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Slam Poets and Charles Ives

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 29, 2018

Albuquerque’s slam team came to Chatter Sunday this morning. Gabe Reyes, Sophia Nuanez, Rene Mullens, and Bianca Sanchez added some spunk to the Sunday concert, material they are taking to Chicago, to the 2018 National Poetry Slam, Aug 13-18. The week-long festival is part championship tournament, part poetry summer camp, and part traveling exhibition. It is the largest team performance poetry event in the world.

Of course, U.S. composer Charles Ives needs no spunk. His music always takes one in different directions. We listened to his Concord Sonata from 1920. The sonata was divided into four parts: Emerson, Hawthorne, The Alcotts, and Thoreau. He is one of the first American composers of international renown, though his music was largely ignored during his life, and many of his works went unperformed for many years. Sources of Ives’ tonal imagery are hymn tunes and traditional songs, the town band at holiday parade, the fiddlers at Saturday night dances, patriotic songs, sentimental parlor ballads, and the melodies of Stephen Foster. Charles Ives was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, with musical techniques including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatory elements, and quarter tones, foreshadowing many musical innovations of the 20th century.

The music was performed by a brilliant pianist, Emanuele Arciuli. His repertoire ranges from Bach to contemporary music, leaning towards U.S. music.

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He was joined a few times by Jesse Tatum on flute,072918 (27a) startling us from the darkness behind the audience. It was a great concert. Mr. Arciuli has a passion for Ives’s music you’d have to hear to believe.

And of course, there was a woman in the audience I noticed. I saw her as she entered the building while I was getting my Americano from the espresso baristas. She has a gorgeous smile, and it was a pleasure just to admire her and her beautiful black hair and luscious form.

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Here she on the far left, applauding the flutist, pianist, and slam team.

I love Sunday mornings.

Posted in coffee, Life, music, My Life, photography, poetry | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Sometimes, I’m Happy; Real Tired Too

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 4, 2018

May and June sure took their toll; hella busy. Didn’t get much hiking in. In June the fire danger in New Mexico closed the nearby trails I like to hike in the Sandia mountains. I got a hike in on May 3, on the Faulty Trail near the crest of the mountain range.

In addition to an acting class I take on Thursdays, I had also been taking an eight-week acting workshop on Tuesdays, starting in March. On May 7, I met with fellow classmate Teresa to rehearse a scene we would perform in class. In class on May 8, we did a scene from Harold Pinter’s play A Slight Ache. Teresa is an accomplished actor and pretty amazing. She was also in rehearsals for a production of The Full Monty here in town, and how she manages family, classes, auditions, and acting in plays and short movies is beyond me. She is highly intelligent, having done a lot of scientific research in her past as well. We once drove together all the way to Roswell, NM to audition (but neither of us got a job out of it). I did, however, thoroughly enjoy traveling with Teresa and filling our time with a bit of each other’s life stories, and dreams for the future. I hope to work with her again. Good pool player too, and beautiful.

Teresa - Back To Billy 2 Teresa Jones 3aTeresa - Pool shark (2a)

May 11, I met with an acting coach from the other class I had been attending. He videotaped my audition for the TV pilot of Back To Billy. May 16 was a meeting to begin planning a fundraiser for the New Mexico Film Foundation. The Foundation gives an aspiring local filmmaker a $5000 check every year.

I managed to watch two plays in two days, one I had auditioned for after learning a Dublin, Ireland dialect: a 1978 comedy play by Hugh Leonard: Da. Learned the basics of the dialect, but hadn’t gotten the part. I also watched Deathtrap, a play written by Ira Levin, also in 1978. I knew one of the actors, having worked together in a 48-hour movie competition. Met with my acting coach for prepare for a callback audition. We worked hard, but, as usual, I didn’t get the part. Saw another play on the 25th, The Full Monty that Teresa was in: acting, singing and dancing.

Full

Went to a BBQ out of town at the home of a fellow classmate in my Thursday acting class. Good food, good music, and great people. Unfortunately, her husband, in dealing with a severe case of PTSD, had drunk too much and went around accusing the actors of laughing at him, and thinking they were bettter than him (he’s not an actor). He was extremely agitated, and physically threatened people, saying he would beat the crap out of anyone, even the women there; saying he lived for that shit. When he ripped off his shirt and went at a friend there, I called him out for his behavior. He left the woman he was attacking alone, and came for me. After a bit of shouting at me, his wife stepped between us before he could attack me, but he did mange to kick at me from behind her. It was a very strange episode, and I suprised myself calling that guy out like that, but his behavior was way out of line.

Got one more hike in before the month of May ended (Pino Trail):

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Then I did a table read for a movie being developed. And that was just the merry lusty month of May.

June started off with another hike, on the eastern side of the Sandias. It was ten degress cooler up there near the crest of the mountains.

Watched a friend’s movie called A Bitter Reckoning, as part of a festival of award-winning shorts. Teresa, above, was also in that. Great movie. Click on the name to see a trailer from it.

Hiked the Pino Trail again on the 10th: Aspens, Ponderosas, approx. 6.7 miles total with 1800 feet of elevation gain. And then auditioned for another movie that afternoon. It’s an interesting Sci Fi shoot.  (I got the part. We started shooting on July 2nd, and my part will be shot on July 8th. It is mostly for the actors in it to have material for their acting reels, so we have something new to submit to major casting calls.)

On the 16th I went to a movie prop house in the afternoon to pick out props for the New Mexico Film Foundation fundraiser on July 14. We will decorate the Nativo Lodge in Albuquerque for what we are calling a soirée: films, music, finger food, silent auction, and a live auction conducted by master-of-dialects Steve Corona, who will auction off each item in a different dialect. In the evening I was a background actor on a new movie called Caged, a fascinating look at kickboxing.

Got another hike in on the 24th, going up in the foothills to the Eye of the Sandias. The foothills aren’t closed, it’s City of Albuquerque Open Space.

The rest of the month I spent at a coin show, a motorcycle breakfast meetup, acting class, a doctor’s appointment, an actor’s coffee meetup, and more work getting auction items ready for the July 14th soirée. For an old fart retiree, my calendar sure looks full.

July is in full swing. In another installment of this blog, I’ll recap my motorcycle trip to the old movie ranch near Santa Fe,

Bikes working hard. 070118

and my and my cousin’s small parts in a movie being shot there. The day after that, I helped with sound on the short movie I’ll act in on the 8th of July. I’ll be picking up the props on the 13th for the soirée, and then helping out at the event with the silent auction part of the soirée on the 14th, and then returning props to the prop house on the 16th. I’m booked already for background scenes on the 9th and the 17th. The actor’s coffee group will produce its own movie for the 48-Hour movie competition on the 27th and 28th, and I’ll be assisting the camera and editing people. I hope to have a break during the 48-Hour project to audition for a play nearby, but I may not be able to. But, that’s all I have going in July so far.

Posted in friends, hiking, In front of the camera, Life, motorcycles, My Life, photography, rambling | Leave a Comment »

Slowly I ….

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 17, 2018

Listening to Isao Tomita’s electronic version of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition as I write. Tomita p at an exhibition It is far stranger than Mussorgsky ever imagined, of that I am sure. I like some of Tomita’s works very much. This one not so much. Lately I have acquired many CDs of his work. I love his live concert, done in 1984: The Mind Of The UniverseMind of the Universe and have enjoyed his version of Maurice Ravel‘s Bolero, as well as Tomita’s 1974 studio release: Snowflakes are DancingSnowflakes Debussy’s tone paintings. However, I disliked his version of Gustav Holst‘s The Planets so much that I posted it on the CD trading website SwapaCD immediately after listening to it. Someone had already requested it automatically, so I packaged it and bought postage to ship it out tomorrow. I’m a fan of electronic music, but not all of it.

Lazy, lazy day. I was up last night on a movie set until 3am this morning, crawling into bed as soon as I got home. I woke this morning early, but just turned over and went back to sleep until 8:30am. The movie is a local production here in Albuquerque. Seems like movies are being made here every day. I was not a character in this movie, but a background actor, sometimes punching a bag, sometimes watching and cheering a fight, sometimes doing my version of sit ups (touching my toes from a flat position). The movie scenes are for Caged, taking place in a gym. Caged “It is the story of TJ, a young man from a privileged family, who drops out of law school against his mother’s wishes to pursue his dream of becoming an MMA fighter.” I was fascinated by it, and the gym, as this was the first time I’d ever been in one.

I made coffee this morning and fed the two cats. Drank my coffee while playing Microsoft’s daily solitare challenges. Made breakfast. Decided to go back to bed. Slept until 4:30pm. Now, that’s a lazy day! Got up and read for a short while. I’ve been reading Khaled Hosseini’s And The Mountains EchoedMountains I’ve really enjoyed the first half, but could not get back into it today; perhaps I will later this evening. Hosseini wrote The Kite Runner,  but, although I thoroughly enjoyed the movie: Kite Runner, I did not read the book. Hosseini is a good writer, and writes real stories of real people caught up in circumstances of violence and social change beyond their control, sometimes beyond all comprehension.

I’ve switched my music to Tomita’s compilation called Different Dimensions, a CD subtitled “The Ultimate Collection of Future Sounds.” Different Dimensions Hopefully it is not, but it is a good introduction to Tomita’s work. Some are very good, some are fascinating, and some are just odd, which is pretty much how I feel today.

I have also thought about my dad today, on Father’s Day, and changed my Facebook profile photo to his photo, from the 1940s. Dad on skates He and my mom roller skated a lot growing up, and were partnered by their coach for competitions, which they won a lot of, being Tri-State champions at it. I’m told they did not like each other at first, Mom&Dad09031949 but they appear to have gotten over that. My dad died of lung cancer many years ago. I wish he was around. I’d love to pick his brain. Oddly, when I posted that photo of him, all my mom could think of to comment on was the fact that his skates had wooden wheels, as they all did back then. When she commented, I noticed that she had changed her profile picture to a photo of her in 1978. I was living in Albuquerque at the time, and had no money for plane tickets, so I never knew she had changed her hairstyle so dramatically – Mom in 1978 – 1970s big hair. My brother said it’s her Liz Taylor look. I swear I’d never have recognized her on the street in that hairdo. She and my father were divorced by then, and I probably didn’t see her for many years after I left town permanently in 1975. She must have added the flag banner via Facebook, perhaps for Memorial Day. She’s 87 years old now.

No word from my step-daughter Maya today. She has always given me step-dad cards on Father’s Day, but perhaps we’re growing apart now that we no longer make and sell wine together after the winery closed. I had hoped for a call, or a text, or a Facebook message perhaps. She posted photos of her and her dad, and her brother with his young son Zen.

I always enjoy any time I get to spend with her. She’s the one person in my lifetime that I have really loved with all my heart, and I wish I saw her more often. Her smile warms my heart. Me & Maya 2017

Posted in 1970s, In front of the camera, Life, music, My Life, Writing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Sunday: Cancer, Chatter, Sonatas and Interludes

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 29, 2018

Ran across a wonderful post by my step-daughter Maya this morning. Exactly nine years ago was her last round of dealing with cancer. A tumor had been removed from her brain in 2004, but it regrew and she had chemotherapy. When that didn’t work, she had a type of radiation treatment called a Gamma Knife: several low-energy tightly-focused beams of gamma radiation (think x-rays) are focused from varying angles simultaneously on a tumor. It was followed up with a light regimen of broad-beamed radiation coupled with chemo again. It worked. She has been cancer-free since the end of all those treatments. However, on April 29, 2009, she was in a hospital again. There was a new mass showing on the scan of her brain. Turns out it was nothing more than scar tissue from the radiation treatments. A big scare for all of us, but after relatively minor surgery, she was right back home. So, she likes to remember each of these low or high points in her life. This is what she said:

Choroid plexus carcinoma papilloma: It took me a long time to remember this term, even longer to understand it & even longer to appreciate the significance of it in my life!!!
Choroid plexus: a network of nerves or vessels in the body that produce the cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain.
 – Carcinoma: a cancer arising in the epithelial tissue of the skin or of the lining of the internal organs.
Papilloma: a small wart like growth on the skin (eww! ) or on a mucous membrane, derived from the epidermis, usually benign.

This is a brain tumor usually found in children, diagnosed in me at the age of 21 in the right ventricle of my brain with a part of it benign & another part cancerous…(Not even my brain tumor knew what it wanted ). Removed in 2004 and then revisited on April 29, 2009 to make sure that sucker was gone!

Never worried more or felt so much joy in my life. I’m so happy she’s still in this world.

On Sundays, however, my brain turns to Chatter Sunday again. Wonderful celebrations of music and poetry that brighten my Sundays. I almost did not go. Conor Hanick is a highly acclaimed musician: Conor Hanick

He has performed internationally to wide acclaim in repertoire ranging from the early Baroque to the recently written. In addition to the Kennedy Center, Mondavi Performing Arts Center, the Kultur und Kongresszentrum Luzern, Kyoto Concert Hall, the Dewan Pilharmonik Peronas in Malaysia, Hanick has performed in virtually every prominent arts venue in New York City, ranging from (le) Poisson Rouge and The Kitchen to Alice Tully Hall and all three halls of Carnegie Hall.”

However, what he played was Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano by John Cage. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to anything by John Cage, but his music is out there, as in weird, meticulous and arresting. It is not what I’d prefer from music. Wikipedia says he is: “A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments.” Uncertain and non-standard, to be sure. I wouldn’t have gone just for that. However, the reason I went was Jessica Helen Lopez, nationally recognized, award-winning slam poet, and former Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, NM. jessica-helen-lopez-head-shot  She is an exciting poet to listen to. Her eclectic, opinionated style fascinates me. She is full of passion, and she resonates with the intensity of a zealot, and the joyful ecstasy of living. I love listening to her. I sat with her and her husband. Meeting him made me wonder what it’s like living with someone like her. Never boring, I’m sure, but I didn’t say that out loud.

So, instead of the usual three-part program: music-poetry-music, Jessica went first. We had our regular two minutes of silence after she left the stage, and then John Cage, for over SEVENTY MINUTES! It was a very long seventy minutes, let me tell you. Twenty sections! 16 sonatas and 4 interludes. John Cage is an acquired taste. This particular piece involves a modified piano: strings cluttered with nuts and bolts, pieces of rubber and other dampening devices and even an eraser. The idea is to sort of calm the pianoness of the piano down, I think. The music is like having a stage full of instruments, like a xylophone, drums, cowbells, wind chimes, and other acoustical things. In that sense, it is fascinating. I’d never heard a piano sound like that before. It offended me, in the sense that I didn’t expect sounds like that from a piano. I am, sadly, rather conservative about some things. If there had been a multitude of acoustic things being struck, played and banged, I’d have liked it for the virtuosity in handling so many items and having them all part of a single composition. However, Cage’s work strikes me as more like a structured structurelessness. I’m thinking that he has a certain structure diagrammed out, and goes back and populates it with random notes. The result, to my way of thinking, is something intellectually striking, but lacking in passion.

John_Cage_(1988) What Cage’s music is, I think, is more immediate, as in, you are here listening now, and your mind is not free to wander. I can, and do often find my mind roaming while I am listening to and enjoying music. With something by John Cage, I cannot. It’s interesting and creative, yes, but not something that inspires me, to either an emotional state, or dreams. In short, I hope I never sit through such a concert again. I love many different types of music: Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, and newer styles of classical music, Cajun, outlaw Country, Country-rock, classic rock, blues, blues-rock, jazz, salsa, merengue, tango, and electronic. However, I only like a particular piece or a singer or musician if there is passion. Even electronic music can have passion – Morton Subotnick’s The Wild Bull, for example. Otherwise, I don’t care. Same for people. I’m not saying that I am an exciting person, but I feel passionate about politics, or the work I do or the people and things I love. I want to see, hear, feel, and touch passion.

Cage’s works? Once is enough. There will be other performances. And, next month there is a Chatter Cabaret, featuring works by Chopin and Messiaen. I’m going just to clear the Cage from my brain.

 

 

Posted in 2000s, family, health, Life, music, My Life, poetry | Leave a Comment »

Blind Red Wine Tasting and Maya

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 21, 2018

I had so much fun tonight I just had to write about it. For eight years my stepdaughter Maya Maya Masters Degree (2) and I used to work together selling wine, and also picking fruit for it, and bottling it, and labeling it. I also irrigated the orchard, weeded, pruned, planted, plugged gopher holes, hauled sugar (dextrose) and added it in increments to the fruit fermantation tanks, cleaned tanks, filtered the wines when necessary, and helped keep the inventory up to date. We both got to learn a lot about how to make fruit wines, and how to pair them with food, which is really the best way to appreciate it. So tonight we went to a (grape) wine tasting, and not just any wine tasting, but a blind wine tasting. I’ve been to these before, and it’s always fun. It might have a lot to do with the size of the tastings, and incredible food, but it’s a real joy for me to have my stepdaughter join me. We were in the wine loft at Slate Street Cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Slate Street    wine-slate-loft

There are usually five wines to try to identify the varietal, and they gave us eight choices to pick from. After we loaded up on hors d’oeuvres like short ribs, and cheeses, and bread, crackers, vegetables, and such, we settled into tasting the wines. I usually try them with different foods to see how they pair.  The 2015 Reserve Merlot from Waterbrook in Walla Walla, Washington was good with the ribs, but fantastic with the cheeses there. It was so good I thought it might be a cab, but no, I missed my guess. My stepdaughter got this one correct. Next up was a similar wine, a 2015 Tempranillo from Manon (Aviva) in Castilla, Spain. We both got that wrong, but it’s a good wine, excellent with the short ribs.

I should mention that in past blind tastings, I’ve gotten three out of five correct. In tonight’s tasting I got all five wrong! I actually thought the Malbec might have been a Syrah, and guessed Tempranillo for the Pinot Noir. The 2016 Malbec was from Bodini in Argentina, and the 2014 Pinot Noir from Brancott Estates in New Zealand. Both good wines, but I’m out of practice with grape wines.

Finally, we got to the best wine: a 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from Vigilance in Lake County, California. O yeah! this was good. I didn’t like cabs when I was younger: too astringent in my mouth. But, even though I’ve come to appreciate Cabernet Sauvignon much more, this one really wowed me. Complex, and tasty, and much smoother than I would have expected from a cab. We got to re-taste two of the wines after the big reveal, so we got to sample a previously untasted, but excellent Garnacha, (or Grenache), and of course had a bit more of the Shannon Ridge (Vigilance) Cabernet Sauvignon.

There were more foods brought out, like a delightful melted cheese/bread combo, and some coconut shrimp, but I didn’t see where the shrimp paired at all with any of the wines. Tasty though.

Maya had a good time, even though she had initially been tired from work, but she livened up as the evening went on. We talked about wine, and the closure of the winery we had worked at, Anasazi Fields*, and our sadness at the loss of the vintner, the winery itself, and the fantastic wines. We don’t see each other as often since the winery closure, so it was a good chance to catch each other up on things in our lives. She is done with school, she says, after getting her Master’s degree, but is now taking a class on beer: history, varietals, and tastings. Her homeowner association is taking action against the shoddy workmanship in the little complex she is in. Cracks in many of the walls, leaky roofs, and some substandard materials, but Maya’s place is in pretty good shape. I built her a concrete patio last year, and she’s enjoying it.

I continue my education in acting, and told her about a strange table read yesterday that turned into a movie trailer shoot. I hadn’t memorized my lines at all, since I had thirty pages of dialogue and little time to memorize it, and because I thought it was simply a read-through. Nope, the director/writer/producer wanted it on video as his class project, so we got it done by cutting and restarting almost line by line. Terrible miscommunication there. We only shot 6 or 7 pages out of the 111 total in the script, but that’s all he wanted. I wish I’d known that because I’d have nailed that part of the script in the time I had. Oh, well, that’s the movie culture around here. Some things happen, some don’t.

All in all, I had really been looking forward to my time with Maya, and this was a wonderful evening. I really love spending time with her.

 

        Sour Grapes

And, alas, the winery is nearly empty. 6000+ gallons of bulk wine had to be destroyed due to alcohol regulations. We had a huge 50%-off sale to dispose of the bottled wine, and in the end there were still a lot of the unusual wines like blueberry, and fig, and also some blackberry and old peach and prickly pear, and some small-batch varieties. The remaining bottles were given to the partners to haul away. The cellar is empty. The bottle room is empty. Most of the artworks have been removed from the walls. By tomorrow, the big workspace and community event room will be cleaned out of all items no one wanted. The dozens of stainless-steel storage tanks (from 6oo gallon, incremented by halves down to 37.5 gallon) will have been taken away for scrap. The new owners (who publish a local newspaper) will not be making wine. However, they will continue to allow the large space to be used for community events, like the November Holiday Show, in which artists and craftspeople throughout the Placitas area showcase their work. The show also includes the grade school’s gym & auditorium space, and a huge white tent set up by the local church.

