Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Did you ever have a song that walks along with you all day, inspiring you and giving you strength through the senseless moments of the day? Here's one for you, delivered with conviction by Milwaukee's own Jude Kinnear - she calls herself "The Acoustic Rock Chick". She can sing a song that you've heard a thousand times before and you'll swear you've never heard that song before today.

More Jude on her own web site: I appreciate the opportunity to share her music with my readers. Thanks, Jude.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

What I Woke Up To This Morning

Is this an expression of hip-hop culture? Artistic aspirations manifested at the street level? Keeping it real? Or a simple inept and uninspired act of cowardice and senseless destruction?

This pattern appeared in numerous locations in our neighborhood. Not variations of it - always the same pattern. What's so original about that? What it means, is that more and more business owners are looking for the vandals, and soon it would be better for the little paint bandits to be caught by the police than by the owners of the buildings which are the vandal's targets.

Is it an indication of deterioration of the neighborhood? No, just some isolated mis-guided low-life trying to make his mark. Incapable of anything creative, constructive, or even original, "Look at MEEEE! Look at MEEEE!" takes the form of an uninspired paint can ejaculation. Pathetic.

If we are ruled by fear, we ourselves become the very thing we are trying to protect ourselves from.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

Pt 22 Moon over the Saône

Follow this grand adventure from the beginning:
Link to Pt.1 of this series

Pt 22 Moon over the Saône

Home Again, Stalking the Wild Haggus with the Boys from the British Isles

Back at the boat, we got ready for dinner, and exchanged stories of the day’s experiences with "the boys", our assigned dinner table partners. The English guys started ribbing the professor, who was from Scotland about haggus. Scotsmen are supposed to actually like the taste of haggus, which is made by stuffing the entrails of a sheep into its stomach, then boiling or roasting the whole thing until it was done. The slimy lump is said, by Englishmen joking about it, to resemble a woodland beast of some sort, and many tall tales of bravery are told, tongue in cheek, about stalking the wild haggus.

At another table, there was a Scotsman who aroused the attention of Prof. Jack, our resident Scotsman, by appearing for dinner every night dressed in a kilt. Jack wondered whether the Scotsman was wearing the kilt "in earnest", or if he was just showing off. We didn't ask. Eventually, it was decided that there was a bit of phoniness there, and from then on, he was referred to by our table as “the peacock”.

Our ship had cast off on schedule, and dinner came as we were chugging our way back to Avignon. As we returned to our room, at around 10:00 p.m. We looked out the window, and, there again was a familiar sight out of our window -- Mr. Spectacles, the abandoned river/houseboat staring at us from across the river.

Moon over the Saône
Right after we had fallen off to sleep, and were enjoying the somewhat cooler breeze coming in the window, a familiar sound jarred our exhausted repose. The searchlight-equipped cruise/tour/party boat of a few nights back came roaring slowly by again. Tonight there was a party on board. Through picture windows we could see a lighted dance floor on the lower level, and we could hear the pounding techno music from halfway across the river. The searchlights seemed brighter tonight, and there was a lot of shouting from the decks. Perhaps the crew was partying with the passengers, and they were trying to see how many people in river boats they could keep awake.

The boat of revelry proceeded up the river and turned around at the bridge, this time coming even closer to our window. Joyce, who had dozed off already, sat up suddenly with her sheet wrapped around her, as the cabin was filled with dazzling light. The French party animals got a good laugh from that - they could see right in the windows!

Next time their searchlight came around to my side of the room, they saw a huge hairy moon waving back at them! Hey, Pierre, here's how we say it in the USA! That really set them off laughing and applauding. It must have been the last pass for the night, however, because they never came back. Maybe I scared them off with my American greeting.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pt.21 Ou e la goddam river boat?

Follow this grand adventure from the beginning:
Link to Pt.1 of this series

Pt.21 Ou e la goddam river boat?

Lost in the village
We we spent a lot of time trying to get back to the river boat. The shops were closing, it was about five on Sunday afternoon, and we were hot and tired. We took what we thought was the route home, but only wound up heading back to the Coliseum again. We tried a different direction, perpendicular to the first, and ended up going through the wall of the ancient city. We were now in the place where the locals live. It was similar to the industrial section of a small American town in the early seventies, with none of the older buildings being used anymore for their original purpose, but, instead there was a lawnmower shop here, and a car parts place there. . .

Oops - Wrong Planet
An elderly couple were walking their little kinky-haired dog. Joyce conveyed that we wanted to get back inside the city, so we could go back to the river. They pointed in a general direction, and aided by this insider information, we re-entered the city through the courtyard of a McDonald’s restaurant - closed on Sunday, of course.

Ah, Le Cafe Society - at last!
We were so hot, and so tired, that we stopped for an iced tea — damn the cost — at a sidewalk cafe. Joyce got a price quote before we sat down, and, once it was determined that the price was the same whether we got it to go, or drank it there, we sat down and ordered, being careful not to call too heavily upon the waiter, lest he expect a tip. It was Lipton iced tea, and it was good. It was refreshing just to melt the meager ice by holding the glass in my hand. There was so little in France that was cold. Their water was always tepid, their air conditioning was warm, and their damn ice machine had only four cubes in it.

It's For Le Touristes, silly!

We returned to the ship by our original route. The street looked different with all the stores closed, and we might have been looking right at it, and didn’t recognize it. In truth, if you’ve seen one European village, you’ve seen them all. They are all neatly kept, usually freshly-painted brick structures with shuttered windows, and the shutters were usually closed. Never did I hear a television or radio coming from within any of the houses, and many of them were obviously being used for residences. Whether the people inside were too poor, or had good taste, or if there were some building code thing to promote tourism, we never found out.

However, we were very late. The boat was scheduled to leave during the dinner hour, and we were the last to board. We could sense the disapproval of Andre, sitting behind his reception desk.

Next - Moon over the Saône

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