This post developed after a friend shared with me some music she likes. Come listen in on our conversation…
Mary, thanks for sharing that Malcolm McLaren album and the “Madame Butterfly track.
What emerged from your generosity shows me how just one reply can lead to so many great memories – yours and mine (for mine, see below…far, far below). This must have been how Jesus felt when, only one out of the 10 he healed, came back.
That said, here’s what unfolded after listening to one of your favorite artists…
FYI, I created this blog post based on our interaction over our common love of music. But first, an important explanation of my writing process…
Humor is one of my pressure-relief valves
As I was walking today with Eileen, I began to see a pattern in my writing and blogging (something else we have in common). Humorous posts like this serve as a safety valve – for me and for my readers. See, right now, I have a LOT of drafts about all kinds of topics, including many “serious” ones. As Eileen and I walked and talked, I was shown the following pattern (Thank You, Spirit Muse!):
As the number of my writing projects increases and the nature of their content takes me deeper into the big issues, a creative tension starts to build up. That’s where the safety-valve effect of humor comes in; serving, as it has in the past, to discharge, to ground the static electricity of potential negativity, superiority and the preacher effect.
Laughter helps me relax and take myself and the rest of the world less seriously.
This, I believe, enables me to move from sole power to soul power, so I can be shown by my Spirit Guide which way to walk and what words to write AND not write.
My INTENTION – when I pay ATTENTION to my Mysterious Muse - is to practice the humility of the servant that Bishop Craig describes when he says, “I’m just like one beggar showing another where I’ve found bread.”
Now to my thank you reply back to Mary…
…Interesting…you (Mary) are giving me some education in the classics. I’m a lowbrow when it comes to art, literature and music. Never listened to classical music, til son John took it up on piano. I still don’t, preferring instead classic rock and many alternative genres like roots/reggae and mantra music.
My classical literature diet was Mad Magazine. “Alfred E Newman for President” Oh, you say he already is? Musta missed that one. But it’s no big deal. “What, me worry?” My motto is, “Don’t worry. Be happy.”
Aria [sic] 51
-The second skit could help our elected officials actually get some work done!
Withering interest in reading
I’ve never climbed Wuthering Heights nor read any other monumental literature by writers that you blog about at www.caffeineepiphanies.com (see below for one exception)…
…preferring instead hiking in Washington Heights, the Highline Trail and other city ‘scapes.
While some folks like their mountains high and their valleys low, I prefer more moderate terrain. The second Dick & Dee Dee song in this 1964 clip from American Bandstand is called “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Ties and suits at a concert? What are these kids - Matrix agents?
Moving images rather than static pages
Kids today are so lucky having newspapers like Hogwarts' "Daily Prophet" with embedded video. Back in my day, you only had two choices - RTFB or use Cliff's Notes. I usually chose the latter and still prefer to watch a video of a book than actually read it. To my credit (is this a contest?), I did read ALL of the Lord of the Rings books. And I got the one ring in my cereal box. Note, however, that it was made in China and not forged in the fires of Mount Doom in Middle Earth. Although, at this time in history, some are seeing a resemblance between these two disparate locations.
The fine print reads, “Great for breakfast & second breakfast”
Fine print on box: “Warning: Gold ring inside may cause serious harm to your teeth!” – that’s in addition to the damage caused by the refined sugar that was approved by the FDA’s food pyramid scheme – hatched & funded in conjunction with the large breakfast food manufacturers.
FYI – “GMO” or genetically modified organisms originally meant: “General Mills Organization.” Probably still does…
Considering Gollum’s love for fish, we could say that this warning came from the Sturgeon General’s office.
As I typed “Sturgeon” I remembered the famous password scene from the Marx Brothers’ “Horse Feathers” movie. As I watched it, I was amazed when Groucho mentions “sturgeon.”
Amazed but not surprised because warped minds think alike - both being forged in the fires of Mount Dumb [sicK].
Heck, if the government gives away the whole store and my nest egg with it, and I have to go back to work, I might be able to get a position writing comedy.
Here’s that scene – remember it the next time you realize you forgot one of your passwords and laugh at yourself – everyone else does : )))
History can be hysterical
Now, where was I? Who’s keeping track of where I was going? Oh, I’m supposed to be…it might be time to check in with my editor…or my sponsor…
Dave Barry was one of my favorite history teachers. He was prescribed to me by my ENT doc. Hilarious!!! Full-strength humorous Rx. Here’s a link to his “Dave Barry Slept Here – A Sort of History of the United States.”
--From Amazon’s review: “What caused the American Revolution? This is indeed a rhetorical question that for many years historians have begun chapters with. As well they should. For the American Revolution is without a doubt the single most important historical event to occur in this nation except of course for Super Bowl III (Jets 16. Colts 7. This historian won $35).”
I immediately took to his funny tale with each repetition of the date that he uses for nearly every hysterical historical event: October 8. That just happens to be our son John’s birthday.
Another fav in the history teacher department is Dr. Mel Brooks, PhD. His classic publication, “History of the World, Part 1,” tells you everything you don’t need to know about all the really important things that might have happened, as only an eye witness can tell it.
