until arriving back at camp so the locals could enjoy the delicacies of tripe which would else have to be discarded during butchering at the hunt site.
Another joy of this book is his writing about the people whom he knew, such Marlene Dietrich, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etal. Here's an example where he gives his opinion of writers who wrote about him.[page 4] Lately I had read with distaste various books written about myself by people who knew all about my inner life, aims, and motives. Reading them was like reading an account of a battle where you had fought written by someone who had not only not been present but, in some cases, had not even been born when the battle had taken place. All these people who wrote of my life both inner and outer wrote with an absolute assurance that I had never felt.To be childish is to do things badly the way a child would, but to be childlike is to do things well the way a child would. This was a distinction which I learned from my studies of Gestalt therapy as its master exponent, Fritz Perls, was always childlike but seldom childish. People in Gestalt groups were already too grown up and needed to be grown down, to regain the childlike attitude of wonder and excitement which has long been drained from them by the blood-suckers of the workaday world. Africa provided a chance for those who survived its rigors to live as children again, with no one admonishing them to "grow up". He shares a sample conversation with Mary about the subject, then reflects on how Africa admires people who remain childlike. It is still one of the things which so-called developed countries and peoples could learn from Africa.[page 23, 24] "Don't be childish, darling."
"I hope the Christ I am. Don't be childish yourself." It is possible to be grateful that no one that you would willingly associate with would say, "Be mature. Be well balanced, be well adjusted."
Africa, being as old as it is, makes all people except the professional invaders and spoilers into children. No one says to anyone in Africa, "Why don't you grow up?" All men and animals acquire a year more of age each year and some acquire a year more of knowledge. The animals that die the soonest learn the fastest. A young gazelle is mature, well balanced, and well adjusted at the age of two years. He is well balanced and well adjusted at the age of four weeks. Men know that they are children in relation to the country and as in armies seniority and senility ride close together. But to have the heart of a child is not a disgrace. It is an honor. A man must comport himself as a man. He must fight always preferably and soundly with the odds in his favor but on necessity against any sort of odds and with no thought of the outcome. He should follow his tribal laws and customs insofar as he can and accept the tribal discipline when he cannot. But it is never a reproach that he has kept a child's heart, a child's honesty, and a child's freshness and nobility. The elders, who govern, are presumably those that govern in cold blood and legal procedure because they no longer have the hot blood that would sway a warrior's thinking. They are respected, but not loved, unless they can also think as a child, in his nobility, or as a young warrior would think in his quick hate, his pride, and his blindness.This childlike nature is shown in Hemingway's conversation with his native fiancee, Debba, having as one of the freedoms of his command the acquisition of more than one wife, a process made easier because the natives think his first wife Pauline is still alive since he can’t bear to tell them she died and they think that Marlene who owns a big farm called Las Vegas is also his wife. He keeps telling Debba that he will come to her soon, and she replies finally, "I hate soon. You and soon are lying brothers."
If it seems strange to Western ears that Debba would personify "soon," listen how Ngui personified Hemingway's pistol (1) and get a flavor of how Swahili mixed into the daily conversations between the men. Heminway saw himself as a brother of his men, not a gentlemen or sir, so he didn't like them to call him Bwana, but it slipped through at times.[page 51] Everyone loved the pistol because it could hit guinea fowl, lesser bustard, jackals, which carried rabies, and it could kill hyenas. Ngui and Mthuka loved it because it would make little sharp barks like a dog yapping and puffs of dust would appear ahead of the squat-running hyena then there would be the plunk, plunk, plunk, and the hyena would slow his gallop and start to circle. Ngui would hand me a full clip he had taken from my pocket and I would shove it in and then there would be another dust puff, then a plunk, plunk, and the hyena would roll over with his legs in the air.
"Do you want to go over and halal?" I would ask Charo.This was a wide open country as this next passage about spotting poachers reveals.
"Hapana, Bwana." He would grin his old man's grin and Ngui would smile his love smile for pistol. It was never "the pistol." It was "pistol" as though pistol were a man or an animal or death or beer or supper. Pistol was our prodigy and our unbelievable champion. But what they loved best was to see pistol shoot fast.
