1.17.2022 – so you may master

so you may master
the intricacies of the
English language

In his famous sermon, Paul’s Letter to American Christians Delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama, on 4 November 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “So American Christians, you may master the intricacies of the English language. You may possess all of the eloquence of articulate speech. But even if you “speak with the tongues of man and angels, and have not love, you are become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

In a famous documentary of Frank Lloyd Wright, Architect Philip Johnson says that he doesn’t know how Wright designed his buildings.

Mr. Johnson then says, “If I knew how it did it, I would do it.”

Listening and reading the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I say to myself, how did he do that?

Listening and reading the sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I say to myself, how did he do that?

If I knew, I would do it.

I ask myself, what must it have been like to be a regular at the Ebenezer Baptist Church when Dr. King was in the pulpit.

I grew up Dutch in West Michigan.

I also grew up Baptist.

That meant church twice on Sunday, Wednesday Meeting, Tuesday Bible Club and Monday Awana.

I heard a lot of preaching growing up.

I often felt that Sheriff Andy Taylor’s assessment of the preaching in Mayberry when he says that he, ” … holds with Rev. Tucker. But he can be as dry as dust,” could apply to my years growing up Baptist.

The church I grew was strongly associated with both the Grand Rapids Baptist College and Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary.

Both places still exist but now that the word ‘Baptist’ is a determent to marketing, they are known as Cornerstone University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

My Church did not so much have ‘Preaching’ as it had ‘Teaching’.

If ever in need of what was known as ‘Pulpit Supply’, the Church leaders would turn to the Seminary for someone to preach on Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend or in the event that the Church was without a Preacher.

Once when searching for a new Pastor, Dr. Leon Wood of the Seminary spoke for two years using his course and latest book on the Prophet Daniel as the basis for his Sunday sermons.

Dr. Wood’s style was to teach, word by word, through each verse, and explain in detail, the meaning, history and use of the word.

My Dad used to remark on how many verses of the Book of Daniel that Dr. Wood might cover in a Sunday Sermon.

The average was about 2.

I was 10 and when I was told about the upcoming Sunday Sermons, I was excited because the Book of Daniel had those great stories of Daniel in the Lion’s Den and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

I was so excited, my Mom got me his book for my birthday.

I loved the gift.

I loved that I GOT a gift.

I loved that my Mom remembered.

But what was really cool about that gift was how it came about.

Every summer, my Dad would take a week off and we would take a State of Michigan vacation.

This meant Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinaw or Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

This vacation also usually happened around my Birthday on July 17th.

That meant my birthday was celebrated on the road.

For me, this was (as Jim Harrison writes in his book “The Big Seven”) the kind of injustice that weighs heavily on children who collect injustices for later possible use.

That year we were in Eagle Harbor Michigan up in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan’s Upper peninsula, on my birthday and we trooped into a restaurant for lunch and with about 10 or 12 of us, we took three tables of 4.

Understand that by car, Eagle Harbor Michigan was a far away from Grand Rapids as Washington, DC,

Check a map, it is a LONG way there to get there.

I sat with Mom and Dad and probably little Stevie who would have been about 6.

Not sure why, but it seems like I always got to sit with Mom and Dad.

And most likely I was moping about it being my birthday and no cake or celebration as I was not going to let such an opportunity to whine get by when my Mom reached into her purse and pulled out a wrapped present.

She had packed it away and kept it hidden from me the entire trip.

Few gifts through out my life have been more a surprise.

And it was Dr. Wood’s book on Daniel.

I did read it – or at least tried to read it but I was just 10 years old and I still have it my shelf all these years later.

But I digress.

Dr. Wood, as I remember it, spent three weeks of Sunday Services dissecting the word, word history and meanings of the word ‘pulse’.

(For those who weren’t there, pulse is the veggie diet that Daniel asked for in place of the royal food’s that had been offered up before the Babylonia gods)

Where was the lion’s den?

Where was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

Daniel’s 70 weeks?

And the missing week?

Minutes seemed like hours.

And hours seemed like days.

Years later, moving to the south, my wife and I (she grew up the same church) decided that anyone who attend our church when we did should be award a M.Div degree from the Seminary AND if anyone, and I mean ANYONE, had tried to preach any of those sermons in the south, biblical stoning would have made come back.

And I have to wonder why.

To be sure, Dr. King had a gift.

But was there anything else?

Dr. King after attending Morehouse in Atlanta, went off to post graduate work at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania to work on a Bachelor’s of Divinity degree in 1948.

Dr. King took some 35 courses.

Of those 35 course, 11, almost 1/3 of the course of study, were classes on HOW TO PREACH or other pulpit skills.

Dr. King took the following courses.