How, you might ask, is this possible for Dr. Brooks to be an eye witness? I’m assuming in asking this question that you are unaware of his actual age. This 5-minute video explains it all…
Some dialogue from this masterpiece...
“See Moses run…see Pharaoh run…”
“I knew the head writer of the bible.”
“If I told you the truth, you couldn’t handle it.” (when asked if everything in the bible actually happened)
Show me the future...I can handle it
In the futurist department, I’ve learned a lot from historian George Carlin. Here’s one of his recorded lectures on what the world might look like if we continue to treat our shared environment as a disposable commodity.
What We Don’t Know Can’t Be held Against Us…but still counts against our karma credit score
Practicing what Bishop Craig has said, “We’re all too-well educated above our level of obedience,” I figure it’s better to remain ignorant, that way, if I don’t know something, it can’t be held against me.
I’m tempted to lower the level of my reply to Mary even more by inserting one of those 5th-grade-male-humor jokes that go something like this. The judge says to the defendant, “Be forewarned that whatever you say next may be held against you.” A sly grin starts to form on the yet-to-be-proven-guilty man’s face, as he imagines all the beautiful women he knows and tries to decide whose name to blurt out next. Oh, looks like I yielded once again to the temptation to tell you what I previously said I wouldn’t. Looks like I’m still stuck in Romans time – Romans Chapter 7. Hell, that's better than being in Chapter 8. Anyway, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. For more 5th-grade-male humor, please see this blog post.
The Prolonged Prologue Comes to an End
Okay, consider all the previous levity as the prologue…the warm up act…here’s the story…
Now, to the Michael McLaren song you (Mary) sent about GI Joe…First, I listened to it. Next, I went online and got the lyrics. Admitting my lack of knowledge about opera, I also Wiki’d “Madame Butterfly” to see the storyline and how it fit in with McClaren’s adaptation. It confirmed what I thought I heard in the song…a GI going back to a former lover in another land and time.
I meet my soul mate...but it takes me a while to know it
Well, this tale quickly reminded me of my relationship with Eileen (Wiki also reminded me of her when it mentioned that the first successful showing of the Puccini opera was on May 28, 1904. May 28 is Eileen’s birth date.) I will not disclose any more of Eileen's PI info, such as the year of her birth, on the grounds that it might incriminate me – and negatively impact my karma credit score.)
We had been dating for a while when, in 1973, I relocated to California to find myself. (I’m still looking.)
I was gone for 2 years but did return in the middle of my odyssey for a New Year’s Eve party given by some of my old crew. During my brief visit back to my roots, I saw Eileen. When I moved back to NY in 1975, we reconnected. Years later, she shared with me that she knew that I would be back for her. I didn’t – but she did. For this reason and many others, she's been my anchor, as I’ve been tossed about by many waves of indecision.
I found it cool that, being a VW-bus-driving surfer for 10+ years, when I looked for the wording of James’ wisdom on being tossed about, I found this image:
Like Vinnie Barbarino, there have been many times in my life, my simple prayer has been, “I’m so confused.”
A shotgun wedding
One of these “what do I do?” times involved Eileen and my indecisiveness about marrying her. G-d used a NYPD sergeant named Tony Kaiser, who happened to be my charismatic prayer group leader. to challenge me to….........(see if you can guess where I might be going with this).
Here’s a brief snapshot (excised from the police report) of what happened after he “pointed his gun” at me on that fateful Friday night at Bishop Molloy Retreat House in Jamaica, NY. To begin with, his challenge really bummed me out. See, I was single and went on that retreat so I could have fun being a charismaniac, sing songs that were actually fun to sing, and have someone cook and clean for me for the whole weekend. Officer Kaiser burst my happiness bubble.
Instead of asking for help, I did what most guys would have done - I went up to my room to figure this out by myself. The question before me was -
How could I, knowing my history with relationships, ever make a commitment to one woman for one lifetime?
It seemed like hours passed, as I struggled to make a rational decision – one based on facts. As I wrestled with the angel, the outside weather began to mirror my interior climate. As the rain fell, so did my tears.
Eventually, the angel overpowered me (Hey, my name is Thomas not Jacob...and my middle name is Peter) and I surrendered, admitting my powerlessness to make this decision on my own. Many years later, AA & the Overcomers group at Church of the Intercessor would help me see once again, through the wisdom of Step 1, the necessity of letting go of control - actually, the illusion of control.
As soon as I gave up – I actually won - and a deep calm and peace came over me. I found my way downstairs (and drank a cup) to where people were hanging out and located Eileen, who was completely unaware of what had been happening to me. I asked her to go back upstairs, where I proposed to her in her room.
Our path to relationship unfolded like this: I picked her up in a bar...proposed to her in a retreat house... and we got married in a monastery. And this as Catholics, not Episcopalians!
BTW – 2019 was a time of great testing for our union. One of the ways G-d stepped in was thru son John, who acted as a third force, helping us say what needed to be said - in both truth and love. We’ve come out of that forge, finding our individual voices and communicating much more honestly. On April 2 of 2020, we decided, as we’ve done 41 previous times, to re-up.
I’m no longer confused about my decision. Like Bishop says about his relationship with Cathy, “I married up.”