Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

In this season of hope and happiness, may the Spirit of the Season find you at peace with the world, with optimism toward the future, and with love in your heart for all mankind.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, nothing at all, or just like a good party, how you believe or don't believe, my wish for you is to have the sense that we truly are all in this together and it's never too late to be kind to one another.

Thank you for stopping by and for joining this little gathering. May the coming New Year be the best of all for each of us as we reflect on the paths we have traveled and anticipate the journey yet to come.

Peace be with you and yours.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Nothing Gold Can Stay

One of my favorite poems is by Robert Frost, and I guess this time of year triggers the melancholy associations of Fall and the turning of the leaves as the winds begin their descent from the north to bring thoughts of the inevitable Autumn of our lives, and the Winter to follow, which sooner or later will be something most of us experience, and for which all of us will be taken unaware. 

I've always seen myself as young in my mind, never old, a situation that was always normal to me. Until I read my late Grandma's journal. Grandma, to me at least, had always been old and so I grew up assuming that she saw herself as she was to me. 

Then, as I read the words she put to paper as she approached her 70th year (and I approached my 21st), I learned that she saw herself exactly like I saw myself then and still see myself today, fleet of foot, long of breath, nimble and strong, because, like her, that is what I used to be. 

Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Nature's first green is gold, 

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

By Robert Frost

1874 - 1963

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I Wonder What it's Like to Live in a Film Noir World

Do you remember the old detective movies? You know, Jimmy Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, the old black & white, film noir genre? Jean Paul Belmondo, perhaps?

In life as film noir it's always a little dark, a little gritty, with a skyline that's always foggy and a threat hanging in the air.  Where you'll find menace to be your best friend, fever pitch anxiety your constant companion, with death and desolation never far from your side.

You know there's a trainyard (probably freight) that figures in somewhere. There always is. It will be soft focus in the background with foreground details brought out in stark relief. Because that's how it is in a world like this. A world with tracks that you're on the wrong side of. 

The story generally will take you to an old warehouse park in a bad part of town at a time of night when the only people out looking are on the lookout for only one thing...Trouble...spelled with a capital T.

The only light is the light you see reflected out of stagnant pools of water left over from a too insubstantial rain that fell too long ago to accomplish anything but too much humidity on this still, sticky night. 

The bad guys all have flashy cars that sparkle in the moonlight like diamond inlays in a gambler's mouth, while the good guys work too hard on loading docks, owe too much money to shylocks, and drive cars that look too much like they belong in the junkyard instead of the driveway...and that's on a good day - a day when they run.

The shadows menace and dance through the trees, their branches naked of leaves and pointing like skeletal fingers into the night...pointing at nothing...pointing at everything...the point of every branch an indictment...with all of them pointing directly at you. 

Your nerves light up like the slots at Barney's Speakeasy as you look first one way, then the other, up and down the darkened street, looking for anyone, afraid of everyone, knowing that nothing good ever comes in the night. 

About that time that Humphrey Bogart steps out of the shadows, streetlights reflecting on the cold steel in his hand, and as the start of a death rattle dies in your throat....

That's the end of the movie. 

The credits roll.

You go home.

This time.

Until next time....

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Hills Are Alive With a Rainbow of Color

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. There's just something about the just right snap in the air, the clarity as the summer haze lifts, and the changing colors of the leaves. Definitely, the colors. 

Arkansas has an absolutely stunning display of Fall color as the leaves begin first to fade from the normal green hues but suddenly explode into vivid technicolor brilliance. There is nothing in nature to rival the sight for pure beauty and wonder. 

Along the highways and byways of The Natural State, nature becomes the stage manager and choreographer in one, as first one, then another, and yet another of the majestic Oaks, Sweetgums, Blackgums, Dogwoods, or Sugar Maples change to a majestic kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, oranges, in all shades and intensities until finally, inevitably, the season passes and the leaves are shed for another year. 

But while they're here it's a sight to behold. 

As slowly, slowly, but much too quickly as well, the leaves begin to lose their intensity, 

Their color begins to retreat from the rainbow hues as the edges begin to dry and to brown,

Until just a few are left. 

And then no more for another season. As it has always been and so it shall be. 

But the promise is there that the leaves will return in the Spring to begin the cycle anew. 

The calendar shall begin its journey through the seasons, waiting until Fall, when the rainbow arrives once more, when the leaves announce their departure from this earth with the most glorious spectacle saved. 

Saved for the grand exit.

And the seasons turn. 

Until next time....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ah, That Great American Pastime-No, the Other One...

Now that cooler temperatures have arrived 
(but before the onset of a rumored nasty winter)
I thought it might be nice to sit back and ruminate 
on the traditional pastime and leisure activity that all of America enjoys. 