Preaching Ministry of the Church
Public Speaking (twice)
Public Speaking I
Preparation of the Sermon
Practice Preaching
Preaching Problems
Conduct of Church Services
The Minister’s Use of Radio
Church Music
Choir

Thinking about my experiences with sermons and preaching, I checked the current catalog list of required courses for a Master of Divinity or M.Div at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

There are 32 required classes.

BBL-501 Biblical Hermeneutics
BBL-510 Greek I
THE-501 Program Introduction
BBL-511 Greek II
THE-540 Systematic Theology I
MIN-500 Christian Spiritual
MIN-543 Christian Formation in the Church
MIN-545 Teaching & Learning
THE-640 Systematic Theology II
MIN-560 Global Impact
BBL-516 Hebrew I
BBL-672 NT I: Introduction to Exegesis. 3
THE-641 Systematic Theology III
BBL-517 Hebrew II
BBL-601 Experiencing the Ancient World of the Bible (Israel)
BBL-677 NT II: The Gospels
MIN-685 Ministry Residency I
MIN-510 Organizational Leadership General Elective
BBL-640 OT I: Intro to Hebrew Exegesis
BBL-678 NT III: Hebrews to Revelation. 3
Ministry Specialization Course
MIN-686 Ministry Residency II
BBL-641 OT II: Exegesis in the Pentateuch
Historical Theology Elective
Ministry Specialization Course
MIN-781 Ministry Residency III
MIN-711 Program Completion
MIN-782 Ministry Residency IV
BBL-642 OT III: Exegesis in the Prophets and Writings
THE-676 Apologetics and Moral Issues in Christian Ministry
Historical Theology Elective
Ministry Specialization Course

For specialization in Pulpit Ministry, Homelitics (the art of preaching or writing sermons) I & II are recommended Specialization courses.

Otherwise, nothing on how to speak or preach.

Boy Howdy!

That course list reads like a list of sermon titles I have sat through.

I held with the preaching, but it was dry as dust.

Now I am not saying that just the study of preaching and the classes that Dr. King took might have helped but I will say it wouldn’t hurt.

How much did it help Dr. King?

That is hard to say.

According to his transcript, Dr. King got a C’s in public speaking.

1.16.2022 – there are certain things

there are certain things
can only say in english
(but not fiction)
because fiction flows

This haiku went off the rails in regard to the original arrangement of the words.

So I broke the rules which was easy as this is my blog and I make the rules and I added the non-boldface words in parenthesis so you read them but don’t see them.

I was working from the quote, “You know, I find that I forget how to talk in Spanish, because there are certain things that I only say in English. I can write nonfiction in English, but fiction, no, because fiction flows in a very organic way. It happens more in the belly than in the brain.

The quote appears in the online article “Isabel Allende: I still have the same rage.

Isabel Allende is reported, by Wikipedia, to be the “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author.”

And I have not heard about her.

I was also drawn to the quote:

I have three things that all writers want: silence, solitude and time. But because of the work my foundation does with people at risk, I’ve been very aware that there is despair and violence and poverty.

Maybe its time to see what the spanish speaking world has been reading.

11.22.2021 – memory depends

memory depends
have we intentionally
apprehended it

My cousin Joy has been on my mind since I stole a photograph of hers to use in yesterday’s haiku,

In the discussion about that haiku I commented on the camera versus memory when seeing things today.

I quoted from the author, Alain de Botton that using a camera blurs the distinction between looking and noticing, between seeing and possessing.

Mr. de Botton makes the point that the camera gives us the option of true knowledge, but it may also unwittingly make the effort of acquiring that knowledge seem superfluous

That is a great discussion for the here and now.

Having a camera with you in the here and now.

But what about the then?

The back then.

Here is a snapshot of sometime in 1962.

It is me and my cousin, Joy, sitting together on our Grandfathers lap.

My sister’s Lisa and Janet stand an either side.

I have NO memory of this photograph being taken.

I have NO Memory of seeing this photograph in the many many nights watching family slides.

Recently a nephew of mine digitized the family slides allowing us to travel back in time.

Otherwise I would have NO memory of this at all.

But I remember, with the help of the photograph, everything in the photograph.

My cousin and I we are the same age.

Our Mom’s were sisters.

I was my Mom’s 8th kid.

Joy was her Mom’s, my Aunt Mernie, 1st.

They were visiting from New Jersey.

This must have been a Sunday Dinner at my Grandma Hendrickson’s house.

Someone, my Dad most likely, arranged us altogether and said SMILE.

My character, even at age 2, seems to be pretty much set.

I can look at this picture and tell you what it smells like.

My Grandma’s house at that kinda moth-ball/natural gas smell due to the gas stove with no pilot light so you turned on the gas and lit the burner with a match.

As it was Sunday dinner it also smelled of my Grandma’s famous Pork and Beef roasts together in the same pan.

We were a meat and potatoes family to be sure.

But to be more accurate we were a mashed potatoes and GRAVY family.