"Shoot him fast," Ngui urged. "We have mingi, many, mingi cartridges."
"You shoot him fast."
"No, you. Shoot him fast for practice."
Then I would shoot him so fast at the dead hyena that the little barks chopped up almost into a blur.
"Seven," Ngui would say. "Three misses. Two chini, one juu."
"Pistol mzuri," Mthuka would say.
"Mzuri sana, Bwana," Charo said. "Mzuri sana."[page 76] I remembered about the arrow shafts and about how one of G.C.'s jobs as Game Ranger was to catch the Wakamba that poached south of the railway into the Game Reserve. I remembered I how he said you spotted them. You glassed the country from the top of a high hill and you knew a poaching band from the dark shine of the red dried meat in the sun.
Willie was a pilot who made deliveries, took Mary to Nairobi, etc. and was always a welcome sight to Papa and Miss Mary. Here is a boxing metaphor Hemingway uses to great effect in describing Willie's voice.[page 86] He spoke in a sort of swinging lilting voice that moved with the rhythm that a great boxer has when he is floating in and out with perfect, soft, unwasting movements. His voice had the sweetness that was true but I knew it could say the most deadly things without a changing of tone.
Often as my wife is asleep, I lie in bed and listen to the sounds of the house, thinking is that the sound of the air conditioning unit for the living room, is that the sound of a water hose left on watering the flower bed, is that the sound of her breathing peacefully, and I won't go to sleep until all the sounds are normal. For Papa in Africa, he read the sounds of the night, is that the lion Mary wants to kill over by the grassy landing strip, are the birds quiet or making noises showing that there are no humans about in the night, and so on.[page 97] Then she was really asleep and breathing softly and I bent my pillow over to make it hard and double so I could have a better view out of the open door of the tent. The night noises all were normal and I knew there were no people about. After a while Mary would need more room to sleep truly comfortably and would get up without waking and go over to her own cot where the bed was turned down and ready under the mosquito netting and when I knew that she was sleeping well I would go out with a sweater and mosquito boots and a heavy dressing gown and build up the fire and sit by fire and stay awake.
One might wonder if Hemingway was still shooting animals for sport and trophies, but he clearly had outgrown that phase of his hunting life. As Game Warden he was expected to eliminate any predatory animals and he took this assignment seriously. Even the large male lion which Miss Mary was to seek to kill over several months was a known predator. As to the question if it was sporting to kill a lion with a huge rifle, you need only know that a lion can cover a football field in under 3 seconds and be in the air lunging towards you — if the first shot doesn't kill or seriously wound the lion, you may not get another shot before he is on top of you. Solitary lion hunters have no margin for error. Lion tenderloins may be delicious, but you shop for them at a Supermarket where it is eat or be eaten.[page 116, 117] The time of shooting beasts for trophies was long past with me. I still loved to shoot and to kill cleanly. But I was shooting for the meat we needed to eat and to back up Miss Mary and against Beasts that had been outlawed for cause and for what is known as control of marauding animals, predators, and vermin. I had shot one impala for a trophy and an oryx for meat at Magadi which turned out to have fine enough horns to make it a trophy and a single buffalo in an emergency which served for meat at Magadi when we were very short and which had a pair of horns worth keeping to recall the manner of the small emergency Mary and I had shared. I remembered it now with happiness and I knew I would always remember it with happiness. It was one of those small things that you can go to sleep with, that you can wake with happy in the night and that you could recall if necessary if you were ever tortured.
What is Miss Mary like? This excerpt from a conversation with her husband is enlightening, revealing her determination, her possessiveness, and her pride in her hunting skill. It begins with her asking him, "Should I make the speech about when I kill the woman who steals your affections?" and Ernest says, "Okay, start it."[page 126, 127] "Aha," Miss Mary said. "So you think you can make my husband a better wife than I can. Aha. So you think you are ideally and perfectly suited to one another and that you will be better for him than I am. Aha. So you think that you and he would lead a perfect existence together and at last he would have the love of a woman who understands communism, psychoanalysis, and the true meaning of the word love? What do you know about love, you bedraggled hag? What do you know about my husband and the things we have shared and have in common?"
