Saturday, June 11, 2016

Forever’s Sacred Song to Slow Jam with President Obama 
Lovers write their legacy in the stars 
A president writes is legacy to jazz 

Forever’s Sacred Song (English sonnet) 

Twas here they bared forever’s sacred song
While waves bore witness to eternal sea
Awaking sands of all that’s yet to be
Their paradise where nothing can go wrong
Two lovers which went wading with the tide
Which rush upon the edge of passion’s shore
With promises of wonders to explore
One kiss and brush the world you knew aside
The tides of time drift still upon their heart
Which gaze forever at its new claimed star
Two lovers which were destined not to part
Made certain their devotion would not scar
Each night that calls for kissing to restart
Just gaze into the stars and there they are 

Who are these lovers whose song is echoed in this English sonnet? Notice that I use the word "which" when the word "that" would be more appropriate. The word "which" has a softer sound. From the beginning of this sonnet we are set to wonder who the are these lovers in this sonnet. One clue after another as we think we are closer. Then in the end, we are told they are in the stars. So are they a memory? Clue: Have you ever gazed into your lover's eyes? 

I go on about two things: How funny life is and how important dancing was to Arlene. Disco was just becoming popular when I finally learned to dance. We had many dances when Arlene and I took over the Lodge's parties. Arlene and I were not championship dancers, but every now and again other couples gave us the dance floor and watched two lovers. (These were always slow songs and most of the people knew us.) With the Masons, Arlene and I where taking off at the same time other young thinkers were taking off at their organizations. How fortunate everyone was that people of various talents should come together at the same time in life. Arlene's and my contribution was the dance (the parties as well as the performances). And together we all grew. 

The sonnet and the story illustrate how sometime lives are drawn together. Arlene had no idea that teaching me to dance would, one day, be an important part of a bigger dream. Imagine the early events of the other's early lives. Yet, in this phenomenon of life, we were all brought together in this one moment. Two lovers kiss under the stars. Are they also a part of this great continuum? How many others have kissed there before and how many more will experience that kiss? A kiss; the rebirth of organizations, I believe, we are all key actors of a grand play. We all play our important parts. We shape not only our past and future, but countless others. Life would be so much different without you. The beauty which is you. The wonder which is you. Enjoy. 

Back to the poem: Luther Vandross" Always and Forever" 

A new record is set 

President Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office, as well as the first president born outside of the continental United States. To add to this, he is now the only sitting president to set his accomplishments to music. He did this with the help of Jimmy Fallon and his band. 
Like President Obama or not, this is a pretty good song: "'Slow Jam the News' with President Obama" 

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Be glad of life because it gives you the chance 
to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars. 
Henry Van Dyke

Friday, June 10, 2016

Notes From The Past to How to be a Rock Climber 
The adventure of one man's memories of youth 
The adventure of a rock climber want-to-be 

Notes From The Past (villanelle) 

How different now it all seems to be
The notes from the past which took me away
Those things which yet toy with my memory
Are these the streets which set a youth free
Adventures delights to which I would stray
How different now it all seems to be
Were these the doors which once sheltered me
They opened to hope and closed off dismay
Those things which yet toy with my memory
A page out of time was my family
Which made up a part of pages today
How different now it all seems to be
From terrors abuse and hardships I’d flee
And still they found paths to nightmares to play
Those things which yet toy with my memory
From ashes of storm grew a mystery
Who found in darkness a brighter array
How different now it all seems to be
Those things which yet toy with my memory 

Echoes from a past form this villanelle. A villanelle uses the first a third lines of the first stanza as part of its structured story line. How fitting this is in a poem dealing with memories. The villanelle starts off painting a peaceful picture. Then comes the horror of it all. There is no real resolution. We know how memories can be. 

The Noe Valley is the sunniest and the most beautiful neighborhood in San Francisco. The picture, that leads this edition, is where I grew up. It was a time when we kids would meet and play in the streets. Where neighbors knew each other and would spend hot summer nights enjoying good friendships on their front stairs. Noe Valley was so beautiful that it was not unusual for people to walk the streets to take in the beauty. Into this picture comes a child whose father was abusive. My mother would exaggerate the slightest thing I did wrong to make sure I got a beating. This was the house were I would learn about racism. This would be the home where my mother would one day disappear. How beautiful the Noe Valley would be, if only... It wouldn't be until I was in my 30s that I fully came to grips with my childhood. 