Our parents would fill our plates and then cover everything on our plates with this pork-beef gravy that was what gravy was all about.

My Grandfather, that solid dutch guy (notice all the BLUE EYES??) in the picture, could eat mashed potatoes and gravy like it was an Olympic event.

Want to know the real kicker to this photograph?

Today, my cousin Joy and I are about the same age our Grandpa was when this photograph was taken.

I love this photograph and the memories it brings to mind ALONG with the memories it creates.

I have no memory of this day.

Looking I the photograph I remember everything.

Using the photograph, reseeing the scene, I can repossess the memory and the knowledge of the day.

It’s an effort.

Through the snapshot, I intentionally re-apprehend to my memory.

It is anything BUT superfluous.

*Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton, and the passage:

True possession of a scene is a matter of making a conscious effort to notice elements and understand their construction.

We can see beauty well enough just by opening our eyes, but how long this beauty will survive in memory depends on how intentionally we have apprehended it.

The camera blurs the distinction between looking and noticing, between seeing and possessing; it may give us the option of true knowledge, but it may also unwittingly make the effort of acquiring that knowledge seem superfluous.

Adapted from the book, The Art of Travel (2002, Vintage Books) by Alain de Botton.

According to the website, GOOD READS, Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why.

As I said in the section on Architecture , what I find irresistible in reading Mr. de Botton is his use of language.

I get the feeling that if you made a spread sheet of all the words, adverbs and adjectives used by Mr. de Botton, you just might find that he used each word just once.

Neat trick in writing a book.

If I knew how to do that, hey, I would.

** More from the category TRAVEL — click here

11.10.2021 – Never afraid to

Never afraid to
take a stand mom reads comments
so take it easy

Reading a sports story in the Seattle Times I got to bottom of the page to see that the paper had added a little blurb about the writer.

The blurb stated:

Matt Calkins joined The Seattle Times in August 2015 as a sports columnist after three years at the San Diego Union Tribune.

Never afraid to take a stand or go off the beaten path, Matt enjoys writing about the human condition every bit as much as walk-offs or buzzer-beaters.

His mom reads the comments so take it easy on him.

Can’t remember what the story was.

But I felt sorry for Mom.

11.9.2021 – view from the narrow

view from the narrow
window was dreary lonely
inexpressibly

From Chapter 1, Page 1 of The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham (1904-1966) (published by William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1929).

How you start writing a novel when in your first line, you admit the view was dreary and inexpressibly lonely is beyond my poor power to add or detract.

I have to admire any author who describes a scene with the word ‘inexpressibly’ and then goes on to describe it.

I love and enjoy the writing of the 1930s.

That those writers thought, wrote and inexpressibly expressed themselves like this, leaves me grasping for the now non existent thesaurus.

I came across the writing of Margery Allingham in a search for something to read.

What you say?

Nothing to read?

Let me explain.

Something happened to writing or maybe editing or something over the years.

The influence of TV.

The rise of the word processor.

I miss the lack of narrative.

Watch TV and the narrative is visual but all over the place.

A segment opens with a plane landing or a car driving down a road and words appear on the screen like ‘London’ or ‘Monday 3AM’ or the ever popular ‘3 Days Later. (the first three years of Sponge Bob are the best)’

Without these ‘establishing’ shots, the viewer has NO CLUE as to where they are.

It seems this has become the style in modern American fiction.

Thinking of Tom Clancy here of course but without his section headings, you would never know where you were.

You go from section heading to section heading, sometimes paragraphs at a time are broken up.

I also blame the word processor for some of this as it is so easy to save any short burst of prose and then hammer it by shear force of will somewhere, anywhere, into the narrative and then add the section heading to help the reader understand why this ugly plank is sticking up in the floor.

Read Gone with the Wind (Very Very politically incorrect but for this argument) and NOT ONCE is the setting set by anything but the narrative.

If you know the history of the WRITING of Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell dumped two suitcases of manila envelopes filled with stories and an editor, a very capable editor, transformed Ms. Mitchell’s pages into one long story.

If you get a chance, watch the little watched movie, GENIUS.

Its a great period piece about the author, Thomas Wolfe and his editor, Max Perkins and how the book, Look Homeward Angel was created.

ANYWAY, I guess what I am saying is, they don’t write ’em like this anymore.

And I know there are those who will say, THANK GOODNESS.

For me.

I do like reading writing as much for HOW it is written as for what is written.

I have three or four devices FILLED with the latest fiction.

For me, I can click on a book, read or start reading the first pages and say outloud, ‘NOPE.’

And that’s that for that one.

Sometimes I will have hope and push on through the first pages.

But folks, I know when reading becomes a salmon swimming upstream.

Sometimes no problem.

Sometimes the current the other way is swift.

Sometimes there is dam (what did the salmon say when it hit a concrete wall? DAMN!)

AND SOMETIMES THE RIVER IS BLOCKED BY NIAGRA FALLS.