"Let me go on. Listen, you bedraggled specimen, thin where you should be robust, bursting with fat where you should show some signs of race and breeding. Listen, you woman. I have killed an innocent buck deer at a distance of 340 estimated yards and have eaten him with no remorse. I have shot the kongoni and the wildebeest which you resemble. I have shot and killed a great and beautiful oryx and that is more beautiful than any woman and has horns more decorative than any man. I have killed more things than you have made passes at and I tell you vou will cease and desist in your mealy-mouthed mouthings to my husband and leave this country or I will kill you dead."
Then she adds that the speech is only for a white woman who would marry him, not his native fiancee who only wants to be a supplementary wife. "That is an honorable position," she says. By Hemingway's identification with the local Wakamba, he was entitled to have more than one wife, but any other wives according to Mary would have be natives. He was careful not to get into trouble with anyone, especially Mary.[page 130] I had been told by G.C. to use my common sense, if any, and that only shits got in trouble. Since I knew that I could qualify for that class at times I tried to use my common sense as carefully as possible and avoid shit-hood so far as I could. For a long time I had identified myself with the Wakamba and now had passed over the last important barrier so that the identification was complete. There is no other way of making this identification. Any alliance between tribes is only made valid in one way.No one would ever claim that listening to Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett singing on the radio or through an earphone was as good as hearing them live and in person, a few steps away. The same is true for a lion's roar, as Hemingway attests below. I have heard from friends who grew up near Audubon Zoo in New Orleans that one of the treats at night as they were in bed going to sleep was hearing the lions roaring from the zoo, safely behind their enclosures, but imagine the feeling when the lion is out roaming nearby and only a canvas tent cover stands between you and the lion. Hemingway could lie in bed and follow the progress of the lion through its prowling and hunting in the night. Truly the lion was the King of the Night — when he spoke, everyone listened.[page 134] That night when we had gone to our own beds but were not yet asleep we heard the lion roar. He was north of the camp and the roar came low and mounting in heaviness and then ended in a sigh.
"I'm coming in with you," Mary said.
We lay close together in the dark under the mosquito bar, my arm around her, and listened to him roar again.
"There's no mistaking when it's him," Mary said. "I'm glad we're in bed together when we hear him."
He was moving to the north and west, grunting deeply and then roaring.
"Is he calling up the lionesses or is he angry? What is he really doing?"
"I don't know, honey. I think he's angry because it's wet."
"But he roared too when it was dry and we tracked him in the dust."
"I was just joking, honey. I only hear him roar. I can see him when he sets himself and tomorrow you'll see where he tears the ground up."
"He's too great to joke about."
"I have to joke about him if I'm going to back you up. You wouldn't want me to start worrying about him, would you?"
"Listen to him," Mary said.
We lay together and listened to him. You cannot describe a wild lion's roar. You can only say that you listened and the lion roared. It is not at all like the noise the lion makes at the start of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer pictures. When you hear it you first feel it in your scrotum and it runs all the way up through your body.
"He makes me feel hollow inside," Mary said. "He really is the king of the night."
We listened and he roared again still moving to the northwest. This time the roar ended with a cough.
"Just hope he kills," I said to Mary. "Don't think about him too much and sleep well."
One day a Wakamba man had cooked for the Governor General who wanted his usual British fare, which cook provided, but which the cook regarded "amiably as an eccentric way of spoiling good food." The cook also had "learned Mohammedanism just as he would learn a new dish." He also enjoyed producing Government House dishes on safari, he loved jokes and secrets and new dishes. Here was a cook after my own heart. (Page 168)
The Game Warden of the district in which the Hemingway camp was located was called G. C., a shorthand name for Gin Crazed. In this next passage we learn about the problems in commanding irregular troops if you are British. I make that qualification because Americans in their history have won major battles with irregular troops, from the Minutemen of 1776 to Jean Lafitte's men in the Battle of New Orleans, both of which did quite well against the British's very proper "regulars".[page 169] By the time I met him ho had a long and very difficult and unrewarding war behind him plus the abandonment of a British Protectorate where he had made the start of a fine career. He had commanded irregular troops which is, if you are honest, the least rewarding way there is to make a war. If an action is fought perfectly so that you have almost no casualties and inflict large losses on the enemy it is regarded at headquarters as an unjustified and reprehensible massacre. If you are forced to fight under unfavorable conditions and at too great odds and win but have a large butcher bill the comment is, "He gets too many men killed." There is no way for an honest man commanding irregulars to get into anything but trouble. There is some doubt as to whether any truly honest and talented soldier can ever hope for anything except to be destroyed.