On the weekend of Mother’s Day every year, the winery hosted a few booths for the artists and craftspeople of the Placitas Studio Tour, a two-day experience which is barely enough time to visit all the artists in their homes and studios throughout Placitas. The new owners say they want to continue to have the winery space used for this purpose. Other meetings and events that usually took place at the winery will likely continue, but without the generous tastings of dry fruit wines.

Posted in family, food, In front of the camera, Life, love, My Life, wine | 2 Comments »

In My Vivid Dreams Shit Happens

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 7, 2018

Sometimes I use blogs like this one to talk about my dreams, which are often an outlet for emotional stress in my life, in the same manner blogging became an outlet for me to try to communicate things I couldn’t otherwise talk about, like unrequited love, in another blog.

I had a dream a little while ago that woke me up (as they tend to do). It wasn’t a nightmare, as such, but, as my dreams tend to be, it was weird.

In this dream, I’m driving down a wide road, a dirt road. It is daytime. I see a huge muddy puddle on the left, which is spilling over to my side of the road. I decide to avoid it, and pull more to the right. However, that gets me stuck in sand. Nevermind what kind of road this is, I am familiar with it, but not sure exactly where I am. Part of my semi-conscious brain says this is a certain road I know, but that road is paved, and always has been in my experience. At any rate, I back up immediately, and the car is free. I continue backing up and back into a driveway on my right (which is oddly paved). I pull out of the driveway and start to head in the opposite direction, since the road appears to be impassable.

But, I don’t get far. I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening, but I found myself stopped on that road, mostly on the opposite side of the street, pointing in the right direction, but not moving. In fact, I am lying on my side on the seat. Seems like I fell over. I try to pull myself up, but I don’t have the strength. It is only a matter of grabbing the door to haul myself back up to a sitting position, and I try repeatedly. I almost make it, and I know I will, but something is not letting me complete the motion. As I write this, I think: seatbelt? Anyway, the little movie in my head continues. I notice it is getting dark. I reach up with my left hand and pull on the headlights. headlight pull The switch is an old-fashioned knob like cars in the 50s and 60s would have had, not the modern buttons or levers. With the lights on, I feel safer, and just then a car with its lights on passes me, going in the direction I left. I tap on the horn. Was I signaling the car hello, warning, or help? It would only have taken a long honk to get their attention, but I feel like I don’t need help. But, I was hoping they would stop.

I try getting up again, knowing I can, but I am sluggish. I seem to move in slow motion; my body is not responding to commands as it should. Then, of course, I am awake. I remember dreams like this where I can’t move, and it is because I’m asleep. As I realize I’m awake, I start to sit up, and sure enough, I can move. Whew! OK. What the hell was that all about?

Was I thinking about strokes or heart attacks? Was my body trying to tell me something again? No, I feel fine. I used to hate those dreams that ended like that. It usually happened with a nightmare, like being chased. I had to run, or yell, but my body wouldn’t respond. I’d struggle, and struggle, and sometimes get a little squeaky sound out of my mouth.

One time, when I was a still quite young, I dreamed that the wolves that lived in the shadows of my room every night had come over to my small bed and were biting my hand, which was draped over the side. I couldn’t pull my hand away. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t. I knew I had to call for help, but my throat seemed paralyzed, just like my body. I kept trying, and finally made little sounds, and then slightly bigger sounds, and then, in some kind of paradigm shift, (if you’ll pardon the scientific reference), I was suddenly fully in control of my body and screamed. Screamed bloody murder, as people used to say.

My parents showed up quickly, and turned on the lights. I told them a wolf was biting me. Seems the dog that we’d had for a short while was licking my hand while I was dreaming. Possibly I’d been waving my hand around, and he tried to help. Or, maybe he thought I was being attacked? Anyway, my hand was fine, and there were no tooth marks that I recall. Unfortunately, my parents decided to get rid of the dog. Actually, I’m betting it was my overprotective mother who told my dad to get rid of it. It was gone for a few days, and I missed it. One day it suddenly showed up again, and that made me very happy. My parents were quite surprised to see it. I hugged it and petted it. It was happy to see me. I remember thinking about the incident years later, and, based on things I’d heard, decided my dad had simply driven the dog far away and left it somewhere, as people use to do, or perhaps he left it with someone, and the dog found his way back. Anyway, the dog was there, but I remember very little about it after that. It was gone, and I can’t remember when. I think my parents just got rid of it while I was at school, which is always a sad thought, but I can’t remember. In their defense, my mom was probably pregnant again, and they feared the dog might go after the baby.

I was talking about the dream I had this morning. Once I was fully awake, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Started up my little coffee maker. Fed the cats, even though it wasn’t light yet. I thought about the dream, thought about the times I’d dreamt of cars when I was young. For some reason, in the 1950s, people felt they could leave children in the car while they ran into a store or something for a “few minutes.” It always seemed to me to take forever. I’d sit in the car, and scare myself by wondering what would happen if the car suddenly started moving. I was too young to drive, and couldn’t yet reach the pedals easily. I knew about turning the key, and pressing the gas pedal, but the driving part was a mystery. One time I scooted over into the driver’s place (front seats were all one piece back then, and kids sat in the front with a parent if no one else was in the car). I played around with the steering wheel, pretending to be driving along, imaging myself on the road. The parking brake was easily accessible, and I accidentally released it; the car started to drift backwards, as it was on a hill. I managed to get my foot on the brake by scooching down, and I stayed like that for a long time, what really seemed like forever, until my mom returned. I told her the car had started rolling, and I stopped it. She thanked me. I asked her what would happen if the car had rolled into the street. She told me that was why people turned the wheels at an angle when parking, so the tires would hit the curb if the car should roll. I always remembered to do that many years after.

In my dreams, after that incident, the car would start rolling, and the wheels were turned the wrong way. The car would pick up speed as I coasted forward down the street, an exhilarating feeling, but scary, because I wasn’t big enough to hold the steering wheel and press down on the brake at the same time. In some dreams, I could reach the brake, but it didn’t work. I became better and better, in my dreams, at navigating the car through traffic, because the car always kept moving. One day, I asked my mom about that, asked her how would she stop the car if the brake didn’t work. She told me she could use the emergency brake. “What if it didn’t work?” I asked her. I was like that, so full of questions. She told me she’d always both throw the emergency brake on and put the car into reverse gear. It would mess up the engine, but the car would stop. I never had those dreams anymore. Thanks Mom! But I do wish you hadn’t ever left me alone like that in the car. Or ever left me alone ever.

Of course, this whole train of though awakened more. I remember, hell, I never forgot, the time my parents drove to a relative’s house to do something, maybe attend a funeral. I don’t recall doing anything bad while I was there, but my father took me into a room and told me to sit there (on a wooden chair) and keep quiet. So I did. He’d closed the door behind him. I stared at the wallpaper covered walls. I remember hearing some noises, but since my dad had told me to sit and be quiet, that’s what I did. It turned out that my parents, the relative, and the other kids at the time all loaded into the car and went. I just sat. It was excruciating. I stared at the fleur de lis wallpaper. wallpaper                 I counted how many times the pattern on it repeated, up and down the walls. Double checked my counts.

Wall clock The wall clock chimed. It did that a lot, on the hour every hour, and I think on the half hours too. Analog wall clocks used to do that. Every time the clock struck it increased my loneliness. I began to panic. It was hard to sit still. I liked to explore, to look around, to examine things. There was a boring church calendar on the wall. I kept counting images in the wallpaper around it. I felt like I was in some kind of limbo. I hated it.

It felt a lot like when I woke up one night at a young age, and couldn’t see. All the lights were out, and there seemed to be a haze in the air. There was some very faint light coming in the window from far away, but not enough that I could see anything clearly. It had scared me the first time I’d done that; I’d felt acutely alone, as if I was trapped by myself. Maybe that’s what makes infants cry at night? I had also wondered if I was going blind. I hadn’t gone for my parents because, well, I’d already cried wolf once (literally), and I didn’t want to wake them again. Years later, I’d had an even stranger experience while accidentally overdosed on paregoric, and after experiencing bizarre visions while awake, I woke them up. You betcha believe it.

Eventually, that day in the strange house, my parents came back. My dad was upset, but not, oddly, angry. He wanted to know why I hadn’t come with them. I reminded him that he’d told me to sit and be quiet, and he hadn’t come back for me. He’d always made it clear I was to do as he said until he said otherwise. I thought he would give me a new command when it was time to go. He hadn’t. He’d forgotten me. My fault somehow. One time, years later, in anger, he called me a literal-minded idiot.

So my brain just kept on going this morning. I went to the kitchen, pulled my coffee cup out of the mini espresso maker. I make Americanos by filling the machine with enough water to fill my cup. It keeps flowing through the grounds until my cup is full, but I have to then shut the machine off. I didn’t forget to do that this morning! I sugared and creamed my coffee, and went back to the computer to finish writing this. But before I did that I went back to the kitchen for something. Once there I had no idea what. As I walked back to my computer, I realised it was my coffee I’d wanted to get, but I’d already gotten it, and it was on my desk. I’d been typing before I’d started the coffee, and kept telling myself to stop and go get it, so it seems my brain doesn’t always turn the messages off that I send myself after I do what I was thinking about. That idea made me think about my brain, and forgetfulness, and strokes and heart attacks again. Had a heart attack once; got fixed up. Strokes are a possibility for anyone, at any time, but mostly due to blood clots getting to the brain, I believe. Haven’t had any injuries recently, or had any problems with clots, but you never know.

You noticed I had visions as a child on paregoric, didn’t you? I mentioned it above. It’s a fine story. I know this whole post is getting longer than most, but my brain is spinning this morning after that odd dream earlier. So, anyway, I was a sickly kid, with pneumonia, swollen sinuses, fevers, coughs, a ruptured appendix with blood poisoning, and later, asthma, followed by severe pollen and dust allergies. Kind of clumsy too. Fell into an unfinished basement of a new building once, and cracked my head on a rock. Fell out of a tree in the rain once when I was older, while trying to fix the roof of the treehouse my brother John and I had built, and broke my arm. Always something.

So oh, once upon a time, I had a cough, a bad one that wouldn’t let me or my mother sleep, so she’d put me to bed with a large spoonful or two of paregoric. paregoric Now paregoric is a medicine consisting of opium or morphine, flavored with camphor, aniseed, and benzoic acid, formerly used to treat diarrhea and coughing in children. (To this day I love the smell and flavor of anise or licorice.) My mother used it on us often. I think she overdid it that night. I had been coughing long and hard, and she may have given me two spoonsful, or more. I woke up later, in that odd underlit time of night where I could only see a little. I was used to it by then. However, staring at the wall wasn’t very useful, because it was too dark to see anything clearly. I had played with toy soldiers, and even seen or played with toy civil war soldiers, and I must have seen a movie with knights in armor. Suddenly there were uniformed soldiers fighting on the wall, chasing each other with guns, up and down hills, and there were explosions too, but there was no sound. I was fascinated! I had sat up on the bed, and could make out the bedposts, pillow, and blanket. But then the soldiers morphed into men fighting with swords and guns, in blue or grey uniforms, but in the same place. Then the scene shifted again, and there were brightly colored knights in chain mail with huge swords and horses, charging each other, and having sword fights. I was enjoying it. I don’t know how long I watched. Well, technically, I guess I wasn’t really seeing anything, just imagining it, but it was so intensely vivid! It seemed to be playing within the wall, as what would later become known as three-dimensional imaging. The bedposts created a nice frame.

Again, the scene shifted, but became jumbled. An inverted cone appeared before my eyes. I was looking into it from the wide bottom, up to a point that seemed to be infinitely far away. It disturbed me, but I also felt the need to pee. Having peed in my bed in the past, I wasn’t going to repeat that experience, just because I might be dreaming. (I had once dreamed I’d gotten up, had gone into the bathroom, and had stood over the toilet trying to pee but couldn’t, until I’d finally let it all out, and suddenly my legs had been very warm, and I realized, very wet, and I’d woken all the way up, in bed. A terrible thing to have to wake your parents up for, or admit to anyone.) So, this time, I got up, before that could happen. I wasn’t sure if I was awake or not, but it seemed I was awake. Except, except there was still that inverted cone in front of my face, and it made walking difficult. When I looked down, it seemed like the cone was a hole in the floor. When I looked around, the cone was directly in front of me everywhere. But, I could see a little around the edges. I made it to the bathroom, and peed, hopefully into the toilet bowl, because when I looked down, there was still this cone that seemed to bore through the toilet and floor.

By this time, I knew had to tell my parents. I was at least ten years old at the time, but I was scared. “Mom! Dad!” I think I yelled. “Something’s wrong with me, with my eyes.” They turned the lights on. It got worse. Now the cone was still there, but its inner surface was coated with sawdust, or looked like sand, something like that. The weird thing was that I couldn’t see my parents’ faces; all I saw were arms, and legs, and hands, and an alarm clock, and the lamp, things like that. They kept popping into and out of the cone, which was rotating. It wouldn’t stop. My father was telling me to wake up. I kept telling him, “I am awake!” Once I thought I saw his face in the cone, another time, someone’s head. I could talk with them, hear them OK, but the vision wouldn’t stop, and it was scaring me. My mother called the doctor. He said to give me soup. She heated up some soup, hers or canned, I don’t recall, but she often gave me Campbell’s’ chicken noodle when I was sick. My father kept talking to me while she was gone. He could see I was awake. He stopped telling me to wake up. I could feel concern in his voice. It was comforting, but the cone kept spinning. “I just want it to stop,” I told him. Mom came back with the soup. I ate it while sitting on their bed. After a few large spoonsful the visions cleared, and I felt fine. The soup may have diluted the paregoric, or distracted my brain. I don’t know for sure what it did, but it worked. I was fine. I went back to bed. They never mentioned it again. And the spoonsful of paregoric stopped. End of story.

 

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New Mexico Film & TV Awards

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 21, 2018

So, New Mexico has it’s own “Red Carpet” now for those who make, work and play in the movies and television shows done here. New Mexico Film Week took place in Santa Fe from Tuesday, Feb. 6 through Monday, Feb. 12. It’s a collaborative effort between the Santa Fe Film Office, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employee, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE, local 480) and others. The New Mexico Film & TV Hall of Fame honored those who have helped build the New Mexico film and television industry, along with the industry’s rising stars, at its inaugural banquet and awards ceremony on February 11th.

021118 (6)

I went to the awards as a photographer. With a long film history, the New Mexico State Film Office (NMFO) has kept track of significant movies and television shows dating back to 1898 in an online filmography. New Mexico Film and TV shows have been nominated for and won multiple awards both nationally and Internationally. This event showcased the past and present of New Mexico film and TV history through awards, video clips and speeches. The very first inductees to the state’s Hall of Fame were announced at the banquet preceding the awards. Among the inaugural honorees: Thomas Edison (who shot the very first film in New Mexico 120 years ago), New Mexico author and icon George R.R. Martin (who penned Game of Thrones and owns the Jean Cocteau Cinema), and author John Nichols’ The Milagro Beanfield War (celebrating its 30th anniversary as a film by Robert Redford).

Also inducted was 93-year-old Max Evans, who helped create the New Mexico Film Commission 50 years ago. Max Evans’ work reflects his love of New Mexico. Max wrote 30 books, including The Rounders and The Hi Lo Country, which became movies. He also wrote The Wheel, which he directed in 1973. Max Evans served in the infantry in WWII, landing in Normandy on D-Day. After that, Max became an eminent figure in the Southwest, as cowboy, rancher, miner, movie producer, and artist (selling over 300 oils)

in-my-valley-max-evans such as this.

Also awarded: “Breaking Bad” on its 10th anniversary, with the cast and crew, including Stewart Lyons, the producer who worked on the entire series. Actor R.J. Mitte, who played Walter Jr., aka Flynn, on Breaking Bad, received the first New Mexico Film and Television Hall of Fame award.

New Mexico also has its RISING STARS. Honored were Conci Althouse, cinematographer and Santa Fe native. Her recent work includes the feature documentary Land of the Free, which had it’s North American premiere at the 2017 Telluride Film Festival and earned the CPH:DOX Jury Nordic Doc Award as well as a 2018 Danish Film Academy Award nomination.

MorningStar Angeline, an award-winning actor known for Drunktown’s Finest, also from Santa Fe, can be seen in Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming 2018 series Yellowstone as Samantha Long.

Hannah Macpherson, a filmmaker from Albuquerque, created and directed the edgy thriller series T@GGED for AwesomenessTV, which premiered on Verizon’s app go90 and is available on Hulu. She just finished production on season three in New Mexico. She also wrote and directed SICKHOUSE, the first-ever, made-for-mobile, vertically-shot feature film uploaded in real-time to Snapchat, which is available on Fullscreen and iTunes.

Another Santa Fe native is two-time Oscar nominee Joshua Oppenheimer. His debut feature film, The Act of Killing (2014 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary), was named Film of the Year in 2013 by “The Guardian” and the Sight and Sound Film Poll, and won 72 international awards.

At the awards ceremony I spotted tribal police chief Mathias from the television series Longmire, Zahn McClarnon, a Native American Lakota-Irish actor. He also played Hanzee Dent in the television series Fargo. You  may also have seen him on Into the West, Repo Chick, and The Red Road.

Seen and photographed: Imogene Hughes, of Bonanza Creek Film Locations, who was interviewed during the awards banquet. Bonanza Creek Ranch has been used as a backdrop for movies starting with The Man From Laramie in 1955 and Cowboy in 1958. Empire, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Easy Rider were filmed during the 1960s, while The Cheyenne Social Club, Powderkeg and The Cowboys were three of five movies filmed in the 1970s. Wild Times, The Legend of the Lone Ranger and Time Rider: The Adventures of Lyle Swan started off the 1980s which became even busier once Bonanza Creek owner Glenn Hughes partnered with wife Imogene. Her first dealings in the filming business were with Columbia Pictures and a project called Silverado. Together they worked with eight more projects, including the Lonesome Dove television series.

But, without further ado, here are some of my photos of honorees and attendees:

 

Posted in Art, celebrity, current events, In front of the camera, photography | Leave a Comment »

The Nap

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 23, 2017

THE NAP

My head rolls back
against the chair
it tilts to the left.
Usually when I stand
it tilts eerily right,
but I pushed it left.

For some reason
this restricts blood
to my brain.
I awake
suddenly
with a snort.

My brain is light
not full of it
but lightheaded
not enough oxygen
I feel close to death
and I realize
how easy death is.

Right foot

I see a bare foot
in front of my face
it is my foot
as in a dream
because
in reality
my foot is clothed.

I remember a joke
drawn as a Larson cartoon
in which there are
two undertakers
in a morgue
one says:
This guy has the winning lottery ticket
in his pocket
and the other says:
Lucky stiff.

The humor is that
a ticket is a ticket
and it still has value
when one is dead
one cannot use it
but someone else can
We cannot take
anything with us
we no longer
own
anything.

But I wonder
because
there are bare feet
sticking out
from under the sheets
no pockets
all the corpses are naked
so where was the ticket?

Posted in death, humor, My Life, poem, poetry, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

T’rung, Tranh, Bau, etc. & Chatter Doors

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 6, 2017

Well, it’s been weeks since I posted. Managed to act in two short independant movies (only two lines each). Had fun. Also did background for the web series T@gged. I can be seen in one episode, since the camera shot two of the main characters directly through me and another guy for two scenes, and then we both were directly on camera in the final scene. Just worked as a data wrangler for a local 48-hour movie project that will be shown on Nov. 15 here in Albuquerque. Can’t say much or post photos of any of that just yet.

However, I did attend Sunday Chatter again. It is chamber music performed 50 Sunday mornings a year, in, currently, an antique door shop. Photos to follow. I’m glad I went, because it was a real treat, again. We were fortunate to have multiple award-winning Vietnamese immigrant Vân Ánh Võ Vân Ánh Võ perform for us. In addition to her hypnotic singing, she also performed with three traditional instruments: a Dàn T’rung, a Dàn Tranh, and a Dàn Bau. The Dàn T’rung is a bamboo instument of a varying amount of tubes, but hers has three rows of 16 bamboo tubes to replicate a full chromatic scale, consisting of three full octaves. Dàn T’rung

The Dàn Tranh is an extraordinary Vietnamese zither, a beautifully crafted instrument, with, at my count 19 strings. Dàn Tranh

There was also a single-string instrument, a Dàn Bau, another type of zither. 110317 (65) .