My point is that I feel I give these authors a fair chance, but I can tell, fairly quickly, when its a no go.

So I search for something to read.

This search led me to the website, https://www.fadedpage.com.

A Canadian website where books, whose CANADIAN copyright has expired, have been scanned and put online for download for FREE!

Got to love those Canadians.

Browsing through this website, I came across the writing of Margery Allingham and the Albert Campion Mystery series.

Ms. Allingham starts the first book with :

The view from the narrow window was dreary and inexpressibly lonely.

Miles of neglected park-land stretched in an unbroken plain to the horizon and the sea beyond. On all sides it was the same.

The grey-green stretches were hayed once a year, perhaps, but otherwise uncropped save by the herd of heavy-shouldered black cattle who wandered about them, their huge forms immense and grotesque in the fast-thickening twilight.

In the centre of this desolation, standing in a thousand acres of its own land, was the mansion, Black Dudley; a great grey building, bare and ugly as a fortress. No creepers hid its nakedness, and the long narrow windows were dark-curtained and uninviting.

The man in the old-fashioned bedroom turned away from the window and went on with his dressing.

‘Gloomy old place,’ he remarked to his reflection in the mirror. ‘Thank God it’s not mine.’

For me, reading this is like watching a skilled piano player.

Fingers on keys, almost effortlessly calling notes out of the piano.

Fingers on keys almost effortlessly calling words out of typewriter.

Nothing forced.

The notes, the words flow easily.

Worth reading.

Worth the time spent reading.

I wish I could do this with words but I can’t.

But I can read the words.

So I am.

Search over for now.

11.8.2021 – our history’s parts

our history’s parts
only way can be lost is
we choose to lose them

I am not sure when I became aware of the actor Stanley Tucci.

Much like Ward Bond and Thomas Mitchell, Mr. Tucci seems to have been in everything and nothing at the same time.

He is always there.

I am not sure when it was but I do recall looking him up to find out who he was, and I think this was back in the days of if you wanted to look up a movie you grabbed a paper back (possibly the thickest regularly sold paper book in the store) copy of ‘Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide’, a copy of which was always laying around the TV in my house, and you looked up the movie and hoped you could figure out who was who from the short cast listing.

My Dad was a minor movie buff and he loved that book.

“4 stars for that?”, he would yell or “COME ON MIKE, it’s FOUR STARs with Clark Gable!”

He also loved to read the description of the 1962 remake of State Fair with Pat Boone, pause then yell, “BOMB.”

He would laugh and laugh.

It is amazing that back in the days of over the air three channel TV’s to remember how often movies were on TV.

TV shows cost money to make.

Movies were already made.

Television was flooded with movies.

The movies of the 40’s and 50’s.

The black and white era.

Every station had a block where an old movie could be run.

Bill Kennedy at the Movies from Detroit.

WGN’s Movie Night from Chicago.

My Dad also liked to listen to the CUBS on WGN radio from Chicago.

If there was a good movie on the night before, Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd would talk about it during the basbell game.

There wasn’t much else to watch and everybody watched the same thing.

Wait you say, if this is before cable TV, how did we watch WGN in Grand Rapids where we lived?

You caught me.

This didn’t happen in Grand Rapids.

We were one of those lucky family’s that had a summer place in Grand Haven, Michigan.

We lived right on the shore of Lake Michigan.

The first thing my Dad would do each spring was hook up a TV antenna high enough to pull in the stations from Chicago.

I watched the late movies from WGN all summer long.

If you watched old movies and you wanted more information the only source you had was that Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide.

And at some point, I looked up Stanley Tucci.

I remember doing this as I can see the book in my hands and hear myself saying ‘Stanly Tuckee – touchi – ha whaaa??’.

If I look Mr. Tucci up in the Wikipedia and read through his list of movies or his ‘Filmography’ nothing really pops out at me until you get to The Big Night in 1996.

If you haven’t seen, it is worth the effort to pirate to watch and enjoy and hear about the dish called timpano.

Since the Big Night, Mr. Tucci, for me, entered into that ‘Ward Bond, Thomas Mitchell’ phase I mentioned and now he seems to be in everything and everywhere.

And Mr. Tucci has published a book.

Actually he has a couple of books to his credit but a new one has just come out.

When I worked in a bookstore nothing, well, almost nothing, made me more angry that anytime a celebrity would bank on their name and publish anything but a bio.

Bill and HILARY Clinton have now published novels.

Sports figures who I would figure could not construct a basic English sentence to save their lives have published novels.

OH COME ON.

Quite a few celebrities can get around this by publishing cookbooks but again, oh come on.

Is that something the world needs?

After 20 years of working for a book seller, library and publisher let me tell you about cookbooks.

Any cookbook with ONE, that’s right, ONE good recipe in it is a good cookbook.

99% of the cookbooks in the world are BAD cookbooks.