Lucky is the person that has no problems (if there is such a one). Most of us take our problems, challenges and learn to grow. I was fortunate that all my problems seemed to be at my home. Or maybe, my home was so terrible that it made everything else seem better. Funny how life works. Was I a good student because I had great teachers or because an average grade would mean a beating? So it is with many of us. What really were the elements that brought us here? One of the messages of the villanelle is balance (good and bad). I believe, the wonder that is us, is a product of that balance. I believe that we are in search of that center spot. True happiness. And as we seek out our own true happiness, enjoy. 

I found a fitting song for the villanelle: Martina McBride "Concrete Angel" 

We don't have to be rock climbers to reach the top - but just in case 

The most famous rock on earth is Mount Everest. (Well, not really a rock.) Its peak is 8,848 meters above sea level. The first official assault to the the top is credited to Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. Have you ever dreamed of climbing Mount Everest? Michael Russell, of IFHT, is here to help us out. In 21 lessons he will make a rock climber out of us.  
But first, I have to climb into my refrigerator for another beer. "How to be a Rock Climber"

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Life is like riding a bicycle. 
To keep your balance, you must keep moving. 
Albert Einstein

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Meaningless Meaning to Is That Your Guitar 
One man as a window to share his broken heart 
One man as a friend to share his broken heart 

Meaningless Meaning (poem) 

I looked though a window
A window which took a lifetime to fashion
A lifetime of Joy and tears
Of Joy at the person which I became
The person with so much to share
So much were the chances waiting in the street
Chances waiting for a sun to shine
To shine on a dream yet to come
A dream which fights to hold on
To hold a hope it fashioned long ago
It fashioned the meaning of the morning
The meaning of my bless├ęd gift
Of my path which brought me here
Which brought on this time and this moment
This time through the window of eternity
Of eternity when once more I stretch forth my hand
I stretch across the reason of faith
Across the meaningless meaning of words
Meaningless meaning refreshing the spring of a dream
Refreshing the window which now I looked through 

Something prevents this from being a free form poem. At first glance it certainly looks like a free form poem. On closer examination we will discover the first two words of each line was used in the proceeding line. (i.e. A window - I looked though a window) In fact, this is a poem of connects. One other point: The ending in some ways brings us back to the beginning.

Arlene, my other half, was gone. My world was an insane wreck. Time doesn't heal all wounds. When I finally started to get myself into some order, I began to look out my window. The window of who I was and what had brought me here. I had lost the love of my life, of 46 years. And what an extraordinary life it was. I was sad. I was confused. I was lost. Yet looking through my window, if I was to bring meaning to what was, I had to rejoice in all those good times. I had to find strength through all those memories. If Arlene and Martin meant anything at all, I must carry on. 

The poem also illustrates connections. As one thing leads to another a person is healed. Imagine all the connections that brought us to this moment. I look back at my poor childhood and wonder how different I would be now, had I enjoyed a better childhood. Or maybe it is human nature to strive for the best. The sun does greet another day. Imagine all the connections we were, are, will be part of. Life is a wonder. And we are wonders. You may have thought that you were not that important. Well go to your window and think again. What would my world be like without you? Interesting. You are reading this. Connections. See what wonders we are? And as we do our part to make this a better world, enjoy. 

How about some music to go with all of this; Elmara "Training" 

We all need friend - or do we 

Research has shown that men's communications tend to focus on status while women's communications tend to focus on relationships. To hep illustrate this is Boat Comedy. Amos' girlfriend has just dumped him. He calls his best friend Mike to listen to his plight and lighten is sorrow. Note how men handle this tender situation. 
You are probably wondering, where is the women's side. They all left after seeing this video. "Is that your guitar?" 

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Each life reverberates in every other life. 
Whether or not we acknowledge it, we are 
connected, woven together in our needs 
and desires, rich and poor, men and 
women alike. 
Susan Griffin

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A River Flows to Death By Pizza 
The secret flowing in a river 
The secret exposed by baking a good pizza 

A River Flows (English sonnet) 

Within a hidden garden river flows
Sweet flowers hide its secrets from the sun
Forever bears the tale that there was spun
As sadness brings a melody to close
She’s there beside her weeping so undone
She’s there aside the pain of sorrow’s throws
And why he left her only ever knows
A bitter game was played which no one won
But river flowed its destiny resigned
Within a dream of hope its course did stray
It left its birth and hiding place behind
To put refreshing glory on display
Until a seed of promise it did find
Which grew to love her on another day 

Two stories make up this one English sonnet. We start within a garden through which a river flows. In this garden was a crying maiden, for she had just broken up with her love. Then the sonnet turns its attention on the river. For as we are soon to suspect, this was no ordinary river. All of this in 14 lines. 

