Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poetry

America is not known for its love of poetry. Other countries embrace it, but here, well, not so much. Of course good music has lyrics that can, not always but sometimes, stand alone as poems so I guess we have that. But even in a country that fears poetry (gosh, ya have to figure it out and all) there are the occasional pieces that everyone can recognize. Casey at the Bat... for example. But this... well... this is the stuff people. Of course, I've got to admit that what makes it good, no, great, is the performer.

With that I give you, Star Trek elder statesman and all around riot: William Shatner:



Now in all seriousness, go get a book of poetry from the library and give it a shot - I'll bet you can find at least ONE poet who speaks to you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

wanna go!

It's been two years since I've gone on vacation. Basil seems to be feeling the burden. I'm thinking he wants me to go away so he can have some quality time with his friends without mommy around.

I'm looking into giving him what he wants. After all... it's always all about the dog.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Home Movies

When my father died I took possession of dozens of reels of home movies. All silent, all recorded on a 8mm wind-up camera. I also took the film projector so that I could actually look at said reels of movies. Sadly the projector was not in the best shape and alternated between chewing the film and burning it. To avoid ruining more than the few minutes of film I already wrecked I decided the smart thing to do was transfer the reels to a DVD. Did that several years ago... and that was that.

Until the Mac.

Oh yes, Joy's been playing with the film editing again and you poor saps ... I mean, gentle readers... can watch the first of my newly digitized and organized home movies. Right here. Right now.

Okay, so watching other people's home movies may not be the fun you'd think... BUT the reason I chose this particular chunk of memory lane to force your tootsies to walk down is because it's actually a little historic. It takes place at New York International Airport (or Idelwild as it was known) - before it was called JFK International Airport.

From the JFK website
HISTORY
Construction began in April 1942 under a New York City contract for the placing of hydraulic fill over the marshy tidelands on the site of Idlelwild golf course. Initial plans called for a 1,000-acre airport, but it would eventually grow to five times that size. Commercial flights began July 1948. The airport was rededicated on December 24, 1963 as John F. Kennedy International Airport in memory of the nation's thirty-fifth president.
Kennedy International is the United States' leading international gateway. Over 80 airlines operate out of JFK.
This was sometime in the mid-1950s. My mother's sister, Kathleen, had graduated high school, come into a bit of cash (long story) and she and my grandfather were taking a trip to Ireland. I actually still have some souvenirs of that trip, if you can imagine. So for me, this is interesting in that I see my family long before I was born, while my parents were still happy, and on a day that loomed large in the family history. The big 'return' to Ireland. In fact the biggest trip any of them had taken aside from my grandparents' initial emigration from Ireland and my father's tour overseas during the war. Plus it looks a lot like a film-strip from the '50s and that right there is pretty cool. You know, to me.
video
It may seem odd that my grandmother did not go with them on this trip, but while I don't know for sure, I believe the reason she did not go was because she was one immigrant who did NOT miss her homeland. To her Ireland was a place where she was dead poor, motherless, and "there were chickens running across the kitchen table". My grandfather's experience of Sligo (where they were both from) was a little more upper middle class... i.e. not so much with the livestock in the house.
Thanks for watching, and enduring my home movies. And I hope my mother's deep and life-long adoration of Frank Sinatra makes it okay to have used the song in this little clip. And if anyone's interested Kathleen in the green suit is my aunt (deceased); Kathleen in black is my beloved grandmother (deceased); Barbara is my other aunt; Fred is my story-tellin' grandfather (deceased); Joe is my dad (deceased); Maureen is my mom (deceased). Now ain't that a happy lil' coda? *sigh* I do know how to bring down a room, huh? ;)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Brief Visit to a Foreign Land: in reverse!

On the left you see the charming and sweet Miss Brittany who lives far, far away in a foreign land called the Upper West Side. This weekend little Brittany came to stay with me for a slumber party with Basil and the ever delightful Trixie (Miss X).

Basil and Trixie are old hands at the slumber parties and have developed their own dynamic - the addition of Brittany was very exciting for everyone (me included).

They all walked together and while their walking styles are vastly different they were accommodating to each other, waiting while one did some particularly intensive sniffing (what I like to think of as checking their doggie e-mail) and generally behaving like VERY good dogs.
video
I was extremely proud of all of them.

For Brittany this was a chance to explore entirely new turf and what Beagle doesn't enjoy checking out new scents? I think the little girl was in sensory overload. We walked for hours at a time and when it was time to sleep - it was time to sleep! video
(On Basil's bed of course.)
But when it was time to walk - it was time to GO!... and time for Trixie to 'bust a move'!

One night I woke up with Basil on one side of me, passed out; Trixie on the other side, passed out; Nick the super confused kitty, on my head, passed out but no Brittany! I managed to get out of bed without disturbing the sleeping hoard and found little Brittany the night owl in the living room enjoying a midnight chew.
And isn't that how all slumber parties in distant lands should end? I think so.

Just FYI: I want everyone to know that both Trixie and Brittany were adopted through breed rescue organizations - if you are thinking about getting a dog and are want a specific breed, please PLEASE check the rescue organizations before you buy from a pet store. Thanks!

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Brief Visit to a Foreign Land

For the past few weeks I have been walking dogs for a friend of mine (another dog walker) who is on vacation. Her clientele is on the other side of the city from me and one is as far west as you can go without sitting in a boat - and a way uptown from me. Going to walk this sweet little girl twice a day is a trek, but it is also kind of wild in that this neighborhood is like another world.

Each area of Manhattan has it's own particular flavor and vibe but this one is almost like going to another city altogether.

It's beautiful, and quiet and like many pockets of this city has little gems tucked away where you might least expect them. My favorite is this one.
The first time I saw this statue it caught my attention because it is nestled in between two large historic buildings on Riverside Drive, sort of in the middle of nowhere. It looks out towards Riverside Park and, uh... the river. It stands in front of the New York Buddhist Church and interestingly (you know, to me) I actually visited their main temple in Kyoto several years ago. The first few times I passed it I just kinda looked at the statue, and liked it. For reasons I cannot fathom, except perhaps scale and the 'huh... what's THAT doing there?' it reminded me of the masthead of Hercules that sits, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, out near where I grew up.

Finally one day the dog I was walking decided to stop for some serious sniffing right in front of the statue and I was able to read the plaque on the wall below. (if it's too small, just click on it and it will get big enough to read)

Knowing that this piece survived the horrific atomic bomb... it may sound over the top, but it really does fill me with a sense of awe. And there's just something about it, whether it's the sculpture itself or simply the unexpectedness of it, that gets to me. It's like certain paintings at MY museum (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) that I NEED to visit whenever I go to the museum, even if it's just for a quick look.

It does what art is supposed to do: makes you think about things, makes you feel things.

So while I'm scoopin' up the poopin' uptown and way across, I'm also visiting a lil' piece of art. And it makes me think. And it makes me feel.

It's nice to be able to visit 'another country' for the price of a subway token.