Now Mr. Tucci has published Taste, My Life Through Food.

This way its a bio and a cookbook.

And it is a delight.

Mr. Tucci can turn a sentence or at least he can with his editors help.

But the book has a secret ingredient.

Readers all know that part of the mystery of reading is how did the author intend to have this read.

What sounds, what phrasing, what and where are the pauses.

For the most part, each reader makes up their own mind.

For example, take Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I have never been able to listen to any audio version of the Lord of the Rings because of the way Gollum is re-created.

One, the voice is nothing like what I imagined and I won’t waste my time.

Or, two, the voice is spot on and that is just tooooooooo creepy to be listened to..

And you never know when that Gollum will show up.

Plow your way through the book, “The Long Season: The Classic Inside Account of a Baseball Year” which is known for being one of the first, inside the locker room – tell it like it is – baseball books written back in 1959 and all of sudden the author-player tells how he went through a phase driving everyone nuts in the St. Louis Cardinals locker room by talking like Gollum.

“Has he got handses?”

“Can he hits baseballses?”

I pass over those film adaptations of Lord of the Rings except to say I really wish the filmmaker had taken the time to read the books as I am not sure what the movies were based on.

Another example is Charlotte’s Web.

If you like this book please try, just for a gift for yourself (let me know if you need it emailed to you) to find the audio version.

The audio version read by EB White.

There is a lot of magic and poetry in the sound of White’s voice and to hear his phrasing and pronunciation is the purest form of this book you can imagine.

Keep in mind that when the manuscript for Charlotte’s Web arrived at the publisher it needed NO editing of any kind.

So back to Mr. Tucci.

It must be because of his recent show on CNN that this works.

I watched that show with my wife and when I read his book, I can hear Mr. Tucci.

I can catch his phrashing and such.

Mr. Tucci also has one of those voices that is both distinct and yet doesn’t stand out except to say it is uncommonly common.

My reading of Taste: My Life Through Food is like listening to the audio version because I hear it in my head as I read.

Goofy I know but there it is.

I doubt I will try many of the recipes in the book at this time.

But I will read them.

I also will read about Mr. Tucci’s adventures growing up in America.

We are about the same age and I also can remember WANTING if not getting and eating a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich.

Also at this time I am spending a lot time thinking about food and families and culture and culture expressed through food and familys.

The Gullah Culture wants to presever its culture though food,

The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.

Mr. Tucci sums this up in an E PLURIBUS UNUM on food when he writes:

Losing a beloved family heirloom is a very real personal loss;

they’re things that cannot ever be replaced or re-created.

But perhaps the most precious heirlooms are family recipes.

Like a physical heirloom, they remind us from whom and where we came and give others, in a bite, the story of another people from another place and another time.

Yet unlike a lost physical heirloom, recipes are a part of our history that can be re-created over and over again.

The only way they can be lost is if we choose to lose them.”

I want to eat it all.

My Mom’s Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe … how it reads…
This is what the recipe says ….

11.7.2021 – aubergine labneh

aubergine labneh
courgettes freekeh tahini
salsify trompett

It is the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, a fugitive today from the PC police I am sure, who famously said that Great Britain and the United States were, “two nations divided by a common language.”

On Mr. Shaw I have always wondered about his name.

I have so often heard him referred to as Bernard Shaw that I came to beleive that he had one of those hypnnated names, thusly George Bernard-Shaw.

Checking the Wikipedia this morning, come to learn, he was known as Bernard Shaw, “at his insistence”.

So there it is.

Now if I could take the time to look Ralph Vaughn Williams (Rafe?? Vaughn-Williams), BUT I DIGRESS.

Also, going online this morning I see that there is some question of attribution of the quote with some folks leaning towards Oscar Wilde and some to Winston Churchill.

I never had any doubt.

I knew it was George Bernard Shaw because George C. Scott, in the title role, in the movie, Patton, quotes BGS.

I am sure you all know the scene.

The old British lady’s lap dog scares Patton’s pit bull, Willie.

I endorse the sentiment that we here in the States and the Brits both speak English of a sort.

Of a sort.

I knew a news director who always demanded that when we showed video of Prince Charles, he should be closed captioned.

But today I want to expand the thought.

Not only separated by a common language but by a common desire to eat.

Readers of this blog will not be surprised when on a Sunday Morning I again turn to one of my weekend checkmarks of reading the Guardian’s Blind Date feature.

Two people are set up on a Blind Date at a London Restaurant and then fill out a questionaries’ on their experience.

It is a harmless bit of fun in a dark world.

Along with a review of the date is a link to the Restaurant where the couple met.

It is worth the click to check out the restaurant and look at a London menu.

I have to ask, WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE EATING?

Today’s blind date met a a place called Sidechick.

It’s a chicken place.

Too bad one of today’s daters was vegetarian.