All of this would have been enough, but in some of her compositions she was joined by two violins, a viola, a cello, bass, flute, piano and percussion.  Did I say extraordinary already? Ah, well, it was. And the music was as beautiful as Vân Ánh Võ herself. 110317 (64) Needless to say, I was doubly enchanted.

In addition to all the music, however, Chatter always has a poet perform. This time it was Arizona native Jaclyn Roessel, a Diné (Navajo) member of several creative educational groups, an alumnus from Arizona State University, museum professional, and winner of several Jaclyn Roessel awards. 110317 (61b)

It was quite a day.  The music of Vietnam on European and Vietnamese instruments, and poetry by a Native American. Much to think about, in terms of musical variety, costly and genocidal wars, and also of rivivals in culture and pride in one’s heritage.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey

by Jaclyn Roessel

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Please remember everyone will be drawn to the vivacity of your sweetness. Take note of who loves you without wanting more than you can be. Remember, especially, the ones who know you are still growing and leave room for you to be all your beautiful forms at once, as you choose.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Watch for those whose words align so beautifully with their actions that you lose track of what is said and what is done because the lines of distinction have been erased with intention, attention and devotion.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Live your promise to be the giant of your dreams, the queen who is king, never bowing down, submitting to anything less than you deserve.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Your light can brighten the darkest places but don’t fear reaching out for a hand to hold. It’s in the darkness where touch can feel the warmest, where kisses can go deep and love of your true self can reach back into the cave within.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Remember you come from the heavens. You are not solely stardust but the core of its brightness, your shine will at times be too bright for those around you. Look for the ones who instead of walking away or turn their back on you, sit in your presence with heart-shaped sunglasses so they can continue to stand in your love light.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

You are the goodness of the nectar, the sweetness of the fruit, the genesis of the bloom…you, dearheart, are a gift, hold that truth close.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

Remember you are beautiful and are the strength of your people, your mother, her mother and her mother. You are the pulse of a bloodline that traces the circle we walk around the fire in the Hogan. You are the antidote, the medicine that cures.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

You are a vision prayed into existence, the gift to a people, the leader of the next generation, a vessel of solutions to your people’s heartache. Continue to shine your prismatic rays as you uncover the treasure in the womb of your soul.

Dear Girl-Made-of-Honey,

You are not simply a universe…your existence is the past, present and future. You are a resilient multiverse brimming with the light of millions of ancestors and descendants. So rest in the simplicity of your greatness knowing deep within you there is only complexity of the love of the people you are from.

Finally, some of the doors:

 

Posted in music, My Life, photography, poetry, race | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Four B(s): Bach, Bukowski, Becktell & Brown

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 15, 2017

bach-johann-sebastian  Charles-Bukowski  Nathan Brown  JoelBecktell

So, another inspirational Sunday morning, spent at Chatter, a weekly event feauring music and poetry, and espresso drinks and baked goodies.

Bach is Johann Sebastion Bach, a composer who began decomposing  in 1750. He produced quite a body of work, and wrote some of the best music ever. We listened to his preludes from Cello Suites 1, 2, & 3, interspersed with readings of the modern-day poet Charles Bukowski, who has been decomposing since 1994, and a  little of the poetry of Nathan Brown, who is not dead yet. The music was played on cello by Joel Becktell, also still alive.

Loved the music. Hard to believe that a cello can produce all those notes, because they did sometimes come fast and furious, but so harmonious that one has to listen carefully to notice that. The poetry rocked as well. Here’s a very famous poem of Bukowski’s:

                 so you want to be a writer?

Charles Bukowski, 1920 – 1994

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it. unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it. if you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don’t do it. if you’re doing it for money or fame, don’t do it. if you’re doing it because you want women in your bed, don’t do it. if you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don’t do it. if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it, don’t do it. if you’re trying to write like somebody else, forget about it. if you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently. if it never does roar out of you, do something else. if you first have to read it to your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your parents or to anybody at all, you’re not ready. don’t be like so many writers, don’t be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers, don’t be dull and boring and pretentious, don’t be consumed with self- love. the libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind. don’t add to that. don’t do it. unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don’t do it. unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don’t do it. when it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you. there is no other way. and there never was.

From sifting through the madness for the Word, the line, the way by Charles Bukowski. Copyright © 2003 by the Estate of Charles Bukowski.

 

We also listened to JS Bach’s preludes for Suites 4, 5, & 6. Powerful stuff, very ably performed by Mr. Joel Becktell.

On Charles Bukowski’s tombstome is written: “DON’T TRY”. That’s all it says. But it is the title of a poem by Nathan Brown, and it also became the title of a book of poems that are a collaboration of works by Nathan Brown and Jon Dee Graham.

Here is Nathan Brown’s take on “Don’t Try”:

                          To spend

even a minute pondering

what he might have meant,

Would be to ignore his advice.

Tricky bastard, that Bukowski.

So, forget about ‘im. He’s dead.

Which would also be his advice,

if ghosts were prone to giving it.

And, his epitaph does remind me

of something dad told me long ago,

right after a more upstanding

deacon stormed out of his study

at the church in a thick cloud

of righteous indignation:

Man… that guy

is gonna overshoot heaven

as sure as hell.

(from: TO SING HALLUCINATED: FIRST THOUGHTS ON LAST WORDS, by Nathan Brown, published 2015  (copyright © Nathan Brown), Mezcalita Press, LLC, Norman Oklahoma.)

It’s such a pleasant and inspiring way to spend my time, especially on a Sunday morning, when, at first I went because I had nothing better to do early on a Sunday, but now I go because there is nothing I’d rather be doing.

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Smiling Irishman

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 9, 2017

I had that appellation applied to me in high school when one of my German teachers would ask me how to say most anything in German, because I’d just grin awkwardly if I didn’t know the answer. Truth is I’ve always had a hard time with languages, but that’s neither here nor there, because that’s not what I came here to talk about today.

I suppose what I’m here to talk about is death, not that I’m that emo, or into dark gothic role playing, or angst, but it’s something that rolled across my consciousness after hearing a song by Johnny Cash called, Smiling Bill McCall, with these lyrics:

“I don’t want to be layin’ in bed
When they pronounce me dead.”

Well, that’s true enough for me. I’d rather die trying to do something, or just doing something I enjoy. Hiking up a mountain, or acting, or fucking – those are things I’d prefer to die, well, not doing, but immediately after. I do like to complete things.

Now, I probably came close to that dying-while-fucking part once. Met a woman about 35 years younger than me, and, somehow, it didn’t take us long to get into it. We were in the kitchen when she suddenly grabbed my belt and undid my pants and glommed right onto my penis, which leapt into action. I had never met a woman that aggressive about sex before, and it was amazing! So goddamned turned on! I wanted to fuck real bad, so we moved to the bedroom.

Well, she dropped herself backwards into my bed, and I helped her shuck her jeans, and I just dived into that gorgeous muff of hers, and she squealed in delight. I worked on that cunt of hers with lips and tongue, while she squirmed and wiggled. By the time I got around to putting on a condom and fucking, my penis had lost some of its stiffness, and it wasn’t doing its job. That, of course, is supremely frustrating, especially when you’re hot for a woman who’s hot for you to fuck her. Now, since I’d been divorced about five years, I also hadn’t had sex, with another person, for that long,  so I wasn’t expecting that.

I went to the doctor and got some of the blue pills, and he said I’d probably only need half a dose, and he was right. I was afraid I couldn’t entice that young woman back into bed with me, but I called her and she was still eager. I’ll never know if I really needed ’em or not, but I had an erection that just kept keepin’ on, and not long after we’d stop for air, we’d go back at it again. Well, that was fine, and we kept at it for two years like that. I kept popping the blue pills because I was afraid to disappoint her or myself, and we could fuck and drink for days at a time.

Now one fine time, after we’d gotten started early on a Saturday night and spent most of Sunday morning fucking as well, I had to take her home, so I could go run the winery I worked at part time. The next day, Monday morning, I picked up my stepdaughter to get her to work, and then donated a pint of whole blood, and, since they tell you to follow that up with a big meal, I stopped at a buffet, for a breakfast of chorizo and bacon and eggs to replenish my iron-depleted blood, and a syrup-laden waffle, and half a plate of fruit. Went home, played around on my computer, dug through tons of spam to read my emails, and read part of a book. I began feeling strange, and there was a strange pressure in my chest, and to make a long story, that I’ve already talked about, short, I proceeded to get myself to a hospital and had my obligatory American-style old-man heart attack while surrounded by doctors and nurses and technicians in an operating room.

One of the questions they’d asked was if I’d had sex recently. I told them I had. Later on I found out that those oblong blue pills were implemented in some heart attacks, but that didn’t stop me from using ’em again as soon as I saw that lover of mine. We got right back into our routine, since I felt great, better than I had for years, and the blue pills weren’t necessary any more. However, the whole heart-attack thing had bothered her, and since she had never planned for us to be a regular item, it didn’t surprise me that one day she said goodbye, and then left town not long after that. Maybe she just didn’t want to kill me, but I’d have gladly died fucking her.

So, where the hell was I? Oh, yeah, death. Fucking is one way to go, or falling off a mountain – things like that. But I suppose I might have another heart attack some day, and I suppose I might be riding my iron horse, the one with two wheels, 750cc engine, four carburetors, and four tailpipes. I do like riding that thing, and I like getting it up to speed. It’s old too, but the engine purrs when it feels like starting up.

So, where I’d been going with the whole random line of thought was this: if I’m riding along on my motorcycle some day, and I feel a bad, painful, I’m-probably-not-going-to-survive-this heart attack coming on, I’m not going to pull over and die on the side of the road, or in an ambulance cruising to a hospital, or in a hospital bed. I say this because, just in case it happens that I die blowing on down the highway, and they say I was doing 250mph, it wasn’t suicide, or stupidity. I was just going out, and having fun while I was doing it. But I’m pretty sure I’d rather have been fucking.    irishsmiley

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More About Fim Fish From Beyond

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 28, 2017

A little while back I wrote about Renaissance man Jim Fish, who died a few days after his 68th birthday, while hiking back down a mountain he had just climbed in the New Mexico wilderness. He was a poet, among other things.

Recently on the grounds of the winery he started, I met several other people, two of whom had a nice long truck, and a trenching machine known around here as a ditch witch. It was handy. We had to tear down a solidly built shed, one that had been built to last. I took a few swings at it with a sledge hammer, and only removed a few wooden shelf braces and some upper storage shelving. To take this thing down would have taken all of us working hard all day, and we still had to load it all on the truck. But, the ditch witch made much shorter work of that shed.

You see, after Jim’s death, we had to clean up around there. This shed had held many of Jim’s personal items: old papers, maps, camping gear, antlers, pieces of wood for carving, etc. and etc. Unfortunately, our local desert rats, or pack rats, had moved in. They pissed and shit everywhere. The mixture has the consistency of hardened epoxy. Really. You have to chip it away. It was all over everything, along with all the bits and pieces they drag into their nests. One idea was to just torch the building, but we decided it was better, and more in keeping with local fire ordinances, to just tear it down. It still took roughly 6 hours of hard work, but we got it down, and hauled away.

During the process, I found some old cards Jim had printed up, and sent out to friends many years ago. He was already into the poetry, so each had a poem, and a photo of Jim’s of New Mexico, where he lived. I had read several of Jim’s poetry books, but not all of them, so I’d never seen these poems, and I don’t even know if they were published in book form.  I scanned and cleaned the four cards up a bit digitally, and I’m posting them here, because they are good, and to give others an idea of what he was like. Those are his horses in the second photo image; they are off in the high New Mexico countryside now, just grazing and keeping an eye out for cougars. Jim took a lot of photos of bears over the years, but, as you can see, not this particular one (fourth photo image). He probably made a card each year, but the only ones I found were from 1982, 1983, 1987, and 1988.

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A Dream About Art?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 23, 2017

So this morning I had a dream in which I was at an art gallery. I found a sculpture I liked and bought it, for $750. Oddly specific there, that price. Of course price is very important. I couldn’t afford to buy a piece of art for $750 right now.

There was something familiar about the piece. It was a piece of carved wood, shaped like a distorted ellipse, with one part narrower than the other, as though it was what was left of an ovoid after cutting out the center and leaving just a two-dimensional outline of the ovoid. The smaller end was pointed down. There was a piece of wood hanging in the center of the piece also. As I was admiring it, the recently deceased winemaker/sculptor/writer/poet/skier Jim Fish appeared next to it. He looked at me, as if to say, that looks familiar. And indeed, it really did resemble the wood sculptures he used to make; it was even mounted on a stone base, just as he used to do. In fact, I couldn’t tell the difference, but I felt I hadn’t bought it from Jimmie the Fish.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA   042311 (17)

In the meantime, he had reassembled the sculpture I had just bought, and even added pieces from a disassembled sculpture of his. It now resembled a three-dimensional rectangle, and it was ugly. I tried to restore it to its original appearance, but I found it difficult to do so. Suddenly, within the dream, I had the epiphany that it really did matter how such sculptures were oriented in space, and how they were mounted. Jim Fish’s sculptures always seemed random to me, and I had often joked about using them for firewood on frigid winter mornings at the winery when we had nothing else to put into the fireplace. I would have mentioned that epiphany to Jim, but he was no longer there. I wanted him to put my newly acquired sculpture back together, but he had left his smaller sculpture there as well. For some reason I tried putting a small piece of his sculpture in place of the small piece in mine, but I couldn’t make it work.

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And then, of course, I was fully awake. Would I spend money on a sculpture? Possibly, but I already know I have no space for it here. There are photos and paintings and posters all over my walls, and one wall is all overstuffed bookcases. Another wall has my vinyl records, music CDs, old cassettes, TV, and my stereo system. With my regular furniture: a stuffed chair, a faux-leather chair, my small wooden kitchen table and chairs, my desk, and my bed and bureau,  I’ve used up all the corners and the rest of the space.

Nevertheless, it occurs to me that I wish I did have one of Jim’s sculptures.

 

All of his sculptures have been removed from the winery. They are temporarily stored in the studio of a painter friend of Jim’s. The plan, from what I heard, is to put Jim’s sculptures into a gallery. I remember wondering how whoever reassembles them will know how to do so, like what wood piece goes on what base, and how each piece is mounted. After a little time goes by, it may be difficult to remember how everything goes. Hell, it may be impossible to know what wood each piece is carved from. There’s apricot, acacia, piñon and cherry, for example, and damned if I know which is which without Jim’s little titles and descriptions. His small, plastic-coated cards were always blowing off the sculptures, and I was forever picking them up off the winery’s floor when I was cleaning. Only Jim really knew what was what for certain.

 

So, I see my dream was not so much about art in general, but really about Jim Fish and his sculptures. I will have to help with those sculptures if they ever make it into galleries. After 17 years of looking at each new one Jim added, and seven years of putting the little cards back on each one, I should have some idea what each one is.

This one  IMG_3286  was always “Not For Sale”. However, so many people pestered Jim to buy it, insisting that everything has a price, that he finally put a price on it: $10,000. After that, he got no more offers. I like it a lot.

Some more views:

 

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Monster

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 16, 2017

I watched a movie last night. It is titled: A Monster CallsA_Monster_Calls It is an adaptation of a children’s tale. It is also very intense and far too real to be just a tale. A boy’s mother is dying of cancer. He wants to believe she will recover, but knows she will not. The movie is pretty much about him, those expectations, and how he deals with them. The story has elements of fantasy, and some beautiful animation of the brilliant watercolor illustrations I expect are from the book. I enjoyed it, and, yes my eyes teared, my throat constricted and tears did indeed run down my cheek. Highly recommend, for all ages.

It got me thinking about many things, death among them, and the love I have for my stepdaughter Maya. Her struggle with cancer made me realize that I loved her, and that I didn’t want her to die. Is that selfish? I imagined it would be impossible to live without her. I imagined I would die if she died. Unlike the aforementioned movie, however, my hopes were realized and she did not die. It was the most wonderful thing I ever experienced. I felt real joy, for the first time ever. As time went on, I realized I loved her fiercely, more than anyone I’ve ever known. At first, I wondered if I felt that way chiefly because she almost died. But, I came to understand that it was the possibility that she might die that opened my eyes to my love for her. I believe I really love her, because I want the best for her. I want her to be happy. I want her to live a full life, for her, not for me. I want her to live many, many years after I’m gone. I think that is really what love is, when you care about someone you love, and wish for their happiness, regardless of your relationship, or if you live together, or even if you never see them again.

She was still quite young when I met her. I dated her mom Linda for four years, then married Linda and lived with her, and Maya, and her brother Noah. I was part of a family. It was the second time for me, and I wanted to make sure it worked out better than the first time I had tried that. I never became close with Noah, but I liked him a lot. Maya and I seemed to become friends. We only ever had one argument as I recall. It was my fault and mostly a misunderstanding, and we talked about it right away, and resolved it and I apologized for what she thought was anger on my part. When she started college, which was the same place I worked, we often met for lunch.

After both of Linda’s children, Maya and Noah, had moved out, Linda and I had the place to ourselves. She had big plans for the house, including an addition, a new roof, and many other things. I accomplished most of it before I had to leave. Fortunately, Maya and I remained on good terms after that divorce. We work together at times, bottling and labeling or selling wines. We’ve been to many wine festivals, and have helped keep a unique winery running. It is always a joy for me to see Maya, and work together, or go to dinner for holidays and birthdays. It makes me happy too, when she travels or has good times with her friends. I love her very much.

Maya’s death would have crushed me entirely. The interesting thing, to me, is that a lot of people died when I was young, and I felt no loss. There were some great-aunts that I didn’t know, so that was understandable. In second grade a classmate died, choked on a glass of water. I was shocked to hear of it, but I didn’t know him personally. A cousin died very young after that, and I felt sad for my aunt and uncle, but my cousin’s death did not touch me. One by one, my grandfathers died. I was an altar boy at both of their funerals. I never knew my paternal grandfather well. I believe I only ever had one conversation with him, one that I remember well, but I felt no grief. My mother’s father came to live with us for a short time before he died. I enjoyed having him there, but again, I don’t recall any grief when he died. I remember thinking how odd it was that he had spent so much time in a veterans’ hospital, which is often where my parents would go to visit him when I was very young. Then he seemed so healthy when he stayed with us that I was quite surprised when he died. I did not feel grief; was I a monster?

The one person I missed greatly, and had loved was my father. My parents had divorced while still raising the four youngest. As an adult, his death left me confused. I didn’t know what to feel when I got the phone call. We had not stayed in touch after I left home. Our relationship had gone downhill before I left. I had gone to see him before he’d died, but we did not speak of anything substantial, and that seemed bittersweet in retrospect, because there is much I’d have liked to talk with him about. I wasn’t going to attend his funeral, because I had just been to see him, and I felt that was better than seeing him dead. And, as well, I really couldn’t afford to fly that far again. However, when I sat down to write a letter to my brothers and sisters, explaining why I wasn’t coming, I broke into tears, and sobbed. I felt awful. I was overcome with grief, and decided to travel anyway, just to be with family. I missed the funeral itself, but arrived in time for the wake, and I felt much better among my relatives, even laughed with cousins I had not seen in decades.

Then my godfather Fred, a close cousin of my mother, died. The two of them had grown up together. Fred, aka Fritz, would visit us three nights a week after he left the bar he worked at. He usually brought us kids a treat, chocolate, or even packets of clay, leftovers from when he was a typesetter. Loved playing with the clay. Loved the chocolate. Fred helped my mother out, painting, lending her money for groceries, or especially putting up the Christmas garden, with the trains and houses, and the paper mountains tacked up on the wall around the raised wooden platform that held the little village. As a GI, he had fought in Germany against the Nazis, and brought back a toy-soldier marching band from the basement of a burned-out house in Germany.  It always marched across our village, despite the swastikas on the band’s uniforms and flag, and the little guy in front with the small mustache and raised arm salute. I remember thinking, despite Fred’s racial prejudices and those other eccentricities, that the world had lost a good man. I did not feel grief, but he had been and is still on my mind quite often.

Then again, I was reminded of my father’s death when the heart and soul of our winery, Jim Fish, died suddenly. I did feel that same grief again. He was like a father in some ways, and a mentor, and a friend. I learned a lot from him, and worked with him making wine for seven years. His death was a great painful loss to me. I loved him.