Not sure I could recommend the following practice suggested by Hemingway for general use in America today, but in certain recalcitrant cases, it might prove useful.[page 169] Over the spaghetti and the wine he told us of how he had been reproved by some newly arrived, bespectacled young bureau master for, having come in from a patrol involving shooting with human beings, using a bad word which might be overheard by this young man's wife. I had seen the wife and felt that a few sound words of the type G.C. had uttered, if put in practice by her husband, might have done the marriage no end of good.
No better place to sample the droll humor which passed for conversation between Papa and G. C. than this short snippet which they vamped as they tried to figure out how they might raise Miss Mary above the height of the grass during her upcoming lion hunt along the base of the bluish Chyulus hills.[page185] "We could hunt Miss Mary on stilts," I said. "Then she could see him in the tall grass."
"There's nothing in the Game Laws against it."
"Or Charo could carry a stepladder such as they have in libraries for the higher stacks."
"That's brilliant," G.C. said. "We'd pad the rungs and she could take a rest with the rifle on the rung above where she stood."
"You don't think it would be too immobile?"
"It'd be up to Charo to make it mobile."
"It would be a beautiful sight," I said. "We could mount an electric fan on it."
"We could build it in the form of an electric fan," G.C. said happily. "But that would probably be considered a vehicle and illegal."
"If we rolled it forward and had Miss Mary keep climbing in it like a squirrel would it be illegal?"
"Anything that rolls is a vehicle," G.C. said judicially.
"I roll slightly when I walk."
"Then you're a vehicle. I'll run you and you'll get six months and be shipped out of the Colony."
"We have to be careful, G.C."
"Care and moderation have been our watchwords, haven't they?"
"Any more in that bottle?"
"We can share the dregs."
"A pair of dreg sharers out in the blue."
"The Chulis are blue."
They were very blue and very beautiful.
"Chyulus," G.C. corrected. "Tell me what is The Wild Blue Yonder that your air force has a song about?"
"It is a Challenge To Man."
"I know a beautiful airline stewardess that is a Challenge To Man."
"She's probably the one they're talking about in the song."
If I could start a sentence in Africa, it would not be any good by the rule laid down by Hemingway himself. Someday. If I go to Africa someday, I will certainly try starting a sentence with "if" and see if it turns out good. Papa was after a leopard and had moved his camp before he got the leopard, all of which led him to write this "if" sentence: "If I could have stayed there one more day I am quite sure I would have killed him. But no sentence that starts with if is any good in Africa and most sentences start that way." (Pages 206, 207) My wife and I are currently on a cruise ship in a trans-Atlantic crossing. Each day the view is magnificently identical to the previous one: deep blue water, sunshine and a few clouds. Except for a slight coolness as we head north toward Gilbralta, the days run into each other, just as they apparently do in Africa.[page 238] "The days run into each other and into each other and into each other," Miss Mary said. "That's in my poem about Africa."
Hemingway never studied Swahili, but picked up enough words to construct phrases like "wmanake piga simba mzuri sana" which according to the Swahili dictionary in the back of the book means, "young men shoot lion very good." Miss Mary berates her husband at times for not formally studying Swahili, but instead talking in some mishmash of Swahili, Spanish, Italian, and English that she calls "Unknown Tongue".[page 240] "You never make a mistake," Miss Mary said. "We all know that. And you'd be much better off if you studied your Swahili instead of trying to speak all the time in Unknown Tongue and reading nothing but French books. We all know you read French. Was it necessary to come all the way to Africa to read French?"
The above two passages inspired me to write this poem:
If I had known my tongue
to be so talented
I would have let it solo more often on its own,
Speaking so low no one else could hear it,
As each new sound ran into each other
and into each other
and into each other
As the days do down in Africa.