But not too worry as Sidechick’s website states, “We specialise in the juiciest, most delicious cuts of Roast Chicken & freshly cooked vegetables.”

Pretty safe here.

No worries.

Chicken and veggies.

Could there be anything easier?

I mean lets call the Colonel!

But keep reading the menu.

Under starters you could order bitter leaves.

Bitter leaves with ricotta, pickled pumpkin, walnuts!

NUMMIE NUMMIE as my grandson Jaxon might say.

Lets order up some bitter leaves MOM!

Then there is the chicken.

Half or whole chicken with choice of marinade.

Chimichurri, Piri Piri or Za’atar.

MMMMMMMMM.

Finger lickin good!

And finally, the vegetables.

The vegetable dishes at Sidechicks are a mix of Aubergine, tomato compote, labneh, breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese, Pearl barley, wild mushroom, bone marrow, Grilled celeriac, salsify, trompette, kale, Braised courgettes, freekeh and tahini.

Words or foods I recognize seem to jump out of this list as if they were written in neon.

Other words or foods have the aura of being written on a chalk board.

Some faux fancy faux food designed to make me realize how un-faux I am.

I know I know, you say tomato I say tomato.

It brings to mind the old Andy Griffith Show episode where Deputy Barney Fife is mystifeid by a menu so he just points at various items.

The gag is revealed when he is brought a plate of snails.

The thing is Ol ‘Barn was looking at a menu in French.

This menu is in English.

I might order braised courgettes with freekeh and tahini just because it would be so much fun just to say that out loud in a restaurant.

Ahhhhhhhhh well, we all got to eat.

I remember an interview with the wonderful Julia Child.

She was asked, “Do you ever go out and just get a Big Mac?”

Ms. Child hesitated and smiled, tucked in her chin and said in that marvelous accent that can only be described as Julia Child’s accent, “Well … I prefer the Quarter Pounder.”

10.19.2021 – where is humor bred

where is humor bred?
in the heart, in the head?
not on the google . . .

Whether you were aware of it or not, the Google has let it be known that the World has come to an end.

Maybe the World as I know it.

Maybe the World as I think it should be.

Maybe the World as I think that you should think that it should be.

Never the less, this World is ‘la fin’.

Let me explain.

I am the online guy for a company located in South Carolina.

Human Resources (just saying, that term always has me shaking my head … just what WAS wrong with personnel?) has never known what to call us web people.

We started out as Webmasters.

That is the term I prefer.

Back in the day it meant something.

It meant something to other webmasters.

It meant we did it all.

Coding, Server Admin, DNS, Images, Scripting, Hosting and Email and anything else that it took to create and manage a website.

I think today such a person is a Full Stack Developer.

But HR was never really comfortable with a job title with the word master in it.

As an aside, you want to freak out an HR rep, ask them for a job title that includes the word manager.

I have been Web Guy, Web Guru, Podfather, Digital Specialist and other things.

They have their language and I have mine.

As the company web guy one of my tasks is to keep up on what the Google is doing and make sure that the company website and web polices are not in any way working against Google.

This would be a lot easier if the Google themselves knew what they were doing.

You do what you can.

Some of the changes that affect everyone who uses the Google is how the SERP is put together.

You all use SERP’s everyday and I bet you didn’t know it.

SERP is the search engine results page or the page you land on once you enter a search term into the Google,

You may or may not have noticed the way the Google is changing their SERP.

Where there used to be a list of search results you now have paid ad position results, rich snippets, knowledge graphs and knowledge panels, the three pack and the image pack and a whole lot of other links.

These are all bits of information that the Google has decided may be helpful to you in your search for some piece of information online.

The Google wants to help.

Honest.

That is why the Google also added the SERP block titled, PEOPLE ALSO ASK.

The Google is all about what other people clicked on when duplicating your search.

The Google wants to help you by suggesting other possible searches if the results for your original search are not what you were searching for.

This is what brings me to todays haiku.

where is humor bred?
in the heart, in the head?
not on the google . . .

Recently I had reason to search the EXACT title of the Monty Python Movie, The Search for the Holy Grail.

The news of late has not been great has it?

Drought, Fire, Famine, Crime, Politics, Pestilence and Harry and Meghan all brings on the feeling that the World is rolling fast downhill.

As Minister Jim Hacker once said, “When things are going downhill we need someone to get in the drivers seat and step on the gas.”

Despite all the headlines of despair, it was my search for the EXACT title of the Monty Python Movie, The Search for the Holy Grail that shook my core to the core.

The apocalypse isn’t coming.

The apocalypse is here.

Let me show you why.

I typed in Monty Python and auto complete added ‘and the holy grail’ which I was comfortable with and I hit enter.

I got my SERP.

I looked at my SERP.

I looked again at my SERP.

I stared at my SERP.

I stared in horror, that cold-water-in-the-bath realization coming over me.