What has always kept me going is that I still have my three sisters and three brothers. We’re getting old, but still hanging in there. Even my mother, at 86, is still alive and kicking. I’ve always felt I loved my brothers and sisters more than anyone in the world, but I have to add Maya to that mix now. She is family, and more than that to me.

My love for her is unlike that I’ve felt for anyone ever in my life. To keep her alive I would gladly give my last ounce of blood. It’s seems strange sometimes, to realize that I care about someone so much. I thought I had loved others before, but never have I had this depth of feeling for someone. I admire her too. I admire her strength in coping with brain cancer. I admire her intelligence, and her continuing efforts to learn and advance herself in the world. I admire the way she cares about her friends. I admire the way she cuts off and donates her hair every year to Locks of Love. She wore a wig herself after losing her hair twice to chemotherapy and radiation treatments, so she continues to give back. I admire her for starting an organization to help people get back into school after having had to drop out due to cancer or other medical reasons. I admire her independence and fighting spirit. But mostly, I think, I just love her.

Sometimes, imperfect as I am, I think perhaps I’m not as bad a monster as I thought I was.

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Another Month Begins; Not Bored Yet!

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 6, 2017

Last month wasn’t very busy. I was paid to work as a background actor on the TV series Graves, just once, and I worked a few hours on a local independent film for no pay. I only hiked three times. I took a weekend acting class. I had an audition – no word on that. There was a shareholder’s meeting, at the 21-year-old winery I have been working at for the last seven years, to try to figure out what to do next after the death of our founder. I had a CT SCAN/angiogram on my heart with a fancy new machine that looked like a giant metal donut. I left a bit woozy from the drug and the scan. I saw my new heart doctor for the results, and I had a pre-exam for my upcoming annual health checkup. The culmination of July was an acting gig for a 48-Hour Movie project, which is part of an international competition among people who make a short movie in 48 hours from start to finish, including all editing, and that led to two events in August.

Director

That’s me (in hat, sunglasses, scarf) as a fake director for the movie within the movie

So August started rolling right away on the 1st, with a day at the winery netting grapes to keep the birds from eating them. We’re keeping the winery going for now. Anyone want to buy a winery? I think that’ll happen soon. I got the see the 48-Hour movie we made on Thursday August 3rd, along with 13 other shorts, out of 41 total. I decided to celebrate with my fellow Group A participants at local brewery Sidetrack, getting a shrimp po’ boy to eat from Crazy Daves’ food truck outside (to balance the two pints of heavy beer). Since the second group of short movies (Group B) finished while we were there, a few of us wandered over to Boese Brothers Brewery nearby for their after party, and I had another beer. A late night, and it cost quite a few bucks, but it was fun.

CCG movie 2017

The Casting Coffee Group who made the movie

Saturday the 5th, there was a meeting of group I’m part of that made the 48-Hour movie. We’re certain we’ve won several awards, but we won’t know until August 18.

After that, I went to the 11th Annual Gala of the Guerrilla Photo Group, a wonderful collection of photographers, models and makeup people, who not only improved my photography skills, but introduced me to the local movie-making scene. There were lots of friends there, a dozen sexy models, lots of photos to view and to vote on as a favorite. My favorite was of a wonderfully sexy teacher/poet with a book centered firmly between her thighs, but it was already sold.

Had another beer at the Albuquerque Press Club’s bar, so I also visited the Pink Ladies’ food truck for a fantastic carne adovada burrito.

Today it was back to Sunday Chatter, the weekly Sunday morning music concert. This one was not as wildly fantastic as the last one I wrote about, but it was nice. A husband and wife duo played music for cello and guitar that they had rearranged from traditional presentations. An orchestral piece by Gabriel Fauré still sounded damn good for just cello and guitar. Four of Johann Sebastian Bach’s works for harpsichord were recreated by having the guitar play the notes for one hand, and the cello play the notes for the other hand. (No. 8 in F Major, No. 10 in G Major, No. 6 in E Major, and No. 13 in A Minor). Fun!

There followed a piece from Oliver Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time”, but of course, only performed on two instruments. And there was “Allegretto Comodo” by Radames Gnattali, and “Reflexoes No. 6” by Jaime Zenamon. The duo is called Boyd Meets Girl, and they’ve just released a CD of their arrangements.

Boyd-Metcalf

Laura Metcalf and Rupert Boyd

There was some great cornbread too: blue corn meal, corn, cheese, and chile, blue corn two pieces of which I scarfed down with my freshly espressed caffè americanoamericano

25 days still to go in the month of August!

Doctor’s appointment tomorrow morning, and a movie audition in the afternoon. More netting of grapes at the winery on Tuesday, and another shareholder’s meeting next Sunday. Hopefully I’ll have news of our 7-minute movie being wildly successful on the 18th. But, for now, the rest of the calendar for August is empty.

 

 

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Another Extrordinary Sunday

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 25, 2017

beethoven  espresso

My favorite Sunday morning activity is “Chatter” at Las Puertas in Albuquerque, formerly known as Church of Beethoven. The music is always different, but along the lines of chamber, symphonic, and other orchestral works; they are sometimes from centuries past or they could be more recent. It is always fascinating and enjoyable. And, being able to enjoy freshly espressed coffee is an integral part of the fascination.

My mind sometimes drifts along during the concert, and today was no exception. After hearing the poet in mid-concert, and during the two minutes of silence before the next musical performance, I was thinking about writing, probably a poem, but at least writing down a (time wise) back and forth monologue, hitting memories that bounce around in my head, a place where time is fluid. Such was briefly my plan for when I would arrive home.

Howsoever, as much as I had enjoyed the music from the first performance, which was a beautiful sextet by Richard Straus (Opus 85), played with passion and virtuosity, I was astounded by the second half of the program: string sextet No. 1 in B-flat major (Opus 18) by Johannes Brahms. Notwithstanding that there were no horns 😀, only six stringed instruments, I was blown away.

Our local trio of musicians (David Felberg on violin, Shanti Randall on viola, & James Holland on cello) were paired up with three members of the Sybarite-5 group out of New York: Sarah Whitney, a tall, dark, passionate violinist, Angela Pickett, tightly focused on viola, and Laura Metcalf, colorfully dressed, exhibiting high intensity on cello. I noticed, or seemed to, that the women showed more emotion while playing. Whitney, although tightly focused on her music, seemed ready to cry at times, as though a sad memory kept threatening to burst though, but sometimes a smile would appear. Pickett was less expressive, but she did smile at the end of each piece. Metcalf was so intense it was entirely palpable from where I sat; I did not see as much emotion on her face as Whitney, but she was clearly enjoying herself, and satisfied with what she was playing.

Sybarite women

Whitney, Metcalf, and Pickett

The men, well, the men were just as focused, expert, and intense, but I never saw a sign of any emotion cross their faces. An odd thing to notice. It was curious, but not important to the concert. I briefly wondered if female musicians are able to multitask memories, emotions and intense playing of music, more so than male musicians who are focused on getting ‘er done right?

At any rate, the Chatter/Sybarite Mash-up was intense and electrifying.  I was nearly jerked around in my seat by the changes in intensity. The music would swell and fade, and change and pop, and reverberate in my head while the musicians gave us their all. The symbiosis of these six expertly played instruments was intensely pleasurable. I’ve heard amazing things at Chatter Sunday before, but this, this just blew me away. Nor was I alone: applause is usually reserved for the end of a particular piece, no matter the stops between movements, but the four parts of the Brahms string sextet each received applause from those who could not hold back until the end. When the concert was concluded, people jumped to their feet with thunderous applause. It was not the usual sort of slow rising by a few, then more, then all; everyone jumped to their feet as the last note fell away.

I like many types of music, as long as it is played with passion. The Chatter musicians and members of Sybarite did not disappoint. They played their hearts out, and gave all of us there assembled an uplifting start to what would have to be a great day.

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Jim Fish, Renaissance Man

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 6, 2017

Found out that Jim Fish died last evening. Collapsed up on a mountain where he’d been hiking, but I’m sure glad he was able to have that experience as one of his last.  His nephew was also with him, and they were good buddies.

Jim Fish was originally from a ranch in Texas, and loved his horses, and the outdoors. horses from summer camp He was also a retired chemical engineer, had once worked for the Sandia National Laboratories on nuclear safety. He was concerned about the destruction possible with a core meltdown, and came up a way to reinforce nuclear plants so they wouldn’t melt into the ground, but his superiors didn’t want to implement the solution, due to cost concerns. Jim took an early retirement from the labs.

He lived in Placitas, New Mexico on Camino de los Pueblitos. After retirement, not knowing exactly what he was going to do, he one day looked around the village, and lamented the waste of fruit, like apricots, plums and peaches, that grow in profusion all over Placitas and don’t get used.

He decided to try making wine from those fruits. Over the years he made wine from all the fruits that grow in this part of the country, including a few grapes, and he even made wine from cranberries he had to buy from the Ocean Spray company, because they sure as hell don’t grow around here. Cranberry It was, as he often said, “A hobby that got out of control.” He eventually built a structure and opened a winery to share these wines with people. He never got rich. In fact, the early retirement from Sandia labs meant his retirement pay was delayed until just a few years back. Jim turned 68 a few days ago.

Jim loved to ski, and in fact, had skied this past winter, despite a bad knee resulting from an injury a little while back. He got a brace for his knee, and skied, he said, the best days he ever had in his life with that brace on. Besides writing books on hiking and the local geology, he recently self-published a book on skiing, titled Dancing The Snow, (A Guide to Skiing for Old Men). It is full of detailed descriptions of trails, techniques, tips, photos and anecdotes. He also wrote poetry all the time, and published a number of poetry books. Poetry occurred often at the winery. There were poets who came from all over as part of the Duende Poetry series, and poetry continued after that series ended. Jim also carved and polished old pieces of “found” wood into fantastic sculptures mounted on large stones and rocks. His sculptures appeared all over the winery, and live in quite a few homes.

While the wines are numerous and often fantastic, like the Wild Cherry wine, and Chokecherry wine, and Synaesthesia – a three-grape wine fermented in three stages – the winery hosted many events besides poetry. Belly dancing is a regular event. Food-wine-pairing dinners is another, as well as wildlife presentations, and community meetings, and political events. Placitas is a very old village, yet still very small. There is one very old church and one newer one, and one school. There are no stores or gas stations in the old village. The closest store or restaurant is about 3.5 miles down NM Highway 165. The Spanish moved in centuries ago, but Native Americans lived there for thousands of years, growing corn, and hunting, as is evidenced by the petroglyphs: designs etched into rocks found all over Placitas, featuring corn stalks, and animals of all types, like cougars snakes and turkeys. In the Southwestern USA, the original inhabitants are known to their modern-day descendents as the Anasazi, or “the ones who went before,” so Jim called his winery: Anasazi Fields Winery.

Jim was a friend to all he met. He encouraged young people to work at the winery, and hoped one day to turn it over to a younger group. Then he would just sit and watch and drink old wines. Jim loved his wines, growing the grapes and other fruits without fetilizers or pesticides. He found ways to improve them using old European techniques of slow, cool, sugar-starved fermentation, without chemicals or preservatives. In fact, using the whole fruit as part of the fermentation, he found that the fruits’ natural preservatives and antioxidants kept the wines good for three weeks or longer after a bottle was opened! (Longer if kept in a dark and cool place).

Some of the wines that have survived from the early days, in 1995, 1996, etc. have cellared very well, and it’s always a treat to open one of those. It is difficult to keep wines around there long, as they sell very well, even when Jim had to raise prices to keep the winery in operation. He has a special wine, that one I mentioned called Synaesthesia, that ended up selling for $125/bottle, and no matter what the price, it always sold out. Fortunately, most of the fruit wines are priced far lower than that! Sounds like Jim would have gotten rich, but there are few grapes growing here, and late frosts, birds, wasps, and even bears took their share of those. He always said that he made a grape wine just to prove to his fellow vintners that he could. In fact, using grapes from other vintners, and his own techniques, Jim was able to make those wines taste even better. He liked that a lot.

There’s so much I could tell you about Jim Fish. He was an amazing man. Much of the wine sold was sold through his personal attention to customers, and through the stories he’d tell. He loved to talk about the wines, and skiing, and trails and mountains. He loved to introduce people to the fruit wines, and see their reactions when they paired something like an old tawny-colored and intense apricot wine with venison, or salmon, or blackened tuna. I was amazed to see how much fruitier the wine seemed, and how much better meat or cheese tastes with a complementary wine.

I don’t know what will happen to the winery now. We’ve all learned a lot about winemaking, and we have a lot of stock, so I’d imagine we’ll stay in business, for now. There are around four-dozen partners who have invested time or money into the winery; perhaps they’ll want to sell it. That was always the long-range goal. It won’t be the same without Jim Fish, without that boundless enthusiasm of his, his optimism, and his stories. Perhaps, in his memory, we’ll be able to keep it going.

I met my step-daughter Maya and her friend Jennifer today near the village, at the Placitas Cafe down the road towards I-25. Placitas Cafe They both had worked at the winery, helping to bottle, label, and sell the wines. When they found out about Jim’s death, they were thrown for a loop, so they drove out there from Albuquerque. We sat for hours talking about Jim, with tears in our eyes, and sadness in our hearts. We tried to focus on Jim’s friendliness and great heart, and not be sad, but it is too soon. I can barely write about him without an overarching melancholia. I have too few friends and family that I care about so much, and losing someone like Jim is gut wrenching. You never know how much you care about someone until they’re near death or gone.

So, I keep trying to say good bye to Jim in this post, but I can hardly type. I know I’ll feel better in a while. After all, Jim Fish made me smile, and I always enjoyed making wine with him. He was passionate about his life, whether it was winemaking, hiking, camping, hunting, wood-carving, or poetry. When I found myself retired, divorced, and aimless, Mr. Fish added some hard work to my life, giving me a new-found appreciation for wine-making, farming, a caring kind of entrepreneurship, and friendship.

https://www.afterlife.co/us/obituary-placitas-jim-fish-3630872

Posted in friends, Life, opinion, wine | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

This is what covfefe means:

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 2, 2017

OK, so the President of the United Sates posted this tweet: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” Shortly after this, he posted another tweet, AFTER deleting the first: “Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!”

In context, you see that the word would have been “coverage”, which, when refering to press coverage, is something Trump hates. He has often said the press makes issues out of nothing, and he really, really hates any kind of bad press resulting from something he has said or done, even when it is 100% true. That said, Trump did not correct the tweet; he instead told us to: “Figure it out.” Now, cov is basically a short form of coverage, shortened deliberately, because Trump wanted to add another word. Unfortunately, he didn’t spell it exactly right, but if you seperate cov from the word, you get fefe. Now, fee fee can be used to mean, “a party”.

However, an actual Fee Fee is a masturbation device, (a rolled towel with a rubber glove) that is used by prisoners. After being rolled, the end of the glove is then stretched over the top. Then it is finished by pulling a sock over the opposing end to hold the glove in place. Can then be run under warm water or placed in between mattresses to create a “real life” effect.  Fee Fee

It is a fairly common word. Used with cov, in context with press coverage, it refers to the press basically playing with themselves – making up stories where there are none, basically: creating a story they can play with for their own enjoyment (masturbating).

Now, you may think I’m just making this shit up, but I am not. If Trump had merely mistyped coverage – although I think it is difficult to type “fefe” instead of “erage” – he wouldn’t have deleted it so fast. He may have simply retyped the correct word, or said something to the effect of: “You know what I meant.” He did not. Why? because a popular understanding of the slang word he attempted to use would have brought negative criticism of a President using foul language. Even just the idea of a Fee Fee would gross a lot of people out.

I will bet you, with 100% confidence, that press coverage-fee fee is what Trump meant, as an off-color jab at the Press.

Posted in current events, madness, opinion, politics, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

I was wrong about wine most of my life

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 24, 2017

I decided to respond to a Quora question:”What have you assumed was exaggerated until you experienced it?” since I’ve been working in a winery for seven years, cleaning ditches, weeding, picking fruit, fermenting fruit, pumping, filtering, bottling, labeling and selling wine. I wrote:

Well, lots of things, really, throughout my whole life, but I’m going to just focus on wine. Most of us, especially when young, make fun of all that wine tasting stuff, like swirling the glass, or sniffing the “bouquet”, and can’t figure out what wine goes with what food, often resorting to anyone else’s recommendation, but always feeling like it doesn’t really make any difference: wine is wine. I thought the whole thing was made up or grossly exaggerated. Which is not to say there really aren’t posers who do not know what they are talking about, or try to impress, regardless of how much or little they actually know.

Anyway, I found out many things when I began working at a winery, and actually making wine, and not just grape wine, but wine made from cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, apples, blackberries, raspberries, and even cranberries, among many others. Only wine grapes don’t need any additions of sugar to ferment, having a high enough sugar content to make a strong alcoholic beverage. But, by adding sugar, slowly, incrementally, to fruit, any fruit, you can make damn fine wines too.

I say this because I would not have learned as much from a few grape wines as I have from fruit wines. Yes, it does make a big – a huge difference – what wine you have with your meal. If you’re just drinking wine to get drunk, or impress people, it doesn’t matter much what you drink. Fruit juice with distilled alcohol will do.

However, one of the first things I learned is that wines to be paired with food need to be dry, that is, without sugar. If all the sugar is converted to alcohol, you get a very superior wine. It can take quite a while to do that, but it’s worth it. Drinking a sweet wine coats your tongue with sugar and makes tasting anything else difficult: the fine flavors of food can be masked by sugar. And, dry doesn’t mean bland or high in alcohol content; dry table wines can be very fruity and complex with layers of flavors.

But, even drinking dry wines with food takes a little bit of consideration. A very light-tasting food needs a light-tasting wine. White wine with chicken or fish, sure, but not if the chicken is heavily spiced, or the fish is something like salmon. But, a strong grape wine, like a cabernet sauvignon, will completely overpower the taste of some milder foods. Drink them with red meats like buffalo, for sure.

Very strong-flavored foods need a strong-flavored wine. A rich-tasting wine will complement the salmon you’re eating, neither taking away the flavor of the food, nor being overpowered by it. In our winery we have an apricot wine, served by itself or blended with a white grape wine, that we use for things like salmon, blackened tuna, or aged cheeses. For really strong, pungent cheese, we recommend that or a 100% peach wine.

When it comes to spicy food, we recommend a red grape wine blended with wild cherry wine, the pure wild cherry wine itself, or plum wines. The plum is particularly great with curried foods.

For meats that same red wine/ wild cherry wine mix works great, or other all-fruit wines we blend.

Now, none of this is to convert you to fruit wines other than grapes. There are some really great grape wines. It is just to illustrate the point that you have to experiment with wines to see what foods they complement. (I used to only drink whites like chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sémillon or pinot grigio. Now I can finally appreciate red wines, even cabs.) I hated the intense pure apricot wine until I tried it with venison; suddenly the apricot flavor jumped out at me, and the heavy gaminess of the meat was toned down. I don’t like blue cheese, or any of the moldy-looking strong cheeses, but I tried them with this powerful peach wine, and suddenly I could appreciate the flavor of the cheeses, and the wine. This happens at some level with all wines. If you can’t taste the wine after a few bites of your food, or if you can’t taste your food after a few sips of wine, it’s not the best experience.

Another thing I learned is that the whole point of wine, from the very beginning of The Grapes of Wine viticulture, was to accompany food. It can heighten the flavors in your food, making the meal a real joy, which makes you feel pretty good, compliment the chef, and smile. As long as you don’t overindulge in the dinner wine, you will be able to enjoy your wine and your food, and not actually feel drunk. Drink some water too along with your meal. The water and the wine help your digestion. Sweet wine? – after your meal. And maybe have it with a little dessert too, yeah?

 

Posted in food, My Life, Random Thoughts, wine | Leave a Comment »

Musings on Unclaimed Relationships & Utter Things

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 19, 2017

I read some poetry today that reminded me how so many people feel sad because someone they loved is gone, either through the end of a relationship or death. That is sad indeed, although an old relationships can often be rekindled, even though at a certain point in time it doesn’t seem possible. People seem to not know that, or ignore it, or conveniently forget it.

I don’t forget it. Sometimes that has happened to me. I remember how terrible it felt at times, but I no longer feel that way, about the relationships, or the two marriages, or my father’s death, or even my godfather’s death, although I still miss my favorite cat ever, and even though I accepted that he was dead, I suspect he is still alive, having seen what I’m pretty sure was that cat, with a new collar and tag a few miles from here.