Let me share the life of my friend Valerie. Valerie married my friend Mike when she was 20. She was a model, dancer and singer. We became friends in junior high school. When Valerie and Mike got married, everything was rosy. They even had two children. Then she began visiting me, confiding she and Mike were having problems. Their problems led to a divorce. Valerie was broken hearted for herself and for her children. To help Valerie take her mind off of her problems, I asked her to be the singer on some music I wrote and was producing. My creation didn't do much for me. But Valerie, she was asked to go to Japan to be a singer and dancer. (It seems, at the time, American singers were in big demand over there.) When she came back to the States she was a back-up singer and dancer for many headliners in Las Vegas. When she came back to San Francisco. she landed a job as choreographer at San Francisco's big hit "Beach Blanket Babylon". Valerie never became a big star. She did earn enough money to pay for her parent's house, to pay and send her children to the colleges of their choice and to live a life of her dreams. Unlike the poem, she, as of yet, has not found another lover. The river of life can be strange. Would Valerie be as happy if she had stayed with Mike? 

We are all sailors on the river of life. And life can be so unpredictable. If life is unfolding for you as you have planed, consider that in itself a wonder. Life is an adventure. Now here is a riddle. People, as a whole, are uncomfortable with change, yet we like adventures. From birth, we are constantly learning and changing. We are learning because of changes, during changes, in preparation of changes. Evolution has made wonders of us. We as a species have proven, we can survive change. We can create change. One major thing that keeps us so successful is, I believe, life always has a new gift around each "river's bend". As proof that you are a good sailor: you made it this far. Sail on to the glories that are waiting for you and enjoy. 

Now let's go on a musical adventure: Musicshake "A Sad Pathway" 

From the richness of life to a no budget movie 

Probably the most successful low budget film was George A. Romero's "Night of the Living Dead". Made in 1968 on a $114,000 budget, it has grossed $12 million domestically and $18 million internationally. Moving from the low budget to the no budget, we have Josh Mullen. Josh was fired for using company resources to make his films. In this episode Jack Maxim, Josh's character, has to learn how to cook in order to bust up a mafia ring. 
Can Jack do it before the company that he was fired from finds out he is back in the building? "DEATH BY PIZZA (Fatal Decision)" 

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Life is not a problem to be solved, 
but a reality to be experienced. 
Soren Kierkegaard

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Rose That Cried to Cooking With White People 
The secret of a crying rose 
The secret of white people cooking 

The Rose That Cried (repeating poem) 

A brand new day had just begun
Its blessing shown on everyone
A man in garden having fun
Amid his flowers kissed by sun
Amazed at what his eyes there spied
The gentle rose that sweetly cried
Perhaps some haze had fooled his eyes
Had caused his mind to fantasize
But with his hope the heartbeats rise
Such beauty could he realize
And there his dreams were not denied
The gentle rose that sweetly cried
He called his love to come and see
To share with her this mystery
For through her eyes was he set free
To feel the Joys of what might be
In wonderment and tears she sighed
The gentle rose that sweetly cried
Who knows how long she gazed at sight
No time dare blemish pure delight
This precious moment she held tight
What was it called her soul to flight
What secret scent did there abide
The gentle rose that sweetly cried
And so it was they passed their day
As worldly matters drift away
And wishes shared what words would say
How did it all end up this way
What kiss of life could it confide
The gentle rose that sweetly cried
She’s taken to that day he called
She found him in the garden sprawled
It seems as though his heart had stalled
The horrid sight by flowers walled
And there was weeping by his side
The gentle rose that sweetly cried

Beauty and sadness combine to make this poem. This is what is called a tight poem. Each stanza contain two sets of rhymes. One set of rhymes consisting of four lines and one rhyme leading to the repeating line, "The gentle rose that sweetly cried". All lines are comprised of eight beats. All this was done to increase focus on the story. 

