1961: The Sandman

ReRun Saturday + 1. What I didn’t mention in this post was that 100 year old home didn’t last another twenty years. An extended family member had it leveled sometime in the Eighties and put a manufactured home on the lot. Logically I understood the move – the place needed constant repair and was hard to heat/cool but it still broke my heart when I heard the news. It felt like losing a grandparent.

David R. Deitrick, Designer

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The Sandman is a member of what I call second-string mythical characters.  Not prominent enough to rate the massive Disneyfication that would weld him into a universal image, the Sandman has been used in both print and broadcast media for a wide-range of roles ranging from benign wizard to superhero to evil demonic menace. You’re welcome to take your pick of any of these incarnations but personally I know him to be a kindly short little man dressed in mid-19th century British garb.

I know that because I actually saw him in 1961.

Despite the lack of any Romany blood (that I know of) my family and I were gypsies when I was a kid. Using education alone as a measuring stick it was obvious that we never stayed in one place for long; by the time I got to seventh grade I had been a student in seven…

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Thank You India

Earlier this year I wrote 2018: Bubble Wrap – a post concerning the personal fallout from the death of an old friend and mentor. When first published the post received  moderate  attention so I filed it away as one of my average efforts….but a week or two later  I learned that my  assumption was wrong. Something in that post  must have touched a collective nerve because the readership climbed very quickly, bringing about the following developments

  • FA large number of initial views on 2018: Bubble Wrap.
  • A large number of comments and “likes” on that particular post.
  • A sharp increase in “second-viewers” – readers who came to my page looking for the Bubble Wrap post but then stayed to read some of my other work.
  • A sharp increase in registered followers

As expected most of the readers have been my countrymen – readers from the United States. What was not expected was the nationality of the second-largest sub-group in this surge of readers. One would  assume that they would be from Canada, Australia or the United Kingdom, but in fact India is the home of the second largest group of people reading my blog.

It was a total surprise, and my first thought was trying to figure out what I’d said that would be of the slightest interest to  people living on other side of the planet. I grew up on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska and while my training in military intelligence left me with a bit more knowledge of the Indian subcontinent than most Americans, I am still mystified by so much interest in my work coming about in a country on the opposite side of the globe.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to express my thanks for this interest and thought maybe I could find a way to express myself in Hindi or Urdu but as I started research I had visions of committing some terrible social blunder through miscommunication. There are innocent terms used in North America can take on very different meanings in other languages – for example, payday is what we call the day wages are disbursed  but “payday” is also a homonym for “fart” in some Latin American countries. I’ve known of American hipsters getting tattoos based on (mistranslated) Chinese or Japanese characters that were later found to have ” undesirable” connotations.

Besides – how do you say “thank you” to an entire continent? It’s like having a blue whale for a pet. The relationship might mean something to you, but I doubt the whale would be aware of your existence much less develop any sort of fondness.

Maybe the answer is intrinsically undefined and is a more personal matter. Despite my Teutonic surname most of my ancestors came from the British Isles – and not just England but Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.  Military service runs several generations back in my family – I could possibly have had an ancestor stationed on the Northwest Frontier but as far as I can tell the regiments don’t match up…and it might not be the most politically correct idea at this point in time.

There’s always the chance that connection comes from a time even further back than the Raj.  I’ve recently discovered the music of Archie Jay & her bag-piping lady snake charmers and (all musical puns aside) it strikes a resonant chord. My family has always kept in touch with its Celtic roots and years ago before Mean Old Mr. Asthma literally took the wind out of my sails, I was a passable piper. Even to this day I can squeak out “Amazing Grace” and “Cock of the North” on my chanter so it should be no surprise that  the first time I heard Miss Jay and her team of snake-charming lady bag-pipers a chill went up my spine as the tears went down my cheeks. It felt familiar yet alien so maybe that amorphous  connection happened millennia in the past before the great Indo-European migrations split us up into Celts, Aryans and the countless other subgroups that wandered all over the globe.

…all of which is a much deeper subject than I can handle for now. Please keep reading, liking, sharing and recommending to your friends.  If you’ll excuse me, I have to go try and put a collar on a whale.