I can’t go get the cat, even if I could find him, because I have a new cat, and another cat besides, and the fighting would be bad, and three cats is just too much. I am deeply saddened by not having that cat around, and knowing that with some effort, I might be able to reclaim him. But, that is somewhat like what this post is actually about: unclaimed relationships, not with cats, but with people.

I live alone, save for the cats. It could be otherwise. An old girlfriend from many years ago ended up single, and available for friendship or living together. And even though I used to think that I would jump at that, I don’t want to. For one thing, she is quite batty, with a house overrun by cats, and sometimes a dog or two, and bizarre off-the-deep-end beliefs which she will force on anyone and everyone, but also because I like living alone.

She is not the only woman I’ve met since my last divorce. An old girlfriend actually lived in this same housing complex when I moved in ten years ago. We often met at the mailbox kiosk. Once I met her walking her dog along the ditch that runs just behind these houses, and went to a mutual friend’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. It was nice. Next time I saw she she gave me a big smile, but we never hung out. She taught at a technical/vocational community college, and she worked at the nearby bookstore, so I often saw her there. But, I didn’t feel any sparks. I remembered that the sex had been nice. We attended another Thanksgiving dinner the next year, but then not again. She eventually quit the bookstore, and moved away, though I did visit her in her new place a couple times.

Not too long ago, a much younger woman gave me a couple of years of extreme pleasure, but insisted I not fall in love with her because we were friends only, with benefits. I was a bit sad about that, because I would certainly have married her, and not just for the sex, although that would have been a pretty compelling reason, but because she and I enjoyed each other’s company, sharing meals, watching movies, and even having drinking games during movies. The pleasure of snuggling up with her between bouts of sex was heavenly. She finally moved away. Contacted her and she wanted me to visit, but then changed her mind. Such is life.

I wasn’t as sad about that as I’ve been about other relationships, because she warned me from the first to not fall in love with her, and would get quite upset if she thought I was drifting that way. So, it never came as a shock, nor depressed me beyond my normal state of living life a bit less than to the fullest.

It’s not like I don’t still meet women. Being involved with the TV & movie industry in New Mexico, both in front of a camera, and behind the scenes, I meet a lot of woman, and there are possibilities there. But I don’t pursue them. There’s something about leaving things as they are that suits me. Beside the acting and crew work, I hike the mountains around here. I read a lot. I eat what I want, sleep when I want, watch TV or not watch TV. I’ve a friend I watch Netflix rental movies with once a week.

I work at a winery,

040616 (4) 072810 (8) watering, weeding, picking fruit, pumping and filtering, bottling and labeling about a thousand or more gallons of fruit wine every year. I don’t make any money at it, but it sure keeps some of my “free” time occupied.

I buy lots of things online, mostly books, and graphic novels, and I resell them. (Terry’s Books) I have a diverse coin collection:

I also take photos of the landscape around here, and sometimes I sell one, in a shop, or by hanging them at the winery.  091616-147

IRS I owe the I.R.S. way too much money every year, so I think I’m doing my part to prop up the U.S. economy.

But, let me tell you, it all doesn’t seem to mean much. It’s not that I think there’s more to life, or need a reason for life, or worry about the meaning of life. I don’t think life has much meaning, except what we each want it to mean. Sometimes though, I remember what it was like to share my everyday life with someone, sleep next to them each night, and wake up with them.

I do miss that, in somewhat the same way I miss my cat. Not the same thing of course. Even having cats leaves me feeling lonely and miserable at times.

Nowadays, I accept that I am just going to be living this way. It’s easier for a misanthrope to live alone. I suppose I don’t really dislike all people so much as I like being a recluse and not having to deal with other people.

And then again, sometimes I don’t think it matters, because I don’t expect to live all that much longer. I had a heart attack back in 2013. Before that happened, I was losing my ability to keep up with other hikers, some of whom were older than me. My energy was flagging, and I kept having to stop and catch my breath. I fell to the back position in any hike, and was wasted by the time I reached the mountaintop. Finally, one day while reading, I felt suddenly as though the world was ending, that everything was going black, and there was this intense pressure in my chest, and I called 911. The paramedics, and a cardiologist convinced me I was having a heart attack, and I had angioplasty with a stent emplacement, followed up by drugs. Things got better, I ran three half marathons, I got faster on hikes, and had more energy.

But, now I am starting to feel the energy fade again. I hiked on Monday 8.9 miles, about 6 hours, up and down my favorite trail, an elevation gain of roughly 2800 feet.041717 Panoramic

It was slow going, about 1 1/2 miles an hour, but I was beat when I was done. Felt wasted. Drank electrolytes on the way up, and a bottle of black tea on the way down, and had to drink two more bottles when I got home, just to have the energy to function. I’ve done this trail before, and I wasn’t that wasted. It was the same on another trail I hiked recently – wasted, sleepy, lethargic afterwards. I’m thinking the heart is not doing all that well. My cholesterol is the lowest it’s ever been, and my blood pressure has never been too high. I do have a visit with my cardiologist next month, and a stress test, so I’m curious what that will reveal.  Even simple exercise seems to tire me, just like before the 2013 heart attack.

I should write a poem, or a song:

I’m so sad and lonely

near my end of  time

there’s no one to miss me

and nothing left to live for.

O, o, o, I think I’ll die.

Set to music, it’d be alright, and entertaining. Of course, it’s been done so many times already. It’s the human condition, the poet’s theme, the singer’s shout, the hipster’s wail.

Meanwhile, I’m still here. A hike tomorrow morning, fruit to water Wild Cherry Farm.JPG on Friday, wine to sell on Sunday with my lovely stepdaughter, physical therapy for my aging back Tuesday morning, acting class Tuesday evening, background work for a TV crime series pilot (based on graphic novels) scalped next Wednesday. I’ve an acting gig to finish up. Then the stress echo-cardiogram next month, and a visit to the urologist, and a strange 5-day cruse with five of my six siblings, some in-laws, some nieces, a nephew, a couple of cousins and my mom, mostly to please her. Dream cruise for her, or I wouldn’t go. I’d rather not have that much interaction with people, even though I sometimes crave it.

Posted in family, health, hiking, In front of the camera, Life, love, madness, marriage, misanthropy, poem, rambling, rants, relationships, wine | Leave a Comment »

Easter: another Sunday, & Dialogue Beer

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 16, 2017

It was a good day to get out of bed. I was going to a great concert of chamber music. Big crowd for this one. I stood in line for 15-20 minutes to get my Americano (two shots of espresso with hot water added). Barely into it when the concert started. Great and unusual, modern/contemporary music by Magnus Gustaf Adolf Lindberg, a Finnish composer. As usual there was a break for poetry (this time by Ebony Isis Booth – who has a depth that sneaks up on you), and then we were treated to Brahms. No, this was not a lullaby; this was Johannes Brahms’ Trio in A minor, Op. 114 for Clarinet, Cello, and Piano, written on his 58th birthday. It had a fascinating power and, at the same time, loveliness to it. The musicians who play these Sunday morning concerts are highly skilled. It is such a treat to hear such music – often highly complex – performed so skillfully.

Now while the coffee is superb – the baristas rock! – there were fresh-baked goodies, like the biscotti, and also, as it was Easter: dark chocolate, jelly beans and M&Ms. But nearly everyone in the place went across the street afterwards to sample the beers at the new brewery there. dialogue Really good stuff. For a $5 donation to the concert series, we got to sample five beers, of our choice. It was hard to narrow my choices down to only five, but I enjoyed them. There was a food truck parked by the curb, and some great choices there. I settled on some ramen deviled eggs, mostly because I was like: “RAMEN deviled eggs? What?” Delicious. The uncooked ramen noodles added a crunchiness to the eggs I never knew I was missing.

Of course, as usual during these concerts, my mind tends to wander a bit. I was thinking that some people compose music note by note, based on what they think is creative, and some of that so-called modern music can be mentally interesting, but it lacks beauty beyond the purely mathematical. To me, all music must exhibit passion, or the performer must make it so. Then is it music. Well, at least it is the kind of music I want to listen to. I have no restrictions on the types of music I like. But music must have passion. It can be orchestral, chamber music, or solo instruments. I enjoy classic rock (Stones, Black Sabbath, Airplane, Creedence), a little pop, some country (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson) that is not formulaic and repetitive, and electronic music done well (Morton Subotnick, Philip Glass). I also like the energy of passionate salsa, flamenco, and tango. The Beatles and Bob Dylan gave me much to think about, and the songs could often mesmerize. I like blues, and jazz, etc.

But hell, my day was but half over. I went home and tried to get my New Mexico taxes done, but I couldn’t log in; the state’s website wouldn’t recognize my password, and I couldn’t get a new one because my email has changed and it only sent my request to change my password to my old address which I can no longer log into. So much for that. Maybe tomorrow I can get some help with that. Of course, I also have to finish my federal taxes. I filed it already, but I gave them the wrong routing number for the new savings account I had set up last year to use to pay my taxes. According to their website, I may have to wait seven or more days after filing in order to correct that little error.

Sigh. I just love paying late fees, don’t you?

Well, later I got to go hang out with my movie companion. I rent Netflix discs and we watch them on her nice TV about once a week. Tonight we watched: The End of the Tour, about “Rolling Stone” reporter David Lipsky and author David Foster Wallace. I thought it might be boring, but it was not! Lipsky accompanied Wallace on a five-day promotional tour. Wallace wrote a 1,079-page novel, Infinite JestInfinite Jest Wallace and while it didn’t contain anything earth-shakingly profound, he had a huge impact on the people who read it, like Lipsky. It is a highly acclaimed, but famously difficult book of fiction, which really just shows people what it is to be human. I like fiction. I may read it. Life is very real sometimes, too real at times, and much more enjoyable as fiction anyway, as I see it.

Bought some more of those great-tasting faux Oreos from Walgreens on my way home. Ate a third of them, which required two full glasses of milk. Did you know milk clears your palate so every bite tastes like the first bite? It has something to do with binding oils and fats on your tongue to cleanse your palatte between bites. There is also a fascinating and delicious interplay between all the chemicals in milk and cookies: emulsifiers, casein, methylbutanol, and tryptophan and other amino acids. Turns out that to get the sleep-inducing effects of tryptophan, you need a dose of carbohydrates. Not sleepy? Have some milk and carbs. Milk  cookies

Well, that was my day.

Posted in coffee, fiction, Holidays, Life, My Life, poetry, rambling | Leave a Comment »

Another Enchanting Sunday Morning

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 9, 2017

So, I’m just drinking coffee this Sunday morning. I had wanted to listen to a live chamber music concert, (WA Mozart String Trio Fragment K. 562e, Divertimento for String Trio in E-flat K. 563) but it’s sold out. Got up at 6am after trying unsuccessfully to stay asleep. Had my usual half-caf Americano (one scoop decaf, one scoop regular, expressed with enough water for a large cup). Watched a John Cusack movie (Grosse Pointe Blank). Enjoyed it. Love watching a good actor work. Grosse Pointe Blank

Made another Americano, this time with two scoops of Death Wish coffee. It’s good stuff. Their marketing is that it is the strongest coffee in the world. First Americano I made from it yielded a night of richly detailed vivid dreams. Death Wish CoffeeI am more awake now. Maybe I’ll go run or work out. I’ve been getting physical therapy for the last few months for recurring back pain. Recurring? that’s an understatement. Every fucking morning. Well, it seems like every morning; sometimes I get a day off. But, when the pain is there, sleep is over; I have to get up and move around. Coffee helps.

Mild degenerative arthritis, according to an x-ray. Cause? Getting old. Fanfuckingtastic. Sometimes I don’t believe there’s anything mild about it.

Of course, driving 266 miles (roundtrip) yesterday to be in a movie didn’t help. I did have a lot of fun in the movie. I play an old sheriff in a strange horror movie.

SeeSaw 2a Not hard work, but the days can be long.

I like acting; it’s a real kick. I may or may not get paid for this role, but I’m learning every time I do this. I’ve gotten to where I can remember my lines much more easily, but it’s easy to get distracted by thinking too much about what I have to do. Yesterday, I got praise for putting my hand on my gun as I opened a door where there might be danger. I was fully in the moment, and grabbed my gun out of instinct. So, there might be a future in this stuff for me. Of course, in a later scene where I only had to pace, swear three times, write a note, and rush out of my office, I was concentrating so much on adding a few mutterings under my breath that I forgot to swear. Did it over OK, but I sure hate to fuck up like that. I’ve got one more scene left to do. Then I can concentrate on the other two projects I’m committed to. One of them, a movie based on a successful play, assuming we start filming, will pay, for certain. The other production, also horror, has shot a first episode for a TV pilot, but is still looking to get picked up, funded, etc. I don’t know if I’ll get to do the role I’ve been rehearsing, but one never knows in this business.

I sure would like to get a few projects wrapped, with my name on them, before I end up having another heart attack, or sliding the motorcycle under a truck. One never knows in life.

I could stand to get rid of this pain, so I could enjoy waking up. The therapists have given me some exercises and I bought a small portable electrode device that gives me an electrical massage, so I can get through the pain, but I would be damned happy if the pain would just stop. I gave up running after three half-marathons because of the pain. It was good for my heart, but the training was mostly good for giving me pain, and it was not making me stronger.

Well, anyway, I am grateful that I survived being hit by a car as a pedestrian, twice as a bicyclist, twice as a motorcyclist, and twice while driving a car. Survived a heart attack by being in the right place at the right time. Survived pneumonia, a ruptured appendix and sepsis as a child too. I’m a survivor. Whoopee. That’s nice. What I’m still hoping for is to accomplish something great in my life. It’s not to be remembered, because, hell, I’ll be dead, so I’ll never know about that. It’s more like I want something I can point to in my life, and say, “Yeah, I did that, and it was really something.”

Posted in coffee, In front of the camera, My Life, rambling | Leave a Comment »

Hoodoos and Weird Stuff and Models O My – Another Trip To The Bisti

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 21, 2017

So, this happened a while back: another trip to the 45,000-acre Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in northeastern New Mexico.

Big Badlands stitch 1.jpg

Met up with a group of photographers and models, although I’m really most intrigued by the fantastic scenery. It was the background for a scene near the end of the 1977 U.S. movie Sorcerer, which was a remake of the 1953 French movie called The Wages of Fear. Georges Arnaud wrote the original source material, Le Salaire de la peur. The 1953 film did not not use the Bisti as a backdrop. Both movies are available from Netflix.

So, without further ado, the photos follow. Click on any one to view it larger, then you can use the arrows to slide through all the photos in a larger size.

(Note: added a few more in a second set below.)

 

2nd set:

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Reading Piñón, Valentine’s Day

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 14, 2017

Damn! I wish I could find my fucking reading glasses. But it’s a nice day, and I head out to buy a battery for this pinche little clock/timer I use. The little silver oxide battery is going for $5.99, which seems a little steep for just one, so I buy the three-pack for $10.99. What the hell. Save a few bucks when I need another one. And I buy a package of Walgreens’ faux-Oreos while I’m there. cookies No high fructose corn syrup in these, they taste exactly like the real thing, and at $2.29, they’re a great deal. For some reason a pack of real Nabisco Oreos with the cheap-ass chemical hybrid syrup from taxpayer-subsidized corn cost twice as much.

But then things get real good, because there’s a piñón coffeeshop a few blocks away. Now, this section of 4th Street features nothing but shops and restaurants. There’s a KFC and a McDonald’s, of course, but also Bob’s Burgers,  Powdrells BBQ, Tacos Mex Y Mariscos, Burritos Y Gorditias, a Church’s Chicken, and a Teriyaki Chicken Bowl, among others. There are money-lenders, the Laundromat, and a car wash, donuts and ice cream.  It’s a busy street, so it’s not the greatest place to hang out, but I brought a book with me, and I love piñón coffee. Piñón coffee is always smooth. pinon-coffee The cafe uses dark-roasted beans.  My large café americano has four shots of espresso, which will make me hyperactive later on. I buy a bear claw too, and sit in a stuffed chair in a sunbeam. The bearclaw is gooey, and so messy that it’s hard to eat it and drink coffee one-handed, while trying to turns pages and hold a book one-handed, so I ignore the really hot coffee for a bit and finish off the bear claw first. Then I have to wash my hands. Finally, I get all settled with the book in one hand, and my coffee can be set on a little table next to me when I need my other hand to turn a page.

The book is excellent! Luis Alberto Urrea is not only one damn fine observer of people, but he can write about it with fine attention to detail, and also be funny. Well, some of it seems funny to me anyway, because it sounds like barrios in California, the South Side of Chicago, and here in Albuquerque have a lot in common, and I’ve heard a lot of it before in my forty years in the southwest. The book is a real treat, but I do wish I had my glasses, because reading without ’em is usually tiring, and it sometimes gives me a headache. Can’t get new ones until I see the optometrist in a week. But the book is so good that I don’t mind, and the sunlight makes it easier to read.

It’s not a real busy coffeeshop, having only opened recently. One old guy, like me, sits reading when I come in. A couple comes in after I sit down, while I’m still strugging with the bear claw. The woman is young, smiling and very attractive. When I try to ogle her, she looks back, but blankly, twice. Her companion, with his back to me, is a young man with extremely short buzz-cut hair. A young woman comes in with a guide dog, orders coffee and something to eat, and sits down six feet from me. She speaks low to the dog from time to time. She is dressed in very plain clothes in muted colors and without any kind of style. Her hair is cropped short and she looks more like a young man.

I read three stories in Urrea’s The Water Museum, and prepare to go. water-museum My coffee is not quite finished, so I sit quietly for a few minutes without reading. The man reading a book has left. Another single woman comes in and hits the restroom. The young woman with the guide dog prepares to leave, taking her trash to the receptacle across the room first, which seems to confuse the dog when she returns to her chair for her coat. She chides him, humorously, for sitting as she turns to leave, and I chuckle with her. Moments later, after the woman in the restroom leaves it and walks to the counter, I finish my coffee and head out.

I think about my glasses. I thought they were in the house somewhere, but I’ve turned the place over several times and I can’t find ’em. I was on a movie set near Santa Fe, on Zia Pueblo land, a few weeks ago, and may have had them with me. I vaguely remember that, since I intended to read, I could have taken them with me and stashed them in my green fleece jacket with Applied Biosystems embroided into it. They are a biotech firm I used to order supplies from before I retired. I’ve had it for many years. I remember hanging it on a tree limb at one point, as we rushed to set, and left it behind when we wrapped after dark. No one in the crew had found it when I went back later. The set had moved, and they clean up really carefully, but I suspect my reading glasses were in that jacket, and it’s still hanging in that tree somewhere in the hills south of Santa Fe among the stunted piñón trees.  pinon-pine-trees

(FOLLOW UP: I finally finished Urrea’s book in the evening, and it is mind-blowing. The stories bounce around from barrio to rez to border towns and midwestern towns, and the people come in all races and types, and the love and hatred and ennui and dialogue and descriptions and emotions and sharp shots of drama just knock the breath out of your chest. And then I read the title story, about the water museum, and yeah, it’s a museum, because large parts of the country have had drought so long that children don’t know what rain is or what it sounds like, and fear humidity. And, although it hasn’t happened yet, you know, you just know, it will happen just as he described it. And I’d recommend this book to everone.)

(MORE FOLLOW UP: I found my glasses in my house, sitting on top of a carved wooden statue of a wolf-like lounge singer that sits in a corner near my bathroom; until I saw them, I’d forgotten that I’d put them there, or why. The green fleece thing is long gone by now, battered by rain, snow, hail, and broiling sun, and probably fallen on the ground and used by packrats for nesting material).

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Racism, White Privilege, Han Privilege, British Royal Privilege, and Trump

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 22, 2016

white
I think the word racism is used far too often. If the photo at top is real, then, yes, in the classic definition of the word, they are racist: (the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.) People should probably be more specific about the behavior they wish to condemn. In many Western countries, we see power concentrated in white male hands, with white females slowly becoming part of that elite, so people talk about “white privilege”. In China, racism is expressed as “Han privilege”, in that members of the Han race are the dominant group among the races that they assimilated.
 
Many people have strong prejudices, both positive and negative about other people, and tend to associate with only certain people. It is difficult to condemn people for doing that, as it is common around the world. People also condemn others for being redneck, rich, dumb, intellectual, lazy, workaholics, etc, and we all do this to some extent. What is that behavior? and how is it different if the people are of a different race? Racism and/or prejudice only become important when used by those in power, to keep themselves in power, by virtue of their superior race. Once upon a time, royalty did the same thing to maintain their power, basing that power solely on their “divine nature” as if their blood-lines were superior. That was not racism per se, although it didn’t stop the British from using racism to dominate the countries they took over, such as India, Ireland, Scotland, and all but 22 countries in the world.
 