By now you will have noticed that Hemingway writes in a lyrical fashion and therefore you would not be surprised that I found a poem hidden in one of his paragraphs. First as it appeared in the text shortly after the above passages and part of the continuing conversation between Miss Mary and Papa. and then as I poemized it:[page 241] "No," I said. "I'm not hopeless because I still have hope. The day I haven't you'll know it bloody quick."(2)
"What do you have hope about? Mental slovenliness? Taking other people's book? Lying about a lion?"
"That's sort of alliterative. Just say lying.' Now I lie me down to sleep. Conjugate the verb lie and who with and how lovely it can be. Conjugate me every morning and every night and fire, no sleet, no candlelight and the mountain cold and close when you're asleep and the dark belts of trees are not yews but the snow's still snow. Conjugate me once the snow, and why the mountain comes closer and goes farther away. Conjugate me conjugal love. What kind of mealies did you bring?"
And below you can read the found poem which I fashioned from Hemingway's words.
Lying About a Lion
Now I lie me down to sleep.
Conjugate the verb lie
and who with
and how lovely it can be.
Conjugate me every morning
and every night
And fire, no sleet, no candlelight
And the mountain cold and close
when you’re asleep
And the dark belts of trees are not yews
but the snow is still snow.
Conjugate me once the snow,
and why the mountain comes closer
and goes farther away.
We have watched and read as Papa conjugated himself and his conjugal love on the foothills of the snowcapped Kilimanjara. We have heard him talk about lion-hunting and line-writing and now he speaks to us about something every writer thinks about, the young writer thinks about stealing lines from a Hemingway perhaps, the older writer thinks about those who steal lines from his writing, a process easier to accomplish in this day of universal access to everyone's writing over the Internet. Here's how Hemingway writes about adulterated lion fat and line-stealing.[page 356] I had seen the bulge of the Grand MacNish bottle containing the adulterated lion fat wrapped in the Informer's(3) paisley shawl but that meant nothing. We had better lion fat than that and would have better if we wished and there is no minor satisfaction comparable to have anyone, from a writer on up, and up is a long way, steal from you and think that they have not been detected. With writers you must never let them know since it might break their hearts if they had them and some have them and who should judge another man's cardiac performance unless you are in competition?
After reading this book during three weeks of glorious Spring weather outdoors in the shade from our New Orleans pergola and the last week on a cruise to the strait between Europe and Africa, it was as though I had been in Papa's camp in Eastern Africa at the base of mighty Kibo, hearing the lions roar and cough on the hunt at night, feeling the cool breezes flowing through the tent at night, ever so gently brightening the glowing embers of the fire as they speeded up otherwise imperceptibly, crouching down as we approached the great black-maned lion who sat imperiously posed on a large rock as if daring us to shoot him, acting as wing man to head off the huge lion should he bolt for the swampy area, helping load up the lion into vehicle, buying the Tusker beer and the Coca-Colas for the huge ngoma (party) to celebrate Miss Mary's kill, basically living inside of Hemingway, not one of his fictional characters, but himself, the himself he made up every day as he learned the mores of natives and the rules of the Kenyan Game Preserve in which he lived.After finishing this last published book of Hemingway's which laid in musty storage so long before being resurrected, we can only say, The King of Africa is dead. Long live the King! And pause at the last to reflect on the Masai proverb, "It is always very quiet when a great bull dies."(4)
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1. Swahili translations: mzuri is good, sana is very, chini is down, juu is above, hapana is no, bwana is gentleman, mingi is many.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. Near the end of his life, Hemingway was forced by Mary to undergo a series of electroconvulsive shock treatments and after the second or third time, he did lose hope and blew his brains out, giving her exactly the sign he warned her about years earlier as he was writing this passage in Africa.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. Papa’s nickname for the manipulative Masai police agent who brought him news almost daily, some of it true.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Footnote 4. Appears on page 246.Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Read the Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to coverse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre reads a Headline about the World Ending the Day Before on December 21, 2012 in Australia.