Did it really say that?

Did it really really say that.

I had just used the Google to search Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Simple enough.

The Google wanted to help.

The Google asked itself why I or anyone today might search Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Like I said, the Google wanted to help.

To help me and the world, anyone who might search Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Google suggested searches BASED ON THE GOOGLE’S recorded global experiences of what other people were searching for.

Understand?

The Google TAILORS its search results based on what other people clicked on who entered the same search terms.

In other words, the Google, wants to be helpful, and the Google is saying, “Good Morning Searcher, we saw your search and we thought that these search terms might help in your search for knowledge on this subject.”

Notice I said KNOWLEDGE, not WISDOM.

The Google read my search and from that, the Google let me know what the other top questions were by searchers who had made the same search, which are listed for me under, PEOPLE ALSO ASK.

My search was Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

The three most asked questions by searches who also searched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, according to the Google are:

What is Monty Python and the Holy Grail making fun of?

Is Monty Python and the Holy Grail funny?

What is the point of Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

Yep.

Folks, friends and neighbors, forget about the World rolling downhill.

It has crashed into the ice berg.

There is no longer time for the lifeboats.

When the Google Search world at large asks, HAS TO ASK, “Is Monty Python and the Holy Grail funny?” it is all over.

The fat lady has sung.

Turn out the lights.

The party is over.

I don’t care if you know the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow or not, we are in trouble here and no kidding.

10.15.2021 – music will wake up

music will wake up
to know something greater
what’s on the surface

I have this quote and I am not sure who said it.

“Music will wake up your mind to know that there is something greater than what we see on the surface.”

The google has been no help tracking this down.

It was Fran Liebowitz, during an on-air discussion with Spike Lee on who was the greater artist, Duke Ellington or Michael Jordan, who said:

I really think that musicians, probably musicians and cooks, are responsible for the most pleasure in human life.

Motown music, which was very popular when I was a teenager — whenever I hear it, I instantly become happier.

This is true of almost nothing!

That’s a very important thing to do for human beings.

Music makes people happier, and it doesn’t harm them.

Most things that make you feel better are harmful.

It’s very unusual.

It’s like a drug, that doesn’t kill you.

One of the few redeeming aspects of the world wide web has to be the access it gives to music.

This is a theme I have pounded out often.

No King, Monarch, Emperor, Despot, Billionaire or otherwise-influencer has had the access to music we have.

Andrew Carnegie owned a castle in Scotland that had a Pipe Organ as big as the one in Carnegie Hall in New York.

Mr. Carnegie also kept an organist on his household staff full time with instructions to start playing at 7:30am as Mr. Carnegie’s own personal alarm clock.

I guess Mr. Carnegie had no problems sleeping despite what was going on during the Homestead Strike back in the US but I digress.

That’s what you needed if you wanted music in your morning back in the day.

With my iPhone, I don’t think there is a piece of recorded music that I cannot access anytime anywhere.

Stop and think about that.

It is beyond belief and the imagination.

No writer of fantasy or sci-fi ever never imagined such a gift to humanity.

And I embrace it.

I love to come across obscure references to music in my reading.

I really love it when I am reading on my iPad over my kindles and phone and older iPad.

I have too many devices with too many books.

Where I used to leave books all over, I now leave my devices all over.

I am getting in the bad habit of wanting to leave a current book open on a device so I grab another one to read other things much like I would leave open books all over the place.

Which calls to mind an old argument.

Aren’t bookmarks really placemarks?

They mark your place in the book.

A big sign that says, YOUR BOOK HERE, would be a bookmark.

Which brings to mind another thought.

Finding things like your book and searching for where you last left it.

Search is nothing new it just seems new due to the inability for anyone to find anything online.

But folks think its new for some reason and even came up with what they think are new ways to help online users find what they are looking for.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is one of my latest worries.

It purports to be a field of technology that helps web designers design websites that are easier to find.

It is also so much snake oil.

The Google has announced that it pays no attention to SEO.

Sometimes I feel that I may be one of the few people in the world who read announcements made by the Google.

That’s not a problem as the Google is big, its doesn’t read its own annoucements either and the left hand and the right hand of google are never on the same keyboard.

Still most companies make a big deal about their website being up on SEO.

I try to explain to my bosses.

There are two hamburger stands side by side.

One place is on facebook and practices SEO.

The other makes, without argument, the best hamburger in the seven dials.

Then I ask, “Which place is busier?”

Without fail two things are said.

The first is, of course the best hamburgers in the seven dials is the busiest.

Then I am asked, “What are we doing for SEO?”

But there are folks making good money selling SEO so why should I worry.

I just think instead of SEO it should be labeled, Dr. Seachgood’s Patented Tech Tips to Improve Online Life and Feel Better.

Folks have never ever been able to find anything.

Columbus went looking for India and found America in the way.