Well, yeah, close. I've spent many a lazy summer afternoon sitting in the ballpark drinking myself senseless 
(you know what I'm talking about) 
while hoping I'm parked far enough from home plate to still have a windshield later, but I'm actually referring to that other American tradition and leisure time activity that one can never get enough of...

Yep. Midget Wrestling.

I was recently privileged to be right there on the front row to witness the 
MWO World Championship match in a brutal battle waged just across the Arkansas River in North Little Rock at Dickey-Stephens Park, home of the Arkansas Travelers.

Psssst...MWO is Midget World Order-just pretend you already knew that. I did.

Facing off that day was the reigning world champion, Little Kato 
(escorted by the intrepid Lance Restum of the Arkansas Travelers) 
seen here about to engage in a desperate battle to remain on top as he prepares to enter the ring for the very last time, his impending retirement mere minutes away and a look of grim determination etched upon his chiseled features. 

(gosh, I do get carried away with myself sometimes, don't I?)

Equally determined 
(and rather majestic looking I might add) 
the challenger, Beautiful Bobby, walked toward the ring
(also escorted by Lance Restum-AKA "Sexy Legs")
planning to see Little Kato off into retirement with a butt whipping befitting what he hopes will be a has-been ex-champ, sent home alone, the adoring crowds fallen silent, his glory days behind him and nothing, not even a championship belt, to show for it. 

But at that moment, Little Kato was obviously a crowd favorite, a role he just as obviously relished, spending a little time here to hang with his homeboys for pictures, fist bumps, and a few words of encouragement.

And Little Kato, a crowd pleaser to the end, played up the role of retiring champion to the hilt, basking in their unbridled adoration, secure in the age-old principle that everyone loves a winner.

And as the adoring crowd watches intently...

...Beautiful Bobby sneaks up behind Little Kato while the champ is otherwise engaged, demonstrating that Beautiful Bobby's adoration was directed more toward that championship belt itself and not the champ. 

The surprise sneak attack catches Little Kato off guard and as the match gets underway in earnest it appears that Beautiful Bobby is playing to win and he intends to dominate...

...and dominate...

...and dominate...

...and dominate some more...

...leaving poor Little Kato to do little more than be a hapless spectator to the ignoble end of a life-long career, doomed to leave the ring with only a headache but no championship belt.

Suddenly, a trash can appears, and is placed immediately into use. Obviously, somebody had slipped a bribe to the maintenance crew on Beautiful Bobby's behalf and he wasted no time using the innocuous looking container as a potentially lethal weapon against Little Kato and his dream of leaving his beloved sport at the peak of his game. 

But, you know what they say...

...what's good for the goose...
...the best laid plans...
...oh, what a tangled web (oh, stop it!)...

And now, the match being on somewhat more level of a playing field...

Little Kato begins to stage his comeback.

And what a comeback as the look on Little Kato's face turns from a mask of startled anxiety to the giddy visage of whosyourdaddy triumph.

The look on Beautiful Bobby's face made me think he was beginning to imagine other places he might rather be right at that moment.

Like maybe a barbershop. It just goes to show, skip a hair appointment and bad things can happen in a sport where a headful of beautiful hair is little more than a place for a bald guy to stand once he gets both your attention and your face into the floor.

And that day, for Beautiful Bobby at least, bad things happened.

Little Kato, on the other hand,
his dream of going out a winner intact, 
basks in his glory while contemplating a new career...

Star pitcher for the Arkansas Travelers....

Until next time....

I'd like to thank Lance Restum and the Arkansas Travelers Minor League Baseball Club for allowing me to waste their time and indulging me in my quest to get hot and sweaty while lugging around a brick of a camera and (hopefully) looking important. With their cooperation and assistance, I was able to get some photos that I'm really proud of along with some valuable experience in dodging foul balls and pairing the right hot dog with the right beer for a five-star ballpark culinary experience. You guys are the best and I hope you'll invite me back next summer. -Dale

Friday, October 10, 2014

Those Daring Young Men and Their Flying Machines...

A recent day found me wandering the streets of Searcy (that's in Arkansas, ya'll) with time on my hands and a new lens to test out, when I ran across a couple of young gentlemen out riding on skateboards. Did I say riding? Ha, silly me. When I was a kid we had these skinny little boards with roller skates attached. Those, we rode. These? Well, I'll let the photos speak for themselves...

Some people step up onto curbs...

Some don't....

And some just race alongside the curbs....

That guy on the left? That's what I usually look like just before someone calls the ambulance. Or when a spider runs up under my feet.

So how do they do that?

I mean, really. How? And why?

I guess that's just one of those things that if you have to ask the question, you won't understand the answer. 

Until next time....