Prejudices have always existed, but the origins of racism appear to be rooted in power. Those who have the power can use racism to maintain their power. Average working people rarely have the power to isolate and take advantage of an entire race of people, but we can be used to help do so. Trump is a good example of someone with power using people’s ethnicity as a way to inflame hatred and achive greater power by uniting people of the dominant power structure, and convincing them that he is on their side, so giving him more power will also be of great benefit to them. He lies.

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Voting Bottoms Up

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 10, 2016

bottoms-up

A large percentage of voters in every state never complete their ballots. This is not to their own advantage. On every ballot there are initiatives, questions, bond measures, and even constitutional amendments. Not voting on them means we don’t have a say on the very real issues and laws that affect our lives every day. It could be as simple as voting on widening a major street, renovating a bridge, or as vitally important as increasing or decreasing taxes. This is often how those things get done. Focusing on celebrity politicians distracts everyone from the real local issues.

Do you want more money spent in your local school district, or less? Do you want your state to increase taxes on gasoline, alcohol or cigarettes? Do you want your city or town to create traffic circle intersections, or not? Do you want everyone to carry an ID in order to vote, despite no actual evidence of any significant fraud? Do you want electronic machines or paper ballots? Very often, these are things you’ll find near the bottom of your ballot, after all the candidates for office.

And what about those candidates? The local politicians decide how to appropriate money for police and fire protections services, and new roads, and new schools, and water use, and traffic laws, business regulations, and building codes, and a host of little things that affect us nearly every day, much more so than the words of the elected heads of political parties, particularly Presidents. Of course, Presidents can involve our country in wars, resulting in more terrorism or less. They can appeal to the best in us, or the worst in us, and give directions to national discussions, but in the end Congress usually has the deciding vote, and anything a U.S. President does without Congressional approval – and the President does have certain powers to do so – can be reversed in the next election. So, voting for your U.S. Senators and Representatives is vitally important, and who is the President is somewhat less important.

I’ve heard and read of too many people who say they aren’t going to vote because they don’t like either Clinton or Trump. Pardon my insensitivity or rudeness, but that is utterly STUPID! Not only are there two other candidates for President on the ballot in every state – Gary Johnson and Jill Stein – but there are all those local and state politicians, and the other issues I mentioned above on the ballot. Hell, if you think no one is a good candidate for President, leave it blank! but VOTE anyway. Imagine if 5, 10, or even 50% of all eligible voters left the top position blank? Maybe the major parties would work harder at putting forward candidates that really inspire us to vote FOR someone, instead of AGAINST someoone?

Anyway, this has been my subtle reminder to all U.S.A. citizens to VOTE. Remember to read the ballot beforehand, and even obtain or print a sample ballot and take it with you. You can take it with you to vote. Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t.

Show your patriotism: VOTE THE WHOLE BALLOT, PLEASE!

 

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Women Still Excite Me, Even In Holding

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 14, 2016

So, I got a message that I was booked on T@gged, season 2, for a day. I’m a background actor these days, in addition to making  and selling wine. People try to not use the term “extra” anymore, preferring the more accurate “background actor”, and probably for two reasons. Firstly, it is a bit more accurate, in that you’re not just standing there. You get directed, to walk here, eat, drink, talk, or pretend to talk, clap your hands, or just pretend to, ride a horse, drive a car, etc. But you do it primarily without speaking lines.

Secondly, many of the background are indeed actors, with lines, in local independent movies, usually without pay. I’ve done some of that, and a short movie I was in, WelcomeMatt, will show here in town a week from today. Neither I, nor anyone else in the short, have seen the final product, and it was shot three years ago. However, it has been shown at movie festivals, and it has garnered four awards so far: Best Male Actor (Feature), Best Short Film, Best Produced Screenplay, and Best Comedy/Dramedy.

and there’s this: -^ny-indie-film-awardAnd no, the best male actor award was not for me. I was a supporting actor, very early in the movie, a corporate executive who fires the main character, Matt. I had a number of lines of dialogue with Matt and helped set up the premise of the movie, so they couldn’t cut too much of me out. So, I know I’m in the movie, but that’s all. I’m also pretty sure that my performance was crap, since I’ve learned a lot in the last three years about acting in front of a camera, and how different that is from stage acting, and how difficult it is. I was totally stressed during shooting. I had studied my lines hard, but was nervous about remembering them. Hah! That was the easy part.

I’m calmly sitting there at a desk, ready to go, when the camera crew come in, and the sound guys, and the script supervisor, and the director, etc, and there’s all this activity, talking, lights, and a boom microphone over my head. I say my lines, and then again, and again, and again. And my actions get modified a bit, and sometimes Matt isn’t even in the scene, and I’m talking to thin air. And the camera moves to another position, and we do it all over again, and the director tells me to do this, or not do that. Then the camera moves behind me so they can record Matt’s reactions. And suddenly I can’t remember my lines for crap, even with the scripty’s help, and the director tells me to read ’em off the script if I have to, “I don’t care how you do it, just do the lines.”

So, since I’m sitting at a desk covered in papers, some of them become pages of script and I get through it. Although I’ve been dying to see myself perform, I’m apprehensive about my performance, to say the least, and not sure if I should even tell anyone close to me about it, but I already have. Good or bad, I have to live with this performance.

So, since then, I learned about background acting, which is something I get paid to do. For the last two years, I’ve been background in about 20 movies or TV shows. I got to be a stand in/photo double on the TV show Night Shift. I was an actor in a short silent movie, and am currently cast in a TV pilot that has yet to begin shooting. The shooting has been postponed for the last year, but we hear, “Soon, soon.”

mcentees-soup

McEntee’s Soup

The locations are not yet confirmed, and the director was replaced and the entire script rewritten, so all my lines I’d been working on changed.

I still go to auditions, and don’t hear much back. I’ve  some lines to videotape myself doing, and then send them in for a preliminary audition. I’m also getting a tape made of myself doing a short monologue, because that’s something you’re expected to have ready when you apply to audition for the big movies.

But, still, I keep on doing background for whatever I can, like

T@gged (Verizon’s go90 original series).

tgged_cast

Some of the main actors

So, I was on the T@gged set Monday, from 6:15 pm until 5:30 am Tuesday. There was a lot of waiting. We were at a local high school in the cafeteria. I kept wandering around the school, walking, and walking. I had forgotten to bring a book, something I know I have to bring. I saw a young woman reading a paperback book. I saw a woman reading a book on an electronic device. Some people watched videos and movies. Some played games. Some talked. Some told jokes. But they pay us, right? So we wait. Martha, an actor I’d met recently, sat with people I know, and I said hello. She showed me a picture she had on her phone of the two of us at a Film Foundation event where we’d recently seen each other. Great photo. We’d auditioned together once, and had gotten to know each other. She has a similar scientific background like myself, and she’s a good pool player,

pool-shark-2a

Pool shark

very intelligent, and good looking, but married with two young kids. I enjoy her company. She smiles a lot, and looks really good. For some reason my eyes keep following the bouncy movements of her breasts, loose in her low-cut blouse. Soft and smooth, and so inviting. But, well, she’s a friend, and married, and a coworker in this background acting, and I really can’t tell when I’m being inappropriate or if there’s flirting going on. And I’m quite a bit older than her anyway, and I shouldn’t jeapordize a friendship by being my own creepy self. And she got picked to go on set long before I did, so she was gone.

And then there is this amazingly sexy redhead, Alla, who shows up on most movies I’m background in, and I spent time speaking with her, and she was having stomach problems, and she thought it was because she had been wearing this extremely tight corset for a prodution she is working on, and she said her internal organs are squashed and bruised, so that’s why she feels so bad. And she said she needed something hot to drink, and when coffee was available, I suggested it, but she wasn’t sure coffee would be good for her, and there was no tea or hot water, and finally she got up and got coffee, and we talked some more, and she is very friendly, and my roving eyes keep noticing her unfettered tits bouncing around in her low-necked blouse, and I liked her exposed freckles, and what the hell is wrong with me anyway? Why am I being such a dick? Can’t I just be friends with women without checking them out, without fantasizing about their bodies? Most of the time I’m good. I look women in the eyes when speaking with them. I listen to what they say. I converse, I’m friendly, I’m helpful, I’m considerate, and a good boy scout. In fact, I don’t find most women attractive anymore. But I was getting turned on. I can’t say why. I don’t think this woman finds me attractive, but Alla is good looking, with a fine – I mean really fine, taut and lithe – body. alla-091316-1a

Finally the production assistant asked us to go hang out outside, because our scene was coming up. We milled around for some time, but they finally came to start letting people into the auditorium where the action was. But, out of around 200 background actors called in that day, they only took 55 initially. The rest of us went back to waiting. Around 2 am we had lunch (pizza). The 55 came out and ate also. The crew ate. The cast ate somewhere else. The 55, cast and crew went back in.

But, getting back to the young woman reading a paperback. I noticed her sitting across the cafeteria when I first got in line to obtain my pay voucher, fill in the four pages, get signed in, and then approved by wardrobe. It takes awhile to get all that done. She had done all that already. She never moved from where she sat, and I swear she seemed to be looking at me, watching me. She had glasses on, reddish hair, and tattoos. She had that book with her. After I was signed in, I sat with friends, but she had moved across the cafeteria. I could’t take my attention off of her. I kept glancing across the room at her, kept trying not to stare, and looking away when she looked my way. (I may be creepy, but I try not to appear that way.) That went on for hours. I watched her read her book, except when we were all interrupted by announcements of pending action that didn’t materialize until so much later.

During lunch I missed her, but I went outside and found her sitting on a wall. Not wanting to scare her, I sat down a little distance away at a table, facing obliquely to her, without saying anything. She looked my way from time to time; I tried to look at her surreptitiously. Once, we made eye contact and I smiled at her. A production assistant come out and made an annnouncement. I made a comment about it to her, and she replied, but went back to reading her book. A pleasant, not-unfriendly voice. Somehow I found encouragement in that, even though she is young, and I’m not. At one point we all went back into the cafeteria for an announcement. She went back to reading across the cafeteria from me, and I was restless. When she crossed her legs I could see her tattooed thighs.

I finally decided I was going to introduce myself to her and went over. Her name is Nicole, with just the c. She was reading the second Game of Thrones novel. We talked about it, and fantasy fiction, and science fiction. Even though she’d been alone all this time, some guy suddenly walks up and asks her about the Game of Thrones book, and starts talking to her about the ones he’s read, and I’m like, what the hell? where did you come from? and why now? But he wandered off after a bit, and Nicole and I talked some more.

Later, we had to move close to the actual set to prepare for going in. We managed to sit closely enough to talk. I said a few things to her. She wasn’t freaked out or put off. When we finally got to go into and fill up the auditorium, I lost track of her, even though I’d been fantasizing about sitting with her. Looking for an empty seat, I actually found her sitting alone, stood there a moment, and she noticed me. I moved into the row before anyone else could, asking if I could sit next to her, and saying something lame about wanting to sit close enough to be on camera. She was unconcerned about that herself, just happy to be sitting in a comfortable chair instead of those metal stools in the cafeteria. As part of our job, we had to react to events on the stage in front of us, gasping, or murmuring. I turned to her, but she usually turned the other way, and I turned to the woman on my other side as well. Once Nicole did turn towards me and murmured something about the action on stage. During breaks between action, we did manage to speak a few times. She felt cold. (It was freezing in there.) I didn’t want to to blurt out the trite line about being able to warm her up, but I sure would have liked to snuggle. She said she was going to climb under three blankets when she got home. You know where my mind went. She mentioned getting hungry again. At four in the morning, trapped on a closed set, there wasn’t much we could do about that.

Finally, about 5 am, the assistant director said we were wrapped and to head out. I said good night to her, and told her, truthfully, that I was happy to have met her, and enjoyed talking with her. As I headed for a door, she was behind me, but turned and headed out another door. I saw her already near the front of the line to get her pay voucher signed. I had put mine outside in my car with my extra sets of clothes. You don’t want to lose your pay voucher. So, by the time I got it, and got in line, Nicole was a hundred people away, and I was near the back of the line. I saw her turn my way, and tried to wave, but she didn’t seem to notice. I never saw her again. I tried to find her on Facebook, without any luck. A first name is not much to go on. Why didn’t I get her phone number? It didn’t seem appropriate. I didn’t have any reason to ask, and I know how creeped out young women get by older men hitting on them.

I went home and slept. It took a while to shake off the effects of the coffee I’d been drinking, and I only slept a few hours. I got up and fed the cats, went outside for my jeans which were still in the car and noticed a box on the patio; something I’d ordered had been dropped over the gate by Fed-X while I’d slept. The gate had been swollen from rain overnight. I opened that, looked for mail at the mailbox kiosk, and ate breakfast. Later I decided I was too sleepy to read, or screw around on the internet, so I took a nap. But, boy howdy, did I wake up horny! Suddenly all my fantasizing caught up wtih me, and I had an erection I could open a door with. I figured it would go away, and tried to go back to sleep, but it was not having anything to do with that! It had been some time since I’d had an erection like that pop up on me out of the blue. Then I noticed it was 3:30 and I had to be somewhere at 5:00. So I got up, but the penis stayed ramrod straight, and I didn’t even have to pee. I was regretting not having gotten Nicole’s number, and that made me think of her, and how much I lusted for her, and that erection wasn’t going anywhere. And I thought about her, and Martha, and Alla, and I grabbed some lotion, and I spent 45 minutes imagining myself with any one of them, and I erupted into a gloriously delayed orgasm, and wondered again why I was by myself.

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A Busy Summer

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 8, 2016

BEAR CORN

It’s a parasitic growth on tree roots, usually pines. It’s interesting how it takes on the characteristics of a pine cone, made very apparent here sprouting among the cones themselves. Bears do eat it. From a hike in the Sandia mountains on June 9, 2016.

MULE DEER

You never know what you’ll run into in the mountains around here. These shots are from a  hike in July.

DANCING ACROBATS

Some amazingly acrobatic dancers at the International Folk Festival in Santa Fe, New Mexico, July 10, 2016.

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PRAIRIE RATTLESNAKE

Like I said, you never know what you’ll run across in these mountains. This guy is about 3 feet long, full grown for his type, lying right across the trail, but very sleepy. July 18, 2015.

CIRCUS VIDEO

[AND, da da da dah! here is the “Circus Life” video:

Circus Life video by Rachele Royale released finally by singer Rachele Royale. If you watch carefully, you’ll see me here and there.

July was a very busy month. Here I am, made up, posing with the fire breather for a Gothic Circus themed music video. She dressed like that for the whole 1st day, but since we were on loaction at a masonic temple, the Masons asked that she cover up a bit the next day. Aww.

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CLOUDY DAYS CAN SURPRISE YOU

Wrapping up July, here is a hot-air balloon flying over my house, silhouetted against some rare clouds.

HORSE CLINIC FOR MOVIE COWBOYS

So August found me at an open house for actors needing to learn or polish horse-riding skills. Directors can be very picky about who they let ride a horse on set. Even the two life-long professionals shown here can’t be sure a director will pick them. 08/02/16

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A SUDDEN RAIN

Looks like snow, but it’s just raindrops backlit by  the sun or an otherwise bright summer day. 08/30/16

BUBONICON 48

Albuquerque just had its 48th science fiction convention. The Convention Theme was “Rockets, Robots & Rayguns”. Although you see some costumes here, it’s not so much about that as it is about the authors. There are plenty of chances to meet one of your favorite authors. And, the auctions are not only a lot of fun, but the final one on Sunday gives you a chance to auction off your own superfluous items.  There was also an art show, open to all, based on the theme.  The panel discussions can be interesting, but there are also presentations by authors and at least one by a scientist. This year, the science talk was by Sid M. Gutierrez, NASA Shuttle astronaut and the first Hispanic astronaut.

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Life’s Little OLD Victories

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 11, 2016

Keith Knight is a cartoonist, a really funny cartoonist,

lifes-little-victories

and one of his regular features is something he calls: Life’s Little Victories. It is about those little things, that, on balance, help keep us going. For instance, if you had two pairs of gloves, but you lost one of each pair. Odds are you’re left with unmatching gloves, but when you lose one right-handed glove, and one left-handed glove, so you still have one set (even if they don’t look alike) – Victory!

Thinking about some of the similar things that occur in our “golden” years, as they are oft called, I decided to create a list of life’s little victories that are more specific for those of us in our declining, or reclining, or advancing years.

Life’s Little OLD Victories

1.) When you suddenly remember you have a doctor’s appointment in 15 minutes, but you realize you’re already on your way there.

2.) When you have to go, really, really bad, and you not only make it to a bathroom, but manage to get your pants down, and also sit down on the toilet before your bowels cut loose.

3.) When you can’t afford to get new glasses, but unaccountably, your eyes have changed in the oppposite direction and you can see fine without them.

4.) When the mail carrier updates your package delivery status to “Delivered,” so you know that 10-minute walk up to and back from the mailbox kiosk is worth the trip.

5.) When you’re at the supermarket, and you suddenly remember to buy some essential, and you still remember to pick up what you came for.

6.) When your pension or social security check is a day late, and you think you’ve run out of your prescription medications, but you forgot to take them yesterday, so you still have one more day of pills.

7.) When a speeding car rounds the corner, knocking you down as you’re crossing a dark side street, but the driver stops to check on you, and you didn’t break anything.

8.) When your cardiologist says you’ve reached the point where your cholesterol is regressing to a very healthy level, so you can just keep doing what you’re doing.

9.) When the power is out, and your cell phone is dead, but you’ve written your activity schedule on your old-fashioned paper calendar, and you still have a land line.

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Loquacious after Two Beers

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 6, 2016

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So yesterday I helped filter 300 gallons of cranberry wine, but I fucked up, because, of the three square filters we use to pump wine through, I managed to turn the 3rd one 90° so the holes didn’t line up, so even though it seemed like everything was fine, only about 2/3 of the wine got really filtered, and we only discovered that when we tried to filter a small batch of wine with lots of sediment, and the higher pressure punched a hole in the filter and so today I had to refilter that whole 300 gallons of wine into one tank and then pump it out into the two tanks eight of us will use to bottle that wine and three other batches of wine on Saturday. And Sunday my step daughter and I will label some of that wine.

So when I got home there was a message from the background casting company. Because of a bad weather prediction for Friday, the shoot for the episode of the TV show I was to be in the background for was moved up to Thursday, and if that was OK, “…could I come in right away for a costume fitting?” And of course I said, “yes,” but before I went to the studio I stopped by Ramona’s house to pick up my hiking cap that I’d left there, because we usually watch movies together on Wednesday nights, but not tonight, so then I dropped off a book I had borrowed from a photographer who sponsers a teaching/learning photography group on Wednesdays called Guerrilla Photo Group, and then I went to the movie studio, and found out that the shoot was postponed until Friday anyway, but I had already told the vintner at the winery that I couldn’t work Friday, and then emailed him that I could work Friday because the shooting had changed to Thursday.

So I usually hike in the mountains on Thursdays, but I decided to go to Tractor Brewing Company’s tap room for Poetry and Beer night, and I had two strong beers: an oatmeal stout and a Farmer’s Tan Red, and an “asian style” chicken sandwich with sriracha mayo from the food truck outside. So now I don’t have acting work for tomorrow, and I could hike, but I really just want to sleep. I don’t want to set an alarm for early in the morning again. I don’t want to think about anything tomorrow. I don’t want to go anywhere or do anything.

But, of course, I have a part in a horror film and I have about nine pages of dialogue and rambling monologue to commit to memory by April 24, and I’m not quite there yet, and I probably shouldn’t be doing so many things, but I’m “retired” so what else should I be doing? I don’t want to just sit on my ass. Sometimes it seems like all I do is sit on my ass, but this week reminds me that I really don’t. ass

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Imperfect as I am

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 21, 2016

I am a very imperfect man, with many flaws. That said, I’m going to tell you some things about the concert I went to this morning. There is a classical concert 50 Sunday mornings of the year here. I do not go every Sunday. For one thing, it costs $15, and since there are espresso baristas who provide great free coffee, tipping is a nice thing to do. There are people who bring fresh home-baked sweets as well, and there is another tip jar there, so it’s easy to spend $17 or more, and I’m not going to do that every Sunday. Besides, sometimes the music is choral, or operatic, and I’m not going to those. I like my classical music, old or modern, to be instrumental only. Perhaps that’s a flaw, but I do not care to change it.