This is a poem about one of my fans, supporter and Masonic brothers, Scott Andrews. Scott was drawn to me when I took charge of the Lodge's public schools committee. Scott was one of those silent "worker bee" that most organisations are familiar with. As I grew up the ranks, Scott grew prouder and more admirative of me. After two years, he invited me and Arlene to diner, with him and his wife, at his house. On entering Scott's home, one has to say to himself, "Here is a gentleman who really loves his wife." These two loved each other so much, one could feel it just walking through their front door. Even more amazing was the backyard. To dedicate his love to his wife, Bettie, Scott presented her with a gorgeous garden, that would greet her each morning from their bedroom window. Here was a man, who most people couldn't think much of. He seemed outwardly quite average. But entering Scott's home; seeing how much he loved his wife; basking in the paradise of that garden; here was the dream of many. Scott died of a heart attack in his garden. I performed his funeral.

Here is an example of an individual like many. A person we pass everyday, not thinking much of, yet possessing wondrous talents. I believe everyone is special, possessing skills all their own. We are all special. We all have marvels to offer. Think of Scott, His magic to love one person inspired me. I'm sure I wasn't the only one so inspired. His inspiration flowered in his garden, which surely was a inspiration of many. So it is, I believe, with all of us. Some of our gifts may be a bit more subtle, but no less as precious. What is your gift(s)? What makes you special? You are, you know. Let's take the moment to enjoy.

Let's get back to the poem: "Bette Midler "The Rose" 

From seriousness to silliness (I hope) 

The first chef to be aired on television was Philip Harben. The name of the show, which aired on BBC in 1946, was "Cookery". And the first meal was Lobster vol-au-vents. Since then many chefs have entered our homes and hearts, delighting us with countless delicacies. Throwing his at into the ring is Sam, a creation of Rudy Mancuso of Awkward Puppets. Sam is about to share with us a cooking style so often overlooked. 
If this looks too familiar, maybe we should start watching cooking shows. "Cooking with White People" 

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Love is like a beautiful flower 
which I may not touch, 
but whose fragrance makes 
the garden a place of delight 
just the same. 
Helen Keller

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Star Of Joy to Choose Your Own Adventure Cookies 
One person adventures the choice between dismay and joy 
One person adventures the choice of making cookies 

Star Of Joy (Martin verse) 

Shadows pass the winter’s night
Teardrops waiting out of sight
Gloom consumes the last of light
Veils reveal approaching blight
Silence ticking life away
Clouds of doubt forecast dismay
Sorrow stalks to rule the day
Streets where empty souls do stray
Bright is the star to this night
Shining response toward dismay
A smile in another’s day
Comforting hand against blight
Bright star casting doubt away
Such hope fills hearts at your sight
Candles soon pass on your light
And in your footsteps they stray
Your Joy overwhelms all blight
Pure Joy the source of your light
And while your Joy restores sight
Shadows pass the winter’s night 

New meaning is found in this Martin verse. The poem starts off very negative, with the speaker sharing his bleak world. Then a star appears and everything changes, including the tone of this poem. An interesting thing and powerful aspect of this poem is the first and last lines of the poem. Wait a minute. They are the same words. It just goes to show, the world changes depending on our mood. 

I have often talked about my "great" life. The price of most of my achievements was stress. I didn't mind the stress, because it felt so good when a project was successfully over and the stress was suddenly over. My greatest blessing, that saw me through my stresses as well as all the troubles life throws our way is my star. My star was Arlene and now my present wife, Amor. No matter what life tossed my way, there was always Arlene. Always. How ironic! Life even took my childhood sweetheart away. Without my star winter's clouds loomed. Then, like the poem, a new star, Amor, appeared. And with Amor, shines the light to a bright future and the treasures of the past. 

I know many can relate. Many have their stars, whether a partner or something(s) else. The world really does changes depending on how we take it in. Our mood sets the flavor of things. Our stars help to keep us on a positive path. A path were we can taste all the good the world has to offer. Our stars are our strength, inspiration. sweetness and light. With so much by our side, guiding us on, yes we can, and well. Not only are we, one and all, special, there are stars to guide us to a better world. And as we greet the star of a brighter tomorrow, let us enjoy. 

Take it away Rihanna: Rihanna "Diamonds" 

Everything seems to go better with cookies 

In 1884, Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal, Quebec was the first to patent peanut butter. George Washington Carver has been credited with creating the peanut butter cookie. In the 21st century there are countless ways of making peanut butter cookies. Least of these is Gregg of You Suck At Cooking. What he does offer is a new adventure in cookie making. 
One extra ingredient Gregg offers his cookies is laughter. "Choose Your Own Adventure Cookies - You Suck at Cooking (episode 40)" 

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Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, 
while loving someone deeply gives you courage. 
Lao Tzu