2. Comments from Readers:
- EMAIL from Kevin Dann in NYC:
Thanks for sending along the Frank Chester video. Back in the fall of 2009, I attended the AS conference in Spring Valley, and foolishly opted to attend a discussion on the subject of whether anthroposophists had already failed Rudolf Steiner's challenge about Platonists and Aristotelians working together. Walking out into the hall after that frustrating session, there were lots of animated folks pouring out of the room across the hall, so I walked in to find everyone turning over Frank's sculptures. I had never seen a room so full of excitement at any anthropop gathering. Someone did manage to video tape that session:
The Goetheanum session was so subdued! I love Frank's childlike way of engaging with the world, and it shows through in that 2009 video.
- EMAIL from our son Robie:
Subject: something for the digest?
Date: Mon, 21 May 2012
thought you might enjoy this... photo of Sausalito I shot from my RC airplane (big one)
- EMAIL from Gary Lipham:
Louisiana Decoy Swap Meet
in Baton Rouge Area, August 24, 2012
In Memory of Charles Frank, Jr (1922-2011)
Hope you all can make the event. Please contact me email@example.com for Event Info and Table Reservations.
Thanks Gary Lipham
- EMAIL from Christopher Tidmore on the Road to Australia:
RJM NOTE: When I tell people that Chris is driving from Barcelona to Australia, their mouths usually drop open in amazement. But here's a brief description from Chris as to why and how he will do exactly that. Photo of me and him at our Bon Voyage Party.So you want to go on a trip around the world?
In celebration of The Louisiana Weekly’s approaching 88th year, reporter Christopher Tidmore has been dispatched with a mission. Circumnavigate the planet Earth, as much as possible without mounting an airplane.
Over water, over land, by train, by boat, by bus “and an occasional mule”will this newspaper attempt to paint of picture of the world for our readers each week until January 2013. Call it around the world in 264 days (or three times 88).
We had considered a Phineas Fogg 80 Day adventure, but instead decided on a pathway that few travelers undertake. The expedition of Mr. Tidmore transverses the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, arriving in Europe as elections take place, and the tumult of the Euro-Zone troubles mount. After seeing the Queen’s 60th Anniversary on the throne in London (known as the Diamond Jubilee) and the opening of the Olympic Games a week later, Tidmore embarks on an historic journey. In cooperation with www.madventure.travel, The Louisiana Weekly will send our roving reporter across the medieval “Silk Road”.
Closed to outsiders for almost a century, Mr. Tidmore will travel a route that will send him overland from Istanbul, Turkey to Beijing, China through the “stans”, and then to down to Vietnam, across to Thailand, down through Malaysia, and into Singapore, across the Ocean to Darwin, Australia, south across the outback to Alice Springs, East to Sydney, and South to Tasmania, before returning across the Pacific to the US.
- EMAIL from brother, Paul Matherne:
It was Greg that took all the pictures. We were on the Island of Roatan, Honduras with Greg, Heidi, her sister Lori, Andie, Paige and Grace on the kids spring break.
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"Renaissance of Liberty"
Give me your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free and I will give them taxes, regulations, restrictions, and every manner of unfairness ever created by persons saddled with the illusion that they can decide what is best for someone else's welfare. The individual, like the business professional, knows what's best in a given situation and, given the freedom, will take that action. The forces of coercion are prying open the shell that contains the living muscle and spirit of the American people — will we resist those forces and keep our muscles and spirit alive, free to open at will, or will we give up like the oyster and settle for "freedom on the half shell?" Here is another poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:
Renaissance of Liberty
The doctrine of free will
Seems to me to be
When every one has 100% control of
One's manifest destiny.
To be forced by law to cooperate
Is to sabotage our freedom
With a will most determinate.
Does it seem that every one
Must be forced to cooperate
For the common weal?
Would God set up commandments
In contravention to free will?
Or is it we humans who
Build semantic fences for our kin
When we promulgate human-made law
In the name of God that Moses saw?
Does one's thoughts belong
To God, to oneself, or to the state?
Giving to Caesar those things
That are Caesar's is to respect Caesar's property.
When Caesar leaves to us
Those things that are ours
That will be the renaissance of liberty.
4. PRINTER READY REVIEWS
Some of you may have noted that our recent Reviews are now available in .pdf format which allows for ease of printing and reducing the number of pages usually required when printing directly from the webpage. The .pdf version, when available, will be indicated on the top line of the web page by the presence of a link under the words, "Printer Ready". To switch back to webpage (.htm) format, simply click the link under the words, "Webpage". We hope this will make reading easier and less expensive for those of our Good Readers who prefer to read the reviews off-line in paper form.