Bach concert

This was Bach, Johann Sebastian Bach, to be exact. Born 1685, died 1750. It was a sold out concert accommodating 150 ticket purchasers, and the volunteers who make it possible. The first part of the program was performed by a fantastic cellist who was solo cellist of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in Norway, among other positions in the U.S. She played Suite No. 4 for solo cello in E-flat major. It is a complicated piece, and a very busy one, with seven parts. I remember thinking how thickly populated with notes it was. The notes seemed mostly brisk and sharp without long duration. Since I am not a musician, I cannot speak technically about the music, but it rocked! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in coffee, eremiticism, Life, madness, misanthropy, My Life, opinion, Random Thoughts, relationships, Writing | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Put Up Some Photos in an Art Show

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 17, 2016

PAS

It was nice. I sold the photo of a roadrunner, and the concert was fun: music Albert Einstein used to love to play. A local actor depicted him on a stage, and sometimes he gave a monologue over the slow sections of music, about music and musical instuments and math and science. The concert part was sold out.

94% of the photos were ones that I had bonded to metal (aluminum). It’s a fascinating process whereby an emulsion is permanently bonded to a piece of metal and the photo is permanently embedded into the emulsion. The process creates a sense of depth, and the wood blocks, or woooden frame or metal frame on the back add to the sense of a photo viewed almost in three dimensions.

The one exception in my part of the exhibit was an image of a Sponge Bob-like hot-air balloon that I crewed for in 2010. It is a regular print, matted and framed. I was allowed to use my photos as I wanted, and they used this image in their advertising. The special shapes balloons are mostly made in Brazil, and they bring them to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta to fly and sell them. I used my balloon ride that I earned by crewing to take photos from above, and I got a nice shot of the balloon while in the air. I don’t recall the exact name of the balloon, but I named my photo Wheeeeeeeeee!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

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It’s Winter in the desert, but there’s snow

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 13, 2016

I live in Albuquerque, at the base of a mountain range called the Sandias. The mountains often block rain and snow storms from hitting the city very hard, so many winters there is just no snow in Albuquerque at all. However, the long drought has ended for most of the state, and this past year we had more rain and snow for any year since 1986.  Technically, according to geography studies, based on the average amount of rain that falls here, New Mexico is more accurately classified as a steppe. (In physical geography, a steppe is an ecoregion, in the montane grasslands and shrublands and temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biomes, characterized by grassland plains without trees apart from those near rivers and lakes.) Locally, people say we live in a high desert.

Long story short: we’ve got snow! Not much hit the city. In areas closest to the mountain range, there were several inches. In other places, like outside my house:

I hiked up the Pino Trail on December 17 looking for snow:

I went for a hike on Dec. 24. There was still snow in the mountains.

In fact, we got snowed  on as we hiked. Things were looking up!Embudito (1)

(photos by Robin Tackett)

So, I hiked up the Piedra Lisa Trail on the first day of the New Year:

Good snow, but I knew there was more on the crest of the mountain range itself.

Hike leader Robin Tackett set up a hike for Jan. 7, where we would ride the aerial tram up to the crest and hike along the ridge:

010716 SandiaCrest (1)

Someone mentioned this reminded them of the Overlook Hotel in The Shining

As you can see, the tram station was nicely iced over. In fact, the workers there had to carefully inspect the cables, as well as clean under the docking area for one of the trams, chipping away ice and frozen snow.

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The cross-country skiers took off ahead of us on virgin powder.

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I could hike on the narrow trail itself, but step off and I sank, sometimes to my waist.

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This is living!  However, not only did I not bring snowshoes, but I forgot my camera this day, so none of the photos are mine. Photos by Robin Tackett and Khondeh M.

One more trip up the mountain, up the Pino Trail again on Monday the 11th of January:

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Modern Art

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Dancer

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It was a (relatively) warm day, (the sun was out) and there was no wind! Damn! Life can just be so good to me sometimes. (Even though some people aren’t).

Such a glorious start to winter. I hope this means the upcoming fire season will be quenched by the rain to come. Moisture! Snow! Come On Rain! Here’s hoping there’s enough rain to discourage the bark beetles and moth larvae that have been destroying so many acres of trees, and they won’t be so easy to burn. Yea snow!

 

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The way of life or system of being a hermit

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 10, 2016

Another Sunday morning, although, truth be told, it’s just another day. I wandered over to the Flying star cafe for some good coffee – 2 shots of espresso diluted with a bit of hot water – and some breakfast, because I get tired of the stuff I make.

It’s nice to get out of the house too, but I can’t say I like the crowds on a Sunday. Way too many people all at once, and many talk as if what they have to say is really important, loud and clear words cutting through all the other mindless chatter. And I brought a book with me that I use to shut ’em all out, but it’s hard to do. They come in at times, standing next to me, looking for a place to sit, and we all know how busy the place is on a Sunday, but they look anyway, thinking there’ll be room just for them. Important assholes.

I never understand why half of ’em don’t go up or down the road to where there are dozens of food or coffee joints. It’s probably too busy for ’em there, too many people, too many cars. But they come here, here where’s just a bookstore and a cafe, and they pack the parking lot full to bursting, and the latecomers drive around and around looking for that spot that must be waiting just for them somewhere. And the tables are mostly full, and although they know it, they come with groups of five or six and expect to find room. And they ask me if I’m using one of the extra chairs at my table, and I pull my eyes away from my book and say no. And I go back to reading, and sure enough, another group has come in, and another one of them asks me for another chair.

And I just want to tell them to go somewhere else. When they arrive before I do, and they stand lined up from the order counter, and the line snakes around past the door and heads north, I just turn around and go back home. It’s just not worth it to stand quietly in line while people talk loudly about nothing, and have no idea what they want to eat when they finally make it to the counter. And most of ’em come from the rich houses a little north of here, and they have big dining rooms and kitchens, and lots of chairs, but they want to squeeze in here where they pretend their words matter. And their big expensive houses are empty except when they come home at night and sleep in them.

And I grow more impatient with humanity. And I lean to eremiticism. Sometimes I am lonely, but more and more I’m just alone, because I just can’t stand to hear humanity babbling, especially when the babbling rises to a dull roar. I grew up with six siblings, and you’d think I’d be more accustomed to background noise. When I first left home, I missed the sound of other people in the house, low conversations, or toys being fought over, or crying or toilet flushing. I used to think I’d prefer that to living alone, because as much as I enjoy solitude, the loniliess creeps up on me and it aches. And the aching makes me aware of just how alone I really am, despite my reluctant acceptance of being a recluse, because, well, maybe I’m not a true hermit.

     I could be a cenobite, but I’m not religious, and I no longer want to be part of any community, I think. And yet, something drives me across the street to eat at the cafe. I am a hermit in a crowd, but the crowd bugs me. At the same time, I have been trying out for parts in movies, and I must, of necessity, be around other people, interact with them, and act. I’m good at acting. I think most of us are, because we act differently around each group of people we get around. I feel as though that’s how I’ve gotten through life, acting here, acting there. I smile when I’m not happy. I talk because people expect it, but usually I’d rather not. Conversation, to me, is private, shared one at a time with someone I trust and like to be around, but there are so few of those.

Blogging is almost ideal. I get to talk without listening, something most of humanity seems to prefer. We talk at each other, and listen for the pause that allows us to speak again. It’s all a big pause here. I can type and type and type, and maybe someone will read it, and maybe no one will, and that’s OK. But something drives me to write and put these words out where someone might read them, and I don’t know why.

And, just like a semicolon in a sentence, like the one tattooed on my arm, I know there’s more to come. I haven’t finished what I have to say just yet.

semicolon

And, I suppose that’s a good thing! After all, a few months ago, a man drove his car here and parked by the cafe and blew his brains out all over the inside of his car. I guess he had nothing more to say. Was he lonely, or just sad? Was he terribly troubled? Was he in pain from loss? Was he dying of some incurable or painful disease? I’ll never know. It saddened me, me, a recluse. Why should I care? if I don’t care about humanity? Perhaps I can only care in small doses. Humanity is just too big. There are too many. Too many.

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Chasing Coyote

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 19, 2015

There was a sudden shrill yip nearby

near the other side of my front door

and another loud yip and another

as I sat reading a book of poems

with a white cat on my lap

The cat tensed, his head came up

I patted him reassuringly

but he jumped off my lap

and ran to the door, listening

then he jumped out the flap.

I was a bit surprised

The last cat that had sat on my lap

had died out there close by

I never knew how he died

but he had always feared coyotes

I imagined the worst.

But this cat is fearless.

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TRANSexCENDENCE

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 9, 2015

Two Lips

Two Lips

I like kissing. I like the feel of silky skin on my lips, and of moist lips buried in my lips. I like the give and play of the lips, hard and yet soft at the same time. When you’re in lust with someone, kissing is the most delicious and delirious thing you can do. Well, it is, until you factor sex in. Kissing stimulates blood flow throughout one’s body: the skin is sensitive all over, blood  feeds the skin. Blood flows to the genitals as well, and the whole body participates in the arousal of sensual pleasure. Still, for me, even with skin to skin and genital to genital, I still like to continue kissing. Near orgasm, I can lose track of my lips, but as that height is reached, I want to kiss. And oral sex before the genital sex just increases that juxtaposition of mouth and groin, of pleasure above and below. Passion. That’s what it’s all about. Passion can supercede reason, as least temporarily. There is a state of bliss we reach when we have sexual congress. It is exquisite.
Only love, real love, can surpass it, but the two of them together? It is transcendent.

However, not all sex is like that. Even when some relationships start that way, or become that way over time, it can fade, can slow, can cool, until it is a simulation of passion. There is still the quickening of pulse, and usually an orgasm, but sex can become like kissing a distant relative. Dry lips, tightly drawn together. No give. No take.

Sex is like a kiss. If the kissing is perfunctory, passionless, then the sex will be too.

When I was young, all sex was wonderful, exciting, new and intense. THERE’S MORE: click to Continue Reading

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Bride of Burning Man in Pennsylvania

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on October 9, 2015

Sat down to write but there was a cat sitting on the desk. I was unwilling to chase him off since I’m only a day back from having been gone for a week, but I ended up picking him up and relocating him to another part of the desk. For a cat that used to live on a golf course, and only saw familiar faces once a week, he seemed to take my absence hard. I had thought, if he hadn’t disappeared, that he’d be happy to see me, but he remained sitting in my chair after I had first entered and closed the front door. A very talkative cat, he remained quiet as I petted him. His eye seemed to have been unusually leaky, with a large dark spot of something in the white fur underneath the eye. He sat so quiet and unmoving I thought he must be sick. Perhaps the eye was infected? I gave him a few treats. He had been fed treats at the golf course, and expected them daily. However, he would not eat them. That’s when I decided he must be sick, and I resolved to get him to a veterinarian, first thing in the morning.

In the morning, he was different, much like his regular self. He sought me out, and I gave him treats. He ate them. His eye looked better. He is active again, well, as much as he usually is. For a young cat, he sits and sleeps a lot. So, anyway, I sat down today to write about my trip to Pennsylvania.

It was very wet there. Joaquin Joaquin was a hurricane threatening the U.S. East Coast when I arrived on October 1. It is now a dissipating tropical rainstorm, aka a post-tropical cyclone. It rained all of the day I arrived, although I meant to run when I arrived. It rained all of the next day too, and it was still raining early Saturday morning. Not only did I need to run, as I have been training to run my first full marathon, but my sister and her family were planning their annual burning man party for that evening. All of the wooden pallets for the giant figure were soaking wet. Artists showed up and were working diligently in the garage to create a face for the burning man, although this year it would be a woman, with the face of the bride of Frankenstein’s monster. 100315 (2) The Bride of Burning Man. Those are firecrackers in her hair. There was a body too, to be attached to the wet pallets already stacked, and two huge balloon boobs to be tucked into her cloth blouse. 100315 (18)

I had left with my brother-in-law to do some shopping, and he asked me to help with the final assembly when we returned. The rain finally slowed, and had mostly stopped. I said I would help, but it was then 11 am, and I waited until 3:30 pm, without any action on the pallet creature, so I took off on a run. As I passed the field with the Bride of Burning Man, it was finally being worked on from a huge metal scaffolding. I, however, needed desperately to run, and run hard. I ran a mile up the country road in front of their house and found, past the turnoff for that road, that the road continued. After I’d run that mile I found a small track in a park built by a tiny elementary school. It measured less than one-third of a mile, so I’d have to run around it 3 1/2 times for each mile. Given that the roads around that remote countryside were all two-laned, without runable shoulders, I opted to run that little track instead. To top it off, there were portable outhouses on site, an essential part of running for an almost 65-year old. My birthday was days away, and this marathon ten days after that was to be my birthday present to myself: Take that old age!

After 32 times around that little track, I’d had enough. I had run steadily, relentlessly, and I was tired, with one more mile to go to return to my sister’s house. I had been charged by my running coach to run 18 miles, but it was late, lightly raining, and it had turned cold enough that I’d had to wear a jacket for the last couple miles, and it would soon be dark. I resolved to run the next day and the next. However, my back was very sore, and my body ached all over the next day, and the next, so I put off running for two days, and only ran another 6 1/2 miles. It would have to do.

The party was awesome. There was plenty of food and drink. My sister makes her own beer, and there were two small kegs of her beer on tap, 100315 (47) as well as bottles of her reserves, and other beer that people brought, as well as wine. There were some fine dishes to sample, spicy fried chicken, and some nicely spiced home-cooked shrimp. My sister had also prepared a Hungarian goulash in a huge kettle on a fire outside.  100315 (46)

The face was dropped on the way to attach it, but it looked only slightly changed for that. Due to the high winds and problems with one arm, it was not attached. However, even with one arm, she looked good. The burning was preceded by women with flaming hoops, a man with a flaming bucket, and even one woman with a flaming whip. There was a soundtrack for the whole thing, and the music built to a nice crescendo to coincide with the burn. Before the burn, people had assembled some gunpowder “bombs” to go off during the burning. Some were constructed to simply add smoke and fire, while others, as had been done for the 4th of July, were made for noise. It took some doing to get the burning going. A lot of accelerant was used, but even so, it looked doubtful the Bride would completely burn. One man even used a commercially available personal flamethrower to help things along. The booms from the noise bombs were not only loud and startling, but I felt the shock wave from 80 feet away, including the heat of each explosion. Powerful little suckers. The next day, there was a story in the local paper that people had heard two or four explosions in the area, and one woman, on a street some distance away, claimed one of her windows was broken by a shockwave. Police are said to be investigating. The police, however, where about 7/10 of a mile away from the burning of the Bride of Burning Man, and they did not drive over to see if the explosions had come from that.

My step-brother, however, is prepared to reimburse the woman with the broken window. As well, it was decided not to use the loud booms for any future burning man parties, as local dogs were spooked, and even though they did not appear to have been affected, there are also horses in the area. Perhaps the booms will return for the next 4th of July party.

It was a spectacular event, all the more notable for its huge flames after days of cold rain and high winds in the area. One woman came to the small track while I had been running; she said she simply had to get out of the house. Photos follow:
LOTS OF PHOTOS; CLICK TO CONTINUE

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Sending My Name to Mars

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 4, 2015

boarding-pass-with-miles-km

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Who Am I?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 31, 2015

Fantasy writer

There’s this fiction writer (above) who spends a lot of time in this compound (that’s what it’s called) where I live. He rents a house here to write. I see him at the mailbox kiosk sometimes. I once complimented him on his old science fiction novels, real space opera stuff that I love to read. He said the series might have been the best stuff he’s ever written. They are good books. The characters have more substance and human emotions and sex than in most of the sci fi I’ve read, much like Robert A. Heinlein’s works. There’s a darkness in the stories, rebellion, violence, and blazing lasers of course. But people stop to love, and there’s a feminine quality to the relationship talk, which seems odd coming from a cantankerous old writer (arisco, in Spanish) continuously chomping on a big fat cigar. He says he is a family man, and has to balance writing with family time.

One day I spoke to him about his other line of works, fantasy books that lean on authors like Tolkien and Roger Zelazny. I asked him what he was working on, and it’s more of the same, sounded like. I told him I didn’t read much of the sword and sorcery stuff, which, in retrospect, wasn’t a good comparison to his writing, just a way of cataloging fantasy in my head. However, he appeared to take some umbrage with that, saying that there aren’t any swords in the book he’s working on – not really my point – but, “…Well, there is one sword.” Then he asks me: “Who are you anyway?”

Well, I think I pissed him off, and that’s bad because I worship writers. Oh, well. I’ve deeply loved several women, and I always managed to piss them off too. Who am I to describe someone as cantankerous, anyway?

But, aside from the obsessing over things I’ve said and shouldn’t have said to famous authors and the ex wives and lovers, that question remains uppermost in my mind: “Who are you?”

Who the fuck am I?

I’m a guy that lives alone. I’m not certain I could ever live with anyone ever again. I like my solitude too much. Some days I can’t be bothered to get out of bed. Or I get up and sit in front of the computer, which amounts to the same thing. Some days I get up at 4:30 or 5:00 am, and hike up the mountains around Albuquerque: Sandia, Manzano, Jemez, and sometimes Sangre de Christo near Santa Fe, or up in the Rocky Mountains in the northern part of the state. There are over eighty mountain ranges, but I don’t plan to visit them all. I am retired, after all. I need my down time, and hiking up thousands of feet of elevation can be hard work.

In fact, I was having trouble hiking up for any great distance a few years back, and found out I had heart problems. Too much plaque in my arteries. Big fat artery in my heart was mostly plugged, and, in the process of getting that rotor-rootered, it moved to completely block the artery (Felt like a mild stab to my heart). Fortunately, I was already getting prepped to have a thin plastic tube shoved up my arm to my heart, and I was surrounded by medical personal and high-tech equipement, so within a minute, I had relief from that. It was blessed relief from my overwhelming symptoms of chest pressure and the feeling of impending doom that had dogged me all that afternoon. They left a stent in place to keep that tiny section of the artery open.

Recovery was fast, but my cardiac surgeon insisted that I work out to pump up my heart rate a bit more than I had been doing. I hadn’t been hiking much more than a few hours once a week, especially since I was having a hard time climbing mountains any more. The cardiac rehab center he refered me to was way too expensive for me: $90 a week (after insurance). I had once done a stair climbing challenge that benefitted the American Lung Association, and still had a flyer they’d included in my donation packet for a training group of runners. I called them and ended up running instead. I’d never run before, so it was a revelation how hard that really was. I’d always thought joggers a bit crazy, but it is damn good cardiovascular work, and that’s what I needed. They call themselves the OxyGenMorons, or morons, for short. So, I was partly right.

So now, I hike up the mountains, and jog. I’ve run two half marathons, which are defined as 13.1-mile runs. I’m training now for an honest-to-goodness fucking 26.2-mile marathon this October. We’ll see how that goes.

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I hiked in the Valles Caldera last Saturday, which is now a national preserve instead of privately owned. That was fun, even with a bit of rain. I contunue to try to hike on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and then run a few miles with the Morons at 6:00 pm those days as well. Saturdays are often long runs, from 6 to 14 miles. I may do some longer runs soon. I do have to be ready on October 18 to run 26.2 miles. Training is supposed to be 5 days a week for marathoners.

Well, besides running, I’m a background actor. I’ve managed to get on the sets of TV shows like Better Call Saul, Night Shift, Gunslingers, and Longmire, and movies like BARE, Highly Functional, and War on Everyone, as well as many local productions. Like it is said, it keeps me out of trouble. In two days I’ll be on the set of Gold.

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With all of this, I’m still trying to maintain my association with a local winery. I only average working there two days a week, but I enjoy the hard work of picking fruit and mixing vats of wine, and filtering, and pumping into and out of tanks, bottling and labeling and selling. It’s far, far different from my old job, DNA sequencing, DNA synthesis, and protein sequencing and synthesis before that. That seems like a lifetime ago now.

