2021: Storm Warning

Clarksville is located in the No Parking /Tow Zone of Tornado Alley so warning sirens and verbal warnings echoing from downtown loudspeakers are no surprise on a stormy April evening. It’s an unnerving sound much like the albino plague victims in The Omega Man chanting “Nevvillle” as they ring around Charlton Heston’s apartment building and as it drifts with the wind it puts all of us on edge.It bothered my grandson Jayden more than anyone else last night: he will be eight in June and he’s starting to notice details in life that up to this point in life he had been oblivious to. He was also just coming off the medication he takes to combat the severe attention deficit/hyperactivity he battles daily so his reaction was even more pronounced.

He bounced around our bedroom, stopping by the open window screen at each lap to listen to those spectral voices warn everyone to “seek shelter now”. At first he would only stop for clarification or explanation of terms used in the warnings, but on the third stop he decided to take a more proactive stance. He has a marginally-functional smart-phone handed down to him after an upgrade and while it doesn’t work as a phone he can use it for games and camera work. He loves taking pictures and making videos but this time he put his phone to a more altruistic use.

He decided to broadcast his own warning announcements:

  • “Dere’s a reawwy bad storm coming everybody!”
  • “Everybody better get a good pwace to hide!”
  • “It’s reawwy scary so be careful of any tornadoes next to your house”

He’d  record his messages in as loud a voice as he could muster, then hold the phone up to the screen and play them back with the volume turned up as high as it could go. His expression was stern as a only a second grader can achieve but at the same time I couldn’t help but smile at the speech impediment that is endearing even as it fades.

… but something else added to my grin: even while totally terrified he was doing his best to protect his family, friends and neighbors, showing a level of transpersonal commitment rare in someone so young. I was also thankful that  he had a support system in depth, that in his time of fear he had parents and grandparents to reassure him.

It made the stormy night not so scary, even with the sirens and loudspeakers.

It’s A Good Morning

I am of a generational vintage that encouraged its members to alter reality, when in  addition to weed and alcohol many of my peers experimented with LSD, peyote, and even dried banana skins in an effort to “get outside their heads”.  That concept had little appeal to me – I may have a inherent twist to the way I view life, but it’s my twist (thank you) and I’ll keep it the way it was issued to me.

However, there are times when my reality has been changed without my intent, and it hasn’t been pleasant, to include ta miserable session I’ve just gone through. In an effort to more effectively deal with the symptoms that accompany ankylosing spondylitis one of my prescriptions was changed to a medication I hadn’t used in almost fifteen years, a medication that had disastrous side effects. To simply say that it brought on depression would be like saying the Great Chicago fire was a weenie roast. I would end up in a pit of despair so dark I didn’t want to just die – I wanted to be erased, and what was maddening about it all was I could think of no reason why I should be feeling so extraordinarily bad.

Fortunately, there was a light at the end of this particular tunnel. My Beautiful Saxon Princess literally (and lovingly) hovered over me and a miracle in scheduling got me in to see the doctor to get a change in medication. Once the change was made I was able to “dial it back” from soul-crushing despair to the regular day-to-day ennui that accompanies life as a sixty-seven-year-old with a chronic illness and I’m back to scribbling, sculpting and writing stuff like this.

…and I’ve also walked away with some very valuable insights:

  • I’ll never, ever take this particular medication again
  • Looking back I’m wondering if particularly bleak periods of my life may have been the result of this drug  more than the craptivity of the situation itself.

Marking Time

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a look at this page, and I was surprised to see that the last time I posted anything was the 28th of last month – and while I long ago came to grips with the way time sprints even faster with each year, I was saddened that I haven’t been able to keep up with the race. I always figured that whether I was sitting at my desk in the studio or balancing a keyboard on my lap while curled up in my papa chair I would always be able to write.

Well, it looks like I may have been a little overoptimistic, but then I’ve had my share of distractions, with most of them involving health issues to include:

  • An upcoming Mohs treatment to deal with a trace of basal cell carcinoma on the tip of my nose.
  • An upcoming  second injection of Covid-19
  • A change in pain management for my never-ending battle with ankylosing spondylitis is not going well.

…all of which means  a marked uptick in pain, anxiety, and depression. I’m hoping that I will make my way through this particular rough patch, but I always wonder if this is the point at which I become bed-ridden or worse. I try to fight the fear but sometimes it gets ahead of me and all I can do is drift through the day and continue trying…which includes typing out something out like this.

In the same way marching a unit soldiers requires “marking time” – keeping step in the same place – to keep the parade running properly writing notes like this will hopefully keep me functioning until better days.

Thanks for your support


“…just watch the show.”

It took me a minute to gather my thoughts.

I was talking about the Tom Hanks movie Saving Private Ryan with a young friend of mind and it seemed like we were having a good discussion with a lot of give and take as we shared our individual thoughts and opinion. I’ve always been a fan of large-scale historical epics and while Ryan wasn’t as lavish a production as The Longest Day or 55 Days at Peking I was most impressed with the attention to detail (no M48 Patton tanks doubling for German Panthers) or Tom Hank’ compelling portrayal of an all-too-human army captain caught between a perilous mission and profound combat fatigue … but a comment made mid-discussion by my young friend startled me into a socially awkward silence of a minute or two.

He didn’t care much for some parts of the screenplay – that he felt like the early scenes in the movie depicting the carnage at Omaha beach really didn’t “further the narrative all that well” and that he was unhappy that there was such an elevated level of violence.

Fortunately, my voice produced a bored “Really?” while my internal dialog screamed  “Then why the hell did you go to a war movie?”  as it came to me that we’ve turned into a nation of movie critics. The word “entitled” tends to get overused, but it seemed appropriate  – if we don’t like reality we can change it and still call the result a historical film depicting real events.

…and yes I realize that:

  • It’s just entertainment
  • movies have always tweaked history

…but this Color-forms(t) approach to screen-writing seems counterproductive but then this whole line of reasoning may be just me in “cranky old-man” mode. One of the reasons I’ve avoided organized fandom is the way viewers will quibble about scripts which leads me to think that if we’ve not become a nation of critics we’re become a nation of screen writers convinced that we’re much better screenwriters than the person with their name on the credits-crawl.

This excessive analysis kills the viewing experience for me For example I am binge-watching Star Trek: Enterprise and I am just now starting season three and the Xindi story arc. Many complain that this season-long story arc “ruined” the show, but as I’m watching it I’m thinking of it almost as a historical record of events chiseled in stone rather than sketched in pencil…and that I need to wade through the bloodbath on Omaha beach before traipsing across the Normandy landscape looking for a lost paratrooper.

…but then that’s just me.