As time permits we will retrofit older ARJ reviews to the dual format, especially the longer reviews. Some of you might like the issues of DIGESTWORLD in .pdf format, but our first tests show that the photo magazine form of our DW Issues makes a simply conversion to .pdf problematic, resulting in large blank spaces on pages where photos won't quite fit. We do not have the staff to create a full photo magazine format for each issue, and hope that the flexibility of our present .html Issues, adapting to various screen sizes of the variety of desktop and remote devices available today, will continue to please you, our Good Readers.
We encourage your feedback about the new Printer Ready versions, simply Reply to your DW Issue Reminder email and let us know if it has helped you. If it is not helping some Readers, we may decide to omit this extra work for each review and stop the tedious retrofit process, so if the Printer Ready version is helping you, please let us know.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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Thanks to all of you for providing the chemistry which has made this site a success. — Especially those of you who have graciously allowed us to show photos of you and by you on this website — you're looking good!
In 2012, its twelfth year of existence, the doyletics website topped Nine Million Visitors. By the Second Quarter of 2013, we expect to top TEN MILLION VISITORS ! ! !
As of May 1, 2013 we will have received over 9.98 MILLION VISITORS to the Doyletics Website since its inception in August 1, 2001, almost TWELVE YEARS AGO. About 800 Thousand in the past 12 months. We are currently averaging about 60,000 visitors a month. A Visitor is defined as a Reader who is new or returns after 20 minutes or more has passed. The average is one visitor for every 10 Hits.
IMPORTANT NOTE about DIGESTWORLD
We especially want to thank you, our Good Readers, in advance, for helping our readership to grow. NOTE our new name for future Digests: DIGESTWORLD. Continue to send comments to Bobby and create links to DIGESTWORLD issues and Reviews on on LinkedIn, on your Facebook page and on other Social Media. Email your friends about the reviews, the handy doyletics Speed Trace, the cartoons, the cajun jokes, the recipes, the poems, and the photos in all the DIGESTWORLD Issues archived on our website. Urge them to subscribe to the DIGESTWORLD Reminder so they won't miss a single issue! The Subscription Process has been simplified so that no Reply Confirmation is required. An email to the Editor with your First and Last names is all that's required. There is never a charge for viewing any page on our website, nor for any of the guidance we offer to people asking for help with doyletics or other areas.
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NEW ! ! !
You can read a description of how to do a Speed Trace:
Learn to Do a Speed Trace Here
Or Watch Bobby extemporaneously explain How to Do a Speed Trace on Video:
To make a connection to the Doyletics website from your own website, here's what to do. You may wish to use the first set of code below to link to the site which includes a graphic photo, or to use the second set of code for a text-only link. Immediately below is how the graphic link will look on your website. Just place this .html in an appropriate place on your website.
<CENTER> < — with graphics link — >
<A HREF="http://www.doyletics.com/index.htm">Learn to Do a Speed Trace Here<BR>
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My reviews are not intended to replace the purchasing and reading of the reviewed books, but rather to supplant a previous reading or to spur a new reading of your own copy. What I endeavor to do in most of my reviews is to impart a sufficient amount of information to get the reader comfortable with the book so that they will want to read it for themselves. My Rudolf Steiner reviews are more detailed and my intention is to bring his work to a new century of readers by converting his amazing insights into modern language and concepts.
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10. GRATITUDE - in Three Easy Steps:
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Maintaining a website requires time and money, and apart from sending a donation to the Doyletics Foundation, there are several ways you can show your gratitude and support our efforts to keep doyletics.com on-line.
One would be for you to buy a copy of my Dolphin Novel, The SPIZZNET File. Books May be ordered in hardback or paperback form from Xlbiris the Publisher here:
The best source at the best price is to order your copies on-line is from the publisher Random House/Xlibris's website above.
Two would be for you to use the Google Search Engine for your web searches or to find an item on doyletics.com website. New reviews will have a place to do a Google Search at the top and the bottom of the reviews. Just enter a search phrase in the box below to do a Search. Note you can check whether to Search just this site or all websites.
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