I take photos too, when I’m hiking mostly, but sometimes with a group called the Guerrilla Photo Group, where we experiment with photography, mostly in a studio setting. Sometimes I enter my photos in shows. Over the years, I’ve sold six photos. although Bon Appétit once bought the use of one photo for their magazine.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

This all sounds like I do a lot, but I really seem to spend my life more like today. I got up late, shortly before 9:00 am. I feed the cats, and drank some juice (carrot, apple, or cranberry-raspberry-blackberry). I ate some eggs, and drank coffee. My refrigerator has milk and juices and ice tea and State Pen porter for later in the day. I walked a book I’d sold on eBay to the mailbox across the street. (I buy way too many used books online, so I am continuously reselling them or trading them away. I like to read, but many of the books I read are graphic novels or very old paperbacks, and they do not show up in my local library. If I buy books cheap, and resell them, I don’t end up paying a lot for them on average.) After that I read a bit. I am about to walk up to the mailbox kiosk and check my mail. Woo hoo, I received an old record album.

That’s my life. That’s who I am. A bit lazy, with bouts of frenetic activites, or reading quietly at home. My job no longer defines me, and it’s hard to say what does. I’m not just a hiker, or a runner, or a photographer, or an actor, or a winemaker.

Does that answer your question, mister fantasy writer?

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Cats and Statuary Do Not Mix; One of Them Has to Go

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on July 14, 2015

These two!

I try to have nice things, but with cats or children, it’s not easy.

I acquired two cats some years ago.  One was part of a litter dropped by a feral cat in my back yard. I watched the mother feed them, and then teach them to hunt. I was fond of the little group, but my wife at the time didn’t care for animals, and didn’t like having them in her back yard. I had to get rid of them, and once she decided they had to go, they had to go immediately. I had no time to look for homes for them, and wild cats with no shots and not neutered are pretty hard to unload on anyone. I had to trap them and take them to the animal control center. It saddened me, but it had to be done. I set out a trap, and got all but one. Interestingly, the only one not to go into the trap was the one I’d had to rescue from inside a two-sided picket fence I’d put up. It had dropped in from on top and couldn’t get out. I’d had to remove a plank to get it out, and had taken him back to his mother.

I decided to keep him, and not just because of the circumstances. He was a near-perfect duplicate of an orange-striped cat that had died in my lap earlier that year. That particular cat had been half of a pair of cats belonging to my dad when he died, and my mother had maneuvered me into taking both cats. Both were also now dead. Dad Krissy & Charlie

So, not only did I keep this tiny twin of my old cat, but I gave him the same name: Charlie. About one year later, a female cat showed up in the yard, and she and Charlie II were close friends before I knew it. So, I kept her too. She had the same black and white colors as my dad’s female cat Krissy who died a couple of years earlier, although not in the same pattern. 071415 (2) I called her Girl, until I could think of a name. I still have her; she’s about 12 years old. Charlie II, unfortunately, is gone. He disappeared one night. Eight months later, a neighbor told another neighbor, who relayed it to me, that he’d seen a dead cat in the garden area of this compound I live in. He said it had looked like the one in the photos I’d put up all over the place. I wish I’d known.

So, it had been nine months since Charlie II had died, and I had mentioned his death to a hiker who leads meetup hikes. She knew of a cat that lived on a golf course, and she badly needed a home; would I take her?  Well, I’d been thinking of getting a cat to replace Charlie II, since the female was obviously lonely. I had finally given her a name: Kilala, which is the name of a Japanese cat demon. She’s never became totally tame, and cannot stand to be picked up; she’s not a lap cat either. But, she and Charlie II had been inseparable. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA I really wanted to get her a male companion. Charlie II had been quite the lover. I agreed to meet a couple who had taken responsibility for getting the cat adopted. I had to be vetted first, so they could be sure I’d take care of the cat. 061815 (16)

The cat was well-loved at the golf course, and had been given bedding in a little wooden cat house. The golf course’s clubhouse personnel had been feeding it for two years. The couple approved of me, and I ended up with the cat, the cat house, cat treats, food bowls, a little round cat bed, and a huge bag of dry cat food. And, of course, I ended up with Snowflake. The couple had named her that because of her almost all-white fur. They even took her to a mobile veterinarian for shots. However, among the couple I’d met, the vet, and all the people at the golf course who doted on the cat, no one had noticed, until just before I went to pick it up, that it was male after all.

Snowflake has settled in here. He had been called Snowflake so long that that is the only name he’ll respond to. Even with a cat door, and freedom to roam, he stays close by, and usually in the house. However, he and Kilala do not get along. It’s been over three months, but they still fight. They’ve sniffed at each other, and tolerate each other’s presence in the house, but my older cat won’t accept him. I think she tried one time, but he had been neutered very young, and doesn’t know what to do with a female cat. The fighting tapered off for a while, so I thought things would be fine, but the hissing, growling and chasing go on.

Sunday night, they had come barreling in the back door through the bedroom – not unusual. But this time they rounded the corner out of the bedroom door and I heard a  crash. It was a Chinese plaster figurine, unglazed, 19 inches tall, that I’d acquired the previous year. It was beautiful. I have a set of three. I bought one from the Monkey King,  Monkey King storean eBay store with a physical storefront in California. Shortly after that, the store announced a huge going-out-of-business sale, so I purchased another figure cheaply. They are replicas of old Chinese female musicians that reside in museums. However, even though Monkey King wrapped the crap out of the figure, it arrived with the base broken, very smashed up. Broken 1

Monkey King had sold the figure to me at a bargain price, but they agreed to replace it. It hadn’t been their fault, but they were in their last days, so I agreed to pay shipping. Meanwhile I decided to try repairing the figure. I worked with glue and rubber bands over several days, and got it mostly together. Some smaller pieces had been crushed, so it’s not perfect, but I have it: 072514 (1)

The one the cats knocked over was the first one I’d bought, a musician playing a pipa, a four-stringed lute, behind her head! Her head, unfortunately, had been knocked off. Both arms were broken off at the elbows. The beautiful flowing scarf had been broken off in several pieces. The pipa was broken at the neck. I was pissed. Damn cats!

The cats had run off immediately, fight forgotten as soon as they knocked the figure over. Kilala had run outside; she was the one who was instigating these fights, so I slammed the door behind her and locked it for the evening. Damn, I was pissed. I cannot replace the statues. The Monkey King store is long gone, and I have no idea where they bought their merchandise. In fact, I think they bought the raw plaster figures, painted them, and then rubbed ashes on them to make them resemble the old figures in the museum. I had cleaned most of the ashes off.

I feared Kilala might run off, but by morning she was back in the house, through the cat door in the house’s front entrance. I ignored her. Later on, however, as I looked at the broken statue again, I decided I’d try to fix it. I got out my glue and went to work. It would take a while, but the action of working on it calmed me down. I fed Kilala, and later on petted her.

I decided it was silly to blame cats for something like that. And, really, what do some statue replicas really matter anyway? The world is full of violence and injustice. Material possessions are of no real importance.

I always find it odd that the loss of some object bothers me so much. Part of that is that I object to changes in my life: divorce, retirement, loss of a lover or friend. I seem to have a hard time accepting change, although I know that change is not only inevitable, but change is life; life is change. Hard for me to accept emotionally. But, emotions about physical things make no sense.

Be that all as it may be, philosophy aside, I fixed the damned statue. I may lose things from time to time, but part of me really likes keeping things as they are, inane as that is.

071415

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Cheating Death, Again, and Again, and Again

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 4, 2015

Got knocked down by a car the other day. It made me think about all those times in my life when, but for one thing, I would have died. As an infant, and later as a two-year old, I had pneumonia. I was saved by penicillin, by science, technology and society, twice. Before penicillin, I would have been dead as an infant.

As a six-year old, I fell into a house under construction. The incomplete basement had no concrete yet, the floor was mud with pools of water. Me, my brother John and Eddie Knight were bringing  the biggest stones we could find and carry, climbing the foundation wall, and dropping them into the pools of water. The object, of course, was to get a huge splash. We dropped in our stones, enjoyed the splash, and set out to find bigger stones. I dropped a nice one in, hit the water nicely, and turned to see Eddie plop the biggest stone I’d seen all morning on the floor level of the foundation, so he could use both hands to climb up. Somehow, I couldn’t help myself. I ran over, grabbed the stone, and dropped it in. I think it made a big splash. I say think, because all I remember is perhaps a sense of movement. Eddie, pissed off as all hell, had come charging at me, I think. The details are vague. Because I was standing by the edge of the hole in the floor we were using (it was for the stairs to come), I must have gone right over. I woke up some time later. Two adults were carrying me through tall weeds in the huge field behind my house. I had cracked my head against one of the stones, maybe even Eddie’s big one. Lying face down in the muddy water, I would have drowned. My brother pulled me out. Eddie, meanwhile had gone for his parents, who were carrying me home. I never saw Eddie again. He never came by. I would guess that he felt guilty, or his parents simply forbade him to play with us again. Life saved by my younger brother, although medical science repaired my cracked skull.

Lutheran Hospital I turned eight years old during my stay at Lutheran Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland (formerly the Hebrew Orphan Asylum). My appendix had ruptured, and I remember being told later that I had peritonitis (literally an inflammation of the stomach lining), although today the term used is blood poisoning, or sepsis. In septic shock, weak, and barely able to shamble, with support from my mother, who drove me to the hospital in a borrowed car, the staff there knew I was in trouble from my blood work. An x-ray did not show cause, so I was taken for exploratory surgery. The appendix was hidden behind an organ, and hadn’t been visible on x-ray. Again, medical science, through surgery and chemistry, had saved my life, although I was hospitalized for four weeks, and convalesced at home for another week. Happy Birthday!

Soon after that I developed bronchial asthma, and survived by using steam and a towel over my head, or a prescription inhaler. Sometimes I simply couldn’t catch my breath at all. I didn’t know where it went or why it was running away. The asthma attacks went away sometime after my 12th birthday.

Of course, not everything I did was life threatening. I slipped trying to repair a leaky roof in a tree house and fell to the ground, breaking my arm. Excruciating pain came with that one, and a cast on my arm, and notoriety at school. It was hard to brag about falling out of a tree. I was just embarrassed.

I must have developed an acute sense of caution, because I didn’t get hurt again until I was an adult. I got creamed by a huge beast of a car as I had been pedaling down a nice hill. It hit me broadside, and dragged the bicycle across the street, but I had been thrown forward by my own momentum. I bounced, and passed out. Passers-by thought I was dead. I heard them say so as I came to. They’d already given up on me and were comforting the driver! I was in shock, didn’t know who I was or what had happened at first. I was thoroughly amazed that I’d survived, because my last thought before the impact had been that I was going to die. Traffic had been thick and heavy, and I could have easily been run over by some other vehicle. As it was, my own momentum had carried me in a high arc straight forward, and the car was so big, a Lincoln Continental Mark III, Lincoln that it had blocked enough of the lane to keep the other drivers away.  Saved by the eighteen-foot car length. Nothing broken this time. I had a major sprain on the top of my left foot, which had been hit by the car. The heavy Schwinn bicycle pedal arm had been bent, back into the spokes.

Bicycles on highways or city streets are accidents waiting to happen, and I had a few more. Once my shoe was simply ripped off my foot. Once I skidded on gravel on a mountain road and slid down a long section of blacktop, taking a lot of skin off my chest and stomach. Ouch. Another time, a car side-swiped me as I pedaled down a city street right on the edge of the road. It appeared as though the car had passed another car on the right, illegally, had not seen me up ahead, and clipped me. The impact left a huge bruise on my ass and thigh muscles. I was stunned at first, and lay on my back, staring unblinkingly into the light rain that was falling. I worried that I was paralyzed. The driver didn’t stop, but someone else did after a few minutes, and an ambulance took me and bicycle to a hospital. Bruised and scraped flesh was all I received then, but it could have been worse. Somehow I had fallen without breaking my neck. Somehow the car hadn’t broken my hip or run over me. Little things.

Given my history, buying a motorcycle was not a very smart thing to do, but at least it put me out into the drive lane at speed, instead of paralleling the other vehicles, riding bicycles in the gutters full of storm-drain grates and broken glass. It didn’t take me long to lay the bike down: the first time taking a corner in the rain, slipping on icy roads, or hitting a crazy dog on a curve. I was never hurt, but I went through a few turns signals and mirrors which stick out to the sides. I learned to anticipate accidents, to always brake the front and rear wheels simultaneously, and even ride on icy or snow-packed streets. I got good. However, as I neared my house one fine day, I decided to pass in front of  a stalled car blocking my lane, and he hit the gas microseconds before I got there. I t-boned him, and sailed over the car hood. The bike was totalled. I was sore and bruised but none the worse for wear after a few weeks. Everyone in the neighborhood said I must have said my prayers. I didn’t pray anymore, so that wasn’t it. Given my moral turpitude at the time, I could have thanked the devil instead, if I’d still believed in such things.

Years passed with my replacement motorcycle. As I was near home again, in a different house with a wife waiting for me this time, I misread a red traffic light. I thought it was still green, but the sun was directly behind it as I topped a hill. I sailed into the large Route 66 intersection at about 40 mph. There was a pickup directly in front of me; I looked up – the light was red. Never even applied the brakes. Totalled that bike too. I was again bruised and scraped up. My arm was a bit sprained, so I wore a sling for a short time. The driver of the pickup told my insurance company that I had bent his truck frame. Really? Well, no matter. I got another bike, number three in a series, and I never wrecked it. Since it was old and leaked oil, and always needed repairs, I finally traded it in.  Success! I had ridden a motorcycle the entire time I had owned it without damaging it or myself. However, the newer bike was not so lucky. Within two weeks I had laid it down, negotiating a turn, I didn’t understand what had happened until it happened again. This time I took it in to a shop. They found a spacer missing from the front axle. Such spacers keep the wheel centered on the axle, but without one, the wheel was sliding to one side as I turned, causing the wheel to lock up.

Of note in all this mayhem is that I paused in June of 2013 to have a minor heart attack. The large descending artery on the right side was partly clogged when I first got to the heart hospital, but within minutes, the clog had moved to completely block the artery (sudden minor pain). Fortunately, I was already hooked up to an IV and heart monitors, and my wrist was prepped for sticking a balloon up to my heart to clean it out and leave a stent behind. They went ahead and did that, and I felt relief immediately. Recovery was rapid and complete. Four months later, I ran a half marathon in three hours exact. A year later I ran it in 2 hours, 46 minutes. Cheating death. Again. Heart before

So, I’ve dodged any motorcycle accident for many years now. I am very aware of my surroundings. I always know where other vehicles are, and I keep a constant eye out on side streets and pedestrians. I hit nothing, and nothing hits me. I have a car now also, and my motorcycle habits have transferred. I have no accidents, because I am always acutely aware of my surroundings. So, it came as a shock last Friday evening to find a moving car pushing against my body, again.

I was crossing a street at a slight angle to reach my car. It was a cold night, and I was worried about an approaching storm, so I had opted out of riding the bike. I was in the southbound part of the street as I saw a car approach the intersection from an eastbound lane. I sped up so I wouldn’t be in its path. It was about 50 feet away, so I had plenty of time to reach my car before it even reached me. Wrong. She had turned wide, and sped up as she straightened out, but not where she should have been. She was squarely in the northbound part of the road. Her right fender was pressing hard against me. I noticed the rest of the car was ahead of me, instead of behind me in the empty southbound lane. She never said what she was doing. Was she just turning wide? She later said she only saw me at the last moment before hitting me. Had she tried to avoid me? swerving around me? She never said much else. Liability issues, I’d guess.

Fortunately she did see me plastered against her grille, and stopped. I was thrown forward and hard onto the asphalt. It hurt. So, there I was again, lying in the street again, wondering how the hell I’d misjudged that situation. How the hell had she caught me? I hurt all over it seemed, but I thought I should get up. My right hip area had impacted the street, and it was in considerable pain, but after a few minutes, the pain went away. We exchanged information. She is an artist with the gallery whose open house I’d just left.

I went home, took two Advil Liquid capsules, applied some Blue Emu cream, ate a late dinner with some chokecherry wine, and got some sleep. The pain was back next day, but so far, so good. The hip only hurts to the touch. “So don’t touch it!” I know, I know, but sometimes ya gotta roll over in bed, or ya bump against the side of a chair. It’ll heal. There’s skin scraped off again, but no bruising. The pain seems to be deep, and just behind the hip bone that juts out there. Worked hard yesterday, did a lot of heavy lifting and shoving at the winery, with no pain, so I think I’m OK.

Again.

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Not Exactly Proof of Death, but Pretty Damn Likely

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 5, 2014

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA  KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA  Charlie II

Charlie

I wasn’t sure at first where to post this. It doesn’t really fit on my Ennui blog. It is kind of random. I just found out today that my missing cat is dead. I was speaking with a neighbor who makes beer, and he promised to bring one by. He asked what my house number is, and I told him, asking him if he remembered the poster I had up for months asking if anyone had seen my cat, since it had my house number and phone number. He remarked that another neighbor said he had seen a cat just like that at the same time (June), dead in our community garden. Well, thanks a lot for telling me neighbor! I’ve wanted some closure since then. It makes me mad and sad at the same time.

I’ve missed that cat so much. He was a cat who waited for me to get home. Even though he had and used the cat door, he’d wait for me to unlock and open the main door. He loved attention, and sleeping on my lap, and bed. At eleven years old, he still loved to play. Sometimes I think I hear him. I’ve posted posters of him, and walked the surrounding neighborhood nearly every day, calling him and whistling for him. He used to come running when I whistled. Two neighbors left me a phone message that they’d seen a friendly cat just like him in the next neighborhood down the road, and I walked there nearly every day for three months calling and whistling for him.

I had always imagined he might show up one day, that someone had taken him in, or he wandered so far away that he’d become confused and lost. Of course, the worst scenario was that he’d been eaten by coyotes. He was such a lean, healthy, strong, and fast animal. It’s hard for me to imagine him not being able to climb a tree or building to get away, and he could run really fast. Aside from the occasional coyotes, it is a safe neighborhood for cats. We are far from the major street, and the speed humps in our cul-de-sac road keep my neighbors driving below 15 mph. Traffic through the compound is very light, and he often slept or played on the large flat roof that results from having six houses connected. He is microchipped, but animal control here had no record of him being picked up injured or dead, so I had some hope I’d see him again.

It’s strange, after all this time, but now I am grieving for him. I missed him before, and couldn’t quite believe he was gone. Now, I have to accept it, and I don’t even know what happened. Was he hit by a car and left in the garden? Did he choke, or was he poisoned by something he ate? Why did no one tell me? That poster was up right by our mailboxes for a long time, and everyone saw it. You’d think the person that saw a dead cat in the garden would have told me. The bad ugly thing is that this happened right after there was an email broadcast to all the residents here from another neighbor that cats were shitting on her roof, and left a turd on her patio, that a roadrunner had been mauled, and that cats can decimate all wildlife in an area. I fired back that, from my experience, cats eat what they kill, and would not have left an injured bird. The email misrepresented the study on cats. The point of that study was the effect of un-neutered cats, proliferating unchecked. Mine have always been neutered. The neighborhood is full of wild birds, doves, pigeons, and all manner of small mammals, and in the seven years I’ve lived here, there has not been any noticeable decrease in the wildlife. Sure my cat ate some birds and rodents, but the roadrunner is a fierce predator itself, even eating rattlesnakes, rodents and other birds. It is not in danger from cats. (Coyotes are faster, but roadrunners can fly.)

My cat went missing right after I sent that email. That’s why I’ve been angry. The thought that some idiot may have killed my cat on purpose really infuriated me.

But that’s over now. I know it’s hard for people to accept that a dead pet can cause such sadness. I know he wasn’t my child or a person, but he sure was a friend, affectionate and loyal, and since he was initially born outdoors, of a feral mother, he never accepted anyone but me, retaining a wildness that I liked, and yet being very trusting and affectionate with me, and the other feral cat that showed up a year later.

The main reason I had moved into this compound was for the safety of my cats, and the fact that there were many trees to climb, and grass to frolic in. Now, I’m not certain that I’ll stay. In my mind, animals need space, room to run and play and hunt. Of course, I recognise that the freedom my cat had probably led directly to his death, and I should accept that. It just makes me so fucking sad.

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2014 Albuquerque Comic Expo

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 25, 2014

Another set of older photos; these are from June 28, 2014. I worked as a volunteer photographer for ACE, which encouraged me to stop and ask people to take their picture “for ACE”.  Included in those photos are Joel Hodgsen (of Mystery Science Theater 3000), and professional body builder Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the 1980s. Both of them graciously allowed me to snap a photo without having to wait in line or pay a fee. Please do not use these photos without permission. Click on any photo to see it full size.

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The Old Rail Yards in Albuquerque

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on November 19, 2014

Although the photos are a bit old, just from May of this year, I still wanted to post them. I had fun taking them.

May 3, 2014: Concerto Grosso No 1, Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings and Continuo, & Tabula