Back in the day I worked for a couple of years at the Cascade Branch of the Kent District Library.

This was the old library that shared a buidling with the local fire department.

I am not saying it was small but that’s because there are words like tiny …. minute.

Still folks had trouble finding things in the library which is why Librarians were invented.

Simple, right?

That was pretty much the deal with books, libraries and librarians until someone couldn’t stand it anymore and library administration and administrators were invented to muck it all up.

The Cascade Library had a great collection of books on tape.

They were located on the shelves opposite the check out desk.

So close and yet so far, patrons had trouble finding the books on tape.

I decided to optimize the books on tape section for search.

I took one of those giant 4 by 3 foot pieces of red poster board and cut out rectangles on each corner to make a BIG T.

I then cut a point at the bottom of the vertical bar of the T.

I hung the BIG T over the shelves of books on tape and the point pointing right at the section.

The next time a patron asked where the books on tape were, I smiled, pointed over their shoulder and proudly said, “Right there, under the BIG T.”

The patron turned a looked for a moment.

Then looked back at me and said, “Where is this BIG T?”

BUT I DIGRESS.

Music.

Access to music.

Stay on topic can’t you???

Gee whiz.

The other day I was reading happily along.

Got to stop again.

Ain’t that a great phrase?

Reading happily along.

Admit it.

You smiled.

I was reading happily along through a book titled, “The Cure for Anything Is Salt Water: How I Threw My Life Overboard and Found Happiness at Sea” by Mary South.

I admit that such a grandiose title with far reaching claims needs to be taken with a large handful of grains of salt but Ms. South relates her passage of self-discovery in a charming, gee I wish I could this but boy am I glad I not, way that lets you follow her passage without the usual cynicism that I find in myself when reading such books.

Either that or me now living by the sea has made my brain more open to accepting such claims and just enjoying such stories.

Along the way, Ms. Rose relates how at a stop in Point Pleasant, NJ, she found a restaurant about which she wrote:

It was an unpretentious place with a great menu and a homey atmosphere.

Best of all, there was a jazz duet playing-one guy on keyboards and one on guitar.

I asked them if they could play “Wave” and they looked thrilled that someone was actually listening.

She asked them if they could play “Wave.”

Really?

She asked for a song named “Wave?”

Sure, I once asked Nancy Faust, the renowned organist at Old Comiskey Park if she could play the Michigan Fight Sound.

Ms. Faust lit up with a smile and said, ‘The Victors? SURE!’

And she did.

Then she ruined the moment when she segued into that notre dame song.

But everyone knows the Victors.

Wave?

Really?

Ms. South writes, “I got “Wave” and then I got two or three other Brazilian classics without asking. Point Pleasant beach was saved. I’d even go back in a car, if I had to.”

I had to find out.

I clicked over to YouTube and entered Wave into the search bar.

I thought about it a bit and added, jazz classic.

And I got Antonio Carlos Jobim – Wave 1967 – YouTube.

And I clicked and I got:

I got instantly happy.

It was very unusal.

It was like a drug, that doesn’t kill you.

Turns out Wave us a bossanova classic

Besides the music, just saying, let alone typing, bossa nova, makes you laugh out loud.

According to wikipedia, Antonio Carlos Jobim “was a Brazilian composer, pianist, songwriter, arranger and singer. Considered one of the great exponents of Brazilian music, Jobim internationalized bossa nova and, with the help of important American artists, merged it with jazz in the 1960s to create a new sound with popular success. As such he is sometimes known as the “father of bossa nova

I have admit I am not up on bossa nova.

But its playing now as I type.

What a way to start my Friday.

Take that Mr. Carnegie

Antonio Carlos Jobim, thank you.

Mary South, thank you.

Whoever invented YouTube, thank you.

Music.

music will wake up

to know something greater

what’s on the surface

10.14.2021 – these things can be done

these things can be done
if person is desperate
enough, and I was

Adapted from the book, Searching for Schindler by Thomas Keneally (2007 by The Serpentine Publishing Co., Pty., Ltd.) and the passage:

We Australians didn’t think of ourselves as viable practitioners of writing, for the arts were something which happened elsewhere, in western Europe. Nearly all the literature I had read came from elsewhere, from landscapes foreign to me, from seasons which were the reverse of seasons in Australia. The term “Australian literature” would – if uttered in London by a comedian like Barry Humphries/Dame Edna – draw fits of hilarity from a British audience, and would be considered amusing even in Australia, like the idea of a dog riding a bicycle. However, I finished my summer novel in April 1963. These things can be done while holding down a job if a person is desperate enough, and I was desperate to find a place in the world I had once renounced to enter the seminary and was now anxious to re-find.

Searching for Schindler is the book behind the book, Schindler’s List.

Thomas Keneally’s use of language and ‘being from Australia’ in an ‘Oh are you from Australia?’ world, his anecdotes are worth the read.